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Monthly Archives: January 2013

“Foolish heart, looks like we’re here again, same old game of plastic smile, don’t let anybody in…”

I don’t know if this is an official rule or not, but I think it’s at least an unspoken rule that you have finally “arrived” as a blogger when you get your first hate mail. It’s probably an official rule that you aren’t supposed to care about or address hate mail either, but I think it’s important that I do address this one, because it is about something that I hold dear and something that I hope is part of what defines me. I’ve emailed this reader back already, but I wanted to take some time to talk about this because while this particular email was directed at me, I think it is a common issue people have had with the church.

“I like reading your blog, but I’m sick of christians who have this perfect life. Not all of us have perfect lives and some of us have REAL problems. I don’t have a perfect marriage or kids like you and it’s “perfect” people who make everyone else feel bad. i’m not going to read your blog anymore so I just thought you should know”

Let me tell you why I’m not addressing this first. I’m not addressing this because I’m offended. I understand the idea of not liking to hear about a perfect life, of feeling someone is unapproachable, and feeling like you can’t relate to someone. There have been people in my life that I’ve had a very difficult time being around because I felt like I couldn’t live up to their standards. (or, if I’m honest, what I perceived their standards to be). So please know, friend, that while I would have preferred more kindness in your words, I’m not offended.  I’m also not addressing this to prove you wrong. One of the things you learn quickly in being married to someone who works in ministry is that you will get criticized, and it is a good idea to take each criticism and try to extract truth from it. So in reading this email, what I want to ask myself is- have I been presenting my life as free from pain or hurt? Am I not being authentic? So thank you for motivating me to ask myself these questions.

If you walked into my house right now, you’d see clothes on the floor and dishes in the sink. You’d see a bunch of boxes not yet unpacked from our move. You’d likely see a child in time out for whining and disobeying. If you went upstairs, you’d find a master bedroom that has become the gathering place for all other things. My goal is that it becomes a calm and romantic sanctuary, but right now it’s a sanctuary for lost socks and discarded letters. But that’s just the surface…

If you could walk into my heart, you’d see a girl who doesn’t know if she will wake up each day with a migraine, taking her out of the game for at least a few hours. You’d see a girl who has lower back pain almost daily. You’d see a girl who doesn’t sleep as well as she’d like to. You’d see a mom who worries about when that one asthma attack might hit her son, the one that she will have to call an ambulance for, the one she can’t handle at home. You’d see a mom who tries (and sometimes fails) to keep track of all the breathing treatments, medications, weather forecasts, dust and dander, determining when something is allergy or a cold, deciding if he can go to school or not, listening to him cough to see when is that thin line that means we need to call the doctor, and wondering how to shepherd him through a chronic disease. How not to just take care of his body, but also his heart. You’d see a mom who at times is at a complete loss on how to parent her daughter. You’d see a mom who feels exhausted at times for having to do things that other moms of seven-year olds don’t have to do. You’d see a mom who at times would kill for a break. You’d see a mom who has cried out of sheer frustration and hurt. You’d see a mom who is trying to balance loving the teachers and administration at her daughter’s school and yet still fiercely advocate for her to receive the services she needs. You’d see a mom who is at times envious of the freedom that other moms seem to have with their daughters. You’d see a mom who feels a lot of guilt for what she thinks Malachi is missing out on because he’s the third kid. You’d see a mom who worries that because the other two have significant needs, that he will grow up and feel neglected. You’d see a mom who worries that when he goes to school, he will not know how to navigate being a black child with a white mom and dad. But still that’s just another layer…

You’d see a marriage that is hard work. You’d see a husband and wife who have to work hard to continue healing from previous years of hurt. You’d see a girl who struggles between loving her husband and sharpening him. You’d see a marriage that struggles with time- time for each other, time with the kids, time spent ministering to others. You’d see financial worries, adoption worries, physical ailments. And one more layer down…

You’d see me. You’d see a girl who struggles with her Father. You’d see an introvert that loves to isolate. You’d see a girl who can be selfish and self-seeking, insecure and harsh. You’d see a girl who doesn’t like to deal with hard things and who has learned to push them away and pretend they don’t exist. You’d see a girl who has to fight the insecurity that has come from being rejected by others. You’d see a girl who can remember hurtful words said to her by friends, family and teachers. You’d see a girl who just isn’t enough.

