What Kind of Parent Are You?

MWM blogger

MWM blogger

Don’t ask me why I thought taking this kind of quiz was a good idea. Perhaps I thought I’d find answers to why I act the way I do. Maybe knowing I’m a tiger mom or ostrich mom would make my actions throughout any given day make more sense.

Ha! Just ask my husband what a ridiculous notion that is!

Instead, I realized that I can’t be categorized any more than my children can or should be. I don’t like labels for them and I found I don’t like them for myself either. They seem to trap us forever behind their tag. Don’t get me wrong, personality quizzes are fun and can offer insight into our particular bent, but they are often misleading and can leave us feeling either superior because of them or judged by them.

After all, I’m every type of mother and I’m no type ever considered. I think the same is true of all moms everywhere. There are days and situations that call me to be a tiger mom who fiercely drives her children and days that I am the hovering helicopter mom because my child may need more protection than usual. And what about when I am more ten-year-old than fortyish-year-old and become another little monkey jumping on the bed? What would I be called then? Otter mom? Wait! That wasn’t on the list.

photo

My new-mama niece with her sweet one.

So what kind of parent am I? If you ask my children, I’m pretty sure four out of four will say a crazy one. Ask my husband, who’s crazy about me, and he’ll say I’m an awesome one.

Ask me and I say:

I’m a natural yeller who tries not to be.

I’m a comedian with no appreciative audience.

I’m an overscheduler and time-cruncher.

I’m a motivator, otherwise known as a demanding drill sergeant.

I’m a pusher of health food who can’t resist chocolate of any kind or ice cream.

But I am also,

A shameless cheerleader at soccer games and one-man (or girl) living room recitals,

A tireless nurse for any injury that band-aids and kisses can’t fix,

An unrivaled scones baker,

And a mother with four incredible reasons to keep on trying.

P1000197

One of those owies that needed extra snuggles.

God says:

I’m a redeemed mother–one who constantly gets it wrong, and yet through grace and mercy, keeps seeing it turn out right.

 

So what kind of parent are you? How about the perfect one for your child!

I think I’d like to talk more about that sometime. But for now, trust me on it. Some days you will be more strict and firm, other days relaxed and flexible, and that does not equate to inconsistency. Rather, like the ebb and flow of the tide, it can be beautifully predictable unpredictability.

Who can possibly put one label on you, mothers? You are far too beautiful and important and all-encompassing to describe so simply, but Proverbs 31:29 says it best perhaps:

“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

I hope you believe it.

For the Back-to-School Teacher Mom

Lauren Pinkstonby Lauren Pinkston: Upwardly Dependent (Walking the Delicate Balance Between Absolute Truth and Overwhelming Grace)

