Of sacrifice, suffering, and skipping Starbucks

Every week day, I pack up my two kids and drop my husband off at a train station about 20 minutes away. Then we pick him up again at the end of the day. We commute with my husband, sort of. He commutes much farther to NYC… but we commute too.

Back to our weekly routine… picking Daddy up at the train station #njtransit #commute #hardworkingman #family

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The other day we were picking Bodie up from his train and it was later in the day than usual, the kids were crankier than usual, and there were no parking spaces at this particular station. So I’m just doing the carpool circlin’ thing and I get this text…

“Train’s stopped, not sure for how long.” or something like that. Ugh.

I thought, noooo not today! Not on this day that is already late, and with fussy babies and no parking places! Typing it out now it sounds silly. That text could have been something MUCH worse, it wasn’t so bad, but at the time it seemed pretty bad.

So I start thinking to myself, I could go to the drive through Starbucks and get a really delicious caffeinated treat. Yum. Oh I don’t drink coffee anymore. Well, when we lived in LA and I was pregnant, I used to go to the McDonald’s drive thru (I know, worst mom ever) and get those little McD’s soft serve ice cream cones… I could go get one of those now!

So I sat there, thinking about treats I could give myself to make myself feel better about the suffering I’d have to endure waiting for my husband. And then I stopped. Because that seemed so… kind of wrong.

I thought about suffering. I thought about why we suffer. I thought about sacrifice. I thought that actually,  I was being pretty silly and my husband’s train would start moving soon. We would all be just fine. I didn’t need to panic and go find something to make myself feel better right now.

This small example is relevant on a much larger scale.  We humans sometimes have this constant need to fill our lives with joyful things; to avoid sacrifice, to escape our troubles and sorrows both big and small. But those escapes, the things we fill that hole with are never enough. They always make us feel worse. We can only truly be fulfilled by accepting our suffering both big and small (and really, really tiny as this ended up being).

healing, suffer, suffering, sacrifice, parenting, family, life, chrustianity, catholocism

Christianity delves deeper into this suffering and sacrifice and rightly notes that by doing this, we are drawn closer to God, and to goodness. In practice, offering up my own little sufferings and not trying to fill my life with things that bring me immediate joy only to disappoint me later has brought many cathartic tears, and much true happiness.

On that day at that train station, it turned out that I had misread my husband’s text. He had said that the train was stopped, but he didn’t think it would be for long, and they weren’t far away. He came home, the kids didn’t totally fall apart.

If I’d sought out immediate gratification, perhaps the caffeine or sugar would have made me cranky. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been back in time to meet his train arrival. Perhaps lots of things, but it definitely wouldn’t have made me truly happy. Being willing to endure suffering gives us peace, real peace, peace that is not rocked by minor upsets or even major problems.

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You know, he’s a boy.

Last night I was writing to my mother in law, who is coming to visit soon.

I wrote, “You are visiting at a great time. James now gives hugs and kisses.He also pulls hair, punches, and kicks… you know, he’s a boy.”

Then I paused. He’s a boy. And boys will be boys, right? If he was a girl, would I accept his playful punches, or correct them? Am I teaching my son that I will tolerate these things?

He is five months old. He has a sweet little loving heart and he sometimes doesn’t know his own strength. He definitely doesn’t yet understand that with strength, comes responsibility.

Tonight we went to a restaurant, and my strong, curious, little boy pulled our waitresses hair, broke a ceramic spoon, and then broke a plate. It was one of the most embarrassing experiences of my mom life to date.

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And yet, it is on me. I let him too near the table, twice. I haven’t taught him that he can’t do these things. I have thought to myself “he’s just a baby” or “he’s such a boy” and made excuses instead of teaching him not to hit or grab.

And, he is just a baby, but better for me to learn this now and begin to teach him, than start when it’s too late. My corrections may go over his sweet little head for a bit, but eventually they’ll stick.

My son may be a boy, and act like one… but I will not excuse myself from raising him well from the time he is young . I will up my parenting game and teach him to know his strength and to use it responsibly.

