Are You a Really Crappy Mom?

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We’re living in a generation where everything gets a pass.

Charlie Sheen gets a hit TV show called “Anger Management” after he acts like an imbocile and tries to take down his former TV show “Two and a Half Men.” Lindsey Lohan continues to get movie deals after she’s been arrested too many times to count. Gun toting psychopaths gun down innocent children in elementary schools and 5 kids get 1 million likes on Facebook in 13 hours because they want to get a family dog and need Mom and Dad to pay attention.

What do these four isolated scenarios have in common? They’re all insane.

Never has there been a time in history where you can do less and get noticed more.

You started reading this article because you wanted to know if you’re a really crappy Mom. Perhaps you are. I’m not going to post a test or a checklist with the “10 Ways to Know If You’re a Really Crappy Mom.” You know if you are. Your gut tells you. Your heart tells you. You don’t have to ask anyone on Facebook or read any blogs to know.

Motherhood is sacred.

Motherhood is the one thing that can literally change the world.

You know if you’re doing your job. Or not.

If your kids are in day care, that’s crappy. They need you.

If you feed your kids fast food 5 nights a week because you’re too tired to cook, that’s crappy.

If you watch TV all night long instead of reading to your kids, that’s crappy.

If you spend more time in the car toting your kids than talking to them, that’s crappy.

If you put your kids to bed between the commercials, that’s crappy.

If you divorce their Dad, that’s crappy. (And yes, it will affect them forever. That ‘resiliant’ word is a cop-out. Just ask any adult whose parents divorced when they were young.)

If you work underneath your own potential, that’s crappy.

If you scream and yell all day, that’s crappy.

If you drink or take drugs to numb your own pain, that’s crappy.

So are you? A crappy Mom?

Or are you like the many million Moms out there who are getting about 50% of it right and 50% of it wrong?

The human ones. The ones where guilt and goodness and love and letting people down weigh in about equal on the scale of life?

Are you trying?

Are you doing your best?

Are you training up your child in the way he/she should go?

If you are, then you’re doing okay. We could all do better.

We could be more and do more and work less and love more.

But that’s the same with all of life.

The insaneness will always be with us.
The crazies will get the publicity while the Mom on a quest to do the right thing will go unnoticed.

Not entirely unnoticed.

The kids are watching.

They need you Mom.

All of you. (or as much as they can get)

If you want to change the world, simply go be a good Mom.

What’s Your Dream?

Dreams. They’re the big things of life. They’re the ‘write a New York Times Bestseller’ or ‘create a foundation’ or ‘make a million bucks’ kind of stuff. The ‘find my soulmate’ or ‘start my own business‘ or ‘have 6 kids’ kind of dreams. Dreams are BIG. HUGE. And scary.

Most of us don’t reflect on our dreams much because well, after you’ve reached the age of 30 or so, most of them seem too hard. Or we’ve listened to so many people say ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘this happened to her’ or ‘you need a ton of money to be successful’ that we quietly fold our dreams up and tuck them nicely into the deep recesses of our heart.

Oh, there are days when they seem to well up inside us, but most of us quietly tamper them down again and reserve them for shower time and long walks on the beach vacation days. They seem so out there. Unreachable.

We quit working on our dreams before we’ve even started.

We give up on our dreams before we’ve even failed.

We believe destiny is what happens to celebrities and millionaires.

But not us.

It’s not true. It’s far from true.

My next door neighbor desperately wanted a 2nd baby. Nature wasn’t cooperating. She was slogging from doctor to doctor with little hope…or the hope she was given had huge dollar signs attached to it.

But I know down deep in her heart she still wanted that dream. Baby number two.

I was sad. She was heartbroken.

I barely had the words to comfort her.

We moved away and didn’t stay in touch.

A year later I was shopping on New Years Eve and I saw a young woman walking and waving toward me with her husband. My eyes did a double take. It was my dear sweet neighbor with her hubby, 3 year old and not only was she strolling one newborn baby in the stroller, she was pushing TWO.

God gave her twins. One of each. A boy and a girl. I was so overwhelmed with joy I almost hugged her to death.

She just shyly smiled and said…’we relaxed and look what happened.’

But she never gave up on her dream. Now she’s playing zone defense as a young Mom with too little time, too many responsibilities and a life full of love.

Dreams are real. If you can see it in your mind and feel it in your heart, it exists. If you consistently wake up thinking about your dream, it’s because it’s a real desire…not something you made up. God gives us desires for a reason.

He wants us to go DO something with them. To impact someone. To help. To spread joy or inspiration…or maybe God just wants to make us deliriously happy. (He does that you know.)

Dreams come with a price. You may have to give something up to go after your big dream. You might have to be patient and watch the dream unfold over a decade instead of a year. You might have to turn off the TV or give up a few nights of fun to realize your big dream.

