Tag Archives: hope

5 Practical Ways to Avoid the Mommy Blues

Every mom has her day.  Her really down day.  The I’m hiding in the bathroom, pass me the chocolate before someone gets hurt, harder than anyone could ever imagine, what has become of me, mind-numbingly self-sacrificial day.

And for most moms, that day is….well…almost every day!

If you’re that mom that has just always wanted 1,000 kids, loves getting 3 hours of interrupted sleep (every night for years), laughs while poop is flung from your 2-year-old’s hands directly onto your new silk shirt, after finding that he’s disassembled his diaper and thrown feces all over his room and into his mouth, and if you love having all of your expensive crystal wedding gifts destroyed when the baseball crashed into your china hutch after a particularly rigorous game of indoor t-ball…If you’re that mom, you might as well stop reading this right now.  And secondly, GO BUY ME SOME CHOCOLATE.

But if you’re like most moms of young kids, you may struggle with the mommy blues now and again.  And that’s ok.  But, let me tell you, when I have a bad day and let the mommy blues take over, several things happen.  First, my worst side comes out.  I’m not as kind to my kids (and definitely not as kind to my poor husband).  Next, I retreat into self-pity.  And when I’m there, nothing good ever happens. And lastly, I miss out on the good things happening around me (like the fact that my twins gave each other a big hug for the first time today….because I was depressed that they threw all of their lunch into the trash before eating it).

So, here is my personal, tried-and-true method for how to shut the door on the mommy blues before she becomes a permanent part of your day.  Don’t worry, this isn’t a long list of things you’ll never be able to attain to with your busy schedule.  This is 5 simple steps to help you say “ta-ta” to sadness and “woo hoo” to your actual life.

1.   GET GORGEOUS.  When you pass yourself in the mirror and shudder at the way you look today, it just adds to your feeling depressed and meaningless.  But the truth is, YOU’RE GORGEOUS.  And showing others how pretty you are helps you feel pretty.  And that is actually really important.

Girls, seriously, makeup is your friend.  I don’t care if you don’t know much about putting on makeup, even a quick, 5-min daily routine can help you go from boring to soaring.  My daily staples are tinted moisturizer and light weight powder (from the Aveda “Inner Light” collection), blush (Bare Minerals), mascara (“They’re Real” by Benefit), and a little lipstick (Clinique’s Chubby Sticks are so easy and fun).   If you have more time, throw on some awesome Mac eyeshadow and a fun colored eyeliner from Urban Decay.  For fun makeup tips, look up “A Glittery Life” on YouTube.

I’ve also learned 3 or 4 easy ways to do my hair so that I love the way it looks each day.  (thanks Sock Bun, dry shampoo, and flat iron curls!).  I try not to spend longer than 10 minutes on my hair most days.

Next, I once realized that it only took me 3 minutes longer to put on clothes that I love wearing each day, that flatter my post-four-kids-body and make me feel cute, stylish, and valuable than it did to put on yoga pants and a sweat shirt.  I try not to leave the house in anything that I should only wear at the gym.

Believe me, I don’t have much time to get ready with 4 kids 5 and under, but I don’t need much time.  I can usually get ready each day in 20-30 min.

2.  AESTHETICIZE:  Yes, I just made up that word.  Because I’m cool like that.  Aesthetics in your home are important when you’re there so often as a mom.  I make it a point to open up my blinds first thing in the morning.  When the sunlight is streaming through the windows, somehow it’s easier to feel happy.  🙂  Light a great smelling candle or put some essential oils into a diffuser and make your house smell amazing.  Find one small area of your house to de-clutter each day.  Look on Pinterest and find a way to use the junk you already have to decorate your house and make it feel more homey.  Do whatever it is that makes you love the way your house feels, smells, looks, and tastes (and yes, I DO mean make cookies).

