Sunrise, Sunset: Managing Life Transitions as a Mom

Ok, so none of my kids are getting married. . . yet.

I’m hitting that transition stage of motherhood. My not so wee ones are 20, 17, 14, 12, 6 and 6 this year. The almost endless years of diapers and breastfeeding and babysitters and general “neediness” are done.

Some would say that would be cause for rejoicing.

And it is, sort of.

BUT, when the past 20+ years have been tied to meeting the many needs of several children, an abrupt end is unsettling.

I found myself completely unequipped for our oldest to graduation from high school, or to go away to college, or to join the military. . . because, all of a sudden, he is doing and facing things that I can be of absolutely no help with. (and don’t get me started on parents who call college professors to discuss grades!)

And that transition from dependence to independence? It totally happened in a flash.

And I know that my older kids need me–but it is a different kind of need. I am transforming from the life-manager role to the role of an encourager and trusted advisor.

I try to remind myself of how overwhelming those early years were–when I had four little boys tagging along with me everywhere, leaving a trail of mud and sticks and legos. And I am reminded of the fact that I am afforded the luxury of sleeping all night most nights.

People often refer to their lives flashing before their eyes. But as a mom, during these times of transition, I see my kids’ lives flashing before my eyes. Visions of big brothers greeting little siblings at the hospital, memories of times snuggled up reading together, worried visits to the E.R., first plays and concerts, last plays and concerts, and funny phrases they said growing up.

And then, inevitably, I tear up. I don’t cry out of sadness so much as I am filled with the intense emotions that surround my love for these children. And yes, even as adults, they will always be my children.

And so, as a mother, I navigate a new-to-me path. One that my mother and her mother before her had to navigate as well.

We’re not in this alone, Moms.

And, I am so thankful for my little “pair of sixes” who give me a chance to still coddle and nurture while the other ones slowly and purposefully pull away to test their wings. God certainly knew what he was doing when he sent us a matched set. (However, I do still fear that I may fail kindergarten!)

Chime in! How do you navigate these transitions in your motherhood career? Leave a comment and let me know, or join the conversation on my facebook page!

Read With Me Wednesday: Moms’ Night Out

 

Read-With-Us-Wednesday-1

Well, real life caught up with me last week and I missed our first discussion. I hope you popped over to Essie’s Blessings to chat with her last week! (and pop over there today as well to share your thoughts.)

This month we are reading through Moms’ Night Out and this week we are discussing chapters 4-8. Why such short readings? Well, we wanted a “book club” that all of our mom friends could participate in. Sometimes a book a week or a book a month seems impossible for a busy mom. But eh, a few chapters. . . less than one a day? That is doable. So join us. There is no pressure. We won’t test you on the material! But, we would LOVE for you to join the conversation and let us know what you think.

Today I’m going to talk about the enormous pressure that we moms put on ourselves. Thanks to social media, we tend to see everyone’s highlight reels. This becomes even more bothersome when you feel like your life is one long blooper reel.

Consider Allyson’s thoughts after she had a meltdown after the frustrating non-dinner on her moms’ night out:

Was that a moment? Did she just have a “moment” in front of everyone in the restaurant? She’d come to fix that problem. To fix herself, and what had happened? Instead, she’d just made a big mess. Now there would be no dinner. Now there would be no conversation. Now there would be no unplugging. Allyson’s breaths came short, fast. And this . . . this was worse than mascara on her eye. It was worse than her meltdown in front of the newlyweds. She’d lost control in front of her friends. She was getting worse, not better. How could she return home worse than she started? Sean would be so disappointed, and then who knew what tomorrow would bring? Yet another failure to heap upon all the other ones.

Poor Allyson. She felt so frustrated and guilty over the failed dinner that she was unable to laugh it off, or casually come up with a “plan b”. She put all kinds of pressure on herself to come up with the “perfect” moms’ night out. When there is a kink in the plan, we as moms need to be able to seamlessly switch gears. There is a sort of fearlessness that needs to come with motherhood.

Last year we had the perfect birthday party planned for the twins. We put a deposit down on a party at the gymnastics studio. I had cute cupcakes ordered. I bought a car full of balloons. When we arrived at the gym to set up. . .the building was locked. Our reservation was never fully noted. I had to think fast. So, a few phone calls later to parents, and we moved the party  a few miles north to our church. It was not what I envisioned. It was not what I had planned. Inside I was seething with frustration. But I HAD to be nimble. My little girls were only going to turn four once, and I had a dozen preschoolers to entertain.

It ended up being a great birthday. The girls had fun, their guests had fun, and we actually saved quite a bit of money!

I could have had a meltdown right there in that icy parking lot. (I totally wanted to!) But that was not going to solve anything. I could have given in to embarrassment–because yes, it was totally embarrassing to have to call all of those parents to give them a last minute change of plan. I took a deep breath and did what I needed to do for the happiness of my daughters.

So, what about you? What has hit home for you as you have been reading this book? Have you had a meltdown like Allyson’s? What situations have you had to come up with a “plan b” on the fly? Share in the comments and join the conversation!

Working Mom Realities: Days Off

Take time

Back when I was a stay at home mom, I had busy days, and days when I had a lot less structure to my days. When I went back to work, the first year was HARD. All of a sudden, I lost all of my discretionary time. Plus, when I was home, I felt guilty if I did anything other than spend time with the kids or clean the house.

