An Open Letter to My Daughter's Teachers

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone

Ok, yeah, I’ve heard this quote a million times, and honestly shrugged it off because my default position in motherhood has typically not been precious or sentimental. I know I might be in the mama minority, but I’m always ready for the next phase of my kids’ lives because each phase has been better than the last! I have the ability to look back on a season with a small swell of longing, quickly followed by fondness for where we’ve been and relief that we aren’t there anymore. (Goodbye newborn stage! I will never EVER miss you!)

 
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I still hold this to be true in most cases. However, when Josie entered Pre-K for the very first time this past September, I left Day 1 drop-off in tears. It was confusing to me because I’d been dropping Josie off at daycare nearly every day since she was 5 months old. But that cozy, in-home daycare felt safer to me than Pre-K. With its higher expectations, routines and structure, and classmates that could make or break her heart.

And mine.

Our hearts were broken a few times, as she learned how to interact with kids her own age. To balance friendships with boys and girls. To learn how to follow instructions, pay attention, and try her best.

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So I have the following to say to Josie’s teachers.

Thank you. Thank you for taking such good care of my girl’s heart, and in so doing, taking care of mine as well. Thanks for bearing with this first-timer as she learned how to line up at the door. Thanks for teaching her letters and numbers. Thanks for playing Pop the Pig and singing silly songs. Thanks for the artwork and the coloring pages that now reside on our walls and in our trash can (hey, we can’t keep everything!).

But more than that – thank you for being such loving shepherds. Thanks for being consistent in compassion, gentle in guidance, and empathetic to my little girl with big emotions. Thanks for opening our eyes (and hers!) to all that she is capable of. Thanks for celebrating her creativity, kindness, and ever-present toothless grin.

Josie and the world around her will continue to reap the benefits of your investment. The dedication you pour into each one of her classmates is not in vain. The months and years you’ve spent molding the minds and hearts of so many students counts for so much.

And this message is the same for all teachers everywhere – you are doing some of the most important work there is to be done. You are the keepers of moms’ hearts everywhere. As one of those moms, I do not take that for granted. Your work is extremely difficult and often times thankless. I can’t do anything about the workload, but I can do something about the gratitude. Thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my mama heart for choosing this as your life’s work. It matters.

So as we celebrate the end of the school year, I’ll conclude my time with you as I began it…in tears. But for you, dear teachers, I hope summer treats you better than you could ever imagine! That it would be the perfect blend of R&R and adventure. And as the fall slowly returns to view, I hope you’re energized, refreshed, and excited to hold kids’ hands and their mamas’ hearts once again!

Please take a moment to thank a teacher this week: send a text, type an email, write a note, heck fly a dove if you have to! But join me in showing our appreciation before school is out.

 
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Lisa GraftComment
If I Hear the Name "MOMMY!" One More Time, I'm Going to Lose My Ever Loving Mind

 “Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommmmmmmmmy, mommeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!”

My daughter is at the age (4 ¾) where every sentence that she speaks to me starts with “Mommy” just because she thinks that if she doesn’t say it, I’m not listening. And then there’s my son (almost 2), whose first words were “car” and “truck.” Obviously, we gushed over him when his sweet little voice started saying “Mommy!” But now he thinks it is his duty to point out every single car or truck in sight – even when we’re driving. “Mommeeeeeeeeeee! Car! Car! Car! Truck! Car! Truck! Car! Car! Mommeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Truck!”

If I hear the word “Mommy” one more time, I think I might lose my ever loving mind.

 
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This was word-for-word what I was thinking last weekend. While my husband worked outside and ran errands and did all the things, I managed the inside of the household and wrangled the tiny ones. The day was completely ordinary, so it must’ve been something internal, something physical that was bubbling up inside of me, that drove me to the absolute edge of sanity, where my only logical step for getting some peace and quiet was loading the kids in the car and making a special run to the gas station to fill a tank that was only half-empty.

Because I’m a rebel without a cause, I usually don’t wait outside while I’m pumping gas. But that day-I did, and I prayed that the gas would move at the slowest possible speed from the magical underground reservoir, through the hose, and into the tank. It didn’t. But the one glorious minute of peace and quiet I got at pump six felt like an absolute vacation.

 
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So listen, if you’re on the brink of a breakdown for any reason, here’s what you need to do:

  • Take as many mini-vacations as you can. Long weekends away?! Hahahaha. No. I’m talking about the little things like walking sloooooooowly around the car to the driver’s door after buckling in the kids, half hour trips to Target to roam the aisles, and every single night after bed, sweet, bedtime! *But here’s the trick: You actually have to start thinking about these moments as breaks. Relish them. Savor them like you would the last dark chocolate salted caramel Ghirardelli square in the bag.

  • Make room for some actual self-care time. Carve out some space in your day or week to do the things that fill you up. You can’t stay on empty for too long, because inevitably, when you’re at the end of your rope, the kids will be the wildest, loudest, and neediest humans on the planet. Don’t let it get there. Fill your cup first, mama.

