Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Give Poor Mama a Break!

Image by Sean Birmingham
If you're visiting from Christian Children's Author's blog, Welcome!

The past few weeks I've relived my child-rearing years as my daughter and her young family have lived with us while awaiting the closing on their new home. With a toddler and newborn in the home, I've felt like time reversed itself, but then my 50-something body reminded me that, no, no, that's not at all true.

Aside from the sore back and enormous fatigue at the end of the day, I've been reminded of how demanding mommy-hood can be as each child simultaneously demands her attention with distinct vocalizations at varying decibels all day long. Oh, there may be minor distractions like the second or third viewing of The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh or a precious few moments of independent play dough squishing creativity where Mama may get a break from constant demands. And, there are most days where the children take naps at the same time that last longer than the walk out of their room, but there are days that I collapse alongside my daughter and say, "Wow! How did I ever get through those child-rearing years alive?"

Thinking back on those years I remembered these few helps:
  • Ask for help - seek out a family member, close friend or a recommended caregiver to give you a hand with the kids when you need it. 
  • Get out of the house - if you're a stay-at-home mom, find ways to change your surroundings. Not only will it help you, but your kids' attitudes will benefit from the different atmosphere, too. Suggested places to go: a local park, kids museum, a friends house, a walk around the block, the children's library or as simple as running errands.
  • Group activities - enroll yourself and your child in a group activity like a children's story hour at your local library or book store, Gymboree's or MOP's clubs. Not only do these activities occupy and grow your child's creativity and social skills, they allow you to find encouragement from other parents. 
  • Power nap - it's amazing how a 15-20 minute nap on the couch while your kids are sleeping helps re-energize you for the rest of the day. It was a hard one for me to learn because I always saw the "to do list" when I shut my eyes. But, if you can learn to shut down for just a few minutes a day, it will make the after school to bed time hours more enjoyable. 
  • Share the after 5 pm responsibilities - discuss how your spouse or older children might help with dinner preparation, clean up, bath/bedtime routines.
  • Get away with your spouse- everyone needs a vacation, especially parents...Yes, without our children. This was the #1 best lesson I ever learned in my child-rearing years. When we enlist a trusted grandparent, relative, friend or babysitter to watch your children overnight, we build stronger families. Our children not only learn to trust us to return, but we teach them the importance of honor. When we give our marriage relationship its proper place of honor, we lay a foundation for healthy marriages for our children. 
  • Remind yourself, "It's temporary" - childhood seems endless. It really isn't. One day you'll wake up and you'll realize how incredibly independent your baby has become. You'll finally gain back all that sleep you thought you'd lost forever. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Lost and found Bunny: a lesson in prayer

The Beloved Toy Rabbit by Alyssa L. Miller
If you're joining me from the Christian Children's Authors blog, Welcome! 
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Psalm 17:6 NIV
Bunny went missing. Oh, not the Peter Rabbit sort that live outside among the garden rows and feasted on carrots and cabbages whilst we slumbered. No, this missing rabbit was affectionately called Bunny by my adoring five-year-old daughter ever since it traveled across the continent to our home via Grandma's suitcase four years prior. And now it was nowhere to be found!
Panic struck about 8 p.m. on a school night just as "T" returned to her bedroom with a glass of water in hand. Proud that she'd earned the right to fetch her own night-time drink, "T" woke me from my power nap as she snuggled between the sheets and drew up her blanket. Adjusting her pillows, she reached for Bunny only to find...nothing. "Bunny's gone!" she shrieked.
Now fully awake, I leaped to the floor and felt under her bed, under the covers, behind the bed and in her closet. Clearly, Bunny, not being "real" (although her fur had become worn, her plastic eyes were chipped and her nose was almost rubbed off)  could not have run off on her own.
We recruited the help of Daddy and Brother and after turning the whole house upside down Bunny was still lost. "T" was inconsolable and I only imagined a sleepless night ahead. Like lost car keys, God whispered into my ear, "Nothing is too small a request. If you ask me, I will find Bunny for you." Okay," I conceded. "But you'd really better come through on this one, 'cause it's "T" who's watching you!" I warned God.
Holding my sobbing daughter, Daddy and I led her in a simple prayer, "God, Bunny is missing and we can't find her anywhere. Please show us where to find her because "T" loves Bunny so much. Amen." After that God said, "Retrace T's steps." Oh, that's right, she'd walked downstairs to get her own water without me. She's the only one who could retrace her steps.
"Okay, T," I explained, "You need to think hard and retrace your steps from the time you left the room with Bunny in your arms, okay?" We followed her out of her bedroom, down the flight of stairs, through the living room and into the kitchen. Still no Bunny appeared. "God, she's trusting you to help her find Bunny. You see this, right?" I pleaded.
T opened the cupboard where she reached for a drinking glass. No Bunny in there. No Bunny on the counter where she rested her glass. No Bunny on the floor or under the sink. As T headed toward the refrigerator my heart sank. "Oh, Lord, don't disappoint her. This little one's faith is strong, please show us Bunny, please."
She pulled open the door and peered inside. "Bunny!" she shouted. Yup, there was Bunny propped up next to the jug of water  with her well-loved bald spots, chipped eyes and worn off nose just smiling back at us. "Oh, Lord," I whispered through my giggles, "you certainly do have a sense of humor!"
As silly as all this sounds now, I look back at it as a tremendous lesson for T. At such an early age she learned that God answers prayers, no matter how big or small the request. When something is important to us, it's important to God, too.
What a great lesson for us all.