Not perfection. Not the ideal. Not enough. But you’d also see a girl who is grateful that I am not enough, because it’s in my weakness that His strength is most apparent. It’s in my hurt and pain that shows His great ability to heal. It’s in my failings that show Who I lean on. You’d see a girl who is relieved and grateful to be able to say I really am not enough…but He is.

Friend, I hope you see that He came for the sick, and I put myself in that category. I pray that you see Him, not me. And I pray that you understand that you are loved and cherished and adored by the One who created you and longs to be in a relationship with you.

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Mama Mondays- S’more Hot Chocolate!

So for a few weeks, I’ve gotten questions submitted for Mama Mondays that are either cooking/baking questions or crafty type questions. I’ve decided to address some of these, and if I continue to get these questions, I may add another day to post about them…..

I’ve decided to post recipes as beginner and advanced, and here’s why- when I got married at nineteen, I knew basically nothing about cooking.  I would look through cookbooks (ah, the days before blogs and Pinterest), and immediately reject the ones that had more than four ingredients. I was completely intimidated and because of that, we ate spaghetti often. Like, four times a week. And in those days, “spaghetti” meant a box of pasta and a jar of sauce. Occasionally, I’d branch out and add a salad. Again, salad was a bag of iceberg lettuce and a bottle of ranch. I was too insecure to ask anyone for help, so I just experimented. This isn’t a bad way to learn to cook, because sometimes trial and error is the best way to learn.  But I would have loved for someone to just sit down and teach me the basics, and how to adapt a recipe to make it easier.  So when I post a recipe, I’ll start with the “Advanced” version and then simplify it. (Note- advanced and beginner is in the eye of the spatula holder.)

My kids love s’mores. My kids love hot chocolate. So….

S’more Hot Chocolate

Advanced-

8 oz milk (coconut or unsweetened almond milk if you want dairy free)

3 Tbs cocoa

3 Tbs hot water

graham crackers, crushed

1/2 tsp cornstarch

Large marshmallows (Note- I like homemade marshmallows because they don’t have any food dye, while commercial marshmallows sometimes have blue dye in them, but store-bought works just as well)

Small bowl of melted chocolate (one half of a chocolate bar should suffice)

Kitchen torch

Directions-

Pour 8 oz of milk(or half milk and half water, depending on how rich you like it) into a small saucepan and heat to just below simmering

Stir cocoa, cornstarch, and 1/2 tsp finely crushed graham cracker crumbs together

Stir 3 Tbs of hot water into the cocoa mixture with a whisk until you get a thick syrup

When the milk is slightly bubbling around the edges of the pan, whisk the syrup into the milk until completely mixed and thickened

Add a pinch of sea salt to the hot cocoa

Dip the marshmallows halfway into the melted chocolate and then dip into the crushed graham cracker crumbs

Allow to set, pour hot cocoa into a cup and top with marshmallows

Toast the marshmallows with your kitchen torch

Enjoy!

Simplfy it!

Add 3Tbs of cocoa to 8 oz of milk warmed on the stove

Stir in two squares of chocolate

Top with marshmallows

Toast marshmallows with kitchen lighter or set cup under the oven broiler until toasted

Sprinkle toasted marshmallows with graham cracker crumbs

Enjoy!

Try serving this as a special after school treat or create an indoor camping night with your kids! Make a tent in the livingroom, tell stores, make flashlight animals on the wall, and drink your S’more Hot Chocolate!

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77!

