Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Homeschool Thoughts - In, and not Of

A frequent topic of discussion around the Thixton home has been homeschooling. Right now, Chloe goes to public school just a few minutes from our house. 

I'd like to start by saying that we are happy with her school. We love the VP's heart for the children; the staff is very friendly and helpful; and her teacher has been amazing this year. We have no complaints about the school.

This fact, in and of itself, somehow gives me more peace as we discuss the homeschooling option. Private schools in this area are crazy expensive. So our only choice is homeschool or public school. I'm so grateful that it is truly a choice. We don't feel any pressure to homeschool because we know that, if we decide to leave her in public school, she is in a great place.

Chloe is doing well. She has friends. She makes A's and B's. She seems relatively happy.

So why would we even consider it? That's a questions I have been asking myself for over a year now. Why does this option of homeschool even enter my mind when she's doing fine where she is? Why is it something Brandon and I are even thinking about?

So last night, I sat down and wrote out all the reasons "why." There are many reasons (and some of them I may write about in future posts). But the one that pricks my heart - the reason I can't seem to let go of the whole homeschooling idea - sounds something like this:

I still want to be the primary voice in her life, at least for a few more years.

She will spend the rest of her life listening to the voices of world. Teachers. Friends. Enemies. Music. TV. Magazines. And many of those voices will tell her that she is not enough... or that she's too much. They will tell her she's too quiet or too loud. She's too skinny or too fat. They will talk to her about her complexion and her bra size and her hem length and her shape. But more than that, they will talk to her about heart, and they will tell her that the good girl comes in last. They will tell her that she can (and should) use her body to pay for love and that her esteem is only as good as the people who like her. They will give more value to her grades than to her character, and they will define her success by her job, her car, her house, her bank account, and her social life.

For the rest of her life, there will be voices telling her - shouting to her - that she is not enough... or that she's too much.

And in my heart - with all of my being - I want to drown out those voices for a few more years. I don't want to shut them out completely. She will still have teachers, and friends, and enemies, and music, and TV, and magazines. They will still be speaking into her life. But I want my voice - and the voice of my Father - to be the loudest, most important voice for a few more years. So when she is finally "in the world", and when those voices from the world start telling her she's not enough, she will hear my voice - and the voice of my Father - ringing in her ears: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." When they tell her she is too much, she will hear my voice - and the voice of my Father - shouting down the world: "The godly are as bold as lions." And when some boy or some magazine or some song lyric tells her that her body is only worth the love she can earn with it, she will hear my voice - and the voice of my Father - whispering in her soul: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."

I have such a short window of time that I am allowed to be that voice - the voice of my Father - in her life. Eventually, she will make her own choices. She will choose what voices she will and won't listen to. But for a few more years, I have the opportunity to guide her through those choices, to be the voice that matters most.

How can I pass that up?

"In the world, but not of the world."

Monday, April 29, 2013

A healthy 'me' for a healthy 'we'

Last week didn't exactly turn out as I had planned when I woke up on Monday morning. Lots of kids and errands and a tummy bug and canceled "grown-up time" left me feeling depleted and spent by Friday mid-day.

And I have this habit of taking a small period of time (like a really hard week) and turning it into a commentary on my life. "It was like this all week, and it will be like this next week. And FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE I'M GOING TO FEEL LIKE AN EXHAUSTED ZOMBIE SHELL OF MY FORMER SELF."

It's enough to send any semi-sane person over the edge.

Today I'm back on this side of sanity.

(A big shout-out to my Sweet Hubby who flew into the house Friday evening and took over all the mommy-related tasks for the whole weekend. The only thing I "had" to do for the family was take the girls to ballet... which really means I got to sit with other mommy friends for 2 hours, sipping coffee, and getting in some real life grown up time. And while I was gone? He washed dishes, folded clothes, and tackled the disaster that was our bedroom floor. Yeah, he's pretty super amazing.)

In what would seem like completely unrelated news, our Pastors (an amazing couple who married in college, lived overseas in the early years of their marriage, had kids at a young age while building a church far away from their family and friends) (sound familiar?) have been teaching together on Forever Marriage.

I have LOVE LOVE LOVED this series. The first week of the series, they taught us that we must "Build a healthy 'me' so we can have a healthy 'we'."

All weekend, as I was recuperating from the stinkin' thinkin' of the week before, that phrase continued to ring through my mind.

One of the things I was able to do when I worked full time was guarantee that I had SOME time each week to do things that *I* liked. One of the benefits of having  kids in daycare was that I got a WHOLE HOUR. EVERY DAY. to do what *I* wanted to do. It was called a lunch break. It was fabulous.

