We had a fun little challenge over at Burlington Vermont Moms Blog to do a week without makeup. I thought it would be uneventful and no big deal. I learned a thing or two about myself.
Ever feel like you need a parenting do-over? I talk about what you can do to step forward into being the kind of parent you can be proud of over at Burlington Vermont Moms Blog today.
When I wrote a post about my husband’s upcoming deployment I had quite a few responses. The ones that stood out to me the most were the ones from fellow moms who spoke out of guilt. It sounded something like this:
“I complain about my husband being gone one night or one weekend. I can’t imagine what six months would look like,” said with an apologetic tone.
So it got me thinking about this subject of guilt and judgement. I’ve talked about this before and obviously it’s something I am supposed to be learning right now. So since you are reading my blog, you are forced to as well. You’re welcome!
Here’s the thing I am learning, our struggles are all relative to where we are at in our lives.
Whether it’s about your weight, parenting, your marriage…whatever…it’s all relative.
I am battling with what I will do when my husband is gone for six months. But that does not in any way make your battle with your husband being gone a weekend any smaller. It’s all relative to our situation.
This is my journey. These are my stories. You have different ones. And that’s ok.
It’s ok that I am a size 8 and struggling with my weight and you are a size 12 and struggling with yours. Because it’s all relative to where we are at in our lives. I wrote “Stop Telling Me I’m Not Fat” out of this same mind set. I almost didn’t because, what if people with really bad weight problems get their feelings hurt?! (And they did, sorry!) But I let that go. Just because we vary in sizes doesn’t mean that one struggle is worse than the other. A struggle is a struggle. Right? (Serious health issues, aside, obviously! I’m talking about “I don’t like my butt” weight issues, here.)
It’s ok that I am parenting the way I do and you are parenting the way you do. We are not the same people. My struggles and yours in our parenting are all relative to the kinds of kids we have and our family dynamics. I am not right. You are not wrong.
We react based out of that fear.
“Oh, she deals with her husband deploying for months at a time, I better not complain about my husband working late.”
“Oh well she has 30 pounds to lose and I only have 10 so I better not mention my weight issues.”
“Oh she has perfect angel children, if I tell her the truth about my wild maniacs she will think I am a terrible parent.” (This is usually what I am thinking.)
Stop that! If it’s hard on you, then that’s ok! Talk about it! Don’t hold it in in fear of judgement from someone going through something harder or different. We all go through different things at different times. Why do we allow ourselves to feel badly for where we are at in our lives?
Sure, some people have it worse off than us. And it is good to stop and be grateful. I am not suggesting that we be rude and say, “Oh yeah, look at what I am going through!” I am simply suggesting that when someone presents their struggle to you, you respond with the understanding that they are in a different place than you. They live a different life. Don’t compare them to yourself. Don’t compare yourself to them. We all handle things differently.
Let’s work on this, ok? Let’s support each other with what we are struggling with without harsh judgement. Let’s agree to disagree on various subjects and realize that we are all in this together. Let’s support one another and realize that it’s all relative. I’m not right. You are not wrong. And vice-versa. I am struggling with something that seems so, so big to me…and so are you!
I hope my rambled thoughts make sense to you.
The bottom line, I don’t want anyone to feel like their problems and feelings are insignificant.
No matter how big or how small. It counts. It matters. Give yourself a break. Because I sure am!
The past year we have been living in an 850 square foot, 2 bedroom apartment. Yes, you heard that right. My husband and I and our three BOYS have been squished into this box we call home. To make it better, we are on the second floor. We have to pay $3 a load to do laundry (that’s about $80 a month if we’re keeping track). And it’s just overall SMALL.
Last summer we moved to Vermont. We never did sell our house. So we are renting it out. Which means we are renting here. I should explain that renting here is difficult to say the least. We don’t want to make the kids switch schools again so staying in this particular town is making it even more difficult. After six months of searching and looking at rentals and countless emails and phone calls, still…nothing. Nothing has worked out.
So I sit here, in my tiny box, trying to make sense of it all.
What lesson is this? Being grateful for what I have? My (ever so lovely but say it one more time and I’ll slap you) husband says, “At least we don’t live in a hut in Africa.” OK. So yes, that is true. And I remind myself several times a day when I am feeling aggravated that “OMG Why does stuff fall on my head every time I open the closet door?!” And when I get sad and upset that we do not have a backyard for the boys to play in.
At least we have a roof over our head. At least we have food to eat and clothes to wear. Even if they are falling on my head.
Is this lesson on being content? We have all definitely learned a huge lesson on being happy with what we have. I have learned that what I need and what I want are not the same. I have learned that stuff doesn’t make me happy. We have gotten rid of so. much. stuff. We just don’t need it all. When I buy something, I stop and think. When my boys made their Christmas lists this week, they only asked for roller blades and skateboards. “And maybe a video game if you want, Mom.” I mean, how awesome is that?!
