That’s It

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I just got back from the doctors.

Everything is fine. No worries there, praise God.

But something still doesn’t feel right.

Despite my best efforts, I still don’t feel myself.

I talked with my best friend today.  She gave me permission to chill.

I needed someone to do it.  My husband gave me permission but I thought he was just being nice 🙂 When my best friend did it, I actually heard what she was saying.

After Baby Grace was born, I was rarely home. I stayed gone for reasons I’ve already extensively written about. I was always on the move. I literally could not sit still. In order for me to be in a good head space, I had to be gone. Now that we’ve moved, it is just the opposite.  I am happiest when I’m still. I am calm and at peace when I am home taking care of husband, children, and hearth. I felt bad about that. I thought I should remain active for my Jazmine’s sake. I asked jazmine if she wanted to go strawberry picking or go to the playground.  Her answer?  “No. I don’t want to go.” So there is no pressure there. She loves the pool and that is really easy and convenient to get to.  As soon as its hot enough, we can certainly get there.

Since we’ve moved and gotten settled, I’ve been trying too hard to “get back.” Get back to my regular exercise.  Get back to being active. Get back to going out with friends. Get back to going on field trips with Jazmine. Getback to my healthy eating. Get bak to life and what I was before Baby Grace was born but with her in tow.  I am still ob the road to “get back” but I am taking a different method.  I am taking a break from that thinking. I am resting through July. No purposeful exercise. No making daily step goals. No diets or dietary restrictions. No filling up the family calendar. No making plans to fill up the day. No ‘I gotta’ phrases because truly, there is rarely anything that absolutely has to get done.  None of it.

The ONLY thing I am going to do is stretch and drink more water.  That’s it.

Let the (true) healing begin.

(Originally penned August 2016)

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Luke 1:36

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I have looked at moms who had children spaced out in age and wondered what it was that made them want to do it again. What was it that made that momma have a baby when she had a seventh grader and third grader already? Now, I fit the bill.  I have a Kindergartener and want a baby. That is an entire six year difference! That means that if I were to conceive today, in six years, I would have a sixth grader and a Kindergartener! Who does that?

Luke 1:36 says this

36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.

This verse comes after the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary to tell her she would conceive and give birth to Jesus. Our Pastor preached from this verse today. He said, God assured Mary that the impossible was possible for her from what He had already did for her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth was already sixth months pregnant when Gabriel appeared to Mary.

That stopped me cold. I have heard and seen the testimony of other mothers who conceived after being told they never would.  Who had children, lost several to miscarriages, then gave birth to twins.  Who after being told she would never conceive, adopted and then conceived twins. Who after being diagnosed with PCOS had four children. Who after trying for years to conceive again after her first child without success, had a baby boy 10 years later.

God has already assured me that the impossible is possible for me from what He has done for others around me. I have no choice but to believe God.

(Originally penned 2013) 

In The Midst Of Life

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As I ride down to church with my family this morning, I began to read a devotional.  This morning, I fell into daydreaming and fantasy as a mental escape instead of opening up God’s word first. Once I came too, we were significantly behind in schedule and needed to hustle to leave the house, which is why my quiet time happened in the car this morning.

I read the scripture passage and began to read the devotional part. I must have started, stopped, and reread the same paragraph what felt like 20 times before I was able to finish! I kept being interrupted! Hubby wanted to talk. Jazmine had things to say. It was a tag-team effort 😄.

I would have lashed out. I would have fussed. I would have done something or said something to show my displeasure at their behavior while I was reading. But God! I recognized their need for me. I poured out the patience God pours into me. I listened. I asked questions. When they had exhausted their verbal reserves, I finished that paragraph of my devotional.

I am so glad God sees me, knows me, and keeps me in the midst of life. He will do the same for you.

Not The Mommy I Thought I’d Be

I wish I can remember the exact date when I wrote this. I believe it was sometime winter 2016 or early 2017.  Last year was a hard school year. New baby. New home. New routine. A lot of growth I had to do as a wifommy. This was something I wrote when in the thick of things. 

download-1I am not the mother I want to be. I am not the mother I thought I would be. wifommyhood is harder than I thought it would be. The dishes, the laundry, the education, and that is just the daily grind. Not to mention everything else! I yell more than what is effective.  My patience often comes after the fact.  I still suck at making lunch. And dinner? My husband no longer eats white (bread, rice, flour etc) which makes thrown-together-meals just about non-existent. I am increasingly behind in grocery shopping which seems ridiculous with only having a four person household. By 4 o’clock, I’m done! I’ve had it for the day. I want to do NOTHING! I don’t want to listen to anymore 8yr old thoughts. I don’t want to train a 14 month old on the importance of “listening to Mommy” and “don’t hit sister!” My husband comes home and I try not to be a shell of a woman for him but he has his own needs and I will often see him as someone else who needs something from me. I am thoroughly stumped with my life right now. I’d like to hope that this getaway I have coming up will help but I am not so sure.

