Monday, October 28, 2013

Bob is Watching You!

Maybe I'm more like Scrooge than Bob Cratchit but it annoys me to see Christmas decorations being sold in stores at the beginning of October. For crying out loud, let me enjoy the fall decorations before I have to stare at all things red and green. I feel like by the time my kids graduate middle school the Christmas "season" will last all year round. It's rubbing off on my kids and I think that's one of the reasons why it's driving me bananas. 

We started doing The Elf on the Shelf in our house last year. I just bought the cheaper plush elf without the book because I wasn't even sure how the kids would respond to the whole thing. I don't even know what the story behind it all is, but I told them that "Bob" (I wasn't feeling creative when I named him) was the elf assigned to our home by Santa to keep an eye on them so Santa could keep busy on toys and not have to worry about "the list" so much. Bob made his first appearance on the day after thanksgiving and every morning till Christmas. He showed up in their bath tub, their cereal bowls, he made them tiny elf pancakes, set up a cookie decorating party for them and some friends, read the Christmas story from the Bible to the Nutcracker Boys (the "gang" I created with all the nutcrackers I collect) and much more. Little did I know that Bob would become cooler then Santa himself...

Several weeks ago, I overheard my oldest (5) say to her brother (4), "You better stop touching my toys because Bob is watching and he'll put you on the naughty list and you won't get any presents for Christmas!!!" My first reaction was towards her unkind words. I'm dealing with that ongoing problem separately. My second issue was the fact that the kids were already thinking about and talking about a Bob. My third problem was that I knew that once again, the wrong part of Christmas was being focused on. So I went into her room, pulled all three kids together and we had a chat. I explained the following: 

1) Christmas really has nothing to do with Santa or Bob. * All three kids are fully aware that Christmas is "Jesus' Birthday" (or at least the day we celebrate it). And we celebrate HIS birthday because it was on that day, our Savior, the Son of God, began fulfilling the prophesies and promises of his birth, death, resurrection and saving of those who choose to accept who and what He is. * 

2) When it is someone's birthday, THEY get gifts, not the guests. The guests GIVE gifts. Then we talked about what gifts Jesus would want for his birthday like obedience and kindness and honesty and love and HOW we could give those gifts. Keeping their rooms clean. Helping each other with chores. Sharing. Not giving Mom and Dad attitude. Being encouraging. Telling others about God's love. Being honest. Going to bed early so Mommy can take a bubble bath. Keeping completely silent so Mommy can snooze. Letting Mommy have all the Haloween candy. Wait... I'm just kidding on those last three... Kinda... 

3) Bob works for Santa who works for God so really, Bob works for God too. If a Bob and Santa think a kid deserves to be on the "naughty list", is that kid obeying God? Chances are "no". So the best way to please Santa or Bob is to obey God. They answer to Him and it's their job to make sure His plan is carried out or His expectations are met. (This made my five year old daughter cry. It wasn't my intention at all to make her feel guilty with this lesson but it let me know that she understood what I was telling her.) 

I'm not a total Scrooge I guess. I love Christmas time. I love what we're (some of us at least) celebrating. Hope. Joy. Salvation waiting for us. I'm choking up just thinking about it. I love to celebrate birthdays (except my own) and to get to celebrate such a special birthday is awesome. And I'm into the Santa/Bob thing. I'm a product of a loving Christian home that had Santa in it at Christmas. I turned out just fine and am very aware of what Christmas is all about. I also to this day, bake cookies for and write letters to the man in the red suit. I think it IS possible for children to know the true meaning of the season and still get to wake up each morning excited to see what "sneaky ol Bob" did this time. 

I am, however, not quite ready to see his sneaky little face yet. Or the Christmas isle completely stocked at Walmart. Or the fake trees being sold at SAMs club... And I think I need a little more time to try to work my way back on to the "nice list" anyway... 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sweaty Parenting

I left the gym about three hours ago and I swear I'm still sweating. I THINK about going to the gym and I start sweating. I am just one of those unfortunate women that sweat. A lot. Thankfully, I'm remembering to put my deodorant on these days... 