Now I kind of feel like, OK! All done! Lessons learned! But I don’t think it’s that easy, is it? I don’t think gratitude and contentment are learned and then you move on. I think they are ongoing lessons. Ones you need to remember and re-evaluate daily.
We have decided to pursue buying a house this Spring. We were thinking we needed to wait but things are looking like they will work out for us to buy soon. This is good. This is good news. It means our planned trip to Disney before Matt’s deployment is canceled. It means a weekend trip to NYC is canceled. It means a 13 year anniversary trip is canceled. But it also means that we are buying a house. So it’s good.
It has been a long, long year. I have complained and cried and complained some more. But I really have learned so much through the complaining and the tears. And I’m sure that I haven’t cried my last tear or whined my last complaint. Especially since the person in the apartment above us is letting her 300 pound, is that a dog or a horse, run laps right now. And tomorrow while I am yelling PLEASE STOP JUMPING SO WE DON’T GET KICKED OUT for the millionth time, I shall complain some more. And when my boys cry because I yell at them for jumping like only normal boys do, I will cry again.
But then, one day soon, we will jump and laugh and dance and sing as LOUD as we can. We will be in OUR home. Ours. We will be happy to breathe in as many square feet as God blesses us with. We will fill every corner with the things we have decided to keep, to call our favorites. I will complain about how long it takes to clean big houses. I will cry that everyone has suddenly decided to start singing opera. And then I will sing just as loud while I clean my big house.
Contentment and gratitude, I got your number. And I won’t stop looking you straight in the eye from now on.
Have you ever been really annoyed by your kids?
Have you ever wanted to tell them to just please STOP TALKING?
Have you ever looked like this?
Having kids can be a wonderful beautiful thing. They can be so precious.
They can also be really obnoxious.
But do you know what else is obnoxious? Moms who pretend that it’s always rainbows and sunshine when they are with their kids. It aggravates me when Moms aren’t honest about how hard motherhood is.
Love is work. Parenting is hard. Motherhood is exhausting.
Let’s just allow ourselves to be real about that.
Sometimes it’s hard to admit that our children don’t bring us every ounce of joy and pride that we expect they should.
Sure, at the end of the day, when they are quietly sleeping and looking all angelic, we swoon over our sweet babies. But while in the middle of a game of 20 million questions, you really just want to roll your eyes and walk away.
We don’t. We listen and nod and say, “Oh, wow! That’s neat! Uh-huh. Uh-huh.” And we answer why and how. Over and over and over.
Sometimes we just need to tell someone that our kids annoy us.
And that’s ok. It does NOT make you a bad Mom to feel annoyed or aggravated at your kids once in awhile.
Or once a day. Whatever.
So here is your chance. Admit what annoys you about your child. Get it off your chest. Don’t worry, we won’t tell.
I’ll go first:
I hate it when my kids whine Mooooommmmmyyyy. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.
I get so annoyed when my kids hang on me when I’m trying to do something. I am not a jungle gym people!
When my youngest kisses me, he slobbers all over my face. I don’t want to act like I don’t like his kisses, but the slobber grosses me out!
Sometimes when my oldest is telling a story that never ends, I tune out and just nod and in my head I’m thinking, “Oh for the love of all things good and holy will you please just get to the end!”
There. Phew! Now. Your turn!
This week I bought some items from the grocery store that I normally wouldn’t buy.
Not a ton of junk food or anything, just some boxed and convenience foods that I normally steer clear of.
I have a lot on my mind right now. A lot to work through. So I’m giving myself a little break from the high expectations I have of myself.
A break from my from scratch life, so to say.
Sometimes you have to step back and evaluate what is more important. Peace of mind of bread from scratch.
I’m gong with my mind on this one.
And I won’t feel guilty about it. This is a stage in my life where I need to focus on other things. I will still be cooking, of course, we gots to eat. I will still post from scratch recipes for you my lovely friends.
But I won’t expect myself to spend my afternoons preparing homemade this and homemade that.
I bought me some boxed granola bars and frozen waffles.
Which to most people is completely normal. But for me it’s not, so.
Knowing my limits makes me just as good of a Mom and Wife as baking muffins does.
Here I am. Admitting that I can’t do it all and not expecting myself to.
And quite happy about it, really.
I have thought about homeschooling before, and I certainly agree with many of the reasons why so many people do. I mean, I get it. But we have decided that it is not for us. And then I read MckMama’s reasons and I feel all…OMG I AM THE WORST MOM EVER.
But I know that’s not true. I know that. But you know that feeling of why I can’t I be that kind of Mom that haunts you?
