The Mediocre Mom

I think I'm a five. I've always been a five. Well, I was probably a three and a half in jr. high, but I don't really like to count those years. Over there in that picture on the left, I might be a six, but black and white and strategically chosen filters will usually bump you up a point.

My whole life, I've always been pretty average at things. Never great, never the best, but okay. I pick up new skills fairly quickly, but I also plateau quickly. Let's just say I seem to have a lot of beginner's luck.

To be really honest, I've always wanted so badly to be the best at something. To be good - no, to be great - at anything. And for a hot minute there I thought that thing might be motherhood.

But then I literally ran my son over with my Target shopping cart right in the main aisle in front of ALL THE PEOPLE. I was leaning in to soothe my crying, well screaming, three month old, while simultaneously pushing the cart and the next thing I know, my cart hits a bump and my two year old is splayed across the tile, crying and lying on the ground while clutching his "Planes" fruit snacks for dear life. Of course, at the moment of impact, half of the stuff on the bottom of the cart flies off and we become just a massive, crying roadblock for everyone to gawk at.

It was in that moment that I knew - I am not and would not be good at this motherhood thing. This will not be the thing that I am finally, finally great at.

It's par for the course of my life that I'd be the mediocre mom.

***

I get out of the shower later that evening, just before my husband puts my son to bed for the night. We meet in the hallway, each of us going to our rooms. As I lean in to kiss my son goodnight he says, "Momma! So fun! Momma pretty. Wuve you foreva momma."

And even after all of that today, I think he means it.

And it's sort of amazing.

***

I have a pretty lame reading voice. And I guarantee you'd never want me to sing you to sleep. When I make pancakes, I can never seem to get a clean flip, one side is alway folded and mangled, extra thick and a little bit doughy. If I drew you a cow, you'd probably think it was tractor or a car or well, probably just a blob. I have a very limited imagination when it comes to playing with Mega Blocks (Wanna see another tower?!?), I tend to always forget hats or gloves on the most cold days, and I trip over my words and make no sense when trying to tie the gospel into discipline.

BUT. The thing is. The most amazing, marvelous, wonderful thing is: My kids have absolutely no idea how good or bad of a mom I am!

Because they've never had another mother! They have nothing to compare me to! They have no frame of reference! To them, this mediocre mom is not just an average mom - I am an AWESOME mom. To them, I am THE BEST mom. I'm fun! Pretty! Loved forever!


And even if - okay, when - someday they grow up and go off to school and I embarrass the heck out of them because I'm the loudest mom on the class field trip that brought cupcakes that taste like cardboard - they'll know they can't do any better than me. Literally, I'M THE BEST MOM THEY'VE EVER HAD.

And my best is good enough for them.

Sure, there will be times that I'll plow my kid over with my shopping cart, drive home wondering why my daughter is fussing only to find her with her headband covering her eyes, sit and stare while my toddler throws The Most Dramatic Tantrum You've Ever Seen because I have no idea what to do or how to stop him and am just sorta fascinated by how he can keep going and going and going - but we'll figure it all out, dust ourselves off, and survive - and that night I'll sing both of them to sleep with a voice they think is better than Adele's. I'll find my son running around with a random pair of scissors and nearly drop my daughter when putting her in a sling when she body spasms, but later that day we'll have a snuggle/tickle/giggle session that will fill all our love tanks. I'll forget their hats on a walk but we'll have a blast jumping in puddles and singing random numbers to the tune of the ABC's. We'll crawl like alligators on the ground but accidentally give ourselves enormous carpet burns so it will all end in tears and tantrums and Momma Doesn't Know How The Fun Turned Sour So Fast.

But I'm trying and it's enough for them.

I'll make mistakes. I won't be perfect. I won't be the best mother, or probably even a great mother.

I'll likely always be mediocre. Stumbling and fumbling my way through this motherhood gig getting very few things right or doing hardly anything well.

But isn't it great how that is enough for our children? They love us exactly as we are. Which is honestly, absolutely amazing - and should be a huge load off our shoulders.

We can only be ourselves. We can only offer them exactly who we are. And that is enough for them.

You enough for them.

I am enough for them.

And if that is mediocre, that's exactly what I want to be.

Like this post? I share a whole lot more on this motherhood gig over on Facebook (Oakland Avenue) and Instagram (@laurawifler) and I'd love it if you followed along!

