The Mommy Guilt Cure

hugging mother and daughter

It was one of those really bad parenting weeks for me.

You know the ones I’m talking about. When our patience runs thin, our tone of voice loses it’s softness, and we react with emotion rather than with grace and intention, and it’s literally all we can do to just get through the day and make it to bedtime.

And yet, just when we finally get that moment of peace, silence and solitude, it’s loudly interrupted by the overwhelming emotions of mommy guilt and shame. And every memory of every mistake we’ve made throughout the day haunts our hearts and minds, and we’re certain we’ve ruined our children forever.

{I keep using the term “we”…I think because it makes me feel better to assume I’m not alone in weeks like this….ha!}

In the midst of this particularly tough parenting week, I found myself writing out my heart in the pages of my journal, which often times ends up being a lengthy heartfelt prayer to the Lord. And there I was, confessing my sins and selfishness before Him, asking for mercy and compassion, and hoping with all hope that despite my shameful behavior that week, He would still see my honest hearts desire was to be something completely different. And that, in his grace and mercy, perhaps he could keep my children from hating me and being screwed up all due to my numerous parental mistakes over the years. And…amen.

Just a couple nights later, as we were going over our foster care questionnaires with the kids, Taylor, my 9 year old son, out of the blue asked if we could maybe foster or adopt someone with a different color skin.

“Because, ya know, I just want them to understand that it doesn’t really matter what color we are on the outside, it’s really just about our hearts and how we are on the inside.”

Then he added… “But let’s just see if we can only get someone who has been teased a lot about it, so we can show them that not everybody is like that, ya know?”

And when I asked him if he wanted a boy or a girl, he responded, “It doesn’t really matter, it’s really just whatever God wants for us.” Then when I asked him what foster care would mean to our family, he very matter of factly stated, “It means we will have to work really hard to teach them about the Lord.”

As you can imagine, I was just about near a puddle of tears right there on the floor beside him.

You see, this child saying these wise things, tends to be what many would consider my Strong Willed one, or better put, the Child With Strong Leadership Skills. He’s the one that I’m pretty sure grows my gray hairs and deepens my premature fine lines and wrinkles. And yet, just when I think I have no idea what I’m doing or wonder how I can possibly mold and shape the children God has given me, this child busts out with a whole bunch of stuff Jesus would say and do.

And I am so completely humbled.

My goodness, doesn’t it seem as though the ones we love the most humble us the most?

I mean, how on earth with all the parental messing up I have done, could my children have ended up with hearts like that?

And it was in this treasured moment, that I knew the Lord was showing me just how much He truly does work in spite of us. And those moments where we mess up and we don’t seem to be measuring up to the parental standards we may have set for ourselves, God steps in and with all his love and mercy and grace, He fills in the cracks. He takes the brokenness and makes it whole again. And His ways, His works, His miracles are so much more powerful and life changing than our attempts at perfect parenting will ever be.

And so, we have to keep that truth close to our hearts always, especially because I get just how hard we can be on ourselves when it comes to the area of raising these sweet (most of the time) little souls.

And that truth is: Our God is sovereign, and his grace and mercy never fail.

“We try, We fail.
We trust, He succeeds.”
-Corrie Ten Boom

Blessings,

 Summer Saldana
SummerSaldana.com

An Encouraging Word for Our Daughters Who Dare to Dream

An Encouraging Word for Our Daughters Who Dare to Dream

I feel rather blessed.

Being the mother of several teenage daughters—young, bright, and beautiful. All of them hoping to get married some day.

These girls dare to dream.

But to tell you the truth, they’ve grown a little doubtful lately.

The girls observe these marriages around them falling apart right before their eyes. They’ve seen the destruction of divorce and have stayed up late comforting dear friends whose parents are parting ways.

Or, they watch while some couples stay together, yet grow increasingly cold and distant. Tension filling the air.

It troubles them to think of their lives ending up in this unhappy way.

It messes with their minds and messes with their dreams.

They’re not little girls anymore and they understand that life is no fairytale.

But they can’t help wondering where did all the good stories go? You know, the ones with a happy ending? Whatever happened to happily-ever-after?

