Relax, sweet mama.

Take a deep breath and lay your expectations down.

This is your place, a place for a tired mama to just BE.

You’re welcome here.  We’re in this together.

You’re doing just fine… you’re a great mom.

I know you’re weary and overwhelmed; I know it because we all are, no matter where we are in the journey.

But don’t give up! Don’t quit!  Pull up a chair, pour that (second or third or fifth) cup of coffee, and let’s enjoy the company of other moms, and let’s draw encouragement from sharing our stories.

Every mom is welcome and loved here.

Celebrate Your Mom-Style!

Dear Mama,

If you’re like me, for right or wrong, I compare myself to other moms. A lot.

Much of what I read is written by moms or to moms, and their stories give me cause for pause. They do daily devotions with their husband and kids? After dinner? (How do they keep those wild banshees at the table?…my kids barely sit to eat…) Photos by moms doing yoga with their little ones strapped to them or sitting on their stomach? What? How? (I go to work out simply to leave my children behind for an hour!)

But here’s the real truth. The real deal. As a mom, I CANNOT BE GREAT AT EVERYTHING. AND THAT IS OKAY.

Mama, I’m going to free you: stop trying to be super mom and do it all! You weren’t created to do it all!

If I try to keep up with what every mom exclaims is the way she parents best, I am exhausted before I even try. The mom who do yoga with their kids? That works for them and they enjoy it. The mom getting the kids together for devotions? That is their sweet spot, something important to them, a tradition that adds value to them.

I want you to watch your parenting today. Pretend you’re a reporter taking notes. Watch what tasks you enjoy most. Pay attention to the areas in which you excel. Maybe it is playing school with your young son, and you let him be the teacher and you the student. The game goes on and on as he enjoys giving you assignments (aka telling you what to do), but you gladly relinquish the boss role as you play the young pupil. Maybe you enjoy teaching, and you home school your kids, and that is your jam. Preparing the daily assignments is life-giving to you, and accomplishing those projects is exhilarating. Maybe you are an outdoor person, and you could hang out in the backyard exploring and throwing the ball and laying on a blanket in the sun all.day.long.

Let me tell you what my jam is. I love reading, and I love reading to my kids.  I have read entire series aloud to each of my kids, creating memories (I hope) of laying in bed together soaking up the Chronicles of Narnia, Mysterious Benedict Society, Flora and Ulysses, and many more. Those times are precious and sweet to me. I hope I nurtured a love of exploring new worlds through words on a page.

But there are other areas in which I flat-out struggle.  I can play Barbies…I mean, I can dress Barbies and set up their house, but having them plan a party? And talk to each other? I’m done. I will be the dresser, okay?

I’m also not an outdoorsy person, and I have come to grips with that.  That doesn’t mean I don’t go outside with my kids; but it’s not what makes me come alive.

So when other moms tell you about what makes them come alive, and how they love doing art projects all over the kitchen, and you’re secretly cringing inside… celebrate the gift in them, that they are giving their family. But don’t take it as pressure that you too must create art in your kitchen; that is THEIR joy, their gift.

I’m reminding us all, all the moms, that it is okay if we don’t do everything.  It’s okay that I’m not good at everything.  I’m really good only at a few things, and then there are lots of things I’m decent at. I’m choosing to focus on WHAT I BRING TO THE TABLE that is uniquely mine and I will celebrate that thing.

I want you to think of this thing as a GIFT you are giving to your child(ren).

  • You are giving them a love for volunteering.
  • You are great with animals and you’ve passed that love to your children (trips to the zoo and humane society are life to you!)
  • You love to cook, and you periodically let your children each help you make dinner. You love that they know how to make some simple dishes, and that makes you grin.
  • You love to explore your city with your kids, wander the farmers’ market, try the latest restaurant.  Maybe you will inspire your children to be adventurous and travel and try new things.
  • You’ve played sports your whole life and now your son and daughter love nothing more than a pick-up game of kickball or whiffle ball in the back yard.  Mom’s the pitcher!
  • You are an organizer and a cleaner, and you have taught your kids how to to do laundry and clean virtually anything in the house. You are excited because you know you have prepared them for adulthood. Well done, mom!

What is your unique gift you are giving to your kids? Stop comparing someone else’s gift to something that is not a gift for you.  Don’t tell me you don’t have a unique mom-gift! We all do! We each bring our unique selves to being a mother, and it’s not going to look the same for everyone! We cannot undo our unique God-given makeup. Don’t be bashful! Celebrate your gift!

And give freedom to the other mamas.  Stop expecting them to do the thing you do so well.  Maybe it’s not even on their radar! Instead, look and learn and see what they do well…and celebrate them!

Tell me in the comments what you think your unique Mom-gift is! I’m going to celebrate each one!!!




Creative Conversation Starters with Your Kids

Today, take some time to talk- and listen- to your child. Forget “How was school today?” because you already know that answer. “Fine.” That answer tells you nothing.
I’m going to suggest some conversation-opening questions:

Lately, I’ve been asking my kids to tell me a story from their day. The responses have been so fun, because I usually learn something about the kids in class and their personalities. It also forces my kids to not answer with one-word answers. They have to lay out the scenario, detail the conversation, and why it was interesting. Telling a story also indicates I am not going to interrupt! Rather, I am listening. Try it! I think it works for kids preschool age and up (although preschool age, you might get a fiction story :)).

With my older kids, sometimes the question is, “What is stressing you out today?” followed by “How can I help you today?” or “I’ll support you however I can.” It acknowledges that school life is hard, and sometimes the pressure gets to them. I want my kids to be able to talk about the hard stuff, not just the triumphs.

My son and I like to impress each other with random facts we’ve acquired during the day. For me, it might begin with “Guess what I found out today? A whale’s tongue weighs as much as a school bus! Can you imagine!? Yuck!” Which in turn gives him the ability to tell me what he has learned or read, and sometimes I get a joke instead!

Sometimes the questions are “What was the best part of your day? Or “What was the worst part of your day?” Other times, “What are you thankful for today?” “What made today wonderful?” or “What did you do today that made it a great day?”
How about “Who did you play with at school today, and what did you do at recess?” Basically any question that cannot be answered with one word is a good starting-off point!

Make it a point to have a conversation with your child and really listen to how they answer. Ask follow-up questions. Listen with your eyes and your ears. Give them ALL your attention, because that confirms what they really need the most… to know that they are IMPORTANT to you. Smile and hug them tight. These are special gifts that moms possess and can give to their children.

Tell me in the comments how your conversations went!

Darn Pine Needles

At our house, my husband and kids insist on a real Christmas tree. We go to the tree lot (same one every year), analyze the trees carefully, and each argue for why the one we picked is indeed, the best. It’s serious business.
Most years we have had success with keeping our trees alive, but this year, about two weeks after picking out this year’s winner, it just stopped sucking up water. It got more and more dry, until it practically rained needles as we walked by.
Usually the tree stays up till the new year, but this year, it was out at the curb two days after Christmas. My husband and son get to do that *fun* task of dragging the tree out. No complaints from me! This year, I’m not sure how it happened, but John also took on the job of vacuuming where the tree had stood. He told me “I got them all. All the needles are cleaned up.” And I know he gave it his best effort. Bless him!
But I chuckle, because I KNOW… I will be seeing pine needles for at least two months. Why? Because they’re sneaky little boogers, and they nestle into cracks and crevices, never to be enticed out. Continue reading “Darn Pine Needles”