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The Introverted Stay-at-Home Mom: Uniquely Challenged and Abundantly Blessed

girl-by-lake

Dear grocery store clerk,
I’d like to apologize. I’ve been avoiding you. You offer to take my groceries to the car and I turn you down. You try to get my attention in the parking lot to take my cart back and I pretend I don’t see you.

Dear friend,
I’d like to apologize. I’ve been avoiding you. I have waited too long to return your phone calls or I haven’t returned them at all.

Dear sweet children of mine,
I’d like to apologize. I’ve been avoiding you. I have reached my socialization quota for the day. Instead of finding a quiet space, I had a meltdown.

Dear passenger,
I’d like to apologize. I’ve been avoiding you. I spent 45 minutes serving drinks and food to you. I socialized with you. I laughed at your jokes and made a few of my own. I engaged your children. I was warm, friendly, and accommodating. But I reached my limit and needed to go hide in the galley for a few minutes so that I could recharge my batteries.

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Posted by on August 17, 2014 in Parenting

 

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When the mask falls off

Unsplash sunset girl

My oxygen mask fell off yesterday. Big time.

One of the realities that parents of small children live with is that we often don’t get enough sleep. Sometimes that lack of sleep starts to accumulate.

I was determined Sunday night to go to bed earlier in order to catch up.

Parents of small children don’t need alarm clocks. The “alarm clock” in our house is a sweet almost three year-old boy whose little feet running down the hallway wakes us up every day at 6am. He climbs into our bed, snuggles up next to mommy and always says “Ah want mulk” and “Ahm hungry”.

On Sunday, I went to bed around 10pm to try to get close to eight hours of sleep.  My mind was not racing; however, sleep still did not come until around 10:45.

At 10:48, I woke up to the sound of my daughter crying in her room.

She felt hot so we took her temperature. 101.

I gave her some medicine to bring the fever down and put her to bed next to me. She woke up close to morning time crying out. I said “Mommy’s here” and she went back to sleep.

That morning she complained of a sore throat so I prepared to take the kids to the doctor.

Our pediatrician’s office has walk-in hours every morning starting at 7:45am so we didn’t have much time to prepare. I would have to postpone my morning prayer time to get her there.

It was pouring down rain and we had left our large umbrella at ChickfilA a couple days earlier.

I pulled into the parking lot of the doctor’s office and got both kids out of one side of the car and under the small, broken umbrella, I had. They both preceded to walk the opposite direction of where I needed them to go which resulted in them not being under the umbrella and them walking in an inch of water.

They arrived inside the office all wet. The only thing I could find to dry them off was paper gowns.

After a brief and traumatic throat culture, it was confirmed that my daughter had strep throat.

I used the same paper gowns to envelope my kids so they wouldn’t get totally wet going back out to the car.

We headed to ChickfilA first to get our umbrella, and I began praying on my armor on the way.

(It must have been a funny sight for the people in the car behind us in the drive thru to see a rather large black umbrella with colorful dots on it being passed through the window to our car.  It felt a little Mary Poppins-ish at the time).

We went to our favorite grocery store where not only are the cookies free for the kids, but so are the antibiotics at the pharmacy. By the time we got home, it was 10:30 already.

After resting for a little while, I began to make them lunch and mercifully my husband arrived home early from work around noon.  I was scheduled for an ultrasound of my kidneys at 2:30pm. (Remember the kidney stone?)

My husband got a call to go back to work that afternoon. I arrived home from my ultrasound in time for him to leave. I knew he wouldn’t be back before it was time to feed the kids dinner.

I was already starting to feel the accumulation of stress and weariness in my body.

After a couple of hours, I heard from my husband. Things had been very stressful at work and he was trying to tell me what happened.

At just that moment, I found my son wandering around the house with a piece of birthday cake that had been in the fridge. We hadn’t even had dinner yet and I thought I had put the cake far enough in the back that he wouldn’t get to it.  (I have one kid who has never once gone into the fridge to get food without asking and another who never stops doing it.)

I didn’t feel the oxygen mask fall off my face nor did I hear it hit the floor. But it was off.

