A Little Breathing Room

Alarm clock screaming, bare feet hit the floor.

It’s off to the races, everybody out the door.

I’m feeling like I’m falling behind. It’s a crazy life.

Ninety miles an hour, going fast as I can.

Trying to push a little harder, trying to get the upper hand.

So much to do in so little time. It’s a crazy life.

It’s ready, set, go. It’s another wild day. When the stress is on the rise in my heart, I feel You say, Just…


You may recognize these lyrics if you’re familiar with Christian artist Jonny Diaz’s song, Breathe. Even if you aren’t, your heart may recognize them. Like mine did when I heard it the other day – for the first time actually.

I was in my car, mashing an original chicken sandwich from Burger King into my mouth. I had stayed home that morning with a sick child, and was hightailing it to work after my childcare giver came to help, but took 5 minutes to stop for lunch.

The song hit me hard. I stopped chewing. It made me sigh. Because it embodies everything I wanted to say in this post – a post that I’ve been struggling with whether to write. A decision I’ve been struggling with.

You see, it’s been a year since I started writing this blog. And I’ve made some amazing discoveries. About myself. About my kids. About my husband. About being a mom in this time-pressured world.

That time of self-exploration – looking in the mirror more intently, to better understand my natural traits, my strengths, and of course, my weaknesses – was so valuable.

A year ago, I realized the most powerful voice in my home had become mine, and not in the way I wished. I lost my temper, I yelled out of frustration, at stupid things, when I thought about it later. I love my kids with all my heart; yet, here I was treating them in a not so loving way when they interrupted my agenda, pushed my buttons, drove me nuts with normal, kid things.

Any of this sound familiar? If it does, please don’t be so hard on yourself. That was one of the things I fought…still fight. Beating myself up. Kicking myself for not kicking this habit. Judging myself…harshly sometimes. Because we do love our kids dearly and show them in a 1,000 ways. The sad part is we focus on the 10 ways we mess up.

Heartbeats Collage

Despite the wonderful things I discovered this past year, it’s been the last few weeks where I’ve begun to question my focus. Writing a new post each week started to feel like a chore rather than an uplifting release of stress or self-improvement. That was one thing. And I probably could have kept plugging along, thinking I was just having a temporary writing block.

But there was something else I was feeling. I always promised to be honest on this blog, so here goes. I had hoped to begin to build a community here. Where I, and other parents, could feel safe. Where we could share our guilt, find ways to combat the frustration, and give each other cyber hugs and encouragement. It just didn’t happen. Please know that I am SO very thankful to the bloggers who gave my posts a Like, for my dear friends who gave me encouragement along the way. It seriously means so much to me.

It’s okay that it didn’t go further. That a dialogue didn’t get going. Because like I said, it was an amazing time of self-discovery. But in being 100% truthful right now, the silence began to overwhelm me. It started to make me feel worse. Like maybe I was the only one struggling with this. It started to become discouraging instead of the encouragement I longed for.

I decided it was time to stop looking in the mirror. Because when you’re looking at yourself as closely as I was, those flaws end up seeming ginormous. And I felt it was doing more harm than good.

So I have a new focus. While I keep working on me in the background, I will set my eyes singly on the very reason I started this blog in the first place. My kids.

47 - breathe

It’s always been about them. About being the best mom I can possibly be. Because that’s what they deserve. That’s what I want for them. While I can’t expect to be perfect – as absolutely no one is – if they are my single line-of-sight, their needs will be first.

And that’s where my decision came into play. Is it time to stop writing this blog? Is it better to get the rest I need at night instead of jumping up to write at a brightly lit screen at 2:00 am because that’s unfortunately when my best thoughts came to mind? Is it better to actually focus on playing a little basketball in the driveway without mentally writing a blog post in my head and missing the actual fun of it?

Is it helping anyone? Is it still helping me? I do still believe in it. I truly do. But I feel it is simply time for a break. So that less of my time is spent on dissecting my flaws, and more time is spent on what’s important. Right. Now. 


I’m hanging on tight to another wild day

When it starts to fall apart, in my heart I hear You say, Just…

Breathe. Just breathe.

Come and rest at My feet.

And be. Just be.

Chaos calls, but all you really need

Is to just breathe.