Homeschoolers left and right showing accomplishment after accomplishment talking about “the magic of homeschool”. Bah! Can I get some of that? Feels like I’m slouching in at least two subjects with her (Jazmine) while our peers are taking field trips, completing projects and what not.

Next year, I will be the outsourcing Momma. Yes, she will have five subjects taught via tutorial or a co-op. Yes, she will be in “only” two extra curricular activities and not 3 or more. Yes, I will “only” be teaching 3 subjects at home. Yes, I will be looking into house cleaning help sometime this summer. Yes, I will leave the house to come home and expect it to be clean. No, I will not be ashamed. Why? Because I am going to remember this time in my life right now and know why we are doing what we are doing.

Update: I am outsourcing 5 subjects. She “only” has two extracurricular activities. I did have someone clean my house after we moved it. I have learned that others decisions for their household is not a judgement against mine. Amen!

Always Learning

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Me, ready to teach Zumba

God is amazing!

Previously, I had expressed my concerns over my personality. I shared how, for most of my life, I have been chided on my flaws. This past week, oh this past week, God has freed me from a bondage I deemed righteous.

God does not condemn me. He gave me this dust I am an and, as long as I cooperate, will use it for His glory! I don’t need to be all smiles. I don’t need to try to worm myself into meaningful relationships. I don’t have to strive for what once was. God sees me and knows me where I am and loves me where I am. That is so FREEING!

I used to teach an online Zumba class.  It was hard finding a job once I got certified so, teaching online became a way I could express myself and keep building my skill set. Eventually, I landed two substitute instructor positions. I was more than happy to sub for someone. Within seven months of this whole process, I became pregnant with Baby Grace.  I had always seen myself as a fit mom and I decided I was going to be a fit pregnant woman too just like other woman I had seen. Welp, Baby Grace decided differently. Shortly thereafter, and after many cancelled or shortened classes, I stopped my online class and the paying gig I landed because I just couldn’t do it.  I felt like a failure.  Ever since then, I was looking for ways to claw my way back to my previous fitness level.

Once Baby Grace was 11 months, I decided enough was enough. I was going to get back in shape and teach again. I did just that. I began taking classes again, spending time on the elliptical, and putting fitness back into my every day.  I started subbing again and landed a summer long position. All of that came to a grinding halt in July. The gym where I was teaching no longer offered child care. I could not continue working there because it no longer fit my family.  I continued to sub at another location but needed to stop.  My available time to hone my craft (learn new choreography or come up with my own) changed. I did not have the time to devote to Zumba like I used to.  I couldn’t even take the same amount of classes that I used to.

Despite all of this, I felt I had to get back to where I was.  Finally, I submitted to the Lord my thoughts and feelings about this and asked Him what I was to do.  There are times when, once you are headed in a particular direction, we tend to mark out where we are going and expect no changes to that plan.  That is what I did with Zumba.  I expected that once I was an instructor, I would always be an instructor. That wasn’t God’s plan. Just last week, I quite my ZIN membership (Zumba Instructor Network) and, by the time this blog post is published, I will no longer be a licensed Zumba instructor.  I thought I would feel some kind of way but all I feel is relived. That season, regardless of how much I enjoyed it, is over. I trust God to usher me into a new season. I could not go into a new season if I stayed stuck in the former.

Who Do I Follow?

images-1I like math.  Specifically, I like Algebra. I like its absolutes. I like its formulas. I like its predictability. I know if I follow a particular formula, I will get the correct answer (as long as the formula I am using is the correct one). Once I understood algebra, all of its rules became comforting to me. It was fool-proof.  I couldn’t go wrong as long as I followed the formula.

I tried to apply a formula to God once.  Needless to say, it failed miserably.  I had to learn to really walk by faith and not by formula sight. Praise be to God I have steadily learned how to do that in my married years. However, I still find myself wanting to emulate someone. I would like a pattern to follow.  I would like to see someone who does it well, whom I can follow, and get the same results: a husband who has no complaints and spiritually obedient and successful children.

