Apparently there’s no trophy

Kel left for a conference this morning around 11:00 and I’m trying to get into the solo parent mindset.  I’ve found I have to approaches to parenting solo:

First there’s wussy woman:

“Woe is me, I’m SO depressed, what on EARTH am I going to do with a 1 & 3 yr old all by myself for the next 80 hours? (yes I have it down to hours)  We’re going to have to watch 6 movies a day and eat nothing but popcorn as I walk around in my bathrobe and sulk.”

The opposite side of this coin is super lady

“I got this, I got this hard core!  I’m not only going to parent the crap out of my kids but I’ll reorganize ALL the closets and cupboards, teach the kids how to make both noodle necklaces AND potholders.  Additionally, if I’m going to be on my own I need to learn how to use the power tools in the garage as well as the lawn mower.”

These two inner selves are so opposite that I’m expecting a multiple personality diagnosis within hours after I post this.  Just call me Cybil.

I have many friends who are single moms every day of their lives so I feel like I have no business whining.  They do it solo every day, I think I can manage three.  These women are astounding and deserve massages, gourmet dinners, free babysitting and mocha truffles.  Single Moms, I am in awe.

This afternoon started with me sulking, crying and being wussy woman.   I’ll admit it, it was ugly and a tad pathetic.  But I pulled out super lady after the kids got us from naps and we swam in the pool, took a bubble bath together, built a fort, ate homemade cookies and played toys.

Mom of the year badge, here I come!

Then I looked at the clock, it was ONLY 3:45.  Crap!  Now what?

I could turn on the television and let them zone out until bedtime but, no, that’s not what “good moms” do and I am determined to be a good mom and do what’s best for my kids.

However, they were getting whiney and I was developing a massive headache.  We could just eat a early dinner, clean up their toys and watch a movie before bed.  We don’t normally watch two movies in one day but was it really going to lower their SAT/ACT scores if they watched both Toy Story AND Wall-E in a 24 hour timespan?

Then it hit me, there’s no medal at the end of this.  No one is looking through my window keeping score, evaluating my mothering skills.  There is only Noelle, Caedmon and I navigating this week together, for better or for worse.

So after a few moments thought I decided that a bit of Toy Story is better than a headachy mom snapping at them for getting into things out of boredom.

4:00 dinner, nuttin but diapers and watching a movie. Real life here people.

So often we feel like every day has to be top notch, beyond par and Facebook post worthy.  Food must be homemade and all natural.  Activities educational and relational to the max with at least 17 God-led teachable moments.

Here’s the thing: no one, but no one can sustain that pace.  There is no prize at the end of that road except maybe an ulcer and nervous breakdown.

Should every day be full of TV and fast food?  No, and every day isn’t, but today I am exhausted, headachy and in need of the grace that only God, Woody and Buzz can bring to our home.

So, if you’re in a weird season or week, give yourself a little grace.  Recognize that this isn’t your normal rhythm and adjust things accordingly.  Don’t use up all your energy in one burst, pace yourself, breathe, grace, breathe, grace. Seriously, breathe in his grace, it’s there for us, you and I.

What’s your secret to simplifying through solo parenting or any schedule shenanigans?  Please share, I have 72 hours to go here.

  • What Matters Most

    I could so relate to this post. My favorite part:
    “Should every day be full of TV and fast food? No, and every day isn’t, but today I am exhausted, headachy and in need of the grace that only God, Woody and Buzz can bring to our home.” Been there!

    I have been in the same situation many times. I have often thought the very thought you wrote, “there’s no medal at the end of this.” Sometimes I still say that to myself but then I remember… there is.

    “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” -Phillipians 4:13.

    No one is looking through my window keeping score- but God is looking in my heart. No one is evaluating my mothering skills- except for me and Him. It is me, my five kids (ages eight and under) and Jesus- together, for better or for worse.

    I cannot comprehend fully what the “heavenly prize” at the end of this race will be- but for now I know that God gives me the strength and grace to press on when daddy is gone. Through my children God hands me precious trophies of smiles and giggles, heads resting on my shoulders, kisses and tiny voices that whisper, “I love you” even after I have acted my worst. There are so many blessings to be found in those times of “just us.”

    Not all moments are sweet. Some moments are just plain hard, but I remember that there is a trophy at the end of this- and deep in my heart I cannot help but feel it is the very trophies that are before my eyes today. I pray my children and I will walk the streets of Heaven together.

    As for your sulking- The tears your children see when daddy leaves, the sulking, the hiding under your pillow for three minutes (been there?)- it is good that your children see that. It reveals your weakness and your love for their father and your desire to be with Him. The feet that immediately hit the floor and make their way back to the kitchen to sweep up another mess and change another dirty diaper- it is good that they see that. It reveals the strength of God and your love and desire to be with them. Even anger and frustration towards your kids when they are misbehaving can reveal the heart of God. So try not to beat yourself up when you act in a way that is not Facebook or trophy worthy. Instead apologize. Show them what an apology looks like. (My children have been “blessed” with many great examples.) Children are incredible at forgiveness. Let them show you an example of what forgiveness looks like… or perhaps many.

    I did not mean to write this much- this subject is just near and dear to my heart- and so now so are you and your kids. I will be praying for you over the next few days. May you enjoy your time with your children and may your heart be filled with the blessings that can come only through them. May you rest when you need to rest and when you feel like your hands are full- remember this… so is your heart.

    1 Timothy 1:14
    Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.

    Many Blessings to you and your children. You are doing an incredible job. (So much so that I had to fight off wanting to sulk over my lack of cookies, swimming and forts today …)

    – Charity

    • leannepenny

      Charity, thank you so much for your encouragement! I read this at 2 am when I was up with my one yr old and it struck me as fresh grace.

  • Joely

    I love you dear friend…I am with you on having great healthy homemade meals, awesome activities that are educational and God teachable moments and everything organized and peaceful but I also know I appreciate those moments more when they are unique. I am also not ashamed one bit of putting Backyardigans dvds on because I know Jalen will be quiet, still and happy for 1 hr while I can get something done that will make me feel better and more happy to play with him instead of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated the rest of the day. See you soon to tire all 3 kids out for good long naps today :)

    • leannepenny

      Amen, love you right back!