I continued the Mommy Challenge, although not all the days were contiguous. Day 19 was to tell your child all the reasons you love them and I decided to put it in writing. I took each of my children aside and shared a letter I had written them. I told them that the reason I loved them was because they were my children and that could never be changed. I read them a list of things that I loved about them.
I tell my children every day that I love them, usually when they are coming or going or going to bed. It is automatic, but this was such a delibrate few moments. I feel really good to have said aloud what you ‘think’ they know, but now I am sure. I hope it is something they remember.
Day 20 was to do one good thing for your health. My commitment to pursue a daily walk wanes and I am reaffirming that now. I think it is such a big one, that is can cover the two days that asked for a contribution to my own health!
Giving thanks to your mother for one positive contribution to my life was Day 21‘s requirement. My mother has made lots of positive contributions to my life and continues to on a daily basis. Thanks for all you do, mom!
Day 22 had me have a conversation with my inner teenager or child. I don’t know if I had much of a conversation, but I did reflect. I made some connections between past behavior and experiences with present day. I recalled being the ages that my kids are now. If you haven’t taken time lately to remember what is what like to be 11, or 9 or 3 – try it – it might change your perspective. I found that it was a worthy exercise. (Like all 21 exercises before this!)
I am becoming an expert at the challenge for Day 23 – letting go of perfection! There was a day when I really believed that if I just did things ‘right’ I could have things’ perfect’. I lost alot of sleep trying to keep up with my own expectations.
The whole idea of ‘perfect’ seems strange now. What is ‘perfect’ for you, might not be ‘perfect’ for me. It’s such a swear word at this point. The ‘New Perfect’ is ‘Good Enough’ – take it from me. I am shooting for doing the best I can, in the moment that I am in. There is room for improvement, or doing this differently. But there is no more room for the “P” word. I am getting rid of, and have been for some time, the notion that anything can be ‘perfect’!
I have been thinking about the criteria for Day 24 for a really long time. Dennis and I have had several converations about this. I’d like to challenge you, along with myself if you have never thought about mindfully and deliberately ‘saying yes’! Some of us start out our parenting journey with false beliefs. One is that we need to say ‘no’ often and firmly. Some of us even learned to say ‘no’ as a first reaction to most requests (check yourself if you don’t think it’s true). Sometimes we say ‘no’ to something because our parents did, or other parents are, or for a reason we have yet to identify. I was surprised when I began actively ‘watching’ how it happened.
When I first read about ‘saying yes’ I was blown away that anyone even thought about how much they were saying ‘no’ and how that paradigm can be changed. I enjoy telling my kids ‘yes’ and they enjoy hearing it. I will continue working diligently in this area so that my kids can experience all they want to experience.
Doing this challenge has gotten a little bumpy at times. Like when I had a meltdown in the middle of it, or when I forget what I am focused on that day. But, since I am eschewing perfection, I wanted to continue this practice, because it has proven itself so worthy for the first 1/2 of the challenges, I knew I would get just as much out of the second half. The 30 Challenges are listed here: try them!
I meant to keep up. But there were birthdays being had…
and bridges being built…
basketball games being played….
and life generally trudging along while I am trying to blog about it.
I got some input from the kids for Day 15. I mentioned to them that although I am aware of some of my shortcomings in the ‘mom’ department, I needed to make a list of the ways I ‘rock as a mom’.
1. I am a decent cook. Breakfast has been known to be an event around here, we try new foods often and I enjoy baking, so cakes and cookie abound. (This was Gavin’s first suggestion for things I am good at)
2. I am very good at getting my kids out and about, taking them places, participating in activities, planning playdates, enrolling them in classes, going to the park, museums, roller rinks, nature center, libraries, etc. We are on the go alot – and my kids count that as a plus.
3. I say I am sorry when I am wrong and make apologies whenever necessary. (I checked with the boys, they agreed)
4. I say “Yes” as often as I possibly can. Although it might be ‘yes’ with a caveat such as ‘in a few minutes’, ‘not today, but lets look at when’ or ‘yes, but not in the house’!
5. I am working really hard on constantly challenging myself as a mom (like this challenge) and that makes me rock!
Day 16 was about patience. People often hear that our kids are homeschooled and one of the first things they say is ‘you must have alot of patience’. Homeschooling does not give you a corner on patience any more than it does for a mom doing the morning drop-off, homework and shuttling to after-school activities. Since I was mindful of being patient on Day 16, I realized that it is completely possible to be patient. Things that I may have usually lost my temper at, I dealt with from a place of patience because that was the plan. The exercise told me that it is totally possible to choose patience. It was a strange feeling to be thinking that I would normally be nagging or yelling about something and I could simply choose not too. Very convicting, indeed.
