Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

Back to school blues

Sending my kids back to school is bittersweet

At the end of next week, my kids head back to school. I’m not ready for it. I never am.

This year I have a 1st and 4th grader, which seems impossible since they were just born a few months ago. But alas, here we are.

The joys of summer

I really do enjoy having them home for the summer. Yes, there are times that they bicker and it drives me nutty. And other times I long to eat my lunch and read my book in peace for 10 minutes.

But there are also extra snuggle times and belly laughs as they play. There are smiles as they show me what they learned in swimming lessons.

The truth is, I had babies because I wanted them. God blessed me with these two precious lives and has entrusted me to care for them. My children aren’t a burden or annoyance; they are my greatest masterpiece. And I will miss them when school starts.

The good parts of the school year

I will also be glad to get back to a schedule and routine a bit because that’s how my personality is. I know it will be easier to get work done once they aren’t interrupting me. But I still will miss them.

However, another big part of parenthood is putting your children’s needs before your own. In my head, I’d love to just have them home all the time and hang out — and not in a homeschool kind of way. More in a summer-break-we-aren’t-doing-much-productive-many-days kind of way.

That wouldn’t be best for them, though. They are so smart and know so much, yet, they have so very much left to learn. I don’t want to rob them of that.

They love being together and with my husband and me, but they also love being with their friends. They are learning how to navigate friendships, which is important. I don’t want to rob them of that either.

I know I can love on them and pour into them completely, but I also know they are at an awesome school full of adults trained to pour into them in ways I can’t. I don’t want to rob them of that chance to have role models and be challenged by adults other than my husband and me.

How I handle the first day

So that’s why the end of next week, I will put on my excited face, take photos and walk them into school with a grin. I want to give them the world. I want them to learn and grow and continue to make the world a better place in bigger and bigger ways.

I will pray for a sunny day so my sunglasses can hide my watery eyes. I will wave and give hugs and wish them the very best of days. And I will mean every part of it, even as I continue to let them go more and more each year.

They are my heart. They are my babies. And I will miss them when they head back to school, but I also know that’s what is best for them. What’s best for them is what I want most.

Covering them in prayer

I also know I am not leaving them alone. I will cover them in prayer for the new school year. I pray they make and grow friends who are both good to the and good for them. I pray they learn and grow. I pray that they are surrounded by adults who care about them. I pray they are able to navigate friendship issues and handle any stress that comes their way.

I pray that they remember they are never alone and God is always with them. I pray that they proceed with the confidence that comes from being loved so completely by their parents and by God. I pray that they are kind to those around them. I pray that they make good choices and stand up for what they know to be right, even if it isn’t popular.

And, of course, I always pray that God protects them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually everywhere they are.

It’s easier to send them off when I know they aren’t going alone. It’s easier when I know they are covered in prayer. I will still miss them. But I know back to school is good for them.

I am so proud of the people they are continuing to grow into. Sending them back to school is bittersweet like so many things in parenthood. I will miss them and am overwhelmed by how much they are growing up, but I also can’t wait to see what the year has in store, what they’ll learn and more of who they are outside of being my babies.

Lessons for my kids about being American

What I want my kids to know about our country

Part of being a parent is teaching our children. And on days like tomorrow, when we celebrate the 243rd birthday of the United States, I think about what I am teaching my kids about being an American.

Through my years as a mom, I’ve learned that some lessons come through example rather than words. For instance, when we are out and the national anthem, my children see my husband and me stand and put our hands over our hearts. They do the same. It shows respect for our country, flag and all the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.

Teaching about the sacrifices made for freedom

I will continue to tell them about those men and women. They know that their Poppy got sent to a jungle when he was just out of high school. He went and did his duty and our family is so proud. They will learn even more what all of that means as they get older and learn more about that war.

I have also shared how their great-grandpas, both of whom passed away before my kids were born, served in World War II — one as a solider and one as a medic. We’ve also talked about how their Great-Great-Uncle David gave his life in World War II.  They understand this as much as they can at 6 and 9 right now. One day they will understand even more. And I hope that it will continue to make them proud to be Americans, just like has does me.

In school, my children will learn about the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and this country’s history. They’ll learn of the dark things that our country has done as well as the victories. They will eventually learn about how terrorists attacked our country on Sept. 11, 2001. My husband and I will tell them what we were doing and what we remember of that day. And our kids will start to understand why security is so tight at airports and sporting events. They won’t know anything different.

Teaching the good things about America

But, I also want my children to learn more than just war and sacrifice and fear. I want them to learn about all the good things in this country. I want them to understand and appreciate that we have the freedom to say what we want to say, live how we want to live and serve God openly. And I want them to know that it’s OK to not always agree with government leaders (it’s a wonderful freedom) but at the same time, it’s important to always respect the positions they hold.

I want my kiddos to know that they have great opportunities in this country. They can chose to be whatever they want to be when they grow up. They’re not limited by government or societal restrictions. 

Teaching them civic duty

I want them to learn the importance of having a voice in the way the country runs through voting. I will continue to tell them the stories of those who fought for the right to vote so they understand the progress that’s been made and needs to be maintained.

They have learned as well that people have been treated poorly in our country based solely on their gender or the color of their skin. We talk about these stories and the importance of remembering that all people are the same and should be treated well no matter what.

