Smith Silliness

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Patience and a Crazy Jacket

Katie was having a hard time putting her jacket on the other day.  Since my daughter is a huge over reactor, she threw the jacket on the floor and shouted, “I hate this jacket!!”  As we all know,  jackets, in general, are not secretly conspiring to drive preschoolers crazy, so I tried to explain to her that she didn’t need to be upset, but rather she needed to be patient with the jacket.

Often, when I try to teach something to my children I realize that I’m actually teaching something to myself.  I believe that at one point in my life I prayed for patience, and God chuckled and sent me five children.  I wish I could say that it’s helped, but patience is something I still struggle with on a daily basis.  And even though I do believe that children are secretly conspiring to drive their parents crazy, I think the trick to avoiding a grown up temper tantrum when they do something I don’t like, is to treat them with patience.

After all, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).  If I love my kids, and I do, I will strive to treat them with patience, and kindness, to love them selflessly and keep no record of wrongs.  But the trouble comes when I think I can do it all on my own.  It’s important to remember that God is Love (1John 4:8), so it naturally follows that, “God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs” [emphasis mine].  He is the example we should look to when we’re trying to navigate this journey called motherhood.  He will show us how to be patient with our kids, because He is patient with us.  He will show us how to be slow to anger, because He is slow to anger.  He will show us how to love selflessly by reminding us of how He gave His only Son to die on the cross and rise again so we can live with Him forever.

So the next time a jacket seems to be attacking your little one, remember the importance of teaching patience, to both of you.

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His Power Is Made Perfect In Our Weakness

We sat chatting in her van outside Village Inn.  Our pie was finished hours ago, but we didn’t want to waste our precious moments of uninterrupted grown up talk, so we stayed.

I had just shared about how we were trying to potty train Katie at night.  That morning I had asked her if her pull-up was dry, she paused for a minute then replied, “Not anymore!!”  I sighed and wondered out loud what I was going to do with her.  And my dear, sweet friend whispered in the silence, “Mandy, your kids are hard.”  Tears sprang to my eyes and I almost lost it.  Not because her words hurt my feelings; quite the opposite, it validated them.

I have spent most of motherhood trying to figure out how to do it right, and failing more often then I care to admit.  I always think it’s because there’s something wrong with me.  And sometimes, that is absolutely the case, but sometimes I think it’s so difficult because my kids are hard.  They’re wonderful, and sweet and hilarious, but they’re also mischievous, and sassy and more energetic than should be legal.

But really, aren’t most kids that way?  Even knowing that, though, how often do we sweep that away and think we should just be doing a better job?  I’ve cried with other mom’s over potty training and figuring out how to get our kids to sleep through the night because we just need rest.  We feel like somehow it’s our fault that our kids aren’t turning out perfect, when in reality it’s that this mothering thing is harder than we realize.  And we often don’t give ourselves enough credit for doing the best we can.

I was talking to my husband about all this the other day, and asking him why he thought God would give me these kids I obviously can’t handle.  His gentle answer (which irritated me at the time, but was actually very wise), was that maybe it was so I would rely on God more, and turn to Him in my weakness.

This verse really says it all.  Paul has been pleading with God to take a hardship away from him, but God says no.  Paul tells us about God’s response in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I choose to boast as well.  So that others won’t see merely a mom who struggles, but rather a woman who turns to God in her struggles, knowing that’s the only way to make it through.  I hope you do the same.

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It’s All The Same

It happened again the other day.  A friend of mine who had just had her second little one was talking about how hard it was, and then she looked at me and said, “But I really shouldn’t complain, I don’t know how you do it with five!”

People do that a lot, start to share how motherhood is hard and then feel guilty when they realize that I have more kids than they do.  Like somehow their perception of my situation being “harder” invalidates their reality.  As if I’m gonna call them out on it or say, “Oh yeah, you think you’ve got it bad, you should hear about my day!!”  Not that I would ever say that, but I’m sure there are people who would.

It’s a pet peeve of mine, actually, that we seem to invalidate each others feelings.  The one that drives me crazy is the Facebook post from the super pregnant lady saying, “I know I shouldn’t complain, but my feet are swollen and my back hurts and I just can’t wait to be done being pregnant!!”  And then she gets slammed for not being grateful for the fact that she is pregnant.  Like you’re either one or the other, grateful OR uncomfortable.  Happy with being a mom OR frustrated that your kids just colored on each other with permanent marker.  It’s like we’ve forgotten that it’s ok to be BOTH.  Grateful for the life growing inside of you AND so ready to be done.  Overwhelmed with your only child AND aware that I may be overwhelmed with my five.

