sensory issues, socks, and serious stuff

socksSo the other morning, my youngest daughter decided to completely fall apart about socks.

To say it was a disaster is putting it mildly.

About 5 minutes into the exchange, I realized that I was acting more immature than my 6 year old.

I wasn’t sure how to stop the spiral, so unfortunately….I didn’t.  I just went with it…spinning in nauseating circles to the bottom of the pit of momma fail.

And I did it with gusto.

I’ve been thinking about it for days.

What caused me to respond so poorly to my little girl’s sensory issues?  I mean, it’s not like they are a surprise.

Okay, well the socks were exactly the same as the ones that were fine the previous day…so that was annoying, but really, she’s 6 and she’s got stuff she’s dealing with…and, honestly, I do too.

But being that I’m approximately 39 years older, wouldn’t it seem like I could hold it together better than her?

Yeah…well…apparently not.

I think the issue might be that I simply want things to go my way.

Everyone just do things my way, ok?

And don’t get in my way.

I mean I am the momma after all.

I’m the boss.

But I’d like to be a benevolent dictator!

I think I was more like a really, really mean drill sergeant.

Thankfully I don’t have these meltdowns often, but when they happen they are spectacular. And I don’t mean that in a positive way…

Ugh…Why do they happen again?

Oh yeah…it’s all about me.

I’ve been studying the book of Philippians.  Chapter 2 to be exact.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (3-8) 

I believe I could read the verse about putting other’s interests above my own and apply it to this situation, but most of the time, I probably put my children ahead of me even when I shouldn’t.

Although I believe I should always put my children’s well-being above my temper tantrums…above my emotions.

My emotional craziness that morning can’t really be justified…even though I was frustrated and nothing was going as I had planned.  I had stuff I needed to get done…they needed to get on the bus already!

Truly that seems to be what my life is about right now…getting stuff done.

Getting stuff done even if it means not being patient, kind, or gracious.

Getting stuff done even if it means less sleep…and a fussy momma.

Getting stuff done even if it means no time for relationships.

Getting stuff done even if it means oodles and oodles of stress…for everyone.

Do I really need to get so much stuff done?  Yes. I do.  But there has to be a way to do it gracefully.

Before I can figure that one out, I want to consider my emotions a bit….just a bit, because as I heard someone say once, “I don’t like the way emotions make me feel.”  I’m all over that.  (And I have to be honest, I’m not particularly fond of hormones either.)

When my ex- husband left 5 years ago, I wrote in my journal, “Remember it’s not what you feel, it’s what you know.”

That was written when I was feeling completely beaten down and I was trying to remind myself of my identity in Christ.  I wanted to be sure to make decisions and act based on what I knew to be true from God’s Word, rather than what I was feeling, especially the feelings based on my husband’s actions.

I think this situation with my daughter was another opportunity to remind myself that my actions must not be based on what I feel, but on what I know to be true.

I know that God has a plan even for my day and if things go awry He can help me handle it.

I know that my little girl needs encouragement, patience, and understanding, not the words I offered her.

I know that my actions impact my daughter and all my other children…that my thoughtless, frustrated words hurt.

I know that I have the Holy Spirit to help me control this blasted tongue.

And, thankfully I know that God forgives me for all my mistakes as a woman and a parent.

The other part of that verse that struck me was the humility of Christ.  He was GOD and He willingly took on the form of man to save me.  He humbled himself…humbled himself to death.

I need a minute to soak that in…

And I can’t humble myself to speak graciously to my child???

My little girl who wasn’t being disobedient (even though it felt that way), who wasn’t being defiant (even though it felt that way), who wasn’t being difficult on purpose (even though it felt that way)…she was just being a little girl with sensory issues who was completely undone by the toe seam on her socks.

And I was the momma who acted on how I felt, rather than what I knew.  I was the one in charge who instead of humbly and gently loving my daughter, chose to wield my big stick and verbally whack everything in sight.

Looking back I can see that if I had responded at first with graciousness, my little girl might have found what she needed sooner and we could have had a peaceful morning.  Unfortunately, I decided to disregard some of the other verses in Philippians 2:

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.  (14-16)

Oh the grumbling and complaining…oh well…no sense continuing to beat myself up about this.

So I have to tell you after all our sock craziness, as we were heading out the door, my daughter sat down in the foyer and said, “Momma, I don’t think I want to wear socks.”  So 45 minutes and 15 pairs of socks later…she went to school without socks.

