I Just Don’t Have Time!!!

I miss summer today.

Not because of the weather or the season, for I LOVE fall, it’s my favourite season! But today I miss summer because it’s my slow season. All of the other seasons are filled with busy days packed full of events and activities from morning until night, but not summer.

I know that many do not feel as I do, as summers are full for some people: full of holidays, of travel, of camping, and other planned activities…

However, for a homeschooling mom who does very little travelling, summers are like taking a long, deep breath. In summer I move slower. My mornings are relatively quieter and unhurried. My “to do” lists are also shorter and with my mornings free, there is actually a possibility that I may complete them! There are free days too…days to go to the park, play with the children, and enjoy the warmth of the sun.

But come fall, my time is gone.

Homeschool begins, and in comes CHAOS!! There’s always some work for me to do or some place for me to be. My outdoor time is limited to frantically picking the last of the tomatoes before the frost hits, gathering fallen branches and debris thrown about by the wind, picking up jackets and toys left lying around the yard and other work-like activities.

Gone are the heartwarming childhood memories of fall… of raking leaves and jumping in piles, I don’t have time for THAT when there’s canning to do, school to finish and cleaning to attempt to catch up on.

But…Autumn! Autumn with its stunning beauty is still there. The freshly fallen leaves carry the same sweet smell. The air holds the same crisp, coolness. The harvest moon is just as big and golden as always, but the beauty of the colours around me are noticed in short glimpses, always with a hint of sadness in my heart: I wish that I could just enjoy these days.

 

Today I read a poem called “October” by my favourite poet, Robert Frost, and my eyes filled with tears, because for me, it captured the very essence of this beauty slipping away:
October.jpg
“O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Slow the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!”
(This isn’t the full poem)
I don’t know what it is about poetry that speaks to me so deeply, but it just does. I am the type that can hardly get through a fast paced novel without skipping pages, because I get impatient to get to the “good parts”.
Poetry, on the other hand, causes me to slow down. I soak in every word, so I won’t miss the meaning of the poem. Rushing through poetry is as pointless as running through an art museum, you miss the significance of the beauty around you.
And then it hits me: Rushing through life is as pointless as rushing through poetry. The meaning is completely lost when we speed through the days.
Maybe this is why we look back on childhood with such fondness, because children just move at a slower pace than us adults. The meaning of life for my children is NOT getting school work done and…they obviously DON’T rush through it! They take their time in everything they do. Whether the job is to sort laundry, clean up the toys or to rake leaves, it seems as if I always have to get them back on task as they always seem to want to stop the work to have their fun…like when it’s time to clean up lego: suddenly they build an entire city with the pieces!!! Not very efficient, but definitely more fun than putting it into bins.
But for me, stopping to just have fun does not come so naturally anymore. I’m completely burdened by the tasks of the day and I forget that the meaning of my existence has nothing to do with having a clean house. Life will not come crashing down if my tomatoes freeze, or if I decide to not can any more pasta sauce. The meaning of life is not for my kids to be the perfect piano player, or the best readers, or the neatest writer. If I forget to bring the garbage out on time and I miss the garbage truck, if I’m late for my meeting and get annoyed stares as I enter the room, life goes on!! Very little has changed other then my stress levels and my attitude about life.
Work. Money. Careers. School. Success. The world acts as if these things are the meaning of life. But in reality, they do little else than to fill our short slot of time here on earth.
So what then? If meaning isn’t found in these things, then is everything we do a waste?
Only if we make it a waste.
Only if we speed through each of our daily tasks, without ever pausing to find the purpose in them.
Honestly, I don’t have time to write this. I don’t need to write this. I have a hundred other things that would be more useful to me right now. But I am writing anyways. Because it’s in doing things that we don’t have time for, when we realize what is important in life. Don’t know what I mean? Think of this:
I don’t really have time to snuggle my children each morning, but when they come to me, I stop, sit down and hold them in my arms. In stopping my busy activities for the morning, my children know and realize they are precious. They are important. They matter. So I can view it as a waste of time, because it’s not on my “list” or I can stop and realize that they are more important than the list.
I don’t have lots of  time to go out with friends or fit in coffee dates. And taking time to meet new people, this definitely isn’t on my “to do” list…these things MAKE work. They don’t accomplish a task, building relationships takes time, lots of time. But communication and strong friendships are signs of an emotionally healthy person. Why? Because these things have MEANING.
You know what I REALLY don’t have time for? Disciplining my children.
Because BELIEVE me, THAT is NEVER on my list of things to do. Rather, it usually interrupts my lists…which results in me yelling, or putting them in a corner, or, if I’m very exhausted, giving in.
But you know what brings meaning to discipline? When it becomes more than just trying to get correct behaviour. When bad behaviour simply becomes a tool for measuring how your child is doing and discipline becomes rather an opportunity to meet the needs and form the character of the child. It’s only when I stop just dealing with bad behaviour and begin seeing the need behind the ugly actions, where I find meaning to what discipline is all about.
How about time for devotions?
This is a difficult one for many of us! Especially in my earlier days of parenting, when a good nights sleep was getting 3 hours in a row. When my children woke up before I did. When naps were necessary for survival!!! Certainly I was exempt from this one! I didn’t even have time to shower most days!!!
A few years ago, during a conference, God got a hold of my heart in this area. I began to spend an hour or more a day in his presence. The result changed me completely. Before this, five minutes a day was my goal. Because devotions, like so many other things in my life at that time, was just another item on my checklist.
Now, I always cringe inwardly when I read devotional titles like: “Five minutes with God…for Busy Moms”. Not that there’s anything wrong with spending five minutes reading a cute devotional, it’s rather the thought behind it that bothers me.
Was Christianity meant to be a five minute time slot on our to do lists? Really? When you read the Bible, is that the feeling you get from Jesus’ disciples? Or the apostle Paul? Or King David who wrote Psalm 63:1-6:

