remember to take off your cape

A while back I posted something on facebook about how parents are superheroes.

Afterwards I worried that people might take that the wrong way, thinking I was encouraging us to have unrealistic expectations of being “supermoms” or “superdads”, filling schedules with awesome kid activities, doing all the Pinterest crafts, grow and eat organic, keeping perfect houses and having perfectly obedient children, etc. (Great, by the way, if you do any or all of those things! I like you, but you are already superheroes even before you do those things, too).

The pour-the-milk, go-to-work, wipe-the-faces, hide-in-the-bathroom-for-two-minutes-to-keep-your-sanity ordinary, everyday mom and dad stuff. That is why you are superheroes.

You, the unique parent with the unique kids. Parenting them in the unique way that you do.

But, superhero you… do you remember to take off your cape every once in a while?

Do you remember who you are without it?

Do you remember how to be that person?

You know you’ve been sitting around the Kiddy Pool too long when you forget that you are anything other than a Lifeguard.

When you start to worry that if you are not watching, something will happen.

If you don’t jump in, no one else will.

If you aren’t there, no one will be safe.

It doesn’t help that one of the kids is glued to your hip.

I think I’ve stayed at my Kiddy Pool a little too long.

In an exhausted, flustered moment I found myself saying words that I knew weren’t true but I felt them and said them anyway.

“You don’t know him like I do.”

Ow. Poor husband.

And you know what? He was able to calm that baby down when I couldn’t, and he was able to calm me down when I couldn’t.

And then three times I read the phrase “If you find yourself (fill in the blank with things I found myself doing and thinking) you probably aren’t getting the break you need.”

In three different places
By three different bloggers.
On three different days.

And it took a week for me to notice the pattern and say
“huh”.

My husband, in all his awesome husbandyness, has told me to take an evening off a week when he gets home from work. He’ll feed the kids and put them to bed.
I haven’t taken him up on that offer nearly as often as I need it. Even though I know that if I asked, every time he’d say yes.

So what do you look like without your cape, Superhero friend?

You’re allowed to take it off, you know.

Even Superman does ;) He spends some time as Clark Kent instead.

By the way… leaving it on all the time… does that look like trust in your Superman (husband) or in your God?

Not for me.

And trust is such an important part of my relationship with both of them. And they want me to trust them. They’ve told me so.

They love it when I do.

And my Superman and Super God know exactly what they’re doing when I’m not around.

C’mon. Let’s take off our capes and go get coffee.

What does your cape-less time look like? This is mine:

 
image
I definitely asked for a water not to drink, just so I could use my watercolor crayons ;)

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princes and princesses

Some monsters on Sesame Street we’re pretending to be princesses today. Prince Charming kept trying to come to their rescue when they had a problem, and the princess monsters kept telling him they didn’t need him (until they needed another player for basketball).

Parents of daughters, my sons are being taught by example (my husband is amazing) to hold doors for your girls, to treat them with care and gentleness, to “come to the rescue” even if that just means to bring them to God and pray for them.

My sons might someday try to do this for your daughter… not because your daughter is weak, inferior, or incapable… but because they are precious and loved by the King.

Please, don’t teach your daughters to squash my sons’ protective servant hearts. And if I may… please don’t teach your daughters that it isn’t okay to need help sometimes… please don’t teach them that accepting help is a sign of weakness… please don’t teach them that if they can do it on their own or without a man, they should. That is not strength.

I do understand that some of you may have had very negative experiences with men who do not view you with the value that is truly yours. I have personally been very blessed, and my confidence and sense of self-worth has been solidified by men in my life who have held open doors, paid for a meal, threatened a guy with a bat for me, and so much more. Godly men don’t want to help and rescue because it makes them feel superior – they do it simply because in God’s eyes and theirs, she is worth it, and he wants her to know.

Let them be princes.