Seriously.photo (4)

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Ducks in a Row? Nope…not even in the same pond.

little duck

You know that old saying about getting your ducks in a row? My ducks aren’t in a row…in fact, I’m sure my ducks aren’t even in the same pond.
I really want them to be…at least in the same pond. Golly, I don’t care about lines. I was never particularly fond of staying in the lines anyway.
But as a single mama I think I might need some lines drawn…some boundaries established.
Lately I’m recognizing a decidedly annoying trend with my children…stepping, no make that leaping across boundaries. My room, my bathroom, my closet, my clothes, my makeup, my socks, my shoes, my jewelry, my papers, my pens, my desk, my computer, my drinks, my snacks, my stuff…all seems to be fair game. No one bothers to ask…no one bothers to put back…no one bothers to thank…but it all sure bothers ME!!!
I got myself into this particular pond. I jumped in when my husband left. I allowed my children to sleep on my floor, my oldest daughter to share my bathroom, and my kids to use whatever they needed out of my stuff. I didn’t do much more than request that they take care of the things they borrowed and put them back properly, but I didn’t really offer consistent consequences unless you count my exasperated nagging as a viable consequence. I wouldn’t because it was a clearly ineffective consequence.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just the little things like borrowing without asking, it’s the big stuff like irresponsibility, disrespect, and laziness that need to be addressed more diligently by me. This is my opportunity to show my children that I take my responsibility as mom seriously, that I desire to respect the Lord by raising His children well, and that I will be persistent in my efforts to train them.
Being a single mom, it’s easy to make excuses for letting things slide…little things. Those silly little things become scary big things quite quickly. I’ve been experiencing that lately. In not training my children well in the little things, I have not equipped them well to deal with the big things.
So here I am…frustrated and a little bit fearful but ready to make some changes. Ready to jump into an altogether different pond and push all my kids in too…whether they want to or not. A friend of mine keeps reminding me that sometimes the best things we can do for our children are the things they least want to do. Amen to that.
Praise God that He is the God of second chances…in life and parenting. I’m praying more diligently, seeking wise counsel more conscientiously, and holding to my convictions more solidly. BUT I also know that my strength to do those things is totally and completely rooted in Christ. I know myself and I’m tired, weak and exhausted. That’s why God tells me:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Ahhh…rest, easy yoke, light burden…why would I not accept that offer?
With God I know I can make changes in my life and the lives of my children. With God I know that we can become a family that treats the blessing of each other and the material blessings we have with respect. I believe that God is going to do great things in my family…I know that He has faithfully shown me things that need to be dealt with not because He wants to crush me with regret, but because He wants to show me His love and grace as He restores our family.
That new pond…it’s beautiful. There’s even a Lifeguard who delights in watching us splash around together…in a line or not!

Lord, please give me the ability to lay my burden down and pick up Yours. I know I will be challenged daily, I will struggle, but Lord, You are faithful and loving and You will provide all that I need to meet each day with peace and joy. I’m thankful that You show me what I need to work on, what needs to be done, but Lord I’m even more thankful that because of You I am not measured or valued by what I accomplish in a day or how well I do anything. I am Your daughter and I am loved because You made me. Father, please help me raise my children well. Please enable me to be strong, consistent, gentle, loving and graceful with my children. Just like you are with me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

All You Need to Do is Just…

Recently one of my dearest friends called to tell me she had my next blog topic.  She’d been at a women’s Bible study where they were discussing their crazy busy lives.  After the moms in the group had lamented their situations, one of the ladies shared her “simple” solution which began with the phrase,

“All you need to do is just…”

In this case, the solution was prepare freezer meals.  My friend is practically a gourmet cook and couldn’t think of how that would be an appropriate solution for her problem.  She is one of the most accomplished women I know – a very successful attorney with her own practice and also the mother of a toddler and an infant.  She also finds time to minister to others at her church, help people organize their houses and lives, as well as just simply be a good friend and encourager.  I’m sure there are thousands of other things she does…oh and she and her husband built a 2nd story addition on their home…themselves…while she was pregnant with number 2.  So, yeah…I don’t know if freezer meals are the answer to her already busy life.  The amazing thing about this friend is that she is more than able to handle all that she has allowed to be placed on her plate…if she doesn’t shower daily.  I’m kidding…sorta.

