Posted in Momming

Confessions of a PokéMom

Hi, my name is Tori and I am a PokéMom.

Or at least that’s what my five-year-old tells me.

A “PokéMom,” according to Mister Cameron, is a Mom who plays Pokémon Go with her kids. And that would be me.

Before we started playing, I had heard all sorts of opinions about the game.  Some see it as just another excuse for people to walk around staring at their phones. Some people see it as a fun way to get out and about and even to meet other people. I even heard about a friend of a friend who lost 15 lbs because he and his wife go Pokémon hunting every evening.

For us, it has been nothing short of a blessing. I know, weird, right?  But, it entered into our lives at exactly the right time and has enriched the past six weeks for us in ways that were really needed.

My rise to PokéMotherhood began when our family spent a weekend in a beach house on the Oregon Coast with my parents, my aunt and uncle, and my cousin and his family. My cousin, his kids, and even my aunt had been playing Pokémon Go for over a year now and it’s really, like, a thing for them.  Cameron and I had visited my aunt and uncle in Colorado earlier that summer and Cam had a chance to spin a few Pokéstops and catch a few Pokémon.

To say that he was intrigued by the whole thing was an understatement.  I mean, he’s five and it’s Pokémon. My stance on the issue, however, remained somewhere between responsible parent and first-rate stick-in-the-mud. The idea of introducing yet another screen-based activity that would have an impatient kindergartener clamoring incessantly for my phone sounded only slightly more appealing than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

But, with the weekend at the coast looming and the carrot of increased opportunities for family bonding dangling, I took the plunge and downloaded the app.  If you ask Mister Cameron, he would probably declare this my single greatest act of parenting to date, surpassing in grand fashion even the act of giving birth to him in the first place.

Six weeks later, we have already reached Level 23. We got to Level 21 in almost exactly a month.

My original intention was for the game to provide Cam with a way to connect with his cousins. As it turns out, it has given us so much more. What follows are the true confessions of this PokéMom about the great things it has brought to our lives.

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Mister Cameron calls this guy “The Pokémon who looks like he needs to go potty.”
Because of Pokémon Go, I have had a chance to reconnect with MY cousin.  Tim and I are the only children of a pair of sisters, but with nearly a decade between us in age and nearly 3,000 miles between us in distance, we haven’t exactly been as close as either of us would like.  Pokémon Go has us texting almost daily, sometimes multiple times a day.  Cam’s and my quick rise through the levels in the game has EVERYTHING to do the fact that we have been very well-coached. Tim is a PhD-educated archaeologist and professor of historical anthropology and he has brought the full weight of his intelligence and well-honed academic approach to bear on the world of Pokémon.  I swear, he knows EVERYTHING about all of the “‘mon” and an understanding of the nuances of strategies that ought to land in him in the PokéPentagon, if there were such a thing. Both Tim and I play jointly with our kids and we frequently congratulate each other on what EXCELLENT parents we are to be so devoted to Pokémon Go “for the children.”  Our grandparents would be so proud of us…

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A little kindergarten artwork. “F” is for “Flareon.”
Because of Pokémon Go, both kids and I have logged more hours at more local parks this late summer and early fall than we ever have before, possibly collectively. The game is designed to encourage people to get out and explore their communities and it DEFINITELY done that for us. There is a diligently curated “nest map,” maintained by users in our area, that shows where different Pokémon can be found “nesting” near us and by using that to guide our Pokémon hunts, we have stumbled onto and spent time at really cool outdoor spaces in our community that we might never have explored.  We will hit a new park, look around for Pokémon, and then Cam will inevitably hand me the phone and run off to play on whatever play structure is there or head down the trail system ahead of me to explore. Kenzie is with us some of the time as well, shes like to spin Pokéstops and catch the occasional ‘mon herself (her favorites are “da purple mouse” and “da fire unicorn”).

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Da Purple Mouse

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Da Fire Unicorn
Because of Pokémon Go, my own fitness journey has been less miserable.  I have continued the work on running and walking in the month since Portland to Coast happened (read more about that here) and Pokémon Go has been a nice distraction and guide for my runs and walks.  By “walking,” you can earn precious candy to power up or evolve the Pokémon you choose as your buddy and you can hatch eggs as you walk that might contain rare ‘mon, so I open up the app as I log my miles on the road.  I will sometimes locate my runs on trails where certain Pokémon we are hoping to catch can be found nesting so it’s helped me switch up my routes.  Spinning Pokéstops as I run by and catching the occasional much-needed or less-common ‘mon along the way helps to break up the pounding of the trails and sidewalks.

