Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Great Balancing Act

I have a really good circle of friends these days.  Well, three really good circles of friends.  I have the group I met years ago at MOPS.  The girls with whom I’ve forged honest, authentic relationships.  The girls whose children my children adore.  My BYOG girls...bring your own glue gun because many-a-girls’-night begins and ends with a quick trip to Pinterest.  The girls who have my back on any given day.  I have the “park mommy” group, as I affectionately refer to them.  The girls who like to par-tay (in a very responsible, “I-am-a-mom-afterall” sort of way, of course).  The girls who make me laugh on a daily basis.  The girls who “get” me when I show up at the park with tear-stained cheeks and a bottle of jiggle juice (because it’s the holidays after all and that warrants a midday celebration, right?).  The girls who have my back on any given day.  And I have my lifelong friend group, my sisters.  The girls I don’t speak to nearly as much as my heart yearns for me to, but the ones I can call on a moment’s notice bawling hysterically in need of a non-judgmental ear and I know - NO, I am 100% certain - they would walk through fire to mend my wounded heart.  The girls who have my back on any given day.  Each of my groups is so very, very different on so many levels and yet, I could never choose one over the other, because at the end of the day, they all have my back.

It’s been said that life is a great balancing act.  It’s been said that variety is the spice of life.  It’s been said that most things are moderation.  I think I’ve proven each of these true at some point in my life, but currently, I’m focusing on the balancing act and so I’ve spent a great deal of time mulling over what it means to keep all the various parts of my life in balance and yep, once again, I’m falling miserably short.  So before you go gettin’ all “She seriously needs an intervention” on me, hear me out.  I am not self-loathing on this one.  I’m not being too hard on myself...again!  I simply want to explore what it truly means to find a healthy balance when it comes to all things mommy/wife/friend/Christian (insert any other role you currently fill here).  Sooooooo...

I’ve taken those personality tests that identify your personality type, how you interact in a group situation and the role you fill in your circles.  I am always the hub.  I never aggressively lean one way or the other.  I am a veritable rainbow on the personality test color wheel.  I don’t love to organize, hence, I’m not a “blue.”  I’m not great at the support and encouragement aspect, so apparently green is not my color.  I’m definitely not a red.  I can’t stand leading the charge.  And yellow doesn’t suit me well either, because I am certainly not an eternal optimist, despite my best efforts.  Yep, that’s me, right there in the center, trying to maintain the peace, keep the rhythm flowing smoothly, and ensuring everyone in the group is copacetic.  Apparently I’m adaptable, flexible and coherent, depending on what the situation demands.  I guess I’ve mastered that whole balancing act thing, right, so I’ll end this little diatribe now and chalk this one up to a little boredom and some insomnia, right?  Hardly.  You see, when I’m with the MOPS girls, I know that I can lay it all out there when it comes to my parenting skills (or lack thereof).  When I’m with my park mommies, I know I can share just how deep my love for Zinfandel is and they share my enthusiasm.  When I’m with my lifelong friends, I know I can vent for 2 hours straight and they’ll never tire of my human weaknesses and mommy struggles.  I know that when my sarcasm rears it’s ugly head in some groups it will meet with disdain and in other groups it will meet with laughter.  You see, when it comes to my circles of friends, I have struck a perfect balance.  I take from each of them different things and they each serve different purposes at exactly the right time.  The conversations are never one-sided and there is a consistent give AND take when it comes to our needs and the unique contributions we each add to the group.  But when it comes to my children, I simply do not have a clue who I am supposed to be at any given moment.  I am a bit confused and believe me, I am open to suggestions on this one.  Wait, I suppose there’s a small chance I can figure this one out by the end of this blog, so please refrain from calling me with your words of wisdom just yet.

