Archive | January 2014

My Poor, Flabby Butt…

So I took to heart what you other moms said and today, #1 and I ventured into the world of youtube kid work-out videos. We found a fantastic one that used games to keep kids interested. I figured I’d join in. I mean, after all, a kids’ work-out can’t be all that hard, right?

Wrong. Ooooh, was I wrong! The girl in the video looks like I did my freshman year of college, BEFORE I got pregnant, mind you. Toned, slender, and full of a bouncing energy I highly doubt I will ever regain. Her two side-kick cousins are the cutest things ever, and I was so thankful for their little giggles and moments of pauses. #1 didn’t feel so pressured to keep up, and I could console myself that I was at least in better shape than a three-year old. Scratch that. I had more endurance than a three-year old. By about five seconds. It was bad… very, very bad.

But, #1 and I had a blast! With games like “Red Light, Green Light” and “Jump and Drop,” we had fun seeing what the other would do. My thighs and butt are screaming at the injustice, but it served its purpose wonderfully. #1 has a little less energy and I worked out. We didn’t quite get to the end of the video (which is a perfect 26 minutes long, water breaks included) due to melt-downs from a soon-to-be perfectionist, but I’m sure that will get better with each time we do it. I’m hoping my lack of fitness will also start to go away. We’ll see… It’d be nice to have half the energy the fitness girl does. With #2 threatening to walk any day now, I’m going to need it!

 

To All Moms of Boys

1560551_10152241454611018_1967083356_n (1)Dear fellow mothers of boys,

How the heck do you do it? What is the secret? Do you guys have superwomen spandex suits on under your mom jeans and t-shirts? Do you drink Red Bull before you get out of bed? How do you do it??

Especially you moms who tackle the homeschooling thing. I am at a loss. In my quest to become a domestic goddess (sarcasm included), I am trying to use my previous skills as a preschool teacher. I am discovering that a class of one is much different from a class of twenty-two with an assistant and management. Lesson plans? Oh boy. Crafts? I sorely miss even the most frugal of supply closets. And somehow in all this, I’ve got the nerve to attempt teaching basic ASL and Spanish. To a boy. A very, very energetic boy.

So, how do you do it? What are your secrets? Especially during the winter. Especially on a first-floor apartment that has no railing around the porch for safe playing outdoors. How do you balance the necessary things of the house like cleaning and cooking with teaching? How do you keep them entertained or interested?

#1 is not a bad kid, and he’s incredibly smart, but his attention span is… Well, it’s not fantastic. Somehow, I think kindergarten next year is a good idea. He can’t sit on the floor still for 10 minutes. I haven’t been in kindergarten for nearly 20 years, but I think that might be a problem. So, moms of boys, how to you help your little men get ready for that next big step? And how do you keep your sanity while not feeling like a terrible parent?

The Church Stole My Sexuality

princessAnd when I say church, I mean the “church.” The Bible didn’t take away anything. In fact, reading the Bible has given me back some of my sexuality. Song of Solomon, anyone? The “church,” however, with all their good intentions and attempts to protect, have crippled me in my marriage. They have locked up my sexuality and thrown away the key.

Harsh, you might say. And for those of you who know me, you might be rolling your eyes. Yes, I did have sex at 18. Does that mean I have a free sexuality? No. It means I participated in the act. The Medical Dictionary defines sexuality as “the condition of being characterized and distinguished by sex.” I am most definitely not that. And to be honest, it sounds pretty awkward and uncomfortable for a blog topic. Think about this, though. In ancient India, they had a profoundly different outlook on sex. They were a sexual people. (Think Karma Sutra and some of the temples over there, decorated high to low with images celebrating the act.) They were characterized and distinguished by their acts. To them, enjoying sex didn’t make them nimphomaniacs or sluts or “guys being guys.” It made them human and provided a way to join themselves more than just physically.