FOR THE BACK-TO-SCHOOL TEACHER MOM

I remember the Christmas of 2012 so well…it was when we finally announced our pregnancy with extended family and friends. Well, and the world.
     There were so many exciting text messages and tight hugs, and I think it was the first time I had ever seen my grandmother cry.
     It was also the first time I started to feel mixed emotions about the future of my work as it meshed with motherhood.
     A friend of mine called to congratulate me, asking all the right questions and sharing her joy with me. Then she made the statement, I just can’t imagine having kids right now…maybe ever. I like my work too much to give it up.
     I sat listening for a moment, but then told her that I didn’t have plans to quit working. I confessed that I loved the life growing inside me deeply, but that I also found a lot of purpose and identity in holding a steady job.
     And as I told her about the ways I felt led to serve in my home and in the workplace, it reminded me that we still haven’t quite come to accept the fact that a woman can do both—and do both well.
     This is the part where I make a disclaimer: If you are a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), if you have chosen to leave work to spend time with your kids, and you are loving this time of soaking up memories with your littles, I APPLAUD YOU AND SUPPORT THIS. There are many days I want to be like you.
     There is nothing dishonorable about being consistently present for your children and your husband, for working in the home and for loving it there. Many women are writing from your perspective and I think it is a beautiful and needed one!
     This post, however, is for all you mommas who are gearing back up to enter the classroom. You’re doing your best to enjoy a few more play dates while laminating learning centers and scoping out teacher blogs in the wee hours of the morning. This is for you, those who want more than anything to be a SAHM, but the student loan payments are just too high to give up an extra income. And for you, who are secretly excited to spend seven hours a day with somebody else’s crazy kids.
     If you are a teacher, a custodian, an administrator, a paraprofessional, a cafeteria chef, or a professor, AND YOU HAVE YOUR OWN KID(S), I’m sensing your anxiety, sister. The fibers of your heart are being stretched in what feels complete opposite directions. You lay awake at night imagining the faces that will soon fill the desks in your classroom, but you are already mourning the memories that you will be losing with your flesh and blood babies. You question whether or not you are doing the right thing by going back to work. You remember the stress of the job and fear you will bring that stress into your home come August. You read the comments of women like yourself who have just called in their resignation, and you wonder whether you have chosen the greater good.
     Can I just breathe a little life into you now? Can I speak a little truth? Your place of influence does not have to stop with the children who live in your home. Due to moving a gazillion times and then landing in a job overseas, I only experienced the classroom for three years. Now I’m a part-time language student and part-time grad student and part-time blogger/culture navigator. But all it takes is closing my eyes and I can feel the nervous excitement of back-to-school time. You don’t have to close your eyes to feel it. It’s becoming a part of your every day routine. You’re looking at your class list and trying to place each student’s face. You’re cleaning cabinets and organizing libraries and re-reading curriculum. You’re making notes of new systems to initiate and new strategies to try.
     And still, there’s part of you that seems to contradict this nervous excitement. It’s looking into the eyes of your own children and feeling as if you aren’t giving them enough as their mother. It’s the fear of losing their loyalty to a daycare provider or a relative, or even another teacher. I need you to stop those thoughts right this second. Because they are self-imposed and they are not healthy.
     What I do want you to do is to say a prayer of thanksgiving that the Father has counted you worthy to not only serve your biological children, but also the ones you will adopt into your heart this year.
     Take a few moments to reflect on last May. Picture the names and faces of the children you graduated to the next grade. Remember the blessings that flowed from the lips of parents who were so thankful for how well you loved their children. Or maybe think on the students who had no one to support them on the last day of school…the ones who you wanted to take home for the summer.
     If you are still in the throws of diaper duty and damage control like me, let’s face it: Our babies are going to grow up. And soon they will buy pencils and folders and backpacks. And while I still refuse to admit it, they’re going to be sent off to big person school in a few short years.
     And when that happens, I want my kids to be loved by people like YOU. Women who would be ever so honored to spend their days at home, but have chosen to walk into the classroom and love someone else’s kids, too. Don’t be deceived that you are only to find your worth in the children who call you “Mom.”
     I’ve taught in private and public schools, and my friends, they are ALL dark places. Children will be placed into your hands this year {I’m calling them children all the way through college, ok?}. And you have a responsibility.
     Love well the person in front of you. Whether you are choosing to work because you love it or because it’s a financial necessity, when you are at work, be present there. Pray over the names of your students as you write their names on desk labels. Mold their character through discipline, but teach them about grace through your forgiveness. Witness to them each day as you share your life and your faith and your family with them.
     And when you’ve graded the papers and picked up your own children and you walk back into your home, be present there, too. Pray over your own children as you watch them play. Put away your cell phone so there’s no distraction from this sacred time. Invite them to share in your work as you tell them about your own personal mission field. I’m going to say it again. Your realm of influence can be powerful both in your work and in your home. teacher moms It will take much prayer. It will take loads of grace. But don’t ever feed yourself lies that say your mothering is second-class. Don’t you dare believe that the children in your classroom or library or lecture hall need you any less. You are the kind of woman that brings hope to children without. And that little light that you put inside your students is carried home to their families and into their neighborhoods and on into their futures.

From Lancaster County

MWM blogger

MWM blogger

I am conflicted.

I am on a family vacation in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with it’s Amish charm and lazy-day feel, and I both love and hate it. 0610140849Like the farmland around me, my heart is being tilled and broken up to allow new seed to be planted, and while I enjoy the prospect of new growth, the process is painful.

On the one hand, I want to live in the moment and embrace this last vacation time with my oldest child before he chases his own future in Australia, On the other, I am aware that all I know and love is about to change. The landscape of my life will never look the same and it’s a bit scary as questions arise in my heart about what the harvest will be.

I grew up on a farm and I know that every spring is a hopeful time. A farmer invests his time, money, and toil in what is yet to be, sowing into the land with the prospect of reaping a good return for his investment.

I suppose mothering is much the same. We too labor over the fields of our families and do all we know to do and then trust that it will produce something of value that will sustain us at a later time.0610140854a

So here I am second-guessing. Questions plague me as I consider that Kieran will leave in just under a month.

Did I sow the right seeds? Did I tend to them well enough to make him strong enough to handle the rains that will beat down on him and the storms that will inevitably come? Did I teach him how to properly guard his heart to protect the good seeds sown or will they be devoured by the insects of greed, lust, and vanity? Is this the right time to transplant?

My heart says yes, and yet I’m back where I began–conflicted.

I suppose this is where faith must take over. Just like every faithful farmer, I’ve done all I’ve known and now I have to leave the rest in the hands of the Master Gardener and trust that Kieran will be counted with those “that may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3)

In the meantime, I will speak and claim this promise over my first transplant, believing God will do in Australia what I can not:

The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (Isaiah 58:11)

For those who have been here, I’d love any wisdom you can offer. For those who are here with me, I pray for your peace. Together we’ll trust that as we continue to sow into our children, we will reap a harvest of joy in our own hearts.

On Being THAT Homeschool Family

More help than Poppop needs.

More help than Poppop needs from Samara and Avielle.

When I first felt the tug to homeschool, I resisted. I didn’t know many homeschoolers–or so I thought–and the ones I knew were a bit different. I had the notion that all homeschoolers ate only what they grew, wore only what they made, and didn’t know how to throw a football.

With the silkies.

With the silkies.