And this is what I say to them…

My dear girls,

I believe in a good God who desires to write a beautiful story for our lives.

Rather than looking at the messed-up world around you, fix your eyes on Him who is more than able to care for you. He is the One you can trust for your hope and for your future.

…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (I Pet. 5:7)

I believe in a God who is in the business of changing people. He can change me and He can move that man of mine. He has the power to transform our marriage into something wonderful and glorifying to Him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)

I believe in a God who restores and redeems. He can heal the broken and save the lost. I’ve seen Him turn lives around and rescue marriages from the most impossible situations.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Ps. 34:18)

I believe in a God who sees the big picture. While we might only see the snapshot – what is happening today – He knows what our future holds.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)

Take your dad and me, for example. Here we are, two imperfect people who have learned to love each other—who are still learning to love each other. Look at the good work God is doing in and through our life together. Growing, learning, forgiving and loving some more. This is the stuff that makes for some of the best stories.

This is a real love story.

So that’s the kind of story I’m hoping for our daughters and the kind I’m hoping for you. Not because I believe in fairytales, but because I believe in a good and powerful God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)

The Jacobson Girls

So go ahead and dare to dream, girls.

Because we know the God who is the Author of the greatest love story – and we are known by Him.

Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women

Not Something you do, but Someone you Raise

someone you raise

Remembering back to my early years of being a mom, it’s still incredibly vivid just how lonely and overwhelming my days (and nights… can I get an amen?) tended to be. I had an overabundance of hormones and emotions, and not nearly enough sleep to balance them all…unfortunately for both myself…and my husband.

And so often in the midst of those dark monotonous days, I found myself wondering if just maybe God had made a major mistake in allowing me to be a mother after all. I had all these expectations and hopes imagining what motherhood and marriage would look like, and what I was experiencing most certainly didn’t seem to match up to any of them. And so, it was in that place of comparison, loneliness, self-pity and sleep deprivation that I found myself desperately needing to find a purpose and a connection beyond my husband and children.

And so began the birth of my blogging and YouTube career.

Now, I don’t for a moment regret the decision to start my blog or YouTube channel, for it was in choosing to share the “Me Too” moments of my life (and most especially the ones shared back with me) that helped in healing from the postpartum angst, anxiety, and struggles I found myself struggling to get out of.

Yet, as it would happen, it was in the midst of seeking to find my purpose on those pages and platforms that God was truly able to open my eyes and heart to the platform I was already being gifted to grow.

The one he’d blessed me with at home.

It wasn’t a realization that came easy though, and in those years (and still to the second I write this post and beyond) I have had to face some tough truths about my selfishness and desires. But having that giant mirror held up to my heart truly ended up being the best thing that could ever have happened to me. Because as I slowly began to look up from the mirror and take notice of what I had always deemed so important, I realized none of it any longer held the same appeal.

And while the seed had long been planted, it’s really only been in these last few years, and especially in these last two of our homeschooling journey, that I have come to truly appreciate that before all else, it is the family God has blessed me with, that is my greatest purpose of all.

I assure you this perspective definitely becomes clearer once you and your babies are consistently sleeping through the night! I also assure you there are days even with a lot of sleep and older children, that this perspective is a bit harder to call to mind and believe. Thankfully God’s truth doesn’t change based on our emotions or circumstances!

And while I still long to have purpose and connection outside the home, it’s no longer to fill an empty void. Because now I realize that anything I’m blessed with beyond my family, is simply just an overflow of abundance. A blessing to be sure, but never one that comes before the two little souls that stand before me each and every day.

I  know the years of being a mother can at times be overwhelming, lonely, thankless and tiring. And I know that in those years, we long to be used for a purpose, to live with intention, and to make a difference somewhere…somehow…

But the truth, the reassuring comforting truth is…

God has given us a purpose.

He has asked us to live with intention.

And in staying faithful to what he’s called us to, we will absolutely be making a difference in little lives each and every second of the day.

For there is truly no greater platform that you will ever build or be responsible for, than the one he has blessed you with right there in your home.

