up the down staircase

That title has nothing to do with anything. I started to type “up and down” because I’m on a bit of an emotional roller coaster, and that just came out instead. I was in that play my senior year of high school and saw that book behind the library counter last week. I feel like reading it.


I need to run again. It’s been almost a week, and I need a long talk with God. I got up to run at 5:45 this morning, put on one sock and realized it was pouring down rain. My tired, achy body thanked me for crawling back in bed, but blah. I tried to pray there but fell asleep in about 16 seconds.

Ever been on an emotional high for a bit and then sort of crashed? Of course you have. Moody person that I am, that kind of sums up my life. Like that “tell your story in six words” thing. Emotional High. Crash. Emotional High. Crash. Repeat.

So people have been saying nice things about me the past few days, and my books have been selling like hotcakes. I’ve asked God multiple times to keep me humble and focused on Him and to help me not get wrapped up in this temporary moment in the spotlight. To remember why I do what I do (Him!) and what really matters.

So, the book orders are down to a trickle, Boo Mama and Amanda have moved on to other great blog posts, and I had an appt. to chat with Bilbo about my latest book proposal last night at 9pm. Long story short, I got off the phone feeling like I’d crashed.

You want the whole story? Basically, my new book idea is another book for moms, but this one focuses on our tendency to compare and compete and criticize. Who’s a better mom? Who has cuter, smarter, more obedient kids? Who’s the best at being super woman? And on and on. Why we do it, why it’s harmful, how we can stop, and what our lives could look like without all that stuff.

So far so good. Except. Except that I’ve had this fruit of the Spirit idea running around in my head (and on paper) for a few months. It was originally going to go in Diapers then didn’t, so I was trying to make it fit here. It was a bit of a stretch.

I was kind of hoping Bilbo wouldn’t notice that, that he’d think I was brilliant. Yeah, well, he’s a little smarter than that (which is why I give him 15% of everything I own–ha! no, just royalties). He told me 2 things–1.) the whole fruit concept was “a stretch” and 2.) my annotated outline (brief summaries of each chapter) sounded “too bloggy.” In other words, I was just talking about myself and not making the reader feel like she was the one who was important, not giving her any take-away, just talking, talking, talking about myself.

All true. Very true. Just not fun to hear. Gabe asked if I wanted a second opinion. I said no, I have one. Mine. I agree with everything he said. So, back to the drawing board.

I would like to ask for your help if you have a minute. I have a pretty extensive list of all the things we moms have issues with–things we judge other moms for, things we compare to each other, things we’re competitive over, things that bother us. But I don’t want to leave anything out, and I’m also curious as to what moms struggle with most.

So, what’s your biggest hang-up? Wanting your kids to be smarter than hers? Wishing your body looked like hers? Judging her for the way her kids act in public? Wanting to host the best birthday parties? Criticizing her for feeding her kids junk food? Wanting the grandparents to love your kids best?

I don’t know. I’m just talking off the top of my head. Got anything for me? If you do, I’d love your comments. Or you can message me if it’s too personal.

And could you pray that I’ll truly listen to God and what He wants me to put in this book, that the ideas will come together and that they’ll be more His than mine?

Thank you so much, friends. Love you.

EDIT: Ava and Nina are watching Parent Trap, or as Nina calls it, “Parent Crap.” Sounds like a perfect title for this new book. My kids are so inspiring.

40 thoughts on “up the down staircase

  1. luvmynoah

    Wow…what a great idea for a book.  I, like others, love Parent Crap…that rocks!  That girl is a hoot!

    I know around here it’s the “thing” to have your kids involved in everything possible….sports, dance, music lessons, church, school, and on and on.  I think it’s an issue on both sides that I watch.  It’s either your kids are doing too much or not enough.  Others can’t believe little Joe isn’t in cub scouts, soccer, tee ball and karate all in one night! 

