The Perfect Mom Society

Today I felt like a bad mom.

I know I’m not, and I reminded myself of that. Several times.

I still felt like a bad mom.

Most days I know that the mom I want to be, that I dream of being in my head, the one who looks so good on paper, the one who puts on real clothes every morning, and even wears make up, the one who keeps up with the laundry and the dishes and also bakes and prepares nutritious meals, the one who always speaks patiently with her children and does a million crafts and projects and other educational activities all day, all without getting frustrated or flustered, all without reaching total exhaustion, the one who never resorts to sticking her kids in front of the tv just to get a few minutes of peace and quiet, the one who smiles all day because she is so darn good at being mom… she is a fake.

She can’t exist in real life.

But sometimes I am fooled into thinking that she does exist.

She is the mom I see at Target with the four well-behaved children in matching outfits. There’s no way that her children would ever scream no in her face and then go do the exact opposite of what she just asked.

She is the mom I see at church with her children sitting in the row next to her calmly and quietly coloring and not making a scene. Her child would never walk into a crowded service from their classroom and scream at the top of their lungs, “Mommy! I have to go pee!!!” (Yes. That really happened.)

She is the mom I see on Facebook or Instagram who always wears the cutest clothes and who has the most perfect, beautiful children who all play instruments and never eat processed foods. Her kitchen could never have a giant stack of day old dishes waiting to be washed.

I see these moms and I assume that while I feel as if I’m unraveling at the ends, they are all part of some secret perfect mom society with an awesome secret handshake and I will never be allowed in the door.

Then I force myself back to reality and remind myself that what I see of other moms in public, or on social networks, is usually the best of the best. Let’s face it, we all want to be as cool and calm and collected as possible in front of other people, we usually share our proudest moments not our most humiliating moments on facebook and instagram, and who wants to tweet about their huge parenting fails anyway? And it’s not a bad thing. I don’t think people are being superficial, or trying to hide anything, it is completely natural to share the good moments with people, but today as I thought on that I realized that just like a little girl looking in a magazine and comparing herself to the photoshopped image of a super model and finding herself coming up short, if I don’t remember to keep my interactions with other moms in perspective, I can easily find myself comparing and coming up short.

So I decided to let all of that go. I have amazing mama friends in my life. Some I see regularly, some I see not often enough and some dear wonderful friends of mine I have never even met in person, thanks to the wonder of the internet, and social networks. I am so thankful for these women and for the love and encouragement they bring into my life. And I know that they are all as real as they come. With strengths and weaknesses and if I spend any time comparing myself to them then I am spending less time just loving them and building friendships with them and that is what I truly desire!

Then I took a long hard look at myself and decided to treat myself with grace and dignity. Being a mom is hard work. I used to be in charge of 50 people on a daily basis and thinking back to those days is like going on vacation. Moms do not get enough credit. And I realized something. SOMETIMES I do things that I regret or am frustrated at myself for or wish I could take back, but there are also things that I ALWAYS do and those are the things that really matter in the end.

For instance, the following only happened once but it wasn’t my proudest moment …

One time, husband and I were leading a missions trip team in London, England. It was Christmas Eve and we had been busy with ministry all day. We got back to the church we were sleeping at and I discovered that baby Ezra was poopy. I was also out of diapers. Also, every single business establishment in London seems to shut down on Christmas Eve. So after searching for anything to substitute as a diaper and coming up short, I ended up scraping the poo out of the diaper, lining the inside with toilet paper, and putting the dirty diaper back onto my child. After buying fresh diapers the following morning I found a stray diaper in my suitcase that I had missed the evening before. Not my brightest parenting moment.

And sometimes…

Sometimes after a long day at home with the boys, I am exhausted and so easily frustrated, and I use an ugly voice when talking to my boys. On more than one occasion, Ezra has looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, “Don’t yell at me mommy.” And my heart breaks.

Sometimes my kids spend the entire day in their pajamas.

Sometimes I let my kids watch way too many shows in a day because I don’t have the energy to come up with something else to do.

Sometimes, when Ezra takes a nap, he isn’t tired at bed time and instead of forcing him to go to sleep we watch movies together until midnight.