Now I’ve been at my job for over a year and a half. I know the ropes, we’ve renegotiated some of the household duties, and the kids have gotten just a little bit older and more independent.

I also battled with a serious bout of loneliness. Since then, I’ve learned to take some more time out for myself, and things that I enjoy, even if it does still make me feel guilty and more than a little self centered. But, I’m a better mom (and a better fundraiser) for it.

So today, on the last day of the year, I’m sitting, in my pajamas, with a big carafe of coffee by my side.  I am doing one of the things I love best. . .writing. I’m likely to get a month of blog posts written today (I’d not want to overwhelm you all at once!)

There is plenty I could be doing. There are always dishes to wash and laundry to fold. There is meal planning to do and decluttering to begin. But for today, for this morning, it is coffee and writing. I don’t get many days like this anymore; so I will revel in the background noise of a pair of fours counting down to a fifth birthday, the snoring of four tweens and teens, and the hum of the washing machine that I did take the time to load. and I will type to my heart’s content.

Chime in! What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?

The Many Seasons of Momhood

Seasons of Motherhood

Seasons of Motherhood

Entire TV series are created to celebrate the ups and downs of early motherhood. The sleepless nights, the boogers, the puking. . . all of it is chronicled, celebrated, commiserated.

The cute pudgy-cheeked preschool years are shared with other moms during playgroups and outings and photo ops.

Elementary school moms catch up at elementary school drop off, juggling backpacks, a traveler mug of coffee and a work tote.

Middle School and High School moms meet up at sporting events and at auditoriums and theatres.

But, we mothers of college students rarely cross paths.

And we can be a lonely bunch. I’ve not had time to be lonely, with five more kids at home (though I have missed my extra licensed driver!). But what about the moms sending a last or an only off? She is adjusting to an empty nest and the gaping hole left where a child used to live.

I was never one to jump for joy when the kids would go back to school in September. . . while I was somewhat happy for a return to routine, I also missed the freedom of seeing my kiddos when I wanted to see them. I missed lazy afternoons reading on the porch.

And, with sending a kid off to college, I miss the “him-ness” of having the kid around my house. I miss the comings and goings of friends, I miss the mysteriously disappearing food, I miss the glimpses of humor and personality. Instead, I am left with a longing . . . for just one more text, a surprise phone call, a funny email.

But they don’t always come. . .

Because my adult child is just that. An adult. A young adult who is learning to spread his wings. A young adult who does not need me on a daily basis anymore.

It is a tough reality. And yet, it is a relief. We were able to raise a stubborn little boy to adulthood. . . mostly unscathed. As much as I miss my daily contact with him, would I really want him calling me daily to report on every.little.thing. that happened? No way (and I have a pair of four year-olds for that!)

So, instead, I am learning to embrace this season of motherhood. It is a season laced with slightly more worry and concern, but also a few more laughs as our relationship becomes lighter. I’m learning what type of communication works best for college kids (note–think Tweet-length communications), and I’m enjoying watching the young man he is becoming.

Chime in! What season of motherhood are you in? What has surprised you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Finding Mommy Bliss: Review and Giveaway

Finding Mommy Bliss

 

mommybliss

Mothers Day has once again come and gone. Many of us spent some extra time with our families this weekend, and the fortunate among us had kids and husbands that remembered the day and took a moment to let us know something so basic: what we do as mothers matters.

I’m a seasoned mom.

My oldest will turn 18 next month. He graduates from high school next week. Somehow, in spite of my many mistakes, he managed to survive to adulthood. I’m biased, but I think he has turned out pretty well. I’m going to miss him like crazy when he leaves for university in August.

But I’m also a mom of preschoolers. You know, walking messes, tantrums in tiaras, sticky, sweet little preschoolers. Mothering preschoolers is mothering in the trenches. I’ve been in the trenches of motherhood for the better part of 18 years.

I’m worn. I’m battle scarred. I’m tired. Some days I am so. Tired. Of. This.

And then, and then, the kiddos do something sweet. They tell me I am beautiful. They give me a sticky kiss. They fall asleep on my lap. I am reminded that I have been given a very precious gift.

And that, my friends, is where my friend Genny Heikka comes in. Genny and I went to high school together. We shared many hours in English and dance classes together. Then, life happened and we went our ways. . .only to meet back up online some twenty years later as a pair of “mom bloggers”.

Genny has a heart for encouraging mothers. It is her gift, and she uses it well. In her encouraging new book, Finding Mommy Bliss: Discovering Unexpected Joy in Everyday Moments, Heikka walks mothers through some positive steps for identifying the pitfalls that snare mothers, and encourages us to pursue our passions now.

I’m practical, and this is a practical book. The 20 chapters are short, but jam packed with can-do advice and encouragement that can be read in whatever snippet of time that you have. Each chapter is sprinkled with “Be More Blissful” sidebars with real-life tips and experiences. Each chapter ends with a “Mom to Mom” journaling prompt, a “Heart to Heart” scripture memory verse, and “A Mom’s Prayer”.

Genny’s heart for moms and motherhood shines through. I want to share her gift with you! Finding Mommy Bliss: Discovering Unexpected Joy in Everyday Moments, is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores near you.

I also have a copy to give away to one of you wonderful moms! Simply use the Puchtab entry below!