I apologize in advance

Hello friends! First, let me say, I apologize in advance for this blog post. It may very well exceed the limits of good taste and propriety. But sometimes, I can’t believe this is my life, it is so ridiculous. But then, the more absurd it is, the more I think I should share it, because who doesn’t need a good laugh now and then? And if it happens to involve me or be at my expense, well, I am good with that.

I started potty training Bette this weekend, which I have held off doing it, because I wanted to make sure she was ready and had enough language to understand the concept. Because she is already three years old, I honestly thought the whole experience wouldn’t be too bad. I mean, I have already successfully potty trained one child. How hard could the next one be? Turns out, extremely hard. And as you can see, it has been a delightful experience for the whole family.

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I did learn two valuable lessons over the weekend; two things that I had suspected, but never confirmed as postivitely true. Until now.

1. Bette is totally ready to be potty trained.

The girl can hold her bladder for hours. Really, hours. Her massive fluid intake or that she often seemed to approaching the human limit for bladder control are irrelevant to how long she can actually hold it. She just held it and held it and held it.

2. Bette is also as stubborn as a mule.

Because she could hold it for hours at a time, she refused to actually go in the potty. It didn’t matter how many times I put her on the toilet, or how long I made her sit there, she did her best not to go. At one point, she sat on the toilet for 90 minutes. 90 MINUTES! I mean, what in the world?

And I tried everything. I coaxed her. I cheered her along. I offered candy treats. And nothing worked. She cried. She fussed. She played. And she refused to go until she was good and damn ready.

After awhile, as she was sitting on the toilet, I gave up trying to convince her and decided that I wasn’t going to let her crying and fussing get to me (which adorably, she did until she was hoarse). Instead, I plopped myself down on the stairs across from the bathroom and read a book. I find this to be completely inexplicable now, because as an introvert, I should have been a basket case. I should have been pulling my hair out.

And it could very well have been that my two level limit of concentration ( Level 1: screaming child; Level 2: reading a book) was not exceeded. If anything or anyone else had needed my attention, I probably would have fallen apart and started crying.

But I have also been praying lately that the Lord would grant me a more gentle and quiet spirit, which is something I am in desperate need of, particularly the gentle part. Quiet isn’t really a problem for me. I can be quiet all day long, at least on the outside, even if I don’t feel quiet and calm on the inside.

But I really lack the quality of gentleness, so much so that I usually have to check myself before speaking. I can be much too direct and brash. And I am always sticking my foot in my mouth and saying something stupid. A little more gentleness would go a long way in me.

I think the Lord may have poured out a momentary gift of supernatural quietness and gentleness on me, enabling me to not get upset, mad, or frustrated. It is the only way to explain my reaction to the absurdity of the whole situation.

Bette screamed the entire time I read my book. She screamed when I walked away from her for a few minutes. And she sobbed if I tried to periodically help or coax her, mostly so she wouldn’t forget why she was on the potty in the first place.

But man, am I glad that God meets us where we are, at all times and in all places. And I am so thankful He is willing to give us what we need when we need it, even in the midst of the most ridiculous circumstances.

P.S. If you have any tips or advice, please send it my way. Just leave a comment, because I could use all the help I can get!

 

What happened to all the magic of motherhood?

 

bedtime prayer and story

It is 6:30pm. The sun has gone down. Dark has fallen. The day is almost over.

My sink is overflowing with dirty dishes. Toys are all over the floor. And Jay is still not home.

I am waiting. Waiting to hear him pull into the driveway. Waiting to hear the garage door go up. Waiting for him to relieve me from my children.

Instead, my text alert dings. I check it and it is from Jay. All it says is, 6:50. 

I groan silently, but very loudly inside my head.

I am tired. I am cranky. And my patience is wearing thin.

All day, the strings of my heart have been pulled on. They have been pulled in different directions. And some have been pulled on harder than others.

And at 6:30pm, one of those strings finally reaches as far as it will go. It snaps back into place and bangs into my heart, vibrating like a cello string and reverberating throughout my system.

And I am done. I am sick of my kids. I am sick of the noise. I am sick of the fighting. And all I want is for the day to be over.

Lying in bed later that night, I think about why things get to me so much; why I am so aggravated and annoyed by the end of the day, when there were so many wonderful, magic moments throughout the day.

The way Lilla said, “Love you, Mom,” sweetly, casually, over her shoulder as she ran off to investigate something new.

Bette’s face as she watched a movie – her expressions, the light in her eyes, and her surprise and delight in seeing and hearing a story unfold before her.

The song Lilla sang to Bette as we put her down for a nap. Every day the words change, but the theme, sisters who love each others, and the tune, from one of Bette’s speech therapy songs, are always the same.

How Bette clasped her hands together and bowed her head for bed time prayer. I didn’t understand a word she said, but she prayed so hard.

