When Life Brings Changes

 This has been a year of change for my family.  It started off with the loss of my dad, the birth of my granddaughter and then continued to include a new health diagnosis, job scare, marital struggles, the loss of two pets and now I’m facing the day my daughter (who recently became engaged) and granddaughter leaves our home.

 

Some of these changes have been devastating.  Others have been good but nonetheless, required a great deal of adjustment and at times, hope in the unseen.  Most have turned out well—there’s improvement with my health condition, my marriage has turned a corner and I have a new job that I absolutely love.  There are still some issues I’m working through, mainly the grieving process.  But all in all, I’m managing and I take absolutely no credit for that.  Only God.

 

Still…there is a lot of emotion in knowing your only daughter has become engaged.  And that she will be taking the next step and leaving the nest.  It’s a good thing.  But it doesn’t make it any easier to digest.  Having one already leave the nest, I know the pain and emptiness you feel in the beginning.  It does get easier.  So I hold onto that.  At the same time, I’m hit with a double whammy in that I will also see my granddaughter leave.  However, I know this will be good for her and she’ll finally have some stability.

 

Recently I was watching some old home videos, when my children were very young.  If anyone would have told me back then what this journey of motherhood would be like, I don’t know that I would have signed up.  I say that jokingly—sort of.  I guess what I’ve come to discover is that nothing can ever really prepare you for the sometimes oh-so-difficult trek.

 

The difficulties that stem from struggles and trials.  Even the difficulties that stem from good things but require adjustment or change.  The emotional ups and downs.  The mental exhaustion.  The physical depletion.  The worrying…the sleepless nights…the regrets…the victories…the blessings…the love.

 

Motherhood is a very complex life experience.  You never know what’s waiting for you around the corner.  Just one doctor visit can change a family’s dynamics.  One decision made by a child can alter the future.  One word can break a heart. One choice can devastate a relationship.

 

But there is a flipside to this.  One doctor visit can draw a family closer together.  One decision can see a miraculous outcome.  One word can mend a hurt.  One choice can restore a relationship.

 

I believe the good outweighs the bad of parenting.  I believe that hope outweighs doubt.  I know that God can move in any situation…even when it looks impossible.  Change will come.  Most of the time we can’t do anything about it.  But what we can do is learn more and more how to put our faith not in our abilities as a parent…but in the One who gives us everything we need to parent.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

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Unexpected Lessons in Motherhood

 There are some things you know in your head before becoming a mother.  For instance, the days of sleeping in won’t happen again (at least not for many, many years).  You have somewhat of an idea about sacrifice.  And you know that it’s going to take a whole lot of money to raise a child.  But there are some things that happen in motherhood you never expect.  Here’s just a few…

 

Unexpected Lesson #1 – You Will Be Stretched in Ways That Seem beyond Your Limits…But You’ll Still Make It Through

 

At times I’ve felt that I couldn’t take another sleepless night…another day of dirty diapers, spilled liquids, toys all over…another day of bickering…another day of requests and demands without getting one moment to myself…another day of worry…another day of teen attitude…another day of rebellion…or another day of just being a mother.

 

Yet just when you think you’re going to break because you can’t take one more thing…a strength from within rises up.  Sure, you might make a few mistakes in getting to that place.  You might need to spend a whole lot of time on your knees in prayer.  You might go to bed wishing to rewind the hands of time.  But you will still make it through.

 

Unexpected Lesson #2 – Although It Sometimes Hurts, There Is Freedom in Learning to Let Go

 

I’m a control freak.  I like to have all my ducks in a row and when they aren’t, well, it’s not pretty.  Motherhood has been the greatest teacher in showing me that trying to control everything causes greater pain than I would experience in having no control.  Sometimes God has had to pry my fingers open to help me release control.  And although it hurt, the end result was a feeling of relief.  I experienced true freedom.  Freedom to trust Him with my children.  Freedom from anxiety, frustration and stress.  Freedom to enjoy being a mother.

 

Unexpected Lesson #3 – There Is No Such Thing as a One-Size-Fits-All Method of Parenting

 

I’ve read many books on parenting.  I’ve listened to lots of advice.  I’ve attended classes, workshops and seminars on parenting.  I’ve observed the way other parents do it.  Regardless of all these “helps” (I would argue that some have actually proven to be detrimental), the one thing I’ve learned is that there is no such thing as a model way of parenting.  Not in the general sense and certainly not for all of my children because each of them are so different.  And just when you think you’ve figured it all out, along comes reality to knock you down.  Suddenly you have to come up with a new plan.

 

What works for your friend, neighbor or relative doesn’t always mean it will work for you.  Our journey as a mother is unique, with varying circumstances that determine what’s best for each of us.  Don’t believe the hype—there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all formula to parenting.

 

Unexpected Lesson #4 – Others Won’t Always Agree With (or Like) Your Way of Parenting…That’s Okay Because It’s Not Your Job to Meet Their Expectations

 

I’ve had many a person disagree with me about decisions I’ve made in parenting.  Everything from my educational choices for my children to when I determined it was okay for them to walk home from school.  I’ve been criticized for being too strict and at other times, not strict enough.  I’ve been questioned on what I allow or don’t allow, the rules we enforce in our house and how I handle discipline.