I wish I could say how long a break this will be, but I just don’t know. As sad as it makes me, I feel like it’s the right thing to do at this point in time. I will keep this blog live so new visitors have a chance to see my posts. I may share something interesting on my Facebook page now and then. I’ll continue sharing my discoveries via Pinterest. Because they’ve become dear to my heart, and I believe, hope, and pray they can help someone else along the way. I’ve shared some of my favorites above.

And I hope to be back. I will be back. With a new sense of purpose for this blog. One that I hope He will point me to, as I focus on…

Listening.

Loving.

Breathing.

Being.

Just being.

If you follow my blog, or follow me on Facebook, you’ll be first to know when I’m back. 🙂 And hear the new stories I have to share…of success and encouragement, I’m hoping. Until then, bless you and all your precious little ones! Give them “butterfly hearts” as often as you can. And if you’d like, you can listen to Jonny’s song here: Breathe on YouTube. I hope it speaks to your heart.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Is it just me?

Or is laundry a bunch of spiteful beasts?

Those socks are taunting me. Hee hee. We got separated so she couldn’t pair us up.

It’s the same clothes every week. Despite the variety in the kids’ closets. Oh, pick me, pick me. You wore me just yesterday, but no one will remember.

The clean clothes mix with the dirty. Let’s go for a swim, boys. She’ll never know we didn’t need to be washed again.

When I get tired of washing clean clothes, I start smelling them. I smell something that looks clean and…phew! Okay, that’s there for a reason. Made you smell us. Made you smell us.

Laundry – how many of you hate it?

What I love is having all the clothes hung in the closets and folded in the drawers. I love seeing a stack of fresh towels in the bathroom. I seriously love sliding into cool, clean-smelling sheets at night. But I never win the battle of having it all done at once. Because laundry is this cycle that never ends.

But this post isn’t about the fight with laundry.

It’s about the fight with myself.

42 - wash cycle

More than laundry, I hate my bad habit of raising my voice in anger. And it’s a vicious cycle. It goes from me…to kids yelling back…to kids yelling at each other. A game of loud dominos.

And I can be a spiteful beast with myself like the laundry. I criticize. I tear myself down. I say things like…

What’s wrong with you?

Why can’t you just stop yelling?

They deserve better.

You are not being a good mom right now.

When are you going to fix this already?

I visit with friends and see endless patience. I watch the helpers in Sunday school and cannot fathom a harsh word ever escaping them. These moms can’t possibly lose their patience like I do. Their buttons either aren’t being pushed, or they have an ultimate control pad over those buttons with a seventeen-digit letter-number-symbol password the kids can’t crack. Despite my very active imagination, I can’t picture any of them with angry faces and loud voices.

Is it just me?

I feel like I’m on the spin cycle. Except I’m not getting rid of this horrible smell. This horrible feeling. This horrible habit. So I just keep spinning. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

When does my fluffy, fresh-scented Mom-ness get folded and put away for good?

I tell myself every day, Just love them.

Show compassion. Use tenderness. Even when they disobey. Even when they speak hurtfully. Even when they start to yell. Share your understanding before the lesson. Without frustration.

I understand your brother annoys you. That’s normal. But if you want him to treat you well, then you need to treat him well.

Before getting mad about him taking your toy and yanking it from his hand, ask him to please give it back. Would you want it yanked out of your hand, or for him to ask for it nicely?

Love is the root I want behind every interaction. But there have been so many days where my lost temper is like a spot on a lovely white shirt. And despite the rest of the shirt being beautifully white and clean (and full of love), that spot stands out from the rest.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s even a stain remover strong enough to eliminate it.


     “The Lord helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads.” 
                                       Psalm 145:14


Yes, love can lift up that stain as it lifts me up. Some days I do feel it lifting me up.

Other days I slide right back down into the hole I’m in.

With all of my own harsh judgement, I’ve forgotten something.

To love myself.

Love can’t penetrate that stain if I’ve forgotten to soak in it.

If I keep tearing myself down, how will love be able to lift me out of the hole I’m in?

I have no answers for this one, except to keep trying. To not berate myself as I go.

Is it hard? Yes. I won’t lie. I cry on those bad days. I feel like a failure. I have high expectations of myself. I want my calm, patient Mom-ness to be there every minute of the day, and I am impatient with her tardiness. I never expected this angry mom to show up in the first place. Who invited her anyway?

Maybe it was those darn socks! 🙂

Is it ever this hard for you?

Or is it just me?

