We’re all breaking our children a little bit.

 

So, we’re all breaking our children a little bit. It’s unavoidable in the human plight. But that doesn’t mean we don’t constantly strive to breed goodness into them, as well.

 

I’m over at The MOB Society today talking about how to fight the breaking process a bit. I’m not trying to guilt trip you, I promise. The last thing we need in the world is more mommy guilt. But I hope that it inspires you to work towards a wholer future. Click the link below to check it out.

 

One Way To Stop Breaking Your Children.

 

I’ve made many mistakes and have many regrets, especially from those beginning years. I share lessons that I learned in parenting toddlers, preschoolers, and children in my book Parenting Wild Things.

 

It contains the things I wish I had known before I started unintentionally breaking my children.

-Jessica

Forbidden Island

 

So you need to buy the board game Forbidden Island. If you’re into that sort of thing.

We’ve flirted with being board gamers over the years but it comes and goes depending on the company we keep. Recently when we were in North Carolina for training we played this game with some new friends and decided that it was worth investing in.

Here’s why I think this game is brilliant, especially for our three little boys – there’s no competition. You’re on a sinking island and all the players have to work together to find all of the treasure and flee the island.

Forbidden Island Board Game

Your turn isn’t about you. Your turn is how you can help the team and help the mission. And you don’t make your decisions alone, the other players help you best decide how to execute your turn. It’s extremely collaborate and involves a lot of strategy and critical thinking.

 

Forbidden Island Board Game

 

It’s SUCH a nice break from the competitive games that most of us are used to. I highly recommend it.

 

It takes 2 to 4 players and the box says 10 years old and up but I disagree. The family that introduced it to us had a five year old that could play it in his sleep. And after playing it once with our three boys (ages 10, 8, and 6) they were able to play on their own. It’s really easy to pick up and, again, SUCH a nice exercise in cooperation.

 

Oh, and no one paid me to say any of this – it’s not a professional review. I just really wanted y’all to know about it. I did use affiliate links though. Because that’s just good sense. :)

 

Forbidden Island. Check it.

 

Jessica

 

My Six Year Old is Slightly Afraid of The Plague

 

So the Six-Year-Old is slightly concerned about the plague. You know, The Black Death? Thanks, Wikipedia. He read the whole article a few months ago. Ever since then, we get to have conversations like this:

Husband: We need to go inside, the mosquitoes are coming out.
Six-Year-Old: Wait–they suck blood right? Can’t that spread the Black Death?

AND:

Six-Year-Old: The body has a defense for every hole in the skin. Snot, tears, spit, ear wax, stomach acid, diarrhea–except for the Black Death. That comes through flea bites, which just pokes through your skin and skips everything.

(A month later there would be a concerning issue of fleas in his bed. Thankfully he survived.)

AND at the doctor’s office, getting shots:

Six-Year-Old: Will one of these protect me from The Black Death?
Doctor: um……no….
Six-Year-Old: Why not?
Doctor: hmm… well… it’s not really something we have to worry about.
Six-Year-Old: If you get it, you’ll worry about it–there’s no cure.

AND after his reaction to the measles vaccine:

Husband: You’re covered in bumps!
Six-Year-Old: I think it’s the Black Death!!!
Husband: No, dude, it’s not. Remember, that hardly ever happens anymore.
Six-Year-Old: Oh right! They said it only killed about 300 people in the past hundred years, and they were mostly near California. We’re in Georgia, which is basically the opposite of California. So that’s good.

And last but not least, our personal favorite:

Six-Year-Old recently had a rude awakening when he realized that his mouthwash routine at night was, in fact, not protecting him from the plague. Who knows how long the poor child had swished in that assurance.

Sorry, Six-Year-Old. You’re only protected from plaque. With a Q. Not plague with a G.

 

kj

-Jessica

 

 

I Sorta Vlogged

 

The MOB Society (Mother Of Boys) are doing fun “Meet the team” videos this month and I FINALLY got off my internet tushie and submitted one. The video quality isn’t great (you’re welcome) but if you want to catch a hint of my accent and also a bit of legos-on-the-floor-keeping-it-real then click the link below and check it out.

 

Meet the Team – Jessica Bowman

Moms, Get In The Water

 

Recently Jessica Turner‘s post “Moms, Put on That Swimsuit” has been making waves (heh) in the mommy blog arena.

While I 100% agree with her sentiment, I totes reject her ultimatum. She starts her plea with these ill-fitting choices:

“You’ve got two choices every summer — to put on a swimsuit or to skip it.”

Pardon my french, but screw that. I refuse to wear a bathing suit. REFUSE. I haven’t owned a bathing suit in years, the premise being if I don’t own one, no one can make me wear it.

However, I don’t let that stop me from getting in the water, with engaging in my children’s summer and infiltrating their pool and ocean memories. I have a blast in the water you guys. And I love swimming with my babies.