Do we have that in today’s culture, especially Christian culture? No, no we do not. At least, I didn’t get that message as a youth group member. The message I got was that sex was sacred, do everything to avoid it until you’re married, and then flip a switch. Were we taught why it was amazing? No. Were we taught how to enjoy it? No. Seems like something you might not be taught in church, but I think it should be. Sex was created by God. He told Adam and Eve to populate the earth, and saw that it was “good.” So if God says it’s good… we should not talk about it at all, because it’s a weird, awkward topic and not safe for church? And we should teach our young women to completely hide themselves for fear of tempting our young men “before it’s time?” And we should, even moreso, teach our young men that their desires are evil and wicked? What??

The church is creating future marriage issues for its people. By ignoring or shaming an act that God created, it is fostering an aversion and a desire that is altogether unhealthy. The young women of the church (using myself as an example) are raised to believe that our bodies are not a temple, they are a brothel. If our shirts are slightly too baggy when we bend over, we are a temptress. If our skirts show our knees, we are a temptress. If you see a bra strap, because God forbid we let people know we, as adolescent and grown women, wear bras, we are temptresses. On our end, we’re constantly told that we need to wrap ourselves up and hide from the world to preserve ourselves for our husbands. And then we get married. Suddenly, 20+ years of indoctrination is supposed to magically fly out the window? Yeah right!

The young men of the church fair no better. Men, God created you to be visual. There is so much biologically that is hardwired in you to be visual. And in the moment. And of a one-track mind. All the marriage books point out that one of your biggest needs is sexuality, once you are married. So why then does the church tell you that’s wrong? The young men of the church are raised to believe that their eyes are inherently sinful. If they think about women sexually, they are lechers. (For those of you who don’t know what a lecher is, it’s a guy “given to excessive sexual indulgence.) If they wonder about sex, they’re lechers. If they desire sex, they’re lechers. They cannot even touch it, for the church’s fear that it will spiral out of control. It’s almost like that old superstition that speaking a thing’s name will cause it to appear. “Sex.” BAM! All the guys suddenly are mad, raving sex fiends. I beg to differ. I wonder if the majority of the sexual issues we have within the church have arisen because we try to stifle what is God-given. I have no answers, and I could be totally wrong, but I wonder what it might look like if older men stepped up with younger men and said, “Hey, your desire is totally normal and ok by God, as long as you use it to get ready for your wife.” Otherwise, we have a man who is also supposed to flip magically on the night of his wedding from snapping his wrist with a rubber band at every lascivious thought to adoring and wanting his wife.

Titus 2:3-4 says, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children.” I want to take that and perhaps twist it a little. Older women, we younger women need you to teach us. We need you to step up beside the teens and college-age women around you and mentor us in how to be wives. We need you to show us. It might sound taboo, but we need you to explain to us how to use our bodies and how our husbands will desire us. To teach us, “Someday you can give all of this unexplained and forbidden stuff you have to hide and not learn about to your husband,” is more than a little ridiculous. That’s like taking remedial math and saying, “Someday, you will go into Calculus and you’ll use these numbers to do math problems, and we expect you to do it wonderfully.” It won’t happen. We’re being tossed into marriage unarmed and unaware, and then wondering why we encounter hardship.

I am so desperately hoping and dreading that I am not the only one out there with this issue. I hope I’m not the only one, because this blog post is otherwise incredibly embarrassing and horribly offensive. I dread that I’m not the only one, because that means I’m at least partially right, and some other woman is struggling like I am.

In my own marriage, we have had to face some other hurdles due to our pre-marriage sex. In a strange twist of fate, my husband does not have many of the sexual vices Christian men seem riddled with. Does he have his moments? Yes. Do some of the things he watches hurt me? Yes. But I take offense and get jealous over a pair of boobs on a movie in theaters. I’m weird like that. Is he addicted to pornography and the other sexual deviations out there? No. And what is more, he adores me. He wants me. He has no problem channeling his innate desires to what they were created for. I, on the other hand, feel dirty and slimy and wrong when he does these things. Why? Because I have been taught that sex is bad.

