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It was a short conversation over text, but it has stuck with me all week, so I asked for permission to share it with you!

Me – How do you know my friend Amy?

Michelle – She sat at my table at MOPS* like five years ago.

Michelle and I recently met at the school where I teach one day a week, and we just became Facebook friends a few days ago. I checked out her page to see who we have in common and was happy to see Amy’s name. After I explained my connection to Amy, Michelle had me teary with this story:

“She probably doesn’t know this, but she was instrumental for me dealing with a teen pregnancy – with my step-daughter. I had MOPS the day after we found out she was seven and a half months pregnant. Obviously, I was reeling. I shared my news with the other ladies at my table and Amy looked at me and said,

`God sent a baby to save the world. Maybe He’s sending this one to save your daughter.’

And it did…save her, and it saved our relationship. We adopted her baby, Harper Grace. Grace for God’s grace. Amy probably barely remembers me, but I’ll never forget her.”

THIS is what friends do for each other – speak words of kindness and love, especially when someone is hurting. Amy is one of those people you meet that always knows what to say to lighten someone else’s burden. She makes people feel seen and loved. She has spoken words of life to me too and inspired me to be a better friend, so I really connected with Michelle’s story.

My daughter’s middle name is also Grace, but there’s another piece of this story that tugged at my heart. Michelle and Amy met at MOPS!

You see, Amy struggled with infertility (and all the heartache that comes with it) for several years before she became a mom. I was witness to part of that difficult season of her life, and I know where she was at 5 years ago as an exhausted new mommy of triplets! I love that she was part of a MOPS group and I think it’s awesome how she made a difference in Michelle’s life. I love that my world continues to both shrink and expand through my friendships with amazing people.

And that little unplanned baby they were talking about?

She’s now a beautiful little girl.

 

Harper

Michelle and Harper

*MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. Headquartered in Denver, MOPS has been around since 1973. They partner with churches and organizations in over 60 countries to encourage moms. For more information or to find a MOPS group near you, visit their website: mops.org

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My newsfeed this week was filled with stories about Mother’s Day being painful for some people (I know) and how we should temper our celebration of this holiday by honoring all women instead of just mothers. I read an article by a well-known pastor who said his church will not be focusing on mothers with their service today. Fair enough. I wonder if he’ll do the same on Father’s Day. Should we not single anyone out to thank them for their service lest it offend someone else?

When did saying thank you to one person mean you were leaving another person out? Is this a political correctness thing? Do they really mean by honoring mothers today we’re being exclusive instead of inclusive? What a load of crap! I don’t know how or where this new trend began, but it sucks!

Before you think me cold and indifferent to the pain floating around in the world, let me share a bit of my own story.

I struggled with infertility for seven years before I had my first child. I spent many Mother’s Days dying on the inside as I cooed at the baby sitting in front of me at church, and played with my friend’s kids. I know the pain of hope and wishing I was a mother.

I lost a baby in 2008. It’s the single most shocking and horrifying moment of my life, and I blogged about it here and here. My heart aches for all of the other women who’ve experienced such tragedy. I know the pain of all of those missed birthdays, hugs and kisses, and the little girl I’ll never know.

I grew up the daughter of a single mother with multiple mental illnesses. She’s no longer in my life, not because she died but because we cannot be in relationship anymore. I know the pain of not having a mother who could mother me. I meet women all the time who deal with that same pain, and I love several women who are missing their moms today because they’ve already entered eternity.

I get it. We are surrounded by wounded women. Many of us ARE wounded women. We should be sensitive to the experiences of others, but lessening how we honor mothers today doesn’t erase those wounds OR rub salt in them.

When we celebrate Father’s Day, we’re honoring the dads in our lives. Some biological and some not. We honor men who have fathered us and also the men who we admire how they father others. There are father wounds around us too, but celebrating fathers does not make men who are not fathers lesser in any way. It’s just not about them on that day, and that’s okay.

When we celebrate Veteran’s Day, we’re honoring the brave men and women who have served as military veterans in our armed forces. I’m not a veteran, so Veteran’s Day isn’t about me, but it doesn’t take anything away from me or cheapen my role in this world in any way to spend that day thinking about and honoring the veterans in my life.

Why can’t we look at all honoring holidays this way? Why do we have to perpetuate a self-centered, victim mindset? Sometimes it’s just not about you!

I am a mother. I’ve mothered hundreds of people in my lifetime and it hasn’t subtracted anything from the three children who live in my house.That’s the beautiful thing about love – it expands to fill the need.

Today is about celebrating who I am as a mother. It’s about honoring the sacrificial lifestyle I’ve chosen as a mom. It’s a time for my children, husband, friends, and family to acknowledge who I am and what I do.

Mother's Day card

Today is a thank you for the thousands of meals I’ve cooked and the mountains of laundry I’ve washed, dried, and put away for them. It’s a thank you for cleaning up vomit in the middle of the night, and my amazing splinter-removing skills. It’s a thank you for spending weeks reading the Harry Potter series aloud, and months teaching them phonics so they would someday be able to read Harry Potter on their own. It’s a thank you for the late night talks about navigating friendships with people who hurt your feelings, and puberty, and frustrations with school. It’s a thank you for the many miles I drive every day to get them to work and back home or connect them with their friends.

