To The Mom Who’s Pretty Sure She’s Screwing It All Up…

Isaiah loves art. He’s full of imagination and he LOVES to create. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.)

The other day I complimented him…telling him what a good painter he was. 

“Yeah. I am.” he replied.

His response tickled me. And then it made me think. If only we could all have that kind of confidence. If only we could share that same sort of self-assuredness out loud, and not feel any shame. 

There’s a quote floating around on Pinterest. Have you seen it?

It goes something like this…

To the Mom who's pretty sure she's screwing it all up...

The first time I saw it, I was all…how fast can I pin this?! A resounding YES came over me. It reassured me, and made me feel like my crazy was somewhat normal.

But the longer I thought about it, the more it started to bother me.

The “why” hit me the other day at lunch. We were all sitting around the table, when I realized I forgot to turn in some important school forms. 

“Ugh. Mom of the year.” I said out loud, sarcastically. (Because three-year-olds understand sarcasm, right?)

Minutes passed, and I still couldn’t let my “Mom fail” go. 

“I CANNOT believe I did that. I’m such a bad Mom.” I said, under my breath.

It wasn’t the first time those words had come out of my mouth. But this time, something wrestled with my heart.

I looked at Isaiah. My little sponge. Sitting there, eating his peanut butter and banana sandwich. Listening to every word I muttered, and sensing every bit of shame I was projecting onto myself. 

He understood it all. 

All of a sudden, the emotions came flooding. 

Our children are born with this inherent sense of confidence. And we worry, as we send them off to school or out into the world, that their confidence will be broken–that others will make them feel like less than they truly are. When really, it starts right in our very own homes. 

When we berate ourselves for “screwing it all up”…our kids are there. Watching. Listening. 

We’re teaching them to doubt themselves, before anyone else gets the chance to. We’re teaching them to break themselves down, in a world that is waiting to do that for them. 

The thought of my children learning to punish themselves for their mistakes, all by watching me? Heartbreaking.

So to the Mom, like me, who’s pretty sure she’s screwing it all up…

STOP. You aren’t. In fact, you are doing an amazing job. You are loving your children. You are tending to their needs. You are doing the best you can. Know that, and BELIEVE it. 

Let’s teach our children to believe in themselves, by believing in ourselves first.

Let’s show them how to love themselves, by loving ourselves…even when we mess up.

And most importantly, let’s model the importance of God’s grace, by showing ourselves a little every day.

Because I know I could use some. 

Couldn’t you?

Today, Isaiah and I did some painting. 

I told him I was a good painter, too. 

Lazy Days

LazyDay

I’ll be honest, we never got out of our pajamas today.

I love good lazy days. But they’ve been few and far between lately.

It’s funny. You’d think Summer would be the time to slow down. But in reality, things get out of control and FAST. And my kids aren’t even doing camps yet.

We’ve had a crazy couple of weeks. Back to back trips, family in town…lots of fun and the same household chores just waiting for us. So today, we decided to be lazy.

We watched movies, slept too late, played, took long naps, and threw the “should be doing’s” out the window.

It. Was. Great.

Needless to say, the house is a wreck. And that’s okay. I think some days you have to let things go and let the kids adjust to home base, as I call it. They need that.

Tomorrow we’ll be back at it. But for today, we’re lazy.

And loving it.

How To Pack For Little Ones

HowToPack1

I’ve been packing all week for an upcoming family trip. It’s not a long one, but I think we all know that time doesn’t change the amount of crap you need for a baby and a toddler.

Traveling with little kids should be some kind of Olympic Sport.

P.S. I need to write a post about how Moms pack vs. Dads. I swear I’ve planned for every possible natural disaster that could occur and prepared for it, and Michael will most definitely pack thirty minutes before we leave. 

I’ve been making lists in my head for weeks–what to bring, what to leave, and what not to forget on our way out the door. I’ve been doing my best to think of anything and everything we could possibly need–anything that might make our trip just that much easier.

But as I loaded up the suitcases with swimsuits, baby food, bottles, and outlet covers (I could go on)…I began to realize I had the packing list all wrong.

If you plan on traveling with little kids anytime soon, you’re in luck. Hot off the press, here’s my recommended packing list:

 

What to bring with you:

1. Patience- And lots of it. Really, fill your whole suitcase with it if you can. Because no matter how much you plan, you’ll never be prepared. But welcome to kids, right?

