It’s the little things..

Photo Cred: Pixaby.com Creative Commons Site

Picture this: It was just another ordinary Sunday afternoon, kids were playing outside. I took the baby outside after his nap and joined his siblings, I was doing my motherly duty pushing him in his baby swing and enjoying watching my older two kids slide and play with each other. My kids and I were happy, enjoying our time together and enjoying our backyard….when out of no where I lost my mind. I literally went from being content to watch my kids play on the trampoline to being compelled to join them…

on the trampoline…

not just an exercise trampoline…

the big kind…

That’s right folks, I literally ran from the swing where I was pushing the baby to join my older two. They.were.shocked!

If only I could have been a fly on the wall..or rather the shed to watch the action that unfolded. People jumping….limbs flying…children soaring…the world spinning… I honestly have no idea what got into me that day. I did something completely out of the ordinary. I jumped in and let loose with my kids. Normally, I love spending time with my kids outside WATCHING them play, and enjoy their everyday activities. I normally worry about what others think of me, or what I look like…but for some reason that day it was different. 

It was awesome.

It made me think about the little things. Often we are more than ready to sit down and read books, colour, play a game and other ‘safe’ activities with our kids but we avoid the crazy fun activities because we think we are ‘too old’. We say things like ‘I will just watch, you go have fun!’ or ‘I’m too old to do that! That’s for kids!’…or some kind of variation or other excuse. I’m sure i’m not the only one who does this…I hope…but here’s the thing, it’s been about 4 months since that day outside (now its cold and snowy and our trampoline jumping is gone…boo!) and my kids STILL remind me about that! Those are the things our kids remember! Those moments we let go of all our excuses, lose our inhibitions and get down and dirty with our kids. The moments when we jump in with two feet and enjoy the little things. That was seriously the best. I love all the big things I do with my kids, I love reading books, I love all of it. But man..when my kids are older, I want them to remember me as someone who was willing to jump in and play with them. I want their childhood to be filled with moments like that where I invested in them by doing something totally silly and fun. I don’t want to ever be too old, or busy, or overwhelmed with responsibility that I can’t take a few moments to really play with my kids.

Let’s do it together! Play with your kids, grandkids, friends, cousins, nieces, nephews…whoever! Play in a way that they will remember for months…years even! I would love to hear what you do with your kids to really let loose and let go of your inhibitions!

My son saved me

So yesterday was my baby’s first birthday. Currently I am sitting here watching him play with his big sister. And I can’t help but be amazed at the timing of his arrival and marvel at how he actually saved me.

He was wanted for years, we tried and tried for 2 years and getting pregnant just wasn’t happening. It was so weird to me because I had 2 other kids and I knew that I could get pregnant and couldn’t figure out why this time was any different. It was frustrating and confusing and honestly, I was almost ready to give up and say oh well. I mean I already had 1 boy and 1 girl but I just wanted one more so badly that it was hard for me to give in to that. And then it happened. I took a pregnancy test and low and behold I was pregnant.

The wait was over.

I was so happy and I had this little picture of what my family would be like, 3 kids, 2 parents and just a happy busy household. But boy was I wrong.

Let’s fast forward to the fall when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant. One day my world crashed in around me. I got some news that was earth shattering. The kind of news that makes you question your value and worth, the kind of news that makes you question if there is anyone who loves you, the kind of news that makes your mind spin so fast that you are racing to keep up and it never seems to be enough…

…I’m talking news that changes everything.

In the midst of this overwhelming change in my life, I was still pregnant. About 10 days after this news was dropped on me, I had a little baby boy. And boy did that save me.

You see, although I already had 2 kids, they were older, they were able to get dressed, go to the bathroom, eat etc on their own. And yes they needed me, but they weren’t dependant on me in the same way as this new little life was.

I had to keep going. I couldn’t give in to my feelings, or the desire to just stay in bed and hide from the world because there were people and one in particular who needed me.

As this last year has gone, I have watched him grow, I have cried because my plans for his entry into this world were turned upside down and I couldn’t save him from a terrible situation, but, I have also been able to experience joy as I watch him grow and change. Every time he smiles at me or giggles at something little that I take for granted, every time he lays his head on my shoulder and falls asleep I am reminded that life isn’t all bad.

He has helped me to see good in a time in my life when it would have been easy to see only the opposite. He has reminded me how to live.

Please don’t misunderstand each of my kids has given me something, they have each helped me in ways that they will never understand. I love each of them deeply and differently. But today is about my baby.

He is the the one who forced me to get up in the mornings. He is the one who brought comfort to me when I was crying at night. He is the one who saved me.

He will never understand how his entry into this world changed me in deep and powerful ways.

So here’s to him. Here’s to a big life, a life full of passion, and a life that leads him into more opportunities to impact others in the same way he impacted me. Happy Birthday little buddy!