“You God are my God, earnestly I seek you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live,and in your name I will lift up my hands.

I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.”

These verses tell us that our walk with God was meant to be something more! Our time with God was never meant to be something shoved into a five minute slot in our day! In the Bible, NOWHERE does it talk about carving in a chunk of time for God.
Ever.
Rather, it’s his very presence that continually fills us and gives us meaning, moment by moment, day by day, for life!
It’s only in doing those things that we feel like we don’t have time for, that we realize what is important in life.
I don’t have this all figured out.
My days right now are crazy and full and hectic. Sometimes my times with God are cut short by children that need me, sometimes they feel dry because I’m distracted by everything around me. Sometimes my lists just get in the way of me being able to stop and find the enjoyment in the little things. Sometimes the clock is my enemy. Sometimes my own plans are my enemy. Sometimes the way I think things need to be done is actually just making things miserable for me and everybody else around me!
But today, I’m choosing to remember what matters, because allowing myself time to relax brings meaning to life.
Spontaneous field trips that have little educational value?!? Yes please!!
Random coffee dates?? Bring it on!
Skip another school event to soak in God’s presence? Definitely.
Paper plates and fast food? Sure, why not!
Breathing in the last few nice days of fall? Absolutely.
And if it means smashing the clock and ripping up the “lists” so be it! Life is far too short to let another beautiful autumn day pass me by.
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A Mother’s Greatest Lie

I’ve always wanted to write a book. Not just any book either: a classic. One of those books that touches the reader so deeply they can’t help but ponder it for the next few days or even weeks. I want to use my words to transform people’s lives and their way of thinking. I don’t just want to write another book, I want to write THE book.

Today I sat down once again with visions of writing a bestselling Novel. As soon as my pen hit the page (yes I’m sometimes old school like that…I still love writing with pen and paper) the words took off! They flowed onto the page as fast as my pen could keep up with my mind! And then it happened, the same thing that happens every single time:

Children.

Their fighting began and as soon as I heard their cries and angry shouts, my heart sank. At first, I tried to block out the noise, but I could tell my story was getting weaker as my divided mind could no longer fully engage with what I was writing. I stopped. And once again I knew in my heart that I’d lost it. Never again will I write that story. The moment was gone.

I clambered down the stairs and took my frustration out on the younger two boys, who were the culprits of the trouble. In my anger, I tried to deal with their pain, which ended up causing more tears and wounds to our souls because I was already impatient. I had already in my mind found them guilty of wronging me and so I had no room in my heart to hear them out or to listen to “sides”. They were guilty of the repeated offence of “Disrupting MY life” and in my mind it was the only offence worth convicting them over.

“I’m so tired of you fighting all the time! I don’t really care WHAT your problem is, I just want you to stop! I can never have any peace and quiet in this house!” The words flew out of my mouth, along with others, expressing how badly they were acting at the time. I wish I could say that I had the decency to come to my senses, take my boys into my arms and listen to them, but I didn’t. I just sent them to their rooms, storming off to my own to cool off, to try to get back that which I already knew was lost. To try to write my story. But it was too late. The only words that now came were:

“I will NEVER write a book, because I am a Mom.”

I can’t write, because I am a Mom. These words, this thought, is one of the most painful, binding lies I have ever struggled with since becoming a Mom. It takes on many forms and is at the very centre of the struggle of motherhood. It can be rephrased into the following thoughts:

“My kids are holding me back from living up to my fullest potential!”

“My children are the reason for my failures.”

“If it weren’t for my children I’d be doing important things with my life!!”

