Spatial Awareness

“WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!?!!” bellowed my husband Saturday morning at the breakfast table after our son, like a sack of potatoes, fell out of his chair smacking head first to the floor for the second time in less than one minute. It’s been happening all week in some form or another. Of all the lessons we teach our kids about life Spatial Awareness is my least favorite.

Our kids are constantly running into walls, falling off chairs and smacking head first into doorways because they have not developed spatial awareness yet. Last week was a record for injuries at our house. While I stutter-scream warnings as one son runs as fast as he can with a huge smile across his face looking backwards the whole time, only to smash into the swing set, my other son is pushing the baby swing as hard as he can only to let it come back and nail him on the cheek bone. One day I made a game out of finding all the sippy cups around the house and as my daughter charges up the stairs she trips on the steps and splits her chin open. We took them to Chick-fil-A for dinner Saturday night and as my son runs to the play room he misses the door completely and splats onto the glass beside it resulting in a matching nugget on his face.

“Look where you’re going.” “Sweetheart you have to pay attention to where the walls are.” “You’re on a chair, you can’t just lean off the side.” “When you run you have to keep your eyes in front of you.” “Try to pay attention to where your fingers are.” All are phrases I’ve said too many times to count. Maybe I’m going about this wrong, but I realized last week that as an adult I take for granted the hard-learned lessons of spatial awareness. Toddlers are in the thick of it. They have the ability to move fast but haven’t yet combined the thinking-it-through part. It’s frustrating as a parent to watch them senselessly get hurt. Padded room anyone?

This is how they learn though. And as long as I have removed real safety hazards, invested in the Bandaid company and have lots of snacks on hand I can handle it. Because I know one day they will be older, facing other challenges, and I’ll be wishing back the days when a bandaid and a snack could defuse the situation.


All for One, One For All

My kids have been watching the classic Snow White. My four year old, Esther, is very affected by the ugly old woman the beautiful queen turns into. I explain to her that the queen may be beautiful on the outside but because she is mean to others her heart is ugly and I point to the ugly woman.

Last night as I was preparing dinner I heard a ruckus coming from the kids and I went to investigate. Two of them had been playing and decided it would be fun to lock the other out, intentionally excluding him. Typically these three are like the Three Musketeers doing everything together, but lately I have noticed two of them excluding the one simply for the purpose of exclusion. My heart broke watching him pound on the door trying to be a part of the fun. It’s a strange feeling to observe my kids and at the same moment be propelled back in time to relive my own pain of being excluded as a kid. I decided then that I would intentionally do all I could to raise my family up in a home where everyone is loved, accepted and welcome to play. A family that supports and promotes one another.

Where to begin though? It’s a difficult goal to put into action. I went back to the basics. After speaking with them both, I discerned the perpetrator from the follower and called Esther aside asking her to go get me the Snow White movie case.

I told her when we do not let someone play with  us we hurt their feelings because everyone wants to be included. That when she would not let Gabe in, she was being mean and hurtful. I pointed to the queen and explained that Esther is my beautiful little girl, but that true beauty comes from our heart and how well we love others. I asked her what she wanted her heart to look like: Snow White or the ugly old woman? She pointed to Snow White and I told her that she needs to love others and always welcome other kids to play with her. I explained that we are a family and that no matter what happens we love one another, accept each other and play together.

Wounds of exclusion go deep and as a Mom I want to have a vision in mind when I respond to this with intentionality.


Time? What Time?


Some have wondered where the time for marriage fits into our picture. Between the exhaustion, the cries, the bottles and the, “Mommy, I have to go potty!” there are few moments left for husband and wife time. Intimacy is a valuable piece of our puzzle. Brian and I have found that time spent together is the foundation for our marriage and we place enough value on it to protect it.

Once the kids are all in bed (by 7:30) we are ready for the slow exhale that comes with a cup of coffee and a conversation. We are also date schedulers. A date once every two weeks is a must unless things get crazy. Then we bump it up to once a week. We need to be on the same page and life gets rough if we are pulling in different directions.

Brian and I see the marriage and the family as two of the important pillars in our life and we prioritize them over tasks and to-do lists.

Intimacy in marriage is vital. It brings into sync our hearts and minds which is required for the smooth running of our home. When we begin to get frustrated with each other it is an indication that we have neglected “us” and that we need to re-evaluate our time.

When our agendas align it creates structure for the kids and an environment of peace and productivity with time for relaxation and fun. Someone once told me, “It doesn’t matter how busy you are, you always make time for the things you prioritize.” Unfortunately time is finite and no one knows this better than parents. But just as a jar holds more when the big rocks are put in before the sand, so our life holds more when we give the most important things priority and allow the rest to fill in the cracks.


Imperfections or Teaching Moments?

Today I was so frustrated at my three toddlers for not putting on their shoes and socks when I asked them to that I literally was jumping up and down like a rabbit trying to inspire obedience. One foot wasn’t enough, I needed two for emphasis. imperfect-human As I put the car in reverse I realized I may be a toddler myself. Putting the car back in park, I asked them all to look at me and I apologized for losing my temper…that we don’t behave like that whether we are 3 or 31.

Its okay to be imperfect, but I know its important to apologize to my kids when I am wrong. They deserve it and they learn from it too. I want my kids to grow up taking responsibility for their actions, to be quick to apologize when they are wrong and quick to forgive.

Kids have a keen sense of justice and they know when they have been wronged. Rather than blur their sense of right and wrong I can reinforce it and use my own imperfections as a teaching moment in which I tell them I am sorry. I shall also refrain from jumping around like a rabbit again too.


Mom vs. Kid Changing Derby

Sometimes I walk into our bedroom and I wonder how it got so messy. When did I become content to throw my clothes on the floor and leave the bed unmade?
It was when I joined the Mom vs. Kid Changing Derby.

For a brief time in my history I was in a show in Branson, MO. We had fast costume changes but they do not compare to the Mom vs. Kid Changing Derby that I am a part of now. hiding-mom Generally speaking, I have about 18 seconds to change into something decent before a toddler comes racing into the room intent on finding his missing mommy. Showers and bathroom breaks are similar. If I have a goal of privacy it is only achieved with speed. And I’m fast. Fast enough to win most of the time, although my housekeeping skills suffer. The house is the casualty of this derby. In truth, on a regular day my house is explainably decent. The master becomes the private dumping ground, which is an excellent arrangement.

Until the holidays. We have a family member who loves to walk around with a video camera documenting it all. Most families have one. And I was prepared. I had that master perfect for their arrival… but on the last day not so much. When I saw him coming down those stairs with that camera in action I panicked (or scowled?). I thought, Oh no. The bedroom! It was pretty at first but as the visit progressed the bedroom digressed. I looked at the camera again. Busted. I am a failed housekeeper. While tying to remember if there were any undergarments lying about, I had to make a choice to either confront the family videographer or let it go and embrace the imperfections. Look at the trip and realize everyone is a little fatter and happier than when it began. The kids are safe and only my wounded pride is left to grapple with. These are the days my friend. I promised myself then and there that I wouldn’t flog myself over it. One day the Mom vs. Kid Changing Derby will be over and I will be able to put all my clothes away and make the bed too. My house will be a tidy little kingdom and I will look back on this day and remember when life was just a blur and nothing was ever truely clean. I will remember the Nutella fingerprints on the walls and even be able to thank that videographer for saving the evidence and reminding me of what these years looked like for us.