Blessings,

Summer Saldana

Bikinis, Instagram, and Other Fun Stuff {Hard Conversations with Your Middle Schooler}

#selfie_edited-1“But, Mom, I really don’t understand what the big deal is.” And so began our discussion about swimsuits in specific and modesty in general.

But this isn’t a post about modesty. Or the appropriateness of bikinis, tankinis, or one pieces. This is a post about the things I’m learning as the mom of a middle school girl. As our conversation teetered on the edge of another disastrous blow out, I realized that talking through hard issues is… well, hard.

Truth be told, I feel like I’m becoming an expert in hard conversations. Because, we’ve had a number of them this year. We’ve talked about dating and friend choices and social media, to name a few of the biggies.

Sometimes it wears me out. During this particular conversation about bathing suits and modesty, I realized several things that are helping to shape the way I approach these hard topics.

1. I need to listen. Like really listen – to the issue behind the issue. Madison’s push-back regarding bikinis wasn’t really about bikinis. It looked like a discussion about bathing suits. It felt like a discussion about bathing suits. But, it was actually a discussion about fitting-in.

Part of my job as a middle school mom is to know my daughter and to try to understand the things that impact her. This takes time, energy, and intentional effort. Effort that I don’t always want to give, to be honest. But being a mom means sacrifice. My time in this phase of parenting is not so much consumed with potty training and a bedtime routine that works, like it was 10 years ago. Instead, it’s consumed with a lot of listening and talking through character-shaping issues.

2. I need to adjust my expectations. Because my kids are very mature for their age and are both good thinkers/articulators, I often expect them to act like adults. I assume they know and understand things that are actually beyond them – either because of their developmental stage or because they just haven’t really ever thought it through before.

It might surprise you to learn that the ability to reason and think in principles is actually a developmental process. For example, when you tell your three-year-old not to kick his sister, he does not naturally have the ability to take that principle and apply it to hitting, etc. Moral development is a process that grows with time and catalysts. As a parent, it is my job to help be one of those catalysts… not to get mad because my kids are acting immature!

3. I need to walk a mile in her flip flops. Middle school is hard. Peer pressure is real and social expectations are demanding. It might seem silly to me that she cares so much about a classmate’s Instagram photo at the beach but I need to remember that it’s her world. And, let’s be honest, I have my own social pressures that I cave in to. It shouldn’t be so hard for me to understand what she is feeling.

4. I need to be careful to cling to what is important, not just what I have always thought. When Madison started pressing me on the whole bikini issue, I wanted to dig-in and hold to my position. Which might actually be legit, of course. But I just need to be careful that I understand why I’m holding the line. Is it because I am embracing a false dichotomy, tradition or opinion? Or is it because there is a moral issue here that I believe I must stick to: for her good, or the good of others, or because God’s Word says so? Sometimes we cloak our personal opinions or preferences in God’s Word, turning them into legalisms. As parents we can certainly have preferences and require our children to adhere to them. We just need to be honest with ourselves and clear with our kids about which ones are Biblical and which ones are preference.

5. I need to remember that good questions are not necessarily signs of rebellion. Madison had some legitimate questions about modesty. At first, I didn’t like them. Maybe they made me feel threatened. Maybe she asked them disrespectfully. I suspect it was a little bit of both. But, as we talked it out, I was able to coach her on how to push-back while still honoring mom.

#selfie2

I’m not going to lie. There are days I do these things well and days that I don’t. The days that I don’t, aren’t pretty. And, sometimes even when I do, it still isn’t pretty because her heart is the stubborn one. But, this is the first time I’ve ever been a mom to a middle school girl and I don’t do it perfectly. Because of God’s mercy and grace, I’m OK with that. I’m trusting Him to fill in the gaps where I fall short and to use all of those opportunities to force us both to lean into His grace. I’m praying that Madison and I are being conformed to the image of Christ through the process of each hard interaction. Typing these five reminders was actually a great reminder for me and a great catalyst for some prayer. I hope it does the same for you.

And, let’s not forget that having a middle school daughter is not ALL hard conversations. It’s also a lot of fun. As is evidenced by the plethora of unflattering mother-daughter #selfies we now possess. {wink}

Grace and peace for your middle school mothering,

@In a Mirror Dimly

 

 

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