  • Pray. Just pray. Seriously, figure out a few prayers you can say faster than it takes you to change a diaper. I like to choose a couple song lyrics and some scripture to whisper in my chaotic moments. A couple current favorites are: “Give me wisdom, you know just what to do…” from the song God, I Look to You. And from the book of Hebrews, “What He has given you, He will equip you for.” Let it be so. Inviting God into your motherhood will make all the difference, friend!

And now……..take a deep breath. You’re doing great. You’re going to have an amazing day! You are loved, you are a rock star, and you are Mother of the Year for crying outloud! Now, go get ‘em, tiger! (Oh, and by the way, you don’t have to love every single moment of motherhood to be a great mom. So celebrate small victories and keep up the good, hard work because it’s worth it. They’re worth it.)

 
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Lisa GraftComment
To the Mom Wondering if She is Even Making a Difference

Girl, I see you.

I can’t count the thousands of times that I think to myself, “Am I even speaking?” “Maybe I’m invisible.” “Is all of this mothering worth it?”

And they are valid questions. Between the constant busyness and daily chaos and the sleepless nights up with the kids or worrying about the kids--it can be REALLY hard to see that we’re making a difference as moms. Not making a difference by changing the entire world, but in the consistencies of who we are and how we love. Are those things making a difference in the lives of our kids?

We could obviously and pretty easily jump to, “OF COURSE! They’re alive, aren’t they?!” But we long to know this on such a deep level that when we’re in a season of stress, anytime anyone offers the classic, “You’ll reap the rewards someday…” a highly-trained surgeon will have to come rescue the eyes that you so violently rolled into your head. When is SOMEDAY?!?!?!?!??!?!?

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And then it happens. A fleeting, magical moment where you have a glimpse at the rewards of the profound work you have done. This happened to me twice this week. TWICE. In between the exhaustion and exhilaration of upping my consistent-discipline game to keep up with the strong-willed girl child (another story for another time), running from daycare to pre-school to work to pre-school to daycare to home, and all the things I’m supposed to be doing (ie: feeding the children every single day)…I was lucky enough to catch two amazing moments.

 
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The first was actually brought to my attention by my father-in-law. As a retired police officer, I thought he would be interested in knowing Josie’s class had a visit from a State Trooper who gave each child a sticker badge. In McDonald’s, we took a picture to send to Papa and then Josie said, “I want to give my sticker to a little boy who comes to eat here.” Soon enough a little boy and his family sat at the table behind us. On the way out the door, she gave him the sticker! I texted that little story to my father-in-law to brag on Josie’s kindness and he was the one that connected the dots for me: She sees me give Mother of the Year Award stickers out and that has encouraged her to do the same. The simple act of my handing out a sticker is actually a lesson that has stuck with her -- to look for opportunities to express kindness to others!

Hallelujah. I’ll take it. Whatever works.

 

The second moment occurred when I wanted to meet the new neighborhood mailman who just happened to be rounding the corner to our house when Josie and I pulled into the driveway. I said, "I'd like to say hello to the new mailman and learn his name." She said, "Ooooo! We could give him candy and a milkshake!"

So she chose 4 pieces of her own candy to give to him, we swapped the milkshake for a cold bottle of water and waited to meet him. In the meantime, Josie dropped gems like, "He's working really really hard. I'm going to tell him that" and, "it's so nice to meet new people" and, "maybe we could give everyone in the neighborhood candy today and ask them how their day was!"

Mark, our new mailman, graciously chatted about all the things with a very friendly Josie and politely declined the sleepover at our house that she offered.

Heart. Melted.

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A mama in the I Am Mother of the Year Facebook group got to brag on her babes this week too! Check out Mindy’s story:

“I had to get to church early for worship practice and the kids would not be ready in time for when I needed to leave. I told my son (14) to have church with his sister (8) and brother (3) while we were gone. I recommended he play some worship music on YouTube and then read some scripture from the Bible.

When we got home we asked about how ‘church’ went and the 3 yo said ‘I will follow God’. Apparently my oldest read them the story of Jonah and that is what my youngest got out of it! My daughter told me they listened to about 6 worship songs (the oldest picked them out) and they enjoyed their time. I asked if they prayed and was told ‘no', I forgot to tell them to do that.

I am so proud of them, it blessed me incredibly to know they did so well to do what I asked them to do and they enjoyed it. I am mother of the year but not of my own power -- God is good.”

Couldn’t have said it any better myself. What an amazing blessing it is when we get a peek into what God is working on in the hearts of our kids! So listen, on Mother’s Day and EVERY OTHER SINGLE DAY, know this:

You are doing an incredible job. You are the most amazing mother for your kids. You are especially and uniquely gifted to raise your kids well. You are Mother of the Year.

And finally, never underestimate the power of telling another mom what you see in her or her children. Like I needed my father-in-law to do for me, be the one who speaks life and truth into a mom. Could be your BFF or a complete stranger.

To make it easier for you, you can purchase Mother of the Year Award stickers to help you remember to be that crucial voice. And get your kids in on the action! My daughter LOVES running up to stranger moms with stickers (she even peels the backs off for them) and says, “You’re a really good mommy!” It’s always impactful for us all.

Happy Mother’s Day, friend. You are loved!

Lisa GraftComment