_ _ _

I don’t normally talk about stuff like this in a very public setting because, honestly, I do not like confrontation and this can be a very confrontational subject. So I am going to ask that unless you are in my closest circle of trusted friends that you not judge, criticize, or correct my thoughts on how I parent my sons or how I view this very tender subject. And if you are one of those people you will do so in person or privately :) Thank you!

letting go

Photo03071019

Photo03071020_3

Photo03071021We lost an hour last night… or this morning, or whatever.

It was the easiest daylight savings transition with the kids. Ever.

Want to know what we did? Nothing. For the first time in Eli’s life, we did nothing to prepare.

We didn’t slowly move Eli’s bedtime by 15 minutes every few nights. We didn’t agonize over his nap. He got up (rather early, but he’s been doing that), played at church, and when it was 1pm and we told him it was time for a nap for the first time in weeks he got up and walked to his bedroom! No asking to watch Timmy Time. No tears. No fighting. And the same just happened at 7pm.. the same bedtime he has had almost his whole life (after we survived the first frantic colicky months).

We did nothing. I didn’t try so hard to control the situation.

And it turned out fine!

Better than fine… it was one of the better days in a month.

I believe in a God who can and does take wonderful care of my life and who doesn’t want me to try to hold my life together on my own on my small, wobbly hands. But for some reason when it comes to certain things, especially those involving my children, I begin to doubt that He really means that. He gave my children to me to love and care for, and children need to eat somewhat healthily and get the sleep they need, and I often tend to take on those tasks on my own. I ask for help, I beg for it, I pray… but I still hold myself responsible for their non-napping days and poor eating habits, despite my best efforts. Today I felt as if God took over the parenting… He intervened, maybe setting the day up just right in ways I couldn’t do or maybe He was just God. Maybe He knew I was exhausted and saw me lying on the kitchen floor sobbing yesterday before my husband sent me downstairs for a nap… or maybe He really does love me and care about my kids more than I realize or admit.

I don’t know. I just know my Jesus is awesome and today am feeling abundantly loved and that my kids have slept without any intervention from me…. besides just lying them in their beds. Isaac even slept in the bright church nursery even though this was the first time I told them he likely didn’t need to nap.

So I don’t need to control my life, huh, God?

Okay. I think I can learn to deal with that 😉

smashed

What do you think when your kid misbehaves?

Are you like me – tempted to look at his behavior as spiteful, because our relationship isn’t “good”, or… proof that you’re not doing this mommy (or daddy) thing right?

When he pulls the crockpot off the counter while trying to turn the nob, and suddenly shards and raw meat are everywhere, and it was the new crockpot that was supposed to replace the one that broke… just as accidentally… well, I cry…

And I call my husband. And I clean up the shards and raw meat as the crockpot-smasher stands near and says “what happened?” and other soft things in a very concerned voice… and I say “you broke it,” and I manage to match his soft voice…

And after I’ve picked everything up and wiped it all down, he grabs the broom and begins to sweep the already clean floor, and then he asks for a paper towel and wipes it down.

He didn’t need to clean the floor. I cleaned his mess already. Because I love him.

I don’t need to clean up my mess … He did it already… because He loves me…

was mad. The morning already wasn’t going well. And more things happened right in the middle of all of this. I mis-texted a friend when I meant to text my husband… but it ended up being one of the best things that happened this morning because she is awesome and encouraged me instead of shaming me. But after a while I realized… I didn’t know what I was doing when I spoke the soft words and cleaned the messy floor… but God spoke into it afterwards and now I know… I’d gladly let any material possession be smashed for the opportunity to (even unknowingly) teach my baby – and myself – about grace…

Also… he read books to his baby brother this morning :)

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The one thing.

There have been plenty of times that I’ve been asked in the past eight months, “so, how are you feeling about having two?”

And my answer has changed as quickly and unpredictably as the wind, my hormones, and my toddler’s ability to sit still.

I think I’m feeling okay about it, or nervous, or really excited! or scared out of my mind!!! … you get the idea.