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7 Ways My Toddler Helps Clean

7 chores for toddlers kids children work house homemaking

I was happily going about our day and I realized, my kid helps me a lot. Sure, it sometimes makes the work harder, but much of my housekeeping is done with toddler in tow. Kids can clean, and kids SHOULD clean, since it helps the family and they will one day have to do it for themselves.

So here’s my list of seven ways that my toddler helps me clean up around the house:

1. Fetching something

My two year old can fetch diapers for her brother, her shoes, my water bottle if I’m stuck on the couch nursing… you get the gist of it.

2. helping unload the dishwasher

I take the knives and sharp things out first, but I do let her (carefully) help even with some glass items. If she has a stool to stand on, she can sort the silverware by herself.

kids chores toddler baby one two years old
My 1.5 year old helper. In the past year, she has learned the art of sorting!
3. wiping up a spill

Lots of spills around here. I usually come help or make sure that she’s done a good job. Miri knows where the paper towels and napkins are, and can usually get one herself and clean up.

4. straightening up

Probably our least favorite chore, but my toddler can definitely help straighten her toys and other household items. Especially if I tell her where to put them, and she gets to hold things that don’t belong to her. She likes fetching and putting away things that belong to others more than she likes to clean her own stuff, and I get it, other people’s stuff is cooler and more exciting.

5. throwing something in the trash or recycling

Goes along well with straightening up. We have full sized trash and recycling cans, but she’s mastered the art of stepping on the little lid flipper. I do still tell her which objects need to go in the trash can, and which need to be recycled.

6. assist in sibling care

I know people have lots of opinions about whether big sister or big brother should be allowed to help care for their younger siblings. My short answer is: yes, definitely, it’s great practice and we work and play as a family. It is hard not to squelch this little desire to help, but I’ve read about a million articles saying you shouldn’t, so I let my daughter do as much as she can.

This looks like assisting with onesie snaps or zippers, doing the velcro part of the diaper change, helping put baby’s socks on or arm through the arm hole. Sometimes I let her bounce the bouncy chair (with supervision, so she doesn’t bounce her brother across the room). Speaking of which, we love this bouncy seat. (Amazon Affiliate Link*)

7. help make a bed

Not that we make our beds every day at this stage of life, but when we do, my little one can help. She can take the pillows off and put them back on, and pull on or off one corner of the blanket. This actually IS helpful, and means I don’t have to do all the work on both sides, just go over it quickly when she’s done.

So that’s it! How do your little ones help around the house? This post is linked up with Kelly over at 7 Quick Takes.


*as part of the Amazon Affiliates program, if you buy something after going through my link, I get a small commission. All thoughts, opinions, etc. are honest and my own of course 🙂

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Dear attachment parenting: I love you, and I hate you

gentle parenting with good boundaries discipline

I have a love / hate relationship with attachment parenting. I love fostering closeness with my children, I love being gentle with them. I love when my kids and I successfully communicate. I enjoy taking care of my little ones in a loving way.

What I don’t love is how challenging discipline can be. The stereotype is that people who choose gentle parenting DON’T discipline their kids, and this accusation is not totally unfounded. True attachment / gentle parenting is not permissive parenting, and it is not avoiding setting boundaries, but in practice… setting and enforcing boundaries gently can be a huge challenge.

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Family homeschooling, thrush, and successful homemade pizza

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, which basically means if you buy something from Amazon after clicking my link, I get a small commission. All thoughts, opinions, etc. are honest and my own.

1. homeschooling successes

Miriam can find Waldo. All credit to her, and to Grandma who introduced Miri to the Where’s Waldo book. Last night she also had much success with the Highlights version of this game, and seems to finally be old enough for some of the stories and activities in the magazine. Bodie’s teaching addition and subtraction, and we’re also learning about color patterns using these big blocky lego things.

2. thrush

We’ve got it, or at least James does. I hear it’s really hard to get rid of? How bad is this going to get folks? So far, we’re all fine, James is taking medicine and I’ll eat some extra yogurt or something.

3. family time outside

flag outdoor spring playhouse toddler
and some good ol’ fashioned patriotism
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