 

If you think it doesn’t happen to you, it does.  Sometimes it’s just not voiced out loud.  But it doesn’t matter.  Because in the end you are accountable for what you do with your family.  It’s not your job to meet others expectations.  The responsibility of motherhood is a heavy enough load without adding other people to it.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

 

How to Avoid Feeling Like a Failure

946ea361004ec69d0c463f2e8a2dce90One of the worst feelings in the world is failure, especially in parenting.  But I think I’ve found the solution to avoid feeling this way.  It’s nothing profound.  In fact, you may have already discovered the answer

 

Ready for it?

 

If you want to avoid feeling like a failure…stay away from Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. In other words, avoid all forms of social media.

 

1352562720450_1717891It’s too in your face.  You can’t avoid the crafty ideas that never quite turn out as pictured.  You can’t ignore the fabulous family vacations you could never afford to take.  And you can’t scroll through the newsfeed fast enough to miss the great accomplishments you know will never be yours because your child is too stubborn, too rebellious, too whatever you want to fill in the blank with or has physical/mental limitations.

 

Social media has a way of emphasizing your perceived “lack of.”  I know, because this used to be a huge struggle for me.  The truth is, avoiding social media won’t fix this.  It’s only a temporary solution to a much deeper issue.

 

Finding contentment in your situation (whatever it is), comes from security—not in your parenting—but IN CHRIST.  Security in who you are IN CHRIST.  Security in who your children are and who they will become IN CHRIST.

 

Don’t look to others in your family or circle of friends to feel better about yourself as a parent.  And you certainly shouldn’t look to those who are on your friends list, yet you’ve never spoken to in person.

 

Whether what you see on social media is the real deal or a front, makes no difference.  The bigger issue is getting to the root of why it causes you to feel like a failure.  It’s not that you need less of social media.  It’s that you need more of Christ.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

The Wrong of Living in the Next Moment

Live-For-TodayDo you ever find yourself living in the next moment?  I’m hearing this played out in my home as my daughter expresses “I can’t wait until” (referring to my granddaughter)…she coos, holds her head up, and so on.

 

So often that “next moment” is a place we look to because we imagine it has to be better than our current circumstances.  We may believe life will be easier or things will greatly improve.  All this does is detract from the NOW moment.  It causes us to miss what’s right in front of our face…what’s important…or right…or good about this moment.

 

Sometimes we can’t fully appreciate our blessings because we’re so focused on the next moment.

 

It’s easy to understand how someone can find themselves in that place when everything is going wrong.  Who wouldn’t look forward to the next moment when the current one…well, it frankly stinks.  But even then, we’re missing something valuable from our “terrible” now moments.  They are what make us stronger.  We learn more about ourselves than we ever could.  And we recognize to a greater degree how very much we need God in our lives.

 

Not only that, they prepare us for the next moment.  One never knows what waits around the corner.  It could turn out to be much more difficult.  Living in the now moment is just a stepping stone to what’s next.

 

Living in the next moment can also create regrets.  One day we’ll look back on some of those moments we were ready to rush past and feel a sense of loss.  We may feel trapped with a longing to go back and do it all again.

 

Don’t live for the next moment.  Make the most of your NOW moment.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

5 Things I’ve Learned as a Mother

podkcxq9wkIt seems that most of what I’ve learned about myself in the past 40+ years has come through being a mother.  I’ve had many life experiences, which have certainly helped shape me into the person I’ve become.  But what lies beneath the surface of who I am today has been greatly impacted by this role I’ve played.

 

Here are just some of the things I’ve learned in being a mother…

 

1) I have more strength than I ever realized.

 

It’s incredible what a mom can accomplish in just one day. But it’s also amazing what she can do when facing some of the greatest challenges in her life.  Moments when I thought I couldn’t go on, that I couldn’t deal with another problem…God infused an inner strength I didn’t know was possible. This gives me hope that no matter what comes my way, I can do it.

 

2) I don’t give myself enough credit.

 

I’m quick to pass on compliments when it comes to my children because I don’t want to take the blame when they do wrong.  How can I accept one and not the other?  Yet the truth is that I deserve a lot more credit than I give myself.  Sometimes we need to say it out loud, “I’m a good mom.  I may not be perfect, but I have done the best I can.”

 

3) The good I’ve done really does outweigh the bad.

 

Have I messed up as a mom?  More times than I would like.  But if the good and bad were to be put on a scale, it wouldn’t balance.  Although my focus tends to be on the moments I’ve done it wrong, there has been so much I’ve done right.  We moms need to pay greater attention to the good we’ve done.  Not that we don’t learn from our mistakes but we don’t allow them to define us as mothers.

 

4) My influence is greater than I think.

 

There are seasons when it seems my guidance and training haven’t made a difference in my children’s lives.  That their prone to follow the world’s ways rather than the godly ways I’ve tried to show them.  The truth is that God’s Word doesn’t return void and my influence has made a greater impact than I think.  We may not always see immediate results, but God isn’t through with them yet.

