passionate. not terrible. passionate.

She sits there in her room, tiny plastic pieces of treasures, books, pink feather pens surround her, a crooked tiara on her head and streaks of orange marker are drawn on her leg from her kneecap to her hot pink painted toenails.

She is forty pounds and forty some inches tall. She is three and she is the fiercest tiny human I have ever known.

I can’t remember whether we were discussing which pajamas she should wear for the night or who should put them on her. But I remember her being assertive with me. She was fierce when she looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, No mommy. I will do it myself. Humpf.

After having three boys in three years when I discovered I was pregnant for the fourth time I was certain it would be another boy. Boys were what I knew. Surely God was not going to challenge me with the newness of raising a daughter. 

Oh but God has a funny way about things and He did in fact turn my world upside-down and gave us that daughter. We have loved more than we thought we could love and I personally have been challenged more than I thought I would be raising something supposedly filled with sugar and spice and everything nice.

We are so grateful. I am so grateful for her. Our little girl, the last of four children in four years and the only girl, she is precious to all of us.

But she is so fierce. Frustratingly fierce. Passionate. Wanting to go about things her own way. Princess dresses, painted-toes, Batman masks and Boba Fett blasters.

She regularly will grab her brothers and scratch them so close to their eyeballs, leaving Harry Potter-like scratch marks on their foreheads.

She pushes smaller children at play dates. Moments worthy of making me want to crawl into the playhouse and hide or maybe cry.

She was the first of my four children to try out a passion-filled shut up to my face while I was correcting her.

And a few weeks ago while we were visiting my grandmother and grandfather in New York my grandmother had asked one of her kind friends if she would watch our four kids for us while my husband and I attended a grown-ups only event. When we returned there was my girl asleep on the floor. She had protested with my grandmother’s friend all night long. My grandmother’s friend reported to me that the boys were great and she couldn’t understand much of what my girl said all night except when she looked her in her eyes and clear as day said to her, “YOU are NOT welcome here.” 

She just straight-up tells selfless, helpful friends of her great-grandmother they are not welcome. sigh.

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My sweet forty pound daughter. The girl with the big bows in her whispy brown hair and bangles all the way up her arm can be quite challenging. And yesterday as she was being assertive with me I felt the words creeping into my head. Terrible Twos. Even though she is not two anymore. Those words terrible and twos were lurking in the back of my head.

I had to remind myself.

Challenging, yes. 

Terrible, no. 

Fierce, tenacious, passionate. Yes.

Terrible, no.

Assertive, opinionated, strong-willed. Yes.

Terrible. No.

In the moments when the anger starts to bubble beneath the surface and my vat of patience is running low I find myself grabbing on the posh words of parenting which often flash in my face on the Facebook Newsfeed. Terrible Twos, threenager. This is how the world sees her.

And honestly. I have written about this before and finding myself needing to write about this again. These posh sayings are not helpful to me as a parent at all. Parenting is difficult enough. And when you are drowning the last thing you need is the world chanting bitter snarky sayings to you from the top deck. Oh you’re drowning, yeah that’s terrible. It will be a year of terrible, terrible drowning. And then the next year of it will be even worse, but good luck with that.

What I need when I feel the hard prongs of raising up children is someone to throw me a life preserver and hop in the water with me.

And when I breathe deeply, I remember God is with me in the difficult waters. Not shouting unhelpful sayings from the boat but right in the difficult waters.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.

Isaiah 43:2

I can chose to breathe deeply, step out of my frustration, my impatience and on Sundays the crazy eyes produced by my aching pride when she is tenacious in front of a crowd in the front row at church.

I can pray for more peace. More patience. More self-control.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled.

John 14:27

I can breathe deeply and see the child standing in front of me, in the middle of the tiny plastic pieces treasures, books, and feather pens; with the crooked tiara and the orange marker drawn on her leg.

I can breathe and I can see her as God sees her. Precious. Uniquely knit together. Wonderfully made. A passionate girl in a crooked tiara trying to sort out this thing called life the same way I am.

And then I can be moved to compassion for her. I can remember that sometimes feeling great passion for things produces great emotion. And while I am a grown up and do not experience great passion about pajamas, my sweet girl has only been picking out and putting on her own clothes for a few months now and she does indeed experience great passion about pajamas.

