What My New, Programmable Coffee Pot Taught Me About My Entitled, Jerk Self

Yesterday I had 2 errands to take care of.

GIS: “running errands,” and got “Hillary Duff Running Errands.”

I totally look like this when I run errands.  I can hold my purse with one hand.  Skinny jeans.  Unstained white shirt. BOOTS.  We’re basically the same person.

  • Kids martial arts from 3-4:30
  • Target, to buy a new coffee maker

I got a lot of writing done during martial arts, which was fantastic.  Conrad played MineCraft on my phone while Nova and Glenn were in class, and Nova and Glenn finished up their schoolwork while Conrad was in class.  Win-win, all around.

After classes were over we hopped in the car and headed over to Target for a new coffee pot

Screenshot 2015-01-23 17.41.20Yes, I took a picture of my purple coffee pot.  And Instagrammed it.  Because.

See, we can’t keep a coffee pot as a long-term relationship option.  It doesn’t matter what brand, what style, what warranty, what store or what the barometric pressure is outside…our coffee pot will die after 1 1/2 years.

The last time a coffee pot died was when Ben was out of town, and I woke up to an unresponsive pot.  It was a cold shoulder I was not prepared for, and since we had traveled over an hour to go to a specialty store to pick up this “guaranteed” coffee pot with “gravity drip system” (gravity, people), I was enormously displeased that it failed me; along with a long list of coffee pots who have also failed me.

I took the kids to Target and got a cheap, $19 purple coffee pot.  Because who cares, at this point. It is going to break in a month, most likely, and at least I am only out $19.  That’s like, 3 lattes.  So, it’s a good deal, all in all.

We drink way more coffee than the average person.

As a SAHM, I know for a fact that I drink more than most SAHMs in America.

I just like coffee.  A lot.  Granted, over the years I have tried to cut down for health reasons.  I don’t need my heart skipping down the lane just because I have had too much coffee.  So, 2 cups in the morning, sometimes 3.  1 or 2 cups in the afternoon.  Sometimes Irish Coffees at night.  That isn’t unreasonable, I don’t think.  It isn’t 10 cups a day or anything (*cough*College*cough*)

So, after +2 years, the remarkable purple coffee pot finally broke.  It is understandable, since they all leave us at some point.  You never know when it will happen though, so you are never prepared for it when it comes time.

Yesterday morning I filled the reservoir and placed the basket of Costcos’ Folgers grinds into the pot, and I pushed the only button it had: START.

This was seriously a basic coffee pot.  It heated the water, it dripped the water and the carafe caught the dripping coffee.  It had one button to start the process, and it was the same button to end the process.  It was uncomplicated, unsophisticated and it didn’t challenge any of our decisions.  It started when we requested it, and it stopped when we demanded it. And if we ignored it, it did nothing but the last request we asked of it (we may have left it on for over 12 hours a few times).

The difference yesterday was that the pot may have turned the little white “ON” light, but it never heated the water.  It never dripped over the grounds.  It never dripped into the glass carafe.

I was stuck drinking Via all day.

Which, granted, is better than Folger’s Instant French Roast coffee…Via is actually a pretty decent cuppa.  But it isn’t the same, and by the time I got to Target at 5 I was tired.  Very tired.

So tired that I was walking through the parking lot of Target pushing a shopping cart, and I saw a car had their headlights on. I said, “Oh shoot, I forgot to turn mine on!” and actually reached with my hand to turn the headlights of my cart on.

They get it.

It was so nice to get home and brew a normal pot of coffee.  I felt back to my normal self after a cup and a half in front of a fire.  It was lovely.

This morning was quite different than yesterday morning.

I woke up to coffee THAT HAD ALREADY BEEN BREWED FOR ME.  Be still my uncaffeinated heart.

You see, this coffee pot has an “AUTO” button.  And a clock.  You can get these two things to work together, apparently, to brew coffee on demand.  I am so happy.  So happy.  Caffeinated tears of joy.

During the day, the coffee pot would turn itself off after 2 hours…which threw us off a little.

“Did you turn the pot off?”

“No, I thought you turned it off?”

“Is it turning off on its own after 2 hours??”

“Dude, that is messed up.  We didn’t ask it to turn off.  It should ask us before it makes that decision for us!”

“I know!  I wasn’t ready to be done with this pot yet.  This is plain manipulation of our coffee pot.”

“This is messed up.”

Friends, I learned about my entitled, jerk self today when I didn’t like when my coffee pot chose to turn itself off without consulting me first.

Frankly Listening To Your Fussy Eaters

This is Eve.