“My life is less productive because of my kids.”

“My kids are a distraction and they are the reason I have let go of my dreams.”

“My children have ruined MY life!”

In the end, these thoughts, these LIES express the lonely cry of a wounded mother and the resentment she feels towards her kids for the changes their lives have brought to hers.

Oh, we rarely, if ever, give voice to these thoughts and feelings. But we bury them deep, deep within our souls only to hear them whenever we face disappointments and failures. And in our pain we hear these lies whispered within our hearts: it’s all their faults.

Being a Mother has taught me this much: Every trial and difficult situation is magnified when having kids. Insecurity. Depression. Financial struggles. Loneliness. It doesn’t go away when having kids. Children can sometimes be a wanted distraction, but more often than not, they just actually bring more stress into a hard situation. But let’s get something straight here: IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT.

Your pain, the pain deep within your heart, is not because of them.

My struggles are not MY kids fault anymore than my parents’ struggles and failures are mine. And if I let myself believe that lie, I’m not only setting myself up for a life of bitterness and resentment against my children, I may also unknowingly be planting seeds of shame and rejection into their little hearts.

Now let’s be honest, children DO make things difficult. But the reality is that no child can ruin God’s plans for your life.

The only person who can prevent you from fulfilling God’s calling on your life, is you.

And maybe, just maybe, I’m not supposed to write a book right now, during this season of my life. Maybe God wants me to wait.

During this one post I have left this computer approximately ten times. I’m solving fights, helping with bathroom breaks, getting towels for the kids coming out of the hot tub, prepping supper, telling children to move their noisy play to a different room so that I can concentrate. And I have to ask myself sometimes: Why do I bother? Why not give up? Why not give in and just call it quits on the rest of my life until the kids have moved out?

Because I know better.

Being a Mother and raising my children is hands down one of the most important callings of my life, and at the end of my life I want to look back and say that I did my best. But I know better than to say it’s the only call on my life.

Being a Mother changed me and shaped me into a new person, but it doesn’t define me. If anything it’s trained and strengthened me for my real calling.

My first and most important role in this life is to follow Jesus with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength.

This means many things: It means to look different than the rest of the world, it means to do my best in all things, even the small things. It’s doing things I really would rather not like loving the unlovable, showing kindness to the mean spirited, putting others needs ahead of my own wants and desires. It’s repenting when I’ve done something wrong. It’s giving to the poor. It’s blessing those who mistreat me. It’s turning my back on the lusts of this world. It means shutting out the lies that my head wants to believe, silencing the excuses that try to push blame onto others. It also means using the different talents and abilities God’s given me, for his glory.

So I continue to write, recognizing that right now, maybe God only wants me to have the time for short blog posts, but so what! I’m using my gifts, my passions, as best I can for the time being. With joy in my heart I can lay my “big dreams” his hands. So maybe I will never write THE book…or maybe I will, neither is all that important.

What matters is that I was faithful in the small things and, to the very core of my being, did my best in it all.

And The Years Flew By

This past summer I took a break from social media; from posting on my blog to Instagram to Facebook. I also deleted all the games on my phone. Here’s what I found: All my missing time.

Okay, so maybe all the extra time also had to do with taking a break from homeschooling, BUT, I had time to do my work, time to relax, time for devotions, and time to have friends over for dinner. I made a wedding cake, I learnt some Spanish, and I memorized 3 full chapters of the bible, plus some other verses as well! I had time to be with my kids; I taught them how to enjoy work and they taught me how fun being a mom can be. We got to make a summer bucket list together and we almost completed our whole list! We went camping. I hosted some out of town relatives for a couple weeks. I planted and actually took care of a garden.

Despite all of this, I still had time to sit and think! I thought about how much time my phone took of my life (I honestly never want to hear the full tally of the hours I’ve spent on it!) I thought about how I’m half done raising my oldest three kids. I thought about the mistakes I’ve made and the things I’ve done right. Mostly though, I thought about how short life is and what a gift our time on earth is.

Time is a gift. A precious gift. Each moment spent can never be gained back! This means every person who pauses to send me an encouraging text, or who takes time to have coffee with me is giving me a tremendous blessing: their time.

I suppose none of us in the early years of parenting really know what to do with the elderly who stop us with our new babies, gaze into their faces and dreamily say, “Enjoy this stage because the years fly by!” I mean, we think we know what they mean, and we nod in agreement, but in our hearts the days still sometimes crawl by; the endless checklists cause us to hustle about from morning until night and lets face it, the sleepless nights seem even longer. Sometimes we just think to ourselves: “I know it’s true, I do, but right now I just wish I was out of this stage.”

