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Balancing my life seems like a constant challenge. How does one juggle all the things one must do in the normal course of a day. I get  incredulous looks when I set boundaries with others with what my large family can and cannot commit to, as every good mother knows what everyone else in the family says yes to involves some sort of commitment from parents!. I sometimes get the feeling saying "I have seven kids" is not reason enough to say no in life. I just love the insinuation that I use  it as an excuse to somehow sit at home on my couch eating bon bons! and honestly, I dread the question "You just stay at home?" It's as if I am less of a mother by saying no and valuing family time over all the "to do's" that come with modern life and schedules. It's as if teaching my children to balance their time and include time away from the world is an unhealthy parenting decision. 

I spend 336 hours a year, on average, cooking meals. This does not include any shopping, meal planning or added cooking requests the children's school and sports are constantly throwing my way. If I were to average in car rides, homework help, ironing, laundry, sweeping, and the myriad of other normal daily activities I accomplish, I can assuredly say I work more than a full time job. 

My husband recently took a job out of area which requires large amounts of time away  from us. This has been a huge challenge. Seth and I have never been one of those couples who have had to be in each other's back pockets all the time. We are far to busy for that, however we enjoy our time together and have always made togetherness a priority.  I miss our good mornings and good nights. I miss having my best friend here to navigate the daily challenges and the chaos that sometimes ensues. I feel I do a pretty good job of holding down the fort while he is away. I have so many friends whose husbands have had to take jobs out of state in this economy. It's a tough choice families are having to make. 

I have some wonderful support while we adjust to these new changes. Friends who ask on a regular basis how I am and on occasion bring me chocolate or send me funny text messages. Kid's teachers who are going the extra mile to make sure I am getting all the information I need so we eliminate school hiccups. Then there are those people who have always been a small drain on my family. In this time of adjusting to the chaos of being a sometimes single mama, I am find I am having little patience for this. When one thinks of bullies it is often of those times back in school our minds go to. However I have come to realize there are "grown up" bullies as well and many of us have them in our lives. How do we navigate relationships with these people. Often times they are in our places of work, churches, community organizations, even our children's schools.  Many times we have not one but many bullies in our lives. 

How do we have "adult" relationships with others when they have not moved beyond the school yard mentality. Often times I find it takes quite an effort to set and maintain boundaries and the harder I attempt to eliminate the difficulty, I come across as looking like the big B Word! There is one place frustrates me the most and it is in the area of parenting. We have become such a society of "know it alls" that even those with no children, feel they know how to do a parent's job better. Oh I've been guilty of this myself . Being the mother of seven I've got some things down pat. I look at how a parent or caregiver is running their family and I judge... I think of all the ways I do it better. I have quite and ego when it comes to parenting, I must confess. 

We had the experience of someone undermining our loving relationship with our children for the past several years. We honored that our children had a relationship with this person that brought some good and so we allowed things to go unsaid and in our "silence" realized we erred.  Our silence was perceived as permission and we misjudged thinking our relationship with our children was so concrete that another could not cause division. Luckily, as our feelings regarding relationships and our need for honesty with each other led to dialog we realized  just because there are some healthy things others people bring into the lives of our children we have to weigh and balance that with the negative and make sure our role as parent is not being undermined or damaged. If it is, we have a responsibility to step in. A coach, teacher, friend, or relative may think they have my children's best interest at heart, however they do not live our lives, with it's unique dynamics. They are not the parent. They have not weighed all that comes with parenting each child within the dynamics of my family. 

This being judged and undermined has made me reflect on the times I may have inadvertently stepped on the toes of other parents. I may have judge their situation without walking in their shoes. What I realize is most people I know are trying to do their best. I fall short a lot as a parent, however I believe in the relationship I have with each and everyone of my children. I believe that our status of family will carry us through this learning experience together and when we mess up or fall down we can honor these relationships by helping each other. That's what families are for. 

As I hold down the fort, waiting for my sweet one to come home, I realize an amazing gift we have been given; this family which keeps me busy and at times exhausted. Im always learning new ways at doing my job as mother best and I am thankful for the opportunity each and every day. So, please in your daily wanderings, support other parents you know, refrain from judging them, ask them what kind of help and assurances support them most. If you are like me, chances are you know someone who is "holding down the fort" while their family makes sacrifices such as a spouse working away from home. They need your encouragement, support and understanding not interference and judgement. By supporting them you bless the children in their care and show you really care about what happens to them. By supporting their relationships with their parents you honor them and help them be healthy people. 

