This Being a Mom Thing 

Mother’s Day is beginning to decorate my home with homemade gifts stacked in a chair and fresh flowers from my husband. It weighs heavily on my heart to be celebrated. Should I be?  Should my motherhood be celebrated?

With the greatest of intentions, I have seen articles running around Facebook on the topic that are as empty, shallow, and impersonal as a Halmark card. One article stated for the low feeling mother, You are a great Mom because:  and it stated things like: You got out of bed this morning and you are trying.  On such, I hold back from adding to the comments, “Sometimes the first step to good change is realizing that you suck as a mom.”  

It is no secret that there are some really awful moms out there. And hey, I do NOT want to be one of them. 

Allow me to tell you a little story:

Third day of school, my newly third grader climbs into the back of my car on the third day of after school car line. I have learned not to ask her about her day, but give her a little time and then she will begin to spill. After a few minutes of silence, she began to speak in complete seriousness, “Mom, Mr. Parker said we are not going to have any more fun in school. It is all hard work from here on out.”  And then a sly smile began to creep upon her face, “…But guess what!  I still had fun today.”

And that, I believe, pretty much sums up being a Mom. If you are getting into this whole business for fun and happy days, you are in for a rude awakening.  To sum up motherhood by saying it is hard work is an understatement!  

It is more like always being in labor!  The day I birthed my little miracle was the most painful and the most wonderful day of my life!  But it wasn’t because I was trying to have fun. I was trying to survive!  And then all of the sudden, I was so incredibly madly in love with someone that I was meeting for the very first time that had brought me more physical pain than anyone else I had ever known. That is what motherhood is like. 

This being a Mom thing is hard work!  It can’t be explained!  But I think we should stop trying to enjoy it so much!  I think we should stop trying to make everything so pretty, stop bribing our children, stop handing out so much candy, stop trying to have it all together, and be ok with our kids crying and embarrassing the shit out of us!

Hey, I do not like to discipline. I would much rather make her bed than take longer to teach her how. I think our kids need to learn how to behave at a restaurant rather than watch the iPad.  I think we need to be on our knees begging God for our children to love the Lord with all their heart and mind and soul because we care more about that than what other people think about us. I think as a Mom I should not be able to spend a day at the spa or get the house I want because I am doing without (whatever that thing is for you) so that my child can learn a new skill I never knew or go to the school that is the best for her or whatever. It is about sacrifice. 

I want to hear the truth!  

“THIS LIFE IS NOT ABOUT YOU!  It never was!  If you do not put Jesus before yourself, how do you ever expect to be of any worth to your child?!  Be the person you want to be your child’s role model!  This little life is your responsibility!  It is hard work!  Understatement!”

And then after an absolutely exhausting day, I want to lay down in my bed. I want a little sly smile to cross my face and I want to proclaim, “Know what?  I still had fun!”

So…should we be celebrated?  Should I be celebrated?  For me, it is a day to hug and kiss my little baby. To thank her for all my homemade gifts. To appreciate my husband for all his plans. And to say, “THANK YOU JESUS for seeing fit to make me a Mom!  I give myself to you. Please use me to direct this amazing blessing to you and to your amazing plan for her. It sure is crazy hard work!  …and I am enjoying it.”

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Pause the Rushing Moment

Despite the fact that I want to soak up each and every second, the clock ticks on. “Enjoy these moments. She will grow up in the blink of an eye.”  I know!  I really do know because yesterday I held a tiny baby in my arms and now she is knocking on nine. And my coffee grows cold and I am not ready to move on. 

The morning was rushed with so many chores but they all got accomplished so I should count it a success. But I don’t. I don’t appreciate the rush. There is hard work to be done and I understand that, but could you keep the day from passing while I hurry about my chores?  I sat in the car and stared out the window. I am not one that can hold in my emotion. 

A bit surprised by my sadness at this joyous occasion, “What is the matter?”  He asked. 

“It is going by in fast forward!”  

And it did!  It was Thanksgiving Day yesterday and NOW IT IS NOT!

I sit in the morning. My mug of coffee is cold before I am ready for my morning alone to be over.  I want to sit in my jammies for hours without the day passing by, just pause the moment I am in. It is officially Christmas season, the best time of the year. These are the moments, the times that are memories, this is when I make who I am. And I want it to be good!  

