It’s not Personal, Its Business

A few weeks back I had a conversation with a friend about my oldest girl. She revealed she thought Capri was “very spoiled” for the first few years of her life; and that once we finally gave her a younger sibling she “started shaping up.” I would be lying if I said her statements did not make me want to respond with a dig of my own at one of her children. I am proud of myself, however, that I responded with a simple “she has always been a bit of a drama queen, but I wouldn’t call it spoiled necessarily.” The conversation turned to other things and eventually the night ended. Here I am, though, still thinking about her comments and taking it personally.

Want to know a secret? Your child’s behavior is not always a reflection on you. I am going to go a little deeper and say, Other people’s perception of your child’s behavior is not a reflection on you, either.

How personally do you take your child’s behavior? Do you feel like how they act in public and at home is a reflection of you parenting?

Let me switch it around for a second. When you see a toddler throwing a fit in the grocery store do you instantly assume that parent is a bad parent? I can honestly say my first assumption is never against the parent. Often my first reaction is one of “I’m so glad my kids are behaving right now.”

Being a mom now for over 8 years I have found you can do everything “perfectly” (if there is such a thing) and your child will still misbehave. All too often they misbehave in a very public setting.

The truth? Our children are human beings. I know, shocking, isn’t it? In all seriousness, though, all human beings have free will. What comes alongside of free will, is a choice of how to react to the pressures and circumstances around them. You can be disciplining and parenting with consistency and love, but they can still choose to react with disrespect and stubbornness. Want to know what a good parent does when their child reacts with disobedience? A good parent keeps parenting with love, firmness, and consistency. A good parent realizes they cannot control their child’s reaction, but they can control their own reaction to that child’s action.

So the next time someone makes a comment, snide or otherwise, about your child and their behavior, remember this: It’s not personal, it’s business. As in, NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS!!

How Are You Coping?

Since recent events have given us all a little more free time (some of us more than we know what to do with, obviously) I thought I’d take this time to get back into some good habits.

How are you doing? Are you realizing how nice it is to be without all those little things that used to be such a big deal? Or are you losing your mind without them? Have you found ways to cope that you’d like to share? Leave a comment with your story.

As a Stay-At-Home Mom who homeschools, my day-to-day life has not been changed much. Grocery shopping has a little more of a challenge to it these days, but even that is only once a week or longer if I can manage. My kids barely know anything different is happening in the world, except for when I give them the Reader’s Digest version when they ask why yet another play date has been cancelled.

It has taken a mental and emotional toll, however, being told to think this or think that. Being told to stay home, or that the government doesn’t know what they’re talking about. The constant barrage that social media presents of people expressing their views, and arguing their point of view. Which they have every right to do, by the way. It can get overwhelming, confusing, anxiety inducing, and just downright exhausting. And I’m just on Facebook. I don’t have people Tweeting, DM’ing, SnapChatting, and whatever else there is out there!! Lol Yes, I know how old that makes me sound.

No matter what your views on what is going on right now, there is one thing we all have in common. We care about each other, we care about our families, we want everything to be all right once again.

Take this chance to really love on your kids. Spend time snuggling with your significant other on the couch. Learn to cook, sing, play guitar, another language. Read the books!! Little bit of advice, if you’re not normally home all day every day with your kids. Establish a routine and enforce it. Some normalcy and predictability will help them tremendously.

Right now my children are in the other room watching Frozen II. So forgive me, but it seemed to go along with what I’m saying here. “When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again? Then I’ll make the choice, To hear that voice, And do the next right thing.”

My highest calling

I just read an article about motherhood, and it was long and full of good things but after I read one sentence I couldn’t focus on anything else. I simply had to write it down and my follow up thoughts.

“Motherhood is a picture of the gospel because it is laying down ones life for others.”

Wow!! I don’t believe I’ve ever thought of it that way, have you?

True motherhood is a sacrifice, true. It’s also extremely rewarding! Being a stay at home mom can feel monotonous, but it’s a tremendous privilege! Pouring all you have out for small-minded, selfish beings that won’t fully grasp what you’ve done for them until a long ways down the road can sure feel like it’s just not worth it. Questions of “when do I get to take care of me?” float through your head from time to time.

For the past 6 or more months I’ve struggled trying to find time for the things that help fill my cup. I’ve made out multiple pretend schedules that make time for housework, helping my husband run our business, school with the kids, working out, and hobbies, but have I been able to implement any of them? Big Fat No!!

I’m not the most consistent person, and maybe I’m not being very realistic with my time. Maybe my workout video says it’s only going to be 30 minutes long but when I’m interrupted by three sibling squabbles, the dog needing to go out to pee, and 2 calls from my husband or front desk person about insurance or billing paperwork it looks more like 90 minutes.

