When All You Want to Do is Scream and Yell

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You know that moment don’t you? When you feel even the tips of your ears get hot with the anger simmering just below the surface?

When there aren’t numbers high enough to count or breaths deep enough to fill exasperated lungs and silence the pounding in your ears.

And doesn’t it seem like it’s always the same kid? Every. single. time.

The kid that you love with arms wide open but could throttle nine out of ten times because, somehow, thinking before acting to them seems a foreign and confusing way of conducting oneself.

So there I was, ears filled with the sound of an whipping ocean, pulse pounding and eyes wide at a decision that could have had severe consequences but, thankfully {thank you Jesus), did not. If it was possible to pull my hair out in frustration without the pain {or baldness-why add insult to injury?} I would have done it right then and there . How many times have I said, begged her to please think.

THINK before doing cartwheels in the living room.

THINK before deciding to use a whole roll of tape when a dab of glue would have sufficed.

THINK before you shave {and cut horribly} the top of your foot at a friend’s house.

And please, THINK before SITTING on the bottom drawer of a dresser with your little sisters right there. ASK yourself, IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? And when it began to tip over and everything fell down all around you, pretend to at least look sorry instead of being more worried about getting in trouble.

I knew instantly that this moment was going to define our day. I was so angry with her and couldn’t even conceive of teaching her math or spelling when I was so clearly failing at teaching her self-control. I didn’t want to read to her out loud and share stories and ideas when right then I would have been happy to send her to her room to wait out my teeth-clenching exasperation. I couldn’t see room for grace, couldn’t open my heart to her apology because what I wanted was to feel better.

To not feel like a failure.

What I needed was to yell and shout at her until I was exhausted and feeling vindicated because maybe the yelling would finally sink in this time and maybe it would quiet the hundred ways I doubt myself as her mother on a daily basis.  Maybe my words would sting enough to make her stop and think before she  touched or sat or skipped or jumped.

These are the moments when I am most thankful for the urging of the Holy Spirit. When the nudge becomes a soul shaking that reminds me that I have more at stake than just my feelings. That my anger or frustration is nothing compared to the shame she feels when she lets me down. Again. When she’s made a bad choice. Again. When she couldn’t help herself and thinking ahead seems a monumental task when her mind is constantly spinning.

Again.

So I walked away. Angry-but I walked away. Sat on the couch, turned on some music and quietly sipped long-cold coffee until I could figure out how in the world I was going to start this day over.

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Please God help me make this better when all I want to be is right. 

She came in the kitchen, skipping like nothing had happened but I could tell by her smile she was attempting to disarm me, make it better and maybe even forgotten because to her it always feels like she’s not worth loving when the mistakes happen.

I put down my mug, looked at her and decided that we didn’t need to start over. We just needed to move forward. I told her, I haven’t hugged you yet today.

She walked over quietly and crawled in my lap and when she hugged me I told her to hold on tight and not let go.

We sat like that for a while until finally I felt her cheek bone sharp against my shoulder. She was smiling. Eyes closed and holding on tight like we were sinking and smiling that I was still holding her.

I pulled away and looked at her.

You know there is nothing you could do to make me stop loving you, I told her. I don’t love you just when you’re good. I love you all the times in between. To the moon and back, right?

She nodded and it was forgotten. I didn’t give it another thought until I sat down to write this and even now, when I think of what could have happened, there is no anger. Just joy at the overcoming. The overwhelming grace that touched a moment for both of us in very different ways.

It sounds so simple but after all of it, yesterday ended as a victory. I finally allowed God to be more important than my feelings in a moment when all I could do was feel. He stopped me in my tracks, blew life into this weary mom’s morning and pushed me to be aggressively forgiving.

Just as I have been blessedly forgiven.

Today was one more day of learning to die slowly to the overwhelming task of raising another human being. Today I took one more step towards accepting that I am not the alpha and omega of who they become as adults, that eventually all of it ends up at the foot of the cross.

This girl? She makes me better.

 

 

april

To The Mom Who Feels Like a Failure: A Love Letter

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There are so many ways in which we count our failures.

Late for another dental appointment. Fail.

Dirty dishes stacked precariously in the sink. From two days ago. Fail.

Raised voices and harshness followed by tears. Fail.

Too tired to read a bedtime story. Fail.

Wanting to escape the mundane, the persistent busyness, the perpetually exhausting                      everything. Miserable fail.

We spend so much time looking at what we’ve done wrong, always searching for ways to discredit ourselves, that we miss the sweetness of a new day filled with possibilities.

Somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that we need to be different or better. A constant mantra of you’re not good enough. And it spills over.

It spills into the way we communicate with the people we love. It spills over into the relationships we foster or allow to wilt and drift away. It spills over to our children. Because if we can’t look in the mirror and find  good in the person looking back at us, then we’re in real trouble. How do we accept the people we’re raising if there is no acceptance of who we’ve become in this life?

It’s not about positive talk or reciting affirmations. It’s about understanding WHO we are in Christ. It’s about taking an inventory of the wholeness of ourselves and being able to count on both hands the ways we are immeasurably unique and loved.