Turning off the TV, computer and phone when my children were with me was the challenge for Day 17. I generally don’t have ‘kid free’ time to do these things, but I am very conscious of putting these tasks into blocks of time when the boys are engaged in something else. When the boys and I were engaged in something together, I did not answer the phone, but had to remember to write down who was calling. At one point, Gavin was telling me a long story (a favorite pastime for him) and I decided to shut the computer and move to the breakfast bar with him and listen attentively. I immediately saw the value in that. Some people might say that they should not ‘interrupt’ what I was doing…but I am choosing to see that differently. I can get back to the task as soon as he flits away – and what if someday soon, he is not telling me as many stories? The challenges that Sigrid has presented are not meant for ‘one day’, but all the days moving forward.
Day 18 was to forgive yourself no matter how you mess up. Blogging puts you at risk for trying to make your life look lovely, and happy all the time because those are the moments we all want to share. But right in the middle of this challenge I had a situation with one of the kids the turned into lecturing and a condescending speech and him going to bed with that being the last thing that happened that day. It gave me the sickest feeling and I tend to hold those incidents tight and ruminate about them for days. I tell myself that I am a failure and other ugly things. I think I obssess thinking that I can change what happened – but we all ‘know’ that ‘the past is in the past’. Leaving it there is another story. Forgiving myself means that I need to change that tape, and say something very differently to myself when things happen that I am not proud of. I am working on swapping out the ugly tapes for something I bit more compassionate – to myself. This is a very nice place to move on from this challenge.
The Joyful Mother has a lot of great resources on her site like Ask Me, a video blog, and a new program called The Mommy Meltdown Cure. If you are looking to be happier mom (and happier kids are definately a by-product of that), and need someone to help you walk that journey, I think Sigrid is your girl!
The Day 11 challenge was reminding ourselves how lucky, I prefer blessed, we are to be moms. To have these kids. That phrase is acute in my life, because people often remark to me that Mikey is ‘so lucky to have us as parents.’ because of his adoption. In truth, we sought him out, we wanted another child in our family. I was excited for the day that we got a call that Mikey could stay with us forever. Then there is Ethan. There are very few people who will ever understand the blessing of raising a child like Ethan – selected, lucky, chosen. Gavin brought us such joy when he was born. He was like a little ray of light! He has so many great attributes including his competance, confidence and maturity. Sean is the cherry on the top of the Sundae! I know all the boys would agree with me that Sean is just the cutest kid you ever met and we are *all* lucky he joined our family. Parenting has pointed me directly towards God. Do I feel like this everyday? No, of course not. That is exactly the point of Sigrid’s challenge. I will make it a daily exercise while I am doing laundry – remind myself how lucky I am to have them.
Which segways into Day 12 – watching what expectations we have for our kids. I like to be prepared. I try not to set my sights too high, don’t want to be disappointed. I am prepared for things to fall apart and I seemed to expect that something would go wrong. I definately took note of some pretty low expectations. I was very surprised when I took this day to ask myself what I was expecting. I expect Gavin to get out of control and Mikey to wake up grumpy. I expect and dread Ethan coming home in a bad mood. I haven’t sorted it all out in my head yet, but there is a fine line between being prepared for the worst, but expecting the best. I really did not know I held these expectations until I took a day to focus on it. Remember, this challenge is not a ‘one and done’ type of activity. I am committed to continuing to focus on the challenges.
Day 13 asked us to look at our boundary setting and learning to say ‘No’. My early parenting experiences taught me to set firm boundaries, to correct all unacceptable behavior and to say ‘no’ firmly and mean it. I read tons of books about discipline. Truthfully, it skewed my parenting for many years. I think I said too many ‘no’s before I was lucky enough to rethink my position on ‘discipline’ and begin to place my relationship with my children above any behavior program. I wish E, and Gavin & Mike had the mom that Sean has – but now they do! It is possible to say ‘no’ too much. If you think that could be a problem, spend a day watching how many times you say ‘no’ I believe that many of us moms say “no” way too quickly and arbitrarily things you could easily say ‘yes’ too. Although this challenge was stated differently, this is where I ended up.
Day 14 was committing to one thing that is going to take care of me. I knew immediately what that would be. I am committing to 30 minutes of intentional exercise, everyday. My preferred method is walking a few miles outside. That is not always possible, but I have other options at the ready. I also need to shift my focus of why I want this for myself. I need to lose weight. But whether or not I ever do, I still need this – I need the beta endorphins provided by exercise, I want to keep my heart healthy, I need the stress reduction exercise gives us, I want my kids to see me taking care of myself in that way. I recently had a physical in which all my statistics came back great. Low cholesterol, low sugar and good blood pressure. I want to guard that any way I can. I actually enjoy exercising, but have stuggled since becoming a mom with consistency. I am committing to making this a ‘habit’. Ask me about it – encourage me if you would.
