I Drive Them Nuts, Too

They drive me nuts.

My family. I love them to pieces, but still…

The noise alone.

Noise is something I never run out of. Motor sounds of all kinds: cars, trucks, motorcycles, trains, scooters, semis, bulldozers. Just to pull you into my world for a second…

Vvrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, shsshshshshshweew, ckck ckck ckckck ckckck crash, vvrrrrrrrrrrrrr, buh buh buh buh buh buh buh buh buh, jeeee jeeee jeee jeee jeee jeee jeee jeee jee, jeeeeeeeeeeeewwww, vvvvvvrrrrrrrrr.

All. Day. Long.

It’s okay if you just skipped that part. These sounds don’t really translate to the English language…or any language. The boys are actually quite talented at these noises. I can recognize that. I just miss the quiet.

I am an introvert. Constant noise and commotion drains us. I can handle it for a while, but eventually I need the quiet to return to sanity and recharge.

When the noise is combined with visual chaos and clutter, it makes it harder.

Since there’s no volume button on the kids, I tackle the clutter.

25 - crazy

Today, I was in cleaning mode again. But I had a good reason. We were celebrating our toddler’s birthday with family, and I was picking up the house for welcoming guests. Making sure they had places to sit.

After the festivities were over, my toddler grabbed his bag of wooden cars from the toy shelf, saying, “Could you stop putting stuff back where I play with them?”

I chuckled. I had to. His very serious comment was so ironic.

It drives ME nuts to constantly pick up his toys…and it drives HIM nuts when I constantly pick up his toys.

That’s when it dawned on me: I drive them nuts, too. 🙂

What may have felt like 15 minutes to my toddler was actually several hours ago. But simply put, he just wanted his stuff left where he last used them.

How many times have I thought the same thing? I buy a roll of invisible tape for when I need it. Like wrapping a birthday present, maybe.

But when I need it, it’s not in the utility drawer. Where I would look. When I need it. Because that’s where it belongs. And I bought it just for these occasions.

Instead, the tape roll is sitting by a car garage finagled out of a cut-up shoe box. The roll is empty.

I set a bill on the kitchen table to remind myself to take care of it when I find two spare minutes. Later, I’m looking everywhere on the table, on the floor, even in the trash. You never know.

Eventually, I discover my husband put it back with the pile of bills in our paper organizer. That wasn’t helpful. Out of sight, out of mind. At least for me. But he has a thing with clutter, too.

While we’re here…let’s be honest. The kids aren’t the only ones who drive us nuts. Some days I wonder if two adults were meant to live together for more than 18 years? 🙂

I’ll just share a little thing that usually tops the list: laundry basket. You’d think this was a simple concept to grasp. Lift the lid, drop dirty clothes in, and the magic laundry fairy does the rest. Pretty simple. So what I can’t understand is why clothes are piled ON TOP of the basket.

Not inside it. On top of it.

On the lid that can no longer be lifted.

It’s often even an empty basket.

Seriously.

Okay, I’m done.

I have no doubt hubby has countless “laundry basket” issues with ME. And apparently my kids get just as frustrated when their stuff is constantly messed with. Even if I am putting it back where it belongs.

Such is life. We are not infallible. We all drive each other nuts sometimes. I have to remember it’s not just me. I do the same to them.


     As it is written: ‘None is righteous [blameless]’,
no, not one. 
                                       Romans 3:10


So my conclusions are:

  • My kids always know where to find tape, and I will never have any as long as they live here.
  • My husband knows where the bills belong, but he has trouble with the laundry basket.
  • If I expect my imperfections to be forgiven, I must learn to forgive theirs.

What’s that recurring thing that sends you to cuckooville? Venting allowed below – I won’t tell!

Love is NOT normal

“Can I tell you something?” my Mom asked last week. Uh oh.

  • [Me: Is it good or bad?]
  • [Her: Good.]
  • [Me: Okay.] Not that I would have stopped her, but I never want to hear bad things, especially from my Mom.
  • [Her: You’ve changed.]
  • [Me: What do you mean?]
  • [Her: Well, I don’t know if it’s from writing your blog, but you’re different.]
  • [Me: In what way?]
  • [Her: You’re…more lighthearted.]

