Mother of the Year

Treating my kids like adults

I recognize that I expect a lot from my boys. While they are 4 and 6, I sometimes forget that and expect for them to act like they’re teenagers.  I get exasperated over things like purposefully dropping bits of food they don’t want (the orange peel or the dry crust) onto the floor instead of into the trashcan or the side of their plate.  I go crazy when I see them do something like throw a big toy at the wall – trying to “bank” it into the toy basket – and dinging the wall along the way.

I forget that they are 4 and 6 year olds making mistakes and as a result I don’t always talk to them like they’re 4 and 6. Instead of a calm discussion, I tend to do more of a “are you kidding me – why are you dropping your peels on the floor?? PICK THEM UP NOOOOW.” (I’m like a hungry bear coming out of a winter hibernation – more of a growl than actual words.)

Basically, I expect them to respect me, but I’m not treating them with respect in how I communicate with them. I want them to act like an adult but I can assure you that my reaction and response would earn me zero friends in life if I talked to adults that way.

I’m recognizing more and more how much my communication style and responses are rubbing off on my kids.  When they were younger, they’d shake off anything with a pleasant response, even if I was frustrated.  Now, I’ve noted they’re starting to give it back to me – i.e. respond with disrespect when I give them disrespect.

It’s something I’ve noticed over the past month and SLOWLY, I’ve started recognizing the correlation between my communication and their communication and actions.  And sometimes – if I’m lucky – I catch myself just before I start to rant and do a quick respect-check and change how it comes out.

This is slow going for me. My kids and husband would probably not even say it’s a noticeable change because I still let it slip too often. But it’s something to work on. Treating these guys the same way I’d treat a work acquaintance or close friend.  Certainly they deserve AT LEAST that!

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Sometimes I lie to my kids.

It’s true.  I know lying is bad. It’s a commandment afterall.   But sometimes I do it.

I tell them that if they drink all their milk, their muscles will grow huge.

Or if they wiggle their non-wiggly teeth and try to force them out, the tooth fairy doesn’t like those ones and she gives less money.

I tell them if they lick the floor they’ll get sick and have to get shots.

I tell them ice cream shops we drive by are closed.

Or clothes I really don’t want them to wear to church/party/special event are dirty and in the laundry.

I tell them they’ll get a belly ache if they eat chicken nuggets three days in a row.

During bedtime routines, I tell them I can’t read another story/do an 11th round of “what do you like better” because Mommy has to go to bed right now too.

I tell them dinner will be ready in “just a minute” – when it’s really going to be like 30.

I’ve said that their artwork was put away in a special folder, when in fact, it went into the trash – about 5 minutes after it was brought home.

I know. I’m not going to be able to get away with these untruths for much longer. They’ll get older and call my bluff.  But for now, I’m sticking to my story.

A Mothers Day Kick in the Pants

I had a very relaxing Mother’s Day.  A low key day was needed. We’ve been full blast around here lately with the kids birthday party – which was rescheduled so we kinda prepared for it twice, then a lot at work and a lot with kids extracurriculars lately.  A day of nothing on the agenda was what I asked for and it was great.

The day started with my little boys (and big boy 😉 ) making waffles for breakfast, then I got to go on a run (big deal if you knew how long it’s been since I’ve exercised!) and finally it was time for gifts.  The sweet homemade gifts that my kiddos bring home each year from school.

Brooksie went first and gave me a sweet potholder, which is actually perfect because if you saw my blog earlier in the week, you know how much he loves helping me in the kitchen and that includes him trying on all of my potholders!  Now I have my own personalized Brooksie one!

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Landon was next to give his gift.  It was a purse shaped personalized story about all the things he loves about his mom:

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When I got to the first page, I got a little teary-eyed.  And not in a good way. In an, “OUCH – this is what he thinks” way.

