Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Holy Bats!

Remember when TV was like this?

Well, Robin just about sums up my feelings about what just happened to me--at least I think he sums it up in there somewhere!

I was snuggled up watching a movie (windows and doors closed, just for the record) with my husband when suddenly I saw something large and black out of the corner of my eye. And instantly I knew what it was.

A BAT!!!! I kid you not. I dove under a blanket and screamed something incoherent. My husband eventually realized that my reaction was out of line for, say, an earwig, and located the bat. A short battle ensued, during which I am ashamed to say I cowered in another room behind a closed door.

My husband assures me that our bat has left the building, although he did not actually see it leave.

I can't make this stuff up, people. I mean, I could, but why would I? No one would believe it. A bat was just in MY HOUSE!!!!

It's definitely time for some warm milk. Or maybe this calls for something a bit stronger. . . 

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More than a Mom

First of all, thanks for all the comments! I never thought I'd have a blog, and now I have a blog with followers! And some of you I haven't even met before. I am honored that you would read my little ramblings.

When my third child was about a year old and my oldest was around 5, which would have made my middle child two, my husband took up biking as a hobby. He started bike commuting, I bought him a nice bike for his birthday, and he did a mini-triathlon. Nice, healthy hobby. And then he brought up the idea of taking a 5-night bike trip with a buddy. Looking back on it, I have no idea why this seemed like a big deal to me. Maybe it was because I had two children under two and had just endured a move and total remodel of our house. Maybe it was hormones. Anyhow, his simple request turned into an identity crisis for me.

You see, my dear husband offered me a trade-off trip. And I realized that I had no place to go and no one to go there with. And that, in turn, made me realize that I had no identity beyond mom. My main hobby was scrapbooking, which centers around my children. I read parenting books. I shopped for cute children's clothes, or clothes for me that were easy-care for the cheerio slime my children wiped on me and easy-access for nursing. I read parenting blogs. I went on girls' weekends with a nursing baby in tow. I had nothing that was just mine, like biking had become for my husband.

In the end I took a trip to England with my parents as my trade-off week, so the immediate crisis had passed.

But the question of who am I besides MOM still rankled. Eventually I took up jewelry-making, found a ministry outlet at church that was unrelated to children, and joined a neighborhood Bible study with women further along the life journey. I had once again found myself. And in the process I had learned something important: a mom needs to be more than a mom.

It's easy to wrap ourselves in our children. After all, they take up endless amounts of time and energy. We love them dearly and would sacrifice anything for them. And we want to do this job well, because so much is at stake. But our children and husband can easily become our idols if we're not careful.

We can't give our best to our families if we haven't cared for ourselves in some way.

That should start, of course, with time spent at the feet of Jesus. As Christians, we are first of all daughters of the King. That's where our identity comes from--our Creator has saved us from sin and self and adopted us as a beloved daughter.

Beyond that, it's important to figure out some way to honor the gifts and interests He has placed in us. When our children are still at home, we are mainly moms--that is our primary calling--but we are not only moms.

What is that thing you've always wanted to do "when the kids are older"? Carve out some time and finances and take a step toward that goal. If you don't have something in mind, find a park district class that looks fun and sign up for it. Find a hobby that is unrelated to your kids. Do something that is just for you. It'll make you a better mom and a more interesting person.

Your turn: what is your "more than a mom" hobby? Or what do you want to start doing, if you don't already have one?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why I love Facebook

Well, I was all set to write something about Facebook, but then Chuck beat me to it. I agree with some of what he says. But while I do see lots of problems with this virtual age we live in, I think Facebook gets an unfair rap. So here's what I love about FB:

1) It lets me connect with old friends. Not non-friends, but those friends I really enjoyed in high school but  would not otherwise have reconnected with. I have 200-something friends on FB, so I'm not willy-nilly about my friendships there; most of them are real friends, whether or not I see them in person.

2) It keeps me in touch with friends I see often, but not every day. I love knowing a little bit about what they are doing and having something to talk about when I see them. Sometimes I even find out something I didn't know about my husband's activities on FB!

3) It gives me a chance to be real. Yes, FB is a breeding ground for bragging. But if you're not a bragging type, it also allows you to be real. To share about the funny things your kids do that show you (and they) are not perfect. I'm not into sharing my kids' brilliance (usually), but I do enjoy sharing their quirky take on the world, even if it occasionally reflects poorly on their parents.

4) It keeps me abreast of events at home and abroad. I usually find my news there first, then check out Fox News to get the whole story. Or I learn of fun events to take my kids to from parents who are more on top of these things than I am. Just last week we took the kids to Chili's because a cousin linked to a "kids eat free" coupon from her FB page.

5) It's a way to encourage people. Someone once told me that my FB posts always made her feel better about her parenting, and then assured me that she meant that in a good way. At first I was a little bit offended, and then I realized that that's a good thing. If my parenting quirks are a pick-me-up to someone else, that's great!

