The Comparison Trap in Marriage

I really have gotten better at the brutal game of comparison with other women. I don’t handle it perfectly but it no longer consumes me as it has in the past. But recently I’ve found myself wrestling with another art of comparison that I thought I left behind long ago.

My husband had the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off. It made for some great memories, a few magical moments, and other moments when I wished for bedtime and a normal routine.

When he went back to work, I found myself suddenly the only adult to whom the children could offer their requests. Three people constantly plying, and often whining (we’re working on it), about the things they wanted, needed, or injustices that were being done.

My response was irritation at my husband whose life I had suddenly decided was much easier than mine. After all, he can go to the bathroom in quiet, whenever he likes. He can leave work and come home to eat lunch, or stay at work in the conference room ordering lunch in like an adult, or leave and run out to get fast food. No buckling other people in car seats or telling children not to fight while they wait on their turn to walk out the door.

Before You Set Goals for 2017

An older woman once said that she talked out both sides of her mouth. She would say, “get up off the couch and get to work” at the same time that she was saying, “there’s grace for rest and recognition of limits.” But she explained that she was talking to both sides of the personality spectrum. There are some people who need all the extra prodding just to get up and get the basics done. And there are some people who will push, push, push until they are about to fall over from exhaustion.

It’s helpful to learn about yourself. Pay attention to what motivates you, take personality tests, find what works for you when it comes to planning and doing your work. Then you know how to talk to yourself.

I tend to to fall on the how many things can I cross off my list the fastest side. Usually this comes in handy, but as I’ve gotten deeper in motherhood, I’ve come to realize that’s not always the best method when you’re trying to nurture children and not just clean the house.

And Baby Makes Six

I distinctly remember being in the hospital after giving birth to our third son thinking, “I never want to do that again.”

Within six months of having our first and second sons, I desperately wanted another baby. Not right then, of course, because I could imagine the havoc of multiple children that close in age, but I knew with everything in me that I wanted more children. After my third, not so much. Not after he was born, not when he was six months old, not when he was 18 months old. Not to try for a girl, not to have an even number, not to feel the magic of a baby growing inside me again. We were having serious “are we done?” conversations.

There were so many things associated with having another baby that I wanted to avoid: the stress over whether the baby has IVA, making plans for the baby’s care just in case he does have IVA, the prenatal testing for IVA, oh, and let’s not forget the actual labor and delivery part of it all.

And yet, here I am celebrating the Christmas season of 2016, easing out of the first trimester and, Lord willing, going to do it all over again.

Setting Expectations for Your Kids

I’ve not parented for very long but I have learned one thing. Most often, when I’m having problems with my kids, I’m the problem.

While I was recovering from my broken ankle, I realized a lot of ways I was parenting weren’t working. I was frustrated. They were frustrated. It wasn’t the way we wanted our home atmosphere to be. So I started praying about it.

The majority of times when I start praying about problems with my family I don’t hear words from heaven. Ok- I’ve never heard words from heaven. I don’t see writing in the sky or get letters from Sally Clarkson or find that my children just magically start doing what I want. But as I spend time praying about it over the course of days or weeks I start getting ideas. I read something in a book. I see a graphic on the internet. I hear something on the podcast. And I realize I can change what I’m doing.

Practical Tips for Bad Days

I sent my husband a text with the dancing lady emoji that said, “They won’t break me!”

Sometimes it seems that my children’s behavior is determined to break me down. Sometimes I let it. Because no matter how much work you put into your kids and how much you love them, you have those days when you are ready to call it quits, toss people off the front porch, head out on a run, and end up somewhere with ice cream instead.

That particular day we had scattered some well-sorted and stacked piles of paperwork that were in the office. We had flung pasta all over the kitchen during lunch (mama’s gotta go to the bathroom sometime!), we had poured water out of our cup into the van cupholder and splashed around in it with our hands, we had peed in the floor instead of the potty, you get the idea. (Notice I carefully left our any incriminating names.) You all have mornings, or afternoons, that you can line up similarly.  It’s just one thing after another and you find yourself sitting on the table beside the fish tank asking for grace and more grace to not explode.

There’s Time

It was almost one when we fell asleep that night. We’ve drifted back into that bad habit and it’s shown up all week. So when my alarm went off the next morning I laid back down for a few minutes, then let the boys snuggle in bed with me watching Donald Duck while I read my Bible and drank coffee. It’s a surprisingly peaceful start to the day for this mama who doesn’t really enjoy mornings.

We moved on to a volleyball practice hairdo, games in the hallway, pancakes and Awana review, vacuuming, laundry sorting, and morning kindergarten work. We finally hit the yard to play for a while before we made lunch and the boys romped with sticks, observing all best practices for safety of course. After I finished helping them up the ladder and pushing them on swings, I sat swinging softly, watching them and talking to God about a problem.

No Cheese on Anything

If Facebook documented my relationship with food instead of my husband it would say “It’s Complicated.”

I used to like food. I grew up helping my mom cook, sitting on the counter while my Mamaw made biscuits, and perusing the aisles of the grocery store during our weekly visits.

Cooking dwindled during college except for the rare occasion in a dark dorm basement with rusty pots. But my love for feeding myself and the people I cared about revived when I got married and we moved into our first small apartment.

The kitchen and living room were just one open end of the apartment with the stove tucked next to the sink. There was no counter space beside the stove, that was on the other side of the table around a wall beside the refrigerator but that didn’t bother me. I told myself it had atmosphere.