3.  AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA LIKE THE PLAGUE:  When you’re having particularly down moments, do not (I repeat DO NOT) spend excessive time looking at your news feeds.  There’s nothing worse that seeing your acquaintances enjoying their incredible cruise to the Bahamas while you’re stuck at home with 8 kids and no money and you can’t even go to the grocery store, let alone a fancy-shmancy cruise!  These days, it’s incredibly easy to compare your life to hundreds of other people’s lives through the help of social media.  And truthfully, you never know what’s actually going on in those people’s lives.  The pictures of their perfect cruise could all be a front to hide the pain that they’re actually experiencing!  So, why torture yourself?  Just avoid social media when you’re down in the dumps.

4.  FIND SOMETHING TO SUCCEED IN:  It’s ok to feel the need to accomplish something each day or to feel successful in some capacity.  And as moms, the feelings of being successful can be few and far between.  For example, by the time you’ve finished 12 loads of laundry, 6 more loads have already stacked up in the dirty clothes hampers.  Or, when you’re successful at paying extra attention to one child, you’ve inadvertently ignored your other kids!  So this is why it’s VITAL to find SOMETHING that you can do to feel successful every day.  I like to write that thing down at the beginning of the day and celebrate when I’ve accomplished it.  It can be anything from painting your nails to changing the sheets on the bed to encouraging your friends to taking an art classse to starting a home-based business.  Do something every day that makes you feel like a raving success.  This is not selfish; this is paramount.

5.  REACH OUT:  Isolation is the biggest threat to us moms.  Having kids is isolating.  Staying at home is isolating.  And when we allow our fears of what someone will think of our messy house or our messy attitudes or our messy lives to cause us to shut out relationships, we might as well be shutting off one of the valves to our heart.  Isolation is detrimental to anyone, and especially to moms.  When you’re feeling blue, don’t turn to social media.  Actually be social.  Call someone.  Text someone.  Beg, borrow, and steal for money to hire a babysitter so that you can go out with some girlfriends, and then be honest about the way you felt today.  Chances are, they’ve felt that way too.  And in that moment of honesty, you’ll get to experience unconditional love, which is something you will never experience if you aren’t honest with others.

I don’t have to live with mommy blues day after day.   It’s just not fair to me or my kids. I don’t want to wait until my kids are out of the house before I am happy again.  But no one has the power to make me happy.  No one has the power but me.

Advertisements

2014: New Hope for Moms Who Feel Like They’ve Lost Themselves

Image

I had a dream last night in which, unbeknownced to me, the company I was working for had an evil plot to kill everyone on earth, except for those who would remain loyal to the company.   It was a perfectly dramatic cross between the movies “The Firm” and “Armageddon,” only, I was the main character!  I happened to find out about my company’s evil, world-annihilating plot just moments before they began releasing the fatal fumes that would slowly kill every inhabitant on earth.  I had to make a quick, life-altering choice—was I going to conspire with the company’s malicious scheme to destroy the world, or was I going to stand up for the cause of justice and integrity and leave the company right then and there, even though doing so meant certain death?   Dun dun duuunnnnnnn…….

Which path did I chose?  I will get to that later. 

When I woke up, I knew that this dream was telling me something.  No, the dream wasn’t a warning to watch out for fatal gas outside my window, or that I had seen too many apocalyptic movies.  The dream was speaking to me about being a mom.

Did you know that, when baby scorpions are born, their first act as a live being is to eat their mother?  Yep.  They viciously destroy the female that just gave them life. Hmm…this degree of maternal sacrifice hits a little too close to home for some of us tired-of-being-pooped-on-and-peed-on-and-kicked-and-bitten-and-awakened-every-single-hour-for-years-and-tired-of-living-with-sore-nipples-and-stretch-marks-and-pregnancy-weight-and-no-time-and-no-money-and-no-life moms out there.  While my kids have never actually eaten my body limb from limb like scorpions do, I feel as though they have come pretty darn close.  The “me” that I used to know is not the “me” that I see in the mirror every day.   There are days when I feel as though she has been completely destroyed. 

