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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A New Standard for Good Day

This day did not unfold quite as I thought: nothing went wrong, everything just took longer than I planned, and I already planned with margin.  But at the end of the day, I kept feeling a nagging thought because I didn't get to exercise, something that is a priority for me and one the things I do for myself.  My inner dialogue was churning because I didn't get my "list" checked through.


It wasn't healthy, and borderlined on obsession, so I paused to ask God about my discomfort.  Almost immediately, he comforted me with the reminder that I had accomplished all that He required for that day.  This was a fresh message to me, as I find myself in an unusually busy season that I didn't quite anticipate.

"Did I complete all that God asks of me?"

When I evaluated my day according to this standard, I felt peace come over me and realized my priorities had, in fact, been right that day.  When I filter my to-do list through the question of what God's list is for me, that's where I find true fulfillment.  Did I seek Him throughout my day?  Did I care for my family well?  Did I communicate love to my husband and others?  Did I work diligently? Did I do what I am able and let go of the rest?

When the answer to these things is yes, then I can rest in the knowledge that I've accomplished what He has for me - even when my own goals aren't completed.  This readjustment brings me freedom and peace and I hope is reminder to you, as well.  We can't do it all, but let's do all with intention.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Holiday Stress Starts Early in Step Families

Christmas is nine weeks from today - nine!  Already, our calendar is filling up so quickly and it feels like a snowball gaining momentum right through New Year's Day.  I was commenting to a friend recently that October feels like the new December!


To make the most of this holiday, I am deciding right now what is most important, before it gets crazy.  Every family feels the mounting of activity as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach.  The demand on time, energy and finances grows rapidly during this season, leaving room for tension when we long for peace even more than during other seasons.  Expectations can leave us feeling as if we will never measure up to the commercialized standard.


Making cookies is a family tradition so
I put it on the calendar!
Among blended families, the stress starts early.  We have multiple calendars to coordinate, trade-offs of time and and special days without the people most precious to us.  There is grief woven through the losses that take place when your own child leaves your home to go to another during a season where time is already so limited.

When your time with family is in short supply, you must make the most of every minute and for that, you must plan ahead.  Start now.

First, make a list of all the things you want to do with your family.  Decide when everyone will be together and when it will work for only certain the members of the family  to participate.  Now, put a star next to the items that are priorities.  The truth is that you will not have time for all that you wish to do.  Be wise about what is important.

Then establish the day-to-day schedule with the other home or homes.  We have two other homes that affect our blended family and had the first discussion regarding holiday schedules in September.  Overlap this with college calendars and school vacation calendar.  This way, you know what kind of time will be available.

Next, block out travel days where you will be traveling.  Are you visiting family?  Taking a quick trip while on school holiday? 

Now, fill in established church, school and club party or volunteer dates.

Finally, you can see the times where you will actually be able to plan activities and events together.  I know it feels small, and it's okay at this point if you need to go back and set some boundaries around those squares on your calendar. 

I like to have a one-on-one date with each
child during the season. This guy usually
loves to go ice skating.
Make sure you get the greatest return for your time: Is your daughter going to value your presence at her class Christmas party or a one-on-one mani/pedi date?  Will your son remember the money spent on another lego set or a wonder-filled train ride?  We must budget our time in the same way that we balance our money.

Keep in mind, kids and teens want a voice in their own calendar.  Be wary of over-scheduling and build margin into your season.  Don't allow every night to be a late night, or the mood of the season will deteriorate.  You can't control what happens in the other home, but you can provide structure and calm in your environment that will support the best holiday season yet.

Set your season for success and lower the stress with thoughtful planning, early communication, and intentional practices.  I'm walking through this myself and working to have balance while making meaningful memories.  How are you approaching the holidays?  I'd love to hear from you!

Related: When You Are Apart From Your Children at Christmas

Monday, October 16, 2017

When the News Is Too Heavy

I cannot spend too much time watching the news these days.  Even the reporting feels controversial and debative.  There is shock, then sadness, then perhaps frustration or anger.  What do we do?  I'm not in a position to make a big donation to hurricane relief or to comfort families grieving from unwarranted violence.  I don't have the ideal policy that would unite us all.  I see the problems and don't have solutions for them, so sometimes I want to hide from the unfolding of more real life drama.  But this renders me ineffective and isolated from our world - I don't feel right in that position either.

