Tuesday, 18 February 2014
The first time I heard about Ash Wednesday I was in high school. A bunch of my Catholic friends came to school with dirt on their foreheads. I was so confused. Someone told me it was for Ash Wednesday (“duh!”) like I should know since I was the good little Christian girl.
I didn’t know. I chalked it up to Catholics “not being real Christians” like I’d thought I’d learned at my church. I also figured it went along with Rosh Hashanah which was that other religious holiday I didn’t understand. (I can’t make this stuff up people)
It wasn’t until after college that I learned Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent (I assumed lint of course being so educated in religious celebrations and all). My current church had an Ash Wednesday service where I learned Lent marks the 40 days before Easter and you’re supposed to fast something during that time like Jesus fasted in the desert.
So I gave up chocolate.
It lasted maybe a week. Maybe. I may have reasoned with myself that only one piece of chocolate a day was acceptable when I normally had chocolate after every meal.
Then I gave up. Because if I’d screwed up one day, why even bother to keep going?
I think I’ve tried fasting a few years since then. I don’t remember it ever “working”.
I’m not sure what was supposed to “work” anyway. Was I supposed to never want chocolate again? Was I trying to earn my spot in heaven? What was following all the rules and taking away something I loved suppose to do?
I’d obviously missed the point.
This year I’ve been learning more about the real meaning behind Lent. And I’m attempting to fast from a few things while making it more about my heart than about following the rules.
I love this quote from Ann Voskamp:
Let the things of this world fall away so the soul can fall in love with God. God only comes to fill the empty places and kenosis is necessary – to empty the soul to know the filling of God.
This year I decided to give up social media on my phone to make more room for God. Because the first thing I do when I wake up is “check in” to all the things – Facebook, Instagram and Feedly (my blog reader). Then throughout the day, when I’m sick of being stuck inside and my girls are driving me insane, I “hang out” on my phone to escape. I’m constantly scrolling through Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. And lots of times I get caught up in articles my friends post on Facebook. They get me worked up. Angry. I want to give them my opinion because theirs is obviously uneducated and ridiculous. Thankfully I know to keep quiet and not post my harsh thoughts. But I still have the thoughts, and in my head I draft up the smart remarks I want to post and they play over and over in my mind. At night when I’m watching a show with Nick, I’m back on my phone during commercials and when I’m bored with the show. And of course I have to check in with all the things before I go to bed.
See how there’s not much room for God? Or my family? Yeah. Me too.
So Pinterest and Facebook have been deleted from my phone. Instagram still remains, but only for posting one photo a day – which technically goes to Facebook – because I use Instagram photos in my yearly photobook. I’ve added a Lent reading plan to my YouVersion app which I’m reading first thing in the morning instead of checking all the things.
For these first few days I’m trying to cut out social media scrolling from any device. Then I’ll let myself check on a computer once a day for only a few minutes if I want to. The first 24+ hours have been hard. I got angry a few times that I couldn’t escape when the whining and demanding took over our house. I got bored with “nothing to do”. Ugh. Obviously I had a problem.
But I’ve also started my days with scripture. Both days have been fitting and allowed me to examine my heart and remember why I’m giving up social media.
I’m looking forward to the changes that will take place during the next 40 days. It’s not going to be easy. But that’s the point.
Now that you sleep through the night and even sleep late on the weekends, don’t forget what you went through before these easier days arrived. Don’t take for granted the help you get in the kitchen – the prep, cooking and washing of dishes. And don’t let a date night slip past that you aren’t grateful you no longer have to pay a sitter. Because while you have it “easy” now (I put that in quotes, because raising tween and teen girls is anything but easy I’m sure) there are many mamas out there who feel the same pains you felt not so long ago.
So please don’t forget.
Don’t forget those sleepless night. The rocking and singing. The aching back. And then needing to entertain your children all day on so little sleep.
Don’t forget the rush to get dinner on the table when you were a working mom. Or the attempts to get dinner on the table after a day with your children who were whining and clinging to your legs. And remember most nights your efforts were met with tantrums and refusals to eat your meals.
Don’t forget how few date nights you had because finding and paying a babysitter just seamed like too much work.
Don’t forget how much you just wanted a day off. A day at home with no children around to do as you pleased.
Remember how hard it was to clean. When you worked, you’d rather spend time with your kids, when you were home, they got in the way.
Don’t forget the public tantrums. The stares. Wondering how to diffuse your little one while the world was watching.