“If you believe in magic, come along with me, we will dance until morning, till there’s just you and me…”

Sniff. It’s the end of an era. It’s been the best of times and the worst of times. Josiah and I have watched the last Harry Potter film together. He stayed home sick on Wednesday, and it was the kind of sick that makes him just want Mommy mommy mommy right next to him all day, so to cheer him up, I decided we would watch the final movie. Like last time, I sat with him and wrote down his comments…enjoy…

J- “Oh, I forgot Dobby died in the last one. So…maybe this isn’t going to cheer me up. Way to go, mommy.”

J- “So they are still looking for the…the..those horrible cups?”

J- “Mommy! Stop laughing! What are they called?”

J- “Mommy. I’m not kidding. Quit laughing.”

J- “Wait, so Hermione is gonna pretend to be Bellatrix? They are never gonna fall for that!”

Me- “Why not?”

J- “Because Bellatrix has like, crazy eyes and Hermione’s eyes are not crazy, they are like…I don’t know..nevermind.”

J- “Mommy! Quit laughing!”

J- “I think someone put a spell on Snape to make him talk so weird like that. Like Eq…….ually. I’m gonna start doing that when I want Selah to pay attention. Like ‘Selah, you need to pick up your cl…….othes.’ ”

J- “Uh, why are you crying?”

Me-“Because. Do you see how Jenny just stood in front of Harry? It’s because-”

J- “I know- don’t say it.”

Me-“She loooovvvveess him”

J- “Mommy! I told you not to say it!”

J- “Why doesn’t Professor McDonalds just turn into a cat and scratch Snape’s eyes out?”

J- “Mommy, I like this but so far there’s like kissing and stuff and no war. When is the war?”

J- “Okay, FOR REAL MOMMY. You didn’t tell me there was kissing in this. I’m out.”

J- “I thought Ron didn’t like Hermione?? He’s always making fun of her and she’s always saying ‘Honestly Ron!”

Me-“Well, sometimes girls and boys fight with each other if they really like each other.”

J- “That doesn’t make a bit of sense.”

“Why are you crying now?”

Me-“The best part is about to happen”

J- “Girls cry BEFORE sad things happen?”

J- “Whoa. That was intense. That snake means business.”

J- “Good. I’m glad he’s dead. He killed Dumbledore. Why are you crying??”

Me- “Just watch”

J- “He’s so mean…and he like, betrayed everyone…and he never washes his hair…mommy, for real, I don’t get why you are crying…he was friends with her?….I don’t get why…wait, Dumbledore WANTED him to kill…I don’t…why would he………………………………………can you pause it?”

J- “He loved her. So, he loved her and his patronus is about her. So all this time, he’s been good?”

Me- “Always”

J- “But now, Harry has to die? That’s not fair! Why does Harry have to die?”

J- “No, I don’t like this part, I don’t want him to…is he gonna die really? WHy can’t he say no? WHy can’t just Voldemort die?”

J- “Hermione said she’ll go with him? But she knows, right? She knows he’s going to have to die?”

J- “I don’t understand. I mean, I understand like why, but WHY? Mommy, you are crying ALOT in this”

J- “Harry is like, really brave.”

J- “Okay, what the HECK is that creepy red baby thing?”

Me- “I don’t know. Nobody knows, I think. It’s kind of a trippy part of the movie”

J- “Yeah! fight! Get him!”

Me- “Molly is about to say a word we don’t say okay?”

J- “Whoa. Yeah, we don’t say that.”

J- “But that was AWESOME.”

J- “Molly is a bad mamajama!”

J- “Neville has really changed.”

Me- “How do you feel like his character has grown the most?”

J- “He got really tall”

J- “Mommy, the sad part is over, why are you STILL crying?”

J- “I cannot believe he just threw away Dumbledore’s wand. Dumbledore’s gonna totally haunt him for that.”

J- “Uh…are they gonna kiss again because I kind of need to pee.”

J- “Are you SURE this is the last one?”

 

After the movie, and after we cleaned up all the Kleenex, he decided to write a letter to JK Rowling-

letter

Dear Ms.Rowling,

I just finished watching the last Harry Potter movie. My mom cried alot. I did not cry but I was sad and happy. The best part of the movie was when Harry Potter gave his life for his friends and family. This story is kind of like what Jesus did but I bet you knew that. My mom’s favorite part is when Hermione says “I’ll go with you” My mom likes the kissing part but I don’t. Please please please please please keep writing Harry Potter books. I have so many questions about Harry and Jenny’s kids and Ron and Hermione’s kids. I promise if you write another book my mom will write about it on her blog. If you write another book, my dad will be happy because my mom will stop talking about it. Please respond.  Love, Josiah.

Sick days are the best.

 

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

 

 

“Man against man just ain’t the plan, it’s time for God’s people to take a stand, I mean brother to brother, black to white, stand up to the problem and begin to fight…”

On monday, to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we sat in our living room and watched Dr. King’s speech with the kids.  After it ended, we asked Malachi to tell us what he heard. His take?

“Marvin Lufer Kinger had a dream dat people could be brown or dey could be peach or dat dey could have orange hair but dey could be taller.”

Throughout the day, I thought about what it would be like if my family was around in Dr. King’s time. During dinner, we talked to the kids about how they would feel if we went to a restaurant or library or movie theater and Malachi wasn’t allowed to be with us. I think my kids would understand the concept of unfairness and racism without having a little brother who is black, but having a face and a name to project into these situations gives them a unique perspective.

A face and a name. It’s not a perfect solution, but I think it’s a start.

I won’t pretend that I understand all the intricacies of racism, and why it is still so pervasive. I can’t understand why I read such ugly statements about the President and First Lady that have nothing to do with his politics and everything to do with the color of his skin. I can’t understand all of the times I have listened to crazy comments about my son. But I will say this- I am part of the problem.

I think there are many ways it manifests itself, but one of the roots of racism is fear. It may look like superiority or cruelty or avoidance- but fear lurks there, like a slow creeping disease that whispers in your ear- “they are different.”  It’s seductive voice assures us that we are right, “they” are wrong. It gives us a reasonable explanation for our fear. I don’t feel superior and I don’t feel cruel. But my racism is there.

It’s there when I worry about how Malachi’s hair looks when I see a black woman looking at him.

It was there when I considered asking for a girl instead of a boy because I wasn’t sure I would know how to raise a black boy.

It was there when I felt extra guilty about forgetting to put lotion on Malachi’s legs just because the nurse we had that day was black.

It’s there when I wonder if I am going to offend someone for writing “black” instead of “African American”

I remember growing up and hearing racist statements around me. Most of them were more subtle, but it was clear- to be white was to be superior. I remember thinking “this isn’t right”, but it felt like a rushing river that I couldn’t fight, just stand on the shore and wish it was different. I had no face and I had no name.

Now I have Malachi, and while I still struggle, it’s his face and his name that the Lord has used to show me parts of my heart that aren’t right. So today, when I read an incredibly hurtful and ugly remark about the First Lady’s hair, all I could think was- “you need a face and a name”. It won’t cure all racism. But it’s difficult to think in me versus you when you are forced to see that it’s an ‘us”. When your idea of a black man stops being someone on television and becomes your neighbor, it changes you. You begin to stop seeing them as just some person, and instead see them at His child. You start to understand that different doesn’t always equal scary or wrong.

My suggestion would be to consider adoption- but then again, I’m probably a little biased.

 

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

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“And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon, when you coming home dad, I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then…”

I’m going to start this post by reminding you all that I have a master’s degree.

You know how sometimes you just believe something, and you don’t really question it because it just seems to make sense to you and it’s not something that comes up in everyday conversation and one day you realize you’ve been wrong, oh so wrong, but by that point you’ve believed it for so long that you are super embarrassed about it and then you blog about it to purge your shame? You know? Yeah, me too…

This is a conversation I had with a friend a few nights ago. She is married to a British guy, and we were discussing the differences between American and British police….

