Saturday, March 7, 2015

Feeling Left Out

I was thinking about this a lot lately. Interestingly enough, I read a blog post or article about this very thing. I wish I could find it again so I could share but, it was just what I needed to hear.

In the age of so much exciting technology, it is easy to lose the connection we have with people. We often comment on a Facebook post but are we connecting on a personal level with people?
It is so easy to get caught up in our day that we don't make phone calls or have a night out with friends. Some days, I am so busy and worn out, I don't feel like doing another thing.

Anyway, I was looking at facebook recently and noticed all of these ladies doing so many fun things together. They had pictures of them skiing or even just posting about the fun things they were doing with friends. I was feeling left out. I was feeling isolated.
I was feeling like I had no friends. I was feeling sad and lonely. I was feeling depressed. I mean, I have lots of facebook friends but, how often am I able to connect on a personal level with anyone?

This is a problem for me. In my group of friends, I am the oldest. Yikes!! The problem seems to be that I am older but have children the same ages as the "younger" crowd. So, I don't do a lot of things with my group. I guess the real problem is I don't particularly have a group. People my age have grown children. They are most likely working as well. The younger crowd just has a lot more energy than I do. Let's face it. 40's may be the new 20's but the energy level just isn't there. Also, I have 5 kiddos 5 and under. I don't particularly like to take them all someplace by myself. I mean the work involved in that task...UGH!

So, I try and make my connections through social media. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out in my favor, like I mentioned above. I just see everyone having a great time and me not included. Now, let me be clear. I am not whining and trying to get people to like me and invite me places. I am not angleing for more to do with friends. The problem lies in our society losing its personal connections with each other.
We post on social media all of the amazing things we are doing in our lives. We show pictures of the fun. We write posts about how accomplished we are. We tell everyone how amazing our children, grandchildren, spouse, friends, and anyone else we know are. We put our best face on as we post. People rarely post reality. So, what do I do? I compare. I compare myself to their fun and exciting lives. Then I start to feel insignificant and like I just don't matter.
How come no one posts about the mundane? How come no one posts, "yelled at my kiddos this morning. Grumpy mornings seems to be the norm around here." or "the house is just dirty but I am going to watch a movie and ignore it all. I may not even shower or get dressed today." "sometimes, I just feel overwhelmed with all that I need to do. Is there no end in sight?" "I am just not feeling the love today."  The kind of things we all experience. We all know that things don't go perfectly everyday. Why can't we show our human side?

Social media is a fun tool we can use to share our lives with those around us. It helps to know what is happening in people's lives and it is just fun.I see pictures of new babies, returning misssionaries, graduations, marriage proposals, weddings, vacations, etc... It is great.
However, at the same time, is social media turning us into people who don't interact with each other in person?I think it is a great tool for Satan to work his magic. Because, of the comparing, the isolation and the hits we take to our self esteem.
Satan has an agenda too. He wants to take us with him. A wise person once said, "Satan knows he has lost. He knows that he won't win the war. But, he wants to take as many of us with him as he can." He is able to do this because we lose our light when we feel sad, upset or insignificant. We lose a little of the Holy Spirit.
I am not sure how to battle these feelings. Sometimes, I want to get on facebook and say "You know what I did today? I matter too. I do laundry, mop floors, change diapers for 4 kids,cook for 19 people." well, you get the idea.
The fact remains that I need to keep my priorities straight. I need to understand that Heavenly Father loves me. That the Holy Spirit is a part of my life everyday. I need to know that I have value and worth and it does not hinge on people liking my status. I have friends. I have great friends.
I have people who love me and care about me. On the flip side, people used to just avoid each other

if they were upset now we get "unfriended" yet another way to humiliate and reject others.
What really matters in life is finding our own joy. Finding a way to feel peace with what we are doing.
You matter too. You aren't invisible or isolated. You are a beautiful son or daughter of a loving Heavenly Father. You are important no matter what your facebook status is. You have people that love you. You just need to unplug and connect personally with them. Invite them places and don't forget to take a picture and post it to facebook. :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Traveling Plans

