If you were a fly on the wall at my house, you'd be sure to hear your share of fussing, complaining and whining. Maybe even a slammed door or two.

But enough about me.

In the pressure cooker that's parenting, I have exploded more than once. And it's harder to clean up than spaghetti night with a toddler.

So after years spent indulging in fruitless self-flogging, I finally let go of my obsession with getting it all 'just right.' I confess...I'm not a perfect parent.

Whew. That felt good.

Now, when my son saunters in with his 42nd tardy of the school year, I let it go. When I hear myself hollering "Whatever!" at my teenage daughter, I move on.

Having it all together is overrated anyway.

And I've determined not to waste God's grace. I'll never get it just right. You won't, either. So read on, sister. If you see a little of yourself in me, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone. Nope. If you're a mom, face it. You're never, ever alone.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Q&A with the author of "Outnumbered Mom"!

The longer I'm a mom, the more I appreciate the wisdom and encouragement of moms who are a little further along in their parenting journey.

They've survived whatever current kid crisis or phase I'm struggling with and have the battle scars to prove it.
Author Laura Lee Groves is one such mom. Mother of four adult boys, Laura has an abundance of wisdom, humor and encouragement to share with us moms who are still in the trenches. She has now put all her godly, hard-won insights into her very first book, Outnumbered Mom!
I am so excited to interview and introduce her to you today! I met Laura about three years ago at a writing conference. At the time, she was pitching her book proposal to publishers, so I've had the privilege of following her journey as she got an agent, a book contract and now is finally seeing it on bookstore shelves!
By commenting on this post, you'll have a chance to win your own free, autographed copy of Outnumbered Mom!
But first, let me share my recent chat with Laura ...
Explain the title of your book and how the idea for your book was born.
The title? Well, I am greatly outnumbered in my household, 5 to 1. When you have multiple boys, your husband kind of "becomes" one of them -- it's one big fraternity. The idea cropped up somewhere along the way as I was blessed with these four boys, and I began to feel more and more outnumbered. You see, no one in my house wants to see "Little Women." Want to watch "Sleepless in Seattle"? Forget it. When I bought new dishes, they said, "Mom, you aren't going to get some with flowers on them, are you?" I'm so used to this house of boys now, I almost experience culture shock when I'm in a room of ladies.
People would take one look at the passel of redheaded boys and say, "You should write a book." I'd nod distractedly as I counted heads and separated two that were tussling. I've always been an avid reader and writer, though, and I filed that idea away...until one year my husband said, "You know, Honey -- you should really check out that writers conference." So I did. And I took a proposal for this book along, then titled And Then I Had Boys. Interest that first year led to an agent the second year, followed by a contract, and finally, a published book! (I'm still pinching myself!)
What is the toughest part of parenting boys?
The energy and physicality of it. I was a tomboy and was no shrinking violet, having been a Drama major in college. I've always been an active person, but the combination of four boys' constant action and very little quiet or "down" time was really new to me. The wrestling, tussling, tumbling -- what I call in the book "the magnet syndrome." They push, they pull. They attact, they repel. It's exhausting.

