Friday, March 15

Place: A Five Minute Friday Reflection

There is often a great expanse of space between the "place" that I want to be and the place that I am...

This is currently the case for me professionally, personally,  and well...domestically.

Listen, I have aspirations for our house...the place where we do life...really, I do!

But, alas...I seem to be perpetually domestically challenged,  and so we all end up in this funny 'place' emotionally and literally with this place we call home.  This place we do life together.

I'd like this place that we intertwine as a family--where we share ideas, work through struggles--those we hold within, and the ones that stretch out, mingling with the moods and thoughts of all of the other family members-- I would like the place in which that all happens on a daily basis to feel more be a lovely landscape for the happy and the hard. To not feel like it's adding to the chaos, but to feel like a balm to the busy. 

Our place, our home, does not currently feel like a balm to the busy. It feels like a busy bomb of life has scattered itself e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. 

Queue the's o.k. Laughing is better than my opinion anyway.

I honestly thought, with the advent of my youngest of three daughters heading off to school this year that our place would finally feel al little more settled-- that I would find more time to clean, more brain space to organize and order the stuff of our lives, that there would be more intentionality focused on making our place feel  like the "home" that I'd like it to be...the "home" in the pictures of my mind.

Candles lit, cool art and home decorations that reflect our "style", laundry nicely folded and ready to be put away, a spice cabinet that doesn't assault me with plastic bottles of cumin when I open the know...the little things.

And yet, it still looks like this...

Alright, to be fair...the first two pictures were taken the week we had our rugs replaced in our entire upstairs three weeks the entire upstairs had to be carried downstairs, and then back upstairs again...which was lots of fun (and sounds like a premise for a Dr. Seuss book!).

(By the way, did you spot the dog in the first picture...a friend of my suggested we start an IG hashtag titled  #whereisTanner)

And the third picture...well, that's how my ADD brain gets me into trouble during holidays like Valentine's Day with 3 kids, who all requested different cards and when I volunteer to do crafts in my daughter's kindergarten classroom...

Which was also fun...but, messy..

But whether we're installing rugs or not, these picture do depict our "place" on a pretty regular basis (albeit a wee bit exaggerated here!): Our menagerie of life lived, ideas in process, and everything in between.

This is our place in life right now; busy, messy, trying to be more organized, and trying to love one another well in the process, despite the mess.

This post was inspired by Five Minute Fridays, a place where a whole bunch folks write about one word, for five minutes,  and then link up their ideas.

It's lots of fun, you should check it out! 

Monday, March 11

Thoughts On My Years as a Mom

On Saturday afternoon I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote this at the top: 
“My Life As a SAHM”   (SAHM= Stay at Home Mom)
I intended to brainstorm some quick thoughts and ideas that would succinctly summarize my experience as a mom over the last twelve years.
I’m not sure what na├»ve part of me thought that such an assignment would be quick or succinct—that I would be able to adequately describe the experience, journey, growth, challenges, struggle, and blessings that the last 12 years have been.
These are some of the words I wrote down:
Identity defining
Only possible by faith
Deeper reliance on God
Emotional healing

Maybe, I thought after jotting these down, it’s un-summarizable, these last 11 years of life.
And yet don’t we all, in some way, want to take stock of our days—of our experiences? Especially when some piece of our lives, some season, has been so soul defining that you realize you are a completely different person than when you began?
A completely different person, with the same name: Mom.
In the process of trying to write this post, I also tried starting three different times. 
The first attempt shared the story of a resume I sent to a potential freelance client last week. Given that my primary job description for 11 years now has been “Mom” my resume felt poorly outdated and strangely irrelevant. 
How could sending a list of bulleted “professional” experiences, mostly from over a decade ago, really communicate who I am and what my current strengths are?
I wanted to send a cover letter that said—“Let me tell you what lies between the lines: Between the lines of that last formal teaching job in 2007 and my life today in 2019. I promise you it’s far more interesting than what is actually printed on the page.”
I scrapped that post and started another one—I thought I could start at the beginning—the day Scott and I found ourselves driving to the hospital to give birth to Ava in June of 2007. How it was a week before my due date, and my “birth plan” went right out the window…and how quickly you realize that very little about parenting every really goes as planned.
But, that was going to be a l-o-n-g post, and I wasn’t sure where to stop—there was no way to draw a straight line from there to here…today.
I decided against that one too.  
I complained to Scott. “Babe, I wanted to write this post," I told him,  "but there’s no way to write about 12 years of motherhood in one post.” 
“Of course there isn’t,” he said.  
Of course there isn’t.
So here we are. 

Here I am. 

Offering a list of words, a few sentences… telling you it’s been a long, good, complex, often overwhelming, soul-defining journey, but not giving you anything specific.
I can, however,  tell you a few things I've learned about parenting in general...

