Great Moms Don't Have to All Look Alike

I wholeheartedly agreed with parts of Jen Hatmakers article, "What Would My Mom Do". I think her words, "A good parent prepares the child for the path, not the path for the child. We can still demonstrate gentle and attached parenting without raising children who melt on a warm day." are so wise. I think kids need freedom. They need lots of chances to explore and chances to fail. I also strongly believe that kids need lots of unstructured time; time where nobody is there to entertain them but their imaginations. So many of the words in this article and many of the articles like it are full of good thoughts. Thoughts that I think mothers need to hear: we don't need to bubblewrap our children, it's ok to tell them to go play, our purpose as parents is not to just entertainment them, etc. What bothers me is that in order to make this point there seems to be a need to bash the activities that are bringing another mother joy. 

Jen starts her article by talking about a mom who every year on her son's birthday makes a "time capsule" that she then stores away so she can present it to him on his 18th birthday. Personally, this activity isn't up my ally, it's not a task I would ever take on.  I, however, don't see anything wrong with it. Maybe this mom is skilled at and gets a joy out of organizing and scrapbooking. Doing this doesn't necessarily mean that she's not given her son plenty of freedom and responsibility  Being a parent is hard, there are so many moments full of noise, helplessness, and anxiety. If making a "time capsule" helps her to find joy in the task of parenting I say, "more power to her!"

photo via Scales Off Media

Perhaps it's the social media age we live in but there seems to be this need to make ourself feel better by condemning others. A couple years ago it was the 'real women' campaign - I don't care if you are a size 00 or a size 30 you are a real women! We shouldn't need to put others down to make ourselves feel ok. Now the campaign seems to be 'real moms' vs 'pinterest moms'.

If you spend anytime on my blog you'll notice that I can be extravagant when celebrating holidays, I do a lot of crafts with my kids, and I enjoy making up little homeschool games. These things are not necessary to be good mom or a good homeschooler. The reason I do them is because it brings me joy - I want to teach my kids to go after and embrace joy!

I love color and I love to mix things up. Holidays are an easy way for me to do that. As a stay home mom most of my time is spent in my house. Decorating for holidays and having little festivities now and then makes that time more enjoyable. On a more personal note because we were poor and there was lot a stress in my home growing up we didn't have any holiday traditions. I had birthdays that went by without cake and I didn't have my first party until I was twenty-one. I realize I maybe over compensating but I want my family to have traditions. Also since I didn't have them as a kid, I get an immense amount joy out having them now. 

My kids are rough and tumble. They never seem to stop moving and when they are moving they are loud. However, when we are reading a book or doing a craft there is a calmness that comes over them.  Crafting also makes me happy. I spent over ten years running after school programs and daycares so I have a lot ideas stored up in my head. When we are crafting I don't have tell them to be quiet or to slow down I can just enjoy their presence. I have mom friends who never craft with their kids but I still think they are wonderful moms! I am in awe of how the chaos and loudness doesn't seem to bother them - they are great at going with the flow. That, however, is not me, having moments where I can be with my kids and their feet are still makes me a happier mom. 

While not essential, I know my kids enjoy the homeschool games. It's a great way to them them to practice skills without making them feel like they doing the same thing over and over again. I also enjoy making the games. Maybe it's all those years I spent in childcare but my mind natural goes to planning units. Putting together an activity is a stress reliever for me. I get to focus on a task and then have a finished product. This is something I don't often get in motherhood - the dishes, the laundry, the constant. 

Unfortunately, I'm sure there are moms out there who are doing 'activities' just to one up other moms. I, however, want to believe that isn't the case for most 'pinterest moms'. I believe most of them are moms like me. Parenting sometimes make them weary and they are just capitalizing on the things that bring them joy. It's ok if crafting, parties, elaborate bake goods, or whatever is not your cup of tea. You can be a great mom without all that stuff! If you do, however, enjoy those things (or other things) embrace it! It in no way makes you a 'fake' or a bad mom!

