Hope for Spicy Families
by Jen Hatmaker on August 29th, 2013

A certain scenario sets off a guaranteed, automatic reaction in me every time.
 
Although reduced, I categorize most families as either “sweet” or “spicy.” There are obvious pros and cons to both dynamics with tons of crossover on the Venn diagram, but still. In general, a family trends toward one or the other.
 
I’ll give you one guess which way the Hatmakers lean.

We are a spicy people. We love obnoxious humor and sarcasm and we are very, very loud. The lot of us suffers from Big Feelings About All The Things, which makes us a passionate, emotional bunch. We don’t really do gentle. We don’t actually know what that means. (My girlfriend Laura has the exact same family dynamic, and I die laughing every time she tells me her “kids are doomed.”)
 
So any time I am around a sweet family for a while, I have a crisis. It simmers until a comment from one of their children to another – “Sister? Would you like the last brownie? I want you to have it since you did all my chores for me as a surprise for my half birthday…” – launches me into a watershed moment. Brandon knows this about me and has weathered the reentry numerous times:
 
Me: What is wrong with us? We need a new system to get people to talk nicer in this house. We are raising feral children. Why don’t any of our kids knit?? We need to quit raising our voices FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES or all hope is lost. Our kids are probably going to kill people one day. Like, I think they are on a dark path to incarceration or street violence.
 
Brandon:        Street violence here in the suburbs?
 
Me:                  THERE COULD BE VIOLENCE IN THESE STREETS – we’re near the end times! We need to figure out how to be more precious. I don’t even think our kids know any hymns! How are we supposed to break out in spontaneous family worship?? WWAVD?? (What would Ann Voskamp do?) Remy told me Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey “because he was so rich.” We are raising dullards. Let’s just throw in the towel.
 
Nothing makes me diagnose my family as catastrophic quicker than witnessing another family behave. It is a terrible comparison game that isn’t even fair, as I’m not privy to their atmosphere longer than that one hour. For all I know that darling sister who deferred the brownie gave the other a roundhouse kick to the temple the next day for calling her a sasquatch. We don’t know these things, and it’s easy to reduce another family to a condensed, crystallized version of their real selves, then compare our own undomesticated family to the prototype and flat despair, certain the children have been ruined beyond repair.
 
I don’t know if there is any worry like Parent Worry. We are responsible for whole human lives here. This is it. This is their one childhood that will carry them into adulthood, drawing from all the hours in this home, emulating what they’ve seen, GOD HELP US. Every parent I know worries that she isn’t doing this right, that she is failing in countless ways, seen and unseen. Our family faults seem so egregious; the omissions and breakdowns and missteps feel monumental, insurmountable even.
 
I heard someone say recently, “If you are worried about being a bad parent, you are probably a good one.” Meaning, this is the opposite, which is technically worse:

I took this in and wanted to believe it so badly and asked God to help me tamp down the vicious self-talk. Then something happened. I started jumping outside of my mind where all the crazy lives and watched me talk to my kids. I was so nice sometimes! I said very sweet and precious things! There were so many I love you’s and you are very smart and attentive mm-hmmm’s and sounds awesome and great job on that laced through all the days. I watched myself do the work of sweet parents, and it occurred to me I am my own worst critic, and sometimes I’m even a liar, convincing myself that nothing good is ever happening in this family, and it’s all my fault, or maybe Brandon’s fault, and the kids are horrid and we are a disaster.
 
This is a really insidious way to keep a Mama down.
 
Why do we latch on to our failures and ignore our successes? I would never overvalue and recount someone else's low moments to the neglect of their triumphs; why do I do that to myself? Why do any of us? Why do we observe other parents’ strengths with 20/20 vision while ours are all blurred? It is as easy for me to declare your goodness as it is to affirm my wretchedness; they are inversely proportional. I am savvy to each, conditioned to minimize your humanity and overemphasize mine.

Whether you are a sweet mama imagining the spicy mamas have all the fun (not true...we're mostly breaking up fights), or a spicy mama assuming the sweet mamas have all the tenderness (they don't...they are mostly, um, I'm not actually sure, I've never been in a sweet family):
 
If you are worried about being a bad parent, you are probably a good one.
 
Some of the good is obvious (the stuff we are quick to notice in others): the loving words, the endless attention, the eye contact, the praise. We are reading to our kids and tucking them in with kisses and using parenting language and attending all the games/recitals/tournaments/programs. We braid hair and tie ribbons and apply band-aids and act like our kids’ art is pretty. We are doing all that, and it is good, and it counts.
 
Some of the good is less obvious (the stuff we think is only going on in our homes): the apologies, the conflict resolution, the tough love, the boundaries, the making up, the hard lessons. We are molding failure into character; our kids, ours. Every parent blows it. Every kid comes unhinged. Every family goes off the rails. That doesn’t mean we are ruined; it means we are ordinary. Course correcting is part of the deal. These efforts often feel bad because they started bad, but they are actually good, and they count too.
 