So, I'm trying to find what feels right.  I trust our church to steward my investments well, and to be the front line for many in need. I prioritize giving at church and to those I know have need, even when they aren't asking.  Especially when they aren't asking.  These are places where I feel like I can make a tangible difference.

I can smile in the car pick up line and bring the traffic director something cold to drink. I can send a note to thank a teacher or welcome the new faculty member to our school.  I can support their efforts to improve our community on the front lines in our Title 1 schools.

It's tempting to drift into fear and despair, or worse to become numb and cold to others' pain. Recently Jennifer Rothschild said:

When we are confronted with a circumstance that challenges us, we have two choices. We can say to our souls, “Soul, you might as well get depressed, fall into despair, and give in to your worst impulse.” Or we can say to our souls, “Soul, you might as well have hope, believe in something good happening, and place your expectation in the goodness of God.”

God does not leave us without hope.  I love the reminder that we do not have to succumb to the darkness of our world because the Light of Christ is ever with those who are living with Him as their compass.

I can't bury my head in the sand and ignore the devastation around our world, but I can pay special attention to the points in my daily life where I have the ability to make a difference.

Friday, September 29, 2017

If You Could Change One Thing...

As women, we all have that invisible list that we carry in the back of our minds about what we would change about ourselves, if we could.  It seems to be a running tab that changes somewhat through the seasons of life.  Once, larger eyes were on my list, now I'd choose skinny thighs.  In one season I longed for more time at home with children, in another more financial stability, in another less conflict in family life.  No matter the issues, there is always something I would change.

I'm sure it is the same for you.  Perhaps a larger home or bank account, maybe a smaller waistline?  Sometimes it just gets frustrating because I hear all kinds of background noise in my mind about what I wish was different, but don't truly move in the direction of making a real change.  When I see everything that I wish to change, nothing actually does. We cannot be perfect, but we can be better.

So, maybe it would be best to identify one thing that I can change and make steps in that direction.  I will never have truly skinny thighs, but I can eat healthier and keep them strong.  I doubt I will have enough money to pay outright for college, but I can save something.  I don't like feeling distant from someone close to me, so what I can I change?  I can't force connection overnight, but I can be intentional about investing in time together.  What is the one thing I can do to change something that feels too heavy to keep carrying as an "if" and would feel lighter just by starting to make the change?

We are changing seasons and in my part of the US, we enjoy a distinct (and beautiful) autumn.  Like the leaves and the light, I decided to take 30 days in September and focus on changing ONE thing.  Guess what?  I saw success, even moreso than my goal.  I am surprised, quite pleasantly so, and more convinced than ever that change is possible.  At the beginning of my attempt, I wrote in my journal that I was afraid: That it would work. That I couldn't keep up the discipline.  That even if I did the work, change wouldn't happen.  That I would miss my old way and not stick to it.

I had several goals in my mind for changes that I wanted to make, but only committed to the one in September.  I'm going to continue doing what worked as it has become real and easier now.  But I'm adding in something else that I've wanted to change.  Once again, I'm a little scared, and little intimidated, but also very encouraged by what has worked and where I've seen success.  My confidence is growing and I'm seeing the benefits of constant improvement.

So, here's to changing your dialogue from the one thing you would change to the ONE thing are doing to move toward the change you desire.  You can do it!

Ideas for Change:

  • Need to get more sleep? Try setting a bedtime.
  • Want to exercise more? Commit to walking/jogging one mile each day.
  • Looking to begin tithing? Write that check first.
  • Hoping for closer friends? Ask one friend a week to meet up.
Sometimes a little more or a little less is all it takes to move toward lasting change.  I love to hear your ideas and if you're going to go for it!





Friday, September 22, 2017

A Note to the Suddenly Separated

I am so sorry for the turmoil that brought you to this place of separation.  I have been where you are and I know it’s bad.  But you are going to live through it.  I don’t know the circumstances that lead you to separating from you husband – whether it was his choice, yours, or mutual – and I don’t need to know unless you need to share.  In that case, I will be understanding and confidential.