Many days I just sat in my car... in total silence... or listening to talk radio...

Some days I went out to lunch with friends who were also on their lunch breaks.

Or I wandered the aisles of Target, usually stopping in the stationary section to look at journals and candles.

I very rarely had a to-do list for that hour. Nothing else that I "should" be doing. That was MY hour. And I don't think I realized how much I enjoyed it. I didn't realize that my one-hour-a-day break helped me build a healthy me.

Looking at my life now, I can't have an hour a day to do whatever I want. It just doesn't work that way with small children and a 24-hour household and a hard-working, but always-busy husband.

But I have decided I need to add some things in my life that I enjoy - things I do for myself for no other purpose than I like to do them.

I might work on my blog some. I might go to the library by myself to pick out a book just for me. I might organize a closet (yes, that is an enjoyable thing for me). I might just lay out in the sun and be. quiet. for a bit.

Whatever I do, I have decided it can't include the following things: children, a husband, any to-do list of any kind, TV, facebook, or guilt.

A healthy 'me' for a healthy 'we'... starts today.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

SAHM Rambling

This is one of those times I want to write, but have absolutely no idea in which the writing will take me.

Parenting is hard. Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. (Can we all agree that we seriously need to put some creative thought into that term and come up with something MUCH better? It's 2013, people.)

I'm incredibly grateful. There were days when I sat behind a desk, talking on the phone with people who didn't even know my children existed, praying that Chloe's runny nose wouldn't turn into a full-blown fever-inducing cold before the end of the work day. Days when I missed a class field trip or couldn't shake the desperate look of my screaming, clinging child as I dropped her off and trusted her well being to a perfect stranger who would collect half of my paycheck at the end of the week.

I have enjoyed some of the jobs I've held since becoming a mom. I have also had some incredibly amazing people who have loved on my children while I was working those jobs. But there were many, many days that I longed to be home with my children. Days when I was grateful for an ear infection or low-grade fever because it meant I got to be home all day with my little one.

So sitting here in my toy-littered living room, staring at the spit up stain on my couch, with my hair pulled up in a three-day-old pony tail, I am grateful.

But I'm also saying it's hard.

A study came out last year that said SAHM's are more depressed than moms who go to work.

There there were several more articles and blogs that came out to say why

I don't know why. I just know that, sitting here today, I understand it.

There's no "checking out" at the end of the day. Because no matter how much was accomplished in the day, there's always more. And at the end of the day, regardless of whether I'm sitting in a bubble bath, crashing on the couch to watch TV, or sitting on my deck engrossed in a novel, I am surrounded by all of the things I didn't accomplish that day. There's a ring in the bathtub and a basket of dirty clothes in the corner (if the clothes actually make it into the basket). There are dust bunnies under the couch and a pile of unsorted mail sitting on the coffee table (not to mention the toys on the floor, peanut butter smudges on the TV, and crayon marks on the lamp shade). And even outside, on my deck, there are weeds to be pulled, steps to be swept, and backyard toys to be rolled into the shed. There is absolutely no way for me to "leave work." Work surrounds me and reminds me of all the things I haven't completed today.

I'm glad to be home. I want to be home. There are so many moments when I thank God that I am the one spending their days with them. I pulled Chloe's first tooth. I get to be home when she gets off the bus, ready to talk about her day. I get to finger paint with Maple and go for walks at the park

It is rewarding and wonderful, and I am grateful.

But it's also hard. Can we all just agree on that point? Sometimes, it's really hard.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thoughts on a new baby

I have a dear friend who is expecting her first baby (a girl) in 2 months. Ten weeks later, I will be expecting the arrival of my third baby girl.

Last night, as I was falling asleep, I was thinking of all the things I wish I had known before the birth of my first child. I was also thinking that, in all the sleepless, hormone-pumped days that follow my next delivery, it is highly likely that I will forget most of the lessons in which I am so confident today.

So in honor of my friend and soon-to-be new mommy, and in preparation for the days and nights that will follow both of our deliveries, I give you:

A Few Things New Moms (and three-time moms) Should Remember.

1. Spend less time reading books about labor and delivery, and more time reading books on practical parenting.  For a list of books that will offer real-life advice, search under the following topics:
  • How to wash poop out of your newborn's hair. 
  • Breastfeeding: it's not for sissies
  • Bottle Feeding: "now where did that nipple go?"
Having said that...

