Broken Mirrors

Every morning, (well, the mornings that I actually put on makeup) I use a handheld mirror to look at myself up close. This is usually my last step. I’ve put on the foundation and color and plucked and curled and touched-up, and when I think I’ve gotten everything just as it should be, I pick up my small purple mirror, and I check my face one last time.

Honestly, it is often just a quick glance – one final look before I walk out the door.

But something that I stopped noticing quite a while back is that the mirror is broken. I can’t even remember how many years ago it fell off the bathroom counter and shattered. No matter what they say about broken mirrors and bad luck, I was relieved that the pieces hadn’t fallen out of the frame and that the broken shards were large enough to still use.

It seems a little ridiculous when I think about it.

The last image of my face (my final perspective of myself) before walking out the door every day is broken, distorted and very much unlike what the mirror says.

But I think I might be guilty of this in other areas of my life. Perhaps we all are.

We don’t just use broken mirrors for our faces. We let broken mirrors have the final say about our parenting, about our marriages, about our circumstances.

And we forget.

We forget that sometimes the way that we see things isn’t a true reflection of the way that they really are. We forget that there is only one way to see ourselves that isn’t distorted or confused.

It is only when we ask the Father for a chance to see things through His eyes that we will stop accepting brokenness as truth…because the way that He sees us and our situations is whole and complete and the only perspective worth trusting.

He says you’re a great mom. He says you’re a hard working dad. He says your marriage isn’t finished. He says you’re not alone. He says you’re not unusable. He says you’re not unlovable. He says your circumstances won’t always be this way. He says that your best is good enough. He says you are not defeated. He says that you’re not a failure.

Today, I’m going to buy myself a new mirror. I’m going to finally throw away the one that was so easy to pick up and use daily, and then, I’m going to stop and think about all of the other broken mirrors that I have placed around my life – and I’m going to throw those away too.

Because I have been created in the image of God – and today, I will choose to see myself through Heaven’s eyes.

Oh, Darlin’, It Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard

“I don’t know what the difference is… or what changed… but you moms seem to have so much more pressure on yourselves than we ever did.”

It was such a short conversation, but I have been thinking about it for weeks. What has changed between her generation and mine? What makes us feel like we have to do it all? If anything, her generation seemed to be the ones who were able to “do it all” – keep a clean house and happy kids in a world that was far less complicated…

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that since the beginning of time women have been trying to “do it all.” There isn’t anything unusual about my generation. We just happen to live during a time with endless amounts of things to do.

I imagine that in my grandmother’s generation, there was still the pressure to keep a happy home. They had birthday parties, they cleaned, they made special desserts and they organized their lives.

But it was simple.

They didn’t need to visit websites dedicated to cleaning plans or organizing plans or find free printables to coordinate your pantry with matching chalkboard labels.

Birthday parties were simple. You got a cake and a present and everyone sang happy birthday. If you wanted a pretzel at a birthday party, you just picked up a pretzel and ate it. It didn’t require a sign that explained it was really a pirate plank or a magician’s wand or anything other than a pretzel. There weren’t theme parties that required months of planning and hundreds of dollars for a toddler turning two… and you know, I bet kids back then felt just as loved as they do today.

Decorating was simple. They didn’t have blogs for decorating on a budget or from reclaimed items or a million DIY projects. They just had things that they enjoyed – mostly gifts that they arranged around their homes, and everything had a purpose. If it was an ugly bowl, it went into the cabinet. If it was a pretty bowl, it sat out on a shelf – simple.

They didn’t have pressure to take professional looking photos, nor did they have the pressure to have salon style hair and runway worthy makeup before they walked out of the house in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully plan on having a “Frozen” inspired birthday party for my three year old next month, and I enjoy browsing the internet for different crafting ideas. I also love looking at the endless options for nail decorating.  But no matter what I add to my plate, no matter what neat idea I come across, I cannot seem to get past that conversation.

“You’re making it too hard on yourselves.”

And she’s right.