Don’t forget the longing you had for just a small break. A break from the physically and mentally draining task of raising little children. I know you loved them, but the days were long, and so were the nights, and sometimes it just wore you too thin.
Because there are mamas out there exactly where you used to be. Alone, no family around, struggling to make it through their days. Trapped and drowning in hopelessness brought on by postpartum depression, or just lost in the mundane. There are working moms, and stay at home moms, and single moms who are worn too thin. They love their babies with all their hearts, but they need a break. They need a hot meal delivered, a Saturday afternoon alone, a date night, help with the cleaning.
They need you. They need you to remember.
You can’t forget the harder days you left not so long ago, because it means you’re forgetting about them. Don’t forget those mamas. Rally around them, seek them out, love them. Love them well. Love them with food and time and a chance to recharge. Love them with words and time and hope. Love them well.
Your past self. The one almost out of the toddler years, dreaming of the “easier” years to come.
P.S. I’m going to want help in the teen years too aren’t I?
So remember how I was running? Yeah. I still do that sometimes. I took a whole month off because my hipthigh (sure, technical term) was doing something funky. I’ve only been running 15 minutes lately when I can get the motivation to move my butt. Or my other hipthigh isn’t in pain. That’s maybe once a week.
But I should get my booty in gear because I signed up for a race.
Yeah. That’s right. A RACE. A 5k to be exact.
What’s that? A 5k race isn’t a big deal?
Well keep in mind I recently ran a mile for the first time.
And then this post got me in trouble. It’s the one where I said I had no desire to run a race. It’s also the one where I said I’d run a race if it was like a dance party. Music blaring, flash mob like scenes etc.
No more than 2 days passed after I published that post did THIS video show up in my Facebook feed. Darn you ads.
A dance party race. I said it. I had to sign up.
I asked my neighbor – who’s also a former dancer turned runner – and asked if she’d do it with me. She was in. Sweet. While I don’t really want anyone to see me run, I figured it’d be better to have a friend along for the party run.
And then Nick wanted to do it. And then my neighbor’s husband. And another friend and her husband too.
We now have a group.
What did I get into?
Not only will there be 5 people I know doing this with me, they’ve all run before – I’m not talking 5k’s…I’m talking 10 mile races, half marathons and MARATHONS!
Lord help me!
This morning it hit me, I have about 3 months until I run this thing. I need to get my booty moving for more than 15 minutes at a time.
It’s technically a run/walk. They’ll all be cruising along ahead of me and I’ll just shake my groove thang like the lady at the gym who prancercises around the track.
I kid. Well, not about the dancing, I really do want to accomplish this goal. And what a better way to do it, than with my hubby and a few friends during a dance party.
So wish me luck in my training. And if you want to join me – you can still sign up HERE.
I keep standing in my girls’ room and soaking it all in. Because this week it’s about to make a big milestone leap I’m not quite ready to accept. This week we move out the crib and toddler bed and replace them with bunk beds. It’s time for the change considering Mariah is outgrowing her toddler bed and while I’m excited for the change, there’s always a little grieving that happens when these big shifts take place.
I stand in the room and remember when it used to be so empty. Just a desk in the corner and a futon chair by the window. I spent many days reading, journaling and staring out the window from that chair. We brought home the teeniest little kitten and kept her safe in that room, away from our first cat, until they could get along. I did a “photoshoot” with my cats in that room. They were my little companions. My world.
Then my world changed. After over a year of trying to get pregnant, little Mariah was on the way. We painted a mural on the wall. Because it was just a year or two before all those cool wall decals came out (dangit!). So I went old school and brought home the work projector. We traced the flowers on the wall and painted them in. The room was gender neutral because we were NOT into pink, even if we were expecting a girl. Mariah slept in her bed from the first night she came home, and the room became hers. I rocked and nursed her in the new chair by the window. I’d stare out the window and dream while snuggling her.
Two-ish years later, a sister was on the way. Mariah gravitated to all things pink and frilly and ballet and princess without any of our prompting – so we gave in. A pink girly room for two sisters it would be.
We Nick painted light pink over the mural and that darn brown stripe and we transformed the room a bit. More pictures. More art. More frills. Thank goodness Pinterest had come along! Lana didn’t sleep in her room for awhile – she snuggled in with us for a few months. And later we did tons of rocking and singing and praying that she’d sleep through the night in that beautiful room. She finally did, and now she ignores almost all toys to play tea party in her room on her “big girl bed”.
And while we won’t paint again and the pictures and art will just shift a bit, this change is the hardest for me.
