Saturday, October 26, 2013

Road Trip Ramblings

The kids and I set out on a road trip last week to Ohio to visit my husband.  Along the approximately 2000 miles that we drove, I learned a few things.  Here goes:

1.  This traffic sign,  , means there is no peeing in the grass. (Thank you, Sean.)

2. Taking a few minutes pre-trip to prepare travel games make the miles go much faster.  

3. Eating an apple straight from the tree in a bonafide apple orchard is the best!  Abbie was unable to resist the temptation.  And though we don't know exactly what the fruit on the tree in the garden was, IF it was an apple as so many people think, I can see why Eve was tempted.  Just sayin'.

4. Polar bears are bigger than I thought, but they are not quite as white as I expected them to be.  Grizzly bears are scary --- even with a ravine and a fence in between you and the bear.

5. The dinosaur exhibit at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio, is stunning.  However, it is sad that the highly educated in our world continue to tell us that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago.  It's just become boring to correct them, which I guess is okay because my kids know the truth anyway.  In their favor... the spitting dinosaurs on the boat ride were cool.  However, poor Emma thought that somehow they had put real spit in them. When we told her it was just water, she was not nearly as grossed out.

6.  Missing a week of school puts us off our schedule but is so totally worth it when you look at all the lessons we did learn.  Thanks to home schooling though, we can turn ANY trip into something educational whether it be visiting the zoo and learning about the animals, visiting an orchard and seeing exactly where our food comes from, visiting the fruit market at the same orchard and looking at different varieties of gourds, seeing fall foliage (which we just don't get in southwest Mississippi), reading maps, calculating how long it will take us to get somewhere based on the number of miles and our speed, or even reading menus.  Abbie is studying community helpers as her social studies unit in K4, and she even role played being a waitress at Steak & Shake -- complete with her paper hat -- though I've never actually had a waitress take my order in crayon.

7. The greatest gift of all is spending time as a family.  The most important thing to me is the legacy that I leave my children.  I want them to grow up and remember the quality things that we did together.  I hope and pray that the time I put into them will lead them to raise their children well.  

I want to grow old and remember their laughter -- there is no more beautiful sound.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mommy Mania

I've been a mom for almost 15 years.  In that time, I have shared funny stories and angst with many moms through PTA groups, church groups, and Girl Scouts.  But I've never joined any kind of organized "mom thing."  A couple of weeks ago, I ventured into new territory and went to my first Mommy Group.  

I honestly didn't know what to expect.  I didn't know if it would be corny or worthwhile.  I did know that there were some pretty cool chickies who were going to be there, and so I was willing to go hang out and give it a try.  I have to say... I was quite impressed.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to be away from the kids and just have some good old "grown up" interaction for a while.

Part of our meeting included a Bible study on creating balance in our lives.  We were presented with a group of objects that represent the stress that we most commonly find in our lives.  We had to choose which item best represented the thing that made us feel most unbalanced in our lives as moms.  Was it the watch showing that we feel we don't have enough time to get things done?  Was it the credit card showing that our finances were wreaking havoc with our sanity? 

I chose the wedding ring, which represented not feeling balanced with our relationships.  And contrary to the fact that the symbol was a wedding ring, the stressed relationship did not have to be with our spouse.  I identified that one of my greatest stresses is that I don't feel balanced with what I can give my kids.  I have six kids living in my house and a step-daughter three states away.  That's a lot of people to take into consideration.

Regardless of the fact that I spend a good five hours at my dining room table with my kids each day interacting one on one with them over home school assignments, I often feel that I don't spend any time with them.  I take them to the library.  I take them shopping where I follow them around and let them check out the things they want to see.  We take walks.  We go for pizza and fro yo.  Yet, I often condemn myself because I don't feel that I'm spending the right kind of time with them.

So here are my confessions:  I do not tuck each of my kids in bed every single night.  I do not read bedtime stories to my kids. I am not always the one to bathe my little kids.  I do not sit in the floor and play games with my kids every single day.  I do not always prepare a perfectly proportioned, home cooked meal for dinner.  

The fact is.  I am human.  I can only do so many things in a given day.  And hey, I spend a lot of quality time with my kids.  Yet I still set up these unrealistic expectations of all the things that I should be doing. (And I wasn't the only one in mommy group who feels this way.)  

Where do these expectations come from?  The sappy commercials that we see on TV?  The facebook, perfect lives that get posted online?  Magazine articles or blogs that only showcase one, specific moment in time of a super-mommy's life?  

One of my aspirations (very realistic of me...not) is to be like the Proverbs 31 wife of noble character.  But... have you checked out that scripture lately?  This woman finds wool and flax, works with her hands, brings food from afar, gets up while its dark, provides for her family and servant girls, considers a field, buys it out of her earnings, plants a vineyard, sets about her work vigorously, has a lamp that doesn't go out at night, opens her arms to the poor, extends her hands to the needy, has no fear for her family, makes coverings for her bed, brings honor to her husband, makes linen garments and sells them, supplies the merchants with sashes, laughs at the days to come, speaks with wisdom, watches over the affairs of her household, and is not idle.

I'm tired just from TYPING all that she did.  This woman needed a cape with a big "S"!  But the best part of that scripture is verse 30, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeing, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

My Bible study at Mommy Group caused me to take pause and re-think my expectations of myself.  There is a section in our Bible study books that allows us to write how the lesson connects with our livea.  I wrote a couple of valid points for me:

  • Everything does NOT have to get done.
  • Everything does NOT have to be perfect.
  • I am ONE person and I can only do the work of ONE person.
  • Over organizing and putting everything into a schedule only CREATES stress -- not productivity. 
No one is judging me as harshly as I judge myself.  I know I have friends who think I have everything together and just float through this parenting thing.  One friend visited my house and said, 'hmmm... you're just not as organized as I expected you to be."  She didn't say this as a criticism; she said it with relief because she really thought I had everything compartmentalized.  

So my commitment to myself is that I am going to do what I can do. It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing.  My kids are happy, healthy, and productive.  So really.... nothing else matters.