As the cooler temperatures creep upon us, (what do I mean creep? It has been in the 70’s and 80’s for far too long in Wisconsin) it is that time of year when we all need to take a step back and examine more than just our life, but the lives of those around us. With the start of school and fall activities, one thing should become clear to us as the carefree days of summer disappear – the importance of family/framily time.
Family dinners were always a huge part of my childhood and even though my brothers and I might have missed a few when we were in high school, in exchange for our sports and after school clubs, but looking back, I wish we hadn’t. I’m very grateful for those activities, but looking at the bigger picture they appear very insignificant now. But I suppose that is part of life and learning to grow into a better person.
From the moment my husband and I started our family, we wanted to focus on family time, and so every night we sit down to eat as a family. I am grateful for this, no matter if we are rushed some nights to get out the door for soccer or if other nights we enjoy an hour dinner to make up for the rushed evenings, but this is our time and something that we value. This means putting away any distraction for the time being – whether that’s homework, cell phones, work papers, none of that matters during our dinners.
Family time doesn’t only include dinners, but we heavily value our Sundays. Each weekend it may look different, but overall, it is quality time spent with our children. Whether getting together with extended family for a game of soccer in the backyard, watching the Packers, or taking a naps after enjoying brunch, whatever encompasses our Sunday, it always includes time with our kids.
I’m not going to pretend that technology is obsolete on a Sunday and we have resorted to the “Old” Days, but we don’t want to waste too much time with those distractions. It isn’t always easy, because sometimes all I want to do is scroll through Twitter mindlessly. But that isn’t what my children need and when it comes to “family time” it’s about our family as a whole not as individuals.
So, find what keeps your family grounded. How do you come together? Are you working towards something bigger than just one or two people? How do you create an experience that not only allows, but forces you to understand and learn more about each other? If we don’t know the members of our immediate family, then we aren’t truly living. These are the people who will be there for us through thick and thin (even if it takes awhile to get over last year’s family reunion) but they are still family. It might take awhile to find your family’s “thing” and sometimes if you have been gifted with a friend who is like family then you are truly blessed to open your circle and to grow in love. Continue searching, and eventually, you will find what brings your family joy and you won’t want to let it go. It will be worth missing the parties, the overtime at work, lunch with friends, and even the addicting Instagram stories because your family is where you can be yourself and where you can rejuvenate for the upcoming week. Put your family as a priority and everything else will quickly fall into line.
It took me awhile to write this post as I sit back and feel a bit sad that my children are returning to school. Yes, I am looking forward to that schedule, but I’m not going to pretend that our lives were chaotic with no schedule during summer. For everyone who knows me well, knows that I can’t live without schedules. I love to-do lists and planning my day. It doesn’t mean that we are doing something each moment, but I like everything to be in order, it’s one of my obnoxious personality traits. So, yes, it will be nice to have a few hours during the day with two children, instead of all four, since most of the older ones don’t take naps anymore…but it’s also not easy for me to let them go. As I sit and ponder why it’s getting harder for me to send them to school each year, instead of easier, here are a few of the “Mom Truths”that best describe my thoughts as another school year begins.
- As I stay home with my little ones and get to witness their first words, first steps, and much more, I don’t get to see all these firsts with my older children when they are at school. It’s part of letting them have independence and learning on their own, but I don’t get to see their first smile from meeting a new friend, or the feeling when they receive a treat for a job well done, or how they play in gym class. Yes, I get to hear about it, but I miss seeing these firsts and sometimes I wish I could be a fly on the wall.
- It’s exciting to know that my children are learning to develop and become independent people as they step out of the house and venture into a new classroom. But, honestly, it’s really hard to let go. It’s hard to not be their only happy place. I’m so grateful that my children have a wonderful school to attend with loving teachers and I know it’s part of motherhood, to them fly, but it isn’t easy.
- I didn’t always cherish these moments, but I have learned to love any extra time with my children when they desire me to be by their side. They haven’t reached the moody teenage years yet and they still want to sit next to me or hold my hand. As they enter a new grade this year and are another year older, it’s making me more aware that these days are going to end.
- No matter how tough it is to be in the thickest waters of motherhood with four little ones, it’s getting hard to let this phase go with some of the older ones as they become independent. I am appreciative that the older ones are much more self-sufficient than the 20 month and 3 year old, but it does sadden me to know that they no longer need my help as they once did. I still remember feeding my oldest child yogurt in the living room over seven years ago on a lazy morning. Those were the mornings before I had any children in school and it could be a whole day of play. Now that I focus attention on more than one child, there are many more responsibilities and less time for lazy days.