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Wow – my favorite places to be are at work and working on my phone.  Ouch! I mean it’s great that he sees that I enjoy what I do and where I work, but I want answers like – “my mom likes to tickle me to death” or “read me bible stories in crazy voices” or “watching me hit home runs in the backyard”.  I wanted the great ‘you’re a present/engaged mom’ answer and not that he sees me as someone who can’t turn off their work.  It also was a reminder to me that when he sees me on my phone – whether it’s texting a friend or family, coordinating a birthday event or just playing solitaire, he perceives that time as mom working and I need to a better job of being present.  Funny thing is I thought, I’d been doing a better job of being phone-free over the past few months, but I need to make sure that I work even harder at it.

Page two definitely got better:

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Yes, all true statements.  And I love all these things with my firstborn too. Note that two of the three answers revolve around food – yep, he’s his mother’s son! 🙂

Landon’s honest answers really got me thinking about how my kids see me. I want them to see me as more than the answers that were on his paper.  I want them to see the best mom who loves being with them and engaged with them instead of always trying to get the next thing done and off the list.

I am so thankful for these boys and the fun they add to my life. I love that I get to be their mom.  And I am eternally grateful for another day to work at being an even better mom.

Muffins with Mom at school.

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Family pic after church on Mother’s Day weekend.

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The not storyteller.

Lately, the kids have started getting into story time at bed.  I know part of it is to prolong the inevitable lights out-tuck in, but I love seeing them use their own creativity to create their own stories.  At night we take turns.

Since Brooks is really into dinosaurs and cars they often pepper his tales.  Landon loves to look around the room and whatever his eyes come across, he incorporates into the story.

Mom, on the other hand struggles in this area.  I don’t know why I cannot make up a story to save my life. I can usually get a pretty good start, but then it goes sideways. Either there won’t be a middle.  There is no point to the story it’s just some sentences.  Or it gets inappropriate (I must get this from my dad who told us stories of Hatchet-men in our closets – yes we were often terrified at bedtime!) like the time it somehow went from a surprise birthday party story to the kid got lost in woods and couldn’t find his way home. Didn’t even realize it until the questions at the end when Landon asked things like, “was it dark and scary in the woods?” “Were there bears and wolves in there?” “Why didn’t his mom and dad come find him?” Yep, excellent parenting there!

Lately, I’ve been trying to let them do more of the story telling so that (a) they practice using their imagination to come up with their own inventive stories and (b) so I don’t have to try my hand at it – causing potential nightmares or boredom because they are too scary or too boring!

And when it’s mom’s turn again, I’ll just stick to tried and true favorites like Three Little Pigs!

 

Dear God, I’m failing.

This week I’ve been sneaking into my kids rooms at night when they are asleep and snuggling them.  I’ve needed it.

I needed to breathe their little boy smell – a smell that is quickly fading as the days pass – and snuggle against their warm bodies.

When I’m in there I’m praying for them – for their future, for their hearts, for their future wives and families, for Dean and I to do a good job parenting.  There don’t seem to be enough prayers to cover everything.  I especially pray for us – for my relationship with my boys and for my parenting of them.

Last night, I prayed:
Dear God, I’m failing.  I feel like I’m not doing enough with these boys you’ve given to me to love and raise.  Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day and I just want more of them.  Other days I wish there were less hours in the day – so that we can finally all be in bed and hit the reset button for the next day – a badly needed reset.  I feel like I’m yelling more than ever. My patience is short. And I feel like I can’t do it all. I want to love all the moments with my kids.  But lately it’s been hard.  I’m tired, they’re tired and it makes for a tough mix.  I want to love every moment and I’m not.  I feel huge guilt as I wish away these rough hours. Lord, give me more love, more patience and more of you shining through me because I’m tired of feeling like Jekyll and Hyde with my kids. They never know which they’re going to get.  I need to be steady and consistent for them.  I need to be more like you for them.  Help me see little successes every day.  Amen.