My son went to his room for timeout and I preceded to start melting down.

This was not an Instagram moment. This was one of those moments that I’m so glad I was not part of a reality show.

I believe that I was already close to my breaking point before the day began.

We’ve been going through a hurricane lately, I have been struggling from lack of sleep, and the day was VERY stressful.

It got ugly and my kids had a front row seat.

After calming down, I put my kids in their highchairs for dinner. I then asked them both to look me in the eye.

I told them it was not their fault mommy yelled. I told them they had done nothing wrong and that mommy just didn’t feel good.

My daughter (the almost five year-old) cried. My son just continued in what he was doing in blissful ignorance. I’m not sure if it’s his age or his temperance but he was pretty much over it already.

This episode reminds me of what happened when I ate the cake in the sense that it was a moment that I felt out of control. I realized that God didn’t expect me to keep sweets around and resist them.

Maybe He doesn’t expect me to go days without oxygen and be okay too.

Oxygen for me means rest and balance. I had gone too long without being able to recharge my batteries properly.

I am an introverted person by nature so I think that hinders me more in the stay-at-home mom department. I’m also not one of those people who does well with too little sleep.  I have been challenged in being able to exercise lately as well because of some foot issues.

Today is Tuesday and I can’t say that I woke up overnight having the perfect solution to rearrange my life and make sure that I don’t blow a gasket again.

The only thing I do know is that I feel God calling me to trust Him.

Trust Him when I can’t get enough sleep.

Trust Him when I can’t get enough exercise.

Trust Him when I can’t get enough time alone or away.

Trust Him period.

The verse for the day that He gave me was:

Matthew 11:29
Take My yoke upon you
and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.

The part that He emphasized for me was learn from me.

I believe He wants me to learn how to rest. He knows how and He will teach me.

Image Courtesy: Leon Biss

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Parenting

 

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Dinner, a movie, and a kidney stone

Rio-2-Movie-HD-Wallpaper_Vvallpaper.Net (1)

Rio 2 – 20th Century Fox

 

The kids and I have been working our way through our summer bucket list.  I was determined that this summer 2014 would be a fun one. And because I believe in saying things aloud and blessing verbally, I began blessing our summer long before it got here.

In case you haven’t read about it hear yet, I was ill for the latter half of last year and unable to do much of anything with the kids last summer.

One thing on our bucket list was to see the movie Rio 2. I waited for it to come to the dollar theater (which is now actually the $1.75 theater) and scheduled us to see it on a Tuesday (the day of the week when it is truly just a dollar).

Going to the movie theater with my kids was a big deal. Neither of them have ever been (they will be turning three and five soon). My five-year-old daughter has sensory processing disorder and had some learning delays so she took longer than most kids to enjoy a full-length movie.

We have the DVD for the original Rio movie at our house and the kids love to watch it repeatedly.

I had everything planned to a T. We were going to go to the 2:30pm show. I fed the kids lunch at 11am and put them down for their nap early. This part of the plan came off without a hitch. My son awoke from his nap at 1:30.

We got ready to go and left the house 40 minutes before show time.

Then we hit a snag.

Construction on the local main road caused a traffic standstill. I made a U-turn, and then followed the route less travelled given to me by my phone’s GPS to get to the theater. I made good time despite the setback and we arrived ten minutes before the movie started.

We had to park far from the movie theater (not a good sign). I shuffled the kids out of the car and had to arrange everything I was carrying (purse, diaper bag, and golf umbrella because of the forecast) to be able to hold two little hands in that busy parking lot.

I saw lots of other families with kids headed towards the entrance.

We finally made it through the doors when I could hear the concessionaires shouting “Rio 2-sold out!”

I felt tears well up in my eyes. I had worked so hard to get to this point. It wasn’t just about getting a diaper bag ready and making sure my son had a nap before we left the house.

It was about overcoming a physical incapacitation that had left me unable to do things like this with them last summer.  It was about taking my kids to experience something they have never been able to experience before.

I could have burst into tears right then. The kids were very anxious and ready to watch the movie.

