A Little Girl And A Big School Bus – Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up

A Little Girl And A Big Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

Two weeks ago our four year old sunshine girl climbed the stairs of a school bus for the first time. Unexpected mom-emotions threatened to overtake me as my mind raced with thoughts of all she would experience – good and bad – while away from me.

She’s growing up.

She rocked 3’s preschool and has been away from me for countless bible studies, Sunday school, and more. But as I watched her climb onto that big school bus wearing that giant-flamingo backpack, she looked so small.

Isn’t that my baby up there? 

Parenting is full of these emotion-fueled moments – when we realize our children are growing up and stepping a little further into the world. These moments remind us that we cannot control our kids or their experiences.

She didn’t hesitate as she turned back, grinning with sparkling eyes as she waved goodbye.

She didn’t hesitate. So why was I?

I stood, choked up and snapping pictures. I waved furiously with a smile plastered to my face as the bus drove away.

The bus rounded the corner. The only evidence it had been there at all was the plume of exhaust and my husband, mom and I gazing at an empty street.

Sunshine girl was on her way to school with a bus load of new friends. Without me. 

Year by year, our children will spend more time at school and activities, with people other than us. They gather life-skills and knowledge and are slowly equipped to become independent, functioning adults.

Independent. Of us. 

And what of us, their parents? Once their ‘whole world’ and providers of everything they need – we’re gradually needed less and less as our role continually changes.

We proudly cheer them on, celebrating new freedoms and opportunities while acknowledging that there is less we can protect them from. We’re grateful they don’t grow up overnight, even if looking back, it feels like it did.

And this is all right and good. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. 

Or unemotional.

Our emotions are real and powerful. And sometimes emotions creep up out of nowhere and threaten to knock us off our feet.

We need to adapt and learn to not only accept but embrace these moments and the emotions they stir up.

Stop Comparing

Your emotions are yours. They don’t belong to your neighbor, friend, or that mom over there that you don’t even know.

Stop comparing. Every parent feels emotions and processes them differentlyWhat you feel as your child climbs onto the school bus is ok.

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

You don’t have to apologize for crying, even if you’re the only mom ugly-crying on the curb as the bus drives away.

Quit worrying about what everyone else is doing and give yourself permission to feel it all.

So now we admit we have these emotions and we’re not worried about what everyone else is doing. Now what?

Own It

We love our children. So it makes sense that our emotions can be fierce. Letting go and watching our children step out into the world is hard. And excitingAnd scary.

Stifling emotions never really works. They just bubble out later in another way or at someone else, with increased intensity.

Feel something? Own it.

So what if you’re an ugly-crying mess at the bus stop? So what if you’re the only dry-eyed mom in the crowd? So what if summer was so long and tiring that a part of you feels like celebrating and maybe a twinge guilty about that (or maybe you feel no guilt)?  So what if you’re suddenly crying in Target 3 hours later because you just miss them?

What if your kids see you? While we do need to have wisdom and discernment about how and what we share with our children, it is ok for them to see you express what you feel.

In these milestone moments, watching you feel and process emotions in a healthy way gives your children permission to feel and process their own. 

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

 

Process It

Do your emotions surprise you? Days before school started, I expected to cry at the bus stop. Then, that morning as we stood waiting for the bus I felt only excitement. I was happy and exited – not sad at all!

Then she took those first steps up and WHAM!

When emotions surprise me, the best way to work through them is to process them. Feel them. Think through them. Talk about them.

This does require time and energy but is too important to pass up.

Go to God – Night or day, God is always available. Our loving Father loves to comfort His children. No matter the emotion, He already knows. When it comes to emotions I feel as a parent, it is such a comfort to know that God created our children and loves them even more than than I can. He listens and provides peace and comfort beyond our understanding. Try it! Pray through emotions and spend some time reading His word. He won’t leave you hanging.

Talk to a Friend – One of the reasons we need community is to process real-life with people who are willing to be authentic. We need to know we’re not alone and to be encouraged by other parents. Be honest. Cry if you feel like it. Speaking how we feel out loud is powerful.

Write – When home with kids all day, I can’t always process emotions out-loud with another adult. Journaling or blogging about what I’m feeling helps me find clarity and understand what I am feeling and WHY.

Celebrate 

One way to take the edge off of our emotions of sadness, longing or fear is to celebrate milestones – even if just official days like the first/last day of school and birthdays.

That said, we don’t need to celebrate everything. Celebrate events that are significant to your family and priorities. Celebrating puts the joy back into even the most bittersweet milestone.

