Motherhood

Egg-xactly. That tradition is so Egregious!

Egregious adj. – Conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible

So, you mean to tell me that every year you oblige your kids in the traditional Easter egg hunt? And you don’t feel completely insane while at it?  Personally, I feel outrageously bad and reprehensible before, after, and during participation.
eggxactly

Why? I’ll tell you why.

First, let’s review the steps of easter egg huntery:

1- Gather your very large bin of plastic eggs you store for annual insanity. (If you aren’t as prepared, you will be forced to your local Walmart where you’ll fork over a minimum of $20.)

2- Prepare the candy. (We do that by taking our twelve bags of variety and dumping them into a pile and mixing them together on the living room floor.)

3- Fill the eggs.

4- Hide the eggs.

5- Find the eggs.

Now, this is where it really starts to get to you. You must sit patiently with a smile on your face, as to not ruin the tradition’s fun for your children. Just look happy as you watch the kids do #’s 1-3 in reverse order.

6- Dump out all candy from the eggs, back to a pile on the floor.

7- Reorganize the candy back into it’s original sorting so that you can literally place it back in the bags from where it came.

8- Take the refilled storage bin of empty Easter eggs back down to the basement for next year.

I’ve been obliging my family for fifteen years with Easter egg witchery. I’ve implemented every way around the frustration. I started with saving the eggs from year to year so I didn’t have to purchase them over and over again. (You’re welcome Mother Earth.) I advanced to requiring the children to do the work….more every year. Fifteen years ago they just had to do the finding. A decade ago, I started making them fill. (I kindly informed them there would be no finding without filling.) Five years later, they had to start hiding the eggs too. This year all I hoped to do was buy the candy. I tried to get them to do the whole thing without me, but they guilted me into believing that a mom’s participation is essential for the fun.

I snapped.  I’m so ashamed. I started screaming, “WHY? WHY do we do this every year? Just eat the candy! Just eat the candy!” Tears started streaming down my face. My maniacal laughter must have startled them, but children…they just can’t see the error. It’s like their corneas have been rainbowed over with egg-dye and bunny candy poop. They were in a trance just going through the motions like an Energizer bunny with faulty programming. I tried waving my hand in front of their eyes, they just held their arms out stiff in front at 90 degrees and mumbled, “We must get Easter candy.”

This is my plea to the American public. We must find an immunization for this nonsense. And we must do it before next Easter. Please help me! We can’t all convert to Judaism, even though they are obviously the most sensible of the religions.

Maybe my parent’s solution can help you start thinking outside the egg. They just opened the bags of candy and threw them around the house and called it good bucking the eggs all together. Easter morning, their seven children would scramble like starving field-working immigrant children experiencing their first pinata. We never even knew to complain, we didn’t know any different. I think by keeping the plastic eggs out of the house they saved us from the trance all together. My only regret is that even though we lived in Southern California with perfect Easter weather, we only celebrated outdoors once. You see, we all learned the hard way that this method didn’t really work outside. When attempted, the morning dew sogged up every last piece (especially the chocolate) leaving me traumatized for life.

Although, I’m telling you, I would take eternally sogged up candy over one more year of the dark side. We must stop the madness. I’m afraid next year I might need a straight jacket. Maybe I can just start sporting one so my kids will see that my hands are tied?

My only consolence is at least I don’t live in Germany where I would be expected to hang 10,000 eggs from a tree.

Your Heavenly Father Feedeth Them

Gold Finch'sMatthew 6:26
Behold the fowls of the air:
for they sow not, neither do they reap,
nor gather into barns;
yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.
Are ye not much better than they?

I had the most sacred experience yesterday, and this morning I just want to record it somewhere so I will never forget. I’ve gotten out of the habit of keeping a journal. I kick myself over that all of the time. I wish I would have kept a journal every day of my life, but I didn’t. I guess the suitcase of journals I did keep in my younger years along with this here blog will have to do.

Yesterday Abigail received her patriarchal blessing. It was one of the most beautiful profound experiences of my life. We all laughed afterward when I lamented that I didn’t have any tissues. (Abigail was or was not grossed out by the fact that I was wiping my cry-snot on my dress.) I’m a ball baby. Especially when it comes to spiritual experiences. Live and learn. I woke up this morning still kind of weepy. My box of tissues is now in reach just so I can write this without wiping cry-snot all over the keyboard.

