Being A Mom

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Three Opinions on Play dates

Wednesday I (Kathleen) wrote a post about play-dates for moms. If you missed it, you can catch up here.

Congratulations to Hollie Hart, winner of  a copy of Positive Adoption A Memoir and a ten dollar Starbucks gift card in our facebook contest.

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What do you think an encouraging play-date for Moms looks like?

Audrey:An encouraging play date for moms looks like a chance to talk and drink coffee and go on a walk. I love when I can chat and soak up some sunshine at the same time, especially since I tend to be bad about getting outside on my own. I like the occasional late night excursion, but since evenings are when my husband and I can hang out, it’s more stressful than encouraging if my weeks fill up with lots of nights out while he watches kids. I prefer play dates with one or two moms where we can talk while we let our kids play.

Kathleen: An encouraging play-date for me looks like a coffee date, lunch or sitting out on the deck with a friend/friends and being honest. I don’t do well with small talk. I am drained by it. I would rather talk with someone who is authentic and willing to empathize with me while I do the same for her. Complaining sucks the life out of play-dates. I think there is a definite divide between the state of sharing for caring and sharing to complain. I love to hear other mom’s stories and share my own. And I am sometimes prone to stop and pray.

Amerey: An encouraging play-date for Moms, is a play date that reassures Mothers that they are doing they best they can. A play date at another Moms house that shows that her house isn’t perfectly clean, or that her kids are not perfectly behaved. Also, a time were Moms can talk and be honest with each other about what they are experiencing in they’re mothering. Sometimes it is great to make something shiny, or bake something yummy just to lift your spirits.

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What do you think is the most encouraging thing a Mom friend could say to you?

Audrey:Because I personally struggle with empathy, an encouraging friend for me is one who is empathetic. When I tell her I’m having a hard day, what I need from a mom friend is not just “you’re doing a great job!” but for the gentle reminder about what my kids are probably feeling, too. It makes me look outside myself and what I’m feeling and focus on those around me instead, and that’s so much more encouraging and beneficial in the long-term than a pity party. I know the opposite is true for some moms– they need less empathy and a dose of tough love for their kids, with the reminder that it’s okay to take care of themselves. I think it depends on the person, and for me, finding an emotional opposite of sorts helps me be around people who encourage me.

It’s also important for me to be around people who share priorities with me. It doesn’t mean I can only be friends with those people, but when I’m weak and in need of encouragement or help, I trust advice and comfort more when it comes from people who share the same long-term goals and similar short-term ones.

Kathleen: I think the most encouraging thing another Mom can say to be is “Keep going. Don’t quit. You’re doing a great job!.” I have struggled for years to find my place in the body of Christ and serve with the gifts and talents that God has given me instead of being a people pleaser and latching onto whatever ministry happens to be floating by (which drains me). So, an encouraging friend is not upset if I am not following her God-sized dream and supports me while I follow mine. And she tells me so.

Amerey: The most encouraging thing a Mom friend could say to me is, “I do that too!”

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What do you think a discouraging play-date looks like?

Audrey:I’m most drained by play dates that focus on complaining. It especially makes me uncomfortable and discouraged when I’m around moms that disparage other moms or their own husbands. I don’t like being around people who encourage me to indulge in being selfish, and it can be exhausting if our priorities in life are totally different and I’m using emotional energy to keep up or not come off as judgmental just because I’m doing something in a different way. I’m not talking about small parenting decisions, mind you, but life priorities.

Second up, and I’m guilty of this too, I feel left discouraged and discontent when conversation revolves around having or obtaining the “right” material things. I’ve been noticing this more and more in myself recently and I don’t like it.

Kathleen: A discouraging play date is one that I don’t feel right at. I feel wrong. I feel as if my clothes are wrong, my calling is wrong, It’s the kind of play date when no one else in the room is like-minded and they let you know your way of thinking doesn’t match their’s and you should join them. These are the events that sent me running for the door.

I also agree with Audrey, I am not comfortable on play dates that become “bash your family” dates. I cannot stand the dates that make you feel as if you need to go to the mall and buy more, more, more because i don’t have the right material things. Play dates should be about relationships, not material things. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great creative crafting play date! These crafting dates are therapeutic if they are within my budget.

Amerey: A discouraging play date looks like a day were you are trying to encourage a mom or be encouraged and the other mother is being a negative Nancy no matter what is said or done.

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Who has been a great play-date friend and how did she accomplish it?

Audrey: I have a friend that’s up for play dates with the kids or play dates after bedtime and the flexibility is awesome. She’s willing to listen to me without always offering solutions, sometimes she just says, “That sounds so hard.” And that’s enough. But she also empathizes with my kids and notices things I might not and isn’t afraid to suggest things that are good even if they aren’t easy.   Number one: she asks how I’m doing and doesn’t freak out or shut down if I give an honest answer.
Kathleen: I have many great play date friends. They are the kind of friends I am not able to see for weeks or months, but when we get together, we just pick up where we left off. We share our lives. We pray for one another. We are honest with each other and tell the hard truths as well as the easy ones. We celebrate together. We cry together. We grieve together. A friend accomplishes this by being honest and self-sacrificing. As an adoptive Mom, I am careful what I share about my children from hard places. I must have a few safe friend so share with who know where I am coming from. Being part of a support group helps meet this need!
Amerey: My sister Audrey has been a great play date friend because she is helpful and honest with my struggles, she is always open with me about hers, and she has always been awesome in encouraging me that, “that’s normal!”
Please share your answers to these questions in the comments, you never know who you will minister to. Especially when you say  “me too”!

