Category: motherhood

Dear Stressed Out Mama: Words For Your Life

Dear Stressed Out, Young Mama:

This is the older me telling the younger me that I see in you, that it’s all going to be OK.

But I’ve learned some things and if I could get you to take some advice from someone a few years ahead of you, I think you would find this life more enjoyable. Maybe?

1. You don’t have to iron so much, or hardly at all. If you hang clothes up out of the dryer (or off the line) most are not too wrinkled to wear. There are the occasional pieces that will need ironed for church or other nice events, but for most things, non-ironed clothes will suffice, especially for young children. Cherish a neat appearance without obsessing about perfection. And really, ironing is just an example of all the ways we feel pressured to be perfect. Give your best, but know that your best will vary in different seasons of life. If your best, with a house full of little people, is getting them out the door with matching shoes (or shoes at all), exhale and accept it. In a different season, your best may look…better.

2. Do not let your children scare you. If you’ve already poured a drink in the pink sippy cup but “GREEN IS HER FAVORITE!” please do not change the cup. Yes, it’s a small thing. Which is exactly why you don’t need to give her the green cup. (Example from the Nanny, Emma) But really, it’s a big thing. The giving in. To love her, truly, she needs to know you’re in control, for her good, and  your strength will be a boon to her development.

3. Do not let other people scare you. One of the greatest forces in our lives is the fear of others, or what the Bible calls, “the fear of man.” Fight it. It will hinder you, impose on your decisions, and ultimately could cause you to live a completely different life than you might have chosen otherwise. Fear causes us to be ruled by the expectations of others and it’s an exhausting place to be. Remind yourself that you must answer to God. Fear Him. Live for Him. And rest in His easy yoke.

4. Savor the differences in your children, let them grow, and do NOT put them in a mold because that’s not where people belong. Push them to be their best but don’t stifle what they’re really good at, or expect them to thrive at what they’re not. Your children are like a bouquet of flowers. Every one is so different and they need the sunshine of your acceptance and love to flourish. Hold them to standards of upright character, but don’t hold them to standards of performance.

5. Slow down. This. one. thing. Evaluate often what the important things in life are and refuse to be ruled by the tyranny of the urgent. Do what you have to do, no matter how drastic, to slow down and savor life. Life is a short, fleeting space of time. The people in it are what matter. If you are too busy to give them your time, your love and your attention, you’re too busy. If you’re too busy to go on long walks or sit in the grass and listen to the birds, you’re too busy. Even the demands of our home can push out valuable time with the ones we love. Figure out what is sucking up your time and make adjustments. They’re worth it and you’ll be thrilled, in the end, that you did.

And another thing: accept that there are good days and bad days. And on the bad days, remind yourself that you aren’t stuck here. Push through it and survive it. Better days are coming. Then on those days, soar. Life is about ebb and flow and change and seasons. Grasping that reality has helped me become more buoyant in the waves.

Homemaking 101 & Unmarried: The Films. On Sale.

Do you need a “back-to-basics” homemaking crash course? Or maybe you just need a reminder to inspire you out of the lull of drudgery. Either way, I think you’ll love the Homemaking 101 DVD from my friend, Jennifer, at Family Vision Films. It is on sale right now for $11.95 just until Sunday! Get your discount with code “101sale”. So jump on over and grab it!

 

 

And while you’re there, the much-anticipated documentary, Unmarried: The Rise of Singleness is here! And it’s on sale too now for just $13.

 

 

 

 

Watch the trailer:


 

You Have Too Many Children to Give Them What They Need

Somewhere along the line, we created an imaginary set of rules about what kids need  for healthy development and if you’ll listen closely, you’ll hear it: “To love my children is to buy them things.” Suffice it to say, if love equals providing material comforts,  American children are the most well-loved children in the world. Ironically, they also suffer the most from narcissism, ingratitude, and a grandiose sense of entitlement.

Those are the children we created attempting to “give them what they need.”  We said, essentially, though no parent would admit it, “Let me make you the center of the universe. Let my love translate into money, my affection into recreation, and let me, above all else, make sure you have everything and every experience you want so you’ll know how much I care about you.”

The disaster is that children want things, but it’s not what they need, and many parents aren’t smart enough to know the difference.

I’ve been asked, outright, how I could possibly give each child “what they need” since I have far more children than the average family. But the question I ask is, “What do you mean by ‘what they need?’ ” At first I assume they’re asking how I have enough time to spend with all my children, to know them and assess their individual needs.

But usually the people who ask me such questions have two parents working outside the home and their children are in school. With homework and school functions considered, that means parents and children are spending an average of (studies indicate) 36 minutes during a weekday together, and 7 out of 10 admit that time is mostly spent watching t.v.

Can this parent really be asking me if I have enough energy and time to go around for my 10 children? At this point, I realize their experience grossly skews their perception. I have far more children, true. But we are not scattered a whole bunch during the day. We don’t spend a lot of time watching t.v. We eat every meal together every day. I talk to each of my children, individually, every day. We work together, cook together, think and talk together. We’ve chosen this life, to the exclusion of other things. Ask me about those. But not about how my children don’t get enough of me.

They do not need more things. More things do not better children make.”

Or is the question really not so concerned with time and love? It does, after all, discredit the benefit of sibling love and attention and a shared responsibility of household duties which lightens everyone’s load and affords us more time. Is the question veiled in concern that my children won’t all get cars at 16? Or that we won’t be paying for their college?

Here’s what children need, whether you have 1 or 20. They need you to slow down. They need your time, your face, your voice, your hugs, your explanations about life. They need to know you are willing to sacrifice even some material comforts in order to be with them as much as you can. They need you to walk with them, laugh with them, play games with them and read to them. More than anything, they need you to disciple them by giving them practical wisdom as they encounter choices all throughout the day. They need a family knit together by simplicity and time.

They do not need more things. More things do not better children make. More vacations do not make them better children. More entertainment, more gadgets, more clothes or more toys do not bolster their success in life.

The god of consumerism hates children because “too many children” curb our spending. Should we be surprised that God’s ideas are at enmity with the world’s? He told us it would be so.

I grieve for a generation of parents whose intentions have been tragically misinformed. I grieve for a generation of children who are being sold a bill of goods that is destroying them and us.

As I see it, having “too many children” has provided a good and necessary protection in our lives from things to which we would naturally gravitate. In my life, having too many children is what allows me to give them exactly what they need.

Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions.

“One of the great things about living the simple life Kelly talks about here is that you can take the kids to the park, make banana splits at home, watch the caterpillar you caught last week emerge from its chrysalis a beautiful butterfly, and your children think they have a charmed life, rather than being bored with everything.” -Cindy Dyer, Get Along Home

How to Be Happy (The Reminder in Mom’s Night Out)

I went to see Mom’s Night Out. Twice, actually, and I positively loved it. It was super funny and tears streaked my face several times, some from laughter, and some from the stomach-pit place that felt just what Ally was feeling.

I will note, before making my completely different point, that the few negative reviews were welcomed in my book. Because they prove the point that feminism really isn’t, in practice, all warm and fuzzy and “everyone just be happy doing what you love.” (They actually call the movie “anti-feminist”, so I’m not making that up.) Feminists’ love of choice stops at the front of door of home. Period.

Back to my post.

There was a line, early on, where the main character says something like (I couldn’t find the exact quote), “This is what I’ve always dreamed of. I’m living out my dream. I’m a wife and mom and…I’m not happy.”

And yes, it bothered me. Because for all the reality of motherhood being hard, I think our younger generation of women on the brink of their own families get discouraged by our complaining sometimes. So we have to (need to?) walk this tightrope of “It’s hard, but it’s good.” Honesty met with strength.

Which is ultimately, what the movie did, and beautifully recovered what I had thought was a disturbing line but actually wrapped the movie up with the simple, perfect message.

