It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

I’m sure you’ve seen the commercial. The father, joyfully back to school shopping with his kids, while they follow behind with their heads hanging low in despair. If not, please see exhibit A:

I know a lot of parents that feel this way, I get it, they get a break! The kids are occupied. They don’t have to listen to fighting, complaining and the ever present “I’m bored” comments. But this year I find myself in the minority. I am not liking back to school. I have to wake up earlier, my big helpers are gone all day, and its WAY too quiet in the house.

I know what you’re thinking, why don’t you pull C and M out of school? Homeschool them! And my answer to you is, “I’D LOVE TO!” But something we’ve said from the beginning is that homeschooling needs to be an individual choice. I will not force my kids to be home with me as much as I will not force my kids to be at school without me. At the beginning of the year we ask them, “Would you like to be homeschooled or would you like to go to regular school.” Last year my second oldest wanted to be homeschooled, so she was! It was great year and she learned a lot! This year, she wanted to be in regular school. Last year (and really every year) my oldest wanted to be in regular school. They decided, they exhibited their autonomy, and I’m PROUD OF THEM.

However, now I’m feeling something I never thought I would. I’m feeling EMPTY! I’m feeling SAD! And I feel not nearly as busy during the day. Here ya go, I can hear you now, “Uhhhhh, Jessica, you have 3 other kids at home, including a NEWBORN!” I know, I know! But it’s just not the same! I miss my kiddos. I miss all the playing they do together. I miss my 7 year old cuddling up with me during quiet time and telling me stories and all about his great ideas. It’s lonely without them.

The really great part about them being gone though is that I get to have some AWESOME special time with my 3 (almost 4) year old. I’m discovering more and more that he is a RIOT! He loves being homeschooled (maybe he’ll want to continue?) and I can already see his little mind growing and changing as he processes some of the things we go over.

So, for now I’ll suck it up. I’ll enjoy my quiet time with my handsome man and little ladies. And I’ll wait anxiously for Christmas break, when I’ll get to have all 5 of my small people with me every day, even if its only for a handful of weeks.

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The Imperfect Parent

This post is inspired by a conversation I had with a very good friend of mine.

It is very easy to go throughout the day as a parent and only see all the things we are doing wrong. We wonder how our children will remember us when they get older. Will they remember us yelling all the time? Will they remember how we were tired sometimes and needed a break? Or how sometimes we just reached our emotional limit and had nothing left to give? Or will they consider us, in true Mary Poppin fashion, to be practically perfect in every way and forget all about our downfalls and failures? I’d like to believe that they will remember neither, but something far more valuable.

Romans 3:23- “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.”

Romans 3: 10- “As it is written, ‘None is righteous, no not one.'”

I think it is important, as parents, to express to our children that there is only one person that is and has ever been perfect. Christ was the embodiment of God, perfection in human form. That’s quite the bar to put ourselves up against.  We can try, every day, to be the BEST parents to our children that we can be but there are times when we just are not going to do that well. We are going to have those “bad mommy/daddy” days. The important thing is what we DO with those days. On what note will they end?

Case and point:

The other day was a baaaad day. My husband had been out of town for a couple days and I just didn’t have anything left to give. I was run down, exhausted and frustrated. Unfortunately, I had no one else to take my frustrations out on but my kids. They fell victim to my fallibility and by the end of that day I was riddled with guilt, thinking I surely had ruined them forever.  I had two choices at that point. I could leave it alone, put them to bed, and know that they would wake up in the morning having forgotten everything -OR- I could address my behavior and teach them a valuable lesson. Individually I pulled them aside before bed. And one by one I apologized to them. I explained to them that mommy’s make mistakes, they make a lot of mistakes, but we have a Father in Heaven that forgives and helps us. Mommy’s need just as much help from God as any body else does, sometimes we need even more help. I asked them if they would pray for me, because mommy’s need prayers too.

I didn’t have to end the day like that. I truly could have just put them to bed and they would’ve woken up and cuddled in bed with me the next morning as if nothing every happened. But instead I was given an incredible opportunity to teach them about the love and forgiveness of Christ. I made myself vulnerable to them and allowed them to know that it’s okay that they make mistakes as well. Because in the end I’d like to believe that will not remember how awful I was or how perfect, but instead will remember that I was imperfect like everyone else and need Christ’s grace and mercy just as much if not more than they do.

Quiet Moments

I tend to believe that when you are faced with impending parenthood you often think that there will be a lot of sleepless nights, you gear up for a screaming baby, maybe you even anticipate some sort of frustration due to your typical schedule being thrown to the wind. (Although, I could just be projecting haha.) All these thoughts are completely normal (right??!!), and getting used to the changes associated with having a new baby is difficult.

I’ll give you a scenario… it may or may not be true to life… and it may or may not have happened 3 nights ago. All of your kids are in bed by 7:30, you have the rest of the night to yourself. Your husband, who works afternoon/nights gets home at around 9 and you want to spend some time with him. Fast forward to 11 o’clock and you are finally pouring yourself into bed and excited for a good nights sleep. You snooze away until 12:30 when you are violently woken up by screaming coming through the baby monitor and in a fog you stumble to the kids room and pick up the owner of the scream: a teething baby. You nurse her (or him) and put them back to bed. Soon enough you are settling back into a deep slumber. All of a sudden you feel like someone is watching you. You open your eyes in the dark… AN APPARITION! No…. its a 4 year old and its 2:30am. She’s scared and wants to cuddle. “Two seconds,” you mutter. She crawls into bed with you and you count to two, after which she runs to her room, gets her pillow and blanket and makes a bed for herself on your floor. Sleep comes slightly easier this time, so you fade. 4:30am… screaming… hmmmm. Teething baby again. Its harder to get out of bed this time, but you manage. Boob, cuddle, rock/sway, back in bed. After what seems like 10 minutes you hear giggling, gurgling and the like over the stupid blessed baby monitor. Its 6am. Your angelic beings have decided that they want to get up with the sun this morning. So you roll yourself out of the warmth of your bed and embrace the day, tired but alive.

A night like this can be approached one of two ways. You can either be angry/frustrated/whatever or you can be thankful. “Thankful?” you ask. How in the world could one person be thankful for getting so few broken hours of sleep?? Perspective is how. It might come as a shock but you could possibly go through your entire day and not get a single moment of alone time with your children. It is easy to get caught up in the chaos and busy-ness of life and completely miss out on quiet moments with our babies.

Consider this: every time that one of your kids calls out to you in the night, they desire something. Lucky for you, what they desire is exactly what you have in the middle of the night: TIME. When I am cuddling with my baby girl at 2 in the morning I am able to gain important knowledge of her. I learn the curve of her cheek as I run my hand down her face to settle her. I bask in her baby smell. In the still of the night I hear her subtle hum while she breathes heavily and falls back into a deep sleep. When my 3 year old yells my name in the night I am able to do something almost noone else can. He lays on my chest, hugs me tightly and I make him feel safe. My precious 4 year old believes that the best place that she can sleep is nestled in the curve of my stomach. And my big 6 year old, even still, just wants to know that he will always be my baby.

This way of thinking isn’t easy, and I need constant reminders of how precious this time is. However, it is so important to embrace these special opportunities, because they will be gone before we know it.