Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Social Networking and Motherhood

I have a confession to make. I'm not good at keeping my opinion to myself. I know it's a sign of foolishness to just blurt out what I'm thinking but it happens. And way more than I'd like to admit. Trying to NOT say something when I really WANT to is almost a physical struggle for me. I literally have to bite my tongue sometimes. I have destroyed relationships but not keeping my opinion to my self. Whether I was right or wrong in my thinking doesn't matter. Keeping silent would have been better.

I have another confession to make. I am extremely critical. Extremely. Is there a stronger word than "extremely"? If there is, I'd like to use that one instead. I'm going to chalk it up to being able to see things for their face value. Most of the time, at least. I'm not trying to toot my own horn. It's a fact, and one that others that know me really really well have also pointed out. Being able to see things or understand things about people that others miss puts me on edge. And often makes me judgemental and hypocritical. 

Enter Facebook. 

Now, before I say this, I need you to take a deep breath and prepare yourself. Some of you reading this are my Facebook friends. I want you to understand that I may not be talking about you. And also that the problem is me, not you. Ok. Here goes nothin. 

Taking into consideration the things I just confessed, Facebook has become a nightmare for me. I find myself blocking or deleting or hiding people just because I can't handle reading the things they post. I end up wanting to comment on almost everything. And I get all worked up over the ridiculous opinions and the narcissism. I get annoyed with people and end up disliking a lot of my "friends". Oh yeah, I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve too. So all my irritation with the goofy things people say online was spilling over into my attitude at home. I walked into my husband's office here at home one night and just ranted about something silly that someone he doesn't know said on FB. His response was something like, "You need to be like me. I'm drama free. I don't have Facebook." 

It was a "duh" moment for me. 

So I decided to stay away from FB as much as I could. I had to get on sometimes because of group messages that were being sent that I needed to pay attention to but other than that... I may post a picture here and there or update my status sometimes but I'm trying not to read my timeline. 

What started as me needing to take a chill pill and get a grip turned into another "duh" revelation. I know this is getting long but stay with me. 

I often wonder where the time has gone during the day or why I didn't get certain things acomplished or how I got so stressed out. Could it be because I'm spending too much time on Social Medias? Duh. 

When I stayed off FB, I immediately noticed how much more time and focus I had for the things I'm really supposed to be doing. I'm not one of those women who's going to chastise the mother on the park bench that's looking at her phone instead of watching her kid pick their nose and wipe it on the tree before heading down the slide again. Mommys need a break too. By all means, Pin away. I'm right there with ya. But the time I was spending on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest (I have a twitter account too but I'm not sure if I personally know a single person I follow so I lost interest a while ago) was consuming time that I should have been spending on cleaning or reading or calling my Dad or blowing bubbles with the kids. It blew my mind how much time I was just throwing away. And none of it was benefiting me or those who need me most. Beyond that, who really cares what I ate for breakfast? Or if I'm sitting outside in the sun? Or what I think about the mean lady at Walmart? Or whether or not I think you're lazy or whiny or theologically off your rocker? I'd get all worked up about what so and so said or the inappropriate selfie they posted and I'd waste even more time wandering around the house in an angry mess. I know. I've got issues. 

There are so many people I really liked until I started reading their status updates. Or looking at some of their pictures. And I decided that if that's how it is, I need to stay away from social media. I'm not quitting cold turkey. Just trying to exercise some wisdom. 

Some of you aren't "networking junkies" like myself so you think I'm nuts. But to those of you who post things over and over every day or are checking you apps more than once every couple hours, I dare you to go a few days without getting on at all. I think you'll be amazed at how much more time you have on your hands to take care of the things that truly matter. It blew my mind. And I'm not as stressed or annoyed or frustrated. No more drama for this Mama! 

I get a lot of encouragement online from fellow bloggers or from friends posting Bible verses or my family letting me know they miss me or fitness motivation but in the long run, none of that matters. What does matter is how I'm spending the time God has given me. Am I spending it reading multiple posts from hundreds of people I almost never speak to in person? Or am I spending it nurturing my children and meeting my husband's needs or attending to my home or helping my neighbors or taking meals to the sick or assisting the elderly? What matters? Not social media. 