Eli's Cool New Rides + A Scooter Giveaway!

When we packed up for our move to Chicago, we had to be pretty selective with what we brought to temporary housing for the eight weeks or so that we'd be living here. Before the movers came, we made a pile of things we wanted to bring with us - which was basically just a giant mountain of kid's stuff and a little, itty, bitty pile of adult stuff - because as we all know, those tiny people require SO. MUCH. HUGE. STUFF. Since we had to fit everything into Mike and I's two cars for the trip, we had to be pretty selective - which meant I brought only a small basket of toys for Eli. There just wasn't much room for much beyond the essentials of things like high chairs, pack n' plays, the stroller, carseats, the kids themselves, etc. And since it was snowing out when we moved, I didn't even think to bring outdoor toys for Eli to play with.

So it was perfect timing when the folks at Little Tikes sent us a Cozy Coupe Sport and a Lean to Turn Scooter for Eli to play with. The weather was just turning nicer here, which meant he could get a lot of use out of them right away.

When we opened the Cozy Coupe, Eli went bizerk: "Blue car! Eli's blue car! So cool!" He thinks it's pretty sweet that he has his own car that he gets to drive all by himself.


Each morning he gets in his car, loads it with as many stuffed animals as he can, and he tells me they're all going one of three places: the zoo to see alligators, Costco for samples or Target for a cookie.

Sounds like a pretty great run of errands to me.

He also loves just pushing it around - and can I just say? I don't remember the older ones having these, but this Cozy Coupe has a parent handle - see that lime green bar? Well, it folds up and I can push it around as easily as I can push a stroller. It's awesome and a total back saver.


As for the scooter, I'm actually surprised at just how much Eli likes it and how well he does on it. I wasn't quite sure if he could figure it out at just 24 months, but he picked it up super quickly - every day as we go get the mail, Eli gets super excited to take his scooter with.

Although, honestly, right now, after The Great Flat Tire of 2015, all he really wants to do is change the tires on it: "Flat tire momma, Eli fix. Eli save day!"

And good news! Today Little Tikes wants to give one of you these scooters as well, so their giving one away to one lucky Oakland Avenue reader! They have tons of colors to choose from too! The giveaway will be open through Sunday, April 26, 2015, and the winner will be announced on Monday, April 27, 2015. Open to U.S. mailing addresses only.

Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Eli - 24 Month Update

We have a two year old! I can hardly believe how old he is - and that I've actually written 24 of these updates! As the changes are not coming so rapidly, this will be the last update I'll publish for Eli.

Naps: One nap a day, around 1 p.m. for two to three hours
Feeding: Two percent milk (16-20 oz./day), water all day, table foods three times a day with a snack after nap.
Clothing: 2T and some 3T (He is 90th percentile for height and 80th for weight!)
Bedtime: 7 - 8 p.m. Sleeps 11-12 hours each night.

Eating: This boy continues to amaze us with his great eating. He truly will eat literally anything - and most of the time he does it all on his own. Sometimes at dinner, for better or worse, we'll bribe him a little  with an m&m or any sort of "sugar" to get him to finish his dinner and fill him up before bed. He LOVES chocolate and will do anything for a taste of it. Recently, if he won't eat his food, we'll ask him to eat two bites ("Because you're two years old!") and then he can have one m&m. The kid seriously goes crazy. He won't even use silverware he wants to get to the m&m so fast. He usually just grabs two or three huge handfuls of food, shoves them in his mouth and shouts, "m&m please!" while bouncing around in his chair. As I go to the cabinet and pull out the bag, I'll ask him what color he wants: "Red! Blue! Orange! Red! Blue! Blue! Blue!" He can hardly decide he just wants it so bad. He usually starts to do a little dance and as soon as it's in his hand he pops it in - doesn't matter if there's still brussel sprouts and blue cheese still in his mouth. Ick. 

Here at the temp housing apartment, there's also a clubhouse that we walk to nearly every day to mess around in the gym and pick up packages. There's a glass jar full of candy, and each day I let Eli pick out a piece. As soon as the clubhouse is in sight, he starts to pick up speed and run toward it shouting, "Sugar! Momma! LET'S GET SUGAR!" Once we're there, it takes him at least three minutes to pick out the color he wants from the chocolate jar and for some reason, he savors this one. It's nothing like the m&m that's shoved down with all his other food. He studies the tiny, bite-sized chocolate bar, nibbling on it and just smiling at me saying, "Sugar momma, chocolate momma. It's good momma." It's adorable. 