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She is the pickiest eater I have.  She is also the smallest; and not just because she eats about a third of what her younger sister eats, but she was the smallest at birth as well.  The largest was 10.6lbs, and little Eve came in at a paltry 8.0lbs.  She wasn’t a big nurser, and we had to start her on solids early just to get her weight up.  4 out of 5 of my kids have been in the 90-110% percentile on the growth charts.  Eve has come up from 12% to 40% over time, which is great!  That was such a relief when she finally started gaining weight.

Despite her little frame, she holds the biggest personality, the most fire and more opinions than any of the kids.

 

This is absolutely my favorite Adam Levine song.

She knows exactly what she wants to listen to (I keep finding her listening to Adam Levine/Maroon5 when she is alone, which is awesome taste in music ), what she will wear (either Chinese silk, or soft cotton shirts), and she loves her bling.  Which is weird.  I am not a bling person, Ben isn’t a bling person, none of the other kids even know what bling is…but she knows.

There was one time I took her and Nova to get their hair cut.  While Nova was in the chair, I gave Eve a magazine on the table to flip through.  It was a wedding magazine, and I wasn’t entirely interested.  I sewed my own bridal gown and crafted my own headpiece and veil, because that’s how I roll.  I don’t like the styles of wedding dresses out there: so much thick, bumpy lace and beads everywhere, and sleeveless…blech.

Eve, on the other hand, loved the magazine.

She turned to a page with a gigantic wedding ring with a ginormous diamond, and stuck her hand out and very dramatically said, “That ring goes on my finger!”

She was 3 at the time.  No one else in our family has ever looked twice at jewelry.  I didn’t even know she knew what this stuff was…

But she knows.  She knows exactly what she likes, and she will tell you exactly why.

 

Which brings us to food.

The other day for lunch I made wagon wheel pasta salad.  We love pasta salad over here (here is my gf version!), so the kids were super excited!

Well, 4 out of 5 kids were super excited.

Eve ate the apple sausage and tomatoes, but kept poking the pasta.  I told her she could bring her plate to my desk and eat if she wanted (dude, whatever… if it means she will eat, it’s fine with me).

But as she was sitting there, she was talking about what was going on in her thoughts.  This is when it got really interesting.

 

I was just letting her talk, and after listening to her for a few minutes, suddenly I was able to understand what was going on with her aversion to the pasta!

(Unfortunately, I kept running out of space on my phone and it would stop recording…so you are getting this in 2 segments)

 

The squishy pasta texture reminded her of the squishy starfish texture we saw in the tide pools when we went to Monterey Bay, and that grossed her out!

IMG_1229

Some Moms can get bent out of shape about food, and I completely understand this.

There have been more than a few times when I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen getting an amazing, nutritious meal ready for everybody…only to find out that everyone has filled up on chips while I was cooking, and not hungry by the time we sat down to eat.

BURN.

Or if some people like one food one day, and hate it the next (this is a reality).

Or if people are going through a growth spurt, and aren’t hungry for days.

Or if they don’t like the food I am making, and spend an hour pushing around their plate.

 

Dinner with kids is not as simple as reheating a microwave dinner on high for 2:35minutes.  I really want my family to have good, nutritous food that will help them grow and learn, and I want them to be familiar with different foods as well as familiar foods.  Sometimes this means eating chickpeas or bok choy, or split pea soup or duck.  I remember when we were in Beijing I needed to have one jar of peanut butter (that cost like, $20 in the expats store) because although Conrad, who was 1 at the time, was cool with the food we were giving him…after a while he wouldn’t eat one more thing with soy sauce or chilis, and I could get him to eat peanut butter sandwiches.  This is a completely reasonable solution.

 

But they are still kids, and sometimes they just don’t like things.  Even if they are starving.

This makes them cranky, which can make you cranky, which makes the situation cranky.

 

I know these times can happen, because that’s just life.  However, it isn’t something that should be happening all the time.  This is a pattern of which you should take notice…it usually isn’t just being difficult for the sake of being difficult.

If your kid won’t eat what you give them, or is upset with the food, or dreads mealtimes…chances are, something else is going on.

They could be dehydrated, they could be growing, they could have a cold…or they could have Celiac or be lactose intolerant.

Or they could be reminded of the squishy starfish she was poking at the beach.

The best thing is to be quiet and let them talk, and tell you what is on their minds with an open heart.  Chances are, this is something about them, and isn’t about you or your cooking at all.   The nice thing is that after these moments, your relationship with them will be closer and more accessible, and you will be able to love them in more personal and real ways.