Communication is so different, too. They just don't talk like we do! To this day, when I sit in a roomful of women and listen to the overlapping chatter, people finishing each others' sentences and chiming in, I wonder at it. That is just not how they talk at my house!
The dirt can be a bit overwhelming. I'm sure laundry is daunting for any mother, but FOUR baseball jerseys and pants? And all those socks, with the grime just GROUND in...multiplied by four.
For a number of years when the boys were little, I didn't work outside the home. We all know what it's like to be isolated, but to have not even a HINT of pink to connect with on a daily basis...that was tough. And if you don't have other boy moms around who can commiserate and understand, that feeling is compounded.
What is the most rewarding part?
The mother-son bond is so special, and it's incredibly sturdy. I have a wonderful mom, but there were those tough mother-daughter times when I was a teen or pre-teen -- you girl moms know that. I really didn't experience those moments with my boys. Oh, there were rough spots in the teen years, but the mother-son bond is made of different stuff. I think it can take those years more easily.
What else is rewarding? Someone always has my back -- and whichever one it is, he's bigger and stronger than me! I do feel incredibly protected and cared for in this family. The neat thing is that even though they'll rush to my defense, they know that Mama Bear can handle it -- and they stand back while she does.
Besides, truthfully, boys are GREAT fun -- no matter what their age! Even now, I find them a hoot.
Give us your top three survival tools for successfully raising the male species.
1. Just expect craziness every day. That way you'll be prepared for chaos. And if the day is uncharacteristically calm, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
2. Understand that they're different. Recognize it, even celebrate it! No, they're not like you and that's okay. I've seen too many boy moms just give up on the boys, thinking they don't need Mom since they're boys. That's the furthest thing from the truth. They need us even more. They need our perspective on life. Ultimately, they need to be prepared to lead a family, and we can have a big part in that.
3. Find community. Find other boy moms who understand what it's like. Find an experienced mom who's two years or ten years ahead of you in the process. Learn from her. And reach back to help other moms who are two years behind you, too. Our mom burdens weigh so much less when they're shared; they seem smaller when we shoulder someone else's burden.
What encouragement would you give right now to moms who are feeling outnumbered and overwhelmed?
Hang on. This, too, will pass. But don't just tough it out -- tell someone. Be honest with your husband. Find a friend. Get some help and encouragement. No mom is an island and we shouldn't feel we have to do this alone. Ultimately there's One who loves you, values you, and desires a relationship with you, and He gives strength to make it through the day. Look to Him, spend time with Him, and you'll come out a stronger mom. And remember -- He loves your children more than you ever could.
If you'd like a chance to win a copy of Outnumbered Mom, simply leave me a comment! The giveaway ends Thursday, October 6th!
Melinda

13 comments:

  1. Oh, how I would so like this book as the first of my boys hits puberty...life in our house is getting interesting!
    ~Sara

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  2. Laura is great and her book looks fantastic. She made a stop at my blog too. I only have one boy, but her insight is helping me with him. :O)

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  3. Ahhhhhh yes, I know exactly where she is coming from. I have 3 boys myself and the princess is last and younger than her oldest brother by 12 dirty, physical, loud, dinosaur toting, matchbox car driving, superhero worshipping years.

    And now they are 16, 14 and 9. And the princess is five. And oh my WHAT a flipping difference!

    And having the Mom with the older kids is awesome.

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  4. Loving this post!! I have a son and can totally speak to the mother-son bond already - even though he's only six months. He loves his daddy, and you can tell that he already looks up to him. But it's me he NEEDS and he makes it very clear. Thanks for starting my day off right.

    ")

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  5. Isn't she just something? I love this woman! Great friend too. thanks for featuring her Melinda. And I do read your blog...I just don't always post a comment. Love you too. Clella

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  6. I've only got Sweet'ums but my friend is embarking on the journey of raising a boy. Right now she's still pregnant but what fun it's going to be!

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  7. These stories all make me super grateful for two reasons. I'm happy there are strong women to raise boys because we need those. And I'm thrilled that I have my one little girl at home. I don't think I could handle that magnet thing!

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  8. The book sounds fantastic! I have one son and I really hope I am doing the right things to help him be a man and leader of his own family some day.

    I especially like the concept of being prepared for the unexpected and that if if doesn't happen - it is a good day!

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us! :)

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  9. I would definitely LOVE to read that book! I have two boys...and my husband. It's not 4 boys, but I still feel like I live in a very young fraternity (my boys are 5 & 2). I loved reading this interview about the mother and son bond. Loved it!

    On another note, thanks for your comment on my "Real Women of Genius" post (Wal-Mart style!). I'm trying to figure out what was in your purse that kept setting off the security alarm. Was it a stack of brand new, still-wrapped CDs, perhaps? :)

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  10. Sounds like a good book! I have 2 boys beside my big boy husband and a girl.

    Shelley

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  11. This sounds like a fantastic book and what a wonderful interview. I have one boy and one girl and I'm always looking for more insights in to my boy...he is certainly all boy!

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  12. I would love to read Laura's book, thanks for the opportunity to win.

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  13. I can relate! I have 4 boys that I raised as a single mother. Talk about outnumbered! My daughter and I was no match for them.

    Thanks for your words!

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