I don't know how moms don't let their kids have sweets/chocolate/SUGAR. It makes them so happy - I LOVE giving my kid sugar. I feel like I have to say - since this is the internet and all - that I do try to do it in moderation. He eats super healthy during the day at home (Now that he's willing to eat more than just cheese and bread again.) But I'll be honest, we don't really have rules on sugar, if it's available and he wants it, he can have a little. You should see the dance he'll whip out for a chocolate dounut. I swear, anyone would give him anything with how happy and excited he looks!
  
Sleeping: Overall, he's still a great sleeper. I think he sleeps a little less than he used to, still sleeping 11-12 hours, but we rarely ever get an 8 a.m. wake up any more. Usually he's ready to go at 7 a.m., no matter what time he goes to bed. Naps continue to be all over the place for length and I can't seem to figure out why some are longer than others - activity, noise, stimulation, etc. all don't seem to play a part - that I can tell at least. He'll usually sleep 1.5 - 3 hours, although I really, really prefer that he gets at least two. Usually when he wakes after just an hour and a half he's super crabby for the day. If he gets 2+, I call it a "good nap."
Development: 
So, I've decided two years old is definitely one of my favorite stages. He is so funny, I love talking with him each day about what he wants to do, or what he dreamt about or what daddy's up to. He's loves playing Captain Obvious, constantly pointing out, "Car. Black car. Big black car. Momma's big black car." All in that order - each time he likes to add a descriptor - just in case I wasn't sure which car he was talking about. He's also really into opposites and posession. He tells me which ball is big or small, or what is up or down. Or he'll go around pointing at things telling us who's they are, "Momma's coffee. Daddy's coffee. Eli's milk. Colette's nuk." He loves talking about what we're going to eat or do, and often when I ask him what he'd like, he'll say, "Probably ... hmmm ... I want to ... maybe ... probably .... eat pea-na-ner toast, yes, that's it." or whatever it is. I love getting to hear his decision making process!

He's great with counting to ten, but still will skip random numbers here or there or throw in a huge one like thirty nine. He is getting awesome at his colors - he's known the main ones for a while, but now he's starting to expand on them, like pink, tan, silver, etc. He also still loves music and to sing, and often I'll find him singing to himself or to Colette as he plays. He can sing "Amazing Grace," "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," "Jesus Loves Me," and a few others super well - the tune is nearly perfect and he knows most of the main words, so much so that anyone who overhears him can quickly recognize the song. 

Eli has stared playing jokes on us and LOVES to be funny and have us laugh at him. His latest joke is fake falling asleep in the car. He knows I want him to stay awake in the car if we're coming home before nap, so he likes to pretend to sleep when we're home and I'm getting him out of the car. He's actually convinced me a few times that he's fallen asleep, he's pretty good at keeping a straight face - usually the only tip off I'll see is his eyelashes fluttering to check on me!

He's getting better and better at being, "mommy's helper" and actually helping. I can ask him to get a paci for Colette or a burp rag or whatever and he'll actually go find one and bring it back, rather than getting distracted or bringing me some other random object. He loves to point out when things are out of place or broken and it's a BIG deal if they are. 
Also, he's gotten SO much better at independent play. I don't know if it's age, or just getting to be outside or now that things have settled down, but he'll give me a few different longer sessions of it throughout the day without me needing to remind him that I'm not going to play with him. He's also learning to understand "alone time." He follows Mike and I around and hates to not be in the same room as us, so we're working on that concept. It's adorable when Mike goes to take a shower and Eli comes running out to tell me that "Daddy! Alone time! Play with Eli later!"