A trip, a trip we are going on a trip. One that doesn't require a babysitter. I can hear my friends cheering loudly now. ;) Yep, we are headed to Michigan in....5 months.
      Yep, we are coming "home". Hello mosquitoes (yuck), humidity (yuck), green trees and grass (yeah!) and wait for it...FIREFLIES!!! Of course family and friends as well. We are planning on making 2 different family reunions during this time too. 
       I am creating packing lists, schedules, menus and already trying to figure out where everything is going to go (cause no one has 19 pillows/blankets to borrow). Movies to watch on the way, activity books, and new books to read lots of thinking/ planning go into making a trip.
        When I am back in Michigan, I love to drive through the country and look at all of the farm houses and the open land around the town. It will be fun to take the kids to see the MSU campus this time too. I love all of the green. (In Utah, I have to water my grass almost daily for it to be green). so fun and I am getting so excited!!! Well, except for the mosquitoes part. 
       So, I thought it would be fun to find out what you do to prepare/plan a trip? What kind of things do you take? What kind of food do you pack for the car? Keep in mind this road trip is about 23 hours long. It will also be about 2 weeks long. We will have 16 year olds all the way down to an 8 month old. Yes, there will be 19 in our car. I am hoping a few of my older kids will join us as well.
            Happy Traveling in 5 months. No time like the present to prepare though. ;) Can't wait to see your ideas.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Mundane and the Beautiful

I feel like I live in a soap opera sometimes. I sometimes have a hard time separating the important from the unimportant.
Which "things" should I continue to harp on my kids for? The list seems long and endless.
Clean your room
Brush your teeth
Take a shower
Make your bed
Do your chore
turn off the TV and engage your brain
Do your homework
Pay attention in church
Pay attention at school
Please just pay attention
Don't be mean
Don't call names
No pushing!
No swearing
No hitting
You can't date until you are 16
Make good choices
Be a builder not a wrecking machine
Stay focused on the temple
Stay morally and physically clean
Well, I am sure you know the drill. What is important? What truly matters? If the kids don't have clean rooms does that make them and me slothful?Is this the real reason? If my kids don't act a certain way, do people see that as a reflection of poor parenting?
Am I being judged? Am I more concerned with what people think than how my kids will turn out?
I am forever apologizing for a dirty home, messy hair, messy kids, poor behavior in my children etc...
What is the deeper issue?
 I think it is that I see these issues as a reflection of me. I somehow tie my kids issues to my self worth and problems.
Part of the problem for me, is I feel people have a certain stereotype of large families. I feel like if my home is dirty, I fall into that stereotype. Quite frankly, I am better than that.
If my kids are dirty or have messy hair, I feel like people are judging me, "Oh she has too many kids".
This really boils down to me and my self esteem. I would love to be one of the people who can laugh it off or it doesn't affect them. But for me, it does affect me. I can laugh it off at the time or pretend i don't care but deep down it feels like I don't measure up. It feels like I reinforce my own weakness. I hear in my head, "See, you really aren't good enough."
The problem comes if and when I perpetuate those thoughts, feelings, and emotions in my children.
Am i subconsciously letting them know that they aren't good enough, that they will never measure up?
I think we need to be very careful not to confuse our issues with our childrens. I think we need to make sure our children don't have the same self esteem issues that we do.
Since I believe in honesty, even when it hurts, I need to share something that happened this weekend. We had a rough weekend. There were kids who were outright defiant. Kids who were being mean. Kids who were full of their teenage attitudes. Enough said, right?
well, John asked me to tell him something they had done well this weekend. I couldn't think of anything significant. I could have given you a long list of what each child had done wrong but, I couldn't focus on the good they did.
Such is the life I lead. Sometimes, I am so focused on the problem at hand that I can't see or acknowledge the non problems we experience.
My kids are good kids. If I ever have a doubt I watch "Supernanny or Nanny 911". I am so glad I don't experience those types of problems. :/
It is time I focused on the good. I told my kids these weekend that we are the warriors. We were saved for these turbulent times because we could prevail. I was supposed to come to earth at this time so I could parent the children that could endure and withstand all of the garbage around them. They are some of the Lord's most valiant. He has saved these special strong, warrior spirits to fight the constant battles around them. When we argue, fight, belittle, talk back, or are slothful we are handing Satan a piece of our family. I told them I am just as guilty as they are sometimes. It is time we became the warriors Heavenly Father needs us to be. It is time we allow our home to become a refuge from all of the problems that beset the world today.
It reminds me of this talk by Ezra Taft Benson

Today is the day we take back our families. Today is the day we focus on the good. the uplifting. The positive.
Today is the day we work on strengthening our children and our homes so only the best of feelings preside.It is up to us to change our world by changing our family. Because "the family is central to the Creator's plan". It is time we were the voices that sound louder than unmoral and corrupt.
What are you going to do to take back your family?
"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Friday, January 9, 2015

Strength comes in many forms

I take great comfort in Nelson Mandela's words. How many times have we looked at our life, our situation and thought, "this is impossible!" "this is never going to work" "how can I do this?"
Only to complete the task and find out we can do it. We can do more than we thought possible. We are stronger than we think. This idea brought to mind the following story...
"Years ago a friend of mine spoke of his grandmother. She had lived a full life, always faithful to the Lord and to His Church. Yet one of her grandsons chose a life of crime. He was finally sentenced to prison. My friend recalled that his grandmother, as she drove along a highway to visit her grandson in prison, had tears in her eyes as she prayed with anguish, “I’ve tried to live a good life. Why, why do I have this tragedy of a grandson who seems to have destroyed his life?”
The answer came to her mind in these words: “I gave him to you because I knew you could and would love him no matter what he did.” excerpt from Henry B Eyring To MY Grandchildren.

