Parenting

Oh, my sweet angel.  You turned five today! Five seems like such a huge milestone, and I’m not handling it well at all.  You are growing up way too quickly, and I know this year will bring big changes for you.  You will go to “real” school in the fall, and you will make new friends, eat in a new lunch room, and have new teachers apart from the daycare you’ve been attending basically your entire life.  I know you aren’t the least bit nervous about it, but me – I’m terrified. I should take some bravery hints from you.   You amaze me. You’re reading.  And I don’t mean just regular sight words.  I mean real live books.  You love to read Cat in the Hat, and you are trying to read every store sign and text message and advertisement you see. I know every parent believes their child is exceptional, and I’ll throw my hat in that ring.  You are absolutely brilliant.  You are creative with a huge imagination.  I can see the wheels turning in your head when you are trying to understand things.  You can connect stories and characters like someone way past your age. Especially

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The other night at a baby shower for some sweet friends, we seasoned parents were asked to give some advice to the newbies. Being the OG mom in the group, I had some sage advice for my friends as they embark on this insane trip of parenthood.  As I’ve thought more about it, and at the urging of some friends who enjoy my parenthood mishaps on social media, I decided to come up with the ultimate list of parenthood tips for you today. Now, let’s get one thing clear – I am not a parenting expert.  I am probably a pretty terrible parent by textbook standards.  I raise my voice probably a bit too much, and I also am not very consistent in my discipline at times.  My kids love McDonald’s, and we’ve watched Trolls fifteen times this week.  Our kids went to bed way too late last night because we just couldn’t drag ourselves away from Flip or Flop long enough for bedtime routines (three cheers for the pause button).  I don’t do things right all the time, but honestly, I don’t really care.  Which leads me to point number one… 1. Don’t listen to anyone else.  Ever.  (Ok, well except

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Dear John Paul, You’re two years old today. And you are every bit of two years old. You are into everything, and you never ever stop.  You are constantly at open speed, zooming around the house leaving a trail of destruction behind you. You love to make a mess.  You think it’s hilarious to turn the tv off while people are watching it, and you also think it’s funny to play in the dog bowls.  You splashed so much in the tub one night I had to hang the bath mat up to dry.  My walls have beautiful art at knee height from the night you found a permanent marker.  You broke my fantasy football trophy, and I’m waiting for you to fly through the glass panes of my grandmother’s china cabinet.  For a long time, the play pen was no longer for play – it was “baby jail.” You also throw things.  A lot.  And very well.  Your aim is spot on.  While I spy baseball and football in our future, I wait with baited breath for you to launch a milk cup through the tv. You’re always dirty.  I don’t know what you get into, but your face

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Sometimes motherhood can make you really raw. This kind of raw hurts.  It exposes parts of you that you didn’t know existed, and if you did know about them, you fought really hard to keep them quiet.  But they all come out when the mothering starts. Maybe it’s your bear side fiercely protecting your children in ways that your friends and family might feel are a bit wigged out. Maybe it’s your crazy side who popped up when you stepped on the third lego this morning. Maybe it’s your scary side that appears like a werewolf with gnashing teeth when your kid screams for an hour about eating pork chops. Maybe it’s your lazy side that cuts corners with baths and vegetables and hair brushing. Maybe it’s the realization that maybe you just don’t like parenting very much.  You like your kids.  But you just don’t like parenting. Whatever it is, we all have it.  There’s not a mother around who can honestly say she’s never lost her ever-loving mind with her kids about something really stupid like losing doll shoes that you told her not to take off, or soaking his shirt in the dog’s water bowl five seconds before you need to

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I know you’ve seen the news story by now of Stanford swimmer, Brock Turner, who raped an unconscious woman laying behind a dumpster after a party. If you’ve heard about that, you’ve also heard about how he’s only receiving 6 months in jail as punishment because the judge felt that a longer sentence would have too serious of an impact on him, as a 19 year old boy. If this doesn’t make you physically sick to your stomach, you probably won’t like the rest of what I’m about to say. Because I am disgusted. Before you read anything else, I suggest that you read the victim’s statement here. It’s powerful, it’s poignant, and she deserves to be heard – for herself and all rape victims. I am not a rape victim. I’ve never been sexually assaulted, save the one guy who decided to try to stick his hand up my dress on Bourbon Street, to which I promptly had him and his friends kicked out of the bar. I don’t pretend to know how rape victims feel or how they live the rest of their lives permanently scarred from an unwelcomed encounter, and the subsequent unwelcomed criticism about their situation. Because