    Breastfeeding is a huge issue.  I had one friend who loved to breastfeed and would do it anywhere at anytime.  We were eating with a bunch of couples at Max and Erma’s one day after church and she just got it all out right there…no covering up.  Not too appetizing.  I breastfeed my boys..think it’s awesome but, modesty is an issue too in public.  Kinda a different side of the topic.

    Developement is huge….percentiles, height, when did your kid start crawling, walking…talking.  My babies have always been in the 5th percentile…premmie babies….I always felt bad when the percentiles were asked by other mom’s.  They may be little but there cute!  🙂 

    What awesome testimonies on here today….it made my heart sing!

  2. jrfriend

    P.S. Terri’s oldest is a year older than my oldest, both named John.  Her John is a bright young man and was a hoot to know.  I think he is a lot like his mom.  Terri, I think we both did fine, we just know what all these other little chicks are going to go through, the world is getting tougher and it’s an awesomely hard job. 

  3. jrfriend

    @OkinawaAna – No problem.  I know I was a good mom, but we all make mistakes.  I sometimes feel so sorry for little people in the grocery store.  I hear them crying and their mom’s really raking them over the coals.  They, more than likely are just tired.  I used to just take mine home and let them nap and then go back later.  (That was a good thing!)

  4. terriwright

    From another ‘old’ mom: in Middle School, when my oldest(very bright, by the way) was busy being a slacker and in trouble, other moms(fellow teachers) liked to point out how WELL their child was doing….Frustrations with knowing his brilliance and his buttheadedness continued into high school, where I REALLY wanted him to be the BEST…some of that want was for me, so I could brag as the others did. He WAS the best…my focus was just off.

    Also, now – – – Looooooooong past raising; the questions haunt me:did I read enough to them? Was I good enough to them? Did I just disciplaine all the time? Did we spend time together? (I ask my boys those questions now and they just look at me as if I came from Andromeda and say., “Yeah, Mom, you did fine.” (whatever that means….)

  5. filledeparis

    No parenting crap to report yet. But, it’s SO cool to see how God is using you! He will do it again. Prayed for Him to inspire your next book with what HE wants in there!

  6. Anonymous

    Well, my husband and I recently found out that we are pregnant with our first child, and I already have a bunch of fears of comparison already in my mind (some areas of parenting that are easily comparable I knew about, but now after reading all the comments…there are so many more areas as well, and I’m trying not to panic!!).

    In addition to the area of comparison, I would add a struggle that I foresee in my parenting journey(and truly, deeply pray the Lord helps me with) is my perfectionism and the unreasonable expectations I place on myself as a mother as well as my child(ren). And it pervades every area of life: house cleaning/chores, dress, grades/school, etc… That, I think, is gonna be my biggest hangup.

    Thanks for the post and your heart for women/mothers!

  7. mtaviano

    @ladymiss3739 – Yes, that made total sense. I didn’t explain the fruit thing very well. I divided up each “comparison” issue into a chapter about 1 of the fruits of the Spirit. A lot of what I was saying didn’t really fit. Like the goodness chapter. And the faithfulness one. I’ll absolutely still talk about the Holy Spirit (and the fruit) but not try to make 9 chapters that everything fits perfectly in. Make sense? (I’ll blog about it soon to clear things up.)

  8. ahigby0214

    I’m excited for the book and you haven’t even written it yet!  You’re good!

    I think the idea is great.  I’m ALWAYS competing, comparing, etc.  And it STRESSES ME OUT.  I want to be content.  I want to enjoy my kids.  I want to do MY best…for MY kids…and MY God.  Here’s the kicker…sometimes, the comparing & competing is between my own kids.  HELP!

    Things that get C&C’d: milestones, obedience, smarts, athletics, grasp of God, eating habits, vocabulary, outfits, pictures, how much I get done…by myself…in a day, how clean the house is, how often I blog, how caught up I am on scrapbooking, ways i spend time with my kids, how MUCH time I spend with my kids, how many activities they’re in…oh…I’m having heart palpitations…I need to stop!