This is my point no matter which temperament you lean towards: YOU ARE DOING A BETTER JOB THAN YOU THINK. The criticism in your brain can sometimes move you toward best practices, but it can also lie to you and probably is in numerous ways. You may need to step outside your mind and watch yourself for a few days – not just tuning in to the sharp moments but to the soft, tender ones, for I assure you they are there.
 
One of my favorite truths from Scripture is that condemnation is a trick of the enemy, not the language of the heavens. Shame is not the rhetoric of redemption, so if we are a slave to it, we have moved outside the protective covering of mercy. And it is harsh out there, debilitating actually. If your inner monologue is constantly critical, endlessly degrading, it may be time to move a few feet back under the umbrella of grace. For there the yoke is easy and the burden is light. Then we can breathe and assess our own parenting with the same kindness we extend to others.
 
You are doing a wonderful job. Parenting is mind-numbingly hard and none of us will be perfect at it and all of us will jack a thousand parts of it, and somehow, against all odds, it will still be enough.
 
And if stepping outside your mind to self-observe or planting your feet back under a grace covering doesn’t work, you may come to my house for one afternoon and be guaranteed to feel better about your family, as you may recall that after sassing off, I told my then fifth grader to get a shovel, go in the backyard, and dig his own grave.
 
Because THAT is WJHWD.


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322 Comments
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Shana - August 29th, 2013 at 8:44 PM
WWAVD . . . I couldn't love that more. I laughed out loud. Thanks for all the great reminders!
God Bless,
Shana (mother of 6)
Daniela - August 29th, 2013 at 9:09 PM
OH LAWD I laughed out loud at this. I so condemn myself, when I start to compare... On a co-family holiday our friends child brought her knitting basket. My boys brought candy and guns. We are loud, we applaud each others burping skills (the two year old is the champion), I yell too much, but love even louder, I pray this is enough to cover the dysfunctional, beautiful mess we call home. Thanks for this, sometimes you think you are the only one.
Joy - August 29th, 2013 at 9:11 PM
After a sorrowful day, this is exactly what I needed to read. Thank you for not only the truth but the humor in telling it. I smiled.
Lisa - August 29th, 2013 at 9:13 PM
Spicy momma here. To keep my kids humble and appreciative of every day God gives them, I usually put them to bed with a line from The Princess Bride: "Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning."
Cate - August 29th, 2013 at 10:11 PM
I laughed so hard at this! It is certain to be in my daughter's future!
Kitty - August 31st, 2013 at 4:04 PM
That made me laugh so hard my eyes teared up, bless your heart.
Lesa - September 17th, 2013 at 10:31 PM
BWHAHAHA! I laughed until I cried when I read this. So perfect!
Diana Trautwein - August 29th, 2013 at 9:19 PM
Oh, lawd, yes! That inner critic?? She is closely related to the Crazy Lady I wrote about at Deeper Family last week - and they are our ENEMIES. Yes, they are. This is wonderful (as always) but I'm going to shout something right here and I hope you pay attention to it, okay? PLEASE MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO SUBSCRIBE TO YOUR POSTS BY EMAIL? Okay. I feel better now.
Olivia - August 30th, 2013 at 7:54 AM
You could choose a blog reader so all the posts of your saved blogs are in one place. I use Bloglovin & can access it from phone or computer. You'll never miss a post.
monica - August 29th, 2013 at 9:24 PM
Spicy bunch at this house. I like to tell them I'll pay for their therapy later.
Misty Bradley - August 29th, 2013 at 9:32 PM
Jen, nothing you could say would be more refreshing to me than this right here. I wish you could have said it to me at about 4:45pm today when I thought I would lose my Mama badge for freaking out over my daughter's freakout. Somewhere right in the middle of me asking why she had to freak out and then realizing that I was modeling it so well for her! oy vey!
Bonita - August 29th, 2013 at 9:35 PM
We're spicy!! And my 4 feral children grew up to give me 5 feral grandchildren so far. Life...and God...is good.
Patty - August 29th, 2013 at 9:38 PM
I'm so glad I found you. Jesus knew just what I needed
Judy - August 29th, 2013 at 9:44 PM
Conversation in the car after discussing the merits of one truck over another......true story......14yr old son to 12 yr old son........at least our mom is not a complete dud........she knows when a truck has cool wheels. Whew! Saved by the wheels!!!!!! Seriously, I just died laughing! Another category you could add is the ones that only eat organic and exercise regularly, and avoid food dyes..........although I truly WANT to be like these sweet and healthy people.........oh well, at least I know cool wheels when I see them;)
Jody - August 29th, 2013 at 9:45 PM
We're spicy. I've locked my son outside in his underwear because he wasn't listening. Then he ran down the street.
Amy - August 31st, 2013 at 12:40 PM
Love this, Jody! I can picture this exact scenario happening to some dear, spicy friends!
Jackie - August 29th, 2013 at 9:48 PM
Love this! While I would like to think of our family as sweet I think we probably fall into the spicy family category. :)
ellie - August 29th, 2013 at 9:56 PM
haha I hear ya! but you do have to wonder how those families are so sweet . . . .
Tom - August 29th, 2013 at 9:59 PM
My wife sent me this link because of recent late night conversations (yes, I'm a dude), and I gotta say: spoke volumes. We just moved and for the summer I've been the stay at home dad so my wife can settle in with her new promotion and it can stay flexible and easy at home. So for everyday of the last 3 months I've really gotten to understand a bit of what it's like not just to come home to, but be INUNDATED from sunrise to sunset. Every. Day. I'll be honest, we prbly have more of the sweet home, BUT not without the constant worry and self-doubt that pervades all regardless of what your family is. Anyhoo, you're main line says it all, If I'm worried this much, I'm prbly doing fine and the kids aren't screwed. I will cherish this. It triggered a release inside of me. Equally important, I feel, is my reinforced respect for moms or any parent who stays at home for the welfare of the kids. It is soooo much easier to work all day lol. Sorry for the novel
Cynthia - August 30th, 2013 at 3:53 PM
Thank you Tom for your response. Not quite as nice as hearing from my hubby, "Is is sooo much easier to work all day" but I will take this thought and cherish it, lol, as if he understands this reality. I have done both. And am currently at home with a spicy 10 year old (1 very spicy 19 year shipped back to college last week before we both killed each other; 2 semi-spicy kiddos out of the house). It is soooo much easier to work all day. Glad you get to experience the glory!
Amy - August 29th, 2013 at 10:06 PM
I do the single version of this all the time. Instead of family, insert "I". I should be more precious, quiet, etc. I should knit. I should... Well, you get the point. Anyway, thanks for writing this!
Megan - August 29th, 2013 at 10:10 PM
My mother reminds me that I must be a good parent if I am calling her in tears bc I am worried I am not good enough. Worrying about it indicates caring and that is ENOUGH. We all screw it up on a daily basis but we keep on trucking and that is ENOUGH.

