Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 30 “Transitioning Well – Momma Knows Best”

I posted a question in our 31 day forum, from a friend/reader who has been so sweet to follow my transitioning well series here on the blog.  Here is her question along with some advice from actual mothers with children who have taken on the 31 day challenge with me:
How do you deal with transitions (changes) that are happening at light-speed? As a working mom of three and military wife, I have the occasional big transition, and I have a ton of small transitions usually all happening at the same time.  Not to mention trying to get 4 other human beings to transition smoothly as well. Anyway, you've sat on my couch and watched it up close, so I know you know.  Is it okay that I stopped having control over the transitions to just letting them happen, sometimes successfully, sometimes complete disasters?

Elaine Mingus from responds:  As a mom of six (not military), I believe moms have to roll with the punches. There will always be days that just seem perfect and then some that just fall apart (Lyrics from Toby Mac's song "Speak Life" - which is a perfect song for days like the one you described). I've trained myself to respond even more calmly the more chaotic a situation gets. In a strange way, if I'm stressed I purposely go into robot mode where I separate my emotional response from the necessary response until I have a safe place to deal with the emotions. If your husband has ever been in combat, perhaps he has some advice on how to handle out of control situations with relative tranquility because he HAS to in a dangerous situation.

Devi Duerrmeier from responds:  I've got two small kids, and we're expats (and I grew up as an MK/TCK moving quite a bit). Here's my input: Give yourself a lot of grace and permission to fail in transition times. Keep your life very, very easy - make sure the freezer is stocked with chicken nuggets and frozen pizzas, and don't feel guilty about using it. Give yourself permission to feel angry and frustrated, express it into a journal or to a trusted friend, but get it out there. Negative emotions always get out, so it's better to let it out in vulnerability with someone you trust, than in anger to someone you need to take care of. Yes, lose control. Our kids don't need to see people that always have it together (or together at all). Kids need to see us at the end of our rope and then what we do in that place. When we moved from Switzerland to Sweden with an 8-week old and a two-year-old, it was the hardest time of my life.  My kids saw a spent mom, a sad mom, and sometimes an angry mom, but they saw me praying, they heard me asking God for help every. single. day. And I hope and pray that these are the things they will take away from transition times in their lives (there are many more to come for us) - that in my weakness, I am strong, there is grace for us in transition times.

Marian Frizzell from responds:  I'm a military wife and mom of four, and I'm writing about transitions too this month.  Marian wasn't able to come back to this question in time for me to write it today but I like her style and I think moms everywhere, in any season, would enjoy reading about her current transition.  Unfortunately for her she has a really funny bee story that will at least make you laugh if nothing else.

Though I am not a mom, I want to close by sharing this letter and family photo: 

Dear Sandi, You are an amazing mother and though I know you are not perfect I have no doubt that your children know that they are loved.  I know you are not perfect because none of us are but you always seem to strive for your best!!  I have had the privilege of watching your family grow since the day you and Mike told us you were pregnant with your first born.  Our time together in Okinawa, as fellow Marine Spouses, are some of my most treasured memories and I can’t thank you and Mike enough for continuing to foster our friendship over the past 15+ years.  We have enjoyed hanging out with your kids every time we come to visit.  Your three are some of the only kids that we would take for a weekend or even a summer – they are that well behaved and fun to be around.  You and Mike are responsible for some of that!!  And, not only are you a great mother, you are an amazing hostess.  I have to share so everyone who reads this will know how great you were to us during the Christmas of 2011.  
My mom died a little before Christmas and we had finished up helping my step dad with everything that needed to be handled.  Since your family only lived an hour or so away you invited us to spend Christmas with your family and that made all the difference in the world to us at that time.  You were so gracious to invite us and you even had gifts wrapped and waiting for us to open along with your family on Christmas morning.  It’s crazy to say but that Christmas is one of my favorites despite having just lost my mother.  I will never be able to thank you for your kindness.  And you do all of this while working from home and usually with a sweet smile.  Thank you for being a great mother, a fabulous Marine Corps wife and especially for being a sweet friend!!!

If you are a mom please share any 
transitioning well ideas with us in the comments!!!


Moi said...

Transitions are never easy! I am getting ready to go through something myself and my stomach is already full of butterflies! thanks for sharing today!

amanda huffman said...

I read Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa Jo Baker and she talked a lot about grieving the loss of freedom that comes along with motherhood. It was a great book to read and opened my eyes that we are not alone and can't do it all. :)

Karrilee Aggett said...

I love this... and I was just telling a friend yesterday that our sense of control is an illusion anyway - so lean in, let go, trust God, and LOVE through the transition! Not easy - but always worth it! I think in our Pinterest perfect world, we can fall for the lie that perfection is possibly, or even expected... but what we are called to is Love! (and I agree with Amanda... Surprised by Motherhood is a must read for any and all Mama's!)

Sandi said...

Love this! Larissa, thanks for tackling something totally outside your comfort zone in a creative way. I love that the way you did this shows how easy it is to ask for help from other women, and how women always jump at the chance to help each other.

I love the advice, and the way it was written. It really spoke to me. Even if you think you know something, it is so good to hear someone else say it, it is very validating in a way -- kind of like a reality check.

I appreciate how Elaine says it is ok to go on autopilot if that is what you need to do... And at the same time (Devi says) it is also ok to experience and show real emotion, even if it is negative. This is something I very much believe, but sometimes I wonder if it is just to justify myself.

If something upsets me, it is okay to be angry, sad, frustrated etc. The line for me (different for everyone) is not inflicting my emotions of feelings on others. I can be mad and angry, but I should not try to make others feel the same way as me. This is the single most important thing I want my kids to know: you are allowed to feel any way you want, but you must OWN IT! Take responsibility for your feelings, don't blame them on others and don't take them out on others.

Larissa, that Christmas was divine intervention at its best. We just love having you guys in ours and the kids lives, and we are better off for it.

PS. I love the pictures, I have a couple, but some are new to me.

Marian said...

Hi Sandi,

I'm so sorry that my response to your question didn't make it. I tried to post last week in response, but I think my internet may have it in for me.

I know what you mean when you say the changes just keep coming. This year we added twins to the family (doubling the number of kids), went through a deployment, then a TDY, then a move, then started homeschooling our eldest. And all the little changes in between.

I think Devi and Elaine (and Larissa, of course) gave you great feedback. I think the only thing I'd add is how important it has been for me to keep communicating with my children through all of this. I try to make space in our lives to really talk to them and then listen. I strive to tell them about the upcoming changes, ask them how they feel about them, tell them how I feel, remind them that it's okay to be sad or angry, but that the important thing is what we do with our feelings.

And know that you've got this. I can tell that just from reading your comment. Love and prayers from a fellow military wife. And please do feel free to come by my blog and have a good laugh at some of the ridiculous stuff that's happened with our latest move.


Elaine Mingus said...

I agree with Marian...we need to keep the lines of communication open with our kids!