Because I am prone to attaching myself to something successful and riding it like a rocket, I am often distracted by the success of others. I used to drop everything I was doing, well and poorly alike, and totally change to be just like the newest superstar in my book. That behavior became a serious detriment to my household.

I have since learned to glean. Glean the good that I see emulated and put into practice any truths that person possesses.  I don’t necessarily have to put those truths into practice the same exact way but the kernel of truth that supports their practice is what I am after. For example, I’ve struggled with being consistent with outdoor physical activities with my girls.  The basic truth that I’ve heard over and over is that I need to incorporate my children in my physical activities. When I go for a walk, I use that walk as alone time instead of making my girls go with me. I need to incorporate my girls with me for more things. I need to make more statements about what we are going to do for physical exercise instead of asking and hoping I hear the response I am looking for.

I have learned to glean from others while fully leaning on the Lord.  No one person is going to meet all the areas I’d like to see emulated. No one person gets it all right, even on their best days. The only wifommy in my specific family dynamic is me. I am the right person for the job because God said so. He wouldn’t have put me here otherwise.

So who do I follow? I follow Christ first, and I follow others as they follow Christ. 

The Melancholy Homeschooling Mom

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Myers-Briggs Type Indicator INTJ = Littauer’s Melancholy Choleric

Years ago, I took the Personality Plus test by Florence Littauer. In it, I found a name for my personality. I am a Melancholy Choleric. What is that?  Read below:

They are systematic, precise thinkers and follow procedures in both their business and personal life. They are attentive to detail and push to have things done correctly, according to their own predetermined standards. They are sensitive and conscientious. They normally behave in a diplomatic manner except when it comes to deviating from standards they have accepted. They can then be very forceful in insisting the right way be followed. They are not socially active, preferring work and privacy to people. They tend to have difficulty in relationships because they are not flexible and they can be abrasive when communicating with others. They make decisions slowly because of collecting and analyzing information until they are sure of the best course of action. To be highly motivated they need a structured environment with clear rules and procedures, time to organize, collect information, think and the freedom to develop a plan.

Ouch.

I used to take so much pride in my personality type; not understanding why others weren’t more like me and my way of thinking. Because I analyzed everything and came to the “best” possible conclusions, I found it absurd for anyone to disagree.  I lost, killed actually, many relationships in my younger years because of this. No grace. No love. Not that I didn’t love. I did. I loved hard. My tone? My demeanor? Too hard. Too tough.

Fast forward to the present.  I am a homeschooling mom to two girls.  My 8-year-old has only had me as a teacher. Me. The “attentive to detail and push to have things done correctly, according to their own predetermined standards” me as a mom. (sad emoji)

I am not excluding Baby Grace although I am speaking exclusively of Jazmine.

How in the world can I mom, let alone be a homeschooling mom, with traits like these! “Does not like redundancy”, which is true, but come on! How can you teach a child and avoid redundnacy? “Lack of emotion”, which is true, but again, I am a mom! You can’t not have emotions and be a decent mom! I love my girl. I want only the best for her. I want her to be the best she she can be. I see her potential.  I want to it drawn out of her. I want her to shine. But I don’t know how to do that.  Not well anyway.  I am in the process of learning how though.

I am listening to a book called Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie. It was recommended to me by a mother of five.  I figured if this book helped her and she has smart kids, this should be able to help me. It’s helped me alright but not in the way I thought.

In chapter 20, Sarah speaks of her strengths and weaknesses.  We are so different.  It is hard for me to find familiarity when I already feel that someone is “better” in the ways I think you need to be in order to get smart kids from a homeschooled environment. Don’t get me wrong.  This book is FILLED with gems of wisdom that I have already begun to apply and I have several suggestions to be implemented when our official school year begins in September. However, it is at times hard to hear. I do not doubt her having the purist intentions, but I receive it as just another jab at what I’m not good at.

Until today.

Something struck me today.  As I was jotting down other things to implement (slow down math, group remaining math lessons accordingly, pick and choose pages in workbooks to complete), I realized a good hunk of my problem is that I am a slave to worksheets.

I like worksheets.  They are quantifiable work that I can show to a reviewer to prove I do educate my child. They are a defined body of work. There is no guess-work with worksheets.  You do what it says. (This may have something to do with liking “clear rules and procedures”)

I like them! But I am also a melancholy choleric which means worksheets are a task to be completed. Finished. Checked as done. Having things left unfinished is unnerving for me.