And usually people’s reactions when I talk about the less-than-pleasant feelings of having two kids, two under two, two boys, going through the newborn experience again, is something like “oh you’ll be fine, you’ve got tons more experience now and you have it figured out after the first baby and after how difficult Eli was as an infant you’re prepared for just about anything!”

Well, no… I don’t and I’m not.

There will be less shock factor. The shock of going from not-a-mommy to a mommy is a one-time thing. The shock of going from living with just my husband to living with my husband and a tiny human is a one-time thing, too. The shock of going from pregnant to not-pregnant, and of going from having one kid to two… those will still be here.

But as far as figuring things out…

The one thing that I have “figured out” is that there is no figuring it out.

There were times that I thought I was figuring things out. The nights that Eli didn’t wake up every hour, the days that he would nap somewhere other than on my left shoulder, the days he didn’t cry seventy-five percent of the time that he was awake… and each time I thought that I was getting smarter, “better”, maybe earning my way into the mom-club of mom’s who know what they’re doing… well, not long after that I’d once again be convinced that I was no good at anything, especially being a mom, or a wife-and-mom combined.

Did I figure out how to live comfortably and sanely and always-happily with a newborn when Eli was tiny? Nope. But I did learn that it won’t kill me. I will survive. The baby will survive. My marriage will survive. Somehow, my faith survived. And really that is all that occurred – survival.

But I am now convinced that that is enough…surviving and letting God’s grace take the rest… that I don’t have to figure it out. And because of that, and only that, this time will be different.

what’s stuck in my head

“I need You
You keep You keep
My heart beating beating
I need You
You keep You keep
My lungs breathing
Because Your love is better than life
Better than life”

{chorus of Better Than Life by Remedy Drive}

I do not believe it was a coincidence that the first time I heard that song was yesterday, the day we heard our little boy’s heartbeat again…

God knows what I love. I love non-coincidences like this.

process

Do you let yourself enjoy the process?

Do you let yourself play?

With no intention of product resulting from it? {at least… not at the moment}

With no expectation?

With no standards?

With abandon?

Without knowing what it might turn into?

And when you are working towards that goal – that finished painting, that complete nursery, that cozy entryway nook…

Do you look at what’s currently in front of you – the blank canvas, the eraser shavings, the half-organized room that will someday hold the baby, the box of shoes and tent and banjo that keeping your nook space from feeling very nook-ish – and feel exhausted, defeated, frown-y? Or do you let excitement, inspiration, and grace in?

Dreaming is good… and goals are fine… but I can get so stuck in finished-product-dream-mode that instead of letting the process of getting there be part of the dream, too, I just… stop.

I tend to start a project just to have it sit there for a while half-finished (my cat has peed on several half-crocheted afghans over the years). Sometimes, yes, the art needs to sit… but sometimes, sometimes, I just forget to play, to enjoy, that the art is the process, not the product. I forget that it is the process that I am in love with – otherwise why wouldn’t I just go buy paintings for my living room instead of painting them myself? Why wouldn’t I buy nursery decorations at name-your-favorite-store instead of handcrafting them?

You are not finished. You are messy, incomplete, maybe a little dysfunctional.

You are God’s Art. His Poetry. He loves you. And He is not dissatisfied. He doesn’t beat Himself up over you, and He does not give up on you. He does not wonder why you’re not done yet. In fact, He made you and declared you as very good. Right now. As you are. In process.

Art is a verb. The verb that my soul was made to do. The verb that I am in love with.

{Grammar junkies, please don’t criticize me}

Go. Art. And love it.

a rock

I painted a rock today.

And wrote on it grace.

Because this is as far as the Lord has taken me. And He has shown me grace that stretches further than the cross.Grace I didn’t know existed. And He is taking me farther still.

{Did you know that you can use watercolors {or in my case, Neocolor crayons} on a rock if you paint it with gesso first?!? I suppose maybe you could paint with watercolors on almost anything if you gesso it first… but still…}

StudioJRU

Linking up with Jennifer from Studio JRU

just a baby post :) {and a little more}

So I’m still kinda quiet around here. Being a pregnant mama of a toddler is exhausting. And I’ve let some things go. And I was talking about my husband about the things that I’ve been letting go of, and his reaction? I’ve let go of the wrong things.

