Written by Esperanza DeLaLuz
Your greatest contribution to the world may not be in what you do, but someone you raise.
-- Andy Stanley
Sometimes the things about being a mother that are the most meaningful to you are not the things you would expect. Cards, gifts, and messages of appreciation, are wonderful and meaningful, no question. But some of the things that have meant the most to me are the late-night calls where a child calls to tell you something….
They have lost their job; the market has gone soft; and they are at risk of losing their home. Your heart breaks because you aren’t in a position to offer much financial help, and then your child says, “But we’ll get through it, Mom. We bought a giant bag of beans, and another bag of rice. We had some food set aside. Thank you for teaching me how to live poor.” Who knew that all those years we struggled to get by would be a blessing to our child?
A child called to tell me of her struggles with a child with behavioral issues, as a result of special needs, who is doing so poorly that the school is wanting to do something to make life easier for themselves, a thing which is not in the best interest of her child. Again, my heart ached, because there was not a lot I could do for her, besides listen and be supportive. They live very far away and its such a complicated process to resolve this kind of thing. Then she says, “But I knew what to do, Mom; I took him to be assessed, and then I told them they need to get him an IEP, and I told them I know they have to do something better.” I said, “Wow, how did you know how to do those things?” She told me she had watched and listened as we worked with her foster brother, and so she remembered what to do.
A child who had been struggling to find a good way to live, decided to go into the military to help build a better life. The call in the late night told of the challenges of boot camp, the demanding discipline, the hard work and myriad mundane tasks. BUT, assigned to clean bathrooms with another recruit, who was clueless and lazy, our child shone, having been taught to do chores (however reluctantly those lessons were endured.) The child who, as a child, threw tantrums over having to do the dishes said to me, “Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to work.” I was thrilled (and floored!)
Who would have thought?
hushing the mayhem with music
By Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
Snuggled up in my arms, my little grandson stares up at me with his big beautiful innocent eyes. Together we rock back and forth in the overstuffed chair singing song after song and I’m convinced that I love him more every second! As I sing, my mind wanders back to yesteryear when my babies were tiny and I sang song after song to them – hoping to relax them and hush their sleepytime fears. Hoping to instill in them the things I knew were true. Hoping to fill their hearts with the love that I had for them.
It’s amazing how magical music can be! Music has a way of touching our hearts and filling our memories with the best things of life.
Music was at the heart of the home I grew up in, so naturally, as an adult, I shared it with my children. We sang lilting lullabies and fun children’s sing-along recordings. We also offered xylophones, harmonicas, recorders, and rhythm instruments for the little ones to explore creating their own sounds.
As a classical musician, I knew the benefits of classical music: an increased learning capacity, creativity, and self-esteem, to name only a few. Knowing that our children weren’t going to grow up on a farm (like my parents did), we still wanted to teach them hard work, patience, and discipline. We decided to instill these values through formal music lessons! Thus, we became the beneficiaries of practice sessions, morning-noon-and-night! We eagerly attended recitals and concerts galore! Music sweetly and simply lent a soothing atmosphere to our home and even our car, as we traveled to and fro.
Music became a parenting friend that would quiet the mayhem of the moment. When life became a little hairy and scary and the decibel level was a little too high, I would nonchalantly pop in a CD of classical music or church hymns (my secret weapons!) and - voila! - an essence of calm and peace would descend! Soon, things would settle down.
With a house full of rambunctious kiddos, we found that with a little creativity, there seemed to be a song for every situation that could gently persuade, teach, or motivate. Songs to make diaper changes more pleasant, songs to make hair washing less scary, songs to help children cooperate when it was time to brush their teeth. Sometimes songs distracted us from the mundane and helped to pass the time while we did the dishes or other chores. At bedtime, songs even helped us march up to bed in a happy way! We became a train connecting arms at the shoulders and chugging up the stairs singing, “Choo choo choo, what’s coming down the track?” The person in the lead would “pull the whistle” and up we went.
