Have You Ever?

Have you ever gotten tired of the rocking and the soothing and the pacing and hissed, “will you please just shut up and go to sleep?” in your wailing baby’s ear?

Have you ever said, in a most exasperated tone, “what is WRONG with you today?” to your whiny, needy toddler?

Have you ever glared at your still-soundly sleeping husband after you’ve gotten up with the baby for the third time that night and felt a little flicker of rage?

Have you ever let your child watch way too much TV while you stare aimlessly at your phone screen because it’s only 4 p.m., but you are D-O-N-E for the day and can’t muster the energy for one more bloody round of UNO?

Have you ever told your husband you needed to escape, driven your car to the closest park, then sat and cried … and cried … and cried?

Have you ever had to put your baby in her crib, still wailing, and walk away because you felt your control slipping and you needed to regroup?

Have you ever daydreamed what it would be like if you’d never had kids? Then immediately banished the thought, because you longed for, ached for, prayed for these children.

Me too.

That’s all I have to offer – just two words to remind you that you’re not alone in feeling like this. I don’t know if it’s okay to feel this way or if it’s a sign of being a terrible mother. Maybe you and I are the only two people who’ve ever felt it.

But I do know that when these feelings come, I feel horribly guilty and defeated, as though I’ve lost the mothering battle that day. I question my ability to complete this impossible lifelong task – raising children – that God saw fit to bless me with, twice. I feel undeserving of my children and their still-unconditional love for me.

And, if you’re anything like me, the next thought is always, “Am I the only one who feels this way?”

You aren’t. Because, sometimes, I feel it, too.

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Day Five: Attack of the Pinterest

It’s been five days.

Five days of snow, ice and freezing cold temperatures. And not just Tennessee-cold, legit cold. Yesterday’s high was 16. All of this wintry-ness has us stuck inside the house. We started off strong – venturing out to play in the snow, baking cookies, building forts, watching a movie or two. By day three, all limitations on screen time were gone. Nathan watched an entire season of Gummi Bears. I broke out the baby jail (Pack n’ Play) to contain an increasingly-mobile Ellie. I lowered my expectations and prayed for patience.

But by day five, the time had come. My defenses had been weakened; my resources exhausted. We were going to have to craft.

I am not a crafty person. I have no artistic skills to speak of, and I’m much better at making a mess than a masterpiece. Plus, Nathan has an incredibly short art attention span. I find the effort that goes into setting up/cleaning up for art projects is not worth it for the approximately seven minutes he will actual sit and participate in said activity.

But on day five, all bets are off. I couldn’t take any more Dora and I was willing to try just about anything to keep my son occupied, even for a short time. So I Pinterested, because that’s what we non-naturally crafty moms do, and I found a recipe for slime. Clear glue + liquid starch + food coloring.* Sounds simple, we have all the ingredients … let’s roll.

Now, it’s entirely possible this is due to user error, because I AM NOT A CRAFTS PERSON. But we did not make slime. We made glue. Very bonding, very clingy, very colorful glue.

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Seriously, this stuff was awful. It stuck to everything … I mean, just look at Nathan’s hands:

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He just kept saying “it won’t come off mom, it’s all over me mom, help me mom!” with an increasing sense of panic. Problem was, the only way to clean it off was with running water. Paper towels, rags … nothing was conquering the icky goo we’d created. So what did we do? Yep, we dumped two cups of glue down our garbage disposal. Fingers crossed.

So project No. 1 was a bust. But there was still project No. 2. This one required a little advanced prep – using food coloring, we mixed up some colored water in various size Tupperware containers yesterday, then put them outside to freeze last night. Phase one worked beautifully; even I can’t mess up making ice:

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Nathan was super excited about this one. He’d checked on his ice at 30 minute intervals until dark yesterday. When he woke up this morning, it was the first thing he asked about. He was amped. That is, until we brought the ice inside and he looked at these giant frozen hunks, then back at me and asked the obvious question, “Um, mom … how do I play with ice?” I had no good answer for that. I’m not a crafts person, remember?

In no time though, he’d busted out his WonderPets and pretended to save a variety of animals stranded on blocks of ice. He had a blast; this project easily occupied him for 45 minutes. He probably would’ve kept going if he’d had any feeling left in his fingers.

The only downside to this project? Food coloring is highly transferable, and his hands (and clothes) have a bit of a tie-dye effect. But for 45 minutes of focused play on day five of being stuck inside the house? I’ll take it!

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*Update: It has been suggested that using Borax, rather than liquid starch, will result in the proper slime consistency. Godspeed, snowbound mamas.

The Rule of Three

I’ve read some really great blog posts lately, about life lessons to teach my son or my daughter. I find myself nodding along as I read through these lists of 25, 50, 101 things to teach my children. Such great ideas!

But then, I remember the Rule of Three. What’s the Rule of Three? It’s something I learned early in one of my communications classes – the basic idea is that concepts or ideas presented in threes are inherently more interesting, more enjoyable and – most importantly – more memorable. Thomas Jefferson used it (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, anyone?) Steve Jobs used it, too.

I worry about my children grasping what I’m trying so hard to teach, about those lessons sticking with them after they’re grown and gone. There’s so much they’ll need to figure out on their own; I need to choose carefully the foundation I build for them.

Besides, let’s be honest; I have trouble remembering to change from my slippers into real shoes before I take Nathan to preschool. There’s no way I’ll remember 101 lessons to teach. But three? Three I can do.

1. Be Kind. Be kind to everyone, all the time. Not just the ones who are like you or who are easy to be kind to. Not just when you’re having a good day or at Christmastime. All the time.

Master this, little ones. Let kindness dictate your every thought and motivate your every action. This will be important in every stage of your life, but – if I may make a suggestion – try especially hard in middle school. You see, your dear old mom wasn’t one of the cool kids. By high school, this didn’t matter and I had a great group of fabulous friends. But in middle school, it was hard. I didn’t always have someone to sit with at lunch, and I can remember my mom asking me if I wanted to have a friend over to spend the night, but I was too embarrassed to tell her I didn’t have one to invite. But if you, my dear ones, can spread kindness, that’s one less lonely kid in the lunchroom. When you’re not certain of the next step or what to do, remember – err in the direction of kindness.

2. Always Try Your Best. In school, in sports, at work … But especially in your relationships. Please note that I didn’t say be the best. Failure will find you, as surely as it finds all of us. No one succeeds all the time at everything. But that’s no excuse not to try. Study, practice, prepare. Perseverance builds character.

And never, ever give less than your best to those you love. This is harder than it sounds. It’s easy to give the world our best and those closest to us what’s left, knowing they will forgive us and love us anyway. But your relationships will be deeper, stronger, when you invest your best every day.

3. Know How Much You Are Loved. I have loved you since the moment I knew you existed. And when I first held you in my arms, I knew – I’d do anything for you. My love for you is deep, it’s unwavering. It’s unconditional. There is nothing you could say or do – NOTHING – that could make me stop loving you. When life is hard, when bad things happen, remember this – you are loved. Deeply, completely and unconditionally.

But as much as I love you, know that your Heavenly Father loves you infinitely more. Rest in that love, my children. Wrap it around you like a warm blanket. Let the knowledge that you are fully and irrevocably loved give you the boldness and confidence to become all you were meant to be.

So that’s it; those are my three lessons. Kindness. Perseverance. Love. I will work feverishly and tirelessly to weave these words and promises into their hearts. Then it will be time for them to fly, and for me to rest.

But not yet.