Ally says, at the end of the movie, “For me to be happy, something has to change.” And she smartly responds that she is that something.

And there it is. That thing I tell myself, and you here, and that thing we so need to be reminded of day after day, regardless of where we are in life, or what our circumstances–

that our happiness doesn’t depend on a life being always in order and things in a row, and our nails manicured and quiet vacations at the beach and pretty clothes with no wrinkles or stains, and uninterrupted bathroom breaks.

Happiness (which I’m not sure really exists and would be better defined as “joy”) is something that comes from within. It’s the something that has to change if we find ourselves “unhappy.”

Because I’ve watched people rise to joy out of miserable circumstances and I’ve watched others wallow in self-pity with less misery. And still, I’ve seen some, with every comfort and privilege life has to offer, never find contentment.

Ultimately, our most inherent flaw is the need to blame. Blame something or someone for everything we feel or experience. Remember what Adam did in the garden?

We laugh at him and do it ourselves. “It’s his fault, her fault, I can’t be happy.” “If my husband were different.”…If my house were bigger.”…”If my children…if my parents…if my financial situation…if my church…”

Happiness begins with “honor and strength are her clothing.”

Happiness begins with the choice to stop blaming and choose joy.

 

And for another great point about the movie, visit my friend’s post, “What Are You Saying to Your Kids?”

Parenting Completely: Where the Little Stuff Becomes Big

We can’t help it. We want to do something important, something other people think is important, something validated by general nods from society. Something for the Lord.

In reality, however, most of us won’t be called to take the gospel to a tribe of cannibals, or become a renowned teacher. And the thing is, that’s just where God would have us, because His grace is most needed where people are thirsty and need their dirty feet washed.

And it’s in those humble, daily acts of service where we become like Him. It’s the only kind of ministry, in fact, He commanded.

Can we wake up joyful because we are right where He wants us? Can we rejoice for mundane work that, when done humbly, for the glory of God, becomes elevated to honor?

Can we remember that it’s in the daily grind where the Kingdom of God is and grows?

It’s not the big moments that move our children to love Him, to love life, to grow in grace. And we can’t parent completely in “quality time.”

Just like a garden grows…ever so slowly, where the gardener is faithful and consistent.

Mothers Need This, and Our Children Need it More (How to REALLY Make Childhood Magical)

It’s difficult to articulate how much I appreciate this article by Bunmi Laditan. How much I think we desperately  need to read it, yes, but BELIEVE it and live it.

My grandfather was a hard man. And so my father grew up hard. He had to shoot his favorite dog–his pet, his best friend–because the dog attacked the farm pig one day. Dad was 15 and Papa just handed him the gun and said “handle it.”

They had a dirt floor in a log cabin chinked with mud. One Christmas Papa forgot gifts. On Christmas Eve he ran to the drug store and bought my Dad a plastic watch.

My parents didn’t have toys. They didn’t go on vacations. But they turned out really well. Probably better than most.

So maybe these kinds of stories from our ancestors prompt us to give our children more. But then we fall into the other ditch, not realizing what “more” really is, and we sacrifice our time money and sanity for all the wrong things. This ditch is even worse. And in a subtly twisted kind of way, the Internet and social media like Facebook and Pinterest has fed the mania, often turning it into an egocentric, one-up performance.

In I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical, the author succinctly makes a case for simplicity and I applaud her. Mothers need it to relieve guilt and anxiety, families need it to relieve time and financial constraints, and children need it to grow up happier.

Read it.

“Parents do not make childhood magical. Abuse and gross neglect can mar it, of course, but for the average child, the magic is something inherent to the age. Seeing the world through innocent eyes is magical. Experiencing winter and playing in the snow as a 5-year-old is magical. Getting lost in your toys on the floor of your family room is magical. Collecting rocks and keeping them in your pockets is magical. Walking with a branch is magical.

It is not our responsibility to manufacture contrived memories on a daily basis.” Read the rest HERE.

 

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