I am so happy that my children are growing into beautiful people who one day will need to thrive on their own without my help. It’s our job as parents to provide all of these life lessons in order for them to succeed, but as we do, we also give up a bit of ourselves. That is the hardest part. It’s beautiful to love, but it sad to lose a bit of ourselves with each life lesson we teach our children. But, isn’t that the ultimate gift of love? To remember that our children are only on loan to us and they have their own missions in this world. Let’s hope that we are all giving them the tools to succeed and make it a better place for everyone.
We all do it. We all stand in front of the mirror every morning, some mornings are less hectic than others. But we all stand in front of that mirror looking for the flaws, the pieces of us that only we can see. The pieces of don’t really make us into the person we are inside. This rings true even more so with mothers. There’s something about mothers, who sacrifice each day of their lives for the sake of their family, but only focus on the negatives and I am no exception to this bad habit. It’s time that we truly begin to value our worth and learn to love ourselves as we are. We stand in front of that mirror with self-pity, something my grandmother told me to never have, yet there it is creeping in. But why? Why do we allow ourselves to only focus on the mirror image?
Maybe it’s from the fact that we spend more time getting our children ready than ourselves. Shower? Who has time for a shower?
Maybe it’s because we spend hours making dinner, but only get an opportunity to finish the toddler’s plate of picked-over food. We really can’t blame the toddler for our actions.
Maybe it’s because we no longer find the desire to go shopping for clothing because it either won’t fit or it will only get covered in food from the two year old’s fingers.
Maybe it’s because we would rather spend the time sleeping than taking a shower and putting on makeup. We have all been there.
Maybe it’s because leggings are more comfortable than anything else. Don’t get me started on my opinion of leggings as pants.
Moms. These aren’t good enough excuses. Yes, we have a tough job, one of the toughest as we teach our children how to obey, behave in social situations, and learn life lessons, but they still aren’t good enough excuses.
We are all tired, and yes, there are many different stages of motherhood. Of course, if you just had a baby, you get a pass. If you are going through mental turmoil, you get a pass. If there is a death in the family, you get a pass. But don’t allow these passes to become part of your everyday routine. If we want to teach our children to be upstanding citizens one day, then be their first example. Teaching is more than just speaking words, it is actions. Just like the infamous saying, “actions speak louder than words.” Something my grandmother would repeat to me on a daily basis. What are our actions saying to our children?
Are we telling our children, by our behavior, that only high expectations apply to others? Or are we setting the bar high for ourselves making it easier for our children to follow, because they will follow. Are we showing ours friends, family, and strangers that we have given up on life during this “stage”? Because if that’s the case, then motherhood doesn’t look very appealing to young women.
Motherhood is difficult, but did we really expect it to be easy? There are countless expectations from society and even ones we put on ourselves. Motherhood is a gift, a true vocation of pure selflessness. That doesn’t mean we should take care of everyone else and not ourselves. We must also care for ourselves, because if we don’t, our families and friends will also suffer the consequences.
Motherhood is not a mirror image. What you see is not what you get. EVER. But that is fine. We must only be able to recognize who we truly are within ourselves so that we may help our families thrive and our children learn to grow in virtue and goodness. If we are to look for what is good, true, and beautiful, as mothers, we should be the first to portray that image. For if families cannot be the first to give this gift to society, then what do we have left to rely upon? Because the world is dark and full of heartache, yet, what better place to bring light than through ourselves as mothers and through our children. We can’t change the hate in the world, but we can start by taking care of ourselves which will in turn transfer to our children – the ultimate gift from God.
- A good friend is never in the relationship for their own personal gain. Yes, we all want someone to talk with, to laugh with and to just be ourselves with, but that’s not personal gain as long as we desire the same for the other person. Thinking of others is sometimes one of the hardest things to do, but good habits are formed only by repetition.
- Friends have each others backs! It’s called devotion, dedication, and sometime with a lot of compromise. We all have to learn these behaviors as adults, whether it’s in the workplace, at home with our spouse, or with our family, but why do people think that this shouldn’t exist within a friendship? It shouldn’t matter where or how you and your friends spend time together, it just matters that you are together!
- Take it easy and enjoy the ride. We often forget that life is a ride and we really don’t have control over most of it. If we remember that it isn’t all about us, it will make life much smoother. A good friendship will learn to “go with the flow”. Schedules change, moods change, and it’s okay. Friendships should never be exhausting, dramatic, or hurtful. And if you can’t enjoy your time with that friend, then it’s time to weed out the bad, toxic friends.
- Love your friends. Appreciate their virtues and their vices. You should want to do everything in your power to be there for the people near and dear to you. Everyone desires a happy life, so why not work each day to make the lives of those you love a little bit happier, easier, and above all filled with LOVE! Because all we need is love, right?
