Being a Laid Back Mom in a Stressed Out World

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We are going crazy, people. We are wearing ourselves thin trying to create the smartest and funniest and most brilliant kid on the planet. Our kids are getting burned out, beat down and stressed by our constant pressure on them to achieve, achieve, achieve.

We’re teaching our kids to read at 2. Starting sports at 3. Elementary summers are spent in academic classes. Our kids are competing for college scholarships through club sports at the ripe old age of 11.

We want our kid to be the one who does it earliest and who does it best. But at what cost?

When we will recognize that brilliance can’t be forced? When will we see that each child has natural talent and that it will emerge in it’s own time?

When will we stop and let our kids be kids again?

I’m not against reading early or playing competitive sports. In fact, our 13 year old teen plays club volleyball.

But it does not rule her life. And her worth is not defined by how she plays in a game.

I believe that all of my children are gifted and brilliant and, quite frankly, the most amazing people on the planet.

I also believe that they are children. And that means they need to run and laugh and play and have free time and wear clothes that don’t match. That means that sometimes my teen will get to sleep until noon and sometimes my toddlers will get to run around naked. Because they are kids.

We need to set our kids free from the pressure to be the best. We need to set them free to find themselves and to enjoy their time as children. We need to set them free so that they can try new things just because they want to.

Our kids need to be able to fail. Growth happens in failure. Until we let them fail, they are never going to be as great as they could be.

Let’s all take a deep breath and chill out. They’re going to turn out just fine.

I’d love to hear from you. What kind of crazy, stressed out insanity have you seen? Do you have any ideas for how to stay calm in the midst of the craziness?

The Secret to Raising Happy Kids

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I feel like I’ve uncovered some incredible secret.

See, the last year has been a really rough one for our family. We had two miscarriages (one which involved complications and a hospital visit), my husband and daughter had a major illness that had them sick most of the summer, I contracted mono and hepatitis, which led to me being in the hospital for several days and in bed for several weeks. And we had 5 kids, 4 of them under the age of three, for the last half of the year (this wouldn’t have been so hard if I hadn’t been so sick).

Now I know many families have it so much worse than us, but the truth is that I was tired and grumpy. All I could think was, Can we just get a break, please?

I was walking around looking beat up, just waiting for the next catastrophe.

And then I saw it.

Our kids were carrying our burdens too. Our little ones were clingy and grumpy. Our teen started to really struggle with some heavy, heavy stuff.

Our kids are mirrors.

I hated seeing my children suffer because I was feeling burdened and beat down. So I started to laugh again.

It’s a little awkward at first, forcing yourself to laugh when inside you are really struggling. But after you do it a few times, it comes easily and it feels oh. so. good.

As I started to laugh, my kids started to be silly. My teen’s face softened and she came out of her room and she hugged again and she just felt better.

I know so many of us moms feel so burdened and stressed. There are bills to pay but not enough money. There is so much to do at work but not enough time.

But I just want to encourage all of us as moms to make an effort to laugh with our kids. Find something silly and laugh about it together. Turn on some music and dance crazy with them and then laugh. Spin around until you fall down and then laugh.

If you do, I hope you see what I’ve seen. My kids are happy again. And truthfully? So am I.

Preparing for your Home Study

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A home study can feel really daunting for future adoptive parents. It feels like someone is coming into your home and asking you personal questions in order to decide if you are fit to parent. Potential adoptive families can feel like one wrong answer or one thing out of place in the home may disqualify them from being parents.

I hope that this post can give you some helpful and encouraging tips for you as you prepare for your home study.

1. Remember that they want you to succeed.

The purpose of the home study is not for you to fail. It is designed to give your adoption agency a clearer picture of who your family is so that they can better represent you as you pursue your child. The home study worker is not out to catch some tiny error in your life story and then prevent you from becoming a parent.

Of course, if there are glaring concerns about a particular home, these concerns will be raised through the home study worker. But in the overwhelming majority of cases, you will pass your home study just fine. So don’t sweat it!

2. Be prepared to answer personal questions.

You will probably be asked questions about your childhood, your family growing up, your marriage (including some questions about intimacy in your marriage), past abuse, criminal history, mental illness, etc. Be completely honest.

I know it can be really awkward to share the most intimate details of your life with a complete stranger, but it is imperative that you tell the truth. Having a history of being abused in the past does not disqualify you from being an adoptive parent. But it is important that they know the truth.

Be prepared to answer questions together as a couple (if you are married) and also individually. If you have older children in the home, they may be interviewed as well.