I’m a bully…and I’m okay with it

So a couple days ago I was told I was a bully.

It’s okay though. I’m kind of proud of it actually. It feels like a badge of honour.

You see, it wasn’t a stranger who said it to me…wasn’t even a close friend. It was my 6 year old. He has been having a hard time thinking before he acts, and he is really impulsive and takes things that aren’t his. That’s right he’s been stealing. *gasp* I know some people who don’t deal with truly strong willed children (not just children who are stubborn, but truly strong willed kids.. more on that another day), may not understand me. Because all they have to do is give their children a time out, or can talk it out with their kids, but I can’t, it doesn’t work. I have literally tried everything to get him to think before he acts. To get him to start acting the way I think he should. But my little guy, who I love to pieces, has to learn lots of things the hard way because otherwise it doesn’t stick.

When I say I’ve tried everything, I mean it, I.have.tried.everything. Heart to hearts, grounding, taking away privileges, yelling, reasoning, positive reinforcement, ignoring the bad behavior (which totally doesn’t work by the way), sticker charts…you name it, I’ve done it…everything. And so this time, when he borrowed my laptop without asking I had had enough. I remembered a conversation I had with a very dear friend recently about finding consequences that make sense, things that are drastic, but that get the point across, real life consequences and so this time I tried something new.

I’m not sure where it came from…if it was a moment of genius, or a moment of crazy from my well past exhausted mom brain, or a mix of the two, but this is what I did.

While he was at school, after I found the laptop hidden under his bed, I snapped.  I went and took all of the toys from his room (he knew that this would happen if he did it again). And I mean everything. I took it all, I didn’t leave even a crumb on his shelf. I left him one blanket and clothes. Everything else got put away.  When he came home I informed him that I had taken his toys as I said I would and that he would have to earn them back. The way he earns them back is by asking for every single thing he wants to use. I’m talking a fork for supper, a cup for water, his toothbrush at bed time. He was definitely not pleased with me and called me a bully rather passionately. After it becomes habit, and I don’t have to remind him every time he will start to earn his stuff back. Mostly this is to try and retrain his brain to ask for things that aren’t his, to think before he acts. To fight the impulsiveness that so many of us deal with. And yes this is a thing that lots of children try..something they push the boundaries with, but I’m not willing to let this go. I’m not willing to let him get away with it and hope that it doesn’t become a lasting problem. I am going to take action, and I’m going to do that because I love my son. Because it is my job to train him and teach him so that as he gets older he can function in society, and this is part of it.

There was a time when I was afraid to give my kids consequences because I was afraid they wouldn’t like me. But I have realized that it’s not my job for my kids to like me all the time. If I want to have a good relationship with them in the future, a relationship that can be more like friends, I have to establish myself as an authority now, I have to teach them the difference between right and wrong while they are young so that as they grow older they will know what they should do. I need to teach them self control and to think before they act in order to save them trouble as they grow, and I have to do these things now. I have also realized that my children need me to give them consequences. I don’t need to have drastic consequences for everything, but they feel safer and more secure when there is a clear set of boundaries. So I am okay with it if they feel like I am a bully because it means that I have done my job. I have found something that matters to them, and I have found a way to teach them that is going to make a difference. They will learn to think before they act because they know I will follow through and they know that there will be consequences. Isn’t that a real life skill? Knowing that there are consequences for our actions?

I’ve met too many adults who believe they should be able to do whatever they want and I have seen how it ruins their lives, and at the very least, makes their lives a lot more difficult than it needs to be. And I refuse to sit back and do nothing and let my children get to that place.

So, today I am a bully. I might even be a bully tomorrow and the day after that. But it’s okay. I’ll take it now and pray that these lessons make a difference for the future.

I’d love to know I’m not alone in this…what are some of your most creative parenting moments (or moments you have witnessed with others?).

Birthdays…

It’s my birthday…well for another 45 minutes anyways…

And can I just say how much I LOVE my birthday. Anyone who knows me well knows a few things about me! 1) That my love language is gifts 🙂 Like seriously….someone gave me a chocolate bar and I was beyond excited!! 2) I love Christmas, and  3) I LOVE my birthday (and birthdays in general..)

Some people hate birthdays because it means they are getting older, but not me! Seriously, in what other situation do you get to celebrate you ALL DAY! ..does that make me sound super selfish and self centered? haha! Hope not!

Anyways, I woke up this morning and I felt like a kid in a candy store, other than the fact that I was exhausted after a week/weekend of being a crazy busy dance mom, my first thought was, I feel so good and can’t wait to start my birthday! I laid in bed and decided that I was going to do whatever I wanted today. Housework was going to wait, laundry, dealing with the endless list of to-do’s that I always seem to have,  and honestly, I wish I could apply that policy to everyday because today was amazing!

