I am not a stick in the mud!

I’m picking up speed, courtesy of the decision to lay flat on my back. I’m approaching the bottom at a supersonic speed.  Just enough time to clasp my nose and take a breath.

Splash!

I completely submerge as I feel my bottom bounce off bottom. I break through the surface to see my husband doubled over in laughter.

What the heck? 

“Mom, was it fun? Did you have fun? Are you going again?”, Madi rants as she climbs out of the pool and proceeds back toward the water slide of doom.

“Why are you laughing at me?”, I inquire as I follow her to certain death.

Crickets.

Okay.

We go again.  Faster.  More fun.  More exhilarating than the first time.

 And they’re still laughing at me as I surface!

At this point, I’m insulted.  It’s like they’ve never seen me have fun before.

“You know”, I say with my best pouty voice, “I’m not a stick in the mud.  I do know how to have fun.”

The trouble is, they don’t see me do it very often.

Why is that?

Lets review.

This is the first summer that I can remember in 15 years in which I have not had a child under the sacred height of 36 inches.  To date, I have been confined to the kiddy area only.

At the pool.  Water parks. Amusement parks. The park.  McDonald’s Playland.

Saying things like:

“Don’t splash.”

“Go down the slide, not up it.”

“Brown Alert! Gross.”

“Don’t lick that.”

Herding short people has been my business.  But now my people aren’t so short anymore. And, they’re adrenaline junkies like their dad.

Bigger + Bolder+ Faster = Better

I mean, sometimes, I just want to sit down and read. Take a nap. Make up on some of the sleep I lost when they were babies.  Yet sitting on the sidelines to watch my growing kids have fun is just, well, boring.  Because I want to be a part of it, too!

I’m noting the innate need for parents to be deemed “cool” in the eyes of their kids in this generation.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  I have no desire to dress like my kids, talk like my kids or even be accepted by their friends as part of the “in” crowd.

I am the mom therefore I must be uncool sometimes.  The mom card demands it.

However, I can play with my kids and enjoy the activities they enjoy doing.  Just because I’m used to sitting on the sidelines doesn’t mean I am sentenced there for life.  Even when it does mean I’m going to look a bit silly sometimes.

It means climbing to the top of a ten story slide and bearing the bruises on my knees for the week to follow.

Sometimes, it means tossing a football or a baseball in the front yard.

Standing on the edge of a cliff when I want to retreat to the safety of the trail.

A pick up foot race on the way to the car.

Careening down a water slide while the rest of the party pooping moms are laying in their chairs catching some rays.

Yes, I called you a party pooper. (I still love you & I’m secretly jealous).

Sledding.  In the snow. Down a hill. Voluntarily. (insert smile here)

Playing with my family gives me the chance to show them a well rounded wife and mom.  It requires me to put down the camera and challenge myself physically.  To break out of my comfort zone on the sideline and step into the game, even when it’s terrifying for all who witness the spectacle.

It gives us all something to laugh about at the end of the day.

“Did you see mom when she…” 

I’m rediscovering how to play with my family.

How, today, can you engage yours?

 

 

 

 

 

Misplaced Monday: It all started with the hat

It all started with the hat.

My spunky 7- year- old Madi modeled her t-ball hat with pride.  Just two days until team pictures.

The last ones.

The last season for her.  The last child in t-ball for me.

I should have known it would be a disaster. Pictures were scheduled for a Monday.  Nothing good happens on Monday.  Dieting and workout programs have proven that for decades.

In the meantime, she wore her hat everywhere.

Walmart.  Church.  Playing with her friends. I knew it was a bad idea.

In a flash, the hat was gone. We asked her to pull her uniform together the evening before pictures.  She couldn’t find her hat anywhere.  We backtracked in our minds and came up blank.

An hour before picture time, my hunting hubby discovered the hat in the play kitchen I had asked her to clean the day before.  Picture saved.  Uniform complete.

I get home in time to change and instead find her covered in dirt.  Her legs.  Her shirt.  Her hat.  I cat bathe her quickly and we head to the field, arriving on time.