2. Humility- By definition, humility means having a low view of one’s own importance. Even if this trip is for you, guess what…it’s not. The days will revolve around your kids if they are little. Check your ego with your luggage.

3. Strength- Everyone has their own source of strength. For me, it’s prayer and meditation. For others, it’s coffee. Whatever your source, find it and pack it–lots of it. And while you’re at it, bring back up.

 

What to leave behind:

1. Agenda- Make plans, sure. But be ready to throw them out the window. And guess what? That’s okay. Us “Type-A” personalities can really benefit from the lessons kids teach us, especially while on vacation. Life doesn’t always have to be planned. Roll with it. Enjoy it.

2. Expectations- A wise friend once told me she always travels with the same mantra…“Raise your tolerance and lower your expectations.” I’ve been repeating that  mantra ever since. Traveling with kids takes it to an entirely new level. But somehow keeping the above in mind brings a sort of serenity that washes over everyone around you. Say it with me, “lower your expectations.” Better yet, leave them at home.

3. Inhibitions- This one’s a  good one, and my personal favorite. The best part about traveling with kids is seeing (and experiencing) everything the way they do. Ice cream at 9am? Why the heck not. Jumping in the pool at midnight? In your pajamas? Bring it. You can’t experience each other when you are closed off to the opportunities life brings–to the opportunities your children bring. And if you have older kids? Just try it. Lose your inhibitions, and watch theirs melt away. BONDING. CENTRAL.  Because really, isn’t that what traveling with family is all about?

 

Oh, and Sunscreen. Whatever you do, don’t forget sunscreen.

Something

Something

Last week, I had a really rough day. Isaiah had been challenging every ounce of my being from the moment he woke up. Samuel was cranky, and refused to take his usual naps. And Michael was working late which made it a long, long, day for all of us.

The boys and I had just finished dinner, and it happened. Isaiah said/did something hurtful…I can’t remember what.

And I lost it.

I just started to cry.

I couldn’t help myself. I was exhausted, and my brain was flooding with thoughts. I had been trying my hardest with him, all day long. Had nothing gotten through?

Was I doing something wrong? Was I making bad parenting choices? Was I failing as a disciplinarian? As a Mom?

How on earth could I try so hard at this Mommy-thing, and have a day as rough as this one?

I mean, it’s not like we Moms get “quarterly reviews” or wear bumper stickers that say “How am I Mommy-ing?”. So how can I even know if I’m on the right track? Especially when our weeks/months/years are brimming with rough days?

This Mommy business. It’s hard.

Just then, as tears quietly streamed down my face, Isaiah tip-toed over to me–face filled with concern. And he said…

“Mommy, it’s okay to be frustrated. It’s okay to be sad sometimes. But you can dry your tears…because I love you. What can I do to make you feel better?”

This. Kid.

Where did he learn to care like that? How did he learn to console so tenderly? How did he learn that love is the ultimate source of comfort?

Then I realized.

I must be doing something right. I’m not sure what…

But something.

Daddy Day

About a year ago, just when I started to realize it wasn’t possible to be Supermom (shocker), I was in desperate need of some “me-time.”

I was new to the whole Stay-At-Home-Mom thing, and I had a delighfully innocent amount of vigor. A couple of months passed, and the round-the-clock hours began to wear on me.

When things aren’t working, I like to come up with a plan. (Have you noticed?)

And last year, I came up with Daddy Day: a once-a-week evening (or weekend day) that Daddy has full responsibility of the kiddos.

We chose Thursday evenings because Michael was starting a business and to be honest, was just as exhausted as I was. That, plus I REALLY enjoy spending the entire weekend together as a family.

The point of Daddy Day? It’s two-fold.

a) It gives Mommy a break (I can have coffee with a friend, run errands without my kids, or just lock myself in my room and enjoy the silence).

b) It gives Dad a one-on-one opportunity with his boys (which is rare these days).

I’m telling you, Daddy Day is the real deal. I wanted to share because it has been so instrumental, both in my life and Michael’s. I can’t say enough about it, and I encourage you to start one of your own. Like, TODAY.

Michael,

You’re such a great Dad. Have I ever told you that? I love how you love our boys. I love how they’ll always remember “Daddy Day.” From Home Depot visits, to baseball games and backyard cookouts…you’re raisin’ em right. 