Anyhow, I can’t really go into the details of her private and sacred blessing but, I just wanted to record my feelings over it. I feel constrained to write about it. Rightly so. I will just share that it was a beautiful precious blessing to hear my daughter blessed with everything I could ever hope for her to have, in this life and the next. What a tender mercy for me. I often worry that I won’t be alive for my kids forever. Whether that is premonition or anxiety I don’t know…only time will tell…ha.  But, yesterday the veil was lifted and I was given the surety that no matter where I am (here or beyond) I will be with my kids in mind and spirit, and that no matter what, we will be together where it matters most…in the next life, which is eternal.

It doesn’t get better than that folks. It just doesn’t.

When searching for a picture to go with this post, the one above caught my attention. I took it years ago, in Tennessee, after picking up the kids from school. This man had a huge tree with low hanging branches that canopied his whole front yard. He would hang dozens of nylon bird-feeders. I liked to pull over and watch hundreds of gold finches feast.

This morning I thought of the comparison between those goldfinches and me and my little “Gold” finches. I know God has a tree where we He lays out our banquet. We just have to know where to find it and choose it. My body is filled to the brim this morning as I ponder how blessed I am to know the gospel of Jesus Christ, where there is endless bird feed and life eternal. God is so good to me. I love Him with all my heart. I’m so grateful that He has blessed me with faith. I cannot imagine trying to navigate my way through this tumultuous world without the sure knowledge that He is at the helm, I am His daughter, and that He has a plan. His plan includes, but is not limited to, me and all of my loved ones being saved through the atonement of Christ. I know that my faith will bless my family. As theirs will mine. Forever.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, God. You are so good to me.

How I Am Like My Mother

On mother’s day, I’m grateful for my mom and I’m grateful to be a mom.
Being a mom makes me even more grateful for my mom.

IMG_6789

This mother’s day I am giving my mom what she always requests…..
just write me something Alice.

Like me, my mom is human, therefore she is a masterpiece of perfect imperfection. I love her with all my heart. Her heart is in my heart. Without her my heart would not beat. Without her love, I would not exist. Without her lifetime of love, I would not be who I am. It took me a long time to admit it, but I am a product of my mother. She molded me intentionally with her every action – unintentional or not. Daily for my entire forty-one years her every choice has left an imprint on my soul. I cannot leave a mere footprint in the sand without my mom being represented.

I am like my mother in many ways…the good, the bad, and the ugly. The beauty of our relationship is knowing that no matter how I act or what I believe, I have someone who gets me and loves me. I hope she knows she has the same from her daughter.

So, mom, this is for you. I will print it (because you don’t know how to use a computer) and mail it (because you aren’t so great at texting either) and I hope when you have it in your hands, when you read these words, you will know how much you are loved and how much you matter. Your influence will live on forever and ever. I’m doing my best to pass it all down…I intentionally and unintentionally leave you in the hearts of my children.

Before I go to the ways I am like my mom, I just had a memory come flooding in to my mind that I want to share. My mom will love it. I was in second grade. It was Valentine’s Day. My teacher had a tradition of having the parents write their kids a love note. She would save them for the very last thing of the day. The teacher had made a really big deal about our special valentines. I remember as she passed out the notes, I was so nervous, I was so worried I’d be left out somehow. Maybe I had been naughty and thought my mom wouldn’t have anything nice to say? Maybe I was used to being a member of a very large family and I inherently knew that my mom couldn’t keep up with all the little things required of her? Maybe I knew my mom was super pregnant with baby #7 and that made my chances of receiving a letter really slim. Whatever it was I steeled myself for whatever was to come and promised myself I would not cry. I knew I was loved by my parents. I also knew they were imperfect.

I braced myself as my teacher came up my aisle of desks reaching in and out her special heart box with the best valentines of the day. I sat at the very back of the aisle. Unlike the other kids who were tearing through their already delivered goodies, almost disinterested in their special delivery, I sat quietly full of anxiety. Would I be able to show strength when my teacher didn’t give me anything? I looked down trying not to seem to care. I stared at the hemline of Mrs. Einertson’s flowery 70’s-type shirt where it met her brown polyester bell-bottoms. (She was a cheery strawberry blonde, a great teacher, and taught all of my family. I loved her so much.)

