Tag Archives: raising children

ONLY Three Kids–One Author’s Story

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A couple weeks ago, I sat in a hard chair at a book signing event, trying to get people to come talk to me. Finally a man came over and asked what my book, How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces, was about. I told him it was about motherhood and overcoming the feelings of guilt, stress, and inadequacy that many moms face every day. 

“How many kids do you have?” he asked.

“Three,” I said proudly.

He gave me a funny look. “Only three?”

I knew exactly what he was thinking. There are books out there by mothers of eight, ten, and even twelve children. Now those are the books you want to read. Those moms must have it all together, right? They know all the tricks and secrets to motherhood, after raising so many kids. So why would you buy a book by a mother of three? 

And that, my friends, is my point. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to other women who have said, “I know we ONLY have four, but I just can’t handle more than four. Do you think that’s selfish?”  Or, “My mom had eight kids. I’m going out of my mind with five! I don’t know how she did that. I want to be a good mom, but I just don’t think I can handle another one.”

I live in Utah, where sometimes it feels like the number of kids you have is the familial equivalent to the brand of car (or minivan) you drive. In some peoples’ eyes, children are like pets, cute little collections that you play with during the day and then lock up at night–adorable little faces that you dress up on Sundays and parade around the neighborhood on family walks. Then we go home and struggle with back-talk and natural consequences and messiness and chore lists, and wonder where we went wrong.

We live in a very different culture here. In many ways, it’s not “how many kids do you and your husband want?” It’s more like, “What’s the maximum amount of kids you can juggle and keep alive?” And frequently, you add one or two more on top of that.

I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here, but seriously. In other states, ONLY three kids would be above the national average. It would mean that each one was wanted, raised, loved, and cared for. Each is a person with a personality and dreams. I may ONLY have three kids, but you’d better believe they’re my world, not just numbers. When did adding to a family become an Olympic event, or a status symbol?

Does a mom of ONLY three kids know any less about her children than a mother of eight? Does a mom of ONLY three kids not experience pain, guilt, stress, and overwhelming love? At what point is a woman eligible to share what she’s learned on her journey–when her kids are in college, or when she’s still on the rocky road of parenthood, taking notes as she goes and trying to lift others?

At what point does the ONLY go away? 

My children are still young, and yes, there are ONLY three of them. I’m sure we’ll have more someday (and no, it’s not really everyone’s business). But I believe that every mom, whether she has one child or ten, whether she works or not, and whether she’s single or married, experiences the same bleary-eyed, sleepless shock of a new baby. Every mom knows how it feels to wake up, force a smile, and begin the arduous mountain climb of motherhood all over again. It would sure be nice if moms felt comfortable expressing their feelings about motherhood with each other, instead of comparing number of kids and ages and deciding who’s a “good” mom and who’s not. It would sure be nice if we could help and pull each other along, able to rely on other people instead of feeling so alone.

I hope it happens someday. I hope that women who read my book feel that way. I really do hope that moms understand how important and rewarding their job is, regardless of the hard stuff–because each child is a person, not a number, and ONLY three is a pretty dang good job.

So the next time someone looks at me and says, “Only three?” I’ll smile and say “Yep!” And then I’ll ask about their own children, because that’s probably what they really want to talk about anyway.

Do you have any thoughts? Please comment below. 

10 Symptoms: You Know You’re a Mom When…

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I love Jeff Foxworthy’s “Redneck”clips so much that I wanted to give them a little twist. So here you go, for your reading enjoyment:

You know you’re a mom when…

1) You have a secret candy stash–and not even your husband knows about it.

2) You run to the bathroom, lock the door, and cover your ears to avoid the sudden wailing and catastrophes that indefinitely occur while you do your business.

3) You have a stack of parenting books you intend to read, bills you intend to pay, diet recipes you intend to follow, and Pinterest projects you intend to try someday–like, ten years from now. Hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?

4) You adore your kids the most when they’re gone or asleep.

5) You wake up tired and go to bed awake.

6) When the house suddenly gets quiet, you leap up in panic mode.