And in my compassion I can correct her outside of my anger and impatience. I can help teach her proper words and tones for communicating independence because while I can be gracious and identify with big emotions and tenacity I will not tolerate sass or disrespect. Girl may be fierce but girl must be respectful to her momma.

And I can remember she is in the waters too. That God is with her. The rivers of passion and difficulty will not consume her either.

That in these challenging passionate days in the middle of tiny plastic pieces of treasures, books, pink feather pens, crooked tiaras and streaks of orange marker down her legs, the Lord is near and He is working on both of our hearts.

We are on a journey. It feels terrible but we will get through it. And God promises the waves of difficulty will not overcome either of us.

The Last Load of Laundry

There used to be a time when I had my family’s laundry situation under control. I was able to follow the schedule, put the clothes away and keep the bins from overflowing in a manner that felt natural and protected me from feeling bitterness over the bountiful bins of what seems to be a never ending battleground of washing clothes and undergarments.

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But now here in this present time, I can’t seem to keep up with our laundry situation any longer. My bountiful bins are more often dirty than clean and our sock situation has my children buying into the idea that everyday is “silly sock day” at school.

Even this weekend as my husband and I have rallied; I have been faithful to get the clothes in the wash and into the dryer methodically while he has been the precise and ever important folder swooping in to complete the job. Our new weekend rule is if my husband wants to watch a game of some kind on television he must be folding and watching.

Even with our go get ’em efforts and even as we see the end of the dirty laundry coming into view, I realize it will only be moments before another article of clothing will be dirtied and the cycle and balance of the bountiful bins will begin once again.

And again and again and again.

Until (what feels like) Jesus comes back and there will no longer be laundry.

As my heart became discouraged thinking about the eternal cycle and endless bountiful bins, I took a deep breath, a step back and I remembered that every discouraging phase I find myself in as a mom has always simply been a phase.

A moment. A blink. A millisecond.

Just a millisecond ago I was washing 0-3 month baby clothes in Dreft Detergent.

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And a millisecond from now my children can start folding their own laundry while they watch Saturday sports with their dad.

And a millisecond from then I will be back to folding laundry for a party of two once again. Because in a millisecond these precious kids, whom I only have for such a short while will be grown and gone.

So as I anticipated the last load of laundry, after taking a breath and a step back, I found a moment to be thankful for the bountiful bins, mismatched socks and moments of feeling like I am in an endless cycle of wash, spin, dry, fold.

This quote is borrowed from something I saw on Etsy from a Laundry Room sign I want to hang up in my home as an everyday reminder to be thankful for this phase in motherhood of bountiful laundry bins and what seems to be endless cycles.

“Today I will be thankful for all the little socks, the grass stained jeans and the endless piles of laundry. For there will come a day when the laundry basket is empty and these days will be profoundly missed.”

Thinking about a day when the baskets will be empty makes me feel thankful for the bountiful bins today because there will be a day when that last load of laundry will bring grief and sadness instead of relief.

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If you loved this post or connected to my words in anyway would you mind sharing this with a friend or commenting below? Thank you for stopping by.

Rachel

Prayers For My First Grader

It was supposed to be rest time in our home at 1:30 this afternoon. I put my baby down in her crib, closed the door and walked down the stairs to call the boys in for rest time just the way I normally do.

I sing to the tune of Mary Had A Little Lamb: ” It’s time to find your resting place, resting place, resting place, time to find your resting place, it is time to rest.”

But as I went to open the door and sing my song I saw three boys laughing and playing and I just could not make them stop.

So I watched them play from the bay window. The older two were on the swings and the younger was whacking them with a pool noodle. They were all laughing hysterically but I started to cry as I watched them.

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Today was the last day that all three of them will run around in the backyard after lunch time most days of the week. Tomorrow our biggest boy goes off to first grade and seventy one percent of his lunches and after lunch play times will now be spent outside of our home. (Mathematicians don’t hate on me here… I did not configure school and summer vacations into that one.)

So as I watched them I prayed. As I have gotten in the habit of praying for my kids when I spy on their play times.

I prayed for my son’s first days in his new classroom.

Lord, you are faithful and good. Please give my son good relationships with his new teachers and help him make new and long lasting friendships with his classmates. 

Lord, help him find others to run around on the playground with the same way he runs around our backyard at home. 

Lord, give him friends to sit at the lunch table with and joke and laugh… but also in the appropriate ratio of socializing and food eating. 