I honestly can't say that I've been honoring God or taking care of my family with how I've spent my time. And that's sad. There are so many stumbling blocks and temptations in our path throughout the day and Facebook has definitely become one of mine. God promises to protect us from temptation and He is strong enough to keep us away from it. But I think He expects us to use our brains too. If I understand what my temptations look like, I need to be smart enough to avoid them and ask God to help me reprioritize. And God is good and faithful. He won't let us fall. But we have to keep our eyes on Him. Duh. 

Philippians 4:8 
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

Social Media and Motherhood. It's a love/hate relationship. God and Motherhood. It's a love/love relationship. 

Which one matters most? Duh. 

How will you spend your time today? 

*This blog, and the social media I have connected to it, are very important to me. I WISH I had more time to spend on here. But because it IS an important way I spend my time, I will always be available through this blog's Facebook page or on here or through my email address.* 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Clean the House? What For?

Once upon a time, my house was clean. The hardwood floors weren't scratched. There weren't any questionable smears on the walls. The carpet was nice and soft. There were no tongue marks on the windows or strange odors flowing from the bathroom. Then we signed the papers and moved in. 

When we moved in, I was pregnant with my second child. My oldest was about 9 months old. My husband traveled for work and so most of the time, it was just me, the baby and our two dogs. I was vacuuming and mopping several times a week. There was next to no clutter and I wasn't having to do laundry very often. The biggest struggle I had was our female dog getting pregnant and having 6 puppies. THEY were difficult to keep clean. 

Fast forward 5 years. As I'm writing this, my third child is sitting at the table with me, "finger painting" with the yogurt she doesn't feel like eating. A few days ago, the day after I cleaned all the windows, this same child took her airhead candy (yea, yeah...that was my first mistake), licked it and stuck it on a window. And continued to lick it. On the window. 

Child number 2 and 3 like to draw on their faces with markers.

Child number 4 is 7 months old and thinks diaper blowouts are what all the cool babies are doing. Lately, we have two to three outfit changes a day. 

There is something brown smeared on the wall going up the stairs. I'm afraid to find out what it is. 

Our male dog peed on stuff I have piled up to donate the other night when he was upset that my husband wouldn't let him in the bedroom. 

Vacuume and mop? Dust and organize? "Ain't nobody got time for that!" 

The last few weeks, I'd been thinking about how frustrated I am with my messy house. And it came to a head when, earlier this week I read another blog post about how the writer doesn't want you to come over to visit if you can't handle the mess in her house. I agree. I don't invite people over for this very reason. I was discussing the topic with a fellow stay at home mom who felt the same way. Some of us aren't the most organized people. Add that to the fact that we have a handful of kids and well...a messy house is what you've got. 

Yesterday, I had every intention of power cleaning the house since we've been so sick and I've gotten behind on some of the necessary chores. Then life happened. My kids made messes. The baby had another blowout. I had multiple errands to run. I had to break up a sibling fight. I had to finish recleaning the donation items. Most of what I'd planned to do never happened. It made me wonder if I'm a bad wife/mother. Why can't I seem to keep the house clean? 

I thought about the Proverbs 31 woman. How did she manage to keep her house clean? Um...what??? Proverbs 31 doesn't actually say that her home was clean!!! It doesn't say she was perfect. What it DOES say is that she wasn't lazy. She took care of her family. She worked hard at all she did. She showed love and compassion to those who needed it. She took care of those who worked for her. He husband exalted her. Her children were happy to have her as their mother. No where does it say that her house was spotless. In fact, as busy as she was, coming and going with a husband and children and servants, I'm sure that there was at least a tiny bit of disorder somewhere. 

I'm not by any means trying downplay the incredible woman she was. I'm simply trying to point out that she did her best to take care of her family and home. Ladies, if your house is spotless but your kids and husband complain that you never spend time with them or that you're too high strung or that you're cranky when "life happens", then maybe you need to take a step back and reexamin your priorities. If your house is a little cluttered or the laundry sits in the basket for a few days before you're able to fold and put it away but your husband enjoys your company so much that he wants you by his side always or he brags about you to his friends, or if your kids want their friends to come over since they've got "the cool house" with "the fun mom", then maybe you're doin just fine. If you have a spotless house, three kids, a dog and a happy husband, by all means, show your face! You are a role model!!! 