And that’s what every Mom wants…it is definitely what I want, more than all the bling in the world  🙂

IMG_1474Lunch: Orange tea with Apple/Salami/Cheddar Garden Salad.  Success!!

Are You Really A Parent …Or A Spy?

I remember when I was young, I wanted to amazing things that would change the world.

I had no plans other than “amazing things” and “change the world.”

(which could be why I went into Literature in college, rather than something more world-changingly-pragmatic like Political Science)

Due to my inability to figure out how I could do these amazing things, I simply started with myself.

 

But I still believe this to be true!  You are the change you wish to see in the world.  If you want people to be nicer, the best way is to be nicer to them first.

Conversely, if you want to make the world a worse place and for people to be jerks, the best way to accomplish this is to be a  royal jerk to them first.  I guarantee you will see quick results.

 

 

When I became a parent, I used these words of wisdom to guide my words: were the words I was using making a positive change?  Were they imparting peace and kindness into the little minds I had running around in circles?  How could I change the world, starting with my home?

The thing is, at some point, the words coming out of your mouth don’t even make sense anymore.

You don’t realize what you are actually saying until much later, when you stop speaking in fluent, coherent paragraphs but instead hear yourself using code phrases all day.

 

“The Boots Are Out The Window.”

“The Child Is On The Fridge.”

“Get The …The Thing!  With The Stuff In It!  It’s On The Washer!”

 

Gone were my days as a layman civilian: I realized yesterday that what I was saying could easily be interpreted as Spy Codes.

 

“The Child Is At The Door…Abort Plan, I Repeat, Abort Plan.”

“Find The Chicken Under The Couch.”

“Rescue Mission Of Elsa, Complete.”

 

I found a great online resource for The Language of Espionage , straight from the Spy Museum!

 

Here are some starter terms:

A

Agent

A person unofficially employed by an intelligence service, often as a source of information

Agent-in-Place

A government employee who is influenced to cooperate with a foreign government instead of defecting; now working for two employers instead of one

Agent-of-Influence

A person who works within the government or media of a target country to influence national policy

Asset

A clandestine source or method, usually an agent

or

Babysitter

Bodyguard

Clandestine Operation

An intelligence operation designed to remain secret

Dangle

A person sent by the intelligence agency of his or her own country who approaches an intelligence agency in the hope of being recruited as a spy so as to allow a double agent operation for the purpose of intelligence collection or disinformation

 

I highly recommend utilizing these fantastic phrases into your infiltrated base.

 

eof.

 

 Screenshot 2015-01-20 12.23.53Spy Museum

Patreon: The End of the YouTube Salon and the Rise of Artists

Let me tell you the story about Patreon.

Actually, Let Jack Conte tell you.  He created it.

But before we do that, here is my favorite Jack Conte video.  He said Nataly Dawn was gone for a couple days, so he “didn’t have anyone to regulate him, or make sure he ate” (paraphrasing), so he spent 20 hour days turning his garage into an anamatronic Millenium Falcon.

It is honestly too cool for words.

 

So, what is Patreon and why should we totally love it to pieces?

Screenshot 2015-01-21 23.16.49

https://www.patreon.com/jackconte

“Patreon, based in San Francisco, is a crowdfunding platform created by musician Jack Conte and developer Sam Yam. [1] It allows artists to obtain funding from patrons on a recurring basis or per artwork. It is popular with YouTube content creators, musicians, and webcomic artists and has been featured in Forbes, Time, and Billboard magazines.”

“Patreon was founded in May 2013 by artist Jack Conte, who was looking for a way to make a living from his popular YouTube videos.Together with Sam Yam he developed a platform that allows patrons to donate a set amount of money every time an artist creates a work of art.”

 

How does it work if you are an artist?

“Artists set up a page on the Patreon website, where patrons can pledge to donate a given amount of money to an artist every time she or he creates a piece of art, optionally setting a monthly maximum. Alternatively a fixed monthly amount can be pledged... Similar to other platforms however, artists will often provide rewards for their patrons.  Patreon takes a 5% commission on pledges.

So, for example, this is part of the Patreon page for Jack Conte’s “Pedals”:

“Pledge $1.00 or more per video

572 patrons
  • Access to my patron only stream
  • First dibs on concert tickets.  I’ll announce my shows in my Patreon stream first, before publicly posting them anywhere else.

Pledge $3.00 or more per video

461 patrons
  • Access to my patron only stream
  • First dibs on concert tickets.  I’ll announce my shows in my Patreon stream first, before publicly posting them anywhere else.
  • Access to video tutorials about audio production.  I’ll show you my tips and tricks and talk about my workflows.
  • Each time I release a new Music Video, I’ll put out a short, useful tutorial as well.  These will be super helpful if you’re an audio producer.

