Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mom Points

I have spent most of my motherhood feeling inadequate, wondering when I was going to ever be a "real" mom whose kids are happy and well-adjusted, whose house is always spotless, who lovingly prepares wholesome meals made with organic, all-natural ingredients, whose children gobble up those meals with smiles on their faces while thanking me for a job well done.  I've held on to this idea that every day needs to be stimulating, filled with crafts and songs and stories, lots of giggles and laughter, and no tears.  I've been shamed into thinking that TV will rot my children's brains and that I need to spend a minimum of 23 hours a day directly engaging them.

What was I thinking??

Somehow, recently, I've had an epiphany.  I am not perfect.  It's ok for my children to watch tv.  In fact, our days run much more smoothly when the boys start out with a little Curious George, have some breakfast, then watch some Cat in the Hat.  That's our routine.  While some people would cringe at the thought of letting their children start the day with (gasp) TV, I've come to realize that in our house, we NEED to start out that way.

Also, my house is not spotless and I'm ok with that.  Actually, most people who come over don't even realize it's not spotless.  Has it really taken me almost seven years to see that people come over to see me and not criticize my house?  I have much more important things to do than to mop my floors and scrub my toilet.  While I do like to maintain a certain level of cleanliness, I've learned that only robots and people without small children keep their house spotless on a daily basis.  And if their house just does happen to be spotless, I can guarantee some other part of their life is imperfect.

Here's the way I see it:  I have ten "energy points" to use every day.  If I expend all my points keeping my house clean (a spotless house is worth 10 points, by the way), then I don't have any left over for time with kids.  If I spend 9 points in taking care of and connecting with my kids, then I only have 1 point left over for cleaning.  If I spend 5 points slaving over a stove and making a delicious meal, and 3 points playing with the kids, I only have 2 points left over for a quick clean up of the kitchen.

Get it?  It's all in the points.  All those other moms out there have the same amount of points as I have.  And we each choose to spend our points in different ways.  The way we choose to spend them is based on our needs for that day, and can easily change from day to day.  My point choices are no better than your point choices, and yours are no better than mine.  At the end of the day, we've all used the same amount of points.

So, don't fret if your house is messy and your kids are happy.  And don't fret if your kids are messy and your house is spotless.  And don't fret if you forgot to do a craft with your kids today while your friend did twelve educational activities with her kids.

And if your friend does educational activities with her kids and feeds them homemade real food meals and volunteers at the homeless shelter and has a perfect house and works out five hours a day and reads interesting books, then she clearly has a maid.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Not Mine.

They're not mine.

Back in high school (or was it college?  I don't really remember.), I learned that there is a culture somewhere in Africa (or was it Asia?  I realize I'm starting to lose credibility here, but just hear me out) whose language does not use possessive pronouns.  There is no "my" or "mine" or "yours" or "hers" or "his".  If a person wants to talk about her husband, she'd call him "the man I married" or something like that.  And if she wanted to talk about her son, she'd call him "the child I birthed."  It gets a little more complicated with things like "my couch" ("the couch I purchased when I was newly married") or "my gray sweater" ("the sweater that the woman who gave birth to me gave to me for the anniversary of when she gave birth to me last year"), but all in all, I kind of like the idea of no possessive pronouns.

Because here's the thing.  We don't belong to each other.  Scott is not my husband, and Ben and Caleb are not my children.  We are on loan to each other.  There is Someone higher and mightier who truly owns us, and while it's true that Scott is more MY husband than he is YOURS, the only one he really belongs to is God.

And the only one I really belong to is God as well.

How absolutely freeing is that?

Today was a rough day.  The boys were very disrespectful, very hyper, and very cranky.  There was lots of wrestling going on, which turned to pushing, which turned to screaming.  Much of the screaming was done on my part.  We're doing this 1,2,3, Magic thing, and it works most of the time, but today it seemed the only thing that could get those two to settle down was for me to yell at them.  But not ten minutes later they were back at it again.  I wanted to pull my hair out.  I could not believe the way those two were treating each other, me, their toys, and my stuff.  I could not wait for Scott to get home.  I told them more than once that they were acting like jerks.

And then I sat down and read the bible.  I was in Luke when something triggered my memory about the Africans without possessive pronouns.

And I remembered that these children are not mine.

They are on loan to me from God, who loves me, and knows the plans He has for me.  Plans to prosper me, not to harm me (that's in Jeremiah 22. Go look it up.  You will love it.).

Sure, I carried these little people for 40 back-breaking weeks, pushed them out of me, and have spent the last five years making sure they are well-fed, warm, secure, and polite.  Sure, I have some days exhausted every resource I know of trying to get them to behave.  Sure, I have done things I never thought I'd do, like swear off highly-processed, preservative-laden food so I can make sure they grow up without cancer or personality disorders.

But, really, they do not belong to me.

So I need to take reeeeeeeeallly good care of them while they're in my care.  I need to love on them and teach them how to grow up to be good men and set firm boundaries and play with them and be silly with them and give them good routines and teach them responsibility and give them eskimo kisses because one day God will want to know what I did with what he loaned to me.

I don't know about you, but I want to give Him the right answers.


I mentioned a while ago that I was going to start feeding my family "Real Food".  I found this site, and decided that we were ingesting way too many chemicals and not nearly enough good for you food.  Well, we've been doing pretty ok with it, but definitely not great.

The thing is, they have these great weekly pledges , which I consider to be more like challenges.  Anyone who knows me knows I can't back down from a challenge.  Starting this week, we are taking on these challenges, and I am challenging myself to a few more things:

1. Exercise regularly.  I joined a gym and paid way more than I could afford up front so I HAVE to go.  I am taking classes 5 days a week, including Zumba, Pilates, and Bodypump.  I currently weigh more than I ever have in my life (with the exception of when I was pregnant, of course), so this is a much needed thing.  So far I've lost 3 pounds!

2. Spend $50 or less a week on groceries.  This one will be tough, but with our Real Food pledges I think we can do it.  I'll basically just need to buy things like milk, butter, eggs, flour, yogurt, and produce.  Once in a while I'll need things like oil or sunflower seeds or oats or something.  My freezers are full of a 1/4 cow and 1/2 hog that I purchased locally from a friend so we should be set in that area.  I have never spent that little money on groceries, though, so that should be a challenge.  Have  I mentioned that we never go out to eat?  This will be tough!

3. Read the Bible in a year.  I've found a site that will walk me through it, and I plan to read it through chronologically.  This should be my easiest challenge yet!

4. Spend at least 30 minutes (cumulative) in active, engaged play with each of my boys each day.  No phones, no computers, no distractions of any kind.  Just me and my boys.  That doesn't seem like a lot of time, but it's surprising how often I'm distracted with other things when I'm playing with them.  All too often, I take for granted the fact that I'm with them all day long, so I don't really intentionally spend time with them.  Before I know it, the years will be behind us and I'll have not much to show for it.

With that said, I am getting off this computer now.  Time to go spend time with my boys!