This One’s for the Moms

Parenting is hard work.

Nobody is perfect but somehow we still expect perfection, especially from ourselves.

It doesn’t help that we have access to so much information.

Every day we as moms are bombarded with hundreds of messages of what we should and shouldn’t be doing, wearing, saying and eating.

Sometimes I feel like no matter what I do, it’s never enough.

How do I know if I’m doing this well?

What are the most important things?

Am I getting it right?

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But God gave those children to you for a reason, Mama.

The best parenting moments often happen when we are confidently parenting in the ways that we instinctively know are best for us and our children.

Here are a collection of some things I have told myself and other moms.

Because we could all use some grace.

***

Dear Moms,

Your child will not die if they eat Kraft Dinner tonight…or three times this week.

Your integrity as a person does not depend on the cleanliness of your home.

It is ok not to breastfeed your baby.

Not all immunizations are good and not all are bad.  It’s ok to make your own choices and its ok to just follow the immunization schedule your doctor suggests.

Colds and flus happen and there is very little you can do to stop them.  They will run their course and be over soon.

Some of the best days happen in pajamas with unwashed faces, bare feet and dirty floors.

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Having devotions every day is not always possible when you are a mom.  You are not going to hell for being busy caring for the little people He entrusted to you.

Sometimes your child will be the bully and other mothers will misunderstand you and yours.  Take it as an opportunity to develop character in yourself and your child…and remember in detail all the times you were mean to others as a kid.

Most children do not enjoy church.  This doesn’t mean they will never be Believers, it just means they’re regular children.

Sleeping through the night for babies, toddlers and mothers is a myth.  Few nights will go by that both you and all your children will sleep for 8 hours with no interruptions.  Lower your expectations and you will all be happier.

Sometimes bribes are the perfect solution.

Don’t turn everything into a lesson.

Babies cannot be spoiled by being held…but it’s also ok to put them down so you can take a shower.

You don’t always have to give a reason other than “Because I’m the mom.”

Co-sleeping can be wonderful…or terrible.  It really is YOUR choice.

Follow your instincts…but don’t expect to be a super-human.  You never did or will know everything about everything.  Sometimes it’s better to call the Doctor.

Pretending you did not hear or see something is a coping mechanism every parent will use sometimes.  Stay sane!

Siblings will fight, and sometimes they will hurt each other.  This is normal.

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Every parent does hundreds of things they will later regret.  Say sorry, do what you can to resolve the situation and then move on.

When the dentist says your child has cavities it does not necessarily mean that you are not brushing your child’s teeth well enough or often enough.  Also, no one expects you to have time to brush and floss three kids’ teeth for them every morning and night.

Living off the grid and growing your own food is probably not a good option for most of you.

Whichever way you choose to educate your child has worked for hundreds of other children on the planet.

DIY sometimes just means that it looks like you did it yourself.  Don’t let Pinterest fool you!

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Love really does cover a multitude of sins.

The TV is a good babysitter and its ok to use it some days.  If it provides you with the breather you need then it is probably worth it.

Children under 5 rarely handle social situations well.  They hit, they bite, they scream and they grab.  This is perfectly normal.

Sometimes you need to put your own needs ahead of your children’s and practise some self care.  Don’t be a martyr.

No matter how hard you try, there will be some things you do badly.

It’s okay if you’re aiming for just OK.

Life is not fair, and your kids should know that.

Children love time with you.  It doesn’t always have to be quality, it doesn’t always have to be quantity.  Both have value and significance.

Your kids will not always be happy and they will not always like you.  That doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.

It’s ok to say no.  It’s also ok to say yes sometimes.

Adolescents will be grumpy a lot.

You will not enjoy your children, or parenting, all the time.

God loves to fill in the gaps that we miss as parents with His perfect, extravagant, more than enough love.

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Keep your chin up and your smile on.

You.

Are.

Doing

Great.

With Love and Grace,

Another Imperfect Mom

~AF

*Photography credits to Unfrozen Photography

 

 

Grieving With Your Foster Child

It’s easy to start getting used to the stories and statistics.

Abused children.

Neglected children.

Abandoned children.

Children who have been exposed to domestic violence,

drug and alcohol abuse,

poverty;

Children who have lost every thing and every one.

We hear it every day.

But every now and then,

I look at the sweet faces in my own home and imagine them wearing these stories…

and it’s devastatingly, painfully real.

Or I read through the social histories of my own children and tears blur the black and white testament of their pain.

I see my foster child’s mother’s name inscribed in the local newspaper and watch the hopes I had for her die away as she once again caves to her addictions while I tuck her child into bed in my home tonight.

It’s not hard to find the stories.

It seems to be what people want to know about foster care.

Why is it we are pulled like curious onlookers to these children and their pain?

One more baby is left alone in the hospital NICU, with no parent by their side.

One more little girl comes to school with bruises on her body and emptiness in her eyes.

One more little boy raids the pantry for food while Mommy falls asleep on the couch or gets high with her friends.

One more teenager is moved to yet another foster home as they push away the people who want to help them, lashing out angrily at the world that has betrayed them, hurt them, abandoned them.

One more son grows up knowing his daddy is in prison.

All these scenarios are common in foster care.

They are normal.

Children in care regularly go months without seeing their parents, while the slow wheels of the system spin toward a future that involves separation.

Children in care regularly travel to and from visits that are cancelled at the last minute by a birth parent who ‘had something come up.’

Children in care are regularly plucked from their homes and moved in a matter of hours, often with little or no familiar belongings accompanying them.  No favourite stuffy, no familiar clothing, no pillow or worn-in sneakers.

I get so used to these scenarios, until something happens and it hits me again.

The grief bursts inside, constricting my chest with the heaviness and pain of it all.

The little face I kiss goodnight has spent so many hours smeared in tears and unwashed stickiness.

Those eyes that stare up at me, laughing and bright, have witnessed anger, fear and violence.

Those arms that pull at me, grabbing for my attention, have been yanked and bruised and pushed aside.

They’ve seen too much,

heard too much,

felt too much.

It’s painful to read the accounts and know that they are true and there is nothing I can do to erase those moments.

Sometimes I read my children’s stories and I feel like I will drown beneath the weight of their reality.

It can feel so hopeless and unfair.

It’s painful to grieve their lost innocence and to know that one day they will want to read for themselves the cold, hard facts of their story…and that in that moment nothing I say will erase that pain.

I wait and pray with my children for their parents to heal, to return, to want them more than anything else in the world.

I wait and pray with them for someone to be the one to help their parents  get sober, disciple them toward healing, drive them to treatment.

I claim God’s promises over them each night, my forehead pressed against theirs, for a future filled with hope, for strength and courage, for eyes to always see them as He does.

I never want to get used to the pain they have lived through and carry even now in their hearts and sub-conscience.

It’s not okay.

Even while they are safe here in my arms,

I want to learn how to grieve with them.

To cry because they have not always been held.

To ache because they have not always been protected.

To listen without answers because they have not always been heard.

To forgive because they have not always been given an example to follow.

I don’t want to push it aside just because it is too painful to hold up to the light.

I don’t want to hide it under the stuff of today, forgetting to put in context their frustrations and anger over a life spiralling out of their control.

They deserve to be seen, in the entirety of who they are and where they have come from.

I may not have any answers.

It may hurt to face up to the giant realization that I cannot fix this for them.

But I can sit with them in their grief.

I can be present in the sadness and give them the gift of my larger hands cradling this too big world of brokenness for them.

I will carry this for you.

I will hurt with you.

As long as you are here, you do not need to feel all of this alone.

~AF