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A Mother’s Hero’s Journey: Proverbs 31

*For context, please refer back to my previous blog.*

The Call to Adventure: 

First Time Mom:  It only took a few months.  My husband and I were sitting together on the couch, the pregnancy test was on the table.  We held hands and waited.  The double pink lines materialized as a beacon of a new adventure.

Now: The kids are growing up and every stage comes with a new challenge.  I feel like I’m being called to adventure every single day.

With great power, comes great responsibility.” -Spiderman, 2002

“Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also and he praiseth her.” Proverbs 31: 28

The Refusal:  After weeks of researching what happens next, I quickly became fearful.  “I can’t do this.  I can’t be a mom! I don’t know what I’m doing.  I’m not feeling any movement, maybe I’m really not pregnant.”

Now:  Even though time has passed, and my kids are older, I sometimes tell myself the same thing.  “I can’t do this.  I can’t be a mom.  I don’t know what I’m doing.” And there is also a refusal to the call when we can’t admit that the emotional journey as mothers can be too much.

“I’m stress paraylzed…I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine.” -Mom’s Night Out, 2014

“Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.”

Proverbs 31: 25

Crossing of the First Threshold:  

When your new baby is strapped into your car and you slowly inch away from the hospital.  You are now in a new world where you aren’t just going home; you are going home as a family.

“It’s all so magical“-Aladdin, 1996

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”  Proverbs 31: 26

Supernatural Aids:

First Time Mom: The ginger candies that melt away nausea, the body pillows that help you sleep, or the awesome belly bands that let you keep your skinny jeans unbuttoned in public.  And maternity clothes!  Wonderful, stretchy, magical maternity clothes that accentuate your beautiful pregnant body and make this journey all the more fun.

Now: First and foremost, God is my aid.  He has saved me from many a mom breakdown.  I visit his throne of grace many times and find comfort and strength in his arms.

I didn’t drink coffee before I was a mom, but now it is my own personal Gummi Beary juice; my white chocolate mocha magic elixir. Also, let’s not forget the mom skills that you never dreamed would be at your disposal when you were so close to refusing your abilities.  After all, we have super-mom adrenaline to rush to our children’s aid and eyes (Sauron eyes?) in the back of our head.

“I stop drinking coffee.  I stop doing the standing and the walking and the words-putting-into-sentence-doing “-Gilmore Girls, 2000

“She equips herself with strength.” -Proverbs 31: 17

The Road of Trials:

First Time Mom: Getting through the morning sickness, the tedious doctor visits, learning to breastfeed, middle of the night feedings, diaper changes, and going through the transitions of all your baby’s milestones.

Now: The Road of Trials is more challenging now, because it keeps changing.  Before, there was a schedule, and you learned a routine.  Now the children are growing at an alarming rate, and even if you have a routine, anything can change it.  For example, once a child starts school, there are responsibilities there, and if a child gets sick, you start a new road of trials.

Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”

-Forrest Gump, 1994

“Give her the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

Proverbs 31:31

Temptation: 

First Time Mom: Whether making a decision between breastfeeding or bottle feeding, solid food at 4 months or 6 months, when to move the baby crib out of your room, you may be tempted to NOT follow your instincts and be tempted to do “What all your friends do.”

Now:  Always tempted to do something else.  Always giving into the lure of the phone screen or staying under the covers for just a few more minutes, not caring if my daughter will be late for school. Temptations to serve cereal for all three meals for the day. (*Note  In moderation, there is nothing wrong with this.  Give yourself a break every once in awhile*)

“My precious…”-Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, 2002

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31: 27

The Belly of the Whale:  

First Time Mom:  You are a victim of sleep deprivation, unspeakable diaper blowouts, and anxiety telling you that somehow, somewhere you will screw this up. You have forgotten to eat because you are so focused on keeping this little person alive.  All of this accumulates into a “Mommy Meltdown.”  You feel like there is no way you’re going to raise a fine up-standing human being.