The day when I looked around and realized that I seemed to have lost myself was one of the hardest and scariest moments of my life.  Some of you moms out there might not know what I am talking about, but I’d be willing to bet that many of you are nodding your head with complete understanding right now.  Maybe you feel lost too.  When my baby twins were born (a little over a year ago), I also had a 2 year old and a 3 year old.  Life wasn’t just busy.  It was impossible.  I felt like I failed constantly, though I was working harder than I ever had in my entire life.  For the first 6 months or so, it literally took every second of my day to simply keep the kids alive, fed, and mostly diapered.  I practically never took breaks and never stopped working until around 11:00pm (when all 4 kids were finally asleep).   Then, I would start the long process of feeding two babies through the night at around 11:30pm.  And the whole thing would start again.  Those of you who have had multiples know that I am not exaggerating.  Each day, while I fought to be the best mom that I could be in the midst of chaos, the “me-light” was growing more and more dim, until one day, it felt like it had completely burned out.

Have you ever felt like this?  If so, you’re not alone.  But, there is hope.

Back to the dream.  (The suspense was killing you, huh?)  I had to decide whether or not I would pledge my allegiance to an evil company, and therefore, preserve my life—or, whether I would do what I knew was right and quit the company, even though doing so meant certain death for me.  In that moment, I knew that there was really only one choice.  I had to do what was right.  And, as I quit the company and walked out of the safety of their building, I saw missiles being launched into all parts of the earth, containing fatal fumes.  People began to fall, dying, all around me.  But, then the strangest thing happened.  Though all around me fell, I didn’t.  I didn’t even feel sick.  I didn’t even falter at all.  Some how, by making the choice to give up my life in order to do the right thing, I was able to live!  I was petrified at first, but began to gain courage as I realized that I was not going to die.  I started helping people around me who were hurting and dying, and they were saved.  Then, as I called my family and friends, others were being revived just by listening to my voice on the phone.

I had made a choice to sacrifice my life, and by doing so, many others were able to thrive (including me).   We started a revolution, and the world was saved.

Being a good mom is the most sacrificial thing that I could possibly do with my life.  It is literally laying my life down.  My entire life down.  All day and all night.  Day after day after day after day.  It is very hard.  It’s, arguably, the hardest job in the world.  And, I’ll admit, there are days when I have wondered if it’s worth it.  But, this dream put it all into perspective for me.  I am not really lost or dead.  I’m not even dying. The company in the dream represents the true state of the unsanctified world—pure evil, damning people to doom and certain death.  But just as I did in the dream, by being a mom, I am standing up for the sake of integrity and justice and love and righteousness and servant-hood and hope and patience and life.  I don’t do it all perfectly, but I’ve given life to 4 little people, each who has the chance to partner with God and change the course of human history.  Each who, within his or her tiny heart, has the power to love the hopelessness out of someone, breathe peace into an anxiety-ridden world, and shower compassion upon the forgotten.  I gave birth to 4 little lives.   My personal army of freedom-fighters, justice-bringers, and truth-declarers.  By sacrificing my life, my life is now worth so much more. Being a mom is my ministry to those who, without my love and nurture, would otherwise die all around me.  Revolutionary, indeed. 

This year, I want to remember that servant-hood, though not always glamorous, is one of the most important and eternal gifts that I have been given.  I can also breathe easy knowing that God wants me to be happy and fulfilled and to live an abundant life.  He gives abounding joy for me in the midst of laying my life down.  I just have to receive it (which, sometimes takes some practice).  If you think about it—Jesus invented the concept of laying His life down for the JOY set before Him.  So I can trust Him that He really does know what I’m feeling and He really does have hope for me!

So, happy new year to all of you amazing moms out there!  Love and grace to you.  You’re so very important. 

Hope For the Stay-At-Home-Mom (and Dads!)