Many of you have asked about Eli's eyes and how he's doing and we so appreciate all of your concern! While I haven't been crazy excited about this move to Chicago (agreeable, but not excited), we did get a new pediatric opthamologist and in many ways, he's been a huge blessing. This particular doctor seems to be a bit more detailed than our past one and he found some new things with Eli and also convinced us to move forward with surgery on Eli's eyes. We've known for a while now that Eli would likely need surgery for his vision, but we always considered it a last resort. Well, this Friday, Eli will be having surgery on both eyes and we would LOVE all of your prayers. For those of you who are wondering, he will be having Strabismus surgery. Strabismus is a visual defect in the eyes that makes them point in different directions, leading to vision loss in one eye. In a child Eli's age, the brain learns to ignore the misaligned eye, causing causing loss of vision in one eye. While I've heard a lot of different numbers tossed around, our doctor says the surgery is typically 80 percent successful, so we're praying that it is for Eli!
Likes/Dislikes: Probably my favorite thing to see is how much he's started to love playing with Colette. He always wants to be sure she has a toy or a stuffed animal and I love seeing him rearrange things around her on the bouncer or blanket. Often, he'll lay with her during tummy time, driving his trucks around her head. I try to keep my eye on them as much as possible, but I'll be honest, a second child gets way more head bonks than the first. 

With the warm weather, it's also been so fun to see how much he enjoys going outside to play in the dirt and dig through the much. He loves taking his diggers/trucks/emergency vehicles out there and driving them around. It's funny, because he can talk so well, but often when he's playing on his own I'll hear a lot of jibberish mixed in with a few real words. He now needs a bath every night before bed, where as in the winter, sometimes he'd go up to a week before he'd get one - whoops! His little chubby legs are all cut up and bruised from playing - I know that sounds terrible - but I think it's awesome!

Eli still LOVES the zoo and talks about going every day. He still talks all the time about different animals, and when wakes up each morning or after a nap, I always like to ask him what he dreamt about, usually it's alligators or diggers, and sometimes his Uncle Kyle. 

Eli's big dislikes are having to stop abruptly with what he's doing, so we always try to give him a one to fivei(sh) minute warning, which helps a lot. He's also started to get crazy independent, not wanting help from us as often and just wanting to do things all on his own or wanting to do whatever the opposite is of what we suggest. He also gets really frustrated when we won't/can't carry him and he wants to be or when he needs to ride in the cart or stroller when he wants to walk. Basically, if he doesn't want to do it, he doesn't like it. Sound like any of your toddlers? :) 
Mommy/Daddy Update:
This was such a fun month for us! It was great to get to spend more consistent time with him and not have so much on our plates so we could give him more attention than we have in a while. I feel like every day Eli gets more and more fun as his language and personality develops, and I love getting to have actual conversations with him. It's amazing to watch how well he can understand a concept or apply something he's learning to different situations. Mike and I are constantly amazed by what sponges kids are! I'm also so grateful Eli seems to be enjoying the move. I knew logically his "friends" back in Minneapolis wouldn't be a loss, but I was still really sad about it. He seems to be doing great here and doesn't even know the difference. He now shouts "Home!" when we pull into the parking lot, and "new house" when we pull into the driveway of our, you guessed it, new house. It's fun to see him so excited! 

Let's Stop Blaming The Sick Kids (And Their Moms)

So. There's this thing I'm super guilty of, and I'm wondering if you are too. I'm trying to kick the habit because really, it doesn't do anybody, anywhere any good - least of all me or my kids. But I just. can't. helllllllllp myselllllf. 

Here's a story for you. My son had a cold for a few weeks, and over the weekend, the cold suddenly took a turn for the worse: the cough kicked into high gear and began rattling around in his chest, his nose became a faucet we could't turn off, and he started running super high fevers at night. Turned out, that run-of-the-mill cold had become pneumonia.

First thoughts: WHO'S SICK KID INTENTIONALLY GAVE MY SON PNEUMONIA?!?

I quickly thought back over the past few weeks, who we'd spent time with or what places we had used childcare at. The rolodex in my mind turned over and over trying to remember, trying to figure who's kids I'd seen with runny noses, who's kids had a cough, who's kid picked his boogers and wiped them on a toy before handing it to my son.

Okay, let's stop the story. Can you relate, at least a little? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

There are few things in this life worse than sick kids. They're miserable, you're miserable, the entire house is miserable. Everything is covered in snot and tears, no one is sleeping even though everyone needs it. I think finding a kid, or even a mom to blame make us feel just a little bit better about the situation. Because you can't be mad at your kid, you're definitely not going to be mad at yourself, so you pick on poor Johnny for not covering his cough, or Johnny's mom for putting him in nursery when she MOST DEFINITELY KNEW he was sick.