How would I explain to them the concept of “sold out”?

I herded the two of them over to the concession stand line, resolved to buy tickets for the next showing.

I would find something for them to do to kill time until we had to come back. The kids were hungry and I had not packed a snack (having counted on popcorn).

I used my GPS to find the closest Chick-fil-A and headed there. I explained to the kids in the car in the simplest terms possible that too many people wanted to see the movie at the same time as us so we would have to come back later.

As I drove into the parking lot of the restaurant, I was a little disappointed to see an outdoor playground there. It is the middle of July. In Georgia.

Oh well. We’ll just make the best of it.

My almost five year-old daughter’s main sensory issue is auditory. Loud noises bother her a lot. She began having meltdowns in Chick-fil-A bathrooms as a young baby due to the loudness of the toilet flushing.

To add to the fun today, my body decided to start passing a kidney stone. They run in my family and I found out last year through imaging tests that I have them. However, I didn’t start passing them until this year.

I now know how to recognize the signs that I am passing one and could feel the great discomfort in my bladder all day today. If this event had not been so well planned out, I would have cancelled.

Passing a kidney stone for me means frequent trips to the loo, so there we were.

My daughter kept her hands over her ears the whole time we were in the ladies’ room. I assured her that this toilet didn’t flush by itself so she could relax a little and I would tell her when I was going to flush.

After eating some chicken and fries and playing for a while on the outdoor playground, we headed back to the movie theater almost a full hour before show time. I didn’t want to go through the same stress of crowds and long lines that we had experienced at 2:30pm.

I had already bought the tickets for the 5 o’clock show so all we needed was to buy some popcorn and candy. We stood in line again. My kids were quite hyper and antsy. They were also getting on each other’s nerves.

We headed towards our theater about twenty minutes before show time.

My daughter already knew I had headphones for her. She needed them as soon as we walked in. Even the advertisements were bothering her ears.

I put the headphones on her, however she still complained. “It’s too loud! It’s too loud!”

Meanwhile her and my son are both clamoring for some of the popcorn and chocolate I just bought them. I alternate divvying out handfuls of Nestle buncha crunch and poured popcorn into two plastic containers I had brought with us.

It didn’t take long for one of those containers of popcorn to be poured out onto the floor (by my almost three year-old).

I chose a row of seats in the middle and all the way to the back. One brave person came and sat next to us. I warned her that she might hear my daughter complaining about the noise a few times.

There was another mom seated in front of us who had a few older kids with her.

An older couple came and sat in the row in front of us as well. It was only the previews; however, after hearing a few comments from my son, they decided to find other seats. J

My daughter was having a very difficult time with the noise (or the anticipation of it), so she came and sat on my lap. There she stayed for the rest of the movie, leaning back against me, hands covering the headphones that were covering her ears.

My son alternated between standing up and sitting on my other leg.

During a quiet time in the movie, my son all of a sudden yelled out “I wanna watch Jake!” referring to their favorite pirate show. A few people in the audience laughed. He was my little commentator during the whole movie.

My little boy had a major speech delay (similar to his older sister), and has had a language explosion recently. I have noticed that as we drive in the car somewhere, he loves to point out whatever things he knows the word to. “Truck!” “School bus!” “Railroad track!”

I knew it would be next to impossible to muzzle him during the whole movie so I tried to be affirming and occasionally said to him “Let’s whisper”.

When I looked at my watch and saw there was still 30 minutes left in the movie, I was ready to go home. I asked my son if he wanted to go home (I knew what my daughter’s answer would be). He said he wanted to stay and watch the movie. I said OK.

He then proceeded to repeat his desire multiple times and rather loudly for all to hear.

We made it all the way through the movie. Daughter on my left leg, son on my right, and a sea of popcorn crunched under my shoes on the floor.

I’m glad we got to have this experience. I’m glad we got to cross one more thing off our summer bucket list.

I think we’ll watch the next movie from the comfort of our home.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Parenting

 

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What are you hungry for?

forain buffet kunstkopie

Forain: The Buffet

How many times a day do I find myself asking my kids this very question?  Their little bodies sometimes crave one thing while their minds seek out something else.  Their body whispers “green beans” while their mind shouts “chocolate chip cookies”!

