Mama, come out from under the bed

This week has been smelly, literally. My husband and I have both had the flu and my son has been teething so much I thought an extra appendage should break through his gums. I washed the white load three times because I just kept forgetting it and leaving it in the washer until it smelled. My dishes were strategically piled in the sink and the rags smelled gross. {I purposefully tried not to smell when I went near the sink.} Gross. But nevertheless, reality.

It is times like these, and any time when stresses are high and energy low, that I often feel my mothering abilities are sub par, at best. I feel wholly inadequate in comparison to the task. I focus on all the things I’m doing that I don’t like and completely dismiss the little, but monumentally important things I do well each day.

Each day I hug my boy,
I kiss him softly,
I whisper “I love you” into his impressionable ears.

Each day I think about how I could make him smile,
How I could make him feel cared for,
How I could make his day.

Each day I get on the ground and am my son’s playmate,
his best bud.

Each day, I strive to fulfill his need to simply be loved.
No questions asked, no prerequisites needed.
My love is free and that is the greatest gift.

I know the things I do, and my love for my family are not unique to me. I see so many others, you, loving fully, acting selflessly, and living kindly all the time. It inspires me to keep going and to be more loving myself.

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put into that action.”

– Mother Teresa

So keep it up, my friend. Keep doing those little things that you feel are nothing. Keep kissing those chubby cheeks and reading the same book 20 times; keep washing the same load 3 times and picking up odds and ends strewn across the floor; keep spraying Febreeze and airing out the house; keep snuggling late into the night and sleeping with a kink in your neck, because it really does matter.

It shows you care.

IMG_20150127_112328647So come out from under the bed, Mama. Show your face, because you’re doing a fabulous job. As mom’s we may not do everything we ever hoped and we may not raise the next Einstein, but we can raise a child who knows how to love, because they’ve been loved–and that is powerful.

“If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.”

– Mother Teresa

Stopping the comparisons: Just more experienced

The other day my boy, Parker, helped me bake in the kitchen for the first time. I’ve tried to get him involved before, but until yesterday he just didn’t understand. Having him help yesterday was fulfilling; one of those mommy moments I have quietly day dreamed about for quite a while. Son helping make cookies, stirring, tasting the dough

As I watched his small, chubby hands latch onto the spoon and start to slowly mix, my mind was flooded with memories of baking with my own mom. I would frequently step up onto a stool, put on my flowery apron, and be her right hand girl.

However just as frequently as I tried to help, I undoubtedly became discouraged. I remember looking at my finished product, then to hers, and back to mine. The disappointment was poignant. Why was Mom always so much better than me? As soon as I expressed my frustration, she would reply without missing a beat:

“I’m not better than you; I’m just more experienced.”

Me as a little girl learning to bake.

Me as a little girl learning to bake.

It made sense; it made me feel better. She had been baking for years and I was just a girl. It was silly for me to believe I could be perfect at something I’d practiced very little at. Her comment gave me hope.

Now as I’m a bigger girl, how often do I look at others, especially moms, and think–“She has it all together; she is so much better at being a mom.” A LOT. I do that a lot. But, is that accurate? Instead, I should think to myself, “She has three kids, she’s changed hundreds more diapers, she’s balanced housework with utter exhaustion way more than me. She may not be better; just more experienced.

Simple as that. No comparisons, no guilt, no discouragement.

In the end, we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. All those people we may be comparing ourselves to each day may just have more experience.

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” – Jon Acuff

How have you learned to stop yourself from comparing yourself to others? What is a saying that has helped you throughout your life?

Small Victories!

Today, I woke up with that deep, raspy cough we all know. It’s the one when you realize you want to be laying on the couch all day long with a bag of cough drops, box of tissues, bottles of liquid, and a good show all within arms length. Then you remember: you’re a mom. And that little sweetheart in the next room over is just waking up, wanting to play, explore the world, and laugh today. And not only that, they want to do it with you.

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I walked into our kitchen and was forcefully reminded that I really needed to get around to doing the dishes in the sink; they were beginning to change the scent of the kitchen in an undesirable way. I surprised myself by turning on Pandora and beginning to do the dishes, then sweep the floor. It was then that I realized,

Hey, I’m doing better than I think. I’m experiencing small victories. I am more capable than I have ever been before.

Sometimes I go on my merry way in life, or not so merry way, and begin to think I haven’t made any progress. I still can’t always keep the house clean, I still say unkind things to my spouse, I still get offended by what people say, I still have a hard time staying close to God. In essence, I believe I’m stagnant; there are no victories. But in reality, I’m experiencing small victories all the time. Sink with big bowl full of soapy dishwater. In the middle it says "Small Victories"I am not that freshman girl I used to be, barely able to take care of myself when I was sick. I’m not the girl who always let the dishes pile up. I am now the girl that got out of bed today and greeted my little boy with a smile. I am the girl who washed the dishes, swept the floor, played with my son, went on a walk, and a number of other things even when I was feeling lousy. So, here’s to the small victories! Here’s to the little wins we experience that are almost imperceptible when we’re running around like busy bees, but become apparent when we stop and re-evaluate how victorious we really are.