Sometimes, my kids snack all day because they refuse to eat anything of nutritional value and I don’t know how to make them.

These things, and many other things that I’m not overly proud of, happen SOMETIMES.

I thought about these things today. I thought about how I didn’t really like these things about myself. Then I thought about how stupid it was for me to feel like a bad mom because of the things that I do sometimes, when there are a lot of things that I ALWAYS do no matter how tired I am or how long of a day it has been.

I always make time for kissing and cuddles.

I always respond to my kids when they talk to me, I don’t ever ignore them or make them feel like what they have to say is unimportant.

I always look my kids in the eye.

I always tell my boys how wonderful and smart and creative they are.

I always say I love you.

I always say I’m sorry when I’ve raised my voice or spoken in an unkind way.

I always put their needs above my own.

I always pray for them at bedtime (and a million other times throughout the day).

I always do the very best that I can to be the best mom possible. Not the perfect mom. Just the very best one that I can possibly be for them, and when I disappoint myself I get up and keep going because what my kids need is not a mom who mopes around feeling like a bad mom. They need a mom who did everything she possibly could and who also gave herself a break and showed herself some grace when she needed it.

Today I learned that I need to learn from (sometimes laugh at) and let go of the things that happen SOMETIMES and focus on the things that ALWAYS happen. As long as those things keep happening, then I think we’ll be alright.

And I’ll have a lot more peace.

I can still be a mom who loves her kids, who loves to bake, who can spend hours crocheting, who come up with silly projects and fun games and loves to go on adventures, but I can also remind myself that no one is able to do those things, and keep a meticulous house and have perfectly groomed children, all day every day and not reach exhaustion and need some time for herself.

I am human.

I am a mom.

And I love my job.

Some days my kids won’t wear pants, they’ll eat cookies for breakfast and they might watch one too many episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba…

But they will ALWAYS be deeply and fiercely loved.

And in the end… nothing else matters.

Now it’s your turn, my readers! If you are willing to share a SOMETIMES story, maybe a silly little mom blooper that you can laugh at now, and an ALWAYS story, a ritual or a tradition that your family shares that showcases your love, I would absolutely love to hear them! You can share on here, or if you are on FB or Instagram, feel free to share there! I think it is so healthy for us as moms to share in each others triumphs and to also laugh with each other at the things that often don’t go according to plan along this parenting journey.

Then we can all come up with a secret handshake for the Real Life Mom Society and anyone who wants to come is welcome. Sweat pants or yoga pants and hair in a pony tail will be our uniform and chocolate cake will be served at every meeting.

Lots of love to all of you mamas out there tonight.

You are truly incredible.

Kelsey

 

 

 

 

“but god’s not here yet…”

Few things bring me greater joy than watching my husband and my kids interact. Johnny is such a great daddy and he is able to play with the boys the way that boys are supposed to play. I try to play swords and pirates and power rangers but when I watch Johnny play with Ezra I see how lacking my “play like a boy” skills truly are. I won’t stop trying, but I really need to practice more.

A couple of evenings ago I was in the bedroom cleaning up after bath time. I don’t know about you, but after bath time at our house there is an ocean of water on the floor, clothes littered everywhere that seem to have multiplied somehow, and more wet towels than seem necessary for two small children. Anyway, I was cleaning up and I heard Ezra run out of his room gasping and exclaiming that he was scared in his room because there were monsters in there. I headed towards him to comfort him but Johnny had already dropped what he was doing and was kneeling on the floor in front of Ezra. I stopped in my doorway to listen to their conversation.

Daddy – “Ezra, there is no reason for you to be scared because monsters aren’t real. But even when we feel afraid of something God is always with us and he will protect us from anything scary.”

Ezra – “Okay daddy.”

So simple. So sweet. So quick to trust.

As I sat on the couch with Ezra a few minutes later, he looked at me and said, “Mommy, God will protect me from monsters and even from cactus monsters (apparently cactuses are scary).” I replied, “That’s right Ez.” His next comment caught me off guard…

“But God’s not here yet.”

I felt like I was searching for something to say in reply for about ten minutes, but in reality I think I replied right away with something along the lines of, “Oh Ezra, God is always here! We can’t see him, but he is alway right there next to you.” Or something else straight out of the Christianity for Beginners textbook. But in my mind, once again, the simplicity and innocence of something my son said had shaken me.

