Category Archives: Parenting

Flashback Friday: The Wisest Words I Received as a New Mom (and as a human in general)

I wrote this post a year ago about something I learned when I was a new mom – and it’s as freeing to me today as it was then. Buckle up, friends. It might be hard to hear – but I think you’ll be glad you did.

Originally published March 17, 2014.

I received the wisest advice as a new mom - & it's as freeing for me today as it was then. Buckle up. It might be hard to hear - but you'll be glad you did.Confession time.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, ladies. I’ve said, “My kids are SO HARD right now,” more times than I can count. I walk around at a constant 8 or 9 on the “had it up to here” scale. (So, I boil past 10 over nearly EVERYTHING.) My breathing is a fancy blend of dramatic sighs, huffs & puffs.

I’m tired of the fussing, the complaining, the arguing, the why Mom? Can I Mommy? Mom I need, Mom I want, MommywhyMomcanIpleaseprettypleasebutwhynotMomMommyMomMomMommyyyyyyAHHHHHHH.

I’m weary. I’m angry. I’m over it.

Are my kids really being that much more irritating? Or am I just that much more irritable? I don’t know the answer. Maybe both. But something has to change.

Now this just popped into my head:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)

There’s that blessed verse again. And by “blessed,” I mean I really want to cuss, but that feels especially inappropriate in reference to the Bible. But seriously, didn’t I ask for a re-do on that the first time around? Now here it’s popping back in for an encore.

I know God is showing me something. But I don’t really like it. Here’s the thing: Sometimes I say my KIDS are so hard when in reality, I AM THE ONE STRUGGLING.

What’s the difference? And does it really matter?

In one scenario, the unrest in our home is all my kids’ doing – not mine – which may sound like a relief. But in reality, it sucks, because what can I do except grieve the fact that I have really difficult children and a perpetually stressful home?

When we brought our firstborn home, I had a really hard time. This newborn gig was WAY harder than I expected, so my first conclusion was that my baby was a Really Hard Baby.

By the time Owen was 5 weeks old, I was in a pretty desperate state. A dear friend stepped into my misery and spoke some unexpected words:

“Amanda,” she said. “Owen is not easy. No first-born baby is easy for a first-time mom. But he’s not BAD. He’s a BABY. It seems to me that you are struggling.”

Her words weren’t harsh. They were tender and kind.

And true.

I was struggling. AND THAT WAS OKAY. And it was a very important distinction from “My baby is just so hard.”

Sometimes, I wonder if we call our kids hard – or spouse or friend or boss or co-worker – when really the situation or relationship is hard because WE are struggling in some area.

Now, don’t get me wrong – maybe the baby is colicky and the kids have bad attitudes – and that IS hard. I’m not saying my kids are easy right now. But if I can OWN that I’M struggling… that means something important.

Let’s clarify something foundational here: Ownership is not blame. Ownership is empowerment.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

How far does it depend on me?

Well, not at all if I’m utterly convinced my children are the entire problem, and my children’s attitudes are the only issue.

The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. (Acts 27:15)

Have I given way? Am I driven along by the attitudes of my children, or the temperament of my baby? I needn’t be. I have an Anchor. Can I own that? What does it look like to do that?

I am so freed up right now to admit that for the past week I’ve basically said, “MY KIDS SUCK” – and the truth is, my kids may be having an off-week, but I. AM. STRUGGLING. And once I can say, “I am struggling,” it’s a blessedly short hop to “I need help.”

Back when Owen was a newborn, that dear friend gave me permission to be the one struggling. And this gave me room to recognize (with help from friends and my husband) that I actually had severe postpartum depression. This should not have been a surprise to me – I’d already been diagnosed with & treated for clinical depression years earlier – I knew I was at greater risk of PPD. But I was so focused on my baby being hard — and so afraid of the problem being me — that I couldn’t go there. There was fear. There was shame.

But remember what we agreed on? Ownership is NOT BLAME. Ownership is EMPOWERMENT.

Ownership meant I could tell my baby I was sorry for saying horrible things about him. Ownership meant I could – and needed to – speak up to my husband about what I needed, (namely, the need to figure out what I needed). For me, it also meant a visit to my doctor and a prescription for anti-depressants.

This week, ownership means I need to keep getting my face in the Word of God. I need to run. And I need to ask for help.

Lord, please help us live at peace with our kids and in our homes. Show us what depends on us. And show us there’s no shame in being the one struggling. Lift our heads, Jesus.

Are you being driven along in some area of your life? Without shame, without blame, what might you need to own right now?

Did you know… (One thing your child needs to hear today.)