Me- “You want to hear something embarrassing?”

Her- “Of course”

Me- “You have to PROMISE not to tell Ian(her husband). He probably already thinks weird things about me and this will just push him over the edge.”

Her-(with that look of okay but I am totally going to tell him)

Me(deep breath)- “I used to think Scotland Yard…was…a person. Like a guy.”

Her- “Um…really?”

Me- “Yes. Like a super good awesome smart detective.”

Her-(holding back laughter)- “And how long did you think this?”

Me(hanging my head in shame)- “Up until a few years ago”

Her- “How many years?”

Me- “Three”

Her- “Wow.”

Me- “Yeah.”

Her-“Um…why? I mean, how…”

Me- “Okay, it’s like this- I always heard people in movies say ‘Call Scotland Yard!’ when something was wrong, and so I just ASSUMED it was like ‘Call Batman!’ except for British people because Scotland Yard SOUNDS like a guys name and not an organization and it also sounds like a fancy name which is what British people would do and…”

Her-(choking)- “You thought all of crime in England was handled by one guy?”

Me-“Well I figured he takes turns with Sherlock Holmes or something. I just thought maybe he’s like this amazing smart guy who solves crimes really fast and that’s why he’s the guy they call, sort of like how we all call the Maytag guy or use Mr.Clean, you know, there’s no use for anyone else because those guys get the job done, you know?”

Her- “No. I don’t think I know.”

Me- “And over the years I just realized that in every movie they say to call him so I just started to feel sorry for the guy because hello? He seems super overworked. ”

Her- “Go on”

Me- “I imagined that he was this like street smart cop who doesn’t listen to his captain and the captain is always mad because Scotland’s a rule breaker you know? His captain, Captain William Richard Arthur the fourth or whatever, he is always pounding his desk with his fists and throwing tea cups and stuff because Scotland just can’t follow protocol and he’s being pressured by the commissioner or the King or something to do something about that guy Scotland.  But he solves crimes so they don’t care too much.  He used to be married but he worked too much so now he just comes home to an empty house and looks at pictures of his kids and wife and he doesn’t cry, but he wants to. He wonders what if? But it’s too late, she’s gone and the kids don’t call. And he has a son, his name was Scotland Jr, but his son hates him because he never came to his horse hockey games, so now he’s changed his name to Rugby and he works as a barista because he’s rejected tea altogether. But then the station calls and he goes back in because really, what else does he have? And maybe he has a partner, like a sassy hot girl partner, named Amelia but he calls her Milly, just to tick her off. She’s a rule follower, because her parents were royal, not all the way royal, just a sublevel royal, but they were murdered in cold British blood and so now she’s a cop so she can solve and avenge their death. There’s tension between them, but he’ll never fall in love. His life is his badge. Or tall fuzzy hat. Or whatever british cops have.”

Her(silence)- “Are all of your thoughts based on movies?”

Me- “Listen, that guy RUINED my marriage!”

Her- “Um…I am almost afraid to ask…how?”

Me- “Well, back when I thought he was a GUY, any time Wes was working a lot and I’d be tempted to be bitter, I’d think ‘It could be worse. I could be married to Scotland Yard. I could be a very lonely and angry Mrs. Yard’ But then I learned the truth and NOW who I am supposed to relate to when he works a lot?? Tell me, who? Thanks so much, British people!”

Her- “Man, I wish Ian was here to hear this.”

Me- “I’ve forgiven the country mostly. They did give us Robert Pattinson. Hey, he should play Scotland in something. He’d be great!”

Again, I have a master’s degree. Clearly it’s not in British studies.

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

Mama Mondays- “How am I supposed to know what’s right? I can’t help the way I feel, because my life has been so overprotected…”

“How do you avoid being that helicopter mom you wrote about? How do you know when to protect your child and when to let go?”