Pledge $5.00 or more per video

138 patrons
  • Access to my patron only stream
  • First dibs on concert tickets.  I’ll announce my shows in my Patreon stream first, before publicly posting them anywhere else.
  • Access to video tutorials about audio production.  I’ll show you my tips and tricks and talk about my workflows.
    • Each time I release a new video, I’ll put out a short, useful tutorial as well.  These will be super helpful if you’re an audio producer.
  • First dibs on Audio Production lessons through BandPage Experiences. When they go on sale, my $5+ Patrons will be notified first.”

 

Who All Does This?

“As of February 2014, almost half of the artists produce YouTube videos, while the rest are writers, draw webcomics or make podcasts. [10] On average, patrons donate $7 per creation. Patreon is growing rapidly both in patrons and creators, with 10,000 artists expected to use Patreon by the end of February 2014. While the website initially targeted musicians, established webcomic artists such as Jonathan Rosenberg, Zach Weinersmith and Paul Taylor are successfully using it.”

So here is Jack Conte explaining his vision!

 

And finally, here is another music video from Jack Conte.

I absolutely love his videos to death.  They are very unique, very interesting…very fresh.  Real artistry, I believe.

But this is a man thinking outside the box to create music and build something really amazing with new technology.

This is the stuff that keeps me up at night, and wondering what else we can do, folks 🙂

I Am Far Too Amused When Left To Myself

I don’t think I have ever written anything….without someone sitting on me.

Tonight, it is Artemis’ turn.

She is our very introverted cat who pretty much lives upstairs, but we see her all the time.  Guests are still not entirely sure she exists, though.

I can assure you, she does exist and unless I keep my bedroom door shut, she will wake me up every morning at 5am to be fed.

And she is very persistent.

Photo on 1-21-15 at 10.57 PMJust sitting here, typing away.

Photo on 1-21-15 at 10.57 PM #3

All of a sudden, she sees the other cat on my laptop.

Photo on 1-21-15 at 10.58 PM #2

“This is the weirdest trip I have ever had.”

Photo on 1-21-15 at 10.58 PM #3

Becoming comfortable with the other cat.  When suddenly….!

Photo on 1-21-15 at 10.58 PM #4A noise!  Who could it be??  Is it yet another cat, intruding on my territory?!

Photo on 1-21-15 at 10.58 PM #5I have my lap back.  But for how long.

Quick Story! – The Ageless Woman

Okay.

So, my husband and I have 5 kids. I started having kids when I was 25, so that makes me 36 right now (I’ll tell you my age.  I won’t tell you my weight). But my husband is very tall, so my 2 older kids are just a little shorter than I am.

Last year, we went on a big flight to the East Coast for a vacation. We had been planning this trip for probably “ever.”  I have always wanted to see the East Coast, because I am an American History junkie, and I wanted to see the house Ben grew up in.  It was an awesome trip, and I totally geeked out just looking at the harbor in which the Boston Tea Party happened, Emily Dickinson’s house (I was IN HER ROOM people!!), famous landmarks, the Freedom Trail, New York, Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont, the whole bit.  We just rented a minivan and had an epic road trip. It was a totally rockin’ voyage.

When we were done and in the airport to check in…there are a lot of us, and it takes a while to go through everyone’s ticket and check bags/car seats/whatnot. The ladies taking care of this were great, and they made it super easy for us, which was fantastic.

However, the first ticket she checked in was Ben’s. Got that taken care of. Then he gives her mine. So she looks at me, who is wearing an MIT shirt (we visited there) and a backpack, wearing jeans and running shoes with a flannel wrapped around my waist. She said, “are you Tamarah?” “Yes.” “Okay, and how old are you?”

….”35?” I didn’t think this made a difference, but who knows.

I was standing behind all the kids keeping watch and Ben was at the front, so I didn’t hear the rest of this, but he said she thought I was his eldest daughter, and she was impressed that a single dad would take his 6 kids to the airport by himself.

 

True story.

 

IMG_15891995…Junior Prom With Ben

IMG_1588

1996…Senior Prom With Ben

10686633_10204876824382432_8060795706651495860_n2014

It Started With The Apatosaurus, And Quickly Got Out Of Hand

 

It all started with this.

The mounted Apatosaurus head, which is awesome beyond words.