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

Celebrate with a meal, a sporting event or activity, a gift, a handwritten card, or an intentional conversation. Celebrate to remind your children that you’re cheering them on and proud of them.

Be Present

Finally, no matter how emotional you feel, at some point, you need to step out of your own head and step into the time and place you’re in.

I spent a couple hours dwelling in my own swimming emotions and thoughts before doing anything productive with them. Once I began to process them, I was able to step back into the day and be ready and excited to hear all about that first day of school. If I’d kept it all in, I’m not sure I would have been any good to anybody – just a puddle of tears and self-pity.

Be present with those right in front of you. Don’t let your emotions put you in a funk that steals quality time from you and your family.

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com

 

A Little Girl And A Big School Bus - Embracing The Moments (And Emotions) That Remind Us Our Children Are Growing Up | thisgratefulmama.com Embracing Moments

 

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That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket – Teaching Kids About Grace

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com

Exactly 3 days after the accident with sunshine girl’s finger and the Epi-Pen, I had another humbling experience.

A speeding ticket.

My first one.

In the mini van.

With all three kids.

In the aftermath of the Epi-Pen accident, I wasn’t feeling like the best mom. I was actively fighting for joy from some pretty heavy mom-guilt. Not that there is ever a good time for a speeding ticket, but this one certainly came at a bad time.

The Ticket

We were having a rough morning. The littlest one was teething and in apparently fierce discomfort. She was just not herself.

After attempting to soothe and distract at home, it was clear we needed to get out of the house. I decided to do a quick errand.

Because baby was so unhappy, I decided to drive further to a less crowded store, hoping she would fall asleep coming home.

As we neared the store, the road was closed. We turned right at the barricade and continued on an unfamiliar road. I was just cruising along at roughly the same speed as the previous road, checking street signs to figure out where to turn.

Heading down a hill, I noticed a small park and thought – I should remember that. Then, I saw a police car parked at the bottom of the hill.

Yikes. Sharp intake of breath. You know that feeling, don’t you? See a police car and tap the brakes even though you’re not sure how fast you’re going?

Hmm. How fast was I going? Didn’t know.

Then I saw the speed limit sign at the bottom of the hill. 30.

Pretty sure I was going faster than that. Sure enough, on came the lights as he pulled into the street.

‘OK guys, mama is going to get a speeding ticket’.

Our very cautious, rule-following oldest child looked wide-eyed from the back. He was silent but his shocked face revealed concern. Or maybe horror.

I assured the kids it was going to be OK and reminded them that police help people. Today this one was going to help mommy be a better diver.

The officer was very kind but informed me I was going 52 in a 30.

By a park.

And my license plate tabs were expired.

Without excuse, I apologized. Pretty sure my eyes were as wide as our son’s.

I told him about being diverted from the road closure and how I was paying attention to street signs instead of the speed limit. I was sure we’d paid for our tabs so told him I would go home and find them. He headed to his car.

The kids were silent, even the baby. For possibly the first time all morning.

When the officer returned, indeed our tabs were paid for. Find them. Then he gave me my very first speeding ticket – but not the ticket I deserved.

I deserved a ticket for driving 52 in a 30 by a park. That friends, is a humongous ticket. Instead, he gave me a ticket for going 44 in a 30. Two full tiers below what I deserved.

I choked back tears and thanked him.

Teaching Grace

As a rule-follower myself, I could not hold back the tears as he walked away. I was still so surprised it happened, embarrassed and humbled, and felt guilty for getting the ticket in front of the kids. Then I felt bad for crying in front of the kids, but could. not. stop.

Not my best mom-moment.

I may have prayed a silent ‘really, God? – don’t you remember Monday?‘ prayer. Ok. Yes. Actually I’m sure I did that.

Now in the store parking lot just around the corner, I wept.

Our poor kids were silently watching, unsure of what to do next. Finally, our son spoke up from the back – ‘Mama. I’m so sorry you got a ticket‘.

His kind words caused me to glance up at his reflection in the rear-view mirror. His worried look put a stop to my tears – there was a lesson in this.

The moment must not be wasted. 

Oh Lord, please give me the words to use this moment for YOUR glory.

You guys, it is in these moments, when we have made a mistake, failed or been humbled in front of our children – in the midst of authentic remorse and emotion, when well-chosen words can be most powerful.

Our children are often the first-hand witness that parents are not perfect. While we don’t need to discuss our every failing with our kids, something that unfolds right in front of them should be addressed.

How we address it matters.

When these things happen, whether a speeding ticket or some other obvious show of imperfection, we need to use the moment to teach them about truth.