  9. TaraKaye

    Feeding your kids all organic foods while I feed mine cereal bars and applesauce with high fructose corn syrup because it’s so dang expensive for that organic stuff…. 🙂

    Wishing your body looked better and you had energy and time to exercise….

    How does she ALWAYS seem happy and have it all together when everyday I feel like I might just have a breakdown….

    Sounds like an AWESOME book! I just ordered all three of yours on BooMama special 🙂  I can’t wait to get them as I am preggo with number two and my little sister is getting married so we have books to go around! I also love the title Parent Crap. Stinkin’ hilarious! Thanks for being so real and transparent. It’s refreshing to know other godly women have roller coaster rides too 🙂

  10. Nixter77

    I can’t help you with this although my baby is already wayyyyyy cute 😉

    I can help you by saying I love you and I will pray for you. You are great and I am sure you will get there with this book, think of this as part of the process (the yucky don’t wanna here it part).

    You rock my lovely and I think you are SUPER and I love you zersquillions (believe me – that is a LOT!)

  11. OkinawaAna

    @jrfriend – This is good advice.  We’re just learning how to effectively discipline our almost two year old, and I’ll definitely remember to take some time to cool off so that I’m not reacting in frustration.  Thanks for posting that story!

  12. allieanne

    I’m not a mom yet. But the biggest thing I worry about is that my kids will get the same amount of love and attention from my parents that my nephews do. We live 12 hours away and they live 45 minutes.

  13. jrfriend

    Well, I am an “old” mom so this will fall into the book called “Parent Crap.”  I think the biggest thing I have struggled with, after the fact, was how I disciplined my kids.  I know I was way too hard on them at times. I believe in a spanking, if needed, but I really could have handled some things so much better without that. Now, mind you, I NEVER beat my kids, but I probably could have cooled off a little before disciplining them. I really appreciate my DIL and what she told me last week.  The boys had been really ornery, Jacob wasn’t home, and she was really having a hard time with them.  She said she just left them doing what they shouldn’t have been doing, walked around the house really slowly and then came back in and handled it.  I wish I had had that insight years ago.  I guess what I’m trying to say here, is, “Discipline your kids, they need it, but try hard to do it in a way that you won’t regret later on.”  God put you in charge of those precious babes and you don’t want to make HIM mad!

  14. Anonymous

    OK.  God moment here.  This has come up quite a bit around here lately, AND I just came from my friend’s blog, who is also dealing with judgment passing. 

    (I call these conversations “judging the judges”.  Dangerous and sticky business this can be!  Amen?!)

    …OK… moved my “book comment” to my blog, sorry.  You’ll just have to come over for the quick read.  Can’t take the embarrassment of my comment taking up a whole screen!!!  J

  15. KmHunsberger

    Wow. I am so encouraged by the fact that God used the above women to bring encourgement and joy your way today! What a blessing.

    I am amazed that you do all that you do…with three small children. I love how God has used your words to enocurage and change lives.

    I think your girls are great. And I think you are great too

  16. kkakwright

    I think all these issues that end up being “hot topics” all come down to defining ourselves, wrapping up too much of our own identity into our children.  I’m super happy for the mom whose 3 month old is wearing 4T.  I love healthy babies (I love sick ones too!). 

    I think as a mother, there aren’t a whole lot of signs that prove we are doing anything/something/one thing right.  So, when our child is big, or walks early, or talks early, or is potty trained early, we take it as a pat on the back.  Like, maybe, just maybe we have done something right.  When, in reality, I’m not at all sure one has anything to do with the other. 

    It is so hard for us to get lost in our kids.  And we start to lose the sense of defining ourselves in Christ.  I think all of the comparing (which I totally hate, but I totally do) is a way of patting ourselves on the back and being proud.  Yes, my children l-o-v-e vegetables,but that doesn’t make me a better mother than the mom whose kids’ don’t like em.  But for some reason sometimes, I can get caught up in thinking it does.  Silly. 