I’m spent emotionally, physically and mentally, and yet, somehow I gather all of these ideas that stop serving as inspiration and begin to feel more like burdens. I beat myself up for barely being able to keep up with my house and kids and bills while listening to the voice in the back of my mind that says, “You could be doing so much more!”

But you know, maybe the only way to silence that naggy voice is to listen to a much sweeter and gentler one say, “Oh, darling, it doesn’t have to be so hard.”

No long explanation. No great revelation. Just a kind older hand on top of my own and a reminder that life is sweet.

I will not let the possibility of “better” steal the contentment I find in “good enough” one more day.

“It doesn’t have to be so complicated.”

I might have to repeat those words a few times to myself, but eventually, they won’t just be words that I say. They will become the truth that I believe, and maybe even someday, I will lean across a kitchen table and say them to another weary momma who needs to hear them.

… or maybe I just did.

What My 4 Year Old Wants You to Know About Yelling

I’m guilty. I’m sure you are too. The paint ends up on the wall after the 30th, “Don’t do it!” The baby gets hit with a flying toy after you specifically said, “Don’t throw it!” The toddler isn’t listening. The preschooler isn’t listening. The teenager isn’t listening… So you raise your voice. You might not shout. You might not scream. But you raise your voice. Surely then they will hear you. Surely then they will understand your heart.

I told myself long ago that I wasn’t going to be a momma who yelled. I remember stern talks from my own momma, but I don’t remember her ever shouting at me. (P.S. Thanks, mom. That’s impressive!)

When it came time for stern talks with my own little ones, I tried to remember the importance of gentleness in the midst of frustration. I feel like I do a pretty good job of this. I try to remember what big old upset momma looks like from their tiny perspectives. We have few encounters with mommy-saurus.

But recently, I learned what yelling sounds like to me… and what it sounds like to my kids are two completely different things.

I had just finished a round of baths for each of my two littles. My daughter was dressed, but continued to demand that I get her a different shirt. I was busy helping my son get clothing from his closet, and shouted down the hall, “Sissy! Mommy is coming! I promise. Just let me get your brother dressed!”

This prompted louder crying.

Knowing her sobs would make it difficult for her to hear me from rooms away, I shouted again, “Baby girl! I’m coming. Just a second. Don’t be sad! Just give mommy a second!”

I handed my son his shirt and helped him quickly pull it over his head.

“She can’t hear you, momma.” He said -his arms still tucked in the shirt like a little turtle.

“I know she can’t. She’s crying too loud. Isn’t she?”

“No, momma. She can’t hear you, because you yelled.”

My son had my full attention. Not even the screaming from the other room could hush the enormous truth my four year old had just voiced.

“What do you mean she can’t hear me because I yelled?”

He poked his arms through the size 4 sleeves. “When adults yell, kids stop listening. They get scared, and they stop listening. Sissy can’t hear you, because you yelled at her.”

I started to reason with him. I started to explain that she was in a different room and wouldn’t have heard me if I had spoken quietly. I started to tell him that I had told her twice and when she cried louder I wanted to make sure she knew that I was coming… that I wasn’t ignoring her…

But honestly, it didn’t matter.

Because it doesn’t matter what I think I sound like. All that matters is how I sound to their little ears.

I know that there are articles all over the internet about parenting and yelling and controlling your temper. This isn’t one of them.

This is simply a thought from one momma who realized that what her son said was true –and important.

When we raise our voices, the message of our hearts no matter how innocent or loving is overshadowed by the tone we used to present it.

I wonder how many times I have stopped listening to my husband because I felt like he was yelling. I wonder how many times he has stopped listening to me. I wonder how many conversations could have ended differently by choosing to speak not just with a heart bent towards love, but with a tone that reflected it.

There is such a profound message in the words of my little boy. Maybe it is what all mommas need to remember. Maybe it is what all of us no matter who we are need to remember. Today, I will do everything in my power to keep the message of my heart the loudest thing about me.

Because the truth is, if I want to be heard, the last thing I want to do is shout.