When a woman becomes a mom, she has to lay aside many dreams and aspirations in order to take hold of this new dream and new life she holds in her arms.
Careers are laid down. Degrees are forgotten. In today’s society this can be a big blow. Before where a woman's place was solely in the home and she was honored for her ability to keep house and cook - she now has choices. The women’s rights movement gave us many things, but unfortunately I still don't see the equality being the outcome.
My children and I recently have been reading Laura Ingles Wilder’s book Farm Boy. To me, his mother seems like a super hero. She was a machine in times there were none. And yet there was a sense of love and respect shared between everyone in the home. It worked.
she had no machines (except her loom) and made all the clothes from scratch - wool to dye to yarn to loom to pattern to clothes. And her family was greatful and proud of her work. She actually brought in quite a bit of income as well from all the items she made; from butter to dyed yarn.
You may disagree and that is fine, but I find it odd that now in day and age where we have machines and everything at our fingertips it seems that women are more lost than ever to find meaning in what we do. We now can have a career and stay at home - it is this daily struggle of these choices we must face.
We also face a loneliness I do not see from this artisan mother of the early 1800s. Her heart was full with the life she led. She was not isolated and kept a parlor for hosting and went to church. However, I think there was another reason. Life was survival. Life was not one of laziness. Life was something where if people did not take care of each other they would struggle to survive. There was not time during the week to feel bad for ones self I think? Its just a theory of mine...
Even Sunday - the afternoon was spent in quiet reflection- of God - not of self.
It was a hard life, but from what I can tell from the book they were content and happy.
Today mothers struggle with loneliness, feelings of i adoption, unappreciation, pressure to work and judgemental opinions of others.
And unfortunately I don’t have a real solution to the problem. Because each one of us has to make adjustments in our life to figure out what it would take to choose happy over discontentment.
But I think that it is ultimately a choice. And taking an inventory or your goals and family needs is a great place to start.
Many women need to work at least part time now adays. I grew up on the low income side of middle class. And we prayed for clothes sometimes. But my parents were frugal and we did with less than most. But I felt my childhood was mostly happy because of the focus my parents had on God, family, imagination and service.
I came into adulthood with a lot of school debt. Something that many of my generation have to deal with.
Its not fun. It was life choice I was unprepared for.
I had plans for working it off using my Masters in a low income area, but my husbands job was supposed to take is overseas and then we got pregnant sooner than expected.
I’ve slowly had to let go of many of my dreams. My seasoned friends tell me there will come a time to pick them back up again. So now I turn my focus to my home and family and doing thankless jobs like changing diapers and vacuuming. But why does it have to be joyless? I’m not sure that it has to be.
It has taken me several years to really start to find the joy though and worth in what I am doing. There is no paycheck or verbal feedback. Its just doing.
And last year when I was really going through a rough patch in my life, I took up an MLM to help turn my focus of my lack luster life and the pain I was feeling both physically and spiritually towards others. I enjoyed it.
But here is the flip side. As with anything in life many people had issues with it. They don’t believe in Mulit Level Marketing models for what ever reason. Or they choose to purchase lower quality higher priced items from Francescas or Anthropologie (I enjoy both of these stores) - the corporation - instead of me - a stay at home mom. I have been criticized for not spending enough time with my kids or placing value on something other than God.
but Ive also gotten criticized for how I do dishes and my love of animals. I’ve had people question my choice of masters degree. There will always be that one person at the wedding upset about their placement or who dislikes the food.
There are always going to be people in our life who will question us. Some out of selfishness and others out of true concern.
So what is a woman in this modern world to do?
Soul search my friend. Dig deep. Are you doing what you are called to do? Are you doing what you need to do? Love to do? Want to do? And if you aren’t- what are you doing to pursue that? And if your dreams are just dreams are you doing what you can to find joy in the mundane simple moments you are given? Are you spreading negativity around you or are you creating happy bubbles around you? Get rid of the negative people (though it is good to keep enemies in close watch I do believe and not be ignorant of destructive people) and keep the positive healthy people close. What if its a family memeber who tears you down? Limit time with them and practice truthful self talk to combat their negativity.
And then this Christmas season - focus on serving others. Don’t judge the MLMers, or the Part timers or the Stay at homers or Full Timers ... we all have our reasons. What is important is what is YOUR reason this season.
