Tag Archives: parenting

It’s Here.

daffodil

Spring.  And surprisingly, it arrived as scheduled, for I have a single flower blooming in my yard.

A week ago this same spot looked like this:

daffodilstart

And now that’s what my hyacinths look like:

hyacinth

The lilac bush is full of promise:

lilacwick

It’s that wonderful time of year when everything appears to be dripping with potential.  One day there’s nothing, and a day or two later there are flowers.  If you look away too long, you’ll miss it.

Which is exactly how my life feels right now.

I love this season so very much but  I’m struggling a bit with what it means on the inside of my house.  I was on top of the laundry a week ago, and now I’m terribly behind.  The term ends on Friday for all my students.  We’re scrambling to get everyone registered for school, lessons, camps and anything else you can dream of.  All of a sudden I’m in the car for a couple of hours or more every afternoon and getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour is an accomplishment.  As hard as I’m working, the few hours I have while most of the children are at school are suddenly WAY too short to accomplish what needs to be done now that my afternoons and evenings have evaporated.  Everyone is tired from the daylight savings time change but I can’t get them to bed early because all our activities were just scheduled to end an hour later and when we get home we still have homework to do.  We’re living tired, which makes the little girls more needy and life just feels complicated.  I know we’ll get through it and have a lot of great experiences, but there’s also a Herculean amount of work that goes into getting through it.  If I look away for a minute, it feels like I miss 100 things!

My neighbors have a massive tree in their yard, which the owner began cutting down on Monday.  I took this picture when the bottom half of the branches had been removed.

halfthetree

When I next thought to look, it was gone.  A stump in the yard and a massive tree trunk laying in the grass.  Gone.  I keep having the feeling that the next three months will be like that; a glance and then gone.  I also feel like, because it’s spring, I have projects to take care of that need as much work as removing that tree was for my neighbor, and I wonder where I’ll find the time/energy/resources to tackle it when life is in “blink and it’s gone” mode.  I don’t want to miss the big things, and I want to be thorough on the right things, and I want to enjoy this precious time of year – both in the natural world and in the lives of my ever-changing children.  It’s about priorities AND timing.   I have a strong “slow down/move faster” tug-of-war taking place in my heart.

I’ve been letting the children enjoy playing outside as much as possible because if the weatherman is right, it will all be covered in snow in the next day or two.

I started my seeds in the basement under grow lights and with a heating mat.  They got right to work becoming what they were created for and I love visiting my tiny plants every day.

tomatostarts

I can’t tell you how excited I am to grow tomatillos again this year.

tomatillostart

All the squash are thriving and need transplanting to larger containers right away.  (As fast as my kids are growing out of clothes/shoes/bikes, etc, it seems!)

squashstarts

Much as I love seeing these things grow, I’m reminded that the season of my life dictates my priorities more than the season of the year.  I am a mother first, gardener second.

A mother armed with a list of where she needs to be every 15 minutes between 3 and 8 pm so that everyone gets to and from their commitments safely and hopefully on time.  A mother who’s praying there are clean uniforms to wear in the morning, who had to make a second run to the store today for bread to make sandwiches for lunches at 6 am tomorrow.  A mother timing one child on the piano, another on the violin, and another on their fluency reading at the same time, while also trying to listen to what her 15 year old has to say about which chemistry teacher we should register for next year and smile at the 14 year old who’s alive with excitement from compliments received at soccer practice, with the thought dawning in that very moment that the bathroom sink has been running too long and it sounds like more than one child might be playing in there.  A mother who held her 3 and 5 year olds today while reading books and tried to memorize the curve of their cheeks, the way their hair frames their faces so perfectly, the sound of their voices telling me stories.  A mother who’s going to gather flowers at every opportunity during the wild ride that will constitute the remainder of the school year.  A mother who’s blinking fast, hoping she doesn’t miss anything that really matters.  Reminding herself to breathe, to smile, to laugh.

Welcome, spring!