Daily prayers include asking God to let my children survive my failures and thrive on the good stuff I do do. Thanks for the reminder!


Brandi - August 29th, 2013 at 10:25 PM
There is a group of moms that meet at my house on Thursdays. As the college students come back, we are hoping the ladies will join us in between their classes to just do life together and so we can get to know them better. This post is just the kind of thing we were discussing this morning! I was saying how important it is that, if one of our kids is throwing a tantrum that particular day, DON'T LEAVE! The college ladies, and heck... us, too, for that matter... need to see it. They need to see us parent well AND parent badly... and then see what we do when we do parent badly. My hope is that, when they see us have to go to our children and ask for forgiveness, they will then remember it when they become moms. They will see us doing it right and doing it wrong, and they won't spend motherhood thinking they are the only ones who mess up!
Roxanne - August 29th, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Oh, wow! I thought my four boys were the only ones to tie their shirts around their heads like that! I was sure the neighbors would think we were declaring jihad......yes, we are that spicy family of four wild boys! I so relate to this post and appreciate your redirection! There are moments of greatness woven in also!! Thank you!!
Julie - August 29th, 2013 at 11:49 PM
As a SPICY, displaced-Southern mom (who broke free from the "Southern= swee"t lie about 15 years ago) who has 4 SPICY children (my two year old son being the spiciest of the bunch- watch out!) I regularly feel sorry for my introverted, not-as-spicy husband and our sweet neighbors.

I loved your quote: "Shame is not the rhetoric of redemption, so if we are a slave to it, we have moved outside the protective covering of mercy."

Preach. It. Nothing moves us out of the protective covering of grace and mercy faster than sticking our heads out to do some self destructive self-comparison.

God made me and my family spicy and when the heat is up and the crazy comes out, we feel His good pleasure.



Maggie - August 30th, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Thanks for being so honest, Jen Hatmaker. Your words are like a laser than shines through all the chaos and pinpoints what is real, what is true, what is hysterical, what is honest about life and raising kids. I look forward to reading everything you write.
Elisa@LoveRaiseTeach - August 30th, 2013 at 12:49 AM
We have a combo of sweet & spicy in our family. Mostly, I think, people see us as sweet...but I know better - LOL! I know that even in a home with 3 girls (one who wants to grow up to be a princess or a pop-star) things can get spicy!