Woot, Woot!

I precariously balance the picture form as I fill it out with my funky blue pen. Like my driver license, I lie about her weight and glimpse at the number on her shirt.  Write the check.  Seal the envelope. My daughter follows her team in line toward the kiosk.

Mission accomplished.

I see coach dabbing Madi’s leg with the order blank I just filled out!

She’s picked a scab on her leg and has blood everywhere.  Sigh.

The coach looks at me with a mix expectancy and judgement. I am, after all, letting down woman kind.  Was I supposed to have a first aid kit tucked in my spanx?

A new momma with diaper wipes comes to my rescue.  I apply pressure to the bleeding with one hand while cat bathing my kid with the other. Again.  All was well in control until the coach handed me a new order blank with 20 seconds to picture time.

I guess the photo people weren’t excited about having my kid’s D.N.A on their form. Disappointment abounds.

What did I say her weight was? Why don’t I know this?

It’s in the tension of these moments when being mom proves toughest.  The moment of unpreparedness. The stage in life when I am supposed to have it all together, but don’t.  Not even close. Will I ever get it right?

She’s my youngest.  I don’t have too many chances left.

This point in time seems so big in comparison to every other decision I have made correctly.  It highlights every mistake I make and every way I fall short.  I just want to go home and hide.

And speaking of hiding, does photo shop hide dirt and blood?

I need to remember to ask when I turn the form.

As she approaches the camera, I have to remind myself that mothering happens in moments. Embrace the moment- good or bad.  It’s the little kisses.  Inside jokes.  Fishing trips. First time events. Missing hats.  Bloody t-ball pics.

Every. little. thing.

Ironically, the most vivid memories avail when I feel like the biggest mom loser on the planet.  The nuggets of time when I feel alone and judged for my inadequacy.  The very memories I get to share and laugh about with other moms who have stories of their own.

Good or bad, I’m embracing the moments.

And, I’m inventing first aid kits to hide in spanx.

Helicopter Momma, it really is out of our control!

I’m freaking out.

Not had too much coffee before breakfast, freaking out.  More like box of Miss Clairol in one hand with a handy dandy brown paper baggie in the other.

I’m sending my 15 year old to Mexico on a mission trip.  With responsible, god loving adults who are not me.

I’m sending my 7 year old to church camp.  For a week.  With responsible, god loving adults who are not me.

I’ve always allowed myself to believe that I am a laid back momma.  My goal has always been to raise my kids well balanced in the tension of this world.  I work hard to make my home a safe place for them to land.  A place for them to take comfort.  A place of unconditional love and acceptance.

My kids know Jesus. They have had first hand experience of his peace and presence in their lives.  They know how to serve others in their community and they enjoy doing so.  They are learning how to construct healthy boundaries.

But one day, they will leave.

It might be to go down the street to play with a friend, or an overnight trip to grandma’s. It might be to summer camp or a mission trip.  It might be in a car with a driver license that just came hot off the press or off to college to pursue the hopes and dreams of their heart.  It might be to serve our country in the military.

But one day, they will leave.

It’s irrational, but I often times trust my kids more than I trust other people.  I just don’t ever want them to stray too far away.  I mean, what if they come across negative influences.  What if they are exposed to drugs, alcohol or pornography?

What if they find themselves in a position needing my protection and I am not there?

What if they think little Annie’s mom is more fun than me? It might be true, but I don’t want my kids to know that!

What if my teenager makes a choice that goes against what we have taught her in faith?

One day, my kids will leave my cocoon of protection.  Whatever is a mom to do?

Helicopter momma, here’s the thing.  My kids are only mine for a little while.  But, they belong to God forever.  At some point, I have to let them leave my influence so they can grow to fulfill the purpose that God handcrafted them for.

In the meantime:

I can build them up in his word.

I can teach them how to live their faith in a broken world with broken people.

I can help them build a community of like minded people that they can fall back on.

I can allow them the possibility of exposure- in small doses.

I can let God work in their lives without getting in the way.

