October 30, 2007

I Forgive You

These three words mean a lot when they are true. Anyone who has experienced forgiveness knows the value of it. Sometimes it is hard to be the forgiver if the forgiven is a repeat offender. And sometimes it is hard to change our behavior if we are never forgiven for past offenses. So how can we communicate this to our children? They may not understand the true value of forgiveness yet but at some point in his or her life the ability to forgive will be essential to social, emotional and spiritual survival. All that being said, I thought I would share a way that we have decided to communicate this essential and important life skill to our very young girls. Really, I need to give credit to my husband, who probably learned this from his parents.
We all know that children have many opportunities to say they are sorry. Sometimes "sorry" can feel like a throw away word that is extremely overused. "Sorry for hitting you, lindsay" for the hundredth time can make us feel like the offender is really not that sorry. The practice in our house has been to use these times to teach forgiveness as well as being sorry. The dialog goes something like this:
Mom: "tell your sister you are sorry"
Leslie: "Sorry Lindsay"
Mom: "What do you say Lindsay?"
Lindsay: "I forgive you Leslie"
Then there is a little discussion about how sorry means you are going to try not to do it again and I forgive you means you are not going to hold it against the other person. This is good practice for me as well as the girls. They may not understand it but eventually they will learn the importance of these words. Leslie learns that I need to say I'm sorry when I do something wrong, and Lindsay learns that she needs to forgive her sister and move on. The girls know that this is what is expected of them, and that they are more than just words mom and dad want them to say. The words have meaning and expectations behind them. The hope behind all of this is that, very soon, when the issues become heavier than who stole who's My Little Pony, Lindsay and Leslie will know what "I'm Sorry" and "I forgive you" really means.
Unfortunately many never truly understand these concepts and they end up living with guilt or anger that destroys the spirit. It is my prayer that some day, my girls will not only understand forgiveness from their friends and loved ones, but that they will really truly understand the ultimate forgiveness that they can have in Christ.

October 28, 2007

Real Mom Books

I know it is hard for mommies to find time to read a comic strip, let alone an actual book with paper (not cardboard) pages and chapters. But there are a few books that I have found helpful on this mommy journey, and I wonder if you may have some to share as well. Please do!! Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Dare to Discipline by James Dobson- I read this one while I was pregnant with my first, I think that was a little early, but it did get me started on the right path setting up parameters for our children.
2) On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo- This book is sometimes controversial. But I'll tell you that in my experience, this book helped me sanely get through the first year with both of our daughters. My advice is to use their suggestions with your mommy instinct. The book even states that, but those who claim controversy forget that point. Putting our girls on a schedule was the best thing we ever did. But we kept it flexible and we did not allow the schedule to dictate us. My suggestion is to read this before you have your baby.
3) Taking Care of the Me in Mommy by Lisa Welchel - Great book with lots of tools for making time for yourself and becoming a better mommy because of it.
4) Coach Mom: 7 Strategies for Organizing You Family into an All-Star Team by Brenna Stull - I have the privilege of going through this book currently with the Author. Brenna is one of our pastor's wives. She is truly a women of God and filled with the Holy Spirit. That said, this book really challenges you to organize your life and your family so that we can spend less time on housework and the daily tasks of motherhood and more time with our children.
5) Raising your Kids for True Greatness by Tim Kimmel - This is a book that I have started, but have not finished yet. It is really a revolutionary look at the way we are raising our kids in America and how we as Christians can redefine success for our children.

So, your turn. What are some books that you would suggest?? Please leave the title and author's name with a short description in a comment. I look forward to seeing what everyone is reading and hopefully discovering a new book to help me along the journey. Also, if you have read any of the above books, please feel free to comment.

October 26, 2007

Pray For Your Children

From the moment I knew that I would be a mom, I began praying for my baby. After a tearful call to my husband at work, I sat on the floor of my bathroom and thanked God for this extremely frightening and new adventure that we would be embarking on. Four years and another baby later, I know that prayer is the only way I could get this far in my parenting journey. My prayers have changed as time has gone on. "God, please give my baby 10 fingers and toes, " "God, please help this baby sleep through the night," "God, please take the pain from her stitches away," "God, help her learn to walk with that cast on without hurting herself in any other way," "God, when will she ever stop sucking her thumb?" "God, please keep her safe on her bike." Those are just a few of the thousands of prayers for my oldest little girl. But the prayers that never change are for her character, salvation, and future. I think that these prayers will be with me until I die. "Lord, please help her to someday make her relationship with you more than a memorized prayer at bedtime," "Lord, please shape her into a person who cares for others, before herself," "Lord, please bring friends to her that will be positive influences in her life and challenge her to be a better person," and finally, "Lord, please bring her a spouse (in about 20 years) that loves you."
Praying for our kids helps us to focus on what is important in the sometimes chaotic tasks of mommyhood.

October 25, 2007

Real Moms Get Out!

You may have read this job description for mom before (from a frequently forwarded email):

Long term team players needed for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills, be willing to work variable hours which will include evenings and weekends, and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

The candidate must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets, and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars, and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute and an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills so that those in your charge(s) can ultimately surpass you.

None required. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when the offspring turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give your children whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

While there are no health insurance, no dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays, and no stock options offered, this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if the candidate play her cards right.

It might seem like only a person who has lost her mind would accept such a position. Maybe so, but there are ways to keep your sanity while in the midst of such heavy responsibility. Friends, we need them, and we need to get together with them. For working in the house moms as well as working out of the house moms, this connection is our saving grace. Even if all we talk about when we get together is our kids, there is just something about getting together with the girls. It strengthens us, rejuvenates us, blesses us, informs us, and cheers us up. We can get isolated in our homes and feel like we are the only ones experiencing the struggles of motherhood. That idea crumbles when we hear from other moms that they are going through the same frustrations as we are. Laughter is the best cure-all. Some of the biggest laughs I have had have been at Bunko night with the girls.

So, join a Bunko group, start a playgroup with some friends from the neighborhood, work or church or another organization, plan a girls night, join a book club, make a coffee date for Saturday morning, do something to get that time with your girlfriends.

Getting out with the girls at least once a month (hopefully more) will help you get real!

October 24, 2007

Getting Real

I decided to jump in in finally start this idea that has been floating around in my head. My hope is that Get Real Mom (GRM) will become a place for real advice from moms to moms. It's been on my mind ever since I saw a talk show segment that featured a couple of moms who had started a business giving new moms advice. I had a few questions after seeing that segment: 1) Why didn't I think of that? 2) When do we stop needing advice? 3) why would I pay money for advice that I get freely from my friends who have been there, done that? So out of those questions came the idea to start a blog that is filled with practical advice for moms of all ages and stages.
I am only 4 years into my journey as a mommy, but I certainly feel that I am an expert in those 4 years of life. From the moment I became official (4:09 am, August 5, 2003) my expertise grew quite rapidly. But, I am always needing the advice of those who are ahead of me in the mommy journey. I have found myself surrounded by other moms at various stages of mommyhood. I value the advice of others and have found it to be priceless. Were they ever to charge me for their advice, I certainly couldn't afford what it is worth. But for the love of motherhood, they don't charge me for their helpful advice.
We could look through hundreds and thousands of magazines and books to find what experts say or what companies have paid for in an effort to influence this most influential part of our society (mothers). But the best advice comes from friends, who pass on pearls of wisdom in order to help another mom through the most important job she will ever take on. It is free, it is wise, and it is real.