After some deep breaths, we talked about why I was pulled over. And the many reasons I deserved a BIG ticket – speeding was breaking the rules, having expired tabs was irresponsible, and how as a mom, I should be even more attentive to places like parks where kids could be crossing the street.

The officer had every right to give me exactly what I deserved – but he didn’t.

We talked about how the officer treated me. He spoke kindly to me and listened to what I had to say. He treated me with respect and we talked about how in our family, we respect police officers.

Then, despite the emotional roller coaster in my brain, joy crept in and we begain to talk about grace.

The officer chose to give me a smaller ticket than I deserved. In doing so, he showed me grace I did not earn or ask for.

Their sister’s middle name is Grace, which means a gift undeserved.

And like the officer’s gift was undeserved, I also do not deserve the grace of God. It still baffles me that God showed such lavish grace in sending His son Jesus to die as punishment for my sins. And for the sins of our children.

All because of the simple yet profound reason that God loves us. The imperfect, the sinful, the unlovable – we are the beloved redeemed because of lavish grace and love of Jesus Christ.

Just like I was unaware of my speeding, we were once unaware of our own sin. We didn’t ask him to give grace, He did it on His own. Salvation is God’s work alone.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV)

We don’t deserve it, but Jesus stands in our place of the judgement we deserve because He chooses to. We just need to acknowledge Him and receive it.

We deserve punishment.

We get grace.

Because He loves us.

The heart of the Gospel.

Smiles. Nodding. I think these precious children really got it.

We prayed, thanking God for Jesus. We thanked God for the police officer and the kindness he showed mommy. And for the reminder of what Jesus did for each of us.

The call to my husband started fresh but brief tears as I explained how the stellar mom who allowed the accident on Monday had just gotten a speeding ticket with all the kids in the car on Thursday.

Not a great week.

My husband showed me unwarranted grace, just as he did on Monday. He is an undeserved gift to me.

Finally, we got out of the car and stumbled into the store with my tear-streaked face but a sense of God-given peace that cannot be described here with mere words.

The outing wasn’t exactly the ‘distraction’ I’d planned. I’m grateful we ended up with a lesson of eternal value that left a strong impression on their hearts.

I guess if getting a speeding ticket is what it took to give them a tangible understanding of grace, then so be it.

Sometimes the most humbling moments as moms teach the most powerful lessons to our kids.

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com

ALL speeding tickets might not be so bad after all – but I’d rather not get another one.

If you see me driving around town like a granny, now you’ll know why.

That Time I Got A Speeding Ticket - Teaching Kids About Grace | thisgratefulmama.com

This post was shared on the Salt & Light Linkup (#16). Click on the image below to find other great posts relating to Christian encouragement. Check it out!

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How To Stay Sane While Grocery Shopping With Three Kids

How To Stay Sane While Grocery Shopping With Three Kids | thisgratefulmama.com

I love going to the store with all three children.

Wait. No.

Just.

No.

While some may love shopping with a pack of squirming, squealing and wandering children, I prefer to go alone.

How To Stay Sane While Grocery Shopping With Three Kids | thisgratefulmama.com

As a stay-at-home mom of three, the likelihood of solo-shopping glory is slim. Especially in the summer when school is out.

While my husband is happy to stay home while I go alone in the evening or on the weekend, I’d rather shop during the week so we can spend those precious hours together.

We do our best to make shopping with three kids as painless as possible for them, and for me.