I have to get going because I'm pretty sure I really do need to scrub that scary brown smudge off the stairs and kid #2 and #3 are quiet and unsupervised upstairs which can't be good. But I'm not going to beat myself up anymore. My house is lived in. And those in it are loved. And God is my witness that I don't sit around and eat Bon bons all day. I hope you also stop beating yourself up. You're not alone. It's ok that your living room is cluttered or your sink full of dirty dishes. Take a moment to hug your kids or send a loving text to your spouse. And have an awesome weekend. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is Parenting For You Pt 2

A couple months ago, I wrote a post for my sister who is getting married soon. I wanted to give her some advice/tips/warnings to give her a small idea of some of the things she'll have to deal with once she becomes a mother.

My biggest piece of advice is to wait a little while before having kids because you're getting married to be spouses, partners in life etc etc etc. not to help populate the earth. Haha, I've got that part covered! Enjoy being married to each other for a little while. You're young enough that there's no rush. However, when the time does come, your world will never be the same. There's tons of love and joy involved. I promise. And nothing you've experienced to date compares to becoming a parent. But because that also is as true for the love part as it is for the chaos that will ensue, I feel the need to give you a few more pointers. I could give you advice until my brain is empty and it still won't fully prepare you for some of the strangeness you'll encounter, the weird conversations you'll have or the smells that will haunt your dreams. But I'm going to go ahead anyway.

1. Learn to say "NO". To everything and everyone. This applies to several different situations. First, say no to family, friends, bosses, strangers... Your first priority is your husband and kids. Someone kindly and wisely said to me recently, "Your family is your first ministry." Obviously, learn to do it respectfully and in love but learn to say it. Jess, I know you. You like to make others happy. You enjoy being involved and helpful and outgoing. But don't ever sacrifice your home life for it. The second half of this is meant for your future kids. Chances are, you will learn to tune them out. Not necessarily a terrible thing. It's your brain going into survival mode. When you have multiple people jabbering at you constantly, your brain will learn to shut out the "white noise". However, the dangerous side effect of this is accidentally saying "Sure" or "Uh Huh" or "Yup" when you don't realize what you're really responding to. The potential danger is allowing your kids to paint on walls. Or go fishing in the toilet. Or sharing the giant SAMs club sized bag of M & Ms with the dogs. Or let them ride the dog. Or jump off the top bunk. Or parachute off the balcony. The list goes on. Just learn to automatically say "NO!" 

2. Date. Often and regularly. I know you guys are in the "We're almost married and in love. 'Blue birds sing when we walk by and flower petals float on the air and angels sing for us'" stage. I'm not saying that ends when you have kids but things change. It's just part of life. Spending time alone together is important to keeping your sanity AND your unity. 

3. Start developing serious OCDs now and then let my kids stay with you for two weeks. I could use the break. And you need to learn how to handle having your OCDs shaken up. I was remembering the other day when it was just me and Alessandra during the week and the hubs would fly home on the weekends. Every Thursday and Friday, I did the same cleaning. And the house was in pretty decent shape. Not the case now. Now, the only thing I'm OCD about is how the dishwasher is loaded and that's just because I need to be able to unload it as quick as possible before the kids decide to "help" and dump food into the dishwasher onto the clean plates. Ugh. For real though. You need to learn how to break all your habits, good and bad, without crumbling. 

4. When you finally get pregnant, don't listen to anyone's advice except mine. You'll get too many conflicting stories/advice. You know I'll give it to you straight. And that I've done it a time or two. Or eight. How many kids do I have again? I lost count...

5. You and Geoff need to start whispering to each other. Have full conversations in whisper. This is also two fold. First, you will NOT want to wake your sleeping baby. They're cute but if you wake them, they turn into dragon babies. They breath fire and turn red and break sound barriers with their screams of rage. Smaug looks like a kitten compared to a baby that has been woken from its slumber. Master the art of the whisper. Better yet, learn sign language. On the flip side, one day, your house will be so noisy that you can't hear a darn thing but you're going to need to communicate. If you learn to whisper, it'll help you hone in on each other's voices. So amidst the noise, you'll recognize the sound of the whisper and know to listen. Turn on all devices and practice. Lots. 

