This is So Much Harder Than College

…being a wife and mother, that is. Let me be clear that the depth of beauty of motherhood and marriage is unrivaled by any other experience I’ve had in life. But it is so much harder, too.

My mind has never been more stretched. My intellect is being constantly challenged in every facet of a wife and mother’s concerns: health and nutrition, finances, organization, home efficiency, cooking, cleaning, scheduling, planning…oh, yes, and the children! Three kids to feed, dress, bathe, play with, laugh with, discipline, train, teach. Nothing could be more rewarding and it is absolutely where I want to be in life, but it is plain exhausting.

When I first became a mother, I remember feeling like I was getting “dumber.” Playing with one little baby all day and having hours of free time (nap time) that were mostly spent alone made me feel like I wasn’t being challenged. Sure, the early months of sleepless nights and terrible pain of nursing my little girl were hard, but not mentally stimulating. Goo goo-gaa gaa and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star can numb the mind a bit.

It’s three years later and I’m changing my tune.  I have never been more intellectually challenged (not to mention physically, emotionally, or spiritually) in my life. The topics that are bouncing around in my brain on any (every) given day are endless. Homeschooling plans, GAPS diet research (recipes, fermenting, food prep techniques), finding new sources for all the new kinds of food we’re eating, figuring out how to budget for it all, weaning Reilly off her pacifier, potty training, cloth diapering (bought them and have used them but not as much as I’d like), nap/night potty training Halle, laundry!, implementing chore time with the girls, scheduling appointments, softball lessons, church involvement, garden planning, starting solids for Karis, reading too many books at once, pondering/praying about a million things related to mothering these three girls, staying *calm* when dealing disobedient or whiny children, showing grace to them, being intentional about loving my husband, how to get back in shape, my aching back, hips, and feet, beginning stages of researching/planning for possibly building a house in the future, visiting family, planning get togethers with friends…..

Bless you if you read all the way through that list. That list was mostly for me. I’m thinking if I write it down, it will settle my mind a bit. have no doubt that I can thrive in this season of life and that the Lord is always working in me and will be faithful to complete the work He has begun. But I can still say it’s hard, right?

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The UN-crafty Mom

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My idea of craft time = free play with glitter glue. Yikes!

A mom like me can start to feel pretty inadequate if she spends much time at all browsing homeschool mom blogs. Crafty moms are flooding Pinterest with their latest creations for little ones’ birthday parties and posting tutorials on how to make butterflies and rainbows out of toilet paper rolls, pipe cleaners, and glitter. Lovely as they are, I am learning to be okay with the reality that I am not that mom. My kids’ birthday parties are decorated with Dollar Tree streamers and pink plates with a few balloons scattered around. And the one Christmas ‘craft’ I did with the girls was decorating sugar cookies.

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I have a degree in Elementary Education. Fortunately my first job was teaching fifth grade so I didn’t feel too much pressure to be overly crafty, but I definitely had the lamest bulletin boards around. Some teachers get all giddy when it’s time to design and decorate their classroom. Me, not so much. I strongly disliked that part of teaching. Even as a student in school I was much happier to do a worksheet, read a book, write a paper, or work on a group project than if I had to cut and paste anything. Blech.

Fast forward to my life as a mother now. I have three little girls. Perfect little subjects for oodles of crafts, right? So, we’ve got the play-doh, stickers, felt, beads, glitter, construction paper, pipe cleaners, and paints. Heck, I even have a glue gun. Our daily routine rarely involves the use of any of the aforementioned supplies. Once in a while I get a burst of inspiration and we might attempt a craft of sorts, but it’s not the norm. And that’s okay.

Sometimes when I start to compare myself to the crafty moms I see all over the blogosphere, the Lord will remind me that he made me unique. I should not hold myself up to another mom for comparison. Inspiration, perhaps, but not as a measuring stick. I may not be artsy, but I love to get my hands dirty in the garden. I enjoy cooking. I love to read and learn and ask questions and solve problems and talk about life and politics and science and God and history and food and sports. Now, whenever I start to worry that my girls are missing out on something by not having craft time every day, I just look at all the things I CAN  teach them. And I have a feeling that if I am teaching out of a passion inside me then they will learn far more than if I am trying to be someone I’m not.

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My oldest two girls have both learned the alphabet by 18 months and all the letter sounds well before age two, so do I really need to do a letter of the week activity every day with noodles or shaving cream in a ziploc bag? My oldest started reading short words at 3.5 years old and can write many words completely on her own. Clearly God has enabled her to learn even *despite* my lack of craftiness. When he made me the mother of our girls, he knew what he was doing. My strengths are what they are for a reason, and the same is true for my weaknesses.

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If you are a crafty mom, bless your heart. 🙂 Your children will benefit from that. After all, God made you the mother of the child(ren) you have for a reason! Your talents, quirks, temperaments, and passions are all a part of the beauty of God’s plan for your family. But if you are like me, a bit deficient in the craft department, don’t look at someone else’s gifts with envy and fail to see the *gifts* that lie within you and can be used to bless others, especially your children! After all, parents have been their children’s main educators for thousands of years – and they did it without Pinterest, blogs, JoAnn Fabrics, or Hobby Lobby. You can too.
-Brit

Laughing with My Girls

Sometimes I really need some ‘silly’ knocked into me. I like to think I have a good sense of humor, but truth be told, most people who know me would classify me as a typically “serious” person. Serious can be good – after all, this being a wife and mommy thing is serious business. But silly can be good too. Seriously good.

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 Tonight I got down on the floor and acted silly with Halle for the first time in too long. I laughed so hard!

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As I watched her squeal and giggle in classic 3 year-old girl fashion, I felt sorry for all the times I’ve missed this same opportunity. Too many times I’ve said “no” to laughing with my girls because I had something more less important to do.

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Lately, we’ve noticed Halle being in a very disagreeable mood more frequently. I think I found out the root cause of that tonight. She needs to see more joy in her mama.

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Oh, I absolutely do feel joy inside – every day, but regrettably I’m not communicating that to my girls in a language they can understand. My little girls don’t need to hear me talk more about being thankful and full of joy, they need to see me laugh. That is the language of joy to a 3 year old.

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  Monkey see, monkey do, right? Okay, or in human terms, more is caught than taught.

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I’m praying for the Lord to remind me every day, all day that these girls need a joyful mama and home filled with laughter. This is not a burden, but a lovely gift. What better job could I ask for?

What things do you do with your kids that gets everyone belly-laughing? Aren’t these the memories we want to be making?

-Brit