 
 
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Balancing my life seems like a constant challenge. How does one juggle all the things one must do in the normal course of a day. I get  incredulous looks when I set boundaries with others with what my large family can and cannot commit to, as every good mother knows what everyone else in the family says yes to involves some sort of commitment from parents!. I sometimes get the feeling saying "I have seven kids" is not reason enough to say no in life. I just love the insinuation that I use  it as an excuse to somehow sit at home on my couch eating bon bons! and honestly, I dread the question "You just stay at home?" It's as if I am less of a mother by saying no and valuing family time over all the "to do's" that come with modern life and schedules. It's as if teaching my children to balance their time and include time away from the world is an unhealthy parenting decision. I

I spend 336 hours a year, on average, cooking meals. This does not include any shopping, meal planning or added cooking requests the children's school and sports are constantly throwing my way. If I were to average in car rides, homework help, ironing, laundry, sweeping, and the myriad of other normal daily activities I accomplish, I can assuredly say I work more than a full time job. 

My husband recently took a job out of area which requires large amounts of time away  from us. This has been a huge challenge. Seth and I have never been one of those couples who have had to be in each other's back pockets all the time. We are far to busy for that, however we enjoy our time together and have always made togetherness a priority. However, I miss our good mornings and good nights. I miss having my best friend here to navigate the daily challenges and the chaos that sometimes ensues. I feel I do a pretty good job of holding down the fort while he is away. I have so many friends whose husbands have had to take jobs out of state in this economy. It's a tough choice families are having to make. 

I have some wonderful support while we adjust to these new changes. Friends who ask on a regular basis how I am and on occasion bring me chocolate or send me funny text messages. Kid's teachers who are going the extra mile to make sure I am getting all the information I need so we eliminate school hiccups. Then there are those people who have always been a small drain on my family. In this time of adjusting to the chaos of being a sometimes single mama, I am find I am having little patience for this. When one thinks of bullies it is often of those times back in school our minds go to. However I have come to realize there are "grown up" bullies as well and many of us have them in our lives. How do we navigate relationships with these people. Often times they are in our places of work, churches, community organizations, even our children's schools.  Many times we have not one but many bullies in our lives. 

How do we have "adult" relationships with others when they have not moved beyond the school yard mentality. Often times I find it takes quite an effort to set and maintain boundaries and the harder I attempt to eliminate the difficulty, I come across as looking like the big B Word! There is one place frustrates me the most and it is in the area of parenting. We have become such a society of "know it alls" that even those with no children, feel they know how to do a parent's job better. Oh I've been guilty of this myself . Being the mother of seven I've got some things down pat. I look at how a parent or caregiver is running their family and I judge... I think of all the ways I do it better. I have quite and ego when it comes to parenting, I must confess. 

We had the experience of someone undermining our loving relationship with our children for the past several years. We honored that our children had a relationship with this person that brought some good and so we allowed things to go unsaid and in our "silence" realized we erred.  Our silence was perceived as permission and we misjudged thinking our relationship with our children was so concrete that another could not cause division. Luckily, as our feelings regarding relationships and our need for honesty with each other led to dialog we realized  just because there are some healthy things others people bring into the lives of our children we have to weigh and balance that with the negative and make sure our role as parent is not being undermined or damaged. If it is, we have a responsibility to step in. A coach, teacher, friend, or relative may think they have my children's best interest at heart, however they do not live our lives, with it's unique dynamics. They are not the parent. They have not weighed all that comes with parenting each child within the dynamics of my family. 

This being judged and undermined has made me reflect on the times I may have inadvertently stepped on the toes of other parents. I may have judge their situation without walking in their shoes. What I realize is most people I know are trying to do their best. I fall short a lot as a parent, however I believe in the relationship I have with each and everyone of my children. I believe that our status of family will carry us through this learning experience together and when we mess up or fall down we can honor these relationships by helping each other. That's what families are for. 

As I hold down the fort, waiting for my sweet one to come home, I realize an amazing gift we have been given; this family which keeps me busy and at times exhausted. Im always learning new ways at doing my job as mother best and I am thankful for the opportunity each and every day. So, please in your daily wanderings, support other parents you know, refrain from judging them, ask them what kind of help and assurances support them most. If you are like me, chances are you know someone who is "holding down the fort" while their family makes sacrifices such as a spouse working away from home. They need your encouragement, support and understanding not interference and judgement. By supporting them you bless the children in their care and show you really care about what happens to them. By supporting their relationships with their parents you honor them and help them be healthy people. 

 
 
I have been spending a lot of time pondering what it takes to be a mother...not a great mother..or even a successful mother. I am beginning to believe there is an art to mothering. I don't mean to leave fathers or fathering out of the loop here, as I think their roles are just as important and take just as much creativity and soul searching as mothering, but I am not a father, so I will stick to what I know.