I clenched my sweaty fists and blinked back the threatening tears. She now stood reaching in her box right above me. I was the last delivery. I couldn’t make myself look, but at least it would be over with either way now. I felt like she could see right through me and that her empathy would at least make something appear…even if it was just a leftover. All of the sudden, a note dropped right into my hands. I stared at it in pure relief. A tear may have dropped anyhow. I looked at my teacher who smiled so sweetly. I was surprised in myself as I looked right into her eyes and smiled right back at her. Then I quickly took my attention back to the note staring.

I studied every detail. The envelope was addressed to me in my mom’s gorgeous small and straight-lined italic type cursive handwriting. It was a special envelope. My mom had used her special flowery stationary that she hid away in her room and told us not to touch. Then, the smell hit. It was a smell that was unfamiliar, but it was the most pleasant thing I had ever smelled in my life. It was a hint of rose, but it was different so it must have been some other kind of flower too. I put the envelope to my nose and inhaled it in as deep as it would go. I couldn’t believe that my mom had found something that smelled so good. And she had given it to me! I wondered if the stationary just came that way or had she sprayed something on it. I thought maybe the teacher had sprayed everyones and asked the kid in front of me if his note smelled good. It didn’t, so I let him smell mine. I opened it and read it. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before. My mom loved me. She was proud of me. I was her black-haired beauty. etc. etc.

I sat taking it in. Tears ran down my face. I was the most special girl in the world. My mom gave me a smelly note. She was the most busy mom ever, but my note smelled better than anyone else’s in my class, better than any scratch and sniff sticker in all of existence. I sniffed and sniffed, like a drug-sick addict. I felt the smell of love run through every vein of my body. I can still smell it after all of these years. Somewhere in my basement tucked in a box is that note. Whenever I get it out, I still sniff and sniff…the scent still lingers on the paper. If someone was to cut me up and tear my heart out I am sure that it smells like that letter…it’s imprint is eternal….from my mom.

I can only hope to give each of my own kids a moment like that where they know without any doubt the depth of my love for them. I probably never thanked you mom. Thank you. I love you. As a busy mom, I somewhat understand now. You may have remembered that note at 2 am after folding 12 loads of laundry and you just wanted to crash in to your bed or maybe you even got a call that morning from the teacher and you had to skip your grocery shopping to run something to the school in just the nick of time. I will never know the specific sacrifices you personally made for me, but I know of them, and they mean even more to me now than they did then.

So, back to the ways I am like my mom:

I sacrifice for my children.
I hate mornings.
I love to thrift-shop.
Hamburgers for dinner are my favorite.
Anything I don’t have to cook is my favorite for dinner.
I cry at the drop of a hat.
I love to garden.
I love a good cup of Postum.
I need medicine to sleep.
I’ve never met a stranger.
I always make do.
I love my children.
I enjoy a good movie.
I have a stash of soda in my bedroom.
I have bad bowels.
I’m tough.
I never give up.
I’m quick to give advice.
I have black hair.
I love Disneyland.
I’m a night owl.
I experience the beauty around me.
I love the sound of waves breaking.
Scripture soothes me.
I love other people’s children.
I need more sleep than other people.
I believe God talks to me.
I try to do what He tells me.
I have black hair.
I’m not afraid to share my beliefs.
I’m emotional.
I love to read.
I adore my husband.
I’m a sucker for strays.
I keep a stash of medicines for emergencies.
I love people.
I always keep a full bowl of fruit in my house.
I have a hard time with snooty people.
Gardenias, geraniums, CA poppies…can’t get enough.
I pray. all day. every day.
I love American sports: football and baseball.
I love sunny weather.
I find peace among fellow saints.
And the rain.
I embarrass my kids by getting worked up over their sporting events.
I don’t like to be cold.
I’m grateful.
I love my Jesus.
I believe in His atonement.
I have to work on not commenting too much at church.
John Denver.
I know the struggle.
I stare it down day after day.
I have four daughters.
I don’t need fancy things.
I love primary songs.
I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world.
I will give the shirt off my back for someone with less than me.
That’s why I don’t have much.
But I have everything that matters.
And more.
So much more.

mom2

Last, like my mom,
I doubt my importance to other people
and undervalue myself.
Mom, for mother’s day,
I want you to
once and for all
know your infinite worth.
You mean everything to me.
I’m proud to be a mom.
Just like you.

