Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Mom Life: Let's Speak with Compassion and Grace

"If I can clean my house, vacuum my floor, do the dishes and still play with my kids anyone can do it. They are just being lazy moms."

I read a comment similar to this not too long ago. It made my heart rate speed up, my hands start to shake and I needed to talk to someone immediately lest I blow up at some unsuspecting person (namely the children due to proximity).

The comment was tagged with a blog post here. Now I can totally respect a mom saying to another mom, "it's ok, you can do the dishes. The kids wont miss anything and you wont miss anything. Just do the dishes." Sometimes we just need to hear that it is ok. In fact I try to keep on top of the dishes fairly regularly in my house. Sure sometimes it sits a little bit especially when it comes to unloading the dishwasher when the toddler is awake. Goodness knows that girl will drag every single spoon, fork and everything within reach all over the house only for me to need to wash them again.

But, if you were to come over a year ago, the kitchen counters would have been covered in dirty dishes. Cups with milk in the bottom, plates with syrup and crumbs, sticky pots and pans on my stove. I'll stop before I gross myself out. But, you get the idea!

Would I have called myself lazy? Probably. But why do that to myself? I was in a season of life where I felt I couldn't do anything right. Postpartum depression had taken over my life and you would have been lucky just to catch me in something other than my pjs! I wasn't lazy; I was sick. If anything, I was in a season where I needed compassion the most. I needed some grace.

Fast forward to about a month ago and you would have found me with a bunch of dirty cups all over my counters and sinks and clean ones in the dishwasher just waiting to be put away.

But that was the season of life I was in. I had 10 people staying in my house and we were grieving the loss of my mother-in-law. She was dearly loved and is dearly missed. My focus was not the dishes, but the people. The dishes would get done eventually. My people needed compassion. We all needed some grace.

Just like the seasons change throughout the year, so we enter seasons of motherhood. Seasons where our houses are spotless and every dish and cup gets cleaned immediately. Seasons where we can barely lift our bodies of the couch to eat a chip let alone cook a full course meal for our families.

Just like the seasons we enter, there is a blog post to coincide. It makes us feel guilty that we aren't doing the dishes when we know we should. Guilty that we aren't playing with our kids the way we feel we should. Guilty that we are being lazy. Let's speak with compassion and grace. Goodness knows we have enough guilt without having other moms adding to it.

Hugs to you momma.

Hugs to you for the season you are in. Whether it be with an itty bitty baby, a school aged minion, a teenager, or any of the seasons in between. Hugs to you with your dishes in the cupboard or in the sink.

Tough love is one thing. But, compassion gives so much more. We all need some grace. There is a reason these times are called seasons. They wont last forever.

Let us watch our words and speak with grace. Someone may be in a tough season of life and need to be shown some compassion. You just might not know who. One day, it may be you.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

My One Word {and} Why I Don't Want to Fly Standby

"I'm sorry, I can't check you into your flight."

Not words a mom with 3 unruly and tired kids wants to hear. Everyone is done with the vacation, everyone wants to go home. I'm trying to stay calm while my kids are obviously not calm and instead hooting and hollering at the counter in the airport.

"I'm sorry but the system locks us out 30 minutes before take off. I can set you up to fly standby tomorrow morning at 5am"

I look at the clock. it was 28 minutes before scheduled departure. I missed check in by 2-3 minutes.

That means another night it a hotel. The possibility of not actually flying home tomorrow, and another night in a hotel. The kids start chanting 'I want to go home' on repeat, and growing louder by the minute.

The lady behind the counter continues... "The plane is only half full, but it will get you to Chicago. Now, the next flight from there to get you home leaves 4 hours after you arrive, but there are only 10 available spots. Flying standby we can't guarantee you can fly. There are other non-direct routes that will get you home by 8pm tomorrow. If we can get you on the flight straight from Chicago you can be home by noon."

What were my choices? I can't go home. I'm tired and cranky. My hands start to shake I am so upset. I replay the car ride from DC to Charlottesville. My incessant nagging to get everyone moving and into the car. All missed by 2-3 minutes. My heart starts racing and tears start welling in my eyes. "Sure", I say. I'd much rather be home by lunchtime than by bedtime.