Thank you. For being a great example, and the Captain of all things fun. You are the best.

We love you with all of our hearts,

Alli

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Be in the Moment

My mind is constantly going.

Constantly.

I’m a “do-er” so I’m always thinking about lists, ideas, and activities.

I think about tasks that need completing, what to make for dinner…then I stop to wonder just how many dishes are waiting for me in the kitchen. I think about creative projects and I plan parties.

(Really, I actually plan parties in my head that don’t even exist.)

And even more…I think about finances. I think about what school my child will go to, if we should have more kids, and what would happen if we lost a loved one.

Big things.

And these ‘things’ are constantly running through my mind.

Honestly…I have a hard time staying IN any moment, lately.

Last night I was feeding Samuel his nighttime bottle (precious moments that are numbered, no doubt) and it wasn’t until I left his room that I realized…I never even looked at him.

Not once.

Sure, I glanced at him long enough to pick him up and settle into our favorite chair. I kissed him on the head as he squirmed to get comfortable in my lap. But from that point on? My mind was filled with to-do lists. I spent that entire time, somewhere else.

I couldn’t believe I missed it.

I also couldn’t help myself. I walked right back in and picked up my sleeping baby boy. I rocked him and rocked him, singing in his ear–desperately trying to get that moment back.

There really isn’t much of a point to this post.

Just this. I’m going commit to BE IN THE MOMENT. Right now, tomorrow, and every day after.

I’m determined.

I’m going to put down the lists, and better yet, put down the phone. I’m going to watch less TV with my children, and watch THEM instead–their eyes, their expressions, their joy.

I’m going to stop getting lost in thoughts about things much less important than my children.

I’m going to stop planning life, and start enjoying it.

No more preoccupation. No more distance. No more missing moments.

BOOM.

Who’s with me?

Glamour-less

 “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  -Theodore Roosevelt

Last week I had “one of those days.” Nothing was going right, and it was a pure fight just to keep up morale.

Fast forward to the afternoon when I had some rare, and deeply appreciated, personal time. I was getting my hair cut and while I waited I picked up a much coveted fashion magazine.

I flipped through said magazine, reading article after article, seeing picture after picture of one thing: glamorous people.

Movie stars. Models. Producers and Editors. People who sit in the beauty chair DAILY, not bi-annually like me.

And then it happened. Upon reading a particular article about one woman’s fashion-forward glamorous life, I suddenly realized that I recognized her. Could it be? Is that??? Yes. We went to high school together.

And suddenly my life felt really, really small.

I mean, let’s be honest. Thirty minutes earlier, I barely had the wherewithal to give myself a once over before leaving the house. Actually, I know I didn’t. I spent that precious MINUTE picking dried Cheerios off my pants instead.

I just spent $2.50 on a new bottle of nail polish as a “pick me up” treat.

Really. That’s about as fashion-forward as I get.

As I sat in the salon chair, quietly evaluating my life, I realized that everyone around me seems to lead a more glamorous life than I do.

My friends attend glamorous luncheons and galas. They wear glamorous clothes, and their jobs lead them to glamorous places all over the world. Seriously, I have a friend in New Dehli as we speak.

And me?

Sticky, day-old Cheerios.

Later that evening, I walked in our door…nothing to show for myself but a haircut and some cheap nail polish—little to no make-up—and last night’s lack of sleep still hanging under my eyes.

The first thing I hear? A soft, ever-so-high pitched angelic voice…

“Mommy, you wanna play with me?”

I could feel the love melt over me.

Yes, son. Yes I do.

As we played, all my previous thoughts and insecurities disappeared.

My life may not be glamorous…

But it is sweet. It’s playing cars, and having tickle fights. It’s morning cuddles and swinging at the park. It’s jumping on the couch and dance parties in the kitchen. Daily.

It’s “I love you’s” and magical kisses that instantly heal boo-boos. It’s singing lullabies and saying nighttime prayers.

It’s being loved. And needed.

And it’s shaping little human beings.

I’m the only Mommy my boys will ever have. And I have a sneaking suspicion that “glamour” isn’t one of the job requirements.

In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not even on their radar. And I know it’s not on God’s…so remind me again why it’s on mine?

My life is not glamorous. No.

Important?

Yes.

I’m enough for my family, just as I am.

And you know what? That’s enough for me.