Image

Even though I am a right-brained, non-numbers-person, every day at around 1:00pm, my life, sanity, and happiness begins to revolve around a number.  Sixty.  I know that there are sixty more minutes left until I can put my 2 and 4-year-old boys into their room for a little quiet time and put my 10-month-old baby twins down for a nap.  Ahhh, sixty.  Sixty minutes until I can use the restroom in peace (wow, I’ve been holding it in since 11:00!), I don’t have to hear anyone talking about Swiper or Thinking Chairs or how to get to Sesame Street.  Sixty seconds turn into 1 minute.  And now everything revolves around fifty-nine.  Ahh, fifty-nine.  Fifty-nine minutes until I can make myself some lunch and watch a short TV show or straighten my hair or just lie on the couch. 

 The minutes slowly tick by, then it’s 2:00, and it’s finally quiet.  No one is asking me questions.  No one is crying.  No one is singing “the Wheels on the Bus” at the top of their lungs.   But even though it’s quiet, some days, it’s peculiarly loud inside my head.  My mind shifts from being on diaper duty to being a soldier, arriving for front-lines duty in a war inside the deepest parts of me.  

Every mom has her own challenges.  I know some moms who work full-time, and they have their own fight, but for me, a stay-at-home-mom, I find that, in those moments when I am not wiping noses or changing diapers or making lunches or potty-training or dishwashing—it’s in those moments when the real battle begins. 

 Let’s get real.  This battle is more than just a bug on my windshield.  Like many stay-at-home-moms (and dads), I’m fighting for something that is central to my entire being.  I am having a knock-down-drag-out, winner-takes-all, I-might-just-die-on-the-front-lines war to find out who I really am and if I have what it takes.  I’m fighting for my identity. 

 And, the opposing side on this war is not playing around.  I have a brilliantly skilled enemy that’s equipped with the most dangerous of weapons.  He’s really good at finding all of my flaws and reminding me of every single slip-up.  And sometimes, frizzy haired, pregnancy-weight-retained, in-over-my-head little me feels like I’m fighting-to-the-death with only my bare hands. 

To make matters worse, my enemy’s powerful weapons are unconventional.  He isn’t firing a gun at me.  He’s not that overt.  He’s not calling my phone, leaving threatening messages on my voice-mail.  He’s not that loud.  He’s stealthy.  So stealthy that I often don’t even notice that he’s got me by the throat, choking the life out of me, until I’ve almost passed out.  That’s because my opposition knows that, if he can get inside my mind, into my thought life, I have just given him an all-access pass to destroy my identity, one thought at a time.  These thoughts can sound like this: 

  • I didn’t check anything off my to-do-list today.  Therefore, I am inefficient. 
  • I didn’t give each of my kids the kind of attention they deserved today.  I even snapped at one of them.  Therefore, I am a bad mom. 
  • I can’t make my kids do what I’ve asked them to do or share their toys or take a nap or clean up their messes.  Therefore, I am a failure.
  • My friends are posting pictures on Facebook of their kids eating vegetables and going to fun places.  My kids mostly stay at home (a side-effect of having 4 kids, ages 4 and under) and won’t touch a vegetable with a 10-foot-pole!  Therefore, I am not as good of a mom as they are and I wish I had their life.
  • My life has come to this—diapering, taxiing kids all over town, nursing babies.  Therefore, I am missing out on real life.
  • No one can relate to me.  Therefore, I am all alone. 
  • With 4 young kids, I am facing day after day and year after year of being stuck inside the house.  Therefore, my life is hopeless. 

So some days, by 2:00pm, negative thoughts have caused my identity to take quite a beating.   And, in the quiet, I am fighting to stay encouraged. 

Have you ever felt this way?  Do you find yourself feeling discouraged as a stay-at-home mom or dad?  Do you ever feel alone, depressed, and unsure that you have what it takes to be a successful parent?

If so, you are among friends.   But, one thing is absolutely true, whether we believe it or not.  There is hope.  The Bible is teeming with hope.  Our battle is real, but hope is real-er. 