That needs to change. I am NOT advocating that the church begin promoting sex at any time. Trust me, sex is much better within the protective walls of marriage. But we can’t send our youth into such a huge commitment unarmed. Older women, you know the ins and outs of men. You know what pleases them and what doesn’t. The Bible doesn’t shy away from sexuality, and neither should we. Teach us younger women how to value our bodies. Teach us what we can do to please our men and feed their desire. Teach us that our body is a temple, and that we dress ourselves in a way not to keep from tempting men but to show off our God-given beauty. Teach us that it is ok and absolutely deserved and necessary to be adored and wanted. Teach us, and give us the framework. I wish so desperately that I had had a woman to step up along side me and say, “You don’t have to give your body away to be adored. You have so many things that you can give to them. Let me teach you how, so that when the time is right, you are ready.” I spent years giving away nothing (literally, I gave hugs to boyfriends. And then they left. Because hugs are lame, apparently.) and received little to no affection. Senior year, I began trading small physical things for that affection and adoration I so craved. The first used it to his own ends and then cut me off, since I was his dirty little secret. The second played me, refusing to say I was his girlfriend and going so far as to cheat on me with two others and say it was normal. The third adored me. He cherished me and wanted me and held me when I was hurting. Is it any surprise then that I did what I did? Does it make it right? Definitely not. But I was lonely, dismissed, and couldn’t even use what the world said was the “currency of love.” WHY, church? Why did you let me believe such a lie? The only thing I can say about it is that for some reason, I was blessed enough to make that choice with a person who does cherish me the way God intended, in a sexual way.

And I can’t do the same.

When I have a daughter, I will raise her seeing my husband and my affection. I will raise her knowing that there are “mommy and daddy” times. I will raise her with as much confidence and self-worth as I can, teaching her that her body is not something to hide. Clothes are not meant to “wrap up the present.” They are meant to high-light the person. Like Audrey Hepburn, I want her to accentuate her beauty with dignity and grace, not shame and worry. And my sons… Oh, my sweet sons… I want to raise them knowing that God made them to have those desires. I want them to learn how to channel those desires, giving them to God perhaps or talking to an older role model, rather than feeling ashamed of them. I want them to be men fully aware of their potential and their place and the adorer and leader of their sexual household. I want them to love as their father loves, because their wife might be like their mother. That love might be the only thing to save her from the church she was raised in.

The church stole my sexuality from me. I hope I am alone, because it’s a very sad place to be, stuck with my chastity belt on and struggling to be the woman I am supposed to be.

I Treat My Son Like A Girl

I had a revelation today. Perhaps it is a revelation most of you already have. I’m a little slow on the uptake, though, so it took me a while. What was it, you ask? This: boys are little men.

“Duh,” you might say. Or perhaps, “They’re just kids.” Hear me out. Boys are men-in-training. They are male, and they don’t magically switch over to “male-thinking” once they hit puberty. As a mom, though, I didn’t think about that. #1 was just a “boy.” A kid. Gender-neutral. Thinking thus, I treated him as I would treat myself, with a little more much and trapeze-artist skills tossed in.

I was wrong. As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been reading Cracking the Communication Code for part of my Bible study. I have been doing my best to listen to the husband through Eggerichs’s metaphorical “blue headphones,” and it works. I also have his CHAIRS acronym up on my bathroom mirror, a daily reminder of how the husband is different from me. He needs respect, while I need love. I have charged into my marriage relationship full-tilt. But, I forgot that my husband is not the only male I have a relationship with.

Son #1 is also male. Very male. Tooting at the table male. Shaking his junk male. (And I’m banking on your male children doing the same, so that I’m not ashamed that I haven’t broken him of this habit.) He is the climber of any curb or wall, the defender of invisible people, alternately a blue power ranger or a cowboy or Spiderman. He is brilliant, cuddly, and headstrong. He has trouble listening, but will move heaven and earth for a marshmallow. My son is male. (That last thought is just him, not necessarily his maleness.) I haven’t treated him as such. I’ve neglected to treat him right.