By nine o’clock in the morning I have silently named at least a dozen ways in which I have failed. It begins when I wake up in the morning and am still exhausted. I automatically chide myself for not having the wake-up-with-the-sun-cheeriness that so many of my friends do. As I’m brushing my teeth I take in the disheveled hair still tied in a bun from yesterday, now hanging off the side of my head like Princess Leia with a hangover. And how on earth does a thirty-seven year old mother of four still get acne?

I stumble into the kitchen, mindlessly pulling out cereal and bowls, the kids already asking a million questions I’m not awake enough to want to answer. I know I should probably have put a bra on but I’m still so tired and I’d like to wait for the heartburn that comes with wearing a noose around my chest to wait until I’ve at least had my coffee. By eight-thirty I still look like a hobo and I have school to teach.

I promise myself that tomorrow will be better. I’LL be better. The alarm will be set for 7am, I’ll jump out of bed anticipating a new day, shower and be presentable before the kids are awake. I know I can be better is what I tell myself the rest of the day. That invisible stick I measure my day by is so high I don’t know how I’ll ever reach the top.

And that’s just the beginning. There are so many ways I convince myself throughout the day that I’m not good enough and yet I wonder why I doubt myself. Why at the end of the day, instead of counting the things that went right, am I’m checking off a mental inventory of what I did wrong? How I could have been kinder, sweeter, more patient, out of yoga pants, washed my hair.

I think it’s because we’re scared. I’m scared. I think we’re scared to say this is who I am and I’m. good. enough.

We think that by appreciating, by finding value in who we are that somehow we’re saying we’ve reached the best of who we are. What we should be saying is this is where I am right now and that’s more than okay.

But how many of us do it?

How many of us look in the mirror and say honey, you are ROCKIN’ this mom thing! Little Johnny didn’t break anything at the playground and Missy jammed a dead frog in her pocket that leaked guts everywhere and you didn’t even bat an eyelash. You had dinner ready {almost} on time and nobody gagged on their peas. ROCKIN’. IT. 

I’m a stressed out mom to little twin girls who {I’m pretty sure} delight in torturing me. I love them madly but also want to send them to preschool for 23 out of 24 hours a day right now. My oldest daughter was just diagnosed with ADD, which I often take as a personal failing, and my son lied to me yesterday about his school work. Again.

Tonight when I say my prayers I can find a million and one things to count as failures. But seeing my life and the hard things that challenge me daily as failing is no way to live.

It’s not a failure to have toddlers that drive me crazy one minute and make me want to smoother them with kisses the next. They are proof that God has both a sense of humor and a keen understanding of what I still need to learn and accept as a mother.

My daughter’s issues are not my fault nor are they her’s and they most certainly will not be her downfall. While I may feel guilt about it, that feeling is nothing but a lie and will hinder her ability to flourish if I nurture it. I fail her only if I allow her circumstances to define who she is as a person.

My son’s lying hurts me most but I have to remind myself that his lying isn’t my failure. We are sinful people and that includes my precious boy that I have such high expectations of. We have taught him right from wrong and his choice to lie and the consequences that followed are a part of his growing and not my failing as a mother. It hurts my heart, but there will be more of these growing pains that will eventually shape what kind of man he chooses to be.

When we stop assigning worth to ourselves according to how successful our day felt, there will be a profound change in American households. Mothers will give themselves permission to laugh and play on the floor with their children instead of moving on to the next task needing to be checked off a never-ending to-do list. Our children are begging for our attention but we’ve allowed ourselves to be held hostage by the doing.

When fathers stop struggling with the guilt of not being enough to his family because the job keeps him from soccer practices and school recitals, he will find peace in the time he does have to spend with them.  When dads understand that it’s not the hours in the day but the time spent, really spent getting to know a child that matters, then that small voice that tells him he’s not good enough eventually fades away.

Tomorrow is a new day. Will you define it by your shortcomings or choose to bloom where you’re planted right now? This is our moment and these are the memories that will last us a lifetime.

I’m sick of living in a perpetual state of failure.

I’m sick of believing the lie I’ve told myself over and over and over again that I am not enough.

It’s time I start seeing myself as a woman created by an awesome and perfect God.

A woman who shows up when it feels impossible, who has arms to hold and love to give.

I asked my son this morning how he sees me as a mom. I asked him him what kind of woman does he think I am?

He smiled and without hesitation said AMAZING.

To him I’m AMAZING.

Ask your kids how they see you. Ask your husband or your friends. You’ll be surprised because the eyes they see with are so much more forgiving than our own.

 

 

april

When Blessing Abound, There is Peace

This week we joined Daddy where he was TDY-another reason I love homeschooling! It was so great to be able to pack up our school work and follow him, set up camp and enjoy some time together. Unfortunately, due to a family emergency, we had to return after only two days but we still managed to make some sweet memories and enjoyed the time together!

Even in the craziness of it all there was provision that could only come from a Mighty God. We are so thankful, even after the vomitapocolypse, for His blessings and mercy in moments when the world seems to be spinning out of control!

Sometimes it’s enough to find just a few moments of peace in the midst of a storm.

 

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