While I am grateful for the ways my tribe honors me on other days of the year, today is special. I get two days a year that are all about me, Mother’s Day and July 29th – my birthday. Let me have them! Let me be celebrated by my loved ones how they see fit and don’t tell them their actions are insensitive to the wounded women around them. That’s not fair. To those who think by honoring moms you’re being insensitive to other women, I ask you to rethink your position.

If you are a mother, I honor you today no matter what your circumstances are:

Those who have birthed a child, I honor you.

Those who have given a child a better home through adoption (both the giving up and the taking in), I honor you.

Those who chose not to keep their child and hope to be reunited with them in eternity, I honor you.

Those who have no children of their own but choose to love other children in their lives, I honor you.

Those who have lost a child, I honor you.

Those who wish they had a mom who cherished them, I honor you.

Those who are navigating difficult mother/child relationships, I honor you.

Single mothers, I honor you.

Married mothers, I honor you.

Widowed mothers, I honor you.

Happy Mother’s Day, Moms!

You are seen. You are loved. Thank you for who you are!

For everyone else: Choose to honor a mom in your life today! Kind words, a text, a phone call, a card or letter, flowers, chocolate, or time spent with them and for them. They deserve it.

kiddos

These three each gave me a dozen roses, a box of chocolates, and the rest of the day to do whatever I want…by myself. Happy Mother’s Day to me! 😉

 

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Zoe Grace

Zoe Grace.

She’s my sweet girl, my mini-me in so many ways.

She’s my reminder that what I say and do matter because she is always watching. Always.

She sees when I choose to love myself and when I don’t.

She watches when I hold my hands out in acts of kindness, and when I silently put them in my pocket as I exercise self-control through boundaries, and so I don’t bring physical harm to the idiots in my life. 😉

She’s aware of the times I use my tongue for good and when it gets the best of me and I wield it in anger.

She asks me difficult questions, making me think hard before answering because my words hold weight.

She seeks my approval and affection because I am the first woman she looks to for a glimpse of who she is and what she is about.

She values my opinion because she knows I’m a thinker, a researcher, a lover of people, and her momma.

We laugh together, cry together, and talk about life a lot.

Life. It’s what her name means and boy does she live up to it!

I get to mentor, parent, teach, train, and love this beautiful child as she grows into the woman she is becoming. Lucky me!

june 9 2015 390

Go catch up with my fellow challengers and see who they mentor:

Don at https://donhillson.wordpress.com/

Beckie at http://free2b2much.blogspot.com/

Tracy at https://countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com/

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It occurred to me that I should occasionally follow the rules, so though I have three beloved children and they’re all my favorites, today I’m going to choose only one to write about.

kiddosI chose Pete. He’s my youngest. My last. My baby. The one who tags along with me a lot because he’s not as social as his brother and sister. He’s my mischievous child. Just look at that face! I shot this a few minutes after I told him he couldn’t walk in the stream.

Mt. Evans (40)

“I didn’t walk in it. I only stepped in it.”

Pete has his own sense of style and doesn’t care what people think about it. His socks NEVER match, he wears camouflage every chance he gets, and his latest fashion craze is his women’s fuzzy polka-dotted robe.photo(9)peteSee? I was serious! This kid makes me laugh with his punny jokes. He asks me astoundingly intelligent questions that are difficult to answer. He says he’ll never stop cuddling with me. Eventually that might get awkward, but at eleven years old, he can’t foresee a day in his life he won’t want to cuddle with me. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts!

june 9 2015 655Pete is a pretty amazing kid!

Read about more amazing kids on my fellow  challenger friend’s blogs:

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Armed with my handful of black trash bags, I donned my scuba mask (the kind that covers your nose) and heavy-duty gloves, preparing for my trek to the man-child’s room. As I traversed the first mountain of dirty clothes, I regretted my decision not to pack a sandwich. I could be in here for hours! I heard a groan from across the room, then a large lump on the bed whined, “Do we have to do this today?”

“Be brave, Tris” I whispered.

He didn’t get my Divergent joke, or find the mask and gloves the least bit funny.

While almost none of this story is true, (the groaning and trash bags were real) Max was nervous but determined to clear out his stuff. And guess what? We did it!

We spent the morning distracted by friendly visitors, including a very sweet and cuddly 3-month-old named Lillian Grace. When everyone left, I explained my plan to my firstborn and we got to work. Together. That was the key. I could yell and scream at that kid for hours about cleaning up his room, shaming him for letting it get so out of hand, and threatening to take away his birthday, but I decided to try out the adage about catching flies with honey instead of vinegar.

Before we began, I made a list of questions for us to ask as we deliberated over the harder choices of what to part with:

Purging QuestionsWe started at the doorway and chatted while we worked side by side, sorting clothing, shoes, papers, books, trash, and projects.

