Confessions of the worst mum in the world…. me.

My eldest is almost 16 but I remember at toddler group a mum saying how tired she was but that she felt she always needed to play with her children – make belief, at the park, cars, kitchens, lego, whatever they wanted. All day… apart from nap times. I didn’t do that and maybe that was where the guilt began.

I went to the park with the youngest two the other day and little one asked me to push her on the roundabout – I did. But then as she moved on to the next activity I just stood and watched her, shivering. I got my phone out to take a couple of photos of the girls having fun. Pictures of my guilt.

We have Youtube videos of someone opening tubs of playdough on in our house – no I don’t get it but she seems to like it and so she watches it.

We sometimes skip mealtime for snacks in front of a movie with blankets and pyjamas on – I don’t think they got their two a day never mind about five.

This morning I took little one in her slippers to drop my daughter off at school – truthfully I would have worn mine if I could drive in them. I had no make up on and my hair was just put up in casually (translate I couldn’t be bothered).

I saw the looks from other parents walking their children into school whilst I let mine run off herself into the playground whilst I didn’t get out the car. Lazy mum, uncaring, irresponsible.

Oh my, I don’t need you to look at me like that I already know I am a terrible mum. The problem with all these things that you may look and see as terrible is that I believe that it’s okay so doesn’t that make me even more terrible?

I actually think my kids are doing okay – they have developed imagination to learn to play and create for themselves, they dare to try to do things on their own and feel proud when they manage it and have resilience when they can’t. When my little one couldn’t manage the bigger wooden equipment she looked at me and said “I’m too small for this” and ran off to something else. I followed her, she had learnt her own space in that world, her own capability for now and expectation for the future. I had just stood and allowed her.

Healthy eating is important but my kids love movie nights and have memories from them.

I ask my daughter every time if she wants me to take her into the playground and she doesn’t, she loves that she is old enough to go by herself, there are no roads to cross and I know she is going there, she is safe.

Will my children have issues? Yes. Have I done my best? I hope so.

The main reason I confess to being a terrible mum is because I am bothered by what other people are thinking as they see me stood around, phone in hand, doing nothing. I confess to letting others expectations make me feel like I’m not doing the best. I confess to believing in free play, exploration, independence, adventure and at the end of the day walking hand in hand with my child, side by side where they feel secure as they tell me what they have done. By the way that little hand is normally at least a little bit grubby – terrible isn’t it?

Where is Freedom?

This video shows some of the depth of need that our children have, in fact that all of us have. A need to be free, to explore, to have spaces no matter what our limitations that offer us places to be and to become. Our moments of outside often are limited between building and vehicle, office or school to bus or car, shop or church. But the greatest cathedral ever built with the most breath-taking architecture is that one all around us, the great outdoors. It is unbelievable that we see the need for prisoners to have space outside but don’t insist the same for ourselves and children. How can we change this, how can we encourage the connection with all the outside freedom and learning if we don’t go there?

Muddy Church isn’t about a set program, do this or that. It’s a place for groups, individuals, churches, communities to stop and look around them, to explore around them and to look where God might be. It doesn’t take huge planning or any expense it it about each of us realising we need to feel the fulness of life that certainly extends walls and doors. Why not try it for yourself today, step outside for five minutes – feel the wind, get wet in the rain, listen and ask yourself – where is God right now?

This is in no way a promotion of Unilever but fascinating and deeply saddening.

Day Four In a Puzzling Place

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the slough of despondency

Day four found us in the Slough of Despondency… the what????  I had loved this book so far because as I read it I only changed very few words as we went along.  The title for this one had me from the start… the what of how to explain that.  Okay, that’s the title boys lets read on and see if we can make it make sense!

Pliable is accompanying us, but as we begin to head towards the gate we discover ourselves in the slough… we begin to sink and can’t find our way out (great time for acting this bit out, with some squelching and some slurping and some sploooshing) Pliable discovers he isn’t that pliable because he is stuck, just like us, stuck in the mud.  The further we walk, the deeper we go, our toes, our ankles, our feet and through to our knees.  Are we ever going to get out?

Well Pliable does but decides this is not a good idea, if its this tough already he’s out of there.  So he gets out and leaves, back to the kingdom.  Little Pilgrim is despondent (see, I can use that word in context too and it does describe that emotion so well).  No way forward, no way back, just feeling like we are sinking deeper and deeper.

Living in a swamp area with ‘roads’ made of mud we could understand the physcial aspect of this part of the journey easily.  I will not quickly forget the day my foot got stuck in the mud road, as I pulled it out my flipflop broke and there I was, in the middle of the road, in many ways free but still affected by my moment in the mud.  My freedom had come at a cost and now I was faced with a new problem, a flipflopless foot (okay that word probably didn’t exist!) and the next step was still in the mire.  So I took it, the filthy mud road squelching between my bright pink nailed toes, the cold goo sticking to my foot, and on I walked.  One foot flipflopped one foot free.  The dripping traitor of the other flip flop in my hand!  The rest of the road was walked hobbling over the sharp stones, embarrassed, amused, aggravated but moving towards my house, the goal in sight.

Its easy to give up as we get that sinking feeling, for my boys to think of the times they’ve chosen to give up as soon as they have to put some effort in.  To stop where we are because the only way forward means more mess before we find another kind of freedom.  Financial, dreams, hopes, health, job, school…. whatever, we’ve all been there and probably will be again. 

Do you know the best thing though, I made it home, how great that fresh clean water felt as I watched that filthy mire filled mud wash away.  I don’t know I learnt my lesson, its part of life here, there will be more mud and more flimsy flip flops…. but I won’t give up this pilgrimage.  I hope the boys remember it might be easier to run backwards, but it feels way better to be closer to the gate and heading towards your dreams and destination.