7) You can sleep through the snoring, earthquakes, and the zombie apocalypse, but jerk awake at the tiniest whimper of a child.

8) A homemade dinner consisting of a vegetable and protein is Hollywood-Walk-of-Fame worthy. (Wait, are you saying it’s not?)

9) If a child walks out the door in matching shoes and clean clothing (never mind the wrinkles), you are Mother of the Year. Seriously.

10) You use Clorox wipes nearly everywhere–not because you’re a clean freak, but because the smell gives the illusion that you’ve spent the day cleaning. 

Can you think of another one? Write a comment below. Check out my mom quiz or my book, How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces, for fun parenting and writing content. Thanks for reading.

The Ultimate Mom Quiz

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THE MOTHERHOOD QUIZ

Think you’ve seen it all? Let’s see if you’ve said it all. Check the phrases you’ve said to your children. Then add up the scores to see where you stand!

(This quiz is an excerpt from my book, How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces. For the 10 Secrets of Motherhood, or for more fun parenting resources, go to my website: http://www.AuthorRebeccaRode.com)

 

             ___ Did you remember to wash your hands? (2 pts)

             ___ You don’t have to eat all of it; just try a bite. (3 pts)

             ___ You’re not leaving this room until it is clean. (3 pts)

             ___ You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit. (4 pts)

             ___ You can’t drive until you’re sixteen. (2 pts)

             ___ I don’t care if all your friends have them. You’re not getting a cell phone    until you’re  _____ (insert age here) (4 pts)

             ___ If you want shoes that cost $120, you’ll have to save up for them yourself. (5 pts)

             ___ If you’re that bored, come empty the dishwasher. (3 pts)

             ___ It’s just a hairbrush, not an instrument of torture. (5 pts)

             ___ I thought you were going to wash your hands? (2 pts)

             ___ Wow. Um…when’s the last time you took a shower? (4 pts)

             ___ 17,950 texts in one month? Seriously? (5 pts)

             ___ Sit up, please. We’re reading scriptures. (5 pts)

             ___ Sweetheart, we don’t draw on the walls. (3 pts)

             ___ Did you really punch someone at school today? (5 pts)

             ___ No, you may not watch it again. You’re already watched it twice today. (2 pts)

             ___ Honey, we wear clothes when we go outside. (5 pts)

             ___ Didn’t I tell you to wash your hands? (2 pts)

             ___ Don’t lick the cat. I know she licks you, but just…don’t. (5 pts)

             ___ What’s the magic word? (2 pts)

             ___ I know it’s pink, but don’t you want something that’s a different color? Just this once? (3 pts)

             ___ Get down from the table, please. Tables are not for standing on. (3 pts)

             ___ Time to do your homework. (2 pts)

             ___ Turn that music down. Turn down the music! I SAID, TURN IT DOWN! (5 pts)

             ___ Did you pick that gum up from off the ground? Wait—don’t chew it! (3 pts)

             ___ How many times do I have to ask you to wash your hands? (2 pts)

             ___I think your room exploded. Time for a cleaning party. (4 pts)

             ___ Are you sure you want to read that book again? You already have it memorized. (2 pts)

             ___ Oops, I think the video game remote disappeared. Maybe if you clean your room it will reappear. (5 pts)

             ___ Is that syrup in your hair? (3 pts)

             ___ I just mopped that floor. Here’s a wet rag. Have fun! (5 pts)

             ___ Ew, sweetie. We don’t eat dirt. (3 pts)

             ___ Uh, no. You are not wearing that to school, young lady. (2 pts)

             ___ You still haven’t washed your hands? I give up! (5 pts)

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Scores:

100-118           You’re Supermom! You’ve seen and said it all.

80-99               You’re just about there. Keep up the good work!

60-79               You’re not quite in the thick of things yet. Count your blessings!

0-59                 Just wait. The best is yet to come.


Write a comment below and post your score,  or send me a tweet with your score to @RebeccaRode. I’ll retweet it to all my fans!

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Is Motherhood a Sacrifice?

