I Lost it at 3

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And then there were three….

 

When I had 2 kids I felt right from the beginning that it was doable. Yes, tricky at times but completely doable.

I don’t remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the prospect of parenting and keeping up with my other various responsibilities. I also felt like I could get my body back. I gained the least amount of weight with my second pregnancy and had stayed pretty active the entire pregnancy. A couple stretch marks (yes, two actually) but other than that by the time my second child was 9 months old I felt like I was as in as good of shape as I had been before kids.

But I completely LOST IT at 3. I don’t know what I did wrong or what happened exactly but I feel like from child #3 on I have never been able to get completely back up in the saddle.

Yes, I’m still on the horse….mostly….most days…..but it’s a very precarious ride and I feel like I’m wearing silk pajamas on a leather saddle with no reins to grab onto….the horse definitely has no bit….it’s wild.

That’s also about the point I mysteriously started finding things like gray hairs, hidden stretch marks in crazy places, love handles and extra “padding” around my middle, not to mention the ingrained purple bags under my eyes and my increased urge to lash out irrationally.

That’s when homeschooling became a daily battle. Discipline a guessing game. And a clean house a figment of my imagination. Where did the order go? I’m an organized person….right? Aren’t I?

So, at the moment we have 4 kids and we feel like there is at least one more waiting on us….maybe more….Some days I get all motivated and psyched up and think , “I CAN DO THIS!!!!!”

About an hour later, while battling my 8yr. old over a math lesson, trying to keep my 5 year old out of the mud when she’s supposed to be working on her handwriting (come on, at least during school can we avoid filling the entire patio with mud pies? :/), finding my 3yr. old in a flooded bathroom with her messed up pants around her ankles and WAY more than enough toilet paper to clean it up with (when did she even GO to the bathroom, I thought she was doing phonics on the computer??), only to come out of there to find my 1 year old has somehow figured out how to climb into the kitchen cupboard, dump out all the garbage in the garbage can and is now eating who knows what out of it….it’s at times like this I find myself thinking, “What in the world was I thinking? THERE IS NO WAY ON EARTH I CAN DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Well, I’m right. Actually both statements are correct if I tweak it a bit. I, personally, cannot do this. It is just not humanly possible.

The thing is it really doesn’t matter how many parenting books I read, organizational webinars I listen too, or homeschooling blogs I follow….when it comes down to it, despite my best efforts…life is still going to happen and I’m still going to mess up. Big time.

So what does that mean? Should I quit? Should I just give up and go with the flow?

No, of course not. It just means that I am me. And my kids are each uniquely made as well.

It’s like mixing up a salad. Different ingredients, some of which may not even seem like they should go together, but a really good salad has a lot of surprising variety. The ingredients work together because they are put together by a chef that knows their unique taste and texture.

So here’s the thing. I’m me. You mix me with the members of my family and there is going to be sweet, sour, soft, crunchy…. mostly nutty. But the Chef knows what He is doing because He knows each of us better than we know ourselves.

Are families are not by accident. This is God’s Plan. We have families to fulfill his divine purposes and we are put together ON PURPOSE.

I am here to learn. To learn to be more like God. And that is what each of my children are here for too.

We are ALL disciples…followers, learners, willing students….I just forget that part sometimes…ok, LOTS of times.

I’m so busy instructing, teaching…ok, ok bossing…that I’m not even opening my mind and heart to what I’m supposed to be learning.
Yeah, there is always the standard answer, Patience. Right, well as parents we definitely know we could use some of that.

But what about charity? The ability to love as God loves, just as we are, good or bad, right or wrong,….He loves us. Always and forever.

What about meekness? The ability to be teachable. To look at every situation with curiosity and desire to learn and accept situations and people as they are.

What about submissiveness? The ability to give my will up for the better good, maybe better for me, maybe better for everyone. Trusting that the Lord knows all…and thus knows best.

These are all characteristics that are naturally inherent in my children. Yet, sadly, I tend to think I’m the Mom, I know best….really? Always?

Worst of all, by my callous, prideful words and behaviors I am shaping another generation to leave their child-like natures behind and follow in MY footsteps….wait, aren’t I supposed to be leading them to Christ?

I already know, I don’t know what I’m doing. I already know, I lost it. So, stop the fight.

Let humility take over rather than pride. See my children as God sees them and love them that way too. Let them teach me. Instead of constantly thinking, “I cannot do this.” I should be thinking, “Show me how to do this.”