YES!

That was wonderful to hear. That a difference was actually noticeable. Remember, I often describe myself as pretty serious. Well, serious is the opposite of lighthearted, so I’m moving in the right direction, people. Doing my happy dance. 🙂

I’m about to reach six months since starting this blog. I took some time to analyze what it’s all about and why I’m doing it. As a result, I came up with Butterfly Heart Blog’s mission statement.

Butterfly Heart MISSION image

What do you think? Before you answer – and if you’re new to this site – let me explain a bit.

I began this because too often I was losing my patience and raising my voice with the kids. I had become the loudest voice in our home. With two boys who make car engine noises all day (or any noise, really), that was saying something. This left me feeling like a bad mom. I knew I wasn’t a bad mom, but I also knew I could be better. I was ready for a change.

By analyzing myself, I saw some bad habits, personality traits that could be adjusted, and expectations that needed to change. Some small things were not even related to a loud voice, but when improved, they made a difference. I talked to other moms. Yelling happened in their homes, too. And frustration, tempers, regrets. One mom described it as, “Oh, you mean when scary mom shows up.” I was met with knowing smiles and nodding heads. So chalk that up to – I’m normal.

And so are you. I hope other parents who read what I share will recognize their own areas for improvement, and start a change. Or maybe they’ll just empathize with me, and feel better about themselves. That’s good, too. Either way, we’re all going to fail now and then. It’s the continued move forward that will prevent us from falling backward. Once in a while, we may need an extra hand at our backs. Belonging to this parenting circle, we can all support each other with understanding and shared experiences.

You have to admit, there are times when you wonder if your kids are normal. Some days they resemble those little creatures from the Gremlins movie. Sweet and cuddly one second, then destroying your kitchen (or your living room pillows) and growling at you the next. Just know that every parent has been given the gift of tantrums, rolled eyes, and back-talk. Our children are still learning to be the person God made them to be. Aren’t we all? So they’re just as normal as we are.

Despite these actions and reactions being normal, we can turn them into the exception. We can change. When I became a mom, I experienced a deeper love than ever before. Our love for our kids is a strong force to be reckoned with. It is through love that we correct, bless, pray for, have compassion toward, and lead our children to Jesus. God provides the love we need to be faithful parents. I truly believe with His guidance and grace, we can do miraculous things. We can treat our kids like the blessings He gave us.

The well-known verse 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 defines love. It starts with, “Love is patient, love is kind.” Is it any wonder that patient is the first in line?

Parenting with patience is a BIG part of love. But let’s not forget to have patience and love for ourselves, too.

The Bishop of Geneva and honored saint, Francis de Sales, was quoted,

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in
considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.”

Remember, we’re SO normal. But with love, we can be miraculous. In the middle of any situation, loving our kids is never a wrong choice. In fact, the love our kids give us in return is proof of the miraculous power of love. Despite our failures, they love us just the same.

What do you think? Will you join me with this mission?

Here’s to a new day…and deserving that love!

I Said It First!

“I love you, Mama,” my 8-year old looked up at me.

We were side-by-side on the couch, staying up a little late while summer is coming to a close, for our “special show” time. He’s my partner in crime when it comes to flea market scouting. He has an eagle eye. And we like to critique the creations made on HGTV’s Flea Market Flip.

  • [Me: I love you, too.] I smiled at him.
  • [Him: I said it first!] He looked quite proud.
  • [Me: What do you mean?]
  • [Him: Usually you’re the one who says it first, and then I say, ‘I love you, too.’ But this time, I said it first!]
  • [Me: You’re right. That’s nice that you did that.]
  • [Him: Dad always says it first, too.]
  • [Me: Well, maybe you can beat him next time.]
  • [Him: Yeah!] I could see him planning it already.

23 - give love first

Sometimes I wonder if they truly know how much I love them.

If they remember even at the times my love is not apparent. Like in the middle of my discipline and disappointment with their behavior.

After I yell at them for dangerous stunts near the stone fireplace.

When I’m frustrated at them for ignoring my request…the third time.

