Category: Motherhood

Waiting for God to Show Up

Tonight I was putting one of my littles to bed, and we talked about how she has had some rough days lately. I asked why she was having a hard time controlling her emotional outbursts. She sadly said that she didn’t know; that it was really hard for her. Instead of a lecture or more ideas on what she could do instead of yelling/freaking out (because believe me, we have lots of those conversations), I snuggled in closer to her, and asked her if we could pray about it. She said yes, and asked if I would pray. About halfway into the prayer, she stops me.

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“Mommy, we don’t have to pray anymore. God has already said no to all of those things that you are saying.”

“Aly, why do you think that?!”

“Because, I have been asking and asking and it’s not any easier to control myself.  I don’t know how to do it. His answer is no. Mommy, why did He say no?”

*Heart breaks.*

I said something about waiting and patience and using our methods of controlling our emotions. She wasn’t listening really. To her, God had already said no and she wasn’t going to be convinced of anything different. I laid there a little longer, my heart a little heavy.

God, you have to show up for this little girl. She is trying so hard to control these big, scary emotions that you gave her. Her strength and will isn’t enough. She’s needs your grace. She needs You to say yes.

These are the moments that create faith in a little one’s heart. While I can try and give her the simple answers of why her prayers aren’t “working” (and isn’t that a super loaded conversation all by itself), I can’t solve this for her. This one is between her and God. All I can do is wait, pray, and watch carefully for the Holy Spirit to show up. This may be one of the hardest things I’ve faced in parenting so far.

Parenting Tips from Elephant and Piggie

This post could also be titled: “That One Time When My Husband Read Me a Kid’s Book As I Was Sitting on the Stairs, My Head Buried in My Hands”

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In “Elephants Can’t Dance”, Piggie is trying to teach Elephant how to dance. Elephant tries and tries, but just cannot seem to get it. There is frustration. And anger. And despair.

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But then some little squirrels come along… and they want to learn to dance too!

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But not from Piggie.

But from Elephant.

Moral of the story: there are lots of ways to dance. And lots of ways to parent. Sometimes we get frustrated when we can’t parent the way we think we should parent– a way that we read about, a way that we were parented, or a way that someone says that we should parent. And while sometimes we maybe do just need to try harder, most of the time we need to realize that there isn’t just one way. No more tears. All we can do is give it our best and keep loving our kids like crazy!

Hands Free Mama {A Review}

_225_350_Book.1047.coverI was literally checking the mail box every day for my copy of Hands Free Mama to arrive. If you haven’t heard of author Rachel Macy Stafford, then you’re probably not a momma OR you live under a rock :). Rachel’s website Hands Free Mama has been featured on many major blogs and websites because of her “Hands Free Revolution”. A few years ago, Rachel realized that she was constantly distracted  and that her family was not as healthy because of it (specifically her relationship with her two girls). When considering reading the book, I thought that it might be about technology use. Perhaps she would make a case that we all need to put down our phones and iPads and computers and engage with our children instead. It only took me a couple chapters to realize that it is much, much more than that.

Actually, the challenge to put down the cell phone is only one of the first steps (and probably the easiest) in the hands free revolution. In addition to the technological distraction of always being able to be online, this book talks about something deeper- our striving for a perfection that’s biggest cost is our relationships with others. Even from my own life, I’ve learned this the hard way. If I am wanting my kids to look put together and trendy, then it costs some of my children and I’s relationship because there is going to be a fight about what will or will not be worn. If I want perfection when it comes to the cleanliness and tidiness of the house, then it’s going to cost a bit of my husband and I’s relationship because it’s probably going to cause an argument about what is done, how it is done, and when it is done. In Hands Free Mama, Rachel shares stories both about her struggle in this area as well as with her stories of victory.

Probably the chapter that most hit home with me is the one on overcommitment. Rachel shares that after being a SAHM for a few years with her two daughters, she was itching to get more involved outside of the home once her oldest child entered kindergarten. For two years she dragged her younger daughter around to meeting after meeting. Her daughter was a happy girl and was mostly just fine with it, but she grieves now that she was giving her youngest daughter the leftovers of her energy during that time. Rachel explains that in order to stop this trend of saying Yes to too many (wonderful) opportunities, she decided what she wanted (and felt like God wanted) life to be about- 1. nurturing her family and 2. writing and speaking to help encourage others.  Every opportunity that came to her was evaluated against those two criteria. Anything unrelated she would kindly say no to. The result was not only less stress and distraction, but it also gave her more white space in her calendar- time that was unplanned and available for playfulness, spontaneity, relaxation, and random acts of kindness. She now had the time to really live well.