That crib. The one that held my babies for 5 years. The one they chewed and kicked and dropped their pacifier out of. It’s leaving. And maybe that’s why this is so hard. It means no more babies. *sigh* While we know that we know that we know we’re done with babies, it’s still a little sad when we let things like this go. So I’m allowing myself a little time to grieve this passing. But at the same time to be thankful for sweet, beautiful, healthy babies who showed that crib so much love (and hate at times). And I’m excited for the bunk beds (“bumpy beds” as Lana calls them). Because those beds will be with them until they leave this house, so I won’t have to grieve for them for many many years.
When I was a full time working mom about to become a stay at home mom, I dreamed about playdates. How wonderful would it be to have sweet little get togethers with my friends and let our babes play together?
I envisioned us sipping tea and having long heart to hearts about life and God and raising our children while said children practiced their social skills and used their imagination. We’d all bond over playdates (both mamas and children that is) and we’d end up with beautiful life long friendships.
We have bonded, yes. But my rainbows and unicorns version of what a playdate looked like is FAR from reality.
Let me first say I am an introverted, Type A, Relator (StrenghsFinder), who needs Quality Time (Love Languages). Got it? Perhaps I’m not wired properly for playdates, so take what is about to come with my personality in mind.
Also, my husband told me if I blogged about how I felt about these get togethers, I wouldn’t be invited to anymore and I’d lose all my friends. Please say it isn’t true. Please be my friend!
Playdates. A two hour playdate wipes me out for the entire day. Partly because all my friends live at least 20 minutes away from me. Most are 30 and one is 45. I grew up where 20 minutes was the furthest you drove anywhere. More than 30 minutes and it better be an all day thing! So because distance in a factor these playdates don’t happen too often. Which means when they do, the kids are SO EXCITED TO INTERACT WITH OTHER HUMANS!! Ok, so we don’t keep them locked up like Rapunzel or anything, most of them go to preschool, but for some reason it’s SO MUCH FUN!
And there must be running. Around the house, through the mall, in the museum. Running. I have a child who fell and/or faceplanted every time we took a walk when she was learning to walk. The running stresses me out. I fear the injuries that may or may not happen during the running. If they run in the mall, they run too far and might get lost. If I can’t see them, then someone will kidnap them. Surely that’s how it works. So going into stores or spending time at the museum leaves me in a tizzy constantly needing to see my child. So when one of our babes enters the ant tunnels at the Children’s Museum. GOOD LORD! I don’t know how I manage to hold a conversation while my child
gets lost and trapped crawls around inside.
Speaking of holding a conversation…..BWAHAhahahahaha! Oh that’s funny. There is no conversation. My mind is on the children at all times. All times. And because little people have lots of needs, they butt into our attempts at conversation almost after every sentence. So we mamas attempt to catch up and chat, but we end up telling little stories as we can get them out. This is not the tea sipping heart to heart I dreamed about. Sometimes 10 minutes after you’ve started a story another mama will ask “So you were saying something about ________?” Yeah. I forgot.
If you host the playdate it means you’ve volunteered to have your house trashed. Why even bother to clean for them before they come? But I do. Because I’m a southern girl who knows cleanliness is next to godliness and if my house is clean I clearly have everything together in my life. (I kid. But I still clean) And because everyone rushes out of a playdate for the littlest ones who are melting down from staying out past naptime, most of the clean up duty is on you my friend. But actually, I’d rather do the cleaning, being the control freak that I am.
Playdates are great in theory, and we keep doing them because who wants to be trapped in their house with their own toys and heir own children for days on end when the temperatures don’t rise above zero anymore? And when the children can run free in a fenced in back yard again, maybe my anxiety will subside. Besides, we have developed deeper friendships, even without the rainbows and unicorns and tea. And our kids love it too.
I just wish my friends lived closer so we didn’t have to drive so far and make an entire morning out of it. What I wouldn’t give for my friends to be my neighbors so we could pop in and out of each others homes with our kids or send our kids back and forth. That’s how it should be. And it’s what I dream of. A neighborhood of families with open homes. Community. *sigh* One day.
Until then maybe I can learn to relax a little and enjoy these playdates more.
If I’m still invited of course.
I read a book that changed me.
I found out about 7 from Instagram. At least 4 people I follow posted a photo of it and wrote brief somethings about how amazing it was. I reserved it from the Library. Twice actually. The first time I missed the “your item is on hold” call and only got the “your item is no longer on hold” message. The next time I waited for 15 others to take their turn before I got my hands on it.
And it was perfect timing for me. Read More