Because of Pokemon Go, I ended up walking the streets of a historic town in Utah after dark with my favorite paranormal fiction author, which was both completely fun and exhilarating creepy.  (Amy Kessler and I were bridesmaids in our friend Ashlee’s wedding and the little town where the wedding was held was filled with gyms and Pokéstops.  Her “Here, Witchy Witchy” books are about my favorite thing ever)

 

Because of Pokémon Go, Mister Cameron is learning about things like reading maps and giving directions (“Mom, at the next street turn right. There’s a yellow gym), about saving up for things that you want and spending resources carefully (buying items with Pokécoins, saving up candy for the evolutions), about the long-term payoffs of resisting instant gratification (waiting to evolve your Pokémon until you have a Lucky Egg going to get double XP and other strategic moves), and about choosing carefully what times we go play and about sharing with his sister.

Because of Pokémon Go, Cam and I have had a hobby to share in a season when we really, REALLY needed it.  He started kindergarten about a month ago and we’ve been walking through the adjustment process as a family.  Playing Pokémon Go together has given us excuses to get out of the house and get active, and spend time together- not to mention providing a fantastic distraction for me while he’s at school. I’ve been known to hit the parks, with Kenzie and alone, in search of particular ‘mon I know he’s been hoping for.  It’s been kind of like a glue that has helped us hold it together in this season.

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Cam was helpful enough to write down the combat power values of all our Pidgeys.
I have no idea what lies in our Pokéfuture.  At press time, we are about 43,000 XP from hitting level 24.  We went out today and grinded out about 30,000 XP through Pidgey and Weedle farming and catching a new ‘mon while using a Lucky Egg. The weather is turning cooler and, inevitably for Oregon, rainier so it won’t be as easy for us to get out and about.  Maybe we’ll keep going or maybe we will lose interest. We shall see. But it sure has been fun so far and we’ve made some happy memories.

But honestly, I’m not quitting at least until I get a Gyarados. You know, for the children. Because I’m such a good PokéMom…

 

Posted in Momming

How to Make a Cute First Day of School Pic (For Dummies)

My kids have started school, y’all.  How sweet are they?
I’m ridiculously, insanely, out-of-my-mind delighted and proud of these two not-so-little ones.

 

Every first and last day of school since Cam started preschool, I have snapped a picture of each of them on the porch in the morning and created this digital time capsule of who they are is in that moment.

Every time, I share it to social media to let friends and family see who they are becoming as they grow.

Every time, someone comments telling me how cute it is, how creative I am, and asking me how to do it so they can do it for their kids.

Every time, I laugh my ever-loving rear end off at each and every compliment.  I’m not even kidding. It’s been three years and it still both tickles and baffles me to death that people are so in love with this and think it’s so awesome.

Because the truth is that this family first-and-last-day-of-school tradition was born not of organization, planning, and creativity but of desperation, panic, and a total and complete lack of artistic talent- and also out of the attachment of this 21st century parent to her cell phone.

For weeks leading up to Cam’s first day of preschool, I was stressing about that FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PIC.  You know, the one with the kid holding the cute sign that lets everyone know what grade they are going into?  I love those. I love that they capture the excitement of the moment and that they can be called on again and again as time marches on to highlight growth as these little school-goers get bigger and continue forward on their journeys.

I really wanted to do this with my kids but I’m not exactly the cute sign-making kind. The visual arts are not among my gifts and I had no idea how I was going to pull this off.

That night before the first day of school,  I’m pretty sure went through half a ream of printer paper trying to make a sign.  I hand-lettered, I computer-lettered, and nothing was right.   I even looked on Etsy, willing to PAY for something- but nothing was quite right.  I didn’t just want a “FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL” sign, I wanted something that captured who he was at the time, something that I could really look back on and remember what life was like with him at that time.  Panic was starting to set in. I would send this child off to preschool WITHOUT A FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL SIGN PIC.  THE SHAAAAAAAME!!!!  DARN YOU, LACK OF ARTISTIC TALENT!!!!

