I always feel awkward posting after so long. But every once in a while, I have something I want to say. I've been thinking a lot about the difference in my parenting style from the first child to the fifth. Now that I am finally out of the baby and toddler stage, I can look back with a little more clarity, probably because I'm no longer sleep deprived and I haven't had to wipe anyone else's bottom in years. I look at the way I parented my first, the things that seems like such a big deal, compared to my last and the differences are significant. I have to laugh at the irony, as I've spent most of my adulthood complaining to my own mother that my youngest brother gets away with murder! But when I look at my own children, with ten years between the first and last, how could it be the same? I was not the same person by the time I had Esme as I was when I had Ari. A 21 year old college student's attempt at parenting looks vastly different than a 31 year old wife's. And so many of things that seemed like such huge things, really don't make any difference even five years down the road. I don't think anyone meets my 15 year old and says "She was obviously breastfed for two years!" or "I bet she was an early potty trainer!". My 12 year old will never put on a college application that he walked at 7 months. I'm pretty sure no one other than his father, myself and maybe his future wife will ever care about that! But in the moment, those things seem monumental. Those decisions; how to feed, how to sleep train, when to take away the pacifier...they seem so huge. As if they will determine what kind of person your child will be. But even a few years down the road, they don't matter any more. I have four children who were only ever breastfed and one who had formula. I would guess that if I lined them up, you wouldn't be able to guess which is which. I'd even go so far to say you will could never guess which two were birthed with epidurals and which three were not? I'm not trying to diminish these moments as a parent. However, we live in a world that tells us that these will define our child's future. They will make or break us. That's simply not true. The one I had the least experience in raising (and probably made the most mistakes with) is an amazing human being, despite her imperfect upbringing. The last one, with whom I was a verified expert with, gets away with murder! As I raised them, I continue to grow up myself. I change and learn and make mistakes and do things differently. How sad it would be for them (and me!) If I was the same person 15 years later? So really, we've grown up together. And I hope that one day, they will look back fondly at the things I did right and the things I did wrong and know that I always loved them. They will take the good parts and pass them on to my grandchildren and they will take the bad parts and do better than I did. I was recently sharing with a friend my fears about the effect on my children concerning some of the bad parts. I was lost in that scary place in mind that whispers "you're messing them up". She was able to remind me that her parents made the same mistake, but never took responsibility for it. That even though the action is done, the practice of admitting that wrong to my kids would be powerful. The whispering lies in my brain had never thought of that before. It was one more moment of growth, one more realization that I do not solely determine who my kids will be, that there is One greater than me that defines their future. So I suppose this post is for young parents who are struggling under the weight of the thousand decisions you must make every day. Who are struggling with the whispering voice telling you that you are doing it WRONG. Give yourself a little grace today. And remember that in the blink of an eye, This
And all of those little things become this big person who is a person all of their own! Take a deep breath, you're doing a great job!
Having three daughters can be hard. This world we live in is not the one I grew up in. It is so much harder for them than it was for me. Here are a few of the lessons I hope to teach them.
10. In order to be yourself, you have to know who you are. This will be a life long journey filled with voices trying to answer for you. Shut them out. You define you.
9. Real friends are a gift and should be treated as such. In order to have good friends, you must be a good friend. A true friend will laugh when you laugh, be there when you cry and pull you out of the pit when you can't find your way out on your own.
8. The internet is forever. Before you post that picture, ask yourself if you want your future boss/husband/grandfather to see it. And if you ever decide to write a blog, remember that some day your kids will learn how to read.
7. You can't have it all. Well, you can, but you can't do it all well. In order to be really great at something, there is always sacrifice involved. Prioritize wisely.
6. You will make mistakes. Sometimes you will make the same mistakes over and over. Give yourself grace. And then add a little more grace. Get back up and keep trying.
5. The older you get, the more you will realize the mistakes I made. Save a little of that Grace for me. And when you have your own kids, I'll remind you that I screwed it up a lot but you turned out just fine :)
4. You are beautiful. Not because of your porcelain skin or your giant blue eyes, those will fade. But because of who you are underneath all of that. You will spend your whole life being barraged by what beauty is defined as. Don't believe them. Beauty is compassion, kindness, strength and all of the quirky things that make you YOU.
3. Learn to strong AND vulnerable. The two are not mutually exclusive. You can be a woman of strength while still being honest about your struggles. You don't always have to have it together to be strong. Sometimes we are strongest when we are real about our weakness.
2. Don't give your heart to someone not worthy of it. Each piece you give away is a piece you don't get back. So before you give it away, know your own worth. And then wait for someone who deserves it.
1. No matter where your life takes you, I will be proud of you! I will always be your biggest cheerleader, your counselor and hopefully some day, your best friend. I will love you no matter what, and no matter how big you grow....you will always be my little girl!
