Snot on the Shirt a Badge of Honor?

Snot on your shirt because there were no tissues close by, a spit up stain down the back of your black shirt that you carried around for hours (because you simply didn’t realize it was there), bruises from a toy tripped on, a poopy diaper up the back of the baby that gets all over you– after you had just finished changing the little munchkin, dark circles under the eyes due to one too many sleepless nights, and vomit (on you) because they simply couldn’t make it to the bathroom, are all badges of honor worn  by a great mother. 

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How to Raise a Jerk

How to Raise a Jerk…
No one that I know would appreciate being a considered a “jerk”, and no one enjoys being in the company of a “jerk”.   So when I saw this article title it caught my eye.  The article was worth sharing.  We all want to raise our children to be healthy positive productive members of society.   Interestingly enough, I think that in our attempts to raise each child to their fullest potential, we may be unintentionally doing harm and not good. 

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Mommy Confession: Mommy Amnesia

This weekend I had the pleasure of watching my dear friend’s 3 small children.  Lillie 6, Andrew 4, and Paul 9 months.   I will be honest, this was not a planned event, but an event that I welcomed.  All 3 children are extremely well behaved and get along swimmingly with my 3 children.  Paul being the 9 month old, is laid back and an “easy” baby.  With bright blue eyes and big chubby cheeks, we had a real live adorable Gerber baby in our house this weekend!   As easy as Paul may be, I must use that term loosely because when you are caring for 6 children, no baby is “easy”.  (At least not for me!)  It was in those moments when I was caring for the youngest “Walter” that I realized…every mom who has more than one child must undergo some sort of mommy amnesia.  She must FORGET what it is like to be on “call” 24/7.  She must forget what it is like to constantly be on alert to make sure that the baby is not eating a stray object or climbing the stairs, or plummeting down the stairs.  It is an incredible thing to be constantly “on” and responsible for not only preparing the little meal (that is different from everyone elses) but also then to feed the child the meal, and a bottle!  She has diaper duty so it is not just an occasional wipe but process of diapering and applications of desitin and the like.   I was in the “throws” of that life just 2.5 short years ago and yet with an almost 3 year old who feeds himself and even takes care of most bathroom issues I had simply forgotten!  A bit of amnesia perhaps?  It all came screaming back to me yesterday at 6pm when I was feeding Paul some sweet potatoes.  He was not super happy about it.  I didn’t have a high chair or seat so I was feeding him on my lap.  In the meantime the other 5 children were finishing up their dinner and had decided to play on the swing set.   Paul’s dinner was interrupted several times as there were cries from a fall on the monkey bars, and a need for a push on the swing.  Finally my husband went outside to “man” the swing set when my youngest came in to take care of some business.  With sweet potatoes all over Paul and myself I hear from the bathroom…”mom I need a wipe!”  He meant, “mom please wipe me!”  Of all the times to take care of this—really right now?  I started to put Paul down but he began to cry.  So with one baby on my hip and another in down dog position politely waiting to be wiped…I wiped his bottom.  It is a good thing I do yoga!  A mommy FIRST for me!  I thought I had pretty much done it all!  (To ease Sara’s mind, I did immediately wash my hands—and then went back to feeding Paul his dinner!)  Saturday night really reminded me of reality TV:   Jen and Chris Plus 6!  Today Chris worked so my show title could have been:  Jen Minus Chris Plus 6.  I don’t know how mothers of more than 3 (because that is my experience) do it?!    

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A Collection of Lies: Truth on Mommy Balance

When I first came to P.O.W.E.R.’s studio and started my wellness journey with Janine I was understandably out of balance.  I was a mother of 3 small children:   3, 2, and 4 months old.  For anyone who has had ONE child at any of those ages you can attest to feeling divided, hazy, out of control, out of sorts, not to mention just plain exhausted!   It was wonderful, I adored my children and being their mom!  I invested hours doing all the “right” mommy things, but it was also a time when I felt an utter loss of self.  