  17. ladymiss3739

    Ummm, let me think on this and get back when I have more thoughts.  Good and interesting topic!  I can see where if your thoughts weren’t together the fruits thing could be a stretch.  But not necessarily.  I’d rather read about what’s going on in my heart that causes me to tend towards such criticism for others than to just read about ways we are mean that we should simply stop.  Did that make any sense? 

  18. Anonymous

    There are several parenting issues that a come to mind, especially for moms. I am a big advocate of building other moms up. I feel that we have such a tendency to tear each other down in order to make ourselves feel like we’re the better parent. My mom’s Bible group has discussed this a lot. Some time we appear to be in battle with one another in stead of on the same parenting team that is trying to raise children in a God-Centered home.

    Personally for me I think appearance is a big struggle. Not necessarily how I physically look, but the appearance of having it all together. Happy kids, clean house, cute clothes, healthy meals…..the list could go on and on. There’s my strugge in a nutshell, it seems so simple when I see it in writing. Can’t wait to read the next book, sounds right up my alley!

  19. jbnygaard

    Oh..and I have to add that doctors can be the worst to make you feel like your child is not normal. Who is normal?

    I remember taking Erik to the ER one weekend because our doctor’s office was closed and he was 17 months. The doctor who I had never met before asked me to put Erik down and have him walk to him. I laughed and said…”well I’ll put him down, but he’s not going to walk. He doesn’t walk yet.” The doctor responded by telling me that he should be walking by now and that he would be if I didn’t hold him all day long.

    To say the least I was TICKED off! And to this day when I see this ER doctor on the news for whatever reason, I get FIRED up!

  20. MlleBaroque

    Totally agree with these ladies: breastfeeding, potty-training, and baby size.  The size thing has always cracked me up.  We’re proud our child is in the 99th percentile why??  If they stayed that way we’d have a 200 pound 12-year-old on our hands in a few years.  Ha, it just makes me laugh because it’s the silliest thing in the world to compete on…and yet almost every mother does it on some level.

    A few others: how attached is too attached or how independent should my child be?  (I have a cousin who’s daughter literally clings to her every waking moment [she’s 2] and everyone talks behind her back because of it.)  Also, corporal punishment…some mothers think it’s the only way and others believe it’s child abuse.  Along those same lines, when does discipline/punishment begin.  Many mothers believe it hinders a child’s development to correct them before age 4 or so and have strong opinions for mothers that do otherwise.

  21. jonnalynn

    You’re so clever and witty-love the title of your blog entry today-I identify with that!!!

    I’m not yet a mom so I don’t have much to contribute, but I know that I judge WAAAAY too much on parenting things that I know little about so I think the idea of your book is incredible.

  22. rebates

    Ok, bring on the humility…I really struggle with critical thoughts on various issues.  I will admit that I’m a hyper-breastfeeding advocate, health-nut freak (in thought but not always in practice due to tight finances), and just a general worrier/criticizer about a number of chemicals that kids are exposed to.  I also have to watch my attitude regarding children behaving badly in public.  I just have one child at this point, so there are certainly some issues that I haven’t encountered yet, but I’m sure I will.  I do also feel a teensy bit of tendency to compare creeping in every now and then.  I’ve not really struggled with feeling criticized/judged by other moms, except for my sister who thinks I’m a freak when it comes to some of the above issues.  We had our first children just a few months apart (her son is older), and we’ve had some pretty heated discussions about things.  The biggest hang-up and discouragement I experienced was from my doctor who I felt at times was trying to force the almighty “growth chart” on me when my daughter was just following the genetic footprints of my husband and me (we were both skinny babies). 

    Praying for you today!

  23. jbnygaard

    Okay so the boys ditched me for the neighbors.

    Breastfeeding vs. Formula. In-laws or parent’s pushing you to potty train your children earlier than need be. To preschool or not to preschool….that is the question. In my neck of the woods, it’s a big thing about 1 year or 2 year kindergarten. My kid talked earlier than your kid. Telling people that your 6 month old is wearing 12 month old clothes when the 12 month clothes are hanging on them. WHY IN THE WORLD does it matter?!?!? Ohhh…..you had a c-section?