Today I attended my first parents teacher meeting for my child... ever. I feel like I graduated to a new level of mom-hood. Our daughter is doing great. She is a smart kid (not that I am partial) and has been provided a lot of attention from many people other than me- so I am not bragging about myself here. It was a moment of counting our blessings.
Although my intention is to later homeschool her, we felt that while I am pregnant with Baby Bee it might be a good opportunity to send her to a little Montessori school while I spent some one on one time with our seccond child (and third who had ever growing needs for mental stimulation!). Each of our children it is clear, learn in different ways. So figuring what those are has become part of this parenting journey.
Having said that, this blog I want in no way or form to put mamas on the path to comparrison, or guilt trips. What I do aim to do, is encourage you by providing some of the tricks Ive been learning. If they help, great! If they don’t - I would love to learn what is working for you as well!
I actually have been quite challenged by my one year old recently who loves to take things apart and figure out how they go together. He is definitely in the tornado stage of learning.
But I am getting off track.
Kids are sponges. We all have heard that. The principle in the parent teacher meeting today was harping on that. We as parents have the most inpact on our child’s learning even if they are going to school. They will learn from just about anything you include them on; whether it be helping you sort socks, or weed the flower bed they will be expanding their little minds.
If you are looking into the homeschool route, or just want to find ways to interact with your kids that is more educational, you've come to the right spot.
Education is Life. Its that Simple.
When I say I homeschool my 3 almost 4 year old (Baby Fox), I take the approach that I carve out an hour or two a day depending on her attention span and my schedule, to sit with her and provide her with opportunities for learning. She really thinks that school is playing games with mommy.
This last year, I spent a lot of time gathering materials to build a “school room.” This year I have not done much leason planning. Last spring when I was teaching both my 5 year old and 3 year old I spent time in the evening or on Sunday preparing for that weeks lessons. We used the book Before Five in a Row. The book created a frame work for us.
Right now, however, I’m focussing on elements my Baby Fox needs work on. She is finally expressing interest in numbers. So this week, we have done various activities that involve number recognition. I will post some of these activities in the next blog.
Give your children structure, grace and yourself the same with a pumpkin spice latte.
At the preschool age (and even 1st - 4th grade), kids learn mostly through play and short spurts of dedicated attention. Some people proudly call their teaching approach “hack schooling.” This is a type of “un-schooling” or antiformal learning approach. Kids do also thrive on routine. I tend to combine some formalities while at the same time meet the kids needs, and my needs for how that is carried out. My goal is three days a week of more focussed learning that begins with Baby Fox ringing the school bell and singing the Sing Spell Read and Write phonics alphabet song. From there I gauge and engage my children according to their mood and abilities. Part of being a mama and a teacher is staying on our toes. But if one of our kids are sick or you are pregnant like me, there is also grace. And maybe a fun reading day on the couch or a scavenger hunt outside while you sit on a blanket.
We still stick to a time schedule (or try). There may be spilled milk or a kid hacking up a lung that change all that. But at least having a schedule helps me keep on track most days. And I go to this lady for pointers onnhow to keep on point: A Mother Far From Home.
This not only helps us achieve our goals, but gives our kids parts of the day they can look forward to. Like lunch.
For a FREE PRINTABLE schedule (lets rephrase it as goals) for a typical day, go HERE.
Homeschooling can happen just about anywhere
Yes, I have created a Montessori style class room complete with a circle rug, accessible directives, a play kitchen and desks. But heres the thing. Most mamas I know, homeschool in their kitchen. Which makes a great space for family learning. If you live where you can be outside, you can conduct your lessons under a tree, your front yard, or a picnic table. I was spoiled, growing up, with a tree house where I did my individual work with my cat. The Wild and Free organization encourages this outdoor learning approach and has a great community and resources.
This week my 3 year old wanted to homeschool in our hammock one day, and then excitedly sat down and announced school was in session in the class room the next. My one year old both days did his tornado type exploration in the same room while we focussed on our numbers and letters. I’ve made both the hammock room and school room baby proof so this wasnt really a problem (I mean henmay have eaten the tip of a marker but it said it was non-toxic).
Bottom Line: Don’t Stress!