When I step on a Lego with my bare foot and I start in on picking up after themselves. You know how much those hurt! Forget walking across a bed of hot coals. Did anyone try walking across a bed of pointy-cornered Lego blocks?

I wonder if they know even then.

What they don’t realize is that the times of discipline are still full of love. Well, maybe not my ranting about the Lego. 🙂

Such a conversation occurred this weekend in the car, after some misbehavior and my older son’s tears at his consequence. Then we heard, “You don’t love me.”

“Woa!” my husband stopped him. “Don’t ever question our love for you. Love doesn’t always mean kisses and hugs and sweet talk. Sometimes love is tough. It’s because we love you that we need to correct your behavior, so that you grow up to be the incredible person we know you are. That’s love, too. Even if it doesn’t seem like it. And there’s nothing you can do that changes how much we love you.”

I think he got it. Or he was just giving us the silent treatment.

Regardless, the couch discussion with my son confirmed much for me. He knows how much I love him. He has recognized that we say it often. Often enough, that we always say it before he does. And that has left a lasting impression. It’s encouraging. It means I’m doing something right, people. 🙂


     Above all, keep loving one another earnestly,
since love covers a multitude of sins. 
                                       1 Peter 4:8


He said it again a couple days later, and again tonight. So proud that he offered it freely, before I said it. I could see his big grin in the faint wash of moonlight from his window.

Now, I’m hearing it come independently from both kids. Even my toddler, all on his own, without prompting. It’s a sweet deal!

It confirms something else for me.

You can never give too much love or give your love too often.

So be free with your words of love. They belong in our children’s ears frequently, so that they find a permanent place in their hearts.

And let’s not forget the sweet reward we get when they say it to us!

Extra: If you’d like to use secret words for when a little extra love is needed, try our family’s secret code: Butterfly Heart.

Spills Schmills!

Do you know that sound of running water…coming from a room that should not have such a sound?

Like my living room.

My little one spilled his drink. As soon as I heard that sound, I knew what happened. And was instantly irritated at the mess waiting for me. I grunted and clenched my teeth as I sopped up the liquid from my wood shelf and the carpet, letting slip out a frustrated “Gosh, darnit!”

Now I know those words could have been worse, but the anger was still recognized by my son.

He sweetly said, “I’m sorry, Mama. I didn’t mean to spill.”

I was silent, trying not to say anything regretful. So he repeated himself. “I’m sorry, Mama. I didn’t mean to spill.”

And it hit me. Of course he didn’t mean to spill. They never mean to spill.

22 - spills

Spill is synonymous with accident. In fact, Mirriam-Webster defines spill as “to cause or allow (something) to fall, flow, or run over the edge of a container usually in an accidental way.” If it wasn’t accidental, it would be pouring. Luckily, that doesn’t happen in our house. 🙂

Why can’t I just react with, “That’s okay. We can clean it up.” Mistakes deserve instant forgiveness. After looking at his sweet face, I did answer him with, “It’s okay. I’m glad it was water.”

Now, get this. Later, I heard tears from the kitchen. Our older son had spilled his drink – a sticky juice all over the kitchen table.

Dad was upset, grumbling about slowing down, that he just told him to watch his glass, and I’m pretty sure I heard a “Gosh darnit, why did you spill?” in there. Maybe that’s where I get it… 🙂

And my sensitive, probably overtired, big boy got upset.

You know what I did? I got upset with my husband. “You can’t yell at him for spilling his drink!” I said. “He doesn’t do it on purpose – it’s an accident!”

I’m not proud. Here I was taking it out on my husband. My own guilt from just an hour earlier.

Now here’s the clincher. Things always come in threes.

I’ve been redoing a desk. I set out to stain the drawers. That very night, when I opened my can of gel stain (think of the consistency of pudding), I discovered the top layer turned to a hard thin shell (it will do that if it dries out too much). So I poked through and attempted to carefully dig it out.

Instead of breaking into pieces, it spurted out of the can. One glob on my white kitchen countertop, another on the cream-colored tile floor. Yes, that’s right. Dark mahogany-colored wood stain. Can you gasp with me?

