It all started with that darn Elf that everyone puts every where but their shelves. I haven’t read the children’s book, and I’m not quite sure I understand the concept,  but I’ve seen probably 100 pictures of this elf as people prepared for Christmas.  We don’t have an elf, and the thought popped in my head, briefly, I’m failing my children.  One more thing I’m not doing for them…It was so fleeting, but I recognized it, then dismissed it. Because I know it’s a lie but there is still this part of me that wonders if my kids won’t have all the experiences they need.  That someday they’ll think I failed them.

For over a year people have wanted me to sign up for that awesome-display-of-everything site, Pinterest. I signed up for all of two seconds and decided it was #1 too overstimulating, #2 something I don’t have time for, and #3 one more thing to make me question all the things I’m not doing right.  I don’t want to give credence to those things because I’m doing a lot right.  I’ve been adequate. And I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. I’ve read articles by other writers about this exact same issue.

Before I had kids I had all these ideas of what I would do, what I wanted to do, what I could do…they were wrapped in my mind in bright packaging with bows and fluff.  My expectations were so high and as I’ve started to raise children my priorities for them have changed, and not just because I’ve realized there is no way I can accomplish the things I’ve wanted to.   If I’m repeating points from some of my earlier posts, I apologize, I haven’t  really slept in 11 1/2 years. Of course that’s a joke, kind of.  But there are things I’ve said and thought as a parent that I’d never ever imagined I would’ve ever said or thought…but here it goes…

In the past year I’ve said, “Unless you are on fire or bleeding, you are not allowed to bother me.” Because going the bathroom becomes some sort of magnet for my children to need things, to break out in fights, and an invitation to get injured.   On that same note I’m trying to teach them a little bit about boundaries. You can’t just touch something, or go somewhere because you live here.  You have no right to read your brother’s things with out his permission or to hide your sister’s babies because it’s funny.  Kids need boundaries, and not just because I need boundaries. And sometimes Mama just needs to shower or go poop by herself.  Oh yes, I poop.

One of my sons has been in two fist fights this year.  Both times he was standing up for someone else.  As much as I am a proponent of getting to an adult, and trying to solve something without fighting — I am so incredibly proud that he was willing to stick up for himself, and for people he loved,  something in my youth I was not good at.  So instead of being punished, his Dad took him out for a treat.  I will not raise bullies, and I want my kids to protect those around them from them.

I’ve grounded my kids from any video games/screen time/toys as a punishment for Lying.  That’s something I started to struggle with when I was a little younger than Jonah.  Instead of focusing on healing from a traumatic experience, I created an alternate reality to those around me.  I could lie without skipping a beat…I don’t want my kids to ever fall into deceit.  The self loathing I had was so great, that it followed me into adulthood. I want them to tell the truth, and I am so thankful for Christ’s love and forgiveness and healing in my life.  In my house there are no warnings, only consequences when it comes to lying.  The truth will set you free….always.

“Moooooom. MOM! Moooom. Mom. Mommmmmmm! Mommy!!!!!!!”

I’ve hidden from my kids this year.  More than once.  Just because I needed 5 minutes, sometimes 10. To breathe. And I think they’d agree that Mom is much nicer when she gets to work out, and she doesn’t hide as much. In fact being active is just a part of all of our lives.   As I type this Jonah and DYP are lifting at the gym, and the rest of the kids are jumping on the trampoline.

The stress of moving and all the issues that came up, along with some stressful happenings with some beloved people in my life,  caused me to cry in front of my kids. Multiple times.  I think they’ve had their fill of compassion training.  The past couple months I was sick for about  6 weeks, and one of the kids said to his Dad, “I think Mom might have a baby in her tummy. She’s been sick for so long and has been so irrational.”  Nope not pregnant… But stress, can never ever help you when you’re sick.  I’ve stopped apologizing to my kids when I cry, and I let them see me be human.  Which is ok, because they need to see that life isn’t always easy, and that no matter what, our faith is what will get us through. And sometimes you have to cry about it. Also for the record, that child has no idea what irrational means, but he knows it must be important.

I don’t (gasp) feed my kids all organic, because I can’t afford to feed my kids all organic.  I do what I can, but I do feed them.  And I’m grateful for the fact that I don’t have to stress about feeding them, even if that means I have to shop at the grocery store where it’s not uncommon to see someone arrested or someone wearing a leopard print snuggie.  And I’ll admit they eat McDonald’s, and  I let them have chicken nuggets.  Everything in moderation.  I truly believe that.  And I want them to believe that, because food should just be a part of life, but not be the main focus in life.  I think if I talk about calories(which I don’t) or pesticides I am putting my own issues on them…again, everything in moderation.  We always have fruit and vegetables available and they love them, but it’s just a part of our lives.

I’m not crafty at all.  It is really unfortunate all around.  But I love crayons!  That’s a plus right?  And I think Moon Sand is the most diabolical invention ever.  However I sing to my kids and I dance with them, so I’m sure some how I am making up for my lack of craftiness or patience with colored sand – making me adequate I guess.  I am surrounded by crafty people for when I need help though, so my children aren’t completely deprived.

I love love love my DYP.  And my kids know that.  We get irritated with each other but we always show a united front.  We aren’t perfect and they see that we hurt each others feelings. Still, we are honoring to each other.  And I can guarantee that they know that what we have is something that we work at, and we know how blessed we are to have each other and them. Also we go on a date night EVERY week, which I truly believe is one of the best gifts to each other and them.

I think the most amazing inventions when you are a parent is Hand Sanitizer and the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. That’s my shout out for awesome which has nothing to do with this post at all.

As I look at the end of this year, and I think of all the ways I felt broken, or inadequate, I also think of all the things God has done to teach me to embrace the way I am adequate.  I stopped apologizing for the way I parent and started to see the results of one of my main priorities…my kids are grateful.  I won’t ever be able to give them everything they want when it comes to bright packages with bows with gadgets that blink and sing, but they are displaying a virtue of gratefulness.  They don’t think anything is owed to them, but instead are grateful for every big and little thing in our lives.  And that is something I couldn’t craft or concoct no matter how many pictures I took…that just is who my children are becoming.

The other thing that happened that showed my adequacy was when I was so sick and all my kids placed their hands on me and prayed over me.  I didn’t ask them to, they just did it.  It was one of the most amazing moments in my life. I was so impressed with their words and how authentic they were.

Which is where I’m at right now.  Through prayer and observation my personal challenge  in 2013 is to be the most authentic version of myself. Not to compare myself or focus on all the ways I’m bound to fail but focusing on who I am, and how I can become the  best version of myself.   It is my prayer that I can focus on the positive and not let negativity or my own anxiety break me. It is my prayer that I can be confident in the gifts God has given me and use them, and do the same with my kids. I am so proud of them, and want them to use their amazing gifts to let their light shine.

I am constantly in awe of how good God is, when I am so unworthy…but this year I plan to focus on all the ways I can be most authentic in my life, and let him work in me, without shame…and I plan to share my journey with you.  Will you join me?

I can guarantee without a doubt…You are more than adequate.