Basically, if you are new at home schooling, or trying to figure out if its for your family, be open to the idea that you don't have to have all your ducks in a row. Create achievable goals for yourself and your kids. If a catastrophe hits. There is always tomorrow. Yes. There are certain laws for each State you have to abide by. Once you figure out these rules, the rest can be as simple or complex as your family needs. There is normally a lot of leaway in carrying out the law requirements. My mother always planned a week of extra days just in case the State didnt like one of her lesson plans.
It takes a village to raise our children. Thankfully in this day and age, home schooling has more allibis than when my mother was teaching us. We have Facebook groups that meet in real life, chat forums, Pinterest, blogs, and Instagram. However, these “support” options all can get pretty overwhelming at times. Part of survival is also spending quiet time reflecting on your family values and goals. We need to shut out all the perfectionistic, judgemental voices out there telling you are not good enough. You are the only mother or father your child has. God gave them to you for a reason. Do not let the perfection on Instagram steal your joy and confidence. See the love in your child and let it drive you. Laugh at mistakes, learn from them and keep moving. These are mt ultimate goals. And I fail at them every day.
Today marks the day when you finally came into our lives to stay. I had been laboring for a month with you (read my blog on prodromal labour) and chickened out last minute on taking the midwife concoction.
After finishing my bath I took a nap. And then when I woke up I went to the bathroom. Instead of doing what normal people do when they go to use the WC, my water popped.
And then the contractions came in full force. I called my Midwife and my husband. These came full force and close. There was no waiting around. I gathered my things and tried to communicate with your grandma last minute instructions about caring for your sisters. Daddy came and loaded our truck and we were off.
It was rush hour traffic and the hospital was 20 miles away. I thought we would never make it. But Daddy is a good driver. Everyone was so helpful at the hospital and I was so thankful to to have a labor tub this time.
As soon as it was was ready I got in. It felt so good. Soon I felt myself go into transition. Which means you would soon be coming and I called for my midwife. She came and said she waited for 10 minutes but nothing hallened. So she left. As soon as she left I felt everything move within me. And with one big push you lr head was born. And I scream for your daddy to come help me. He asked if he should go get someone and I said to stay with me as I gave birth to you with one last push. I caught you in my own arms and gently unwrapped the cord from your neck. Daddy went running into the hall for help.
I gently lifted you from the water and you took your first breath.
I was amazed at how calm everyone was as they helped me out of the tub. We were not supposed to have you there, but I was so thankful for a peaceful calm birth.
You were healthy as smiled within the first few days of your life.
And even as yoy wake uo fornthe third time tonight I remember all those smiles. You’re so smart and say so many things. You love to be with us and laugh with your sisters. You say dog and dada and mamma and kisses. Bye bye and Hi and you’re trying to say more. You love your trucks too and started walking this week.
We are so thankful for you Henry IV.
I have a confession to make. I really envy those moms who just seem to know what to do in the moment. Who have this calm about them. They keep their cool when their kid is screaming like a terridactal in the Publix cookie isle. They know how to redirect attention, allow for natural consequences or reward on queu.
I wish I could say that is me, but there has been more than once where I’ve cried, even screamed over spilled milk.
I was educated in grad school on how to lead and facilitate positive discipline classes with parents. But who knew how hard it would be when the time came to actually implement what I learned on my own self and kids after becoming a parent.
Im definitely a work in progress.
Here are a few things I have learned and relearned the last few months while trying to apply this positive discipline approach.
This word is so full of meaning. I challenge you to do your own study on it. Jane Nelson is the leading expert in the field of Adlerian Children Psychology. She states:
“When you truly understand that mistakes are opportunities to learn,
This is a new twist to the word grace for me. But I feel that it is relevant. If I don’t let mistakes control my reactions but instead view them as a chance for growth for all of us, that stuck in the mud feeling disappears quickly and learning is again made fun.
Mom Time Outs
In a perfect world I would love to just turn on the TV and hide in my dark warm bed for even 10 minutes. The reality? Taking a deep breath in the moment while three kids all are freaking out about the ever evasive donut (hat I never offered) can be difficult. I can’t retreat to the bathroom or my room either for concern of the safety of one or more of my Pocket People. So closing my eyes and counting to five outloud has proven helpful. Wearing a beaded bracelet and snapongneach bead on my wrist to help diffuse my frustration (or my red hot anger- lets be real) can help.
