Two Days

alexanderYesterday was…well, it was simply a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day,” as Alexander would say. If you are not familiar with this book, you can listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfkf-bA9kPA

I’ve had many bad days in my life… awful days with my health, stressful financial times, horrible moments when I wasn’t the person I should have been, etc. Well, yesterday was a bad day with my girls. It was one of the worst I’ve had since joining the parenting club. We just were all over each other. My girls were wild, disobedient, mean to each other, constantly whining, complaining, fighting and hurting one another.

I know that most kids have days like this – especially when summer is nearing the end and siblings have been around each other a tad too much. However, the problem wasn’t just in them. I would love to say that I was calm and ignored their dramatic temper tantrums like “good” mommies are “supposed” to do. I wish I could say that I responded in love and patience, like my parenting books teach. I wish I had held my tongue and kept my composure. I should have. But I didn’t. I was tired, cranky and not feeling well. None of us had slept as much as we should have the night before. It showed in our behavior and in our reactions. I raised my voice, they talked back and were disrespectful. It truly felt like every 20 minutes, I was having to reprimand or scold them, yell or try to fix hurt feelings and broken spirits, caused by one of the three of us. Even damage control was exhausting. Of course, this bad day would fall on a “guy’s night out.” Ryan needs his time out just as much as I do and I’m happy he does this regularly. But, it does make the days seem extra long – especially in the summer! 15 hours straight with my girls really got the best of me yesterday.

After one too many sassy remarks, I made my girls write sentences as their consequence. What should have taken my eldest only 20 minutes, turned into another dramatic turn of events. She argued, complained and cried while trying to get out of writing her sentences. She said she felt like she was my “servant” and that it was the “absolute worst day of her entire life.” (Seriously, we have SO much drama in this house!) She also only half-wrote the last ten sentences, which made something she could have finished in minutes, take over an hour. Drained doesn’t even begin to describe my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being at this point.

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Their sentences: “I will respect others and obey my parents.”

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At the end of the day, I was even too frazzled to pray. *gasp* I know. I skipped our evening prayers. I was just depleted of everything. So, when the day started this morning and I didn’t wake to fighting and screaming, I breathed thanks and I noticed how beautiful my girls laughter sounded. As I made my coffee and cleaned up the house with sweet chatter and loving voices around me, I prayed a quiet thank you. As my adorable 6-year-old climbed in my lap and with expertise and detailed information, began telling me about the superheroes she needed to complete her massive superhero action figure collection, I hugged her and talked for as long as she wanted. I thanked her for being loving and kind to her sister that morning. Even my coffee tasted better with peace in our home. When my eldest apologized for her behavior the day before, I quickly forgave and asked her forgiveness for my behavior in return. I then thanked the Lord for do-overs.

As this day continues, I realize that I am not just thankful for this day… this good, wonderful, calm day that is a stark contrast from yesterday. I am actually thankful more for yesterday. Not just because it’s a “teachable” moment for my girls and I, which it was, but I am thankful for it because I wouldn’t have known how great today was without experiencing the heartache, frustration and pain of yesterday. Without those “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” days, we wouldn’t fully appreciate the good days. I don’t think I would have truly been as thankful for this day, if I hadn’t known yesterday.

We will always have bad days. As Alexander would say, some days are like that… even in Australia. And as believers, we know that God speaks to us, not only in our  joy, but also in our sorrows and pain. Sometimes, I believe it’s where He can do his best work.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.                         1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  

Categories: Mommy Musings, Writing

Days Like This

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This morning I took a time out from life. I shared breakfast with some women who challenge me, inspire me and love on me. I was wrapped in nature, surrounded by vibrant wild flowers, buzzing busy bees and towering oak trees. A cool breeze touched my shoulder and I whispered words of thanks to my Father, who loves me enough to even provide a world with beauty and mystery. Words spoken out loud from familiar voices touched my heart and soothed an ache I had forgotten needed tending to. I looked above me and noticed the blue sky was crystal clear. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Some things just can’t be put into words, but this song was playing through my head all morning and I think it sums up these kind of days just perfectly.

Days like this
You look up at the sky above you
Days like this
You think about the ones that love you

All I wanna do is live my life honestly
I just wanna wake up and see your face next to me
Every regret I have I will go set it free
It will be good for me

Days like this
You think about the ones that went before you
Days like this
Have you ever seen the sky it’s such a clear blue

All I wanna do is live my life honestly
I just wanna wake up and see your face next to me
Every regret I have I will go set it free
It will be good for me

Days like this
You think about the ones that love you
Days like this
Have you ever seen the sky it’s such a clear blue

–Over the Rhine (written by Kim Taylor)

 

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Categories: Other Stuff, Spiritual Reflections, Tunes, Writing

Normal

normalIt is discouraging to me to see my girls already thrown into the battle our culture wages with normalcy. Normal. What is that and what does it even mean? Why is it so important to us to be like everyone else? I don’t even think I could define what a “normal” person is. It frustrates me that my 6-year-old is already struggling with this at such an early age. I set out her favorite super-hero shirt one morning last week for her to wear that day and she immediately protested, “I don’t want to wear that,” she screamed. I knew she had worn it recently, so I didn’t know what was going on. She reminded me of an event months before, when a boy in her class had made fun of her because she was wearing a shirt with superheroes on it. “That is still bothering you? Why do you even care what he thinks? He’s not your friend, why does it matter what one person thinks? You like the shirt, wear it!” It angered this mama that the words of one child – probably just out of silliness, made a remark that has stuck with her for so long and is still influencing her decisions.