I can pray, everyday, for my kids to know a personal relationship with their savior.  No matter what.

I can’t raise my kids in a “what if” mentality.

I know they will make bad choices.  I know that they will crash and burn.  I know that God, and I, will love them unconditionally.   I know that I will always be their safe place to land.  Their safe place to receive coaching, instruction, and preparation to get back into the game of life.

But I also know that they will make good, God honoring choices.  They will experience success.  And then?  I will be their place to celebrate and praise God for the amazing work he is doing in their lives.

For now, I will catch and release.  I will make the commitment to let go in small doses.  Allow them to make choices, good & bad.  Draw them back in. Coach them.  Teach them.  Love them.  Point them to God and release once more.

Helicopter momma,  I don’t believe raising kids is the hardest part of being a parent.  I truly believe it is the fine art of letting go and knowing that God is in control.

I’m praying for you.  Pray for me, will you?

 

www.compeltraining.com

#Compeltip:  I have been working to tighten my writing as well as reduce redundancy. Behind the scenes, I have been applying the 5-f’s from tired, typical writing. For more tips like these, visit www.compeltraining.com!

 

Sometimes, cheaters win

#Deflategate

The national icon of Superbowl 49 starring a quarterback who is said to be the best the NFL has ever seen.  A quarterback who is now accused of cheating for gain.

A dilemma to moms everywhere.

As  a mom, I constantly reinforce, “Do the right thing and you will get the right result”, to my kids.  I tell them to persevere. Even when failure seems to be lurking at every corner, a breakthrough will happen.  But, you have to work to make it happen.  Just don’t quit.  Don’t even dream of taking the easy way out.

I know I’m not alone here. We all want our kids to succeed, but we want them to do so with character.  Which means no easy road exists.  Hard work and perseverance always pay off.

So when Tom Brady was allowed to win his 6th Superbowl ring in the midst of and undecided scandal, I wont lie when I say I was deeply disappointed.

He didn’t once deny that he had given the directive to have the ball deflated.  He presented himself, polished as a politician, and gave vague answers as he sat in the hot seat of national media.  Moments of awkward silence as he likely thought of his coached answers.  The whole interview was uncomfortable to watch. The most uncomfortable part?  Trying to reconcile how to explain that sometimes cheaters win to my kids whom I am working to raise with integrity.

The thing about cheating is that it can be done easily.  Some times without recognition of the people who live and work the closest around you.  A well placed secret between you and God that allows you to advance and appear to be someone you are not.  Sometimes people catch on.  Sometimes they don’t.  But at the core of cheating is the heart of a liar.  One who covers weakness to make others believe in a façade.

And as a mom, I do not want to participate in, nor imply that this behavior is ever okay to the little eyes that may be watching.

We live in a world that is fallen. It’s ruled by a prince who came to steal, kill and destroy.  We are witness to this evidence of destruction everyday.  The good news I that we await a king who will return to bring life and life in abundance.  Peace in the midst of conflict.  Hope in situations that seem hopeless.

Tom Brady may have his fancy new ring and a little slap on the hand for a bad decision.  My beloved Michigan Wolverines may be able to brag about producing champion quality quarterbacks. But the truth will always be revealed.

Cheaters may sometimes win but the victory will be hollow and temporary.  One day, we will have to give an account for our actions.

When we make the choice to live with integrity, even when no one is looking, then we can then walk with confidence.  Never worried about something that can slip us up.

We can speak with boldness when we aren’t worried about covering our tracks or keeping our story straight.

Never give up.  Do what is right.  Confidently expect that right will win in the end.  This is the message I will continue to reinforce to my kids, even when cheaters win.

