Joining up with Kasey Johnson on her Mom Essentials Blog Tour today! I am thrilled to be invited along!
Six a.m. I am shellacked to my bed like a bug on a windshield. I have a cold. My head feels like a watermelon, and I have just peered at the clock with one squinty eye, praising Jesus that I have at least one more hour of solid rest before we’re off to the toddler races.
Except, there is this strange sort of snuffling noise by my ear. A decidedly wet noise. It is exactly the noise a desperate toddler makes when he is in his pre-meltdown, sup-sup stage we moms refer to as: Before the Sobbing Hits Us All.
I slowly turn my head and there, nose to nose with me, is Red, quivering in toddler anguish: “I have to tell you sumthin. Icanna find my purple round fighter thing, and I weally NEED it.” I must have looked rather dubious (ticked off). So, he took a deep, shuddery breath, pressed his damp face on mine and wailed: “IT’S VERY SPECIAL TO MEEEEEEEE!”
Let’s back up: I have no idea, but I think he might be referring to some made-in-China broke-down piece of a toy that he got at McDonald’s about three months ago. It is not even a toy in its entirety. It is an EX toy. For some toddlered nutball reason this morning it had turned into a Raiders of the Lost Ark epic quest to find it. Except without the cool opening sequence in the temple with the gold idol thingie.
It is then that I might have spoken rather tersely about priorities and how sleep is WEALLY special, and how maybe he could just wait to look for it, like, after coffee?
This took the slobberyness up to a level orange on the danger alert system. Evidently, this toy was essential.
Wailing followed. From Red, too.
Parenting is a constant epic quest to figure out what is important vs. what is not. Every DAY I am presented with my own weally weally important things (Moisturizer? Yep? Shower today? No time. Bible with a side of 6 cups of coffee? YEP. Planking? Noooooo.)
And that’s just by 7 a.m. As the day wears on, Momsie starts to get overwhelmed by more weally important choices:
Cheerios? GMO laden. Cancer circles.
Prayer time with the kids? Yes, but one kid just smacked the cat with his bible. Um, timeout first? Or do I just lay hands on him and grimly pray for his toddler soul?
Some TV? No TV? TV ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY?
Wailing and slamming doors from upstairs? Do I let them keep Conan the Barbarianing it up there and hope they make it out for dinner?
One child keeps playing hide and seek all by himself? Should I call a psychologist? Is it a phase? Maybe I should try it?
Organic? Or college fund?
GOOD HEAVENS. WHERE DO I START?
We start with the essentials.
Kasey Johnson’s new book, Mom Essentials – 10 Words Successful Mothers Live By, encourages us on our way. She speaks simply and eloquently about her own Mom walk, and how finding a path paired with her 10 Essential Words has helped her live a life truly tuned in to what matters.
As a Beacon Press Off the Shelf blogger, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview her about Mom Essentials. Here are some of her thoughts about her book:
1. Your first essential you chose for the book is about balance. Why did you start here?
Being a mom means we take care of others. I’ve talked with too many women who lose themselves in their daily tasks and the constant routine that is present when raising young children. When our children grow older, their dependence on us changes and that change can seem impossible to accept if we never established who we were before we became a mom. Through scripture and prayer we are better able to maintain a balance between what we do and who we are.
2. In this chapter you suggest that “when we write things down, we keep our memories and our perspectives in check.” Do you journal? How has writing helped your relationship with God? Any suggestions for how to get started or stay consistent with writing or journaling?
My mother gave me my first journal when I was 8 years old. Journaling each night became a habit and it’s followed me into adulthood. As a working mom journaling has lost its consistency, but not its priority in my life. I have a sturdy notebook I keep in my car (that’s where I tend to live most of the time). It’s more like a composition book so the pages aren’t removable, but it’s a great resource to have close by when I want to remember a situation, a funny comment, a challenge, a Bible verse – ANYTHING that presents as significant in my life is written down. Sometimes I flip through the journal and read my thoughts, frustrations, challenges and praises. Remembering these moments brings a kind of encouragement that can only be appreciated when I compare my present with my past. I try to remember that journaling doesn’t have to be lengthy, poetic writing. Instead I use my journal as a place where I can be honest and put my thoughts down on paper so they won’t keep rattling around in my head.
3. Your description of “success” for moms describes a daily progression (a long one, usually) – we are becoming, not being. Could you give some advice and encouragement for moms who are struggling with this concept – that our walk to success is a process? (Ahem. This question is for ME. Progress not perfection… :)
Okay, first off – I am sooooo excited you read that part! I’m always hoping women hear my desire to not think about success as perfection – you’re exactly right – it’s a process.
I hope I’m not the only one who dies a little inside when I see a celebrity who is a new mom plastered on the cover of a magazine in a bikini. She looks amazing and in response I look down at my sweats and grab a bag of Peanut M&Ms! Sometimes we feel pressure to be all things to all people and in turn we stop being ourselves. I will always strive to do my best but I refuse to allow someone else’s expectations to determine my priorities.
4. How did you learn all your organizational skills? Is it just a natural talent?
I’ll be honest – part of it just comes naturally. I’m a type-A control freak but it’s funny how becoming a mom changed my focus and priorities.
For example: Our house is a type of magnet for all the neighborhood kids. I love that they feel comfortable at our house and our door is usually open. But I grew weary of the kids coming, tearing into the toys and then running off. None of them could read so I turned to pictures. My boys and I spent a day organizing toys by theme and had a blast setting up scenes for us to photograph. We printed the pictures and taped them on the bins (I’ll try and put some pictures in this document so you can use them if you’d like). I had a problem – kids weren’t cleaning up because they said they didn’t know where everything went. So I created a solution and I taught my kids to take things one bin at a time and I removed their excuses. Even today I will ask my boys to clean up a room or an area and I’ll hear them call out, “I’ll take care of the blankets!”, “I’ve got the costumes!” or “I’ll take the clothes upstairs!” – I just smile as I listen. I’ve taught them how to manage a room, to manage things and not allow the things to manage them.
I only care about being organized because I know if I keep grip on the things in our life they can’t create problems for the people in my life.
5. What’s next for you? Do you have any other books in the works?
I am working on the next 3 books in the “Essentials Series”. These books cover topics like discipline, school issues and parenting stages. It’s an exciting time but I’m taking things one year at a time. I might not be able to write these books for quite a while, but I’m loving the content my children are providing each day – it’s amazing how I can feel called to write about a topic but then God requires me to wait (sometimes years) to truly find the content and direction He desires. It’s tough for me to be patient, but I see how much better this project is because I didn’t rush things. People always come first and I’m praying God will continue to guide me and keep me focused on the essentials.
Thank you, Kasey for the interview!
For you tired, you poor, you huddles masses of overwhelmed Momsies out there – take an afternoon, make a cup of tea, put your feet UP, maybe even allow a little toddler tv, and just read this book. It will be a balm for your soul.