Category Archives: Work-at-Home Parents

A Parent’s Prayer for Rest

a parent's prayer

You who said, “Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest,” I come to you now.

For I am weary indeed. Mentally and physically I am bone-tired. I am all wound up, locked up tight with tension. I am too tired to eat. Too tired to think. Too tired even to sleep. I feel close to the point of exhaustion.

Lord, let your healing love flow through me.

I can feel it easing my tensions. Thank you. I can feel my body relaxing. Thank You. I can feel my mind begin to get calm and quiet and composed. 

Thank you for unwinding me, Lord, for unlocking me. I am no longer tight and frozen with tiredness, but flowing freely, softly, gently into your healing rest.

Marjorie Holmes

I’ve Got to Talk to Somebody, God

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Time to be a Child?

child with bubblesI meant to continue posting here in mid-February, after a break of about a month at the start of the year. We’re now in sight of April. Not only is 2014 well underway, but it’s nearly a quarter over.

In the past few months I’ve had a number of ideas for short posts on parenting. Lots of stuff has been happening in my kids’ lives, and in mine. I even started writing a few times, but nothing felt right. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it’s seeing other mothers with elaborate websites, thousands of followers and hundreds of comments, their parenting mission seeming very clear and successful.

And I look at myself, trying to keep a basic grasp on being a mom in the midst of school, work, writing, and a myriad of random and sometimes very time-consuming (and mentally or emotionally exhausting) issues that arise on any given day.

The other day I was trying to work on an editing project and couldn’t focus because Aiden had gone up to about 75 decibels with his fire truck noises and Allen was describing to Jessica his idea for a new Tigger movie (and she was telling him exactly how it should really be done). I finally told them, “Guys, go play in the backyard so I can focus.” Of course as soon as they went out there, I wished I could join them. I turned back to my editing and still couldn’t focus because I felt guilty for having lost my patience with them.

It’s not their fault their room doubles as my “office.” I know more space would not necessarily be the answer. That’s the problem, I guess. I don’t really have all the answers. The answers on how to be an awesome parent. … Or I do know some answers but fail to implement them.

Maybe I am approaching it the wrong way, looking at things like the negative of a photo. Thinking I see a picture, but the colors are inverted so that light is dark. So dark. Maybe it is not that I should be trying so hard to be the mom sometimes, but to be more of a child.

We read a poem by Robert Frost in my English class today, about a man thinking of tree climbing (among other things). We talked about nostalgia and happy childhoods and looking back over these times with an element of longing and perhaps regret.

I am not a child anymore, but my kids are. And perhaps I should be that more too … by just being rather than trying so hard. By climbing a tree or playing shadow tag, blowing bubbles or sitting down on the floor and building a stack of colorful blocks right up to the sky. Maybe then I won’t have to worry about looking back with regret and longing, knowing I made the most of every moment.

All that to say, I’m going to try to begin posting in here again, if nothing else to keep some sort of track of my days as a mom of three young (and rather awesome) kids. I’ll try to post some things by other moms too, whose books I’ve read or am reading, and who capture the essence of motherhood so much better than I can.

If you’ve read any good books or seen a great quote on parenting, please share it in the comment section below. Or if you have any other thoughts you want to share on parenting, I’d love to hear from you.

A Hamster in Heaven

HamsterMy daughter’s eighth birthday was approaching and I had the perfect idea for a gift. A hamster. I suggested it to my husband and he wasn’t so sure. “The kids are so young,” he pointed out. “What will they do when it dies?”

“That’s part of life,” I answered. “They have to learn about it sometime.” That might sound calloused, but I didn’t mean it that way. I just remembered that some of the deepest things I learned about life and love were intertwined with loss or death. Maybe because it’s times like those that we realize how deep love really is … and how enduring.

We got the hamster. Jessica named him Buttercup because at first she thought it was a girl. (Well, at first it was a girl but that’s another story.) Her birthday gift was a winner and it took a few days for her brain to wrap around the fact that she had a little pet to care for and love.

Buttercup became a part of our family. His bright, inquisitive nature fit in just perfectly. He was very friendly for a hamster and the kids had a lot of fun with him.