How to stay sane while grocery shopping with three kids

  1. Plan Ahead – Gone are the days of wandering aisles waiting to be inspired for this week’s meals. Shopping with children requires planning and a detailed list. If possible, rearrange the list in the order each item is found in store aisles – dairy and meat, pantry staples, paper goods and produce.
  2. Limit Stores – List in hand, you should have a pretty good idea which stores you need to visit. When possible, choose the store that carries MOST of your items. For me, it may mean shopping where I’d rather not in order to get home faster with my sanity in tact.
  3. Timing is Everything – Kids who are tired, hungry, or missing out on playtime may be in the mood for an unpleasant trip.  I like to run errands just after breakfast. Morning is when our kids and I are most likely to be at our best. Kids aren’t outside playing yet, and everyone is fed and well rested.
  4. Bathroom First – Never, ever leave home without making ALL children, even the oldest, use the bathroom. Emergencies aside, on most tripsthis will save you from the mad dash across the store hoping no one pees before you find the bathroom.
  5. Enlist Help – Who in your life is easy-going and genuinely wants to spend time with you and be helpful? Have someone in mind? Good. Ask them to shop with you. My mom has accompanied us on many shopping trips. She pushes an extra cart and keeps the troops in line. Have an older child? They are your built-in help. Assure them that their help will make the trip quicker so they can get on to whatever they would rather be doing.
  6. Incentives This is your backup plan. Some may call it bribery, I like to call it incentives. What motivates your kids? A fun activity? A shorter rest? Including them in meal planning and preparation? Snacks? Whatever helps them make it through the trip – DO IT – for all of you. Watch out so the habit of snacks doesn’t turn you into a human vending machine, but do not leave home without a backup plan.
    How To Stay Sane While Grocery Shopping With Three Kids | thisgratefulmama.com
  7. Not On The List, Not In the Cart – This takes discipline. Resist the urge to grab that item not on the list. It will save you money and keep the trip short. Plus, if you follow the list, you can use this rule to ward off all purchase requests from the kids. Sorry, not on the list.
  8. Use the Big Cart – Those giant carts with two seats in front are actually easier to push than you think, even when loaded with three kids. When we need to be quick, I still make our almost 7-year-old ride in the big cart. If the kids CAN fit, make them ride. Now you are free to walk as quickly as you can without running some poor soul over. Get IN and get OUT.
  9. Cut Your Losses – When everything that could go wrong does go wrong, be willing to leave the store and full cart behind. Promise your kids they will have to come back to do the entire shopping trip again and follow through. If you do, hopefully you won’t ever have to do that again.
  10. Take Care of YOU – Start the day right. A few moments alone with your God, Bible, and coffee will help you be your best all day long. Oh mama, I know how difficult it can be to fit this time in during a kid-busy morning. Have you considered waking up before your kids? Even 15 minutes can be a game changer. Trust me, you will not regret it or miss the sleep.

When the trip is done, and you’ve all survived, find a coffee-drive thru and treat yourself for a job well done.

Happy shopping friends!

How To Stay Sane While Grocery Shopping With Three Kids | thisgratefulmama.com

How To Stay Sane While Grocery Shopping With Three Kids | Thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

Can you believe kids are heading back to school already?

For me, this summer has flown by.

Are you ready? 

One of my favorite things to do on the first day of school is snap a quick picture of each child with a sign telling what grade they are in.

The photos are cute, but it may also be for selfish reasons – the signs in the photo help me keep the photos organized. Each already tells me if it was the first or last day, and what grade it was from.

In the past, I’ve used a small chalkboard for these photos.

Last year, during the busy season of having a newborn, the first and last days of school snuck up on me.

On both mornings, while the kids got ready for school, I ran around like a crazy lady trying to find our chalkboard. And a piece of chalk.

Apparently not an easy task – be prepared mamas!

It made everything feel hectic, not like an exciting day. Definitely not what I was hoping to offer them.

This year, to make it easier for me and all of you, the signs are already made and ready to be printed.

Below are free printable signs for the ‘First Day of School’, along with matching ‘Last Day of School’ signs. You’ll find matching signs for Preschool, Pre-K, and Kindergarten – 12th grade.

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

Just in case these signs don’t fit your school situation, there is also a generic ‘First Day of School’ and ‘Last Day of School’ sign for 2017-2018.

Whatever grade your kids are in – we’ve got you covered!

Each sign can be printed on standard 8.5×11 card stock or paper. Just download the PDF and print in color.

Don’t forget to Pin this post to save it so you can print the matching ‘Last Day of School’ signs in the spring!

You can also stay up to date on new free printables and all of my favorite things by following  thisgratefulmama on Pinterest.

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of School and Last Day of School

First Day of Preschool and Last Day of Preschool

First Day of Pre-K and Last Day of Pre-K

First Day of Kindergarten and Last Day of Kindergarten

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of 1st Grade and Last Day of 1st Grade

First Day of 2nd Grade and Last Day of 2nd Grade

First Day of 3rd Grade and Last Day of 3rd Grade

First Day of 4th Grade and Last Day of 4th Grade

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of 5th Grade and Last Day of 5th Grade

First Day of 6th Grade and Last Day of 6th Grade

First Day of 7th Grade and Last Day of 7th Grade

First Day of 8th Grade and Last Day of 8th Grade

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of 9th Grade and Last Day of 9th Grade

First Day of 10th Grade and Last Day of 10th Grade

First Day of 11th Grade and Last Day of 11th Grade

First Day of 12th Grade and Last Day of 12th Grade

Have a great first (and last) day of school!