How about that? "I gave him to you because I knew you could love him no matter what he did." 
This is why we traverse the life we have. This is why we are given our particular hardships. I would like to add to this by saying "I gave you these challenges because I knew you would stay faithful and return to me no matter what."
Our lives are not easy on purpose. They are given to us so we can grow and learn. They are given to us because He knew we could handle them. They are given to us because He trusts us to do the right thing. He trusts that we will do the very best we can and not lose faith in Him.
We shouldn't hate our life. We shouldn't dread the day to come. We should embrace it. We should decided to learn all that is possible in that day. We won't break. We will bend but stand firm. 
Don't look at someone else's life and envy the road that looks easy and well paved. Strive to be YOU not them. 
I often look at other families and envy the way they can take vacations, buy what they want, wear fashionable nice clothes, play games with the whole family, go visit museums, go to the movies etc...
I feel envious of the crafts they create, the extra time they seem to have. It has taken me forever to steal away a few moments to write this. Btw, the house is a disaster. There are couch cushions on the floor. Lunch is still on the table to be cleaned. Laundry is not so patiently waiting to be switched over, There are dirty clothes, toys and a half eaten apple in my living room on the floor. Well, you get the picture. I get envious of clean houses, decorated nicely. Well, I could go on and on.
I have no need to be envious. There are many people who love what I do too. I just don't see that. I see a life filled with struggles, trials and hard times galore.
Comparing my weakness with their strength gets me no where fast. It gets me upset, disillusioned, and depressed.
We are a melting pot of talents and abilities. We all have SOMETHING to offer. What do you have to offer?
Many people couldn't have 20 kiddos. 17 still at home, The oldest being 15. My sweet neighbor has 3 medically fragile children. I am not sure I could handle it as beautifully as her.
The Lord has blessed us with talents specific to us and our abilities. Not to compare to my neighbors but to enhance everyone else's talents and abilities.
We all have something to bring to the table. no one is above anyone else. We are all striving towards the same goals,,,eternal perfection.
Anyway, your family is perfect for you with your craziness, weirdness, ocd, messy house, unorganized self.
I am sure you wouldn't trade your family and I KNOW they wouldn't trade you.
be strong and Be you.

The rising generation?

I love this quote by Thomas Edison. I often think this applies to so many areas of my life. Unfortunately, it really applies to my parenting.
I am like everyone else, I am just trying to figure out how to parent my children the best way possible.
It is a lot harder to parent children today than it was even a generation ago.
Now we have youtube, the internet, and tv shows showing our children a false sense of how they can behave.
You tube allows children to make broadcast whatever they want about their parents, show their parents making choices the child doesn't like. We have children suing their parents for whatever they want but lately to pay for college. Children TV shows that show parents as idiots. The parents allow their kids to make fun of them, be rude and disrespectful with a laugh reel playing in the background. As an educator, I have noticed more and more people who yell at the school or teacher for their children's bad behavior. As if somehow, it  is the teacher or administrations fault. This allows me to compare the lunch food issue with the idea that children are obese. I am sorry, I respect what they are trying to do but, one meal does not an obese child make. (but I digress)
I don't mean we should abuse our children or be cruel or mean to them. I am just trying to show that our children have a distorted view of parent/child relationships.So, parenting becomes that much harder.
So, as a result of kids being harder to parent, parenting has gotten harder. You damage the brain development of children by putting them in time out. Other books tell you time out is effective. Some say to put them in timeout in the same room as you, some say sending them to time out in their room is the better option. we should also have them apologize but apologizing without the feeling of doing something wrong is not good.
We know yelling is wrong, we know spanking isn't the best.Somehow, someone expects us to parent 180 degrees different than our parents parented us. Change takes time. I believe it can take 4 generations to make a complete change in behavior for a family.Why are we expected to change so quickly?
I would like to follow this up with what is wrong with our children feeling disappointment, hurt and anger. we don't have to fix things for them. we just need to be there to show them how to do it. We need to be there to give them the support they need. the college thing? well, don't get me started. If you want to go to college figure out how to make that work for you. There are programs and help for you. It is not a parents obligation to pay your way.
 Somehow we are the under impression that children should have an equal say in what goes on in the house. Somehow parents and children are equal. they are just small people after all. Or so the books tell us. well, I disagree.
I would like to propose a theory. Children are children. They don't need to know all of the reasons why we do something. we don't need to consult them for all decisions. We do discuss some important decisions with our children but then we say but, mom and dad will make the final decision.
It feels like our society is losing sight of the values that strengthen the our families. We are constantly battling with our children to speak respectfully. To talk appropriately. To treat adults with respect. Some days it really feels like an uphill battle.
This is a battle however that I am prepared to fight. Our children need to respect authority. They need the comfort in knowing they have capable parents who can handle most situations that come their way. Our children need to respect our roles as parents. Cause boy it is a hard one. It is also a job I give as much as possible.
Well, this post probably doesn't make a lot of sense. But, it is time that parents make a stand. We are the parents not our children. We need to be the ones to draw the line in the sand. We need to be the ones who show our children how to operate within the lines drawn.
We are the first and last line of defense for our children. We are the ones who will continually fight for our children. We are the ones who will never stop teaching. We are the ones who will relentlessly block the influence of Satan form our children's lives.
So while there are 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb. There are 10,000 ways (at least) that I have found to be the wrong way to parent. I will keep fighting until I find the one way that works for each and every one of my children. Cause they deserve the very best I have to give.
be their advocate.
be their strength.
be their support.
be their example.
But most important?
Be there.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Self doubt, Insecurity and Me