The Mom who just loves her children oh so very much that she can’t stand to be away from them for one single minute.
The kind of Mom that doesn’t want other people to teach her children lest they do it wrong.
The kind of Mom who wants to be involved with every single learning moment that their child has.
The kind of Mom that thinks her children poop rainbows and sunshine.
I know, not every homeschooling/unschooling parent is like that last one. Just like every homeschooling mom doesn’t wear a denim jumper with an apple crochet on the front. It’s just my self conscious “I’m not good enough” self pity attitude speaking.
So I remind myself of the things that I do do for my children that makes me a great Mom. Like laugh really hard at typing do do and thinking doo-doo and then not fixing it.
We do teach our children at home. As often as possible, in many situations.
We engage with our children regarding their school work. We certainly don’t expect the school system to do all of the teaching. And we don’t leave all the work to the teachers.
We teach our children responsibility with real world consequences.
Our children see first hand the differences in families, cultures, religions, value systems…and we teach them about those differences, about how to value them, about how to stand up for what they believe amongst it all and and about loving, not judging.
We encourage creativity and my boys are some of the most imaginative children I know. Right now, after playing a rousing game of guitar hero, they are imagining they are on a Rock Band World Tour. They are using a map to decide which part of the world they will tour next and what songs will work best for those cultures. I may have just heard the phrase “that’s not appropriate for that culture” used. (SO PROUD) Followed by “what’s culture mean?” Followed by an inspiring explanation of culture by a 9 year old to a 5 year old. Also, “WOW, this stage really needs to be more organized, let’s sort it all out.” And, my favorite, “God music is appropriate for ALL cultures. So let’s just do an all God concert.” (I might die from the cute.)
I realize that people who homeschool can also teach their children these lessons in different ways. And I think that’s awesome. FOR THEM. Not every idea, every way of doing something, is right for every person or family. Variety is the spice of life, right?
I do enjoy the time while my boys are at school. And I’m not going to feel guilty for that. I refuse to. I also miss them and when they return home, we have a long oh-how-I missed-you hug before the chaos ensues and I wonder how long before they get to go back. (I tease, I tease…or not…depends on the day.)
That doesn’t make me a bad Mom, it makes me a REAL Mom.
We didn’t rush our boys out the door for school. I have not put my boys in preschool. Chandler, our oldest, did go for one year before kindergarten for three days a week. He loved it. It worked for that time in our lives. But our other boys have not and I’ve kept them all in half day kindergarten as well. I know they will be gone all too quickly, all grown up, away from me for too many hours in the day. And that really does make me sad. It equally makes me happy in a way though, too.
They are learning, making friends, enjoying school (my kids love school, so far, I’m really lucky about that). I am home, with a bit more time to try new recipes, get the house for real clean instead of fake clean, and maybe one of these days actually learn how to sew. (Like for real sew, not having to call my Mommy for help, kind of sew.)
Yes, I’ll have time for ME. I might even take a nap. Maybe that makes me selfish. But that’s ok. I can deal with that. I spent a whole lot of years forgetting what the word ME even meant as I breastfed, changed diapers, learned how to make everything from scratch, taught my boys the alphabet and how to write their names and then promptly wiping the crayon off the wall….so many years…wonderful as they were, I am excited to get a break.
So sue me.
I am not the mom who can do all of those things and have my children at home. I mean, I can, I just don’t want to. I’d rather be playing Just Dance with my favorite five year old than wiping the toilet. Having the boys home distracts me. The weekends are spent playing and lounging and loving. When everyone is home, that is all I want to do! So having them gone for a few hours during the day certainly increases my productivity!
To the moms who do all of those things and homeschool?
I hate you. I admire you. Good for you! Go for it! You are a TRUE supermom! I think homeschooling is awesome for those of you who can make it work.
I guess I just need to accept that I am just not that kind of Mom. And I’m slowly coming to accept myself for the Mom I am.
I love this post called “Choosing Public School in a Faith Filled Home” and I wanted to share it with you. I agree with many of her insights about why they choose to send their children to public school. I think the biggest one I relate to is the idea that I will not be able to always meet my children’s academic needs. I feel so very ill-equipped for teaching my children. I mean, I can do the easy stuff, but I think Chandler who is 9 years old and a very advanced learner is already smarter than me. (Totally wish I was joking.)
I will teach my children everything I can at home and let the learning they do at school supplement what I miss.
That feels good to me.
I still have one little guy at home. A few more months until all of my kids are in school. And I’ll be honest, (I can be super-duper no one is going to judge me honest, right?)
I dread the day he goes to Kindergarten.
I am so looking forward to the day he goes to Kindergarten.
AND THAT’S OK.
Please say it’s ok.