Finally, it occurred to me to stop thinking about what I couldn’t do and think about what I COULD do and how I could use that to accomplish my goal.  I couldn’t hand-letter like my friend Devan or graphic design like my friend Amy, but I could sit and dink around on my phone like a BOSS.

So, on the first day of school I snapped a pic of him with some room on the side,  asked him a few questions about his favorite things, and when I got home from dropping him off, I put Kenzie (then about 14 months old) down for her morning nap, opened my favorite text-over-picture app, and dinked and diddled on my phone until I had something passable. Then,  I saved it to my camera roll, uploaded and emailed that bad boy to whoever I thought needed to to be pacified with a first day of school pic.

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The first-ever first day of school pic, the one I was so stressed about.

I felt slightly embarrassed as I clicked “Post” on Facebook, I felt like I was straight up advertising my lack of craftsiness to the entire world. I was THAT MOM who couldn’t conjure up a decent sign for my kid to hold so I had to make something on my phone.

But the response was INSANE.  People thought I paid for it. People thought his teachers did it for us.  People were like, “Wait, you DID THIS YOURSELF!!?!?! TEACH ME YOUR WAYS!!!!!”  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  I was truly floored and also considerably amused that people thought it was anything special.

So, here by “Popular Demand”  (BAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA, can you even? I LITERALLY cannot), I shall now share with you, good readers of my blog, the step by step process of how magical me creates thes

How to Make an Adorable First Day of School Pic
(For Dummies)

 

Step 1: Have zero artistic talent

Step 2:  Stress over making a sign for several days and try eleventy billion other ways and have them all fail (feel free to skip this step.  And step one)

Step 3: Find and download a text over picture app of your choice. I use the Pic Collage app.

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Step 4: Choose a few questions you would like to ask your kid on their first and last day of school for the next however many years (Favorite book, favorite food, favorite song, favorite book, favorite show or movie, favorite color, favorite activity, what do they want to be when they grown up, what would they do with a million dollars, etc.)

Step 5: Open your chosen app and go to town. I hear from people who know about these things that it’s generally good to choose only one or two fonts to ensure a cohesive look, so that’s what I did.  Here are a few screenshots of the process I used.

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I choose freestyle.
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Then add the image.
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Then stretch the image to fit the pic
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Then I add the text boxes. You do have to add them individually, but….
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“duplicate” is your friend. Once you’ve picked your font, you can just duplicate each box and change the text.
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“Straighten” is also your friend. It will help you when everything inevitably gets sideways.  You get this option by shaking the phone.  Weird, I know. But that’s how it works.

 

Step 6: Save and share.

This may not be the easiest or the best way to do it. You may even find an app that has a template. Heck, this app may have a template that I just haven’t even found.

But this is what’s been working for me. And that’s what this is about: Finding something that works for you and your family and rolling with it. Kind of like all of parenting in general.

Thanks for reading- and find me and tag me if you end up making something like this for your kids!  I’d love to see it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Momming

The Myth of the “Good Enough Mom” (And why we are all good enough moms)

Let me tell you how today began. Both of my kids were up and out of their rooms before their lights were green  and they were already fighting. I mean, I was actually awakened today  by my least favorite sound ON THE PLANET,  the aural assault of a yell that my three-year-old launches the instant something makes her mad.  I blearily pulled myself out of bed and before my feet ever hit the floor, I heard the tell-tale *Smack-shriek* sequence that let me know that my five-year-old had once again decided to dispense with self-control and smack his sister the instant something made him mad.

I was barely even awake yet and my first feels of the day were the all-too-familiar Failure Feelings that seem to always be lurking, looming and threatening in this season of motherhood. I put them both in their rooms, told them that if they couldn’t keep from fighting they would need to be separated, stumbled to the bathroom and texted my husband that I was seriously considering starting to hunt for a full-time, out-of-the-home job so that I could put them in childcare with someone else who might actually be able to, you know, get through to them.

And while I wasn’t actually serious about looking for another job, in that moment I was stone-cold real about the feeling that we would all be better off if someone else was in charge of my kids during the day because clearly, I wasn’t cutting it.  I’ve been throwing the absolute best I can muster at the fighting and the hitting and the yelling and the tempers and *clearly* it wasn’t good enough. *I*  wasn’t good enough.