Music was an unseen friend that added joy and spontaneity to our lives at just the right time! Sometimes the music was a toe – tapping “Turkey in the Straw” for a Thanksgiving program! Or the girls would make up choreography to a whimsical children’s song, their fancy dresses swirling in a wide circle. Sometimes a child surprised us with an unsolicited solo of a kindergarten-melody as they stood atop a make-shift stage (aka a chair in the dining room). And impromptu Family Talent Shows gave us rousing marches, emphasized by mini flags in the front room!
With littles on the loose, life is more pleasant with a song in your heart. In your home or on the go, music has the power to create a sort of a haven that smooths the creases of chaos and lifts the spirit. So, whether your family chooses to learn an instrument or two, sing at top volume in the shower, or pop in a favorite CD, music is the power to make any moment a happy one!
Magical Motivators for moms
By Momivate's "Atmosphere" CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
UGH! The dishes aren't done (again!), the laundry is ludicrous, and you sit defeated on the couch. You have a mile long list of things to do, but honestly, the motivation to do it just isn’t bubbling to the surface!
Do you ever feel like that? I surely have. And perhaps it’s because I’ve felt like this SO often that I have developed a list of go-to-strategies to help me bite the bullet and turn miserable mayhem into magical motivation.
I thought I’d share a few that have helped me, in hopes that they will help you too!
1. Make it fun! Maybe I’m just a kid at heart, because although I know I could just power through and get the job done, a big part of me says, “why not make it fun?” This is where your creativity comes into play and the sky's the limit, ladies! What would make this task A LOT of fun for you? Turning on the music and dancing while you go at it? (Yes, even if your children laugh at you!) Listening to a podcast while you work away? Or how about making it into a game? A few other ideas: I purposely buy my favorite scents for cleaning so I can relish the process more. And I’ve been known to let my mind wander as I work while planning a fun family frolic for the future.
2. Better with a buddy – Whether this is your husband, a child, or a really good friend, sometimes it is just easier as well as a lot more fun to tackle the work or a project with a friend in tow. While they help to shoulder the burden, you both enjoy conversation and even a few good laughs. Not only do you get something done that needs doing, but somehow, it seems less of a chore. And of course, the added bonus is that you simultaneously build a stronger relationship. When all is said and done, remember that turn around is fair play - you can offer to help them with what they need as well!
3. Set the timer – Sometimes the main problem is that I am overwhelmed. Have you been there? It just seems like there is too much to do, and where in the world do I start? So, instead of procrastinating, I tell myself, “I will only work for ten minutes at top speed, and then, if I feel like it, I can stop.” And sometimes I do just that and I honestly feel better because the task at hand is now significantly smaller and easier for the next time I have to face it. Other times, however, just rolling up my sleeves and really digging in produces momentum and my motivation soars. (Super Mom powers activate!) I find my mind actually enjoying the process and I don’t want to stop!
4. Reward yourself – I know that some people might look at this as “bribery,” but somehow, I don’t mind doing something if I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel: What sounds inspiring to you? bubble bath? a short nap? a few minutes with a good book? Or maybe a little snuggle time with your child? Make yourself a deal you can’t refuse, then follow through with it! A word of caution: While I have to admit I “love me” some chocolate, I would suggest steering away from food as a reward (at least on a constant basis) as we all know that would be trading one problem for another. And if all else fails, remember YOUR WHY! Think of the faces of your beautiful family and what they mean to you. You are worth it! They are worth it! Therein lies a reward in and of itself!
5. Reach out – If you find that your motivation is low for extended periods don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Goodness knows we ALL need it from time to time! What might this look like for you? Are you lonely? Who could you call for a good old-fashioned chat? Do you feel overwhelmed? Could you arrange for a sitter so you can hit your list head on? And what if you feel like sitting in bed day after day for weeks? If so, there is no shame in scheduling a trip to the doctor to help rule out or treat depression. Believe me, I’ve been there and I can assure you that there is help for you. You are not alone!
No matter what strategies you decide upon, I have faith that you WILL find a way. You can do this! You are enough and that magical motivation you need is waiting just around the corner. . .
Our Team of CouncilMoms take turns submitting blog posts in each area of the RAISE UP acronym. Guest authors are encouraged to submit their blog posts as well (CONTACT US for more info! Thank you!)
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