Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Exhausted Mom Tips~ March 2, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:06 am
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The last 12 hours have worn this momma slap out! Before I dive into my mom tips, you need the backstory.

Last night, while making breakfast for dinner, I was pulling double duty and having my 5 year old do her reading books at the table.

“Buh-uh-buh-buh-la-eh”

Enter two teenagers with packets about registering for classes NEXT YEAR.

“What?! Say it again!”

And she did, louder and slower than the first time.

Grounded sister wails from the back of the house.

“I have no clue what you’re saying! Spell it.”

My gravy was at the critical point here, so it’s not like I could just walk away and look at the word. I try to quickly grab something from the freezer and ice cream falls out on my feet.

“B-u-b-b-l-e.”

Now I’m all about my little kindergartener learning to read but sometimes you just want to scream, “sweet Jesus, it’s bubble!!!”

Later in the evening…all is quiet and a thunderstorm erupts. Big black dog turns into tiny lap dog at the crack of thunder. So instead of peaceful slumber, my night was filled with a pacing pup that intermittently jumped on the bed, whimpering and vibrating like a wind-up toy.

So let’s just say this morning was off. I’m trying to balance the checkbook and thought everyone was getting ready. Y’all know what they say about assumptions?? I bellow, “last call,” and realize youngest daughter is chilling in her pjs, chatting with big sister about the caboodle she wants for her birthday. Jesus take the wheel. I have never dressed a child so fast in my life. I yank Emma’s hair into a side pony for Eighties Day and we race out the door, late. I throw the car in reverse, looking into a mirror for the first time today.

Oh. Lawd.

Now for the tips….

  1. Upon realizing you look a hot mess, throw on some shades. Then it looks intentional instead of like you forgot to brush your hair.image
  2. It’s totally acceptable to throw four cartons of ice cream across the room because someone left just enough to say they didn’t eat it all and now they’re cascading out onto your toes.
  3. When it’s “throwback Thursday” on the radio, it’s wise to remember your teens have cell phones at the ready to make you a Snapchat feature. Better hone your car dancing skills. (WordPress said you can’t see the video so only my Facebook peeps will experience that pleasure.)
  4. Lastly, for now: laugh at yourself, hug your babies when they’re on your last nerve and thank Jesus for sunglasses, coffee, 90s hip-hop & grace.
 

~Mommin’ Is Hard~ February 16, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:09 am
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Lately I find myself alternating between wanting to trade in my kids for billy goats and refraining from wrapping around their legs so they can never leave. I attribute this to the fact that my baby is in kindergarten while my eldest is halfway through his sophomore year of high school. Every day is met with it’s own challenges. Aside from the obvious difficulties of trying to parent wildly different kids across an impressive age gap, I’m battling my own emotional chaos. I LOVE my babies; fiercely, wholly, without exception. But (y’all knew a but was coming) they exhaust me. My days are filled with fits and back talk, timeouts and tears, carpools and practices…fleeting moments are mine alone and sometimes those are wasted on my own tears. All because I’m 100% positive I’m doing it all wrong.

I yell too much. I don’t pray over them enough. I’m a nag about their chores, their eating habits, their school work, etc, etc. If something goes wrong, it’s my fault. Oh, you failed your test? Totally my bad. Your knees are acting up again? I should just buy you new ones, that’ll fix them! You don’t have supplies for your project due tomorrow? How could I not use my mind reading powers to anticipate your every need? I’m such a loser!

While I am being a bit facetious, I am seriously terrified that when they leave, they’ll never come back and yet I can’t stop parenting and just be their BFF. You see my conundrum?!

This is where a couple of choice friends “come in clutch” as the teenagers say. (My kids are rolling their eyes if they’re reading this.)
I know when “those” days strike, I have a beautiful support system that will talk me off my ledge and remind me it’s not okay to use your kids as bartering tools or try to sell them on Etsy. 😉

Hold on mommas, we’re not as screwed up as we think we are. Do you, pray A LOT, pick your battles and find a solid friend to vent to. Do those things and we might all just make it out of this parenting gig alive and at least mostly intact.