I always worry that I'm not doing enough and feel terrible that I know nothing about the outdoors, camping and all those things spicy families do! I do feel that the spicy families have all the fun...BUT then I realize we have fun too, and that there's always room for learning new things...and if we never go camping...I think we will be OK :)
Tyler - August 30th, 2013 at 3:03 AM
This is awesome. My wife is constantly raving about your writings and I can clearly see why. Keep writing these nuggets of ingeniousness!!!
Endrea - August 30th, 2013 at 3:10 AM
This comes at such a great time! I've been so tired lately of trying so hard... the spotless house that is NEVER attainable, endless laundry, budgeting, dieting, teenagers, volunteering, the spiritual walk !! This week I thought if I can't be the best (meeting everyone's expectations) at it... Maybe I can be the worst and anything from there is improvement and an accomplishment instead of feeling of constant failure! Thank you for reminding me that none of us are perfect... And that Sweet and Spicy is also a flavor and I am okay with being a Sweet and Sour family with a Spicy kick. It's all delicious and not wrong. My 8 year old son quoted back to me something that I have always said to him "I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying" which are famous words of Michael Jordan. I think I just need a vacation to revive and refresh :)
Jay - September 15th, 2013 at 9:42 PM
If you can't physically get away, find the Engedi in your mind. Engedi is a place in the Bible David used to hide from king Saul. It is a lush oasis in the desert. Find your mental place to escape. Hope this helps.
Michele - August 30th, 2013 at 5:56 AM
Love this post! excellent stuff... and most importantly, children all across america are now trying that awesome T-shirt terrorist look before school... good fun! ;-)
Ann Voskamp - August 30th, 2013 at 6:19 AM
JEN!
WAIT!
STOP. THE. PRESS.

Oh, girl. I am SO with YOU. We are definitely and undeniably a spicy family. Sure, the kids can break into "How Great Thou Art" at the ocean --- and then break into WWIII in the van just down the road because some goofy kid won't stop burping and snorting real loud in his sleeping sister's ear.

So yeah: A mother's labor and delivery never ends -- you never have to stop remembering to BREATHE.

And MAN. Toss WWAVD as far as you can throw it, because that'll lead you to hollering and teeth grinding and crazy rants -- and a whole lot of repentance. Deep breath :) I just keep coming back to the fact the kids don't need a Super Mom --- like they need a mom who needs a Super God. That's where this mess of a girl signs up -- just needing Jesus, a whole big spicy family of 8 wildly and desperately needing one very Sweet Savior.

Five Star, Standing OVATION post that this mama who struggles daily with failure really needed. Crazy grateful for knowing WJHMWD :)

Love you to to the moon and back and round a hog's hind leg, sister...
ann
Jen Hatmaker - August 30th, 2013 at 8:31 AM
YOU ARE MY FAVORITE IN THE WHOLE WORLD, ANN VOSKAMP!!! I love you, sister. And I don't care what you say: I'm hanging on to WWAVD. I want to be like you and you can't stop me. In the meantime, can't wait to get my hands on you in a couple of weeks. Sit by me. I want to hog you. XO for infinity.
Michelle - August 30th, 2013 at 9:21 AM
This is a fun exchange between the 2 of you. Makes me smile a lot!!! Love reading both your blogs even though they are very differently written! I think you both ROCK IT for Jesus! Thanks for sharing a bit of your lives and perspective with us. Love you both!!!
Tiffany - August 31st, 2013 at 12:25 PM
AMEN to both of you! I love both of your writings and what I love most is that they are "real!"

I have to keep reminding myself that God has used the hard things in my life to draw me closer to him. I pray the same is true for my children. I will never be perfect and I just pray that he will redeem those failures for His glory and so that they may know Him more intimately than they would if I was "Super Mom!"
Carolyn - August 30th, 2013 at 7:37 PM
This exchange makes me smile because I love Ann's writing and honesty and didn't quite know what to do with WWAVD...;) My SIL sent me over here today and I will continue to read you because my kiddos and I are very spicy and I battle those negative comparisons All.The.Time.
Emily - September 5th, 2013 at 2:54 PM
Oh my goodness, this makes me happy. You two ladies are the only two bloggers I read...and you're like the flip sides of the same coin. Sweet and Spicy - both writing about the same amazing God who we all love. You each encourage me so much.

