Be kind, please rewind.

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I’ve been processing through some regrets lately.

Motherhood hasn’t come naturally for me, and the toddler stage has been the hardest of all to figure out – especially the first time around. Seeing the way I relate and bond with my youngest has had me thinking about what I missed with my oldest. As a toddler, I just didn’t treat her the same way I treat my current toddler.

Don’t get me wrong, I love them equally, it’s just that my goals were different. With my oldest, my goal was to aid her development. I wanted to do the best job I could at helping her advance.

My husband and I already knew we were going to homeschool, so I wanted to get my game on – “it’s never to early to start.” At least that’s what I thought. I was operating from the traditional school model and didn’t even know it.

I wanted her to perform for me – write her name, learn the alphabet, count to 20, know all the colors and shapes – all at the ripe old age of two. I wouldn’t have said out loud that I wanted a good performance from her to validate my hard work, but that’s what it was and I can see it clearly now. And thankfully for us both, she wasn’t designed to perform. I had to learn the hard way that I was the one who wasn’t developing correctly.

The time between my oldest and my youngest has taught me to relax, to be with them without wanting anything from them, and to learn them.

But sometimes I feel like I started to learn this too late. Like the window of innate bonding was thwarted during my daughter’s toddler years, and no matter how hard I try to love, understand, and support her it never seems to make up for the bonding we lost.

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It doesn’t seem fair, and I often want to make it right. I realized that the nagging feeling of regret has been working into my heart a good desire to make a change, to work harder at relating and bonding in ways I missed before, and to search for the grace in our relationship.

On regular days, I don’t know how to instantly reach her heart. She’s unique in so many ways, different from me in all the fundamentals, and our dance assumes an air of distance.

So it would make sense that our bonding, moments of understanding, would happen at unplanned and unexpected times.

Like when we stayed home from church on Sunday because she wasn’t feeling well.

I don’t remember the last time I had a sick day with just her. And honestly, I’m glad I was feeling ill myself because I sat still and stayed with her all day. (I’m working on the whole “with” thing. Not just being in the same building with my kids, but actually being side-by-side with them.)

I had a moment where I knew this time alone was special, mentally chiding myself to not mess it up. But when it comes to relating to her, my strength becomes a weakness: I like to plan but I can’t plan for a heart connection. I can’t make her bond with me. She can sense my intentions a mile away, and if she smells any sort of a “plan” then up goes the wall.

Again, my sickness was a blessing. We just sat together, all tangled up in one blanket, and watched TV like regular, old couch potatoes. It wasn’t normal for us at all, and we watched some really crazy old shows like the Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island. I told her about how I watched these shows when I was her age, and I just enjoyed being with her.

Then something special happened. I wanted so badly for her to bond with me, but I was the one who bonded with her. I felt like a kid right along side her. I came back in touch with what it felt like to be small and vulnerable, to not assume connection but to embrace the surprise of it, and to be lighthearted and free.

I read once (and I just spent a chunk of time scouring my bookshelf to find the source – to no avail) that we accept the quirkiness of adults as if they are somehow fixed or permanent and better to be reconciled with than to try to change them. But with children, we view their quirks as black marks that need to be removed, retrained, and replaced with something more socially acceptable (or in my case, something just less annoying).

On the couch with my daughter, I saw her relax in my presence. She knew I wasn’t going to jump up and correct her, train her, or try to change her. I was with her. I was accepting her, as is. I was lavishly spending time with her not only because we were both sick but also because I love her.

And that’s what I want to communicate to my kids the most through this thing called homeschooling. At the end of the day, I want my kids to know in the fiber of their being that the #1 reason we have chosen to educate them at home is because they are loved, they are known, and they have priceless value just because they exist.

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If I could rewind the story of my daughter’s life, oh, I would do so many things differently, but then I would miss this grace right here. The grace that says, only through this struggle have you’ve grown as a mother, you now know better, and you’ve always loved her (even imperfectly).

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Day 18: Chores, Grace, and Sales Announcements #B2S #31Days

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Yesterday I wasn’t feeling good, and my mom helped me out big time. She took my kids and allowed me to rest. When she brought them home, her being in my home helped me more than she knows. Her physical presence cast a different light on my priorities.

During this back to school series, I have intentionally spent more time blogging. I can’t believe that my daily word count has been in thousands! It truly has shown me how much I’m capable of writing, and has put to rest the fear that I won’t be able to finish what I started.

But when one thing receives more attention, another thing usually receives less.

In this case, it’s been my housekeeping.

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Writing this series is just for a season, and a short one at that. It’s a special situation taking attention and intention in order to accomplish. This morning, I woke up still not quite right, so I went back to bed.

I preached grace to myself that if I didn’t post today – the world would go on and my readers would understand (you’re great like that – thanks!).

While I think it’s important to be flexible; it is also important to recognize when a special situation has taken too much away from the normal order of priorities.

