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.

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.

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.

Modeling Life-Long Learning

“It’s quiet time, boys. Go ahead and play while mama works.”
 
Every afternoon I lay my toddler down for a nap and stick my boys in their room to play for a while. Then I settle in at my desk to edit podcasts and blog posts, watch a few moments of an online class, or draw. While I do learn best in a semi-uninterrupted state (let’s face it, that’s the best it gets if they are awake) I do talk to the boys about what I’m doing. I want them to know that mama’s still learning, still dreaming, still doing.
 
Education doesn’t end when you’re finished with school, whether that’s high school or college. My husband is pursuing his Ph.D. currently and I’m chasing #personalgradschool, where I’m learning to do bits and pieces of my work better. The boys see this and it changes the way they look at school too.
 
One of the things I love about homeschooling is that it doesn’t relegate learning to a 7:30-3:00 time slot for nine months of the year. We follow a year-round schedule for this reason and try to have a reasonable flow between “school” activities and life activities that are just as much as important a part of education.

The Power of Your Quiet Voice

It’s fairly loud at our house. We have three little munchkins that have voices that they like to use. Justin and I like to talk to them and each other. There’s a podcast playing a lot of time or someone’s beating on the piano while someone else squeaks on the harmonica. And occasionally, someone gets upset and yells.
 
Unfortunately, occasionally that someone is me.
 
Now I try to justify this by saying that I raised my voice so that they could hear me and that could be true. I have shouted across playgrounds, parking lots, and backyards to stop them from bashing a brother in the head with a stick or climbing to the top of playground equipment that is as tall as Mt. Kilimanjaro. But sometimes I shout because I’m angry. I shout because I think it will relieve my feelings.
 
It never does.

What You Don’t Tell Your Friends about Parenting

His little eyes stared straight ahead even though he knew I was looking at him. I nuzzled his face with my nose then kissed his cheek. In return, he giggled and licked the end of my nose. Bedtime is often the balm for my soul. Spending just a few minutes with each boy giggling on his bed about his own personal funny reminds me of all the good parts of motherhood. They’ve been easy to forget lately.
 
I called Micah’s doctor late Tuesday afternoon last week and told him sick day regime wasn’t going to cut it. Micah was ok right that moment, might be ok hours later at bedtime, but most certainly would not be ok in the morning. After a brief conversation about fluid intake, how often he peed (the glorious things you discuss as a parent), and how he was acting, we decided to take him to the ER for fluids.
 
One of the few good things about having done this before is that we’ve streamlined the process. His doctor called the ER. Justin came home to stay with the little boys. I packed a bag and changed my clothes. We hit the doors of the ER and they ushered us on back, no triage thankfully because no problem would have been registering yet.