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Dear Brooke Allen, Call me crazy, but I put you in a pageant. I know you pageant haters will say she’s too young, and I’m living out my dreams through my daughter, and it’s only objectifying her. Whatever.  I’m a long time pageant girl, and I simply wanted to expose her to all the awesome experiences I had as a pageant competitor. Knowing that you are extremely unpredictable, I was a bit wary of how this weekend would work out for you.  But I signed you up anyway, just to see how you would do.  It was a charity pageant for Relay for Life, so if I figured the whole thing was a bust and you were that toddler from Toddlers and Tiaras who cried and kicked the whole time, at least the money went to a good cause. Part of the pageant was an optional interview that had no bearing on the total scores for the pageant.  I prepped you as much as I could without you completely refusing to do the interview, and we talked about what kind of questions they would ask.  We got you all dressed in a sweet little outfit and put your hair in pigtails, and

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So it turns out morbid curiosity is not limited to my four year old. In a conversation with some other moms, I learned that they are all starting to realize that death and pain are real things, and I was asked how I handle such things in our house.  I told them that I focus not on grasping the difficult concepts of the theologies of our faith, but stating simple facts about what we believe.  “If you believe in Jesus, you will go to Heaven,” and I answer questions the best I know how to, without terrifying her of the grave realities that mark our faith.  Childlike faith is encouraged by Jesus, and I believe that means believing words given to you by someone you wholly trust. The more thought I give to it, the more I realize that I am a much bigger part of the puzzle than I previously recognized. I speak often of the cultivation that we are to bring to the wide open fields that are our children.  How God has entrusted us to minister to our children by making Biblical decision for our families, and pushing towards a Christ-like atmosphere in which to raise our

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To many modern day feminists, the words “Christian feminist” will automatically seem like an oxymoron.  I can hear it now.  How can a religion that boasts suppressing women and orders them to be submissive to their husbands be a religion that also allows for feminine power?  To those points, I have several arguments to how they just aren’t true, but that’s a post for another day. There’s also a viral post about not being a feminist, that I take some issue with.  I’m going to chalk it up to the author of that article being a little immature and under-experienced. But there absolutely is such a thing as a Christian Feminist.  I am one.  I am proud to say it.  I may not hit these marks 100% of the time, but I strive daily. A Christian Feminist is a woman who recognizes the design of an Ultimate Creator, who created man and woman differently, and called them both “very good.”  God found that it was not good for man to be alone, so He designed a woman to be his counterpart, his companion, and his helpmate.  With that natural and very good design, women were created to be everything that

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Two times this weekend, my daughter was told she wasn’t allowed to play with some other children. Two times this weekend, I held my daughter as she melted into a pile of loneliness in my lap. This is nothing new to kids, and I can’t blame the kids who said it to her.  Both times, she was the youngest kid, wanting to play with the big kids.  She was probably too small for whatever they were playing, or she was wrecking it. I get it. And both times, the mothers of the other children corrected the situation by speaking to their children about inclusion, and Brooke Allen was invited to play after that.  I am so grateful for their attentiveness. But there, in those few moments, brushing back the hair from Brooke Allen’s tear streaked face, all I could do is think about how this is going to happen over and over again in her life. It’s hard to raise a kind child in a world that is so unkind. Girls are ruthless.  For the rest of her life, she will be told she is not good enough.  Her clothes will not be cool, her friends will say she is

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Sorry, kids.  I’m not that Mom. Your Elf will just do one thing your whole life.  It’s really what it’s intended to do.  The whole book is about it. (If you read the book, it will tell you exactly what your Elf actually does…) Your Elf will just sit on a Shelf. It might move a couple of times, but honestly, that little Elf is not my priority during the Christmas season.  Or ever. There will be no grand entrances, no gifts from him, no outfit changes.  You won’t find him riding dinosaurs, waltzing with Barbie, or leading a choir of little green army men. You definitely won’t find him making sugar angels or pooping on cookies.  (This is legit.) You will go to school and all your friends will be telling about how they found their Elf hang-gliding from the ceiling fan or in a sink full of marshmallows, and you will sadly say, “My Elf was sitting in the exact same place as it was yesterday.  On a Shelf.” And it’s fine for your friends’ parents to move it around every day and recreate clever ideas they saw on Pinterest.  If they would like to stay up an extra

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