If this is confusing to you, you’re not alone. I literally had my thought and sat down at the keyboard to share. I do my best thinking at the keyboard, so I figured I’d hash it out with you. So, how can I give my son the respect he deserves? I will probably use Eggerichs’s acronym, minus the “S.” So, it looks something like this:

C – Conquest

H – Hierarchy

A – Authority

I Insight

R – Relationship

Of course, in a mother-son relationship these will look different from a husband-wife relationship.

For Conquest, it may be recognizing his triumphs: he stopped his brother from eating a toy, he got the bad guys, he drew a picture, he did his worksheets. Recognizing his achievements rather than giving him a cursory, half-hearted glance followed by those smiles we give, “Oh, that’s great, honey!” This, then, teaches him that his efforts are good and recognized. It inspires him to do it more often.

For Hierarchy, making sure he knows that he hasn’t been forgotten in the wake of his brother’s birth and subsequent dependence. This one I was already working on, because I didn’t want any bitterness between the two boys, but it’s hard. #1 is four years old. That is the Age of Independence in children. They can potty themselves, wash themselves, brush their teeth mostly by themselves, feed themselves, clean up after themselves. There’s not a lot that a mom needs to do for them. Compare that to a baby. A baby can do nothing for itself. It cannot survive without its mother. Their dependence makes it easy to think, “Oh, Older Child is ok. He’s able to function without me always there.” Not so. While my older son can take care of himself fairly well, he still needs love and affection and a knowledge that our previous love for him hasn’t waned because of his brother. If anything, he needs to feel it even more. A lot of this, for me, comes while I make up songs with the boys. I’ve always been a singer (though the quality of the singing can be questionable), and I twist songs regularly to my bidding. So, “You are my sunshine” becomes “You are my #1/#2.” (Names omitted to protect the innocent.) The Spiderman song becomes “#1man.” Etc, etc. They get silly. My kids thrive on silly. When faced with the cuteness that is #2, it’s easy to slip into singing songs just to him. I make sure to add #1’s name in, even if he’s not near or is with his grandparents. Why? Because #2 needs to know his brother is equally important and that he, #2, is not the center of my world. They both are (though their daddy is more central than they are…hierarchy.)

For Authority, I need to let him make more of the kid-friendly decisions. There are some decisions that fall clearly into parental authority: tv shows, junk food, main meals, school, safety. The smaller decisions, though, that aren’t life and death can be made by him. He wants to go to the park? Which of these two? He wants to have a certain cereal? Ok, he has the choice as well as the responsibility to eat it/put it away. He gets the final say in the smaller decisions so he learns how to lead and decide, and learns that his opinion is respected.

For Insight, he needs to know that I listen to him. You would think that, as a woman, this is easy. I find myself often ignoring his suggestions, though. Brushing him off in favor of mine because, of course, Mama knows best. But do I? I’m teaching him that his insight is not worth my attention and is unworthy of my respect. I wonder how many men out there don’t offer their insight and solutions because they weren’t listened to as children.

Finally, for Relationship, I need to just be with him. This one was huge for my husband and I, and it took me forever to figure it out. Men don’t do face to face relationships. They sit shoulder to shoulder. Think about it, ladies. How do they sit when they: play video games, take a road trip, watch football, have a drink, go fishing? Shoulder to shoulder. I need to give my son that, too. Cuddle on the couch while we watch tv. Sit and play legos in his room. Color next to each other. Shoulder to shoulder. It’s so simple, yet so wildly different from how I think.

Up until now, I have treated him like a little me, and even worse, like I was superior to him. I have not shown him respect because of his age and because of my pride. It’s not an easy thing to admit. Really, I feel despicable. Up until now, I’ve treated him poorly. And I can’t do that anymore. I am, as his mother and as a Christian, supposed to raise him in the way he’s to go. That includes how to be a man. I am supposed to model what he should seek for a future wife, as well. How frightening! I can model it with his father all I want, and he’ll pick up some of it. How much more effective, then, will it be if I treat him like I want his wife to treat him some day?

The world of sons is a mighty confusing place, I’ll tell you. I have no idea what I’ve walked into. Their world is so vastly different from the one I grew up in (namely, that of a very girly girl). If you have any advice for a newbie mom of boys, I would so appreciate it. I’m walking blind here, and any advice from those who have already walked the path is more precious than gold to me. I want to do this right. I want to treat my sons like men.

