Inside a Mom's Head (what moms really think)!

Pink-roses-wood-background_1024x768.jpg

Being a mom is not for the weak at heart!  Between late-night feedings, stepping on Legos in the middle of the night, and cleaning up all the various fluids that come out of little kids, moms should be given an award just for surviving!!  But, seriously, kids don't come with instruction manuals and for the most part, we make it up as we go!  One of the greatest encouragements I've found as a mom, is to link arms with a circle of moms around me who seem to have figured out a thing or two about parenting... the good, the bad, and the ugly!  So, welcome to the circle... pull up a chair... and let's have a conversation with some of the best mommas I know!

What's the funniest/most surprising thing your child has ever done?

Laurie: Oh my....how shall I narrow this down?  When my daughter was about 4-years-old, she had gotten in trouble for hitting.  We were driving to town and I'm giving the lecture about how you have to use your hands in a nice way, that you can't treat others like that....and she looks down at her hands and says, "Hands! Are ya gonna be nice?  Mom, they said 'No'!"   
Kally: My son pulled his pants down to pee while church was dismissing. 
Ashley: My youngest son once pulled his pants down during an outdoor baptism at Better Life Church. He needed to pee and apparently thought the best place for that was behind the baptism stand.
Connie:  When my son was about 3-years-old,  he asked me one day if he could go outside and pee like a dog.  I told him he could (because even to this day one of his favorite things to do is to pee outside).  When I happened to peek at him from the window I saw that he had gone outside, stripped from the waist down, gotten on all fours, lifted his leg right near a tree and peed on it like a dog.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  

(I'm noticing a trend with little boys and embarrassing moments, here!)  

What is the hardest thing about being a mom?

Laurie:  Juggling the many roles of life (Mom, Wife, Employee, Friend, Chef, Housekeeper, Gardener) and trying to pull it all off like a highly organized, well-spoken Diplomat....even when the chaos is crashing down! 
Kally:  Watching your child go through something really tough that you can’t fix. 
Ashley:  Learning to both extend grace and receive it.
Connie: The first for me is that it is a job that never ends.  It’s 24/7/365 for the rest of my life.  And many days it’s exhausting!  The other one is seeing my kids struggling or in pain and knowing that I have to let them go through it because they need to grow and learn from it.  If I don’t allow them to feel some pain and experience anything unpleasant now as a child, I am not preparing them to be a fully functioning adult.  And even though everything in me as a mom wants to run out and fight every battle for them, I can’t!  I need to teach them how to be able to do it for themselves, supporting and loving them the whole way.  But oh, it hurts the heart so!!!!!

What brings you the most joy in motherhood?

Laurie: Seeing my kiddos blossom into the individual, amazing folks God created them to be. They're each so different and this is reflected in their personalities, interests, strengths, & even weaknesses...but it's so rewarding to see them grow and mature and start thinking about life with God-sized dreams...love it. 
Kally: Seeing my oldest son embrace God through out his life. Their giggles and laughter. Holding both of my boys each night as they sleep. 
Ashley:  Knowing that my kids love me with all their hearts, even on the days that I fail.
Connie: Seeing my children make wise choices and grow into people who love Jesus and people.  I lead them, give them guidance and wisdom, but only they can make their own choices.  I just want them to make wise ones.  Of course they are going to make mistakes, and as a parent I need to allow them to make some so that they can learn.  But if their mistakes are because my lack of teaching them biblical knowledge to make these wise choices, then I would have failed as a parent.  

What advice would you give your pre-mommy self?

Laurie:  Don't take yourself so seriously.  Roll with it.  Trust your judgment.  Have faith... and fun!  (Secretly stash a psychiatric fund for your kiddos, but still....have faith! lol)
Kally:  Don’t worry, enjoy all milestones, even the tough ones, because they pass fast! 
Ashley:  Learn to take a breath when you need it. Don’t sweat the small mistakes. Don’t dwell on the negative. Enjoy the smiles, the messes and even the chaos.
Connie:  Don’t expect it to be easy because it won’t be. I think my expectation of how difficult it was to raise a child, especially a baby, was way lower than the reality of it.  And because I had a skewed perception going into it and the reality failed to meet my expectation, there was almost a disappointment there that really had nothing to do with my kids, but had to do with my unrealistic expectations.  