I hope someday soon we as moms/women would learn to stop defining our value in how we compare to the woman across the street or on the other side of the screen. We shouldn't need to put someone down in order to justify ourselves or to feel worthy.  We are different and that's ok. 

The Joy of Engaging

On Saturday Jeremy and I went on a midday date to Half Priced books. It's one of my favorite dates. We always stop by Starbucks for coffee first and when we arrive we separate for a half-hour or so as each of us looks for our own treasures. Then we meet up and discuss the fun books we've discovered. For an introvert, like me, it's perfect! I get a spend time with my most favorite person in the world and I get a the chance to get lost in my own thoughts for awhile. Last week, was packed full of people, good people who I love dearly, but people all the same. I was really looking forward to being alone in a tiny aisle full of books.

After being there for less then five minutes though I got interrupted. An elderly gentleman asked me if I knew where they kept the children's history books.

picture via foter

As I showed him he started talking about his granddaughter and how she loves history, "she's a prodigy"! I love children's books and history so I went the extra mile gave him a few suggestions. Then he started to tell me about how he used to be a social studies teacher and how he missed his students. He was polite and asked if I had children, I was polite and answered. He was kind and interesting...but I wanted to be alone! I had plans and he was interfering. As we talked for 5...10...15 minutes I kept thinking of polite ways to excuse myself..."why was I wasting my time talking to this man, someone I  didn't even know!" He, however, was engaging. You could tell that he truly loved being a teacher and that he had done it well and for all the right reasons. 

He had a stroke and started apologizing to me about his lack of language skills. I told him, honestly,  that I hadn't noticed, he was very articulate. Then he shared with me his love for his wife. How having a stroke and watching the way she had nursed him back to health had taught him so much about love. How he was so thankful they'd stuck it out even though there were times it was hard. We figured out that they'd been married for 49 years. 

Then his wife showed up (she'd been at a nearby craft store) and I got to meet this women he had spoken so fondly of. At first, I had regretted engaging this man in conversation but it had left me encouraged. Seeing him and his wife together, knowing a bit of their story, was such blessing to me. He was inspiring, he made me treasure my husband and my children even more. 

I was thinking this as he walked away. Then he turned back and told me that he thought I was a really special person. That most people never take the time to talk to him, they never ask him questions. He wasn't sure if it was because of his age or because of his stroke but most people don't engage. His smile was so warm, as he thanked me for fifteen minutes of my time! I was all the sudden very grateful that I hadn't found a 'polite' way to excuse myself. I was also convicted about how often I go about my days closing myself off to the people around me. I'm not rude, but a lot of time, if somebody doesn't look like my type of person (age, style, class, etc) I pay them no attention. I wonder how many encouraging conversations I've missed out on because I was too preoccupied and oblivious.

Here's hoping that despite my introverted nature this lesson sticks. That I remember that people not tasks or schedules (or books) are what matters most and what brings the most joy. 

Small Graces

The last couple of weeks has been full of good events and even better people. We got to celebrate a friends birthday with pizza and some fun board games. Last weekend we also had a family overnight which included a nightly bonfire and a breakfast of amazing cinnamon rolls. Today we went and watched some of our  friends perform in a local production of Willy Wonka. Last but not least, my littlest sister decided to spend her spring break with us. I feel so overwhelming lucky that our family's life is filled with such amazing loving people. 

Little Lady trying to wake daddy up with some kisses

Saint Patrick's Day Traditions

Saint Patricks Day, or Green day as my like kids like to call it, is one of our favorite holidays. We have small traditions for each holiday but these are the ones the kids talk about the most throughout the year.

We decorate I home in sorts of green decor and the night before Jeremy and I blow up lots of green balloons. Everybody wears their best green attire. We also always have Lucky Charms and green milk for breakfast...this is an extra special treat because most of the time breakfast is hardboiled eggs, yogurt, and oatmeal or Cheerios. Then in the afternoon the children follow a rhyming scavenger hunt to find their hidden rainbow and it's gold. 

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