In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Monday, October 30, 2006

Saying Yes

"To say yes to one thing is to say no to a thousand others."
Elisabeth Elliott, author and speaker
Finding balance in our Mommy-come-lately lives requires paying close attention to when we say yes and when we say no.
If I say yes to marriage, that means I have to say no to other things.
If I say yes to motherhood, that also means I have to say no to other things.
If I say yes to late-in-life motherhood--whether unexpected or planned--then I have to say no to something or someone else.
Christa's arrival in my life almost six years ago meant I had to adjust. That meant saying no to some things I valued, like teaching women's Bible studies. After thoroughly enjoying 15 years of teaching hundreds of women, I walked away from it all.
I'd said yes to late-in-life motherhood. I had to say no to something else. It wasn't the easiest decision, but it was the right one.
Christa also prompted a great big yes to something else I loved but had not pursued for years: Writing. I remember thinking, "If I wait to write until this baby grows up, it will never happen." That realization put me back on the writing road.
Balance: It's about weighing what we say yes to and what we say no to. It's about making choices. It's about realizing we can't do it all.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The World of a Child

Christa has pulled me right back into the world of children. I confess, I went kicking and screaming. I had so "Been there, done that."

Know what? The more I hang around in Christa's world, the more I like it.

Christa is enthusiastic about everything--coloring, reading, running on the playground, having lunch at Chik-fil-a, or imagining she and her friends are kitties or puppies or unicorns or princesses.

Christa is real. Peer pressure hasn't bent her out of shape and made her into someone she thinks she needs to be. She enjoys being Christa.

Christa has an amazingly simple, yet profound faith. She talks to God any time she wants to--and there is nothing pretentious about her conversations.

Two days ago, my oldest son's kitty, Muse, died. It was sudden and it was heartbreaking. Everyone cried and cried and cried some more. Last night, Christa talked to God about missing Muse.

"God, I hope Muse is having lots of fun in heaven with the other kitties," she said. "And I hope you are taking care of my dead fish too."

I bet God smiled while listening to Christa's prayer.

I know I did.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Balancing Priorities as a Mom

"I've learned that you can't have everything and do everything at the same time."
Oprah Winfrey
There are days my life feels balanced.
And then there are days--like today--when my life is at sixes and sevens with all the things I have to do--not to mention all the things I want to do.
In years past, I believed in the myth of a Priority List. You know: Make a nice, orderly numerical list of all the things I had to do and then do them in that order. 1-2-3 and so on.
What I realized is my life doesn't fall into a nice 1, 2, 3 pattern of what's most important to what is least important. Reality is, I have several #1 priorities.
  • Finding time for me is important.
  • Finding time to connect with God is important.
  • Finding time for my husband is important.
  • Finding time for my kiddos--the ones who've left the nest and the one still home--is important.
There's no 1-2-3 on that list. They are all equally valuable to me.
Throwing out the trap of a Priority List brought some balance to my life. It was good to look at my life and accept the fact that I have many things--many relationships--that have equal value. I no longer get frustrated when everything doesn't fall into place. (Well, more often than not, I don't get frustrated.) Instead, I am learning to live with competing values because that's real life for this Mommy-come-lately.

Friday, October 20, 2006


I went to a school book fair with my kindergartner. I don't know who had more fun scouring the tables of books--me or her.
On the table ladened with books about Thanksgiving I found one titled Grateful. It included a DVD with Art Garfunkel--remember him?--singing the words of the book:

Truly grateful I am...

My "theme" for 2006 is gratitude. During the past ten months, I've written down things I'm grateful for. Not on a daily basis--and sometimes not even on a weekly basis. The days I do take the time to scribble a few reasons I am thankful--well, they just have a certain feeling to them. It's like I've done something that anchors my day in a good attitude. A day where I grumble less and appreciate things more.

So, that said, I'm declaring Fridays at this blog Grateful Days.

Today I am grateful for:
  • the bright, sunshiney weather before the snow showers expected on Saturday
  • the chance to crawl back into bed once Christa was at school (trying to sleep off a migraine)
  • homemade chocolate chip cookies
  • the cheery voice of a friend who just called to say "Hi"
  • a nothing-to-do Friday night when I can stay at home and relax
  • my daughter's happiness with little things like an ice cream cone

May your day be anchored in gratitude.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More Lessons from Kindergarten

I was back in kindergarten again today. Once again, those little kiddos taught me a valuable lesson about life.

Don't grumble.

Believe it or not, I was with a bunch of five-going-on-six-year-olds and I didn't hear a bit of grumbling.

They had lots to do--reading and coloring and printing the letter "c" and making rice cake clowns. Those "incredible edibles" involved cream cheese and shredded carrots (hair) and raisins (eyes) and maraschino cherries (nose) and a Cheez Whiz smile--you know, that cheese-in-a-can stuff no one every admits to eating.

They just dived right into it all, chatting with each other and enjoying "rainbow writing" and glueing Cookie Crisp cereal to their "C" pages.

Me? When I have lots to do, I grumble. I whine.
Not all the time.
Just usually.

But, I'm gonna' try and be more like a kindergartner and look for ways to enjoy it. I'll do what I can without grumbling. And if I don't get it all done, I'll tell myself what Mrs. Jarboe tells her kindergartners: "You'll have a chance to finish it later."

Kindergarten: No grumbling and a lot of grace.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Morning Musings

Being a mom takes a lot of time and even more effort. It's not something to be done haphazardly, although I admit somedays that's the way it goes.

Life as a mom reveals my rough edges. Mothering demands I think of others (my children) more than myself. I confess there is a lot of me, myself, and I that wants to be front and center in my life--not pushed off to the side because my caboose kid needs me more than I need some downtime.

