In the Trenches

There are some pretty good writer/bloggers out there. Seriously, some of you can bring me to lip quivering tears in the drive thru line at the pharmacy with just a few words and a sweet baby squish picture! I'm impressed. I'm impressed by your wisdom, your confidence, your ability to see past trying times (or at least write about seeing past trying times) to focus on the gift of the here and now.  I love the quintessential 'pretty picture' a well written blog conveys, but I love even more, an honest blog about the tough stuff. Maybe because that's where I am right now, or maybe because that's a more common reality that most prefer to keep to themselves, but that's what I'm drawn to. That stuff, of course, isn't as easy to write, or as fun to read.

I have a wealth of fun, loving, beautifully emotional moments to write about, every. single. day, truly. Sometimes I feel like a hallmark picture with my boys running through the fields, sunshine in their hair as they chase butterflies with ducks and their little sister trying to keep up, all while mom and dad lite up the logs in the fire pit to roast mallows for s'mores. Their happy hearts laughing and beating wildly as they race back to roast theirs just right. Bedtime prayers and coffee snuggles. Boys who love to read and play baseball and make pizza. It can be overwhelming how wonderful it all is sometimes. But, then there's this...

Ernest Hemingway, "Write hard and clear about what hurts."

Enter me, today. I'm in the trenches, defined, in this case, by wikipedia as trench warfare: Trench warfare is a type of land warfare using occupied fighting lines consisting largely of trenches, in which troops (mom) are significantly protected from the enemy's small arm fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery.

Sometimes, this beautiful life gets tough. It's a battle. And it hurts. In no way am I comparing or belittling the life lived by troops who fought literally in the trenches. I mean only to say, sometimes, the life we are called to can have us feeling under attack. Like we are losing some battle we weren't really aware we were fighting.

I am in the trenches, dodging feelings of failure, sideways glances of disgust in the mirror, murmurs of bad names that pierce me from the inside out. All because I'm in a funk of feeling certain I am failing. In fact, the behaviors of my kids would mostly suggest this is true. Name calling, hitting each other, rude, disrespectful behavior to each other and to me. Some of this even over flowing to school. Yikes. That's embarrassing. Seriously. And mostly because these are some awesome kids which, when reflected on me, is great! There's really no conscious breakdown of what I'm doing right to bear such wonderful fruit. But when it goes the other way, that's also reflected on me, and for some reason, causes a tremendous breakdown of what I'm sure I'm doing wrong. What other moms must think of me. The thoughts or conversations they must have about how they would 'jerk a knot in his tail', or 'never put up with such behavior', it's unnerving, albeit potentially more perceived than real, in an already difficult situation.

Scott says this is the dramatic side of me. That I'm too strong to be such a victim in this. Maybe.

Perhaps that's true, on one hand, that I'm too strong (and too busy) to worry what anyone else may think of me, our parenting, or our children. I'm old enough and been around long enough to know not to judge a situation by what you see on the surface. That's a naive mistake. A rookie move. So that should mean I'm also old enough not to give a second thought to those who fall into that category.  Easier said then done, but I'm working on it.

Besides, no one could say anything to me, or about me, that's half as harsh as what I say to myself. Or how I second guess everything I do and say. Or what my kids behavior reflects on me.

The blog up to here was written around the end of May. I got to this point and lost my words, lost direction, lost the point of what I was saying.

At the time, things were getting worse at the school the boys were at, they were in trouble a lot and we were all feeling frustrated. But then, God's provision I suppose, things came to head at the school and we left, deciding then and there to homeschool all four.

You see, I can be a bit of an excuse maker. I want a reason why the boys are acting wild,  why Sophia occasionally cries for her entire two hour nap, or why my son hit his friend in class, or his brother bounces like Tigger, or.....

But when my kids, and my parenting, actually came into question, my initial response was to be incredibly hurt, very angry and extremely embarrassed. But then I realized something. We don't allow bad, rude, or disrespectful behavior. We correct and discipline, we teach and model, we reinforce and reward, and you know what? They are still kids. They are sinners, as we all are. And, there are four of them. But, I love who they are. Sometimes, they are a dream. They are outgoing and polite and adorable and personable. They say yes ma'am and yes sir, they hold doors open for others, they shake hands and say excuse me. Sure, I'm embarrassed when they hit, or talk back or disobey, but goodness, what an unrealistic expectation to put on us all to think that will completely stop. And who of us would ever expect that from any child, or family?

We live in a strange time where our lives are on display (by our own choice of course) and we both love, and admonish, those who share everything. From "Why do you assume people want to read about your life, your kids, your deep thoughts." to, "Oh my, I read your story, thank you for sharing." These are my own thoughts about myself and others who write, as well as words people have said to me.

And it's not just the writing, but the sharing on FB, instagram, and myriad other social sites, that cause us this grief in thinking everyone else is getting it right. People, you might be the one mom with those seriously perfect kids, but for the rest of us, life is real. It's tired kids, bad attitudes, do-overs, learning curves, embarrassing moments, tears, time-outs, potty training accidents, snotty noses.... it's not like that perfect moment captured, and shared, lasted more than the 30 seconds it took to take and post it. Most likely, if you're like me, you fussed at the kids to stop, then yelled, "Wait! Let me take a picture, then knock it off."

The truth is, for most of us, we're doing the best we can within the circumstances we call our own. If you're in a season of perfection with your kids, be thankful, be gracious, be kind, and be prepared for the day it falters. Those of us who are surviving in the trenches today will be there to encourage you, pray for you, and help you walk through the hard stuff tomorrow.

A perfect moment.

I've made my way through this battle. We are in a place of contentment, joy, and peace as we homeschool and settle in to our stride. Not perfection, by any stretch, but perfectly within God's plan for us in this season. Have faith fellow mom's, John 16:33, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." What a cool, refreshing drink to parched and broken lips.