Moms, get in the water.

But you know what I wear? Pretty much this and this. Spandexy running pants (hey, it’s bathing suit material. sort of. right?) and an exercise tank top.

I don’t care if I look like a fat, modest freak. Really. I don’t. Not nearly as much as I’d care if I were essentially wearing underwear in front of strangers. SO MUCH NO. My self-esteem rejects that reality.

These spider veins and cellulite are for behind close doors only. Deal.

The important part is that I don’t sit on the sidelines. So wear a bathing suit. Or don’t.

But get in, y’all. It’s worth it.

 

Jessica

Parenting – What It’s Really Like

Parenting. No one thinks they’re ready, and yet at the same time most of us start out thinking we know exactly what it’s all about. Parenting is easy before you ever have kids.

 

But what is parenting really like? Well, follow this easy 15 step program and you too can experience the joys of parenthood.

 

What it's really like to live with kids.

 

Step 1. Take the toilet paper roll off. Put an empty one on.


Step 2. Invite someone else to poop in your bathroom. Leave the fan off. Occasionally leave the door open as well.


Step 3. Do not flush.


Step 4. Repeat this every few hours throughout the day.


Step 5. Pay someone to lock themselves in the bathroom for at least 5 minutes whenever they see you walking towards it.


Step 6. Have someone randomly approach you 5 times an hour and ask, “What can I eat?” Have them reject all your suggestions.


Step 7. Have two other people paid to repeat step 6. Make sure they wait until you finally sit down after having successfully fed the first person AND make sure they reject what you fed the first person, unless that was the last one of those. Then have them want it, and only it.


Step 8. Pay three people to wrestle in your living room until one of them gets hurt. Make sure they understand not to stop when you tell them to.


Step 9. Pay one of the 4 people to whisper whenever they talk to you, and yell whenever they talk to everyone else.


Step 10. Have one of these same people open every door, drawer, bag, lid, etc in the house. Have one of the other people be unable to do any of this, ever.


Step 11. Wet a dog. Leave it in your house, just for the general dampness and smell. Not because you own a dog. If you do own a dog, it will have escaped during step 10.


Step 12. Have someone turn on everything. If it has batteries, leave it on until the batteries die.  Make sure they tell no one.

 

Step 13. Take one bite out of every fruit you own. Display them on bookshelves and dressers.

 

Step 14. Pay someone to pee in your bed. Make sure they wait until you have no clean sheets.

 

Step 15. Last but not least, have someone come into your room when you’re fast asleep and stare at you until their sheer presence rips you from peaceful slumber and into the horror movie that is now your life.

 

You did it!

Doesn’t that feel great? And remember, there’s no guarantee you’re not screwing them up and making crappy adults. But hey, at least they’ll be out of the house one day and dealing with their own little bed-wetters.

 

P.S. Now go offer to babysit for your frazzled friends who need a break.

P.P.S. We love our kids. This is satire.

P.P.P.S. What would you add to the list?

 

Jessica

 

Mom, Fight.

 

We’re sitting at the table eating lunch. It’s Sunday and we’re giving thanks for scrambled eggs and toast because planning and cooking a proper Sunday dinner would involve the kind of forethought and discipline rarely found around these parts.

 

He’s sitting beside me, the four year old. He never stops talking.

 

All day, every day, he talks.  “Mom? Mom? Mom?”

 

And I struggle to tune in to his station.

 

So I’m not paying attention properly when he pauses, fork  suspended in the air. When he turns to me and says quite seriously:

 

“Mom. Fight for God.”

 

My mind doesn’t jump to the typical Christian war metaphor, the one where we’re soldiers in Christ’s army, fighting against the powers and principalities of darkness. No, my instant interpretation is much more personal than that.

 

What I see, in that split second, is me grasping for the heal of God. Me, fighting to not lose my grip on Him. Me, pushing against the crowd to lay my claim on the hem of His garment.

 

Then, before I have time to fully process this profound statement, the little one, he cracks a smile and says,

 

“Just kidding. Fight for me.”

 

And then he goes back to his eggs.

 

The older I get the more questions and less answers I seem to have about life. But of one thing I am sure – God teaches us through the utterances of babes. And I’d hate to see the person I’d be today if I hadn’t been refined in the fires of parenthood these past dozen years.

 

-Jessica

* I wrote this a year ago and never published it. I’m not grasping so desperately these days.

 

The Half-Truth about Your Parenting

 

In my experience, nothing can make you feel as bad about yourself has the hard road of parenting. Not even department store change room mirrors.

 

I’m over at A Deeper Story today talking about these magic, undoing years. Click the link below if you’d like to read it.

 

What The Devil Whispers

 

Jessica

The Coveter and The Story Of A Nomad

The intricacies of a nomadic life.

 

We’re sitting in her living room eating sticky buns, trying to find the venn diagram of our two existences where our connection might lie.