There are times when I have actually been able to embrace these principles. Let go of myself, my thoughts, my worries, my pride….and open my mind to learning and guidance. It always works. An answer always comes. Sooner or later, all at once or gradual…it comes. And many times….from the mouth of babes…

So, maybe that’s part of God’s plan too. I HAD to lose it. I had to get to the point where I felt like I know nothing and I can do nothing, so I could let Him guide me back to where I’m meant to be.

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Monkey See, Monkey Do

ImageOne of my son’s first words was “Crap”.

One of my daughter’s favorite things to do with her dolls is put them in “Time Out”, not always nicely.

When my children have a disagreement among themselves, more often than not, yelling is involved.

When my oldest daughter doesn’t agree with you she gives you a face that looks like she could slap you upside the head.

So why did they or do they do these things? Take a guess….

Yep, when my son was little I used the word “Crap” about as often as I said “No”. My daughter gets “time out” frequently of late, and I’m not always nice about it. I yell…..WAY more often than I should.  That look on my daughter’s face? Well, it’s like looking in the mirror for me.

The nice thing about this phenomenon is that it IS like a mirror that MAKES you face your weaknesses. The bad part is seeing those weaknesses ALL the time and facing up to them and THEN having to train it out of your child as well.

So, why the confession? More of an analysis for me really. I would say about 95% of the time, when I encounter a behavior and/or pattern in my children that I do not like I can trace its beginning back to teaching and training done in the home.

I’ve been thinking this over as I consider our character training for this next academic year. Thinking about what I MUST DO and BE in order to me the mother God and my children are expecting of me. The thing is, I can teach and train ‘til I die….but if I’m not talking the talk and walking the walk, there is very little likelihood that my children will have the character that I aspire them to have. No one listens to a hypocrite.

Does personality matter? Yep. Absolutely. That’s why the teaching and training cannot be identical for each child. That is also why it gets so complicated when you have more than 1 child in the home to deal with.

It’s just like a chemical reaction. There are some chemicals that we don’t mess with too much because they are so volatile. The same goes in the home….there are some personalities in our family that should not be corked in the same bottle for too long. There are also things we know that in our family we just steer clear of….our main triggers are over-scheduling/fatigue and “bad” (for us) eating habits. I know that when we start mixing in one or both of those ingredients there is bound to be a blow-up with someone.

Then I have to consider needs. Physical yes, but mental and emotional more. We cannot listen and learn if our needs are not met. Just think about when you are physically ravenous….can you do calculus? (Well, I can’t do calculus anyway, but you get the point). It’s the same chemical reaction mix. If my kids are not “fed” with all of THEIR needs then very little learning will happen. This is also a tricky one because every child is so different and thus their needs are as well.

It’s tricky, no doubt about it. There are times I feel discouragement start to trickle into my soul, leaving deep black valleys that can quickly fill up with despair. I may have made changes but I have light-years yet to travel on my road to perfection. If it were just me that would be one thing, but I have these little angels in my home that I must guide along the way.

But I am not alone. YOU are not alone. What great trust God must have in us to lend us HIS children to teach and train. He will not leave us alone to do it. I have been running across this message in my devotionals all week, one of my favorite verses of scripture says in beautifully,

Matthew 7:7-8:

aAsk, and it shall be bgiven you; cseek, and ye shall find; dknock, and it shall be opened unto you:        8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that aseekethfindeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Whenever I feel alone, whenever I feel like I’m the only one working….I stop and reflect….God NEVER  leaves us alone….WE walk away from HIM. It’s a promise….we seek, we find….we knock, the door opens….we ask, we receive. Yes, I have a lot of work to do. I have a lot of changing to do. But I have peace, knowing that the One that knows all, will be my guide….IF I but LET Him.

Now or Never?

It’s a commonly held belief, the idea that there is a timing, a destiny, a fate, for everything in our lives. I’ve always been of the mind that there is a time and season for all things. At the same time, I do not think that choosing one thing will mean you have to give up another forever.

For instance, when I was planning my adult life I had everything planned,  which schools I would attend, which degrees I would achieve, what studies and travels I would take, what career plan I would take….My ultimate goal was to eventually become a wife and mother but I figured I’d get all of my educational and career goals taken care of first and then move on to a home life.

Thankfully, I also have great faith that the Lord will guide our paths and decisions and it happened in my life that I was guided to take on the role of wife and mother much earlier than I had planned. Now looking back I am eternally grateful that I was re-routed and know that this was the best timing for me. Does that mean the rest of my educational and career goals are forever lost? I don’t think so. I’ve also been amazed at how my responsibilities as a wife and mother have taught, shaped, and led me to much more knowledge and wisdom than I would have ever thought possible, many times paralleling and supplementing my career and educational goals.

