I’m Just Your Mom..

This title keeps bouncing around in my mind. Time to write…

It came to me when I was driving my oldest daughter to school a couple weeks ago. It was cold and she was leaving on a class trip that morning. Coldest weekend so far this year and she was leaving for a class trip a few hours away.

All she wanted to take to fend off the cold was a sweatshirt. She told me over and over again that’s all she’d wear. Still, I insisted she bring a coat, my ski coat, because it was the warmest one in the house. I told her she’d be thankful for it, that she’d want it.

She didn’t agree.

So much so, I was pretty sure it would get left behind somewhere. In a car, at the hotel, at the school. She didn’t want it. It was cold, wet, and getting colder.

I could send the coat, but I couldn’t make her wear it. I couldn’t make her remember it. I couldn’t make her want it. As hard as it would be to force her to wear it even if I were physically with her, I wouldn’t be. So, I had no control over whether she would wear it or not. Just make it available and hope that she’d not only wear it, but actually bring it home.

Makes me think of how we, as moms, love our kids like no other. We have a lot of “power” when it comes to where we let our kids physically go when they are young. But, we can’t control everything and we can’t make all their choices for them. So much is out of our hands. We may “control” some of their activities, but we can’t control their hearts or minds. We only have so much. The love is infinite, but the control is minute.

As much as I hope she learns from my mistakes, forgives me for them, and chooses Jesus for herself, I can’t make her. Only pray and hope that she does and brings Him to her home one day.

All this from how little control I had over whether she wore the coat I sent or not.

Her life’s path is different from mine. God has a specific purpose in mind for her. My prayer is she follows IT. Him. And, that takes a lot of trust in her and Him from me.

We can take our kids to school and put friends in front of them, but we can’t make them choose them for themselves. We can allow phones or not, but we can’t control their friends devices. We can take them to church or not, but we can’t control their desire for  God.  We can make them food, but we can’t pick their food when they are away from us or make them like certain things. So much is theirs to control. So much more than I ever knew prior.

We can make them say they are sorry, but we can’t make them mean it or truly forgive. We can’t make them stay faithful or pick their spouse. We can’t control their spouses hearts or actions either.

I can send a coat, but I can’t make you wear it.

I can’t make you value yourself. Just hope and pray you do. I can’t put Jesus in your heart. Only pray you do.

I hope, as scary as this may sound to us moms, that it also helps us relieve the coat of all the pressure. There’s a lot we can do for our kids. But, so much that we can’t and is God’s job.

All I can do is the best I can at all of the above with God’s help, pray some of it rubs off,  and that the bad stuff falls away by His grace alone.

I heard after the trip that she not only wore the coat, but was so thankful she had it. Made me smile and strengthened my resolve that I sent it regardless of her resistance. I high fived myself in my mind. Go, Mom!

I gave birth to you and carried you, but He formed you and gives you life to this day.

I can wear my coat and hope you do too. But, I can’t control your heart. Only keep turning it over.

After all, He’s your Savior. I’m just your mom.

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When Taking is Giving

Contemplating my day yesterday and an interesting parallel came to mind…Let’s do a run down of my Sunday. This is one day in the life of what many of you can relate to.

  • Take clothes out of dryer
  • Take dog to groomer
  • Take kids to breakfast
  • Take car to car wash
  • Take care of flowerbeds
  • Take girls to play with cousins
  • Take ice to baby shower
  • Take kids to Vacation Bible School
  • Take trash to curb
  • Take kids to bed

As parents, it’s in the taking care of things and people that we give. Taking is giving. The giving of ourselves, our finances, our time and energy, our lives. We can’t do it all, but man, don’t we try? I think we’d all take our kids on more vacations if we could afford it. Vacations with kids can feel like anything but, but taking is also making memories that will last a lifetime for all of you. I want the memories as much as my kids do. Sometimes we need to take and sometimes we WANT to take. As a parent, it’s all giving.

Taking our kids to school and taking ourselves to work. Taking our kids to church, dance, softball practice, birthday parties, the doctor, the dentist, camp, the grocery store. Not easy, but still fills our hearts in a way we can’t describe. Because they are ours. Because of our love. Taking is giving.

It’s tiring, it feels never ending, and it’s so precious. It’s in these days of taking that we need to remember what a blessed assignment it is. I’m well aware these days don’t last forever.

It’s not until they become parents one day, that they will also recognize the incessant giving that taking requires. I hope this helps you. When you’ve taken (given) all you can, fuel up on the fact that you were given these children to take places and the ultimate blessing to them and to you that it is. It may not feel appreciated, but I applaud you and one day they will “get it” too.

Think of the gift that taking on someone else’s kids is. I recognize this even more as a single mom. Parenting is hard. Step parenting is ginormous. No one has to. They choose to. And, it may feel even less appreciated by all involved. Still, you take. Give and take.

Being with someone who is all “take, take, take” is frowned upon in relationships. We’d all rather be with a giver. But, with kids, we take, take, take everywhere. With all the taking required in parenting, we also need to remember to take care of ourselves. If married, it’s the same. Taking your wife on a date, taking out the trash, and taking the kids or grandkids out for snow cones are all giving. Yay for the takers, because they are the givers!

I’m so thankful for family that helps me with the taking in any way, shape, or form. I appreciate their giving and recognize it as such. I realize when we love, it’s what we do. It’s how we give. We load up and take.

Once they are driving, there will be less taking. But, oh how sweet to hear those words..”Mom, can you take me….” at that point. It won’t be necessary, it will be wanted. And, I’ll do everything in my power to jump all over it. Oh, how we love…

 

 

You’d Better…

Would you rather your kids “act right” or “love right”? Obviously, the better we love, the better we tend to act. But, if it’s just actions, where’s the love?