Tender, tough, and strong

IMG_3872No one reads this blog. Really, I have no idea why I keep writing for it. I guess some idealistic optimistic part of me overrides my more pessimistic self. When I see something that wells me up with tears, I think, I have to share this with my kids in the future. I have to give this to my daughters for when they have babies of their own. My realistic hypochondriac freaks me out with worry that I may not be here for them forever. What if they are new moms feeling totally overwhelmed and I am not here to tell them it will all be o.k? I won’t be able to say: “Look, you survived me. Your baby(ies) will survive you. I promise.”

When they look at their baby(ies) they are going to feel such an overabundance of pride and equal trepidation. They are going to wonder how in the world they can ever be a worthy enough mom. I want to be there to assure them that this is totally normal. I will gently break the news: This feeling isn’t just there for infancy. It will never go away.

When their baby goes off to kindergarten, they (like me) may sit at home praying all day that no one will molest their child.

When their own little girl is all messy and tear-stained with her first real big-girl problem in some social situation, I know they will be the kind of mom that will listen and be strong. They’ll give hugs and help find solutions. They will do their darndest to not cry where their daughter can see them because they won’t want to upset her any more than she already will be. But, it’ll be o.k. to sneak away and bawl in her bathroom at the earliest convenience.

Then when their kid’s first real flaw shows up. A flaw that they know they personally gifted upon their child, they will have sleepless nights petitioning God to take it away. They’ll remind him: “We had a deal! You said I could be mom if I loved the kid the best I knew how. You know I have, now, you better give my baby the perfection she deserves.”

They’ll be there to scream too loud at the athletic events, annoyingly photograph every detail, and they’ll dutifully feed this child ’til they are 18. (even if they – like me – only really cook dinner)

They’ll endure the “I hate you’s” and the “it’s all your faults” and the “If only’s”.

They’ll have “the talk” even if they won’t want to and they’ll cling for dear life when their child gets their permit to drive.

Most of all they’ll love in a way they never knew was possible.

Just like Garth Brooks says, I know they’ll be tender, tough, and strong.

If, by some really drastic turn of events, I’m not there to tell them this when it’s their time to be mom, I want to tell them now. Don’t worry baby. Mothering is instinctual. Just follow your heart, love your baby, and everything will be just fine. I hope they will feel like, in many ways, they are just like their mom. Not because I’m perfect, but because I love my children perfectly.

The multiuse baby thing: the blanket.

blanketsIf you had your first baby before, say, 2000 A.D. you were one fortunate mom. You learned something that today’s new moms have no way of knowing: a baby blanket can pretty much take care of everything your baby needs.

At today’s baby showers, you will be sure to find many fancied up blankets newly named as car-seat carriers, nursing privacy covers, and even special fancy swaddlers (sometimes made of muslin.) It dawned on my the other day that I better write about the “old” traditions before they are totally forgotten.

Let’s start in the beginning. You have a newborn that needs to be swaddled. You don’t need a fancy contraption complete with velcro and special corners, just watch the nurse at the hospital. She can show how to swaddle with nothing more than a plain old blanket.

swaddler

Before you know it, people will be coming over to see your bundle of joy. Do you want to feed him/her in privacy? Once again, a blanket of any size will come to your rescue. Heck. I use them just when I feel like sitting on the couch without pants. I know, it’s hard to believe, but I promise, women have been doing this for centuries. This woman even used a napkin.

Screenshot 2015-04-16 at 1.44.23 PM

Now, I know everyone has a cute carseat canopy nowadays. I was given one this last time around by a sweet friend who is probably reading this right now. (Thanks Marlene!) But, if you are looking for a way to save a few bucks, I promise a blanket does the trick just fine. Even the owner of the image below agrees even though they think putting anything over your baby’s car-seat can be as treacherous as holding them over the rim of the Grand Canyon. Ha. (You have to go read what they have to say. today’s kicks.) I just want to say that I have 5 children and never once has one been suffocated by placing a blanket over the handle of their carseat. And guess what? My hand held it on there without a cute clasp with or without accompanying matching buttons. The only person I think really may need a carseat canopy is a double-amputee.

images

Other great ways to use a baby blanket:

baby_towelpacknplaycovercape

It can double as a towel, a pack-n-play/crib cover, a baby cape.

or

a burpcloth, stroller cover, even a diaper if necessary. I’ve used one as a dress in multiple emergency situations.

burp clothstroller coverbaby diaper

A baby blanket can be really handy for kids that puke in the car or in their bed. Kids of every age should have a baby blanket handy, just in case. They are easier to wash than any twin, full, or queen.