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Do you feel like you sacrificed your dreams to be a mom? I’ve heard so many moms say that. They complain, “I have to hire a babysitter just to go see a movie,” or “I really need a vacation. But with four kids, we barely have enough money for groceries.” It’s a complaint that most of us can relate to–and frankly, I’ve been known to say things like this a time or two (or three hundred). 

When I was in college, I wanted to be a writer. I’ve dreamed about writing that great American novel someday, about going on a book tour and signing my name with a smile onto thick, freshly pressed pages. In fact, when I prepared to graduate from college without a marriage prospect in sight, I figured graduate school in creative writing or journalism would be my thing. I was determined to make my dream come true.

But then I found out about an internship in Romania, working in orphanages. It piqued my interest like nothing else had before. I applied, was accepted, and soon found myself thousands of miles away from laundry dryers, dishwashers, and real American cheeseburgers. “My kids” ended up being the orphans that Romanians wanted to forget about–the severely disabled and disfigured ones. I threw myself into their care, trying to play, tickle, and laugh with them; anything to get a reaction. Over a period of months, these children became mine. I knew every facial expression, every gurgling giggle, every millimeter of improvement they gave, and it didn’t take long before I realized something. If this was what it felt like to be a mom, there was nothing I wanted more. Writing was fulfilling, but it didn’t feel like this. It was that love, that incredible concern and sacrifice for nine abandoned kids–the thousands of miles and dollars and hours–just to see a palsy-stricken six year-old laugh for the first time. It was worth it, times ten. No question. 

When I came home, I brought with me a new dream. That dream came true sooner than expected. Within two years, I had a wonderful husband and a baby girl. She was followed by two adorable and active boys. Several years later, as a busy mom of three, I was feeling overwhelmed and mourning the loss of my freedom as a person–until I remembered my experience in Romania. 

I sat down to write about it, and then I couldn’t stop. I showed the first chapter to a publisher, just to see what she thought, and the rest is history. Now I have a book, called How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces. It was just released two weeks ago.

I didn’t know as a young intern that I could have two dreams. Being a mom and being an author seemed conflicting at first, but now I know that they only enhanced and enriched each other.  My writing has more depth and experience than ever, and I’m a better mom now that I’ve found a voice. My daughter even sits next to me sometimes, writing her own” book.” I think she has a wonderful future. 

Now, when I’m tempted to complain about babysitting costs, I think about “my” orphans across the ocean, and I have to smile. Motherhood is a sacrifice, it’s true. But in the process of giving things up, I found who I really was. Image

What’s your dream, and did you have to give it up to become a mom? Please leave a comment to share.

The Insecurity of Imperfection–Do you do this too?

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I had somewhat of an “out of body” experience last week. On Friday, my husband came home from work and complimented me on how clean the house was. Sweet, right? But then something really strange happened. I knew it was true, that the house looked great. And my brain also knew that I had worked really hard to make it that way. But for some reason, my “yeah, but” syndrome took over. My quick response was, “Thanks, but I didn’t get the laundry finished. I’ll have to fold it tonight.”

My poor husband’s smile froze on his face before I realized what I’d just done. My “yeah, but” had been a compliment-killing reply, something that grabbed hold of a sweet, well-meaning comment and tossed it into the trash. 

Does this sound familiar? When someone gives you a compliment, do you believe it and thank them for their kindness? Or do you instantly think about the ways that compliment isn’t true? I can think of a dozen examples–like when someone said I looked nice that day, and I instantly thought about the giant zit on my cheek. Or the time when my son’s teacher said I was a good mother because I read with him so often. Was it a hint, a sly way to slip in a recommendation? Or had she truly, honestly meant to give a compliment?

For some reason, this has been on my mind a lot today. Perhaps my “yeah, but” syndrome isn’t humility, but insecurity. Maybe it’s the result of being an oldest child, a people-pleaser, or just the fact that I’m a mom and worry about everything.

