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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mommy Meltdowns Still Happen in Middle School

We headed "Back to School" this week and with that begins a season of transition for our family.  One girl leaves for her first year of college, one girl starts Middle School and the rest of us are trying to keep our sanity as all the routines change.  It's draining emotionally and physically.


There is nothing that gets a mama into a tizzy faster than watching her child struggle.  And for this reason, it's easy to get into the mode of constantly striving to make a smooth path for our child.  I want to arrange life so that pain, struggle and disappointment are eliminated.  But these elements are the very catalysts for growth.  It's unfortunate and I wish it wasn't true, but I must accept the fact challenges create champions.

I can't make friends or schedules.  I can't do the homework or complete assignments. I can't eliminate bad days or complete the intimidating project.  So many times I'm reminded that growth often comes only through difficulty and it's supposed to be hard.  However, my go-to mode tends to be the fixer and when I'm not able to make the path clear, it's easy to have a meltdown...a little fit about what I cannot control.  It's a great example, right?

Middle School looms ahead and while I feel more prepared and less apt to be blindsided, there is still so much that I can't control.  I'm working with my middle schoolers (plural!) to empower and support.  We have set up some routines, but I'm also trying to allow for individuality and preferences.

I caught my meltdown before I spiraled into anxiety and that is progress for this mama.  Two years ago we took our first of five children to college.  This Friday, we will take another.  I'm reminding myself of how to deal with feelings of loss and avoid that meltdown. The past has taught me a few tools to use when I sense mom's on the verge of losing it:

1. Step back, breathe deeply, go for a walk or do whatever it takes to accept that this hurdle doesn't need to be handled immediately.  Usually, options present themselves that I don't think of in the first moments of learning about a problem.

2. Recognize anxiety and identify what is mine control and where my child needs to step up or branch out.  Goodness, we all tend to cling to our comfort zones.  Suggest alternative perspectives, commiserate with disappointment, but point toward positive solutions.

3. Support the one experiencing difficulty and give that child the gift of struggle.  This is what builds grit. Grit is what makes mothers great.  "It's going to take some work," and "You can do hard things," are phrases I repeat often along with, "It's worth it."

I've had to learn to accept the ups and down of life and learn to walk through anxiety with calming practices.  These tools didn't come naturally to me, but with therapy and practice, they make the stressful events so much more manageable.  I want to pass that along to my own children and step children while offering a permanent soft place to land with life deals them blows.  Have you had any mothering meltdowns lately?



Monday, August 7, 2017

It's Supposed to Be Hard

In the summer, I run before heading to my daily job.  This makes for a very early start to the day in order to arrive at my office by 8:00 am.  One day, running hard because I was pressed for time, I found myself thinking, "This is so hard."  But immediately, I remembered it supposed to be hard.  That's why I'm doing it, to push myself, burn calories, keep my heart working well, and all the other benefits that exercise brings.

So often, I want to avoid the hard things.  That's the natural state for most of us.  I crave comfort, I arrange my life around the ways that keep me ensconced in my normal and seek the path of least resistance most of the time.  Difficulty is rarely something we seek.


I can think of so many hard things that I have faced that were necessary to reach a goal.  Exercise, infertility treatments, moves, discipline, saving, staying the course, education, counseling and more are not passive, easy endeavors.  Yet the rewards make the effort so worth it!

Whatever you are facing today, don't shy away if it is hard.  Lean into the challenge and do the necessary work for growth.  You are worth the effort.  What hard thing are you facing today?  Hearing from readers makes writing so much more fun and I'd love to hear from you!

"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope"
Romans 5:3-4


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Beauty of A Summer Bucket List for the Working Mama


Somewhere early this summer, I read about a summer bucket list and freedom.  The article gave permission to not do it all, but do what you really want and it freed me from the working mom guilt I sometimes carry.  During the school year, I don't worry too much about being in the office each day.  I'm beyond blessed to clock-out in time for school pick-up lines.  But during the summer, I long for lazy days with my crew and imagine what it would be like to not go to work each day.  Sometimes the longing isn't as much working mom guilt, but working mom jealousy.  My children seem totally fine without me...I'm the one who wishes things could be different.

But, instead of wishing for what cannot be, I've prioritized what I want to do.  Some people create elaborate lists of adventures, but I kept mine succinct and doable.  One of the things on our list was for my oldest guy and I to hike Mount LeConte.  In our area, it's a reputable hike and rite of passage. We accomplished our goal this week and it was just the best!

Hiking has long been a shared activity for us, and for the family in general. So it was natural to set out together.  This is our longest hike so far.  It was strenuous, but not terrible and I was intentional about allowing us to take our time, rest as needed and make it fun.  On previous hikes, I've been guilty of pushing too hard or pressing too quickly.  I let my guy take the lead often and set the pace.

We had wonderful conversations, the kind that just don't happen unless you have many hours together without distractions.  My bucket lists aren't about spending all the time together, that's just not possible and I'm learning it's actually great for my maturing children.  I'm seeking intentional one-on-one time and creating a general feeling of availability.  So when I'm able, I'm all-in.

I've got a few more "bucket-list" items that will provide ample one-on-one time with my children.  But most of our summer list items are just keeping things relaxed, calm, and a big break from the routine. Sleeping in.  Screen Breaks.  Swimming (learning to dive).  Snow Cones and Sparklers are part of our wishes.  So far, it's going great!