Really people, if I haven’t convinced you yet, maybe the American and British royalty can.

royal babyKim Kardashian in a blue evening gown out with her family in Miami

Last, but very not least, just in case, you were wondering.

Yes, a baby blanket is still great at its intended use: keeping a baby warm.

Just don’t forget that it can also shade your babies soft skin from the sun, keep him dry under rain/snow/sprinklers, and even be used (when wet) as a smooth washcloth.

You really innovative moms may even be able to figure out how to use a blanket or two as a wrap. Don’t tell pinterest. And don’t credit the idea to me…I think those things are ridiculous.

I’m sure I’m forgetting other uses, but feel free to share them below.

Oh yes, a changing pad. That’s my favorite use for those “too small after two week” receiving blankets. I don’t wipe them down with a clorox wipe if they catch up poop, I throw them in the washing machine. I can also use them to gather up poopy clothes like a hobo satchel until I get to a washer.

Now, feel free to share below.

Motherhood: it’s not for the birds.

I know I must be starting to sound crazy, always talking about interactions with the birds. Honestly, I feel kind of crazy because I swear the birds around here are ancestors trying to contact me from another realm. Maybe I should convert to Hinduism. Maybe I should just stay eccentric. Either way you are going to hear about it.

birdsI hope you remember this story about the pregnant robin staring at me through my back door because this story just kind of builds on it.

Mothering has been getting to me. I feel worthless a majority of the time. Between the monotony of the baby and the daily drudgery of dealing with hormonal and self-absorbed typical teenagers I often wonder why I have dedicated the majority of my life to them.

I’ve been praying a lot and searching for wisdom and peace. I want to know that my sacrifices will matter. I need to know.

Well, a few days ago after a particularly hard weekend I had another little bird miracle. My very rare weekend get-away had been snatched from my needy little fingers. (The therapist thought it would be a good idea for my husband and daughter to have some bonding time, which left me at home alone with the other 4 kids for two days.) I was looking ahead to the grind of another week, and wasn’t feeling too rested after the weekend. I was indulging myself in another, “WHY?” crying session.

I ended up with the baby in arms while attempting to let the dog out the sliding glass door to relieve herself. Just before opening the door, however, I noticed something new. I’d never witnessed this before: There were so many robins in the branches of the trees that I couldn’t count them. I froze. They all stared at me as I stared at them. They were all sexes, all sizes, and all singing to one another.

It came in the most unexpected way, but my answer to prayer had come on the wings of the robin family. The secret to life was laid out before me. Maybe these birds were ancestors from my past (not really but symbolically.) Maybe they represented my family in the future, but they were definitely a sign with a crystal clear message supporting my motherhood: It’s all about the family.

The other day a single friend from high-school posted a picture from his back porch. It was him, his beautifully landscaped yard, and his beer. I assumed he’s on a hiatus from traveling at his high profile life of being a TV producer and was enjoying the downtime.

I commented, “Your life looks so peaceful, can we trade for a week?”

He answered in jest, ” Alice, thanks for the offer but I highly doubt I could ‘Survive’ your life. You are an amazing mom/wife.”

It’s amazing what a compliment like that can do for a struggling mom.  I so appreciated every single word. He validated my extreme exhaustion and simultaneously encouraged me. I didn’t think there was anything that could help me more than his words. I also didn’t realize that I could communicate with birds. They gave me a moment’s peace. Without the beer. Without the perfectly landscaped backyard. And without any peace and quiet. There’s hardly ever peace and quiet in a family of 7.

I let the dog out. Between the noise of the sliding door and the happy barks of the dog, the robins quickly dispersed. I smirked and speechlessly thanked them all as they flew away. I then admitted to myself that I didn’t need to feel worthless anymore. I have the highest profile job ever: mother.

And the birds understood and communicated what I needed to hear. I matter. I matter now. I matter even more in the future. The kids aren’t the ones making me feel worthless. I am doing that to myself.  The future of mankind is depending on me. My hundreds of progeny know what I am still learning: I matter. I guess they know that they got the message across because they haven’t been back.