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

An Accident – No Longer A Slave To Fear

 

An Accident - No Longer A Slave To Fear | thisgratefulmama.comToday I am choosing to tell this story, not out of self-pity or for attention, but for two very important reasons: First, to raise awareness of Epi-Pen safety, and second, to share how God was faithful, and how His presence gave tangible peace and help in a situation that was very scary for our family. Here goes…

Yesterday was a normal summer day.

The kids and I got up, ate breakfast and took a walk to the park.

Upon returning, we got ready and a neighbor invited our son to join them for the afternoon. The girls and I ran errands and came home for naps.

30 minutes into rest time, I found our 4-year-old sunshine girl on the floor, surrounded by books. We headed downstairs to read the books in the library bag.

We read every single one.

When finished, she asked if there were more books in the bag. Standing, I told her we read them all and walked to the kitchen to start cleaning.

She dropped from the couch to the floor and looked in the bag. I washed one dish. I heard a strangely loud plastic ‘click’ and looked at her.

I couldn’t see what she was doing. She was looking down at something behind the bag on the floor. It was such a strange noise, I asked her if she had broken something.

At my voice, she looked up – her eyes wide, as big as quarters. At her shocked, fearful look I ran.

In her hand was the Epi-Pen Jr. we carry everywhere for our son’s food allergies. It was out of its case, the blue safety cap was on the floor, and the orange end was pressed into her pointer finger.

The blood made it clear it had been activated and injected into her tiny finger.

As I lifted her, clasping her finger in my hand, tears and sobs flowed freely. She cried so hard she was nearly hyperventilating – in fear, in pain, and in shock at a curious moment turned horribly wrong.

A thousand things raced through my mind as I grabbed an entire stack of napkins off of the kitchen table. I cradled her in my arms while applying pressure to her finger.

Did she have epinephrine in her system? Was it too much? Did the needle damage her finger? How could I have been so stupid to leave it in the bag where she could reach it? How could this happen with me 10 feet away?

NOW WHAT?

Familiar words flashed through my head.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. The LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
-Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Deep breath. Thank you, Jesus.

I quickly prayed, Lord just HELP us.

I pressed my forehead to hers and spoke softly, asking her to take deep breaths with me. Needing to hold her, I needed her to be calm enough to call the doctor and have them hear me.

Though her eyes remained wet and fearful, she was able to calm down enough so I could call her doctor. I hoped they would to see her in the clinic.

The nurse quickly asked a doctor what our next steps were. Take her to Children’s Hospital. Now.

Not as I’d hoped. Fear threatened. So many What IFs?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble
– Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

I called my mom. She left immediately to come watch the baby.

Then I took a deep breath and called my husband. You guys, I am so thankful to be married to him – he was calm and kind when he did not have to be. He immediately left work to meet me at the emergency room.

As I spoke, explaining to others what happened, she got more and more upset. I kept it as brief as possible, but needed to give enough information to be clear. She could not calm down. We snuggled for a bit and looked at her finger – still bleeding but slower.

Now I could see the wound went THROUGH her finger – in the underside of the joint at the end of her pointer finger and out the top. 

I began to be concerned about damage to her finger along with epinephrine that could be in her system.

We covered it with a band aid. Still holding her, we prayed, thanking God for being with us and asking for His peace and comfort.

I reassured her that she would be ok and that she was not in trouble. 

She told me it hurt. And that she was scared.

My mom arrived. While I grabbed my purse and phone, my mom prayed with our daughter and made sure I was OK to drive. I was, so my mom stayed with the baby and we left.

In the car, I took some deep breaths. The words from a worship song came to mind:

I’m no longer a slave to fear – I am a child of God.
(No Longer Slaves, Bethel Music)

I recalled how God has worked in my life when it comes to fear over the past few years. This is it. In moments like this I either move forward in faith, demonstrating changed character, or revert to old habits.

I prayed for strength and peace so I could help our daughter calm down and be the mom she needed right now. I prayed that even in this situation, as fear rose up, that it would not paralyze me.

There was no time for that. She needed me.

The Holy Spirit did not disappoint – His presence and peace washed over me. 

Sunshine girl was still very upset in the car. Unable to hug her while driving, I needed to calm her down with words. I couldn’t use the radio because I wanted to be sure I could hear her clearly if anything changed.

I asked her to sing me a song. I often ask her to sing to keep her busy, or to calm her down.

She would not.

So I sang to her – off key, strained, but as happy-sounding as I could manage. I sang her favorite songs from church and BSF. Worship is a powerful thing in fearful circumstances – there is not a lot of room for fear when praising God. I felt calmer, stronger, with each off-key word.