Before I fell deeper into the ‘I’m not good enough, what is wrong with me, I can’t possibly be the best teacher for my child, I’ve ruined her for life’ destructive thought process that has gotten more plays in my mind then you would think possible, I went to Jesus.

I admitted that I am a slave to worksheets, tasks, schedules, and my own standards.  I am easily swayed when a person I admire mentions something they do that is successful in their family. So swayed am I that I get home and talk about how we are going to start doing the same thing. I am ALWAYS comparing what Jazmine is demonstrating that she’s learned to what her peers are showing that they’ve learned to see how our homeschooling measures up. Am I not doing enough? Am I doing too much? Am I doing the right thing?  That is a very tiring existence.

As I’ve said, I have gotten better. MUCH MUCH better but I have not arrived at a place where my melancholy choleric does not show up in a way that I don’t think is beneficial for our home education. So, like I said, I went to Jesus.  He knows my personality type. He gave it to me.  He told me to homeschool. So He can tell me how to use what He gave me to do what He called me to do.

I have no fear. God will show me how to be the best melancholy choleric homeschooling Mom I can be for my Jazmine.  He will remove the shackles tethering me to all-things-quantifiable (worksheets). He will show me how to make substitutions and be comfortable with it. He will guide me in my authority as Mother and not a slave to whatever resource material (curriculum) we’ve chosen. He will show me how to live life without school hanging over my head like Joe Btfsplk in Li’l Abner.

joe-btfsplk

Joe Btfsplk

I need to be free.  I am seeking Jesus for my freedom.

I will keep you posted on our progress.

Dear SAHM: There Are More Important Things

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Growing up, I remember doing many chores.  I remember all of our responsibilities. Dishes, vacuuming, dusting, Windex glass, picking up after ourselves, daily floor sweeps, any other assignment either parent assigned, plus homework.  It was life.  It taught us all a great deal. We learned how to be responsible, that actions had consequences, that what we do affects others, how to be considerate, etc and how to clean. Even now, as adults, all of my three siblings and myself, can clean a house spotless.

Our house did not go past a certain messy point. Clothes never stayed on the couch for too long. Dishes were never in the sink for more than a meal. The floor never crunched with food or any other substance. We didn’t grow up in mess. My home, however, is not that.

Right now, there are clothes on our couch; clean clothes, but clothes nevertheless. The sink is full of dishes. Clean dishes are in the dishwasher and on the side of the sink.  The kitchen floor has food in the crease where the wall and carpet meets all along the wall. I have two piles of laundry on the floor of our bathroom. I could go on but you get the idea.

A while a go, I posted that I was going to have Jazmine follow a chore chart. It is going pretty well. She is developing good habits and, gradually, learning to choose not to do a half-way job with her chores. I am a task oriented person. I practice not stopping for any kind of break until all or at least the vast majority of a task list is complete. I want to instill this in Jazmine. The thing is, I am sure I was born with the wiring for this kind of thinking but it did not present itself right away.  It was groomed and allowed to grow. I have to give this same time allowance to my Jazmine.

I have a habit of measuring how well my day has gone by how my home looks.  I get where this thought process comes from. I am a SAHM. I don’t work outside of the home. I don’t have a desk or a boss to please. No one readily recognizes my work and says ‘good job’. Not that that is a daily occurance at any job but I don’t get performance reviews etc. All I have as a showcase, if you will, is my home. When people come in, my home is what reflects me. If, by the time I go to bed, my home is tidy, I feel great.  If it is not, I tend to beat myself up.  I think I spent my day doing too much of everything else and did not incorporate tidying up. This evening, it occurred to me that, on a scale of importance, the nurturing of my husband and children’s hearts and their spirits is vastly more important than having a tidy home. Not that my house should remain untidy but if I spend far more time grooming my children and nurturing both them and my husband, while allowing everyone to grow, I have invested my time well.

The state of my home is no longer a personal measure of my worth.

 

Mommy Who Is Scared Of Chore Enforcement

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First of all, I understand.

You are not alone.

Let me relay my story.  I hope you take comfort.

My daughter Jazmine is 8 years old. If you are new to this blog, for the first 7 years of Jazmine’s life, we lived with my mother-in-law.  Life was very different then.  I had a lot of “help”; most of which was an easy fix to a current situation. During this past 11 months of living under our own roof, I’ve had to grow A LOT! Jazmine had to grow a lot. It could not and did not happen all at once. Discipline is an area where I’ve had stunted growth. I am not talking about behavioral discipline. I am talking about enforcing chores and household responsibilities.

