Anger Management

My parents used to say things like, “There was a lot of yelling happening at our house when you were little. We’re so sorry! You’ll probably have some issues when you’re older.” That seemed laughable at the time. I got TONS of love and attention and I generally have great memories of my childhood. But then my dad would follow it up with, “You never think you have anger issues until you have little kids.” Still I was sure, that was definitely not me.

Well, here I am in my mid-30s and I am so sad to find they were more right than I thought.

My mom was visiting last month to help me run everything while Josh was out of town… the whole week went great and then on the last day I lost it when a kid refused to take the bus. My mom called me out. “That’s not ok.” “I see all of the wonderful thing too, but they can’t carry the weight of your anger.” That generally feels the worst. Embarrassing. Humiliating. Makes me want to hide and cry and give up… Makes me not trust myself.

But, I’m glad she said it. I needed to hear it. With the weight of a millstone, it made it clear for me that I need to make a change.

Here’s the thing… I love my kids, more than life itself. I care about raising them and parenting them and investing in them more than anything. It’s my main priority. I consciously purpose to be patient and calm… And a lot of times I am! Actually most of the time! But things build up… I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. And then I’M NOT FINE. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, like it’s all starting to spin out of control and my voice comes out like a ROAR…Then huge regret.

Where do you even start with making a change? After I got feedback from my mom, I realized I might not have an accurate understanding of what is normal and ok. First I needed to take stock of honestly how often it’s happening. Also I needed to do some research to understand more… When does it cross the line? And how can I possibly change?

Cue googling things you don’t even want to say out loud like, “angry mom help” and “how to stop yelling”. I found this course online called, “Momma’s Anger Management”. While I don’t even want to put myself in this category or raise my hand for needing help on this particular issue, here we are! After some grief, the best I can do is be honest about where I am at and embrace my reality. Let’s do this!

So I signed up right away. And it is THE BEST. It is answering all of my questions, helping me understand where the struggle is coming from, and most importantly showing me a way out.

Here are 3 of my top takeaways.

(1) There is a difference between “mom voice” and rage.
She breaks it down into 4 different levels — mom voice, a spurt of yelling, anger venting, and ranting/raving. What level of anger is okay? There can be a bit of a gray area. Think about, pray about it, draw a line and set a personal boundary on what is too much. Set a goal to not get to that level.

(2) Recognize my triggers.
What specifically gets me angry and pushes me over the edge? After thinking about it, it was so helpful to notice that there is a pattern. Now to chart out the danger zones. For me? Things like…
-4pm (#amiright!?!?)
-A crying baby (I just can’t even think straight)
-Volume level (kid chaos escalating)
-No sleep (things feel more aggravating than normal)
-Overwhelm (hours in front of me without help)

(3) How I react as parents is directly connected to how I am doing emotionally.
I am kidding myself if I think I can run on E and then still be awesome with my kids. Maybe this should have been more obvious to me? Taking this class was kind of like pulling a thread that starts unraveling a sweater. It’s not just that I need to try harder and have better self control. I needed to move some big rocks in my life if I don’t want to be an angry mom. So really, this was just the beginning. The tipping point the triggered more changes. (More blog posts coming.)

There are some funny things too. We included the whole family in this. I think it’s good for the kids to see that there are I things I am still working on too. We made a sticker reward chart for Mom. At the end of the day they get to give me a star if I did good keeping my cool. THEY LOVE THAT PART. haha. They decided I should get a “coffee and massage” as a reward. And they are actually more generous in their estimation of me than I would have thought.

Overall, if you are struggling with yelling, you are not alone. I am learning that if you grew up in a yelling home, it will be a natural impulse for you to yell at your kids too (even if you love them and try not to). But, good news, there are things you can learn and you can change! If you find yourself in the same place I was in check out Momma’s Anger Management.

Feel free to reach out. I would love to offer my support.

Oh, hey, here’s the bottom.

I kind of bottomed out towards the end of this year. It all just started to feel like too much. Not one specific thing, just all the little things started to team up and then they climbed up on top of me. And I just started to pull apart at the seams – stuffing coming out through the threads.

I think I might not be the only one feeling the weight? Sometimes all that stuff jumping on your back just forces all the issues we didn’t think we had out into the daylight. It’s just a lot, you know?

So what do you do when it all hits the fan? Well, that’s what I’m sorting through right now and I thought I would share a little series with you on all of this.

Today is a little about my process on working through this stuff. And then starting tomorrow I am counting down my top 5 disaster areas I am working to change along with my top take away tip on how I am working to recover these areas if you happen to be struggling with the same.