Listening to Heartbeats

Falling short of the loving, though not perfect, parent my kids deserve does not express how much I realize what a gift He’s given me. Because they truly are a gift.

Here’s a look-back at my discoveries in 2015 from looking a little closer in the rear-view mirror and listening a little closer to my heart.

2015 Heartbeats List_FINAL

Which is your favorite?

Please Let My Child Cry

This post has no eggnog. No holiday bliss. No ribbons and bows.

It’s not about making memories. It isn’t even very Christmasy.

This post is for those moms trying to shop while dragging little ones along.

And for the unfortunate shoppers around you during inevitable meltdowns.

Recently, my toddler formed this bad habit of saying “stupid” when he’s not happy. While it’s not the worst word in the world, we have been working diligently on his vocabulary choice.

It bubbled to the surface while grocery shopping, and I warned him that if he continued choosing to say bad words, he would not get the donut I offered earlier.

Well, guess what? He said it again. So I calmly told him we couldn’t get a donut. I encouraged him that next time he would use the right words and get a donut then.

Well, what do you think happened? Yep, meltdown.

38 - let him cry

Now he doesn’t normally do this. Maybe it was close to naptime. Maybe it was too much shopping at once (I had already been to one other store). Who knows what triggered it, but it came on full force.

I’m pretty sure he complained “I want a donut” 27 times. I’m not even exaggerating. Some were small whines, some were unrecognizable with tears, and others were full-fledged shouts that bounced up and down every aisle in the store.

Imagine my embarrassment. Heading to the checkout lane with a full cart, I hesitated. Do I take him out of here and leave my cart, or try to get the groceries? I opted to check out, as I didn’t want the employees to have to return all my food. Plus, I needed the groceries.

Rather than throw my stuff on the conveyer belt, I moved quickly but calmly, to show him he wasn’t getting to me. But my toddler was not deterred. He can be pretty stubborn. I don’t know where he gets it. 🙂

Someone behind me hightailed it to a different checkout lane. I didn’t blame her.

I tried to talk to him, but honestly, he was in that zone. Do you know that zone? The zone of I’m-not-ready-to-be-calmed-down-yet. Heck, I’m not sure he could hear me through his repetitious, “I want a donut” cries.

So I focused on finishing my task and paying as quickly as I could.

“Would you like a candy cane?”

I whirled around when I heard this. Someone had approached him. An employee, I think.

“Oh, I’m sorry. He can’t have that.” I quickly said, handing the candy back to her. “He isn’t acting the right way.”

Please understand, I begged her silently. I’m sorry you have to hear his crying. You have no idea how sorry I am. And I know you’re just trying to help. But…

I can’t give in.

Besides the fact that I don’t want him thinking strangers are nicer than his mama, or heaven forbid, that he should ever accept candy from a stranger, he cannot be rewarded for his behavior. He didn’t get the donut for bad behavior, and ending up with a candy cane is not going to fix that.

I beg you, please just let him cry. Trust me, I know how hard it is.

Moms, I’m warning you now. You will have people give you dirty looks. Perhaps they’re thinking, Why can’t you make your kid shut up? I’m hoping those are the non-parents. But I guess it’s possible other parents’ kids don’t ever have meltdowns. Maybe?

As a parent, I would never judge, only look on with empathy and try to tell another mom that I understand.

In fact, several grocery employees, bless them, shared their understanding, when I said, “I’m sorry.”

The woman bagging my food looked at me. “Oh, don’t worry about it. We’ve all been there.” Then she added, looking at another counter, “Well, Shelly hasn’t yet, but she will soon,” she teased.

“Then I’m sorry for you, too.” I smiled at Shelly.

Because it will happen to most of us. At least once, probably more.

Dealing with meltdowns at home isn’t fun, but the ones in public are worse.

It’s because I love him dearly that I can’t give in. Even in public.

Adults can have meltdowns, too. We might not be repeating “I want a donut” over and over, but we may be thinking other things.

Like, why can’t I just go to the bathroom once by myself? Seriously, why can’t I be alone for two seconds?

Or, why can’t the house be free of clutter for more than a couple hours after I spent four cleaning it up?

Or, why do I have to ask hubby for some time to run errands while he grabs time whenever he likes – alone, mind you?

Rather than cry, whine, and kick our legs, we pout, disengage, or show our cranky selves.