6. Come up with code words now. And make sure they're words that if the kids repeat in public, you won't be massively embarrassed. Like don't say things like "Can we play tonight?" when referring to intimacy. The kids WILL ask about that. Don't call it "Boom Boom" or something equally awkward. Call it "brussel sprouts". Give it a term that they will ignore. Better yet, just whisper it. Candy and toy is another one. I swear that I could say, "I need to pick up candy for the church party" downstairs and a kid sleeping upstairs with the door closed will fully wake up and say, "Candy??? I want candy!!!! {Mongo wants candy!!!}" Again, brussel sprouts might be appropriate. 

7. Open your mind. Embrace Dora. I remember walking in Target before we had kids and seeing an entire isle full of Hannah Montana stuff and saying to the hubby, "Our kids won't be into all that mainstream, commercial stuff. We'll make them cool individuals. I don't want that stuff in my house." 6 years later, I can sing along to every Dora song, I know the names of all the CARS characters, Hello Kity and I have conversations and I like to go into the Mickey Mouse club house because "it's fun inside." You will have plenty of battles to fight once parenthood starts but open your mind now. Because chances are that anything you say, "When I become a mom, I won't let my kids do that" is exactly what you'll end up doing. That being said, Dora can take Boots and her magic stars and fly to the moon. And stay there. Oh. And my gut instinct was right about Hannah Montana. Hot mess! 

8. I was going to tell you to hang out at places where there's lots of kids but since you don't have any of your own yet, that may be super creepy. I don't recommend that you hang out on the playground in the mall because once people see you don't have a kid with you, they won't hesitate to call security on you. But you have friends who gave kids. So offer to babysit them sometimes. The goal here is to let them get their germs all over you. I mean it. Let them rub their snotty little faces all over yours. You need to build up your immunities. Get sick now. Because once you have kids, you won't have time to get sick. And if you do, the whole house will fall down around you. I'm still trying to get the house straight after thus last month of being so sick. It's frustrating. So go help your friends out at their houses when their kids are ill. Expose yourself to the "tiny yucky germs" as much as you possibly can. 

9. You guys need to steal each other's stuff and hide it. Let him take your phone when you least expect it and have him hide it somewhere real good. Make sure the battery is dead so you won't hear the ring. Or take his keys and hide them. Or his shoes. Learn how to be master "finders" now because the kids WILL play "hide and seek" with your valuables and they WILL forget where they hid it. If it can be hidden, they will hide it. And be prepared. You CAN hide things both "out in the open" and in the strangest places. I HAVE found my underwear in Little Man's Puggles book bag. And when I asked "Uh.... What's up with this, Homie?" he DID respond "I wanted to hide them" while laughing. 

10. Go to a local farm and beg the owners to let you put baby oil on a piglet and try to put clothes on it. Then you'll get an idea of what it's like to try and dress a hyper kid. Adrina thinks it's fun to be naked. And she thinks getting dressed is a fun game. Sometimes putting clothes on her involves chasing and running and wrestling and giggles or crying. Sometimes hair gets pulled. And once babies learn to roll over, trying to put clothes on one while they're flipping all over the place is a real challenge. Dress a pig to practice for the todler, dress a fish to practice for the baby. There's a whole lot of flopping around that happens. I'm a little surprised God didn't create humans with more arms and legs but He knows best. 

11. Last, but definitely not least, learn how to break into your own house. You've heard the stories about how many times the kids have locked me out of the house. In the rain. And I had no key outside. Or no shoes on to run through the area where the dogs poo so I could get to the front of the house. And how I've stood outside yelling the kids names or throwing rocks at their windows to get their attention so I could beg them to come let me in. And how, on more than one occasion, they stood there at the windows laughing and waving and mushing theirs faces on the glass. For real. Learn how to break in. Just don't tell anyone else how you did it. 

If I had the time, I'd just write a book. Because I could go on all day long about all the weird things your kids will do and say or the embarrassing things that will inevitably happen or the ridiculous contraptions you'll have to learn how to use. Maybe one day I will. But that day is not today. Adrina just walked past me with out pants. Again. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lesson Learned: Let My Husband Lead

I wanted to write this post on New Years Eve but I've been so sick and nothing comes out of my head coherently. I read a verse that a friend posted on their facebook page this morning though and realized that I just need to write this now, as it's been on my heart for a while.