Ezra was talking about the fact that God was not physically present yet, that he couldn’t see him or touch him so he must not be there. But how often, as mature adults, many of us who have been Christians for years, do we walk through something difficult, perhaps even tragic, and we don’t feel God, or hear God, or we don’t understand how he could let something like this happen to us, so we ASSUME that “God’s not here yet”? We try to survive through the hardship the best we can, all the while not turning to the one who can truly make our burden light, because he didn’t show up in the way that WE expected him to so we don’t think he’s really there. 

I know I have done this more times than I’d like to acknowledge. Especially in my lifelong battle with fear and anxiety, in the worst of days, when I should be on my knees at the feet of my heavenly father, crying out to him for healing and comfort, instead I have a tendency to doubt that he is really there, I doubt that he is really listening, and I doubt that he has any intention of ever healing me or making my burden any lighter.

Shame on me.

I know my God better than that, I know who he is and  how he loves me, I know that if my heart breaks for my kids when they are sad that God’s heart breaks even more for me when I am struggling. But even after a lifetime of knowing and loving my God, when hardship comes, I still have the tendency to go into self preservation mode and assume that the only one with my best interest in mind is myself. And then I live in survival mode.

I survive. But I don’t thrive.

And just when I really and truly deserve to be given up on, God once again shows how deeply, how endlessly, and how unconditionally he loves me. He gently uses my son to remind me of the simple truth that God is always here. 

Ugh, how many times must he so gently and so lovingly remind me that he will NEVER leave me and he will NEVER forsake me? How many times will I be reminded and then forget again? Hopefully it will stick this time but the beautiful thing about our Jesus is that he will remind me if I forget again. Just like I will remind Ezra a million times that he doesn’t need to be afraid of monsters, and if he forgets again and is frightened then I will remind him yet again, because I adore him and I want him to live free of fear, free of heavy burdens that he need not carry, I want him to thrive. And isn’t that what Jesus wants for each of us to?

Oh, I think I forgot to tell you the second part of Ezra’s comment to me, the part that made me realize how much more like my son I need to be. He said…

God’s not here yet… but I still love him SO SO SO much!”

Just because Ezra couldn’t see God in that moment, and he thought maybe he wasn’t there, he wasn’t doubting his God or his ability like I sometimes find myself doing, he was making a simple observation. He didn’t see God at that moment but that did not change how much he LOVED his God or how much he trusted that he would show up if indeed there were monsters that needed to be fought off.

What a wonderful child. What a wonderful God for speaking to me through such a wonderful child.

Today I am walking around with an old truth in my heart that I have been reminded of in the sweetest of ways.

There will be more days when I cannot feel God, it will seem that he is not “here yet”, but he is here, and he loves me even when I struggle to understand his ways. Oh, and even when I don’t feel him, I still love him… SO SO SO much. 

So simple.

So true.

Thank you Jesus and Ezra for the reminder.

Maybe we won’t  have to hide under blankets anymore. Maybe we will. But I will continually remind Ezra that he is safe from monsters, not because of the blanket but because of how much his Jesus loves him.

Cherish the moment.

Kelsey

Tears, Tantrums, and Breakdowns

Today started out pretty well. Unless you consider the 5:30am wake up by Hudson the start of the day, then it didn’t actually start that well, but after I got another couple hours of sleep, thanks to my husband, I was feeling pretty good. I got up, put on a cute sundress, determined to hit up some garage sales before the heat of the day was too overwhelming. I walked into the living room and my Ezra gasped when he saw me, “Oh my! You look so pretty AND cool, mommy!”

See I knew it. Great day ahead.

However as I headed to the kitchen, I realized that perhaps not everyone in my family shared the same opinion about the day. The baby was crawling around on the floor, alternating between quiet whimpers and loud screeches that caused Ezra to cover his ears. I glanced at my husband and realized that the whimpering/screeching must have been going on for some time because he had clearly moved past the stage of trying to entertain or console the baby, and was neck deep in the stage where you try desperately to ignore the cries, and maintain some level of sanity so you don’t run from the house, screaming and drive away as fast as possible.