It reminds me of a lady at church who smiled at me, shifting in my seat uncomfortably at the end of my first pregnancy. Her little kids were crawling all over the pew around her and she said, “Just enjoy the peace while you still can!” Then about eight years later, that same lady watched me as I juggled my five kids around me trying in vain to keep them quiet and she looked at me with older, wiser eyes and said, “Enjoy the busyness, my kids don’t even want to sit with me anymore!” And I smiled to myself and thought about the irony of her statement.

Of course us humans do that, wish for the quiet when we’re busy and long for the busy when it’s quiet.

I’m turning 30 next year, about one third of my life is over…and I’m reminded of an old Psalm:

“Teach us to number our days, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Thanks to our busy culture, rarely, if ever do we stop and take time to number our days. We pack our schedules full of sports, school, work, church activities, volunteering, social engagements, but when it’s all said and done, do we spend time on what matters in our lives?

When I’m old and most of my life is behind me, I want to be able to look back on the way I’ve spent my time and have no regrets. I want to pour more of my life into people, rather than things. Sometimes, it just takes a break from “things” to realize how much time we gave to them. Sometimes, it takes a break from the “likes” to realize how little we actually need them.

Oh that my generation would see the slap in the face it is to everyone around us when we continuously choose to pine away hours of time! We sit down face to face with each other, yet spend more time on our phones than with each other. It’s actually ridiculous, that one would prefer to stare at a screen over watching their baby’s first giggles, or joining them in picking that fresh bouquet of wildflowers. And our wasted time is a loss not only to our children, but also to the elderly who sit by themselves day after day, to our friends who struggle with depression yet feel completely alone because we are “too busy” to listen to them ourselves.

So why am I here, you may ask. If blogging and social media are such a huge waste of time, then why don’t I just stop complaining about it and delete it!

To be completely honest, I thought about it …but then I remembered something, something my generation often forgets about, a little something known as self control. Social Media, games, Netflix, blogs…these things aren’t the enemy. They aren’t bad. We don’t need to delete our accounts or block them out! Facebook and WordPress are nothing more than tools. If used wisely and correctly, they can help communication, they can keep us in touch with those we would forget otherwise. But if used incorrectly they become harmful and sometimes even deadly to us and our relationships.

My break from it all taught me how much I’ve been misusing these tools. My misuse of them led me to frustration in parenting, lack of energy and time and the false sense of acceptance from the likes I’ve received. Blogging helps me put my thoughts into words, it improves my writing skills…but I don’t need to spend any time watching the stats, because really, knowing how many people are reading my writing doesn’t help me improve. Facebook helps me to share moments of my life with others and to share in the joy of others special moments, but I don’t need to check it fifty times a day!

I’m grateful for my time off this summer. I’ll never regret it. It taught me an important lesson: I still have time to change.

Time that is ticking.

My years of raising children are literally flying by and I, for one, don’t want to miss one more precious second!

A Mother’s Poem

I wrote a poem the other day with the purpose to describe some of the thoughts and feelings that run deep within a mother’s heart.

I know that poems aren’t everyone’s thing, however, I strongly believe that certain emotions can not be fully expressed in an article format, but only caught in glimpses of time. So I used snapshots of everyday life in each stanza to help capture the full essence of what it is to be a Mother.

A Mothers Poem

Deepest dreams come true, the best moments of life! Tiny hands reaching, stroking, hugging; my heart is melting! Pulling, grabbing, pinching; okay, now leave me alone!

Panic sets in. Where is he? Have my worst fears come true? Am I the horrible mother they think I am? There, he sits outside playing safe and sound. One quick glance calms the fears but, for just one more moment.

Heart swelling, that’s MY little girl. Pretty, smart and strong. Where did that confidence come from, or those lovely full lips? But those deep blue eyes are all mine.

Sit down for a breath and work stacks up like Jenga blocks, just waiting to come crashing down on my head. Just one more moment, just another second. Outside, the kitten just lies still while the dog devours it, until I knock on the window and save the poor soul. I guess I got up.

That time you came and told me that my thighs jiggled when I ran and I laughed so hard with you, but when you left, I cried. They were once firm like yours.

Just over this wave, is another one really coming up so fast? Waiting for the calm in the storm. Another question I can’t answer, another job I won’t do. But no one else does it either, so I guess I will.

When I dumped a full bucket over you and the shock on your wet face made me laugh. Squealing, because you smiled with revenge. A small glimpse in time but forever burnt into my memory. See, Mommy can have fun too.

Am I in this alone? Sometimes. Me, and a billion others. On an island of kids. Make those smoke signals high, no one will come. Find help for yourself. If you have any idea where to start looking for it.