Well, first of all, let me say that there have been moments in my parenting life that I have not only been a helicopter mom, but I had jumped out of the helicopter, parachuted down, landed on my child, and strapped myself to their back while sobbing “NEVER LEAVE ME!”. While I think I am pretty laid back now, I don’t want to misrepresent myself- so let me present my top ten “Helicopter Moments” as a mom.

1. When Josiah was five days old, he was very sleepy and would not wake up long enough to eat. In that moment, I decided that he was going to starve and he must be not waking up because of a rare tropical disease he must have picked up in the hospital nursery. Wes and I raced him to Children’s hospital at midnight. Because. he. was. sleepy. Of course, he woke up the exact second we walked though the doors and the pediatrician just smirked at us. 

2. When it was time for Josiah and Selah to start eating solid food, I…wow, this is embarassing…I gave them a bite of food and held a spoonful of benedryl in my hand at the same time, just staring for any signs of hives. My poor kids probably thought that meals always came with red liquid. They probably also wondered why mommy was staring them down after each bite. 

3. I read somewhere about a baby breaking her arm while getting her arm stuck in a crib slat so I piled pillows all around the inside of the crib. Then I realized that is a suffication risk so I took them out. Then I put them back in. Then I took them out. Do I need to say what happened next?

4. When Josiah was two, I searched the McDonalds ball pit. Just to make sure no stray hyperdermic needles were in there. 

5. I *still* won’t let my kids walk closest to the railing on the second floor of the mall. You know, in case a strong wind comes and blows them over the side.

6. I called my pediatrician once. At 11:30 at night. To ask about a brown rash. That I thought was a spider bite. But was really just dirt. 

7. I tried to convince Wes that we should fly to Ethiopia separeately when we traveled to pick up Malachi.

8. Selah didn’t really have hair until she was about three years old. I was paranoid that if people thought she was a boy, somehow she would know and it would destroy her sense of self and so I not only dressed her in pink 99% of the time, I also made her wear hairbows slightly bigger than the moon. And I may or may not have introduced her as “Selah. My daughter. She’s a girl. Just so you know.”

9. I called the school every day for a week okay two weeks to make sure Josiah made it to his class in Kindergarten. I walked him to school every day, but thought maybe in those 30 seconds from me to inside the school, he might have gotten distracted by a rabbit or shiny object and wandered away into the jungle. Believe me, the school secretary was very gracious.

10.The phrases “You will lose an eye like that!”; “Do you want to go to the hospital and get shots?”; “Do not run with that in your hand!”; “The stairs are NOT FOR PLAYING!”; and “If I see that again you will be in time out for the rest of your life do you hear what I am saying young lady/man look at me right now do not say another word do you understand me? Answer me!” have all been said in my house this week.

We all can struggle with being a helicopter mom. I like to think of myself as being in recovery. And truly, I can’t beat the community drum enough, as most of my helicopter moments come when I have not sought counsel from others, or have ignored counsel from those who love me and love my kids. 

But where’s the line? How do you determine when you are being protective or overprotective? 

Here are some general rules/questions I wrestle with when thinking about this-

*What is my motivation? If my motivation is to spare my child pain and/or being uncomfortable, there is a good chance I am being a helicopter. Pain is growth. Pain is sharpening. Pain teaches. So when I get in pain’s way, I make the lesson last much longer! My rule is- I will warn my kids twice about their actions. The first warning is general-A common phrase is “What you are about to do is unwise. It will not work out well for you.” My hope is that they trust me enough to believe that and change course. If I see them continue, I might say “This is the last warning. You will not like what happens if you continue doing that.”  For obvious behavior issues, they know what the consequence will be. For other things, I might explain the consequence/possible dangers. Again, I hope they choose to listen to me but if they don’t, I am almost always going to allow them to experience the pain of not listening. In cases of extreme danger or physical pain, I will intervene, but then the consequence of not listening to me will be more severe. We love our kids and it is so so difficult sometimes to step back and allow pain to do it’s work, but not letting our kids learn is not loving, it’s really just self protective. 