How do you parent your kids individually?

Laurie:  Oh geez.  Could they get any different in how they need parented?!?  This is true especially when it comes to discipline.  But to get that parenting individualized, it's taken time & being intentional in reading each kiddos behavior, how they react to different methods of parenting (& discipline!). 
Kally:  By promoting love and understanding and meeting their age appropriate needs. 
Ashley:  There is a big age gap between my kids. I try to always remember that my kids are in different stages of life. That means they will have different boundaries and different rules. They are also two totally different people. That means that I have to consider their needs, love language and characteristics on an individual basis.
Connie:  My daughter is very independent and doesn’t need as much guidance or minute-to-minute attention.  Whereas my son needs both lots of guidance and lots of individual attention.  They also react differently to discipline and learn very differently.  There’s no way that I can use the same methods to try and lead both of my children to use all the gifts God gave them to their greatest capacity.  With my son, I spend more one-on-one time with him explaining things and looking things up online together, doing chores together, all the time carrying on a non-stop conversation.  With my daughter, she likes to share with me things that she’s interested in.  We watch shows we like together, but she also likes to spend time alone drawing or writing or playing with her cat.  

How do you handle discipline in your home?

Laurie:  Prior to ever needing to "discipline" our kiddos, we try to establish clear guidelines & expectations.  Sometimes this is prepping for expected behavior before we go somewhere, but in those times we do need to truly discipline, we keep it individualized because each of the kiddos are so different in how they respond to different techniques.  My oldest is a pleaser and doesn't like to get in trouble, so just a glance or firm word to reconsider her (undesirable) actions is usually plenty. My youngest is similar, in that he doesn't like to get in trouble, or have a privilege removed, so usually a reminder of what will happen if the behavior doesn't improve, is plenty.  My middle child? Oh, dear.  Send me ideas from other moms! #hotmess
Kally:  By describing the "why" it shouldn’t be done and having him verbalize an understanding followed by an apology for the wrong doing. 
Ashley:  I try to discipline from love instead of anger. I have an impulse to yell before I think. I have worked very hard on this character defect. Sometimes I still slip up. Although the impulse to yell every time is still there, I have found that when I close my eyes and take a moment, a breath, I am able to discipline with love and wisdom instead of anger.  Each time I discipline, I try to do it in a way that will teach my children a life lesson. Sometimes discipline is time out. Sometimes it’s losing privileges. Sometimes it’s a long talk.
Connie:  First I have to admit, my kids get their tempers from me and that’s not a good thing.  None of us are slow to anger, but we are working on it.  When an issue or situation comes up, my husband and I first talk about it and decide how we want to handle it.  We also try never to address something while we are still angry about it.  Then we sit down with the child and hear their side of the story.  In our house, lying about something is usually worse than whatever it is they did, so coming clean at this time is the best case scenario.  If, after hearing them out, we still think they are wrong, we explain to them why and make sure they understand.  Just handing out a punishment accomplishes nothing but misery for the child.  I don’t enjoy punishing my kids but I know if it can help them be wiser the next time they are faced with the same or similar choices, then it is worth it.  

How do you foster spiritual growth in your kids?

Laurie:  Being intentional in talking with our kiddos about spiritual matters and keeping God and His Word alive and relevant in our home, whether that's sharing with them about how God has answered a prayer or provided a blessing, or talking through real life situations/world events from a Biblical perspective. 
Kally:  We attend church, pray, read a devotional, practice memory verses, and praise God together throughout our day. 
Ashley:  I am transparent with my kids. When I mess up, I tell my kids that I’m sorry. When I need help, I allow my children to hear me pray. When they are sick, we pray together. When I give to strangers, I do it in front of my kids.
Connie:  We pray with our kids regularly.  We want our children to grow up knowing that Jesus is not just part of our Sunday routine but a part of every day.  Even on vacation, we plan what church we are going to visit as a family so our kids can see that Jesus is a priority for us everywhere we go.  Our kids see us praying about everything:  things that are going great, things that we are struggling with, people that need healing.  We believe that more is 'caught' than 'taught' so we believe the greatest thing we can do to foster their spiritual growth is to be growing our own relationship with Jesus and practicing what the Bible says.  