I would say that this book is a good one for moms who feel like they are living a distracted life, and want to make a change. Rachel shares stories of success and uses a variety of ways to help the reader see the value of letting go of the “other things” and focusing on what is important. For moms who try hard at intentionally using their time to nurture their kids, while at the same time pursuing interests outside the home (and perhaps feel the tension between home and other things), then I don’t necessarily think this book is one that you need to read. It may make you feel (unfairly) guilty that because you feel the tension, then maybe you’re not doing enough.

One thing I didn’t care for so much was that the Rachel’s mantra in the Hands Free Revolution is to “Love All I Do”– meaning if she doesn’t love to do it, then she won’t do it. I think a danger in this motto is that we begin to believe that God won’t ever ask us to do something we don’t like to do, or believe that our desires are perfectly write and trusting as they are. Rachel seems like a nice enough lady with a big servant heart who loves to encourage and serve people. But what if she didn’t love to do that? Would she not do that then? What if no one wants to clean bathrooms in my house? I definitely don’t love that. Or something less superficial- what if I really don’t love spending my money on other people who have real needs? What if I don’t love to care for those who are familyless around the holidays? What if I don’t really love spending time with a mentally handicapped neighbor who sometimes just needs to interact with people and I happen to be in the hallway when he comes out of his apt, looking for someone to talk to? What if I don’t love helping out at my child’s school stuffing backpacks full of books for kids who may not even use them? I think that sometimes it’s through those times that we do things that we don’t love to do, but do it anyway, that perseverance, self-discipline, and deep character is built in us. Sometimes we learn to love those things, and sometimes we don’t, but just do them because someone has to do them.

But, even with that said, I think that Rachel is a prophetic voice to many, many, many people in our culture– to put down our phones, to close our laptops, to put away our to-do list, to close our book, and to give our friends and family the gift of attention, which in the words of one of my friends, is the most important skill that we need to learn in 2014. And if this idea makes your heart stop and your stomach drop a little, or if someone has been so kindly dropping not-so-obvious hints that you are a distracted person, then go download her book now and stay up all night reading it. The fact that this book has become so popular and that it is so widely endorsed speaks volumes to the constantly distracted culture that we live in.

If you’d like a copy of Rachel’s book, leave a comment and I’ll randomly choose someone in a few days to send a free copy to! 

Thank you, Booksneeze, for sending me a free copy of this fantastic book (and one to giveaway), in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Sweet Anaya

Anaya will be 5 months old on the 19th of September, and I have still not journaled or blogged one word about her birth. How awful is that? I’ve been meaning to, but it never seems like the urgent thing to do. Tonight it also doesn’t seem like the urgent thing, but I’ve been in a reflective mood and wonder if tonight’s the night to write about it.

WARNING: This post contains a DETAILED birthing story.

Throughout my pregnancy with Anaya, I thought surely I would have her early. Asante and Aly were both a week early and Ada was 2 weeks early. Much to my surprise, my due date rolled around and STILL nothing. At my next doctor appointment, I asked the nurse practitioner to check me to see if I had progressed. I maybe had a little bit, but nothing to call home about. At this point, I knew I needed to do something. Because labor with the other three kids never really started until my water was broke (either by the doctors or on its own), I asked if they’d be willing to break my water. She was doubtful that the midwife would do that, but she said she’d ask the midwife on duty to see what she thought. Ten minutes later she comes back to the room and cheerfully told me that the midwife was comfortable with it.

Jake and I went downstairs to the birthing rooms to talk with the midwife about how the day would go and what “progress” needed to happen and by when. We went home, packed our bag, kissed our kiddos, and headed back to the birth center. Most of the day I standing at my computer, working (I didn’t want to have to take one of my few maternity leave days if I didn’t have to!). We’d walk around outside- went to a thrift store down the road, got some food at different points (ah, yes, that’s right, I got to eat whatever I wanted while in labor!)- but 5:00 came and still no real progress. The midwife said that by 6:00, if my contractions weren’t becoming more regular, we’d need to do something….like castor oil.

