Spiritual Lessons in the Parenthood Trenches

creativity

There are things you learn as a parent you couldn’t possibly learn without kids. Funny things. Gross things. Things that if you allow yourself to be fully open and awake, can change your world forever. Things like…

Thou Shall Feel Guilt

but do it anyway.

Everything you do or don’t do will be scrutinized. It will be judged by others and worse by you. You will for a period of time try to do everything so that no one will hurt you, but it won’t work. Or it will for awhile and you will live a shell of an existence.

If you want to pursue a passion, you will probably feel guilt. That is because you love your kids more than your arm. But give all of yourself and you will be a dry and empty well. You will want to offer your children hope and possibility, but having stifled yourself all you will have is the bread crumbs of a lost dream.

I heard this quote from author AS Byatt in Liz Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast and found it in this The Guardian interview:

“I think of writing simply in terms of pleasure. It’s the most important thing in my life, making things. Much as I love my husband and my children, I love them only because I am the person who makes these things.”

And Thou Shall Be Better for It

Saying motherhood changed me is in understatement. It’s the painful cracking open that made me realize I was doing more than wiping butts and feeding babies. For a long time, I believed that my children and everything that came with them was keeping me from the work of my life. One day, I dreamily thought to myself, one day they will be in school full-time and I will have time to write that book. I will have time to be a health coach. I will get to paint that picture.

That’s because the successful people I was reading and listening about only accomplished things when their kids were grown. I thought I had to suffer like a martyr and sacrifice, waiting to truly live my life.

And then I realized that they are the work. If I am attentive, if I can take care of myself, if I can learn to love and forgive myself, if I stay open when I am scared and doubt filled, if I can stay present, I will have accomplished what I dreamed about during those childless days working in a cubicle. All I wanted when I worked in that 9-5 job was a meaningful life. Your dreams sometimes come in a different package than you expect it.

Being a mother isn’t keeping me from my life. It’s pruning me for the life of my dreams. It’s a multidimensional season this parentdom. It’s stark and isolating as winter and as love giving and fruitful as spring. I have two young kids which means my time is limited. But that time is filled with precious moments of presence and laughter, and anguish and pain, all heightened because children make it so.

It is a gift you know. You might not feel it while wiping a butt, cheek, or smirk off your toddler’s face. But they are teaching you. They are teaching you that they matter, you matter, and that this moment matters. They are teaching you about the grim valleys where moments feel grueling cause they are filled with unlimited monotonous tasks like washing things. But in those valleys there is also time for rest, dreaming and being alive. They also remind us that creativity is important and what we do is important, more than what we teach.

There will be sad faces, and lots of guilty places when we take time to write, paint or read. Or there will be sacrifices to be made-favorite TV shows and sleep being switched out for our important personal work. But it all matters. You don’t have to give up your dreams. You only need to let life mold you so you have the knowledge, energy and love to push it forward.

Use your time to create the life you love by being fully present in every moment. Don’t wish away the time. Don’t spend it in jealousy on Facebook. Just keep being present. Just keep spending your precious free time doing what makes you better.

That’s the way you stay sane.

That’s the way you curate a well-lived life.

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The Superhero You Know

Super momThe next biggest superhero isn’t coming to a theater near you. What most people don’t know is that they have one of the most powerful ones in their home.

It’s you.

Here are top 10 super powers that should deem you the next Super Hero:

  1. Super pain. Yes labor is equated with running a marathon. But marathon runners get to rest afterwards. Moms don’t get any sleep and probably won’t for the next few years.
  2. Super smart. What other person can get by on a few hours of sleep and make coherent sentences, never mind cook dinner, clean and make sure their kids aren’t animals when they leave the house?
  3. Super organized. Okay so you don’t know what day it is or when you went to the gym last, but the diapers, the hand sanitizer, and pacifiers! You could find them with your eyes closed.
  4. Super chef. Maybe no one would pay to eat at your restaurant, but when the kids are whining and the fridge is empty, you can whip up something edible like nobody’s business.
  5. Super patient. Yes we all blow up after 12 hours of whining. But only you can hear your child’s fifth plea for milk without losing your mind.
  6. Super resourceful. MacGyver has nothing on you. You can wield a nursing cover out of your jacket and turn toilet paper rolls into a musical instrument, bowling game and craft project.
  7. Super determined. You know you’re not perfect. But that doesn’t mean you won’t try. Even if you can’t be cool like your kid’s classmate’s mom, doesn’t mean you won’t try to be the most loving one.
  8. Super hopeful. Love is blind. And that’s a good thing. Your kid’s not perfect either. But you love him or her anyway. And you’re hopeful that even though today the crap hit the fan, you always have tomorrow.
  9. Super prepared. You’ve got indentations in your back from carrying around a 50 pound bag. But no one’s more prepared for runny noses, antsy toddlers and toilet mishaps than you.
  10. Super efficient. You don’t have time to twiddle your thumbs. You’ve got changing a diaper down and can multitask like nobody’s business. Thirty minute meals? You should be a Food Network for your infamous five minute meals.