But the company arrives and they are gone before I am ready. He is off work and returns before I am ready for him to go. She grows and she is one more step to grown and I want to snuggle just a bit longer. The Christmas song and the warm glow of the fire are a perfect moment that taunt me as they rush so quickly away. Cherishing the moment is not enough. I want to pause.  I want to have forever and eternity. 

Writers are Readers

  
 I turn in my bed, open my eyes, and lay on my pillow for another minute. There is no beeping alarm and I smile at the thought. (I do not usually smile in the morning). I grab my phone off my night stand and take a quick look at the clock. Just after 8. Fall break is great for sleeping in. 

I stretch open my eyes and pop in my contacts, fill a glass with water and quickly swallow my morning medication. I head straight to one of the most important things in life:  coffee. I grab my extra large homemade coffee mug and sort of smile when I remember that I paid ridiculously too much to paint this mug one day on a play date with my girl and some friends. But the mug says, “Caroline’s Coffee” and I like that.  Fall breaks are the best for drinking coffee. 

The house is quiet. James has already left for work. (He does not get to observe Fall break with us). Conner has already left for college. (My niece lives with us and I love her to pieces!  Her college break is not even as long as my third grader’s). And Madison is still asleep. I will let her sleep just a little bit longer and give myself a little time to read. Fall break is made to have a little extra time to read. 

Over Fall Break, I completed Ben Carson’s “One Nation” (AMAZINGLY INSPIRATIONAL), started “Teresa of Calcutta” by D. Jeanene Watson (wow!  I want to be this woman!), and read a few more chapters of “12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid” by Tim Elmore.

I am a parent. I make mistakes. I want to avoid mistakes. This is the book for me. My daughter is eight years old. This is a great time to read this book. He says things like “let your kids fail” and my heart has this little battle with Tim and I say, “WHAT?!” And he says “yes” and I scream “no” and he says “It is the best thing for Madison” and I say “ouch!” And grab my heart and I don’t want my little girl to hurt but he walks through the benefits of letting our children fail and learn from their mistakes and what unbeneficial adults our kids will grow up to be if Momma is always coming to the rescue. And I want my daughter to be an aide to society, so I read on. 

I do want what is best for my girl, even if it is hard for me to loosen my grip and let go of one, maybe two fingers.  But as I do this, something absolutely spiritual happens.  Every finger that I release is replaced by one of God’s fingers!

Ya see, I am not throwing my eight year old into the hands of this world. Hell no!  I am releasing her into the hands of loving God, that believe it or not, loves her even more than I do!  He has plans for her, plans to prosper her!

So, this book has helped me with some very practical ways of knowing how to appropriately give an eight year old independence and what are some ways that I can let an eight year old take responsibility and feel some natural consequences and some natural benefits!  

And do you know what, she amazes me!  And when that girl works hard and gets things accomplished and when she is not entitled to sweets and playing and when she earns a trip out to get frozen yogurt with her cousin and a family night of Uno, she loves me all the more for it and I see that, as Tim Elmore says it, that “I am not raising a child. I am raising an adult.”  And Fall Break is the best time to raise my future adult. 

A Link to My Longest Writing Ever

I have entered my novel into a contest.  If you like what you read here, please visit the link below and download my book FOR FREE!  Each download gives me a vote.  THANK YOU!  I hope you enjoy what you read.

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What is Your Power?

I wake up with a lot of things running through my head:  Don’t forget it is picture day for Madison. There is a ton of laundry after the weekend and make sure, in particular, that M’s new green shirt gets washed. Call blah blah. Wipe down the bathrooms, make beds, empty the dishwasher. Go to Publix. We need more this and that. Swim team day. La la blah blah. I have to organize it.

I pull out a sheet of paper and a pen, write it down in an order that makes sense and then jot down the guesstimated amount of time it will take by writing beside that chore or event what time I should finish. Done. Check. This is my day. The list is made. I’ve got this.

Several hours later, I wrap up the vacuum cleaner cord, light a candle, and plop down on the couch with my girl to read Pollyanna. 