Also I sit down to relax and watch one show on Netflix, Hulu or whatever and end up wasting three hours there.

My only redeeming thought at the end of the day is talking with my children and hearing the amazing people they’re turning into. Are they perfect? No! But are they confident in who they are and that Jesus loves them? Yes! That’s a win for me. That’s my highest calling!

What’s on your plate?

What’s on your plate? No, I do not mean your literal plate, this is not a diet article. Maybe one day, I’ll write down my thoughts on dieting, whether it be fad or lifestyle. Today, I want to ask you about what you spend your time on?

I haven’t written for a while (Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, no matter). The reason being I ladled a huge helping of something onto my plate and it literally pushed things like blogs, hobbies, exercising, and free time off the edge.

In May of this year (2019) my husband and I decided to buy a local business. Technically, we decided to start looking into it and researching around February 2018, but the final papers were signed and the decision final on May 6th, 2019. I knew our lives were going to change, and I braced for it. I figured money would be tight and Reed would be more stressed when not at work, but nothing could have prepared me for the craziness that was about to ensue.

To be fair, there were other complications around the same time that led to us losing our church family, so the earth shattering stress and anxiety that hit about a month in was not all due to owning a new business. We found out that a lot of problems were lying under the surface, and it would have been much simpler to do a startup, then to take over a full grown business with a very poor reputation and crazy amounts of drama.

The beginning of July was the low point (which was obviously the turning point as well, if you’ve ever had experience with low points). We had a very full schedule and no employees. So me being the supportive partner I am, I offered to haul the kids to the shop and help run things. I figured it would be a couple of weeks of crazy stress, he would hire a couple of guys, then the kids and I would come back home and pick up normal life again. Boy, was I wrong!!

Months passed. We worked our way through three babysitters. (Because, surprise, trying to run a business with four kids under foot is not possible. For me anyhow.) My perspective on “normal” forever shifted.

I have always admired working moms. Marveled at their passion, tenacity, and what I assumed was copious amounts of energy. It was absolutely the hardest few months of my life! I was working 40+ hours starting a business beside my husband and coming home to clean and cook and homeschool and strive to make the kids feel as if nothing had changed. That plate I mentioned?? Was more like a waiter’s tray full of plates with me struggling to balance it and also make sure all the loaded plates didn’t bump each other.

Friends were worried and wondered when the madness would end. In the midst of it though, I struggled with what I truly wanted. I knew I didn’t want things to stay the same, but I also did not want to go back to the way things were. I loved being a huge part of the business! I got a thrill every time someone asked, “Oh are you the owner?” and I could legitimately say, “Yes.”

I understood the drive and the passion of a working mom, and didn’t know if I could go back to not being involved in the day to day of this baby business I had now poured sweat into.

So what’s happening now? Now, I work mostly from home, keeping books, billing and invoicing and paying taxes. Tracking the expenses and income and running the social media platforms. Have I found a way to balance that waiter’s tray of a plate? Not 100%. But most days I get to have the best of both the business world and the mom world! Also, I’m starting to work my hobbies back into a normal routine, though it’s a slow process.

How can I Help?

Do you ever feel completely helpless when someone near you is hurting? I’m not necessarily talking about physical pain. That’s actually not as hard to deal with, right? You can offer to shovel their snowy sidewalk or watch their kids so they can rest or even bring them a meal. I’m thinking about when they’re walking through a season of pain. How do you help? I’ve been reading the book of Job the last couple of days, so this has been very present on my mind. In case you don’t know or need a refresher, the book of Job (that’s with a long O sound) is about a man who loses everything. His crops, herds, and even his children in just a matter of hours. Then the next day he also loses his health. I’ve heard many preachers joke about the one thing he doesn’t lose is his wife though he probably wishes he had. That’s not against wives necessarily, it’s more her attitude after Job loses everything.

There is a huge element of spiritual warfare I’m leaving out of my explanation as well, not because it’s not important but because my point isn’t derived from that side.

Now Enter Stage Right Job’s three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Then toward the end a much younger friend speaks up who is named Eliphaz. They all come together for a visit to their troubled friend, and I honestly think they had good intentions. It seems like they were the “tough love” kind of friends. They are convinced that all of these bad things are happening because of some wrong doing on Job’s part and that he’s just in denial when he declares he hasn’t done anything to deserve it. Now as I’m reading, I’m frantically searching for things they say that are wrong. But you know what every time I read this book I’m always amazed at their knowledge of God. Now do they get everything right? I don’t believe so, but they do have an extensive knowledge and this was before they have the Bible to use as a resource, right. Does all this info they have help them comfort/help their friend in his time of greatest need? Not one bit. They have obviously studied, maybe even had Divine encounters themselves, but it seems to me that not a single one of them asked God for his opinion before speaking for Him.