And that’s how my mom’s presence helped me yesterday. Seeing her in my space gave me the perspective that I need to slow down and reorganize my priorities in order to accomplish more housekeeping.

My focus on setting up the schoolroom for officially starting school has been getting more and more unbalanced and the rest of the house has suffered.

But that’s not all. I realized that since we moved into our house at the beginning of July, I haven’t had my children do any household chores other than clean their rooms.

So today that all changed, and boy are we are better for it.

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The challenge for today in the #Back2School in #31Days series is to set up a daily chore list for the kids in addition to my regular chores.

Ironically, housekeeping came up in a conversation over swings with another homeschool mom this past weekend. I told my friend, I do one household chore per day. I don’t overload myself and I don’t do housework perfectly. One area per day is enough to keep me focused and consistent.

Here’s my regular chore list:

  • Monday: Kitchen
  • Tuesday: Bathroom
  • Wednesday: Tidy Bedrooms, declutter
  • Thursday: Tidy Main Areas, dust and declutter
  • Friday: Floors
  • Saturday: Catch up day

I also try to keep a steady flow of laundry – one load per day. The free videos from the last Ultimate Bundle Sale addressed this, and it really has helped me with creating and maintaining a better laundry routine (although writing this series has set me off that routine a bit).

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For the kids, I started them off today with household chores! I assigned jobs based on ability and interest:

  • My detail oriented son: vacuum
  • My collection and pattern friendly girl: fold laundry

The schedule for them will be flexible for a while, but I’m so excited to get little chore routine established for them that goes well with our block schedule.

Kids’ Chores Research:

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Now for the sales announcements!

Coming soon, the Ultimate Bundles team will release the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. It’s sure to far surpass expectations. And the pre-sale freebie is available now! Check out this link – 4 Essential Habits of Healthy Families Audio Course – and get the course for free for a limited time. Think of this free audio course as a try before you buy sort of thing. If you like this, then you’ll certainly benefit from the bundle. (More on when it will be available soon!)

Crystal has announced the sale date for her course: Make Over Your Mornings! Mark this down: Tuesday, August 25th the course will be $7 OFF retail price! You can snag this course and change not only your mornings, for just $10. Also, if you aren’t sure this course is for you, she’s offering a sneak peek at the course for free – this week only.

This is Day 18 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

Break life’s tasks into manageable chunks: download One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider today!
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Monday Mindset :: Vol. 3

{I know it’s Sunday, and therefore this post shouldn’t technically be published today. But I hope you find it encouraging and maybe it will be just the preparation needed to take into Monday.}

So I was changing a diaper. But I wasn’t feeling right. And I’m not talking about the diaper. I was knee deep in personal need. So fundamental that I still can’t articulate the source. Whatever makes me “me” wasn’t right. And it hadn’t been right for days. The task at hand was, well, dirty and it didn’t look like the day was getting much brighter. My last Monday Mindset was on embracing the joy in pain, and here I was in a different type of pain that left me in the dark.

Do you know that feeling? Of being lost in the dark?

It’s full on spring now in Michigan, and the beauty and brightness of it all truly takes my breath away. I was driving a week or so ago with my children in the van, and I’ll never forget the shock of suddenly looking up and noticing that all the trees were green again! Something happened over the course of this long winter that led me to teach myself to be content with the grey. To embrace the dark and cold as gifts from the Creator who knows better than I. And that moment, that singular point in time was like an electrical current to my spirit that sparked everything to life.

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I’ve noticed that others must be feeling that same spark because I see life all around me in their smiling faces. People everywhere walking, running, and working in their yards. Happy to put their whole self to work in the brightness of the spring sun. “Spring cleaning” I’m observing is not a date on the calendar but rather a reaction to the sun. The light sets us in motion to work and clear out the dirty that the dark collects.

The darkness outside flees with nowhere to hide when the sun comes full circle and lights up the world around me. But the darkness inside, the clouds of pain and frustration that accumulate in my soul sometimes seem to have a force that can withstand the Light. The Truth seems dim and distant, and I’m turned around by my feelings and suddenly I revert to a childish condition of fear and panic relying on my fight or flight, my own strength, to force my way back to a place of safety.

My own strength can only produce false safeties. If I turn to fight, I exert myself in anger to regain a sense of “control” that has been lost in the dark. Or if I turn to flight, I surrender to what seems to be the wave of discouragement, the heavy blanket of despair which takes way too much effort to unburden myself.

Until that day with the diaper. One piercing ray of Truth broke through the clouds of dark, and I heard: there’s enough grace for this moment. Enough grace to stay steady, calm. Enough grace to take one step and stay in the Light. Enough grace to keep believing that the darkness has no real power over me. Enough grace to stay active with my mind, to resist temptation, to refuse the pull of fight or flight. Enough grace to truly feel thankful.

So for the past 7 weeks or so, and now going forward I’ve had this mindset: there is enough grace for this. And I’ve been granted enough faith to believe it and live in the Light.