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Encouragement, Faith, Goals, Lifestyle, Parenting

Not A Mini-Me, Rather, A Little Her

Happy New Year Y’all!

Like most people, the holidays and end of the year bring about a season of self-reflection. My season lasted most of the fall and winter of 2018 and at times was absolutely brutal. I mean, if you ever ask God to show you the true you. The weaknesses, shortcomings, and truths of what makes you who you are…be ready to see a not-so-perfect picture. As I tip-toes into the traumas and truths of my childhood and young adulthood, I was swamped with thoughts about how to pick up the pieces and start fresh even though I have a husband and daughters who need me (so checking out or running away aren’t viable options). And while I am still sorting through a lot of that (story for another day), I did have a lightbulb moment in relation to how I parent.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, children inherent their looks and some personality traits through genetics but what I am talking about is the nurturing of our children. Not those things which are out of our control, but rather, the things that are tangible. One of these areas was the idea that our oldest, my Sug, was a “Mini-Me.” I had heard family, friends and acquaintance say it so much that I started to believe it myself. Here is the problem that ensued, I began to respond and reactive to our six year old as if she were just that, a miniature version of myself. At her age, life was different for me than it is for her and the experiences that I traversed in childhood shaped the person I am today. But she has not known the loss, lessons or hardships. She has not witnessed some of the things that I have, both positive and negative. And her perspective of the world around her is different if for no other reason than she is growing up in a time, region and space where things are different. So to treat her as a “Mini-Me” has been a detriment to my parenting.

I was holding her to standards she couldn’t meet and expectations based on what I felt was appropriate because of what I was able to do at her age/stage and the reality was I have been missing out on learning who she is because all I saw was my “Mini-Me.” Friends, parenting at easy nor is it for the faint of heart. I quit in my head a few times a day and when the truth of this revelation hit me it felt like a ton of bricks. I felt like I had failed her, like I had failed as a mother and like I had failed to glorify the God who blessed us with this healthy child. You see, He has trusted us to care and raise this amazing Little Person to become a warrior to do His will but I got caught up in creating an attitude in her that served my will instead.

So while dressing alike and cute social media posts brag about mothers and their “Mini-Me’s,” I have had to take a step back. I am thoroughly flawed and in a perpetual state of self-awareness and personal growth. I want to raise daughters who aren’t seen as small versions of myself (be it in their clothing, attitude or personality) but instead are recognized as individuals in their own right. Not trying to measure themselves to meet the standard set before them by anyone (self-included) but striking out in their God-given talents with boldness to be comfortable and free in being themselves. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is acceptance and unconditional love for who  they are and were created to be by their Heavenly Father.

Much Love,

Q

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A is for Acceptance

Hey Y’all!

Every new season comes with changes and shifts that we may be familiar but still require more from us than we anticipated. Case in point, summer brings warm days, water activities and in the South, light bills that rival some car note payments. While some are on fixed incomes and the weight of higher bills is impossible to bear, for those of us who can and prefer not to save on energy for the sake of the bill have to make those payments and be thankful that we can. Now, don’t leave me yet, I won’t be long but this is on my like mosquitos and standing water. I am not just referring to seasons in the natural sense but also those in the spiritual and personal realms. We have all heard “some people come in our lives for a season,” but the reality to that is we are not always able to recognize the changes in such seasons as clearly.

Why does this all matter you ask? The short answer is, because who wants to wear shorts and get caught in a snowstorm? Recognizing the changes helps us not only prepare but also make the necessary adjustments in our life to accommodate the season we are in. Preparation is key but we will not always be afforded the opportunity to acquire all that we need and shed that which will soon be unnecessary. Regardless, we are able to thrive once we accept that which is to come or may already be upon us. Acceptance is the first step in taking authority and ownership. If we are in denial, nothing productive will be done because there is no acknowledgement of a need.

Acceptance beings forth a call to action. We truly, what we “do” says just as much about what we believe than what we verbally declare. So, as our Crew enters into this new season of family fellowship, homeschooling, thriving as a unit and focusing on mastery and service over perfection and completion, join us! It won’t be easy everyday (and today is basically one of those days) but the alternative is to merely exist through the transition and be at the mercy of reacting. Accept the end of that relationship. Accept not being selected for that job. Accept that your wardrobe may not fit the body you have today. Accept that death of a loved one that has felt like an un-fillable void. Because on the other side of accepting is the strength and perseverance needed to keep going and growing. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6).

Much Love,

Q

Encouragement, Goals, Lifestyle

Who Would Have Thunk It?

Hey Y’all!

