If you have found me through Mother Letters, welcome to my house. Feel free to make yourself at home and look around.
Put your feet up on the coffee table, see what I have in the pantry, and enjoy our time together.
If you would like to read my entire Mother Letter, click here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mother Letters

I wrote a letter to contribute to a Christmas gift one husband gave to his wife. He asked anyone willing to write a letter to his wife with words of encouragement, experiences, etc. I decided to copy the letter I wrote here so that I would have it recorded for myself and my family. If you would like to know more about the project, click here. There are some amazing thoughts from mothers around the world. BTW, he received more than 500 letters!  If you have found me through Mother Letters, welcome to my house.

Dear Mother,

As I contemplated this challenge of summing up motherhood into a letter, I realized what a monumental task it is. Defining motherhood and ourselves by extension is an impossible task. As I began my blog, in the “about us” section, I felt forced to define our family and by extension myself. At different points in my life I have defined myself as a student, teacher, friend, girlfriend, missionary, waitress, wife, mother, housekeeper, chauffeur, cook, room mother, director of plays, writer, translator, church worker, and the list goes on and on. I wish I could come up with a definitive label for myself (in my mind) that encompasses all that I am now and have been. Sometimes “stay at home mom” doesn’t begin to describe me. I love being a mother. I also realize that sometimes I need to feel like a woman, sometimes a wife, and often a validated individual. Maybe I am looking for a definition that isn’t just what I do but all that I am. I guess I am just ME! and some days that is more than enough!
I have done many things in my life, from living without indoor plumbing or electricity in a third world country for 8 months and learning to truly love the people, to teaching 4th and 6th graders. I have to say, striving to be the mother I want for my children is by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. It stretches my creativity, patience, and coping skills beyond limits I ever imagined and I don’t even have teenagers yet!
As for advice, the thing I am striving for most in my journey of motherhood is to keep the big picture in mind and tailor my goals and reactions to each challenge accordingly. I try to ask myself if this will really matter to who my child will become in the future. Is this a skill he/she will really need or just something I want.
I lose my temper frequently and many times realize after the fact that “I made a mountain out of that mole hill” but then I try to forgive myself and move forward. Most of the time the forgiveness part is the most difficult. Forgiving ourselves brings me to the other bit of advice that I try to remind myself of...we needn’t be too hard on ourselves. Even mothers are imperfect and on our own journeys to better ourselves each day. I believe that God made children with short memories and forgiving hearts for that reason. Oh, and stop comparing yourself to the wonder mom down the street. She doesn’t show you her dirty bathrooms and the tears she cries on hard days. It is a good thing God doesn’t judge us by our perceptions of the neighbor moms! As I strive each day to do my best, I pray often to my loving Heavenly Father and ask that he make up the difference between my best efforts and everything my children need. I have faith He will, because I know He loves them too. A personal relationship with Him goes a long way to feeling His loving presence in your life.
I recently heard a wonderful talk given by a local church leader that helps me to keep my perspective. He said that instead of making lists of “things to do” make it a list of “people to love”. Nearly everything we do affects someone. It would be a much better world, a happier family, a happier heart, if the things we do every day were done with love for the people they affect. I read a post about a lady who folds laundry this way. As she folds each article of clothing she thinks of something she loves about the person it belongs to.
We are trying to teach our children that our love is best demonstrated by our actions, not just saying “I love you”. How much more love could exist in our homes if all the “to dos” were done with love for members of the family in mind?
Finally, take a break once in a while. Everyone needs to find the individual inside the mom once in a while. I find that I am more patient and loving when given the chance to miss my children once in a while.
Keep your chin up. Keep trying and know that there are many other mothers out there cheering for you as well as a loving Heavenly Father who wants you to succeed in creating your own happy ending with your family.

With love, from a small part of your own cheering section,
Mother of four ages 8, 6, 4, 14 months

Though this letter is full of things that rarely resemble my real day to day life, it has helped me to write them down and read them often to keep my perspective. I would highly recommend writing your own "mother letter" whether it is about yourself, about the mother you hope to be one day, or about your own mother, wife, sister daughter etc.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Christmas Story (according to Little One)

Little One's sweet teacher at church teacher told me that Little One was telling the Christmas story to her class. She confidently explained that Joseph took Mary on a trip, built a fire for her and they roasted marshmallows. Baby Jesus had a marshmallow too!