I played with my younger two kids today, I watched TV, I had a friend call and ask me to go for lunch/a drive, I went to the city and had supper with my parents to celebrate mine and my mom’s birthday (which are only 5 days apart). I bought myself a treat…and I don’t feel bad about it… I watched my dad teach my oldest kiddo to play chess, watched my daughter laugh in hysterics at the antics of her friends grandpa, and I enjoyed the cuddles of my baby as he snuggled into my shoulder when he was tired, and of course I can’t forget receiving beautiful gifts from my family, which I’ve already told you are things that I love! Not to mention all the personal messages from people wishing me a happy birthday; seriously what isn’t to love?!

What a day…I’m not a fan of being older, however, I try and remind myself that I’m not getting older, just wiser…. right? isn’t that what people say?…

Anyways, I was driving back home tonight and I started thinking about my birthday one year ago. A whole lot has changed since then. Last year, I was stressed out, I was ignoring some things that were really bugging me, I was pregnant, and I was struggling. I thought I was happy, I thought that life would play out a lot differently this year, I wondered if I really had people who loved me, I wondered how ‘close’ my close friends were, and I had no idea what was coming in just a few short months. I had a rough year…The me of last year would have said that I wasn’t capable of providing and taking care of 3 kids on my own. She would have broken down in absolute fear and anxiety thinking about being alone, and her identity was wrapped up in what other people thought of her. This year, I am different. I am happy, I have sad moments but overall I am happy because my faith has been challenged and has stood strong, because I have overcome a lot. I am more confident in my abilities. I still don’t love being alone, but I know I can do it. I care what others think of me, but my identity is not wrapped up in that. I feel confident in who I am and who God has made me (although I’m sure that will be challenged, and I will have to work at keeping it that way), I have seen that I am unbelievably loved and have had a community of people prove it, and I have realized I am strong!

I am excited for this next year…excited for the chances to become wiser and stronger, and excited for the hard times and excited for the good times! I am so excited to see what comes next!

For the last time this year… Happy Birthday to me!

 

I’m Failing as a Mom…

I’m failing as a Mom, its feels obvious. I watch my children and see how they are ‘out of control’, needy, angry, misbehaved and on and on… I pick up on comments from the older generation, and even people around me without kids that point out their flaws or try and give me advice such as “You should…”. In those moments my stomach drops as I feel the growing weight of the burden I carry being added to my shoulders. Let’s be honest, I can identify the faults and weaknesses in my children…after all they are usually the things I dislike most about myself, but as soon as someone else says something,

I deny them…

Rationalize…

Explain them away…

Get angry…

Walk away feeling like I wasn’t cut out for this and like someone else would be better suited to raise these kids…

I see the way my friends can keep their kids ‘in line’ out in public and feel terrible when mine act out and I don’t know what to do.

Why don’t I know what to do? Shouldn’t this be easy, and come naturally, or at least be easier, like it is for everyone else? Why can’t I do it?

And if I’m being honest here…I’m not the parent that worries every time they fall, every time they get dirty, and if my kids are messy it actually doesn’t bother me. If my kids are being loud, I let them. I sometimes let them watch too much TV, we don’t always eat perfectly balanced meals or do all the things that ‘other families’ seem to be doing. And, don’t tell anyone, but I make my kids play by themselves or let them be bored and I don’t have planned activities for them all day long…. sometimes because I’m busy….but other times because I need a moment to myself.

I regularly carry guilt for all these things and at any given moment in my day I feel exhausted trying to pretend that I’m a ‘perfect parent’!

And then on Mothers Day, after what has been an excruciatingly difficult 8 months, my 6-year-old who is normally very argumentative, and hard to parent. Came into my bedroom at 6:40 am…yes on his own, and super happy about being up before me…and proudly declared that he had

1) gotten up before me like he said he would (not sure if he willed himself awake or what, but he swore he would get up first and he did not disappoint!) and

2) informed me that I was to stay in bed.

He then left my room and went to get his 4-year-old sister from bed, then he took the lead in making me a 2-course breakfast in bed. I could hear him patiently giving his sister jobs in the kitchen and teaching her when she didn’t do it right. And I was brought two courses…a big bowl of cereal, and then 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter (I know so sweet!) … and with the second course the two of them sat down on my bed and he looked at me with an expression full of pride and pure love radiating from his face, and said

“Mom, I just wanted to do something special for you because I love you so much”

I cried.

In that moment I realized:

It’s okay!!! My kids are awesome people. And I haven’t ruined them!

Parenting isn’t about being perfect. It isn’t about having kids who are perfectly clean and well behaved all the time, it isn’t about planning so many activities for them that you ‘deny yourself’, it isn’t about being like every other family around you. Because chances are, they are struggling with the same things.