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May I Take Your Order?             
“One Big Bowl of Discomfort Please!”
This morning on a run I was reminded of a “Jenni” that existed in the not so distant past.  That Jenni was battling her body.  She was uncomfortable in her own skin.  She hated shopping for clothes and hated the way the fabric clung to her in all the wrong places.  Not only did she not like what was going on with her body—she didn’t like the way she felt about food.  The past Jenni LOVED food…but felt guilty when she ate too much or too little…and hated that she ate when she was stressed, angry, or bored.   
Jenni of the not so distant past was living in the safety and security of her comfort zone. Her comfort zone was a fantasy that kept her from growing and changing.   She hoped doing as little work as possible would gain tremendous personal transformation.  (Isn’t that our human nature?  We seek pleasure and avoid pain?!)   In an attempt to avoid pain and stay comfortable, Jenni of the not so distant past lived in her comfort zone.  She believed if she lifted heavy she would bulk up.  Therefore she decided never to touch a dumbell heavier than 8lbs.  That was comfortable.  She decided running hurt her knees and made her face flush bright pink.  Therefore she never ran more than a mile or two, never ran uphill, she ran only when the weather was a perfect 65 degrees, and she never ran while on her period.  That was comfortable.  She believed that if she did anything out of the ordinary in the gym she might stand out and be viewed as strange.  Therefore she “ran” on the elliptical or read a book on the bike.  Again that was comfortable.   Unfortunately, the not so distant past Jenni clung tightly to her beliefs but found that “when you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten.”  Therefore the Jenni of the distant past was constantly battling the discomfort of her body and the mind games she played with food.
Fast forward to this morning’s run.  I have been healing from an injury and haven’t gotten to run in a while.  On the run I was mentally battling every hill, every straight away, and every internal voice that was screaming: QUIT!  (Or at least walk!)  I was listening to my breathing and how strained it seemed to be.  I was listening to my knees that were very angry with each steep incline.  I was drenched in sweat.  The sun’s heat was uncomfortable.  I was attuned to my abdomen that felt heavy and bloated because I am in fact on my period.  (Sorry if that is TMI.)  I was listening to my body screaming at me and telling me there was NO need to go on.  I was listening to my nauseous stomach and thinking why would one run to the point of feeling sick?  
The Jenni of the not so distant past would have quit.  She probably wouldn’t have even laced up her tennis shoes.  She would have quit at the first thought of a side cramp coming on.  God forbid that she feel the least bit uncomfortable!
However the Jenni of the current present has a new “comfort zone”.  She decided to resign herself to the process and accept being uncomfortable.  She was willing to let go of her former beliefs regarding exercise recognizing that it simply wasn’t working.  She was tired of being uncomfortable in her own skin and was ready for true transformation.  Not just physically but mentally as well.  She was ready to get rid of the excuses.  She was ready to stop being a slave to her taste buds.  She was ready to have food simply be “fuel”.  She was ready for truth to prevail.  The truth that she was stronger than she even knew.  That she has an internal strength that was connected to body, mind, and spirit.  That nothing tasted better than being strong and feeling lean. 
Jenni of the present is willing to get comfortable in discomfort.  She understands that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  Slowly one push up at a time, she builds her confidence.  She endures a love/hate relationship with burpees.  Climbing each hill, lifting each heavy weight she finds an inner strength.  She resigns herself to the fact that the process is a journey.  She views this journey as more than physical.  One that builds mental, emotional and spiritual character.    
I am so thankful for the type of run I experienced this morning.   It does not let me forget the Jenni of the not so distant past.  It is a reminder of my humanity and my natural reflex to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  It is a reminder that just yesteryear I was hurdling mental obstacle after mental obstacle to just get to the gym, never mind own one!  It is a reminder of the feelings of most of the women that step in my studio –  discouraged, uncomfortable, yet ready for a change, but with no real direction on how to get to the next place.  I am a living, breathing, “running” reminder that it CAN be done and it is worth every uncomfortable hill that we tackle.  Submitting to the process is worth it.   More importantly, YOU are worth it!  

Licking Mirrors…

 One of my simple pleasures is finding a good deal.  My mom on her fridge for years had a bumper sticker that said “I”d rather be shopping!”  She shopped me out as I kid so as an adult I am not a shopper in the sense of “sport” but I DO love a good deal.  A few weekends ago there was a big “stuff and save” type sale and summer items like shorts and shirts were deeply discounted.  Red flags went flying up.  Chris was in desperate need of a few things, so we decided to turn the trip into a family affair.   We needed to go to the Farmers Market that morning and Chris suggested we  “pop in” to Old Navy for a pair of shorts and a few shirts.  Of course on Saturday morning during “stuff and save,” it was packed.  We ran into neighbors, long lost friends, distant relatives and needless to say, the twenty minute trip quickly burned well in to an hour.  Caleb and Joshua were restless and I am pretty sure they were pretending to be “puppies.”  At one point they were both on their hands and knees crawling across the floor.  It was cute and harmless, and I was happy they were not pulling clothing off the racks, screaming, or begging for anything.   The germ factor was slightly disturbing.  However, I truly try to be pretty hands off with my kids when it comes to germs.  If I got on them for every germ they touched, it would be necessary to place them in a gigantic bubble that would protect them as they traveled through life.

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Monday Mommy Confessions: Meal Madness

I am not sure if the gag reflex is hereditary…but if it is, then I have passed this lovely involuntary “gift” to my children.  Some people pass along straight teeth, shiny hair, or mathematical intelligence.  Mine get the gag reflex?!   Smells, a gross story, and certainly a strange tasting food or texture can easily send me in to the gag reflex.  Dehn Fung was my childhood friend from Vietnam.  We had their family over often for dinner.   To repay the favor, her father prepared a family delicacy:  egg rolls made of squid.