I remember when my husband and I separated, it was one of the most challenging times of my life.  The grief was crippling and almost overwhelmed me.  You may feel this way, too:

  • You are disoriented.  What of the past is real?  You will doubt your own judgement and view all your past shared experiences through the lens of what is happening now.  Eventually, you will readjust your perspective and be able to accept what you didn’t know or couldn’t comprehend then.
  • There is no immediate resolution.  This marriage may be healed and reconciliation may mean this is just a season in the overall story of your life.  The union may dissolve and forever change the trajectory of your path.  You just don’t know, cannot know, and the uncertainty is terrifying.  In the middle of this unknown outcome is where you will learn to truly live in the moment.
  • All of the sudden, every decision feels huge.  Every single choice feels like one that will have enormous ramifications and it is just overwhelming.  Slow down.  You don’t have to make life changing decisions while in the middle of such strong emotions.  Let yourself process truth, consider consequences and make wise decision.  Avoid reactions and focus on intention.
  • Your instinct is to isolate and harden your heart against anything that might hurt you or offer false hope.  It’s natural to become cynical, yet you must fight that tendency if you desire to be open to joy.  When you numb yourself to the hard parts of life, you are also numb to the wonder and goodness.  A frozen heart may feel safe, but it will never satisfy.  For a moment, feeling frozen is a blessing but for the long term, it will just leave you cold.  Find safe people who can be supportive during this time.
In the middle of all the turmoil and upheaval that can be hard to make sense of, I want you to remember two things:

Don’t worry about normal.  You are in a season of transition.  Embrace that.  Whatever the outcome of your current circumstance, your life will be forever changed.  This is not a bad thing, even though it can be frightening.  Change is what moves us forward.  Let go of the pressure to solve this right now and rest in the fact that you are becoming more of who you are created to be, even in this.  Trust the process.  Trust yourself.

You are not alone.  I am praying that God reminds you of all the ways He is with you and goes before you in this season.  It’s so hard, but things will get better.  Good things can come from this season only if you keep moving toward the future, even when you don’t know what that looks like.  Choose the next best thing for today and trust God to reveal when He knows that you’re ready for more.  

Dear friend who is newly separated, you're on my mind and in my heart.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Five Simple Pleasures I Enjoy Everyday (Almost)

Life is not easy or simple, but sometimes we do make pleasure too complicated.  My days are full, there are countless tasks that remain unfinished and many ways I could "improve" myself.  Yet, I've learned to find joy in focusing on simple pleasures each day that truly bring joy into my life.

With all the concerns of our world, weather, unrest, I needed to remember the little things that are still good everyday.  I have so much for which to be grateful in my privileged life.

1. Coffee - I like it mild and sweet, with cream.

2. Time outside - Nature is the antidote to so much screen time and noise in life.

3. Reading and Praying - Finding truth and identifying my true concerns grounds me in all the chaos.

4. Touch - one of the most healing parts of any day is when I take time to snuggle with my children, reach over to hold a hand or relax in the arms of Mr. Wonderful.



5. People - My mixed up, blended together
family is just more awesome than I could ever have imagined.  I love that even when we aren't together, we can call or text.  I love the memories and history that we share.  I love the connection and foundation we have as a group.  I'm thankful for my family of origin - parents who are still available and that I chat with often, a sister who is as close as can be.  I'm grateful for long term friends that enhance my life so much from daily laughs to deep spiritual wisdom.

Our world is so full of trouble.  Discouragement is real and the media shines a spotlight on the negative.  What do you have in your life today that is simple but brings true joy?


Friday, September 1, 2017

Storms of Life


Like most of the nation, I've been watching the unfolding story of the flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  It's so sad and seems unreal.  I know many of us are looking for ways to help.  

But I am also reminded of the fact that storms come.  Into every life events happen that shake up the norm and usher in a new climate.  Sometimes we see the storms on the horizon, and other times we are blindsided by the unpredictability of disaster.  When you are between storms, you can be sure the winds and water will come again.  During the storm is when our faith becomes real and active.  That's when faith has the most power.

In the storm, you have the ability to parent well and to become the stable protection that your children need.  Mothering in the storm is what will give you purpose and vision to continue during the most challenging days.  

And when the storm passes, you will be able to survey the damage and the loss.  It's real and it's necessary to grieve.  Then a new life will begin as you rebuild after the storm.  There may always be "Before" and "After."  There may always be watermarks on your soul.  There will be new beginnings and life may be forever rearranged.