I remember comparing myself to the top students of my high school classes, wondering how to get better scores next time–forgetting that I was in the top 5% of the class already. There were times when I started things–track, soccer, music lessons, art, and writing–but quit when the road ahead started to look too rocky and difficult. If my performance wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t worth trying. Has some of that insecurity leaked into my adulthood?

Or is the “yeah, but” syndrome something more, a habit so ingrained in my personality that it will take a lifetime to pick apart?

It’s taken motherhood to teach me that, no matter how well-put-together my children look, or how clean their rooms are, there will always be imperfections. If I’m going to overcome the insecurity of imperfection, maybe now is the time–before it leaks into my children’s lives as well. When my friends go out of their way to pay me a compliment, perhaps my response shouldn’t really be about me at all. Perhaps it should really be about them–about making them feel that their kindness was received graciously.

This Friday, I will probably deep clean the house again. And, if I know my husband, he will try to give another compliment. I pledge to believe that, yes, the house does look fantastic. I pledge to forget about the things I couldn’t quite get to, and I also pledge to thank him for his sweet words. 

And if I’m really brave, maybe I’ll save the laundry for another day.

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The Strangest Habits of Kids

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My five-year-old, Austin, has bitten his nails for years. Since I did it as a child, I haven’t felt qualified to stifle that habit. Kids will be kids, right? I figured he’d probably grow out of that one like I eventually did. (And the nose-picking thing…yeah. Sometimes you’ve just gotta turn your head and pretend you didn’t see it.) But his latest compulsion? Biting his TOES. Not the nails, but the actual toes. Once he’s bitten his nails bloody, he moves on to the tips of his toes and starts chowing down like a rabid puppy. I know! Weird, right?

The first few days he’d ask for a band-aid because he “tripped over” something or “scratched” it, but after awhile I knew something was going on. And when I first discovered his little body contorted on the couch, his toe in his mouth, I decided it was time for drastic measures. Like cheeseburgers.

We don’t eat cheeseburgers much since my diet started (when mom’s dieting, everyone’s dieting). So I offered to take him out for a burger on Saturday if he could go a whole week without biting his toes. He hopped up and down on the injured toe and agreed. I figured the problem was solved. I’m never above bribery, after all, and it was for his own good. Right?

Two days later I found him sneaking band-aids from the cupboard. He denied it, but upon closer inspection I could tell that he had, indeed, been biting his toes. And it wasn’t just the daddy toe this time. Oh, no. He’d moved on to every single toe on his right foot. And the poor daddy toe didn’t look so good. He’d bitten off the scabs, which left bloody gashes in the skin. It looked like he’d taken a knife to the poor thing.

Since it was obvious that this would take more than a cheeseburger, I offered to start the week over and threw in ice cream as well. He looked sincerely contrite and promised–pinky promised, even–that he wouldn’t do it again. I bandaged the toes, knowing full well that the band-aids wouldn’t last five minutes, and resolved to keep a closer eye on him.

Two weeks. After two weeks of bribery, threats, and guilt trips, nothing was working. And his toes looked horrible. My husband jumped on board and took over “bandage” duty, which involved cream, tape, gauze, multiple bandages, and socks at this point. He only seemed to enjoy the extra attention.

I was getting concerned. Did he feel unloved? Nervous? Ignored? Was he one of those pain-loving kids? Was I bad mother? My husband and I discussed putting nasty-tasting goop on his toes to discourage the habit, but we didn’t dare since the skin hadn’t healed yet. 

Finally, at bedtime one night, I told Austin that if he would stop biting his toes, I’d take him to Chuck-E-Cheese’s on Saturday. (You have to understand how desperate I must have been to make such an offer. It’s not my favorite place.) His eyes lit up and he pinky promised again. 

The funny thing is, he stopped.

Nervous habit? Attention-grabbing activity? Or is he just an incredibly smart kid who knows how to manipulate his parents? I guess we’ll never know.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping the first-aid kit stocked. You never know what he’ll come up with next.

What is your child’s weirdest habit, and how did you kick it? I’d love to see comments, especially ones that convince me that I’m not alone in this strange world of goofy children. 🙂 

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