I've never really worked out. Gyms intimidate the heck out of me. I'm not coordinated, I hate running, I'm not strong... I'm a bit of a nerd. Our brains are our biggest muscles more often than not (haha, yeah, just writing that cracked me up... And yes, I'm aware that the brain isn't actually a muscle). I've had gym memberships in the past but almost never went. I signed up just a couple weeks after having baby #4 though because I knew I was going to experience some catastrophic postpartum blues (I always do) and that I needed to be proactive about fighting it as best as I could. I even signed up to work with a trainer since a) I needed some way to be held accountable for my workouts and b) I have no stinkin idea how to work out. Thankfully, and this is totally God at work, my trainer is a kind, patient woman that doesn't freak me out by being over bearing but still pushes me. 

When I'm not working with my trainer, I'm busy doing cardio related stuff. One thing I've come to love about the cardio related workouts is that I don't have to do a lot of thinking during it. Crank up the tunes and go. It also gives me a chance to people watch, something I find quite amusing most of the time. You get a wide variety of people coming to the gym. Older people, middle aged moms, couples, guys with huge muscles that like to stare at themselves in the mirrors... Yeah, those ones make me laugh out loud often. But there's another group that makes me want to scream and chuck my metal water bottle at them. The ones that are skinny and pretty but rarely lift a finger to actually exercise. It's like they're there to show off their "perfect" bodies and socialize. Oh man. Watching them bugs me and not just because I'm blinking stinging sweat out of my eyes. It's not quite jealousy. More like frustration that I'm actually trying to get fit and loose weight and tone and be healthy. Like trying hard. Working my tail off. Sweating and gasping for breath while they stand around and smile and laugh and don't work out. Stinkin annoying skinny people... 

I never thought I'd have some kind of semi-profound revelation about parenting at the gym but I came to realize that the same way I feel about these "non-exercisers" is the same way I feel about parents that seem like they have it all together. Like parenting isn't hard work for them and they can do it easily and naturally. I don't know about anyone else but parenting kicks my butt. Much like working out does. It wears me out physically, mentally and emotionally. I'm exhausted at the end of the day. From being a parent. There are some parents though, that are fun and their kids are well behaved and clean and well rounded. It's like they're not having to work at it to keep it all together. I am literally sweating by the time we get to church on Sundays just from running around non stop trying to get everyone fed and dressed and clean. Sometimes I have to shut myself in the pantry and put my hands over my ears (we've entered the oh so delightful "tattling" stage) to stop myself from flipping my lid. The car is a mess, I keep forgetting to get rid of the dead flowers on our front step, and there are 5 baskets of clothes in the laundry room waiting to be folded. My kids can't sit still in their chairs at restaurants and sometimes get stuck in their chairs in such weird positions that I have to get the waitress to help me get them out. My 2 year old feels the need to loudly announce to anyone within 30 feet that she's pooped in her diaper. And all three older kids will rough house in stores while you're trying to shop till one of them smacks their head on the floor and you're dragging them out while people stare. Parenting is tough for me. 

Maybe that's just my lot in life though. Some things are going to be harder for me than for other people. Maybe parenting IS easy for some like its easy for some people to be fit or for some women to handle their hormones after pregnancy. But maybe for those same people, they're working hard to overcome something in their own lives. Maybe there's even something they see when they look at me and think, "Man, I wish I could do that as easily!" (I have no idea what that'd be but who knows...) 

I hear often that things that you have to work hard for are the things that are most worth having. I'm not sure if that applies to everything for everyone but for me, right now, it makes sense. When I was younger, I hated when my parents made me help with difficult yard work. But when it was all over and we were worn out from all the labor and fresh air, I felt good. Like I acomplished something. And in those moments, I was grateful that my parents made me work and I also felt closer to them. There is a sense of deep satisfaction from working hard at something. 

That being said, I'll no longer look at the people at the gym with frustration. I'll just keep on sweating like a crazy person and thank God for giving me a healthy body and a healthy mind, for my wonderful four children, my awesome husband and our beautiful home. All blessings that He so willingly gave me. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy

Every year, my son's birthday is a pretty big deal. It's not that he is more important to me than his sisters are; it's just that there was a time that we weren't sure we'd be getting to do things like celebrate his fourth birthday. I won't bore you with the details again (I've blogged about the situation on his previous two birthdays... you can read it here if you're curious: but long story short, for the longest 10 days of my life, we weren't sure if he would survive whatever it was that attacked his brand new little body. I know that it is because God loves me and had many lessons to teach me through this little boy that my son is alive and healthy today. And this kid has kept me on my toes ever since.

