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I’m a 36 year old homeschooling mother of 3. I struggle with a need for perfection that is far out of my grasp. My goal is to share my real, unedited life with new homeschool and stay at home moms. My hope is to let you sweet ladies know that you aren’t alone. You’re not the only one who wishes you still had the body of your youth. You’re not the only one who has to google in the middle of a lesson to make sure you’re giving correct info to your 9 year old. You’re not the only one who’s floors haven’t been mopped in 3 weeks. I depend on God’s grace daily! We are in this together. Please feel free to share your struggles with me. Let me pray for you and we can enjoy this crazy road with a few laughs together!
One of my biggest struggles is body image. After 3 kids my body isn’t what it used to be. My boys were born in my 20’s and the 60 pounds that I gained came off easily. I was back in my pre pregnancy clothes in no time, however, my daughter was born in my 30’s. It’s as if my metabolism just says “nope.” I get up and go to the gym at 5 am, 3 days per week. I eat healthy, I walk, I swim, I actively chase 3 kiddos around on a 24/7 basis and yet, I still hold on to 20 or so pounds from my pregnancy with her. I find that I don’t want to be photographed, I rarely wear shorts, I really just don’t like the way I look right now. I watch every little calorie. My mind is rarely on anything other than my weight or what I’m doing to fix it.
There are so many blogs, articles and posts about body image. How we are all beautiful and perfection is unattainable. Let me tell you something, I have never read anything that made me feel better about my vanity pounds. Never. I know we are supposed to look at the heart, I know that my husband thinks I’m beautiful, I know that I look OK for my age and yet it’s not enough. I want so badly to be in my twenty-something body. I loathe my soft, mommy tummy, the fact that my favorite clothes still don’t fit and that I have limited wardrobe choices. Not because they don’t make clothes that fit me, but because I’m so stubborn that I won’t go purchase bigger sizes.
But then there’s Olivia. I am so aware of how big a part my body image will play in her life. I grew up with a beautiful mother who had the same struggles. She and I share that insecurity. I don’t want Liv’s self worth to depend on her pant size like it does for me. I want her to love her body no matter what her weight, just like my mother wanted for me. This is a hard cycle to break.
I don’t want Olivia to wake up every morning, strip off all her clothes and weigh herself so she knows how she’ll feel about her body that day. I don’t want her to hop back on the scale at night to see the damage done. I don’t want her to know that there is guilt in a treat. I want her to eat a piece of birthday cake without panicking. I want her to enjoy life in her skin because she is beautiful. She is perfect.
And you know what? In her 2 year old wisdom she thinks I am beautiful. She thinks I am perfect. My soft mommy tummy is her favorite place to snuggle. When her sweet little self wakes up in the morning she comes downstairs to cuddle on the couch. She climbs on top of me, pulls my shirt up and lays her warm little cheek on my tummy. It’s her safe spot. I wish I could love it like she does.
Several weeks ago one of my favorite friends and I attended the FPEA Home school Convention in Orlando. It was the single most inspiring girls weekend I’ve ever had. I learned so much from so many Godly women who had spent their lives homeschooling their kids. They shared their passions, their struggles, their marriages. It was obvious that each speaker genuinely wanted to motivate and encourage fellow home school families. I came home with new purpose. Not only for our home school journey but for my children’s hearts. One of my favorite speakers talked about how she taught her children to disciple other kids. Her theory is that witnessing to people is one of the most difficult things for a christian to do. Why not train our children to do it at the earliest age possible so that by the time they are grown and enter the adult world it will be old hat to them? They will speak with confidence. They won’t waiver from their faith and they will effectively share it with others. That hit home to me. I immediately began to pray for God to send my boys someone to disciple. Someone to pour their love for Christ into. I prayed diligently… until things got busy here and I forgot about my request. Life happened…
We recently moved into a new house. It’s an exciting time as the kiddos now each have their own rooms, we have two separate living spaces so that we can actually spread out a bit. We also have a school room and a play room for Liv on the main floor. Not to mention the community pool, bike path, basketball courts and so on and so on… We’ve been looking forward to all of these things for months. Driving to the new house almost daily to see the progress. The kids picked their rooms, then repicked, then traded a hundred times before we actually moved in! It’s been a huge family process!
One thing I didn’t anticipate was neighbors. I know that sounds ridiculous but hear me out. In our old neighborhood we had neighbors of course, but they were elderly. They were fabulous people who loved our children. They enjoyed watching them grow, chatting with us in the back yard and the occasional house visit. For 13 years we had an elderly couple as our closest neighbors. Any moms out there that know what that means? Ding Ding Ding… we had no kids ringing our doorbell, asking to play, or to spend the night or for, heaven forbid, our kids to spend the night with them! No awkward phone calls, no door bells during nap time, no explanations of any kind. It was bliss.
Enter the new neighborhood… there are kids everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Our door bell rings every day, smack dab in the middle of nap time. Even though I’ve explained to the kids that nap time is our quiet time and that they aren’t to come over until after 3. Their excited, summer filled brains don’t process that information.