Dreams are worth waiting for. Working for. Praying for. Sacrificing for.

My neighbor now drives a mini-van with three carseats in the 2nd seat. She rarely puts on make-up and the dog doesn’t get walked that often. But the dream she stored inside her heart…the one she never quit wanting was real. Is real. In the form of a tiny girl and a tiny boy and a big brother named Tre.

Dreams do come true. What’s yours?

The Power of Pain

Pain is powerful. If you’re going through something, it’s because you have work to do. There’s something to learn whether it be patience, empathy, humbleness or self-control. Or perhaps it’s to help someone else fulfill their destiny.

When you’re in pain, the first thing you want to do is escape. Or isolate. Those are the two worst things you can do. Let yourself feel. Acknowledge it exists. Pledge to learn the lesson, because lessons unlearned come back to bite us in the butt again and again.

When John Walsh lost his beloved to 6-year old son Adam to a murderer’s hands, he could’ve easily said, ‘it is finished. I no longer wish to exist.’ Or, he could’ve numbed the pain with drugs or alcohol or women or had himself committed. Instead, he took his rage and his guttural humanness and transformed it into the televison show “America’s Most Wanted”. He became consumed on a one-man mission hunting for criminals who inflict pain on others.

He honored his son’s memory by getting better and he processed his own pain by helping others with theirs. He reached out. He let his life become one of service.

Does his pain still exist? Yes. I’m sure there’s not a day goes by without him thinking of little Adam. Did John get better? Yes, because the world got better by John using his soul-sucking pain for good.

John’s story is dramatic. Hopefully, none of us will ever lose a child to a horrific crime.

But every pain hurts. And pain creates change. (If you’ll let it.)

As a young Mom, I worked as a marketing person earning $36,000 a year. I had a 9’ x 9’ cubicle, 2 weeks vacation and a life filled with absolute chaos. My babies were 2, 4 and 7 and I was a maintanence Mom…the Mom who gives the baths, feeds the meals, tucks you into bed but never really captures the moments because she’s too busy running on the rat race treadmill of life.

I was miserable, my babies were getting shortchanged but I convinced myself that I had to work because we had two incomes with two income expenses. I was paying ten grand a year to day-care, running myself ragged and missing some of the most memorable times of my kids’ lives. And I stayed in the race for 7 years until the one day when I couldn’t take it anymore and I made the life-changing decision. In an instant.

I gave my boss his pink slip. (I quit.)

I went home to be with my babies and started my own business out of a bedroom in our basement.

I tripled my income and decreased my work hours by 75%.
But most importantly, I got to be a Mom. Their Mom. Candice’s Mom. Kelsey’s Mom. Travis’ Mom. The Mom who makes macaroni and cheese and sits at relentless soccer practices.

The one who could finally breathe in spite of kids bickering, too much laundry and a thousand replays of the Wizard of Oz.

My pain made me change. My misery created movement. Positive movement. Change that has impacted the entire course of my life and my family’s lives.

Sit with your pain. Know that it won’t last forever. Use it for good.

Life has a lesson you’re supposed to learn.

The Art of Flailing


When I was a young Mom I was in one word, terrible. I think my ADD (attention deficit disorder) was a big contributor to this inadequacy but at that time of my life I wasn’t so in tune with what my nerve endings were doing. All I knew is that I wanted to scream most days. I struggled with postpartum depression for 9 months after the birth of my oldest daughter. I sucked at mothering.

Many days all I could do was get through. I was working too much and racing too much and trying to do it all perfectly when in fact I was doing nothing perfectly. I was a wreck and yet no one seemed to notice except my husband who had to calm me down several times a day. My daughter was so perfect and so energetic and so, so me.

I was flailing.

The bread on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was stale, the laundry was heaped in piles in the bedroom and the toys were a mess all over the dining room. When I was at work I wanted to be at home and when I was at home all I could think about was work. It was not good. It was a mess, just like the dining room.

I was a mess.

So I had a 2nd child. Never once did I think, slow down. Breathe. Relax. Enjoy the moment. No, my life was a pressure cooker and I just kept blowing off steam to keep from exploding. But once I had my 2nd precious baby, I noticed something. She wasn’t double the work. She was hardly any more work than just juggling one.

I was how should I say it…adjusting.

Oh, I still swirled about. Still cried because I was so tired from doing it all. Still struggled with potty training and meals and guilt and leftover macaroni and cheese. I still leaned on my husband and was exasperated with my job and dreamed of going to bed at 7 pm just so I could catch up.

Mothers never sleep you know. Or, that is we rarely sleep.

And so I had Baby #3. I’m so glad I never had to put in an application to have children because they would’ve handed it back to me with the word stamped DENIED. I simply was sub par in the Mothering world. My own Mother had never been a shining example of how a Mother should be, so I guess I didn’t really know how. But no Mother really knows how to be a Mother.

