May is for Mediocre

I just want to remind my fellow mommas that May is National Mediocrity Month. Mother's Day is behind us.  We've been reminded that we are the World's Best Moms, but now its Monday and it's the middle of May - Mediocrity Month.   Embrace it.  Celebrate it. I know you won't actually fact check me on this claim - because it's May, and just like me,  you're hanging on by a thread, counting the days,  for surely school must.. end.. soon.

Emily told me this morning that she needed an empty two liter bottle to build a worm farm at school today.  My first thought was, it's May.  May.  I should be in no way required to have an empty two liter bottle available for a worm farm on a Monday morning in May.  My second thought was, it's May!  I do not want a worm farm in May.  It's only a seventy-thirty chance that sucker will actually make it into the house.  It will probably die in the back row of the mini-van under 35 weeks of precious art projects and book report shadow boxes that are all trying to make their way home this week.  I'll find the dead worms in mid July when the temp hits 126 degrees in the back of the mini van and it will be ugly.  Ugly.

Luckily for Emily it's May, National Mediocrity Month, so I had yet to throw away my mom's half empty 2 liter bottle of Diet Seven-Up from her visit in April. Score! Yea for May! Unfortunately Emily wasn't as lucky finding socks to wear.  I swear half our socks have of run off into the woods for spring mating rituals, leaving behind their former mates.  I have tried to convince Emily that wearing one crew sock and one knee socks is fashion forward.  She's not buying it. The school uniform requirements that only allow for white socks and gym shoes every day ... of... the... week..  are becoming so oppressive to me that I'm considering laying myself across the carpool lane in protest with a sign that says, "Have Mercy on us.  Let the children wear sandals."

A few weeks ago I started buying five packs of white crew socks at the grocery store.  I'm just considering them disposal at this point.  (Sadly Emily wore a pair on Saturday so hence the chaos this morning).  I have plenty of money in my grocery budget for the socks because let's be real - the organic baby carrots and individual hummus packs of January are long gone.  I can't even make myself look at what the girls are packing for lunch these days.  I open their lunch boxes only enough to throw in an ice pack.   I try to avert my eyes.

My biggest fear is that Jamie Oliver will show up at my girls' school during the month of May and start filming a new season of Food Revolution.  I just know they would pick Emily. I can see some childless-twenty-something film assistant saying, "Let's interview the little girl with one sock and an empty two liter soda bottle."  Jamie would cozy up to Emily and ask if he could see what she has in in her lunch box.  It would make for great TV as Emily unpacked her cheese stick, yogurt (probably Boston creme pie or orange creamicle flavor because I have no fight left in me), fritos, and a "granola bar" (aka candy bar sold in the cereal aisle). Nutritional analysis would that her lunch had 4% of her daily needed vitamins.  Of course Jaime would want to interview the mother.  He'd be directed to the carpool lane.... She's the one laying in the street.

Jaime and crew would come and find me.  I'd try to tell him about the really awesome lunches I packed back in October with scripture based notes of encouragment... but now it is May.  May.  I just know Jamie would understand - for pete's sake he has four kids!  "Bloody May," he'd say.  I'd promise to feed the girls fresh spinach and watermelon and green beans come June.  Surely as a father who named his children Daisy Boo, Buddy Bear, Petal Blossom, and Poppy Honey, Jamie has just enough hippie in him to join in my protest.  Jamie Oliver and I would lay in the carpool lane together and share recipes and it would be perfect.

But if Jamie never arrives and joins me for a protest, it will be okay, because it's May, and everything doesn't have to be perfect - it just has to be mediocre.  I celebrate that because June is coming and momma's we've nearly made it through another school year.  We've packed 9 million lunches, and listened to 6 zillion spelling words and multiplication facts.  We found George Washington costumes at 10:00 pm on a Sunday night and show-and-tell items in our glove compartment while safely driving through the drop off line.  We've rocked it - and now it's nearly over.  Celebrate your month of mediocrity - it is well deserved!

Praying Upside Down

I have a confession to make.  Since Easter my morning prayer time has turned into drink coffee time.  Instead of waking up early to start my day off with God, I have been hitting snooze, and drinking coffee in a state of exhaustion with very little actual praying.  I have tried to pep talk myself back into more meaningful prayer time, but it just hasn't happened.  So when I was given the opportunity to review Kelly O'Dell Stanley's new book on prayer I jumped at the chance.  Praying Upside Down: A creative prayer experience to transform your time with God, sounded like just what I needed.

In Praying Upside Down, Kelly applies artistic principles such as perspective, white space, and proportion to our prayer life.  Through weaving her candid and honest life stories with artistic methods, Kelly has written a beautiful and compelling book that gave me unique ideas to start getting out of the prayer rut I have been stuck in.

 Each chapter ends with a Prayer Palette section. Kelly offers two or three ideas of unique ways to pray, often using artistic expressions. These Prayer Palette ideas are each such gems!  They have given me dozens of ideas for my prayer life.

