Confessions of a Modern Mama

Confessions of a Modern Mama

Every mother in this day and age has probably come across a webpage called Scary Mommy.  Besides being a site with various articles, it’s also a place where you can leave comments, or confessions, anonymously about your motherhood experiences.  And because they are completely anonymous, people feel free to be honest without fearing judgment or negative repercussions.  As I read some of them recently, I have to admit I giggled to myself and nodded in agreement.  But then, as I continued to read, I began to feel more than a little disturbed.  Here are just some of those “confessions”:

“Everyone is always impressed that my four-year-old can read.  Honestly, he taught himself because I’m too busy to play with him.  But, I take all the credit.”

“She’s potty trained, but I put her in a pull-up when she wears a snow suit.  I’m that lazy.”

“I get ridiculously excited to do our taxes every year.  It’s the only thing my MBA has proved useful for as a stay at home mom.”

woman having headache with hands on temple. Copy space

Now, I’ll be the first one to say that parenting is HARD.  I can easily relate to the woman who posted that she joined a gym just for the free childcare so she could read magazines and blogs in the locker room, in peace.  Or the one who fantasized about dropping her son off at the lost-children sign in the mall and pretending he wasn’t hers.  I get it.

There is something to be said for being real and not pretending every moment spent with your kids is fabulous.  Because, let’s face it, it’s not.  We are raising tiny neanderthals who think the world revolves around them and training them one exhausting minute at a time to become productive, responsible adults who hopefully also love and serve Jesus.  It’s no easy task.

However, I feel like we are caught in a trend of mommy martyrdom.  As if the world and our children owe us something for bearing and taking care of them.  We act like they get in the way of us pursuing our dreams, having “me time”, or romantic encounters with our husbands.  We start treating them with contempt.  I hear it from the mouths of mothers every day in stores, parks, moms’ groups and yes, even from my own.  That annoyed, irritated tone which conveys to a child that they are an interruption and your (fill in the blank) is more important than they are.  I’m not saying we should indulge our kids by giving into every request, or that play time by themselves isn’t important.  They should learn how to delay gratification.  But our attitude seriously needs to change.  This irritation is the under current running through all of the confessions I quoted above and countless others on scarymommy.com.

Long after they’ve lost interest in all those childhood toys and had fun on all those great family trips, they will remember our attitudes towards them.  Did we treat him like a nuisance, or like the blessing God gave to us?  Did we act annoyed when she made messes or mistakes, or extend grace to her?  Were they burdened with the expectations we placed on them and our despondency over our supposed mundane role as mothers, or were they delighted in and celebrated for being exactly who God created them to be?

Now I’ll make a confession: as a mother, I don’t really consider it all joy to serve my kids.  I’m not particularly fond of the “used up” part of servanthood that mothering often requires of me.  Jesus said, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me… in as much as you did it unto the least of these, you did it unto Me.” (Matthew 25:35-36 & 40)  Do I serve my “hungry, thirsty, sick” children as I would serve the Lord?  Am I dying to self out of love for Him, or because “this is just what I have to do”?

Mothering is an opportunity for us to participate in the miracle of shaping small human beings with no regard for personal space, no awareness of social cues, and hearts bent on evil into reasoning, rational, emotionally and spiritually healthy men and women.  It is our calling to gently lead our children’s hearts toward Jesus in all of the seemingly monotonous, irritating “distractions” throughout the day.  He refines us too, in the process.  When we confess those longings, frustrations, and regrets to Him and lay them down at His feet, we can parent with grace and humility (read: not perfection).  We may even enjoy the children we have been entrusted to raise, instead of simply enduring the daily drudgery of cleaning up messes, changing diapers, and breaking up fights!

Being Parented

Being Parented

A few weeks ago, our daughter came into our room during the middle of the night saying she was afraid of the thunderstorm going on.  My husband volunteered to stay with her so she wouldn’t be scared, and she ended up falling back asleep almost right away.  With the scary storm still raging, she was no longer afraid because her daddy was right there beside her.

Often times, God will use our children to teach us how He desires to interact with and provide for us.  He gave me a very clear picture that morning: He is my Heavenly Father who comforts and protects me while the storms of life rage around me.  I’ve believed this with my mind, but not necessarily with my heart.  In the midst of all my daily parenting responsibilities, I tend to forget the simple truth that God parents me.

During one of our recent Bible lessons, I asked my son and daughter to list several ways that God is like a father to us, using some of the characteristics and duties of their father as an example.  Fortunately my husband is a great dad who’s crazy about his kids, but if I had used my own father to try to parallel God’s fatherly ways, the list would have looked quite different.  It would have read “distant”, “unstable”, and “indifferent”, instead of “loving”, “protective”, and “involved”.  They say that the way you view your earthly father, good or bad, is the way you will also view your Heavenly Father.  Only recently have I been able to really see and know God as father.  The concept was so foreign, I didn’t believe stories such as the Prodigal Son could ever personally apply to me.

Now, I’m not afraid of thunder and lightning (though that particular storm was a doozy).  As an adult woman, I am fearful of things like being alone, and being seen as incapable.  I’m also afraid of change.  When I’m called to step outside my comfort zone, I go into full flight or fight mode and “flight” wins every time.  Our first Sunday here in Oklahoma, I was pretty much a nervous wreck, and it wasn’t because we were going to be called up on stage to be introduced to the congregation.  Gregg left early to set up for the service, and I was left to get myself and two small kids dressed, fed, and out the door by 9:00 am.