You probably noticed I’m writing in past tense referring to the little critter. Buttercup died last night. You know how it is when you know something is bound to happen eventually yet you assume it never will? Yeah, me too.

Jessica was doing homework in my room while I was in their room at the computer. While I was editing, I heard a strange recurring noise somewhere behind me. Finally I tuned into it and realized it was coming from the hamster’s cage. I peeked inside his little sleeping spot and he was breathing hard, labored. His body was unresponsive when I picked him up.

I called Jessica and she cried as she asked me if we could take him to a vet. I knew there was no hope for such a little thing so obviously taking his last breaths, but I wrapped him in a warm cloth and tried giving him water and then ground-up pellet-porridge with an eye dropper. I held him until he stopped breathing less than half an hour later.

Then I held Jessica as she said goodbye to her little pet. I told her about a hamster I had when I was 12, and that I cried when it died. She asked what we should do with the body and I told her we could bury him in the backyard. Then she asked if she could sleep with me, and I said sure.

We prayed for the night and Jessica fell asleep quickly, waking up from her half-asleep state to say something about Buttercup with angels and happy in Heaven. I told her I’m sure he is.

Life on earth. Followed by death. That part of existence we feel will never come and often live as if it won’t, yet still it does. Death. Another beginning, yet so often seen as the final act. The end.

But nothing truly loved is forever lost. And though we cannot see it, the end is the beginning.

Chai with Jesus

Chai with JesusI am reading Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers, by Marlene Bagnull. Each short chapter focuses on some of the unique struggles that writers face, many of which apply to me. I find myself making notes in the margins and I spend time answering the questions at the end of each chapter.

The chapter I read this morning, though, fit better than most. Last month I decided to start waking up early, trying to get a hold on the day by starting it off right by reading and praying … maybe writing if I have a few extra moments. I knew I needed to get my priorities and directions straight before everything else started to struggle for my focus and attention.

This past week, I hadn’t been doing so well. I had only managed to get up early the first few days of the week, and when my son started waking up early with me, I gave up. After all, the idea was having time alone, not extra time with a son whose first words (within a nanosecond of waking up) are either, “Can you make me breakfast?” or “Can I watch something?” – not my idea of a quiet morning.

Yesterday evening, after my husband left for work, I was finding myself irked at the mess indoors, and overwhelmed at a few things going on in my life. I sat outside to just think and pray (outside being at the top of the stairs right outside the front door). The challenge of living in an apartment, for me, is having no place to let them “run amuck,” as my sister so aptly puts it.  No backyard to be assured that they’re safe. So they’re either inside where noise is automatically ten times louder, or outside with you, meaning you’re not doing what you need to do.

Within minutes my youngest son noticed me. “I’ll just come outside and play down there.” He pointed to the area of dirt and mud at the foot of the stairs. I don’t mind dirt, but a neighbor recently managed to somehow spill oil from who-knows-where in that same spot, creating a mixture only too full of germs, which I tried to explain to my son. “I don’t see any germs,” he said. Within moments his brother and sister were outside as well, ready to get in on whatever action was coming.

“Let’s go into the pool area,” I suggested. They could play in the dry leaves at the edge of the pool and I could sit and pray at the far end, still keeping an eye on them. I forgot, though, that the lock to the pool gate had been changed and my husband had the key, on his keychain, in his pocket, on the way to work.

I took a deep breath. Why did everything I tried to do have to be so difficult? I just wanted a bit of peace and it was turning into a circus. The two older kids lost interest and went back inside. My youngest, ever-present shadow, followed me as I went back upstairs and sat down once more. He ran up and down the length of the apartment buildings, and then down the stairs at the far end. He didn’t come back up. Two minutes passed. I finally followed him. He had found dirt – his idea of heaven. This dirt wasn’t so dirty (if you’re a mom, you know what I mean) and pretty soon all three of the kids were making dirt piles, driving their cars through the dirt, or sliding their cars down the railing of the stairs where I sat, still trying to think and pray a bit.

Then a neighbor came outside, her son running to join my trio. The mom and I began to talk, and did so for the next hour until the sun had sat and it was time to de-dirt the kids in the tub.

