Stop Keeping Up

There is this idea I’ve noticed lately that we absolutely must be doing more things, particularly new things, with our kids in order to get them to learn.

We must always be creating new sensory experiences, new invitations to play, new craft ideas, for our little ones or we consider ourselves to be failing.

Can I be honest with you? You do not need to put so much pressure on yourself.

Really.

In our pre-internet parenting days, my husband and I kept things simple with our oldest daughter. We read to her. We coloured and drew with her. We played with play dough. We made snowmen. We dug in the sandbox. We arranged alphabet letters on the fridge. We went for walks. We climbed monkey bars and slid down slides. We played dress-up with funny hats and boas. We had tea parties. We played dolls. We cut with safety scissors. We picked out colours and shapes around us.

I didn’t concern myself with what other people were doing because we were doing what came naturally to us.

And you know what? Our daughter turned out fine. She’s an honour roll student. She’s a critical thinker. She’s creative.

We did much the same with her brother and sister when they came along. And they’re just as smart, just as creative, and just as good at thinking things through that she is, in their own unique ways.

I get bogged down some days with the overwhelming amount of ideas on Pinterest and Facebook. I actually have to take breaks from looking for more, I get so exhausted. I want to introduce all these amazing opportunities to learn to our toddler, that I sometimes forget to just do what comes naturally.

We can be that way with teaching our kids about the world around them, about discipline, and even about God.

We search and search for ways others have done things because we don’t have the confidence in the very abilities God has given us to raise our kids.

Yes, it is wise to look for resources when we don’t know. Or when we need encouragement. I believe God has gifted some very talented people for those purposes.

But when you find yourself in the comparison trap, when you find yourself overwhelmed, when you find yourself feeling like you just can’t keep up one moment longer, consider taking a break.

Grab some crayons and draw stick people. Crack open Dr. Seuss. Smush some play dough. Make sandcastles or snow angels.

Just because you can.

Five Minute Friday: Encouragment

Five minutes. To write. To silence the inner critic. To build community.

*****

It was so easy to be a cheerleader for my kids when they were little. Every little accomplishment, every little milestone, they deserved to be applauded. And it gave them the confidence to keep pushing, to keep moving, to keep growing.

But when did it become easier to criticize than encourage? This thought puzzles me constantly. Why do I, their biggest fan, find myself picking on the things they do wrong instead of applauding the things they do right?

I’m working on this, this cheering for my kids. Most days I can do it effortlessly.

But then the quarreling gets the better of me. Or the messes. Or the pushing back as they try to expand their boundaries just one more inch.

Yesterday I was telling my husband how I think I may have finally gotten over the hump of acknowledging how much closer our teenager is to being an adult. That it’s finally starting to feel just a bit easier to give her the freedom to blossom. And I find that in my shift of attitude, I can encourage her more freely.

I can applaud her accomplishments that aren’t so little, cheer her through her milestones even as I grieve knowing that each one takes her a little further from me. I can let her know I believe in her and she believes me. There once was a day where I know she didn’t, where she thought I only saw the negatives.

I want her, I want all of our kids, to have the confidence to keep pushing, to keep moving, to keep growing.

Because I really am their biggest fan.

*****

On #mothergood

I’ve been thinking some more on this whole concept of mothergood. So much so, I want to declare it a movement. Even if it’s just me moving.

When I think about what it means to mothergood, it’s more than just being supermom. In fact, it’s NOT being supermom at all. It’s not about having the perfect home or perfect kids. Rather, it is about finding joy in being a mom, about serving our families in the way God has equipped us to without worrying about what others are doing and if we measure up to those standards, about raising our kids to be followers and lovers of Jesus.

If I could, I’d take all the books and articles and pins that make us moms feel less than, that make us feel like we are failing because we aren’t doing all those things someone else says we should do, and I would toss them out with last week’s leftovers that no one wanted even when they were fresh. I’m tired of striving to do, when God has called us to be.

Be women who love Him with all our hearts and souls and minds. And when we don’t, be women who come to Him with repentance.

Be mothers who love our kids with the kind of love He offers us – unconditional, just, true. The kind of love that offers itself even in moments of incredible trial, that drives us to our knees in prayer and praise when we really just want to give up.

Be women less concerned with what the world tells us and more with what God tells us. Women with eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, the One who died while we were still sinners because of His great love for us.

We mothergood when we follow the One who is good. When we say no to the joy stealers and yes to the Joy-Giver.

Our kids won’t be perfect, but then neither will we. But the glory we will bring Him will cover over our failings like nothing else.

I want to mothergood.

Five Minute Friday: Messenger

I see the look in his eyes after I have unleashed my mother’s fury on him, this boy who tries my patience like no other child. I am frustrated, I am heartbroken, and I am done.

But his eyes, they tell me so much more than this moment being one of rebellion. There’s remorse, pain, fear, and a plea for love and understanding.

I see the look on his face after he brings the house down with his music. Proud, with eyes searching for mine, wanting to know I am proud, too.

This boy, this child of my heart, my firstborn son has the ability to drive me to my knees more often than I have ever before. I long for him to know God, to know he is loved by Him more than he can even imagine.

But his ten year old heart needs to know I love him, too. And in these days where it seems like we are battling wills more often than not, I can see that need growing.

I long to convey God’s love and acceptance to my son, and it starts with my own words and actions.

I go to my son, this child of my heart, and I tell him I am sorry. That I love him. That I am so very, very proud he is mine.

And I see relief and a belief that God loves, too.

Linking for Five Minute Friday.