Now:  There may not be any baby blues, but the weight of everything can still take it’s toll on a hard-working mama.  We always think that we are going to mess something up.  Even if it was an epic day of parenting, for some unknown reason, the looming school issues, or teenager issues still manage to pop up in our brain.  “Sure, this is great now, but just wait-you’re not ready to raise a teenager.  You’re totally going to fail when that time comes around.” There is also an identity crisis that the hero mom goes through and usually leads to another refusal. “So this is my life now.  It’s all over for me.”  We usually need to swallow our pride and ask for help, otherwise we will remain in the belly with no hope of rescue.

 “Admit defeat, and defeat will surely admit you into permanent custody.”-An Extremely Goofy Movie, 2000

“In [her] darkest hour, she rises.”-Proverbs 31:15 Continue reading “A Mother’s Hero’s Journey: Proverbs 31”

Momercise: An Intro to A Hero’s Journey

Sometimes I will watch a movie with my husband and my nerdiness comes out. One of my favorite things to point out is a well-known literary formula from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. Sometimes my husband shakes his head, rolls his eyes, or sometimes he even pats me on the head and tells me how cute I am. If I were to point this out to others, I am sure they would tell me to shut up and just enjoy the movie, but what they don’t realize is that I am so nerdy, I am actually enjoying it. Please enjoy my attempt  to break down the formula with examples from pop culture and comparisons to a fitness plan.

*SPOILER ALERT FOR SEVERAL POPULAR FANTASY MOVIES*

The Blunder: There is some kind of mistake or unexplained event that begins the hero’s story. For example, Peter Parker’s web sticking to his lunch-tray and how he unwittingly fwips it into Flash Thompson’s head.

OR

The moment you cannot fit into your skinny jeans and the button pops off and hits your toddler in the eye.

The Call to Adventure and Refusal: A hero almost always refuses to believe that they are able to accomplish what is expected of them.

“You’re a wizard, Harry.” “I can’t be a wizard.”

OR

“You need to be healthy and start walking.” “But I love ice cream…But I’m too busy…But it’s too hot outside.”

Yes. Lots of refusals.

Supernatural Aids: Be it light sabers, Excalibur, or magic beans, the hero has some kind of magical item to help him on his quest.

The magical Fitbit, diet pills, or infomercial contraptions that are backed by money-back guarantees.

The Mentor: This person trains up a hero and serves as a symbol of wisdom throughout the story.  Characters like Merlin and Ra’s al Ghul serve as this archetype.

OR

Jillian Michaels. YouTube workout tutorials.

Loyal Retainers: All of the friends who help the hero on his journey. “So no one told you life was gonna be this way…” (Just kidding.) Dorothy has her scarecrow, tinman, and lion,

OR

You have your pack of gal pals cheering you on, or at least all of the happy looking people dancing behind Richard Simmons…

Crossing of the First Threshold: When everything the hero knows as truth changes and he finally steps into a strange and unknown world. When Lucy ventures from the wardrobe into the land of Narnia

OR

When you take that step into the gym, wondering how to converse with all the spin-class princesses and the body-building giants.

The Road of Trials: The hero must go through a number of lessons and tasks to prove he is worthy of his title. Aladdin shows that he is a “Diamond in the Rough” by saving the poor children, surviving the Cave of Wonders, and defeating Jafar.

OR

The goal-tracking on your step-counter, the alternating of strength and cardio workouts, and the meal-planning, the meal-planning, the meal-planning. (Additional thought: The 12 labors of Hercules were nothing compared to choking down kale smoothies.)

Temptress: Our hero is tempted (sometimes by a woman) to stray from the journey and to give up. When Sarah finds herself in a beautifully enticing masquerade ball with the goblin king in the movie Labyrinth.