Jake and I then went for a long walk outside, hoping and praying that something would start to pick up because I was already feeling kinda sick, and the last thing I wanted was castor oil to make that worse. During our walk, I noticed that the contractions were getting closer together. Yay! I thought. Around 6p, we came back into the birth center, and the contractions were getting a little bit painful, so the midwife agreed to give me another hour or so. Around 6:45, all of a sudden the contractions starting REALLY coming. I ended up laboring a lot standing up, which was unusual for me, but surprisingly not too bad. During transition, I laid down, thinking that there was no way I could do this (which is what I always say at this point). I was laying on my side and felt like with every contraction, Anaya’s head was pushing into my hip bone. I told the midwife this, so she decided to check me at this point, and I was SO disappointed when she said I was 7 cm dilated, 100% effaced. Only 7 cm? She suggested that I get on my hands and knees and see if that helped with the pressure on my hips. The first contraction after getting into that position, I started to feel the baby coming. Oh no, I thought, I’m only at 7cm. I’m gonna tear if this baby comes out now. At the same time that I’m thinking this, the midwife is like, “uh, I think I see a head coming. Tiffany, don’t push. I don’t want you to tear. But do what your body is telling you to do.” During the next contraction, Anaya came out all at once– and no tearing! Looking back, this does make a lot of sense– when I was laboring with Aly, I went from 7 cm to Aly being all the way out in about 10 minutes. Apparently my “7cm” is actually “10cm”.

I really loved the birth center experience. The midwife and nurse were really good. They were supportive, but also left us alone, which I liked. One thing that still stands out to me is that the midwife and nurse were very quiet during the birthing experience. They were there when I needed them, but otherwise stayed out of it. The silence that was in the room in between those hard contractions was absolutely sacred. They respected the experience and I couldn’t have asked for something better.

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I must admit that I was not a big fan of only staying at the Birth Center for 12 hours after giving birth (their rule), and also not a fan of keeping Anaya with us afterwards. Sure, I wanted to nurse and cuddle her and look at every speck of her body. But I also wanted to get a good night of sleep before going back to our crazy, rambuncious, non-sleeping house. Surprisingly, I was so ready to go home when they came in at 8am the next morning. I wanted to introduce Anaya to the kids and cuddle the big kids at home!

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The first night at home with her was awful. She barely slept. She cried a ton. We tried all of our tricks but could not calm her. My milk had not quite came in yet, and I could tell that she was actually hungry. I called the Birth Center the next day, and they suggested that I give her some formula to fill her little belly until my milk came in. That was an amazing idea, because that was absolutely the problem! I think this is the first baby that we’ve had that was actually hungry that early on. IMG_2052

Up until a couple weeks ago, Anaya has been a pretty challenging baby. She has been fairly discontent, not liking (and unable, really) to sleep during the day, not very smiley (her first smile wasn’t until she was THREE months old). She is only just now starting to laugh, and even then, it’s not really a belly laugh. Thankfully she has slept really good at night (around 7 or 8 weeks she started giving us 6-7 hour stretches), and now she typically sleeps about 10-11 hours straight at night. Interesting fact about Anaya is that she STILL does not like pacifiers (despite our attempts to make her like them- many brands, etc.). She doesn’t suck her thumb very much, but every now and then she does when she’s trying to put herself to sleep.

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Anaya has fit right in with the rest of the family. The kids love her, and I think Aly has especially taken to her. Every morning Aly has a routine where she comes into our room and talks to Anaya in her crib (if she’s awake in there) or in our bed (if Anaya has just finished nursing). Anaya loves this routine and is eager to “talk” to her. All the kids are super helpful and I’m thankful that no one has really gotten jealous or been mean to Anaya.

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I think she first rolled over (belly to back) around 3 months, and a week or two later, from back to belly. At 4 months, she can roll back and forth pretty easily and has been doing that fun “spinning in circles” thing to get things (and people) she wants. Currently, she is fascinated with the eating and drinking process and imitates our chewing when we’re eating near her. This week she has been a totally happy baby, and it’s been so nice!!