I’m not sure I could have caused a worse spill. Well, maybe breaking a gallon-sized glass container into a zillion pieces – which I did about 3 weeks ago. See, everyone spills, drops, breaks things. God has a way of reminding us.

I was able to remove the stain. Thank goodness for one of my favorite products, Goo Gone. Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser still tops my list, though.

Spills can be cleaned up and forgotten. But anger and frustration have a way of leaving behind residue.

As I was silently and quickly cleaning up, I realized I didn’t want someone pointing out my mistake. Nor did I need anyone else’s words of frustration. I did not treat my children the way I would want to be treated. Normally, that golden rule is strong with me. But I needed the reminder. A reminder to forgive instantly.

My husband came to help without saying a word either. I think we both learned our lesson.


     Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other,
just as in Christ, God forgave you.
 
                                       Ephesians 4:32


My prayer that night went something like this.

“Dear God, please help me care less about spills, broken things, and accidents. Remind me to look into my children’s eyes before reacting or opening my mouth. Help me to see the guilt and remorse in their sweet faces. Invite forgiveness and love from my lips so that guilt can be lifted from their shoulders. And leave no room in my heart for anger. Amen.”

Not My Pillows!

Nothing stays in its place in this home.

For someone who enjoys begs to stay somewhat organized, this can drive me batty.

Cars are one example. We have about 500 matchbox cars. I’m not exaggerating. I’d count them for you, but that would mean I’d have to find them all. And I’m not into self-punishment.

Pillows are another. The decorative pillows for my couch are never ON my couch. They’re on the floor, across the room, or wedged between the wall and the circular bookcase.

I brought home two new pillows not long ago, only to find my toddler smashing them with his bare toes as he navigated the lava pit in our living room. Shame on me for torturing new pillows. I’m sure they much preferred the peaceful store shelf.

21 - pillows

Sometimes I have to bite my tongue – pretty hard – not to say something. Other times – like the day my new pillows were on the floor within a half hour of placing them – I blow my top like the volcano that created that lava pit. And feel guilty two seconds later.

Picking up is a never-ending-I-just-put-that-away-five-minutes-ago headache.

I call a time-out when I’ve lost all ability to ignore the mess. Other than the few times they recognize the complete desperation in my eyes, pleas for my sanity go nowhere. I have to speak their language. Appeal to their emotions. Use what makes them tick.

I make it a game.

A simple one is the How fast are you? game. This works for small messes that can be picked up easily. In fact, the best use I’ve found for this is putting away clean laundry.

I sort. I fold. I hand each boy a set of socks. We see who can put away faster. Not only do they have to be fast, they have to pay attention. Whose socks did I give them? Which room are they going to? And which drawer do they belong in? Each one is high-fived upon his return and given another set of socks.

My most popular idea has been the Find it, Fix it! game. We must go around the room looking for things out of place. I give them the role of a stranger coming into our home for the first time. What would stand out as something that’s not supposed to be there? Or takes away from the niceness of our house?

We call them out as we find them. But the key is we have to fix it to count it.

  • “I’m throwing away a granola bar I found under the couch.” Okay, gross.
  • “I found a car in between the couch cushions. It’s going in the car bucket.” One of 6 car buckets, I assure you.
  • “I see food (or something) dripped down the front of the fridge. I’m cleaning it off with Windex.” That’s me!

We tally the items we find and fix in 20 minutes by setting the microwave timer. If we reach 50 together, we all go to the park or go get ice cream. I would actually recommend a higher goal because, in our house, reaching 50 took only about 10 minutes. 🙂

But this really worked! I have to test it again, and I will, but at the very least, it was another successful pick-up where I didn’t lose my mind…or raise my voice.

Now, you may be thinking, cleaning is a part of life. They should be able to fulfill that task without making a game out of it. Of course. There are plenty of times I simply request it and they do it. But if making it fun at times can help along the way, I still think the satisfaction of a job well done afterward will settle in their minds, too. And as they grow older and wiser, they’ll remember that subtle lesson. Hopefully.

If not, I’m simply raising two piglets. And I love them.

Do you have chores turned into games at your house? Please share if you do.

Ready…set…go!


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