I am feeling friendless and sad today. While in my mind, I recognize I have friends, I have a hard time sometimes feeling like I am a part of something. I feel like I don't have a group to belong to. I feel sad. I feel melancholy. I feel unimportant. I feel invisible. I feel unloved. I feel unacomplished. I feel isolated. I feel alone. I feel uninterested.
Wow! It feels kind of good to write it down and say it outloud. The reason it feels good? Because sometimes I think we all operate behind a mask. We all put our best foot forward so people don't see our pain, suffering or hurt. We don't want people to pity us or walk on eggshells around us. We don't want people to offer us platitudes. Because, we KNOW what you are going to say and we know what we need to be doing and we KNOW the reality. (and this isn't it)
We never really know what is going on with someone else. That is why we hurt feelings we don't mean to. We only see our hurt and suffering but, we don't see all of the depth of someone else's life. We have no idea what goes on behind the scenes in someone's life.
I am in no way trying to sympathy or hear words of encouragement.
The reality of MY life is I hear "I hate you Mom" "I hate living in this house" I have children who are "parentified". I have constant mini battles over who is in charge in my home. I have endless screaming tantrums. I have to work with children who suffer from fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder. I live with children who feel abandoned. Who were neglected or abused. The fact is my life is just not normal nor anywhere close to it.
When I hold my children, babies I have the thoughts of "how long will this last?" Because the children I raise sometimes leave. The trauma of that alone is devastating. I have experienced the grief process of over 30+ children. While mine haven't actually died, they have in way because I won't see the child I nurtured and helped raise again.
Every once in awhile, the thoughts that I wrote above plague me.
I mean, I do suffer from treated depression as well but the thoughts still slip through sometimes.
This is where the love of a good husband comes in. This is where the love of Heavenly Father creates a balm that begins to heal my heart and mind. This is where friendly hugs, phone calls and notes help get through these patches.
While some of us have amazing self esteem and probably have no idea what I am talking about, I think many more of us occasionally struggle with feelings of doubt and self worth.
There is hope for you. I know because there is hope for me.
Heavenly Father knows my personal struggles. He knows what I am feeling. He knows what I need. He gives it to me too.
It may take more than one prayer, but the love does come. If I just hold on and am patient, the Lord always comes through. He always heals my aching heart.
The words to one of my favorite songs comes to mind:

Album: He Hears Me by Hilary Weeks
Here I am again, down on my knees
And with every pleading word, Thy comfort I seek
Though the words are slow to come,
My thoughts are racing by
Peace fills the room, Thy spirit is nigh
He hears me
When I'm crying in the night
He hears me
When my soul longs to fight
Till the morning will come
And the light of the dawn reassures...
He hears me
Any hour, wherever I may be
In the silence of an empty room, or on a crowded street
Whether offering thanks, or in urgency I pray
I never go unnoticed, I'm never lead astray
Any whisper of the soul
No matter how old
Father hears the call

So Hold on! You can work through this. You are strong. Don't give into the deceit Satan perpetuates. You are worthy of all the love being offered around you. You are worthy of so many blessings. You are worthy.
Acknowledge your struggles. Acknowledge that you are in a darker place. all that you can to turn it over to the Lord. Allow Him to carry these burdens and struggles for you. Because this is what He wants to do for you. Then, carry on and fulfil your calling the best you can.
Today is a new day. Embrace it. Love it. Find any speck of joy in it you can because the light will come. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thankless job of motherhood?