6) It helps me to pray for people. Those shout-outs for prayer help unite the pray-ers, and that's powerful stuff.

7) The pictures. Kids, grandkids, vacations . . . love it.

8) If you're at home a lot, it connects you to others. Being a stay-at-home mom can be very isolating. When done in moderation, checking FB is a healthy social outlet. And it keeps me from calling my husband while he's at work just to chat. Now, checking every hour to the neglect of my other responsibilities isn't good, so I do try to keep it under control.

9) Advice! Need a good book recommendation? Tips for cleaning permanent marker off the wall? Ideas for where to go or what to do on vacation? Encouragement for how to deal with a two-year-old? Need to know which lice treatment works best? FB is your place. It also fills in the gaps of information your kids may neglect to tell you. I've found out information on when my kid was supposed to be somewhere and I've seen people find white shirts to borrow for an orchestra concert that night.

10) It allows me to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. I often find out about the joys and hardships of people I wouldn't otherwise hear about those things from.

Your turn . . . what do you love and hate about FB?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Challenge of Commitment

Our sermon this morning was on Matthew 8:18-22, which profiles two potential disciples of Jesus--the over-eager disciple who was carried along by the emotion of the moment but didn't really understand what he was committing to ("I'll go anywhere with you, teacher!"), and the reluctant follower who wanted to bury his father first (in that culture, a delay of at least several months, or possibly even years). It gave me a lot of food for thought as I think of my life and this parenting adventure.

Sometimes I want to jump in with both feet. I think of years when I've said yes to way too many activities. When everyone else is talking about how their kids are doing music lessons and sports and church activities and some wonderful brain-enriching activity, I wonder if I'm doing enough. What if my child is embarrassed in gym class because I didn't give her enough sports exposure when she was 5? What if so-and-so's child edges out my child in her quest to go to the highest-caliber university just because she signed her up for Spanish classes that I couldn't afford?

It sounds silly when I put it that way, doesn't it?

And then on the other end of the spectrum, sometimes I'm reluctant to commit. I figure there will always be next year, and I'm afraid of getting too busy. When my last child is out of preschool, then I'll serve in children's ministries because I won't have a baby who gets sick for weeks on end in the winter. There's a certain logic there, but do I sometimes miss out on an opportunity God has for me because I want to be in control, rather than trusting Him to provide for my needs?

We're at that time of the year when we make our final decisions about where our time will be spent in the coming months. We've laid out our calendar and put in all the dates for the first-tier of things we always do (for us, that's music lessons and church activities). And now it's time to decide about the second-tier: the things we sign up for once or twice and then don't do again.

The two middle girls want to take dance lessons at the park district. I'm trying to decide whether to push the oldest to do school activities or let her opt out. And then the two littles--I want to give them the opportunities I gave the older kids.

As I mull over all these good options, I'm going to try to avoid the two extremes--the over-eager disciple and the reluctant disciple--and find the middle ground. Somewhere between harried, grumpy mother pulling her hair out as she tries to do it all and the mother whose mission field has shrunk to include only her little family, ignoring the big picture of the needs of the world and how I and my children might meet those needs. What does God have for me this year? For my kids? I don't think I'll ever get the balance quite right, but I am praying that God will guide me as I make all these choices for the coming year.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Not Supermom

I could be wrong about this, but I think that when my mom and grandma were raising kids, they didn't think much about what kind of mom they were or wanted to be. They didn't read blogs about how to decorate their kids' rooms like Martha Stewart on a $5 budget and facebook entries (complete with photographs) about all the fabulous back-to-school traditions they had with their kids. They didn't read 50 parenting books a year and try to put them all into practice. They didn't sit around analyzing how they measured up to the image they had of supermom.

Times have changed. I've been a mom for a dozen years now including the pregnancy, during which I was already playing the comparison game (which birthing method is best? is her new high chair better than mine? have I ruined my child for life because I didn't cut out sugar during pregnancy like that mom did?). I've been on the illusive quest for all these years to do it all. Every good idea I heard, I tried to implement. Fun activities with the kids. Keeping a clean house. Scheduling my day so that I could devote the best of myself to my kids.

But I've decided I'm done with all of that. I don't think I'm serving my kids well if I'm constantly comparing and second-guessing and trying to do more, more, more. I want to be a good enough mom.

What does that look like? I'm not sure yet, but I think it starts with focusing on what's important. Concentrating on how I measure up to God's Word, not creative supermom, godly as she may be. Doing what I am called to do, not what someone else might be called to do. You're welcome to join me on this journey toward good-enoughness as I try to figure it out. I hope that when I write something (and no promises on how often that might be) and when someone actually reads it (which I'm not counting on), they come away encouraged that this parenting journey--or even this life journey--doesn't have to be so complicated.

And since every good blog has pictures, here's one of my good-enough kids. Aren't they cute?