Uh oh.

Somehow we got the kids dressed and ready and into the car. There wasn’t much talking and the only way I could convince Ezra to leave the house was to tell him we were  going out to look for treasure (he is in a serious pirate phase). He was ecstatic and I knew that I had only delayed the meltdown until the point when he realized that there was actually no buried treasure to be found today, but sometimes you do what you have to. As we loaded the car, I crossed my fingers that the baby would fall asleep like I thought he would and that he wouldn’t have a full blown scream fest instead.

All went well as we headed out, the baby did fall asleep and took a nice long nap and Ezra stayed mostly entertained with the idea of the treasure that awaited him. Unfortunately there were hardly any garage sales today, apparently people don’t like to sell things in 100 degree heat, and the garage sales that were happening consisted mostly of elderly women’s clothing, a lamp, and toys that you wouldn’t let your dog play with. And of course, no treasure. We did find one marble maze game that looked promising so we used that to distract Ezra from the idea of treasure and promised him he would have more fun than he could ever imagine with that toy.

As the baby started to wake up we headed for home, at which point Ezra had to pee… “RIGHT NOW MOMMY! IT’S AN EMERGENCY!” We sped to Starbucks to be the inconsiderate person who uses their bathroom but doesn’t buy anything, and then headed for home finally. About a mile from home Johnny started pumping our clutch and muttering to himself. “Our car is broken,” is the only thing I really remember him saying. Unable to put our car into gear, we somehow managed to coast to our apartment complex entrance and then we argued for a couple minutes about how to get the car to my mom’s parking spot (getting it all the way around the complex to our spot was not going to happen) and finally I steered and Johnny pushed and we rolled into mom’s spot.

Fantastic.

The rest of the afternoon was a conglomeration of a makeshift lunch since we didn’t get to the store like we had planned (who doesn’t eat rice a roni with their turkey sandwiches?), marble games that are too complicated to figure out, a cranky, teething, baby biting me (HARD) while nursing causing me to scream causing him to cry hysterically, and more moments that were not our brightest.

Things eventually calmed down, as they always do, and now Hudson is napping, Johnny is hiding in the bedroom watching the Olympics, and Ezra and I are cuddling on the couch watching The Cat In The Hat. As I sat here literally able to feel the stress of a day that was supposed to be relaxing and fun and summery, I had to laugh (quietly of course because I don’t think Johnny is ready to laugh about it yet.)

The reality is that today was really not as bad as we think it was. Yes, an inconsolable baby can drive even the strongest of men to tears. Yes, our car breaking down is an inconvenience, and we might have to have a garage sale of our own to pay for the repairs. Yes, life can feel overwhelming sometimes. Especially the past few months which have included a huge cross country move, starting over in a new state, and my health issues that have caused my husband to have to carry more of the load for our family than I would like to admit, he really is amazing and never complains, yet I know that the burden is heavy on his shoulders.

But…

Oh my word are we ridiculously, disgustingly, incredibly blessed.

We have two gorgeous, silly, healthy boys who quite literally are the best in the world.

I have an incredible husband who has selflessly served me and our boys for the last four years, life has not exactly been what we expected it to be but he has never once wavered in his love and devotion to us. He is an incredible example of a godly husband and father, and he is also very silly, which I appreciate. I also appreciate the picture below because Hudson’s face is truly incredible.

We have said for years that we wish we had grandparents near us, we want for our boys to grow up knowing their grandparents and lets be honest, people who WANT to babysit your kids can be a huge help in a pinch! 🙂 Johnny’s parents go out of their way to travel to wherever we are living in the world and visit us and the boys and they regularly Skype with us and make sure we know we are loved and thought about. And now that we’re living in Florida, my mom AND my sister are living a 30 second walk away. It’s been almost ten years since I have lived near my family and it brings more joy to my heart than I can express when my boys literally race each other to the door when Grandma or Auntie Bam walks in. Ezra usually wins for now, but once Hudson is walking I think it will be a close race. I mean let’s be honest, who has a cooler Grandma or Auntie that these two?

We have (in my opinion) the most wonderful friends and family that anyone could ever ask for. We get to spend our life working in ministry and seeing Jesus do amazing things. And even more importantly than the incredible things I have already talked about, we are the children of a beautiful God who loves us even more than I love my own children. Unfathomable. But true.

