For most of my marriage, I’ve been a stay-at-home mama and home school teacher. My spouse has been the sole bread-winner. When we purchased a restaurant in December of 2015, I assumed that the effect of our decision would be confined to my husband’s employment only. I never dreamed that our choice to buy an eatery would have such radical repercussions on our whole family life, including our home schooling. Continue reading
We’d just finished showering, the two-year-old and me, when I reached for the towel bar. Unfortunately, since I hadn’t planned in advance for our dual exit from the hot, steamy shower into the frigid, meat locker that is our bathroom in winter, my hands met with one dry towel and one damp one (left over from my husband’s solitary shower a few minutes earlier).
In a split second decision, I grabbed the dry cloth first and wrapped it around my little one’s pink, naked body. Then I proceeded to use the chilly, wet towel on myself. Working in high speed, I figured I could whisk away enough water from my limbs to stave off hypothermia.
Once this step was accomplished, I was forced to tip-toe across the icy tile floor to get from the bathroom mat to the laundry room rug (because again my morning brain hadn’t thought to have our clean clothes laying at the ready.) READ the rest HERE
For years, at about 3pm on Christmas Day my kiddos would hit the wall one by one. After a long Christmas Eve followed by a too-early-rising, their energy stores were depleted and just past midday they’d drop like flies: a snoring pre-schooler on the couch still clutching his new light saber, a drowsy teen sprawled out on the floor amidst her books.
Additionally, I often noticed an air of disappointment creeping in once the last gift was torn open, the evening meal digested and the boxes hauled out to the trash. Honestly, I sensed it in myself almost as much as I detected it in my family members.
READ more about the 4 ways we’ve reclaimed the Twelve Days of Christmas on Raleigh Moms Blog.
“What are you, an idiot?”
It wasn’t the first time his parents had resorted to a litany of name calling. It seemed to be their routine form of communication: an insult here, a slight there, a sprinkling of profanities, a rude retort or a less than flattering moniker. Honestly, I’d been disgusted from the start, but on this day I could no longer silently stomach the verbal assault his parents were launching rapid-fire in his direction. Continue reading
Rounding the back bumper of our 15 passenger van, we began our routine for loading up the crew. The chatty teens readily made their way to the rear seat while our younger daughter buckled in the toddler.
Dropping the stroller down to the closed position, my husband instructed our 9 year old ball of boy energy to move the bottles of water and take his seat next to his 7 year old cohort. While our feet were dog-tired from the full day of walking around the fairgrounds, the kids’ energy levels seemed to be drawing off of some endless reserve. Continue reading
When our friends’ son entered seminary right out of high school, I considered that they had some recipe for raising such a faithful young man. And when their daughter gave serious consideration to joining a religious order, I was convinced that our friends had stellar parenting skills and a formula for holiness.
Those friends had a secret, I was sure, and I wanted to know what it was.
Whenever I had the opportunity, I watched them. Intently, I studied their pious mannerisms when we joined them for adoration and I kept a mental account of everything they did when we ran into them at social gatherings.
Comparing their family to mine, I noted how soft-spoken and gentle they all were. From modest, tidy clothes to neat hair styles, their five children always appeared well groomed and respectful.
Recently, I implemented a reward system in our household. I’ve been down this road before (many times in fact) with my older boys, but it seemed an ideal time to re-institute a temporary system of clearly defined rewards for obedience and self-control as well as an equally unambiguous list of punishments for bad conduct.
Honestly, I didn’t add anything new to the roster of expectations, rather this was simply an attempt to reorder that which had become chaotic around these parts.
A Battleground of Wits & Wills
A rude comment here, an insult there, a push, a retaliatory shove, some name calling and lots of chores left undone, our home was becoming a battleground of wits, wills and whining.
My children took to the system like guppies to water. Left and right, I was issuing good behavior tickets that could be cashed in for screen time, fabulous Dollar Store prices and coveted alone-time with mama at Chick-Fil-A.
Having attended the graduation of son number one last year, we already knew the drill on what to expect when we loaded up our family van and headed north to attend our second son’s high school graduation. Our prior experience certainly benefited the planning for this year’s trip.
With knowledge of the terrain, weather and the sequence of scheduled events, we were more savvy about what to pack and what to leave behind. Remembering the limited buffet menu, we factored in the necessity to stock extra food in the cooler.
Recalling that the baby spent less time sleeping in the port-a-crib and more time hogging the bed between his father and me, we didn’t bother cramming the extra bed into the puzzle of luggage, sleeping bags, snacks, extra pillows and shoes.
This time last year I was patting myself on the back for having actually managed to achieve what I set out to do thirteen years prior. Sure I’d spent those years confidently defending my calling to home school, but when the day came to watch that first son accept his diploma I felt a kind of vindication.
In my previous article I wrote about how I sometimes feel like an old tattered teddy bear, who’s been tossed, toted and squished until the seams burst and the stuffing erupts.
Unfortunately, unlike the teddy bear’s frayed parts, my episodes of impatience and lost temper are anything but cute.
Honestly, I try to be a patient mother.
I try to listen with interest when someone interrupts my attempt to write an article for the fourteenth time in a row, so that they can tell me the uber adorable trick they’ve just taught their baby brother.
And I try to maintain my cool when two siblings start barking their opposing sides of a debate five minutes after we’ve all walked outside of the church doors. I try, but sometimes I fail.
The baby walked in front of our play-set swing, while it was in use by the 6 year old, causing the littlest guy to be launched into a fresh mud puddle. That incident caused their teen-aged, sibling caretaker to lash out at the swing rider eye-for-an-eye style.
I was working 3rd grade math word problems and navigating the world in an atlas with my 5th grader when the crying, muttering, muddy trio burst through the front door simultaneously bellowing their allegations against one another.
Trying to remain calm, I scooped up the dirt caked toddler while attempting to negotiate a truce between the two warring parties.
Reminding everyone about the value of self-control and sincere contrition, I made my way to the bathroom so as to hose off my toddler. Unfortunately, the only thing my youngest hates more than the bath tub is a shower that doesn’t include my full participation.