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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Monday, February 14, 2011

Five Ways To Love Yourself

Are you tantruming more than your two-year-old?

More annoyed than your adolescent?

Pouting more than your preschooler?

Well, then, my miserable mama, your love bank is running a serious deficit.

Our children and spouses make deposits in our accounts. However, we have to be intentional about making some regular investments in our own well-being. It's only when our love bank is healthy that we can spread the wealth to others.

So, on this Valentine's Day, I'd like to share five ways that might help keep your love account out of the red:

1. Feed your soul. Last night, my husband complained that our household has had a "serious survival vibe" lately. Amen, brother. With back-to-back rounds of the flu attacking multiple family members, two birthdays, and spring sports starting, I felt mere "survival" had been a major victory.

Until I surveyed the battle aftermath this morning. Not only is my house trashed, but so am I.

And I know it's because I've been running on fumes instead of making the time to spend time with God daily and draw my strength from Him. I need that daily to gain perspective, grace and to order my priorities. He always gives me peace amidst the craziness -- if I let Him.

2. Build up your body. When mama's sick and tired, the whole house implodes. It is NOT selfish or indulgent to make the time to exercise, eat right and get proper rest.

3. Give yourself some grace. Life is busy. And certain seasons of parenting can feel like a tsunami. Don't lower your standards where they count. But do lower your expectations. You are not supermom. It's okay. None of us are.

4. Giggle with a girlfriend -- daily. The last few years of parenting have been particularly stressful for me (raising a teenager -- hello??). I am so thankful that God has given me a friend who is wise, funny and non-judgmental. She has helped keep me sane -- and laughing at the insanity of my life.

5. Splurge a little now and then. A few weeks ago, I got a French manicure with a gift card given to me by aforementioned friend. It was worth every penny she spent. I felt like a new woman. (Sorry, hubby, but I think this is going to become a habit.)

Your whole family will reap the dividends of your regular "extreme self-care." Not only will it improve your outlook and attitude, but you will be setting a good example for your children. (Because we all know our kids never do enough for themselves... :)

Happy Valentine's Day!

So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. Hebrews 4:9-11a

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Last Moment

"Last" isn't always a bad thing.
I wouldn't mind the last load of laundry, for example (providing that actually existed).
And you see no tears from me when I put away the last dish after dinner.
I definitely like getting the last laugh.
But today -- exactly 11 years after the first time I held him -- I did something for my son for the last time. And I didn't like it. Not one bit.
Micah turned 11 today. Next year he'll be in middle school. So it's a safe bet that this is the last year it'll be "cool" for mom to bring in cupcakes.
It's the last time, 20 plus adorable children will cheer, "Yea! Mrs. Means is here!" when I walk through the door with birthday treats.
And I almost missed this "last."
I had tons to do today and I simply dropped off the cupcakes with the lunch lady this morning.
I was halfway home when I realized this would be the last time I would do this.
So I turned the car around and spent the afternoon eating lunch with a table of mischevious, rowdy fifth grade boys and watched with a smile as they quickly devoured a couple dozen red velvet cupcakes.
I even got a huge hug from my son without a hint of embarrassment.
And I savored every last moment.
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