 

5) My prayers not only matter, they make a difference.

 

There have been times its felt like my prayers have been bouncing off the walls of heaven…always missing the mark.  They have also felt useless when the very opposite of what I’ve prayed has occurred.  Prayer isn’t about getting what I want.  It’s voicing my concerns to God and entrusting the outcome to Him.  Which means allowing Him to manifest those prayers into His purpose and plan for my children’s lives…even if the answer isn’t what I expected or wanted.

 

What are some of the things you’ve learned in being a mother?

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

When Sacrifice Hurts

7-26-12-overwhelmed-589x328There are moments—sometimes seasons—as a mom that you set aside yourself and focus completely on a child(ren). Not in the normal way a mom does this, as we all know it takes much sacrifice to parent on a daily basis.  But I’m talking about concentrated efforts to be there for a child in some way that causes you to get completely lost in the shuffle.

 

It sounds like such a noble, selfless thing to do.  It might earn you a few pats on the back from others.  And in some cases, it goes unnoticed.  But this isn’t about earning a mom of the year award or getting sympathy.  It’s the instinct that kicks in and says, “I have to protect my own.”

 

As I recently watched my father’s health decline and then ultimately held his hand as he left this earth and entered eternity…I had to be there for my children who saw their grandpa take a turn for the worse, who expressed their love for him in their final goodbyes and then mourned his passing.  I had to be there for them because they were hurting and well, that’s what mothers do.  I had to comfort them in the midst of my needing to be comforted.

 

I barely got a chance to catch my breath from that loss when the next day my daughter gave birth…when death kissed life.  And so once again, I had to set aside my grief and be there for her—through contractions, the delivery, recovery and her worries when my granddaughter’s jaundice kept her in the hospital longer.  I had to be there for her because she was entering a new scary world as a teen mom and well, that’s what mothers do.  I had to assure her in the midst of my needing assurance.

 

And when my daughter and granddaughter came home, there was still no chance to process my grief because a newborn tends to overtake your world.  Diapers, feedings, loss of sleep…all the stuff I wasn’t expecting to face as a middle-aged woman.  I had to be there for them because it was too difficult on their own and well, that’s mothers do.  I had to help in the midst of my needing some help.

 

When what we need is all we’re giving…we can only last so long. The effects of sacrificing to the detriment of your own needs isn’t so noble.  In fact, it can turn downright ugly.  Anger, resentment, sleep deprivation, disconnection from God, overeating, relationship problems, and bad habits are just some examples of what can happen.

 

As believers in Christ, we oftentimes have difficulty accepting when we are in need.  It’s ingrained in our spiritual DNA to sacrifice, give selflessly and without complaining.  And while these are marks of a true believer, it won’t happen if we’re depleted.  Forced sacrifice isn’t a true surrendering of self. 

 

Maybe you’re a new mom who barely has time to take a shower, let alone get a decent night of sleep.  Maybe you’re raising a child whose special needs prevents you from having a life outside your home.  Maybe you’re a single mom working and raising a family on your own.  Maybe you’re dealing with a rebellious teenager who doesn’t give you a moment’s rest.  There are many other “maybe” circumstances any one of you could be dealing with—in which you’ve given until you have nothing left.  Let’s keep it real…sacrifice can hurt.

 

It’s time to be refilled.  It’s time to make time for you.  I don’t know how that will look because it’s different for each one.  It could be enlisting the help of a babysitter.  Taking a mini vacation.  Sleeping in.  Seeking a counselor.  Dusting off the Bible.  Having coffee with a friend.  Reading a book.  Dating your husband.  Exercising. Conversing with God.  Listening to praise and worship music.

 

Sacrificing is part of the believer’s life.  And it’s most definitely a part of a mom’s life…yes, sometimes to the point it hurts.  But you can’t give what you don’t have, so be sure to not only pay attention to your needs—meet them.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

 

 

Don’t Forget

forget-me-not-e1358888225689When all you see is the frustration on my face, don’t forget the million other times you made me smile.

 

When all you hear is my exasperated tone of voice, don’t forget the soothing words I offered when you were hurting.

 

When it seems like I’m so unfair, don’t forget how often I’ve given up my time and the last ounce of energy I have left for you.

 

When I’ve hurt you with my words or actions, don’t forget the guilt I struggle with on a constant basis.

 

When it seems like I’m disappointed in your choices, don’t forget the pride I feel in being your mom.

 

When you’ve reduced me to tears, don’t forget the laughter you’ve brought to my life.

 

When I seem too busy for you, don’t forget snuggling together in bed or how I’d read the same story to you each night.

 

When you feel like I don’t trust you, don’t forget my greatest fear is you getting hurt.

 

When I have a hard time letting go, don’t forget when you didn’t want to let go of my hand your first day of school.

 

I’m not a perfect mom, but don’t forget that my love for you runs deeper than you could ever imagine. When all you see is what I do wrong, don’t forget what I’ve done right.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero