Surviving Summer Part 2

i'm not sure how it happened but school started last week. i dreamed about this day--the glorious day when i could drop off my wild child in the arms of someone else for a few hours. it seemed like something to be imagined yet just as I had hoped, the first day of school arrived. you see, raising little people is about survival with me. let me just be perfectly honest. i am no hero in this department. i dream of being a crafty mom who loves every minute with her people. the kind of mom who puts on Facebook how much she loves her kids and wants them to be at home all the time. no, its survival here. there is a fantastic invention that gets me through most days--the bunn coffee maker. brews a pot of coffee in under 3 minutes. bam! i have a picture behind that coffee pot that says, "all i need today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of jesus." who's with me? i wrote a post a couple of months ago about surviving summer. it was like i wrote that post when i was a mere adolescent. so innocent. so naive. like the people who have no kids and so willingly give parenting advice that they practiced on their dog. i was hopeful; ambitious; happy. then over the course of the next couple of months, i army-crawled my way across the finish line of summer. it dawned on me what summer is like. you see, to me summer is a lot like moving. we have moved a lot in my adult life. in my married life alone, we have moved 7 times in our 9 years of marriage. and with each move, i think about the next one. i research. i pin tips and articles and blog posts. i come up with a plan and believe wholeheartedly that the next time i move it will be different. it will be better. it won't be miserable. yet, no matter how much i plan or prepare, moving sucks. there is just no other way around it. it always come down to the last minute and you start giving stuff away or tossing it in the nearest dumpster. you. just. don't. care. am i right?

that is how summer is to me. i begin to dread summer after surviving a week of spring break. so i plan. i research. i pin. i prepare. summer comes and i am hopeful. i believe wholeheartedly that this summer will be different. i will make a summer bucket list. we will play outside. we will craft each day. we will have a summer schedule and keep to it. we will have quiet alone time to read and relax. and then summer comes. and my people are still the same people they always are--crazy busy. in the middle of all the meltdowns and frustrations, i realize that they are beyond my help. they need professional help. and i find myself crawling across the finish line and breathing a sign of relief when i walk them into school on that first day. we survived. summer sucks. but thankfully it's behind me.

i have no words of wisdom for you. just hoping someone else out there will raise a glass to me in agreement. you survived, too.

(p.s. i am so exhausted from summer that i have resulted in typing in lowercase. heaven help.)

Not The Mother I Thought I'd Be

today was a bad day. a day like none other. it was a day that on multiple occasions reminded me that i am not suited for the job of mother. up until this point, i was well educated and i had a resume that would make some marvel. with my former jobs, my employers desired that i worked according to my strengths. in fact, i took a handy little test (don't you love personality tests) called strength finder to find out just how i was created. my boss took those results and customized my job. he made sure that i worked according to my strengths as best as he could make it. well, let me just tell you. parenting is not my strength. i'm pretty sure i would fail any personality test about parenting. ironically, one of my strengths is harmonizer yet i can't get harmony to reign with my kids for the life of me. i would have totally quit this job a long time ago if i could have. i'm clearly not cut out for it and it isn't in my strengths. today was a day that reminded me that i'm not the mother i thought i would be. no one can warn you about becoming a mom. each new mom is bright and bushy-tailed thinking only of sunshine and rainbows. even if i try to speak honestly, telling her of all the woes--endless dirty diapers (mine wouldn't poop in the potty until 5!), battles over clothes and hair, tears shed over cookies on the ground, the sheer emotional weariness of it all. no new mother would believe me. i wouldn't have. somehow we are blinded. we dream of handling everything with care and perfection unlike what we may have experienced ourselves. then somewhere around 18 months we begin to catch glimpses of who we are and who we never thought we would be. friend, i'm in the thick of it. i'm left bleeding in the trenches wondering if i will make it another day. i can't tell you it will get better or that you will get better. all i do know is that i need Jesus. i need him more today than yesterday. and honestly, i don't even know what that means or looks like. i earned a masters of arts in biblical studies and wonder how in the world god will redeem what is so lost in me. so where does that leave me? i lost the battle tonight. i yelled back. i disciplined in anger almost borderline abusive. my heart was angry. i love that kid with everything but don't like her tonight. i never imagined in my entire life that i could be filled with such anger. when life, aka my oldest, squeezes me, what comes out? anger. frustration. zero kindness. i left that at the door. that is not who i imagined i would be. maybe i imagined perfection. and that is a fault and post all in itself. i'm selfish. i'm flawed. i'm not perfect. i will mess up my kids. all i need is Jesus. grace abounds in deepest waters (hillsong). lord, i am in deep waters. i can barely keep my head above water. how about you, friend. are you sinking like me? are you failing? i wish more than anything i was a little bit beyond you and could spur you on. maybe you are beyond this season. how would you spur us on? i've been working on memorizing psalm 84 and can't help but bring this to mind. "blessed are those who strength is in you; whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. as they pass through the valley of baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. they go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in zion." this passage alone preaches. is my strength in him? is my heart set on the pilgrimage? we have to think of the end goal, the end game. when we pass through the rough, dry, discontent places, he will make it a place of springs, of life. lord have mercy! how i need some springs up in here!! as we go from day to day, year to year, season to season, meltdown to meltdown, frustration to frustration, there will be pools to fill us up; to strengthen us. i'm preaching to myself. i just filled up my journal with cries of anguish and desperation. sitting here, crying out to you helps. it heals. hearing the words of that psalm heals and strengthens. may his grace abound to you in your deep waters. carry on. pour another cup of coffee or glass of wine and snuggle up to truth. tomorrow is a new day. moms who are beyond those of us in the thick. pour out your encouragement on us like the autumn rains.

Surviving The Strong Willed Child

man oh man, i have been writing this post in my head and heart for years...and i'm sure i will continue to write it for many more to come. i had no idea what i was getting myself into when that little plastic pregnancy test revealed a positive outcome.

don't let that smile fool ya...surviving a strong willed girl
don't let that smile fool ya...surviving a strong willed girl

sinclair was  determined from the womb to dictate her path. she is on her journey and will not be swayed. and while i recognize that this is a fantastic characteristic for an adult it wreaks havoc on a mother--mentality, emotionally, spiritually and physically. I just knew she would be the first child in history to remain in the womb forever. that girl was in no hurry to get out. i had a scheduled induction, a week after my due date. the hospital called and said there was no room for me at the hospital. mary complex, maybe? no but seriously, did she have the hospital staff under her spell? the next night, we checked in at the hospital thinking that what was to come would be easy. throughout the night, nurses raced in because her heartbeat reached low levels, and after an ultrasound revealed she was breach, i was rushed in for an emergency c-section. that girl. crazy. she was literally chewing on the umbilical cord when the doctor pulled her from my belly cutting off the very life support that i gave her. and people, she has been doing that ever since. she screamed from hours and weeks, unable to make content. something was in her driving her to push for something better, something more. she refused a bottle and then when she made up her mind, she refused me. potty training was an absolute nightmare. i am scared for life. i'm pretty sure that is when wine became a friend. y'all, i just knew she would be the one kid on history to go to middle school in diapers. no offense, but i wanted to punch those people whose kids were potty trained with a simple reward of a sticker. and then there are the fights. tantrums. meltdowns. i have laid on my closet floor in the fetal position crying more times than i can count. she has made me question everything--myself, my faith, my heart. there are days where i know i'm not cut out for this. this girl, full of passion and glory, is determined and strong willed. she wants it her way, and she will fight me to the finish. i remember waiting for her to turn 4 when she was 18 months old. not sure why, but i thought she would be easier, better. boy, was i wrong. this is who she is. and as hard as she is, she is good. she is glorious. she is kind and full of compassion. she is my biggest amplifier. she amplifies my positive qualities. and she amplifies my negative qualities. what i am in part, she is in full.

i'm writing this in the trenches. i have not crossed the finish line. there is still a ways to go for me but maybe i am a step down the road from you. maybe you are just as weary as i am. i sat here tonight thinking about surviving my strong willed girl. here's what i've learned so far...

to survive a strong willed child, you will need: coffee. jesus. wine. :-) my favorite print says "all i need today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of jesus." amen and amen.