Jesus Loves Me This I Know…Holy, Holy, Holy…Joy to the World…she began whispering the words with me. So I kept going. The Bible Is A Treasure Book…Good Morning God…

Now that she was calm, I tried asking a few questions about what happened.

I asked her if she knew it was the Epi-Pen. She did not. We usually keep them in a black case. This particular pen was ‘extra’ from school, kept in the bag we use for activities, so we never forget to have one with us. (We’ll need a different plan going forward)

I asked what she thought was going to happen. She said she wanted to know what the orange part does and began choking back tears. (I’m grateful it was not closer to her face)

I asked if it surprised her. She closed her eyes and nodded yes.

I asked if it hurt. Fresh tears. Yes. 

I choked back my own tears as I considered how she was just a little girl being curious and then a needle shot through her finger. How it was scary and hurt so bad and how she was also afraid of being in trouble.

I asked if it hurt now. Surprisingly, she smiled and said her finger felt like ‘nothing‘. Upon further questioning, ‘nothing’ meant numb. While glad it didn’t hurt, numb might not be a good thing…

We rounded the corner to the hospital.

I am grateful my husband beat us there. By phone he told me exactly where to go. As we rounded the corner from the parking ramp to the emergency department, his face was kind and concerned – no judgement.

He took our daughter from my tired arms and we walked in together. His presence was a relief, encouraging and strengthening.

They handed us masks because of the recent measles outbreak. We sat with a triage nurse. This was all familiar – I remembered being here before with our son for an asthma event.

Our daughter’s vitals were good. Heart rate wasn’t too fast. Some relief set in.

She was shy but cooperative with the nurse, her bloodshot eyes peeking out over her Mickey Mouse mask.

The nurse asked questions. We answered.

And we waited.

In the room, sunshine girl wanted to sit on the bed and was thrilled to hear she could pick a princess movie.

She sat alone one the bed. She watched carefully, curious about everything the nurse and doctor did. If this child does not go into the medical profession, I will be shocked. She is brave, remarkably calm, curious and excited by every doctor visit. No matter what they ask of her – shots, looking at her injured finger, you name it – she will do it as long as she knows it has a purpose.

For the remainder of the visit – the only time she got upset was when I asked the doctor if we could dispose of the Epi-Pen at the hospital. The sight of it evoked obvious memories of pain and fear.

The doctor examined her finger and asked us all kinds of questions, starting with ‘I’m assuming this was an accident?’ I told him what happened, shoving down the mom-guilt for another day.

Long story short, her X-rays showed no fragments of needle or bone, and it appeared the needle went between the finger bones, through the joint. She could bend it with pain.

The doctor cleaned it up.

The working assumption is epinephrine injected after the needle passed through her finger, leaving behind a doozy of a puncture wound. It was both interesting and scary to learn that if epinephrine is injected in a high dose into the joint, it can cause blood vessels to constrict so much that blood flow is cut off to the finger. This constriction can be so severe, it can lead to necrosis and tissue death.

Eek.

The doctor reassured us this was not the case and sent us home with instructions to use bacitracin and band aids on the wound, give Motrin for pain, and watch for signs of infection.

As we left, the doctor mentioned these injuries are actually very common. I guess we weren’t unique.

Sunshine girl was actually pretty peppy as we left the hospital.  She was more thrilled to wear her Hello Kitty sticker and to bring home printouts of her x-rays to show people her bones.

Here is a photo of all of us in our lovely masks.

An Accident - No Longer A Slave To Fear | thisgratefulmama.com

A few lessons from this story:

  1. Accidents can happen even when a child is being supervised and in the same room with a parent
  2. Epi Pens are life-saving devices but can be quickly activated in the hands of a child with dangerous consequences
  3. While it is important Epi-Pens be accessible to adults – a purse or bag can be accessed by a child – I need to think through where ours will be located at home so we don’t forget it but have it in a safe place
  4. Children’s Hospital in St. Paul has amazing staff who were efficient, kind, and made our daughter and us feel comfortable and well cared for
  5. We have amazing family and friends who showed up and prayed for us when we needed them
  6. God is not distant – His presence and help is real and tangible and He is faithful
  7. God’s word is alive, powerful and active, giving peace and comfort in real-life circumstances
  8. How we respond in a scary circumstance may determine how our child responds
  9. God has made our sunshine girl to be amazingly calm and fascinated in medical situations

We are so very grateful.

An Accident 1 Accident 3 An Accident - No Longer A Slave To Fear | thisgratefulmama.com

When the Fun Is Over – Strategies For Day-After-Fun Blues

Day After Fun Blues

The fourth of July this year was SO. Much. Fun!