So for today – here is where I am starting…

_____

Get Honest
It’s good and ok and right to recognize when something isn’t working. “I don’t like this! This isn’t what I want for my life!”… You can’t make a change until you can get honest.  It doesn’t help you or anyone else to put on a smile when it’s just not awesome.  That discomfort, that pain… It’s a red flag and it’s a gift clueing us in to PAY ATTENTION. Do some soul work. What is out of place here? Why am I whack right now!? Write it down. What specifically feels bad? What isn’t working?

Dream For Your Future
It’s important to have the base level belief that you can change. That things can be different. That I can heal and grow and step into more. That God has goodness for my future. This is what will give you the courage to choose to make a change instead of just hiding. So out of this place here at the bottom… what would I rather have? What does God have for me? Specifically – what’s my best case scenario? If I could set this up exactly the way I want it, what would my life look like? Who would I be? How would show up, act, and what role would I play?

Bust Through Barriers
Why is that not my reality? What are all of the things in the way? List out all of those reasons. One by one.. Why am I acting like this? What’s keeping me from my best? What’s holding me back? What specific roadblocks are between here and there?

Research and Problem Solve
That one barrier. That big thing in my way. Is it solvable? Do I need more training and tools? Do I need support and accountability? Do I need to make a major change like consider a different job? Or let go of a relationship? Or clear my schedule to make some space? Sometimes we already know the answer when we take the time to think about it. But, sometimes I am just at a loss. The whole thing seems impossible. This is when I get online and start googling. Surely others have faced the same and someone has found victory. Talk to a friend or coach. “Here’s my problem… I want to bust through this. I don’t want to be stuck here. Help me think through how I can get this thing under control.”

Make a Plan and Commit
Follow through. Actual action items. What specific things need to change? How am I going to do that. Take the first step. Tell close friends and your support system. All of it. “Here’s is what I am struggling with. I don’t want to get stuck here. I am researching and reaching out. Here is what I am going to try to change. I would love your encouragement and support. Do you want to do this with me?”


So counting down to the end of the year I am going to share some of these with you. The places in my life that just FEEL BAD that I want to be different. I am doing my best to be honest, to dream, to bust through those barriers and make some major changes.

Check back for my top 5 disaster areas I am working to change along with my top take away tip on how to recover these areas if you happen to be struggling with the same.

**A couple of these have guest contributors and a bonus or two. Tomorrow is about the wake up call I got that helped get my butt into gear.

Surprise!

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

― Bob Ross


Whew! Are you surprised!? We are! We told everyone we know that we are definitely done, made fun of our friends with 4 kids, gave away all of our baby stuff… and then surprise!!! You guys, 4 kids just looks crazy. Am I right!?

We still aren’t exactly sure what happened?! Immaculate conception? Michael Phelps swimmers? We successfully waited for 5 years after we got married before we had kids, so it’s not like we don’t know what to do. However, funny note, the due date is Aurora’s birthday – April 22nd. In both cases that pretty closely correlates with our anniversary – July 22nd. Darn you Portland anniversary trip!!

I kind of thought I would be devastated if we got this news at this point in our lives. It did hit me as shocking, but surprisingly, I wasn’t devastated, I didn’t even cry. After the shock, I just mostly felt thankful for Josh. While we weren’t planning on doing this again, if we’re honest didn’t really want to do this again, I know that we can. We know what to do. We have been doing this whole pregnancy/baby/exhaustion thing for the past 7 years now. We were just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and imagine life in a new season. We will still get to that new season. It’s really just a 2 year delay.

I love that Gwyneth Paltrow says to plan your family around how many people you want at the Thanksgiving table in 20 year, not the difficulty of infancy. Yes!

So, how am I handling it? First line of defense is denial. Round 4, do you really even notice you are pregnant!? I can probably just ignore all of those pregnancy symptoms, right? Status quo. Probably can just skip prenatal care. I am imagining just showing up at the hospital in labor and saying, “Hey guys, round 4, we all know what to do, let’s do this!” And honestly, I just kind of want to live normal life. Those first 6 months with a baby can be rough for me. I know we will get through it, but I don’t really want to live in dread or dwell on it this entire pregnancy. I just want to enjoy life as it is for the next 9 months and then we’ll handle it when we get there.

So far this strategy is working terribly. Despite my best efforts to be in denial the “I feel like I just got hit by a truck” tiredness has arrived with the nausea as well. Thankfully, I usually just feel like this the first trimester, and we are just about to the second.

You guys, we’re not even going to try to be tough about this. PLEASE SEND MEALS AND PRAYERS. Forget the warrior princess natural birth thing – epidural all the way! If we gave you baby stuff, yeah we’re gonna need that back (mostly joking). After about 2 minutes of disbelief, we looked at each other and said, “Let’s get a bigger house and an au pair.” Not even joking! Here is what has happened since we found out.

