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Posted by on Jan 24, 2017 in Motherhood | 17 comments

My Secret

A few weeks ago I was leaving our weekly Bible Study and as I was herding the kids out to our car amidst the sea of minivans a friend stopped me and said, “How do you do it? You are always so put together and you make it look easy. I need your secret.” I laughed in her face and said, “Do you want to know my secret? Most days I feel like I’m barely keeping it together.” I’m not as put together as some may think (it actually surprises me to think that anyone believes I’m put together). But I guess if you saw me in passing, you may think I’m forging ahead with confidence, crushing all my life goals…maybe? I mean, you wouldn’t think that if you saw me in Target last week when I was in smelly gym clothes trying to explain to Atlas why he can’t have another toy while simultaneously trying to get Andi’s lip to stop bleeding because she threw such a fit that she ended up busting her own lip on the grocery cart. I guess it depends on when you catch me. If you’re looking at my Instagram feed, you may think my life is always pretty and I’ve got a great handle on things.

But if you’re reading this blog right now, I want you to know that my life is messy and I get confused and I second guess my parenting decisions on the regular. I go to bed thinking, “I was too hard on the kids today – they are going to wind up in therapy.” Or I go to bed and think, “I was too easy on them – they are going to wind up in jail.” I struggle. I doubt. I worry. I’ve got the adult acne to prove it.

Today I just want to be transparent with those of you tuning into read this little blog. Last week was a hard week. Actually, the last 2 weeks have felt extra draining. Nobody is sick. Nobody is hurt. But life with 2 toddlers has just been hard lately and sometimes when life gets really hard, insecurities overshadow the truth in my life.

Andi Rose is 18 months old and ‘no’ is her favorite word. We call her “Miss Personality” and that same personality that makes me laugh until my stomach hurts also makes me want to pull my hair out some days. Atlas is officially a threenager and he also loves to exercise his right to tell me no. He really likes to take it 1 step further and tack on the “I won’t do it and you can’t make me” line for emphasis. He plays hardball now.

I feel like motherhood is a game where the rules are constantly changing and just when I get into a groove and I exhale and think, “Okay! I got this now!” – The game changes again and I’m back to learning, googling all the things (rarely is that a good idea, by the way) and wondering what the next right thing to do is.

Last week I called my mom sobbing. I’m pretty sure she thought someone was seriously injured when she answered the phone. When I could finally talk, I only said 4 words: “Motherhood is so hard.” I told her how Atlas told me earlier that day that he didn’t like me because I disciplined him for throwing a bottle at his sister. I told her I felt like the kids were just running the house and bulldozing over me and any boundaries I tried to establish and things just felt utterly out of control.

She said, “That’s because you’re trying to be their friend! STOP BEING THEIR FRIEND! You are the PARENT!”

I’m not sure when it happened or how it happened, but somehow I slipped into the ‘friend zone’ with my kids – specifically Atlas. I love playing with my kids and I love taking them to do fun things and I hate confrontation, so I guess it isn’t surprising that I ended up in the friend zone.

What my mom said to me really clicked though. I am their mother. My job is to be a consistent teacher who guides and corrects them. My job is to love them. I pray that God blesses each of my children with precious friends, but I realized last week that right now, my job isn’t to be their precious friend. I am the authority. I am the boss. And things run better for everybody when I’m in charge.

But adulting is hard. Sometimes I see my children fighting and I’m thinking, “Good grief – I wish there was an adult around here to break that up.” But I’m the adult and as unqualified as I feel for this job most days, God (for reasons unknown to me) saw enough potential in me to give me not 1, but 2 babies.