2. Ignore most of the books, especially any titles that include the following phrases:
  • How to get your baby to sleep through the night at 2 days old
  • Enjoying every. single. minute. with your baby
  • A complete guide to no-tears parenting
 As stated in #1, there are some very good, practical books on taking care of your baby. But there are also a LOT of books that are simply created to tell you all the things you're doing wrong. Which leads me to number 3...

3. There is no "right way" to love your baby. People will tell you the "right way" to hold her, feed her, rock her, raise her. They will tell you that a schedule is the most important thing, or that a schedule will ruin her for life. They will tell you to let her "cry it out," and they will tell you that a baby who cries will grow up not trusting the world....

Sure, there are the basic, common-sense things that you will naturally do from the second she is born. Clothe her. Feed her. Hold her. Love her. But the bottom line is this: YOUR way is the RIGHT way. And for her, it will be "the way mom does it." 

4. Babies cry. It's what they do. They will cry after a busy day because they need to release some emotion. They will wake up screaming when you are mid-shower with soap in your hair. They will cry when you don't fix their bottle fast enough or if the wipe you use on their bum is too cold. They may even have a certain time of day that they cry for no reason, everyday.  If you live those first few months trying to always prevent or stop the crying, you will drive yourself mad. If she's in a safe place (her crib, swing, etc.), finish your shower. Don't rush warming up the bottle (this from a mom who once scalded her hand trying to dump out the boiling water too fast). Know that she will not be permanently traumatized by a few wailing moments, and your sanity/peace will contribute to her well-being much more than a stress-filled feeding. Hence...

5. Relax. Practice deep breathing and meditation before she arrives. While it may or may not help during delivery, it will most definitely help during the midst of those crying fits discussed in #4. For me, the longer/harder she cries, the more tense/stressed I become. And the more stressed I become, the more my babies cry. About two months after Chloe was born, I learned that if I could relax myself, I could often (but not always) relax my baby. So hold that screaming baby, close your eyes, relax your shoulders, start taking deep, slow breaths. And know that, even if the crying doesn't stop immediately, your peace comforts your wee one and lets her know that all is okay.

If all else fails, remember this...

6.  It came to pass. This was my mantra when baby #1 came around. In the middle of the night, when the baby just wouldn't stop crying! When I was washing spit up out of my hair for the second time that day. When I went to bed with spit up in my hair because I was too exhausted to take a shower. "It came to pass." It won't always be like this.

But it's also good to recite this mantra when your freshly-bathed baby is napping in your arms. When she flashes that first toothless smile. When she wraps her little fist around your finger and melts your heart. "It came to pass." And it won't last forever.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Thoughts on suicide in the church.

The death of Rick Warren's son Matthew has made headlines this week across the nation, in Christian circles and out. It's heartbreaking. Tragic. And for those of us who have suffered or do suffer from depression, it hits close to home.  As a friend commented on her facebook page, "there but for the grace of God go I."


As I was discussing this tragic loss with a family member, I was convicted by a statement that was made during course of the conversation: "I don't understand how it could happen, when he came from such a great Christian family, and he was planted in such an amazing church."

Because that's how many of us Christians think, isn't it? If we love God, have a supportive family, stay planted in an active, thriving church... then depression shouldn't affect us. And it certainly shouldn't drive us to suicide or suicidal thoughts.

We see suicide as shameful and selfish and not something that should happen to us or our church family.

And we're right, in part. It shouldn't happen. Neither should cancer. Or heart failure. Or divorce. Or death. Or any heartache that comes to us as a result of The Fall. It's not "natural." It goes against our sense of rightness and justice. Because we, the human race, were not created for a broken world.

Still, here we are.

So I guess the question prompting my heart this morning is simply this: where do we go from here?

In a fallen, broken, hurting world... with our fallen, broken, hurting bodies... and our fallen, broken, hurting minds and hearts... where does our "religion" fit in? Can we create a place for this kind of brokenness within the walls of the church? Can we accept that, like any other illness, God sometimes chooses to heal us... and sometimes He doesn't?

What I do know is this... before I personally battled my own season of depression, I did not understand - and often judged harshly - those who took (or attempted to take) their own lives.

Now, on the other side of that dark season, my heart breaks for Matthew Warren and so many like him. I love them, though I don't know them.

And if I, in my finite, feeble, human heart can find compassion and love for those who suffer in their minds, how much more does our great, patient, gracious, infinite Father love them and care for them where they are?

 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalms 34:18

Oh, that the Bride would reflect her Groom.

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood