Leftovers

One evening we decided to take a family walk around our neighborhood.  So all 7 of us, (yes, we’ve become one of those families that includes our dog in the number count) hit the sidewalks to go “exploring” or better known to  mom as “getting out of the house!!”.   The kids were running to keep up with the dog and chattering away.  My husband and I walked behind the brood, making sure no one was running out into the street or messing with someone’s lawn ornaments.  He took my hand and I realized something… when was the last time we held hands??  It actually felt kinda strange.  I’m used to hands in mine that are much smaller and usually pulling me in another direction.  But a hand larger than mine, simply holding mine because they wanted to… what’s this??

As we walked I asked him, “Do you ever feel like we’re just…. “eh” as a couple?  Cause sometimes I feel like I’m so busy wrangling the kids, keeping the house together, I don’t have anything left for anyone else.”  His response, “Yeah, I do.  Let’s face it, we are getting each others leftovers right now.”… I have to honest.  I had two reactions to this response.  First I was frustrated that that’s how it is right now.  Second, I was relieved that I’m not the only one feeling this way.  It was almost like, “Hey, I’m not the only one that’s totally overwhelmed with parenthood and can’t seem to find any energy beyond that!”

It’s amazing to me that ANYONE keeps a marriage together after raising kids!  They take so much out of you!  Life can be full of conversations that start but never get completed because a fight needs broken up,  quiet times that are interrupted by that child coming down the stairs who SHOULD be sleeping,  the date nights that don’t happen because you can’t find a sitter… the list goes on!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband!  But sometimes I can go an entire day or more and not have a complete conversation with him… we wave at each other over the dinner table, bump into each other in the middle of the night or find ourselves prisoners in a mini van with 4 monsters (we created, mind you) in the back!

Like everything, I’m guessing it’s a season.. a time in our life when this is just how it is.  A time when you just pull up your boot straps and keep at it.  Taking those small moments to look at each other and say, ‘What the heck? Are you as exhausted as I am?”…  A wink across the table, holding hands on a walk, a text that says, ‘I love you”,… small things that somehow have a BIG impact in a life overdosed on the every day stuff.  This is the approach I’m taking.  We don’t have money or energy for the BIG stuff unfortunately… But I think we’ll be ok.  I can imagine that  in the next season of life, we’ll look at each other and say, “Hey, you look familiar to me, wanna go out on a date?”… 😉

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Those “Van” moments….

We’re running late for school; someone can’t find shoes; I didn’t sign a paper, which was never given to me, but somehow it’s my fault; 2 of the 4 are fighting over something, we’re in the van on our way to school and I’ve had enough!!  “HEY!!”, I yell,  “KNOCK it off!! I’m tired of your fighting, of getting blamed for EVERYTHING that goes wrong in your life and anything else you’ve thrown at me this morning!!”  The van gets quiet.  We pull up to the school, as the kids are getting out I say, “Love you, have a good day.”  (eye roll, nice one mom)  That sinking feeling of, “Well, that went well… NOT!”

Yeah, this is me.  At some point or another I blow it.  BIG time.  And I keep score.  I know all the times I’ve messed up, blown up or sworn in my head at my little angels… I’m the adult here, why can’t I act like it sometimes???

When my Kindergartner started doing kid writing at school (that’s when they begin to write sentences and sound out words) it really frustrated her because she didn’t get it right the first couple times.  She felt stupid and didn’t want to do it anymore. My response to her was, “You’re learning! You’re not going to get it right all the time.  The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.  So keep at it.”  Hum… wonder why this is ok for her and not for ME???

Isn’t this a learning experience for me too?   I’ve never done this parenting thing before.  It’s the only job you’ll have where the past experience line says, “NONE WHATSOEVER” and you get the job anyway! And parenting is always changing depending on the phase you are in.  So why do I hold myself to this “always do it perfect the first time” mentality.   Why do I not allow myself margin for error. Would I allow my kids to keep score of how many times they’ve messed up on math, reading or whatever?  No!  I’d say, “Look, you’re doing better than you were before.  You’re improving!  Fantastic!”

What if I told myself the same thing.  “Go easy on yourself, you’re learning.  You’re not going to get it right all the time.  Always strive for better, but allow yourself the grace to see improvement.  And LET go of the times you’ve gotten it wrong.  Learn from them, but DON’T let it determine your future success.”  Hum..I wonder how that would change not only how I act, but how I feel about myself as a mom?  And in turn, how would that be reflected in those “I’m going to break something!” moments I seem to face on a daily basis?

This parenting thing still seems new to me, even with 4 kids! I feel like I’m always facing something new and unexpected.   So what do I do with it? One word comes to mind.  Grace.  Extend grace to myself.  Allow for failure but don’t expect it.   Look to those who have already “done” this and get advice, ideas, prayer from them!  As a new mom, 10 years ago, I was terrified of asking for advice because I thought it was a sign of, “I can’t handle it”… WRONG!  Asking for help or advice is powerful.  It takes the feeling that you’re in this alone, out of the equation.  We’re not alone!  There are moms everywhere who are feeling the same way.  Reach out! Share your failures, laugh at yourself and pray for each other.  This has been huge in my life! And that one powerful word.  Grace…. be gracious to yourself.  Extend it lavishly.  We’re all students of life.  Learning as we go.  Doing our best and celebrating the small triumphs one moment at a time.

I know I’ll still have those “van” moments when I loose it.  But the HOPE I have is that God is perfecting who he made me to be.  I’m learning as I go.  I’m asking for help when needed.  I’m NOT accepting the lie that I’m a failure.  I’m pushing myself for better.  BUT extending grace to myself… a child of God whose NOT perfect, but learning!

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” Philippians 1:6 ~The Message

I just don’t know.

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  So much going on here between Christmas, a family wedding and the death of one of my 10 year old’s classmates… yeah, that last one was quite a shocker.

I remember being little and dreaming of growing older.  Dreaming  of being BIG and able to do “whatever I wanted”.   Of being able to stay up late, drive, be on my own, not make my bed if I didn’t want to.. lol…  What I never expected was life to get harder, to be faced with situations that took my breath away, to have to explain to MY little one’s about things I don’t even understand.

My children have experiences loss before.  Their great grandfather passed away last January and they knew him well.  We all attended his funeral and it was a moving experience for ALL of us.  But the death of a classmate?  There is NO way to prepare for this one.  Not only, as a mom, do you suddenly put yourself in those shoes.  “What would I do?  How would I respond?  How would I go on?”, but you also begin the process of answering the questions like, “Mom, why would something like this happen?”….or the questions about heaven and hell.  Life suddenly begins to feel like an hour glass… and it’s uncertainty stares you in the face.

I’ve had some really good conversations with my son about all this.  And to be completely honest, some of those conversations have had included the words, “I just don’t know.”    I just DON’T know.  Kids know when you’re making stuff up and he’d know if I was faking it.

Here’s what I do know:   God loves us.

38 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39.

Even though I don’t get it, I don’t understand it, I can’t explain it…. there’s POWER in knowing NOTHING can separate me from God’s love.  NOTHING!  I know this is NOT how he meant life to be.  And I explain that to my questioning 10 year old.  THIS is NOT what we were created for.  There is more!  And there will come a day when ALL tears will be erased, ALL sorrow will be gone, there will be NO more “I don’t know’s”… BUT until that time… we trust.  And man, that’s so  hard!…

I am trying to prepare myself and my son to go to her funeral this week.  I don’t know how to prepare, honestly.   I pray for wisdom to know how to answer questions, the honesty to say, “I just don’t know”, and the boldness to hold on to my belief in God’s unrelenting sovereignty.   And to cling to this truth:

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” -Revelation 21:4

Guard your Heart and Mind

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last couple years.  Life has a way of bringing out stuff you need to learn.  One thing I’ve found is that I feel things very deeply.  When I hear about something tragic, sad, awful.. I feel it on a very personal level, even if I don’t know who the people are it happened to.  I immerse myself in it and it consumes my thoughts, feelings.. everything.  I find myself depressed and disengaged in my own life.

