Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Myth of the Supermom

Once upon a time, I was asked to write a blog about being a Supermom. Naturally, since the Man is on a week long out of town trip and I'm kicking it with all five kids, now is the opportune time to rise to the occasion and instruct all of you in the Ways of Awesomeness.

First, I'd like to extend an invitation to come spend some time in my home. Seriously, there is no better way for you to learn the ropes than to watch me in action. You will note Exhibit A) me yelling at my kids and only grudgingly apologizing hours later, Exhibit B) just how little actually gets done during the day, Exhibit C) some seriously impressive three year old tantrums, Exhibit D) me reading novels when I should be parenting, and Exhibit E) a goodly amount of chaos. Also, while you're here, can I please take a nap?

And I need a nap because keeping up with all of these kids is hard work.

If, after your foray into my home, you still believe in the Myth of the Supermom, I will tell you my secret. Come closer. Seriously, lean in a little bit farther. I'm getting ready to pretend whisper into your ear only to surprise you by yelling. Are you ready?


Public service announcement:
This kid knows first hand that there is no Supermom.
He is Super Good at getting into trouble.
He also has Super Awesome bed head.

Supermoms are like magical pregnancy unicorns. They may be able to wear five inch heels and flounce around majestically in their third trimester before popping out a beautiful bouncing baby without a milligram of pain medicine, but sooner or later, something is going to bite them in the rear. And it may be the aforementioned beautiful bouncing baby that they just accidentally sat on in their newly sleep deprived state.

We all have moments when we think that we are rocking it, when we think we have achieved the perfect state of the Supermom (or the magical pregnancy unicorn). When you are in that moment, enjoy it while it lasts. Nothing lasts forever but those moments really are great to remember. Personally, I like to look back on the day when I managed to change a poopy toddler while nursing a newborn. On the days when I have to bodily straightjacket a screaming, hitting, biting three year old, I remember that, once, I too was awesome. But no one is awesome all the time. Except for Jesus. And last time I checked, He wasn't in the running for Supermom.

This kid is so happy that sometimes...
she makes me look pretty Super.

Now that we have debunked the Myth of the Supermom, I do want to say a few things to encourage you, oh sister in the trenches of motherhood. One: every pregnancy is different, every child is different, every mother is different, every family is different, every stage of life is different. Figure out what works best for your family--in this stage that you're in--and don't worry about the rest of it. What works for someone else may not work for you. Then again, it might be worth a shot. Who knows? The point is: everyone is different (say it again: everyone is different). Do what works for your family. Let the rest of it go. Comparisons are odious.

I said "odious" above, not "odorous".
Littles' feet after a long day of playing in the yard are odorous.
Luckily for him, Trigger doesn't care.

Second: cut yourself some slack. And yes, this is me, preaching to the choir. Most of us are our own worst critics. Guess what? You don't have to be Supermom. You just need to be you. Case in point: I lost my temper yesterday with one of my lovely and challenging young children, but Littles informed me I only lost it a little bit so you know what? I'm taking that for a win and refusing to wallow in guilt. Stop beating yourself up. There's no such thing as a Supermom.

Sometimes cutting yourself slack means letting Kid No. 2 read to Kid No. 3.

Third: laugh about it. I think a lot about that Princess Bride quote: if you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything. But in parenting, if you haven't got your sense of humor, you haven't got anything. See, if you don't laugh about the fact that your son called from the bathroom, "Mom! I made the Great Lakes! Look! There's Lake Michigan!" you might start to suffer from anxiety or high blood pressure. If you can't laugh about the fact that the twins used "rest" time to rearrange their room by shoving the bunk bed away from the wall, unloading all of the clothes from their dresser, constructing a humongous maze of dumped toys, and adding a shining pool of pee in one corner and some new marker-to-the-wall artwork, you might literally explode like a blender with its top off. My new plan these days is to remember that I would've laughed about it eight years ago before I actually had kids of my own, which tells me that somewhere, deep in the recesses of my heart, I can dig up the ability to laugh about it now. Hopefully.

If you can't laugh at yourself or your own kids,
feel free to laugh at mine.
Finally, and this is one that I learned from a friend recently and am still trying desperately to implement in my own life: prioritize kindness. There's a lot of things your kids will not remember about their childhood, but how you treated your kids probably isn't one of them. So if you have to choose between getting dinner on the table on time and not screaming at your kids, choose the late dinner. If you have to choose between a Pinterest perfect craft that you can photograph and then put on Facebook and not losing your temper due to shattered expectations, choose just a simple coloring sheet and move on. If you have to choose between a pristine home and losing your ever loving mind, go ahead and start naming those dust bunnies so you can count them as pets. Most of the time, you won't have to choose. You seem like the kind of person who can be awesome and kind at the same time (obviously: you are kindly choosing to spend your time being awesome by reading my blog). But for me, sometimes I have to stop trying so hard for awesome and just settle for kind. It matters more.

I'm sorry I crushed your dreams of being Supermom.
Feel free to try your hand at being Captain America,
but know you've got some competition.