  • Week 4: Positive pregnancy test
  • Week 6: Put in an offer on a bigger house
  • Weeks 7-8: Josh finishes the entire basement of the house we are buying
  • Week 9: We move into our new place
  • Week 10: Our house goes on the market! (Today)

Just to clarify here, Josh is the completely crazy one. I was voting to wait until after the first trimester, right!? Well, I guess your houses sell better in the Fall than the Winter, and we found a place we really like. My mind is still trying to catch up with everything and Josh is charging ahead with the stamina of an ox. Now that we’re moved in I feel super grateful. He pretty much did all of the heavy lifting to make this happen.

Also, not even joking about the whole au pair thing. Have you heard of this? It is big in bigger cities and we got to see it first hand in DC and it looks pretty amazing. I think I will write another whole blog on this, but here are the highlights – It is a foreign exchange program for women 18-26. It is a full year long commitment. Someone comes from another country and lives with you as part of your family and wants a full immersion experience. In exchange for room and board + a stipend you get 45 hours of childcare/help. *This will actually be less expensive than what we are currently doing. Will I be gone from the house for 45 hrs/wk. Nope. I just don’t want to dread this season or feel complete overwhelm for the whole next year. I think having another person in it with me will make the whole this next season less stressful and more of a fun new experience for the whole family. I will keep you posted on how it goes! We are currently connecting with some awesome girls in Brazil and the Philippines.

Last note – despite the shock and major change in our plans, I was still struck with the awe of new life. Even unplanned, unexpected, (I don’t even want to say unwanted), there was still the sense that the Lord is in this. That the miraculous just happened.

I think John Piper states it perfectly “Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he’s given you.”

There is a loss of the vision and plan we had for the next 2 years. We will grieve that and let it go. From here on out we are fully on board, embracing this new life, and trusting God with what He has given us.

PS – our house is for sale (Including the tree house, rope bridge and play place). Check it out >>

http://www.bhhsfloberg.com/homes-for-sale/3237-Aljema-Avenue-Billings-MT-59102-216563156

For My Little Ones { Mother’s Day }

This week I saw a mother post a picture with her youngest daughter who was about to graduate high school. I have often envisioned who I want to be and what I want to do when my kids are older and I am a bit more free… but her post made me think more about what my kids might be like when they are leaving my care and what my hopes for them might be.

I don’t actually have huge dreams for them in the way of tangibles, but more in positioning and posture. I prayed for them this morning and have the hope of seeing them journey out with eyes upward and a quiet trust and confidence. I want them to live from a place of rest in Him… from depth of knowing His love, His voice, His provision. From this place there is certain immunity to the noise of the world and the voice of the enemy. You can perceive the way and walk in it without fear or insecurity or pride or shame.

I don’t know all the steps from here to there. I think it has to do with making margin and space to just be together. For me to make the choice daily of living with a quiet trust myself. Standing in as a shield and strength and voice of truth until He comes and takes my place. Praying the Lord would love them through me and continually fill them up to overflowing.

My little ones… I release everything to you that is given to me. When I look up, I can see to the ends of the Earth. But today I am reminded of the treasure of tending my own little garden.

One Year

Celebrating 1 Year this week! Yes, it is Aurora’s birthday, but this post is about me. She will get her birthday post later this week.

The one year milestone is a big one for me. Your baby is really only a baby for a year. There is a precious intimacy that comes with breastfeeding, middle of the night fussing and soothing, the physical closeness… Intimacy slowly gives way to independence for both of us as she starts sleeping through the night, eating food, learning to walk, using words…

I feel thankful, and proud, and tired. Now it’s time to assess the damages. Make no mistake, nurturing new life comes at a high personal cost. Sometimes beyond what is readily given. So things get taken from every other area to sustain this little new life. So now I have a chubby, happy, healthy baby and get to direct my focus on tending to the areas that have been left wanting and are now crumbling.

No shame here. It is all part of the process. Through the breakdown and rebuilding the Lord grows our compassion, and strength, wisdom, maturity, and even eventually joy.

So here is my list of damages from the last year that need repair…

Memory – No joke, I have short-term memory loss. Did you know if you don’t get regular sleep your brain stops efficiently recording new memories? My brain is currently in delete mode. I am now sometimes sleeping through the night and my brain is slowly coming back.

Body – Still 25 pounds over my pre-baby weight. Turns out things change when you’re over 30 having your third. *All good. I found a great “mom bikini” that covers the newly acquired back rolls. **Also, the weight would probably come off if I didn’t have donuts before bed. Still working on that one too.