In my own struggles, I have found these four hope-filled, battle-winning weapons to be a powerful tools in the war for my identity…but we might need to dust them off and practice using them. 

  1. Connection with God.  I must connect with God every single day.  It will probably look different than it did before I had kids.  I may have to speak to God while I’m unloading the dishwasher and print off a scripture and tape it to my bathroom mirror so that I can read it while I brush my teeth in the mornings.  Don’t get discouraged if you can’t connect with him in the way you used to.  If you need it, I give you permission to change the way you connect with God.  But, you MUST connect with him.  Every day.  Otherwise, your enemy has gained major ground in the battle.  Without hearing the TRUTH from God about who we are each day, we will most certainly begin to believe what our enemy is saying about us. 
  1. Connection with Others. I don’t care if you’re an introvert, extrovert, Republican, Democrat, male, or female.  Every person on earth was created to be in relationship with God and with others.  How do I know this?  Genesis 2:18 says, “And the Lord God said, ‘it is not good for man to be alone.’” How long has it been since you’ve connected with people who fill you up and encourage you?  I’m NOT talking about a group that only commiserates with you about the trials of parenthood or allows you to stay in your place of discouragement.  I’m also not talking about people who make you feel worse or guilty about the job you’re doing as a parent.  I’m talking about a group that understands and acknowledges how hard things are, but encourages you into a place of victory.  I’m talking about friends who stand beside you in the battle lines and encourage you in the fight.  Can’t seem to find a group like this?  You might have to start your own.  Pray about who God wants you to connect with.  Since he has designed us to be people who need connection, he also has the grace we need to find such connections. 
  1. Stay Vulnerable.   If our enemy can keep us isolated, then we will lose the war for sure.  We can’t fight a battle of this caliber all by ourselves.  But the thing that keeps me the most isolated is when I am not vulnerable with people.  If I feel like I can’t be real, ask for help, or if I’m so ashamed of my mistakes that it keeps me from letting people in, I cut myself off from connection—which is often the very help I need.  I have found that, when I open up to someone about something I’ve done, am afraid of, am ashamed of, etc., they help me see that (a.) I am not alone in my struggle, (b.) my struggle is not hopeless like I thought it was, and (c.) I am loved no matter what.  If someone doesn’t know the real me, I will always wonder if they truly love me and will fight my battle with me.  Vulnerability is KEY.  Moms who are too afraid to look bad in front of other moms are going to lose the war.  Plain and simple.  It’s just too hard to fight off the ememy’s lies by ourselves.  We weren’t designed to do that.
  1. Watch Our Mouths.  What am I saying about myself and my situation?   I often find myself telling my husband, “today was hard.  I feel like everything is hard.  I don’t know if this will ever end.”   I have just allowed hopelessness to rule my home and my situation.  What I say matters.  “The Message” version of James 3:2 says, “If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.”  The other day, I got sick of feeling hopeless, and I started yelling some truths from the Bible out loud.   “God wants me to have an abundant life.  Therefore, my life is NOT hopeless.”  “I am more than a conqueror.”  “With God, all things are possible.”  “I am lovely.”  “God has given me everything I need for life and godliness.”  “My voice matters!”  “I am not a screw-up!”  I couldn’t believe how good it felt to declare these things about myself out loud!  Let’s take charge of our thought-lives and make our speech “perfectly true,” only saying what God says about us.  If we say the truth out loud, we will begin to believe it (and so will our enemy!).

We can do this, moms!  Remember, the battle is real, but hope is real-er.  And do you want to know what’s real-est?   Jesus already won every war.  When I look at the battle-field, I see Jesus’s precious blood shed on the ground.  I am fighting a battle he has already fought…and won.  He died that we can LIVE in FREEDOM as a daughter in his house.  Princess Tiffany.  THAT is my unquestionable, nothing-can-take-it-away, unshakeable, no-lies-can-alter-it identity.