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Recipe Review – Quick Chili 1

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The first thing my husband said when he saw me cooking was, “Ew… Chili has tomato sauce in it?”

If that’s your reaction, too, be not afraid! I was a little unsure myself about the three cans of diced tomatoes, bunches of beans, and the addition of sugar. (The longer I cook, the more I appreciate the power of sugar in savory dishes. Teriyaki, anyone?) Needless to say, the family loved it. We spooned it over H.E.B.’s knock-off Fritos and added a bit of shredded cheddar cheese: voila! The best frito pie ever! (And as a side note to all you savvy Texas shoppers, the H.E.B. fritos chips are the best. Why? They literally fill their bags to the very top. It’s fantastic.) The true mark of a great meal? The husband took it to work with him today. I guess those tomatoes weren’t so terrible after all.

I did makes some… adjustments to our chili. I soaked about a third of a bag of pinto beans overnight (and into the next night…) to take out one of the cans of beans. I also had a fruit loop moment and got a can of pinto beans rather than kidney beans, so we had double the pinto power. It actually turned out really well, though. The bagged beans had almost a popping sensation when you ate them. It was cool! Also, because my boys are not partial to spicy things, I didn’t add any hot sauce. I also didn’t add hot sauce because I don’t currently own any hot sauce and my weekly budget was already used up, so hot sauce was not had. Feel free to make it as you wish!

Here is the original recipe from allrecipes.com, courtesy of user Pam Smith.

Quick Chili I

  • 2 pounds ground beef (I use 90/10 just so I get a little more)
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce

Directions

  1. In a large stock pot lightly brown ground beef, and drain if needed.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.
  3. Add tomatoes, diced tomatoes with chili peppers, tomato sauce, water, kidney beans, pinto beans, chili powder, cumin, sugar, salt, pepper and hot sauce.  Simmer for 30 minutes and then serve.

I will post a picture after lunch today. Left-overs!

The Power of “Thank You”

I am so excited. I don’t think you quite understand how excited I am. Why? The husband has been amazing today and put up both our wall mount for the TV and my precious 2′ by 3 1/2′ mirror. I finally feel like we’re moved into the place. I suppose it really does take three months to be completely moved in. My only issue currently? My stupid choice to remove a 24″ by 36″ picture off the wall to show the husband where the previous family put their wall mount. I am too annoyed at the cheapo hanging clip to bother with it right now. Seriously, how hard is it to make one of those that doesn’t fold flat the moment it touches the tack?

Anyway, I am so excited. Rather, I am thankful. I, as a power tool challenged person, could not have put them up myself. Note, it isn’t because I’m female or blonde. I am just… challenged. And having a hands-on hubby who excels at all things manly is awesome. There’s just one catch. I never used to thank him.

Ladies, I didn’t realize how massive just saying “Thank you” to our men really is. In my superior female mentality (sarcasm), I just assumed that he could tell from my beaming smile as I step in nanoseconds after he hangs it, rag in hand to clean my precious mirror. I mean, come on. How hard is it to guess that I’m thankful? I couldn’t have done it. And Lord knows, I’ve asked for long enough. He should just know that I’m thankful to him.

Alas, men are not always as intuitive as we ladies are. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re often not as intuitive as we like to think we are. Men, especially, though. They aren’t mind readers. They aren’t built to thrive on relationally connecting and emotionally bonding. After all, if they were, we’d be too busy discussing the latest KDrama to hang anything other than our heads in shame.