All together you’re braver (do people know what potty training looks like?), stronger (have you carried a toddler in a carrier) and more powerful than any superhero. And while you won’t save victims from fires and deadly villains, every day you do the hardest, most meaningful job in the world. You’re raising your own mini superhero. So go on and give yourself a pat on the back and forgive yourself when you don’t check off all the items on your to-do list. It’s okay that you’re not the model looking mom who raised her kids while cultivating a kick ass career. You don’t get recognition for it, but what you’re doing is amazing. Remember that. Remember that when the toilet overflows, your toddler is screaming, oh and the baby hasn’t slept yet. Good job Super Mommy! Good job!

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Effortless Teepee II

This will be a short post because it took me no more than 5 minutes to put a toddler teepee together. The hard part was entertaining two babies at a hardware store while trying to carry bamboo poles and them back to my car. Thank you nice City Mill salesperson for helping me with the latter.

Basically, I’ve been reading how-to make an easy teepee online and via pinterest. Again, the difficult part was finding time to do it. Luckily, a relative was over again this time to watch the two.

How I did it:

  1. All I did was wrangle together 5 bamboo poles. I was not picky about which ones. In fact, that salesman chose them for me.
  2. I also bought jute rope. Make sure you’re not settling for anything thinner. It’s got to be strong enough to withstand your kids. You know yours. I know mine.
  3. I also got a drop cloth. The cheapest one I could find that was still made out of cotton, not plastic, was a runner. 
  4. Basically, I used one hand to hold five bamboo poles and the other to wrap the jute rope around the entire thing. Then, I weaved the rope around each one in an erratic and not consistent figure eight.
  5. Lastly, I tied each ends of the rope into a knot.
  6. When the teepee was sturdy, I wrapped it in the runner.
  7. The final steps included adding a ribbon at the top, a few toddler pillows and his bear pillow.

I’m surprised how easy it all turned out.

Toddler teepee

Here is the baby before and the toddler after. It went by so fast. I could weep. Not the room transformation, the growing up. Anyone else with me?

Nursery picTeepee toddler room

Go here to read part I of the transformation.

 

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The Toddler Craft Project That Keeps On Giving

When you’ve got a spirited tot, planning a project that has multiple uses is ideal.

This is important to tuck away for: a) rainy days b) cancelled playdates c) when you’re too tired to do anything.

Thankfully, one of those days when all of the above was happening, I saw a potted plant nearby and thought fast.

Pinning my toddler in his high chair was also a smart idea. For a moment I actually felt like I was winning.

I gave him my terra cotta pot, his paints and a brush, and we were set for about half an hour. That was the first layer. Purple paint is what I hand on hand.

IMG_8007 When that was almost over, I got a second idea. Thank you God!

I remembered I had leftover chalk paint from this project and we painted a second layer. Yes!

IMG_8008

And if that wasn’t another half an hour used wisely, this painted pot plant kept giving and giving. After it dried, he still could draw on it with chalk.

FullSizeRender (9)Yes I know I’m overly enthused, but finding one project will multiple tasks that has the ability to sustain a toddler is like hitting the jackpot. Am I right?

 

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The Unwanted Things Your Kids Teach You

file0001971678256Being a parent teaches me a lot of things. Sometimes it forces me to learn things I’d rather not learn. Things like how to survive the world with less than a few hours of sleep or how to cook dinner with a crying toddler and un-soothable five-month old or how to be patient when you haven’t slept in three years. Things like that.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with maintaining my health and well-being while my two kids are simultaneously going through growth spurts/separation anxiety/teething.

Everything I read says that sleep is mandatory for your mental and physical health. It helps you lose weight and maintains your sanity. But having kids teaches you that when circumstances are beyond your control, you need to take the reigns on what you can. This means to stop resisting what you don’t want so you don’t miss out on the moment.