I walked over to the sink to brush away the morning breath and began to plan my next move.  What do I do with these kids?  Looks like I need to do something differently because what I have been doing is not even a little bit working. What would a Good Enough Mom do with these kids?  Someone who was Good Enough at this motherhood thing to be able to get these kids to stop fighting would do ______________________________ right now.

I tried to envision this Good Enough Mom. I tried to get inside her head for a moment, channel her, if you will. Figure out What Would Good Enough Mom Do so that I could follow her ways, even if I could never actually get on her level.

What would it even look like be a Good Enough Mom? What would it feel like to be a Good Enough Mom? How would her kids respond?  What would it be like to be around those kids of a  mom who always knew the right thing to say or do?

As I thought about who she would be, I thought about what her kids would look like. I’ve been around A LOT of kids in my time. Ten years of classroom teaching and five years of teacher education will do that.   I have known some wonderful, WONDERFUL kids. I mean, heck, I had #allthehearteyes for my entire class every single year, even when they drove me crazy.  But even the ones who got the “excellent” ratings in the behavior column were not perfect all of the time.  They all made mistakes every now and then.  They all had areas where they struggled.  It’s just part of being a kid- of being human.

There were even times when I would sit in conferences with parents and watch looks of disbelief overtake their faces as I raved about how delightful, cooperative, and conscientious their kids were, and how they really helped me by setting an example for their classmates.

OUR kid?” they would reply, incredulous.  “He must be saving it all for school…”

or

“Yes, she’s always been like that at school.  It’s not like that all the time at home.”

These parents were good, good people and they were raising great, great kids. But even those amazing families and their amazing kids didn’t fit this image I had conjured in my head of this Good Enough Mom who would be able to walk down the hall, cast a spell with just a few words, and have Hansel and Gretel skip off to play, hand in hand, heart in heart, forever and ever to fight again no more.

Something started to stir inside me as I thought and the vice grip that shame and discouragement had on my heart began to loosen. Maybe kids are just human and there is no such thing as a mom who is Good Enough to charm the humanity right out of her kids.  I mean heck, I was raised by someone who in my mind is as close to an actual Good Enough Mom as anyone could get and yet I made it to adulthood unable to keep my room clean.

Another thing about kids is that it’s not just a running joke when parents say that our kids find our greatest weaknesses and exploit them. It’s an actual thing that happens as kids grow and test boundaries and explore love and relationships.  Even if we did figure out all of the things we are currently struggling with, they would just find something else to push back about because THAT’S HOW THEY LEARN ABOUT LIFE AND THE WORLD.

As I shook the last cobwebs of sleep from my head and prepared to walk down the hall and deal with the ridiculousness that had begun my day, I released the looming specter of the Good Enough Mom and let her flit away from my house.  The fact is that God doesn’t make mistakes, if there were anyone better than me to be raising these kids, she would be here right now.  Yes, I’m sure there are moms out there who know better than I how to deal with sibling squabbles and quell the impulsivity of reaction- I know this to be true because I’ve read their books and blogs on the subject.  But that doesn’t mean she would be better than me at raising the whole people who are my kids

I’m still going to try every day to be better mom because it’s what moms do. I’m going to read #allthebooks, ask #alltheadvice, say #alltheprayers, do #allthethings that might just help me help these little ones become the best versions of who they were created to be.  But there is no such thing as the Good Enough Mom. There’s nobody who gets it right all the time, whose kids never push, whose life looks like a constant highlight real.

My prayer is that you will join me in releasing the Good Enough Mom we may envision, and embrace the good enough moms that we are.

Posted in Momming

When You Just Can’t “Appreciate The Moment”

 

My kids fight over me at bedtime.
Every. Single. Night.  

Jeff and I alternate nights with the kids, one night he reads and snuggles with Cam and I read and snuggle with Kenzie and vice versa the next night.  The conversation every night is the same, one of them GETS Mommy and the other is STUCK WITH Daddy.  This defies logic to me. Jeff is a VERY involved parent, he’s tender and nurturing, he’s really fun, he’s mindful and present with them and they both lose their ever-loving minds when he gets home in the evening. Also, THEY HAVE SPENT ALL STINKING DAY WITH ME!!! You’d think they would want a change of pace! But nay, at bedtime Daddy is a distant second runner up to Mommy, Pageant Queen of Bedtime.

On the surface, it sounds completely adorable. I mean, they BOTH want to snuggle Mommy!

