Friday, July 31, 2015

What I learned July

I am pretty sure the last time I did one of these "what I learned" posts I started with something to the effect of "I have no idea..." This month is totally the opposite. I have so much I want to write I am having a hard time knowing what to share now and what to keep for it's own post. I guess sometimes you hit a point where you can get beyond the emotional/mental/physical exhaustion of this season and get a moment of perspective to see how far all of us have grown. I see how much better my kids are listening, getting along and generally being a blessing. I see how more gentle I am being, giving disciplines more calmly, more logically, with more care in my voice - and I think there is so much power in the gentleness of a parent. So a lot of this "what I learned" post is what I've realized about my parenting.

I am trying to be more honest with my kids. If I am grumpy I tell them. Especially since this pregnancy has been harder than my other ones I have tried to let them know when I need a little bit of time to be quiet or rest and overall I think it helps them. Sometimes I have had to say - "listen, I know that it's not you, it's me. I'm the one having a hard time and coming to the end of my rope. I do not want to yell at y'all I just really really really need a few minutes of quiet. Then we can try again." Or I'll say "I had a difficult night last night and I need a little bit of time this morning before we head out the door." Or we'll be out and I'm about to hit my wall and I'll say "Listen, kiddos I'm really not feeling well right now. I need you to cooperate and try to get along." I think they are more understanding when I am more honest.

I am trying to do better at just listening - which is hard because some moments I want to turn into a teaching opportunity!!  But I'm slowly realizing how it is so so so important to them that sometimes I just listen. It is hard for them all to get time just with me to just listen, and I get overwhelmed with it all sometimes - but it's been really good for them and I'm trying to do better. If they want to talk I put the phone down and just listen. I turn the radio down and listen. I listen and keep my mouth shut. It's a practice, but it's been a good one. 

When we are having a bad day I try to make it better. Sometimes that means putting on a movie. A lot of the time that means getting out of the house, which can be hard for me, since that will often set off my braxton hicks contractions but we go to the library at least twice a week, and we go to the mall pretty often. Sometimes we just get in the car and drive. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. When we have a bad day, and nothing seems to make it better when I get to the end of it I'm trying to learn to simply let it go. Bad days happen. Hopefully the next day will be better. It is important to not hang onto that. I'll try to see if there was something to be more aware of for the next day, like snack times or tiredness or whatever, but then I have to just let it go. I didn't even realize how I had been hanging onto those bad days, letting the stress of them pile one on top of the other. I'm learning to try to start each day fresh. 

I'm saying yes - to specific friends, both mine and my big girls. I am trying to say yes as much as possible - but everyone else is on the back burner for the moment. I'm okay with not having time to be with everyone I thought I would be spending time with at the start of the summer. I am enjoying my really good friends so much and when the twinge of guilt starts because we haven't had play dates with everyone or I haven't been interacting with everyone online or via text, I'm just okay with letting it go for right now.  Maybe in the fall things will change, I don't know. Sometimes you just have to focus on a few things, and a few people. I'm also saying yes to my big girls spending time with their friends as often as I can. That has meant letting my oldest do things and go places without me more than ever. It hasn't always been an easy thing for me to transition into but I'm thankful she has a friend to go swimming with and who she likes to bake with and it's good for her to get out of the house. We have also picked up the girl's friends to tag along on whatever activity/errands we have planned for the day and they have loved that.

I'm practicing simple acts of self care. Like cups of Greek yogurt and protein bars - just for me. I hate having mom-only food in the fridge. I hate spending money on groceries that are only for me but right now it has really really helped. I'm doing better about staying on a wheat-free diet which helps my mental state a lot.

Here are a few links I have really loved...

Here at the end of hot July, as the grass begins to turn from bright green to tired brown, may we remember how our friend Jesus brings life to the most wilted souls. When our Father peers into our hearts, may he work his secret miracles: shaping our anxiety into peace, our comparison into compassion, and our doubt into hope. 
from chatting at the sky
Emphasis mine - because I have felt like the grass of my soul has grown tired & brown here at the end of summer and I'm glad I'm not the only one counting the days until the wide open spaces of summer are replaced with the comfortable rhythms of fall.

For ducks, other people’s emotions roll right off them, like water off a duck’s bath. These people may be warm, caring, and sensitive, but they still have no trouble distinguishing other people’s emotions from their own.

Not so for sponges. Highly intuitive types often soak up other people’s feelings, experiencing them as their own, and physically registering those emotions. This isn’t a choice; it happens automatically.
Ducks & Sponges from Modern Mrs. Darcy
I have a feeling that this is something I'll be thinking about a lot this year. I am a total sponge and it has been hard for me to learn how to not think of this as a negative thing with so many kids all having their own emotions and not getting overwhelmed with their bad attitudes.

This sermon. I loved hearing it in person and loved listening to it online again yesterday. It's about how to stand firm when we are feeling tired of waiting on God. It is really powerful. Here is the link to the video version.

The next day I heard this song on the radio and while it's one that has been around for awhile the line "your beloved needs you now" has really stuck with me. But that's a post for another day.

Other favorite songs right now:
Broken Together by Casting Crowns
Just Be Held by Casting Crowns
I am not alone by Kari Jobe

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