I have always struggled with insomnia. But now I have external alarm clocks in the sounds of crying babies that wake me up. Being a mom makes me hyper-alert to everything from the late night jogger to the car down the street. Normally, a lack of sleep turns me into an ugly gremlin. My son has even closed my door once saying, “Oh no! Scary mommy is coming out!” I’ve had to fight my desire to sleep. But I realized that some things like sleep are beyond my control. Is it possible to still find something salvageable in a day even if I don’t get what I think I need?

Of course!

Yesterday during one of the worst days without sleep, my son and I laughed and giggled. While I’m too tired to remember over what, I do know that my ability to let go and surrender gives me the energy to do what I can. Fighting with what is not only depletes me further, but it ruins what still can be a wonderful day.

This does not mean you’ll see me smiling like a fool (unless it’s from delirium) when insomnia hits. But it does mean that my kids have given me yet another reason to be grateful. Yes I may not have slept at all last night. Yes my eye is twitching like crazy from fatigue. Yes I probably won’t have the energy to be supermom today. But every one is well. No one has to go to the ER. And I am here and so are they. In the big, giant scheme of things, this is but one day. I will probably have many well-rested nights when the kids are grown and gone. But I have them now cuddly, crazy and needing their momma.

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What Mothers Want You to Know

Hands

I’ve only been a mom for two and a half years, but having ventured to the other side, I can’t remember life before my sons. Taking on this newish role has changed me. In a good way. Forever. It’s given me new mommy lens that makes me see the world differently. I wish I could tell my before mommy self just what moms really need and need to hear. It would sound a little like this:

  1. “No I don’t need your opinions. I need your help!”

I don’t know how many times I’ve encountered folks who aren’t afraid of telling me what they think about how I’m parenting, but hold a door open for a tired mom with a double stroller? They’d rather roll their eyes.

2. “Just because I do things this way, doesn’t mean I’m disagreeing with your way of doing things.”

Being a parent leaves you wide open to shamedom. I’ve found that when sharing my decision to use cloth diapers or to keep my toddler away from junk food, it sometimes set off shame sirens for those that don’t do what I do. But I truly believe that every parent has their own “right” way of doing things. If you don’t knock my inability to cry it out, I won’t knock your way of doing things. I promise!

3. “Yes. I am a mom. But I’m other things too!”

This post was inspired by a Facebook conversation on one mom’s rant regarding her multilayered roles. She is a writer and a mother. She is accomplished and she stays at home. I’d add that all moms have it hard and we all have different aspects of ourselves. We are mothers. But we are also creators, lovers, and workers too. We are many things with mom being one of them.

4. “Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m a natural at being a mother.”

Giving birth doesn’t automatically make me a mother. It’s not always a seamless transition. It was one of my greatest surprises that having a baby meant I was expected to know how to do everything immediately. It also meant that whenever my husband did anything for the baby he was praised and felt sorry for. For me, it was expected. For him, it was a really kind and unnecessary gesture.

What about you? Do you have anything you wish others new about mothers? Share the love here.

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Creative Bee: Larisa Majors

I kept catching mom friend Larisa’s crafty ideas in my Facebook feed, until I had to ask her, “Will you please post a few on The Inspiring Bee?”

Fortunately, she agreed.

Check out her amazing before and after photos of the antique, vintage and unwanted items she found around Oahu and transformed into inspiring treasures:Before and after photos

{from old clothes drawer to modern shelf}

Table makeoverI love how she took that familiar wooden eye sore on the left and beautified it into a gorgeous cottagy end table.

Tire to tableThis is one of my favorite of her DIY projects. An old tire into an adorable coffee table.

Drawers to barDon’t you love this one? From clothes drawers to bar.

ShelfAnother super cute idea!

Isn’t she talented? You should see her themed parties. Amazing. Really.

If you want to learn more about Larisa. Here’s a little info:

Southern aloha is what best describes me. My less formative years were spent in Atlanta, Georgia and my more formative years in Hawaii. I like to think the two geographies have combined to form one chaotic, charming conglomerate named Larisa. She is 38 going on 16. She obsesses about nearly everything. She sings her heart out in traffic. She likes competition. She can’t whistle. Not even a little bit…

She is a self taught baker and furniture painter. She struggles with parenting two boys. She enjoys movies…more than the average person does. Pizza and beer and call it a day. Books are her biggest treasure and music makes her soul happy. You can find her anywhere there’s a good view, an iced cold brew, and fun reads to peruse. She is me. You can follow her on Instagram or on her blog Lifeoflarisa.

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