“in between”

Last weekend I was struck by how big my kids are.  Even though I call them my littles, they aren’t so little anymore.

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Looking at this shot, I realized that – there is no pause button on this crazy train of life.  No matter how hard I try I cannot slow it down.  These kids keep growing and we are basically holding our breath trying to hang on through each new stage.  The diapers and the diaper bags have left the house, the crib has been disassembled, and finally we have freedom from the sippy cups that loved to hide under the van seats.

Life has taken a new turn, around the corner from 3 and under, and headed down the street towards “mom all my friends have iPod touches”. We are in the “in between” stage, where my kids are not quite preteens – and the scariness that comes with middle school is a only couple short years away.

Babies and toddlers are so darn hard and so deeply exhausting at times.  Most of the time it feels like the mothering never stops.  Never.  Ever.  The nights are long with the rocking and soothing.  The days are sometimes longer with 5 page books on repeat, wiping of the runny-nose-faucet, changing of the diapers  and round the clock snack service.  Its amazing the strength we have as mothers to accomplish all of these things not only daily but on “freaky friday” repeat day in and day out.  Thank goodness they are so cute!!

Whether or not I want to embrace it, I am on the other side now.  The side where you wonder how many more times your “not so baby boy” will embrace you with a hug and a occasional kiss on the blacktop before school.  The side where you have to explain to your kids that you don’t know why people are mean and why some don’t include you.  The side where your mothering gets tested in such an intense emotional way that you would give anything to go back to the physically intense part of mothering where your 14 month old having a stuffy nose was the worst part of your week.

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When I hold my 3 month old niece, it is as if my uterus is contracting, trying to tell me– I need and want to go back.  But I am slowly realizing it’s ok to not go back.  We put the hours in and thank the Lord- he has filled my mind with a magic filter that allows me to look back and see that it was all worth it – and it was all good.

The long nights that taught me I was the mother they needed.  The longer days showed me how important my job was.  And the bouts of toddler tantrums reminded me I did have enough patience.

Life is funny how you can’t always see the goodness shine through until you take a couple steps back and wait for the fog to lift.  The welcome sign is lit for the next stage of life, and I will walk forward, contracting uterus and all.

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lessons from my oldest

My oldest is turning 8 today.

He is the most genuine little guy, with a hidden spit fire waiting to shoot out at any second.  He made me a mom, and I am forever grateful.  Here are a few things that I have learned over the past 8 years.

Nobody is going to be perfect all the time.

Lets really let that one sink in.  No matter how hard I may want my kids to act perfect and behave perfectly-they won’t.  It won’t ever be perfect…and it doesn’t have to be.  My boy is not the quiet one, he constantly talks over people, and he literally cannot understand why a child has to do what their parent says, ever… about anything.  We attempted for many years to make him into the cookie cutter kid.  By trial and error and more error, we realized he just cannot fit in that mold.  When I stopped expecting him to be perfect, and stopped desiring that, I realized how silly it is that I would even want him to be anyone besides who God created him to be.  He is the fun loving, full of energy,super passionate, super intense, determined little boy.

God cares more about our hearts than our actions.

The grade you get from parenting comes less from how they act and more from where there heart lies.  That one sentence took me years to really understand and believe.  Those moments where you are told your little boy is the biter in the church nursery, or that he corrected the teacher because she wrote the wrong thing on the board, or even that in preschool he refused to apologize to another child so he sat missing play time for a whole hour. <—-mortifying!!!  In each of those moments, I was so overwhelmed with grief and worry about why he did those things, and what would that mean, and how would that play out the rest of his life.  Would he still be a biter when he was 8, luckily NO!  Looking back I wish I spent more time talking with him about his heart and how he felt and less about what punishment he deserved for his actions.

Love and grace are the best gifts I can show anyone.

Just remembering what the bigger picture is, helps me be a better mom.  Remembering that all I really need to do is show him love and grace everyday.  Covering each argument in love and grace, confronting every wrong choice in love and grace, and practicing love and grace.  I am reminded that I am the biggest teacher in his life, and he is learning (and copying!!) the most from me.  I need to remember that daily and continually ask myself if I making sure he knows that I will love him and cover him with grace more than anyone in this world?

Stop worrying about what people think.

When your kid is the one asking people if they are pregnant (and they are men) or pointing to the man in burger king with the bandana on, asking if he is a pirate, you have to laugh and just enjoy the moment and not worry about what Blackbeard thinks.  No matter what our kids say or do, we have to remember they are just kids.  They are just learning and experiencing life, just as we did.  I never want them to feel like other people’s opinions of them mattered more than what I know to be true about their hearts.

What we think are our weaknesses God can use for something bigger.

I have learned that the biggest thing my oldest and I struggle with is his strong will and relentless power struggle.  People who have witnessed his intense battles over the most trivial things may be quick to think that we give in more than we should, or he isn’t disciplined enough to have that submissive spirit.  But I am realizing now that these qualities he has that I see as a hardship will definitely be the thing that God uses the most.  My job is so much easier when I identify his weakness as also his gift.  He is gifted, just as we all are, for something bigger than he or I know yet.

Although I am his teacher…

he teaches me as well,

even as an 8 year old.