My oldest children are rapidly stretching their wings to make their first flights out of the safety of the nest and into the world. One of them will sigh at this analogy and say so sweetly "aww Momma" the other will roll his eyes and look at me as if he firmly believes I am from another planet. Some days I feel I stand at the top of a precipice with them, ecstatic at their attempts yet over whelmed with a sense  they are facing grave danger. I want to tackle them and wrestle them to a safe place where the world cannot harm them...but duct taping your children to their bed is frowned upon and is not conducive to healthy growth, so I will refrain...for now.

Realizing we are standing at the beginning of a whole new stage in life has caused me to look back over the years I have spent as a mother. I remember being pregnant with my oldest, feeling my world was alive with possibility. I wasn't fearful of becoming a mother. I was in awe and fully confident in my abilities. I vowed the vow of stupidity...I wasn't going to be like those harried mothers seen in restaurants, church, and shopping malls...their faces pulled back in tight grimaces hissing through their teeth, eyes darting around embarrassed everyone had witnessed their failures as a mother as they drug three little hellions (pardon the expression) who were doing their best to make sure their mother's humiliation was complete by knocking things off shelves and howling like banshees. Yes, my heart reserved judgment for the mother caught bribing her child to be good in public, and scorn was directed to the parent who had obviously completely lost it and was on the floor paddling their child's bottom while the child laughed at her feeble attempts to regain control of the situation. No, my children would be disciplined, clean, polite,well mannered, quiet,  and most of all perfect.

I could see my future brood in my mind's eyes so cutely dressed, their hair combed neatly sweetly replying to my questions and directions. My children would love me and sweetly want to do everything asked of them. After all one only has to model good behavior and children will follow in suit. How far the arrogant and untried by the fires of parenting fall.

I remember the summer we went to a farm house in Minnesota. After a long day of home schooling, having bathed the children and settled them in front of  a movie, I went to the kitchen to get the dishes done. I scraped all the left over food into the garbage disposal and loaded the dishwasher. I noticed the house was eerily quiet but making the mistake of thinking they were involved in their movie, I took the garbage out. When I returned to the house, I flipped on the garbage disposal only to hear an awful noise coming from it. Off it went and I did what ever one does in that situation. I stuck my hand in to fish out whatever was causing the racket and  pulled out what I thought was food only to find a very dead and very mangled mouse, which I found out later was retrieved from a mouse trap in the shed. I screamed like a sissy slinging guts and gore to rival any horror flick all over the kitchen. Once I had fished my heart out of my shoes and my screaming had subsided, I could hear the sound of giggling coming from under the breakfast nook table accompanied by  little faces peering out from under the table cloth at me. I did not recognize the voice that came forth from me as I scarily whispered "You better run."  I guess the protective desire to see my children live outweighed my fury  so I gave them fair warning to save themselves, and they lit out of the kitchen like they were on fire.

Oh yes, I have learned a lot about mothering and its requirements, challenges, and blessings. Mothering requires learning when to speak, when to give a child room, when to comfort, when to scold, when to ignore, when to teach, when to hold,when to challenge, when to bend,  when to come down hard, when to recognize the need to look the other way and when to tell them to run. I have heard it said mothering requires being nurse, maid, educator, accountant, cook, driver, president, and the list goes on and on. No wonder we are so exhausted. Yet we rise to the task time and time again.

Nothing makes the journey so sweet as watching them excel in the things they love, receiving hand made mother's day gifts, or the simple pleasure of walking through their rooms at night. Even now, as big as they are I love hearing their laughter and yes...even their feet running through the house, but nothing is quiet so wonderful as peering in on their sleeping peaceful faces. These blessings, my jewels from heaven, are the greatest gifts of my life. As I wait for the day to arrive when my very first ones will leave our home, I realize how empty my life would have been without the opportunity to mother them. I will miss them dreadfully...I know I will long to haul a ladder to their apartment or dorm room window and climb in...pull them in to my arms, rock them and sing our favorite lullaby...just like the mother did in one of our favorite childhood story books. I will only refrain because it would be quite humiliating to have to call Seth to come bail me out of jail for accidentally peering in the wrong window.

There have been moments when I questioned the wisdom of God in giving me the task of raising people. There have been bumps and bruises,  sleepless nights, worry, dashed hopes, emergency room visits, and times I wanted to throw in the towel. A mother experiences the mountain top highs and the depths of despair and yet through it all one learns that it isn't about the hard and fast rules, or counting your successes and failures. This journey of motherhood is not only about what I have taught them but about what I have learned. Mothering has educated and changed me.They have made me an artist, and taught me to embrace life in all its creative messiness and to be thankful in all things.  I am learning the art of mothering day by day, and I imagine, even once they have all left their childhood home, I will continue to grow and learn. Mothering is for life and the art of it lives on in our children.