Our neighbors rented a bounce house and we had a large neighborhood gathering with water, fun and food. Kids in swim suits were running freely between backyards.

It was a day of giggles, sun, water and all. the. FUN.

An amazing day ended with bug spray, glow bracelets and fireworks.

Our kids were exhausted at 10:30 and fell asleep quickly despite more fireworks just outside their windows.

I’m telling you – NOTHING could wake them. 

A fun-filled day is a wonderful thing, but some times it leaves its mark on the next day – in a not-so-wonderful way.

The morning went fine, but as the day continues…it becomes very evident that everyone is still very tired.

Even this mama.

The next day melt-downs, pouting faces and complaining make one thing very clear – the fun is over.

We knew it was going to be this way. We chose to have a non-stop fun day and make all the memories we could. We chose to encourage and celebrate the joy of being a kid in the summer in a neighborhood filled with kids.

You know what? It was worth it. No matter how hard today becomes.

We expected that today might hold challenges. And it has.

So, we established a game-plan to make the most of the Day-After-Fun Blues.

When the Fun Is Over – Strategies For Day-After-Fun Blues

1. Sleep As Long As Possible

This is a no-brainer for older kids who love to sleep in. But for those of us with younger kids and babies…a late bedtime does NOT mean small children will sleep in. You can’t guarantee they will recoup any missed sleep but you can try.

Older Kids – If your child can read the clock, tell them they need to go back to sleep until a time of your choosing. Our son is always awake early but stays in bed until 7.  Last night we told him to stay in bed until 8:30. I had no idea if he would go back to sleep or not but HE DID! He slept until 8:45.

Preschoolers and Toddlers – tell them they need to try to sleep until you come get them. Our middle child stayed in bed so they both slept 2 hours later than their normal wake up time. This doesn’t always work but if they are tired enough, it just might.

Baby – No plan will make the baby sleep longer, but you can do your best to set conditions conducive for sleep. Blackout curtains, noise machine and plenty of food/water before bed. Pray they sleep as long as possible and don’t wake the big kids up.

2. Get Out Of The House

Tired siblings seem to get on each other’s nerves and seem prone to boredom. If possible, plan a low-key activity to get out of the house. This morning we got up and went to the Minnesota Zoo using our zoo pass. I know, this might not sound relaxing, but for us it is. We’re there often so are comfortable leaving as soon as the kids seem tired or uninterested. Not up for the Zoo? Head to the park, a walk, the library or even just out to lunch or dinner.

3. REST Time

Older kids may not nap, but ALL kids can take a rest. All of the kids lay down and try to sleep – sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Older kids can get up and play quietly in their rooms – Legos and cars for our son, a doll house and dress up clothes for our daughter. The baby sleeps and this mama takes some time to write.

Practice Gratitude

We may will experience cranky moments. When it happens, if possible, take time to recall the fun. Reflection promotes gratitude, and gratitude promotes an attitude change. Discuss the best parts of the day – fireworks, food or fun. Laugh about the funniest and weirdest things that happened.  Try asking the kids to journal about or draw their favorite memories from the day before. Then praise their creativity and listen to them tell you about it.

Plan A Quiet Evening

No matter how the next day goes, tiredness increases as the day goes on. Plan a low-key evening – an easy meal, movie, puzzle or reading a big stack of library books together can help keep calm until that glorious moment of bedtime.

Grace

When in doubt, remind yourself of how tired you are. Extend grace. Soft words, distraction and prayer will go a long way to overcoming the day-after-fun blues.

Early Bedtime

When the going gets rough, keep looking ahead to today’s early bedtime. Each of our children will hit their pillows at 7pm tonight. Set the time and stick to it!

 

Funs Over When The Fun Is Over - Strategies For Day-After-Fun Blues | thisgratefulmama.com

How does your family handle the day-after-fun blues? 

6 Ways To Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt

 

Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com

Mom guilt is very good at stealing our joy.

Some days do not go as planned. Some days are filled with joy and success but as night falls, I find myself dwelling on my failure – big or small.  

Failure to accomplish everything on my TO DO list
Failure to exercise and eat as healthy as I should
Failure to be patient with the kids or my husband
Failure to love and connect in a meaningful way with my husband
Failure to play and be the fun mom our kids needed
Failure to apologize for my failings

Oh, how the list could go on! I’m sure you get the point. Hopefully I don’t fail in ALL of these ways in one day, but some days it sure feels like it.

Why IS it so easy for moms to focus on failure instead of success? 

Perhaps it is because we just love our kids so much, and we see the effects of our failings in their hurt and in their behavior.