One of my prayers every morning before I start my day is that God will help me seek Him out in every “anxious moment” and in every “hungry heart moment” (so that He will have those instead of the chocolate chip cookies having me).

You’ve heard there is a void in our souls that can only be filled by God.  You also hear repeatedly that only God can fill that hunger in your heart.

However, until this weekend, I never stopped to ask myself what my heart was actually hungering for.

We sometimes agonize over snack time or mealtime about exactly what will satisfy that craving.  Do I feel like a good salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing? Or do I feel like I grilled burger with all the fixins?

We spend lots of time and energy thinking about what we want to eat, where to get it, or how to prepare it.

As I began this journey of laying down sugar and excess food, I made it my goal to let God fill me when I was hungry of heart.

I never thought to get specific about what I was hungry for.

The weekends are especially challenging for me.  It is a time where I am not only taking care of kids (in partnership with my husband), but also trying to get caught up on housework.

I am very eager to do right by my kids.  Ok, let’s get real. What I really want is not to screw my kids up. Can I get an amen from parents out there?

As I was pondering this desire to treat my kids the right way this weekend, I realized that my heart was indeed very hungry.  I felt my soul weaken.  I needed God to come fill my hungry soul.

A verse then came to my mind:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.  Matt: 5-6 NKJV

I was able to connect the dots at that moment.

I have been hungering for righteousness my whole life.  Even as a Christian.

I realized that one of the reasons that I have been running around empty trying to fill the void has been my desire for righteousness.

Jesus could have stopped at the word “hunger”.  We know what hunger represents.  We could skip a meal if we had to.  We could go a few days without food if we had to.

He goes beyond hunger and adds the word “thirst”.  To be thirsty is a deeper level of desperation.

I want to be clear that when I say that I want to be righteous, it doesn’t mean that I want to be “holier than thou”, and “self-righteous” in the negative connotation that is often associated with those terms.

For me to want to be righteous means that I want to do right! I want to do right by my God.  I want to do right by my spouse.  I want to do right by my kids.

Why?

Because what I do has an impact on everyone around me.  If I choose to give in to selfish desires and wants (which is the essence of sin), then I will end up hurting someone around me.

I have felt especially weary this weekend.  I felt weary of this very intense, non-stop journey called parenting of young children.

I get tempted to complain sometimes. Lord, I’m tired of being woken up at 6am every day.  I’m tired of cleaning dried Spaghettios off the dishes.  I’m tired of washing bibs off all the time.  I’m tired of endless conversations beginning with the phrase “Why?”

However, in my desire to do right by my kids, another verse came to my mind this weekend:
And let us not grow weary while doing good,
for in due season we shall reap
if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9 NKJV

This verse came to my mind, and when I went to look it up, I couldn’t help but notice the verse before it:
 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption,
but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Gal. 6:8

This verse reminded me again of the consequences of choosing to do what I want.  It reminded me again of how much I must be filled with righteousness in order to do right.

In order to get that righteousness, we must first hunger and thirst for it.  We must be desperate for it.

The word of God shows us that when we hunger and thirst for righteousness and persevere with doing the right things which He has enabled us to do, we will:
Reap in due season
and
Reap everlasting life.

Photo: The Buffet-Jean Forain Buffet PD-1923 Courtesy Wikimedia

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2014 in Christian Living

 

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Hurricane Martha and Me

Hurrican Flickr

Today was one of those days that if I wasn’t looking for a muzzle to put on my mouth to prevent me from saying (or yelling) something stupid, I was looking for my foot to put it in afterwards.

Everything my kids were doing or saying seemed to get on my nerves.

Today was one of those days where my best just wasn’t good enough, and where my to-do list seemed to have a hole in it.

Today was one of those days that I spent hours doing backbreaking cleaning work in the house, yet it looked like I did nothing at all.

Today was one of those days that I felt as in one of those dreams where you try to run and it’s like running underwater.  I seemed not to have any grace to look at a messy house and be okay with it.