After talking to her for several minutes about why she was so upset, “the thing behind the thing” came tumbling out of her mouth…”Mommy, when he said that I shouldn’t be wearing that shirt because I was a girl, everyone said I was weird. I’m different because I’m a girl and I like superheros.” She was labeled different. She wanted to be the same as everyone else. She wanted to “fit in” and be normal so she decided she wouldn’t let the world know about her love of superheroes. It broke my heart. We begin this inner fight within ourselves as children, to fit the status quo and not stand out. We  strive to be what “they” tell us we are supposed to be, to like what “they” tell us we should like, and behave how we are told is acceptable. Don’t make any ripples. Stay normal. Be what everyone says you are to be and nothing more. No matter where we go, we are bombarded by media and society with more labels, categories and stereotypes to shape and mold our ideas of what “normal” looks like. If we don’t fit into those boxes, we are “abnormal.”

We had gone over the fact that girls can like superheros and boys can like baby dolls and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. But the idea of being “different” was still haunting her. I feel like I have to change the stereotypes and perceptions we have in our world on a daily basis, just so my girls can enjoy the things they truly love. My oldest was struggling with this even in preschool, when a girl made fun of her because she didn’t like “Bratz” dolls and didn’t know who Justin Bieber was. I see my girls becoming their own beautiful human little selves with brilliant ideas, interesting thoughts and amazing talents. I feel like I have to fight for them just so they can be who they really are because of society’s pull on them to fit in and not be too different. I reminded her that being different is what makes the world so interesting.

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How boring it would be if we all were identical. God made us with unique minds that think different thoughts, hearts that are pulled to love different things, distinct gifts and talents and bodies in all shapes and sizes. We were never made to be just like everyone else. God delights in our differences and loves our uniqueness. My girls love hearing stories of how Jesus was very different from the society he lived in. He didn’t just make ripples, he made waves. He changed the course of history, he loved on the unlovable. He was friends with the outcasts and did things that made the “religious” people of the day cringe because it didn’t line up with their ideas of what was “normal.” As believers in that same Jesus, we especially should be willing to break the societal barriers in our own lives.

My daughter knows that there are many girls and women (myself included) who love comics and superheros, but her intense desire to be “normal” trumped her head knowledge that day. This made me realize how much I need to outwardly celebrate my girls individuality more frequently and show them, by example not to put much weight in being “normal.” I don’t know why, but somewhere during my late teen years, I stopped caring about being “normal” and fitting in. I didn’t want to wear clothes from “The Gap” anymore just because that was what everyone else was wearing. I discovered my love of shopping in thrift shops and vintage clothing stores (much to my mother’s chagrin for my Senior pictures.) I used a military grenade bag as a purse, loved my “hippie” shirts and wore the heck out of my Doc Marten Mary Janes. I was drawn to old things with a past, like typewriters, furniture, books and records from a begone era. When I realized what I loved and how God created me, I discovered who I was. I was happier and more confident because of it. I was not like most of the girls my age at the time, but I discovered a wonderful freedom when it dawned on me that I didn’t care about that anymore. I was me and that was ok – in fact, it was wonderful. I want my girls to see the value in being who they are meant to be – who God created them to be – without any thought of what others will think or if that is the “normal” thing to do.

That morning, after a 30 minute talk, Cammie finally decided she would wear her beloved purple Avengers shirt and not care what the rest of the world thought of it. Now, when I see her shirt, I am reminded of how we are created with uniqueness that is all our own and it should be worn at all times. After all, normal really is just a cycle on the washing machine and like the laundry that is in it, hopefully the cycle of perpetuating what’s normal and what isn’t, will eventually end.

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Categories: Mommy Musings

Through Her Eyes

We went to Michigan last week for a friend’s wedding and decided to make a little family summer vacation from it. On the way, we stopped to visit Ryan’s dad and step-mom and did some Michigan sightseeing. My youngest has been increasingly interested in photography, so instead of using her iTouch to play games, she used it to capture moments along the way. She took over 700 photos!! I love getting a glimpse of life through a child’s eyes. I’m always amazed and inspired by the way a child can see beauty in the things we consider mundane. She stops and takes the time to appreciate and take a photo of something that I would walk past without notice. I also love to see her perspective on the world, she’s always looking up from where she stands. Her world is so big and incredibly small all at the same time.

So, here is a peek at a family trip through a 6 year-old’s eyes – in pictures. I narrowed them down to about a hundred. These photos make me smile when I look through them. I hope they make you smile, too.

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Categories: Memories, Mommy Musings