I’m a Struggling Mom

The other day, I was talking to a friend and she said her ex had a issue with her letting me watch their little girl. She said he asked her, “isn’t Angel’s mom … isnt she that struggling mom?” Later when she asked him to explain why he said that, he said something about a birthday party, and I immediately remembered what he was referring to.

Their little girl had a birthday party a few months ago to which I showed up without a gift. I still don’t recall if the reason was because I ran out of time or didn’t want to spend our money on buying a gift for a little girl that, at the time, I didn’t know. I remember being exhausted that day and driving away from the party feeling inadequate and a little guilty, but hoping that it wouldn’t matter.
I’d asked that man a day prior, if she had a certain Barbie movie which I had already wrapped up ready to give her, but he looked at me, smiled and replied to the affect of, “yep, I’m afraid so. I think she has all the Barbie movies.”

So it looks as if he, many months later remembered that about me… perhaps it was in combination with another judgment based off of something else…maybe how I look or what I drive (not sure) and found it appropriate to assume I was struggling mom. I don’t know why, but that just didn’t sit well with me for several days.

I realized that I had this pride welling up inside me that fueled a desire to call this guy up and rattle off how we’re making more money than ever (possibly inadvertently interject a figure there), and how I used to teach preschool and early childhood development classes in Texas, and how dare he even conclude that because a parent doesn’t show up to your child’s party with a gift, they must be struggling and therefore probably unfit to watch your child… (and whatever else my big ol’ pea brain could come up with as a defense against his unfair label).

But how foolish. So many times when I’ve thought of words to use to retaliate, they are nothing but prideful and just… LAME.

God is teaching me a fresh level of humility. One that forces people to make a judgment of me by my lifestyle – not by whether I bring a gift to a party, and not by my words (praise God!). But to be still, be quiet, and be a light by the way I live.

These are some scriptures that have come to my mind:

…so they may see your good works and glorify God who is in heaven…

…if any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition…

…think of others more highly than yourself…

…pray for those who mistreat you…

You know, I can’t help but wonder if this kind of snap judgement was also revealed to me to prepare me for what is to come when we move into a smaller place soon out of obedience.

There will be assumptions made as to why we downsized so dramatically. I need to be more prepared. But since God is then one who is asking us to make these life changes, I will only answer to God (and in that, to my husband who God has put over me).

Let them think what they will… and let me boast in my riches – not of any material wealth, but of my rich relationship with the One person I should seek to please. Closeness with Him and how he speaks to me – stories of his faithfulness – these are the boast-worthy things of life!

Yeah… I’m a struggling mom. I struggle all the time with my reactions to people and most recently, to my God and all that he requires of me as his follower.

I may struggle, but that’s OK. I’m learning to be OK with it. As long as I’m leaning on the Lord, being transparent, and trying to be obedient.

Grace and the Will to Put it on Display

Motherhood and grace should go hand in hand.  It’s a tough job, and when things get crazy or you mess up, it can be so relieving to find grace in others’ view of you…in how they react. Grace received from your own children and husband goes a long way. But sometimes grace from a stranger can go even further.

Last weekend, I was having a good time with several of Braylon’s friends in our garage. We decided to do an art project around a table. Braylon finished pretty quickly and joined his friend from school, “J”, in the driveway. This was just the 2nd time he’d come over to play, and I’d recently had a bad miscommunication with his mother, but wrote her a loving note to try & work it out… and a few weeks later we seemed to be fine. So the other day,  Braylon & “J” were skateboarding for a while and then they started fake-sword-fighting (while I was painting, etc. with 3 other lil ones, about 15 ft away).