For a long time, I couldn’t put a name to it.  I just thought I obsessed about stuff, which on a certain level,  I do.   A good friend said to me, “Jodi, there’s nothing wrong with you, you just feel things very deeply.”   It was like a light bulb went on.  YES that explains it perfectly!!  So now what? How do I keep myself from going down this path of emotional empathy?  Some people can see, hear about things and shut it off… I can’t… I’ve never been able to.

There was a lady I knew through a friend whose son was dying of cancer.  She would send email updates and we had been praying for him for a while.  I asked my friend if she had gotten email updates lately and she said yes.  So I wondered why I hadn’t been getting them.  She said, “I didn’t forward them to you.  I know your tender heart wouldn’t  need to be filled with those details.”  Again, a light bulb moment.  It was ok if I don’t know the details.   It doesn’t make me any less concerned, empathetic, loving.. whatever.  It makes me smart.  I KNOW myself, I know what I can handle and what I can’t.

Last Friday’s events were horrific.  I heard the news on the radio in the afternoon and I just cried.  Having 3 Elementary school age kids (4th, 2nd and Kindergarten), it really struck home.  Picking them up from school was emotional.   My mind couldn’t comprehend such an awful act.  I knew I was going to have to really protect my heart and mind with this.  I could really emotionally go down hill very fast.  So I limited watching internet updates on it.  I didn’t watch TV specials about it.  I can’t.  I won’t.  If for a minute I let my mind be consumed, I’ll be wrapped in a well of deep empathetic grief.   Does my heart  ache when I think about it… absolutely.  I don’t know any mom who ISN’T effected.  But I know my limits, I know what I can handle.  And my responsibility to myself and my family is to guard my heart and mind so that I can engage in the life God’s gifted ME with.  We pray for the families.  As mom’s we mourn with them.  But it’s ok if we disengage ourselves from the details.  Yes, it really is ok.  In fact as a mom, I think it’s essential. And with God’s help, I’m doing my best to remain engaged in my own life while still grieving with mom’s all around the world.

Proverbs 4.23 “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.”  The Message Bible

Ode to the evil washed jeans…

There are some things in life I will NEVER understand.  Regardless of how old I get or how much life experience I have.  It never ceases to amaze me how in 24 hours a woman’s body and a pair of jeans can change so drastically.  Let me explain.

So one day, I’m wearing a pair of jeans and they fit very nicely, almost a little roomy.   I’m feeling all cute and having a fabulous “skinny’ day (which my 5ft. 1 inch frame will NEVER actually allow).   Yeah, my self confidence it doing pretty good too… it’s a good day.

Next day comes.. and the jeans have been washed (yes washing jeans is the terminator of feeling skinny).  So I take that awesome feeling in those jeans and put them on again… WAIT a minute.  Are these the same jeans? Yep.   What the heck happened?  I mean, I know they’ve been washed but seriously?? Those comfy jeans have turned into something I have to stretch out before I wear.  You know that stretching/ pulling on the waist band before they go on, just to try to give it that extra stretch.   My husband saw me doing this one time and said, “What the heck are you doing?  Are you trying to rip apart your jeans?”  Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do (eye roll)… men!… move along honey, nothing to see here!

So what  about those times when said jeans HAVEN’T been washed and they are tighter the next day!  What’s up with that?  Yeah, yeah, water retention, gas, ovulation… blah, blah, blah!  It’s infuriating! I can just imagine when God created woman he said, “Ok, here’s how it’s going to go.  I know  they will naturally struggle with body image, so let’s just make it more interesting and make their body change on a daily basis.”..lol… Sometimes I think my body changes just to make me mad!  On a day I really need to feel skinny it rebels and it looks like I’m smuggling something in my waistband!

Now I have people saying to me, “Jodi, you’ve had 4 kids.  You look great for having 4 kids!”… what the heck kind of compliment is THAT??? lol… what is says to me is, “You don’t look great, but you DO look great for having your body change to the size of a small blimp, 4 times”… LOL!