 

I want to parent out of truth, but there are several times that I find myself parenting out of fear. For instance, the truth is God doesn’t need me to do a perfect job in order to lead my children to Him. He is more than capable of seeking them out. I sure hope I can help Him in His pursuit of their hearts, but His perfect plan for their lives isn’t going to fall apart because I can’t always keep it together, which is a real fear I struggle with. The truth is, if they don’t eat a vegetable for 2 days in a row (Hi Saturday and Sunday!), the world keeps on spinning. The truth is, sometimes as mothers we plant seeds of truth in the hearts of our children that don’t actually take root and grow to fruition for years to come. The truth is that sometimes things looks barren at surface level, but what really matters is how deep those roots are growing because at the right season we will reap what we sow. The truth is, I don’t have it all together and that’s actually okay. It’s okay for my kids to know that. It’s okay for you to know that. Because nobody has it all together. No woman out there truly ‘has it all.’ It isn’t possible. The secret is out. We are all doing the best we can and we all fall short at times and lose our way and I think the truth is, when we fall short and our kids are watching we are in the best position to show them how real life works.

You probably have never wondered what my secret is. But just in case you ever have, then lean in a little closer and allow me to share my secret with you. I struggle. I don’t get it right every day. My prayer journal is filled with the words, “I don’t know how to…” And the truth is, I think that’s exactly where God wants me in life right now because when I don’t know how to do something, I eventually go looking to Him to lead the way.

And one little random story for your Monday:

Dave has been cracking up the last few days because I am in full blown parenting mode (I’m getting the HECK out of the friend zone) and the kids are so confused by it. I usually ask them a lot of questions like, “Are you ready to go upstairs and take a nap?” (Spoiler alert: they NEVER are) or “Would you rather have green beans or Mac & cheese?” (Mac & Cheese: 372 // Green beans: 0) But now I’m all, “Alrighty! It is nap time and you’re going to take a nap and you’re going to do great at it!” Or I’m like, “It’s time to get in the car and I know you can do it with a great attitude!” Dave thinks it is the funniest thing, but it is working better for us all. There are still meltdowns and tantrums, but I have been taking a deep breath and saying “I am the parent” under my breath and for some reason that helps me feel more confident and I’m finding that the more confident I appear, the more likely my kids are to obey right away. By omitting some of the questions I ask them and replacing the question with a clear command it just sets it up that the issue is not up for discussion. I’m no expert (obviously you know that if you made it to the end of this post), but it’s working good for us right now so I thought I would share it here in case any other mama’s are looking for some inspiration.

17 Comments

  1. And you’re going to like it!! 🙂

    Glad you posted this xoxo

    • Thanks for being my biggest (and maybe only?) fan. lol 😉

  2. This hits home for so many parents. Mine is 19, but I look back and ask God, how did we both survive?

    • BUT, you survived! 😉 And that gives us mama’s that are a few seasons behind you hope! When I really have those thoughts of “OMG – I cannot do this 1 more day” I remind myself that women have been doing this job since the beginning of time and they do live to tell about it. LOL

  3. Thanks for posting this Ashley! So true….none of us have it all together. We are all falling apart in some way on most days. And I think the more honest we are about it, the more we will hear “me too!” Grateful God doesn’t “need” us, but so strongly desires our hearts to be transformed through parenting these littles that he calls us to it.

    • I’m so glad other moms can relate – especially when the other moms are women I look up to! 🙂 And I don’t think God has used 2 people more than my own children to show me how desperately I need him to save, restore and help in so many different areas of my life! They are my little sanctifiers for sure! haha – they are constantly showing me my own sinful heart.

  4. It’s a wonderful blog, Ashley. But, I can honestly say that I am a different person now that my four children are all grown and gone and have their own children. Trust me, that time goes extremely fast. However, my journey with my kids wasn’t always easy, but that’s love, and now that they are all grown up, I know how and why they love me. I was more or less a single parent, because their dad at first was a truck driver and gone all week, and when he wasn’t, he wasn’t a very good Daddy….he was a Father. You know how it goes. ANYBODY can be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a Daddy. That’s what your Dave is….a wonderful Daddy. I always missed that. What I missed the most was taking the kids to church by myself and see all the parents around me WITH the man of the house. But, we got thru it, and my kids and I are closer for it, I guess. They have admitted that they liked their step-father, Jack, more than their own Dad.