But the blame game has to stop. (Preaching to myself here.) First of all, I'd LOVE to see someone try to prove exactly which kid/mom/family made your kids sick. I mean, I see kids sucking on the bar of the shopping carts all the time. Who's to say they didn't get it there? Sure, you saw a couple runny noses, but your kid picks up chewed gum on the ground and pops it in for a taste test when you're not looking. Unless you live in some sort of fantasized, sanitized health bubble, there are a lot of places a kid can catch a cold.

Sure, sometimes, the culprit is obvious. The kid at the play date with a constant snot drip and a horrible hacking cough that's wandering around touching every toy in sight. *Most* moms know, if your kid is sick, keep them home, or if they start showing symptoms of being sick while out and about, pack up that diaper bag and get home. (And if you did not know this, you do now. So do yourself a favor and write that down - it's probably one of the most important rules in the unwritten handbook on maintaining mom-friendships.) Heck, I've even had moms text me to let me know their kids came down with the flu right after we finished a playdate, and sure enough, the next day, my son has it too. They didn't know their child was sick at the time, but now I know exactly who to blame. But how can I blame them when they had no idea? And even still, knowing the source of the germs won't make your kid get better any faster. This isn't some sci-fi movie where finding patient zero is the end all to healing the entire population.

Kids just get sick. It's a fact. If you've been a mom for any length of time, you know. Despite your best efforts, your children will get sick. Sure, it'd be great if all moms took tons of precautions and sanitized the heck out of their house and anything that ever leaves it, but you can't control them. You can only control you and yourself and maybe/sorta/kinda/not really your children. Which means you're still all going to get sick.

So whatta say we all agree to stop the blame game? It doesn't do anyone any good. Let's just believe the best in each other, that we're all doing the best we can to stop the germ spread and trust that no matter what, it's not intentional.  Remember that story up there? Yeah, we were staying with family when my son's fever started in the middle of the night - and they have a four month old. I about died thinking about how we just unintentionally infected them. You see, the fact of the matter is, while you're sitting there blaming another kid or mother or whoever, in a few days, someone else can and will be blaming you.

Nobody's perfect, so let's stop the blame game and just chalk it up to building up the immune system.

*On the topic of the "My kid just got sick when we got home, sorry!" text - if you're a mom, do this. It's probably the most humbling/horrible texts to ever write, but it's super helpful for the other mom to at least have a few hours to prep the pedialight and Tylenol.)

When Momma Doubts God's Goodness For Her

I shoved the toy train towards his chest, grumbling something about how he's a big boy and should be able to find his own toys by now. Even though I hadn't touched him, he stumbled back a little from my harsh movements. His whining immediately stopped and he looked up at me through his glasses with sad, and almost a little scared, eyes.

I broke. It wasn't his fault. It wasn't fair to take it out on him. I dropped to my knees, wrapped my arms around him, pulled him close and whispered, "I'm sorry sweetie, forgive me?"

He melted into me; forgiveness comes so easily to the young ones.

All day I had been short on patience. Short on self-control. Short on love. It wasn't my children's faults, but I had nowhere to shed my frustrations, confusion, disappointment. So it came out on the innocent.

I stepped into a bedroom and blinked back tears trying to refocus. I breathed deeply and returned to the children, distracted and unfocused on the present - unable to be the mom I want to be, the mom I should be - because my worries, burdens and doubts fogged my ability to be in the present.

Today I am certain I am a martyr, certain God will never give me what I wish for. Certain that I will have to continue to watch my friends, family - and thanks to the internet - complete strangers win and receive, over and over again. God wringing out his cloud of blessing on them like rain, and me, stuck in the dry, parched desert, overlooked and unremembered.

I hear my daughter's frustrations as her cry cracks through my thoughts. I pick her up off tummy time and hold her in my lap. My toddler wants something, but I can't quite focus fast enough to meet his need before he starts to bang the block on the table with impatience. I just stare at him, wondering why he seems to enjoy the loud ringing in his ears, and wondering if he'd ever just stop on his own.

With the block banging on the table, I fall deeper into my thoughts and wonder where God is. I selfishly think, "I have been good - this is how He repays me?" There is a void of doubt in me, it feels that everyone else can ask for wild, crazy things and receive them, but I am stuck with the dull and boring - the leftovers. I receive basic sustenance of the bread and fish, while he lets others discover the treasures of the field. I wonder why he shows his love to everyone else, but not to me. I resign myself that I will always be the orphan, believing I have a father, but never feeling his love, his joy, his affection, his delight in me.