I don't generally make New Year's resolutions. I don't really think they work and I am naturally a goal oriented person so I don't need the calendar to encourage that. That being said, while enjoying a short date on New Year's day, Eli asked me what mine were. I didn't really have an answer, as I hadn't given it any thought at all! Over the next few days, I did think about what I'd like to work on this year and the answer came more easily than I'd like to admit. Simply, I need to unplug more. Especially from my phone. I have observed more and more lately the passionate relationship others have with their phones... and no place is sacred. As I watch parents totally ignore their children in a park, or even spend the whole time trying to get the perfect cell pic, I feel convicted. How am I the same way? How often am I not at all in the moment because I'm looking at that darn phone. How many times in my life do I really need to be completely accessible to anyone who may need to reach me? The answer is: almost never. I've justified myself in my mind over the years that I'm OK because we do have rules like no phones at the dinner table, etc. But is that really enough? For me personally...No. So here are a few that I'm trying to put into place in my own life, because I doubt I'll look back one day and wish I'd spent more time on my phone.
1. When in any social situation, my phone is turned off and in my purse. The only exception being if my kids are home alone. And even then, on vibrate and only answered if they call.
2. When on a date, phone stays in the car. Period.
3. Any time I am out with my children, even at the grocery store, the phone stays on vibrate in my purse. Again, I don't need the perfect Instagram pic. I need to be in the moment.
4. I need to stop using my phone as a filler. If I am sitting in the car, waiting for a child to finish a practice... why not read a book? Make a phone call to actually talk to someone? Sit in quiet and just relax. Facebook will still be there later!
5. Lastly, using text messaging as a tool to connect with others instead of doing face to face (or at least voice to voice). I let texting be my copout. No more.
I share these so you can hold me accountable! Blessed New Year!!
Let me paint a picture for you of my afternoon. After work and a full afternoon of appointments, it's 5pm. That's the witching hour around here. Everyone is tired/hungry/psychotic. None of us are at our best. The house is a disaster because I've been gone all day. Esme didn't have a nap for the same reason. Dinner needs to be made. I'm laying on my bedroom floor after throwing up. I'm not sick, I'm stupid. turns out coffee all day + no food= upset stomach. My body was all "uh no thank you. We're not doing this". My compassionate six year old is yelling at me to stop throwing up and MAKE DINNER. My three year old is having a midlife crisis because I turned on the wrong calliou and also Barbie is wearing a purple hat on the kindle game when OBVIOUSLY SHE SHOULD BE WEARING A PINK ONE!!! It's Norman Rockwell over here. I have to survive one hour until my husband comes home. I briefly consider cookies for dinner, but nix that idea because I will pay dearly in over excited kids. I manage to throw something remotely healthy together (and by healthy, I mean there was a vegetable on the plate). It's Monday. I need a vacation. I don't have a witty, feel good ending. The end.
Hey, did you hear that school starts tomorrow? I love the beginning of the school year, not only because my house can stay clean for seven minutes instead of three, but also the excitement! New shoes and new haircuts and ROUTINE! Our house can go back to a finely oiled machine instead of the frat house it becomes over the summer. Now with five kids starting back, I start preparing early. No procrastinating! By this past weekend I had bought 132 glue sticks and enough tissues for a hospital and at least ten one direction themed items. I was pretty proud of myself for being so on top of things! Until Monday...when I realized Esme has to wear uniforms at preschool. Complicated by the fact that nobody makes uniforms in 2T because when on earth does such a tiny person need a uniform? No worries...we'll just throw something together and I'll shop this weekend. Then I realize that somehow I forgot to get left handed scissors for Aliyah. I'll just run by Wal-Mart on my way to work today! Can I just say that they should warn people that going to the school supply section in Wal-Mart the day before school starts is like wandering into a den of angry wolves? Or maybe a crack house? Or possibly a den of angry crackheads? But I got the scissors. It's gonna be smooth sailing from here on out. I went to work and got home around 6:30. Now keep in mind, theMr is still at work also. That means the house looks like it should be condemned and the kids are VERY excited about tomorrow...which translates into running around screaming and punching each other. It's now 7pm and all I have left to do is bathe five kids/find the storage bin of uniforms/iron the uniforms because apparently I packed them away unfolded and they now look like homeless people's clothes/pack lunches/paint tiny nails/and get them settled down and to sleep before midnight. Easy peasy! But after all the chaos, I'm kissing little cheeks and saying bedtime prayers and reminded why I do all of this when Esme says to me, in her sweet little voice, "I hope I learn where stinkers come from at preschool tomorrow!"