Loving “right” comes with all kinds of hard stuff. Courage to speak their truth, admitting anger and hurt, learning empathy, communicating their preferences, thoughts, opinions (that may be very different than my own). For them to love themselves and me properly, this all needs to come in to play. Still, I’d rather them love right than just act right and hurt quietly for shame that I won’t care about their pain or problems. I want them to love well, properly, healthfully.

This takes a lot of letting go. This will take a lot of prayer. This takes loving discipline. And, a lot less controlling. May they be raised seeing grace and care, so that they will be the first to recognize when it isn’t present. May they learn to love and appreciate the differences in themselves and others.

Loving is messy and hard, just look at the cross. It’s in the marriages, the loss of loved ones, the illnesses of children, and the rebellion of family members that this is tested and shown in all it’s painful brilliance. To love “right” isn’t easy. To act “right” can be. Superficial, but just that, an act.

May we love well. May we be willing to let go so that we can. They are their own beings with their own hearts, decisions, choices, and futures ahead of them. May I love them well through them all. Whatever they may be.

Being a parent opened my heart to the love of God when I realized that He loves my kids even more than I do. That’s hard for me to comprehend, but I know that it’s true. They were His before they were mine. But, it also reminds me that I am His child. And, I also think He’d rather me love right than just act right. And, I know now how much of a difference there really is.

Our Fight Song

The pressure was mounting, the days were ticking down, the hearts were racing….and it wasn’t just my daughters feeling this way. Talent show was coming up and I was becoming increasingly frustrated. What was going on? The girls wanted to surprise me with their acts and costumes. When I’d ask if I could practice with them or if they needed me to get them anything to wear, they would quickly let me know that their stepmom had it all taken care of. “Nothing for you to worry about, Mom.”

This bothered me. I felt like she was doing my job, not only my job, but better than I was. Practicing, buying fancy dresses and props. Spending more money than I would or should on talent show attire, I might add. She was killing it as a stepmom and that was killing me. That led to “Am I doing enough? Is she better than me?” thoughts. Insecurity. Jealousy.

One of the places I know she’s better than me is in doing their hair. She fixes their hair like I’ve never been able to. She braids, she updos, she curls, she straightens. I get compliments on their hair and outfits a lot after she dresses them. I smile and usually give her the credit. It hurts either way. I can honestly say I’m hair challenged. So, I can’t help but feel less than when people ooh and ahh over their hair. We all have our gifts, right? I am left wondering, what is mine?

A few days before the talent show, I was really struggling and had a few friends praying specifically over me and this situation in my heart.

She happened to text me that day and ask if she could pick the girls up at 4:00 to do their hair for the talent show. (Of course!) Straight to the heart of my insecurity. My heart sunk. In my head, I had two choices. One would be to say “yes” and continue to feel inferior and inept. The second, being “No, I’ll do it” and bring them with hair not nearly as cute as if I’d just let her do it. Sooooo, I have no doubt God intervened and placed a third option in my heart. An option I never would have considered before. Ever.

Instead of door #1 or #2, I took #3. I asked her if she could come over to our house and show me how she does it. Maybe I could learn something? Maybe I could admit there are some things she does better than me. Just like everyone else on this planet. Maybe if I humbled myself to watch and learn, rather than resist or retreat, we could work together. And, that’s just what we did.

She came over and we did the girls hair together. We showed up at the talent show and the girls did wonderfully. As my youngest, sang “Fight Song” loud and proud in her boxing gloves, red cape, and fancy red dress, I couldn’t help but think, “Yes, baby girl, this is our fight song, take back our life song, prove we’re alright song, our power’s turned on, starting right now, we’ll be strong, we’ll play our fight song…..”

And, now you know the rest of the story. I’ll never forget her performance that day. Not only because she knocked it out of the park, but because we all did.

So to all you stepmoms out there who are doing your best and doing it well, have mercy on us mamas. It’s not easy. Put yourself in our shoes and imagine how hard it would be to watch another woman help raise your babies…and well. We don’t have kids expecting to share. It goes against every fiber in our being. But, thank you. If you love our kids, thank you. We know you don’t have to. You choose to. If they love you, bonus. The more love in my kids lives, the better.

I can’t change the fact that you’re here and somehow you keep showing me, just by loving them, that I wouldn’t want to. And, that’s hard to admit as Mama. I’m thankful he’s with a woman who cares and loves our kids. And, can do a salon quality updo.

What I’ve Learned From My Kids…

motherhood

Here are a few things I’ve learned from my kids thus far. My girls are only 8 & 3, so I know I have a lot more learning to do and milestones to reach….Even so, these lessons have been astounding and life altering.

  • I wasn’t as “ready” for kids as I thought I was (no one is)
  • Patience is NOT my greatest virtue
  • The sweetest sound to my ears is “I love you Mommy”
  • Picking the girls up after work and putting them to bed are two of my favorite times
  • Going to the main church service with kids is important but “feels” pointless while you’re there….keep going.
  • I learn how I want to be treated when I think about how I want them to be treated
  • Every child is different
  • There is no “perfect’ way to feed, sleep train, or discipline your child, although they are all necessary
  • A kid’s memory is surprisingly accurate
  • Daycare is expensive!
  • Kids will listen to, watch, and read a favorite song, movie, or book over and over and over and over and over and…
  • Parenting will drive you to your knees, and that’s a good thing.
  • You can’t control everything.
  • Parenting should keep us very humble.
  • I wouldn’t trade it for the world

My girls are lovers, fighters, givers, takers, whiners, gamers, laughers, criers, cuddlers, and the best part is that they are mine! (So that all makes sense). Let the love and lessons continue….