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It’s funny, you’d think with the 4th kid, those things like rolling and smiling and imitating wouldn’t be a big deal–but it totally is! It is just amazing how babies can grow so fast and it’s a joy to see them develop new skills and grow into their personality.

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The Best Parenting Book I’ve Read So Far

christian_parenting_handbookI have read a lot of parenting books- some good, some bad. Most of them start out really good, and then slowly digress from awesomeness as the chapters unfold. Often I finish the book simply because I have a high need for completion. Jake is, of course, used to this about me and will ask me how it’s going as I’m approaching the middle of a book. Typically I respond with a tirade of how the author has lost the vision of the first chapter, or how beautiful the book could have been, etc., etc. This time, my friends, was different.

The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child’s Life is the best parenting book I have ever read. Each of the short (3-5 page) chapters contained just enough information and ideas to get one thinking, but not so much that the point is over-explained. Some of the chapter titles are really intriguing–

  • Consistency Is Overrated
  • Affirm Approximately Right Behavior
  • Children Can Only Take as Much Pressure as the Relationship Will Allow
  • Teach Kids to Be Solvers Instead of Whiners
  • Firmness Doesn’t Require Harshness
  • Good Character Qualities Misused

Another bonus is that the content can be applied to a wide age range- preschoolers to teenagers.

At the beginning of the book, the authors emphasize that this is a heart-based approach to parenting, not one based on behavior modification.

The problem is that behavior modification embraces humanistic thinking, the belief that people are just a higher form of animal. The Bible teaches something very different. God created people different from animals. He gave each person a spiritual ‘heart,’ and that heart affects the learning process. The heart contains things such as emotions, desires, convictions, and passions. In short, the heart is a wrestling place where decisions are made. … Simply focusing on behavior may provide some quick change, but lasting change takes place in the heart. We’re not saying behavior modification is wrong. We’re suggesting it is incomplete and, in the end, lacks the depth for long-term and lasting change.” (p. 2)

Another aspect the authors emphasize is that it’s never too late for heart change. Sometimes we hear things like, “a child’s self-concept is formed by the time they’re 5” or “A child’s worldview is developed by the time they are 12,” which makes us believe that we’ve lost our window of opportunity if we’ve made bad or uninformed choices about how we raise our kids. Instead, the authors say, we know that God can and does change us at all ages and stages, and that by appealing to a child’s heart, major changes can happen with the help of the Spirit.

I must admit that I was a bit worried because the authors talk about how we need to develop a biblical philosophy of parenting. Sometimes when people use the word “biblical” as an adjective, I get a little worried. “Biblical” has been turned into a word that means “I’m about to say something and use this word that will make sure you don’t disagree with me and if you do disagree, you are actually disagreeing with God.” Good for you if you don’t have this hang-up, but if you do, then you don’t have to worry. The authors do a GREAT job of emphasizing that each family is different- different parents, different kids, different age ranges, different life circumstances- and how parenting is going to look different in light of how all this works itself out. There are general character traits, attitudes, and values that the Bible emphasizes as part of God’s design, and in our own ways, with the leading of the Spirit, we can help those things to be part of our family culture.

I would recommend this book to every parent. It’s one that you’ll want to keep on your bookshelf but also give away, so be prepared to buy more copies! Beware, if you are having a baby soon, you just might be getting a copy for your baby shower gift…. 🙂

Jake and I are going to begin reading and discussing a chapter a day together. There’s a ton of good stuff to munch on, and I have a feeling this is one we re-read every couple of years. So get a copy now and start reading!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review: Desperate- Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

_140_245_Book.755.cover I’ve been sitting on this book review for almost a week now.

I just don’t really know how to communicate, in a nice, neat blog post, how I feel about this book.

I found it enjoyable.

I was incredibly annoyed and slightly offended at times.

I know. Exactly why it’s taken me so long to start- and finish- this post.

 

 

What I liked

  • This book showed a beautiful picture of what a meaningful mentoring experience looks like. Sally Clarkson saw something in Sarah Mae, and they began a relationship together that was intentional, and helped both of them grow in their relationship with the Lord. The mentoring seemed to come at a time when Sarah Mae desperately needed it- in the middle of mothering three littles- and battling depression.
  • I could relate to Sarah Mae, in that I also have three kids incredibly close together in age (almost 4!). And there were times last year when I was staying at home with them that I did feel desperate and like I needed some room to breathe. Running after and caring for a 1, 2/3 and 3/4 year old is physically, emotionally, and mentally difficult. There are no breaks, even with a stellar husband. It takes 2 parents to meet the never-ending needs of such young children.
  • For moms who stay at home, Sarah and Sally offer some great suggestions on how to create space to breathe in the midst of full-time, never-ending motherhood. They rightly suggest that a lot of it has to do with our attitude towards our kids and being a stay-at-home mom.
  • They repeated over and over that there is no “right way” to parent. Every family is different. Every child is different. Every mom is different. If you are not good at keeping house, by all means hire a housekeeper and feel no guilt about it! If you don’t want to spank your kids, do not listen to those other moms who say if you don’t you will have bratty kids. Seek God, follow the promptings you feel about how He has designed your unique family, and then find a few good friends who are going to support you and not criticize your decisions.

What I did not like

  • At times, the relationship between Sarah Mae and Sally seemed like Sarah Mae was incredibly needy and Sally had all the answers. It has been my experience that in healthy mentoring relationships, both parties involved are encouraged by one another, and both people come out with a new perspective.
  • This book is absolutely NOT for moms who work outside the home full-time. Although they were big on talking about the uniqueness of each family and following what God had for each family, I don’t think they would be very accepting of the decision for the mom to work outside the home. They explicitly says that “Scripture is filled with admonitions for a mama to make her home her focus and bring up her children. A mama’s primary domain is her home.” (p. 170) They continue on to say that this doesn’t mean that’s the only purpose God has for a mom, but it’s first and main purpose. I’m glad they added the second part, but I still disagree with the first. I have personally faced the judgment of other women who can’t believe that I would work outside the home. And perhaps some judgment that my husband stays at home with the kids (“what? he doesn’t work?” ummmm….if I talked about a stay-at-home mom that way, I’m pretty sure I’d get an earful about how staying at home with 3 preschool kids IS work, yes?)

When I pick up a book for mothers, I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess, to find this type of attitude. In a way, it’s too bad because the book did have some great things to say about life as a stay-at-home mom. Because it IS really hard (for some of us), especially in those early years as we’re becoming mothers (because some of us aren’t born longing for that and sometimes it’s just a process that takes a few years).

So, do I recommend it? If you are a stay-at-home mom and feeling discouraged/depressed/worn-out, yes, I really think it could offer you some encouragement and good ways to look at things a little differently. If you are a work-outside-the-home mom who is feeling discouraged/depressed/worn-out, don’t read it unless you can take the “stay-at-home-moms-are-God’s-favorite-moms” attitude.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Grass isn’t always greener….

I really like my job.

I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to do what I’m doing, and doing so in such a family-friendly environment.

And many days I’m perfectly content going off to work in the mornings, confident that the rest of the family is going to have a fun day and do things that are probably more fun and exciting than if I was the one staying home with them.

But there are those days when I just wish I was the one at home.

I have so many ideas of activities I’d like to do with the kids.

The kids are in slightly annoyingly talkative stages, but the upside is that they say incredibly funny things on a regular basis.

I really wish I had the time during the day to do family administration, catching up with friends with quick emails and phone calls, daydreaming and list-making during those minutes of time that one can often find during the day if they are quick to take snatch them.

But often times I’m just tired in the evenings…I mean, of course I was tired in the evenings when I was home with the kids too. But this kind of tired is a little different. It’s a tired that doesn’t get energized by projects and internet errands and whatnot because that’s what I’ve been doing all. day. long. I’ve been having a hard time touching the laptop for anything other than Facebook and Pinterest in the evenings because I’m just tired of emails and computer screens. Instead, I’ve been turning to TV (I know) or more often than not, sleep.

It’s good to be on this side of the fence, because I’m reminded that the grass really isn’t greener on either side.  Being at home is both great and hard. So is being outside the home all day. It really is just different, but each does hold its own set of challenges.