My little boy is growing up and changing so quickly. On his first birthday, he couldn't eat his own birthday cake because he had some kind of gag reflex problem. He couldn't eat anything thicker than formula without gagging and puking. Turns out, it was all psychological. Kid was playin games from the start. He had a Gatorade addiction for a while. Which was my fault, but I paid for my mistake when I cut him off, cold turkey. Then, he went through a "phase" where any time we took him out in public, he insisted on throwing a fit. And by fit I mean psychotic meltdown... the kind where people consider calling the authorities on you. The kind where you wonder if your baby got switched in the hospital because there's no stinkin way that little booger shares your DNA. The kind where you plead with God for the second coming to happen. ASAP. It got to the point where we considered never leaving the house again. Ever. And as he got older, the fits changed and got easier in some ways but much worse in others. The pediatrician suggested counseling. I ended up evaluating and changing his diet which helped dramatically. Didn't fix the problem but holy cow did I learn about what a poor communicator I am in the process! Sometimes, a child's problems are as simple as your own. Sugar causes extreme reactions for him. But because I just panicked and over reacted instead of asking him what was wrong and being patient till he and I worked out the issue, it made most situations worse than they were. 

Then two thing happened around the same time that helped my awesome little boy shine. In mid July, baby number four was born. Then, my oldest started school a month later. When she started school, my son became the big kid of the house during the day. While I miss my oldest since I don't get to spend much time with her any more, I'm so thankful for the time to get to know Little Man better. With his older sister at school, he became my helper. He became my little assistant. And he took taking care of keeping the baby happy very seriously. 

Today was his birthday. Previous birthdays involved tears and general brattiness. This year was so awesome. For starters, I wasn't able to decorate with the theme he wanted. But he wouldn't stop telling me that it was ok and that he loved the Batman decorations. Then, he wouldn't stop hugging me and thanking me for "all my wonderful presents!" (he got less than previous years). And when I explained that we weren't doing a cake tonight since we were waiting for Daddy to come back from his trip later this week to do it but that I was going to come up with another desert for him., I expected his response to be tears and pouting and drama. Instead, his response was, "Well, that's ok Mom. Just put a candle on a pizza for me." Cracked me up and made me love him even more. 

I'm so incredibly thankful that God let me keep Little Man. I'm so thankful for the lessons in love and patience and communication, parenting, marriage and life that God has and is teaching me through this handsome little boy. I am so thankful that through all he and I have been through in these past four years, that our relationship is where it is. Don't get me wrong, we're not bffs. I'm the mom and he's my son, but there's no reason why our relationship has to be frustrating. I'm grateful for the boy God is shaping him into. He's a pretty cool kid. 

Just in case you read this someday, Happy Birthday, son of mine. You bring me joy and you have added to the value of my life. I have loved you every moment of every day since I found out about your existence and I will continue to love you every day for the rest of your life. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Supermom Conundrum

I like to people watch. I observe, question, ponder and yes, I'll admit, sometimes judge. As I've matured (haha, yes, I have, even if it's just a tiny bit) over the years, my analysis of people has changed. For example, when I was a waitress many many years ago, I used to judge the parents that would bring their children in and allow them to be noisy or messy. It used to frustrate me and I would swear to myself that I would NEVER let my children act like that. Now, when I'm out and I see that kind of a family dynamic at a restaurant, as long as the kids aren't saying disrespectful things or throwing food in my direction, I'll usually ignore it. If I see one of those kids crying or acting difficult, I look to the mom to see how she's reacting. More often than not, there's a look of desperation as she pleads with the child to just be quiet for 10 more minutes. If she looks my way, I shoot her a knowing smile of encouragement. I know what it is like to be in her shoes. Her child acting up is not necessarily a reflection of her parenting. Sometimes kids can be stinkers! And I had to eat my words and judgements. More often than not, my kids ARE the noisy kids in the restaurant. We ARE the ones leaving the Chinese restaurant with more rice on the floor than in our bellies. Or greasy finger prints on the windows. Or drinks spilled all over the table. It happens. I've learned to pick my battles. And to learn quick math so we can figure out the tip as quickly as possible and run fast so we don't have to endure another defeated look from the poor waitress. 