 

 

 

 

#TeamMom: I feel unqualified

7:56am

“Lucas, have you found that shoe yet?” “No mom.  I swear, Madi was messing with it last night! She knows where it is.”  He’s probably not wrong.  I don’t recall tripping over it in the bathroom this morning.  “Madi, if you hid your brother’s shoe, you need to return it.  Now!  We need to leave ten minutes ago.”  “Mom”, Madi replies in her matter of fact tone, “I did not hide Lucas’ shoe.  BUT.  I can make it reappear.” OH.MY.STARS!!! “By all means, please, make it reappear.” I reply. My budding magician leads her captivated audience to her bedroom closet.  “Ta Da!”, she announces as she whips open her closet door and proudly waves the prodigal shoe. 10.9.8…Doh! “Lucas, you’re gonna have to put that on in the car. Let’s Roll!” I gather my belongings and head to the car.  As I stick my key in the ignition, I wonder if I am cut out for this gig they call motherhood. If I’m being honest with you, I really want to wave my white flag.

The responsibility of mothering my children well presses in on me. More often than not, I miss the mark when It comes to raising my kids. Some days, I just want to run away.  Not forever.  Just until I can pull my own stuff together so I can effectively manage theirs.  No teen drama.  No missing shoes.  No Fancy Nancy.

When I share my shortcomings with my mom friends, I quickly realize that I am not alone.  Every mom I know has “stuff”. Every mom I know feels the pressure of getting it right.  If she tells you otherwise, dare I suggest she is lying?  Deep down, I think we all worry about whether or not we are screwing up our kids.

Motherhood, and all of her chaos, is a role given to us by God.  Which means it falls under the safety umbrella of qualification. God does not call the qualified.  In this regard, that makes sense.  Imagine if God called only qualified moms to produce future heirs for this earth.  They would tell him to go fly a kite, grab their bag of mini twix and head to the nearest hammock with their kindle.  Been there.  Done that.  Have the pla-dough stomach to prove it. 

Instead, he qualifies the called.  On the job training.  Or, trial by fire.  However you choose to look at it.  In addition, he gives us a community of moms to call upon for encouragement.  Mom’s who have gone before us and gently remind us to cherish every moment we have with our kids. Mom’s who are walking along side of us. Mom’s who will follow in our footsteps of motherhood. 

When we feel alone and unqualified, it’s time to reach out to a community of moms who feel the exact same way.  There is no room for judgement here.  Only love.

When  we see the mom juggling her cart and her screaming toddler, throw her a fist bump and remind her that this too shall pass.  Remind her that her calling as the mother of her kids is not a mistake.  She has exactly what is needed to be the mom her kids need and deserve.

  When you encounter the mom of a teen, give her a hug.  She likely needs it.  She is torn between loving her child for every bittersweet moment she has left and completely understanding why other species eat their young.

The empty nest mom? What a bank of wisdom we can draw upon. She is not as out of touch as we would like to believe.  Might be that she has lived through some moments that look a little like our reality today.

Lets stop using comparison as an opportunity for judgement. Lets stop focusing on our shortcomings and weakness. Instead, let us come together as #TeamMom, gently lifting each other up.  Affirm each other. Remind each other that our past failure does not dictate our future success. That God qualifies the called for the roles he gives to us as moms.  Then, give her a twix, a hug and a pat on the back as she heads back into this gig we call motherhood.

Dear Grams

Grams,
I just received word that you went home to be well with the Lord tonight.  To be honest, I feel as though you had been taken from us long before now.  I laid in bed tonight, overwhelmed with the memories of who you were and how you touched my life in so many ways.  Yet, had I told you, I don’t know that you would have understood in your final days here.

When I was little, I couldn’t imagine life without you.  The traditions you worked hard to create.  Your home always felt like my respite from the storm.  Even as an adult, I looked forward to just stopping in to spend the day.  It always brought me back to a simpler time.