And the goodnight hug and kiss, always in that order, that must pass between my girls before either of them can settle down for bed.

In the chaos of the day, the magic moments are there. They are scattered about for me to see and receive, small gifts from God to help me get through the long days.

I don’t even have to look very hard to find them. I just need to look past the ever-present piles of dishes, diapers, and dirt that surrounds me. I must look beyond all that and instead look at my children.

At their smiles. At their happy eyes. At their crooked teeth. At their tangled hair. At their mismatched socks. And their crazy outfits.

And not only must look at them, but I must hear them also.

Their little voices. Their loud laughter. The conversations between them. And the prayers of their hearts.

All day long, I have the privilege of being in the presence of my children, and enjoying their overwhelming purity, innocence, sweetness, and love. And too often, all I see is the disobedience, the discord, the disrespect, and the dirt. And I let it weigh me down and wear me out.

When really, there is so much magic, all around me, every single day. I just have to remember it is there. And I have to look for it. And choose to be a part of it.

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How Not To Lose The Battle Of Motherhood

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Motherhood is a battle. All day, every day, it is a battle.

It is a battle over table manners and tones of voice. It is a battle over clothes and cleanliness. Hell, it is a battle just to get kids to brush their teeth. And let’s not even talk about them actually remembering to brush their teeth all by themselves. Because that never happens.

I assume that it will just happen one day; a switch will go off in their head that says, It is important to brush your teeth, and they will actually remember to do it. I am pretty sure it won’t happen until they start driving a motor vehicle. And want to date the opposite sex.

Until then, we will talk about it every single day. Did you remember to brush your teeth? No. Of course not. And I will try again the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that. Because we are in the midst of THE BATTLE.

Fun times, I tell you. Fun times.

In the six years since I became a mother, I have never once felt like I might lose THE BATTLE with my children. You know, THE BIG BATTLE. The battle for their hearts and souls. The battle to bend their selfish little wills in better direction. The battle to shape them into kind human beings and productive citizens.

Until the other day.

I had asked Bette to do something. I don’t even remember what it was, but it doesn’t matter. Because she never does what I ask her.

Still, for the 36th time that day I asked her to do something. And for the 36th time, she did what she always does. She looked at me. And then she walked off. SHE WALKED OFF!

As though I hadn’t spoken actual words to her. And I am not going to even dignify her behavior with any kind of response like, She probably didn’t mean to… because you know, she is deaf. 

Because she wasn’t deaf then. Or during any of the preceding 35 times I asked her to do something. She had her ears on and they were blinking that little green light that makes her look like Lando Calrisian’s assistant in The Empire Strikes Back.

She was good to go. She heard me. She just has no intention of obeying me. Ever.

Given that it was the 36th episode of disobedience of the day, and the previous 35 consequences had clearly not made a dent into her thick head, I was a little dumbstruck.

And I thought, This child may actually beat me. She may actually break me. She might actually win THE BATTLE.

Which made me feel tired. And like I needed some comfort food. So I made brownies.

But not before I licked a good bit of the batter out of the bowl, the least of my worries being that I might contract salmonella from the raw egg in the brownie mix. Because salmonella poisoning would actually put me in bed for a few days, kind of like a vacation. Sure, I’d be really sick for one to two days, but after that, it would probably be quite nice. And the weight loss from all the vomiting wouldn’t be so bad either.

And that would be a whole lot nicer than THE BATTLE I am losing with my two year old.

But I digress.

A friend once told me that she prayed for her kids all day long. You know, stuff like, Lord, help him to obey. Or, Help her to listen. 

Which I thought was kind of stupid. Because her prayers seemed so small, so immeasurable, and so fleeting.

I was of the mind that when you pray for your kids, your prayers should be BIG. And those prayers should be about BIG things, like their salvation, character, and potential spouse.

They should definitely not be, Lord, help him to learn to tie his shoes. Because really, who has time for that? At this point, I only have so much time and so many marbles rolling around in my head, all of which I need to put a coherent prayer together for my kids. I can’t waste time praying for small things. I have got to cover the big topics; the important things. Not something ridiculous like, Lord, help him to tie his shoes.

I mean, shit. He can just wear slip-on shoes as far as I am concerned. Because he’ll figure it out one day. He doesn’t need the Lord’s help with that of all things.

You see what I mean. Stupid.

Of course, it is worth mentioning that at the time of this conversation, my friend had five kids. And I only had one.

And it probably should have dawned on me that she was on to something. Or that she knew what in the hell she was talking about a whole lot more than I did. As the mother of five. But it didn’t.

And it didn’t dawn on me until I was standing in the kitchen eating brownie batter, not minding in the least if I got salmonella poisoning, that she was right and I was the one who was stupid.

Because the truth is some of our kids need big prayers. And some of our kids need small prayers. And others need both.

As mothers, we need to be covering our kids in prayer. Because they need our prayers. They need our big prayers. And they need our small prayers. And they need someone praying for them all the time. And there is no one better for that job than a mom.