But if I’m being perfectly honest, most days it actually makes me feel resentful. The entire day in this house consists of me doing things for the kids. And Kenzie is two and a half so most times she cannot decide which is the greater injustice, the fact that she can’t do things herself or the fact that I help her with them.  Either way she’s throwing a fit while I’m trying to do something for her that I would rather not be doing anyway.

One or the other of them COUNTING ON THEIR NIGHT WITH ME ends up feeling less like a sweet blessing and more like yet another demand on me that I can’t get out of no matter how tired and worn out I may be.  I am not kidding, I have been sick and throwing up and poor Jeff was having to deal with a meltdown because SOMEBODY DIDN’T GET THEIR NIGHT WITH MOMMY.

 You know what I feel like would happen if I told this story on Facebook?  I feel like the comment section would IMMEDIATELY fill up with well-meaning folks saying things like,

“Oh, enjoy it while you can! They grow up so fast!”

“Oh, you don’t know how lucky you are! I would give anything for my big ol’ high schoolers to want me to snuggle them at bedtime!”

To be fair, there is more than just kernel of truth in those statements.  As a matter of fact, those very thoughts are a part of my inner monologue each night as I labor through bedtime and wonder why I’m not enjoying the sweetness of the jammy-wearing book-reading more (the mom guilt, man. It’s real).

But, here’s the thing:  Beating ourselves up for not enjoying the moments more is not only unhelpful, it’s counterproductive.

The fact is that I’m not resentful at bedtime because I’m a selfish, unappreciative person, I’M RESENTFUL AT BEDTIME BECAUSE I AM TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IN THE WEEDS RIGHT NOW AND I’M PLUM WORE OUT.

This is less about “Goshdarn me for not appreciating this moment,’ and ENTIRELY about “Bless my heart for being too darn tired to appreciate this moment.”

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I don’t think there is a single one of us who is not aware of how precious our children are and how lucky we are to be their mom. For my part, I spent an entire decade of adulthood wishing and hoping and dreaming of being a mommy before God saw fit to make it happen and I appreciate every day that He did.  We also all know how quickly life flies by- I turn forty on my next birthday. FORTY!  I’m pretty sure I was in college YESTERDAY!

But, like, it’s STILL hard, man.  And while it definitely seems like SHOULD feel heavenly to always have two precious children climb up on me EVERY SINGLE TIME I lay down on the couch, most times it just doesn’t.  I’m tired and they’ve been in my space all day and when I just want to lay down and rest by myself for a minute to charge my battery and THERE THEY ARE AGAIN- it’s just not heavenly.

But you know what I’ve noticed?  When I am honest with myself about how HARD it is and how TIRED I am, it somehow becomes easier.  When I let the struggle see the light of day and acknowledge the realness of it, it suddenly becomes easier to manage and I start to feel more blessed and appreciative for the good things about the moment.

It’s when I’m busy trying to pretend that bedtime with my kids is the coziest and most relaxing thing EVER that I end up discovering that I’m miserable.  When I chide myself with jabs about how I’ll feel when they’re gone at college and would wish these moments back, that’s when the shame creeps in and it seems to much worse.

But when I take minute and let myself say, “MAN, the days are long, no wonder I’m so tired at bedtime every day,” it becomes much easier to release the resentment and notice how cute Kenzie looks in her Wonder Woman jammies (especially when she runs at top speed into the kitchen, jumps emphatically into her father’s sightline and sings loudly, “WUNDER WIMMEHHHHHHHN!!!!)

So, this is still #IseeYouMama month and so there’s homework,  Because I know I am not the only one struggling with this and I SEE YOU, MAMA!!!!

  1.  For yourself:  Next time you catch yourself in a moment where you or someone else tries to tell you that you should be enjoying the mommy moment more, cut yourself some slack. Spend some time looking around and trying to identify the circumstances that are making it hard for you to enjoy the moment, look them in the face, name them as hard, and tell the voice that’s giving you hard time to SHUT IT!  Bonus points if you tell someone else about it.  I can tell Jeff when I’m tired, he doesn’t feel like I’m guilting him because we both know what will happen if he tries to do bedtime with both kids and NEITHER of us want that fallout.
  2. For Someone Else:  Next time you see someone complaining on social media about being a tired mom, show up for her and tell her YES! It is hard! Even if you feel the urge to offer her the sage wisdom of experience and tell her she should appreciate the moment more, don’t do it.  It’ll likely heap on the mom guilt she’s already feeling. Instead, acknowledge the truth behind what she’s saying, tell her it IS hard, validate her in that moment…she’ll probably find it easier to appreciate those things you’re hoping she won’t miss.