Strength. Power. Check. Those are my good days. And I’m pretty good at having good days.

I screw the top on my travel mug, sit down on the floor, leaning on the club chair, pull out my iPad and type away. My fingers can’t keep up with my mind:  repeat that. Emphasize here. Build up momentum. Bam. Ending punch.

Write. Repeat and emphasize here. Write. It is part of who I am. I find identity in my love of writing. I include it on my list of accomplishments. There is power in my ability to write. Hey, I struggle with enough that I claim my strengths when I have them. I am a writer.

Lover. Looking looking looking for love. Caroline is a lover. When I found love, we melted. It is not so hard to serve James because I love him. Ahh!  Chill runs up my back, shake my shoulders, I love him. There are so many fingers raised and point this out and mentions to be made but I am just going to stop there. No clarifications will be made. I am a lover!  I claim that man, he is mine and I am proud of it!  He is part of my completion and my identity. I am a lover.

What is your power?  What is your identity?

Are you rolling in cash?  Do you have a singing voice to make me and the rest of the world jealous?  Are your legs fast?  Do you demand attention and get respect when you walk into a room?  Do your hands obey your eyes with surgical precision?  Can you listen and retain every spoken word?

This man, he can command the cells in human bodies. This man, the spirits obey him. This man can tell the stars to stay or fly. He knows thoughts, he makes animals, and he walks and talks with God.

Power?  No power is denied him.

He is laughed at. He is whipped. He is accused, rejected, denied, and abused.

Power, where is your power?

This man, He is found among the weak. He uses his power to heal the sick. His fingers make the blind man see his family for the first time. His words hang the shining sun over the white sandy beaches. His strength parts the sea so the running slave can taste freedom. He comforts the lonely standing at her husband’s grave.

That man, where is his strength?  How does he use his power?

He denied himself, hung on the cross, and declared his love for me. Rejected, he lifted me up. Condemned, he set me free.  Dying, I am forgiven. Loved, he used his power for me.

All I have is because of him. How will I use my gifts he gave to me?

Caroline’s Creed

I believe in the Son of God. I believe in forgiveness of sins. I believe I have been forgiven. That can never be taken from me. I believe what I believe. I believe I have a daughter. She is a miracle living before me every day. I believe in love. I love her in her strength. I love her in the impatience of a bad day. There is no one, no amount of money, no power, no spirit, no sin that can take that love away. I believe.

I believe Jesus lived. He walked among this earth. He had no questions of this earth. Only answers. And conversations with God. He was God. He is God. He will always be God. I believe in the Trinity. I believe this God lives in me.

I believe in Science. I believe the Bible and Science always compliment each other. I believe in asking questions. I believe in reading. I believe in right and wrong. I believe I do not have all the answers. But I know the one who does. I believe.

I believe in love. I was loved and now I return love. I was picked and chosen. There is a plan for my life. I believe in forgiving others because I was forgiven much more. I believe in serving. Because much is required. Love makes me who I am. That I believe.

I believe in holy matrimony. I believe this oneness points me to God. I was created in his image. Marriage reflects the Trinity. I have been loved in marriage. Loved more than any other way. My life is who we have become together. I believe in love. It has many complexities, many wonders, many joys.  I believe in the mystery of marriage.

I believe in a good fight. Standing up, holding firm, a power from above. I believe it is good to hate evil.  I believe in evil.  Helping the helpless, hugging the lonely, comforting the sad, learning with the curious. I believe in others. I believe we are all made different, unique, and with a beautiful purpose.

I believe in the beauty of the earth, the ugliness of sin, the hurt of a broken heart. I believe in blessings of this world, enjoying good food, gifts of love, friendships, and celebrations of holidays. I believe in life, it’s sanctity and purpose. I believe in believing. What do you believe?

THAT IS LOVE!

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LOVE. The meaning of life. Love is the reason we leave our family of origin and begin a life with someone new. Crowds line up, women scream, and billions are made on love songs. It sells. It forgives. Love brings us to our knees, makes us crazy, makes us whole. Is there anything that love can not do?!