I'm in a season of fair weather.  It's easy to forget the things I learned in the storms, yet lessons learned there are the life rafts that kept me floating.  I can't help but think of the little girl in the news this week who was saved when her own mother literally became her life raft.  Every mother I know would do the same for her child, and in that I find comfort.  I can look back in the storms of my own life and mark the life rafts that kept me afloat. 

Storm: Broken Engagement
Life Raft: God's timing is better.

Storm: Miscarriages and Infertility
Life Raft: God is good, no matter what.

Storm: Difficult Marriage
Life Raft: God will provide, He is enough.

Storm: Infidelity
Life Raft: Your name is Faithful and True.

Storm: Divorce
Life Raft: God accepts me with my flaws.

Storm: Financial Difficulty
Life Raft: God is providing before I even know my need.

Storm: Loneliness
Life Raft: God is enough and when I reach out, others reach back.

What storms do you face, literal or figurative?

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.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Heart of A Mother - What I Didn't Know When I Became a Mom

This is the most recent photo I have with my three.
Long before I became a mother, I can see how the heart of motherhood was growing within me.  I loved playing with dolls and setting up a "house" in my bedroom or our garage, which doubled as our playroom.  As I matured, the longing to nurture was satisfied with my pet and nesting happened in dorm rooms and one-bedroom apartments which I delighted in making cozy.  I couldn't wait for the day to become a Mother and my first Mother's Day was one of the greatest days in my whole life.

I knew that I would adore my children and that they would also require me to be selfless and sacrificial.  I underestimated the intense connection that I would feel, especially in those early years when they were so very dependent.  I knew there would be fun times as well as stressful ones.  So much was predictable, but there were some things that surprised me about motherhood.

Last year, I got to be with my whole crew on Mother's Day!

What I Didn't Know

1. I didn't know how I would learn to value myself through their eyes.  That I was important to my children was obvious from day one - they needed comfort, care and protection.  But each time they run to me for assurance or glance to make sure I'm noticing, I am reminded that my presence in their lives in huge. The size of my thighs or the brand of purse doesn't matter one bit to my kiddos, but showing up at school or seizing one-on-one time makes their day.  I didn't know that having children would bring razor sharp focus for the purpose in this season of life.

First Mother's Day with Faith
2. I didn't understand how my concept of self would become wrapped up in these little people,self-care was truly important and martyrs do not make good mothers.  Along with that purpose above, I found I could lose my own identity in theirs.  Now I know that it is worth the effort to value myself and not build my whole world around them - it is too great a burden for little hearts to bear.  This article describes it so well: Motherhood Taught Me To Love Myself.
and
why that wasn't always healthy.  I learned that

3. I didn't guess that I would find reasons to laugh and smile, even on my very worst days.  I was unaware of how my attitude would set the tone for the whole household.  I had no idea how to live "in the moment" before children entered my life.  I was planner and performer, always striving to please or working to be productive.  I was often thinking in the future, or checking off lists.  Becoming a mother let me savor rocking a baby, long after he had fallen asleep.  It taught me joy in folding tiny pajamas and to let go of imperfect garden beds.  I learned to quit trying to be perfect and be satisfied with enough.

4. I wasn't prepared for how much I would have to take the long-term perspective.  I thought most things could be conquered and tied up neatly, but motherhood taught me the value of daily investing for future payoffs.  Mothering well truly is a marathon that is won by daily consistencies in correction, compliments, time and affection.  Investing today may not have its reward for many years, but they are so worth the efforts.

5. I didn't know the instant connection that would happen among mothers and how it would bond me to a tribe of people who "get it."  In my neighborhood and in the headlines, my first response is from the heart of a mother.  I am grateful for the common bond even though we express our motherhood so differently at times.

I'm still growing as a mother, and I still have so much to learn  I'm so very grateful for the little hearts that teach me, stretch me, motivate and move me.  Motherhood has surprised me with lessons of life that I could have learned no other way.  Mothers aren't born the day a baby arrives.  The heart of a mother grows as a woman nurtures, cares sacrifices for those in her life: whether it is a child born to her or the child up the street who needs encouragement.  The heart of a Mother grows when we give away our very selves.

Other Thoughts on Mothering:

Rules of Motherhood

Essential Stepmom Skills

The Truth About Mothering

My Greatest Accomplishment

Stepping Through Mother's Day (As A Stepmom)

Mother's Day, 2015