Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Build 'Em Up -- The Joy of Playing With Our Kids

Today is the 2nd installment of this four-part series on what's right with our journey into motherhood's deepest successes.  Missed week one?  Read it here.  I must confess that I don't really know where to begin today. Enter my stream-of-consciousness.
It has been documented here more than a few times that I am a worrier. Furthermore I worry about my kids' behavior, manners, and independence--or lack thereof. Sometimes as a family we will venture into public dressed like little angels. Then their mouths open and produce the sound of screeching brakes. The crazy train has arrived. Now boarding.

When having moments of self assessment or personal clarity I realize this: at the times of their most unkempt behavior, my children really just want a little attention. But they are children. They are physically and emotionally unable to verbalize their every need.  As both adults and caretakers we have the great responsibility of discerning what our kids need.

I do not believe that kids whine for sport, even though it often seems so. Kids get bored, feel neglected, or even overstimulated. For example, we recently took the kids to the beach for spring break. (More on this trip will be documented soon.) Four hours into the road trip they grew restless, despite having every 21st century amenity possible--DVD player, iPods, Leap Pads, mom's phone apps, etc. They desired the most primitive of life's enjoyments: quality time with family. So we pulled out an old tried-and-true game of Road-Sign-Alphabet. Do you remember this as a kid? You would carefully look at billboards, truck signage, and strip malls for an "A", "B", and so forth. This lasted for a good 30 miles and produced many giggles. The warmth you feel by entertaining your kids and fostering their imaginations is irreplaceable.

I have already read some other posts in this series where bloggers are confessing their addictions to instagramming the "moments" rather than truly existing in the moments. "Checking in" on Facebook rather than checking into the experiences. You're not alone. I am there right along with you.

Right now my family has crazy schedules. Bobby coaches middle school baseball, Rob plays U-6 baseball, Caroline and William are on their own time- and needs-agendas. But you don't have to spend all day together. It's called "quality" time not "quantity" time. When your children are young they have no concept of time. The 15 minutes you spend completely lost in play with them will last a lifetime in their hearts. I can tell you that a quick 15 minutes of playing baseball in the yard, a brief game of Candyland after dinner and before bath, a short wait in Rob and Caroline's "restaurant" while they serve up some plastic peas are going to affect them far
more than how many "likes" your FB status received.

That said, remember my post yesterday on being a work in progress? I've just typed my way into painfully guilty feelings. I'm signing off for now. I have some beautiful babies who want to spend time with their mom.

PS:  The fabulous bloggers responsible for this series have some enlightening things to say.  For further reading, check out Kelly at Kelly's Korner who struggles to keep the balance between wife and mother, Jennifer of Life In The Green House who has learned how to stop multitasking and accomplish so much more; Erin, a.k.a. The Blue Eyed Bride, talks about being the mommy of boys; and Lil Light O'Mine where Courtney offers a great list of 10 Tips For Playing With Your Kids.

Monday, March 25, 2013

...Not Yet

Two Sundays ago I sat in church as I usually do -- one-third listening / one-third thinking about the upcoming week's to-do list / one-third hoping God's Will would come down and boink me on the head to toss me violently onto His chosen path.  Luckily, the latter happened, and boy am I glad it did!

The Gospel was from the eighth chapter of John...the story of the adulterous woman and the origin of the phrase many Christians use when begging for forgiveness --"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7)  Just in case you need a quick refresher, no one stoned the adulterous woman to death that day.  Jesus followed up by saying God forgives you.  Go and sin no more (I paraphrased that just a little bit). 

But then the Homily (sermon) was what really caught my attention.  Our priest did a wonderful job talking about forgiveness, reinforcing the idea of confession (something about which people outside of the Catholic church have devisive ideas), and frequently using the word "Yet".  You see, according to my beloved priest, God is in all of our "not yets".  Boink.  That's the sound of God's will hitting me on the head that day.  That afternoon I got to thinking about what I heard, and I really haven't stopped thinking about it two weeks later.  Lucky for you I'm going to share it.

I am at such a crossroads in my life right now.  I am a 34-year-old married mother of three beautiful, healthy kids.  My marriage is approaching 10 years strong.  I have lived in my humble house for almost 8 years; I have a job that I actually like, even though my boss is also my mother; and my paid-for vehicle threatens to break down every day but I keep going in it.  I love to daydream via Pinterest, social media, guilty pleasure TV, etc. about new cars, new homes, same husband and kids, new wardrobes for a smaller and altered figure, and more.  But then I'm guilty of worshiping false idols, coveting my neighbors' lives, and more.  Sometimes I take my kids into public and it drives me berserk that they are the loud ones, the ones with the crumbs everywhere, the ones who want to sit in my lap instead of entertaining themselves.  But then I'm guilty of astronomical expectations.  I have to use my hindsight to remind me that my kids' boisterous personalities and affectionate needs were given to them by Bobby and me.  They cannot help their origins.  I truly would never want to squelch their animations.  My life is what it is.  It is a work in progress, a sign of enterprise.  And it's not complete yet.  God isn't finished with us yet. 