I’m a Messy Mom

I (Amerey) am a messy mom. I’m sure most of you moms out there feel like this, I’m sure that you look around your house at least twenty times a day and say to yourself, “My house is so messy!!” Well, let me take a moment to explain to you why I look around my messy house and smile with relief.

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As a self-proclaimed messy mom, I don’t mind the toys strewn all over my floor, or the dust on the mantel piece, or the dust bunnies under the couch. And while I will admit that this would drive many moms crazy, I have worked hard in recent months to not worry about it. It seemed an impossible task to set aside the cleanness of my house. I grew up with a chore chart, my bed had to be made every morning, my mother never left for a trip without making sure we had a clean house to come home to. And while these were all GREAT life skills, ones that I will impart to my own children, I noticed that I was obsessing a little over everything in my house being straightened and put away, cleaned and swept, dusted and wiped down. My husband was the one that pointed it out to me. Evening after evening when he would come home from work I would apologize to him for the messiness of the house and he would always tell me it was perfectly fine (I have a great husband). I decided I needed to re-examine my motives for living day by day. Was my goal each day to have a clean house? What would I rather be doing with my time? What could I be spending my energy on instead? And of course, because I have a toddler, while all these thoughts were running through my head a small, high-pitched voice was calling to me outside of my head, “Mama, mama, mama…..MAMA! Mama DEEEEEESSSS.” (That’s how my 18-month-old pronounces “this.”)

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DES, or this, little girl is who made my impossible task oh so very possible. What is more important to an 18-month-old than playing with mama? NOTHING. I agree with you. You’re thinking of all the things you want your children to learn, all the tasks you want to become normal to them, and yet at this age how do they learn all those things? Through play. I am now a messy mom because I play with my little girl. Instead of just making the beds, Cecilia and I have fun throwing all the blankets and pillows on the floor and jumping on them, sometimes the bed gets made right after we’re done, sometimes it gets made later and the pillows and blankets sit on the floor for a couple hours. Instead of just unloading the dishwasher and trying to keep my daughter distracted, we now play the “thank you” game. Cecilia hands me piece after piece of silverware and she says, “daDA” every time. She takes bowls out and puts them away in the wrong place, she puts the tupperware things on her head, and we laugh and laugh and laugh. We make blankets into swings instead of folding them up, we sit down and pull all the books of the shelves and read every single one instead of putting them away, we take all the clothes out of the laundry basket and go for rides inside the basket. Everything is entertaining to her, everything is entertaining to me now. Sometimes all the tasks we “need” to get done that day get done, sometimes we only finish half of the ones that we start. Sometimes after we eat snack outside we see too many things down in the grass to do instead of taking our dishes in right away.

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Wearing Daddy’s underwear

I love being a messy mom. It has made my life so much easier and so much more enjoyable. And of course I want Cecilia to learn all of the things that I learned as a younger girl, but I also want her to grow up and have fun with her children and make all the same memories I am making with her. She is the reason I am a messy momma, she is my motivation to not clean everything all the time. I will play with her forever.

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After a morning of reading

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I want you to love your seasons

by Amerey Campbell (read more about Amerey here.)

While I was rocking my child back to sleep tonight, after she had woken herself back up, AFTER  fighting sleep for an HOUR (come on GIRL!). I thought back to a young girl sitting in a white basement college classroom quietly, dreamily,  planning her upcoming wedding while everyone else diligently took notes from the professor. That girl (me) could not get through the next couple weeks fast enough, and yet her wedding day has come and gone. WAIT (back to the mother rocking in the dark room) my wedding day has come and gone, as have three anniversaries, the birth of my first child, and my child’s first birthday!

WHERE HAS TIME GONE?!?

Sure, we all ask ourselves this question at least once a week, but for a moment, stop and really think about it.

Our lives are whizzing by faster than we EVER imagined. AND YET, we cannot wait to get through seasons of our lives. We are so so incredibly anxious for “this time” to be over.

Like me, my daughter has always been a poor sleeper, from the day that she was born, there was, and are, way to many things going on in her life for sleep to be a priority. I remember those sleepless nights oh so well (because it was YESTERDAY!) Holding my sleepless newborn, willing my eyes to stay open, telling myself, “This is just a stage, she will grow out of it soon.” And then again with my six month old, “I thought you were suppose to be sleeping a little better by now?!” Sitting around a table with a handful of other mothers telling one, “ don’t worry if your four month old isn’t sleeping for five hours yet, my one year old still wakes up 5 to 6 times a night.” And then tonight as I held my 17 month old close against my chest bouncing and humming for the second time, I thought about my wedding, her birth, her birthday, her younger sibling growing within my womb, and I wondered, why do I want this sleepless season to be over? why do I long for the day when she will no longer need my body agains hers to go to sleep? Why? Because of how little sleep I get? Who cares?! I want a million babies and they will all come with no sleep. This is a beautiful season in my daughter’s life, she is small and vulnerable, she is mine to hold and comfort, and bring rest to. Shame on me for wishing away this “mama” season in my daughters life. Shame.

We start as children, wishing to be like older brothers, friends, cousins. I wished my childhood seasons away, always wanting the next. I can see it in my daughter already, as she looks on envious of what the older kids on the playground can do. She just wants that season now, and then the next, now.

No, little girl! I want you to love your seasons! Each and every one of them. I want you to thrive in them! To rejoice and be glad in them!

O Lord please help me enjoy every one of my children’s seasons, keep me from rushing them on to the next for convenience sake. But most of all Lord help me teach my children to be thankful and love their current seasons. I never want them to feel like I’m rushing them through life, or that they have to rush through life. Help us love our seasons.

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.