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My Child Will Never

 This was my first mommy blog post…thought it would be worth revisiting.  My children have aged since this blog…but the Cockerham chaos continues.  My friend Nicole says in her super cute southern voice she has eaten a lot of crow over the past few years.  A southern expression for all those that have said, “My Child Will Never”…and then they did indeed do x, y or z–you just bellied up to a big plate of plate of crow.  I daily pull out my fork…and for those of you who have eaten your fair share of crow…OR make mental statements about what your future children will or won’t do…this is for you!
As I am sitting down to write…I realized that my boys are outside.  (I mean I knew it…I sent them out on the back porch to eat their snack.)  They are eating outside partly because it is a BEAUTIFUL day and partly because I don’t want to pick up the crumbs that will cover my kitchen floor after they are finished!  My 2.5 year old is proudly wearing moose slippers…and to me it was not worth the argument to get him to put on tennis shoes.  His right cheek is covered in some sort of brown smudge.  It is actually left over from his lunch.  I almost always get his face and hands wiped after lunch.  But occasionally my 3rd is off and running before I realize that his face needs to be wiped!  Currently I have the computer on my lap and he is perfectly content with his face this way…I will wipe it when I have completed this thought.  In the process of writing the past 8 sentences my boys have come inside and my two year old has taken off his shirt, jeans, underwear and socks.  He has striped down to buck nakedness and he is twirling circles in the middle of the living room floor.  My 4 year old is shirtless so I think he got the idea from his big brother.  The 4 year old is jumping from a kitchen chair on to the floor.  He is not hurting anyone and is actually getting a lot of energy out.  My 4 year old is fearless and an incredible climber.  At gymnastics he shimmies up the 15 foot gigantic rope like a monkey.  Just this past weekend he was scolded by a by-stander for running around a 3 foot concrete fountain.  I was standing right there and it was really bothering her that he was running.  I am very hands off when it come to physical feats and attempts that my kids make.  My 4 year old is very athletic and sure-footed.  I try to weigh the risks and see whether the risk of him getting hurt is greater than the risk of stifling him truly expressing his BOYNESS.  Boys need to play—HARD.  My sweet little girl would be SO happy just coloring, constructing crafts and collecting flowers while skipping around the yard.  My boys are built differently.  They long to WRESTLE, CLIMB and JUMP.  In the winter they get a little stir crazy…I see my boys get a “look” in their eyes and the look truly shows the difference in design.  I recently read that testosterone levels double in boys between ages 3 and 4.  This does seem to explain why my daughter is content reading a book and playing with dolls, while within the same time frame my boys have steam coming from their ears and start pushing pillows off the couch and swinging fake “swords” (i.e. wooden drumsticks).   We have an open floor plan downstairs and often on those cold winter days I would tell all the kids before they watch a show or did much of anything they must run 10 times around the “circle.”  So from kitchen to living room, to play room to hallway they would run…me counting or running with them depending on the day.  On a long cold winter day we would complete 50 “laps” as it was so appropriate to let them move!   Now 26 sentences in, the chair has now been turned over and they are contorting like snakes through the rungs, weaving in and out of the legs.   For those who were concerned about my son’s face being wiped…good news…he was sadly just sent to timeout for “throwing” the chair…(yes, he is freakishly strong)…and so after some discipline he emerged with a good attitude and a clean face. 
I am convinced that pre-children if you told me this was going to be my first blog on mothering I would have told you that you had lost your mind.  MY children would never…have a dirty face, play outside in slippers, jump off of furniture, run around naked, throw chairs, fill in the blank.  For those women who have not had children yet…be careful what you vow your child will or will not do.  I also am certain that there are mothers who are reading this whose hair is standing on the back of their necks and they are very uncomfortable with all that I shared.  I share it because for too long I have been shackled to a lie.  I believed that I was a “bad mom.”  The belief started very quickly after my daughter was born and it stayed with me for about 3 years of parenting.  I still have a nagging thought after receiving a nasty “you’re a bad mom look” from a judgmental bystander; or allow my mind to roll over a comment made that was intended to “sting” about my parenting.  In that moment I become seized with shame or guilt.  But it is fleeting…and for the most part…I am free.  I don’t need to defend or explain all of my choices and the reasons for why I do what I do.  I love my kids like crazy, invest in their precious little lives daily and PRAY fervently for God to help fill in the places where I mess up or have in some way “messed them up.”   Freedom brings a lot of wonderful things and mostly it provides JOY and LIBERTY as a mom.  It brings about a LONGING for other moms to know and feel the same.  I am passionate about young sweet moms or future moms finding freedom and grace so that they don’t have to live with the shame or guilt that I lived with for too may years!  
Let me end in this way:  No matter how differently you thought you were going to do it,  no matter what your mother, neighbor or your girlfriend said or implied, no matter how many accidents your child had this morning while potty training, please hear me say…
YOU ARE A GREAT MOM.  
May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed,
Jenni