So back to the jeans… I sit here today, wearing those washed jeans.  And YES, I did stretch out the waistband before putting them on!  So today isn’t a  feeling skinny kinda day… I think I’m ok with that…. for now.  Besides, I can always fall back on telling myself, “Hey, you look good for having 4 kids!”… LOL   Today I’ve decided to be the one to rebel on my body by wearing my washed, I’m smuggling something in my waistband,  “skinny” jeans with pride… or until they get too uncomfortable and I run to the warm friendship of my yoga pants.. 😉  Now, Yoga pants…………

Ode to my rational friend!

Anyone who knows me, knows I am an instant react kind of person.  If something happens around me, my instinct is to react to it.  For example, if someone says something to me, several things happen in my mind at the same time. 1) I know immediately if I agree with you. 2) If I don’t, I know why. 3) I know exactly what I want to say to you about what you said. 4) facial expressions are triggered if I don’t like what you’re saying (they can tend  be rather overdone, I’m working on that..)   🙂

Now, I have a friend, who will rename nameless (but you know who you are), who is NOT this way.  She is the opposite.  It takes her time to process stuff. She tends to think rationally and eventually comes to a conclusion after much internal debate.  Zzzzzzz… seriously??? I’ve already moved on to something else and finally she’s decided what she thought about something that happened and hour ago.  Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but you get the point.   Just recently she reacted to my, “AHH the sky is falling!” with her usual, to the point answer.  My response, “Stop being so calm and reasonable, it’s annoying!”.. lol.  It really is annoying to people like us.  We want reactions!  We want a, “Yeah!  I hear ya sister, let’s get ’em!”

But can you imagine if we were all “go get em’s”??  There would be no one left we didn’t like!   We’d also find ourselves in a heap of trouble because we reacted rather than thought first.  So why do I say all this? I think I’m learning that it’s GOOD to have people in your life who are the opposite of you.  It’s keeps you grounded.  And it works BOTH ways.  Sometimes my, “WHAT??? You didn’t react to that?” makes a non reactor, think.  And they do think… A LOT, trust me, I know.  I’m also married to one!   I’d like to think we compliment each other, learning from one another.  Seeing the value in our natural personality traits.   We make each other better people. We try to balance out each other.  And when the other is getting out of hand, we can say, “Um, you’re going to need to pull that back” or “Get some fire in your belly man!”  🙂  That’s what life and friendship is all about.   God made us ALL very different for a reason.  Thank goodness!!!

So to my “calm, rational” friend, I love how God made you!   You make me STOP and think about stuff and make fun of me when I go overboard!  🙂   I’d like to think we are like Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”   And yeah, the sparks fly sometimes, but that just keeps life exciting!  And honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything! 🙂

What happened to Barbie?

My 5 year old daughter is asking for a Barbie for Christmas.    So it would seem pretty easy  to find a Barbie for her right??? HA!  NOT!  Have you tried Barbie shopping lately??  Well, let’s see, there’s Model Barbie, Katniss Barbie (from the Hunger Games), International Barbie, Princess Barbie, Mermaid Barbie, Twilight Barbie (Um.. NO!)..you get the idea.

What ever happened to plain, sweet Barbie?  I liked her!  She was simple.  She wasn’t dressed like she was going to be walking a street corner.  She had an elegant dress or workout clothes (headband and leg warmers and ALL!- and yes, I had exercise Barbie!)   Where did she go?  When did it become about mini skirts,  small bikini’s, etc?   I guess she’s just following along with the trends of our day.   But for those of us who miss the old girl, we find ourselves scanning the isles looking for a Barbie that is dressed how we’d appreciate our daughters to dress… yeah, good luck!

I don’t care so much about the supposed “perfect body” of Barbie.  If my daughter gets her self esteem from a plastic, fake doll, I’m dropping the ball BIG time somewhere!  What I DO care about is what she wears!   I’m trying to teach my daughter how to dress appropriately.  And that is so hard today! Especially with Barbie strutting her mini’s in the toy section.  Maybe I should get her into Lego’s.  You never see Mr. Lego man strutting around in barely anything! LOL…

So now what?  I don’t know.  Christmas certainly won’t be ruined if Barbie doesn’t show up.  Maybe I’ll tell  her Barbie and mom had a fight and she’s no longer welcome in our home until she can prove she knows how to dress appropriately… lol.. who knows.  Lego’s anyone??!! 😉