OR

When the pop-ads on your computer torment you with deals for D&D: Domino’s and Dairy Queen! Or perhaps someone, whom you trust very much, will praise you on how far you’ve come and will try to convince you that one skipped day of exercise or one tiny brownie bite couldn’t possibly hurt, right?

The Belly of the Whale and Rescue: The hero is in what looks like an un-escapable situation, where he usually reflects on the journey or falls into doubt. He is rescued by the loyal retainers and continues on his quest. When Pinnochio is (quite literally) in the belly of a whale or when Westley “dies” in the Pit of Despair.

The Pit of Despair? You mean when you fall off the wagon and can’t stay away from the All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet one day longer? Then your besties pick you back up, dust you off, and take you for a run.

 

The Ultimate Boon: The ultimate goal or ultimate object that a hero seeks on his journey. The Holy Grail

OR

the dream of a newly stocked smaller size wardrobe.

Apotheosis: When the goal of the mission seems meaningless and the hero realizes that it is all about the journey and how far he has come. When Lightening McQueen realizes that the Piston Cup is “just an empty cup,”

OR

When you realize that looking like a supermodel is not realistic (“It’s just an airbrush”.)  When you are happy with yourself and all of the healthy changes you have made.

Magic Flight: Sometimes this occurs before the hero finishes his last task, and other times it is at the very end of his journey. This happens in E.T., The Neverending Story, and when you have finally reached your goals and you are so elated, that you feel yourself floating on air.

Atonement with the Father: The hero has a confrontation on the cusp of his destiny.  Usually with a father figure, the hero appeals for mercy.  The hero has a decision to make.  When Simba confronts his past and speaks to Mufasa

OR

When you confront your diet ups and downs and decide whether you will buckle down or let it go.

 

Master of Both Worlds: When the hero is able to co-exist within the known and the unknown.  The student has become the master.  When Bruce Wayne can be both a billionaire and the Dark Knight

OR

When you have finally found a balance between healthy choices and living life with joy.

Stay tuned for Part II:  A Mother’s Hero’s Journey.

The Best Laid Plans of Moms

“My Mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”– Mark Twain

What keeps a mom sane?  Is she sane?  Is sanity in the eye of the beholder?  How many kids does it take to get to the center of a mom’s sanity?  Though a mother’s inner thoughts can be poked and prodded for years and years, it just takes one…tiny…pinch for for a mom to unleash a spewing volcano of tears and indecipherable sonic waves, much to the bewilderment of husbands and children alike.

What are we to do?  If you’re like me I’m sure that you have had a few nights where you’re sitting in the dark, unable to sleep, and going through a list in your head about what the next day will bring.  You have a plan.  You’re going to get the kids to school smoothly; you’re going to get the treats ready for the bake sale in record time; you’re going to put a movie on for your toddler so you can take a long, hot shower and finally shave your legs, because, girl, it has been almost a month.  And once the kids are in bed you will be intimate with your husband, tired or not.  Your plan will prevail!!! And what happens?  Your alarm doesn’t go off in the morning, you’re struggling to get your kids out the door when you realize you forgot to pack them a lunch, the baby had a potty accident on your bed, and you realize you have no eggs to bake the treats for the bake sale.  After stopping by the store to get eggs, you were distracted by so many things, it is already lunchtime by the time you get home.  You prepare lunch, and as always it’s an Olympic event with sitting down and standing up over and over, because they spill before you even sit down, the sandwich wasn’t cut to their liking, they are begging for you to wash out their favorite cup, or you forgot a fork for yourself, etc.  After lunch, you decide to let your children help you with baking, knowing in your heart that it will be filled with bonding, teachable moments, but they drop all of the eggs you just purchased.  Defeated, you quickly turn on the TV and try to rush to the shower, ignoring the all too familiar squeal, “Mommy! Where are you goooooooing?!”  Your shower is constantly interrupted with knocking and crying and fighting, and (just great) there isn’t any hot water left.  Of course the rest of the day doesn’t go as you had planned and it causes you to be weighed down by the belief that you are a failure.  You then sing to yourself, “Hello, sanity my old friend…”