I know that while my kids are little, I sometimes have to choose between having happy kids or a clean house.

My husband graciously spent much of the day caring for the kids while I meticulously cleaned the baseboards around the house of dust that has accumulated during our two years tenure here.

I worked hard all day on it, taking short breaks in between rooms. When it was time to do the last (and dirtiest) room, I had to give up and give in. I was too tired to go on.

I am that person who has a hard time starting a project and leaving it unfinished. I have a hard time letting go when it’s time to let go.

You could say that of Mary and Martha, I am Martha. A friend recently related on her blog that what God showed her about Martha was that what she was doing was not wrong, but rather when she was doing it.

My kids were playing in the living room all day with some fun toys that their cousins gave them the day before at our family’s 4th of July gathering. I really did not want to stop my massive cleaning project to play ball with them.

Playing with little kids all day does not come naturally to me. I enjoy it in small spurts. My mind was preoccupied with cleaning; however, I did stop what I was doing a few times to spend that time with them.

It wasn’t the same thing as spending time at Jesus’ feet; however, it was time to be His hands and His feet.

After throwing in the cleaning towel, I stopped to rest and watch the World Cup game with my husband while the kids played. As the game went into extra time, it was time to get ready to go to church.

Our pastor spoke on adversity tonight. He spoke about what happens when there is a major hurricane in our lives. He said we have two choices. We can lengthen that hurricane by drowning ourselves in self-pity, or we can shorten it by asking the Lord to use that hurricane to draw us closer to Him.

We have been going through a Category 5 lately and I have felt myself really struggling to have faith during this time.

I was meditating on Hebrews 11:1 last night:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
(NKJV)

I have read or heard this verse hundreds of times during my Christian walk. However, last night the “things not seen” part of the verse particularly struck me.

I had always interpreted this verse to mean we need to have hope that the future will bring us better things.  However, things not seen does not talk about the future. It talks about what presently exists but we are blind to.

What that meant for me is that faith is evidence of truths we are not presently able to see.

The enemy works primarily in our minds, trying to lie to us about our life. I need faith to have my eyes opened to all of God’s truth about my life.

My prayer tonight is that God would open my eyes to see the beautiful truths that I have been unable to see in my present situation.

I pray the same prayer for you tonight, friend.

July 6, 2014 Update:

I found the following scripture verse this morning that expounds on the verse on faith a bit:

1 Corinthians 4:17: Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting. (NKJV)

Therefore that which is unseen is deathless and everlasting. This verse makes me hunger even more for my eyes to be opened to that which is unseen!

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Image: Hurricane Jeanne; Courtesy Kakela Flckr

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Parenting

 

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If it was easy, everyone would do it

Mimi boat

I always dreamt of being a stay-at-home mom. For as long as I can remember, I hoped and imagined that when I had kids someday, I would be home to take care of them rather than working.

I admit that I even judged some moms who worked rather than staying at home. I was convinced that they could make it work financially if it really mattered to them. I especially didn’t understand those moms that chose to work when they didn’t have to.

Although I had this dream for years of staying home with my kids, I did not realize how unprepared I was for it or how much my life would change.

The women who were the closest role models in my life had all been career women. I was raised by a single, working mom. The only grandmother I ever knew had been a career woman her whole life. She never raised children. She became a grandmother through marriage. (She was an awesome one, by the way and I miss her dearly. She is the woman pictured above traveling around the world in the 1950s.)

I started my first job when I was 14. By the time I got pregnant with my first child, I was well educated, well traveled, and well experienced. I had held a variety of exciting jobs working for globally recognized companies in my city. I had also spent a year in another country as a missionary.

What no one ever told me was that wanting to be a stay-at-home mom and preparing to be one are different things. Almost nothing I had done in my career “qualified” me for this position. I was totally inexperienced at this thing of making a home and raising a child.

I went through a very difficult adjustment period during which there were many days I wanted to cry and scream. The loneliness, lack of mental stimulation, and boredom seemed too much to handle at times.