Some of my favorites are:

  • Write a love letter to God (pg 152) 
  • Find a Psalm that resonates with a person you are praying for.  Write out that Psalm substituting the pronouns or names with that person's name.  ( pg 173)
  • Create a playlist with songs that have a connection to people in your life that you want to pray for.  They do not need to be "religious" songs.  When you listen to your prayer playlist as you clean the house, or drive to work, prayer for each person when their song plays.  (pg 210)
This past Sunday sick kiddos kept us home from church.  This unexpected quiet time allowed me the opportunity to try out some of Kelly's ideas as my own expression of sabbath worship.  I doodled, and prayed, read scripture, and sat quietly on my back porch.  I would never have thought of drawing as an act of prayer, but it can be, and it was.  It showed me that I have gotten myself in a rut of my own making.  I have set parameters on my prayer-life that I created, not God.  The habit and methodology I had artificially created for prayer was leaving me feeling empty because I had become focused on the method not on God.  It's time for me to change my perspective. 

 I love this quote from Kelly in her chapter on perspective, All Points Converge at the Horizon: 

A fundamental principle of perspective is the idea that, as an object gets farther away, its size decreases.  The intervening atmosphere will soften edges and lessen contrasts, making objects appear less distinct as the distance increases.  When I pull farther away from God, His size, importance, and abilities seem smaller.  As my perception of Him diminishes, the less aware I become of Him and the less power I give Him.... Note that God's actual size and power and willingness and presence never change.  It's our perspective, our relationship to Him that does.  We choose what we see by selecting where we stand.  ( Pg 112-113) 

This week I have headed outside in the mornings to draw, and pray, and read through the Psalms.  I drink my coffee and sharpen a colored pencil.  I am still tired, my circumstances have not changed this week, but my perspective has - which is a lovely gift.  If you are finding yourself in a similiar rut, or a season that seems just too hard to pray through, go grab a copy of Praying Upside Down, I hope it blesses you as it has blessed me.  

Praying Upside Down is available through all major book sellers.  I received a free copy through The Blog Spot,  in exchange for my honest feedback and review.  

Tripping over ankles and other mommy comparisons

Welcome to the world little Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.  The world is so happy to meet you.   How many billions of times has the picture of you leaving the hospital with mum and dad already been shown around the world?  The world softly gasped an loving, "awww" on Saturday.  But cover your ears sweet princess because by today most moms are looking at your mum and thinking,
"What the %$^!" 

It's true ladies.  Go ahead and it admit it.  We all love her, but we all sort of hate Kate right about now. Who in the world looks that awesome six months after having a baby let alone six hours?  It's not right.  Her figure and hair are remarkable, but it was her ankles that tripped me up.  Did you see her ankles?  I can tell myself that a beauty squad was snuck in the backdoor to take care of her hair and makeup, but the ankles are all her own.  Personally I came home from the hospital with cankles the size of Kate's waist and my sausage feet shoved into Crocs.  (Can I get an Amen!)

But mommas it doesn't have to be a slim ankle to trip us up, to make us crumble and wonder, "What is wrong with me?"  We compare ourselves to the moms around us, and so often find something to trip over,  falling into a pool of self-doubt.  The other moms on the playground who look like they are having SO MUCH fun with their preschoolers trip us up when we just want five minutes to text with a friend while sitting on the park bench. When we check Facebook, we trip over 17 posts from other moms who today sewed matching outfits for the kids, planted an organic vegetable garden, appear to be effortlessly balancing work and family, and who actually had a plan for dinner last night.

We trip, and trip, and trip over comparisons, as we look at the moms around us and think, "What the $#&^%!  How does she do that?  What is wrong with me?"  It's easy in our world of social media mirages to find ourselves asking several times a day, "Am I doing any of this mothering thing well?"  The self doubt can run deep.

I found myself in a pool of self-doubt last night.  I've just ended a month of working pretty non-stop.  I feel disconnected from my girls and disappointed in myself.  Pete is my constant truth teller.  Somedays I wish he was the kind of husband who always said nice things, but most days I'm happy to know that he'll always tell the truth.  Last night I ran through my list of Mommy Failings with him before we went to sleep.

  • I have traveled too much lately
  • I missed both of the girls' field trips this week
  • I missed nearly half of Emily's basketball games this season
  • We have dressed ourselves in the family room for a week since the laundry never got upstairs. 
Ugh the list was long.  I waited for my truth teller to say, "Yea, you need to cut back on work."  But instead I got, "I don't think it's as bad as you think it is."  He continued, "Today you played backgammon with Emily, and last night Sarah hung out talking to us for an hour in our bed."  But... I had a long list of failures and comparisons to other moms to counter his encouragements.   He countered again, "You are doing better than you think you are."  

Grace.  So much grace.   Maybe I am doing better than I think I am.   

We live in a world of mirages.  We see Kate Middleton's exiting a hospital runway ready and judge our own bodies harshly.  We scroll through Facebook and Instagram seeing people's highly crafted mirages, the polished up versions of their homes, children and marriages, and we judge our own lives so critically.   We trip over the comparisons we make and after a while it is hard to get back up and see that maybe, just maybe, we are doing better at this motherhood thing than we think.  

Grace.  You are doing better than you think you are. 

This weekend is Mother's Day.  We may be celebrated with homemade cards and fingerprint crafts, or fancy brunches and store bought gifts, but my sweet momma friends I'd like to encourage you to offer yourself a Mother's Day gift:  Grace.  Take yourself over to the mirror and pour grace out. 
Look your self straight in the eye and say.  "I am doing better than I think I am."  

Lavishly pour some grace out on yourself this week.  Celebrate the momma you are, and all the things you are doing well.  Hold your head high momma so that you can look at the tiny ankles and other mirages of our world and realize there is nothing there for you to trip over, you are doing just fine.  

Happy Mother's Day dear mommas, You are indeed doing better than you think you are.