A young teenager, he had a simple appearance, smiling, and nervous. I don’t turn on the evening news very much, but there it was on the wall of my living room, and there he was in my home. A local boy, an orphan. “I will help with the chores. I always make my bed. I listen in class. I am a really good basketball player. I always play in the Special Olympics.” The anchor asked him if he liked school, “Yes ma’am.” He smiled and did his very best to please and have good manners. There was one thing he wanted. He was willing to go on TV and plead to anyone that would give it to him. Love. Begging to be loved.

Who can tell us what love is? Why do we sell our souls to be loved? Why do our hearts ache for the unloved? Why do we connect? Why does the world search and spend and sacrifice all in the name of love?

Culture wants so badly to be loved and culture has no clue what love even is!

I hate chick flicks! Here is the setting for any modern day chick flick: Two people living separate lives. Almost always she is rude and self serving. This is supposed to be seen as successful and independent but she is concerned with no one other than herself. He is attracted to her. She is pretty. We get that. But they “fall in love” and have sex. “Happy ever after.” That is love. Or so we are told time and time again. It leaves us believing that the meaning of love is two attractive people having sex and being happy.

Love is about me. It is about a relationship that makes me happy, a person that has something to offer me, being turned on and giving into the heat of the moment. OR IS THERE SOMETHING MORE?

When James and I met, it was love at first sight. I wanted to be with him ALL THE TIME! Had I sacrificed, had I given anything? No, I was in love with the idea that someone would love me. I liked the qualities that I found in James. And I wanted to be with him. That is why I married James! I WANTED TO BE WITH HIM! I wanted to figure out this thing called life with James. I wanted to spend Christmases with James, wanted to wake up beside him, wanted to cry on his shoulder, to go on dates, and count up the anniversaries by his side. THAT WAS THE EASY PART! That worked for me!

What did not work for me? Spending money on what he wanted instead of what I had my heart set on. Spending hour after hour, time after time going through the forever decision making process that he always goes through every single time he makes a purchase. It didn’t work for me to get mad as hell at someone and have to lay down beside him at the end of the day. It did not work for me to discover that men and women are from two different planets and I did not understand what in the hell he was thinking most of the time. It did/does not work for me to discover that he is a messy person, while I am a perfectionist concerning our home. It did not work for me to have to work through something when it hurt deep in my heart and all I wanted to do was throw in the towel.

Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t work for James either! It didn’t work for him to spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars on medical bills. It didn’t work for him to wait months to see if his daughter inherited cancer from his wife. It didn’t work for him to work day after stressful day to use the money to buy canvases to hang on the wall and throw a birthday party for a bunch of little girls. It didn’t work for him for his wife to have to work through the emotions when he had already moved on from a disagreement. It didn’t work for him to spend Saturdays making repairs on a home when he would rather be at the shooting range. It did not work for him to paint the living room, just for a color change. And it most definitely did not work for him to sign someone else on to his checking account.

And THAT IS LOVE! It is awesome to hold hands with your husband of 12 years, while he whispers sweet secrets in your ear. It is great to get what I’ve been hoping for for my birthday. But I have felt the most loved when I have been a real bitch and James makes me coffee in the morning. I know I am loved when I am forgiven. I know love when it is not deserved and James choses to stay with me when he has better options.

Love is when it doesn’t work for me. Love is when it does not make me happy. Love is doing something for the one you love when you don’t want to, but it is the best for them. Love is time after time, choosing someone else above me. Love is when my heart does not feel it, making my actions do what is right when I do not want to.

God is love. What does that mean? Jesus had perfection. He was spending eternity in a place that is above and beyond anything we can ever begin to imagine. King of paradise island surrounded by servants and being a famous billionaire? Better than that! He was perfect. Never said anything mean, never did anything selfish. He had never messed up. And he chose to come to this screwed up, sinful world. He chose to let his accusers whip him and torture him and spit in his face. He chose to let them nail him on a cross, when just thinking a single thought, he could have released himself from all the agony and pain. He chose to die, to SAVE US!

THAT IS LOVE! He received no benefit, none of that worked for him! But it was the best for us.

And what did I do in return to thank Jesus? I complained. I wanted a bigger house and a newer car and a healthier body. I wanted more!

Why does he love me?! I do not know! And yet time after time, he forgives me and he loves me again and again!

THAT IS LOVE!

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