*Who am I trusting? This is a big one for me! It hasn’t been one big moment, but an area of growth for me in the last two years is really understanding that my children are not really my own, and that they truly belong to the Lord. But when I get sucked back into thinking somehow I control their destiny, that I make or break them, that I can control what happens to them by how good of a mom I can be, I will hover because if it’s totally up to me, I can’t afford to make any mistakes! It also makes me extremely ungracious towards my husband, because if he doesn’t agree with me on some issue, then it causes anxiety for me…because I feel I must be in control. When i find myself getting irritated over small decisions Wes has made with the kids, or second guessing him, or trying to covertly change or “fix” something he’s done, that is a clue to me that I am trying to be in control of my kids futures because I am not trusting the One who really IS in control of the future.

*Ask for help. Find a group of moms that you trust and talk though these issues. Find a mom with older kids that you trust too- they’ve already been through where you are and probably have some wisdom to share! 

it’s a struggle for every mom, so when you find yourself being overprotective, just know that you are not alone. For me, the best thing is when I remember that I want the kids to move from depending on me to depending on Christ, and so I try to look at each situation through that lens. 

But you better believe I won’t ever let them ride in actual helicopters. 

 

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

Have a product or service you’d like featured for a giveaway? Email me!

When you become a mother, it doesn’t take long to realize that you just can’t win. Whether it’s birth plans, adoption plans, baby names, finding out the gender or not…everyone has an opinion.

This doesn’t let up after your child comes home. Cosleeping, pacifiers, sleep training, breastfeeding, formula…it’s enough to make a new mom paralyzed in fear. I remember that when Josiah was a baby, I was standing in the grocery store, looking at cans of formula. I was already feeling sad and guilty because I couldn’t keep breastfeeding him. I had some major complications after he was born, and basically was given the choice that I could either stop breastfeeding or I could have a hysterectomy. As I was standing there, an older woman approached me. She patted me on the arm and said “Now honey, you wouldn’t put junk food in that baby’s bottle, would you?” Now, out of sleep deprivation (because y’all know I’d NEVER be sarcastic otherwise, right??), I said “Well, I tried whiskey, but that didn’t make him sleep either, so I guess I’ll try this.” We had a mom stare off and then she sighed and walked away, saddened that she hadn’t saved my baby from the liquid McDonalds I was about to feed him.

As my kids have gotten older, I’ve noticed that we moms don’t always help each other out in this. I don’t remember our moms worrying about some of the things we worry about. Technology and social media is great asset, and has opened up our world to things that I would never had access to. It’s also exposed our kids to things they shouldn’t be exposed to AND it has this great little side effect of making us paranoid. The danger in this is the new buzzword- helicopter mom.  But can we be honest mamas? Sometimes we helicopter because we are worried about our child, but sometimes we helicopter because we don’t want to be judged by other moms.

Talk about a war on women- we are holding all the weapons.

This was brought to my mind this week because of something that happened on Wednesday. That morning, Wes was out-of-town, and Malachi wasn’t feeling well after getting multiple shots at the doctor. It was raining outside, not a crazy downpour, but raining consistently. I got the kids ready for school, and told them to wear their coats with hoods and to grab an umbrella. We live across the street from a small park that is right next to their school. It takes 3-5 minutes to walk, which they do most mornings. When the kids realized they were walking to school that morning, you would have thought I had asked them to walk through a tornado.

Josiah- “Uh, mommy? Did you know it’s raining?”

Me- “well, that is why I told you to get an umbrella.”

Josiah- “But…but..it’s like really raining!”

Me- “Yes. I can see that.”

Josiah- “But I will get wet”

Me- “You’ll have an umbrella. It will be okay.”

Josiah- “But what if I get wet?”

Me- “Then you’ll be a little wet. It’s just water. You won’t die”

Selah- (helpfully)-“The Wicked Witch died when she got wet”

Me- “Are you a wicked witch? Are we in Oz? Do you see any flying monkeys? Okay then, you’ll be fine.”