Maybe they upgraded to the form of cat? I hope not because if the next time I get down on myself (which can be any moment now) and there are 50+ cats staring at me through my back door, I think it’ll freak me out just a tad.

grandchildren

Look what I found on the internet. I guess I’m not the only crazy one.

It’s About Who’s Waiting For Us in the End.

Come with me back to a high school track meet. It happened two weeks ago. I sat in the stands watching my teenage daughter and hundreds of other high-schoolers, all vying for their own personal records, hoping to beat out all the other competitors. Unlike the athletes, I, however, had a completely opposing mantra for myself. “Let it go, Alice.” “Let it go.” The Sunday before, my track-star daughter, my husband, and I had a heart-to-heart. Come to find out, I have always put undue pressure on the poor girl in all areas of her life, but especially when it comes to sports and grades. Yeah, I’m not proud. What can I say? She’s my firstborn? That doesn’t really cut it. You’ll be relieved to know that I am working on it. I have specific goals, one of which is not being result-obsessed.

So, my daughter had just run her 100m. Unlike her past track experiences, she’s not typically in the Top 3 this year. She’s running at the middle of the pack. Thus the mantra. “Let it go, Alice.” I was pep-talking myself, “This is about your daughter, not about you. Abigail is having fun. Abigail is getting exercise. Just because you want her to be in first place, it doesn’t mean that is where she needs to be. Be happy. Love your girl. Let it go.”

Then an amazing thing happened.

the end

It was the boy’s mile. The mile takes forever. As my thoughts were repeating in circles, I haphazardly watched the male athletes going round and around. I watched while I wrestled with my only baby boy and started imagining his future. I wondered to myself if I could master being a better mother by the time he takes to the track. I hoped I would never put too much pressure on him, too. I questioned whether or not he will even be an athlete and silently wished I will be able to embrace whatever it is he decides to love, even if he only loves it with mediocrity.

The race was over….or so I thought. My mind moved on. Then, right in front of me, I saw some super energetic young man rally his whole school to their feet. He hooted, hollered, jumped, cajoled, begged, and demanded full participation. I silently hoped, “Oh, I don’t wish that for Max. Please let him be an athlete, instead of a cheerleader.” Stay with me. My mind was abruptly changed.

It so happened that there was one runner left. He was way behind the pack. He belonged to this crazy make-shift athlete turned cheerleader’s school. This runner was a runt. He was slow. He was in last place. Yet. Yet, as he slowly made his way to the finish line in front of the crowd, his school was cheering for him like he was an Olympic gold medalist. All because of the efforts of his crazy encouraging teammate (that he hadn’t even seen rally the crowd) his stride quickened. His chin lifted up in pride. There was a wide smile on his face. The finish of this race is one he will never forget. Neither will I.

I hid my face in shame for being such a proud person. And because I was bawling my eyes out. I whispered to Max, “You don’t have to be an athlete, but please be a make-shift cheerleader wherever you go.”

Then I ran over to tell Abigail that she did awesome in that 100m.

The following Sunday, while I was driving to church, this song came on the radio. It took me hours to find it but it was worth every search effort.

Enjoy.

It’s not about how fast we get there, it’s about who’s waiting for us in the end.

Work through your Suckiness

My friend Donna is super amazing. She’s a great cook. She’s got it all going on in home decor/fashion. She’s insightful. She’s pee-your-pants-hilarious. She also takes gorgeous photos in NYC. You can follow her instagram feed here.

[Note to self: next time when you blindly type in /donnashoots at the instagram url close your eyes. If you miss that essential underscore between donna and shoots, you get some eclectic-fine-art-nude-photographer.]

Anyhow, I’ve always had a huge respect for Donna. She’s brave. She always follows her heart. She knows herself and goes after what she loves. I have enjoyed watching her photography evolve and improve.  I’m sure Donna is going to love being mentioned in this post entitled “work through your suckiness.” For the record, Donna, you have never sucked, at anything, but your photography gets better every day and I loved it from the get-go.suck

A while back Donna shared this youtube video which shares Ira Glass‘s (yes, I just had to look him up.) idea of working through that gap between the beginnings of your creativity (which always kind of sucks) and what you know as good art (which you will never quite reach if you give up because you suck.) <<<<< Longest sentence ever. Pretty sure that is a run-on.  Let’s just chalk that up to my beginnings of suckiness.

