In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Friday, April 30, 2010

American Profile Spotlights MOPS International

The current issue of American Profile has a wonderful article about MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International titled " Motherhood Matters."

I came to MOPS seven years ago--when I had a two-year-old (and three teenagers!) I loved the women I met there, and was quickly reminded how vital friendships with other moms are during the early-mom years.

Since then, MOPS published my first book, Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood after 35. As a freelance editor, I edit Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS. I also speak regularly to MOPS groups.

Why have I continued to be involved with MOPS? Because I believe what MOPS believes: Being a mom matters. Moms matter. And I love how intentional the ministry is to reach out and encourage every mother of preschoolers--and now, through their MOMSnext groups, moms of school-age children too!

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Beauty--and age--is in the eye of the beholder

The other day, Christa said to me, "Mom, I thought you were younger than you are."
I didn't say anything because, well, what do you say when your child says something like that?
She continued, "Until you told me how old you are, I thought you were in your 30s."
Christa missed my 30s.
I have the distinct pleasure of knowing I am one of the oldest parents in Christa's third grade class. I don't wear a t-shirt announcing this fact. But I did have another mom make sure I didn't overlook this reality.
A few years ago, I was attending a school function. A mom I know came up to me and said, "My brother was looking around and he told me that some of the parents looked a lot older than most of the parents here."
Now, she's talking to me and looking right at me. And I know she knows Christa is my caboose kiddo.
I wanted to say something snarky like, "Oh really? Who was your brother staring at during the kids' musical peformance?" But I just smiled and then went out and stocked up on the latest anti-wrinkle creams.
Thinking Out Loud Here: Most days, I don't think about how old I am. And my sweet daughter thinks I'm in my 30s. Works for me. Christa looks at me through eyes of love--and that seems to have a wonderful anti-aging effect.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Beautifully Imperfect

"There is a kind of beauty in imperfection."
~Conrad Hall, cinematographer

There a times when I can fool myself into believing that I am not a perfectionist.
And then Christa has a school project due--and the truth comes out.
This is why I often let my husband handle such assignments. It's not because I don't want to help Christa with her homework. It's that I don't want to make me and her crazy with my desire to ensure her project is just right.
Christa, bless her relaxed nine-year-old heart, is not a perfectionist. She wants to have--gasp!--fun putting together the covered wagon for her history project. It's not about designing the perfect model. It's about spending time with her dad and brainstorming what materials to use, how to talk him into to letting her use the glue gun, and trying again when the first set of wheels don't turn out.
So I grab my perfectionist-self by the collar and back away. I let them have fun. I admit to occasionally passing by the table with the project handout, reminding my husband and daughter of the due date and requirements.
And, yes, I am the one who discovered that there was a required oral presentation too. I made sure Christa practiced that part of the assignment, but I didn't insist on a say-it-until-it-is-word-perfect presentation.
Thinking Out Loud:If nothing else, motherhood has tempered my perfectionism. I've learned I'm not the perfect mom--and my kiddos still love me. My children aren't perfect--but they are mine and I am proud of them and I love them more and more each day.
I can choose perfection.
Or I can choose love and laughter in the midst of imperfection.
I've learned the value of love and laughter--and that there is beauty in imperfection.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Whatcha' Thinking?

I've mentioned that Christa, my nine-year-old, writes me notes. Most often they are the short and sweet variety: I'm hungry. Can I have a snack?
A few months ago she handed me a multicolored, glimpse-into-her-mind note.
Looking at the bright colors and hearts and stars and smiles, I'm thinking it's a lot of fun in Christa's mind.
I asked her why she drew this mini-mindshot, and she shrugged. I said, "It looks fun."
"Yeah," she said. "And wild."
Okay, that would explain what looks like some sort of animal paw print in the upper right-hand corner of the drawing.
I showed Christa's drawing to my daughter, Katie Beth, last night. She joked that if I drew a "mind note" it would be a bunch of words with red marks on them. This is what I get for being an editor!

Thinking Out Loud: So what about you? If you drew a "mind note" to give us a glimpse of your thoughts and feelings, what would it look like?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kids and Kitchen Counters

When we bought our house, I stood by the spotless, not-a-thing-on-them-except-polish kitchen counters and said, "We're going to keep stuff off the counters."
Yeah, right.
I'm giving you a glimpse of said counters today--far from spotless. Piles of papers, a cell phone--my cell phone--a laptop, more papers, the lid to a bowl--where's the bowl?--gum, books, a store catalogue,vitamins . . . you get the picture.
Sometimes my counters are spotless. On the all-too-rare occasion when that happens, I am one satisfied woman.
Motherhood is a lot like my cluttered kitchen counters.
I have a lot of expectations for myself as a mom. Some I attain. Some I miss. Some I've abandoned completely, realizing I am just not that kind of mom. Case in point: My friend, Terri, made her now-grown boys breakfast every day before they left for school. I'm talking pancakes, eggs, bacon. I am not that mom. I will, however, buy my kiddos their favorite breakfast cereal or bagels and cream cheese.
You know what? My kiddos were okay with that. Never once did they sneak off to Terri's house for breakfast. And, every once and in a while, I made them pancakes for breakfast.

Thinking Out Loud: Maybe you woke up today and found yourself staring at a lot of expectations. Or maybe that one big "I didn't do this as a mom" expectation is sitting on your chest and you feel like a f-a-i-l-u-r-e.
Expectations are emotional clutter. Take some time and throw a few unrealistic expectations in the trash. You're a good mom even if your kids had Cheerios for breakfast or you cleaned your toddler's face with a napkin out of your glove compartment moistened with spit before he went to preschool.
Breathe in, breathe out.
And be gentle with yourself. Motherhood requires lowering your expectations--and a lot of grace.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

No harm, no foul

Photo by weliton/

My daughter Christa is a note-writer.

She knows not to talk to me when I'm on the phone. That doesn't stop her from slipping me a note asking to watch TV or have a snack--or for me to get off the phone.

A few months ago, I let her get a e-mail account. She only e-mails select friends and only gets on the computer when I'm in the room with her, and so far there have been no problems.

Last Friday she sent me an e-mail. Here is what she wrote:

this is what my body (especially my stomach) feels like, #$%*'@#!$&^**

I was so surprised by the end of the sentence, I didn't even notice that she forgot to capitalize the first word--and I'm an editor.

I quickly realized my nine-year-old didn't know that a whole bunch of random symbols run together stands for, ummm, bad words. I'm pretty certain my daughter doesn't know any bad words.

But I didn't want something like this showing up in a school paper: I feel %$#@ when it rains and we can't go outside for recess--or something like that.

So, I told Christa I was sorry that she didn't feel well. And then I explained what random symbols stood for--without mentioning specific bad words.

Her response?

"Oh. I didn't mean that."

And I told her I knew that.

End of conversation.

Sometimes a mom-child conversation just has to be brief and to the point. No need to drag it out. As kids like to say, "No harm, no foul."

Or in this case, "No harm, no foul language."

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