Behind the Couch

IMG_7304

Yesterday I asked my son to tidy the family room.  He gave me the usual groan.  Then I said, “And I want you to put things where they really go this time, instead of down the stairs, up the stairs, in the coat closet, or any of your other usual dumping spots, ok?”  Instead of groaning, he smiled at me this time.  I know his system and he knows I know.  I asked, “Did I cover all the options, so you know that each item needs to go to it’s real home?”  He smiled sheepishly and said, “I guess so.”

Well, apparently I didn’t mention that things don’t go behind the couch, because this is what I found today.  And it made me laugh a little.

You see, I wish I could say that what’s behind the couch is uncharacteristic of the rest of the house, but I can’t.  It would be a lie.  I feel like this is the scenery all over the place, and try as I might, I can’t hold back the tide.  No matter how clean I get it in the daytime hours, the after school explosion is too much.  And sometimes I don’t do so hot in the daytime, and then it’s pretty ugly.

Yesterday my three year old had quite a day.  I got out of the shower and my five year old walked in.  She said, “S. drew all over one of your laptops.  But don’t worry.  We just got some wet toilet paper and cleaned it.”  My response was quite calm.  All I said was “Really?” but my mind was racing.  Wet toilet paper?  On a LAPTOP?  Seriously?

We got that all squared away, talked about water and electronics and about leaving laptops alone.  We went upstairs to start laundry and while I did that, the same little three year old took marker to her pillowcase.  ?!?!  Why?  It couldn’t have anything to do with a paper shortage.  She had three notebooks right there!

And then came the whopper.  I was sitting in the living room trying to encourage my daughter in her violin practice when there came a strange noise from the kitchen and the sound of a toddler distancing herself from the scene of the crime quite rapidly.  I walked in the kitchen and there were 2 dozen eggs on the floor.  All broken.  Oozing everywhere – in the cracks in the floor, under the fridge, oh it was gross.  And then, while on my hands and knees cleaning it all up, some of my hair fell over my shoulder and then I had raw egg in my hair too.  And then I ran out of paper towels.  And then I ran out of napkins.  And then I was mad.

Perhaps the most awful thing of all, though, was what I did.  I looked at my toddler in frustration and asked, “WHO ARE YOU?”  And she looked at me quite calmly and told me her name.  I was so frustrated with her!  Why can’t she color in coloring books instead of on walls, bedding, computers and her body?  Why can’t she play with dolls instead of scaling counters to open cupboards I can barely reach on my tippy toes to drink bottles of medicine?  (She did that on Saturday.)  Why can’t she wear just one outfit per day instead of soiling everything she owns on the same day that I wash it?  Why?  Why on earth did she need to pull the eggs out of the fridge and drop them on the floor?  (She never did tell us.)  She is such a wonderful child but I cannot understand what is happening in that brain of hers much of the time.

And then I heard someone trying not to laugh.  It was my 15 year old son trying to choke it back.  And I realized that I was the one he was laughing at.  It was me who looked like a fool.  My daughter is three, but I was the one having a hard time acting my age.  I tried not to laugh with him.  I was that mad.  But as I looked at him, I remembered the toddler that smeared a tube of toothpaste into his bedroom carpet, and while I was cleaning it, opened the back door and shoveled all the snow off our back porch into our family room.  (It was a fairly substantial back porch.)   I felt proud of him for being the one who could laugh at the situation, since I couldn’t. I mean, someone needed to!

I guess I’m having a “behind the couch” week.  The kind where things seem to go wrong all over the place and your biggest battle is in remembering all that’s RIGHT in the midst of the mess.

After sitting on the floor for a little while (you can’t go play if Mom can’t trust you), I held my daughter and we talked.  I begged her to do the things she knows are ok to do, to listen to the little voice in her head that says “Mommy won’t like this.”  She went to get her blanket and we cuddled.  She fell asleep in my arms.  She woke up an hour later and needed my arms again.  And at 2 a.m. she came again.  She needed to be reminded that her performance didn’t decrease her worth.

It got me thinking.  Does MY performance decrease MY worth?  The correct answer is no.  But too often I live as if the answer is YES.  We live in a world that ties performance to worth on so many levels, but fundamentally, it’s not true.  My performance with my daughter yesterday didn’t decrease what I was worth to her.  I was the one she came to for love, over and over again after our little incident.  I was humbled by her generosity in forgiving me so fully and without hesitation.  My gratitude journal entry for the day was “I am grateful for the forgiveness of my children.”  I was also profoundly grateful for the opportunity to show an increase of love to her, to reassure her that she is my precious daughter and that I love her so much.   But as mothers and as women, what do we do when we fall into the pit of believing that OUR worth has been decreased by our perceived poor performances?  How do we get out?

I have found that developing the habit/skill of climbing out of that pit is one of the most difficult skills I have to learn in this life.  I’ve become much better at it in the last few years, but it’s still a battle, and this week has been harder than usual.   Today I’m doing three things to try to get out:

1.  Prayer.  I asked for help to feel differently about myself, and for help with making the best decisions.  Perhaps most importantly, I pleaded with the Lord for a heart that was calm.  And then after my prayer, I sat very still until it was.

2.  The beauty of enough.  I wrote a little bit about it last week.  I took a picture of what’s behind my couch.  (I’ll admit I don’t have the courage to post pictures of other rooms.)  I studied the picture and honestly asked myself if anything on the floor behind the couch (or anywhere else in the house, for that matter) can really be big enough to write myself off over.  Nope.  Nothing that important.  I’m reminding myself that sometimes what’s on the floor isn’t nearly as important as what’s going on in people’s hearts.  It’s important to do my best, but the most important work I do will never hang on a wall or keep the floor clean.  It may be that nobody can see what I am doing because what I’m not doing is so painfully obvious.  But if I’m doing enough and if I’m making the best decisions, it will work out.

3.  Smile.  I’m forcing a smile onto my face.   When my children get home in a little while, my face will determine their landscape far more than the housekeeping will.  If it’s cluttered but I’m happy, they’ll be happy too, and we’ll have a better chance at cheerfully fixing it together.  If it’s cluttered and I’m miserable, well, then we’re headed for trouble.  So I’m smiling.  And listening to this song.  Again.  Because it’s true.  It’s true of me and of you.  True of all of us.

So who cares what’s behind the couch?   And how do you climb out?

Jennifer

Aim Higher: Drops of Awesome

Earlier this week I linked to an amazing post that I read a week or two ago.  It’s really impacted me for the better and I wanted to find a way to share it with my family.

IMG_7030

Then I remembered these vintage medicine dropper bottles that I picked up at a yard sale a few years ago.  I’ve considered getting rid of them several times but never did.  I dug them out of the box they were in and was thrilled to discover I had ten.  The perfect number!

IMG_7032

Out came some ribbon and tiny tags, and soon I had a “drops of awesome” bottle for each member of our family.

IMG_7034

I shamelessly patterned our lesson after the one I’d read about in the post, using a pitcher of water to overflow the bowl when my children were sure we’d never get there with our little drops.

IMG_7036

We talked about how every drop of awesome we put into life brings joy.  It makes us want to work harder.  And it’s an invitation to the Lord to step in and do something awesome with our efforts, things that only He can do.

Now we have ten bottles around the house in bedrooms and other locations as reminders of what we’re after.

IMG_7035

A few of the questions I’ve asked my children since our discussion:

“What can you do to add a drop of awesome to this assignment?”

“Have you noticed others putting drops of awesome into life?  How did it make you feel to see them?”

“Did you notice the Lord turning any of your drops of awesome into something bigger?”

We talked about drops of awesome when my boys had to shovel somewhere around 15 inches of snow off of 8 driveways this week.

We talked about them while cleaning, doing homework, playing instruments.

I hope that “drops of awesome” can become code for “aim higher.”  My children know I’m a fan of excellence, and several of them resent my discussing it.

But drops of awesome are different.  They come just one drop at a time, and I guess life is more manageable for all of us when taken at that rate.

IMG_7033

I love what she writes at the end of the post:  “Small and simple.  Tiny drops.  Go forth.  Be awesome.”

This just might work.  For all of us, myself included.  And I couldn’t be happier!

What will be your next drop of awesome?

Jennifer

1 2 3 4 5 20