The girl sings softly as she wanders alone, two boys dig in the mud together, each with a stick, searching for some hidden treasures that are lost to the rest of the world. The littlest one lovingly pets that poor kitten the wrong way. And I take it all in like a breath of fresh air. The best day.

No! You ruined it! It can never be replaced! Your sticky hands, marking it forever with a piece of you. The regret isn’t the tiny fingerprints but the way your eyes dropped down when I yelled. I’m so sorry.

Is it the end of the day, or the beginning of the night? Really can’t tell anymore. What is sleep? The lights are on and off like a summer lightening storm, while the rest of the world sleeps in peace.

Peace. When the work is done, when they lie down still. Peace. When the nightmares fade and the light in the bathroom glows softly, just in case.

Sleep soft, sweet angels, Mama loves you with every aching breath.

Just Keep it to Yourself

Yesterday I was at the grocery store with three of my children. My youngest who’s three, usually sits in the cart to save me from a lot of chaos in the store as he’s a runner. This time however, he begged to walk beside me and I knew that I would have a full cart so I let him. Sure enough he was constantly running from me so I tried my best to finish up shopping quickly. I had so much food that I had to carry a bag in one hand and push the cart with the other…and with our family of seven, all that food only lasts for a week!

I realized my dilemma while leaving the store: a running three-year old, a busy parking lot…so I stopped before exiting the doors and very seriously explained to Emerson that he needed to hold on to the cart and not run as there were cars driving all around and it was dangerous. He nodded and his cute, pudgy little fingers curled around the side of the cart. We walked together into the lot, my older children right behind me, Emerson beside me and he was listening great!

But then he saw our van and he BOLTED towards it.

What his three-year old eyes didn’t see was that the van right next to ours was beginning to back out of its spot and was headed right for him. Obviously the driver couldn’t see him because of his size and I immediately let go of my cart and my groceries and ran toward him screaming his name. The van screeched to a halt a split second before hitting my little boy. By now I was in tears, Emerson was in tears and I picked him up scolding him, hugging him, and kissing him. The young lady who was driving got out, thinking that she had already hit my son, and I assured her that it wasn’t her fault and that my son was fine. She told me that hearing my scream had stopped her.

The groceries were left on the van and the counter when we got home, I simply held my precious boy. My day could’ve looked a lot different. It could’ve ended with losing him, with mourning, with funeral arrangements. But by the grace of God I get to hold him close.

In fact this is just one of MANY “close” calls I’ve had with my five kids. I could tell you about the time my oldest got lost at a park with a big pond when he was just a toddler…I was certain he had drowned. Or the time a tractor with a pull behind swather unexpectedly passed by the field beside our house while my child and his kittens were playing on it…the kittens both died, my son got out of the way just in time. I have often thanked God for the hand of protection he’s had over my children because as hard as I try, I can’t ALWAYS be there.

A generation ago people understood this. People understood that most parents would die for their children and would never put their children in a situation where harm would come to them. Previous generations comforted and cared for parents when there was loss. They understood that as hard as we try to protect our children, accidents happen. Tragedy strikes and NO ONE is to blame. They understood that the death of a child is not the time to start spewing off “whose fault it is” or “safety precautions” or most definitely not the time to start the dreaded “I would’ve never” speech.

Enter social media: a superficial platform of entitled millennials hidden behind the safety of a screen. Where internet trolls and cold-hearted foe really care less about the child or the family’s loss and pain, but they come for the newest story to comment on. Where perfect parents abound and are ready to spew their fountain of knowledge in the form of hateful comments at any and every tragic news story. If a child slips from their parents grasp and falls into a gorilla cage at the zoo, these vultures are there screaming out comments like “they should’ve shot the mother instead of the gorilla!” When a child drowns, “Where was that mother? She should be charged…I would never let…” blah, blah, blah.

The mother should be shot? For taking her kids to a zoo? She should be charged? With what, may I ask? For having the worst flippin’ day in her entire life? For not being Captain America? What would this help the world? Would it bring justice? Would it bring her beloved child back? Would it “teach” her or anyone else a lesson?

Actually, yes…it would teach us all a lesson! You know what it would teach us? That in our moment of greatest need, tragedy and pain, people are nothing more than a ruthless mob, thirsty for more blood. It would teach us that what we all fear the most is true, no one really cares…we just want someone to blame. And you, the mother are the easiest target.

And it’s not just the commentators, it’s also the “professionals” and the “officers” that feel inclined to comment at the end of every news article things such as “this is a reminder to all of us to keep young children in arms reach when near bodies of water” or “seat-belts aren’t just there as a suggestion, they are there to protect your life!” Now, I’m not saying these things shouldn’t be said, but people, there is a time and a place! And using someone’s tragedy as a platform to spout safety rules is not the time nor the place!!!