I recognize that my situation is unique. I was able to stay home with both my kids for the first six months of their life. After that, I went back to my job as a flight attendant; however, I work part-time so I spend many days with them during the month.

Today was one of those days that I wanted to cry and scream. I have been off for ten days because of vacation on my schedule. I admit I am spoiled in that I get opportunities to travel several times a month. However, more times than not, these opportunities are not vacations for me. I work very hard at my job and oftentimes make sacrifices about the types of trips I fly in order to spend more time at home with my family. When I do get longer trips with great layovers in exciting cities, I enjoy it in the beginning but soon find myself very homesick. I usually come home from work exhausted and needing more time to recover than I get before jumping back into the stay-at-home routine again.

My adventure begins again tomorrow as I head out for 10 days in a row of trips.  This sacrifice I make in order to have the 4th of July holiday off to be with my family.

Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, working mom, work-at-home mom, or some combination of these, you have great challenges and make great sacrifices. My hat is off to you tonight, whatever type of mom or dad you are.

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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Parenting

 

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Confessions of a (sometimes) stay-at-home mom

 

 

woman praying

Today was a tough day. One of those days that tests you in every way.

I woke up with a sore throat that continued all day along with a general malaise.

I recently began staying at home with both my kids on my off days. I have found incredible grace to do this and praying on the armor of God everyday has helped tremendously.

I reached a point of frustration today though. I realized that I hadn’t had time to open the mail in five days. I hadn’t had time to make a phone call, do our budget, or other administrative things necessary in our house.

In case you haven’t met me, I am that perfectionist mom. Everything has to be done right and done on time.

My daughter is no longer in school and my kids no longer have to go to a sitter each day now that my health has improved. That means less time to handle business that needs doing around the house. I was in a quandary this morning about how to handle this.

I decided I would let me kids sit on my bed while they watched a TV show on my laptop. I set everything up, with big fluffy pillows for them to lean against and asked them not to touch the computer.

I then began to use the time to make those phone calls I needed to make, open the mail, read my email, etc.

Then all of a sudden Bang!

I went into my bedroom to see my laptop on the floor and my daughter informing me that my two year-old son had managed to throw the computer on the floor. Fortunately it still worked just fine (I’m using it now), however part of a corner was cracked and the screen was separated a little bit from the cover.

I immediately shut the computer and ordered the kids to go play in my daughter’s room. I made it clear there would be no TV since my computer had gotten broken. My son went to time out for his part in the fiasco.

I could tell by his face that he knew he had done something wrong. I told him he could get out of time out and go play. He went to the other side of the house, then turned around and came back to give me an apologetic hug.

I continued making my phone calls; however I was interrupted by the sound of my kids screaming at each other at the top of their lungs. They were fighting about something. I got off my phone call and stormed back to where they were playing. I ordered each of them to go to their respective rooms. They both started crying. I went to my room on the other side of the house and broke down crying.

I cried and I cried out to God. These were not faith-filled words or praises. It was gut wrenching and honest about how hard I sometimes find life to be as a stay-at-home mom. I cried out to God about not being able to open the mail and about not being able to have a peaceful phone call.

I felt somewhat defeated the rest of the day and a little sad. Sad because I had once again failed to live up to my own expectations.

I was able to show myself a little mercy as it got later in the day and I realized that a number of factors were working against me. I was both sick and hormonal at the same time. Not to mention still learning how to juggle this thing of staying home with my kids.

As the day went by, I pondered how I could explain to my two year-old that I forgave him. He doesn’t understand what the word “forgive” means. I felt it was very important for him to know that even though I was mad about what happened, I forgave him and we were okay. I sat him down and told him I wanted to talk to him about the computer. I told him that I knew he didn’t mean to break it and that it was okay.

I managed to muster the strength to head to the grocery store to get a few urgent items we needed. While I was there, I saw a Facebook post by Lysa TerKeurst:

Lysa TerKeurst

I got teary-eyed in the grocery store because it was just what I needed to hear.

It was a reminder that despite all my imperfections, God chose me to be my kids’ mom.

What an awesome privilege.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Parenting

 

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