not like the others....

Last week was spring break which meant I spent the entire week with my own kids, rather than 180 of someone else’s.
And I adore spring break even though it is mostly just a tease for summer.
Because in Texas you can get a sunburn and if you drive far enough south even see a few bluebonnets.

It is a week of not setting the alarm clock, messes and crowded places with lots of other kids.  Where I am always reminded that I am not exactly like the other moms. And I don’t say that in a I am better than you kind of way. Because I’m sure, in many ways these "others" would totally outscore me on a mom test. And I don’t even say it to knock myself. I just say it because it’s true and there is nothing like a crowd to help remind me.

Tonight I bought my son who wasn’t tall enough to drive the real gokarts a few rounds in the batting cage as consolation. (don’t worry, I had him wear a helmet). And I got a few stares. Not because he was an all star (although he did manage to make contact on more balls than I did) – but because I sat outside taking pictures as giant hurdling spheres came at him. And I cheered him on.

You see, I’m pretty sure I missed the handbook that says not to let kids do things like that. To keep them safe. I do make him sit in a booster (most of the time) and we do own a bike helmet (although we rarely actually wear it). We eat plenty of veggies, but my kids also get a side of occasional diet coke or god forbid fruit snacks with corn syrup in them. And if someone doesn’t watch me I can will eat an entire bag of  cheetah puffs. On the way home from the batting cages I was checking facebook (the hubs was driving – I do have a few standards) and someone had reposted the Jen Hatmaker article on raising brave kids. And I read it again feeling slightly better about the odd looks at stares I had been getting all week. Because most of the time, I’m afraid I’m the one doing it wrong. And the ones who remembered to pack the snacks and bandaids are the ones who got and memorized the secret how to be a perfect mom manual. But for a brief moment in the car, I was sure that there is no manual.

That we are all doing it sometimes wrong and sometimes right and are in the exact same bumper boat.

So here are a few things that get me the look. It doesn’t help that my almost 8 year old is so small that I get hand-me-downs from my friends with kids in preschool.

I am the mom that makes their kid knees knocking, totally begging not to -- get on the roller coaster (and he loved it). But I want him to try things even if he is scared.

 I am the mom that lets her kid do his own project. And trust me at open house, nothing could be more obvious than the ones the moms did instead. This did end badly with our valentines box that was supposed to be a giant squid (not my idea – we covered that already remember) but looked more like a red penis glued to a kleenex box that he didn’t even bother to cover with construction paper (ok, so I might have yelled at my husband for letting him take that one to school without some intervention) but I’m sure that the teachers all got a good laugh out of it.

My son has had his head stapled and his chin glued shut.  Because people fall down. And more often than not they can be put back together.

When it is nice outside my kids have scrapes and bruises and grocery store feet and I am not above calling a trip to the swimming pool a bath.

 I don’t make them eat something green every meal. But one of my kids can put away some serious broccoli and/or seaweed salad (the other wouldn’t even touch ice cream it it was green). Sometimes we all have cake for breakfast. Bill Cosby would be proud.

 My kids often pick out their own clothes. They are not good at it. Sometimes when I pick my kids up from school they look a little bit homeless. Which is ok, because I really really like homeless people.

Whenever possible, I try not to speak for them. This is sometimes tough on a waiter but works out fantastically for anyone trying to sell me something on the phone.
I love my kids just as much as the mom who wraps her child in knee and elbow pads – I just want them to know how it feels to have the wind blow through their hair. I don’t even want to think about anything bad ever happening to them.
But it might.
Actually, it is pretty certain. (and all of us who have lived more than 5 minutes can verify that).

 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. “ 1 Peter 5:10

It doesn’t say if you suffer. Like, if your mom forgets the sunblock or lets you watch too many cartoons or buys something that isn’t organic or even if you do the mother of all sins and forget to sign your kids reading log.

It says AFTER you suffer.