And as I have thought about this I realized that my kids act out because they feel safe to make mistakes and to express how they are feeling…even when it isn’t pretty. They are learning how to play by themselves and keep themselves busy. They are learning to be creative, they can make friends and be independent, not absolutely needing me by their sides at all times. They are learning how to treat others (although this is still a work in progress…ask their friends 😊), and they are learning that its okay to be different, do things their own way, and most of all they are learning how to express their love and emotions.

They are okay! And I don’t have to be ‘perfect’.

I need to let go of my guilt, let go of the need to be perfect and move forward as best as I can. Our kids need us to be present, to love them, to allow them to make mistakes, to give them the experience their emotions in the full form and help them to deal with those emotions when they become too overwhelming, they need us to teach them to be proud of who they are and be confident in who God made them to be.

We don’t need to teach them to be perfect, we need to teach them to be themselves!!

Let’s teach them to fail and get back up and try again.

Let’s teach them to offer other people grace, forgiveness and mercy, and to offer those things to themselves.

Let’s teach them to love other people, to meet others where they are at, and not be hateful.

Let’s teach them to respectfully offer their opinions and accept the opinions of others and be able to ‘agree to disagree’ when necessary.

Let’s teach them to be confident in who they are and not rely on others to make them feel good.

Let’s teach them to be problem solvers, creative and hard working.

Let’s love them and cut ourselves some slack, because let’s face it…. Parenting is hard…. there is no such thing as perfection, and the family down the street may be doing it differently than you, but I can guarantee that they are feeling like they are doing it wrong too. Let’s support each other, embrace the imperfection and move forward confident and embracing our mistakes.

Choose Joy

When I moved into my new house, a few months after my separation from my husband, I had this moment,

a moment when the moving was just about finished and most of the help that I had, had left. I sat down on my couch next to my dad, and as he put his arm around me, he said “This place feels good..” talking about the house, and my new living situation. He wasn’t talking about the state of my marriage, or the tough stuff that I was going through, but rather the place that God had divinely given me (story for another day). But I am a planner, I like to have my ‘ducks in a row’, and all of a sudden I was a single mom facing divorce, neither of which were in my plans, because after all what kind of good christian can’t keep their life together … right?… Anyways, in that moment all I could think was yeah but…

Yeah but I’m sad….

Yeah but it isn’t right for me to be alone…

Yeah but this isn’t fair…

Yeah but I’m angry…

Yeah but I don’t want to be a single parent…

Yeah but, Yeah but, yeah but…

And I started crying. He didn’t tell me to get over it, or to stop crying, he acknowledged my pain and let me cry for a minute. The moment quickly passed and we moved on with our day but then a few weeks later, he came to my house and handed me this plant saying that everyone needed a little housewarming gift. The plant was in this jar that said Choose Joy and I giggled to myself.

I guess I should tell you, I am not a gardener….I once killed a plant bringing it from the store to my car… no joke… so I thought it was funny that he was bringing me a plant. However, my dad being the smart man that he is, brought me something that was a constant reminder to choose joy.

Because it is.a.choice.

It isn’t always an easy choice and in the face of loss of any kind, joy is the farthest thing from our minds, it feels wrong, it feels foreign, and it feels like something we don’t deserve. But is that actually the way we are supposed to live? I don’t think so.

I think that God has something greater for us, but sometimes we have to make the choice to be joyful in order to experience it.

Days when I feel completely overwhelmed with life, my emotions, my circumstance, or my pain, I see those words and I am reminded to choose joy. Sometimes it means choosing to focus on the joy in my children. Sometimes it means I have to spend extra time in prayer, surrendering my pain. Sometimes it means I need to remind myself of all the things I have to be thankful for (and let me tell you that is a huge list). Sometimes, just reading that phrase helps me to change my attitude.

God hasn’t created us to live lives full of pain and hopelessness. He lets us walk through difficult things so that we learn to recognize our need for him, and sometimes those difficult times last longer than we would like, and there is a time for mourning, in the face of the breakdown of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, or many other situations there is a time to be sad! BUT  He doesn’t want us to get stuck there! He wants us to be creatures of joy, love, peace and life!

No matter what you are going through today, no matter how big or small, try to choose joy, try living even for a few moments in the joy that God wants you to experience and rest in the knowledge that He is there to bring you life!

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

I am just a normal person who is going through life as best I can.

I believe in God and His divine plan for my life. I am a teacher, mother of 3, sister, auntie, friend. I have experienced love, joy, intense hurt, and loss but I am coming out the other side.

I don’t know everything and I am far from perfect, but this is my place to be me. To share what I’m learning, and hopefully encourage someone along the way.

 

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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