Do you know any Momzombies?

Tonight I spent some time reading through the comments on one of blogger Rachel Held Evans’ posts called Why Moms Sorta Scare Me. In it, she shares her fears of maybe someday becoming a mom and having to deal with the advice and competition and waring that moms are so known for. I loved her honesty and while I didn’t think those kind of things before I had kids, if I knew then what I know now, I would have been scared too (we were the first of our friends to have kids, so we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into).

One of the commenters shared that she feared that Rachel will someday get pregnant and then her brain will turn to mush and just talk about parenting all the time. Basically, she was saying- don’t go over there Rachel! Stay with us cool kids.

My response is that if new moms aren’t talking about diapering, breastfeeding, sleeping, poop, etc., I would wonder if there was something wrong. In so many ways, becoming a mom comes with a dose of culture shock, no matter how prepared you think you are or how adament you are that it “won’t be me”. When a couple decides to have a child, they are making a huge decision. Kids are not pets. They are little human beings that God asks us to help shepherd. It isn’t easy. It’s not a 9-5 that can be turned off or turned on. It’s all day, and so yes, moms who stay at home are sometimes very obsessed with all things kids. How could we not be? In fact, there is a name for this. It’s called matrescence.

Matrescence is the transition that women go through when becoming a mother. I’ve only read about it in terms of spiritual formation, but it makes a lot of sense. When women become mothers, there’s a huge shift of life-center. There are physical changes, emotional changes, life circumstances changes, social role changes, relationship changes and identity changes.

They way our culture supports moms through this is appalling. Some groups do this well- the homeschooling community, “crunchy” women, fundamentalists- pretty much all the social groups that non-parents find so uninteresting (at best).

My plea is to give moms (especially of young children) a break. Please don’t call them MomZombies or lament that they are a shadow of their former selves. Because here is a secret:

Those tapes are already playing in our heads.

Many of us feel the tension between wanting to be smart and interesting and so chic. We want to do laundry and diapers and sickness and meal planning and kid researching by day and then be able to talk about all the latest news and fashions and books by night over wine and fondue after we’ve tucked our kids into bed. But the reality is- we are tired. We only have so much brain RPM. We can’t turn our brains off to the things that we are concerned about for our kids. We are sometimes insecure and don’t want to mess up our kids. We’ve never “done this before” and are on a huge learning curve. And every time we think we have it down, something new happens that we haven’t encountered before so we research it instead of reading CNN headlines. It can be intense.

Admittingly, a few super human women can do it all (as some of the commentors expressed). But most of us can’t. Nor should we have to. And perhaps these superwomen moms shouldn’t.

So for those outside of parenthood, perhaps instead of grieving our “old selves”, you could…

1. Don’t stop calling. Be our friend in this new season of life. Embrace our kids as new members of our community. Welcome them as if you would welcome anyone. Come over and play with our kids because when you play with our kids, you are loving us too. In fact, perhaps you’d be surprised by the interesting conversations and faith discussions that happen with a 4 year old.

2. Bring us a favorite book of yours and offer to take the kids for the afternoon while we read it. We’ll treat you to Starbucks after the kids go to bed while we discuss it.

3. Catch us up. Not on everything, but send us an email with a link to something you think is important for us to know and then ask us what we think about it. Not everyday. Maybe not every week. But sometimes.

4. Invite us out. Perhaps we can’t come every time, but we will come occasionally.

5. Ask us about how we’re doing or our opinions on various things and then listen. It won’t kill you. And perhaps if it has something to do with babies or preschoolers, you’d learn something new.

6. Celebrate our accomplishments. We do a lot in a day and not a lot of people outside of our husbands notice. I’m pretty sure every mom could use a little ego-boosting.

7. Change the subject. If we’re talking too much about ourselves or our kids, PLEASE figure out something else to talk about and we’ll be happy to follow you there. Sometimes we just can’t think of another topic so our default is ourselves.

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Parents need their non-parent-friends. Hopefully non-parent-friends need us parent-friends too. Our kids are not obstacles to friendships, but additions to our community. Let’s grow and walk through all of it together and hopefully we’ll better learn what it looks like to love.