Men need us women to cut the “intuitive” crap and tell them what we assume they know. “Thank you for putting the mirror up. I love how it lights up the room.” Or here’s a kicker I always forgot, and still struggle to remember: “Thank you for providing for us.” Especially if you’re a working wife/girlfriend, too, this one is big. Don’t fall into the trap I did of thinking, “Well, it’s equal. He could say thank you to me, too, and then I’d say it to him.” Nuh-uh, ladies. That’s not the way it works. As your mama said, “The world ain’t fair.” Neither are relationships. If my husband were to tell me, “Thanks so much for working. It means a lot,” I’d probably smile, nod, and feel a little ball of warmth. And then I’d move on to the myriad of other things I also have to do. For a man, though, recognizing his efforts is huge. I don’t even know how huge, but I do know that my husband changes when I thank him. It energizes him. He goes from exhausted and barricaded in his office to giving bear hugs and playing with the boys. That is a huge different to me. I don’t know about your husbands, but if my sincere thank you can do that, I will say it as much as I can.

In his book Cracking the Communication Code, the sequel to the Love and Respect books, Emerson Eggerichs expounds on this. Saying “thank you” reaffirms your husband’s conquests. It says, “I see that you triumphed today. Thank you for fighting for me.” Sound dorky? Let me break it down in my favorite language: fantasy.

Imagine that your husband is a knight and you are the princess. He trains every day, fine-tuning his craft and going out into the world to slay dragons and defeat the enemy for you. He takes hits, battles fatigue and long days on the road. He holds your image in his mind, using it to power through those hard times. “I am doing this for her.” Cheesy? Maybe. Now, imagine that the knight has done all of this and has come home battered, bruised, and in need of his wife’s compassion. Instead, she is busy cooking and shouting at the children and demanding he take off his mud-caked armor before he tracks mud all across her freshly scrubbed floor. And while he’s at it, will he go wrangle the pig out of the cellar and get Junior away from the fire? All the knight wanted was a kiss, perhaps, and his princess to say, “Thank you.”

Now, before I get attacked for a chauvinistic view, let me explain. I’m not saying that the wife cater to the husband. We women do a lot, as well. Life is crazy, and sometimes our husbands will have to forgo our affections and comfort in that moment because we are losing our minds. Example? The other day I had a terrible migraine, had to cook country fried steak (LORD, why I did that, I’ll never know), had a teething baby and a stir-crazy four-year old, and couldn’t seem to do anything right. When the husband came home, I had nothing left to give him except for tears. Is that normal? No, and he knew that. He stepped in, helped with the dinner, held the baby, gave me a hug, and gave up his “me time” for the night. On an average night, though, he gets a hug and kiss just for him the moment he comes in. I also give my husband between 30 minutes and an hour when he first comes home to be by himself and relax. The boys are not allowed near his office, and I leave him alone unless I must talk to him. After that time, I expect him to come and be a part of the family. Does he? Nine times out of ten, yes. Did he used to? No. But I also used to great him just like that princess greeted the knight: dismissing his efforts and denying him comfort.

If you don’t believe me, try this experiment. Without mentioning your plans to your husband, start leaving him little thank you notes. Send a text in the middle of the day, leave a sticky note on his computer or tv, or my favorite, write a note on the bathroom mirror in dry-erase marker. Do this for two weeks, as well as giving him a huge just-for-him hug when he gets home (or whenever you first see each other at the end of the day). Then, don’t do it for a few days. See if there’s a difference.

Women, “thank you” for us is another phrase. We accept it demurely and move on. For men, it is their energy. It tells them, “Good job. I appreciate you.” It validates their efforts and gives them strength to get up the next day and tackle the world. The power of “thank you” is so often overlooked. Don’t miss out on this. In your life and your marriage, it’s almost a super power. Don’t be the princess who gets caught up in her own world. Be the princess who brings her knight into it, giving him the credit he’s due.

 

historica-frank-dicksie-knight-and-ladyFrank Dicksee – La Belle Dame Sans Merci

The Forgotten Years

I should totally be getting ready for church right now. Or eating breakfast. Or both. But… I’m not. Instead, I’m sitting here doing something way better: I’m watching my baby.

The big boy is with his grandparents for the weekend, so it’s just me, the hubby, and the little one. And let me tell you, children change when their older siblings are gone. He’s quieter now (probably because the Wild One isn’t riling him up), and much more adventurous. And there is something about that dimpled smile that just gets me. Is there anything sweeter? Or cuter than that same smile behind a paci clenched tightly between two teeth and gums?