Although at times I have, in this moment, I don't doubt that God loves me, I just doubt that he will ever let me feel it. 

I know that he is not, but lately I have been treating God like a genie god. Bribing him with my righteousness to give me what I want. Like I carry his lamp in my pocket waiting for the moment when I believe I have it right to rub that lamp and wish from him far more than I could ever ask or imagine.

But every time I do the genie never appears - because that's not how it works.

And so today, I have decided to stop asking for the things I dream. Because no matter what I do, I cannot find his love. I believe I must not deserve it, or am not meant for it, or God just doesn't want me to feel it and so I will stop asking.

I can't focus this day on my job, my role as a mother. Though my children are literally on top of me, I am far away and distracted, and the mom-guilt rises in my chest. I don't want to be thinking only about me and my dreams and hopes and righteousness and what I deserve and what I don't. The tears spring into my eyes again as I recognize my pride and selfishness and my toddler notices. He stops his plane in mid-air and says, "Momma cry. Momma sad," and touches my cheek with his chubby, dimpled hand.

***

Have you been there? Have you wondered where God is? Have you wondered if He is truly FOR you? If you are good enough for Him to love you, bless you and give you good things? Or do you feel passed over? Overlooked? Unremembered?

Maybe it's that you're lonely and need friends.
Maybe it's chronic sickness in the family.
Maybe it's an extra needy child.
Maybe it's your marriage.
Maybe it's a big move you're not ready for.
Maybe it's that breastfeeding isn't going how you'd hope.
Maybe it's a job, or the need of one.
Maybe it's a broken friendship.
Maybe it's a pregnancy that hasn't happened yet, or one that has ended in loss.
Maybe it's that you can't lose those last 10 pounds.
Maybe it's a combination of the above and more.
Or maybe it's just a tough day, week, month, year.

Is it affecting your mothering? Your ability to be present with your children? Your daily joy? Your ability to love and be loved?

***

A few months pass and my perspective shifts. It's not perfect, it's not finished; I am always a work in progress. Nothing has really changed in terms of my dreams and which ones he has chosen to make or not make a reality. But I know more now. I know the fault is mine for coming to God and asking for only what he can give me, believing deep down it was what He owed me.

A few months ago, all I cared about were my needs, desires, hopes and dreams. I was disappointed with God and questioning his goodness. I didn't believe that he was for me, because I didn't remember that he chose me. I wasn't trusting him to love and be good to me, because I was only looking at what I loved and my own goodness. I had been collecting my righteousness like pennies in a wishing well, just waiting for God to make one of them true - when that's not the way it works.

The thing is mommas, we're supposed to be both the persistent widow knocking on the door at midnight while also trusting Him to care for us like the sparrow in the field. There are seasons to ask, and there are seasons to receive.  But it's not about what we ask for and what we don't. It's about what we're looking at, what we care about, what we're concerned for, what our heart says.

I was missing the point, ignoring the cross. I had forgotten the manna in the jar that never spoiled and only looked to the ones I hoarded overnight that turned to worms. I was so caught up in wanting to feel proof of his love that I had lost the wonder in the fact that He loves me at all and chose me first. As mothers, we spend our days pouring out, giving, giving, giving. Yet it's amazing how selfish we still are at the core. I was spending my days grumbling about my goodness instead of being grateful for His. I was disappointed in his decisions instead of delighting in the only decision that mattered, the decision I never deserved - the cross.

I've been wobbling these past few months, teetering between truth and lies. But today my heart is humbled by the cross. Remembering and believing truth.

Mommas, when our vision is corrected, when our blind becomes sight, we will know. He lavishes grace upon grace on us daily. He is our deepest joy. Our greatest victory. He is for us and never against us. We have not been forgotten or overlooked - we are remembered and looked upon. The thing is, we just need to take the time to learn to draw our eyes off ourselves and onto him. To stop searching the floors for crumbs of our own righteousness and instead raise our sight to the table with the feast of Righteousness Glorified.

This is all you need to know for today. You don't need to know the plans for tomorrow or the why of yesterday. All you need to know is that it is not about you, it is about Him. That His ways are not your ways, and it is good that way.