Jazmine has chores, meaning I’ve assigned them and she knows what things she is responsible for doing.  She also knows how to complete each task to Mommy’s specifications. However, I have not done a consistent job of enforcing those responsibilities. She knows she is to vacuum after dinner but, often enough, because I dismayed at having to address her non-verbal unpleasantness at being told to complete the chore, I would not say a word but let it go.  Other times, it’s not that I didn’t feel like enforcing but that a greater need arose. Namely, Baby Grace needed and eye kept on her while I finish something in another part of the house. Jazmine can not yet vacuum and watch a toddler so, I nixed the vacuum for babysitting.

My husband and I just got back from having some time away.  Now that we are back home, and our weekly routine gears up again tomorrow, I have had time to reflect. I can not be that worn out anymore. I can not stay up late after our girls are in bed to clean, fold, and wash. My husband does not need to stay up after working to straighten up.

The Bible is clear. It says, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).  Although that verse is referring to the Israelites teaching their children to carefully obey God’s commands, you will notice that the children are with their parents. The children are with them in the house, on the road, at bedtime, and in the morning. I’ve not had Jazmine by my side while doing most of the things needed to run a household. I’ve let her entertain herself while I completed my chores. I’ve done her and myself a disservice.

I was afraid to enforce before because of what it would cost me. Time.

It’s like teaching her to tie her shoes all over again.  When she was 5, I had to add an extra 5-10 minutes to the get-out-of-the-house routine to allow her time to work at tying her shoes. It was worth it but oh so labor intensive. Until today, I’ve shied away from enforcing chores because I did not want that labor intensive work day-in and day-out for the next few weeks (months) on end while raising a toddler whom, I swear to beans, has hit the terrible twos at 14 months of age!

But the Bible says, “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Proverbs 29:17) I can take comfort in that, as much hard work that will go into this next stretch of mothering, delight is awaiting me on the other end.

So, fellow scared Mommies, let us journey on together shall we?

Disclaimer:  My decision not to act was selfish and unloving. My desire for perfection (regarding cleanliness) in my home effectively killed much-needed instruction from me to my child. I am armed with laminated and posted chore charts (one of which is pictured above) and a determination to make household responsibilities just as important as school. I will enforce the chores she knows how to do.  Whatever task I am about to do in our home that is new to her, my Jazmine will be by my side.  I will be teaching and she will be observing and learning. We will be conversing. I will not expect perfection when she first attempts task nor when it’s her 50th attempt. I will, however, expect improvement. 

How To Let Go And Let God

PreparingBabyLayetteLet Go and Let God is a song and a cliché within the church. Not that that saying has no truth, but it is often used so haphazardly that the full weight of the words is missed.

I long for more children. An itch has been scratched since having Baby Grace but it still feels that my family is not yet complete. I long for the boy my husband can father in the home; a boy from my womb. While we have been trying, I have not yet felt the desperation I had while waiting for Baby Grace to come. As Baby Grace continues to grow and out grow, I have not parted with a thing.  I have been, once again, hoarding but calling it wisdom.  Better to store and wait for another child than to give away and have to repurchase right? No.  Saving is wisdom.  Hoarding is folly.  Hoarding/Storing takes on the mindset that if we give it away, we could never again regain it. God provided the first time and He can and will provide again. Let go and let God.

During today’s sermon, God impressed upon me that I was hoarding his blessings.  He had to remind me that He provided for Baby Grace and He will provide for the next baby, whenever that happens.  I had to release my coveted Puj Baby Tub, stretchy car seat canopy, sneak-a-peak car seat cover, and nursing cover. My bargain bought breast pump, Close & Secure Portable Infant Sleeper, and my numerous baby wearing gear, all I released.  I released EVERYTHING over and over and over again until it was complete and real and not just lip service.

God provided before.  He will provide again. Why? Because He told me to let go. I didn’t decide to just let go and hope he’ll catch me because I desire for new. No. He told me to let go so I am. I know He will provide yet again because He did for Jazmine and Baby Grace.  I KNOW He will do it for whenever the next baby comes.  By the time you read this, I will have already made a call to see if a new mom needs anything I have and I will have sent a text asking another mom to come view my wares and to take whatever she needs. Whatever is left will be posted on my MOPS group Facebook page.  Whatever is left after that will be consigned at the next local Tot Swap for $1-$3.  I look forward to being a conduit for God’s blessings.