You see, as mommies, the guidance we are expected to provide and the values we are  expected to impart to our children seem to contrast.  We have been called to a higher purpose, to leave a legacy, and to impart life lessons that are a bit of a dichotomy.  Balance does not seem to fit in.  We are called to be fully present, but not hover (these fun mommies and daddies are called “helicopter parents”).  We are to give our children roots, but wings as well.  We are to set boundaries, but give them freedom to become who they are meant to be.  We are to nurture in them self-confidence and self-awareness, but ensure they are others-centered in their approach to life.  We are to give them a healthy dose of reality of the evil that exists in our world without instilling in them a spirit of fear that prevents them from living a joyful life.  We are to teach them tolerance when it comes to the beliefs of others, but ensure they have an unwavering commitment and ability to stand their ground and firmly defend their own beliefs.  Son of a motherless goat!  Are you kidding me?  If the middle ground escapes ME, how on God’s green Earth am I supposed to teach my littles how to strike a healthy work/life/family/friends/health/happiness balance???  

The Bible has a little bit to say about this (she says with a mischievous, 4-year old smirk, when really she knows the Bible has a TON to say about this).  What does it mean to be “in balance?”  So let me lay the formula out for you like this: contentment = balance.  And if I were to illustrate it for you in this common core world we are currently railing against, there would likely be a scale somewhere in there with a million little happy faces on each side.

What I’ve learned over the course of the last 56 minutes is this.  We’re never truly going to master finding the balance in all areas of our lives.  All we can do is make a conscious decision to be content with our present circumstances, keep our eyes fixed on the author and perfecter of our faith (uh, that would be God), and my hope is that the scales will somehow manage to even out in the long run.  I think Paul was on the right track when he said in Philippians 4:11-13: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  You see, Paul was at some point or another, on both ends of the spectrum trying to find a middle ground and the only firm foundation he ever stumbled across was the truth and purity of God’s word.  And simply put, THAT was enough to steady his uncertain feet, still his restless heart, and ease his anxious mind.

At the end of the day, don’t we all really just want our children to be content?  Maybe balance is a concept far too complex to settle our weary hearts.  Maybe what we really need is rest, the deep, therapeutic rest that comes from contentment, from being okay with our present circumstances, from understanding that in God’s plan, the scales will never be balanced.  Our sacrifices and offerings will never tip the scales in our favor.  The price that was paid for our iniquities, the love that was poured forth to cover our shortcomings, the grace that was extended to secure our eternity cannot be matched.  And one final note on balance.  When it comes to finding contentment in the day-to-day and finding our footing, one thing that needs no balance is the love we have for our babies.  We are to love them unabashedly, fervently, without excuse.  Smother them with love and adoration.  Be amazed by their presence in your life.  They deserve no less.  

Ooooh, and here’s another fun one because I failed math and apparently I’m making up for lost time, plus I’m finally learning how to find special characters in the Pages/Word application on my Macbook...
NOTHING ≥ God’s love

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Spray It Don't Say It

Is it really so wrong to use a water gun to shoot Bubba and the Princess in the face each time they misbehave?  To stand my ground as a mommy and reclaim my rightful place as the head of the household (when hubby’s not around anyway), the keeper of the peace, and the supreme authority over all things pint-sized and mad as hell? I think not and before you go getting all wild and crazy on my Facebook page, let me elaborate.  These days, I feel I have no other recourse.  So first let me provide a bit of background for our current state of affairs.  The PJ is quite collaborative and agreeable these days.  He has officially “turned a corner” as we say in the world of toddlers and tiaras.  But with the Princess, I have officially hit rock bottom.  The lectures are no longer working.  The time outs have run their course.  I have banished each and every “favorite” toy to the top shelf of my closet.  Even the “Here I am, on your level, looking at you eye-to-eye” hugs seem to have lost their healing power.  I can no longer compete with the tantrums that come at 10 minute intervals and last 56 minutes.  My attempts to reason have been met with a mountain of insults, no, a mountain range of insults.  I’m an English major with an extensive vocabulary and no words.  Are they too big for the five S’s?  Can I still swaddle them (without a visit from the cops)?  And let me be clear that I am NOT asking for advice.  As it was with the colic that resolved only when it was damn good and ready to, I.Have.Tried.Everything.  Or maybe not.  And so it is that I am currently mulling over the idea of adding a blinged out holster which will house a very efficient and intimidating water gun to my wardrobe.  I will let you know how I fare when my little experiment is well underway.  