 

Be kind to yourself and others this week.
 

 

Posted in Momming

If Mother’s Day is Hard for You #ISeeYouMama Week 2

This post right here goes out to anyone for whom the joy and celebration that is supposed to be Mother’s Day is mingled with pain, sadness, loss, or whatever is hurting your heart.   Whether you’re a mom or not, I see you this week.

I have a love/hate relationship with Mother’s Day.

On the one hand, I’m a big fan of days to celebrate stuff and honor people, I LOOOOVE celebrating stuff and honoring people.  It’s my favorite.

Me on Mother’s Day: 

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Yes, I love celebrating my mom, the moms in my life, and my family does a pretty good job of celebrating me.  Mother’s Day has always been pretty kind to me.

But on the other hand, Mother’s Day is not always kind to everyone- and if you know me, you know that I am NOT AT ALL A FAN of anything that is unkind.

Also Me on Mother’s Day:

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The way in which Mother’s Day can be painful for some people who deserve to have the day be happy, warm, and cozy is like a cold, hard, snowball in the face. I don’t like it at all.

If this is you, no matter who you are, I want to look you right in the face RIGHT FLIPPING NOW and tell you how much I wish I could fix whatever it is that makes this day so painful for you.  I want to hug you, sit with you and pour you coffee, tea, wine, or perhaps a punchy frozen umbrella drink that reminds you of a tropical vacay. I want to hold your hands and tell you that I see you and you’re not alone.

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Whatever it is that is burdening your heart today: the loss of a mom in your life, the loss of a child, separation from your mom or your child, the disappointment of an unfulfilling relationship with your mom or your child, pain and worry surrounding your mom or your child, a longing in your heart to be a mother that has gone unfulfilled, the delicate dance of being a stepmom- the list goes on and on.  Whatever it is, here is a hug from me.  I’m so, so sorry this is hard for you and you deserve a medal for getting through not only this day but through basically all of life carrying this burden.

And for what it’s worth, it matters to God, too.  God created our hearts and intended us to be a part of that loving, nurturing connection and the pain of that being taken from us in any way is something He sees.  Also, God lived here on this earth in the form of human who had a mother himself, he personally knew what it was to experience a mother’s love- and he knew what it was to see that mother suffer loss. I mean, we all know that Mary was VERY well-acquainted with grief. We also know that Jesus saw that grief, acknowledged it, and made a way for it. During the crucifixion, the following scene takes place between Jesus, his mother, and the disciple John:

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,b here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27, NIV)

Jesus looked at his mother, saw her pain, and made a way for what the loss meant for her, making sure she was cared for by someone he trusted and loved. He could not take away that pain from her, but he saw it, he knew it, and he provided for it.

Each of us is dear to our Heavenly Father, God sees our pain and grief through the losses associated with the role of Mother in our lives and He will make a way for each of us in the way only He can. It may not be an easy journey and His way doesn’t always involve taking our pain away or fixing immediately the source of it, but it does involve His grace, His provision, and His promise NEVER to leave us.  We are not alone and we can count on being tenderly loved.

But, enough preaching.  This is #ISeeYouMama month, and each week we have homework.  So here is your homework for the week:

For yourself:  Be gentle and kind to yourself this week. Whatever Mother’s Day looks like for you, give yourself grace to process it in whatever way you need to. If you are a believer in God and Jesus person, spend some time alone with your God, open your heart, and let Him minister to those wounds that He knows intimately.  If you don’t believe like I do, lean into whatever belief system you have and draw strength from: pray, meditate, walk in nature, whatever heals your heart. And as always, I know my God listens, even if you and He are not super tight at the moment. You can always talk to Him no matter what. I promise. I know Him.  And yes, that was another Elf reference.

For Others:  Think about who in your life might need an extra hug this week.  To some, you may want to say the words, “I see you and I know how hard this must be for you.” For others, you may just want to do something to lift their spirits this week- send a funny card, take them out for coffee, whatever. You know your people, trust your instincts.