Today was a little rough, but it was a lot more wonderful than it was rough. I just needed to write it all down to remind myself how true that is. And I get to hang out with this handsome face everyday, life could be WAY worse!

Besides, who needs a car? Ezra would think riding a horse around town was way cooler anyway.

Reminding myself today to…

Cherish the moment.

❤ Kelsey

Today I Was A Pirate

Today we made a robot costume out of boxes and tin foil and for a little while Ezra was EzBot2009.

Today, while sitting on the couch, I was attacked by the littlest red Power Ranger, and had to defend myself from his skilled combat moves.

Today we went to the park and the playground quickly morphed into a pirate ship and I was surrounded by “Ezra Matey” and “Daddy Matey”. People for blocks could hear, “Come on my ship Mommy Matey!!!”

Today we took Ezra’s garage sale treasure, a Lighting McQueen power wheels, out to our apartment complex’s tennis court and it immediately became The Piston Cup racetrack and Ezra was a race car driver.

Tonight I put my Ezra in bed and while he is fast asleep who knows how many more amazing things he will become and how many daring adventures he will go on.

I am daily astounded by his imagination, his creativity, his love for life, his desire for adventure, his willingness to try new things, his fearlessness, his excitement about a simple puppet show, or a box covered in tin foil, or a blanket fort, or an interesting leaf on the ground. Being a parent is about raising children, but I honestly believe that they teach us just as much.

My hope and prayer as I raise my boys is that I will help them grow and mature into men who love the Lord, who love people, and men who follow the calling placed on their life. But I also hope and pray that instead of focusing so much on them growing up “right” and always behaving in public, that I will choose to let them be kids. That I will choose to let them get dirty, be loud, act silly, laugh hard, create and imagine, dream, go on wild adventures, and that I will be right there next to them, covered in dirt, laughing hysterically, making a scene, not caring who sees me.

I take life way too seriously sometimes. Being an adult seems to do that to a lot of us.

If you find yourself stuck in that same place, grab a 2 or 3 year old {with their parents permission if they’re not your kid 🙂 } and spend a day doing whatever THEY can dream up. I promise you life will look a whole lot shinier at the end of the day.

Thank you Jesus for Ezra.

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From Ugly to Giggly.

I know that as parents we all have those days where we feel like we cannot do anything right, in fact any random person off the street could probably parent our children better.

Yesterday was one of those days for me.

I was exhausted, and my anxiety was winning, I felt weak and irritable and every little thing was frustrating me. Ezra just wanted to be a little boy and play but I was impatient and talked to him in a tone of  voice that I swore I would never use with my kids. After one particularly ugly moment when I was telling him not to push his little brother over (which was a legitimate thing to ask him not to do, but I could have said it differently), he looked at me surprised and then his face broke and he dissolved into sobs.

Through his tears he said, “I’m stupid, Mommy.”

What? No!

Enter my ashamed and broken heart.

I scooped up my not so little boy and I held him and I whispered over and over again how much I love him and how good of a boy he is and I told him all of the wonderful things about him. How silly he is, how smart he is, how creative he is, how kind he is, how much I adore him.

Chances are that Ezra has pretty much forgotten that horrible moment, but I can safely say that I never will. And as embarrassing as it is to even put that memory into writing, I want to remember it because I know that I will never be perfect. I will have more ugly parenting moments, but I want to learn from each of them and I want to teach my kids that even their parents will mess up, but we will always apologize, we will always learn from our mistakes, and we will always do better next time.

When Ezra woke up this morning he looked at me and said, “You’re the best girl I’ve ever seen in my whole life, Mommy.” Then we sat in bed together and giggled while Lola licked us.

It seems that he has forgiven me. I guess I should forgive myself.

I hope that someday Ezra reads this blog, and reads about this moment and can look at me and say that I truly have kept my promise to always love, always cherish, always apologize, always learn, and always grow in this journey of parenting. It is not an easy journey, and every family’s road looks different, but be encouraged that your kids see the best in you and you should see the best in yourself as well. It will make you a better parent.

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Carol Buchner

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Cherish the moment,
Kelsey