.... in all seriousness, there are a few things that i've learned along the journey.

remember the good. it is so hard to remember or even notice the good. most days i am worn out. i'm tired of repeating the same thing over and over. its easy to miss the times that she is kind to complete strangers. she wants to know who they are and their story. what a good quality to care for people in such a way. she brings a smile to so many people that just pass up by. its easy to miss her helping her younger sister. i have to remind myself to say yes sometimes. my girl hears no so much on a daily basis. let her build the fort. let her play with every single toy she owns even if it means i have to help her clean up.

its not about winning. my strong willed girl loves to fight. she wants me to engage. the times where i know i've crossed a line and reacted and disciplined in anger have been when i wanted to win. i wanted to be the last word. in those intense moments, its hard to not take it personal. she has hurled words at me that break my bones. sometimes it feels like i'm fighting with a teenager and not a six year old. i have to resist the temptation to fight back. i never thought i was an angry person until i met this girl. she can bring it out. i have never been pushed like this before. i want to defend myself, my rights,  my position. but i have to resist. i need to resist that temptation. she will fight with all her might and then in an instance, she is over it. she goes back to happy girl and laughs and loves all the while i'm slain on the bedroom floor. i feel disrespected. i feel hurt. i'm not ready to forgive and move forward. but i have to play the part of a mom who isn't affected by such insults and turn to her with love. and finally, love them the way they feel loved. my girl's love tank is filled by time and attention. she's not a snuggler. we always laugh that you will be injured by her if you try to get physical affection from her. it just doesn't come natural to her. let me just say that quality time with little people is not my jam. it feels almost foreign to me. playing barbies or pretend play puts me to sleep. seriously, boring. but that is exactly what fills up her little heart. the times that i have pushed aside my selfishness and got on the floor to give her 20 minutes of undivided attention, she glows. sometimes all they need is whatever fills up their love tank.

i am no expert, except on maybe failing in this department, but i do know how to recognize my mistakes and what is true. i know this girl is going to great things as long as we don't kill each other in the process. what about you? do you have a strong willed kid? what have you learned?

Surviving Summer

let's just be honest here. i dread summer. the dread begins at christmas for me because i realized that i barely survived the 2.5 weeks off from school during that break and i think how in the world will i survive 2.5 months! this summer i was determined to have a plan--a survival plan, if you will. the first 3 weeks were a piece of cake. we experienced the beach, vbs and traveled to TN for me to speak at a camp. easy breezy. then we arrived back home and reality set in. all our friends were out of town so NO PLAYDATES. just me and my people. i'm not gonna lie, most of that week was a nightmare. breathe in and breathe out. but the days where we had a daily schedule seemed to work better. so my goal each day...

7:00 wake, breakfast, tv

7:30 coloring

8:00 mom gets ready & free play

9:00 errands (gymnastics on mondays at 10:00)

11:00 lunch

11:30 walk/play outside

12:00 learning time

12:30 rest time

2:00 snack & tv

2:30-4:30 playdates, outdoor time, games, sometimes chiropractor appt

5:00 cook dinner & computer time for kids

6:00 our blessed savior, dad arrives

7:30 bedtime

having this schedule clearly displayed helped Big who loves structure and school survive. i also planned each week a few playdates and pool dates for them. the schedule is very flexible but at least they (and me) knew what was ahead. it also helped me to be present during certain times. i would much rather hide away because playing vet or dollhouse is just straight boring to me. knowing we have 30 minute increments helps me to be all in during those times.

we still have about 6 weeks left of summer including a week of camp for the kids and a visit to the grandparents sans parents. i also have a few days away with my husband to look forward to. its called survival, ya'll.

how are you surviving summer?

click here to see how summer really went down