WordPressing On

You may have noticed, I hope some readers have noticed, that I have not posted for a very long time. I wrote about taking a hiatus for my daughter’s wedding, but that wedding ended beautifully over two months ago. The truth is, I lost my motivation to write. I had the post-wedding blues and a few transitions to go through. All that felt too personal to write about in a public forum.

I had other issues with writing too. I really asked myself what right I have to voice my opinions and lessons so publicly. I never feel like I have it all together, but lately I have felt even less worthy of helping anyone do  any part of life.

I check my blog stats everyday. Even without new posts, at least one person reads something I wrote every day. That is pretty significant, if you think about it. But more inspiring than that thought is this, people search things on Google that lead to what I have said. Strangely enough, this blog is Google’s answer to some pretty interesting searches. I get to see what people type in the search bar and it is compelling stuff. It is the very stuff that has made me want to start blogging again. It’s  an insider view to anonymous people and what is on their minds. Wanna see?

The most popular search that leads to my blog is “texting while driving”. This alone is motivating. If my pleading rant about people who put us all in danger for texting can help stop one person, then I’m all for ranting publicly. Over 200 people have linked to this post. That is quite a reach for someone who only leaves the house to go church and Walmart most of the time.

The second most searched phrase is “bible verses about love”. It is heartwarming to think of being a link for such a search. Even if I was just a link to the writer of a blog on the subject.

Number three is “skinny vs. normal”. Interesting to speculate on what might drive a person to type that in a search bar. If I helped a teen girl feel comfortable being “normal” than I’m thrilled for the opportunity. I don’t know if people even read what I write after they link to the blog, but the possibility is inspiring.

The one search that catches my attention most often is “talk to santa in real life” or “how to get an elf on the shelf from santa. These searches presumably come from children. You might want to ask your children if they are trying to do searches like this.

You lied about Santa!

I hope searches like this don’t lead to scary “Santas” out in cyberspace, or result in children learning more than their parents are ready for. One related search said, “do shelf elf from santa talk”. Another said, “see santas elves and let them see me”. Scary to think of children searching the internet like this or living their lives wondering about this. Maybe I should write a post about this.

Sadly, several searches make me wonder if moms still talk to their daughters about puberty. These searches are worded like little girls desperate for answers to what is going on with their bodies. Glad I could help, but I’m sad that my one brief post was offered as an answer to these girls’ questions. Yikes, I hope it was girls!

On the disturbing side, I have seen searches for “tie up kids for punishment”. This is a phrase that does not occur in my posts, but it linked to me anyway. “Mom don’t know everything”…’nuff said. “Don’t wanna raise his kid”…sigh. “Does discipline help wife be sweet again?” Lord, I can only pray the searcher meant he would become more disciplined? Conversely, there is one that says, “how to punish my husband for his mistake”. Then there is just the puzzling ones like, “child washes face by soup” or “baby with street cred”. A startling amount of people look up ‘coolest people in the world”. It’s makes me smile to think this search leads to a post about my nieces and nephews.

Aside from all this, I love knowing I was able to let random searchers know they are not alone. This is something anyone can help with by just being honest. Like the person who honestly typed “jealous of ann voskamp.” or the one who confessed, “i cried at the hairdresser”. I commiserated with women who have a “child who coughs every night” and with the many who typed “bullied” or some form of the word. I was able to spread my obsession with protein to dozens of people who searched about protein amounts for children. I shared my encouragement to many people who were looking for answers about birth control and family size. It is validating for me to know these searchers think about what I write about.  I hope it was validating for them to find at least one person who had something to say about what was on their minds.

Then, there are the Unknown Search Terms. This is actually the biggest pool of searches. This is a group of 263 searches that led to my blog that were protected by privacy settings. I’m choosing to believe that these were not in the creepy category or even the puzzling one. I’m hoping these are 263 people who found a friend online, even for a minute, because of my compulsion to share my thoughts in a public forum. This idea has reawakened my desire to blah, blah, blog again. Not to tell others what to do, or what I know, but to make a connection with people.

Now that I have discovered what drives me, please follow along and contribute freely to the process. I would love to see lots and lots of comments to make even more connections with even more people.

I want to thank my oldest sister for her sweet text inspiring me to keep writing. Her opinion means so much to me and I was encouraged so much by her words. Thanks Karen!

On the Small Chance You Were Wondering….

My inspiration...I need a headset

I’m stopping here real quick to explain my absence from my blog. I had one reader encourage me not to give up just because I took flak for my last posts. I hadn’t thought about how it would look like that to people who don’t know what is going on with me. I am not discouraged over my last post. I am wedding planning for my daughter. It is coming down to the wire now and I don’t want to look back with any regrets on how I spent my time planning or my remaining time with my whole family.

