Saturday, May 31, 2014

Welcome from Mamapedia!  If you're not a sentimental mom either, you may relate to my experience with giving our kids a perfect life, messes, successes, and how we spend our days,  and what happens when you drop the ball, then pick it up again.  So glad you're here!

If you connect with what you find on A Wide Mercy, you can follow along on Facebook or Twitter. You can also join our email list by contacting me at awidemercy at gmail dot com.  Thanks for stopping by!

the sentimental gene

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Creative Commons - Pink Sherbert Photography
I'm terrible with formalities.

Today my middle son graduated from his kindergarten enrichment program.  He stood in front in his cap and gown, kicked in rhythm, and sang, "Start spreading the news, we're leaving today," while parents watched through their phone screens.  It was a delightful, giggly, adrenaline-infused moment in my little boys life.

Afterwards, what did we do to celebrate?  Not one thing.  I didn't plan a party, I didn't call extended family to let them know.  In fact, I was the only one there to see my little boy graduate today.  Both my best friend and husband missed it because I never told them about it.  They both would have been there, but since they didn't know it was happening, they never had the chance to plan around it.

Showing up matters.  Ceremonies matter.  Making a big deal about our kids' milestones matters. Creating traditions, honoring our kids' accomplishments ... all of it matters. And I'm really bad at it.

It feels like most mothers have a gene - the sentimental gene.

when you're searching for a God you can trust

Monday, May 26, 2014

Creative Commons - Tom Haymes
I never left church.  The Sunday after leaving a destructive theology I sat in a different pew - jittery, anonymous, and hoping for the best.

Is it odd I never left?  Almost everyone with a bad church story steps away for a while.  But I never did, because part of what propelled me to leave was the gut feeling this is not it.  I know God's love, I've tasted it before, and it's not here.  

So I kept showing up.  At first I was at a mega-church, crying every week and staring at the screen while everyone around me swayed to the music.  Mega-churches are gentle places, meant to draw a crowd.  When your head and heart are as messed up as mine was, a crowd is reassuring.   I could just ... sit there.  Sit, hear words of love, and slowly nurture the furtive hope within.  It was exactly what I needed at the time.

After we moved, we chose a different course.  I'd read about the liturgical way of life and my husband loved the simplicity of the worship, so we landed in an Anglican church.  Our footing was uncertain, but we kept moving forward, compelled by that gut feeling that prodded us to search for the God we once knew.

when you're looking for your village

Thursday, May 22, 2014

We're standing in a dark hallway, silently weighing our next move.

Behind one door, I hear the baby's slow, sleepy wail.  From the next, the toddler dashes out, sees us, and runs back in.  Her shenanigans woke up her brother.  My husband's not home, and everyone is off their game.  They both should have been asleep an hour ago. Where do I start?  I choose the baby's door, and my best friend moves quietly toward my giggling daughter.

We're both tired, my friend and I.  She's had a long week at work, and she still has things to do before her day can end.  My kids are not her responsibility.  But she sings my daughter to sleep anyway, because that's who she is. My friend is quietly faithful to everything she touches.  Deadlines or not, she isn't going to leave me to conquer a runaway bedtime alone.

on giving our kids a perfect life

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Once I saw those two little pink lines, everything in my life centered around creating the best possible world for my baby.

I choked down prenatal vitamins, ate salad when I wanted french fries, avoided wine and paint fumes.  I spent hours researching car seats and baby beds, googling the merits of a carrier versus a sling.  I washed tiny clothes in detergent I could barely afford, stocked up on all the best supplies.  I wanted everything that touched my baby to be perfect.

Once he was born, it only got worse.  In the beginning I hardly left the house.  Nothing mattered except his routine, and I spent my life in  three hour rotations - eat, cry, sleep, repeat.  I fretted over every tiny detail of his day.  I desperately wanted to get motherhood right.  I wanted to protect him from every germ, every mistake, every potential danger, every possible discomfort.

I had no idea how spectacularly I would fail.

on my first year of he-who-must-not-be-named

Monday, May 12, 2014

Homeschooling is one of those things.  Like breastfeeding and co-sleeping, the topic of homeschooling inevitably kills a vibe in the room.  Everyone has a story, and everyone is ready to defend their choice.  