I have always loved mounted animal heads.  I can’t even tell you why, because not only am I not a hunter, nor do I come from a family who hunted, on a logical level I think they’re kind of gross.  Stuffed, preserved animals with glossy eyes held in suspension forever?  Ehhh….I don’t know about that.  Taxidermy is just short of horror-movie-creepy.

However, I have to admit that I am in a stupefied awe whenever I see a mounted buffalo head.  It is just so …big.  There seems to be a suspended majesty presented in the ethereal stare and noble brow.  There have only been a couple (way old school) restaurants that have had a mounted buffalo in their drawing room over a fireplace (filled with an ornamental fern…), and I remember the buffalo more than I remember the name of the establishment.

Which naturally got me to thinking: there are typical mounted animal heads available…deer, elk, fish.  What are some really good, really interesting ones?

I found many.

Octopus.

Raptor.

Duckbilled Dinosaur.

Dr. Seuss Animal.

Elephant.

Dinosaur.

Another Dinosaur.

Bear?

And, of course, Scotland’s National Animal: The Unicorn

And a couple others.

I’m thinking this is another new hobby.

Monday Coffee Break: Who Are You?? Edition

 

7ed6852b-ea7d-45ce-836b-26c4c971c6e3_560_420

I think this quiz is appropriate for me right now.

—> CHIC.

(that’s not the 4 letter word I was expecting…but I’ll take it!)

You have an impeccable sense of style that is unique and modern. You are a cultured individual who enjoys the finer things that life has to offer. You stay on top of what’s trendy and always like to look your best. You keep it cool when it comes to stress and know how to handle yourself calmly in tense situations.

 

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Which TV Mom are you?

—> You are Morticia Addams!

(Morticia was a lot more than just a pretty face.  I’ll take this too!)

You are smart, sexy, and an excellent mother! You show people that the fact that you are a mother, doesn’t mean that you can’t be sexy and flirty!
You go Morticia! Rrrrrrr…

 

b3e53036-2229-4045-9687-8f34d7e9dd2a_560_420

What is your 80s anthem?

—> “Livin’ On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi (1986)

The ultimate ballad of the eclectic underdog, your 80’s Anthem is “Livin’ On A Prayer”! Often one to be underestimated but still kick life in the proverbial tush, you’re an individual of simple tastes and good times. Like this song, you’re two parts “pick up truck” and ten parts “@$$-kicker”. This song should automatically start playing every time you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle, or standing in line for anything. How great would that be?

fcbddc83-fd59-4ff0-8859-f6da8cf66a71

What Was Your Name In Your Past Life?

—>  In your past life you were known as Chief Running Bull Crazy Horse!

You were a respected Chief in the Sioux tribe who was wise and widely admired for your leadership abilities. You inspired the people of your tribe with your fierce hunting skills and told magnificent and legendary tales that were passed down through the generations. You were an integral part of the history of your tribe and your name will be remembered forever!

247a8dc8-c9e4-4365-8e04-cf3bf2f8154e_560_420

How Did You Die in Your Past Life?

—>  Murdered by a Roman spy in ancient Greece

(This seems pretty appropriate. )

Murdered
In your past life, you were a great Greek army commander. You were the highest authority when it came to the Romans, and you’ve calculated every possible outcome from the war, except one – that your second in command was in fact a roman spy! Booo.
Now, you know better than to trust people easily. You are very smart and friendly, but also a little more suspicious.

Polish Week for SAHMs. No, Stop Laughing.

 

 

This is the AXO Sorority.

Listen. They clearly have their deal together. Considering I am eating reheated refried beans with leftover cheese, in a hoodie and size 12 jeans, I ain’t got nothin’ on AXO.  Except a degree.  And maybe a few other things.  I’m just saying…they look like very lovely young ladies.

So what is this Polish Week and AXO?

As Huffington Post puts it, “This Sorority’s Pre-Rush Week Beauty Standards Are Pure Madness.

I have no idea what Polish Week is.

Which makes sense, since I am a SAHM in her mid 30s, and not a 20 year old in a sorority.  I googled it, and got “The Calendar of Poland,” which just goes to tell you how uninformed we all are of this beauty regiment.

 

Even when I was in college, I wasn’t in a sorority.  I was in my early 20s, married and working, and sorority sisters just got under my skin.

Mostly because I was a loner and a jerk; but also, they ended every sentence with a question?  I was an English Major.  We didn’t pull that stuff.

 

However, the AXO Sorority made the news with their email of “Personal Development/Recruitment Info” tips.

More specifically, how to Polish yourself before (not during, you troll!) the week.

It was a good list, honestly.  Stuff about eyebrows making or breaking your face, and something about nude wedges.  Pretty basic stuff.  It didn’t have things on it like, “Make sure you wear your gold bikini to class, not the teal bikini! The teal is only for after class!”