         I will be the first to admit. I have always heard that motherhood is a thankless job. I have thought it myself. I have been a mom for just over 22 years. Has it been an easy road? No.
But thankless? This job is not thankless.
          I came downstairs this morning to a kitchen that was a mess. The counters had food on them. There were neighbor treat crumbs on them too. Both sinks were full of dishes. The diaper bag was emptied and the items all over the kitchen. the floor needed to be swept. It was trashed.
        Then, i moved on to the laundry room. I swear, I did not know people wore that many clothes in a day. *sigh* I did around 9 loads of laundry yesterday and I have another 5/6 today. On average, we do at least 6 a day. Today, it has to be folded and put away, as well.
       The floors need to be swept and vacuumed.The bathrooms need to be cleaned. The kids need to clean their rooms. John and I cleaned our room this morning. This new room has become the hang out place for the kids. (I love that part.) The part I don't like is the mess they leave behind after they are done up there. The yard needs to be cleaned. Well, you get the idea.
      Does anyone rush up to me and say, "Thank you mom for doing those dishes." "thank you mom for vacumming the carpets" "Thank you mom for sweeping the floors, cleaning the bathroom, scooping the dog poo"? Well, no. So, i guess in that regard it is a thankless job.
         do any of kids say Thank you when they are disciplined and have to repent, apologize and try and make it right? No they don't.
          As I came downstairs this morning, saw my list of things to do being made for me, I sighed. My shoulders slumped. My husband said, "What's wrong?" I said, "nothing". I put the baby in my Moby wrap. (which is the best thing ever invented). Then,I got to work. I don't think I have to include this but I am sure you know what it is like to clean a house with 4 toddlers and a baby. (That is a blog for another day)
        Anyway, as I was cleaning, I thought "this IS a thankless job". Then, I thought about it some more. Do I really require someone to thank me for doing every aspect of my job? DOes my husband have someone thank him for stapling his papers, emptying his trash at work, going to work to do his job ? No. He does have people tell him thank you when he talks to them, goes to their home or talks them through some issues they may be having. But then, I have people who thank me for doing things too. Just not necessarily about motherhood.
        What I realized is my job is far from a thankless one. My thank yous come in different ways. They come from children who can be children and not have to worry about the mess of a home. (They do have to help clean it. But, there is no deep nasty messiness) Kids that are allowed to go play outside and laugh.
        My thank yous come later. They come in the form of a son who has a home of his own and keeps it cleaned up. (because he learned how to do it from me) A daughter who teaches her son games and songs that I taught her and my mom taught me. I get my thanks when children are older and they come home to visit and say "Thank you mom for everything". "I love you mom very much".
         My Thanks will come when my Savior says " Matthew 25: 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
           why do I need thanks? well, I don't exactly. I don't need a bunch of people walking around saying "Oh thank you mom for________" Quite frankly, I probably wouldn't believe them if they said it. As it is, I don't always believe people when I am issued a compliment. (Again, a post for another day)
           I just would like acknowledgment that I am noticed. That I am loved and appreciated for my daily, sometimes tedious life. 
           But, then I realize I get that. Just not verbally. I have a kids who I love to cuddle with when they wake up and are still sleepy. A husband that doesn't have to worry (well, I hope he doesn't) about the work he will have to do when he gets home.  He knows and can be comforted that they house isn't falling completely apart. And if it is today, then a strawberry banana shake is in order. (medium, please. ;))
            I have to look for acknowledgment of my job in various subtle ways.  I also need to feel at peace with a job that is like the movie Groundhog Day. It doesn't change until I get it right. Since, I will probably never get it perfectly right, this is what I can expect for a long time.
            And you know what, I am okay with that. Because I have a job to do. One of the most important jobs that anyone could ever have. That of being a mother. I shape and mold our future leaders. I help our future teachers, vets, builders, soldiers etc... to become the people we need them to be in these latter days. 
           So, a thankless job? Maybe, for now. But later. Much later, is when the thank yous come pouring in and I will know that I have done my job. And I have done it well. Not perfectly mind you. But well. To the best of my ability. Then, on those days I will wish for little hands to be messing up my walls, piles of laundry and dirty dishes because it will mean I am with my family.  And I am always so thankful for that.