I breastfed two and bottle-fed two.  I co-slept over a year with one baby and put another 6-week-old infant in his own room.  And my kids left a great classroom experience to come home and learn with me. I hope it goes without saying that I am not a soldier in the mommy wars.  

Having said that, I wanted to share what I've learned from my first year of teaching my children at home.  Only we won't call it homeschooling, because that word is divisive and specific to a certain crowd, a crowd where everyone else often feels excluded.  And I wonder if I'm reflecting more on another year of parenting than I am the ways my children learned to add?  Because what I didn't realize when I made educational decisions for my family is that the teaching part of homeschooling isn't that big of a deal.  Teaching your kids just isn't as hard as it sounds.  The real challenge of homeschooling is that you never stop parenting.  You don't have to/ get to drop your children off in the morning.  Whether that feels like a burden or a privilege, honestly, depends on when you ask.

Welcome!  If you are looking for a blog about raising a bunch of little kids and finding grace in unexpected places, you've come to the right place.  You may be interested in what I believe kids really need, what I learned from the best and dumbest decision I ever made, and what I am learning from my husband's brain injury.

If you connect with A Wide Mercy, I would love to add you to our weekly email list.  Shoot me an email at awidemercy at gmail dot com, or leave a message on our Facebook page to join.  You can also follow along on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

So glad you stopped by!

to the ones who won't get a card this weekend

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Creative Commons - Gates Foundation
"To all the unselfish moms out there who traded salon cuts for pony tails, designer bags for diaper bags ..." So it begins.

The barrage of Mother's Day messages.  For the next four days, we will be cobbled with sentimentality everywhere we look - TV, social media, grocery stores, restaurants.  Don't get me wrong, I love my kids.  I love being a mother more than I could say.  But this year, the Mother's Day sentiment has made me cringe.

I picture Faith Wambua, singing and 'playing dead' with her two small children in a Nairobi mall.  Her hand rests on her baby as she keeps him still and quiet for five hours to avoid being killed.  Five hours.  Can you imagine?  I picture her lying on that tile floor, and tears rise from my chest.  Mothering is so, so hard.

when you drop the ball, then pick it up again

Monday, May 5, 2014

Creative Commons - Love From Ginger
When you're interviewing for a job, you always tell stories that paint the picture you want to create.  When they ask about flaws, for example, you pick the flaws that highlight what a good employee you are.  "I have to be careful not to bring my work home," maybe, rather than (and this would be the truth for me), "I am ten minutes late everywhere I go."  You make sure the story you're telling helps you get the job.

Writing is (or, it can be) the same way.  When people share faults, they share the faults they have already accepted in themselves.  They tell the cute kind of embarrassing stories, and avoid tales of real humiliation.  Even in our honesty, we share the truth in a certain light, and make sure it catches us at a good angle.  We don't share our current mess.

But this story does not catch my best light.  Even if this one episode is over, it will probably happen again.  Believe me, I would love to not share this particular angle with the big wide world.  But if I avoid it, I paint a reality that is not fully honest.  And I let you feel like the kid in the back of class who can never quite get her act together.  Maybe it would be easier, but there's no grace in that light.  That's not where I want to live.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Welcome from Mamapedia!  So glad you stopped by.  You may be interested in why I let my children out of my sight, Easter morning with my little girl, or what I believe kids really need.

If you connect with what you read on A Wide Mercy, please join along!  You can join us on Facebook or Twitter, or shoot me an email at awidemercy at gmail dot com to get weekly emails with new posts.  Thank you!

when you're building a family

Friday, May 2, 2014

photo by Jesse
When you're building a family, you wash a lot of dishes.  

Clean plates - blue, purple, pink, and orange - line the counter at dinner time.  My husband chops grilled chicken and sprinkles some on each one while I dole out scoops of rice.  Four cups filled; two with lids, two without.  Four dinners served, and received with varying enthusiasm.  Seven minutes later, one wants seconds, one refuses to eat, and one asks if I have any dessert tonight.  If so, he'll eat more chicken.  Nine minutes after that, four little plates line the counter again.  I scrape, rinse, and load them.  Scrub the rice pot, wipe the counters, hit the "wash" button, and listen to the satisfying hum of the dishwasher.  

In the morning I will unload those little colored plates, and we'll start all over.  Over and again.

Parenting feels the same way. 

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