Hard is hard.  Even if something is harder for someone else it doesn’t mean that your situation isn’t hard  Having a sick kid in the hospital is very hard AND having a sick kid at home is very hard too.  It’s not a competition, it shouldn’t be anyway.

So the next time someone starts to apologize for saying they’re overwhelmed with their kids because they have fewer kids than I do, I’ll smile and say, “Motherhood is beautiful AND hard, no matter how God formed your family.  And aren’t you glad He gave us each other to share in BOTH.”

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An Open Letter To The Technician At The Eye Doctor

You called yesterday morning and told me there was a cancellation and asked if I wanted to bring my two-year-old in early.  For a couple different reasons, one of which was that my sister’s wedding is the week of the old appointment, I decided that it would be worth it to come in early with my youngest four children instead of waiting for the day I already had a babysitter lined up.  I told you I’d have to bring my kids and you said it was fine with you if it was fine with me.  After confirming that my husband could pick up the oldest from the bus stop, I rearranged the day to make the appointment happen.

We tried for early naps but that was a bust.  So I packed up my slightly grumpy five-year-old, three-year-old and two-year-old twins, with LOTS of snacks, coloring books and electronics, and headed to the office.  The five-year-old and three-year-old insisted on each pushing a stroller and I was exhausted by the time we finally checked in.

Our name was called and you came out and pushed one of the strollers for me.  You got us settled in the room and let us set up a movie viewing station for the kiddos who were not being seen.

You told me I wasn’t being silly for coming in when the symptoms had died down as soon as I made the appointment.  You made us all feel comfortable and welcome, even with all the energy and noise.

When you came back to dilate Maggie’s eyes you were gentle and kind.  And you told us we didn’t have to wait an hour in the tiny room with expensive equipment and a no snack policy, but that you’d help us out to the lobby where there was room to play and eat.

When I asked if you could get us to the family bathroom instead you gladly obliged, and didn’t seem to mind when Katie started to go potty before we could even get the door closed.

When Maggie’s pupils were appropriately enormous you helped wheel us back into the exam room and offered to take the non-patients into the next room and babysit so I could have an undistracted conversation with the doctor.

When I came to pick them up you had let them try on glasses that made them feel “cool” and you were snuggling with the littlest one and thanking me for letting you do it.  You helped Shawn and Katie put on the shoes they had discarded at some point in the lobby and you offered to help us get back to the van.

You told me my kids were good and healthy so it made sense they’d have so much energy.

You said you enjoyed getting to play with them.

You let them give you bear hugs before you walked back into the doctor’s office.

I don’t know if you know how much you were an answer to prayer.  Or how your kind words soothed my tired mama heart.  Or if you realize that you made what seemed to me to be an impossible task, possible.  But I hope you do.  Your kindness made my day and will forever touch my heart.  Thank you.

– The mom with all the little kids

 

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Love Came Down

On Sarah’s most recent trip to the Children’s Hospital in the back of an ambulance they strapped her snugly onto the toddler stretcher and tucked a stuffed dog under her arm.  I tried to return it when we got to the ER, but they said she could keep it.  And she, literally, loved the stuffing right out of that dog.  They were inseparable, those two, he brought her comfort when she needed it most.

What is it about stuffed animals that makes kids feel secure?  When her Aunt Steph came to visit she brought Sarah two more stuffed animals.  And she loved them.  I think it’s having something to hold onto when they feel scared.  A physical reminder that they’re not alone.  As adults we may not carry stuffed animals around anymore; but when I’ve been in the hospital, birthing babies or having surgery, I’ve wanted a physical reminder that I’m not alone.  To be able to hold tightly to my husband’s hand, get a hug from my mom, or listen to reassuring words from my sister.

God knew we wouldn’t want to feel alone.  He made us for relationship.  And over 2,000 years ago, in that cramped, stinky stable, He send us a physical reminder that we are not alone.  Jesus came down to us.  To meet us in our weakness and our fear; to celebrate with us in our triumphs; to remind us of just how much we are truly, outrageously, wonderfully loved.

That love is for every single one of us.  Jesus was born to a blue collar worker, in a stable, and his birth was announced to shepherds.  On that night, so very long ago, the Good News, the Best News was proclaimed to those shepherds by an angel, ““Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11,emphasis mine)

Immanuel, God with us, our physical reminder that we are never alone and we are so very loved; today and always.