I can tell you that I have become far more confident in my parenting decisions in the last few years. I know that I’m the mom, and that I know what’s best for my kids, especially when I’ve been praying about it. 
I can tell you that Scott and I realize we are creating a legacy.  That we are sowing seeds of character, courage, faith and a worldview into our girl’s hearts and lives, and that it isn’t a responsibility we take lightly.
I can tell you that there are some days I feel like I know so much more about how to be a good parent- what I should be doing, where I should be intentional, what the goals and vision should and can be.
But, I can also tell you that there are the days when I fall flat on my face because I’m tired, frustrated, or discouraged. On those days it feels like nothing I'm doing is amounting to anything the way I thought it would…and while I know this is a feat of perseverance and commitment, sometimes I just want someone else to be in charge for a little while.
I can tell you that I have legitimately locked myself in the bathroom and have hidden in the basement—ignoring the calls for “Mom”—and thought, Can someone else just be the mom today? I’m so done momming right now! 
But then…
Ahhh, but then…
A picture comes up on my Facebook feed that causes a huge lump to form in my throat. A picture of Aubrey just 3 years ago, sitting in the backseat with two binkies in her mouth, a huge winter coat smooshed into the car seat buckles, and her socks and shoes stripped off.
I laugh and remember how it used to drive me C-R-A-Z-Y that she took her stinkin’ shoes off every time we got in the car because it meant that we were going to have to take five minutes to put them back on before we went into the store (or, wherever we were going). Yet, looking at her chubby 3-year-old feet in that picture makes me think I would do it ALLL over again…I just wouldn’t let it drive me so crazy.
And the pictures of Ava and Ella—when they were in 1stand 3rdgrade and I used to pick them up from school and we’d go straight to Tim Horton’s for a snack because Ava needed to go to gymnastics and Ella needed to go to dance, and it became this weekly “thing”. 

You know, the ways things become “things”. 
They’re both wearing fleece hats and sucking on their smoothie straws, faces right next to each other, smiling with all of the joy possible in their sweet little worlds.  
They were all such sweet moments and there are hundreds of pictures to remind of how very sweet they were…thousands, actually. (I-cloud verified that there are 7,665 current photos as a matter of fact…and that’s not all of them!)

So, on the days when I feel like I can’t remember what we did last week, or what it felt like to hold a baby, or push a toddler in a stroller through Disney World, on the weeks when I feel like it’s all a hard, uphill battle, it does me good to look at those photos…because they communicate something to me.  They remind me of something that is sometimes hard to put into words.
They remind me of the beauty. The blessing. The joy. The thrills. The laughter. The love. The reasons we do all that we do—even when we’re tired, poured out, and feeling like we don’t want to “mom” for one more minute.
We are creating a legacy, after all.
We are writing a story.
It's actually a more beautiful story than I sometimes like to believe when the girls are complaining about cleaning their rooms, or about the chewy chicken I attempted to cook in the crock-pot.
Would I do it all over again? The sleepless nights, the toddler years with two kids 19-months apart who were always driving each other crazy, the commitment to stay at home full time with them until they all started school? 
Ha! Maybe…Maybe if someone promised me I’d get a little bit more sleep and that a free maid came with the deal. Then, I would definitely do it all over again.
Only, you know what I would change?
I would change my attitude about it all…I would do it with more joy. More appreciation for the small moments. More patience and intentionality.
It’s why all of those little old ladies stopped me in the grocery store to tell me the same thing over and over again, “Honey, it goes so fast. Enjoy the moments.”
I am quickly on my way to becoming one of those ladies.
In the meantime, I’m going to finish writing that long story—the one that starts at the very beginning, almost 12 years ago—with Scott and I, naively, driving to the hospital, understanding that we were at the starting line of something big, but having absolutely no way of knowing just how big and complex it would actually be.
And, how not knowing, it turns out, was probably a VERY good thing. 

Thursday, March 7

Getting Back Into the Blogging Swing of Things!

It's been a while since I've blogged consistently--

Honestly, it feels like it's been a while since I've done anything consistently-- clean my house, take library books back on time, make my bed.

Ahhh, mom life...the land of a bazillion tasks, unexpected crises that must be taken care of (big and small), and time that flies by faster than you can say, "Wait, stop! I wasn't ready for you to be asking me about razors and Snapchat! Can we just go back to story time at the library?!"

We're at the (hopefully) tail end up a bitterly cold winter. My January and February were full of so many unexpected snow days,  sick days, half days for a myriad of reasons, winter break, a 10 year old birthday celebration, and a couple of "small" house projects that turned so "big" that as of earlier this week I wasn't sure which way was North.

But, I'm here, at Starbucks, with my day planner, lots of paper, my colored ink jet pens and lots of ideas-- for life, books, blogposts and re-visiting my goals for the coming year...

I'm ready to jump back in-- back into posting here once a week-- on Mondays. I'm not sure that I've ever done that consistently...go figure (LOL!)...but, I'm here to try again...

In theory, I should be able to follow through this time because all of my kiddos are in school for the first time this year. In theory, that should mean that I have lots of extra time...

In theory...

But, somehow, the days get filled just as fast, and my "theory" of feeling like I would suddenly have a steady handle on life once the 'kids went to school' doesn't seem to be holding as true as I would have thought...

I'm planning to blog about that one of these Mondays (;

So, to hold myself responsible I'm posting my blogging schedule for the next four weeks-- I do follow through when I have a formal assignment or commitment- so here it is, my commitment to you, my loyal 3 dozen readers (;

Since I'll be writing about about motherhood for the next month, I'm planning to give away one of my favorite books about motherhood each week. You'll have to stop back to read the posts to find out what they are and how you can win a free copy!

Monday, 3/11 Thoughts on Being a SAHM for More than a Decade

Monday 3/18 The "Theory" of Goal Setting in the Land of Motherhood

Monday 3/25  Finding the ME in Mommy

Monday 4/1 How to Follow Your Dreams While You're Changing Diapers

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