I remember the excitement about spending the week with Grandma St. Germain.  Meeting in Champaign to eat at Bob Evans.  Singing Jesus Loves me in the car along with all of the other crazy fun kid songs you had.  The collection was endless.  Walking to the restaurant for pancakes in the morning with your daycare kids.   You always let me have soda while everyone else had to stick to milk or juice.  I remember putting money in my Moola Moola savings account.  Sitting at the drug store and munching on penny candy while you caught up with Ruth at the counter. You introduced me to everyone you knew.  “This is Sam.  Can you believe how big she has gotten?”  I remember driving by the whiskey barrels in Kankakee, shopping at the farmers market and rooting on Jim McMahon and the Bears on their way to the Superbowl.  Darla and I had the Superbowl Shuffle down.  And when Grandpa would fall asleep watching TV, it was always so fun to turn it off on him and hear him proclaim, “Hey, I was watching that!”  It was the thing to do, every evening just after the 10 o’clock news.   You would snooze on the sofa and I would camp out in my sleeping bag on the floor.  And the summer you taught us to stand and walk on a rolling trash barrel down the hill.  Yep, I still can’t believe I came away from that unscathed.  We both know how graceful I am.

At Christmas, I remember Santa delivering my gift.  He would stop to smile for the camera before coming in the front door, a quick pose in the front picture window.  And I remember us running into him at Santa’s Village when I was around 12. It was just as I had stopped believing that we walked into Santa’s house and he called us all by name.  What a funny moment of surprise that was.  He became the National Lampoons Santa.  And he used one of your pictures on his resume.  Yep, that is still my favorite Christmas movie.

At Easter, you hid baskets for kids and adults alike.  I remember wandering through your yard and the neighbors, looking for our Easter treasures.  And then, of course the hunt for the last few eggs that we always hid so well.  But more than anything, I loved to hear the stories around the table. Easter could not pass by without Jello Eggs from Liz or Sugar Cookies from Darla.

Have I mentioned the cousin’s pictures yet?  Yep, those were a hoot.  You decided to do those shortly after I was married.  It was a bit awkward being the only adult in the cousin’s pic.  I never told you this, but it is next to impossible to find bib overalls for an adult.   My absolute favorite picture is the one we got for free.  No one was posed for the camera, so we all had our relaxed faces on and we were looking in different directions.  That picture hung proudly on my wall for years. Mostly because it is the only one in which I was smiling AND having a good hair day all at the same time.

I loved that you loved my husband.  I still cherish our corner cabinet and cradle that Gramps made. What pressure you put on David, to get that cabinet home safe.  He has never driven slower on the interstate.  The day you told us about our handmade cradles, I had just started to suspect I was pregnant with Chloe.  I remember telling you a week or so later and you giving me such a hard time about holding back important news.  You felt so guilty about not coming down the day she was born.  Yet, we passed you on the way home in the hospital parking lot.  You and mom had already been by our house and decorated with yard signs and pink balloons.  You were there when I laid Chloe in the cradle for the first time.  And when Lucas was born, you were right there to cradle him on as soon as you could.  He was the first grandson in the family, after all.  I love that you would remind me that I was a good mom.  That David and I were raising our children right.  That God would honor the decisions we were making in regard to our family.

When David went to the guard, and particularly when he was deployed, you were always faithful to check in.  You prayed.  You made sure he got his birthday and Christmas gifts all the way overseas. You sent him a used cellphone because you heard the troops had a way of being able to use them to call back home.  We never actually figured out what that program was, but he brought the phone back home because it had a picture of grandpa on it and he didn’t think you would want to get rid of that quite so easily.  We probably still have the phone tucked away in a drawer somewhere.  I never could bring myself to talk you out of the ideas you had, especially if you thought they were helping the greater good.

The hard part is that this is just the touch of the iceberg of the memories you have left behind.  I remember you showing me the family bible.  The playhouse in the backyard.  Snuggles, Lokie, Sable and Bailey.  I remember mom and I dognapping Lillie after your mastectomy.  She is doing well, but now has a little sibling rivalry going on with her new brother, Gus.

You have left a legacy of strong women behind.  Daughters,  Granddaughters and a Grandson that will carry on to make a difference in this generation and the one to come.   We will make you proud, I have no doubt.

I love you and miss you.  You took a little part of my heart with you today as you said your final goodbye on this side of Earth.  I am thankful you are healthy and at peace now.  That you have reunited with those whom you have loved so dearly.  I will never forget how you have impacted my life.  Thank you for everything.