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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beautiful words

As you probably figured out by now, I’m a reader.

And because I just can’t help but share the things I love to read, apparently, today I am sharing a couple blog posts by someone else that I have just adored.

Why Your Kids Don’t Need a Super Mama – Ann Voskamp
“My kids don’t need a Super Mama. They need to see a Mama who needs a Super God.”

What To Do When You May or May Not Be a Control Freak – Ann Voskamp
In which Mark Buchanan says “Here’s what I’ve learned: Every impulse to seize control — is the Holy Spirit’s invitation to practice self-control.”

Ahh!! I so loved and needed both of those posts! And they were so timely. But then again, when doesn’t a mama need to hear that their kids don’t need a Super Mama?

And of course that second post popped up the day after I started reading Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. So ironic, because I think Cline and Fay’s words are all about control vs. self-control.

Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility

Yes, I added an another book to the list of four (now five) am already reading or about to be reading. Crazy? Nooo. I love it :)

If you want to see more links to blog posts about mama-hood that I enjoy, see my Pinterest board, Breathing Space for the Mama Soul. I try to only pin things that are encouraging to me. Nothing that induces a sense of shame, nothing about a specific parenting-style topic. Only words abounding with grace and the invitation to breathe deep and lean into a God who knows. The real words coming from the real hearts of real mamas.

 

stopping the rush

I was folding some of the way-too-huge pile of laundry yesterday, scrambling to find the man-sized stuff hidden under tons and tons of baby stuff, because I realized one day not too long ago that if I wash one person’s clothes at a time that means a lot less sorting after and so less time doing my least favorite chore. But my plan to shrink my time doing laundry failed me this time because kids just keep getting sick and laundry didn’t get folded eve though it was sorted BEFORE going in the washing machine and so the room that was supposed to be our bedroom quickly became laundry-land.

So there I was… flinging shirts and underwear into the empty laundry basket (empty only because I had just dumped it’s mod-podge of contents into laundry land) and I abruptly stopped and sat back on my heels and this thought rushed at me:

Why am I rushing??

There are certain things these days that I do rush through out of necessity. Going to the bathroom. Taking a shower while two boys watch Veggie Tales. Eating lunch. Because if I don’t, my mama’s boy will realize I have left his sight for more than 3 seconds and begin to cry, and then I will be doing the cross-legged dance and I end up either snacking all day or (more likely) eating way too much at dinner because oh my gosh my stomach just realized it has been empty all day and it doesn’t know when it will eat next!

But laundry? Like I said, I hate it already. Least favorite chore. It’s never done. I am sure you feel me here. But rushing? Oh I hate rushing even more, even though I do it like my life (or bladder) depends on it! Somewhere in my laundry hating mind I at some point decided that if I rushed through it would be done faster and so I would spend less time doing something I hate. But do you know what happened instead? I began to hate laundry even more, because I had trained myself to rush through… and I did say, didn’t I that I hate rushing? It makes me anxious and stressed and overwhelmed, even though I usually am rushing to not feel those things.

So I slowed down. I slowed my movements. I sorted through the pile calmly. I told myself that it didn’t matter if all the laundry got folded today. There will still be laundry to do tomorrow. And isn’t a calm, peaceful me with a slightly smaller pile of laundry better than a frantic one with a clean bedroom floor? Isn’t a me who is content with what she felt she could do at the time better than one who is proud of herself for doing it all in one night?

I only folded 2 basketfuls of laundry last night. All of my husband’s things (minus socks… sorry honey!) and all of the baby and toddler clothes. I still haven’t put the boys things’ away. Then I dried my hair, and washed bottles, and played a game on my kid’s kindle while Chris finished taxes. I asked if I could help with that, I promise! And he said no and he didn’t make me feel a bit guilty about being lazy for a bit. There is still a pile of my stuff, blankets towels and socks and random things that got missed on the bedroom floor. But I am okay 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 :)

Image

coffee spilled

I spilled my coffee.

Really good, really hot Tim Horton’s coffee.

On our new area rug. On my only pair of jeans that were fitting comfortably that day.

I just completely missed the coffee table, staring at my cute toddler as I tried to set my cup down.

I spilled it and I cried. Sobbed.

And my husband. He ran out of the bedroom to find out what was wrong and I felt silly and stupid and ridiculous and hormonal and I kept apologizing and shaming myself and he said…

He said “I’ll buy you more.”

And I refused, ashamed of my spilled coffee and my tears.

But we get in the car to go to his parents and, with me protesting, he pulled through Tim Horton’s drive through.

And I cried a little more but deep down… deep down I felt loved and beautiful.

And just a few miles later I turn to help a boy in the backseat and next thing I know my cup is no longer in my hand and coffee is on the other leg of my jeans (that I did not change earlier) and on my seat and all over, and the coffee cup is currently emptying itself on my husband’s new Window’s phone, which he just picks up calmly, and he even smiles at me when apologies come tumbling out of my mouth again.

I’m sobbing again.

And he says… “I’ll buy you more.”

That is just a small way that I’ve been shown grace lately. The thought that when I do something wrong, even a mistake, all I have to do is apologize {and even ask God “can You fix it?”… and let Him} and not have to dwell on it or make sure I feel bad enough for what I did is so foreign to me…

Chris made our small group listen to this song last night… so glad that even though my sign would say “ashamed” that both my husband and God see “beloved”

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

because God brought it back up again…

Last night I swear my body thought I had just had caffeine. I hadn’t, I promise… well, unless you count the small amount in a chai tea latte seven hours earlier (which shouldn’t have still been in my system, given the amount of times I pee in a day).

But anyway… I was laying there awake and suddenly God was there and he brought back that picture of my fisted hands holding all those paper slips that I talked about yesterday.

And He said… let them all fall to the floor.

Let the wind catch them up in her heavy sighs (did I mention it was storming last night?).

Let the birds use them as bedding in their nests.

Let them all go.

Rest.

All of them, God?

You mean… I don’t have to hold on to them?

I must have missed the point yesterday… or at least one of them… because even if I hold on to the “right things” I am still holding on. I am still trying to control (my default setting). I’m still holding on to things the things that I try to do to be.

I’m not grasping to God and who He says I am. I am not just being and then letting the doing flow out of freedom. 

And somehow, strangely, mysteriously, God wants me to be more than He wants me to do… maybe even instead of the doing? He wants me to be free.

I am letting all my slips of paper go. I will watch them be caught up in the wind. I will smile as the birds sleep and lay eggs on them. Because they aren’t me. They do not make me.

But they would make lovely nests…