So…which way is it? Thoughts on Parenting from One Generation to the Next

This won’t be a full post- just raising something to think about.

For those of us who are mothers to preschoolers and early elementary school kids, I’ve heard many critiques- sometimes “we” are too lenient with our kids, afraid to discipline and afraid to hurt their little egos. Sometimes we hover too much, are too involved, and are “overparenting” them.

So which is it?

Many of these same critiques come from parents who are the parents of the “emerging generation”, who are supposedly enabling their adult children to not take responsibility for their lives, not grow up, etc etc.

Is this not weird to anyone else?

Review: Mom Connection

Being the momma of young children can be very…. well, hard. And not just in a physically demanding and emotionally demanding kind of way. For many moms, motherhood brings about a new set of challenges as it relates to how we spend our time and how we relate to others. We never meant to become kind of isolated, not having meaningful conversations with our girl friends for sometimes weeks on end. We expected to be able to keep up on several things after having kids, but we just got busy. And we have very good intentions of serving our neighbors, meeting new friends, leading up a community event, whatever it may be. But somehow minutes turn to hours and hours turn to days, and a few weeks have gone by with a long list of “I really wanted to…”. Where did my time go? Where did my friends go?

How did I become so lonely?

Thankfully this book is not about how to cram more into your life, or how to schedule your day down to the minutes so that you can do all this and more! For this I am so thankful, Mrs. Tracey Bianchi. Instead, Tracy offers up some ideas on how we can learn to live into our own life rhythm. She says,  “learning to identify healthy life rhythms is important because they powerfully transform our parenting, our relationships, and our communities by giving us the space to settle into natural opportunities for connections” (11).

Competition giving way to Invitation

We all need each other. Mothering is often marked by feelings of competition- whether we feel like we’re winning (pride) or losing (inadequacy). Often times these underlying assumptions about who we are or who we need to be hinders our ability to authentically connect to other women.

Even if we aren’t the ones lonely and in need of a set of meaningful relationships (oh the lucky few!), there are many other mommas out there just looking for a friend. Tracey quotes author Adele Calhoun- “Invitations challenge and remake us. They can erode and devastate. And they can heal and restore us. Being wanted, welcomed, invited, and included are some of the most mending experiences on the planet” (36). Especially for those of us who are Christ-followers, I have this sneaky suspicion that our mission of being agents of reconciliation is somehow connected to these potentially mending experiences. There are a lot of lonely moms out there and we rub shoulders with them everyday. We don’t even have to go out of our way to meet them! They’re in our churches, in our mom’s clubs, at the park playing with their kids, and dropping their kids off at preschool. Relationships begin with invitations.

Connecting in every realm

There are all kinds of areas that we interact with people, and in each of these areas we can find a rhythm that works well. Tracy dedicates a chapter to each set of relationships- immediate family, extended family, our spouse, our girl friends, and our broader community, helping us think through where we’re at and how it could be revitalized to create an environment of real relational connection. How can we drop our attitude of judgment and just give other mommas the benefit of the doubt? How can we be fully present with our children? How can we slow down so that we can enjoy each other as opposed to being so caught up in “getting stuff done”? These chapters are full of ideas for all kinds of moms in the many walks of life.

Bonus

At the end of each chapter, Tracy offers 5 practical steps, a couple questions, and a list of resources (books, websites, sermons, youtube videos) that one can go to for further depth on what she talked about. Through her lists, I discovered several books and websites that I haven’t heard of before and my reading list has now become longer (I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing).

I just really liked this book. It met me where I am, helped me to think through some things that I hadn’t paid much attention to before, gave words to some things I had been thinking about, and just made me laugh.

I think the most important thing Tracey communicates through this book is the importance of living an invitational life- to live a life that is always inviting others into it. I have met a few of these kind of women in my life and can I say that they have blessed me so much. I aspire to live this way as well, and not just because I want to be kind, but I’ve only become more and more convinced that it is through relationships that the Kingdom comes.

P.S. I think it’s fair to point out that Tracey is a blogger and so the book certainly reflects that style of writing and organizing. For some this may be slightly annoying, but I think if you know that going in, it’ll help you to better enjoy your reading experience.

Thank you Baker books for providing me this complimentary copy to read in exchange for an honest review!