That was the story of one evening, more like half an evening – a microcosm of a typical day, which is why this morning, when I forced myself to get up early because I need that time alone, the chapter I read spoke to me so clearly. It was titled, “First Things First.”

The prose-prayer at the end, I felt, was something I could have written yesterday. It goes like this:

Pressures

Father, I have so much to do

and not enough hours in the day to do it.

I know that’s only partly true.

I do have enough time

to do the things you want me to do.

But, Lord, how do I sort out what they are,

when everything screams for my attentions?

I’m exhausted from rushing—

uptight and irritable.

Please forgive me and help me.

Help me to learn from your Son.

People were constantly pressing in on him.

He could have been consumed—burned out.

But Jesus took time to be alone with you.

He made you his top priority.

I must learn to do the same,

especially when I’m feeling pressured.

Help me to be still and know

that you are God.

Even as you created and hold together the universe,

you can bring order to my life if I will let you.

Thank you, Lord.

What a fitting prayer. What a fitting chapter. I have begun to understand why, when as a child I woke up early in the morning, I would see my mom sitting in her chair, coffee in hand, reading or praying. When I asked her what she was doing (as only a child would), she would answer, “I’m spending time with Jesus. I need this time to get me through the day.” I didn’t understand then. I’m starting to understand now.

Only with me, it’s chai instead of coffee.

Chai with Jesus. It has a nice ring.

Challenges of a Work-at-Home Mom

Aiden, three years oldSo, as I mentioned in a recent post, it had been a rough couple of weeks with my youngest.

He’s in the stage of testing his limits (and my patience – quite effectively, in fact).

Whether I put something as a question, a request, or an order, his response has been the same. (And just to let you know, it’s not “Yes mommy”).

Now let me clarify before anyone thinks I’m raising a little “lomster” (my kids’ word for both lobster and monster).

If my requests/orders were along the lines of, “Let’s have school together,” or “Let’s read a book together” or “Do you want to do a puzzle with me?” Or “It’s time to wash the dishes with mommy,” he would come running.

He loves anything that includes one-on-one time with mommy and input. He reminds me a bit of Number Johnny 5 – more input!

Therein rests the problem, and an inner struggle I face daily.

I’d love to be a 100 percent, full-time mommy.

But I’m not.

I’m a work-at-home mom. I love my kids. I enjoy my work too. But finding the correct balance on a daily basis – when you have deadlines on one side of the scales, and kids on the other – is a challenge.

Actually, that’s an understatement. Sometimes it’s downright tough.

And I know it’s not just me who faces it. These days, there are more work-at-home moms and dads than ever before. And even for those who don’t “work,” they’re still working. There’s always something to do – if it’s not deadlines, it’s dishes, laundry, shopping, or maintaining a blog (ahem).

(For the record, I write most of my blog posts on my phone while either putting my son down for his daily nap or while watching them in the pool and working up the courage to dive into the cold water.)

So how do we, as parents in this modern and ever so busy world, maintain the right balance (and at least a measure of sanity)?

How do we fulfill our most important responsibility and calling to teach and train up the upcoming generation as well as keep up with everything else?

Well, you’re not going to find all the answers within this blog post (which is why I’m writing a book on this same topic – it’s in the works!), but for starters, love your kids.

I know you love them already, like crazy.

But remember it, in the craziness of the hectic days you live in.

Love them, and make sure they know you love them.

More than the to-do’s and the work.

Give them the best of your time, as often as you can.

This will help them to more easily accept the times you might be too busy to spend as much time with them as they would like

Invite them into your life.

Making dinner? Let them peel the carrots or wash the potatoes.

Doing laundry? Let them sort the colors or hand you the clothes pins.

Trying to meet a deadline? Let them know and ask them to pray for you…or celebrate with them once you’ve met it.

 

As I write this, my son just fell asleep. As always, he looks so peaceful cuddled on top of his Lightning McQueen pillow case.

The instant he opens his eyes, I know he’s going to ask me to take him swimming, or to read him a book, or play cars with him.

I also know he doesn’t fathom the fifty pages I need to edit by the end of the day, or the reason mommy seems impatient and busy sometimes.

All he knows is that I’m his mom. And I’m his friend too (he told me so himself).

I think, when he wakes up, I’ll try to be just that.