And Sweet Ann, you can try and tell us that you're spicy... no one's buying it ;) xoxoxo
Amy K - August 30th, 2013 at 6:45 AM
I have always felt so sorry for the "in laws" in my family (my husband included). My family would be termed loud and crazy (or spicy). I have the sweetest sister in law who has been married to my brother for nearly 40 years. I truly don't know how she survived so long. And know all of my nieces and nephew are getting married. And the first time they brought their boyfriends/girlfriend to Christmas, we all, in unison, say the same thing...."I'm sorry!" (For all the cray cray!!!) Lol!!!!
Angel - August 30th, 2013 at 6:45 AM
Love it! We are a spicy family.
Polly - August 30th, 2013 at 7:27 AM
This was so good. Reminds me of the truth that I am my own worst critic and that I'm really doing fine. I just recently got married and inherited 3 step children that I take care of half the week. I come from a big loud homeschooling family where we all talked and yelled out our problems. We were also raised pretty strictly and girls heavily outnumbered boys. Suddenly everything is completely different and I feel as if everything I've ever known to be right about family has been turned upside down and that I always say the wrong things. I get so frustrated by the spiciness that is so different than my own! (My husband is so not spicy, and sometimes i have to just yell. Poor guy!) Almost like the ugly duckling who appears to be babysitting in her own home. It's been a heck of a ride. And my self condemnation, especially after I've been swearing under my breath hiding in the bathroom, is through the roof. I tried reading AV. I had to unsubscribe bc I felt so guilty! I also feel guilty bc i do care for these kids but many times dont feel very loving. One never imagines having to deal with insecure preteen boys and stubborn inarticulate 6 yr old princesses when they fall in love! What wAs i thinking? I wasnt. But now this is what it is. So how do i become the christlike stepmom? Just keep going and say to hell with the condemnation. :) My pastor asked me if ours was a happy home. And I have to say that mostly, regardless of ex drama and normal kid angst, it pretty much is. It's me that gets exhausted from shutting my mouth all the time. Anyway, that helps me keep some semblance of reality. But these thoughts and comments all helped. Might have to bookmark the page!
Wendy - August 30th, 2013 at 9:57 AM
Step-parenting is hard & step-parents are unsung heroes who very rarely get any of the credit. As a 13 year veteran there are still nights I go to bed, thankful only to have survived the day & there are days filled with sunshine. If you are feeling this way then you care deeply & you are doing way better than you think. Good luck Polly :0)
maggie - August 30th, 2013 at 7:52 AM
Oh my God. I don't even PRETEND my kids art is pretty. I recycle it when they're not looking. I might as well show them how to roll a fatty and liquify the college funds for rehab.
Tammy - August 30th, 2013 at 9:39 AM
Maggie, I laughed so hard when I read your comment. My sisters-in-law & I have talked about the 529 college-funding tax plan and the 539 therapy-funding tax plan. REALLY?? We all feel that way, but your comment just hit my funny bone so hard!
Kristi` - September 2nd, 2013 at 7:21 AM
Maggie, you ROCK. This was hilarious!!!
Miriam Williams - August 30th, 2013 at 8:02 AM
This is SO funny, transparent and wise...I love it! Thank you for sharing, you made my day!!! I think our family is somewhere in between, but I do doubt myself sooooo much and it is just silly. Love your heart.
Debi - August 30th, 2013 at 8:13 AM
Loved this Jen! You must be reading my spicy family of 8 mind and mail :) thanks for being authentic I gravitate towards people like u because your not perfect! Neither am I meet you at the feet of Jesus when we hit heaven!
Leslie - August 30th, 2013 at 8:18 AM
I can't even tell you how many times I've used the phrase, "It's like they've declared anarchy on us!" in the past few weeks. They're 5 and 2. I honestly didn't think it was possible to question my sanity as much I have recently, and to feel like we're doing everything wrong. Glad to know I'm not alone!
Carmen - August 30th, 2013 at 8:29 AM
from one Spicy Mama to another- Thank you! My soul needed this!!
Patricia - August 30th, 2013 at 8:30 AM
SO... all I wanna know is HOW TO DO THAT THING WITH THE TEES????? !!!!!!!
betsy - August 30th, 2013 at 8:46 AM
We are a sweet family (sappy sweet) and I'll tell you what goes on at our house...judgment and oversensitivity. My kids are SO stinkin judgmental of others who are "wild" and they are way too sensitive and get their feelings her ALL THE TIME. So...even though we are peaceful as can be on the outside, our hearts are raging idol factories of self control, intelligence and self image. Ugh! Why can't we just relax and be wild sometimes!
Megan - August 30th, 2013 at 8:54 AM
Love this! Thanks for your transparency and encouragement to all parents!!!
Cassie - August 30th, 2013 at 9:23 AM
Thank you for sharing this. We are a spicy family also. We are rough around the edges. I have two boys who keep us laughing with their daily wrestling matches in the living room. What is not so good is when we have those in the grocery store or in someone's house...and I get angry, embarrassed, and stressed... I feel like people are judging me and I begin to lose my cool. I begin to get aggravated with my precious boys but they are being boys, who are tough and rough, but who will one day probably protect me or there own precious family. They will grow up to be funny, outgoing, and godly men. Everyone can not be sweet and calm all the time...So thanks for saying that being spicy is ok. I love my precious family and this really helped me today! It's ok to be different and spicy:))
Daniella - August 30th, 2013 at 9:43 AM
This was amazing and spot on! Thank you.
I'm the SPICY mama, but single mama which means I have to try and balance the spicy and sweet...which can be exhausting!
People always compliment my kids and say how polite and well-behaved they are (inside my head I'm like, "what? really? you should see them at home!"). We are truly our own worst critics, but your words today will help me to step outside myself and really take stock of my words and action with my children and find the good rather than obsessing on the short-comings.

