Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spare the Rod, SAVE the Child? My Messy Beautiful.

Motherhood. Do I even remember what my vision of motherhood was before I had children? 

It wasn't one of me being told that my baby needed an MRI to rule out spina bifida.

And it wasn't one of me locking myself in the laundry room, just to distance myself from my fifth grader who had successfully pushed every one of my buttons, not once, but TWICE, and was just one closed door away from meeting her Maker. 

It certainly wasn't one of me holding down my screaming 11 year old daughter, on a doctor's table, while she endured the lancing and draining of a MRSA staph infection boil, ON MOTHER'S DAY no less.

They say, "Motherhood is not for sissies." 

I say, "And HOW!!"

The other day I got to experience yet one more messy motherhood moment ...

My 10 year old, Megan, informed me that she needed new tennis shoes. She was on her second pair for this school year, and they were wearing out. Now what you have to understand is that each shoe shopping trip with Meg, except for the miracle trip of August 2013, ends in harsh words, huge tears, lots of hurt feelings ... AND NO SHOES. So needless to say, I was less than thrilled at the prospect of trying to find a THIRD pair of tennis shoes in the same school year.

Nevertheless, I took her after work on a Wednesday when I had exactly two hours before having to be at a choir rehearsal. It's a good thing I'm one of those moms who never EVER needs "down time", because those two hours were spent driving to four different stores, and coming home empty handed footed.

The next night Meg was wanting to venture back out to look for shoes, but she had math homework. I told her we would go after she finished her math, and she actually complied and started pushing her pencil. 

After knocking out a few problems, she asked if we could go. I reminded her that she had to finish her math first.

Now I'm sure most 10 year olds would reply to such a reminder with, "Yes Mama." MINE, however, began screaming things like ...


Then she ran to her room and slammed the door.

At least she doesn't get worked up over the little stuff.

A few minutes later, she came out of her room completely composed, apologized, and finished a few more math problems.

Then, apparently, it was time to replay the previous scene.

That's right ... she asked if we could go shoe shopping, I told her we could after her math was done, she yelled like she was trying to break a world record for highest human voice decibel levels ever reached without electronic amplification, ran to her room, slammed the door, came out a few minutes later to apologize and tackle another few math problems.


I sat watching her in disbelief. Who yells their bloody head off at someone, then 5 minutes later apologizes and just moves on with life like nothing happened?

It was soon after pondering this, that Megan started in ...

Meg:  I said I was SORRY.

Me:  I know you did.

Meg:  Then why don't you FORGIVE ME?!

Me:  I did forgive you.

Meg:  Then why do you still act MAD?!!!

Me:  Just because I've forgiven you, doesn't mean I'm not still hurting from the way you treated me. You just yelled at me TWICE. You said you HATED ME. That's gonna take some time to get over.

Meg: I KNEW you didn't forgive me!! You HATE ME!!

Cue: Running to bedroom and slamming door.

And no, it wasn't me doing the running and slamming, though I was awfully tempted.

Okay, fast forward 30-45 minutes, and we've now run that same scene FIVE TIMES. I'm not even kidding, but somewhere in the midst of it, the wretched math homework got done, and I sprouted at least 50 grey hairs. There was still 40 minutes before I had to leave for an appointment, so in the spirit of the message I'd just heard at church 3 days prior about God being a God of 1001 chances, I decided to extend some MAJOR GRACE and still take her shoe shopping.

Can we all pause for a moment to meditate on what an AMAZING GRACE FILLED MOTHER I was for those 5 minutes?

Thank you.

I didn't see the next tantrum coming. I really thought we were done. Like I'd gone through all the transitional labor, pushed, delivered and now it was gonna be cuddle time.


All I remember is sitting in the car, waiting for Meg to come out. She walked into the garage and started going off about me not really forgiving her, so I just started backing the car out onto the driveway in hopes that she'd calm down and get in.