It’s all a big experiment of trial and error.

The first few years I’d been erring. The trials seemed bigger than I’d imagined. The girl who had been good at everything she’d ever tried was not that good at this. But I did one thing…I kept flailing.

I kept loving my babies (between the screams).

I kept moving forward.

I kept making changes. One day I walked into my boss and handed him his pink slip.
I was going home to be with my babies and learn how to be a good Mother even if the thought simply terrified me. (And it did.)

I’d been flailing for years and the flailing was working.

I was getting better.

I was growing.

I was screaming less and laughing more.

I was spending more of the right time with the right people and less time obsessing over work.

I was becoming the Mother I knew I should be and wasn’t settling for being the Mother I knew how to be.

So in this long-winded scenario in which I reveal my true Mother colors I want to make this point. You have to flail. It is part of the process of life. It is part of the process in which you grow and stumble and fall down and get back up. And you do it again and again and again.

It doesn’t matter what you’re flailing at. It might be motherhood. It might be your career. It could be marriage. Maybe it’s money. It might be with friendship or God or simply taking care of yourself.

It’s okay to flail.

My youngest son is now 21. I tell people I just got really good at this mothering thing the year he left for college. I’d been a Mother for 26 years at that point. The first few years I was terrible. The middle few I was satisfactory to average. And the last decade or so I was really getting my groove on.

My daughter gave me my first grandson almost 3 years ago. I’m an amazing grandmother. I look at his tiny feet and swing with him at the park and hug him and love him with this overwhelming sense of God in my heart.

I spend time. No agendas. No demands. Just time.

I’m a master of loving him…so patiently, so fully, so there.

Flailing is the training ground for becoming a master…of anything
.

Where Do You Go When The World’s Falling Apart?


Tonight I heard my daughter say the words I’ve longed for…’I had to call you Mom.”

Her world was falling apart and she had hit the wall…the breaking point where you can no longer see clearly and every single thing you’ve ever done seems futile.

• She’s moving.

• Her husband’s grandfather is dying.

• She’s being challenged at work to learn more and faster than the rest because the Dr.she works for knows she can handle it.

• She saw a lady hit a light pole while texting.

• She has four out of town trips she’s required (in her own mind) to take next year and she’s stressing about the money.

• It’s raining.

• Oh, and she’s moving. I know I already told you this one but it’s the energy sucker that won’t go away.

She can’t imagine how her husband’s grandma is going to live without the man she’s been married to for over half a century. How do you go on when the only life you’ve ever known with the only man you’ve ever loved no longer exists. When you’ve spent your last days caring for someone who is irritable one minute and childlike the next.

You cry your eyes out.

You curl up with the wretched knowledge that life as you knew it is over.

You look up and ask God for a hand.

And then you cry some more until the cleansing of the angels can envelop you or the deep of the night embraces you.

This perfect storm of life is real and in your face.

You can’t run home anymore. You can’t eat a chocolate chip cookie and magically feel better. You can’t pretend it’s not happening because it keeps coming at you.

You’re an adult and this thing called life is teaching. What’s important. What’s not.

What can wait til tomorrow. And what can’t.

Who matters. And who doesn’t.

I didn’t fix anything in our 20 minute phone call. It’s still raining and granddaddy is still just a few hours or days away from Heaven. The Docs expectations are still high and the driver who hit the pole while texting is still dumb.

She’s still moving.

But her world and her insides weren’t. For just a moment, the connection between my dear sweet daughter and me was enough to calm the chaos. It was enough to steady the swells that rose inside her and threatened to overwhelm. Our love was like a rock she could hold on to for strength.

I’m her Mom. And that’s what I do.

Wrap her in my heart and soul for comfort.

Listen.

Love her.

I just got a text ten minutes after our call.

It said “I’m better Mom.” “Thanks.”

And I said, “Good. Me too.”

The Wonder of “We”

He went bald.  I gained 89 pounds.

We made 3 miracles named Candice, Kelsey and Travis.

We went to church every Sunday, together.

We moved 13 times.

We had 5 dogs, 3 cats and a horse.

I fired my boss, tripled my income and got to come home and be with my kids.

We rehabbed 30 houses, before recycling was cool.

He was the realist.  I was the dreamer.

Continue reading “The Wonder of “We””

9 Things I Learned From 8 Days in the Wilderness

I could’ve entitled this ‘how I spent my summer vacation’ but I thought that’d be a bit 3rd grade.  One of the things I do best in life is chronicle moments.  Not timelines.  Moments.  Like the night of my birthday  at the Elks Lodge in Creede, Colorado when Dennis took my breath away on the dance floor as we were surrounded by rednecks, dancin’ with the stars wannabees and cowboys who’d had a few too many.

Continue reading “9 Things I Learned From 8 Days in the Wilderness”