My son is teensy and my daughter has the most tender of little hearts and very little hair. And when I hear someone make fun of my kids, or push them around on the field I want to throat punch them. It takes some serious restraint not to. And some of those 2nd graders are in the same weight class as me. Which I think makes it ok right? And don’t even get me started on dance moms. My heart literally breaks when they strike out. Or they don’t get invited to a party.
I ache when they ache.  
I can’t fix every problem, although I can probably remember to sign that damn folder more often. But it isn’t my job to fix it or prevent it or beat anyone up. God promises to restore, confirm, strengthen and establish even though I sometimes question his definition of  after “a little while”.

I want brave kids more than safe kids.
I sometimes let them get loud so that they will learn to recognize their own voices (and I don’t mean the one asking me to get them another drink of water or read them another story).
I want my kids to have a few scars. And they are not natural risk takers, sometimes they need a little push or encouragement.  A little room to hang out the sunroof. (don’t worry – not while I’m driving!)
I let them make mistakes, and only sometimes is it because I am not paying attention. But mostly because now while they are small their mistakes are small.
My daughter is cold because she refused to bring her jacket like I suggested.  Or pouting on the playground because she wore her cowboy boots and can’t keep up with her brother. Her boots might be made for walking, but they weren’t made for running or climbing trees. (yes, I even let my kids climb trees, I’ll even give them a boost).

So, if you see my wacky family at the park. Don’t judge my parenting skills based on my kid’s mismatched socks. 
We still do homework.  We pray.   We wear seatbelts.  We try not to say bad words or unkind things.  We brush our teeth (but please don’t ask if we floss). We say we are sorry.


We also try new things. Even things we are scared of.
Dance in the living room or the middle of the grocery store. We might live a little recklessly. And I hope that they will learn to love recklessly too.
We fail. And struggle. And we screw up and scrape our knees plenty.
I’m willing to bet only really boring people have scar-free knees.

My 4 and 7 year olds have done all kinds of crazy things even though they are both relatively timid and afraid to try new things. They’ve been on water slides and horseback riding and on boats and go karts and white water rafting and danced in front of pretty big crowds. I don’t always force them. I’ve allowed them room to say no before.  But more often than not I push them to do it anyways and cheer them on. Because I’m a whole lot older and I have found that most of the rewarding things in my life have been done with knees knocking and a little bit of fear.


Tess can sniff out a baking mix from a mile a away. On my last trip to the store I picked up a packet of banana nut muffin mix. She had it waiting for me before I could even set my keys down. I sliced up a few bananas while she put paper liners in the muffin pan. She insisted on adding sprinkles and I said why not. We whisked and poured and put them in the oven.

I barely got the oven door closed when Tess asked if her brownies were ready yet.
Her brother piped up from doing his homework, never missing an opportunity to correct her.
"Tess, they are muffins. Not brownies."
Tess, " but I want brownies...."
Me, "sorry, girl we just made banana muffins. With sprinkles. You like muffins; they will be yummy."
Tess, realizing she wasnt going to win this one. " Well, can we just call them brownies?"
Me: "Sure. You can call them whatever you want. But they are still going to taste like muffins."

I laugh at my daughter's stubborn insistence. Even when she is completely wrong, because I think it is kind of cute when my 4 year old who can't read tells me that I spelled a friend's name wrong. Or tries to convince me that twelve-teen is in fact a number. Or that Justin Beiber is singing about her and that her pink boots do in fact match her red dress. She does not listen to reason. And most of these things are harmless so eventually I say whatever, wear your red boots and no one really needs to know how to spell anymore anyways (thank you spell check).

Today, however after 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees, she learned that no matter what you call them, muffins are never going to taste quite as good as brownies. She took one bite and threw the rest in the trash.
You can call something whatever you want, but it is what it is.

I may not be four, but I am occasionally just as guilty of that crazy logic.
Calling things something else, because it is more appealing than the truth.
I call my mess -"shabby chic"
My procrastinating - prioritizing.
Checking facebook for the upteenth time - relaxing.
My gossip gets called concern.
Another drink - taking the edge off.
Another helping - just being polite - or not being wasteful.
I call things i want - things i need.
I call my lazy -tired.
My anxious worry - planning ahead.
Picking a fight I call communicating.
And all kinds of other little lies that are so easy to tell myself.
More often than not I am all too happy to believe them.
But like that muffin, that was not anywhere close to a brownie....
not so easy to swallow.