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, March 30, 2011

New Monthly Book Club Giveaway!

I may blog about parenting, but that doesn't make me an expert. This mama needs all the parenting wisdom she can get.

So, in addition to gleaning great tips and encouragement from my fellow mom bloggers, I also read books. Alot. In fact, recently, my teenage daughter picked up a parenting book from my desk, rolled her eyes and said, "You're obsessed. Is parenting really that hard?"

Ummm... I'm not even going to go there.

Anyway, maybe my "obsession" is a good thing, because you, my lovely readers, are going to be the beneficiaries. Here's how:

Each Wednesday, I will post a thought-provoking, interesting or encouraging quote from a parenting book I've read. On the last Wednesday of the month, I will give away one of the books (winner's choice) that I've quoted from throughout the month.

How do you enter?
Simply leave me a comment on my Wednesday "Winning Wisdom" posts during the month. I will choose a monthly winner from all those who have commented.

So, to kick things off, I'm sharing a quote from Sacred Parenting by Gary L. Thomas. In a nutshell, the theme of this book is how parenting our children forces us to confront our fears, selfishness and expectations, while drawing us closer to God. It is an awesome read, but be sure to wear good shoes. You'll get your toes stepped on. At least I did.

Here's a great quote from the book: "We need to use the most wearisome aspects of parenting as the occasion for thanking God for putting up with us. When we look through this lens, we find that raising a demanding child can actually become motivation for worshiping and adoring God. No spiritually aware parent can at the same time become self-righteous. Only the most forgetful and the most blind among us can act arrogantly before God, as though he had given us a heavier burden than we had given him. Sacred parenting reminds us that no matter how difficult a child may be, we still play in the minor leagues compared to God's great sacrifice."

If you'd like to enter for a chance to win Sacred Parenting or the other books I quote on "Winning Wisdom Wednesday" during the month of April, just leave me a comment!
The first winner will be chosen on April 27th.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Minor League Blunder

Mom, don't forget to sew on my Little League patch, okay?

How could I forget?! This was only the 423rd time my son Micah had reminded me. And it was the 423rd time I'd put it off. Sewing ranks right up there with cleaning the toilet in my book. Betsy Ross I am not.

Me: Yes, I will sew on your patch!!

Micah: But you said you'd do it last night and here it is. (He thrusts it in front of my face).

Me: Well, I'll do it tonight.

Micah: American Idol's on tonight. (Sort of an obsession in my family.)

Me: Okay, well your game isn't until Tuesday. I'll do it before Tuesday.

Micah (sighs): All I know is that one season you didn't sew it on until right before my last game and then you sewed it on the wrong sleeve.

Okay, that was three years ago! And he's still holding that against me? If that's my worst motherly offense, I must not be doing too horrible of a job, right?

But, later, I thought about it. He remembered it because it was important to him. It might have seemed like a little thing to me, but to him, it meant alot.

Sometimes all the responsibilities of parenting seem so overwhelming. But maybe it's not always as complicated as we make it. Maybe a big part of being a good parent is just focusing on the things that they value. Because when we do, it makes them feel valued.

I think of how many times God has answered prayers and concerns of mine that I think He must find small and insignificant. And when He does, I'm reminded of how much I mean to Him. He cares because I care.

I want to give my children those same kind of reminders.

Still, I must say it was a little comforting to see more than half of Micah's teammates with bare sleeves at his last ballgame. Perhaps I'm not the only mother who doesn't always keep her eye on the ball.

A side note: I've been mostly absent from the blogging world this past month as I've been focusing on getting two sick kids well and working on another project that I can't wait to tell you guys about when I get closer to launch. I've missed you guys! I'll be making the rounds and catching up on visiting everyone this week!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Party's Over

It had been going so well.

In fact, I was ready to declare Micah's party one of my children's most successful birthday extravaganzas.

The boys got their energy levels revved up on the Go-Karts. From there, they went into the rowdy, overstimulating world of Laser Tag. Finally, the evening ended in a sea of sensory overload on the glow-in-the-dark minigolf course.

Pure birthday boy bliss. Everyone was having a fabulous time.

And that's when the party should have ended.

Experienced moms know that the amount of time between kid merriment and complete meltdown is about 30 seconds. The fun meter shoots up high until you reach a tipping point and it quickly goes all downhill from there.

The trick is letting it go on long enough where everyone has had fun, but to cut it off before birthday party Armageddon occurs.

Let's just say I need to work on my timing.

One moment laughter and squeals of delight filled the air. The next I turned around to see my son and one of his friends in a brawl on the floor. Fists were drawn, but fortunately, thanks to my husband's speedy intervention, no blood.

From the sketchy information I was able to obtain from my son and other reliable 11-year-old sources, both boys just sort of lost it. For no rational reason.

Except later, the reason was very apparent -- to me, at least: Go-karts. Laser Tag. Pizza. Glow-in-the-dark minigolf.

What sane mother puts lasers and golf clubs into the hands of a group of rowdy, 11-year-old boys?!

In truth, it was just too much. Go-karts and laser tag would have been plenty. But Micah wanted minigolf, too, and I didn't draw the line. Even though my gut was telling me I should.
(Although, after the birthday boy beatdown, I did have the good sense to say no to pleas for ice cream.)

It's a lesson God has been opening my eyes to in other areas of my life as well. My kids' schedules have been moving at a breakneck pace lately. They've been having a great time.

Until a month ago, when they both got sick -- really sick. Like the kind of sick that you don't get completely over in a week -- or even a month.

It's been a brutal, humbling reminder to me that I have to do a better job of knowing when and where to draw the line. Kids are always going to do more than they can handle. They think they're invincible.

But, amazingly, our children quickly become irritable, ill and lose perspective when they're too busy and overwhelmed -- just like us "old" people.

Until my kids gain the experience and maturity to regulate their own schedules, I have to have the courage and wisdom to know when to announce that the party's over.
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