So I’m on hiatus from the blog now and look forward to getting back to writing. I’m not sure how much good blogging is for the people reading, but it sure is good for the writer. It is so therapeutic, I look forward to getting back to it. If you think of me, send up a prayer that I help with this wedding with patience and grace.

What do I know?

Wait...what?

My last post caught some flak from working moms who thought I was coming down on them. I changed my post to reflect the fact that I can only speak to stay-at-home moms. I don’t know anything about being a mom who also has to work outside the home. In the midst of the flak, a friend told me that the tone of my blog makes me sound like a know-it-all. Ouch! I told her, and I want to tell anyone else who cares, that I hate giving an apologetic opinion. I don’t want to qualify every post with a “that’s just my opinion” ending. I hope that it is understood that every post is just my opinion.

When I was a young mother, I wanted the security of someone sold on their advice and experience. No one wants to get advice from someone who only mildly believes what she is saying. If we waited till we knew everything, we could never help each other. so, I started to wonder, what do I know for sure?  What opinions would I defend hotly in the face of opposition? So, here is what I have so far:

I know, but trust me.

If you eat pancakes for breakfast, and only pancakes, you will feel like crap the rest of the morning. Maybe the whole day. Syrup only makes this more true. If you drink orange juice with this “meal”, you might as well call in sick.

The risk outweighs to benefits when it comes to airshows, as in the shows with planes doing tricks. Unless it is the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds, I”m talking military, precision professionals, stay home.

step away from the scissors

Unless you are a hairdresser, your hair will not come out right if you cut it yourself. Even a little bit. If you have the skills, you probably don’t have the very expensive professional scissors needed to do the magic they do. We are dependent on them.  Sad but true.

You shouldn’t put away your winter clothes until Memorial Day weekend. It will get cold again, just to mess with you.

Revlon Colorstay lipstick in Everlasting Rum color is the best lipstick. That was not a paid endorsement, as much as I wish it was. It is just true. If you put it on in the morning, it will still be there in the evening.

I leave out other things, like God and Jesus and love and life and parenting because what is fact and what is opinion gets really fuzzy from person to person. Of course I would defend the facts about God and Jesus, regardless of someone’s opinion.And I want to believe that what works for me in my home is factual. But when it comes down to how I live and the choices I make, I am a fan of my life and how it has turned out so far. I want to spread the excitement about what has turned out good and warn others away from what has not. These are the things I know. They are silly and few. I wanted to let everyone know that writing about it doesn’t mean I think I have all the answers. I just have a few. They were given to me, so I feel I should pass them on to you. Thanks for humoring me as I pay all that forward.

Growing Weary

Yep

I have tried to explain to my friends who still have toddlers how much different life is when everyone is your house is older than five. The change sneaks up on you til one day you look up and smile, realizing you have had a complete thought, a complete meal, or best of all, a complete night’s sleep. Your brain is freer, your body is less tired and your whole system is less stressed when the little ones around you are not as prone to kill themselves or someone else all day, every day. One day, you actually forget what all the stress was about. It’s true. Even more true if you are staying at home with them all day.

When I think back to the days of endless spills and crying and bodily fluids and sleep deprivation, I feel so tired for the ones going through it now. It is just plain exhausting. I remember if I try. I was a walking biohazard for years. I think I sat on a couch nursing for an entire year of my life, with all the chaos swirling around me. I think I did – it’s kind of a blur.

I have noticed a disturbing trend among mothers and how they deal with this stress. I’m afraid when it all becomes too much for that mother who so wanted to stay home and raise her little one, she escapes back to the work place. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about going to work to pay the bills or to keep up your skills or any of the very valid reasons women have for going to work. I’m talking about the woman who chooses to stay home, but is just plain wearing out. When she feels like life is not rosy at home like she imagined,

This what going to work feels like - in comparison.

she begins to wonder if the pressure of being worried,  tired and unsure of what she is doing can be outsourced to others who seem to know more. When you are new to mothering, daycare workers seem like effortless experts. It is tempting to go back to doing what she knows how to do well at work, for a fixed number of hours a day. And getting paid? Who doesn’t want to go back to getting paid?

I know a lot of moms think they will go back temporarily, until that magic someday when all is right with the world and they can try staying home again. Then they slowly get stuck needing that paycheck to pay the bills they have and they secretly think they don’t have what it takes to be a full-time mom anyway. Everyone supports the usual choice to work, but it is much harder to find people who support her right to “sit home all day” or “struggle financially” or “shelter her children from the real world”. So, even though she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, she lets that dream die. She is weary.