The video is well worth the watch.

I’ve been pondering on this video for weeks. I have this big dream of being a “real” writer. I’ve been working on a book for years and have only completed three really crappy chapters. Months ago after a gruesome hour-long writing session where I finished a few sentences and edited the crap out of everything else, I decided that I should never even expect myself to be good enough. I should just let go of the dream and teach English instead. “Let’s face it: I’m never going to be JK Rowling,” I said to myself, “Shoot, I can’t even hope to be Rick Riordan.” (Don’t get me wrong. teaching English is also a life-long dream, and I will be amazing at it, but I just never want to be one of those teachers that teaches because they can’t do. You know what I mean?)

Then I watched this video and realized that the only difference between the great writers and myself is time, patience, and practice….well, and 5 kids (they are pretty opposing to most of my goals.) I’m always grateful for any encouraging and inspiring messages I get in my life. I need them. I think most people do. That’s why I’m sharing this with you today.

This “work through your suckiness” theory is applicable to everyone in whatever they are doing. Every day I am tempted to quit at so many things, but especially as a mother. However, I always keep working at it. I’ve evolved. I’m a much better mother now than I ever was 15 years ago. (There’s a special place in heaven for oldest children.)

So, keep at it, my friends. Do what you love, even if you suck. Eventually you won’t suck as bad.

And that’s your most sucky message of the day. Just keep singing, y’all. Even if you embarrass yourself on your American Idol audition.

Royal Teenagers (And I’m not talking about their pain in my @$%)

Just the other day, one of my girls said to me, “Mom, your blog used to be cool. Now it’s all boring. You never tell any good funny stories anymore.” I laughed. Agreed. And then threatened her to go public with her latest shenanigan. She immediately understood what I meant when I said, “I can’t tell everything about you guys anymore and you guys are all my funny stories.”

I thought I was the only one who had quit telling stories about my kids.Then it was brought to my attention that there is a lack of material about what it is like to parent teenagers on this here web. I can’t find the first article I read, but here is another one. It’s a legitimate concern. As a veteran blogger I get the very real struggle. As your kids get older, you can’t just air their dirty laundry. I mean, really, now their dirty laundry is actually bras and underwear. And boys. And other people’s kids. And raging hormones. Bad decisions. The list goes on. Any good parent should be careful. (Unless their kid is making millions in the movie industry, of course. JOKING)

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My two teenage daughters and the one coming right up on 12 would NOT appreciate me being totally honest. I can’t tell you everything. I can only tell you the good things. This is a problem for me because I am all about making the internet an honest place.

I can tell you that this meme

<<<<<<<<<<<<<

is not exaggerating.

When it comes to raising teenage girls, a hurricane does hit the bathroom every single morning without fail.

Raising teenagers is hard.  Personally, I think taking care of babies is harder. I should know, I have both right now. Ha! Babies are physically exhausting, but teenagers are engaged in emotional warfare at all given times. It’s not that they want to be bad, it’s just that they need so much reassurance. You know the saying, “Those that need love will ask for it in the most unloving ways.” Well, it’s true. Teenagers are some of the worst culprits.

Teenagers ask for love with eye rolls, insults, self-depracation, rebellion, etc. They make stupid decisions because of their overriding programming for belonging. They are desperate to know that they matter. They want to be told everything is going to be o.k. They just need to feel safe. (Kind of like us adults but add in lethal doses of hormones, acne, and bullies.) Makes me think of this skit.

Yet, when teenagers act like they do, they make everyone around them want to run for the hills instead of giving them hugs. I actually like the mental challenge that they present. Call me crazy, but I’d take the mental marathon over the monotony of diapers and feedings any day….except yesterday. Yesterday was really bad. Sometimes your teenagers will make you wonder if they have any brains at all….that was yesterday. As a parent who is left screaming, “Have you heard anything I have told you for the past 15 years?” I can assure you that like with all phases of parenting some days are way better than others.

Getting to the point of the post in 3,   2,   1.