 

I’ve somewhat forced and finagled myself into her world. She doesn’t need me. She’s lived in the same home for a decade, walked the same dog, attended the same church, had the same friends. And I am the nomad searching for the cracks where I might fit.

 

Her house is so quiet. So clean.

 

Her two boys are at school.  I’ve left my three plus one at home.

 

I keep asking her what she does all day, hoping I’m not coming across like a total ass. I mean, I’m a stay at home mom, too. I’m just entranced with the relative calm of her world.

 

And it’s not just her.

 

It’s every mother in my newsfeed that complains during school breaks about the chaos invading her home. It’s every writer friend who puts little ones on a school bus and then sits down in front of a writing project with the quietness of her own thoughts.

 

Quiet, stability, is not a part of my world.  And I’ve begun to covet.

 

So I force myself into other people’s schedules for a taste of their normalcy.

 

And say painfully obvious things despite the disdain I have for people who say painfully obvious things. Like, “Wow, your house is so quiet”.

 

“Yours could be, too, you know” she counters.

 

I do know.

 

And it’s so tempting.

 

Somewhere deep down I know that I chose this life, that it was with purposefulness, prayer, and tears that I stepped outside of the norm to walk this path of keeping my children home and moving around the world.

 

But occasionally I question. I covet.

 

 

****

 

I wrote that six months ago and never published it. I struggled after this past move for various reasons and it took me by surprise. During the time when I struggled most I kept my calendar the fullest because being alone left me too much space to wallow and listen to  The Civil Wars. It was a coping mechanism that saved me from turning inward too far, helped me put down the shallow roots that the nomadic life is all about.

 

I’m reading  Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way and after a painful church separation and tricky move “the fear and loneliness of it snapped her heart shut like a drum.” She confesses “I’ve spent most of my life and most of my friendships holding my breath and hoping that when people get close enough they won’t leave, and fearing that it’s a matter of time before they figure me out and go.”

 

The crutch of the nomad is that if you keep your heart shut and hold your breathe and talk about the weather long enough, you can smile and nod your way out of any intimacy until you wave goodbye to a town full of acquaintances.

 

“Disappear from your hometown, go and find the people thatchu know. Show’em all your good parts, leave town with the bad ones start to show”. – The Avett Brothers

 

“Where you will be working there will be no organizational community to support you.”

 

That’s what the email said.

 

“You will need some direct connections to the local people in order to handle the deprivations of living in such an environment.”

 

I assured them, “Because we’ve moved so much as a family I’ve gotten pretty good at intentionally creating community wherever we go. It’s one of my nomadic priorities.” Then I book-ended it with a smiley face.

 

Every word of that is true. But truth doesn’t always come about easily. Creating community is hard work; it’s sacrificial, largely fruitless, and sprinkled with a healthy dose of awkward. And that’s when you’re swimming in a culture where you’re familiar with the currents.

 

But that’s not what’s ahead for us. What we’re wading into are the swirling waters of the Ganges – foreign, isolated rapids of change. Complete cultural immersion. A baptism.

 

Even so, I’m more excited than apprehensive. There’s so much about the North American paradigm that I don’t like and yet have adapted to. For all my talk of wanting community I’m largely closed off – partly a product of my first world culture where it’s not really acceptable to make too much time for each other, to go too deep.

 

I’m not particularly happy about the long stretch of road between here and climbing on an east-bound plane.  But at the same time I’m slightly grateful for the 18 months I have to adjust my mind/heart/soul to such a giant cultural shift.

 

This will be one of those markers, a dividing line on our timeline.

 

Life before south Asia and life after.

 

 

How to Support and Pray for us in South Asia.

 

-Jessica

 

photo credit

Gentle Christian Parents

faithfulparenting

 

For those of you that don’t know, I have a second blog – a parenting blog, of all things. It’s based around the principles of gentle, mindful, respectful, what-have-you parenting.

 

This gentler approach to parenting has gotten more attention in recent years (including the attachment parenting movement). But it’s less often that you hear Christians voice their convictions about a more grace-based method of rearing youngins.

 

In fact, Christians are often in opposition, especially the authoritarian heavy, pro-spanking, spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child types.

 

Which is why I think it’s SO important for more Christians to speak out about not only having veered off the authoritarian path to pursue a more gentle method of discipline, but that it was their Christian faith that laid that burden and conviction on their heart to begin with.

 

So I’ve gathered together a handful of my favorite Christian writers who strive for grace and gentleness in their families. A few of these writers speak about the subject regularly, but many of them you may have never known held this conviction because it’s not what you normally find them writing about.

 

First up in this new series is Sonny Lemmons. To read his post about being a stay-at-home dad who realized that the spankings he and his friends got as children were ineffective, click the link below.

 

Click -> The Fear Of The Anger Of Our Dads

 

-Jessica