This is the most annoyed she ever got.

When I had only one child, I lived 20 minutes from everything and everyone. I had no television and no car. There was no internet or texting. My husband worked all day and my friends were all at college. We were even without a church for a time. I read a lot of books and talked on the phone a lot. (It had a cord and everything.) I was basically Caroline Ingalls as to isolation, but without her grace and patience. My daughter was easy to raise and our schedule was regular. I was lonely and poor, but I had no options for work. I only had a high school education so any money I could make would be lost to daycare anyway. I got weary of the isolation and repetition of my days, but I had no options. I know I would have caved to the lure of a paycheck or a car of my own or a group of friends at work in civilization. I was forced to stick to my dream of being a full-time mom. For that, I am grateful.

folding is overrated

There is a reason the Bible talks about the older women teaching the younger women to be happy at home. It doesn’t come naturally to our restless spirits. It is a skill that develops over time. Women who leave work to stay home with their kids are surprised by how difficult it is and often say work was much easier. Without support, the weariness can win out, leaving a desire to escape it all, even to work at the place she thought she wanted to leave. A professional, successful mom once told me, she couldn’t wait for Mondays, when her nanny comes and she goes back to work. I looked at her in stunned disbelief, but when I thought about it more, I could see that her weekends are probably a time when she feels out of her depth, from lack of practice and experience with her own children. It is a sad truth that can play out if we don’t stick to our desire to stay home, even when the times get really rough.

the harvest

I was inspired by this verse:  Galatians 6:9 Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. It doesn’t say, don’t grow weary because it is a sin, or don’t grow weary because that is for losers. It offers the long view we all need to see us through. The promise. In due season, we shall reap. The sowing is tough, no doubt about it. But the reaping, the stage I am beginning to see now, is more than worth all the isolation, financial struggle, and missed sleep. For those of you who want nothing more than to be at home and raise your children, do not lose heart. Press on and keep the reaping season in view, knowing you are raising His child.

Rethinking Sleepovers

Seems harmless enough, right?

My memories of sleepovers are probably like yours, eating, laughing, gossiping and not sleeping. I’m not sure why I loved spending the night somewhere other than my home. I sure don’t like any bed but my own now. But, back then I was willing to lay on a hard, cold floor, staying up all hours and having a great time.

Recently my husband and I have started wondering if all-nighters are good for our kids. Physically and emotionally, they are a mess when they come home from eating junk, drinking caffeine and missing several hours of sleep. At first we would allow them to sleep over on the condition that the parents of their friends insist that they sleep. We later found that our kids would fall asleep at a reasonable hour, only to wake up in the wee hours and the parents in the home would have no idea that my child and their child were awake for hours while they slept.

My husband asked me this question, “Would you let our child go play during the day at a house where the parents were asleep all day?” The answer was no, of course not. I know my children could stay up much longer than I could. They will outlast the adults every time. Even for our fairly sheltered children and their sweet, fairly innocent friends, we have found  that the middle of the night is when they will try out bad words they have heard, misinform each other about the birds and the bees, and ruin everyone’s sleep for a month with a ghost story that is not easily forgotten.

During waking hours, children do not feel as free to speak about what they shouldn’t. If the adults are sound asleep, this gives them a freedom they never have any other time. At one sleepover, my son’s friends had a very deep religious discussion that led to him crying and doubting God’s existence and the truth of the Bible. This was among Christian boys, nine and ten years of age, who are parented by good people. They were just airing all their

I can only hope they are scared and not fascinated by what they are looking at.

questions, but without an adult present to help guide them through such a tough topic. During the day, the mom or dad would be able to intervene and bring some truth to these common questions.

Because of our experience, we have put a halt to spending the night with friends for our kids. We started to feel like we were leaving them on their own in places where they would not feel comfortable enough to wake an adult if they needed one, or to call us in the middle of the night. This leaves us feeling like we are leaving our kids to fend for themselves any hours they are not sleeping and not under the care of an awake adult.

We have lived in this town long enough to know our kids’ friends well, This is not about being concerned about the character of the kids or their parents. We already knew that the parents we leave our kids with are great people that we trust. But even the best of parents can not supervise while they are asleep. This is more about not trusting children to be left to their own devices. It was a tough call but one I feel like we had to make.

I would love to hear from other moms on this topic. This is new for us and it is hard to explain to our friends and to my kids’ friends. What rules have you made for sleepovers at your house? Do you feel completely comfortable leaving your kids with their friends? What age did you start with sleepovers for your kids. Do you get up in the night to check on kids at your house? Let me know how it works for you in the comments section below.