Sure, these blogs are filled with what I think is helpful advice, but believe me, I still dismiss the fact that I struggle to follow the advice myself.  Nevertheless I need to try and help, because I know that the best medicine for mothers is encouragement. So, don’t panic when your plans change and you are on the cusp of a meltdown.  Here are a few things that help me:

Never underestimate the power of hyperbole and melodrama.  It pays to overact with your kids.  Sometimes if my child is acting a little bit whiny, I mimic him, but fling myself on the floor in tragic, dying scene fashion, and usually it just gets him to start cracking up, and it’s over.  When your child is showing you their Lego tower that reaches all the way to the moon, go with it and really react in the most awesome way that you can.  It will make them smile.  If they spill, instead of rolling your eyes or groaning, start applauding and say, “Hooray! I’ve seen a lot of spills, but that was magnificent!” Then give them a high five.  Enjoy your kids.  Even if you’re ready to collapse, muster the strength to make everything bigger, happier, and magical.  When they hug you, be the last one to let go, because sometimes it will benefit you the most.

Don’t use little blunders as an excuse to worry about the future.  Don’t think that way down the road your daughter will be in therapy, because you accidentally sprayed too much hair spray when you had no idea that she was right behind you.  Don’t start planning out a difficult conversation, just because your little boy wants to dress up like mommy. My mother recently confessed to me that she was always worried that I would run away with a tattooed motorcycle-riding bad boy, because I was obsessed over a song from Grease 2, called Cool Rider.  I laughed and told her that I really had no consciousness of what Michelle Pfeiffer was singing, I just really liked that her Pink Ladies jacket was reversible; that it could be black leather or pretty pink.  Nobody knows what the future will bring, just be confident that you are a fantastic mom, doing the very best that you can.

Don’t judge and don’t allow others to judge you.  Don’t feel outclassed, because you have toilet paper for wiping noses instead of lavender-scented cashmere facial tissues.  I am telling you, most of your mom friends use toilet paper for cleaning kitchen counters when they run out of baby wipes.  When you invite your mom friends over, don’t make everything sparkly, because you never know when it will make another mom feel a sense of solidarity.  “Wow! My sink is filled with grease-crusted pans too!  Maybe I’m not such a failure.”  Also, there is unspoken freedom when you can stop caring what other people think of you.  If someone gives you a hard time about your mom life, it is on them, not you.

Music is a powerful tool, for keeping your cool.  Every once in a while, I will play a 90s playlist rekindling a nostalgia so therapeutic, that my mood changes for the better.  My daughter looks at me strangely when I attempt the dances I remember to MC Hammer and New Kids on the Block, but it makes her smile and she eventually wants to join in.  Yesterday we were creating lyrical dances to Hold On by Wilson Phillips; leaping and twirling through the hallway.  And that certainly wasn’t on my To Do List.  We had a blast.  Sometimes I have noticed that even the most upbeat and positive songs tend to deviate into noise if I’m having hard days.  When this happens I turn on a classical radio station, and it’s nice to just hear pure, calming music and sometimes it calms the kids down as well.

Don’t give up on yourself just because today didn’t go as planned.  Just keep being you, and there will be days where treasured moments will outweigh the plans that went wrong.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. -Galatians 6:9

Momercise: Update 1

Well, here we are.  I promised that I was going to report back every week.  Look at that. It’s been 2 weeks.  As expected, I did not meet my goal.  I planned to add a little dancing to every bit of daily mundanity that I could.  I followed through for 3 days in a row, and then….

“Ooh, let’s make brownies.”

“Road trip calories don’t count.”

“Fancy that? Snowing in the desert.  Guess we aren’t walking today.”

I’ve had all of these kind of excuses before.  Right now, to be honest, my lounge pants are fitting tightly on me and I am pretty scared.  I am not about to go out and buy bigger sizes.  I refuse to give up.  Please know that it was never my intention to make these updates about body shaming or anything like that.  It was and still is about accountability.  By the way, don’t expect any weigh-ins.  The last time I lost weight was inches, not pounds, and I felt healthy.  The scale is not an accurate measuring device for health, and for that matter, happiness.

So, if I am owning up to the fact that I am not perfect I hope to encourage someone out there.  Even though I added a few shimmies and sways to my daily routines it still caused my attitude to shift, which I call a win.  I may not have exercised as much as I wanted, but I’m on my way to building myself as a happier and healthier individual.  I’m going to keep my promise that once I reach 50 followers I will share a video. I still hope to help some moms out there that are like me that can’t afford a gym membership with a fun dance routine that they can do anywhere. Please consider following me, even if you want to laugh at my pitiful attempt to stay accountable.  You could get a few dance tips to help you out in other scenarios as well.  See you next Thursday…(“Yeah right” she mutters to herself).

Any kind of dancing is better than no dancing at all.” –Lynda Barr

Slow Down in All You Do

There have been several news reports of “hit and runs” or accidents involving pedestrians around my hometown in the past year. Some were caused by intoxication, while others were caused by distracted driving. My car was out of commission for a short time, so I had to walk my daughter to school every morning. One day, my children and I were half-way across the street and one car didn’t even stop at the 4-way stop. They just kept on going. If this only happened once I probably wouldn’t have felt the need to write about it. It pains me to say that I have consciously made eye contact with the people that continue on in the 4-way intersection. Perhaps they believe they have the right of way, who knows? If it’s just me walking, sure. Keep on going, I know how to stop. But when I have two little ones grabbing on to me, (one who could drop his toy Hot Wheel at any second, and the other who has a new-found interest in walking backwards with her eyes closed) shouldn’t there be a tiny bit of hesitation, even if you did get to the stop sign first? It amazes me that so many people are still driving at about 35 miles an hour before they start to slow down for the stop sign. And other times, I can clearly see that they are looking down at their phones while driving. I’ve had this paragraph saved as a draft for almost a month now, and I could never get myself to keep writing about it. I suppose I didn’t want to complain or speak ill of anyone. I have been taught to show grace and I have been training myself to do so. Whenever you drive, please slow down.

I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.
1 Corinthians 7:35

Because of the Facebook memory feature, I am able to see what I posted years and years ago. I cringe whenever I see past status updates that included melodramatic negativity, cursing, or posts that obviously contained a “Woe is me…give me love” agenda. A couple of years ago I started thinking more consciously about what I posted on social media. Whenever I noticed a hint of negativity in my posts, I usually deleted it and moved on. I didn’t want to drag other people down with me. Nowadays negativity is on our newsfeed like a virus. Do we really need to pile it on with our own rants and/or political nonsense? Think to yourself “Is there any benefit to me or anyone else before I press ‘Enter'” Before you post, slow down.

Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Romans 12:17‭-‬18

When your children or your spouse upset you, it is easy to do two things: Instinctively yell or stew about it until it bubbles up into an even more dramatic ultimatum. Before you react, slow down.

The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
Jonah 4:4

Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
James 1:20

It has been a long day. You have been counting down the minutes to bedtime. Your children fight you at every point during the bedroom routine. “Why do I always have to brush my teeth first?” “I don’t like those jammies.” “But we didn’t get dessert!” “Can we pleeeeeeeeease stay up longer?” You are frantic in your spirit to get your children to bed, so that you can breathe and enjoy the silence. You are fully justified in wanting to put them to bed, because the constant push and pull is wearing you down. But when was the last time you shared a perfect, puzzle piece fitting hug with your kids? When was the last time you sang them a song? When was the last time you said, “Sweet dreams. I love you.” Before your kids can get ready for bed on their own (or even if they already do) slow down.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.
2 Thessalonians 3:16

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15‭-‬16 ESV