And if Mother’s Day is great for you, you run after that joy like it’s your JOB.  Enjoy the gift to it’s fullest, draw strength from it, let it soak into your soul and let the love ooze out of you in the weeks to come.  When we are coming from a place of the strength, joy, and wholeness God intended for us, we can share that love more easily- just as He intended.

Love and hugs, let’s be kind to ourselves and each other.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Momming

Rosita Pig: #ISeeYouMama (A Case Study from “Sing”)

Ladies and Gentlewomen (and the two dudes who follow my blog), allow me to introduce to you Rosita Pig. 

Rosita

She may look familiar to some of you (specifically those of you who have seen the movie Sing), but for those who are not familiar with her, allow me to paint you a picture of our friend Rosita.

Rosita Q. Pig (I made up that middle initial) lives with her husband, Norman, and their 25 children in the suburbs of an animated city seemingly fashioned after Hollywood, CA. She is bright, witty, and talented- and she can SING!  Her favorite activities include belting Katy Perry’s “Firework” while washing dishes at the sink while her 25 kids fall all over one another at the breakfast table behind her. 

Despite her obvious talent, her days and nights consist of expertly managing the household  for her husband and copious children. Norman clearly loves her, but he is stressed out and exhausted from work, even falling asleep in an armchair before he can even hear her BIG NEWS about being chosen for a singing competition!!!!! 

Rosita’s main roadblock to participating in said singing competition is, of course, childcare. She tries to find a nanny, but…you know…she has 25 kids and it’s not easy to find a sitter.  Ever the resourceful, amazing creature that a mother is, she spends the night before the first rehearsal rigging an intricate system of pulleys, levers, and wires that would impress even Rube Goldberg himself that is designed to be able to do all of her household tasks for her in her absence.

The next day, her family awakens and goes about their business. Rosita’s systems function so efficiently and effectively that nobody even realizes she isn’t there.  They hear her voice on a tape recorder, have their food handed to them, their dishes washed, their lost keys located, and nobody even realizes that there’s no actual Rosita present. When she comes home at the end of the night and crawls into bed next to Norman, she asks how his day was. He tells her it was just another day, nothing different, “I don’t know how you do it all, honey.” Rosita gives a relieved smile and slips into exhausted, contented slumber.

Every time I watch “Sing,” I want to give Rosita a big hug, buy her a cup of coffee, stare deeply into her piggy eyes and say, “Oh, honey. I feel you. You are not alone.”

I, too, have wondered whether or not anyone would really notice or care if I wasn’t actually there as long as everything they needed was getting done.

I, too, have felt the disappointment and frustration of abandoning plans due to lack of childcare during the day.

I, too, have felt like there is absolutely no time for my dreams and talents and gifts amid everything everyone else NEEDS! FROM! ME!  UGGGGGH!

I, too, stand at my kitchen sink dreamily belting out ballads at the top of my lungs while my kids practically strangle each other at the breakfast table (except for me it’s Kari Jobe, “Foreeeeeeeeeeehver Heeeeeeeeeee is gloooooooooooorifiiiiiiiiiiiiiiied..”)

I have been there, Rosie, and you are not alone.

As a matter of fact, the entire reason the creators of “Sing” invented your character, Rosita, was because they knew so many folks out there would identify with you.

It is so easy to get lost in motherhood. There are a million reasons for it. Many of them are noble and good and represent the best of what we get to do as moms.  Some of them have to do with the circumstances of our lives, things that cause our jobs as moms to feel larger than life- special needs, tough schedules, challenging kids, absent or disengaged co-parents, the list is endless.

And it’s GOOD to give so much of ourselves to our families, it’s what we are called to.  But our families AND OURSELVES need us to hold on to who we are, to have an anchor in the endless sea of need and busyness that surround us.  We are stronger and more balanced when we are connected to who are are ASIDE from being Mom, when we feel valued and seen for WHO WE ARE and not just what we do for others.   And that’s what we are going to dig into this month, work on lifting ourselves and each other out of “Invisible Mom” status.

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We may not all end up like our girl Rosita…and frankly, we may not want to.  I mean, I could totally see myself up on stage in a sparkly costume singing and dancing to Taylor Swift, but I know that’s not everyone’s jam.