In all my three years of teenage experience, I have actually figured something out. My job is to OVERLOVE my kids. I need to love them to the point that they won’t need to ask for it in the most UNLOVING of ways. It’s so hard to do. It requires a lot of sucking it up on a parent’s part. A lot. It feels good to have figured out my job: to train my teenagers out of asking for love ineffectively, but it is also a daunting task…especially when they “hate me.” (That was yesterday.) I am supposed to 1- help them inherently know that they are worthy and loved. No matter what. And 2- If and when they are feeling unlovable, downtrodden, and like a screw-up, they need to know how to effectively ask for and *receive the love that they need and it is my job to teach them. (*We all know those people who need way too much love. I think this is a result of them not learning how to receive what is given to them.)

[You should read that last paragraph again because I honestly think it’s the secret to a happy life. Not just for teenagers.]

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When all else fails, and I am ready to ring my kids’ necks, I remind myself. They are royalty. They are princesses. Even if they are acting like evil stepchildren, I remember that I am going to have to answer to the King when I get home. He is going to ask for a play by play. If I pass, I will earn a place in the royal family. Not just any old place. I will be adopted in and be made a queen. I don’t know about you, but I desperately need to be royalty.

wpid-photogrid_14248156443752.jpg.jpegOne way I give myself this daily reminder is when I play taxi. Every time I pull up to the school, the field, the kids’ friends’ houses, the church…wherever I am picking them up, I text them an acronym.

YCA

Your carriage awaits.

They are royalty.

wpid-wp-1424969976432.jpegYesterday, I employed a new tactic. It’s called the special dinner. I thought, “If she is acting this bad, she must be really desperate,” so I pulled out the linens, the glassware, and flowers. I made a nice dinner. We all toasted her. We wrote down what we loved about her. Just because she is grounded for five weeks it doesn’t mean that we should quit loving her. If I’ve learned anything I’ve learned that they need the most love when they are in trouble….which is often as a teenager.

I guess we’ll be having a lot of special dinners.

When I explained the reason for the new tradition of a special dinner, one of my kids declared, “So, when we are slamming doors, crying, breaking rules etc…we are going to get a special dinner….l guess I am getting a special dinner every night.”

Teenagers!children of god

Had I Remembered {a reflection on motherhood}

 

wpid-wp-1424717239819.jpegHad I remembered…..

the nights that I have to retrieve a pacifier at least every hour

and the mornings where I just want to read a single chapter of my book but the multiple feedings, epic dirty diaper, bath-time and the fact that for whatever reason he won’t go to sleep without being held make me give it up all together because it’s already noon

the teething

the whining and crying whenever I put him down

the poop that spills out of at least every other poopy diaper and up his back

the cost of diapers, wipes, and formula

the expense of changing wardrobes every three months

the spit up on every imaginable surface

the nap-times that are always too short

the date-nights that happen less frequently and for shorter spans of time

the little fingers that want to help my type

the impossibility of going to a movie as a family

the sex that only happens in a state of pure exhaustion

the weight of 20 pounds in my arms all day every day

the lugging of a car-seat everywhere I go

the sacrifice of about 90% of my free time

the difficulty of finding the time to just keep the house clean

the regular appointments to the pediatrician

and the fussy days after immunizations

the inconvenience of cooking a meal with a monkey on my back

the drooling like a puppy

the frustration of unloading a dishwasher when he grabs at everything

the impossibility of eating a meal with him in my lap

the fact that no matter how hungry I am he always needs to be fed first

the walking around like a zombie feeling that never goes away

the arduousness of Sunday mornings

{the list could go on and on}

…..but I’m so glad that I forgot. Had I remembered I probably never would have had him, and without him I would have missed out on….

his huge smile (that cheers everyone he sees – including the ornery old guy at church)

the fun times that his sisters play dress-up (see video below)

the cute way he sucks his lower lip and looks like a turtle

all the times he learns something new (he’s playing the piano below)

watching his face light up every time he sees his daddy

the euphoria of peekaboo (cutest video ever to be shared in the future whenever I get it off daddy’s phone)

his love of music

his fascination with the TV

the way he covers his eyes with his arm when falling asleep

rediscovering the softness of baby blankets and the way he likes to hold them against his face

getting to smell baby scent any time I want

watching him kick and squirm like crazy any time he’s naked or in the bath

his stubbornness and laziness that surfaces every time he refuses to hold his own bottle

his piqued curiosity every time he catches eye of our dog walking close by and how he loves to grab his ears

the way he screams instead of talking

the feeling when he finally relaxes and falls asleep in my arms (and sometimes sucks on his invisible pacifier like below)

his chubby cheeks….and legs…and fingers

his adorable laugh