Oh she got in alright, but as I pushed the button to close the garage door, she jumped out of the (still parked) car and ran back into the garage before the door shut. All the while yelling at the top of her lungs about not wanting to go unless I really LOOKED like I'd forgiven her.

I glanced over to see my neighbor pretending to focus on the sweeping of her porch, wondering what she must think of me. Then I remembered that she's raised her kids, has grandkids, and a few years ago assured me that screaming children just go with the territory.

To shorten a ridiculously long story ... after Meg went back and forth to the car two more times, I snapped. I. WAS. DONE.

She knew the look on my face was one to run from, so she did just that as I pulled back into the garage and closed the door. I went straight for the kitchen and grabbed a wooden spoon, then marched to her room where she had run for cover.

As I gave her a piece of my completely frazzled mind, and let her know how hard the spanking was going to be, I had a brief moment of sanity where I realized that I was in no frame of mind to spank my ornery and obviously emotionally hurting daughter. I knew right then that I could not carry out that kind of physical punishment without doing some serious damage, so I did the next best thing ...

... took away her iPad.

Boy did THAT get the tears flowing!!

That evening, this mom, who believes whole heartedly in spankings, chose to spare the rod in order to save the child (and relationship.)

When I got home later, this handmade craft from Megan was sitting on my side of the bed:

And that is my "Messy Beautiful." 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

P.S. ... I just had lunch with a dear friend and mentor, who upon hearing of my struggles with Megan and her temper, highly recommended the book Battlefield of the Mind (kids edition) by Joyce Meyer. I plan on getting it this weekend and look forward to giving my precious girl some tools on how to control her actions when she feels like exploding all over us in a fit of rage. You can find it on Amazon here for as little as 99 cents for a used copy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I was rockin' my pj's yesterday afternoon by 4:15 p.m.  It's something I do whenever I come home from work and know I'm in for the night. Evenings like that are rare, so I certainly make the most of them when they happen.

It was a stormy night, and I was home alone with my girls when there was a knock at the front door.

I was in the front room, and my girls were in their bedrooms. I thought to myself,  I'm not expecting any visitors, it's dark and rainy outside, and hello? I'M IN MY PAJAMAS. Clearly I was NOT going to answer the door.

Of course that's about the time that the doorbell started ringing, and I heard talking and laughing outside on my doorstep between a male and female.


I peeked out the front blinds to try and catch a glimpse of them as they left (our door has no peephole, just a long glass window on the side of the door, so once you set foot in the entryway, you're pretty much committed to opening it or awkwardly explaining through the door why you won't be opening it.)

The backsides of the door knocking people looked harmless enough as they walked back across our driveway, but I still felt confident in my decision to let their knocks go unanswered, because again, PAJAMAS.

It was then that I got a text from Megan asking if he was gone yet:

Um, wait. She saw him LOOK IN OUR HOUSE?!?!

I headed back to her room and she met me in the hallway. I asked her what she meant by him "looking in our house?" She said that when she came into the entryway, he was looking inside the side window by the door.


But that's not all.


I started for her bedroom door, but she begged me not to go in because he would see me.

I assured her it would be alright, and did so WITHOUT FAINTING or anything scaredy-cattish like that. 

I know. Impressive.

I cracked the door open and slid my hand over to the light switch to turn it off. Then I slowly opened the door until I could see if he was still in our backyard.


For a split second, I freaked out, on the inside. Then my mind began to process what I was seeing:  The man was trying to repair a board in our shared fence that had come down during the storm! And THEN I realized that once he finished the repair, he would be LOCKED in our backyard!! Lovely. I was gonna have to go out there. BLASTED PAJAMAS.

So I threw on my long coat, grabbed an umbrella and went out back ...

Me:  Helloooooo.

Him:  Hi there.

Me:  Sorry about not answering the door earlier, but I was ... in my pajamas, so ... yeah.

Him:  No problem. I fixed the board. Would you mind letting me out? I was afraid I might have to scale the fence.

So I led him out, THROUGH THE HOUSE, thanked him for the repair, and that was that.