He is good in that way.

He is the blessing, he is the gift. He sings over you. He delights in you. He treasures you. He rejoices in you. He loves you in more ways than you will ever see. Once we stop concerning ourselves with feeling loved and instead focus on being consumed with loving Him and giving him our lives - only then will we see and feel the greatness of the love and blessing he has already given.

Open your ears and hear the sweet sound of amazing grace, step down and feel the solid rock on which you stand, look up and survey the wondrous cross. Take back your days as a mother. Be present with your children because you can trust that everything is being taken care of. Believe you have worth and value and that You. Are. Loved.

Although not everything is what you want, everything is as it should be. Stop fighting and let him be first in your heart. Believe what you know and know what you believe - because it changes everything. 

He is full of goodness. He is a good God. He is good to us. He is good to you, momma.

Let's Learn To Play Again

"Com'on momma, righ' now. Hold hands. Over here, look outside - SQUIRRRRRREL!"

I hear something to this affect at least five times a day from my toddler. He loves having me walk with him to various windows around the house looking for squirrels and pointing out imaginary rhinos, doggies, giraffes and penguins. While it's adorable the first time each day, by the eighth time, I'm growing tired of stopping what I'm doing to look at a lame view out a window and struggling to muster up feigned excitement over annoying animals that like to eat our trash.

I think one of the more challenging things for me as a mom is that I struggle to be motivated to engage in authentic play with my children. I'm Type-A by nature and it seems every time I get down on the floor to play diggers with my son in his room, all I can see is the closet that needs reorganized, the crib that needs dusted (Like seriously, have you looked at all the stuff that collects between the slats?) and the nail holes in the wall that need refilled and painted. I'll half-heartedly drive the bulldozer around, jumping into action when the toddler commands, but secretly picking lint off the blanket when he's not looking - I'm so bored to tears.

It's not that I don't value play or think it's not important. I know it is incredibly valuable to for children in developing imagination, social skills, empathy, problem solving and more. And my personality actually does lend itself to organizing and creating fun things. For better or worse, I am the mom that actually attempts all (well, some of) the kid activities I pin on Pinterest - and I love researching and finding fun and stimulating activities for my kids outside the house so they can experience and participate in new things.

It's just that I'm not all that great at being a participant. For some reason, every time I agree to drive a train on the track with my son, my eyes start to twitch and my brain wanders over to my to-do list within 10 minutes. And over these past few months, with so much many plates spinning in the air, I've found myself brushing Eli off for the big, important Mommy Jobs, and not being as intentional with Colette as I should be - and now that things are slowing down, I'm struggling to find the motivation to truly be present while we play.

But the thing is, I don't want to be the mom of just a quick glance, a short distraction, the I Have Better Things To Do. My children and their interests are The BEST Things I Can Do. I want to be a mom that is present and involved. A mom that gives her children the gift of her time and energy. A mom that plays. A mom that enters their world and helps to make it bigger, better - even though my natural inclination is to inspect their world, offer a few tips and leave it to them to execute my suggestions.

So as hard as it is for me, I'm recommitting to playing with my children. To letting Eli ride me like a horsey far longer than my lazybones want to be. To spending intentional time tickling and overly pageant-smiling at Colette, all in hopes in getting one back from her. To eating 16 slices of fake apples and helping Rex the "di-no-noar" eat 16 more; as Eli instructs and Colette's bobble-head watches in fascination.

I want to be present with my children. Not just creating and facilitating play, but entering into their world and engaging with their imagination. It's not that I feel I need to become a Play! All! The! Time! kinda mom, I'm still a HUGE fan of independent play, but I'm working on finding a balance and beginning to look at playing with my kids as an effective use of my time - an investment - rather than an inconvenience. I don't know about you, but when I see something as having a purpose, a longer term goal, I'm much more apt to make it a priority in my day.

My babies won't be this little for long and I know eventually I'll be begging them to talk to me, spend time with me, and let me know more about their world. They won't remember the days when I was their world - when they were the ones begging me to race their cars around or act like an elephant. But I do hope they'll remember I was there. That I was present. That I was fun.

And, that I played with them.

How about you? Is it hard for you to be an active participant in playing with your children? Or does it come easily to you? Any tips or tricks?