Again, they are not out to make you fail. If there is a major concern, they will let you know. But your agency just wants to know the truth about who you are and what your life experiences have been. Your personal experiences are going to better equip you for parenting your child. Areas that you see as weakness may be considered strength. So just tell the truth and don’t be ashamed of your past.

3. A tidy house is good.

Of course you want your house to be clean when you have your home study. But your home does not have to be perfect by any means. The home study is not a critique of your decorating style. Clean it, but don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect.

Check around to make sure that all chemicals and medications are out of reach of a child (in Texas, medications have to be locked up). Empty your trash cans and put outlet protectors in the plugs.

One of my main concerns before our home study was whether we needed to have a room entirely set up for our future child or not. I have since learned that they want to see where your child will be sleeping and the bed or crib that you have for him/her. But you don’t have to have clothes, diapers and toys ready to go yet.

4. It’s ok to ask questions.

As I said earlier, the main purpose of the home study is for your agency to get to know your family better. The home study is also a great opportunity for you to express concerns or ask questions. It might be helpful to make a list of questions ahead of time so that you don’t forget.

Take a deep breath. You are going to make it through your home study. And when you do, you will be one step closer to meeting your child.

Had your home study already? What was it like? Was there anything you weren’t prepared for? I’d love to hear your experiences! Please share in the comments.

To read about the adoptions of our daughters, click here and here.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Loving our Kids on the Hard Days

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So yesterday I was at the grocery store and I overheard a conversation between a father and son. The boy was picking out a drink and he asked his dad which one he should get. The father responded in a harsh, hateful tone and said, “I don’t care, boy. Your mother and I are trying to shop. Pick one and leave us alone.”

My heart broke for that boy.

I know all parents have moments like that, moments where life has knocked us down and we are tired and empty and have nothing to give. Those moments when the smallest question or comment from our child is enough to make us pop. I’ve done it far too many times.

But it is so different when you hear it from someone else and you see the look on someone else’s kid’s face.

Last night I was angry. I was hurting and empty and drained. I put my little ones in bed and they just kept asking for me to come and do this or that for them. They just wouldn’t settle. And I was ugly to them. I told them that I was done and I had had enough and that they needed to hush.

Normally when I put them in bed I touch their sweet faces and look in their eyes and tell them how precious they are. But last night I failed to show them love.

Being a parent is hard work. And it’s not just the financial strain or the time commitment or the homework or the driving them around everywhere.

Being a parent is hard because you just have to give and give and give. And when you think you’ve given everything you have, you realize that your kids still need more of you and you give some more.

I wish I would have stopped last night. I wish I would have appreciated my children for the beautiful people that they are. I wish I would have paused to tell them that they are special and important and precious to me.

I’m thankful that I get to try again today. I’m thankful that kids are like the most understanding and forgiving people on the planet. Because I know that when they come out here in a few minutes with their morning breath and crazy hair they are going to hug me and love me and we will get to try again. And today I know that I will screw something up and I know that they will still love me.

Some days it feels like being a mom is the hardest job in the world.

We are going to have a better day today.

Measuring Up {or Why You’ll Never be as Good as Her}

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The neighbor down the street who wears a size nothing and has her hair curled perfectly everyday. You’re never going to measure up to her.

The mom at the school who volunteers for everything and always makes so many dang crafts for the class. Yeah, you’re not going to measure up to her either.

The lady at the park whose kids obey perfectly every. single. time. and who never raises her voice. Keep dreaming sister.

These are the voices we hear in our head. These are the lines that we feed ourselves. This is the poison that we drink every single day as women.

And the truth? You are never going to be as good as her. You know why? Because in your mind, she is perfect. And no matter how hard you strive and fight and change yourself to be like her, she will always be just {this far} ahead of you in your quest to perfection.

If every time you look in the mirror you see your face overshadowed by hers, you’ll never measure up. If every time you do something for your kid’s friends and compare it to Ms. Martha Stewart herself, you’re never going to attain it. If your kids throw a fit and you are thinking of her at the time, you’ll always be a failure.

But you are not her.

And also she doesn’t think she measures up either.

It’s a sickness so many women carry with us wherever we go. Go to the store. Compare. Turn on the internet. Compare. Read a magazine. Compare. Go to church. Compare. Play group. Compare. Business event. Compare.

WE HAVE GOT TO STOP.