I know all of us over the age of 30 can relate to living through our 20s feeling smarter and wiser, while still young and hip and looking forward to who we will be when we “grow up.” It’s like being a kid in Toys R Us (R.I.P) and seeing all of the amazing boxes and endlessly play possibilities. Blinded by the lights and magnificent displays that capture our attention, we daydream about all that we would do with just one new toy let alone the potential multiple picks create. And then, almost immediately, one day you grow up and realize it takes money to buy said desired bobbles and that money comes by way or work (which usually is the least interesting thing we want to involve ourselves in) and slowly the daydreams are swept away and reality feels stale compared to what it once was. Now, that may have been an over exaggeration but that is kind of what it felt like when I realized I am about to hit my “mid-thirties.” [Insert gasp here]

The initial shock felt like I was pushed off a cliff and when I came to my senses it was more like I had trip off the last stair. Wile scary and jolting, not nearly as life-altering as it seemed in the moment. And if we are honest with ourselves, we all dreamed a manifest destiny of sorts that isn’t exactly playing out the way we pictured. After a few years in the role of adult and parent, I have come to confidently accept that that my friends is perfectly okay. Seriously, when I talk to my longtime friends (and I mean like 19 and 22 year friendships) one of the common questions when something new happens is, who would have thunk it? Who knew that this would be the life I lived at this point in adulthood.

Now, I don’t know about you but for a while, that was a hard pill to swallow. I was “just” a few roles I had assumed and the life of over-achievement I had been groomed for wasn’t exactly reality. I wasn’t a world-renowned writer, a famous therapist, a millionaire entrepreneur…Chile, I was a barely a thousand-aire and still using Google in place of sound advice. Admit it, you can relate! But over the past two to three years (’cause my evolution of personal growth is constant and I am no where near “arriving”) I have made up in my mind that the roles I fulfill, the legacy I work to establish for my family and my faith is enough. I. AM. ENOUGH. And guess what, so are you!

It doesn’t matter where we thought we would be or where we are on that path to getting there. Sometimes, we have to change direction altogether or scrap the initial plan and try again. No, that doesn’t feel productive or comfortable but life happens. I have yet to meet anyone in my age cohort (1980-84 put your hands up) say they are exactly where they thought they would be by this point in life. The beauty is learning to love the process and appreciate every new day we get to move closer to who we want (and were created to be). So, whether you thunk it or not, doesn’t matter…half the adventure is thinking up what’s next anyway!

Much Love,

Q

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Are You Going Back to Work?

Hey Y’all! Have you ever been in the midst of conversation about careers, goals and the future? Sure, we all have. Maybe you, like me, have even discussed aspirations and things you still hope to accomplish with friends, family members or like-minded acquaintances. But, as a SAHM (Stay-at-Home-Mom), there is a question/statement that comes in a couple different forms that used to chap my lips like a salt scrub while you’re dehydrated on a Southern summer day. They go a little something like this:

“Are you going back to work?”

“So, you don’t have a job?”

“It must be nice to be able to stay home and not work.”

“Is that all you do?”

“I could never see myself being with my kids all the time.”

Listen, I get it. Most of us never saw it in our futures either! For those who have never and/or don’t stay at home with their children, it may seem like an odd concept but the reality is people have been doing it for centuries. And while I don’t mind having actual, unbiased and non-judgmental conversations about my career of choice, I had to learn where to draw the line internally. Truly, there are working mothers who would love to be home and those who choose to work. Whatever your reason or choice, it’s okay but that is what works for you. Yet, after years of trying to convince myself that being a mother was “enough” of a job, I still had to deal with the criticisms and sly remarks from others.

In case no other SAHM has said it, eventually those seeds of disdain that are planted by snarky (and let’s call a spade a spade, hella rude) remarks will take root if we don’t do the immediate mental work of plucking them up. But as any of us will tell you, trying to manage the day-to-day operations of children with a variety of personalities and skill-sets (like climbing from the floor onto the marble dining room table in a matter of minutes while you are across the room and scared to death) just don’t have the attention span in that moment. And a few weeks later when the house is a mess, kids have been on level 100 since breakfast and you’ve had to spank someone for the second time…those small sprouts start to bloom. We doubt, we question and I’ll speak for myself on this one…we cry. See, staying at home means we are solely responsible for our children. Not just their safety and well-being but their personalities, education, skills, and everything else that molds a person. What if we are doing it wrong? What if our family would be in a better financial position if we went back into the workforce? What if I didn’t have all these student loans from earning degrees that aren’t as heavily utilized because “all I do is stay home?” Maybe that last one doesn’t apply to everyone, but we’re being real here and Navient knows my name all too well!