I feel like it’s important to share that.  That I am a mom and I feel like I’m failing a lot.  That it’s ok that I don’t have it all together.  Because I don’t and I never will.  I think parenting is like that. Little roller coasters – filled with highs and lows – and each day, week, year has some of both.  I’m praying that I can do a better job in the teachable moments.  And that I can work on moving out of the lows quickly so that we can enjoy more time in the highs.

Repost: Grace – as taught by my 2 year old

Happy New Year to you!!!  

This week I’m taking a blogging break. Instead of posting any new things, I went back into my archives and found a few of my favorite past posts.  Things I think are worth posting twice.

This was a post I wrote in December 2012 – when Landon was 2.  And I think his answer today would 8 times out of 10 be the same as he offered two years ago.

Recently, after being up in the middle of the night to take care of his brother, Landon came in bed real early in the morning with me and then was rolling all over, hitting me in the face, etc.  As many know, I am not a morning person and after being up at 12 with Brooks, I was already exhausted.  After the third “punch” to the nose I snapped.

“Landon, if you hit me one more time, you are going back into your room.  I am sick and tired of you rolling all over the place.  DO NOT TOUCH ME AGAIN.”  Yes, it was not a sweet and loving conversation.

So, he settled down and I laid there in bed, angry at myself for getting mad and still feeling a little sorry for myself for being awoken early. (And granted it wasnt that early, but still about 30 mins before my alarm was going to go off).

Eventually, Landon and I got up and dressed.  We did our usual morning routine.

As I was putting Landon’s socks on, I felt prompted to apologize for my temper earlier.

“Buddy, remember how mom got so mad this morning in bed when you were bumping into me and I yelled at you.”
“Yes.”
“Well, that wasn’t very nice of mom to talk to you like that.  I shouldn’t have yelled at you and I am sorry.  Do you forgive me?”
He didn’t need time to think about it, his answer was immediate… “Yes.”
“Do you think mom needs punishment – maybe time out?”
“Nope. No punishment.”

And like that… the ultimate example of grace.  No desire for revenge or punishment.  Just complete grace.  My sin was forgiven.  By my sweet 2 year old boy.

It’s no wonder that Jesus loved the little children so much – they were the ones who were most like him.

I’m becoming my mother…

When I was little, it always perturbed me when my mother would make us hang our towels up in the bathroom or eat our food in the kitchen.  I mean, really, was the carpet going to be destroyed with a couple hours of wet towel?

Now that I’m a mom raising two monsters well-behaved angels, I’ve never felt more like her.

Just like she told me, I tell my kids:

“You need to make your bed every morning.  It only takes two minutes but you need to do it each day.” (This one is only for the big guy, the little one is not at bed making status yet.)

“Hang up your towels.  Don’t leave your wet clothes and towels on my nice wood furniture or across the floors.”

“Go clean up your playroom.  You don’t live in a zoo.  This is a home where things get put away.” (Gosh, that is probably word for word from her mouth.)

“We are not eating crackers and snacks right now, I have dinner on the stove.”

“Yes, celery and peanut butter is your dessert/treat tonight.”

“Mom and dad are in charge here, so we get to tell you what to do and when to do it. Now go get ready for a shower and put your toys away.”

And just like she did, I:

– tickle my kids back when I tuck them in at night (and sometimes trick them into giving me backrubs – “Yes, we can practice your counting while you rub my arm!”)

– teach them to be independent – to use a fork and knife, to get their own dish of yogurt out of the fridge, to put their laundry away after I fold it, shower themselves

– cheer super loud and hard when they do awesome things (even if it’s super obnoxious and we are in public)

– try to instill a sense of contentment with who they are. That no matter what they do, they can be great at it.

– want them to be a million times better than me so I want to give them every opportunity for success, whether it be educational, athletic, personality, etc.

I want my kids to be awesome. I want them to grow into world changing leaders who charge ahead and follow their dreams. Who don’t believe that they have to do it like everyone else does.  Who know that they can be smart and funny and thoughtful and generous and different and opinionated and respectful.  And most of all… awesome.