However, I began wondering on this topic the other day when I was thinking of adding another activity into mine and my family’s life. The topic was Boy Scouts of America. My son is of the right age and he already has some of the manuals and has already enjoyed experimenting with the learning experiences offered in them.

The issue is that since we live internationally I would have to either do it with my son as a home-study type course or start our own group. Either way it would involve a lot of extra time and I would have to also deal with the extra paperwork issues of having our meetings abroad. Is it worth it? I think so, I really like the program and I know my son would love it. Is the timing right? Honestly, I am not a high-stress person, I don’t do well with it and I tend to minimize over-scheduling whenever possible. I was thinking logically it made sense, but I was also worried that I would soon find myself off-balance.

Right now I feel like being in my third trimester of pregnancy with my fourth child, homeschooling the rest of my children, helping my husband with his home-based business, keeping up my church and service commitments and then the doings, comings and goings of being a wife and mother is enough for me at the moment. It seems trivial, I know. What’s the big deal, it’s just Boy Scouts?

Well, these little decisions come up all the time in our lives and sometimes one little thing can lead to a bigger thing in the future. So, if I don’t do it now will we never do it? Or is this just not the time and season? This same thought pattern comes whenever I am considering a choice. I’ve found that thinking about it logically and making my decision, then bringing it to the Lord for his confirmation helps me feel I’m choosing the best thing at the best time. I also then feel that if it’s not the right time, right now, it doesn’t mean it won’t work later. Even if it is now or never and I don’t choose now, then never is probably the best choice for me.

So, what are your feelings about times and seasons? Now or Never?

My Philosophy on Learning

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This life is all about learning. Right? That’s what we came here for, that is the whole plan. We are very blessed that we have the Lord overseeing this learning process and giving us tools and insights along the way. We have His sacred scriptures to guide us as well as the Holy Ghost. I am so very grateful for these incredible gifts in my life.

Now, does that mean that this should be a piece of cake? Of course not. If it were easy then we really wouldn’t learn anything, would we? There are numerous facets to consider. We have our circumstances of family, home, culture….not to mention our gender, personality, and physical capabilities. All of these aspects, as well as others, play an important role in the way we learn and what we will learn throughout all eternity.

Personally, I think that there are no learning disabilities. Yes, I do agree that there are great challenges given to many people that affect their learning, BUT I also agree that most societies have created too small of a box for most people to fit into.  Sometimes a disability simply needs to be thought of as a different way of learning.

Thankfully, we live in a time when “learning styles” are at least recognized as valid in the educational arena. However, we still have to move away from the human’s natural tendency to categorize everything because there are new people being born every day and every day new things are being discovered….we really have no time to lose with placing everyone into a “learning box” and expecting them to thrive and reach their potential.

Thus, I come to my point (took a while didn’t it?) I believe that with all the nuances of learning and the incredible variety of people in existence that we have no choice but to rely on spiritual guidance to find our true potential of learning. What do I mean by this? Well, I think each of us knows basically how we don’t like to learn or what we have trouble learning (mathematics, anyone?). This is a good start. Now, if we can rely more on the way we feel about a particular learning experience we will begin to find our own personal road to our knowledge potential. When we feel that we can’t get enough, that everything is “clicking” and our brain is even bringing in past information to connect to our current experience and perhaps even hypothesizing on future learning….then we know we are in our mode, our method, our way of learning.

Now, for myself, I find that this process of finding our way is greatly enhanced by spiritual development. Prayer, scripture reading, pondering/ meditation, worship/ devotional time….these things bring me a peace, a calmness, and a special “in tune” nature to the workings of the Holy Ghost, who is our biggest ally in helping us find, recognize, and remember. He is what we feel guiding us and helping us connect the dots, so to speak, in the vast expanse of possible learning experience.

Of course, as parents, and I believe especially as mothers, it also becomes our responsibility to not only help ourselves find our way through this learning maze, but also to guide our children. This is using a spiritual method to utilize a seemingly secular activity, but I would argue that they are one and the same. I think many of us would say that we strive to be like God, to act as He would, to be like He is….well, does this not require learning?

When we seek the Lord’s help and guidance we will surely find it, whether it be for our own good or the good of our family. He loves us, he wants us to succeed and success to Him is not “getting by”, it is not being mediocre….he wants us to EXCEL. To truly live is to love, and to love, is to learn.