I guess my first reaction, when my hands are too full, is to drop everything that only directly benefits me and grasp tightly to the things that do directly benefit everyone else. Imagine my hands full of tiny strips of paper labeled with everything that actually do, that I wish I could do, that I think I should do. The slip labeled “laundry” stays (much to my displeasure… everyone needs clean underwear at least). The one labeled “art class” floats to the floor. The one labeled “feed the husband and kid (and self)” is firmly grasped. The one labeled “take a shower every couple of days” is… dropped. The slip labeled “give the toddler a bath” stays and I frown a little at it because I really should probably add the word “daily” to the end of that one. The one labeled “blog” is sitting at my feet.

Yeah… I need to do all of those things. The laundry, the bathing of the child, the feeding of us all… but also gripped tightly in my fingers are other slips of paper. Ones that I keep well hidden behind and between the ones I really must do. And those other hidden slips are written by me, in my handwriting, but they have the voices of other people. They are words that I imagine my friends, my family, even people I pass in the grocery store but don’t really know… what those people would tell me to write down. Scroll back. Did you see that word imagine? If not go back and read that sentence again. There aren’t (usually… ahem) people telling me what to do, but I see their faces (or imagine their faces) and hear the words and see the disappointment (again, imagined) in their eyes and so those pieces of paper sit there… partially hidden, because they’re not really mine and so I am unsure of them… but I prioritize them anyway. I keep them and let the parts that are really me – the parts that may in fact (according to my wonderful husband) benefit not just me, but also those people around me, the ones that love me – fall to the floor.

And so here I am. Writing a blog post. Not because I actually have anything of importance or profound-ness or any wit to share. But just because my husband, when I told him that I’d let my blog kinda go, told me “that is one of the last things you should let go.” And to be honest that kind of shocked me. And I’m still not sure I quite get it, quite believe it… but because I love my husband and trust that he knows what is good for me (because, afterall, I am the unshowered-for-the-second?-third?-day-in-a-row woman that he lives with and still loves)… I’m here.

So to give this blog post an actual point, and because it just so coincidentally is the day that the tiny baby is 15 weeks along, my ramblings are going to end with some baby stuff :) Just because. {Well, and also because I don’t have any art to share… because I haven’t yet picked that slip of paper labeled “art” back up off the floor, besides to write down an idea for a sketch…}

A picture! That sounds like a good idea…

That is 14 and a half weeks along. And, as I said when I posted it on facebook, a very very realistic moment in my life. Eli is not two feet away, and did you see the cat? Plotting. And I’m in pajama pants, and I’m pretty sure it was after noon that day. And my hair isn’t brushed. Yeah.

Did I tell you that I felt the baby move? At 13 weeks to the day. With Eli it wasn’t until 16 weeks. And it was Eli’s fault that I felt the baby move so early because he decided that day to plop down right on my stomach, and the baby jumped. Since then I can feel it shifting positions, and I finally felt some tapping the other day, too. And? When our pastor told us to stand up at the end of the service on Sunday, and think about Jesus walking right into the room and standing right in front of you… YOU… while he prayed… the baby moved. A lot. I started to cry… because up until that moment I was having trouble imagining Jesus right there in front of me. Well, baby knew. Teaching me things already…

On a random note… are you friends with your pastor? Because I am. And every time that I talk about him (on here or to somebody) I just want to call him Tom. Not “the pastor”… because to me he is Tom. Not the pastor. But noone would know who I am talking about…

Before this post gets too much out of control and really loses the claim to being a post about anything in particular I’d better go. You’re probably bored with all these words and not much pictures anyway. So I’ll leave you with saying that on Thursday Husband and I leave for three nights. Alone. Yay! Sooo needed. I can not wait :)