Katherine - August 30th, 2013 at 9:47 AM
I don't have any kids, but love animals. Is that the same kind of thing?
Dolphins don't really want to swim with us...do they? Keep smiling folks as this bunch of kids coming up are the cutest ever and I'm sure glad I don't have to compete with them...funny or not funny,,,,keep laughing and enjoying the good times as soon the kids will be teens ....and then what?
Tricia - August 30th, 2013 at 10:18 AM
Hi Jen,
One of my FB book friends linked to your post this morning, so I read your blog. It's fantastic! You're a wonderful writer! Our family is semi-spicy, loves Jesus too and also has one adopted kiddo and one not-adopted kiddo, so your blog has been especially affirming and fun for me to read. And you're hilarious!

As I was reading (and relating) to your post this morning, an idea struck me that has been churning around in my head lately about my role in my kids lives. You may or may not agree, but I hope it encourages you...

I've spent most of my kids lives thinking, as you wrote, "We are responsible for whole human lives here." While we definitely play a huge part, lately I've started to wonder if this idea is just another one of Satan's lies, and a reflection of our individualistic, self-centered culture. Maybe this giant burden is not from God but from us. I wonder if, when I'm thinking "I'm totally responsible for another human. The buck stops here. I'm all they've got." God is saying to me, "No way crazy lady. Actually I am responsible for whole human lives here. Not you. Yes, I'm even talking about your kids. Those kids who I love more than you do, seriously. Please step away from my throne (again)."

At least I really hope so, because if I'm all they've got, they're doomed, even on my best days. When I think about God being in control of my kids lives, I feel the tenseness start to ease out of my parent-worrying muscles. At least for 10-15 seconds until I forget again.

Now please excuse me while I go stop my crawling daughter from playing with a plastic bag.


Jo - October 5th, 2013 at 11:33 PM
I think you are right on w/your thinking. It is sooo like us to take that roll or burden on our shoulders, but it's not ours to carry. Don't we flippantly spout, "By the grace of God..." for everything under the sun, BUT NOT HOW OUR KIDS TURN OUT. We think we've got to do that all and still look happy and perky and sane!
Unfortunately, I have found out the hard way, that God is God and no matter what I have tried to pour into my children, they still have their freewill. God knows their hearts and their motives and HE WILL HAVE HIS WAY w/them... and sometimes, that takes us mommas on a crash course to our knees, sobbing! Sunday School, Church, AWANA, home schooling, etc.... they still can go astray. BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD, HE will not be mocked. Like you said, He loves them way more than we could even imagine! He is doing mighty things ALWAYS, we just need to go back under that umbrella of grace and not try and shoulder what is NOT ours to shoulder. He does a much better job, anyways!!
Kari - August 30th, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Haha!! Love this! I am definitely spicy. OOOOOOH so spicy. I am comforted knowing I'm not the only one. I have to say the one thing I love about being spicy is hearing all the hilarious come backs my kids have! Wow! I think a few of them made me laugh so hard in the midst of a conflict that it is the ONLY reason they stayed alive. It's wrong. I should be more grown up. hehe!
leslie - August 30th, 2013 at 10:39 AM
I'm not a Mom yet, but I know I will remember to return to these words when I am one. Honestly, I applied almost every piece of the truth you spoke to how I feel about who I am as a friend and especially as a Camp Director. I look back on the summer wondering if I was kind to anyone. i know this cannot be the truth. Thank you for these words:

"...condemnation is a trick of the enemy, not the language of the heavens. Shame is not the rhetoric of redemption, so if we are a slave to it, we have moved outside the protective covering of mercy. And it is harsh out there, debilitating actually. If your inner monologue is constantly critical, endlessly degrading, it may be time to move a few feet back under the umbrella of grace. For there the yoke is easy and the burden is light. Then we can breathe and assess our own parenting (or for me, working self) with the same kindness we extend to others."