Lord, help me remember your faithfulness to us last year. Give me hope and trust for a school year which will grow us and stretch us in ways we weren’t expecting. 

Lord, give my son confidence in his work. Help him know in his heart that he is always loved by The Most High God. Help my son remember that he is kind, smart and important, uniquely knit together, wonderfully made. 

Lord, help my son stand up for himself and others. Help him be strong and courageous because You are with him wherever he goes. 

And Lord, help me be strong and courageous too because You have written that You are with my son wherever he goes and You are faithful. 

And as I watch these boys play, help the youngers left behind miss their brother well. Help them miss him enough to long to play around him but not enough to forget the fun they have when they are all together. 

Lord, we need you in transition and the unknowns. Help us trust You more and love one another better in the days to come.

Amen. 

And now the hardest thing to do is to leave my prayers and trust. To walk in the faith that calls us to believe in God’s faithfulness, even when we can’t see His faithfulness coming. To let the tears come with peace. The peace of God which transcends all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

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First grade, here we come.

You can pray for me too.

The WORST Mom Ever

I am the WORST mom ever.

Sometimes I say this phrase to my kids when they are experiencing a disappointing circumstance. Truly. I can be fun but I am also tough. This combination leads to many disappointing circumstances.

When I say that I am the WORST mom ever to my kids I am only joking to add to the drama of their disappointed hearts. (When all my children are in counseling as adults they will talk to note taking men and women about how I used this phrase against them to feel guilty.)

I know I am causing damage when I joke with them about being the worst mother ever but I do find myself saying things like:

Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t get ice cream on the way home tonight but that is because I am the WORST mom ever.

Lately my oldest son has been saying something back to me and the more he responds to me the more I am taking his words seriously.

When I call myself the WORST mom ever he always says,

“Mom, why do you say you are the WORST mom ever when you are actually the BEST?”

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The first time he said this I took his response lightly because this is the reaction I wanted to get out of my children. (The children crying while leaving Kings Island because I only treated them to Chick Fil A and a day filled with amusement park fun and I did not add ice cream on top of it all.)

These words from my oldest son have continued to stick with me even though it was the response I was expecting.

Even though I was expecting my son to respond in this way, I never expected his words to affect me the way they have.

How often do we all speak these words of untruth to all of our hearts when we find ourselves not measuring up to the moms whom we encounter at church, on the playground, in our schools and on social media.

How often are we speaking to our own hearts that we aren’t doing this mom thing as well as someone else?

I do this all the time.

Every time I fail throughout the day. Whether it comes down to feeling guilty over what I put on the table, the amount of activities I did or did not plan, the hours I spent away from them on a trip or on a run, the amount of minutes I fell short on a reading log or the homework folder.

However I fail, I sometimes and in someway speak this poisonous phrase to myself.

The WORST mom ever. 

I think it and I really feel this phrase I speak jokingly to my children at times.

And the words of my oldest son are such a sweet gift to me:

“Mom, why do you always say you are the worst when you really are the best.”

I may not feel like I am always measuring up. But to the four kids who I feel like I am failing, currently I am the best mom ever to them. Currently, my kids see me doing this job of mom and through their lens they see me doing my best.

Why do I always say I am the worst? I don’t know. I wish I could see myself though the lenses of my children.

Maybe I wouldn’t be so hard on myself.

Maybe I would see myself the way they see me.

To our young children, we are the best. They can’t see what everyone else on social media is doing. They just see their moms waking up each day and loving them the best they can. Our kids don’t have the ability to measure us up against everyone else. They only measure us up against the happiness they find within the walls of their happy homes.

We may feel like the WORST but to the little people who matter, we are THE BEST.

I’m actually may be doing a decent job at this mom thing.

Those are the words I need to speak more kindly to my own heart.

The Things I Said I’d Never Do: An Unraveled Parent

There was a moment the weekend right before Christmas where I found myself cheering in a dark deserted parking lot on a chilly December night. I was cheering because my three year old was peeing in the bushes, outside and in the cold.

Really. I was rejoicing. This is something I’d never thought I’d be doing. Six years ago in my early parenting days, when my first son was about nine months old, my husband shared a story with me about a little boy peeing in the church parking lot and I said,

“I WILL NEVER let my son pee in a parking lot.” And I really believed myself. I was even reluctant to let my first son pee in the yard while we were potty training at two.