We have got to learn to see the beauty and value of being ourselves. We have got to learn to look in the mirror and the joy hidden in a laugh line. We’ve got to learn to appreciate the softness of a body that has birthed a child, or the gray hairs of a women who has really lived, or the probably-too-loud-to-be-socially-acceptable laugh that sneaks out sometimes, or the tooth that is so perfectly imperfectly crooked, or the eyes that have seen so many wonderful things.

We would never hold another to the standard of beauty that we hold ourselves to.

We all know the truth. We all know that the women in the magazine starve themselves to play their part and that even then they are photo shopped and altered in search of elusive perfection. We look at our daughters and see nothing but gorgeous but fail to appreciate the fact that those same eyes or smile or nose or chin are living on our own face.

It is time for we, as women, to learn to look at ourselves in the mirror and pause for a moment. Stop trying to fix what’s broken and just pause. Look for something lovely. Find something beautiful. Learn to smile at yourself. Learn to appreciate yourself.

When someone compliments you, stop trying to fight it. Receive it because it is true.

Stop talking about your diet or your fat butt or your jeans that are too tight. Seek health because it will increase your quality of life. Seek health because you value yourself. But stop striving to have the perfect body because you’re never going to get there.

There is beauty in imperfection and loveliness in acceptance.

I am me. I accept myself and love myself. I am beautiful. I am lovely.

Let this be our mantra so that we, as women, can create a better world for ourselves and for generations to come.

For more thoughts on the beauty of me: http://www.welcometomybrain.net/2014/01/the-beautiful-in-me.html

And remember, we all have hard days.

for days when being a mom feels like the hardest job in the world

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Let’s get real. We all love our kids. A lot. We’d do anything for them. But some days being a mom is just plain hard. Some days you just want to throw in the towel. Some days you wonder how the hell your kid is ever going to be anything sort of like normal. I get that. I’m right there with you.

So here’s to the mom whose kid peed in the bed last night and who totally just threw a towel on top of it and stuck them back in bed, because who knows when the last time she did laundry was?

Here’s to the mom who just had to haul her out of shape ass up to the very top of the playground because her two year old just peed ALL. OVER. IT. and the other kids are pointing and laughing.

Here’s to the mom who just went in the bathroom and locked the kids out just so she could eat her chocolate in peace. Because sometimes you lie and tell the children that sharing is fun and the truth is it’s not.

Here’s to the mom whose kid just spent two hours in bathroom doing God knows what but still hasn’t brushed his teeth.

Here’s to the mom with lots of little ones who is always being told what a good job she’s doing and how amazing she is and all she wants to say is, “Shut up and hold one of them, will you?” And “WHERE THE HELL ARE ALL THE SIPPY CUPS?”

Here’s to the mom whose kids are asking questions about faith and church and her answers come up short because she just doesn’t know.

Here’s to the mom who just found out her husband has been lying to her and she just feels so alone.

Here’s to the mom who just saw her son hit her daughter and who is pretending like she didn’t see it just so she doesn’t have to deal with it right now.

Here’s to the mom who is pretty sure her kid is still going to be pooping his pants when  he graduates from high school because she’s done everything the experts have told her and he just won’t stop.

Here’s to the mom who spent so long waiting for her child and who was so desperate to have a baby and now that the baby is here she just can’t stop crying.

Here’s to the mom who lost control yesterday because her kids just wouldn’t let up and now she feels like such a failure.

Here’s to the mom who is miscarrying and who has to pretend like it’s not happening because her kids still need to be fed and life must go on, right? But really she is desperately hurting on the inside.

Here’s to the mom who looks in the mirror every day and hates what she sees but who has a daughter and who so badly wants more for her than this.

Here’s to the mom who just washed that same load of laundry for the tenth time and who will probably wash it again tomorrow.

Here’s to the mom who’s having to be both mom and dad and some days it just feels like too much.

Here’s to the mom who just let her kid eat the Cheerios out of the sweeping pile because it keeps him happy and she can actually get something done.

Here’s to the mom whose teen is looking for love in all the wrong places and all you want to do is wring her neck and tell her to get a clue.

Here’s to the mom who thinks things that she can’t say out loud because if she says that thing or asks that question then people will look at her like she’s crazy (and maybe she is crazy, or maybe those people think the same thing too.)

Here’s to the mom who is just barely scraping by and who doesn’t know if there is going to be enough money to pay the light bill at the end of the month.

Here’s to the mom who sneaks into her kids’ bedroom at night and just stands there and cries because she just doesn’t know how it’s all going to turn out ok.

Here’s to all of us, trying to survive the hard days and hoping that there will be better days.

We’re all in this together and you’re not alone. We all have days when we feel like we don’t measure up.

You are not alone