I cannot tell you what a gift it is to be pointed back to the Truth and the Author of it given the season I find my heart in at this time. These words are salve to my wounds, given to me by my own condemning voice. Thank you for sharing your lives with others for the sake of bringing and sharing hope to many.
Jo - August 30th, 2013 at 11:43 AM
I'm sitting here with a cup of coffee and a sad, lonely house (the second twin just left for college this morning) reflecting on our family dynamics through the years. We are Chocolate Covered Jalapenos--with Sprinkles. From the time my kiddos were little, they learned the "rules" of life in this family. We kept our crazy wild fun to the confines of home - I'm talking jumping on the furniture, swinging from the rafters bedroom walls full of stickers full body paint crazy. When we emerged from the confines of home, we were still fun (I did say SPRINKLES did I not?), only with a lovely chocolate sheen to it. When they were little, the oft repeated saying was, "OK....WHERE WOULD YOU NOT NOT NOT DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW ????" and they would reply nearly in unison.....Grandma's House, School, Church, blah blah blah. Before we went into any store, we would "Get the Beggings Out". This meant we would sit in the car and bounce and yell at the top of our lungs (me too!) "I WANT THAT YOU NEVER LET ME HAVE ANYTHING PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE I'LL NEVER ASK FOR ANOTHER THING AS LONG AS I LIVE!" And with that out of the way we'd shop, and if one of them would slip into that mode, I'd act horrified and say "Oh my goodness! Is that a Begging in your mouth?! I thought we got those all out in the car! Quick--put it somewhere where it can't get out!" And I would offer my purse or my sleeve or a roll of paper towel for the now giggling child to speak into to "get rid of the Begging". Crisis averted. We have so many games/rituals/inside jokes with our kids (to this day, we can't go over a speed bump in a parking lot without everyone raising their hands to the ceiling and yelling , "whoo-hoo!!!" So Jalapeno families take heart and take note.......learn the Chocolate Dipping art of Divert, Distract, Replace. Most of the inappropriate wildest stuff comes out during times of boredom, wouldn't you agree? Making it safe to be wild SOMETIMES and then tempering it or diverting it with something just as fun or funny makes for a more satisfying ride for everyone. Practice good behavior...and bad in outrageous funny over the top ways (at home, of course)....do it with them - they want to know you have a looser side too! Trust that they will be great..and you are too - and start reminding them... Say "Thanks Mom, You're So Incredibly Great It's Incredible" aloud FOR them as often as possible and soon they will say it on their own!
Angelina - January 17th, 2014 at 12:19 AM
I just loved, and needed, this post so much! And your comment, Jo, brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my face! I have so many syrupy sweet families around me and struggle in the muck of comparison often. Jo, your advice is practical and fun, thank you! And I pay for your mama heart in this new, and quiet, season, that you will find unexpected and overwhelming joy in it. :)
Jana - August 30th, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Awesome piece - thank you!
Jeanie - August 30th, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Haha! I needed this! Just yesterday, I decided I had HAD IT with our family. I had decided that we were from that point onward, going to be courteous, dignified, kind, gentle. Spent most of the day and evening correcting my kids and explaining to them that there would be no more armpit farting contests, especially not in public, no talking about farts or poop, no purposefully exaggerating belches or farts for the fun of it, etc. etc. I was determined that if my four girls don't learn to act somewhat ladylike, they will end up continuing to be loud, gross, (spicy) and would attract beer-gutted, loud-belching, disrespectful boys/men...and nobody would want to be around us. They laughed as someone ripped a big one right in the middle of my attempted lessons on manners. Eventually, I think they all decided I was crazy, went downstairs to watch Dr. Who, and I went to bed. ROFL!
Jo - August 30th, 2013 at 1:22 PM
Jeanie - lectures never work...even you didn't want to listen to it, LOL Instead, perhaps try this:

Announce to your girls that next time they feel the need to do this in public, you will do the following: Then get up on a chair and clap your hands and say very loudly, "Attention everybody!! Let me show you the cool things my lovely dainty and accomplished daughters just taught me how to do!!"

And tell them that you will give the most phenomenal belching, farting, artificial fart under the arm street concert while introducing each act by loudly proclaiming, "I call this one The Lindsay--and here she is folks! A round of applause, please--you're in the presence of greatness!!"

Nothing quite takes the fun out of inappropriate public outbursts as the threat of Mom calling you out in the most embarrassing way possible. When you're out and about and things are getting out of control, all you'll need to do is say enthusiastically, "It's concert time!!! Where's a chair?" and they will be begging you for a chance to show you they can behave.

