Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mama said there'd be days like this...

My week consists of not only watching my own children, but other peoples' children too. Being a stay-at-home-mom is super hard most of the time. I laugh with my friends who have office jobs, about how I would do anything to crunch numbers or write e-mails all day.... aaaahhhh.... it sounds quiet, relaxing, quiet, boring, and quiet. My days are a whirlwind of spilled milk, scattered goldfish crackers, my two-year-old boy that changes his clothing ten time before noon and already says "WOW mom", my one-year-old who climbs on top of the dining room table and eats dirt out of my despised evergreen, a three-year-old sweet and sassy little diva that is with us Monday through Friday during the day, diapers, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, wooden blocks, baby dolls, fights, whining, owies, etc. etc. 

My mom was a stay-at-home-mom too. I don't remember the messy house and the stress of it all. I was a kid. I was home with my mom. What in the world could be better then that? I remember a couple of the projects she did with us. I remember amazing Christmas mornings. I remember being in the garden with her. I remember walks to the park and "bus adventures" where she'd take us on the city bus to go get lunch at McDonalds. I remember trips to the Children's Museum and to the beach. I don't remember her yelling, I don't remember her losing her patience. I don't remember her swearing (okay I remember a couple of times since she NEVER swore!) and most of all I don't remember us being poor. 

But my mom swears she swore sometimes, that she yelled, that she was impatient, depressed at times, and pretty miserable on some days. She tells us about how there was never enough money at Christmas and that she had to do Toys for Tots and get creative with what she could sew or create. I had no idea.

Kids are resilient. And for this I am so grateful. SO SO SO grateful. I can be a mean mom sometimes. I yell too much. I lose my patience way too easily, and I am a complete failure as a parent in many situations. I'm tired. I shout empty threats. I'm out of ideas to entertain them sometimes, and if I have to read that same book one more time I may just puke. There are days when, yes, Netflix is my saving grace. There are days when dishes don't get done and kids go to bed in whatever they wore for the day. Teeth not brushed. Bodies not bathed. 

But there are days when I am a super awesome mom. There are days when I do awesome art projects, and only let the kids watch one show. Days I take them to the museum, or to Choo Choo Bob's or to momdates playdates. Days I sing songs and read lots of books and bible stories. There are hugs and shrugs after spills and super creative lunches and snacks. Sometimes I even keep up on the dishes, keep the house picked up, and reorganize something. Some days I even wear JEANS and a cute SHIRT, mascara and some blush. 

My kiddos won't remember what I wore, but they'll remember the sweet mama smell that comforts them when they bury their snotty faces in to my chest. They won't remember if the house was a mess, but they'll remember that our house was sunny and warm. They won't remember what we ate, but they'll remember their bellies were always full and happy. They won't remember the nights I yelled too much at bedtime. They will remember the songs I sang and the little prayers we prayed every night. Most of all, they'll remember their mama was there, present, doing the best she could. 

Eli at least got a few chances to go out this winter.

The diva and her boys

best workout ever, pulling three kids in a sled.
Gabriel insisted riding his motorcycle.

When stamping paper gets boring, stamping skin is always fun.
Hang in there mama.
Stay-at-home-moms (and dads!), 
working moms (daddies too), 
all moms (and dads). 
This is a hard job we have. A huge responsibility. Thank God our kids are going to be fine as long as we are doing our best, asking for forgiveness when we fall short, and loving on them as much as possible. 

Hope you all had a great weekend.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Just in time for Valentine's Day

This weekend we attended our second marriage conference of the month. I'm about to get real REAL with you here. I'm all about being transparent, and that means bearing my heart and soul about the real ups and downs in my life. Marriage is a huge part of my life. It's part of what truly defines me.

Fifteen years ago, as a silly love-sick 15 year-old, I knew in my heart that I was going to marry Matt... it went a little something like this.... Leah and Becky were two of my best friends: they went to my church, we were in youth group together, we spent hours and hours together. They had a hot brother. He chaperoned a youth camping trip, and that weekend I swore to his sisters (cross my heart hope to die) that we would be sisters-in-law one day.

Long long LOOOONG story short, I got my dream man. Well, he wasn't my big dark Native American dream man, but he was next best even better. He loved Jesus, he loved me, and I thought it would be butterflies and flowery fields happily-ever-after from there.

Oh boy, was I wrong.

Our first four years were pretty rough. I look back and can't believe we made it through. Our testimony is a lengthy yet important story to tell. Someday maybe I'll type it out, or maybe someday I'll get the honor of sharing it with you, but for now, I'll leave it at that. God is good, his grace is sufficient, and he never allowed us to encounter anything greater than what we were capable of dealing with. 

Year five and six were marital bliss. Year seven until now have been...well, exhausting, wonderful, chaotic and quite beautiful. We had three boys somewhere there in the last six years. And somewhere in the last 2 and a half years, our marriage went from highest priority (after God of course) to being somewhere on the list under kids, financial stress, house, work, etc. etc. Why is it so easy to put so much before your relationship with your spouse? I'll tell you why. Because maintaining a marriage is hard work. 