After homeschooling for thirteen years, I have met those families, but the majority are like us. We eat some of what we grow, wear some of what we make, and we can play a mean football game. But today, I laughed when a customer came to pick up a fish order (we own Alaskawild Seafoods) because I knew they probably left with the notion that we are THAT homeschool family and yet I was perfectly okay with that. I homeschool by choice and I no longer feel the need to offer up reasons for it. There are so many.

My youngest girls’ favorite time period to study is the Colonial Period and today they were living out their studies. In their simple dresses and caps (not to be confused with coifs that pilgrims wore or bonnets which pioneers wore as my girls just informed me), they were picking radishes with their Poppop and collecting eggs from the backyard chickens,

Samara collecting eggs.

and I got a little chuckle as I realized just how odd that must have seemed to a stranger. At the same time, I experienced freedom as I felt no need to apologize for it. It is a wonderful life. A life spent together doing things that are not only beneficial and productive, but fun and memorable as well.

As homeschoolers, we are free to spend the day reading on the couch or picking strawberries for a pie. We are free to labor over our math lessons at the kitchen table or to pick it all up and visit a lonely widow for an even greater lesson on compassion. And we are free to wear period clothing or jeans and a t-shirt. As homeschoolers, we are simply free.

I’m not sure what everyone else envisions when they think of homeschoolers, but unless they experience it first-hand there is no way to have an accurate picture. Whether or not we fit the mold in others’ minds I’m not sure.

Avielle can't leave the strawberries alone.

Avielle can’t leave the strawberries alone.

What I do know is that after graduating two and still two more to go, I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. So if we are THAT homeschool family, I will embrace it and wear it proudly. I simply love it.

And now, I think I have a paper, or rather a slate, to grade.

Where It All Began–Colonial Williamsburg/Jamestown 2011:P1020570IMG_0351P1020595

 

Mother’s Day and Miscarriage

It was a year ago Mother’s Day that I stood in church being honored along with all the other moms, tears flowing. The tears were not because I was proud to be a mom of four children, although I was. It was not because prayers were lifted on our behalf although I was grateful. Instead it was because, despite my amazing children and the pointed prayers, I was hurt and angry that what I’d hoped would be a fifth child for my family was ending as I stood there in the midst of hundreds of other people smiling and clapping.

I am choosing to share the pain of my miscarriage publicly for all you who bear yours privately. What I suffered is not an uncommon thing. Many of you can relate since it is estimated that at least 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Yet, knowing that did not help me. It also did not help when well-meaning people offered platitudes like, “You can always get pregnant again” or pointed out that at least I already had children as though somehow this one was disposable. And it did not help to be told, “It was probably just God’s mercy”. It did not feel like mercy.

I had been to the doctor that Thursday excited to see my sweet baby’s sonogram image92783-20140513 only to be told that things were not looking “as they should”. I was told to prepare myself for loss and to schedule another ultrasound in a week. I enlisted prayers and I believed against all hope that the following week would bring good news. It would not. Sunday morning, spotting began. I couldn’t bring myself to accept that this child we longed for and prayed for would die on the day I was to celebrate being a mother. It could not be. Not on Mother’s Day.

So I stood, smiling through tears, praying that God would stop what was happening to my body and my baby. He did not–not then, and not again five months later when we lost another baby in a sterile hospital room. My body had gone into shock from blood loss, and in that foggy, subconscious place, I wondered why God, who could have stopped all of it, had chosen not to despite my pleas. Was it my fault? Did I not pray hard enough? And in that limbo between life and death, I heard a resounding “No” as well as “Do you trust Me?” I chose to trust and I still do.

In the midst of unanswered questions, I am a woman who knows the goodness of God and who has had prayers of faith answered in inconceivable ways, so I have chosen to trust that God’s ways are not my ways but His way is better and that the hope of Romans 8:28 is true of both me and all my children: “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” I may not understand His purpose but I will trust in them.

So, on Sunday, a year after it all began, I stood again amidst my congregation as applause went up for all the moms and I cried. Oh, I know how blessed I am to have the son and three daughters who call me “Mama”, but I still long for the ones I can only dream about, and it still goes against my instincts to say I’m a mom to four when my heart says I have six. I know if you’ve lost a child before birth you can understand that.

To all you moms who know this loss or know someone who does–whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or the pain of abortion–I pray your hearts will be restored one broken piece at a time. While we may not hold those babies in this life, they are still a gift from the Lord (Ps 127:3), He knew them even before they were formed (Jer 1:5) and He will complete what He started (Jer 1:5). I believe that one day I will see and recognize my babies, and they will see and recognize me as their mama and it will be better than what my finite mind can envision.

And, mamas, while it is true that “these things happen”, it is still a unique and personal experience and your healing is just as unique and personal. Seek help if necessary, but remember, it’s a process. It’s been a year for me, and most of the time it’s better, but sometimes it still stings. Sometimes I just need to cry.

Despite such feelings of intense loss, I am grateful for the opportunity to love more deeply and out of that love to reach out to others with compassion in a way I couldn’t have a year ago. And through it all, I hang onto the promise that one day “God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain” (Rev. 21:4).

Bless you.

Here is a link to a book I highly recommend if you are struggling with this issue:

http://www.jackhayford.org/teaching/book-excerpts/ill-hold-you-in-heaven/