Marriage – Small kids do create a special bond in marriage. The kind of bond that comes from being in the trenches together. So we’ve got that part down! But there is a different sweetness that can be lost when both people are under a lot of stress for extended periods of time. Hoping to recover some of my sweetness towards my husband that has been sitting on the shelf for a while now.

Time with the Lord – I still pray… But let’s be honest, I am not very well acquainted with alone time. I read my Bible while the kids splash in the bath. I pray in the morning while listening to the kids play/fight downstairs. I put worship music on in the car. Listen to sermons while folding laundry. But, I miss long stretches of silence to meditate on the Word and hear from the Lord.

House – Everyone tells you not to worry about the house and just spend time with the kids… Yeah, I am great at that. But eventually someone has to clean something. My husband has been a trooper. I am going to try to remember how to wash a pot.

Here’s to 1 year! Aurora, my little one, you are worth it. We made it through this first year and I am looking forward to turning the page and entering this next new season.

Growing Pains

Remember my post about the breaking that happens when you have a new baby? Yeah I’m right in the middle of that right now. There are some seasons (like having a newborn) that feel overwhelming, like living in deficit. The goal is to learn how to experience the pain of these growth moments without causing damage to relationships and without developing bad patterns. Here is how I am coaching myself through it:

Avoid Self-Pity: Don’t add up hardships, exaggerate or build a case against yourself. Just breath through the present moment.

Avoid Blaming: It isn’t someone else’s fault that it’s hard or painful. Don’t take it out on your spouse or support system.

Focus on Solutions: What real things would help bring relief? Extra childcare? Pay someone to clean? Chocolate chips? Yes to all of these for me.

Fight to Get Time with Jesus: Right now it never seems like enough, but even a few moments after the kids go to bed give me fresh perspective and a new breath of life

5 Minute Vacations: Pause and be fully present in the good moments. Shake off the stress and gulp in that sunshine, sweet baby smiles, or laughter with a friend. Take a mental snap shot, so in that in the rough moments you can remind yourself of the good ones.

Distractions: Sometimes it’s hard and nothing can be done. Listen to music, zone out on Facebook, just avoid deep thinking in the low moments. Put your anchor down in hope, not hopelessness.

Feel the Pain: Cry when needed.

To my fellow mammas, I feel your pain! Like climbing a mountain or running a marathon, what a proud accomplishment it is to raise kids!

Aurora Sunday

People keep asking if we have a name yet. We do! But, the meaning is actually more important to me than the phonetics, so I don’t like to tell the name without the whole story, so here it is!

In praying and planning for the worship night, God had given us this verse as a theme:

“My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul… I will awaken the dawn!” Psalm 108:1-2

The idea that we sing before the morning – while it is still dark. That our praise actually calls forth and “awakens” the break of light that we know is coming because of our hope in Christ.

So we had no ideas for a name at all. Then a friend commented that praying for name makes it a whole lot easier. So I prayed, and then almost instantly the name “Aurora” popped into my head. I looked it up and it means “the dawn!” So of course we had to go with that – a name for the season!

**So when I say “Aurora” it is as in “awakening the dawn” not the Disney princess! We will probably call her “Rory” or “Ari.”

Middle name will be “Sunday.” It kinda goes with the theme and incorporates being born during the Easter season. It may be Friday, but Sunday is coming!… Also it’s just fun and we will have a theme song for her too “Easy Like Sunday Morning”.

So the name will be Aurora Sunday Jones!

Stretch Marks

Every time I think I can’t get any bigger I wake up with fresh stretch marks! This time around I am kind of good with it though… After having Judah I was mostly back to normal after about 9 months. But, after Mia that was not the case. I remember looking in the mirror and realizing some things would not be going back to normal. At that point I decided that I would have to make a break with any part of my self worth that was unknowingly rooted in body image. You of course always want to look your best, but regardless of the final outcome I decided I would not be making any agreement with shame and insecurity. I put away clothes that didn’t fit, bought larger sizes that I felt confident in and started rockin a one piece. Motherhood has a certain refining nature like no other. If you embrace the chaos and change I think it brings a new more unhindered freedom and authenticity.

More Brokeness, More Grace

I don’t actually think we have capacity for more kids right now. In fact I think we are generally running at our our highest capacity all the time – I know I am. For me, adding another baby comes with an expectation of increased brokenness and an increase of grace to match it. I know in the beginning there is this sort of personal rebellion and ache as my comfortable life breaks to make room for more; but it’s beautiful and worth the cost of increase. When we pour out, I think God honors it with filling us up. I think it is the same principle as weight lifting. You add more than what you could do yesterday, you are in pain for a short season, and then wake up the next day stronger. 

Proverbs 11:25
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.