I want to finish this by sharing a heartfelt Facebook post written by a Mother who suffered an unimaginable tragedy. I asked Ashley if I could share what she wrote with my readers because the attacks on Mothers in their moments of greatest pain needs to STOP! She wrote:

“As some of you know, I have gone through every mother’s worst fear. On June 2nd, I lost my youngest son in a horrible car accident. I was driving. I had pulled away from a gas station, checking each buckle, and I began to drive the curvy, mountainous road to my family’s house. My son was notorious for doing everything he could to unbuckle in the car…We tried five point harness seats, boosters, I believe even zip ties at one point (probably not safe either) but he always viewed it as a superhero challenge. He was a superhero because he always succeeded. On average, I would usually pull over three or four times on any given trip to firmly make him buckle up again. We were only five minutes out when a large rock rolled into my lane. I had three choices: try to straddle the rock, move to the oncoming lane which was a double line large curve with an angry river at the other side. Rock, head on collision, river. I chose the rock. I chose wrong. And yes, he had already unbuckled along with his 8 year old brother. (They were switching spots and I didn’t know.) The rock hit my axle, and sent us plummeting into the side of a cliff. Our 13 passenger van rolled and my son was instantly gone. Our lives were instantly ripped apart. The little boy who had been my pride and joy was cruelly taken from me in a matter of seconds. I remember being smashed between my console (no airbag engaged) and our three ton van. I had blood everywhere. I fought and fought and then blacked out. When I awoke, I was unbuckling my baby from her car seat (she was upside down) and working to get each child (5 of my children were with me) out of the van. When I came to Titus I worked with all my might to lift the heavy van off his tiny body. My 8 year old son was trying to help me. I could only see the lower half of his body. I rubbed his tummy and tried gentle compressions. But he was already gone. It was instantaneous, which only brings me comfort because I know he felt no pain. What followed was a blur. I refused treatment from the paramedics until they let me hold my dead son. All my children were whipped away and taken to an ambulance to be cared for. I was life flighted and sedated, for the shock made me inconsolable. It was two days later that I saw it all over Facebook. A news report reporting the death of my child as if they were reporting that the weather might change, or a new planet had been discovered. I was thankful they reported that no drugs or alcohol had been a factor. But that’s not what hurt. The readers commented the cruelest things about how horrible of a mother I was. How I deserved it. How my children should be taken from me. I wanted to punch them, shake them. Tell them how close we were, how hard I fought to keep him safe. How we had a special good night kiss and a designated McDonald’s date each week. I wanted to scream that he always told me he wanted to marry me, that I was the best mama ever. That he built me Lego ships, took naps in my bed while holding my hand with his dimpled little fingers…”

People, this is NOT okay! This NEEDS to stop. We brag about how far we’ve come from ancient times, on how accepting we are as a society, on how compassionate we are and then we turn and rip those hurting among us to tiny shreds! Instead of rescuing those who are drowning in sorrow we pull them down the whole way to make sure they don’t get back up! And it happens to EVERY SINGLE FAMILY that ends up in the news.

I don’t ask you to do this often but if you’re reading this, I’d like you to share it… because it seems that my generation needs to be reminded of something that was once just normal etiquette: when tragedy strikes, when someone loses a child, when there is a difficult situation of loss, or pain…if you can’t give any word of encouragement, love or comfort…then please, for heavens sake, do everyone a favour and keep it to yourself!

#MomGuilt

From the moment I saw the hash tag “mom guilt”, it bugged me. Another real, deep life issue had just been turned into a clever marketing scheme…and I didn’t like it! I still don’t like it. Businesses are doing it more and more often and it’s very clever indeed! Advertisements are playing on our emotions and they stay in our memories…but in the end they do absolutely nothing to address or help the deep ache inside that mothers really feel every single day: Guilt for doing their absolute best!

Telling a mom, “Just don’t feel guilty about it, you’ve done your best!” does absolutely nothing to heal the self-condemnation many woman feel day after day after day. Turning it into a light-hearted joke may temporarily ease the pain but in the end, mom-guilt is very, incredibly real and it comes from deep within causing restless nights and illegitimate worries. It causes outbursts from insecurities of our intentions and abilities. It brings many into depression. It causes some to give up and check out emotionally on their children.

Where we started motherhood gazing with wonder into the beautiful faces of our newborns, motherhood slowly turns into an endless checklist of chores, appointments, and things to remember.

It wasn’t meant to be this way. But it is.

There was such hope for SO MUCH MORE!! But that hope just seems to fade a bit more everyday, until we check ourselves out of the mothering day as soon as our little ones are in bed, exhausted from the pressure and stress we were never meant to feel in the first place.