Oh. My. Word. Max loves projects. He’s a creative spirit and his hands are always moving, shaping, cutting, crafting, carving, and duct-taping. And his room tells the tale. His work table alone qualifies for hoarding status.Well, it did. Now it’s a sleek work space.

All of my children are sentimental, so I wondered if this purging quest would challenge them to tears. I was a bit surprised as I watched Max toss things in the trash I was sure he’d have a reason for keeping. I was prepared to talk him through it, but he was doing fine on his own, so I kept my mouth SHUT! In the case of decluttering, more is better, and there was no way I was slowing that process down.

I didn’t ask him why he kept every scrap of paper his girlfriend has ever given him, or why he needs a dozen green lantern rings, but I was truly puzzled why he had four shoes with no mates. Seriously? Four? How does that even happen?

At the end of the day we had cleared out three large bags of trash, donated over half of his stuff to the thrift store down the street, and discovered he does in fact have carpet in his room.

What did we learn from this hours-long process?

  1. It’s not about organizing your stuff, it’s about getting rid of stuff so you have less to organize.
  2. Stuff quickly becomes junk when left on the floor to get stepped on.
  3. Teenage boys can reach a breaking point with their clutter and beg to just bag everything up and start over.
  4. It’s possible to have too many pillows and blankets, and pens. The boy has almost as many pens as I do!
  5. He slept better in his clean space last night, and I slept better knowing we’re almost half way done! We didn’t work on the house today, but tomorrow is all about Zoe’s room, the bathrooms, and hall closets.

I almost forgot! Not only did a friend stop by with Chai, Benny and Zoe purged the kitchen and dining room for me!

How about you? Are you inspired to purge your own house yet? Are you ready to embrace simple minimalism? What is the strangest thing you’ve decluttered? Does it beat four mismatched shoes?

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Pete is my goofy kid. He is highly entertaining! One of Benny’s favorite hashtags on Twitter is #randomcrappetesays. He loves making people laugh and he’s one of those kids that is just naturally funny. He uses a lot of big words-most of the time in the correct context, but it’s funny to hear those things come out of such a small mouth. Much to the dismay of his siblings, he also loves playing practical jokes on people.

Pete is a builder. He loves to spread things out so he can get a good look at what he’s got to work with, so it was no surprise when he covered our dining room table with Legos last night and spent hours dreaming up variations of speed cruisers, water/land boats, and various flying machines. He makes all the noises that go along with building things and it gives me the giggles. He plays with such abandon. I want to be more like that.

If we were a normal family –and believe me, I know we’re not – Pete would have been labeled already. I’d have teachers wanting him sedated medicated. The boy has loads of energy. A few years ago I was lectured by a woman who told me that at some point he needed to learn how to be quiet and sit still. Duh. He knows how to do that and I believe there is a time and place for it, but I also let him be him. He often stands up to do his schoolwork, or does a problem then spins around in his desk chair, then does another problem. He concentrates better when he can wiggle a bit. If I notice him getting too squirrely, I have him do jumping jacks or bounce up and down for a minute. It helps. I also understand that he can sit for hours at a time if he is engrossed in what he’s doing (like his Lego time), so I’m not going to let him be labeled. I’m going to take my cues from him, then direct him accordingly.

This pic (click on it to enlarge it) is proof to all who are familiar with his energy level that he can in fact sit quietly in a chair. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s possible. He can also sit still in public. This is him playing Chess with one of our street friends on the mall. He LOVES being there with us, and he talks to everybody.  He is somewhat fearless in public. For example, he took a blanket and his bongos to the Pearl Street Mall and played for over an hour hoping to make a little cash. I NEVER would have done something like that at his age.

He’s an amazing kid, goofiness, high energy, and all. I love him that way, I just wish he’d share some of that energy with me. 🙂

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We do this thing at our house that we call “Leader of the Day.” Each of the kids is the leader 2 days a week. The leader is responsible for loading and emptying the dishwasher, and setting the table for meals. They also get to be first in line and assist in making important life-changing decision like which movie we’ll watch as a family, or what veggie to have with supper. The best reward for the leader? At least an hour of one on one time with me.

Today was Max’s turn and we decided we’d find an old TV show on Netflix that we can watch together and discuss. Lucky for me, my son loves Sci-Fi as much as I do. After watching half an episode of Kyle XY, we decided it was inappropriate and did some more searching. Up pops a picture of Sliders. YES!

“What if you found a portal to a parallel universe? What if you could slide into a thousand different worlds — where it’s the same year, and you’re the same person, but everything else is different? And what if you can’t find your way home?”

Sliders aired on FOX from 1995-1998 until it was cancelled, but received a second chance on the Sci-Fi channel in 1999-2000. It follows a group of travelers as they “slide” through wormholes to parallel universes trying to get back to the earth they are from. A hand-held timer device determines how long they are in each world, and if they miss their window, they’ll be stuck for 29.7 years. I think Max is going to love it and I’m already predicting that he’ll have created his own timer by the end of the week.

Hooray for Mommy/Max time, Sliders, and Netflix!

What show would you watch and discuss with your tween?

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