It is good to hold ourselves to a high standard, but we often go too far.

When we focus on just failures, we lose important perspective about what really was accomplished that day – the kids felt loved, fun happened, chores were completed, and relationships were tended to.

The truth is, even the worst parenting day is filled with mostly success.

Instead of focusing on big and small victories, we focus on big and small failures.

Instead of recognizing that we are GREAT moms, we focus on that weak moment when we lost our temper.

You guys, that weak moment probably lasted about 5 minutes. In 12 awake hours (we likely have more), that is just 0.69% of the time spent with our kids.

Less than 1%, but we’re fixated on it.

As we reflect on the day, failing areas stick out like a sore thumb while successes are minimized or ignored completely. If this kind of self-critical thinking isn’t actively battled, it can become a painful, self-defeating habit.

While honest self-reflection and evaluation is helpful and necessary for growth and healthy relationships, over-critical thinking benefits no one. 

Did you hear me? Mom-guilt benefits no one and it steals your JOY.

Instead of motivating us to do better or to grow, mom-guilt leaves us discouraged and defeated.

What if we chose to move past mom-guilt and self-judgement and actively sought out a true and right perspective of our days? I believe we’d find motivation and encouragement to do our job better tomorrow. And our families would benefit from a JOYFUL mom.  

Reclaiming JOY when stuck in mom guilt takes concerted effort.

Can we try together?

6 Ways To Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt

Adjust Your Focus

Focusing on failure alone creates a mindset that is all about me – and how I can’t do anything rightThat is exactly what the enemy wants. Satan is the accuser (Rev 12:10) and right now he is prowling around like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8). When we carry mom-guilt, Satan is the only one who wins. 

When we allow it, failures can consume our thoughts. We go way past honest reflection and desire to learn our lesson. We replay failures, think of what we should have done, and it consumes our thoughts. When we continue to beat ourselves up, dredging up past failings to build a case to prove we are failing as moms, we are much too focused on ourselves – we become our own accuser. Our guilt changes the way we parent and we aren’t giving our kids our best. Time to adjust our gaze. Jesus has already died for our failure AND our mom-guilt. 

Turn your eyes upon His face and recognize how He sees youBeloved. Worthy. Forgiven. And exactly the mom your children need.

Battle In Prayer

Do you ever think God’s view of you is wrong? That you are simply a failure He cannot love? When we can’t accept His TRUE assessment of us, our pride says His sacrifice isn’t enough for us. Believing we’re just too far beyond His reach is the worst kind of lie we can carry in our souls. This is a spiritual battle that needs to be fought with spiritual words – not fancy, well spoken words, but honest, raw words spoken from a heart desperate for God’s love and peace. Pray when mom-guilt rises. Even when you don’t have the words – He knows your heart. Lay it all out at His feet. Tell Him your doubtAsk Him to show you His love and help you believe it. 

Accept Grace

As you recognize how God sees you, it is time to accept His grace and give it to yourself. Why is it so easy to tell other moms their failures and mistakes are no big deal? We encourage others to give themselves grace and then give ourselves NONE. Jesus didn’t die so we could live in bondage in our minds. There is NO life in mom-guilt. We need to do the work of forgiving ourselves and then move on.

Practice Gratitude

When we live in the light of forgiveness, we have so much to be thankful for! We see our children as precious gifts, and our motherhood as a calling. We begin to see our successes and are grateful God gave us the patience, skills and ability to achieve them. WHEN we fail, we see with true perspective that we can do better, but are able to apologize, take action to not repeat the failure, and move forward without dwelling in guilt.

Model Authenticity

There is no place for perfection in parenting – there are no perfect moms. Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com

Did you get that? None.

We will continue to grow and learn from our mistakes, but we will never, ever be perfect. And it is OK. Showing our kids we are not perfect gives them room to not be perfect too. Kids learn by example – if we beat ourselves up for imperfection, they will have a false and unattainable expectation that they be perfect too. Demonstrating how to handle our own failure starts with forgiving ourselves. Then, and only then, can we help them learn the same lesson when they stand in the shadow of their own failures. 

Hope

What if we viewed our failings as a chance to grow and for our kids to see the transforming power of Jesus in our lives? What if we thanked God for letting us fail so we could learn and help our kids learn lessons of eternal value? We can trust Him to be faithful to use our failings for His glory and to plant truth in the hearts of our kids. Start and end this day holding tight to the promise that His mercy is new every morning. And His faithfulness is greater than our failings.

Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com    6 Ways to Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com6 Ways To Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | Thisgratefulmama.com