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“Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them.” (Proverbs 18-19 The Message)

 

~Grateful Mommy~ January 17, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 9:11 am
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Some days I look at any one of my babies and think surely my heart will explode from the love I feel for them. Today it’s Bella, with her sleepy eyes and tousled hair, straight out of bed in her Elsa slippers. She makes a beeline for me as I sit reading with coffee in hand and lays across my lap. There’s nothing spectacular about the moment. She does the same thing nearly every day. But today when I look at her squishy face with the dusting of freckles across her nose, I tear up.

One day she’ll stop greeting me this way. One day she’ll walk right past me to the kitchen to fix her own breakfast. One day she’s going to stop pressing her nose to mine as she promises to love me forever, even on her birthday. Thankfully, today is not that day. However, I can’t know when that inevitable day will come.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, why I’m so overcome with emotion, maybe I’ve been reading too many books that pull on the heartstrings!! What I do know is my children are gifts. Even when I’m worn, hurt or furious, they are my prize, my biggest accomplishment and the joy they bring far outweighs the nuisances that pepper our daily routines.

So when Isaiah puts his big man feet on every available surface, Peyton cuts me to the quick with his sometimes curt words, Autumn rolls her teenagry eyes at me, Emma stomps off in defiance or Bella dissolves into a puddle of tears over the word “no”, I pray I can recall these tender moments when love is almost tangible.

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“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!” (Psalm 127:3-5 The Message)

 

~Let’s Laugh It Out~ February 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:13 am
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A little disclaimer before you read: This post is meant specifically for people in my little hometown. However, you may find that it also applies to where you live as well.

...and every other day too!

…and every other day too!

You might be surprised to learn that a parent pick-up line at an elementary school could have a town divided. It’s sad how something as simple as picking up your child can bring on the road rage but you better believe it does.

There are a few types of moms, (and some dads), that you can expect to encounter in the pick-up line. Each one has been met with attacks because their quirks are bugging the bejeezus out of the locals.

The mom who arrives an hour (or more) before pick-up time to wait for little Johnny. Before you judge this momma, let me tell you a little story. The year that 2 of my kiddos started Kindergarten, I was pregnant with another. My son LOST HIS MIND on the first day and for a highly emotional preggo momma, this caused my anxiety levels to sky rocket. So that afternoon, and the ones that followed for the first few weeks, I would get to the school as early as I could manage to make sure that my son was one of the first picked up. Why? Because in my warped, guilt ridden mind, he would somehow know that I loved him more if he got to skip out the door 30 seconds before his classmates. Fast forward to after the birth of one Miss Emma. The child who single handedly tried to destroy my ability to cope by refusing to sleep, like ever, unless you rode around for a bit to “rock” her. So I would leave my home with enough time to cruise her into sleepy time land, then park my mom wagon by the school and read about Jesus…because sleep deprived mommas need Jesus way more than you well rested mommas out there. I’ve heard similar stories from countless moms. Sure they could go inside and volunteer with “all that free time”, but what if that is literally the only me time they have? Yes, they could cut the apron strings and make little Johnny learn to deal with his anxieties if he’s not picked up in the first round of released kiddos. But if they’re not breaking any laws, let them be. We know not what makes these mommas tick, (unless we’ve been one), so rather than put them down, try to understand that they have their reasons, whether we get it or not.

Next, the crazed momma flying in on two wheels because she’s about to be so late that the cones are taken up and the nice lady with the walkie talkie is moving rapidly for the door. Again, been there…oh wait, currently doing that. Now that I have kids in 2 schools, there is no casual driving into the lot to get my elementary girl. First I must wait for my middle school brood to mosey on down to the car. Seriously, they are slower than molasses. By the time I maneuver through the mess of parked cars, slow moving cars & darting pre-teens who clearly never listened when Mom & Dad said to look both ways before crossing, I am down to mere minutes to make the cut off to get Em. So across town I dash with the handful of other parents facing the same struggle to beat the clock. Yes, our driving may be slightly erratic, we may have a crazed look in our eyes but do you know what a pain it is to park & go get your child from the office because you got there at 3:31?! ONE MINUTE LATE, PEOPLE!!! Cut this mom some slack. Chances are she’s got more kids than she has nerves left and she’s doing the best she can to get them all picked up and carpooled to whatever afterschool activity that comes next. She doesn’t mean to cut you off, perhaps with the noise from the back seat or worse, the smells…dear Lord the smells…she has lost her focus if only for a moment and didn’t realize that you got to that four way stop first. She’s not rude, she is tired! She’s overworked, underpaid and needs another cup of coffee.