I want my children to learn that along with the opportunities and freedoms they have as Americans they also have a responsibility to leave this world a better place than they found it. They have both already made my world better just by existing, but they are also slowly working to improve the world around them as they get older. I want to do everything I can to foster that growth. I know there is so much more they’ll do as they grow up. 

Teaching them faith

Above all, I want my kids to thank God for all of these blessings of being an American and all that comes with it. I want them to continue to learn they can also affect change through prayer.  If God can move mountains, He can certainly move governments.

We’ve made a start on teaching our kids what it means to be an American and will continue to do so. For this Independence Day, they’ll both dress in red, white and blue. We’ll celebrate by hosting our first gathering at our new house as we cook out for our parents.

We’ll take the kiddos to see fireworks after spraying them down with bug spray and letting them wear glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces. We have a lot for which to be thankful.

Happy Independence Day!

How social media impacts moms

Social media can be a breeding ground for mompetition and complaining

The average internet user spends about 2 hours and 22 minutes each day interacting with social media, according to a report on Digital Information World in January 2019. That equals equals 16 hours and 36 minutes each week and nearly 800 hours per year!

That’s a lot of time on social media. It’s definitely a newer frontier considering that Facebook wasn’t even created until 2004 (MySpace was created the year before). Twitter came along in 2006 and Instagram and Pinterest both debuted in 2010.

Social media and mompetition

While social media has a variety of pros and cons, one of the issues it’s definitely enhanced is mompetition — mom competition. When I was a kid back in the 1980s and 1990s, my mom’s biggest source of mompetition came primarily from the moms of other kids in our school.

Now, we moms compete with moms everywhere. We log onto Facebook and see how someone we’ve never met across the country has a toddler who can ride a unicycle while our toddler trips walking to her tricycle.

Or we fire up Instagram and see the happy beach family vacation a mom a state away is on while we blow up a small kiddie pool and wrangle arguing children who are trying to walk through the house dripping wet.

And don’t even get me started with Pinterest. I love Pinterest, but it can definitely be a huge pressure cooker for moms. You don’t have to be on it long to learn that every other mom on the planet has a picture perfect clean house that only takes 5 seconds a day to maintain and children who spend their summers doing intense housework, extensive schoolwork and hours of community service before spending only 15 minutes of screen time a week on educational apps.

Of course I’m exaggerating — a little. But, mompetition certainly has grown with the use of social media. Even if we spend much less time on social media than the average user, it’s easy to get sucked into the comparison game. It’s easy to feel mompetition. And it’s even easier to throw our own highlight reel up on social media and feed the fire.

Social media and complaining

Then there’s the other side of social media. There are the posts that are perpetually negative. There are the posts that poke fun at other parents or even children. Sarcasm is found in abundance on social media. Snarkiness abounds.

While I do appreciate jokes about the challenges of parenthood, some can go too far. They can keep us focusing on what’s hard about motherhood and not all the loads and loads of good stuff. They can make us feel irritated and frustrated instead of uplifted and encouraged.

The purpose of Families with Grace

And all of this is part of why I created Families with Grace. I want the FWG blog, social media outlets and general community to be a safe place to be honest about struggles. My goal is to be real. However, you also won’t find posts about how frustrating my children are or how much my husband annoys me.

Because while those feelings are real sometimes, they aren’t the feelings I have the vast majority of the time, and I don’t want to dwell on them. I also, though, don’t want to give the impression that I know everything and my family is perfect. I don’t want you to think that I always talk to my husband and children with grace and patience. I don’t. I fall short.

I do keep trying, though. That’s the journey I want us to take together. Let’s try together to be better and do better for our families — not just try impress one another. Let’s find ways to keep our priorities in the correct order: God, spouse, children.

Because no matter what someone posts on their highlight reel of social media, the real issue is whether they are doing their best for their family. If I try to deceive you into thinking my children, home, marriage and even Christian walk are perfect, I’m only fanning the flames of mompetition. I’m only working to make you feel worse.

If I try to commiserate with you about how awful everything is in my life, I’m only fanning the flames of griping. And I’m making you feel worse.

But if I share with you the lessons I’m learning through my mess and imperfections, then maybe you’ll remember that not all of us are perfect. Maybe then you’ll give yourself some grace and get some ideas for what could work in your own family. My prayer is that God will use some of my words to work in your heart.

Learning to be more like God

I love what I do. I love writing. I love being a mom. I love being a wife. I definitely love Jesus and His redeeming love. But, aside from Jesus, I don’t fully love all of those things all the time. I’m doing my best. When I fail and fall as I do, God gives me grace and pulls me up and dusts me off.

He doesn’t roll His eyes. He doesn’t post on Facebook about how annoying I am. (Can you imagine if God was on social media?!) God just loves me and gives me all the grace I need.

His example is I want to draw from in my own life as a wife and mom. That’s the image I want to portray in my life and on social media. Life isn’t perfect. It’s messy and scary. It’s beautiful and good. And it is so very much more than what shows up in our social media news feeds.

Join me on the journey to creating homes filled with grace, love and faith. Come along and learn from the mistakes I make and lessons I learn. I can’t promise you that I’ll be perfect, but I know the One who is. God never fails, He always loves and I want nothing more than to honor Him in my words whether they are coming out of my mouth, posted on my blog and typed into my social media accounts.

This post is part of Families with Grace’s Social Media Savvy series that covers a commonsense approach to handling social media as a parent. Check out these other posts from the series: