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.

Just when I think…..

“So we just started Despicable Me and the pyramid just deflated and I automatically saw the old lady in the front.  ARGGGHH!”

This incoming text causes me to smile as I think of the scene my daughter is referencing in this movie.  It brings a little piece of backwards joy to my heart when I envision her laughing at the inside joke we share.  No details needed.  Just a fond memory shared between us.  In this season, it seems like these moments are getting fewer and farther between.

We are in the frustrating season of the teenage years.  Most days, I am stuck dead center between being the proudest mom in the world and wondering why on earth there are teenagers.  Sometimes within moments of each other.  The emotional level is constantly shifting while I witness my child grasping for every ounce of independence she can get her hands on.  We are in crunch time.  At this point, I am her coach.  I have given her basic character building blocks and now I am standing on the sideline position, doing my best to guide her along her final steps to truly being an adult. To tell you the truth, I truly feel like I am failing her.  Even on my best days.

Just when I think I have lost the ability to communicate, she breaks through the alien barriers of the teenage years and my little girl emerges once more.  She says things like, ” I started a new bible reading plan.  I am going to read the bible in a year.  Can I show you how the passages break down?”  She shows me a purity ring she wants that outwardly represents an internal choice she made when entering her freshman year of high school.  Or, she sends me a text reminding me that I pointed out a braless old woman standing in front of a deflating pyramid in a kids movie.

Just when I think I’m getting it all wrong, I realize that I must have done a few things right.  Just when I think she has tuned me out, I realize that she has heard me and I still have positive influence.  Just when I think this season will produce nothing but hopelessness & frustration, a young lady with an authentically beautiful character breaks through the drama and clutter to reveal who she is becoming in these transitional years.  Just when I think I am ready to give up, I realize that I wouldn’t trade being her mom for anything in the world.

A note to my teenage daughter.

High school is a frustrating season to walk through as a child.  I don’t think it even compares to how hard it is to travel through as a parent.  From the first day of school, I have watched my oldest child grasp her independence and hold on to it for all it’s worth. Daily, her father declares that he is gaining more and more gray hair.  There is much we want to tell her.  Much we want her to know and understand.  More we want to control.  And the harder we push, the higher she constructs her walls.  So, I did what every courageous mom does. I drug out our mother daughter notebook from mother daughter camp several years ago and wrote her a letter that I have prayed will reach her, even through the wall constructed of teenage drama and hairspray.  Lots and lots of hairspray.

My motive is not to preach.  I simply want to say the words that she needs to hear as she starts to move through the complicated world of real choices and real consequences.  And did I mention the boy?  Oh my stars.  It starts all too soon.

I want my daughter to experience her teenage years selfishly.  Yes, you heard that right.  I want her to independently discover her hopes and dreams and pursue them with everything she has. I want her to learn how to love herself before she has to figure out how to love another.  I want her to experience life with her friends, try new things and construct her plans for the future.

I want her to understand that abstinence from sex is about more than a religious decision to stay pure. It is about the ability to try a relationship without huge emotional entanglements.  It is an intentional decision she has to make now.  I want her to understand that when she commits to a solid decision, she will be less likely to allow her emotions to change her mind when the opportunity arises.  And it will.

I want her to understand that her friends have an influence over her life, just as her behavior & choices influence over their lives.  I make jokes about the boy, but the truth is that he is someone else’s beloved son.  He has parents that love him as much as I love her.  I don’t take that lightly.  And when her friends come over, you can bet I am in their business, too.  I want our home to be a safe place for my kids and their friends.  A place where they can come for fun, and guidance, if needed.

I want her to understand that she will make mistakes and when she does, her dad & I will be here to help her sort them out. We are a phone call away, no matter what. I want her to understand that nothing she can do will change our love for her.

I want her to understand that when we act like circus freak parents, our actions are stemming from fear.  Fear is rooted in a very deep love.  A very deep longing that wants only the best for her.

Maybe a letter was the easy way out.  But soon,  after she read it, I felt the walls come down a bit.  My daughter emerged from the fog of body spray and once more started to share.    I don’t pretend to have a handle on the teen years.  They are awkward and scary.  My goal for now is to control my inner circus freak response and create a safe zone.  One that fosters conversation in the mundane that will hopefully bridge the gap for the big deal issues that are sure to come.

I am raising my mini me, after all.

Unchanging…..

I was at Tangles a couple of weeks ago, visiting with Faith, my hairdresser after a whirlwind month was coming to a close.  Faith has been the keeper of my locks for about five years now, but we knew each other in a Maternity water aerobics class.  She was expecting her first child, Addy and I was expecting Lucas at the time.  We had our babies two days apart.  She was talking about how they were going to be 10 next year.  Double digit birthdays!   Isn’t it amazing how time flies.

I took a minute to reflect.  Chloe will be 13 next year.  Lucas 10.  Madi will be 5 in just two weeks.  Where has the time gone.  And I had a moment of sorrow.  No more babies.  Next year, all my kiddos will be school aged.  It’s exciting and sad all at the same time.  But it also caused me to stop and think.  Wonder.  What could I have done better?  What do we need to do before the years to adulthood fly by and they are gone?  To be quite honest, it’s  a little overwhelming.

2012 has been a season for change in the Landrus household.  I started the new year with a new job.  I gave up my part in children’s ministry.  We are transitioning churches.  Each of the kids have their own social activity schedule that we are trying to keep up with.  Event expectations at work.  A promotion for David. All good things.  Things that I feel God is leading us too and through.  Yet, it is easy for me to get swept up and exhausted by circumstances.  It is easy to identify all I have done wrong.  Life can be overwhelming to say the least.

A verse came to me that I have heard millions of times and it hit me with a fresh wave.  I invite you to hear it new for the first time.  Bask in it:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8  NKJV

The same.  Unchanging.  Even when the circumstances of my life appear to be a tornado of endless activity.  Even when I make mistakes.  Even when I need to appeal to Him for forgiveness and priority change- AGAIN, He is unchanging.  His promise is unchanging.  He’s not taking it back.  There is something more than this life and its daily chaos.  It is Eternity with Christ in Heaven.   I’m so thankful to serve an unchanging God .