For family night tonight, we are going to use our puppets to tell the Christmas story together. Can't wait to hear her part! :)

*Later in the season Little One was telling me the story again. Marshmallows were a big part of the story as before. Baby Jesus liked them so much he ate the whole bag. It also included the star which was raised and lowered by Mary and Joseph when they saw the shepherds and wisemen coming.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Prequel - Murphy's Elves have Struck

Hubby convinced me that I needed to record our Murphy's elves escapades from the beginning to portray the week in ALL it's glory. He had to remind me of many of the details as I had blissfully blocked them from my conscious mind.
Last Sunday, we had quite the afternoon...
It all began with the perfect Sunday dinner.  I had appointments to go visiting teaching so Hubby finished up the potatoes and gravy while #1 put the crescent rolls on the pan. The timing was perfect, I arrived home to a wonderful dinner on the table.

Then the elves came, invisible, but real nonetheless. We were about to sit down to eat when my nose detected something bound to disrupt everyone's appetite. As I took Sunshine upstairs to change the nuclear waste, Freckles was playing with his silverware and knocked over his entire glass of milk. The milk promptly soaked everything including the cushion on my chair. We cleaned up and finally sat down.

We began serving the children and got them started and Freckles spilled his milk AGAIN! We cleaned up and sat down to serve ourselves. I had not even had one bite when Sunshine threw up all over. With heavy heart, I put down my fork to clean up her chair, strip her down, and change her clothes. Meanwhile, Hubby was being plied with requests (whines) for seconds from the other kids.

I made Sunshine some cereal and sat down to feed her. We were minus the tray and buckles which had to be disinfected (practically burned) and so she was flailing. If you've noticed the pattern here, it will not surprise you to learn that she managed to smack the bowl of cereal coating me and herself! I had now had eaten a total of 2 bites and was getting ornery. I yelled in surprise and scared her. As I worked to quiet her, Hubby was arguing with Little One about "trying just one bite". She put the offending bite in her mouth and promptly threw up!!!

When Hubby and I finally were able to eat, we only had enough appetite to choke down a few bites of ice cold mashed potatoes and roast beef. We didn't dare even take the time to reheat because we didn't know what would happen next. We vowed the next week we would be having PBandJ, cooking a large meal isn't worth it.

As you can imagine, we couldn't imagine that those darn elves had more in store for us but we were Oh... So... Wrong! Well, there they are, the events leading up to the day that sent me over the edge.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Murphy's Elves Strike Again

I can't believe how lucky we are (said through gritted teeth)! I thought everything was on track for my annual Ladies brunch that I host for my family. It's supposed to be tomorrow. Last night we were watching the season finale of the 2nd season of Lost (yes we are new addicts, and get to watch 4 episodes a week) with bated breath. We heard one of the sounds a parent dreads most... "cough, cough, bleah, Mommy" Yes, you guessed it, #1 threw up all over in his bed (the TOP bunk). My barf challenged husband stood in the doorway for moral support with his nose plugged, apologizing and promising to put on the clean sheets as soon as I got the mess cleaned up. I won't go into detail but suffice it to say a sticky dustpan was involved. Luckily, #1 is now old enough that for the other 4 times last night he was able to make it into a bowl and we just had to take turns emptying and rinsing. Then, this morning Freckles woke up saying he wasn't feeling well. As I wondered if it was just sympathy/don't feel like school today symptoms, he ran to the bathroom and...yep!
Now I have: 12 guests expecting a party, 11 toys strewn across the floor to step on, 10 ornaments to put back on the tree (Sunshine), 9 times to refill cups of Gatorade which threaten my carpet, 8 floors to clean, 7 loads of stinky laundry, 6 presents to wrap, 5 slimy flushes and a toilet that needs to be cleaned, 4 kids at home while trying to clean for the party, 3 dozen cookies to make, 2 barfing boys, and 1 headache from too little sleep. My own friggin' version of 12 somethings for Christmas.
Where are those real elves when you need them? I think we have Murphy's elves at our house. No matter what we do, how we plan, something unforeseen always seems to happen. I even had to wipe off the inch thick layer of dust before I could put out my decorations. What's up with that? That's enough to kill any one's Christmas spirit despite my favorite Christmas music blaring in the background. In my world, I would have the elves come in and clean up the night before we are ready to decorate then I can have that Hallmark moment when my beautiful, clean, well behaved children smile and laugh gently as we lovingly place our decorations in the perfect spots.
But... until that happens I guess I had better pour some more Gatorade, sort the laundry, and find a clothes pin for my nose as I head off to clean the bathroom. As for my party? I will have to see if the barfing stops in a respectable amount of time to be able to Lysol everything before tomorrow.

P.S. For anyone concerned that the tone of this post is quite different than I usually write, be assured that I am fine and coping. I have used this as a way to blow off steam and try to find some humor while in the throes.