Real Mom-guilt story: When I was 6 months pregnant with my third child, I went on a marriage retreat with my husband. It was winter and there was a hot tub at the event. Now, being very self-conscious about my body at that point in my life and during that stage of pregnancy, I really did not want to go in. First of all, because I knew I really shouldn’t for the baby’s sake but also because I was too embarrassed! It so happened that a nurse was along on the trip and she casually mentioned that as long as I was comfortable and stayed in a short time, it was totally ok. So one evening, I went out to the hot tub with my husband when no one else was around. It was really cold, so my plan of just putting in my feet a few minutes quickly changed to me plopping myself down fully emerged in the very hot water. After ten minutes, I started to feel uncomfortable so I stood to get out, but as I stood a huge group of people came out to join us and I awkwardly plopped back down because I was totally self-conscious in my swimsuit. I sat there for another painful twenty minutes until I realized I was feeling very sick and got out anyways. The next few days I was physically sick as a result of this and I kicked myself for it…for caring so much about my appearance that I would put my own health and my baby’s health in jeopardy…but that wasn’t the worst part of it: I felt like the dumbest, most selfish mother on the planet and I worried for the next three months constantly that I had done something that would cause permanent damage to my baby.

You know what’s the craziest part of this all? My son is now eight years old and that memory still haunts me. Because my boy has trouble making friends, he has difficulty controlling his emotions, he tiptoes when he walks and deep down, I blame MYSELF. Every. Single. Day. Is there something wrong with him? Are the issues in his life a result of that one poor choice? Probably not! But I don’t know for sure…I never will. And it haunts me. And this is just one example of the hundreds of ways we Mothers feel guilt!

When I hear my children yelling at each other… it must be my fault for once in a while yelling at them.

When I see my children use bad table manners…it’s probably my fault because I haven’t trained them properly.

When they get sick…I should’ve not let them go outside without their jacket!

If they say something awkward…my fault, I’m homeschooling, they probably don’t get out enough.

If they’re all over tired, fighting and throwing tantrums…my fault, we’re probably too busy and not at home enough.

When we leave them at childcare or crying with a sitter…I am a failure, I can’t even be there for them.

If my boy pees his pants and I forgot extra clothes…I’m such a horrible mom.

It goes on and on and on and ON!

I have personally talked with mothers of kids who have disabilities who blame THEMSELVES!! It’s not their fault! It’s obviously not! But still the nagging, taunting dark questions plague their minds: Maybe I have bad genes, I shouldn’t have had children…Maybe I ate something wrong…Maybe the immunizations did it. Maybe I wasn’t there for them enough…maybe….

REALLY?!?

As if our children were just these flawless, perfect little angels sent straight from heaven, with only the purest of nature, and holiest of thoughts and somehow we RUINED them.

But this is REAL, and it’s deep. And it’s a lie that needs to be addressed head on! I’m sorry to say that there’s no quick solution to this. I can’t just go and tell all the mom’s in the world, “Oh it’s not your fault” and end all the guilt…because sometimes it IS our faults. And as grown ups we need to be responsible and admit when it is. Yet as mothers we can’t separate our failures from what’s actually just our children’s human nature.

But here’s the best steps I could come up with to help heal and move past the guilt that plagues us mothers:

  1. You will make mistakes. Big ones! Don’t waste ONE minute wallowing in “what if’s”…instead use that time to make positive changes. Change your habits. Get help. Ask for forgiveness! You can not change the past, but you can learn from it and change the future.
  2. Your child WILL make mistakes…even if you’ve trained them the right way… because they’re HUMAN. Their choices are NOT your fault.
  3. Be careful of the influences in your child’s life. Friends, caregivers, and media will play the biggest role in their values and who they become. Chose caregivers wisely, allow only good media in your home and encourage positive friendships. If you find out that you’ve made a mistake in one of these areas, do your best to make changes…but remember the first “rule”!
  4. Spend your time wisely and find a balance. Your messy house isn’t a big deal…your kids will NOT remember it. But use your time wisely – if it’s really messy because of hours spent on social media, or Netflix bingeing, take time to develop a balanced schedule of “me” time, “together” time, and “clean” time. Just don’t be so “responsible” that you forget to enjoy life. You will NEVER regret the time you spend just enjoying your children.
  5. DON’T worry about the small things…feeding your children McDonald’s won’t kill them, letting them watch an extra hour of T.V. will not ruin their lives, taking a year off from extra curricular activities will not ruin their chances of playing sports or learning an instrument someday, throwing a simple family birthday party will not damage their future. Life is so much bigger than the type of lotions you buy for your kids or the clothes they wear. Please just don’t go down this trail!! Use your best judgement and respectfully block out unwanted advice!