I think that women are each other's toughest critics and so far, in my 28 years, I feel that the two ways we judge each other the harshest is in our appearances and in our children. I see it everywhere I go. And I feel it. I'm not perfect and although I'm not proud of it, I'll confess that I criticize or feel pride. My oldest daughter is in kindergarten now. A friend was telling me that her own daughter, also in kindergarten, kept getting in trouble for talking too much. I can remember thinking, "I'm so proud of Alex for being wise enough to not be a talker." About a week later, I'm talking to Alex's teacher during our parent/teacher conference and she informs me that Alex can be a bit bossy with the other kids. Oops. I have no idea where she got that from... 

Since I had baby #4, I started working out at the gym 4-6 days a week and with a personal trainer. My first thought, while getting the tour from the gym manager (who was a walking cliche... You know, great smile, winning personality, handsome, muscles everywhere... Not trying to be mean. He seems like a super great guy. But come on... Of course they send the young mom questioning a gym membership to HIM...)  was "Why do all the men have no arm hair???" My second thought was, "Guess I'm going to have to buy a couple neon colored spandex outfits if I'm going to fit in with these other women." I didn't start working out to be skinny. I want to be healthy. My desire to work out was more of a need to work on my mental health (let's be honest, postpartum can stink!) than a desire to look like Barbie. Sure, the weightloss and toning has been a great side affect but I still feel like I'm in some kind of weird competition that I have no desire to be a part of. I'll be standing in line behind these other women to pick up my kids from the day care and I'm stuck behind women that look like they could be models. Who looks that good when they're done working out? Seriously? I don't!!! And for real, what's up with these skinny chicks that come in and pretty much hang out for an hour and do almost no exercise but still look awesome? I'm standing here breathing like a Saint Bernard that ran a marathon, sweating like a grown man who's been digging holes in the clay dirt during a Georgia summer. And I might have forgotten to put deodorant on...again... But I'll get comments from women when they see how old my baby is about how they wish they could look as good as me this soon after having a fourth baby. I say thank you, but I'm really thinking "You'd think otherwise if I was standing here in my underwear." 

We all do it. We all criticize and judge, even if we're doing it to ourselves because we wish we looked different. Or that our kids were smarter. Or that they were the star of the soccer team. Or any number of other silly standards we try to measure each other and ourselves with. 

When I started this blog, I thought I wanted to be a Supermom. I wanted to be one because I thought I wasn't one. Truth is, I am. And most likely, so are you (if you're a mom reading this...). I used to believe that there was a specific guideline or list of qualifications that measured what a Supermom was: her home was always clean, he kids were always well behaved, her husband was alway happy, she was skinny but an awesome cook, her appearance was impeccable, her dogs could get drinks from the fridge, and she could multi task like a champ. I do know some women who are this seemingly perfect. On the outside, they have it all together. But on the inside, they're a mess. They're relationships are superficial. Their children don't have fun. Their husbands are happy...when they're not at home. I don't want to be like that. My house is a mess. I have no idea what we're going to eat for dinner. I'm not even going to start describing the mountain of laundry sitting in the hall upstairs. I haven't showered yet and am still covered in an hour and half of sweat from my workout this morning. There's a fruit fly that's been in my house so long, I'm contemplating giving him a name and welcoming him into the family... But my husband is happy and dying to come home from the project he's on (and missing my cooking too... Yup, tooting my own horn a little). My kids are loved and they know it. They're happy. I don't feel the unrealistic pressure to be something that I'm not. Sure, there's always room for improvement but figuring out what to improve on is the key. 

My hope is that other mothers understand this too. This goofy pedestal that we place some women on but won't allow ourselves to consider coming near needs to be taken down and burned. It is time to stand together, encouraging one another, enjoying learning from others, sharing our own knowledge and enjoying our roles as moms. 

All that being said, I'm happy to be back. I hope that you'll continue to join me on my own adventure as A Wannabe Supermom. (Did anyone else read "A Wannabe Supermom" in a cool cartoon narrator voice or was that just me?) 

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