And there in December, I found myself applauding my three year old in the dark. I was so proud of him. This was same kind of pride I feel when one of my children take their first steps. Peeing outdoors has actually become an important milestone for me and after three sons, this “will never” along with many others has given me the opportunity to see myself unravel my wound up strings, breathe and let go of all those things I thought I’d never do as a parent.

A dear friend told me once, “parenting is actually for the parents” and I could not agree more. I can see how these little humans that I’ve carried, nursed, fed and cleaned up after are actually changing me more than I ever thought they would back at the beginning of the all the “will nevers”.

Parenting is for us. The parents. It’s funny how such tiny people have helped me grow and change. How these tiny people have helped me conquer fears, push the boundaries of who I thought I was and help me learn to love in ways I never thought I could.

I also said I will never let my kids watch Spongebob but when your stuck in a hotel room at 4pm on a rainy day with no Disney Junior you learn to let go on the tiny things that you think will corrupt your children’s tiny hearts and minds and you trust that God is bigger than Spongebob.

I said I will never own a toy gun back in those early days of being a new mom. My intentions were to raise boys that were not violent miscreants shooting everything and everyone they see. But looking back now I can see those intentions were ruled by fear and not trust. We now have multiple storage containers for weapons and nerf darts lodged into every couch cushion in our home. And so far- no violent miscreants.

I believe I may have uttered the words…

I will never let my children jump on the beds or the couch. Clearly I did not understand boys or children when this sentence came out of my mouth. This was also tangled up with the fear of my children getting hurt. I now actually sometimes encourage jumping on the couch and the beds, rejoicing when I hear them jumping and laughing and playing together the same way I was rejoicing when that little three year old was brave enough to pee outside in the cold.

I will never let my kids have formula. I am pretty sure I cried like a madwoman when the pediatrician told me my first son had lost too much weight and we had to supplement formula. The doctor’s eyes even bulged out a little at my overreaction. He wasn’t suggesting poison. Just formula. For supplemental purposes. And I was hyperventilating in my hospital bed uttering words of defeat, fear and remorse. When my fourth child was born I actually asked the nurse to give her formula our last two nights in the hospital so I could rest after having my fourth c-section. For supplemental and sanity purposes.  All my kids have been nursed and given formula and despite my fears none of them has grown a third eye or eleventh toe… yet.

I will never teach my children the word MINE. I found myself correcting a friend a few years back when he was playing keep away with my infant son and using the four letter word, mine. “I don’t want him to know what that word is” is what I think I said. I felt like the word mine was the root of all selfishness. The word that in four letters can turn a sweet child into a monster. My desire was to teach my son that everything was given by a Great Giver and therefore help him learn to not use words which represented a heart of selfishness. But again, my good intentions were tangled up in fear and the unknown that a word does not produce a heart of selfishness. A heart of selfishness is naturally in all of us and selfishness will work it’s way into a home with or without the word mine.

I will never be able to survive parenting four young children, who happen to be within four years of one another. Look. It is true. Having little humans is tough. Tears on the floor, will I make it to nap time tough. I do not like to live in the unexpected. But having four kids so close together has taught me to learn to swim in unexpected waters. I am slowly learning to survive in the unexpected and learning to be comfortable when I can’t control every little thing happening around me. So far I am surviving. I haven’t lost anyone yet and everyone is still all in one piece. Things almost never go the way I planned them to go but I am learning to trust that God’s plans are greater than my plans. God is growing me and changing me, unraveling threads of fear and weaving new stronger threads of trusting in Him.

I am thankful when I find myself doing things I thought I said I would never do. It is there where I see growth. It is there where I see God making me into a better version of myself. 

I never thought about parenting being for the parents. But it is. It changes you.You may even find yourself cheering for your children when they are peeing outside in the dark.

 

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Hi, I’m Rachel. I became a follower of Christ one year before I found myself married to a man pursuing a seminary degree and on the road to become a pastor. That was nine years ago. We now have four kids, he is the head pastor of a PCA church in Mason, Ohio and I am figuring out how to be a mom, how to love my husband and how to trust God in the every day, one day at a time. I write stuff here and I try to keep it honest and encouraging as I have accomplishments and set backs. Follow this page on Facebook or add your email to the follow box on the right so we can stay in touch.