May children sometimes count with me.
sometimes I yell at Google Home to turn on some happy music.
Anything to divert the topic so I can catch my sanity as it runs out the door.
I have read this both in Nelson’s book and on several other blogs. When I find where I will share! But timing is everything. It’s like a preventative healthcare plan for living life with preschoolers. Pre planning for meals, and rest time can save you lots of tears. I learned quickly with my first child who struggled with transitions that one outing a day at this age is about all we can handle. I plan an errand or my work out in the am. Pack snacks. And that is all we do. The rest of the day is spent at home learning how to perform chores, reading, creative free play, swimming and a consistent quiet time.
Eliminating Stress and Caffeine
My mama friend and I were talking yesterday about how wierd caffeine makes us. It makes us cranky and nervous. I get more anxious and don’t sleep as well.
This is may not be true for everyone, but I did a quick google search and there have been many studies linking anxiety and caffeine as a trigger.
“In psychiatric in-patients, caffeine has been found to increase anxiety, hostility and psychotic symptoms. Assessment of caffeine intake should form part of routine psychiatric assessment and should be carried out before prescribing hypnotics.”2
Ive also found that when I’m stressed about other things in my life I tend to take it out on my kids by being more angry and impatient with them. Dealing with my own stress and taking some time for self care can help me deal with the simple day to day of heading my cats, I mean kids.
I will take some time in a different blog to unpack what self care can look like. But for now I don’t need to overwhelm us anymore. This week go find your Zen!
Last night I went through my second round of prodromal labor.
According to FitPregnancy.com its "contractions and/or other labor signs that begin much in the way that traditional labor does, but that do not result in the birth of your baby."
Yesterday I went through four hours of real contractions with beginning symptoms of labour only they never got past 15 minutes apart.
So I took a bath but they got worse. I almost peed on my self during one. So I finished packing my bags while my sister helped take care of my girls.
prodromal or practice labour is so emotionally draining. First of all - I'm like, "why do you need to psych me out? I've already done this labour thing twice!"
Secondly it's makes me feel a bit crazy in the head - like your over reacting to normal pregnancy symptoms. It's a good thing I didn't go to the hospital! Then there is the fact that Baby Hedge isn't full term for another 30 minutes, so on paper he would have been born premature and I would have probably had to go to a different hospital for his care and the L&D staff would have been hyper active about the labor if I had gone in. My Midewife told me today to try to hold him in for one more day. Laugh.
I could be an Eeyore about it and hold to the belief that "Well most likely I will be one of those moms who "labors" the whole month before her baby's due date only to have a super long actual labor too"
Or I could just accept that I don't know the future ...
I started printing out little affirmation posters last night and chuckled at some of the things I found....
"I birth with ease" "this baby will come out of my vagina" "believe you can and you will"
I get that these are supposed to help strengthen us and keep us focussed in labour but my thought was ... first of all my labors have never been easy no matter how positive I was. Secondly, nothing is ever certain.... I could plan the most beautiful natural birth - or even medicated assisted birth and yet it could go awry. I've heard of some women's labor going too fast to have time to get medication. And then there are crazy sad unexplainable things that can happen.
The only thing that is supposedly certain is that God knows what is going to happen, and knows what is best for us and is directly involved in the birth and the life of the baby.
Job 12:9-10 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind...
I can't explain why he lets babies die or mamas bodies be ripped to shreds during a labor.
But the reassuring thing to me is that He knows. He is not an uncaring and non-present God... no...
And I believe I will one day be shown why he let my friend's baby die, or let the woman suffer so much in childbirth....
Cause right now he told me "I am working all things together for the good"
So I printed off some different affirmation cards instead and a picture of a Hedgehog on the beach to make me smile and remind me they have to birth something with spines on it.
And ultimately as I lay here each night wondering if these contractions are real or not, I am just going to have to
Let it go.
And feel his hiccups for the last time. And enjoy the rest of this exciting time of life as it may be my last pregnancy.
Maybe he will meet me tonight. Thank you dear one for waiting at least til midnight so that you are no longer considered a premie.
But even if you had come way too early I would have had to let my worries, control freak ways, and questions go....
PEACE in the answers already given to me.
So rest in peace tonight dear friends and let it go.