For the SAHMs out there, sister, lift your head! We have all been there before but the reality is you accepted a calling that isn’t for the faint of heart or weary of spirit. Those Little Human(s) in your care will flourish even in your weakest moments because they will see humanity, forgiveness and grace worked out before their very eyes. YOU GOT THIS! And for my working mothers out there, I salute you! I could not imagine dealing with adults all day and then having to mediate the personalities and attitudes of my children. But you do it, and that too teaches perseverance and work ethic to the Littles who call you Mom. So, before you shell out judgement attempted to be delivered as curiosity, do us (or me, no need to be passive aggressive)…don’t!

My point is, regardless of what we have accomplished, certifications or diplomas earned or level of education completed…choosing to be a SAHM isn’t the easy life of every day is Saturday that some think it is. And even if you don’t understand it, remember that the Mom who is living it may not be able to comprehend it at that moment either. Seriously, we all quit in our minds like 18 times a day and search for jobs online at least once a year when our level of Fed Up hits a peak. But Homemaking is the career of choice in the season of life we are in and the worst thing anyone can do to the other is belittle the calling we’ve chosen. So, next time you see a Mom in the store with her Kiddos during lunchtime trying to grocery shop between nap times and you know you are headed back to work to eat lunch alone, ride in your car alone and take a bathroom break alone…shoot her a smile and encouraging word instead of glares and stares. I’m sure she probably hasn’t sleep since the previous year and if she’s like me, she’s waiting on bedtime like a kid on Christmas Eve!

Much Love,

Q

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Sometimes You Just Have to Be Ken

Y’All! As a Girl Mom, there are some things I just have to do every now and again. Even the Boy Moms out there can relate to what I am about to say. Sometimes, we have to play their games…their way…when they ask. No, I don’t want to be Ken while she plays Barbie. No, I don’t want to be the cats while she is the veterinarian doing the slowest physical check-ups this side of the Mason-Dixon line. And I certainly don’t want to be the child in the family while she pretends to be the mom and attempts to use on me what she perceives I do to her. Cause really, if I have to endure one more “beauty hair appointment,” I just may shave all of our heads and throw the brushes out of the window! 

For real, when I have a spare moment I like to finish a thought or sit still. How many of you can relate to actively ignoring your child’s request to play in the interest of just going to the bathroom alone or finishing that other half of your favorite snack hidden on the highest shelf in the pantry/ C’mon, don’t leave me hangin’, I can’t possibly be alone in this! The reality is as much we may not want to, sometimes, the little humans we are called to rear need us to get on the floor (cracking knees and all) and indulge them in a few hours of imagination.

Of course the rules will change without warning and it may become boring (I’ve fallen asleep many time during a play session and my sweet child just played around me as I was sprawled out in the middle of her bedroom floor). But she thinks that I feel asleep because we were having so much fun, like she does after leaving Grandma’s house. With the way that time is running faster than Roadrunner chasing Wylie Coyote, if we don’t slow down to enjoy a few moments with our little people, we won’t have the memories to look back on when they are no longer interested in us. What can you purpose your heart to do in order to not only engage in the play request but actually enjoy the process?

Much Love,

Q

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I Mean, Who Needs Oxygen?

Hey Y’all! I don’t know about you, but when I become a parent everyone talked about pregnancy, labor & delivery and the late-sleepless nights ahead. Oh, but there is so much more that goes unsaid. Some of the queues we receive in society seem to be in direct competition with truth, so let me hip ya to some truth real quick. That whole “put your air mask on first before helping others” spiel we get before flights applies to daily life also. If you are drowning (in debt, work, toxic relationships, or just generally overwhelmed) and you try to help others, eventually your air runs out. 

When we are honest with ourselves, we know that when we get to the point of overload because we feel used and depleted. Even worse, sometimes it doesn’t show and the need for our help doesn’t get acknowledged which triggers feelings of abandonment and loneliness even when we are surrounded by people. Can I get an Amen? Then we go from depleted to sucked dry which leads to a nasty road called resentment. Don’t go there, it’s a trip that gets harder to turn away from than a toddler covered in vaseline.

It’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes it is necessary! Granted, the world is full of judgmental people and other moms can sometimes be the most mean spirited but requesting assistance may be the key to avoiding 18the pit of depression that seems to loom over the every-busy mom. Self-care is a term I learned while earning my degree in counseling and (in my own words) refers to intentional mental, physical and emotional care of one’s self. While this term is used more often in “helping professions,” I cannot think of a career that requires helping others more than being a mother. For many of us we juggle not just the need to care for our children, homes and families but also friendships, relationships and work places that seek to challenge and pull on us everyday.

In the multi-faceted world we live in and the constant movement of our days and duties, slowing down is necessary. I once heard a quotation that said, “A job worth doing, is worth doing well.” Since parenting is the occupation we share as parents is important not only for our few but for the future generations to come, I’d say pausing to reflect before we react or respond is the healthiest thing we can do for our families, acquaintances and most importantly, ourselves.

Much Love,

Q