Then I hear “J’ complaining about his arm hurting. He wasn’t crying, but I got up to see why it hurt. I saw several dots of blood on it, from where Braylon got him with his “fake sword”. Thing is, Braylon wasn’t thinking and chose a dangerous tool to use as his “fake sword” – one he’d gotten from our grill – the kind with strong, wire bristles for cleaning a grill. I examined the tool and had Bray apologize, as it looked like it did hurt. But they weren’t fighting maliciously and Bray didn’t get him intentionally. Nonetheless, I was concerned so later that day, I text’d his mother, telling her briefly what happened, that it was an accident and was sorry, & asking how her son was doing. She replied “some brusing and a few drop of blood…”. Two days later (Monday, I believe) “J” came to my mind again and I was concerned, so I text’d her again to follow up on his arm’s condition. Although I didn’t actually see the short sword-fight, I couldn’t imagine his arm still hurting from how it looked shortly after. I expected her to say he’s much better….or it’s almost healed; thanks for asking.

I deleted her reply, but it was very similar to this: “its pretty messed up. i am very upset with your son. i will never let him play with my son again. frankly, i question your intelligence”.  This is the 2nd time this mother’s reacted to me in this way, so I don’t know why I was shocked. I guess I’m just not used to it. It’s so contrasting to how my friends would react.

Although I felt terrible, and wanted to reply, I didn’t. I felt anything I would say would not help.

Fast-Fwd to yesterday (Tuesday), at the Wal*Mart check-out:  I had bought my food and was waiting for carry-out help while I watched the lady behind me. Her daughter (2-3 yrs old) was sitting on the ground toward the middle of the isle. I watched as another lady headed through the isle with her cart half-full of groceries. I saw her look & notice the little girl, and continue on, but to her surprise, she’d misjudged where her cart’s wheels were heading and ran right over the little girl’s fingers. I saw it. And I heard the “bump-bump”. Then I heard nothing. There seemed to be a full minute that passed before that girl could catch her breath enough to let out the most horrendous, glass-shatterin’ cry. Her mommy swooped her up, and the lady rushed back and must’ve apologized 3 times as she intermittently self-checked her food, explaining that she honestly thought she had enough room to go by.

The little girl’s mom responded several times back with a smile, “Oh, it’s ok. She’ll be ok.”  or, “It’s her nap time & she’s tired. I think I’ll just give her some Tylenol & put her down for a nap when we get home.” Another time she said, “Things like this happen sometimes. Pleeaase, don’t feel bad. Her fingers were kind of out there too far, I think”. I watched the guilt-ridden woman listen to these words of honey, hoping they’d be received… hoping they’d resound louder than the cries of pain.

After the woman left, and the mom was still there, paying, I walked up to her & thanked her. She looked at me, confused. I explained briefly that earlier this week, I’d had a mom react to something my son did that accidentally hurt her son – & the reaction I got was, well, quite opposite. I said how it was so refreshing to witness one mom showing so much grace to another.

I guess I was hormonal and had teared up while talking, cause the next thing I know, I hear this big, kind stranger say, “awwwwwwe!” and was squeezed in her compassionate bear-hug! When she let go, I guess she thought I needed more affirmation and proceeded to tell me a little story about how she could relate, when a mom at a park “went off” on her. She then wished me a good day & went on her way.

It seemed to really work out that it took Wal*Mart employees 12 minutes to find someone for car carry-out that day. After a few minutes of waiting, I was going to just go. But I really wanted to see how everything played out.  Had they helped me immediately with all my groceries, like some grocery stores offer, I’d have missed this scene – this demonstration of grace and love to a stranger. It’s one thing to treat someone you love with such grace, but another to extend it to your neighbor … to a stranger in the store, a park, a post office. How ’bout someone who has crossed you – someone who you don’t like?  How are you different than anyone in this God-forsaken world if you show a hostile attitude or even indifference to those people? Nothing sets you apart.

Specifically, I think it’s so important for mothers to stick together and support each other. That’s part of why I’ve been involved in mom’s groups for many years. We need to hold each other up with reliable encouragement, honesty & prayer. Keep each other accountable. Live in an exemplary way for our children, almost going out of our way to brighten another mom’s week…WEEKLY.  I know I’m miles away from living this consistently, but dangitall if I’m not gonna make it my goal. Life is too short to not make your mark of grace on everyone you can, especially other moms.