So at night, when I lay in bed thinking of all my faults -- I coveted my neighbor's new Infinity, but then I realized I have over-populated the Earth and my big brood wouldn't fit into it; I drove through a new construction neighborhood and cursed aloud that I don't have enough liquid assets to just buy that new, multi-whatever-$$$ house three times the size of mine right now; I yelled at my kids when I should have just taken a deep breath and found more patience -- I ask God to forgive me of my tresspasses and help me sin no more.  Boink! Two Sundays ago I was reminded that 1.) I am not the only sinner in the world and 2.) I'm a work in progress.  God forgives me and knows that I honestly want to be a better person.  But I'm not there...yet.

I needed to record this so I can go back and remind myself over and over that I must keep trying.  But also, I wonder how many of you have something bothering yourselves.  Do you wish you had more self confidence when you are thrown into a pack of lions?  Do you wish you could stop gossiping so much?  Do you wish you had more courage to follow what you think is God's path for you even though it's the path less travelled?  God isn't finished with you...yet.  You must keep moving forward.  And when some days you fail, seek His forgiveness first.  Then reassess how you can go and sin no more. 

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Build 'Em Up -- Bringing Faith To Life

I'm linking up with some truly awe-inspiring bloggers today on their series "Build 'Em Up." The first topic is "Bringing Faith To Life" -- ironically something I have a very hard time doing. So why do I think I can write about something that I admittedly frequently fail? Well, in the words of Jennifer, Kelly, Erin, and Courtney, this series is about "[dropping] the judgment and [building] each other up...To break the misconception that good equals perfect, and to seek out the meaningful even in the midst of the mundane."

Every Wednesday night for the past 7 weeks and even before then intermittently, my family and I have gone to church to eat supper with many parish members.  After supper the kids are shipped off to their age-appropriate nurseries while Bobby and I (sometimes me alone) take a class with our parish's Young Families group.  Last Wednesday night -- as is the case most nights -- our priest was walking around greeting and mingling.  I drug Rob by his earlobe strongly suggested that Rob, age 6, go speak to Father and ask him for his prayers.  You see, this was 2 nights before Rob was to have surgery to place his third set of ear tubes and remove his adenoids.  Rob told me he would be so embarrassed.  He didn't want the attention.  He didn't want Father to single him out.  But after quietly being prayed over and given a quick pat on the shoulder, Rob realized and mentioned "that wasn't so bad."  Fast forward to the morning of the surgery.  An extremely groggy Rob was waking up and looking around the room.  I was loving on him and telling him how well he had done.  He looked at me with all honesty and said, "those prayers must have helped." 

You see, I believe that anyone can pray in his or her heart.  Even the most remote love of Christ is reciprocated.  But I also believe that Christ built his church for us to have a home.  In a world so full of hate and evil sometimes God's love gets pushed to the background of our lives.  Therefore, finding a church that welcomes you, and then becoming an active member of that church brings your relationship with God into a more tangible experience. 

My kids have memorized the blessing we say over our meals.  So perfectly have they memorized this blessing that they often rush through the words and rush to take in their food.  Every once in a while I make them stop and say it very slowly.  I will over enunciate some of the words to force them to remember we are actually saying a very formal "thanks" to God for providing us with nourishment.  It is too easy to rush through all communication with God, especially prayer.  Sometimes we need to slow down and make sure our message is genuine. 

Easter is coming up.  I love Easter.  I love all the pastel colors, the new pretty clothes for the kids.  The fun backdrops for the portraits.  Hmm...what haven't I mentioned?  Oh yes, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus...the reason for Easter.   Now this is a hard one for me.  It's easy to teach the kids that Santa is named for Saint Nicholas and he wishes to remind us with presents that we are celebrating a birthday.  But how to you teach that a bunny is to remind us Jesus was wrongly convicted and severely executed so that we may have eternal life?  I'm seriously asking here, because I really struggle with this.  However, this Easter, I plan to try to incorporate as many Christian traditions as I can muster up, thanks in part to a little old site called Pinterest.  I found and repinned this gem full of ideas:

I am a very faithful person at heart. I love the Lord and I believe He loves me. Now, do I live that faith everyday? Not exactly...but again, I am not here to confess my failures. I am here to remind myself that what I do right still matters and still impacts my children.  So I look forward to reading other entries in this series and gain some perspective.  I also will accept all of your prayers that I may raise my children to know God and hopefully continue to choose to have a great relationship with Him.