Then there are the straight up law breakers. They double park, block driveways, pull up on sidewalks & run stop signs. These mommas are a bit harder to defend because they are acting illegally. They kinda scare me a bit because I am pretty sure they will mow you down if you even so much as think about cutting line. But what’s made these mommas act so irrationally? How many times have they been cut off or nearly sideswiped all in the name of holding their place in line? Maybe they have a brief window of time to pick-up and transport their child elsewhere before returning to a job where boss man makes their life incredibly difficult if they are so much as a nanosecond late. I don’t know, and neither do you, so maybe we can extend a little grace even when they wave at us with one fifth of their hand as they nearly run us off the road. Yes, they are behaving badly and need a serious timeout but one day, you or I might be that momma who has just had enough and we’ll be grateful for that innocent bystander who smiled and waved us ahead after we practically ran them down in our blind rage.

So I realize that I have made light of what can be a dangerous situation. Let’s face it, people have been known to snap in high stress situations behind the wheel. I only wanted to poke a little fun, lighten up a tense situation and maybe make you laugh a little. We’re all in this life thing together. We are going to mess up, daily, and likely offend people as we go. My suggestion is we pray each day that God would help us see others as He does…including the guy blocking your drive, the lady who nearly t-boned you and the lady who’s been parked along the street for two hours already. Frustrating-yes, a nuisance-possibly, a matter of life-and-death-unlikely. For my fellow carpool driving mommas & daddys out there, we really need to be more respectful of the non-parent drivers in our vicinity. They have the same right as us to be on the roads that just so happen to go by our babies schools without the fear of being plowed down by a parade of mini-vans and SUVs.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt 5:7 ESV)

“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” (Prov 14:29 NIV)

 

~Learn to Lean~ September 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:31 am
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Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t ask me, “How do you do it with 5 kids?!” This question is usually accompanied by a look that says, seriously lady, what’s the secret?

Well, I keep a fully stocked mini-bar, my Xanax never runs out and I have a personal assistant.

Totally kidding.

The truth is, I have learned to lean.

Very recently a worn momma asked how I manage my kids overlapping schedules. I looked her dead in the eye and said, “Honey, you’ve got to learn to ask for help!”

You see I am incredibly blessed with a fabulous group of women who lighten my load, encourage my weary self and keep this scatter-brained momma updated so as not to forget some vital activity my kids are supposed to participate in! Today I’d like to give honor where it is due and sing the praises of a few of my ladies…aka…saints.

First up, not surprisingly, is my super fantastic Mom. Without her, I’m pretty sure I’d have thrown in the towel a long time ago on this whole child rearing thing. She talks me down & reminds me that the teenage years are just a season and there’s no need for me to threaten to sale my kids or to throw myself off the back deck. When she’s here, I never have to ask her for help, she simply swoops in and does whatever is needed. She does dishes, hauls the bags for our cross country team and keeps me sane in the midst of the war zone that our home can sometimes be. She is, hands down, my number one girlfriend.

Then there are the sweet sisters from my life group. God gave me the bestest bunch of women to do life with, you should totally be jealous. Carol helps me with my band girl when my coaching schedule prevents me from being available to run her to and fro. Beyond that, she’s my Jesus girl who keeps things in perspective when I can’t see the good in my struggles. Sarah takes care of my dancing queen every week, again because of my coaching commitments. She treats my girl to an after school treat, gets her dressed & ready and even brings her home afterwards! As if that weren’t enough, she sends me reminders often that she is praying for me. Crystal is my encourager. Even when I know I’m failing miserably, she somehow manages to make me feel like supermom. Tina is my life preserver. We live close to one another and I can’t count the times she’s jumped in and helped me out when I’ve forgotten something or someone! Then there’s Rachel. Not only do my little girls adore her, but so do I. This woman gives me complete freedom to be my crazy, messed up self without fear of judgment.

See?! I told you to be jealous! These women are rock stars!

Now for Julia. My mom friend who has also found herself seriously outnumbered. Her 4-1 ratio helps her relate to my 5-1. There are many parallels in our lives that made us fast friends. She’s a writer, coach, health concious, stay-at-home mom who’s parenting style is pretty dang similar to mine. She’s the only person I know who burns up the roads more than me and reminds me we’re human so it’s completely okay to be exhausted beyond comprehension. But best of all, she’s my Friday morning running partner. On these runs, we vent, dream, encourage and solve all the worlds problems while we sweat and beat out our frustrations on the pavement. She makes me feel like I’m not the last of a dying breed as we fight to teach our kids “old school” values in the midst of a culture that promotes self over selflessness. In my opinion, every mom needs a Julia in their lives.