She starts to chastise me for being late. I did not need a lecture on punctuality. I was the one harping on the others to get into the car.

Stay Calm. That was all I kept telling myself all while this attendant behind the counter kept talking about arriving to places before start time. I wanted to scream. I wanted to ask her if she had kids, or how hard it would be for her to leave a family member she hasn't seen in 15 years. But mostly? I just wanted to scream.

Instead I say to myself, Stay Calm. I call husband and let him know to keep the rental car another night. He says he will bring it back around so we can load all the car seats, luggage and kids.

And then a person comes up to the counter at the computer next to me. Same situation. Late by 4 minutes. Going to New York. Instead of being calm, he throws an adult-sized temper tantrum. Yelling, cussing. The works.

Guess what? They. Let. Him. On.

Stay Calm.

Oh well, he didn't have three kids and a spouse in tow. It would have taken us 30 minutes just to go through security! I had a moment where I thought, "could I have gotten what I wanted if I threw a fit?" But I always tell my kids that doesn't get them what they want.

I take our itinerary, we get a hotel and board the 5am flight the next morning.

We arrive in Chicago. We find the gate, talk to the people.

"The flight is full. But we will call you once boarding begins if we can get you on the flight."

That means I have to wait 4 hours?!? The kids are tired and wont stay still. The baby is fussy, crying, hungry. The other two are whining every two seconds. I have to wait 4 hours to find out whether or not I can take my tired and cranky kids home? My palms start to sweat. I start to shake. My body is tired from lack of sleep (about 3 hours) and my emotions are going haywire. I just want to cry. I just want to go home! Stay Calm.

The attendants are working furiously on the computer moving seats, granting first class upgrades.

Boarding starts.

They call our party to get us onto the flight. They move some more people around to keep us all together and we are able to board the flight and go home! Relief!

The tears start running. I am so grateful and thankful. The kids are excited to go home.

I never want to do that again!

I continue to tell myself: stay calm.

I had been praying and asking for guidance on what I should use as my goal, or guiding word, this year. Last year it was intentional. I needed it with post-partum. I thought about re-using this word this year as I still need to work on it, but it did not settle well on my heart.

Calm, I heard it over and over again. Be Calm. Stay Calm.

But I didn't listen.

It took 3.5 months and flying standby (I NEVER want to do that again!) for me to finally hear.


Husband said he really wasn't ready to go home yet. I needed a slap in the face for my one word. The kids just wanted to go to sleep.

So we got an extra night of vacation. We got to get the kids to bed earlier than they had been the last few nights.

And, I was up for a 12 hour day the following day.

My one word this year: CALM

Our only group picture from our Vacation! Folly Beach, SC
Easter Day: Happy Easter!

what's your one word?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I Love Food {I Hate Food}

I have a love-hate relationship with food.

You know the battle? I love to eat food. Yummy... Tasteful... Flavorful... I love ingredients that are common but thrown together in such a way which cause your taste buds to dance. I love foreign and exotic flavors from across the globe which add an element of excitement to dinner. I love trying new foods, new recipes, and eating something outside of our normal dinner line up.

But, for the component of supreme dislike: I don't like to prep food. I am not good at taking the time to read the ingredients and follow the directions. I usually end up making a mistake and botch dinner or I change it to the point where it isn't the same and can't recreate the amazing meal. Hey, I'm working on that! But, it probably keeps me from eating all the food all the time! Ha!

The other night I was super excited. I found a cool cookbook at the library and was going to try one of the recipes. It called for wine, an inexpensive cut of beef, some simple ingredients in my cupboard already, and a new veggie I have been trying to fit into dinners lately. It was a win in my book all the way around. I even doubled the sauce, a mistake I thought I learned the week prior with a recipe from the same book. I followed directions, prepped the ingredients, set the crock pot and was good to go!

I loved it. Loved the flavor. Loved how the meat turned out, tender and juicy. I loved the combination of it with the orzo (first time trying that too). Took a bite and I was ecstatic. Looked over at the baby who was happily devouring her food...

See, I have this tendency to cook for the people in my house. I cook to appease the minions. I cook to feed the husband.

This time, I did it. This time I cooked for me.
Love. The. Food.