That’s my 2¢.

By faith, Chelan…

Hebrews describes a list of people who lived by faith…or at least had a faith-filled defining moment that changed history,  ie: “by faith, Rahab welcomed spies.” or “by faith, Moses’ parents hid him for 3 months, from the king, knowing they had an unusual child.”

I wonder what I’ve done that could be one day be recorded, “by faith, Chelan…” I’ve been thinking about it. What am I doing now that requires faith? Continue reading

Peace and Quiet at Walgreens

Our house is not that peaceful. Well, that’s not true – it’s peaceful… but quiet? That’s another story.

1 small home + zero carpet + 1 six-yr.old & 1 two- yr.old good insulation = l o u d , most of the time.

A few weeks ago i tried to nap my sickies away only to awake 10 minutes later to my son singing Daughtry like he was auditioning for AI, “and then I crashed into you, like a runaway train…“,  followed by angel pulling a heavy peice of decor down onto her shoulder and scream-crying. I’m just grabbing all pillows and covering my head with them. Oh, to get out of the house…by myself.  I love that! I need that.  Another day, I had the opp & I grabed it. Do you know what I did?  Drove to Walgreens, parked the car and… didn’t go in. I was sowalgreens exhausted from the day, that instead of shopping, it was more appealing to me to turn the car off, put the seat all the way down, grab angel’s soft little blankie from the backseat (& wrap it around my head and eyes like a turban), and go to sleep. I actually slept there, in the parking lot. Woke up feelin’ good too…good enough to trot on in to take advantage of some screaming make up deals. This is me with a thought bubble: “What are you starin’ at? Yeah, that was me in the white ScionXB; can’t a momma get some sleep!?!?”

It wasn’t a king size tempur pedic, but it was comfortable.

It wasn’t private, but it was dark.

It wasn’t home, but it was quiet…

…and some days, that’s all I need.

not too good to be true

Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary & carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.

***

when i am weary and carry a heavy burden, i pray and i sing. talking to God does something inside of me that takes the focus off of me, even when i’m talking about me. and doing the very thing he’s gifted me to do, sing, brings me joy. it can be anything, but when i sing something that gives Him glory, He stays true to His word…and shows up. He inhabits the praises of His people. Knowing He is there takes a certain load off of me – like, i’m really not trying to do it all alone…something so easy for me to forget. 

i can count on Him to show up & give me strength when i do what He’s gifted me to do, in His honor. if i have sin not dealt with, i ask him to make me clean and do my best to do a 180 in that area. it’s refreshing to know that He doesn’t hold grudges. He’s not angry with me (or you), disappointed or surprised when i’ve done wrong. All he asks is that i accept his Son’s sacrifice for it…and go on with my life. sounds easy, but it can be tough to do in an achievement-based, ‘if you work hard enough at something, you can get it done’ world-view.

but that’s one thing i love about the Gospel. it’s just too good…but not too good to be true.

what a morning

it’s only 9a.m. and here are a few things that have happened so far ~

Ξ   i woke up to realize that instead of my husband taking my son to school, he had to go to a dentist so I had 15 minutes to get dressed, get him ready & fed and lil angel in the car so he’d be on time. (he was on time)

Ξ   i drive 18 minutes to my bank to deposit 3 checks. i only found one in my purse. the other two i had left in another purse

Ξ   after returning home, angel looked down and pointed to her shoe saying, “eewww”. upon investigating, i find out that since i did’t have time to change her diaper when i got her up, it was leaking down her leg and into her shoe. thank God it wasn’t runny poop.