I really want to be the hospitable mom. You know, the cool mom who welcomes droves of kids in with open arms and warm cookies. Unfortunately for me (and for the kids in this neighborhood) cool mom doesn’t live in me. Yesterday, I tried to muster up what little bit of cool mom I had and I invited 2 kids who live near by to come and play. They are a brother and sister who are the same ages as our boys. They are both sweet, well behaved kids and our boys enjoyed having kids their own age to play with. The little girl spent a good bit of time in Liv’s playroom with her having a tea party. It was actually a great play date!
As the time was winding down I mentioned to the little girl that our church was hosting a VBS in a few weeks and I asked if she would like to attend. “I don’t think my mom will let me” she said. I was a bit surprised but I just offered to send the information to her mother, and they could talk about it. The little girl seemed ok with that.
I rounded up the kids and told them we enjoyed the playdate but that it was time to go home as we had some things to do. The kids hugged their new friends and they trotted through the back yard towards home. Sweet kids.
While it was fresh on my mind I decided to email their mother and invite them. She responded quickly and told me that her kids had never been to church. They live a busy lifestyle and, except for an occasional holiday, they have never been. She asked me not to look down on her for that, It broke my heart that she thought I would. She and I have talked a few times and she is a very sweet woman. A beautiful mother who dotes on her kids. They have a busy life, just like we do. I messaged her back and told her that I would never look down on her for that and I offered to let her kids ride with us to VBS if she was comfortable with it. I wasn’t sure if she’d be ok with them riding with us since we had only just met but she was so we got her kids registered and made a plan! I told the boys that they’d be going with us and they were so excited!
And then God…
The Holy Spirit whispered to my heart “disciple” and immediately my prayer came back to me. “God, please send my boys someone that they can disciple. Someone they can pour their love for Jesus into.” Here they were, two sweet kids who don’t know Jesus. I was so excited that I couldn’t contain myself. I called John, and then my girlfriend, and then anyone else I could think to tell! I love how when God moves He moves in such a way that it overwhelms us with joy. There is no other explanation than Him. There are no coincidences, just blessings.
Knowing that God has placed these kids in our path for a purpose helps me to remember why being hospitable is so close to God’s heart. If we do not open our lives and our homes up to people we will never see their need. We will miss countless opportunities to disciple, to grow and to honor God.
So I leave you with what I learned from this experience…
1. Sometimes the Devil will try to convince you that the people in your path are inconveniences when they are actually appointments from God.
2. Nothing is more important than the spiritual well being of children. All children.
3. God answers prayer. Every time. If you ask to grow He will grow you. If you ask to serve He will find a place. Be prepared to bend when He does.
A few days ago I was at the spending time with a sweet friend. We don’t get to see each other often. She works a full time job outside of the home and I work full time at home. This was one of those rare moments when we actually got to talk face to face instead of through the screens on our phones. Like moms tend to do, the conversation centered around our children. She has a beautiful 4 year old boy and she and her husband obviously adore him. As we were talking about day care and home school, temper tantrums and sleep deprivation something bigger and much more important was mentioned. God. Religion specifically. She said something that made me think. “I’m not going to push religion down my child’s throat.” Now, before you think she’s an anti-God mom, I’ll tell you that it’s obvious that my friend loves God, but the idea of religion bothers her. If I’m being honest, the idea of religion bothers me too.
Religion is about rules and restrictions. It’s about those perfectly dressed couples and their perfectly dressed children sitting in their polished pew every Sunday morning. It’s knowing all the words to every hymn and memorizing all the scriptures. Religious people tend to think they’ve arrived. They’ve reached “Christianity” and they’re finished now. They’ve secured their place in the Good Book, their seat in Heaven. I do no like religious people. They make me feel unworthy. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that our savior, Jesus Christ, isn’t a fan of religion either.
Christ wants us to have a relationship with Him. He’s not as concerned about the rules of religion as He is the tenderness of our hearts. I am an imperfect sinner who stumbles daily. I spend too much time on my iPad rather than in my Bible. I get jealous of people who steal my husband’s time. I sometimes let a not so nice word slip out of my lips. I yell at my children way more than I should. I am a sinner. God hates all of these things, but He LOVES me. He adores me. I am here to tell you that He adores you too. And guess what Christians, I believe with every fiber of my being that He adores every single human being on this beautiful earth. He has created us in His image. All of us. He sees the beauty in each heart, He sees past the sin. He sees into the depths of our souls, and He is smitten by us.
Think back to when you met your husband. Remember that sweet feeling of getting to know him. Learning his likes and dislikes, the stories his mom told you, the baby pictures. You soaked him up. Every little detail was important. You prided yourself in knowing what he was thinking and feeling. His favorite food, team or movie. You immersed yourself in knowing your love. You were excited to see him, to touch his hand and just be alone together. This is what relationships are made of. This is what Christ wants from us.
Having a relationship with Christ is about seeking out His heart. It’s about wanting to know more about Him. Spending time with Him through prayer and reading God’s word to know all of His stories. The Bible is the window to Jesus’s soul. It’s who He is. Study him the way you studied your husband. Long to know Him. Seek His heart and what He wants for yours. Just like with our husbands, we never stop learning. We never stop growing in our marriages. We shouldn’t stop growing in our relationship with Christ. There is no finish line. Every time you open your Bible you should learn something new about Him. Just like you set aside time to be alone with your husband, you should set aside time to be alone with your savior. The closer you are to Him the more peace you will have in your life because you will know that you are in His will. In good times and in storms, God is faithful. Living in His will and seeking His heart is the only way to have true peace in this life.