    I’m sure I could think of more….but I’ll leave the rest for others. 🙂

  24. OkinawaAna

    I would SO buy a book called Parent Crap.  Ha!

    I think you already listed all of my vices.  There’s only one I can add.  I was once very smug about the fact that I was going to have as many children as the Lord would allow me to have and judged women who stopped at two.  Then I became a parent to two in one year.  🙂  I’m not sure what God has planned for the future of our family, but I certainly no longer judge anyone for stopping at two.  Or one.  Or none!  I can’t judge people for following God’s call for their family, whether that be ten children or one child, and it would be awfully short-sighted of me to assume (as I did) that God’s will for everyone looks exactly the same.

    Hope you are encouraged today!

  25. jbnygaard

    ^Um. Wow! Marla…you’ve got some great people who are praying for you who know you and who don’t even know you. I’m lovin’ this Lisa girl for saying such sweet things! 🙂

    Okay..my first comment. Oh how I LOVE Nina! Parent Crap. She’s truly a comedian.

    I was going to write my hang-ups but I’m getting called for a game of chess. I’ll be back in a second.

  26. schmett73

    Oh, Marla.  I’m a recent visitor to your blog, but you’ve got me hooked.  I may just have to set up a permanent camp here.  I’m finding myself simultaneously praying for renewal for you and rejoicing that you’ve spoken directly to my heart.  You’re in the midst of one of the troughs that so often follow the crests, but I plead with you not to lose heart.  When we experience great success to God’s glory, the enemy is so stinking quick to attack. Please don’t let him water down what should be a tremendous, awesome, God-glorifying time for you.  When I experience times like that, I so often think of Peter walking on water to approach Jesus’ outstretched hand and faltering the instant he takes his eyes off Him.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, and don’t let the loser enemy distract you and lessen what should be a joyful time.  I just know you’re on your way to the top of another crest.  I pray so heartily that you find joy and fulfillment in the ride (and don’t get too seasick along the way!)  You are such a help to so many.  I’ve got Is That All He Ever Thinks About? on order, and already, after ONLY having read the excerpt, it has helped to reverse eleven years of my own misconceptions about sex in marriage.  For the first time ever, I’m completely enjoying intimacy with my husband.  God used you in a mighty way in this sister’s life!  I can’t imagine what He’ll accomplish when I read the rest of your book!

    Blessings in abundance to you, Marla.  Thank you for allowing God to use you in such powerful ways.


  27. singenschmetterling

    Hey Marla… suggestions/!  HA!  I think I have a few things that as a NEW mom I struggle(d) with… Things that come to mind are…. I struggled with breastfeeding, so really early on decided to formula feed.  I can’t tell you how many women (even in the church nursery) made comments about how they thought it was awesome that Jackson took a bottle and the breast, and when I told him I didn’t nurse i would get a glare and then NOTHING.   PSH! Other things, strongly opinionated GREEN folk… I am totally not against going green, I think its great to care if you can stand it, but I had one mom tell me how absolutely necessary it is to use cloth diapers because I was filling landfills with Jackson’s diapers just because I didn’t feel like using cloth.  And lastly, I met a mom who had a baby Jackson’s age except she only fed her baby organic baby food.  She kept telling me everything that was bad about the food I fed him, how it was mostly water, not good for him, etc. and when I told her I couldn’t afford the extra expense for the Organic version (which was 40c more a jar!) she said “God would provide if you did the right thing”… UM YEAH.  I didn’t know what to really say.  Basically all I am saying is, I don’t tell people what they do is wrong, so why do they feel like they need to tell me my way is wrong?  

    Wow that was long.

  28. FlyingCAB

    Praying for you now – for the whole book thing and that God will provide you with time to run, or at least an equally suitable opportunity to get in some quality prayer time.

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