What I Do Every Night at Midnight.

titus

I have never been grand at bedtimes. Most new mothers have these fond memories of gently placing a fresh diaper on their newborn, clothing them in soft pajamas and swaddling them in a plush blanket, while rocking them slowly back and forth in a glider while the baby drifts to sleep. My first child screamed in utter angst and anger any time I tried to rock her, and pushed my face away if I even thought about singing. (Side note: we sold that rocking chair after baby #2 was born. Sorry, baby #3). Needless to say, try as I may, tucking my kids into bed is not some magical moment. It is more of a “it’s been twelve hours, go brush your teeth, no you may not jump on your bed” affair. And everyone seems content with that fact. I mean, I remember tucking myself into bed at night and listening to the echo of my parents’ uncontrollable laughter at the newest episode of Seinfeld.

It’s bedtime. Just go to bed.

Yet, there was just something about my evenings that seemed unsettled to me, and as many Oreos as I consumed trying to uncover the clues, I simply could not figure it out. Despite that I am the worst mother on earth come bedtime, I cannot resist checking on each of them one more time before bed. One last glance to ensure that plush blanket from infancy that they still clutch in their slumber is covering their superhero pajamas. To watch their little chests rise and fall with each slow breath. To see the dim glow of the night light shine off their glazed, shiny eyelids. The more I watched them sleep, the more I fell in love with each of them. There were no harsh words said in regret, no cups of milk spilled, no “who let the dog in the house?” conversations. Just a mama watching her babies sleep.

So I came up with a reason, as if I needed one more to enter their rooms at midnight.

Now, after I tuck each of them into bed, say unacceptable language in my head when I step on a pile of Legos on the floor, and slowly begin to exit the room, they know that mama is coming back at midnight. That a “secret kiss” awaits, and that no matter what happened today, that tomorrow is fresh. And every night, after watching my kids sleep and breathe and all the other weird things that motherhood does to you, I lean over and boldly kiss those chubby kid cheeks and whisper in their ears, “secret kiss”.

And every morning, they smile and ask, “Mama? Did you give us a secret kiss last night?” And when I assure them that I did, they always exhale and say, “Good. I just wish I remembered”.

I just wish I remembered what it was like when you were small. When we didn’t have to worry about things like math, loose teeth, and broken bones and broken hearts. When it was just us, in mismatched clothes sprawled out in the floor on a Tuesday afternoon, stacking blocks and knocking them down again. And again. And again.

Or when we would run outside and play in the sprinklers in the warmest part of the summer afternoon, and everyone would pile up on the couch and watch a movie in place of naptime, yet each of you would drift off in your swimsuit anyway. Sometimes, I would too.

I just wish I remembered that there were days that our biggest expenditures were diapers, formula, car seats and playpens, and before we know it, it will be braces, cars, college, and weddings.

But no matter how small or how big you grow, no matter how many times I say brush your teeth and get in the bed, just know that a secret kiss awaits at midnight. That a new morning will dawn.

Because we all rest easier knowing someone is watching over us.

Count Your Fruits.

augs

It was a sunny Monday, the forecast taunting of heavy rains for the entire remainder of the week. As a parent, this puts me in total panic mode: if it rains, my kids cannot go outside. If they cannot go outside, they cannot burn energy. If they cannot burn energy, they go crazy, I go crazy, and the house is almost burned down. But not from energy. Because that is all pent up.

So I knew what I had to do: TAKE MY KIDS AND STAY OUTSIDE FOR 12 HOURS. Nah, I’m only kidding. But seriously. Take the day and seize that sunlight. So, I decided to do this park outing a little differently. This wasn’t going to be some magical event where we invited a bunch of friends, bought Lunchables, and learned something.

I don’t even think I put sunscreen on them that day. They all had shoes on both feet so that’s a total win.

My entire purpose in this trip was to count the fruits. I am growing so bone tired of counting the losses. I don’t want my children to grow up remembering a mother that was plagued with anxiety, worry, a sorry attitude, and coffee breath.

I just wanted to count the fruits. To count all the growth we’ve made as a family over the past few years. That there are things calming down and making sense. I wanted to play with my kids and and take a loaf of bread and a butter knife from a drawer in the kitchen and just slap some peanut butter on wheat and talk about all of their favorite things and not worry about if they are sitting still or being loud or not. Just counting all the good in them.

So that is exactly what we did. And they ate every single bite of those dry sandwiches and now I know that if we got a cow they would name her Clarabelle, and a bull, Billy. I know that boys can like the color purple and that no one should ever be allergic to sugar. I discovered what a Lego ninja is, that I worry too much, and I forgot to pack extra clothes “just in case” someone splashed in the creek at the park. Because someone did. And someone else forgot to restock the van with extra clothes. But we had a beach towel in the back. I remember that because I am counting my fruits.

Maybe counting all the good is too much. Maybe it is easier to complain. Maybe you are like me, and making lists overwhelm you, because when you see all that has to be done in a day, you crumble it up in a ball and decide the only thing you can do that day is PUT ON PANTS AND RUN TO GET DOG FOOD.

But what if I told you that we are supposed to be counting? How are we reporting to our people the goodness and grace and mercy of God? Are we counting the fruits? Are we testifying?

By the time I drove from my home to the park that day, I had several prayer requests answered. And now, looking back, I wondered if I would have even noticed the brevity of answered prayer if I had been clouded with self-focus.

So, here’s a bushel of fruits:

Three kids. Healthy ones. Fun ones. The BEST ones for us.

A strong, crazy amazing marriage. What you see is what you get with us. We really are this happy all the time.

A vehicle that has taken us to every doctor appointment, dance recital, family trip over the past five years. I always said I would never own a minivan. But man, it’s been such a great one.

A town with fantastic law enforcement that keep our area safe and their authority is still respected. You don’t think that’s a fruit? Turn on the news.

A church home that has been a well of fresh water for us the past year. We are in a season of rest and that congregation has been so warm. We are grateful.

Our little farm that the Lord just keeps expanding the borders. I am starting to think we have half the county in our backyard. And I do things like MAINTAIN SWINE HEALTHCARE. That’s code for “our pig had hemorrhoids and HOW DID SOMEONE WHO USED TO GET WEEKLY MANICURES END UP ON A FARM?”

Date nights on the couch. I know that this makes me sound old, but I look forward to that more than any of the times that we have been to the theater. Except our first date in 1999 when we saw “The Sixth Sense”. MIND BLOWN.

Family that is there for us whenever we need anything. And lifelong friends that are doing exactly the same thing.

Go home to your people + report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, + how He had mercy on you. //Mark 5:19

Friends? Start counting. We are at the good part.

Super Mom vs. Abiding Mom

This is a chart that I ran across a while back online that totally puts things in perspective for me. I think I really strive to be that “Super Mom”, but fail by leaps and bounds. And it is no wonder. If you notice, it is not what the Super Mom “does” that is necessarily wrong, it is that her focus is skewed. She is concerned more about herself and what she thinks a good mother should be than the truth that her Creator offers of the high calling of motherhood. Guilty. As. Charged.

Feel free to share this with mamas that may need the encouragement today!! The website from which I borrowed it isĀ {here}. I know I need to read this after we arrived home from the park today and I listened to a 20 minute tantrum about a lime popscicle. Really. And when is lime anyone’s first choice anyways??