Make a commitment to God today. Leave the religion of your life behind and look for the relationship God longs for you to have with Him. Schedule dates with Him and don’t cancel them. Talk to Him all day. I find myself praying constantly, thank yous for making it to co op on time, help finding missing socks, protection over my children when they play, knowledge when my child is struggling with a concept in math… these may seem like mundane and small things to pray for but it’s what God desires from us. He wants us to be close, He wants us to talk to him about our everyday struggles. When we see He is faithful in the small moments we will have stronger faith for those big moments. We will know we are in His will and we will have peace and peace is a valuable thing.
Being a SAHM is a calling. It’s not for everyone and it’s not easy. Childhood is messy and keeping little people alive and happy day in and day out takes a toll on a woman’s sanity. A few weeks ago I documented my day, the good, the bad and the crazy. I shared it on my personal Facebook page and the feed back I received really motivated me to start this blog. I had so many moms message me, telling me how their crazy days wipe them out too. How they stay stressed and exhausted. I know the feeling, STRESSED is my best accessory. Here is my original post…
Olivia crawls into bed with us at about 3 am. Asks for her sippy cup around 4. I closed my eyes for 5 minutes then John wakes me up asking if I know where his navy blue slacks are. I don’t … it’s 7:10. I’m supposed to be up at 6 but I am glad to sleep in
Got the kiddos up around 8, made more waffles than I can count, Olivia can’t decide what kind of waffles she wants. She changes her mind 3 times. Ends up eating the first set of waffles I made her.
School starts at 9, after telling the boys about a dozen times that they need to get dressed and brush their teeth.
Find that Kaden has neglected a few science questions so I start him there. Collin has a spelling test, Olivia needs to potty so we pause the test so I can take her.
The dog wants out (has to be the 15th time today)
Resume spelling test.
Kaden has a science question…
Dog wants back in.
We head to the mail box. The boys race, Liv tries to keep up. Much needed energy release.
Get home and everyone wants a snack.
Dog wants back out.
Liv doesn’t want a yogurt, she throws it on the floor and asks for goldfish.
Dog wants back in, eats yogurt off the floor (victory)
Clean up snacks and give Collin his math test, Kaden does his reading. Olivia has to potty.
Dog wants out again, send snide text to John about the little dog.
Collin starts seatwork, Kaden is still reading… laundry time
Fold laundry get half way through and Olivia wants to read a book…
Read to her, play for a few, resume laundry. Make sure all baseball uniform items are laid out and accounted for. (something will disappear between now and 4 pm)
Collin is still doing seat work so I start language with Kaden, Olivia has to potty again.
Take her, then we start language again.
Dog wants in.
Back to diagramming sentences. I write them on the white board, Olivia scribbles below me and “teaches” Kaden too.
I NEED COFFEE!
Make a cup, take a couple of sips and move on to math with Kaden.
Collin should be reading but he’s caught up in the Yo Gabba Gabba episode that Liv is watching… I get him refocused and throw lunch in the oven…
Dog wants out…
Check Kaden’s math problems and correct them together.
Switch out the laundry and put the clean stuff away.
Collin tells me a random fact about beavers, we aren’t learning about beavers
Run and grab a shower while the boys take a 15 minute break with Olivia.
Get out of the shower before I’m finished because Olivia has to potty again and we don’t want an accident.
Hop back in, rinse my hair and rush back out to make sure the boys aren’t killing each other.
Dog is barking to get back in. Seriously, what’s wrong with this dog??
Switching out laundry again
Collin is having “Olivia time” with her, playing in her room. She manages to pour an entire water bottle of bright red fruit punch crystal light onto her bed.. Collin must not have been watching her very closely.
Explain to him the importance and responsibility of helping with a 2 year old. Strip her bed and throw it in the wash and serve lunch.
She doesn’t want chicken, she wants waffles. This time the answer is just “no”
After lunch, we finish up Kaden’s school and run to the mailbox again to tire Liv out before her nap…
Is it naptime yet?? , uninterupted coffee and more house work…
Moms have two choices. We can let every interruption frustrate us, let every task become mundane. We can long for the days when our kids are grown and independent. We can wish childhood away, like these are just inconvenient miles on the path to our lives.
Or we can choose to relish this time. To count these messy steps as joy. To make memories that will carry us through when our nests are empty. I will miss these days. I will miss the mess of childhood. The long school days, the late nights at the ball field and the slushies on the drive home, even though Collin spills his every time. I will long for their tiny faces.
Not everyone’s calling is glamorous or prestigious. My calling is to be Mommy. To have my kiddos here with me. To teach them and help them grow to be godly, productive people. I’ll miss them when they’re gone. Enjoy them while they are here, little and needy. I love knowing that one day, they’ll be grown and gone and I’ll have these memories. They are etched in my heart forever.