So if you, like me, aren't with your children all-day, all-summer long, then know that it's totally alright!  Pick the moments you want to share and make the best of them.  The rest of the time, be proud that you're providing for all the moments when you're not there, and giving them people and experiences that will only add to their lives.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Six Weeks of Summer



I have a love/hate relationship with summer and its relaxed schedule, which sometimes drives me to madness!  Mostly I love that a more relaxed schedule means later bedtime and more family time.  The early sun means I can exercise in the morning and have my afternoons wholly devoted to family time.  We can go to the pool or the mountains or just on a walk around the loop (our equivalent of the block).

We have a lot of coming and going in our blended family.  During the school summer break, we add in summer trips, camps and sleepovers...well, it gets a bit nuts.


One child is in D.C. doing an internship.

One is spending time with her mother.

One went to church camp for a week, and came home all independent.

One is itching to do more with friends, but is somewhat trapped in the house.

The "baby" just wants to play video games and ride a scooter all day, annoys the older siblings in the process.

We did manage a family vacation for a week at the beach.  There is a trip to visit grandparents and the Midwest, plus a girlfriend getaways still to come.  We are down to six weeks left of summer vacation - oh my!


There are some things we need to complete in order to finish the summer satisfactorily:

Hike Mount LeConte with the Teen Boy.

Make more snow cones.

Go kayaking.

Memorize a Bible chapter.

Enjoy fireworks together.

Lesiurely drive through Cades Cove.

Roadtrip to somewhere fun.

Have more friends over.

Read more. Play more. Ride more.

Visit Burger Master.

Ride Go Karts.

Summer days are long, but the weeks are truly fleeting.  I truly do treasure the days of less pressure and stress.   Keep it up, moms, your summer days are floating by and your children will remember the investment you make in their wonder.










Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Summertime

We've change our pace into a less scheduled summer routine.  I don't know how often I'll post, but will keep up on Instagram.  I hope your summer includes sweet, simple times and togetherness.  We have some travel, but more time at home together.

I'm praying for deepened family relationships and connections this summer.  Middle School isn't easy and with two there next year, I know that a strong sense of family identity is so important.  As adolescence looms, our children will be more and more independent.  I don't want to fight that, but do want to support it with a solid foundation.

Another one will head to college, too, so there are more reasons than ever to foster the connections
we have today.

I will spend time enjoying each moment, knowing changes are ahead.  We have so much for which to be thankful.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Graduation


We have a high school graduation in our family this year and it always marks such a big season of transition.  Next year another room will be empty in our home and time just keeps marching onward.  We are grateful and proud of Lindsey for her work and perseverance to complete a challenging high school curriculum.  She has made wonderful choices and we are wide-eyed to see how her future unfolds.  Way to go!


 

It was special to be together with family and celebrate another milestone together.  We keep building our little blended family experience by experience, one memory at a time.  I love it.

 

Through many years of witnessing graduations I see that being intelligent is nice, but having integrity is so much better.  Yes, it's nice to know much about many things, but being wise will have a greater reward.  I wish this for our own graduate as she steps out into new adventures.

Another little girl completed elementary school this year and is headed to Middle School.  It will be a fall of great change in our household.

It is an honor to love, support and guide each of our children.  I feel no greater responsibility than to parent well.

Here's to more life and adventures!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mothering Everyday


Mother's Day has become a day that I absolutely love.  I remember what it was like to be sad on this day as I longed to be a mother, but worked to focus on the wonderful mother who raised me.  Now, I just adore the celebration of all that mom's do in our lives - Mothers really do rule the world, even when things aren't ideal.

I will save these handmade cards forever!
This year my husband wrote me the most meaningful note.  The words and encouragement remind me that what I do each day is worth it and valuable.  Mothering is the most important job I have, but it's not always the most rewarding and hearing that he sees the effort, is grateful for the input and my partner in the outcomes just means the world to me.  He also surprised me with something sparkly!
The children gave me thoughtful notes, love coupons and pampering items.  I am thankful their dad supported them in acknowledging their mom.  These original thoughts from my children are treasures to keep for all time.

I was able to see my stepdaughters, too.  I strive to honor their bond with their own Mother, but I really appreciate that they include me in their motherhood circle.  I love the bright, thoughtful flowers that I was given!

I missed getting to be with my own mother, but we chatted and texted between the miles.  I hope she knows how much I value the energy she continues to pour into my children.  She taught me to be a mom and always reinforced the value of motherhood.  I loved talking with my grandma, too.  She has been kind and supportive of me for all my life.  As an added bonus, I loved chatting with my mother-in-law.  Her influence is felt through each part of our family and she had an enormous role in the life of my Mr. Wonderful.  I'm so grateful for her.

I have a Sunday tradition of coffee with my kiddos.
 I like to imagine us meeting for coffee when he is all grown.
I received notes and texts of encouragement from my dearest friends, as well.  Mothering with them is so much fun and their wisdom brings dimension and perspective to my own parenting choices.  It's an honor to share this season of life with other mothers.  Everyone needs a mom-tribe.

"Mother's Day" has passed for a year, but these ladies are a part of my daily life and it reminds me of the influence I will have for generations to come.

Mother's Day comes and goes, and the investments of today often don't return to us for many years to come.  Count the cost and enjoy the privilege that you possess as an influencer in the generations to come.