Nowadays it seems women are so busy trying to out-mom one another that we miss out on our most valuable asset, each other! I for one am happy to admit I would be lost without my tribe! We were not created to compete but to complement. So let’s do as the Word instructs us in Galatians 5 & 1st Thessalonians 6: “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”IMG_2448

 

~Love in a Sweatshirt~ September 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:42 am
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Early on in the football season, the boys were given discount cards to sale as a fundraiser. Isaiah brought his stack home determined to unload all 20 so as to earn a free hoody. This overextended momma let him know right up front that this year, he was on his own! Normally my shy guy bribes his social butterfly sister to do the peddling for him, but not this time. He harassed the entire neighborhood along with the majority of our church family. No one was safe, from the teenagers to the granny-mothers who hadn’t a clue what he was selling, he didn’t discriminate between his targets.

All for a sweatshirt.

Low and behold, he managed to get rid of every last one. Kudos son, on a job well done.

Last week while I was away with my cross country team, I get a text from football boy. The sweatshirt had arrived. Naturally I proceeded to pick at him about how I couldn’t wait to borrow it since we wear the same size. “No way, Mom. You’re not taking my hoody.”

The next day, gameday, brought on another opportunity to tease him about my  new attire for the game. Somewhat irritated, he adamantly refused my requests as he threw on his jersey before school. I let him be and went on to make breakfast and pack lunches. Then just before we walked out the door, he came in to the kitchen, brand new personalized hoody in hand. “Here, momma, you can wear this to the game tonight.”

Lord help me not to cry like a big sap!

Some of you may think I’ve flipped my lid. I mean, what’s the big deal, it’s just a shirt, right? Uhm, no, it’s much more than that. He worked his little tail off to earn that reward and he chose to share it with me, his super proud momma. I knew this was his way of saying, “Love you Mom.”

After he left for the day, I looked at my mom and said, “I don’t care if it’s 100 degrees tonight, I’m wearing this sweatshirt!” And I did, with a huge smile on my face that was also bittersweet. His hoody….was too big for me. So with the sleeves hanging over my hands, I waited for him at the gate post game to talk about how he’d get that missed interception next time. And as he stood looking down at me, my heart melted. My little boy ain’t so little anymore. Now every time I pull on his prized possession and it swallows my smaller frame, it will be like wrapping up in a warm hug from my oldest son who’s growing up way too fast without my permission.

“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb, his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!”

(Psalms 127:3-5 The Message)

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~My Life as a Ring Master~ April 24, 2014

I have oftentimes described my life as a circus.  Having 5 kids, this is a pretty spot on description as I tend to have to be in 3 places at the same time on any given day.

These last couple of weeks have exhausted me to the point of having little to no time to write and it is seriously weighing on me!  I get a little moody & snippy when I’m run down and even more so when I feel like I have to let something I love go to the wayside to make room for yet one more thing for someone else.  Man, I sound like a selfish whiny-pants, right?!

The reality is, my right now is only a season and that simple phrase has become my mantra, “this is only a season, this is only a season, THIS IS ONLY A SEASON!!!”

Sleep deprivation, overcrowded calendars and lack of me time can bring even the “super-i make everything from scratch-have boundless amounts of energy-mom” down.  I’m sure you can imagine what it does to this “super simple-poptart slingin-my butt is draggin without my coffee-mom”!!  So this morning, before I even sat up in bed, I prayed this little prayer, “Lord, help me today to focus on you and not my hectic schedule.  Remind me that this life is a gift, even in the busyness, and I should act accordingly and not like a bratty two-year old.  And one more thing Lord, give me the strength to perform each and every task I have committed myself to with excellence as unto you for it IS you who deserves all the credit.  Amen”

To my fellow overworked, underpaid, totally exhausted, baggy eyed mommas, I salute you.  We can do this for we can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength.  (It doesn’t hurt to toss in a pot of coffee and some nutter butters to nudge things along, just sayin’)  May today be abundantly blessed, productive and our eyes be open to the beauty of the chaos.  Now, go do this thing!being a mom