I switched up our routine last night & ended up saying the one thing my son needed to hear. Truth be told, it was the one thing I needed to hear too. Could you use some encouragement in parenting and in life? Don’t miss this quick read.I have this thing I do every so often as I tuck in each kid at night – and Owen’s reaction has become the funniest. I snuggle him close and say (with great dramatic flair, as if I’ve never said this to him before), “Did you know… if God had lined up allllllllll the baby boys in the whole wide world, and He let me pick anyyyyyyyyy  baby boy to be MY baby boy… do you know who I’d pick?”

He used to grin and excitedly say, “Me!” And I’d squeeze him tight and say, “You! Yes, you. Every time, you.”

Now he’s Too Cool For That, and he cuts me off at “if God lined up…,” rolls his eyes, and says, “I know, I know. You’d pick me.”

The little punk still grins as I finish the story and squeeze the snot out of him anyway.

But last night I felt prompted to change it up a bit. This time, when he interrupted with the eye roll and the grin, I said, “Wait, no. This is a different one. This time, I mean if God came to me right now and lined up alllllllll the boys in the whole wide world and He said, ‘You’ve had your boy for almost seven years. If you’d like to, you can have a do-over.’   – and He let me choose any boy. Do you know what I’d do?”

Owen just looked at me. We’d had a hard day, he and I. I don’t know if he was sure what I’d do, to be honest.

I looked him in the eyes and said, “I would say, ‘No, thank you. I still choose Owen.’ And then God would say, ‘I thought so.'”

Owen grinned extra wide and let me hug him extra tight.

Do you ever wonder if God wishes He could have a do-over with you? Like, sure, Jesus died on the cross for me – but only because He didn’t actually know me yet. He didn’t know what I’d be like. That I’d be in my mid-thirties, still not quite able to get my sh*t together. How many times I’d fail. And fail the same way again. And then find all new ways to fail.

Well let me tell you something. Did you know…

He did know you. He knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb, and He knew you before the earth was created. He didn’t die for you because He didn’t know you well enough to know any better. He died for you because He DID know you and He decided you were WORTH IT.

You are worth it.

Even in His knowing, you are worth it.

Mom Fail: The time I lied to my kid’s teacher’s face.

Need a self-esteem boost? Allow me to help. I have lots of mom fails. But this time? I lied to my kid’s teacher. And you won’t believe why. (I still can’t.)

Looking for some mom humor? How about a self-esteem boost? Always here to help you feel better about your parenting skillz with a dose of funny and a dollop of fail. This time? YOU GUYS. I lied to my kid's teacher. And you won't believe why. (I still can't.)

Every other week or so, I go to Owen’s school to volunteer. Covering lunch duty is one way I help, and my first time ended in certainly one of my most shameful mom fails ever.

But let me start at the beginning.

Mrs. H. arrives at the lunchroom with the class of first graders, and I don’t take even a moment to ask for instructions. I quickly shoo her away to go enjoy her lunch in well-deserved peace.

And guess what I find out?

I AM AWESOME AT LUNCH DUTY. That’s what.

The entire 25 minutes is basically one part “shh,” one part “face forward please,” and approximately seventy-three parts “yes I will open your ketchup/mayo/gogurt/yogurt/pudding.”

The truly impressive part (besides how Heinz seals up ketchup packets like Fort Knox) is how well this school has trained the kids and their “lunchtime voices.” Every few minutes, quiet instrumental music plays. And when the music plays, the talking STOPS.

It’s magic, I tell you.

But when the music is NOT playing, the kids talk in crazy screeching excitable quiet voices. At one point, I’m wrestling a pudding cup when the rumble of a million little voices becomes a theatrical  chorus, hushed but rising in unison: “Baaaaa sowenyaaaa…!”

Um, cue Twilight Zone. I look up from the damn pudding, in utter confusion. What is happening!?

Oh wait. I notice a familiar instrumental score amid the Impromptu Cafeteria Vocal Choir. It’s the Lion King song.

Of course it is.

I regain my composure just as Owen’s teacher returns to pick up the class. Since I’ve been utterly winging it skillfully improvising for the past 25 minutes, I decide to quickly clarify a couple class policies.

It goes like this (me, with big, reassuring smile): “Hi! The kids did great. Quick question – what’s the bathroom policy during lunch?”

Mrs. H’s face says, “The policy is no.” Her words say (with a knowing grin), “How many asked to go?”

Me: “Um. 6.” (quickly waving it off, no big deal) “But only one at a time, of course.”

BUT THAT IS A LIE. THERE WERE 8.

Maybe 9.

And I have NO IDEA if they went together or one at a time and honestly I don’t even know if they all came back because KETCHUP PACKETS, PEOPLE.

(They did.)

(BUT I LIED.)

(Hi, Mrs. H!)

So, not only am I decidedly NOT awesome at lunch duty, I am also not super awesome at. um. TELLING THE TRUTH.