This was a place I felt absolutely called to as a family, and had looked forward to moving to for weeks.  But that morning, I suddenly understood what “homesick” really means.  I was 1,400 miles away from everything familiar, and I wanted to drive the minivan in the opposite direction of the church, toward East, where they say “cawfee” and have the best pizza and bagels.  The enemy knew I really felt all alone, and attacked.  I was bombarded with thoughts like, “you’ll never fit in here”, and “you won’t make any close friends”.  Insecurities were coming out of the wood work!

Our first week in our new home also brought a severe tornado warning, complete with thunderstorms of biblical proportion.  Hearing tornado sirens for the first time in my life brought me to a new level of terrified I’ve never experienced.  My mind kept flashing to that scene in The Wizard Of Oz where Dorothy tries in vain to get inside the storm cellar, and the house is picked up and carried away.  I think it might have rained 25 out of 31 days during the month of May, too.

Eventually, those feelings of homesickness faded away as I got to know people and my way around our new community (and I learned to distinguish between weather alerts that warranted “total freak out”, and those that did not).  In the meantime, however, I had to trust my Father that He would lead me through the storm of anxiety I was facing.  I had to lean into Him from the howling wind, and allow Him to be my source of protection.  Sometimes it literally felt like a tidal wave crashing down on top of me.  The truth is, He was right there with me in that deep water, just like my hubby with our daughter during the thunderstorm.  And He is right there with me while I am tempted to be afraid of failing at motherhood, or homeschooling, or any number of things.

He loves me with the same intensity that any good father would love his children.  It’s not based on performance.  And because He loves me, I am also lovely.  1 John 4:18 says, “perfect love casts out fear”.  When we know deep down in our souls that the Maker of Heaven & Earth loves us – not the “I love chocolate” kind of love, but that never ending, unconditional, all consuming love we have for our own kids, we are much less likely to be afraid of the giants in front of us.  We are much less likely to believe the convincing lies of the enemy.  No matter the example of my earthly father, or the storms of life, I can rest in the glorious knowledge that my God is a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5), who provides shelter and all that I need every minute of every day.

father love

School Room Tour

School Room Tour

I don’t plan to turn this into a homeschooling blog, but I will from time to time share pictures or things we are learning during our home education journey.  I’ll share advice sometimes too.  Not because I’m so knowledgeable, but because I’ve read what others have done and implemented it, or found things that worked through trial and error myself.

Some of you have been asking to see our daily schedule and photos of our school room, so here they are!  This room is really supposed to be the formal dining room, but we are not “formal” people and have never actually dined in any room but the kitchen in our home.  The burgundy paint color on the walls was already there when we moved in, again, for the intended purpose of a formal living space.  I don’t really like it, but we’re going with it for now.  🙂

20150901_182045

As you can see, we’re not using anything fancy or expensive to do schooling.  I would like to have a wood table and chairs one day, only because they are bigger and more sturdy, but this set-up gets the job done.

20150901_182215

Our “shelving units”, inexpensively acquired from Walmart and Target.  The one on the left holds small toys in the first drawer, puzzles & games in the second, and art supplies in the third.  The bin on top contains play-doh, coloring books, stickers, and construction paper.  The unit on the right has all of our school books and science kits, along with some extra supplies.  The basket holds flashcards, activity books, notebooks, and dry erase boards.  The magazine holder next to it has all of the kids’ workbooks so they can easily grab what they need.  All of the wall posters are from the dollar store (two for $1).  The map came with Sonlight’s curriculum.  The kids love circling countries we are learning about with wet erase markers!

20150901_182501

I turned this corner facing the front of the house into a reading nook.  We already had the blue and pink chairs (they were Christmas gifts from Grandma one year), and the colored mats.  Each of the kids’ baskets are filled with books for their level and ability.

20150901_182938The doors that face the front hallway.  With them closed, it gives everything somewhat of a fancy feel, but we actually prefer to keep them open so we don’t feel as boxed in.

20150902_081255

Our pocket calendar and music area.  During our morning worship, the kids love to choose an instrument and make a joyful noise!

20150902_165319

Okay, so this isn’t really in the school room.  I am using the built-in kitchen desk right outside of it as a place to keep my instructor’s guides, supplies, and laptop.  It has been very helpful to have my own space to plan, review lessons, and store everything I need all in one spot.

As for our schedule, it goes something like this: after breakfast we have worship and Bible reading, then Language Arts followed by a snack and some play time.  After our short break, we continue with Science, Math, and History/Geography.  We leave the school room as it is and go have lunch.  Reading comes next, when we all pile onto the couch in the living room and Colton reads from his readers.  I read any assigned chapter books out loud (right now we’re reading Charlotte’s Web, one of my childhood favorites!), as well as a picture book or two that the kids have borrowed from the library.  The total amount of time it takes us for actual school work is about 3 1/2 hours each day.  Of course laundry and cleaning still needs to get done, so I have the kids help me out with some chores after we read.  They are also responsible for making their beds and emptying the dishwasher before breakfast.

Though it’s typed up and displayed on the fridge, our schedule is not set in stone; it’s really more of a guide.  I know that it can become an idol for me if I’m not careful, and I don’t want to sacrifice my relationship with my kids for going crazy trying to stick to a thirty minute time slot.  It helps keep me on track, though, and gives our day some structure and routine.

I hope you enjoyed the whirlwind tour, and got a sense for what our day is like!