And yet….

I couldn’t help but wonder what a homeschooling, mid-30s mother of 5 would post for her Polish Week list…

<insert dream sequence>

 

“Hi Everyone!

Polish Week is right around the corner, and I have a list of everything you might need!

This list is also available in .pdf as an attachment, as well as posted on facebook. Please be careful who you Share this list with, though.  Your MIL and BFF may not appreciate grooming tips as much as you think they might.

 

Spanx

I cannot stress enough how important Spanx are for taking up room in your underwear drawer.

However, if you would like to wear spanx (because it is awesome. Not gonna lie.), please do not get the size you were before kids.  You will look like an overinflated American Girl.  Be realistic and buy the size you are now. 

spanx-with-a-bikini_thumbcredit

Hair

Please brush your hair.  Try to avoid stuffing your hair into a hair claw or oversized flower clip.  The flower will not distract people from a mess.  If you don’t remember how to cut your bangs at this point, ask your 17 year old cousin.  She can help you look modern and stylish, and not out of a 1987 JC Penny’s catalog.

 

Eyebrows

If you choose to pluck your eyebrows:  Maybe you should go to the mall and find one of those threader places.  Don’t try plucking your eyebrows in the bathroom while the kids are trying to find you.  You will do a rushed job, and nothing is worse than lopsided eyebrows.

If you choose to not pluck your eyebrows: Yeah, I don’t know.  I’ve never done it, either.

 

Nails

If your toenails still have specks of paint from when you went to the beach 7 months ago, now is a good time to repaint them.

Also, go to the store and buy a new jar of fingernail polish for yourself.  Do not use the set your daughter got for Christmas, even though the colors are totally awesome.  Find a color that will actually match some of your clothes.

 

Makeup

Before you begin, find all the make up you have stashed in your purse and jacket pockets and put them in your bathroom drawer again.  It will be so much easier to do your make up in one shot, rather than in the car.

Start with foundation and finish with lipstick, and try to resist going for the Hollywood drama look.  Try to keep to colors that enhance your natural beauty; now may not be the time for Hunger Games yellow mascara.

I know Kate Winslet can get away with it, but at some point we have to admit: we are not Kate Winslet.

Mmmmm…Kate and Willoughby. 

On Social Media

Please make sure your profile pics are something nice.   Do not use the picture on your Moms Night Out where you are in a visibly not sober state!  Remember, your MIL reads your facebook page, and she will bring this up at the next birthday party.

Again.

 

As always,

Fellow Mom”

 

/I’m not doing any of this.

11 Things That Moms Can Learn From The Pope

 

I have been having really weird dreams lately.

Last night I had a dream that I visited the Vatican and met the Pope.

Which is pretty awesome, however weird it may seem.

What I remember the most is that he was just filled with joy.  Just joy piled onto joy.  I loved talking with him because he was so genuinely happy…to the point that he broke out in singing, and just kept singing until the end when I woke up.

And I’m telling’ ya: watching the Pope bust a move is just as awesome as it sounds.

The Pope had such an infectious joy, I actually got out of bed still feeling it…half an hour before my alarm went off!

I like Pope Francis (in real life!).  He is a good leader, and he is really bringing back to light the art of love; which I think is fabulous.

 

1 John 4:8

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

 

keep-calm-and-know-that-god-is-love

Part of learning how to love is discipline, which is tough love…and this is sincerely tough to hear.

Discipline is particularly tough for leaders. 

Because they are already in charge, sometimes (most times) they are doing what they believe is right.  But in every single leadership manual, booklet or lesson it is pounded into the reader how important balance is for a leader.  You cannot be a leader without working with someone, or a team of someone’s, to help you be a great leader.  You can’t have full domination and expect it to go well.  Not only are you going to start living in a bubble of yourself if you can’t hear anyone else, but the people you are leading don’t actually like to be dominated by bubble-theology, in general.

However, people love to be led, especially by good leaders.

Tony Robbins is a great leader because he leads others to be great.

Simon Sinek is a great leader because he leads others to be great.

Selfish leaders will destroy their team, and their legacy is going to be glum and barren.

Dan Pontefract wrote for Forbes.com recently, describing the “Damage of Selfish Leadership”:

           “You know, those individuals who only look out for themselves without really caring about employees or society in general? These are the types of individuals who like to dominate, sometimes for the sport of domination itself.”

He went on to say, with some Canadian hockey metaphors thrown in:

           “Here’s some irony to think about it. What if those puck and ball hogs acted the way they did in our organizations because that’s all they have ever been conditioned to behave like? What if they don’t know how to pass? What if they had no idea there was a greater purpose than simply winning?

And that was an interesting idea.

What if the leaders didn’t actually understand that the purpose was not to dominate or simply win, but the purpose was to create a team that created great things, and was made up of great people who encouraged each other to be great?

Pope Francis certainly laid the smack down on the elders of the Vatican recently.

What he saw was a church filled with selfish leaders.  What he wanted was a church filled with great leaders.

But this change has to come with rebuke before they can relearn how to fulfill God’s greatness of love in their ministries.

It really was a harsh list to read, there are no two ways about it.  Yet, while I was reading it I realized that these were great lessons for leaders…especially Moms.

Moms lead their children every day, and so often we can get stuck in these negative, selfish ruts that drive us crazy.

So, what can we learn from The Pope’s “15 Ailments of the Vatican Cura”?

1) You May Be Mom, But You Ain’t God:

The sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’, neglecting the necessary and habitual controls. A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service”.

What I read here is that if we are going to be great leaders, we have to start with ourselves.

We need to stay up-to-date with our job.  This may entail how to find good foods and good recipes for our families, or we need to find inspiring and uplifting things for our families to participate in, or ways to connect with our husbands and kids in more genuine ways; but more than these we need to seek to better ourselves.  You are an amazing woman, and it is important to remember that.  You matter.  So if you need to find a Mom’s group, or a Women’s Bible Study, or a local book group, or a group at the gym…these are going to edify you!  You need to take care of yourself just as much as you need to take care of your family.  Not only do you need to resist the Diva mentality, where everything is all about you, but you also need to resist the trap of believing that you don’t matter at all.  I can assure you, you matter more than you realize.

2) Do Not Become Too Busy To Love

‘Martha-ism’, or excessive industriousness; the sickness of those who immerse themselves in work, inevitably neglecting ‘the better part’ of sitting at Jesus’ feet. Therefore, Jesus required his disciples to rest a little, as neglecting the necessary rest leads to stress and agitation. Rest, once one who has brought his or her mission to a close, is a necessary duty and must be taken seriously: in spending a little time with relatives and respecting the holidays as a time for spiritual and physical replenishment, it is necessary to learn the teaching of Ecclesiastes, that ‘there is a time for everything’.”

The problem that Martha had was that when she had the opportunity to spend time with Jesus, she didn’t.  Instead, she worried about the dishes.

There is a time for work, and there is a time for family.  If you are working so long that you forget how to even talk to your children, how are they going to know you love them?  Spend time getting to know what your children like, what they are interested in, who their friends are.  Also, listen to your husband.  And let him listen to you!  We all have things to do…but don’t forget to love the people more than the work.

3) You Are Not A Machine.

The sickness of mental and spiritual hardening: that of those who, along the way, lose their inner serenity, vivacity and boldness and conceal themselves behind paper, becoming working machines rather than men of God. … It is dangerous to lose the human sensibility necessary to be able to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice! It is the sickness of those who lose those sentiments that were present in Jesus Christ”.

When you fell in love with your husband, I know you did little things all the time to show him you loved him.  You also took great delight when he did little things for you.  When you held your newborn in your arms, I know your heart swelled with indescribable joy whenever she smiled at you.  These joys can be lost over time, and we can forget what they even felt like if we aren’t careful.  We may even forget why this joy was so important, at all.  The joy we felt when we loved fortified our souls.  You are not a machine.  You are a Mom, and you need to remember the extreme joys of hugging your children, or spending time with your husband.  The smile my husband has just for me is one of the greatest joys I have.  When my kids grab my legs in little tiny bear hugs, it is a fantastic joy for me.

4) Your Children Are More Important Than Your Calendar

The ailment of excessive planning and functionalism: this is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that, by perfect planning things effectively progress, thus becoming a sort of accountant. … One falls prey to this sickness because it is easier and more convenient to settle into static and unchanging positions. Indeed, the Church shows herself to be faithful to the Holy Spirit to the extent that she does not seek to regulate or domesticate it. The Spirit is freshness, imagination and innovation”

Long ago we took a few of our little kids to Disneyland.

It was an amazing trip, and I will never forget breaking into tears while I was sitting on a curb with my daughter, watching the most beautiful Disney Parade go by.  I completely lose it with parades, I don’t know why; but watching the princesses wave to us, and the dancers leap in perfect choreographed dance moves drove me to tears.  I was so glad I could hold her in my arms and share this moment with her.