They go to school, grumbling and complaining….and about ten minutes later, I hear a knock on my door, and it is a neighbor. Her daughter is in Selah’s class. She tells me that she was driving her daughter to school and saw Josiah and Selah walking and offered them a ride.  She said “When they got out, I told the girls not to jump out of the car, but they did and they jumped in a puddle and so their shoes and socks are all wet so you might want to go bring her some new clothes.”

She offered to take the clothes since she was taking her daughter new clothes and so I handed her some shoes and socks. I’m going to be honest- I didn’t want to do it. In my head I was thinking “Well, if you told her not to jump and she did anyway, then she should learn that she should listen because adults are not fun killing idiots.” I was also thinking it won’t kill her to be in wet shoes for a while. But in my fear of being judged, I went ahead and sent the clothes. I also struggled that morning with wondering if she thought I was a terrible mom because I let the kids walk to school in the rain.

Halfway through the morning, I stopped and thought about how I grew up- I walked to school in elementary school. Many blocks. On a busy street. And for fun, my friends and I used to stop at this super sterile drainage ditch and play in it for a while. I rode my bike around the neighborhood. I left in the morning and was back by dinner. I climbed on roofs and walked to a gas station to buy candy. I drank from garden hoses.

Now I don’t believe that my kids should be allowed to do all those things. Some of those “freedoms” were out of necessity. But I believe that our protectiveness over our kid’s safety has spilled over into also protecting them from responsiblity. We maneuver and manipulate and baby proof and overanalyze and intervene and hover and hover and hover…and there is a part of that that comes from a good place, a place of love and concern. But it also comes from a place of wanting to look like a “good mom”.

Last year, Josiah told me that he was having trouble with a teacher. He was convinced a certain teacher didn’t like him. As an adult, I could look into the situation and see that it wasn’t that she didn’t like him, she just didn’t have a warm and fuzzy personality like the other teachers he had had before, and he just wasn’t used to it. It wasn’t affecting his grades or anything like that, it was more just that he wasn’t sure she liked him and he wondered if he was upsetting her. He came to me at one point and told me this and my response was “Buddy, I think you have to try to believe the best about her. If you think you’ve done something to offend her that you should ask forgiveness for, then you should go to her and talk to her. But if you haven’t offended her and you still think she doesn’t like you, then you could just ask to speak to her privately, and tell her that you are worried that she doesn’t like you and you would like to ask her if you’ve done anything to offend her. My guess is that you haven’t, but you won’t know unless you ask.”

Josiah is a people pleaser. The idea of “confronting” someone like this is really difficult for him. He asked me if I would go talk to her for him and this was the hard part- I said no. I told him that if he walked away from that conversation and didn’t feel better, then he and I could go together and talk to her again, but that when someone has hurt you or you think you’ve hurt someone, you go to them alone first.(Matthew 18:15)

This was hard, guys. He’s nine, and I know some of you might be thinking that was harsh and too much to expect from him. I know that even as a teenager, the idea of asking a teacher if they liked me would have never happened. I know I left high school thinking that there were several teachers who didn’t like me. That might have been true, but I didn’t really know- I just assumed. And I missed the chance to seek forgiveness if it was needed. So more than wanting to protect him from an uncomfortable situation, I want Josiah to learn to rely on the Lord for scary things. I want him to learn how to have difficult conversations with a gentle and humble heart.

In the end, he talked to her, and she assured him he had not offended her. I told him that as scary as it might be to talk to a teacher, it might be even scarier to confront a friend. (I used the example in Harry Potter when Neville stands up to Harry and Ron and Dumbledore tells him- “it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”). We role played different scenarios where he might have to talk to friends about something difficult and how he could handle it.

So this is one of my goals for myself and my kids this year. It’s so easy for me to fall into the helicopter trap- either out of love for my kids or out of fear of being judged.  I want to lay down my self protective shield AND weapon- and be the friend you call if you need help and not judgement. And for now, my kids will clean their own rooms and walk to school in the rain.

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