Help, I need a new attitude!

Several years ago, I sat in a Mothers of Preschoolers[1] meeting and the guest speaker asked us to write down our favorite childhood memory. My mind flooded with silent giggles as I recalled mixing water and dirt, then filling the aluminum pans. I would create a make-believe oven from bricks and bake the brown, gooey pie. Finally, the most exciting part of all … when the mud-pies were finished “baking,” I would throw them at the largest oak tree in my grandma’s backyard. This simple activity has become etched in my mind as my all-time favorite childhood memory.

The speaker challenged us to put that piece of paper in a visible location as a reminder each day about taking time to enjoy those small precious moments with our children. So, I put the small leaf-sized paper on my fridge and saw it every day. It helped, and I remembered.

{Leaf with the Life Lesson}

{Leaf with the Life Lesson}

 

Years after hearing that speaker, I was having one of those extra-chaotic days. The to-do list was overwhelming – there wasn’t a clean towel in the house, lots of unanswered emails in my in-box, bills to pay, class party to plan – my plate was full. I was overwhelmed, grouchy and found myself lacking patience. That was it, I give up! I slammed the fridge shut and then I saw the leaf with the life lesson.

My children and I went into our backyard and made mud-pies! We used the back of my son’s monster truck as our oven, then threw our messy creations at the fence. We giggled. We had fun. We made precious memories! Their enthusiasm and energy were contagious. I relished in their smiles and the muddy handprints on my clothes. I became appreciative again.

After our adventure, I had a whole new perspective and was blessed with the attitude adjustment I needed. After that boost, I knocked out the to-do list and finished the laundry. Then, I sat down with my daughter as she wrote in her take-home journal about her favorite weekend activity. It had been busy – a few hours at Six Flags, seeing friends at church, a good friend’s birthday party, those were my suggestions. She sweetly said, “Mom, the most fun I had this weekend was making mud-pies with you.”

{Daugher's Journal Entry}

{Daugher’s Journal Entry}

 

Life is busy. Motherhood is crazy and unscripted. No matter what is going on, take a moment and simply enjoy your children. Laugh and have fun. Record the memories on your heart. Your children will treasure it, and you will gain a fresh, new perspective.

Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.”


[1] MOPS is an international organization for mothers who have children ranging in ages from birth – kindergarten.  If you are interested in finding a MOPS group in your area, please go to www.mops.org.

Prepartum/Postpartum Depression

On the outside, everything seemed fine. I had a happy marriage, healthy three-year-old daughter and new baby baking. My husband had a great job, and I was able to fulfill my dream of being a stay-at-home mom. Yes, it appeared to be all bliss.

Inside, I was dying. I was stuck in a real hell. I cried all the time. I lived in a fog. For the first and only time in my life, I didn’t even want to live.

Everyone told me I should be glowing, happy, excited. But, I couldn’t think logically. I felt like an outcast that no one understood. This wasn’t a few bad days, normal hormones or lack of energy. I had been pregnant before, this was completely different. It was like I was watching myself slowly disappear, but I didn’t have the strength to fight. I didn’t care. I was hopeless.

I had been reluctant to visit my doctor because I felt ashamed and weak. Why can’t I just be happy? My husband insisted that I make an appointment. It was then I heard the diagnosis, “You have severe prepartum depression.”

What? I love my life, how could I be depressed? I was immediately prescribed medication and referred to a counselor.

Seeking medical treatment was only the first step to my recovery. I coupled it with the support from my counselors, family and friends. I opened up about what I was really feeling inside. Through the whole process, I tried to keep the faith. I prayed, “Lord, I can’t do this. It’s just you and me. Jesus, please be my strength.” I had this verse posted all over my house:

“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” Isaiah 41:10

There was not an overnight fix, I learned that beating depression is a process. It took months to finally feel like me again. I remember my mentor saying, “You will start seeing glimpses of yourself.” She was right. I would think a happy thought and realize that actually felt like me. Eventually, my normal, joyful thoughts returned and the negative, overwhelming fog evaporated entirely. Now, five years later, I feel so blessed that God carried me through and made me a stronger person.

I had never struggled with depression. Before this experience, I thought it was someone choosing not to be happy. Oh, I was so wrong and stupid! With my prepartum depression, there was no choice in having it, only in how I was going to deal with it.

My depression got worse because I made a terrible mistake … I didn’t get help right away. It takes incredible strength and courage to ask for help. Visit your doctor immediately. Seek support. Keep the faith. Open up. Fight for yourself. Never, ever give up!

Staying Sane this Summer

I LOVE having my kids home during the summer. This momma bird sings one happy tune when my chicks are back in the nest. But, I have to be real. Once the newness wears off and the fighting begins, I need to get creative.

Here are some things we’ve implemented to maintain a healthy balance:

Technology Timeout – As my kids have gotten older, it’s easy to fall into a routine where we all have electronic devices in our hands. They model me. I’ve found that I have to be very intentional about turning off the computer and not texting or talking on the phone. Technology takes away from quality time with my kids.

Quiet Time – I’ll never forget when my youngest gave up naps. Oh, that’s an adjustment! In lieu of, my kids normally have an hour of quiet time in their room. They read books or play, often building a fort.

Play “School” – I want my kids to have a relaxed summer, but I also want them to retain what they’ve learned. We randomly do fun, educational activities. I don’t call it “school,” but simply pull out the worksheets and flash cards. I continue as long as they’re happy. As you can see from the attached sign, we need to work on homophones (allowed, aloud). Ha! On another note, my eight-year-old recently researched vegetables and made an extensive list. Every week, we try a new vegetable and she adds up our ratings for the vegetable’s total score. This has been a fun project for all of us! We also do summer reading programs through our library and local grocery store.

Dinner Devotional – During the school year, we would read our family devotion when we tucked the kids into bed. With later bedtime this summer, we were too tired. So now, we’ve started discussing it at dinnertime. This has been a wonderful change, one we’ll definitely keep!

Early Riser – I let my kids sleep in during the summer. The earlier I wake, though, the more productive I am. God keeps putting a verse in my heart. In Proverbs 31:15, the Bible says, “She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.”

One last thing … even on the craziest of days, I try to enjoy each moment. I’m so thankful God gave me these unique, amazing kids. Motherhood is such a gift!

We’re all in this journey together so let’s share ideas. What works for your family? What have you implemented this summer to maintain your sanity?