Prayer is a mom’s special gift. It is her secret weapon. Because prayer is what moves the arm of God. And no one moves that arm better than a hard praying mother.

I thought about all of this for awhile the other day, while I stood there licking the spatula. And it hit me that I need to start praying a great deal more for Bette. Small prayers. All day. Every day.

Or there is a going to be a whole lot more brownie batter in my future.

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What A Week!

 

Hello friends!

It has been awhile.

I was sick this week.

And there was not much time for blogging.

 

I had a cold.

That refused to go away.

And it is still lingering.

To my great frustration.

 

I have not felt good.

And a lot of things around here.

Like home keeping and homeschooling.

Have not gotten done.

 

I have been cranky.

Cold medicine will do that to you.

And grumpy.

And sick of being sick.

 

But to my surprise and delight.

Lilla has been so sweet.

She has been so thoughtful.

And so caring.

 

Every day she asks me.

How are you feeling today?

Does your throat still hurt?

Do you feel bad, mom?

 

She finds little ways.

To help me.

And pitch in.

Which has blown me away at times.

 

Because so often as a mother.

You wonder if they will ever get.

All the things you have told them.

Over and over and over.

 

You wonder, for God’s sake.

When will the day come?

That they get this.

And I can stop repeating myself.

 

In fact, I just need one thing.

To stop being an issue.

One teeny tiny thing.

Anything, really.

 

I just need one thing.

To fade into the background.

To stop rearing its ugly head.

And to permanently click with them.

 

Because there have been 100 crying spells.

About brushing hair.

And 100 arguments.

About wearing pants vs. a dress.

 

There have been 100 reminders.

To put shoes away.

And me asking 100 times.

Did you brush your teeth?

 

And 100 times.

I have thought in the most ridiculous moments.

Oh my God.

I can’t believe this is my life.

 

Will I ever see any fruit.

In the lives of these children?

Will all this effort.

Ever actually pay off?

 

I feel like this week.

I saw some real fruit.

Actual, concrete, physical fruit.

In the lives and character of my children.

 

There was still plenty of whining.

And arguing.

And fussing.

And negotiating.

 

But there was also sweetness.

And kindness.

And love.

Lots and lots of love.

 

And there was also God’s grace.

To reminded me.

That none of this stay at home mother thing.

Is pointless or in vain.

 

That all the discipline.

And all the training.

And all the instruction.

That happen over and over again.

 

Are worth all the effort.

And all the sacrifices.

And all the energy.

We expend as mothers.

 

Because there is fruit.

Growing in our children’s lives.

We may not always be able to see it.

But it is there.

 

God is working in them.

And He is working in us.

He is also working in spite of us.

And our many flaws as mothers.

 

God is growing and raising our children up.

Through us and with us.

And we are never alone.

On this crazy, wonderful journey of motherhood.

 

 

Long Days and Short Years

Every year, around Christmas time, we attend a silent auction benefitting a local private school. The school was started by some friends of ours and serves underprivileged students in our city.

I could act all altruistic about it and say that we attend the benefit out of our deep desire to support the mission of the school. But really, we go because the whole thing is a really fun party that enables us to see tons of old friends. Which let’s face it, is 75 percent of the reason anyone goes to any kind of benefit, fundraiser, or gala.

I do try to bid on on a few things in an effort to actually, you know, support the school. This past year, I got into bidding war with some acquaintances over a family photography session. It was good they were acquaintances, otherwise it might have gotten awkward. Because I was determined to win. Which I did.

They were very cool about it. And they won some other stuff they were pleased with. Which is just as well, because they never would have guessed how crazy expensive the photographer was beyond the initial session that we won. I would not have bid on the package if I had known. Because really, what is the point of having pictures taken if you can’t afford to order any of them?

You are probably thinking, Whatever, how expensive could the pictures really be?  Think hundreds and hundreds of dollars per image. And maybe they are worth that. I don’t know. They certainly are pretty. But also way out of my price range.

I spent months thinking about what to do and I finally just ordered a DVD of all the images. These are a few of my favorites.

The shots really are beautiful. And the photographer is clearly talented.

She was very generous to donate her professional time to the school.  And I am thankful that I was the lucky beneficiary of her generosity.

And I love that I have a record of our family and my girls at the ages of 2 and 6 years old. Which is exactly what I wanted.

Though sometimes, when looking at the pictures, my heart begins to hurt in the most inexplicable way. Because we took the pictures last spring. Almost six months ago.

And those days are gone, along with every day since then, and will never be again. Time with my little ones is going by so fast. And soon enough, they won’t be little anymore.

And while I look forward to my girls growing up, and all the things we will share together, as well as to the close friendships I hope and pray we develop with each other, there is a part of me that already misses them being little.

And I am reminded that for a mother, the days are long, but the years are so so short.