She and I talked about how women really do expect that we can do it all.  I am here to tell you in big bold faced letter

I CAN’T DO IT ALL…

IN FACT, I CAN’T DO MOST OF IT.

There I said it.

Even this exceedingly amazing friend of mine admits she can’t.  Oh, we can give it a try, but really it isn’t very pretty most, if not all, of the time.

I’m sure the lady that suggested freezer meals had the best of intentions.  We all do, don’t we?  We all want to help each other to discover the next best thing.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put my hope in some product or idea or chart or book that was going to finally make me organized, patient, or thin.

I’m always exceedingly disappointed, because the answer doesn’t lie in my doing something differently, more efficiently, or even better…although all those things would be phenomenal!  I believe as the saying goes it is more about being than doing.

What if when we were all sitting around the coffee table sharing our struggles, frustrations and fears, we offered each other the hope of the gospel?  What if we listened, comforted and empathized, but didn’t try and provide yet another thing to add to our ridiculous to do lists…the ones written down with all the phone calls, emails, chores, and projects we need to accomplish or the ones we keep in our heads that include all our hopes as well as all our failings…you know the lists I’m referring to right?

What if we simply loved one another?  What if we shared our struggles but also the hope we found in Scripture.  Maybe it would look like this,

Me.        “I’m so overwhelmed.  I feel like I simply can’t keep one thing moving in the right direction.  I read books about parenting that convict me and condemn me all at the same time.  I feel hopeless.  I don’t think I’ll ever truly be the mom I’m supposed to be for these children.  How can I expect them to be kind, patient, loving and slow to anger when half the time I’m frustrated, impatient, unkind and angry?  I know I need more sleep…but how?  I know I need to exercise…but what do I stop doing?  I know I need to get my home in order…but these little people keep messing it up behind me.  I know I need to prepare healthy food and snacks…but how do I do that with the schedule we are keeping?  What do I give up?  Who do I say no to?  If I could I would…I’m down to bare minimum involvement in church, school and activities and still I’m crushed by our schedule.  There is no way around it with 1 parent and 5 children.”

A Friend.  “I can’t imagine what you are feeling.  I know it must be so difficult.  Please know that God gave you those sweet children because He knew you were the woman for the job.  God wanted you, with your personality, struggles and situation, to be their Momma.  You and those 5 children is not a mistake.  And God has a plan in the midst of this.  Remember that verse you love, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”  (Isaiah 54:13) God is the Father your children really need…and He is the husband you need.  He will help you, friend.  He won’t leave you or forsake you.  He’s got your back.  Lean on Him.  I will pray that the Holy Spirit will help you see Christ more clearly and that your circumstances will dim in comparison.  That you will find that peace which passes all understanding to guard your heart and your mind in Him.  That your heart will overflow with gratefulness for the children you have been entrusted with.  That you will know how very much you are loved by me and by Him.  Can I pray for you right now?”

That’s just an idea.  I mean sometimes it might be that you just say, “I’m so sorry.  I’ll pray for you.”  I always find it such a blessing when friends say what they are going to pray for me or even pray for me right then and there.  I love it!

I was talking with a friend at church recently about all the unsolicited advice she gets.  I believe we single moms get A LOT of advice we don’t ask for…or want.  It’s not always easy to receive it gracefully.  I told this friend that I think I’d like to get a t-shirt made up that says, “Just Shut Up and Pray for Me!”

I confess I can’t because my family is anti-shut-up, although you wouldn’t necessarily know that since we all say it and then instantly someone says, “Hey, you can’t say shut up!”  It’s a struggle.  I’m trying to decide if it is a hill I want to “die on.”  But that’s a conversation for another blog.

My point…after all this blathering…is that I want to encourage us all to offer each other some grace…or a lot of grace.  Let’s give each other the freedom to share without condemnation or recommendations.  Let’s extend encouragement and understanding instead of instructions and ideas.

Let’s be honest – most of us know exactly what we need to do practically in order to get our lives in order.  We just find it hard to do it.  Life is difficult.  Growth is a process.  Grace is continual.

What I’d like to add at the end of that phrase is this…  “All you need to do is just…

know you are loved unconditionally

regardless of what you accomplish in a day

regardless of the words that fall out of your mouth on a bad day

regardless of the state of your home

regardless of the behavior of your children

regardless of the comments of others

you are loved unconditionally.

 

“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” 

2 Thessalonians 3:5

 

 

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:14-19