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The Super Glue Incident

The other day I touched my kitchen island and ended up with a sticky thumb and finger.  Shocking, I know.  Luckily I realized right away that it was leftover super glue from Brandon’s failed attempt at gluing Barbie’s shoes to her feet.  Once the realization hit me I made sure not to get my thumb and finger glued together, but rather decided to let them dry and then attempt to remove the glue with nail polish remover.  Apparently that works to get them unstuck but doesn’t actually get the glue off your fingers.  After wiping my thumb and finger numerous times with a nail polish remover soaked cotton ball my sweet husband, who apparently runs into this problem at work, said it would take some time for it to wear off.  I told him that was unacceptable.  Because, you see, I could still feel the super glue on my fingers.  Not sticky, just different.  A layer of glue.  It didn’t feel right and I kept rubbing my fingers together- hoping to somehow wear it back to normal.  I almost couldn’t stop doing it, couldn’t stop thinking about it, couldn’t stop being bothered by it.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I even started tearing up a little.  Not so much about the glue, although that was obviously annoying, but because I just wanted to have a normal reaction.  I was able to move on after several minutes but it made me wonder if that’s how Shawn feels with his sensory processing issues.  If he doesn’t feel right unless he’s jumping or pushing on you with his feet.  If he can’t stop feeling out of control until you give him a big squeeze.  And if that’s how he feels, then no wonder he reacts to things the way he does.  It made me much more empathetic to my little guy.  Who knew some super glue on my counter could give me so much insight?!

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Throwback Thursday: Cupcake Wars

I thought you all would enjoy reliving this hilarious episode with me today!  Enjoy!

My friend Robin, the one who made James’ Birthday Cake, did a cake decorating class at our church a couple of weeks ago.  We had to bring a dozen cupcakes to decorate and a vat of butter cream icing.  Since I figured I’d just make it the night before, and I knew that evenings were a little crazy for me, I invited Steph to come over so we could make them together (she was going to the class too).  She knew I was really asking her to come make them, while I chatted with her and fed Shawn, but she’s a good sport so she agreed to come anyway.  What ensued was one of the more hilarious evenings of our lives as sisters…

First of all, I was on the phone when she came over, and she didn’t want to wait for me to be done, so she took some unflattering pictures of me on the phone (see below), and then jumped right in.

I had talked her into using a box mix because she had a recipe that added a few items to a box mix to make it moister or fluffier or more likely to be iced well, or something like that.  So I bought the extra ingredients – like buttermilk and extra eggs – and she went to town.  I think she had 2 dozen cupcakes baking by the time I got off the phone.  (We decided to make a dozen vanilla and a dozen chocolate to take and a dozen of each to keep for ourselves, so we had to make 4 dozen cupcakes and she was in a hurry!)  We put them all in at once, hoping to save time, and I do not think that was a good idea.  It took forever for them to bake and when we pulled them out they had all exploded.  They were definitely not picture perfect cupcakes, but we were planning to ice them, so we thought maybe it would be ok, until we tasted them.  They were not so good.  Luckily it was late, and we were slap happy, so we found the whole situation amusing.  There was lots of laughing going on from us, and crying from Shawn, so we made a new plan that involved feeding the baby and putting him in bed, and starting all over baking from scratch.  Steph found a recipe from the Pioneer Woman, that I actually had the ingredients for, and we kicked it into high gear.  She made the cupcake batter and I worked on the icing.  (Sidenote: the icing is a very simple, three step recipe that took me the entire evening to complete, due to feeding Shawn, chatting with Steph and running around the kitchen finding ingredients for our time sensitive batter.)  We felt like we were on an episode of Cupcake Wars as we trashed (not really, we saved them for our husbands to eat) a batch and started over in a huge rush so we could go to bed at a decent hour.  Unfortunately, I had only bought 50 cupcake liners, so we were out by the time we made the good batch.  So, those looked good, but wouldn’t come out of the pan nicely despite the river of Pam I sprayed in each cup.  But seeing as it was almost eleven, we decided to call it good and use those cupcakes.  The icing was done, and I figured since it was made mostly of butter, it should be refrigerated.  After making room in the fridge and gathering all the cupcakes, we parted ways for the evening.

The story doesn’t end there, however, now on to the day of the class.  Once I got all three children wrangled and into the car, then the nursery, I headed for class.  Whereupon I found out that you are not supposed to refrigerate butter cream icing because it gets hard and you cannot use it to ice cupcakes until it thaws.  Luckily, the coordinator for the class was smart enough to make enough to share, so I put a huge glob on the lid of the Classic Batter Bowl that I brought my unusable icing in, and got down to business coloring it.  I went with blue, but I was laughing so hard I could not effectively mix it, so Steph, who was holding Shawn, traded and tried to get a nice blue.  We didn’t like the shade of blue, so we added some yellow, thinking we would get purple.  No, people, blue and yellow make green, so that’s what we ended up with!  A very pretty shade of teal, actually.  After we learned how to make our cupcakes into flowers, we tried our hand at it.  I think they would have looked better if we could have held them while we iced them, but they were sticking to the container, so we just left them in there.  Overall, it was a great class, and an even better memory!!