So, motherhood revealed my self-centeredness.

When I became a mom, I wanted to be a good mom. I wanted to be patient. Loving. Wise.

Thanks to my children, I learned I wasn't patient. I wasn't always loving. I definitely made some stupid mistakes. Now it wasn't just me being affected by my choices--my kids were too.

Things had to change. I had to change.

Thank God I had children or I might never have faced some of my weaknesses.

***I found a new online community for parents: Take some time to visit it! I've already made some new mom-friends!***

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Growing Up

Christa, my almost six-year-old, comes and stands next to me.
"How tall am I?" she asks.
I do a quick calculation without stopping my dinner preparations.
"You're up to my waist."
She jumps up and down, shouting, "Yippee! I'm getting taller! I'm almost a grown-up!"

Such is the challenge of raising a caboose kid--one born twelve years after her sister, Amy, fourteen years after her sister, Katie Beth, and seventeen years after her brother, Josh.

She so wants to catch up with her much older siblings. She wants to grow up now.

Reality is: I can't speed up her life, just as I can't slow down my three oldest kids' lives.

I stop all the chopping and dicing and put my arms around my oh-so-eager-to-be-older daughter and tell her, "Don't be in such a rush, Sugarplum. Enjoy your life now. Have fun now."

It's not the first time I encouraged her to enjoy being a child and I know it won't be the last. I don't want her to wish away her childhood. I don't want her to always be looking for the fast-forward button on her life. She'll be all grown up--and probably taller than me--all too soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Having Fun in Kindergarten

I don't know about Christa, but I'm lovin' kindergarten!

Today was "Apple Tasting" day. Since I volunteer on Tuesdays, I got to unwrap all the apple goodies other parents sent in. Apple bread--two kinds!--and apple crisps and apple muffins and caramel apples and apple pies and apple cider and apple juice and apple butter...Yum!

Each child was encouraged to dig in to their plateful of food and sample all the different treats. Then they decided what they liked best, wrote that down on a piece of paper, and then drew a picture.

At two other stations, the kids had a chance to make applesauce and do "Apple Math" with apple manipulatives.

Today, kindergarten was all about trying--trying new foods and trying a new recipe and trying some new math facts. And, you know what? Those kids were willing to jump right in and try it all. Maybe apple butter or apple crisp wasn't their favorite thing--but they sure had fun finding out.

Maybe the next time I face trying something new, I'll think like a kindergartener. I'll give it my best--and have fun along the way.

Monday, October 09, 2006

You Can't Always Get What You Want

I'm not a Rolling Stones fan--I mean, come on! A logo of a big tongue sticking out of a mouth? Gross!

But this morning the chorus to one of their songs keeps replaying in my head:
"You can't always get what you want . . ."

Changing just one word in that sentence will tell you what my day is like:
"You can't always do what you want . . . "

As a Mommy-come-lately, life no longer goes the way I planned. From the moment I found out my pregnancy test was positive, life took a sharp about-face.

This morning, it's little things. I didn't make it out of bed before my "early bird" five-year-old. She was up and at 'em--giggling and ready to meet the day--before I lifted my bed-head off the pillow.

There went my plans to work out and have a little quiet time before waking her up. A leisurely shower wasn't going to happen either. Breakfast sitting down? Nope. I inhaled a bowl of shredded wheat while I stood by the kitchen counter and made a few quick phone calls.

I'm the mother of four kids--three mostly grown and one kindergartner. I should know by now that doing what I want takes second or third or even fourth place to doing what needs to be done. As I mom, I make my plans for the day--and then I adjust, adjust, adjust.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Mommy-Come-Lately Tackles Kindergarten

I never went to kindergarten as a child. Back in those days, most kids started school by going to first grade. Kindergarten was optional.

Thanks to my caboose kid, I'm enjoying kindergarten for the first time--not as a student, but as a parent-helper. I have to applaud Christa's teacher, Mrs. Jarboe. She is a teacher extraordinare! Her class is the "Lights, camera, action!" kind of experience--music, singing, cooking, painting, and reading lots and lots of outstanding books. (I find myself laughing and singing along with the kids. I hope Mrs. J. doesn't mind.)

Today I teamed up with another mom. She helped the kids make peanut butter Play-Doh. (Of course, this was the morning I skipped breakfast. That Play-Doh smelled scrumptious.)

I helped the kids sponge-paint fall leaves in bright oranges, greens, browns, yellows, and reds. "Use all the colors or use some of the colors or use one color. It's your choice!" was all the instruction I gave them.

Each child had their own special technique, their own special color design. And I learned something valuable from those freewheeling artists:

Creativity does not require perfection.

Each leaf was a delightful, vibrant work of art. This had nothing to do with painting inside or outside of the lines or using one color or using five. Rather, it was a creative and carefree expression of a child.

Imperfect by some standards, but beautiful.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Balancing Act of Late-in-Life Motherhood

"Balance, balance, keep your balance . . ."
So goes a little ditty from one of Christa's favorite television shows.

So what does it take to maintain your balance as a Mommy-come-lately? If you're looking for a quick and easy answer to that question, you've come to the wrong blog! I don't pretend to walk the motherhood tightrope with ease, despite having lots of years of practice.

One thing I've learned: It's almost impossible to keep my balance if I spend all my time watching how another mom is managing her life. Yes, I like to learn from other moms, but I can't spend all my time admiring and wishing I lived life as well as someone else. That's not practicing--that's coveting.

So there's my Rule #1 for finding balance: Stay focused on your own tightrope!

Any other ideas out there?

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