Why is this the best thing ever? Because I don’t do it nearly enough. Children, especially babies, grow so fast! #2 is already pulling up and trying to stand. He’s eight months old. EIGHT MONTHS OLD, people. Let that sink in. None of this “crawling ’til I’m a year” business. Oh no. Neither boy will let me savor their babyhood. But that’s not the point. The point is that our culture has hardwired us to be constantly busy, and as such, we miss out. A lot.

About a month and a half ago, my husband and I came to the depressing realization that I could not go back to work. Some of you are wondering why that is depressing. My husband has an entry-level job and, while he is awesome at it and moving fast, it’s not the big bucks. Having even a little extra every month would have been so awesome, but my job was with a nanny company. An awesome nanny company, by the way. But still. I would be watching other people’s children in their home while mine were in daycare, and we live in an awkward location. Needless to say, it just wasn’t financially possible. Thus, my sudden wonderful plunge into what I really wanted to do: stay at home and become a Domestic Goddess.

Just days into it, I realized how peaceful and surreal life became once I tuned out the pressures and demands and just was. Children have this ability. You see it when your little girl squats at the curb to pick a flower, while you’re wrangling your purse, a diaper bag, and the phone while trying to get her into the car for school. Or, when your little boy crashes through the house screaming like a deranged ninja. They understand how to just… be. We adults, however, have forgotten.

I fully lump myself into this category. (A blog of which I cannot remember the name opened my eyes to it. If I remember, I will MOST DEFINITELY post the link at the bottom, or right here. It is superb. But I digress.) In high school, I was told to do everything at all times so that I didn’t miss out on anything and had a great resume. Senior year half-days? Yeah, right! I took on a full load plus some, did sports, chapel, student government, church activities, Girl Scouts (laugh later, I had cookies), and worked. I look back now and have no idea how I did it. Part of me is jealous of previous me.

That mentality translated into my college years, especially when I got pregnant the end of my first semester. Suddenly, being the 4.0 student wasn’t enough. I had to prove to everyone that I could do the “mom thing” while still being a student and being responsible. The next four years, I hardly remember. There were times I worked two jobs. Times I worked full-time and went to school part-time. Times I stayed home. Times I just worked. But all of it was consumed by this thought of “I’m not doing enough. I need to do more.” If I was at home, I felt ashamed that I wasn’t working or in school. If I was working or in school, I was bereft because I wasn’t with my children. I’m aware that this is not how many women are, and that’s ok! It’s just how I was.

This constant tug-of-war of “things,” though, left me missing out on what was important. The memories I do have of #1 are those few times I stopped to “pick the flower.” The moments of holding him while he nursed, with that sweet cheek pressed against my arm and those little eyes closed. The moments of sitting in the clovers at university, those blue eyes wide in amazement as he picked at each little white head. The times we went to the park just to spend time together, or… and I’ve hit a gap.

I missed so much. It was necessary, perhaps, because of my family’s circumstances, but before I knew it, he was potty trained and off to play with the big kids. I missed it. I missed those little memories that make the moments count.

So this Sunday, I’m procrastinating. I’ll probably take a quick shower, leave the contacts in their case, and throw on some dress to rush out the door. Make-up? What make-up? I know not what you speak of. What I do know is that I’ve watched my baby enjoy the snot out of a Mum-Mum, discover the birds outside, and snuggle against my shoulder while we danced to songs I made up and messed up.  I refuse to miss out any more. And if I go to work again in the future, you can bet that when I’m home, my priority will be them and their father, not whether the house is spotless or the meals exquisite. Someone said the greatest gift you can give your child is your time. I agree. But let’s add to that. The greatest gift you can give yourself is the memory of them. They won’t stay this age forever, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t miss out just because the world tells you to. The show can wait. Facebook and Twitter won’t crash. The church does not need you every moment, and neither does your job. Take a moment. Snuggle before bed. Let them help make dinner. Lay on your belly and see their world. Do something. Don’t miss out.

 

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