I look back at the baby who was silently spitting out all her food. The oldest was complaining about the leaves being something you weren't supposed to eat (it was bits of dried basil). My middle was pushing her meat around with her fork and her orzo with her spoon. Husband asked with every bite, "what's this, what's that flavor, what's this flavor".
Hate. The. Food.

We made a meal once and had some people to come over. One of our guests complained about feeling bloated from "eating this junk". That was a few years ago. What we made was from scratch. How could it be junk? It wasn't junk. But it stuck with me. It was enough to discourage me. Maybe there was/is something wrong with my taste buds. Or, maybe my flavor palate is just different.

And now my family was not eating what I had made...  again...

Love the food...

Hate the food...

It's a fine line.

Do I cook to appease the masses? Or do I cook for me?

I think I am just going to start cooking for me. I have a feeling there will always be that love-hate relationship with the food.

Monday, February 20, 2017

What Kind of Example is My Messy Room!?

"Why should I clean my room, Mommy, when your's is such a mess?"

My mouth dropped open. I'm sure a fly might have flown in, buzzed around a bit and left. Those were the words that came out of my oldest, my 6-year-old's, mouth. Sure, I might have been scream yelling at him to clean his room for the last few hours days prior to that question's utterance, just to get the house ready for guests. But, come on. Your 6, child!

How do you respond to a statement such as that? How do you combat the logic and reasoning presented to you by a 6-year-old mind? Because, it's true right? I mean, what have I shown my son besides a messy room? What kind of example am I leading?

We celebrated the baby's 1st birthday a few weeks ago. It was glorious. Funfetti cake with bright blue frosting... The kids were playing their little hearts out in the backyard... We spent the better part of a week cleaning the same parts of the house over and over again just to be ready in time.

As a friend of mine went through our master bedroom to use the bathroom (the guest bath was occupied) I cringed at the thought that she would have to traverse the tiny pathway and actually see the mess! Oh good gravy, the mess... The Mess... With all the yelling and watching and supervising, I never got to lay a finger on my own room.

How much time a day do you talk to your kids about cleaning up? I am pretty sure I tell my kids about 10 million times. Ok. Maybe not that many times. But, I'm sure it's a lot. I tell them to clean up if they want to watch tv, clean up if they want candy, clean up so they can drive their power wheel car outside, clean up for this, clean up for that. I am sure I say it 10 million times more than is absolutely necessary.

But, how often do they see you cleaning? I am pretty sure I spend most of my time standing at the sink washing the gazillion bowls they thought was necessary for breakfast. Apparently a kid needs more than one bowl for cereal in the morning. I don't understand their rationale, or how they manage to get the bowls. I place them high in the cupboard on purpose. They are ninjas... But, do they see me tidying up my own things? Not really. I leave them where I put them, set them down on the counter real fast so that I can pour a glass of milk and forget what I was doing in the 10 seconds the action of pouring milk takes. They don't see me clean.

After everyone at the birthday party went home, we were left behind to take in and absorb the shambles that only a really good birthday party leaves in it's wake. I walked into my kids' rooms and saw the mess. My son looked at me with defeat in his eyes. I just shook my head, shrugged my shoulders and gave him a hug. "did you have fun with your friends?". "yes" he told me. Then I walked to my bedroom and looked at the mess there. No one except my 1 friend went through there and it was worse than my son's room. What am I showing my son? What kind of example am I setting with my own room a mess?

Have you read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (check out my initial review here) or ClutterFree with Kids (initial review here) or Allie Casazza's Blog? Even the multitude of the organizing/tidying/purging/cleaning facebook groups say to do the same thing when it comes to teaching your kids how to clean/tidy their own spaces. I'm sure if I search harder I could find it stated more. Lead by example. Eventually they will do it too. 

Really, that's what I need to do to get my kids to clean their rooms? Lead by example? At least that's the position we are in now. The towers of boxes and books and fabric and patterns all need to get torn down, purged/cleaned/organized. No matter how long it takes, I need to clean my own stuff and my kids need to see it being done by me. 

Maybe they might not clean it right away. Maybe they will find another excuse. But if I can get it under control at least I am leading by example, and they will learn through their interactions with me and my things. At least I wont hear him say "why should I if you don't."