Do you know what our greatest resource can be in helping people around us? God. His love for them, and asking what is He working in their life. It may be obvious, but in Job’s case it wasn’t. And in their defense they had no way of knowing what was truly happening outside of asking God.

My point in all of this, when you want to help, try looking through God’s eyes. This isn’t easy, and if you’re not a Friend of God, it’s impossible. Only by abiding in God and having a constant communication highway between your heart and His will you be in tune enough to help the really deep cases. Not saying you can’t try to help, but without the help of the Almighty, you won’t know what is truly happening, and you might end up being just as helpful as Job’s friends.

Helping Your Child Through Loss

I’m sure I do not have to tell you that becoming a parent changes a lot of things. Some things are obvious. Some hit you a few months into it. Some you realize after years.

One of the biggest changes I’ve been noticing in recent years is friendships. Yes, its harder to make friends when you’re a mom. Blah blah blah. That’s not what I mean, necessarily. I’m talking about losing friendships.

I don’t know about you, but my friends become integral parts of my children’s lives. Probably because, as a mom of four, there really isn’t a way to “hang out” without at least one of them there.

Some friendships just don’t last forever, thats a natural part of life. You drift apart, go through a busy phase. Sometimes you meet up again later in life; sometimes you do not. I’ve had friendships that have lasted around 7 years just fizzle.

Before I had kids, it was tough, sure. Since having kids, its been heartbreaking! I have not experienced anything as tough as trying to explain why “so and so” doesn’t come by to hang out anymore. I, seriously, would rather have to break the news that someone died, before having to tiptoe around why someone suddenly refuses to say, “Hi,” when they see us in the grocery store.

I have not found a good surefire way to break this kind of news, but I do have some tips.

1. Deal with the loss yourself first. Come to grips with it, accept it, then explain it to your child. This helps you control your wording a bit more. If you haven’t fully processed what happened, do not try dumping all of that confusion on your little one.

2. Don’t be afraid to let them see you cry. This is especially true if they start crying. Cry with them. They need to know that it is okay to be sad and that you are going to miss that friendship just as much as they will.

3. Try to stay away from going negative. Be truthful, but do not go into a diatribe of how worthless and stupid this friend was, no matter how tempting that may be. You never know what the future may hold. That friendship might mend someday, but your child will never forget those terrible things you’ve said. Even if you hold no hope of mending the relationship, don’t go negative. This teaches them that it is okay to talk nasty behind people’s backs.

4. If this was a long relationship or a friendship with a family member, remind them that this friend still loves them and it is okay if they still love that friend. Kids have a tendency to internalize in a way that doesn’t make sense to us as adults. Even though we probably did the same thing when we were young. They need to know that friend doesn’t have a problem with them and not to take it personally.

It is still one of the hardest conversations to have, and I do suggest having it. Unless they are 5 or younger do not just wait until they notice and ask about it. It’s a much easier conversation when you control the atmosphere and timing.

Choose Joy!

Yesterday two of my kids woke up in completely two different attitudes. It was my third baby, Ella’s third birthday. Her big sister, Capri, woke up first and was completely psyched for what we had planned. When Ella came stumbling out of her room wiping sleep from her eyes, Capri bombarded her with a boisterous, “Ella!! IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!!”

Moments later my oldest, Colton, comes marching out with a sheen of tears in his eyes. “Mommy, You woke me up when you shouted, ‘Happy Birthday.'” He was utterly offended that we would do such a thing!

As further information, it was already well past the time we all usually wake up. He was simply being grumpy.

Sometimes we are going to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, but that makes it so much more important to choose joy.

I had a lot of reasons to be sad and down yesterday. A big one being, my kids are growing up too fast! I mean even my tiny baby is well into eating puréed solids and working his way to crawling!!

I heard an author answer the question of what her favorite phase of parenting was in this way, “Every phase has its ups and downs.” Isn’t that so perfect for all of life?

I’m not saying live in a dream world where you ignore the sad things or bad things. Embrace them, knowing that in the next phase of life you might be able to look back and smile. Maybe those tough things are the building blocks for tomorrows tough things. Not a very uplifting thought when you think about it in a pessimistic attitude. But though times are going to come. What are you doing to prepare your resilience??

Every season has really good things and really nasty things. In every season, choose joy!!!