 That being said, I'm going to ask my husband now for mercy that I know I'll need in the future. I know you read this, Babe. And I'm about to say things that may want to make you say "But I thought you learned your lesson!" so I'm just going to ask you now, when I start to get a little rebelious, please lovingly put my in my place and don't let me "pull an Abby". Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your forgiveness, your compassion and your hard work. 

2013 was a long, frustrating year. And I'm to blame. At first, I was so ready to point the finger at my awesome pregnancy hormones but in all reality, it was because of my selfishness and stubborness that led us on the path we ended up taking. I have no problem now accepting responsibility for my actions and I think that largely has to do with how gracious, merciful and forgiving my husband has been about all of it. Without giving away a ton of personal information, bottom line is that I pressured him into doing something that I thought was right, regardless of how he felt about it. I was unkind and manipulative and self righteous and stubborn. I was pregnant and afraid and wanted what I thought I wanted. Sometimes though, God gives us what we think we want in order to show us that what we had was indeed what was best for us. And that is exactly what happened. I caused a lot of dissention in our home and it spilled into other relationships. And then, when I got what I thought I wanted and realized it wasn't what I thougth it'd be, I grew even more depressed and frustrated and well, just flat out crazy. I wasn't a good wife, a good mother, a good daughter. I was a pregnant, crazy mess. Not a joy to live with. And all because I didn't let my husband lead.

 I have a problem with submission. Always have. I had a hard time with it when I was a kid and I have a hard time with it as a wife. When some one tells me not to do something, I want to do it. When someone tells me I can't have something, I get consumed with wanting to get it. When my husband tells me what he thinks is best for our family and I disagree, I get pouty and mean and insulting. It's honestly hard to write this. It's true but it's icky. And I'm embarrassed that I've acted like such a spoiled brat.

 God set things up the way He did for a reason. Men lead for a ton of different reasons but one of them is because they tend to use their heads more than their hormones when it comes to family decisions. Women tend to base decisions more on emotions and feelings. Women, I'm telling you this now. Don't take offense to it, just hush and listen. When you're pregnant, try NOT to make big choices. Let your husband do all the thinking. Because you've got way more hormones than your body knows what to do with and chances are, they REALLY shouldn't be used for thinking. Lesson 1: Let your husband lead. Lesson 2: Do not succumb to your preggo hormones. Take a chill pill. Loose the air of entitlement you have just because your pregnant. Your husband doesn't owe you anything just because you're carrying his child. He has his own roll to play and it doesn't include stepping aside to let you run the family. Moving on.

 Ephesisans 5:22-33 talks about how, in a marriage, it is key for the wife to SUBMITT to her husband and for the husband to LOVE his wife. We have to be instructed to do this because it's so much easier for it to get twisted. It's kinda easy for women to love. We like love. And it FEELS good (remember, we make more emotional, feely type choices?). Thanks to society's newest slogan "Happy Wife, Happy Life" men are doing more of the submitting and the rolls are being twisted. It has nothing to do with who's the bread winner or who's career is bigger. I'm talking about who leads the family. The man is meant to lead, while the wife lets him lead, while the husband loves his wife and the wife respects her husband. Woman was never meant to lead her husband. I was not meant to make the major decisions for our family. And when I tried to overstep my husband's authority, it caused a lot of pain and set us back in many ways. We're in an awesome place now though.

The verse I read this morning was Proverbs 21:9, "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife." This killed me. It would have been better for my poor husband to sleep out in the cold than have to be in our nice warm home with the monster I became. So bad.

 When we try to change things from the way God intended them, discord happens. Wives, your husbands are meant to be the leaders. Chances are, they wont lead without coming to you for advice. We WERE created to be man's helper. But if you don't let your husband lead, it will change the dynamic of your marriage and not for the better. Respect your husband's choices, even if you don't agree with them. Keep your hormones (and the attitudes that spring from them) in check. Don't be the kind of wife that causes problems for your husband. Chances are, he's got enough on his plate with being the leader of your family and doesn't need any more drama. It's a heavy burden to bare. Be thankful that it's on his shoulders and not yours. But support him under his burden. Be the virtuous wife that is more vaulable than rubies. 

Go ahead and thank your husband for being the leader of your family. Give him some credit. AND LET HIM LEAD!

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