Making your husband happy? Hard work. 
Meeting the needs of a grown man? Hard work.
Explaining your feelings to an equally exhausted partner? Hard work.
Making a two-year-old happy? Water colors, a paint brush, paper and a little jar of water. Easy. 
Meeting the needs of a one-year-old? Goldfish crackers. Kiss, nap. Easy. 
Explaining your feelings to a five-year-old? "I'm the boss, that's why." Easy.

We learned so much last weekend and this weekend. The most rewarding thing, was hearing my husband say that he is excited to take what we have learned and apply it to our marriage and our family life.

This stuff is applicable whether you're the Jesus following type or not. Bear with me here. Keep an open mind. What I'm about to share with you may really challenge you, and encourage you to make this marriage thing actually be enjoyable!

Here are some of the notes I came home with. I know these do not apply to everyone, but it's what Matt and I came away with that we plan to study and focus on in our relationship. I call this:

sUper ImpORTant MarrAiGe StUff
notes by Sierra Lorraine Hegstrom

Women, we need to show appreciation for our husbands, and not expect anything in return. We need to give them thanks for all that they do for us. We need to honor them, respect their willingness and to value their opinions. We need to encourage them, support their dreams, and release them to be all that they are called to be. We need to be submissive WHICH MEANS that we come under them to life them up and support them. We need to be passionate for them, and to respond to their needs. 

Men, you need to be gentle with us, and we need to feel treasured  We need you to be emotionally transparent. We need you to communicate with words. Conflict is an opportunity for closeness. We need to be nurtured. You will reap what you sew in to us. We need to feel secure in your love, we need to feel that you are committed fully to us.

The Covenant that we made on our marriage day should reflect what God's intentions are for marriage. It's more than a promise. It's unconditional, selfless commitment to seek the well-being of the other person.

Communication is not just what you say, it's how you say it. It's about hearing and being heard.

On conflict resolution: Keep short accounts and offer forgiveness. Don't forgive too quickly, make sure you are in a place of true forgiveness so that you are not quick to be offended over it again. Take responsibility for your words and actions. Be repentant. Brainstorm together to find a solution.

Sex: Emotionally connects us. Reaffirms our identity. Brings unity. Never should be used as a weapon.

We need to return to our first love. (Revelations 2:4-5)

Marriage should be a place of rest and refuge. (Hebrews 4:9-11) 
"You should work hard on your marriage, but marriage should not be hard work"

Release. Figure out what patterns of attitudes and behaviors need to be broken in your life and relationship. (Isaiah 10:27)

Restoration. Isaiah 61:4-7. Figure out what needs to be rebuilt/restored/renewed/reinvested in our life.

[I loved this last point.]

Rejoice. Proverbs 5: 18 and 19 says May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

One more thing I wanted to share, was 10 guidelines that were given to us to encourage a happy marriage by Mildred Tengbom. So take note:

1. Be reasonable and realistic in your expectations of marraige and your mate.

2. Accept your mate as a person rather than assigning stereotypes, characteristics and roles.

3. Husbands and Wives need to be good forgivers.

4. Happy marriages require time and effort.

5. As you talk, make a conscious effort to understand each other.

6. After you begin to understand what is important to your mate, try to find ways of helping them.

7. Have a happy sex life.

8. Recognize that adverse situations sometimes have caused problems and stop blaming each other or yourself.

9. Find substitute extended families who can help and encourage you.

10. Set family goals.

As the retreat came to a close, we were instructed to pray with the other couples at our tables and then prayer was offered by the pastors and facilitators of the retreat. Well five minutes before we left, Matt hurt my feelings. We drove all the way home with out talking. I thought "REALLY?! THIS WONDERFUL WEEKEND, AND NOE WE ARE ALREADY FIGHTING???!!!" I was so upset. We got home, thanked mom and Brian for watching the kiddos, and then we remained silent. I told him I was still hurt. Before, we would've just stayed mad,  and let it blow over (or under the rug only to come bursting out again soon), but instead we talked it through. We com-mun-icated.... whoa! We both explained how we felt, how we interpreted what had happened. We processed. We were silent. Then Matt apologized, we hugged, and we moved forward. Whoa. Easy. Done. 

Over these past two weekends we have really recommitted our devotion to each other and our marriage. We want to display a healthy and loving relationship in front of our boys. We want to put our marriage before kids and everything else. If our foundation is healthy and strong, we can get through anything. I'm looking forward to doing this right. 

I want to encourage you to reflect on what you can do to enjoy marriage to it's fullest. What is your motivation? Why is this important? Do you believe marriage should come first before kids and every thing else? 

Trying to be a loving doe and graceful deer,
Sierra :)