Sometimes when I get so caught up in the daily battles I lose sight of just how significant the war is.  I ought to be wearing fatigues, enlisting in training camps, and stockpiling supplies for the long haul.  Parenting is no easy undertaking.  I’m fighting for the future of my babies, for their health, their minds, and their souls.  You see, for some wild reason my Heavenly Father has appointed me Commander and deemed me capable of giving them breath, life and a voice and teaching them how to use them in a way that not only glorifies Him but touches the lives of each and every soul they encounter along their journey into His arms for all eternity.  The influences that will go before them, walk beside them and try to trip them up are not minor nuisances; they are tools and weapons of an enemy who fancies himself quite powerful and is not far off the mark.  Woe to me if I fail at this challenge!  And so it is that the task of suiting up my little soldiers, outlining for them the game plan, tending to their battle scars and inspiring them to press on until the war is over has fallen to me.  What I do with it is entirely within my means.  I can read books and educate myself on current parenting ideologies.  I can consult Counselors and Behavioral Analysts.  I can renew my subscription to Parenting Magazine.  I can seek the advice of those who have gone before.  I can fall to my knees and pray (which I have definitely not done enough).  I can hide, check out, numb the pain any way possible, beg for a maternity test because clearly these cannot be MY children, and argue for the six thousandth time that they are not too old for the Safe Haven Act and most Firefighters would be thrilled to find them on the front steps of the Firehouse.  But all kidding aside, what I cannot ever do is give up on these little creatures who have put their faith and trust in me as their mommy.  Failure is not an option.  You see, I DID ask for this.  I signed up whole-heartedly to carry their little bodies for nine and a half months and their hearts forever.  I made a choice to have them and I will now make a renewed choice to love them, guide them and lead them to the best of my ability.  

So now that the sappy, heart warming stuff is out of the way, I must address the question, “What DO I do when the bombs are falling and the white flag is so far off in the distance I have a better view of the moon during a lunar eclipse?”  Enter my current parenting work in progress, Operation Spray It Don’t Say It 2013.  I am left with no other alternative than to laugh.  I will find - no, create - humor where there is none to be found.  I will steal moments of laughter at the most inappropriate, inopportune times and I will make no apologies for it.  They have delighted in my downfall time and again and I might just, for once, have a giggle at their expense.  I will give it a go first thing tomorrow morning when I will no doubt be awoken to the Princess’s sweet, sweet, voice as she greets me warmly with numerous requests to “Make my breakfast, stupid Momma!”  in a decibel that puts Motorhead’s lead singer to shame.  And I will let the masses know how it goes in hopes that they too, might glean a moment of laughter in an otherwise abysmal moment of misery.

Thrive people, thrive!  Go the distance (Target, water toys aisle).  Do not be swayed by their Strawberry Shortcake undies, their tiny little button noses and rosy red cheeks.  Pay no attention to their pleas for mercy.  They are meant only to weaken your defenses and level the playing field.  The playing field is not level.  Their physical size is merely a front for the mental Goliath that lives within each of them.  Do not be afraid.  Do not be swayed.  Stay the course.  Ready?  Aim.  Fire!  

Sunday, June 09, 2013

How Truly Sweet

Sing to me when the daylight fades like an old friend reminiscing.
A song that gently stirs in me a truth I've long been missing.

The beauty of your sacrifice that settles in my soul,
The sweetness of your grace that whispers, "In me, you are whole."

The bittersweet reminders of the price of being free.
The lengths that you would go to for the cost of loving me.

The quiet resignation to your presence in each day.
Fills my cup, lifts me up, gives me hope to find my way.

How your mercy falls like Heaven's rain and washes clean my slate.
For the day when face to face we'll meet, my wandering heart can't wait.

Now take this heart in need of mending,
All the wounds that I've been tending,

Take away my selfish pride,
And find me when I run and hide.

Show me all that waits for me,
When I return on bended knee.

And I will seek you in the valleys, exalt you in the heights.
Sing your praise when the sun shines bright, cling to you in the darkest nights.

And on that day when last we meet,
My soul will sing, "How truly sweet,"

To meet my Savior face to face,
And rest in His unfailing grace.