But above all, learn to accept GRACE. God has unending grace for our shortcomings. Receive this grace. Let it pour into your heart and mind until you can not help but have grace for yourself, your kids, and everyone else around you. God’s grace heals, restores and brings hope to EVERY hopeless situation.

The guilt…it doesn’t go away over night…but it does get better. And when you live your life out of a standpoint of grace, you will begin to see the truth: Mother’s are the first and best gift that any child ever recieves… and to your children there is only one YOU!

YOU are the PERFECT mother for your child! Embrace this and you will find much freedom from that dreaded, ugly #Momguilt.

When Children Grow Up too Soon

I have a girl who’s almost 10. That’s her in the picture at the darling age of 3. She is an excellent reader and extremely mature for her age. Now, seeing that her books were getting far too easy for her reading level, I went in search of something that would challenge her. First I tried the “Chronicles of Narnia” series. She found them boring (as I had at her age, but to be fair to the series, I only read the first couple chapters of the first book.), then I tried a series called “Heros of the Faith”, which she absolutely loved. The first books are so interesting, yet as the series goes on the books are hit and miss. So Bella lost interest after reading two in a row that weren’t as exciting. Then finally I gave in and let her read my “Mark of the Lion” series by Francine Rivers, after all, I had read them around 11 or 12 years old. She loved these books so much that she sat in her room for days reading them! She finished them in three days (I was surprised because they are REALLY thick!)

All was good until one day, I scanned through the books again since it had been years since I’ve read them…and my heart dropped. These books may have been right at her reading level, but they were far, FAR to mature for her.

I may have forgotten the content, but I realized right there and then that I had I completely failed my girl by giving her the books. It was my responsibility to scan through before giving them to her and now she had already read them. I felt terrible! If you’ve never read the series, these extremely well-written books have quite a bit of history in them and take place in the years following Christ’s death. The setting is in Rome and the Romans are more bloodthirsty than ever. Terrible persecution is happening to the Christians and the Jews. The Colosseum is at its height in entertainment. People are starving while the rich feast away watching their deaths. The tale includes ongoing wars and slavery which also comes with gladiators, rape and temple prostitution…now your probably wondering why anyone should ever read it! Great book for a nine-year old girl hey?

So I went and apologized to her, letting her know that I was wrong in taking away some of her innocence by allowing her to read those books. Her response? “Oh Mom! That’s okay, I could handle it.”

Tears welled up in my eyes, for the words were far too familiar to me. Of course she could handle it! But just because she could, doesn’t mean she should.

Throughout ancient history and in some places even now, girls have been taken to be brides at ages not much older than my little girl. They become mothers as young teens and grow up with their children. Could they handle it? Sure, most of the time, I guess they could…they were forced to! But that doesn’t mean that a 13-year-old girl should have to take on such a heavy load of managing a household!

The same goes for children who are orphaned in third world countries. Overnight the oldest child becomes a caregiver to his or her siblings. They care far too deeply about their little brothers and sisters to do otherwise. And often, given the conditions they are living in, they do a better job than I would be able to do – fetching water, gathering food, earning a few dollars a day all while carrying a baby on their back.

And we cry when we hear these stories because they shouldn’t have to bear such a heavy load! They shouldn’t have to grow up so soon! They have a whole adult life ahead of them to “handle it”, they should be able to be just kids for a little while.

My daughter Bella, she’s a beautiful young girl…but of all my children she grew up the fastest. And with a house full of babies I did not complain. She talked in full sentences before any of my other babies could even say ten words. She walked the earliest. She could read before she was in kindergarten. She’s been the first to ask the hard questions. She gives in before anyone else will. I get it! She’s always been ready to be older than she is. And being my only girl, it’s difficult for me to let go of the innocence in her, to watch her grow. But it’s one thing to let go and let her mature, it’s quite another to realize when I’ve sped up the process.

I was the same as she was, always reading things, learning things, watching things way before I should have. I enjoyed knowing. I always could handle it well (or so I thought).

But man, I wish I hadn’t.

I rushed my childhood away, my innocence away before it’s time and I missed out on friendships. My favorite teddy lay in my closet, hidden away lest my friends would see that I still liked it. I missed out on playing with my last doll who sat in the corner watching me try to be older than I was. I missed out on the Polly Pockets which I sold at a garage sale just a couple of years before I was really ready to let them go. I missed the youth events with innocent, good fun and laughter. I missed out on much of my youth and I regret it because I can’t get those years back. I had my whole life ahead of me to be strong, why did I choose to grow up so young?

Sweet little daughter, take your time. Don’t rush the process and don’t slow it down either…let your maturity run its course. Adulthood will come and you can and should take on your responsibilities when it does. I know you’ll do great, I know you’ll handle life well.

But for a little while longer, just be my little girl.