- Smile! A happy person can move mountains and make some of the best friends!
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE!
A shout-out to my best friend, Katy, of many many years, who has stuck by me through thick and thin, but this is what has made our friendship great. I hope you all find a dear friend who keeps you grounded and laughing at the same time!
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There’s something very telling about a person and how they drink their coffee. As a mother, I survive on many cups of coffee, but that wasn’t brought about by motherhood. I was an avid coffee drinker before children. I’d have to say that my coffee taste has changed from a light blend of coffee with cream and sugar to a dark roast with only half and half, no sugar. Have you ever thought what your cup of coffee might say about you?
Black? Cream? Sugar? Flavored syrup? Whipped cream? A touch of cinnamon?
Whatever your coffee preference, you will be surprised how it relates to who you are as an individual. Do you make the most of your talents and experiences while using them to further your passions, career or hobbies? Or do you sit by the wayside hoping someone will notice your talents and only plan on utilizing them if you are given constant recognition?
Our culture has attempted to eliminate “personal pride” with a fear of offending others who might not have achieved the same as us. That’s no way to live life as God has given each one of us unique abilities. So, instead of comparing, or allowing jealousy to ruin relationships, spend that energy on improving yourself and ultimately for the good of society.
We only get one chance at life, don’t waste your limited time. As a mom, I quickly discovered my need for personal time to decompress and what my talents were most needed in my vocation. That might be through running, cooking, reading, crafting, painting, event planning, whatever it might be, find the time to discover your passions.
What does your coffee drink says about you?
Black Coffee: If you prefer your coffee without any teasers, then you probably don’t easily change your mind and it’s difficult for you to stray from a consistency. This is a great quality, as you are very reliable, but be prepared, your opinions may not always be the best for everyone else. Show your talents, use your God-given gifts, but remember to occasionally step out of your comfort zone. Caught you! This is your chance to take your big dreams and put them into action. Stopping dreaming and start making things happen – you have the abilities.
Coffee with Cream: You can’t drink coffee without cream? Then you are reliable, organized and flexible. You are probably stubborn, because unfortunately you can’t drink black coffee or coffee with sugar; you have restricted yourself to a specific taste! You know what you want in any given situation and can make quick decisions. You are flexible not only with your creamer, but with any curve-ball thrown your way as well. Try to focus more on the details – this might not come easy, but sometimes the details are extremely important. You are able to vary the amount of creamer without freaking out, most of the time…
Coffee with Sugar: These are the people who love the sweet things in life. Not just sugar-wise but they take advantage of every adventure life throws at them. Talk about flexible, these people are willing to try anything. However, they like to try many things all at once, they get really excited and they may have a difficult time following through as new excitements pop up. If you want to have a great time, find a coffee-mate who loves their sugar! (These include all of those addicting tasty treats: Frappuccino concoctions and syrup laden lattes)
Espresso: If you are one of the rare people who prefer a shot or several shots of espresso then I salute you. Once in a blue moon this is my drink of choice, but it’s normally after a night of absolutely no sleep or a day I choose to forget. If you drink espressos on a daily basis, and I mean, every. single. day. then you are natural born leaders and like to view life as black and white, but that also means it is difficult for you to let loose and enjoy the sweet things in life. Maybe next time, liven up your espresso with caramel sauce and whipped cream, just for something different. Do the same thing in your life, take a few days off from your demanding job and drink your espresso alone at a coffee shop without your phone (no technology!), you don’t event get a book. This time just sit alone with yourself and think in quiet, if you can do this, then next time choose a book that motivates you to be even a better person.
Now this isn’t an exact science, but it sure was a great conversation starter at my last dinner party. It’s your turn. Ask your friend, “how do you like your coffee?”
If you are looking for a great children’s book for the start of summer vacation – I recommend The Happy Jar, written by Jake Frost. I always love a children’s book that draws our little people into a deeper understanding of life and The Happy Jar is just that – a book about family and the little moments that help the world go around. I definitely recommend it! My eight year old daughter read it to my son’s kindergarten class and the children loved the book. It’s a great way to start summer vacation as a family – create your own happy jar.
I look forward to asking my children what they see in their own “happy jar”. Here are a few of my “little moments”:
Snuggles with my children
Kisses from the 19 month old
Drawings from my 8 year old
My husband as we walk together side-by-side each day of our lives
Date nights with my husband
Good friends who are always there for me
A warm and loving home – a secure place for my family
My parents and siblings who love unconditionally
Rainy days and books
Sunny days and sparkling water
The smell of freshly cut grass
Campfires and roasted marshmallows
What’s in your Happy Jar?