I like the work that is going on in my head and my heart. I am enjoying having something specific to focus on everyday. I don’t know that my diary entries always convey the life-changing’ness’ of addressing the issues in the challenge. I am plugging ahead, and hope that you are too.
We tell our children daily that we love them. But Day 7 asked that it be done so intentionally. I took them time to do it Sigrid’s way. They all replied in some way – Ethan said, “ok, mom”, Gavin and Mikey both told me they loved me too, and Seany just giggled. It was good.
Day 8 required that I focus on my intuition. I really spent alot of time thinking about listening to my God-given feelings. Why would we be blessed with such convicting feelings if we weren’t meant to use them? I also thought about how freely we dole out opinions to other moms, when sometimes the situation might call for directing our friends to focus on their ‘gut-feelings’. Interestingly, I had the opportunity to watch a documentary called Sound & Fury that very day. The movie showcased two related families whose children had been born deaf and the decisions each family was making regarding cochlear implants. It was so poignant and full of controversy, and I realized that each family was clearly doing what their intuition was telling them. I thought of the times I have listened intently to my intuition and times when I may have let an opinion on a book, a family member, friend, the internet or the “Should-monster” make a decision for me. No more! Let’s encourage each other to pray, meditate, and spend some time listening to ourselve instead of everyone else.
|This is my Wii family (sans Sean – he was too little to have an official Mii) There is no good reason to add this pic except for the fact that I get such a kick out of it and hope you will too!|
On Day 9, Gavin was reading the list of challenges I have posted on my frigde. “How are you doing on your mom challenge?” he asked. I told him I was on Day 10 and asked him what he thought. “Wow, you really are doing good!” That was about as good as it gets. It is not that one day of not using critical, harsh or negative words with your children is going to make a huge dent (but it might), but the idea of even being conscious of it is! There were a couple of times I was going to say something to one of them and realized that it was really not important correction, therefore, it would have just been negative feedback.
Day 10s challenge took me most of the day to figure out what bad habit I could give up. I know it’s a big one, but I am going to work on giving up on beating myself up. Negative Nelly needs to shut up! I pick apart alot of mistakes I make and generally use the same language with myself that I do not want my children hearing growing up in my house. I am going to quit being quit so mean to me!
You can still jump on board. If you haven’t read the challenges, read them. Pick a couple to tackle, do them all. You can’t go wrong even picking one.
Day 4 was to ‘create one family ritual today’. It took me the whole day to think of something I’d like to see incorporated into our days, something meaningful, something I did not just pick out because I had to pick something. I decided on meal time blessings. It has been a while since we said ‘grace’ or blessed our meals together. Hectic-ness, people eating at different times and in different spaces just changed things. But I’d love to see us take that time again, a little pause before meals, to be thankful. I used several internet resources to get short, meaningful, poetic prayers, including many drawn from a scouting reference.
I printed them up on 4×6 index card so that we can read, memorize and use these to punctuate our day with thanksgiving and reflection.
Day 5 was to remind yourself, when your kids ‘push your buttons’ (if you don’t know what that means, maybe you don’t need the Mommy Challenge!) that they are just kids.
Again, I used my inner arm to note that.
I was really proud of myself, it was going so well – until dinnertime. Mikey & Gavin sat at the island eating, and laughing hysterically – at nothing! They were carrying on so much that I wanted to knock their heads together and scream “stop it!” So I paused for a few moments and thought about what they were doing. It was annoying, it was beyond silly, it was unnecessay – but it really was harmless and quite frankly – “they are only kids”. I refrained, and it passed in about 4 minutes. I don’t think the particular incident held any significance, but the practice of being able to stand back and assess the situation was what was important. One situation, on one day of the challenge is not what is going to change me. It will be practicing this each time I feel that ‘cut it out!’ feeling emerging.
Day 6 asked me to be truly present when interacting with my children. It required turning away from my ‘doing’ and start ‘being’. I thought I was very good at this. But as I noted throughout the day, what I am really good at is pretending/looking like I am attending to them. One time Gavin came to me to tell about winning Halo and providing me with a long narrative of the ending. I realized that I was still washing dishes, nodding and affiming, but not really listening. I dried my hands, and tried it Sigrid’s way. I made eye contact (ever wonder why kids’ eye contact is lacking – maybe we are setting really bad examples – take note of that in your day) and listened to what he was really saying. It made a difference in that moment and challenged my habits. There were many more incidents, including stopping my ‘doing’ altogether. Instead of setting Sean up with his toys only to go back to ‘my’ stuff, I stayed and played. It was time well-spent.
Upcoming challenges involve Love, Intuition, and Negativity.