Monday, July 20, 2009


When it comes to loving my kids, there are no limits. I get angry, I get annoyed, I get tired. But I always ALWAYS love them. And the hardest part of being a mom, in my humble opinion, is facing all the things I cannot fix for them.

When one of them is teased for being short, gets bullied, gets hurt (physically or emotionally), when they make a bad choice and I so wish I could turn back time..and when they're scared.

My middle guys are taking swim lessons and for the most part they're doing OK. C (9) had a major attack of nerves today. He was absolutely beside himself with fear about jumping into the deep end. If I could have sent him some confidence telepathically, I would have. Watching him struggle was tough. Both his younger brothers were able to do it fine and they were trying to encourage him. The only thing I could do was pray (and talk to another mom who had a similar experience with her son who is fine this year and call my husband to tell him, because I needed to share the anguish.)

I cannot take this fear from him, I can only encourage him to face it. We talked about it. He trusts his teachers. He's done it before and it was fine. Rationally, I don't think he knows why he was so desperately afraid any more than I do. But I do know that if he lets his fear control him, about this or anything else he really wants to do, he will not be reaching his full potential.

You see, I truly believe that allowing fear to take over gives power to a force other than God. It's like in the cartoons when the character has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. The angel, a voice of God, is there to speak truth and encouragement and hope. It builds up. The devil on the other shoulder is there to undermine, to break down and discourage. Allowing fear to control us denies hope.

Now sometimes fear is a good's good to be aware of your limitations. I am afraid of lots of things, some rational and others, not so much. There is a difference between danger and being self-conscious or afraid of failure. To be clear, I do believe that jumping into deep water and not knowing how to swim is a rational fear, but when there are people you trust to catch you..sometimes it's a leap of faith, literally.

Anyway, I can't take his fear away and help him grow in his self-confidence, any more than I can make any of them taller (I'm not quite 5' 3", my side of the family has donated the short genes to this pool) but I will continue to pray for them to grow and have faith in God and in themselves.

It broke my heart to see him afraid and I wonder how tomorrow will go. I have offered bribes, so if I have to pay up at the end of the week and he learns that he CAN do it...It's all good.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Free Will and Helicopters

Today I was trying to figure out if there would be a watercraft equivalent of a helicopter or if it would still be adequate to use the term helicopter. Three of my boys are taking swim lessons. None of them are particularly skilled swimmers..yet. I have faith that they will eventually be competent enough in the water to enjoy water parks and swim parties with friends.

I was marvelling at how patient the young instructors were. They were firm enough that even the most nervous students (one, my own son) participated and even relaxed. The instructors were supportive and made the children feel safe, offered instructions and praise. I watched from the balcony bleachers offering "thumbs up" signs if they looked to me for approval. I had faith in the instructors and in my children. I have no delusions, 10 days of lessons is not going to turn any of them into a pint-sized Michael Phelps, but maybe they will feel a little more confident in the water and maybe they'll be able to swim a smidge better than they can today.

I found myself wondering, however, about the mothers hanging over the railing shouting words of "encouragement" to their children as the instructor tried to do what they are paid to do, instruct. This was more than "good job" after the task was done. They were shouting "kick those legs, paddle those arms" while the instructor was working with their child. I don't think they meant any harm. They want their child to be successful, feel safe and know that someone who loves them very much is there. I think they have the best of intentions.

God is always there with us. I love the Footprints poem by Mary Stevenson where the person finds only one set of footprints on the beach when things are particularly rough and they are told by the Lord, that is because I was carrying you. God is always with us, but we are not controlled by God. God, the ultimate parent, gave us free will. God gave us a great deal of guidance and instruction about what our path should be, but we have to make choices each and every day. And not only do we have free will, but so do other people who may have impact on our lives in both good and bad ways.

As a mom, I see my role as loving my kids and instructing them in the way they should go. But, I recognize that even with the best instructions, rules and examples (and mine are not always the best, because I'm all too human, thank you very much) my boys are going to make bad choices sometimes. Somtimes I can catch the error before it when I catch them on the wind-up before they land a punch or throw something they shouldn't. Sometimes I can stop them from following through on a bad choice and we can talk about why it's a bad choice. I cannot always be present, like God can, so at some point I have to trust them to do the right thing or deal with the fallout.

God is so much bigger than I can ever dream of being. I am so thankful that when I cannot be there to watch over these children, God is there. Being there doesn't mean taking immediate, pre-emptive action. (I have this image of superman swooping in to stop a catastrophe..and really that's what we all wish for, isn't it? A superhero.) God is much bigger than any superhero because God is able to shoulder any pain or burden and carry us through it, stronger, wiser--we are refined-by-the-fire children of God.

What I have learned from God, is to be present and available but not to do it all for them. Sometimes the best way I can show my kids I believe in them is to stand back, get out of the way and let them have at it. They get lots of encouragement and praise for effort and accomplishment, but I hope they're learning that they can do anything they set their mind to independently, because even when I'm not there physically, I will always be giving them a thumbs up and lots of love.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

That's Who I Am.

1 Praying mom. One of millions of praying moms. That's who I am. That's where the title of this blog came from and that is what I do. I pray...a lot.

I do not, however, pray for patience. You might think that is a little foolish, having 5 sons and all. However, I read something in a devotional about prayers for patience being rewarded with opportunities to practice patience, and you know what? Honestly, I don't need any more opportunities to practice. (Actually, I do but that's another story and really, do I need all these growth opportunities? Don't answer that. ) I do think the author was spot on. At the times when I am tempted to pray for patience, my kids are probably pulling me in many different directions. I don't need patience. Instead I need to pray that God will empower and equip me to be the parent that God intends me to be with these children which are a blessing from God. Often when I think I need patience, what I really need as to reevaluate my priorities.

Someone once told me we need to wrap our children in prayer. I think she has a point.

Each day, I pray for their minds to be protected from evil, to remain healthy and strong. I pray for their mouths to speak words of truth and kindness, that they glorify God in word and deed. I pray that each of them will have hearts that are pure and love God. I pray for their bodies to remain healthy and strong, free from illness and injury. I pray that they find their calling in life, that they find joy and love. I also pray for particular issues they might be facing. God already knows what's going on, He knows the number of hairs on their heads, surely He knows if they're struggling with something. God loves each of us more than our human minds can ever comprehend. God listens. God cares and, while God may not respond in a way that is in keeping with my particular human plan, God always responds. Sometimes God responds with blessings and sometimes with opportunities for growth. Sometimes we're not happy to change sizes and the education we receive may be unwelcome, but God does use all this for good.

That's why I'm 1 praying mom.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

If you can't change the situation...

Change your attitude.

I read that on a sign in Senor Frogs last year. I liked it so much, I took a picture. I don't know to whom I should attribute the quote, but I think it's a terrific sentiment.
I thought of this again today. You see, I have a husband and 5 sons and no matter how long I wait or how many coins I toss in the fountain at the mall Alice, Florence, Mary Poppins not even Uncle Charlie have arrived at my door to help with the mopping, the de-cluttering, the laundry or the bathroom scrubbing (and there's a lot of bathroom scrubbing around here...5 sons, remember...although to be fair, Isaiah is only 2 and still in diapers.)
I know, I know..they can all help, and they do..some. But they all have a far higher tolerance for mess and much lower standard of clean. I have been trying to ignore the mess, because if I ignored it long enough, someone else would swoop in and save the day from the evils of housekeeping, right? Ummm..wrong. Nagging and pointed comments, even the occasional rant still didn't inspire a crew of "Mr. Clean" wannabes.
So, today I changed my attitude and embraced the housekeeping and, even if I do say so myself, the house looks really nice. :) And...don't pass out but, seeing mom picking up and cleaning seemed to inspire the boys to willingly clean up their own stuff. (Ok, that should be a no-brainer, we'll save that issue for another day.) While I was doing all ths scrubbing the husband was working on getting the basement organized. With luck, we'll have order all around soon..and maybe even keep up with it.
I stopped hoping someone else would swoop in and clean for me..that situation wasn't going to change (although I do hope I can get the boys to be a little more tidy). I did change my attitude. Why shouldn't I clean it? I mean, while I'm all about equality, the reality is that I am a SAHM and I like it. More time for eating bon bons, don't ya know? ;) While my husband will do household chores, he isn't home much, bringing home the bacon and all.
Anyway, I decided to embrace my life, as mundane and well, kind of gender stereotypical and it wasn't that bad. In fact, it was rather fulfilling. :)