It’s hard not to grumble once in a while. And while we may be justified in feeling slighted, or taken for granted, does it really make us feel any better? Does it improve our situation, or make it worse? Just as I tell my son his whining will only make things worse, I need to take my own advice. I need to take His advice.


     “A joyful heart is good medicine, but
a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” 
                                       Proverbs 17:22


So shoppers, store clerks, and anyone else around me, please understand. I’m not being mean. I’m not mistreating him. I’m trying to teach him right and wrong. And do my best to keep a joyful heart as I’m doing so.

So please just let him cry.

Next time I go to my grocery store, I think I’ll hand out candy canes to those employees who were so understanding.

Or ear plugs. They might be more useful. 🙂

Remember the Promises (to You)

I don’t usually write about my husband in these posts. But I saw something last night that I thought was worth sharing.

My oldest had spent the day with Dad at the track racing their remote control trucks. After getting home, my son started tinkering with one of his out-of-commission models. He was having trouble with a screw to the engine.

When he approached my husband for help, he was questioned about removing the engine and was discouraged in doing it at all.

You see, my son likes to take things apart. He just doesn’t always put them back together. This drives my hubby nuts, because he is one of those people who refuses to start a project unless he intends to finish it…all at once. It’s also why my painting projects in the living room – for days at a time – get to him. 🙂

My son explained that he wanted to see the engine outside of the truck, to look at it in more detail. But my husband really didn’t want to work on anything anymore. He was worn out.

Despite my hesitation, I intervened.

I said to my husband, “As frustrated as you are right now, he’s just being like you. Rather than discouraging this, could you teach him instead?”

33 - promises

I’m pretty sure he didn’t like me just then.

It meant his back was going to hurt a little more from bending over.

It meant he was still tinkering with machines when all he wanted was to rest his hands.

It meant extending the early bedtime he so desired.

But it also meant he was fulfilling a promise to himself. One I knew was important to him.

My husband is very detailed, organized, and mechanical-minded. He just knows how things work. Except the laundry basket, but that’s a whole different thing. 🙂

This is something he had in common with his father. His father could fix anything just by looking at it with his detailed mind. As a young boy, my husband already had the same tendencies, but his father would usually work alone. Regardless, my husband was tenacious, so even if he wasn’t included, he would sit and watch.

He gained much from watching his father, but he also shared with me his desire to be different with his kids. To teach them, to include them, to sit side-by-side, to welcome their small hands working together on things.

Because he had mentioned this to me more than once, I knew how important it was to him. And I recognized the opportunity even when he didn’t. That’s why I pushed this particular night.

And despite his grumblings, I could tell he saw the value in it. Not because he openly thanked me for pointing out the opportunity. I mean, come on, he was not going to admit I was right – not even a little bit. But after 18 years, you pick up on subtle messages from the man you know so well. I knew what he was really saying when I rolled into bed that night and he immediately whispered, “I love you.” Now, I could be totally wrong. He could have just been saying good night. But I prefer to believe he was saying, “I appreciate what you did.”


     Fathers, do not exasperate your children,
so that they will not lose heart.
 
                                       Colossians 3:21


Are there things your child does that could be an invitation to keep a promise you made to yourself?

Maybe your daughter keeps doing flips into the pillows, and you remember doing the same as a child because your family had no means to get you to a gymnastics class. So you vowed to sign her up.

Maybe the plastic trucks redecorated with markers is a call for more creative outlets, similar to when you got in trouble for using crayons on your walls. And weekends at the art gallery fill your free time.

Are there parenting promises you made that you’ve forgotten? Like never raising your voice, having the patience of a saint, teaching your kids right and wrong by being the perfect role model. I know I have failed some of those promises. I think we all do.

It’s easy to forget the parent you envisioned yourself to be after years of sleep deprivation. After losing some hearing from the middle-of-the-night crying. After trying to reason with a 2-year old about pooping on the potty.

We will fall. We will forget. We will fail.

But we keep trying. We keep remembering.

After a long, noisy day at the track, my husband was no longer in a teaching mode. But a simple reminder helped him fulfill a promise to himself.

Let us remember to be encouraging. Let us remember our kids soak up everything they see, hear, and feel from us.

Let us remember the parents we dreamed of being.

Each time we remember, we get a little closer to reaching our dreams.

And helping our kids reach theirs.

Hands Free Mama

Letting Go...To Grasp What Really Matters

Butterfly Heart

life in progress

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