We all want to be Supermom. But let's just be honest: there are days and then there are days. Celebrate your Super moments (and the Super moments of other moms you see), laugh about the off days, and for the rest of it...make like Elsa and let it go. You've got better things to do with your time.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sharing Our Plenty

A few weeks ago, I saw a friend post on Facebook asking how other parents of littles manage to fit in a quiet time. I didn't have a chance to comment because--Five Kids--but I had a quick moment of empathy because, let's be honest, the struggle is real (see photographic evidence below).

Bruiser not included because he was too busy throwing a tantrum.
Twinkle got in on the action, empathetic soul that she is.
Bee was not impressed.

There are seasons of plenty and then sometimes there are seasons that just are not. And while we may find ourselves with an abundance of one thing (in my case, children), occasionally that leads to a deficit in another (in my case, the brain waves and time required to study God's word). But here's the beautiful part of being in community: what I may lack at this moment, someone else may have in profusion. And sometimes that someone may have so much that a little bit of their plenty can overflow into my life.

Here's an example. A couple weeks ago, the Man's younger brother sent him a message that included a quotation about God's sovereignty and timing. The Man, in turn, passed it on my way.  It was something so small, but sent from a generous heart, it encouraged my thoughts back to God's goodness and lifted my spirit that day. Neither my brother-in-law nor my husband were under any compulsion to share, but they did, out of their overflow, and ministered to my heart, which was in need.

I share this for two reasons. One, if you find yourself in a season of need, don't kick yourself while you're down. This isn't the time to put yourself on a guilt trip for not having an hour long quiet time. Look for the little ways God is still speaking to you. When I was surviving the twins, my quiet times were 5 minutes on the toilet with a little book of blessings from Scripture. Maybe you just have time to listen to a few short verses as you drive to work. Maybe you don't manage to touch your Bible in between Sundays. Sure, it's not ideal. We know that. But that doesn't mean God can't speak to you in other ways. So pay attention: He might be using someone else to draw you into His presence.

That brings me to number two. If you, on the other hand, find yourself in a season of plenty: share the wealth. If you have time to pray for someone, let them know. If you learned something in your quiet time, tell someone about it. If you read something that made you think more deeply about Jesus, text the quote to a friend. You never know who might need to share in what you are learning.

We all go through different seasons of life. When I am in a season of need, sometimes it's hard not to look back longingly at the season of plenty, when really, I should be giving thanks for what I learned during that time and continuing to wait for the unique ways God might speak to me even now.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Have Kids. Will Share.

April got away from me. Let's be honest: quite a lot of things get away from me these days. I assume this is one of the perils of having a big family. It's not the only peril. Here are some more!

Once upon a time, if I was planning a meal that used ground beef, I would buy one of those handy little one pound packets at the store. We'd even have leftovers! A couple of years ago, I graduated to the three pound tube of meat. I'd use two pounds and freeze the extra pound to use for another meal. Now, the whole three pounds go into the pan. Leftovers are hit or miss. Oh, the days of tiny grocery bills...they are long gone.

We get a lot of "You've got your hands full!" comments. This is nothing new. We've been getting them since the twins. And I get it. When you see a huge family, sometimes you just want to say something. Yesterday though, I had someone tell me that I sure did have a lot of helpers, and that may be my new favorite, only to be trumped by hearing how adorable or well behaved my children are. I did get asked the other day if I ran an at home day care. Nope. These are all mine.

Last week we had record wreckage in our home (please try saying "record wreckage" five times fast). In a six day span, we managed to break 9 different items: a wooden cutting board, a plastic bin (that wasn't even ours--the twins thought it would make a great step stool), one dessert plate, a Thomas the Tank Engine spoon, a juice glass (that one was me), three bowls (in one fell swoop--unloading the dishwasher is hazardous), and one other item that currently escapes my mind (see paragraph one).

In addition to the record wreckage, the twins like to take advantage of any momentary distraction exhibited by Mommy (i.e. homeschooling or nursing) to create fabulous murals on their walls, doors, bed spreads, naked bodies, etc with whatever markers they have secreted away from the last time all drawing utensils were confiscated. They also managed to use an entire previously unopened bottle of baby wash at bath time last night. The Man and I are going to get our new family motto emblazoned on our imaginary coat of arms: This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things. Either that or tattoo it across the kids' foreheads. Preferably in purple as that has been the marker color of choice lately.

Our family needs to just start a list of "You might have a big family if..." It's close companion would be "You might be a fifth child if..." And Twinkle is starting that one out right with doing two complete roll overs without anyone there to witness. Both parents were otherwise occupied wrangling kids and putting together dinner on both occasions. She also graciously took a nap in the barbershop while all the boys were getting assembly line haircuts. Evidently, for a fifth child, there is nothing quite so soothing as the hum of a fan directly accompanied by the sound of loud dance music and eight barbers buzzing. I now have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in my head.

At any rate, I'm including pictures from Twink's three month out door photo shoot (knocked out while the boys played football and the twins alternated hitting each other in the head with the swing and trying to con me into letting them play in the Man's jeep). I'm trying to get back to writing more regularly, but most of the time by the end of the day all I want to do is never talk to anyone ever again which might be a sign that I'm an introvert who... has a very large family. All of which means, let's not hold our breath.