happy first day of school from our family to yours :)
Hey friends! I've had a few people lately asking why I haven't talked about my kids here in a long time. I'd like to address that. Basically, my kids are older now. They have their own stories to tell that are not mine to share. I feel that I need to respect their privacy. For many years, this blog filled a void for me as I was home raising (lots!) Of young children. But as its evolved, I've come to realize more and more my childrens need for privacy. So I've pretty much moved to only sharing my own experiences. It's all I really have the right to share. I'm not saying I'll never talk about the kids again, but it won't be my focus. I've also had comments about my lack of posts. It is what it is. I write when I feel strongly there is something I need to say. My days of blogging my every day are long gone. While I still have moments that I feel compelled to share a piece of my journey, they are fewer and farther between. I share a lot about my personal life on Facebook, which is all people I know in real life. I just don't feel the need to share those details in a public forum. So that's about it. Thanks for asking!
this post has been brewing in my mind for weeks... and every time the Lord said "write it", i said "i can't". then i go to church today and the whole message was to share your God story. i get that, i love that. but i have resisted because my story is not a warm fuzzy one. it's not a finished testimony with a bow on it. it's a story still in process. but here it goes...
i've been reflecting lately how much can change in a year. in April 2012, i was in a very different place. i was preparing to quit my daycare business of ten years to pursue my dream of safe families. i was excited, passionate and sure of the road before me. this was my destiny, what i was created to do. i had just gotten a hebrew tattoo on my arm that says "He turned my mourning into dancing, my sorrow into joy". i naively thought it was a testament to my past. i had no idea it was a glimpse into my future. i thought all of the ducks in my life were in a row. little did i know that events were transpiring, unbenownst to me, that would change the course of my future. i was coasting along, so sure of my path. i was forming a board and meeting with local social service agencies and getting people excited for the vision. fast forward to august... my world crashed in a way i never saw coming. one moment in time, one shocking discovery and it all fell apart. my life, my marriage, my mental health, my sanity. i found myself facing a darkness like nothing i had experienced before. to say it was overwhelming does not do justice. for the first time in my 20 years with Jesus i wanted to die. i just wanted the pain to stop, in whatever way possible. in the pit of that agony, i was angry. angry at Eli, angry at myself but more than anything...angry at God. how could He let this happen to me? where was He? i had spent so many years trying so hard to follow him, to obey him, to do what he told me...and this is where it got me. my pride blinded my vision so deeply all i could do was ask Him why? i spent days and weeks raging at Him. i mean really raging. i yelled at him, i begged him, He remained silent. in all honesty, maybe He was speaking but my rage was so loud i could no longer hear him. i don't know. as i tried to put the pieces of myself back together, i found myself starting to heal but my anger at the Lord remained. i couldn't shake it. over and over i asked him WHY? over and over... silence. i've believed my whole life that He doesn't allow us any suffering that can't be for His glory. i was desperately trying to cling to that truth when it was the antithesis of what i was feeling.
so one day i was driving home from a women's Bible study that i didn't want to be at and i didn't want to hear. i was listening to music while esme chattered in the back. i was overcome with rage. i said out loud "how could you do this to me?" and in His still small voice, when i was quiet enough to hear, He spoke.
"what if I used your greatest nightmare to be the thing that set you free?"
i was so stunned by that response i had to pull over my car. is that what happened? was i being set free from a bondage i didn't even know imprisoned me?
i was being set free from the chains of codependancy. i was being set free from the fear of abandonment. i was being set free by a God that loved me too much to let me keep going the way i was.
in that life-changing moment i realized that sometimes God lets it all fall apart so He can put it back together in a way only He knows how. a peace washed over me that i had not felt in a long, long time. i wept with thankfulness. he gave me a tiny glimpse of the forest through the trees. he allowed me a glimpse of what he was making me into and what he had delivered me from. and it was beautiful.
i wish i could tell you that it was smooth sailing from then on. it wasn't. it has been so hard, finding my way back. it is a process that at times i have longed to end. it has been filled with moments of doubt, fear and steps backward. but through it all, He has carried me in a way i have never experienced before. He has shown his majesty in the broken pot that is my heart.
i'm not there yet. we still have work to do. there are still far too many days where i am overcome with fear and anxiety. when i revert to my old coping mechanisms. when i forget.
but those days are fewer and the darkness is not so dark anymore. when they come, i recite truth to myself and meditate on it instead of the lies my mind is feeding me. i surround myself with his praise when my emotions are betraying me. i soak myself in His word when the world is screaming "you're not going to make it!"
i find that i am no longer the person i was a year ago. i am prone to tears, i am humbled by my own failures, i am no longer sure of my path. but i have a hope that was missing for so long. i have a peace that transcends the chaos that is often my life. i have dancing, sometimes sprinkled with mourning.
this is just a piece of my God story, a tiny morsel of the tapestry He is weaving of my life. it is not the end, really a beginning. as my mother told me as a child..."Abby, don't write the ending to a story God is not finished with."