Ξ   after changing her, i went to check my mail and heard a strange sound from the kitchen. it took me 2 seconds to figure it out – the sound of salt and pepper being poured out all over the kitchen table…and plates…and floor.  ran in and realized my voice – too high and my tolerance – too low

Ξ   as i sweep and dustbust, angel at this point is feeding coins into the puppy crate. i go to empty it into the trash. i guess i was holding it at a wrong angle, cuz the filter fell out right next to the trash…along with all the nasty stuff inside. round two…

Ξ   now off to clean the dog’s diahrreah that’s now crusted onto braylon’s rug

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there’s still 3 more hrs of this morning to go. PRAISE THE LORD! I’m gettin’ some patience today.

i scream, you scream, we all scream for…fun

about 6 mo.s ago, i pushed a button on the blender and heard a loud noise ~ in stereo. baby girl was screamin’ from the other end of the kitchen (w/a big-o-smile). since then, those visceral vocals have turned contagious. angel does it, then i do…whoever’s in the house joins in, all at the top of our lungs! it’s 20 seconds of crazy caterwaulin’ & it’s not just the blender anymore; these last few months, the vacuum, the mixer & the coffee grinder all wanted a piece of the action.

what are ya gonna do.

ya just gotta give yourself permission to lighten things up around the house & be a kid again.

eye to eye ~ the importance of showing love with your eyes

a cheerful look brings joy to the heart – Proverbs 13:30

braylon (5) was walking around a corner & decided he’d belly-push angel to the ground. ricky & i both just looked at him for 6 sec.s as angel cried. we were shocked he’d try this stunt after so many reminders. but i suppose we also did it as a way of showing our disappointment. what followed was interesting:

braylon’s look turned from satisfied to almost angry, ‘what. why are you staring at me? why is everybody staring at me?!’ he inquired. his lip started quivering. we looked a couple seconds longer & he exclaimed w/a tear dropping down his cheek, “why did you yell at me?!”

ricky & i exchanged a glance of revelation. we never said a word to him. it got me thinkin’.

an area in which i think i harbor a ton of pride, is my parenting. i think moms want to believe deep down that they’re the best. to be complimented as such by another mom is the ultimate up-lifter. conversely, to be called a bad mom or even if someone criticizes our discipling, this seems like the lowest, most degrading insult!

i had to face a weakness. i’m not the ‘bestest mom in the whole earth’ as bray would have me believe. there are things i can & should take more time to work on, but don’t. each day presents with it a new way to improve. it’s discouraging and challenging. i pray for the determination & the strength & the wisdom to become the best mom i can. like the wisdom my brain has soaked up from reading “how to really love your child’. dr. campbell wrote a whole chapter explaining ‘how to show love through eye contact’. with statements that seem so simple, i wonder why i need reminding. just take a look at a few excerpts:

The more a parent makes eye contact with his/her child as a means of expressing love, the more a child is nourished with love and the fuller is his emotional tank.

It is easy for parents to develop the terrible habit of using eye contact primarily when they want to make a strong point to a child, especially a negative one. We find that a child is most attentive when we look at him straight in the eye. We may do this mainly to give instructions or for reprimanding or criticizing. This is a disastrous mistake.

Remember that eye contact is one of the main sources of a child’s emotional nurturing. When a parent uses this powerful means of control at his disposal in a primarily negative way, a child cannot but see his parent in a primarily negative way. And though this may seem to have good results when a child is young, this child is obedient & docile because of fear. As he grows older, the fear gives way to anger, resentment, and depression.

An even worse habit parents may fall into is actually using the avoidance of eye contact as a punishment device. Consciously refusing to make eye contact with a child is usually more painful than corporal punishment. It can be devastating.

What we must understand at this point is that parents must use eye contact as a continuous love-giving route, and not merely as a means of discipline.

the Lord has gently shown me this week that I may not be the ‘most’ beautiful woman or the ‘bestest’ mom on the whole earth, but in me ~ is God’s image. in me ~ is the power to do all things. in me ~ resides beauty & strength (insert my girl, christina‘s song, ‘beautiful’ here).

seriously…i want God to help me use my eyes to communicate love, not disappointment! even yesterday, i started a new phrase to be a better example ~ i get up in my son’s face when i want to say something in love & i start with, ‘eye to eye’.

Lord, look at me in the eye & work out the kinks (psalm 139:23). forgive me. i need grace; new opportunities. show me how to show them that my love, too, is unconditional.