    You and Dave are so very fortunate for the wonderful lives you have together with two adorable children. Just don’t turn around too fast, because they will be gone in the blink of an eye. I, myself, cannot believe they have grown so fast already. I don’t think I will be getting any “greats” for awhile. LOL. But, that’s okay, Joe’s not married, and Steve and his wife aren’t ready for children yet…if ever. My other grandchildren, 4 of them down here in Florida, I will get to see, but once a year is hardly long enough to even know their favorite color.

    You are doing wonderful Parenting. Keep up the good work, between you and Dave, how could they go wrong.

    Love you all very much, and give all kisses and hugs for me.
    Mary Ann

    P.S. I just heard that a local boy from Fryburg, (Dave knows where it is. ha) But, he was appointed the Assistant to the Defense Secretary on President Trumps Cabinet. That’s a big deal for a little hillbilly town like Fryburg. His sister and I were best friends in St. Mike’s and North Clarion.

  5. Thank you for sharing this post..I honestly feel that your words are very similar to how I feel everyday! And knowing that the seeds I am planting will eventually will sow, gives me hope that I am doing the best I can. Your words are an inspiration and it’s nice to know the little reminders and simpleness that we tend to forget. (I hope that last sentence makes sense..it does in my head, LOL)

    • It makes total sense! 🙂 Thanks for reading, Crystal!

  6. I really enjoyed this post, Ashley! You might not feel like you have it all together, but it’s clear from reading your blog that you are the best mother for your children. 🙂 I’m going to keep that “do it with a great attitude” quote in my back pocket. 😉

    • You are so sweet, Katy! Thank you for that encouragement! 🙂

  7. I love this. My son is 2 1/2 and I am facing the same issues you are right now! I need to take myself out of the friend zone as well.

    • The friend zone isn’t a fun place to be! LOL

  8. Such a great post. Not sure how to get out of the “friend zone.” I have an almost three year old. What discipline tactics have worked? Time outs? I’ll say it’s time to change your diaper or take a bath and he just runs the opposite direction. At the 30 weeks pregnant, I just don’t have the energy and fear that I’m letting him get away with way more than he should.

    • I’ve been trying hard to be consistent. I’m told that consistency is key (it is also really hard when you’re tired and outnumbered). I can’t speak to specific discipline because I know every kid is different so what works for Atlas doesn’t always work well with Andi Rose. However, at the advice of my own mother, I’ve been trying to avoid over-explaining things to Atlas. I think because he is 3 and talking so well, I feel like I can reason with him. So for example, I will say, “It is time to take a bath” and he will begin to argue with me about it and initially, I was trying to explain to him why a bath was so beneficial. Turns out, he doesn’t care how beneficial it is. So now, I’ve been working hard to not over-explain things, but rather give clear instruction. I tell him what we are going to do and I really try and establish myself as the parent (aka the person who is in control). I don’t ask questions. I don’t tell him why we are doing it. I tell him “this is what we are doing and I know you will be great at it. IF you choose to disobey, then you will (insert punishment here).” And I’ve been swift to discipline him with whatever I told him would happen right away if he chooses to disobey. It’s exhausting and I feel like I’m currently trying to break old habits (like over-explaining, asking him too many questions, repeating the same command 12 times etc) but I do see progress just in the short time I’ve been trying to implement those changes. I hope this helps. And know that are you NOT alone. Motherhood is so rewarding, but it is also so challenging and it stretches us beyond what we thought we could handle. You’re doing a great job and your son is lucky to have you!

  9. Hey Ashley!
    For some reason I stopped receiving your posts? I realized the other day I had not “heard” from you in a bit so I went ” a searchin” for you! I’m all signed up again. I couldn’t find you on Bloglovin? Are you there?
    Anyway – I signed up again for your emails so I’m in the loop! 🙂 I was missin u!
    This post above ” the secret” is particularly great! I always love to hear your honest voice.
    Hope you guys have some fun weekend plans? What are you doing for the Super Bowl?

  10. Hi Ashley, I haven’t received any of your blogs via email for awhile, so went to your Facebook page to see I’d you are still blogging. Are you still sending them via email? I am caught up now, but missed them when I didn’t get them email.

    Love and hugs.
    Mary Ann

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