How do you deal with blended families?

Connie:  From the time my step-daughter was thirteen, she has come to stay with us during the summer.  When she turned 19, she came to live with us so that she could go to college at MSU.  This was an adjustment for all of us from going to the “fun” people (getting to take her on vacations and do fun things) to actually being a full-time family together.  Not being her mom, I try not to take the place of her mom.  She has a mom, she doesn’t need two.  However, I try to be there for her when she needs to talk.  I’ve tried to not treat her differently than I would my own kids.  I try to include her in the family activities and make her feel welcome.  
Ashley:  We always do what is best for our child. It’s not always easy. Sometimes it takes prayer. Sometimes it means me biting my tongue. But being able to raise our son together in a positive way is worth more than anything.

What do you do for "me time" and why is it important?

Laurie:  Junking!  I love the hunt for vintage pieces, repurposing, refinishing, and re-decorating!  It's important because I NEED something that's interesting, valuable, and relaxing, that defines me, as an individual.  I'm a better momma when I've had time to decompress in a world of junk!
Kally:  I attend small groups or prayer meetings to keep my sanity and rejuvenate. 
Ashley:  Being a mom means being selfless. But it does not mean that I don’t need and deserve “me time.” This is something I struggle with. My “me time” is normally a book and a bubble bath but it doesn’t happen often. My goal is to follow in the footsteps of Joyce Meyer who gave herself a set time every morning that she spent with God. During this time her husband and kids knew it was her special quiet time and not to come knocking!
Connie:  I toggle between guarding this too much and not allowing anything to intrude... to not taking any time for myself.  I would love to say that I go for a hike or a run, but I’m usually too worn out at the end of the day for anything that takes that much energy.  Usually I read a book, take a nap, or watch some Netflix.  Most times I still feel a little guilty because there are always things I’m leaving undone when I choose to have this time.  But when I don’t have this time, I become an angrier mom, a more frustrated mom, a less patient mom.  So I need to regularly remind myself how important time to recharge my own battery really is.  

When your kids go off to college or enter the "real world", how do you know you've been successful as a parent?

Laurie:  When they continue to walk with Christ & stand firm in their faith, no matter what the world throws at them because they have a Biblical worldview...that's what we're hoping to instill!
Kally:  If they continue to follow God’s guidance, not leaning on the world to guide them. Also if they are respectful adults showing love and kindness to anyone they encounter. 
Ashley:  I know my kids will make mistakes. They will fail at things. They will have heartaches. They will have doubts. I’ll know if I’ve been successful if even through the mistakes, failures, heartaches, and doubts, they still know truth. The truth I want them to know is that God has a plan and a purpose for them. Even when life doesn’t go the way they wish, God can still use them.
Connie:  Their successes and failures don’t belong to me.  If I blame myself for the bad things, then I’ll take credit for the good things.  My job is to teach them how to be loved by God, how to love God in return, and send them out into the world with a good, biblical foundation, a secure identity in Christ, how to wisely handle money, and a firm grasp on what they believe.  

Thanks for pulling up a chair and spending a few minutes in our mom circle.  I think we could all agree that being a mom is one of the most difficult--and rewarding--things we've ever done! Thankfully, we don't have to "go it alone".  We can seek council from moms around us who seem to have this parenting thing figured out, or at least the part of it we are struggling with.  But, our ultimate source of guidance comes from the Lord.  The Bible tells is in James 1:5 'Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.' There have been many times that we have sought council to problems our kids have been having and nothing was successful.  Until we turned it over to the Lord, praying for Him to give us wisdom, give us favor with our kids, and make us successful in parenting!  God wants the best for His children (and YOUR children) even more than you do!  

At the end of the day, remember there's no such thing as a perfect mom.  You're never gonna have it all figured out.  And that's ok... you're doing a great job!  You're the best mom to parent your child.  God said so.  He picked you.  So, moms, here's to you... here's your trophy (or gold star, take your pick)... you're killing it!  Keep pressing on... don't give up!  The best is yet to come!  

Tarah Eldridge