 

So let’s start small, here’s some homework for this week:

-Reach out to a mom this week and let her know you see her. Tell her she’s doing a great job, compliment her on something you admire about her, ask her how something in her life is going- just let her know she’s not invisible to you.  Whether it’s a kind word at school pickup, a FB messenger message, a comment on Instagram, a text or phone call, A CARD IN THE MAIL, tell another mom she rocks and you like her. If you’re really ready to rock, do it for more than one person. 

-Take a few minutes this week and think about the things that make you feel the most like YOU! The things you’re good at, the things you find fun, the things that make you feel excited when you think about doing them.  Make a list of five things and put the list someplace where you can find it.

And I leave you with this final thought:  Even the smallest, most mundane things YOU do for your family- serving them dinner, changing diapers, ferrying them around to school and lessons and practices.  It matters to our kids that YOU are doing them.  Nobody else could do with their mom’s smile, their mom’s voice,  they way you smell, the way you pat them on the head and kiss their cheek.  You being there matters to them more than you- and probably they- even realize. It all counts, it all matters, even when it feels like it doesn’t.

Be kind to yourself this week.

 

 

Posted in Momming

“I See You, Mama” Seeing Ourselves and Each Other this May

My Darling Sister-Mom,  have you ever felt invisible?

I’ll go ahead and answer that for you, yes you have.  I mean…you probably have. Have you?  Because I have.

My friend Leah put it like this:

“Today I felt invisible.

On three separate occasions, and three different times of the day as I was dropping off and picking up children, groceries, etc., cars just turned out in front of me or almost into me. Like they never saw me. Like I wasn’t even there.

And it got me thinking just how often I feel invisible.

Today I felt invisible. I swept the kitchen floor but my daughter pointed out the dirt on the bathroom floor.

Today I felt invisible as I watched my sleeping daughter with my hand on her chest as she coughed in her sleep, trying to ascertain if her cough was from allergy drainage or something more. Maybe *fingers crossed* we should skip dance class tonight? But no. She woke up and complained about the leotard she was wearing because the others were in the dirty laundry.

Today I felt invisible as I tried to pay bills holding my fourteen month old son in the throes of an ear infection. Over and over I heard the automated prompt: “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you.” I will try again tomorrow. Maybe there won’t be so much “background noise.”

Today I felt invisible as I changed my EIGHTH poopy diaper (yay antibiotics) and complained to my husband via text that I felt like I was reaching my breaking point. He texted back the bill amount for his truck repairs.

Today I felt invisible as I showed up at my mom’s house, tired and done, handed her the baby, and she pointed out that he didn’t have socks on. And looked tired. Or hungry.

Today I felt invisible as I served nuggets and tots again. Because today was hard. As my days often are. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have it all together. I’ll get more rest than usual after collapsing into bed early tonight *if the stars align and my children don’t fight bedtime.* I’ll make time to wake up and wash my hair, put on makeup, cross one more thing off that never-ending, ever-growing to-do list. Maybe tomorrow someone will notice me.”

 Did you find yourself wanting to stand up and shout, “ME, TOO!” as you read that?  Did you also want track Leah down and hug her neck and shout, “I SEE YOU, MAMA! I SEE YOU AND YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!”

That’s what we’re going to do here together next month.  I mean- not all of us tracking Leah down and hugging her because that might be a little *awkward*.  Although if any of you happen to live near Leah and want to give her a hug for me, I’ll take it. We live across the country from one another and it’s SUCH a drag.

What we are gonna do is spend the month of Mother’s Day looking around us at the other moms and making a concerted, intentional effort to make them feel SEEN.  We are also going to make a concerted, intentional effort to allow ourselves to take up space in our own lives, to become visible, if only to ourselves.

As Moms, nobody knows the realness of our struggles quite like we do.  We are in a unique position to minister to each other’s hearts from a place of GETTING IT in a way that the rest of the world around us just doesn’t.  Who better to reach out to one another and lift each other up than us?

Now, not all moms are the same.  Not all moms are going to be in a place of feeling invisible and not all moms are going to respond to the same kinds of love that would make us feel uplifted.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

What it DOES mean is that the “homework” I hand out to y’all in the coming weeks does not need to be executed exactly as directed. You each need to put your own stamp on it and tweak it as-needed based on what you know about the moms around you.

But the end goal is the same:  To give another mom a moment of feeling SEEN in the middle of her invisibility.  It’s work worth doing.

So follow this blog, follow me over on Insta. And let’s do this thing. Let’s lift each other up, on a wing and a prayer. See you next week!