The finished products

Do I even need to explain this one?!

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Sleep Writing

I have always talked in my sleep.  My sister and I have actually had conversations with each other while we were both asleep.  I was a sleep walker when I was younger, which totally freaked out babysitters, and I think it’s because I have really vivid dreams.  Since I’ve gotten older I haven’t done as much sleep walking, but I still have conversations with Brandon from time to time that I definitely sleep through.  But last night was a first.  I wrote myself a note while I was asleep.  Actually, I was even more tech savvy then that, I pulled out my phone, managed to open the “Notes” app, and typed this out:

Sleep Writing

I vaguely remember doing it.  Mostly because I, obviously, kept misspelling that first word and it was annoying me.  I kind of recall thinking that I would be able to figure it out when I read it later so I could just go back to sleep.  My guess is I was trying to type “Need help!” which really makes me wonder what I was dreaming about last night…  Maybe these dreams are why I never feel rested; because feeling tired all the time probably has nothing to do with the five munchkins in my house!

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Why I was driving around with a bag of pee in my van.

This morning we had a bug guy come and spray the house.  I bought the Groupon for it when we kept seeing spiders, and forgot to actually use it until a couple days before it expires, that’s how we roll.  Anyway, when I made my (last minute) appointment I told the scheduler to warn the fellow that was coming that there would be four kids here that day.  He assured me that the spray was safe for kids but we might not want them to follow the guy around or touch anyplace that he sprayed until it was dry.  Knowing that my children would certainly follow him around and I wouldn’t put it past them to lick the baseboards before they were dry I decided to load up the mini van and do car errands.  I often do car errands when we desperately need to get out of the house, but I have less than zero energy to load and unload all of the children even once, let alone take them into a store where I have to keep an eye on them and hope they behave.  I only had one child who is potty trained-ish with me and she had gone potty before we left.  Everyone else was relaxing in diapers and I had no real timetable to worry about, or so I thought.  Even though it had been less than an hour, Katie HAD TO GO POTTY!!  I ordinarily would have encouraged her to work on her “holding it” skills, but since she had pooped in her pants only YESTERDAY, I decided I would treat it as an emergency.  However, as I previously mentioned, I did not feel motivated to unload everyone so Katie could pee, which is why we have a potty seat in the car.  The kind that stands up by itself but you do your business into a plastic bag.  I got it all situated in the van so Katie had some privacy, and she did a very accurate job and when I was tying off the bag and noticed a growing puddle on the van floor I realized it had a hole in it.  Sweet.  So I yanked it out of the van and set it in the parking lot searching in vain for a trash can, while it leaked onto the asphalt.  I so didn’t want to put that leaky bag in my van until I got home to throw it away, but I didn’t feel right about littering.  (In retrospect I realized, as you have already realized I’m sure, that it was just pee, I could have totally dumped it in the parking lot and only had the damp bag to deal with.  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20, right?)  Luckily I realized I had another bag (without holes) and double bagged it.  Then safely stashed it on the floor of the passenger seat until I could dispose of it when it was safe to return home.  Just another weird story I would have never believed would be a part of my life before I became a mom.  I know you have some too!! Feel free to share 🙂

The infamous bag of pee

The infamous bag of pee

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Warning!!

As a mother I feel like half of my conversations with my children involve warnings of some sort.  You know the kind, “If you sit that close to the tv you’ll go blind,” “Don’t put your hand in your brother’s pee,” “Don’t ride your bike down the slide,” etc., etc.  Many of these warnings are similar to the ones my mother gave me, and while my sister’s face has yet to freeze that way, most of the warnings were pretty spot on.  I was looking through old pictures and would like to share two of my warnings that were actually valid.  Thus proving that mom’s are not just out to ruin their children’s fun, they are, in fact, trying to save them from harm. 

Exhibit A:  I recommended that the children stop jumping from bed to bed before someone got hurt.  This little someone got hurt:

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Exhibit B:  I was literally saying, “Stop leaning on the gate, you’re going to break it” when there was a loud “pop” and the children came tumbling down the last couple stairs, pulling the gate with them.

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With proof like this maybe next time they’ll take my warnings seriously… hey, stop laughing!

 

 

 

 

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