But I remember earlier in the day watching a Mom with her husband and two sons, and they were all miserable.  I heard her yell to them “You have 5 minutes to play, so make it worth it!”  The boys just wandered around aimlessly for 5 minutes, and their father looked beaten down.  That moment always stuck with me.

It is crucial to have a good plan, whether it is for a vacation or for a day-to-day schedule.  But if you sacrifice your family in order to fulfill your schedule, then although your schedule will certainly win and be great, your family will not.

5) Memos Don’t Cut It: You Need To Talk To Them

Sickness of poor coordination develops when the communion between members is lost, and the body loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance, becoming an orchestra of cacophony because the members do not collaborate and do not work with a spirit of communion or as a team.”

You cannot spend your days texting, emailing or leaving notes on the whiteboard in the kitchen.

There needs to be face-to-face communication and interaction.  This will keep your relationship with your husband and your kids fresh and real.  The body of a relationship is your body.  If you aren’t there communicating with them in person, the body of the relationship is lost.

6) Remember Your First Love

“Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of the personal history with the Lord, of the ‘first love’: this is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one’s own often imaginary views. We see this is those who have lost their recollection of their encounter with the Lord … in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands”.

This was the biggest rebuke, in my opinion.

Maybe because it is the one that convicted me the most.

Strong women often times tend to be the ones who build walls around themselves for protection.

However, they are also prone to keep building more and more walls, creating an impenetrable fortress through which none shall pass.

This fortress will become the island of loneliness, isolation and depression if left unattended.

Be aware of yourself.  I understand (more than you can imagine) how safe it is inside this fortress.

But I also understand how much a good friend  means to me.

Don’t forget your first love, of friendships.

7) “I Reject Your Reality, And Substitute With My Own”

“Existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honours. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life.”

Credit to Adam Savage, obviously.

Here’s the thing: if you create your own reality, you become a god in your mind.  You are living in your own parallel world, separated from reality.  This leads the heart to be hardened to what is actually happening around them, and there is no love in this situation.  The best thing to do is to accept reality…and change it, if it needs to be changed!  But recreating a reality bubble for yourself isn’t helping anybody.

 

8) Watch Your Tongue

Chatter, grumbling and gossip: this is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat, and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord, like Satan, and in many cases cold-blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren. It is the sickness of the cowardly who, not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs”.

Have the courage to speak kindness to your family.

I know that sounds outrageous…why wouldn’t you?

But sometimes we spend too much time correcting, and not enough time encouraging.  Use positive words, even in negative situations. “Thank you for taking care of this, I really do appreciate it.  But what I actually needed was this. How can we work together to do it?”

Don’t hold onto grudges, even for a day.  Talk about things with people as soon as you can.  Now, granted, a lot of time I need some time to process a situation, and then I can talk about it a little easier.  This is a genuinely loving way to show trust, empathy and growth in your relationship.

9) Don’t Be a Selfish Jerk.

The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person instead of lifting him up or encouraging him.”

I know this is harsh…but it has to be for this one.

If you are only thinking about yourself, you will definitely lose the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships.

If someone brings you a situation they need help with, and the only thing you can think of is how it impacts you…you are a selfish jerk.

And sometimes this is hard to see.  Most of the time you realize you are doing it after they tell you.  That is going to be hard to hear…if you hear it at all.  A lot of times the safest way to handle selfish jerks is to leave, entirely.

Be very aware of what your perspective is.

Are you actually listening to the people in your life, or are you being a selfish jerk?

Listen, it’s a whole lot easier to realize this yourself…than to hear it from someone else.

 

10) Funeral Face.

or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity.”

If you never smile, you will forget how.

It is as simple as that.

 

11) What Are You Bringing Home?

The disease of accumulation is when the apostle seeks to fill an existential emptiness of the heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but simply to feel secure. … Accumulation only burdens and inexorably slows down our progress.”

This can be accumulation of things, of shoes, of stuff…or of projects.  Do you collect projects in order to fill an empty spot in yourself?  It isn’t the most unheard of collection for busy moms.

Start by cutting down on what you bring home.

12) The Disease of the Perfect Mom

The disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others.”

I couldn’t put it better.

If you feel the need to multiply your power by slandering, defaming and discrediting others….the problem is now you.

Some people have gifts that you don’t have.  You have gifts that others don’t have.  This is why we need to work together, especially with our husbands and children as a team, to lift each other up and love each other greater.

A great leader will create a great team who believes in what they do.

 

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

 

Pope Francis concluded with this:

I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them. It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church.

My prayer is that you are a Mother who flies.