Of course it never hurts to teach the "pretty girl" techniques for such...... eruptions. You know, the genteel giggle with hand raised to mouth to conceal a dainty toot or small delicate burp? Best when demonstrated by Dads....it's a hoot!
Lee - August 30th, 2013 at 11:48 AM
At a couple of weeks from 81 years of age, and with the youngest of four fixin' to turn 40 this year, I find it interesting to note that the concern about one's job of parenting never goes completely away.
Jaymi - August 30th, 2013 at 12:48 PM
Hi Jen,
Last spring I took a parenting class with some dear friends from church. They are wonderful people but I came away questioning everything I do as a parent. I can't count the number of times I found myself thinking I was a failure (I know this is a lie!). I never thought I was failing before the class, just thought it was hard but trusted that God gave me exactly what I needed every day to be the mom of my 5 kids. Suddenly the way to discipline, how my kids should act around other adults, and how I should be teaching and training them took over and I felt overwhelmed and sunk into, "I'm doing it wrong, I'm failing my kids." Your post helped me recognize the lies I was believing. I am a good mom even though I have very spicy children! God will use it for His glory!

PS- I had another dream last night that I was hired as your nanny (not sure who was going to watch my own kids!) Don't be alarmed but you did have a baby and you rode a unicycle to work. (No sewing in this dream...that was last time =)
Andrea - August 30th, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Priceless - exactly how I was feeling today! I needed to read this :-) and I absolutely cracked up at WWAVD!!! Hysterical!
ashlea mirsky - August 30th, 2013 at 1:06 PM
Thanks for the reminder from one spicy mama to another!
Kay Allison - August 30th, 2013 at 1:24 PM
This made me laugh so hard at the similarities moms share, and that I often forget. Thanks for all of the reminders and the fabulous humor!
Jordan - August 30th, 2013 at 2:13 PM
Once my six year old said she didn't want to be in our family anymore because I made her clean her room, so I locked her outside and told her to find a new one. She came back in after a few minutes, of course. I realized the next day it was pregnancy hormones causing me to freak. But you know what? She hasn't said anything like that since!
Dana - August 30th, 2013 at 2:25 PM
Oh AMEN to all this!!! I have a husband and two sons ALL with ADHD-there is a lot of LOUD in my house, not angry yelling but LOUDNESS. And we are very sarcastic, which not everyone gets. the upside is no one gets their feelings hurt too badly-we are able to shake it off and laugh at ourselves. last night my husband tackled the 14 year old to the ground (can't recall why) and then they had a pillow fight in my living room. all of this LOUDLY. the storms pass quickly, though, and for this I am grateful. I have been a teacher for 12 years and I actually prefer kids with a little spice to the bland, milque-toast, afraid of their own shadow types. I tend to think spicy might serve them well as adults--won't get pushed around, good sense of humor, able to mix it up with all kinds of people and still maintain their sense of self. I could be wrong, but that's my thought. not to discount the quiet kind types--Miranda Lambert's new song--It take all kinds of kinds--that about says it!!!!!
dana
Ginger - August 30th, 2013 at 2:56 PM
I LOVE this post! I remember being mortified the day my husband told me that one of his co-workers said that whenever he called our house it sounded like Chuck E. Cheese's in the background! And then there was the time I bought our kids a 15 foot long Biblical timeline and spread it out across the floor, only to have one of my 3 sons say, "Hey! I see Leonardo DaVinci!" (sigh) And I have to admit - I am an Ann Voscamp fan, but whenever I see her beautiful, rustic kitchen table set with candles, I cringe. Branded in my mind is the image of one of my sons at a wedding trying to roast marshmallows from the fondue table over the small tea lights that were part of the display. Over the years, I have come to accept our "spiciness" and truly wouldn't trade it for anything!!
Arianne - August 30th, 2013 at 3:50 PM
Wow, as someone who came from a rather sweet family and married a spicy Italian guy whose family of brothers yells about EV.ER.Y.THING (not necessarily with bad feelings, they just yell a lot), this post helps a ton! We now have 3 boys and 1 girl (one is nicknamed "The Destructicon," and another, the 2 year old, we have dubbed, "The Shrieking Eel"), and we are totally following his lead more than mine, despite my flailing and panic. I love to tease him that his philosophy toward parenting summed up is, if there is a problem, yell at it, and if that doesn't work, yell louder. He takes a strange pride in that little joke and tells everyone we know that I say that.

I am forever comparing our family to my best friend's (with their insanely well-behaved and delightful children). Incidentally, her initials are also A.V., so lol to that. And my husband is fond of saying, "You know, she didn't *invent* mothering or anything! Stop comparing!"

And there's my family...
My Mom: "I loved to teach you kids things by making up sweet little songs and rhymes for everything!" (Me: "Oh really, Mom? I use a wooden spoon.")
My Dad: "When I'm upset about something your mother did, I don't bring it up, but just think about it for a bit. After a couple of days, I think, "Wow, I was wrong after all! I'm sure glad I didn't make a fuss about that!" (Me: "Wow...yeah, just, no." *sinks into despair*)

Lately I've been having this nagging feeling that maybe the only really pathological aspect of our rambunctious and super-loud family is the fact that I get so devastated by it, and maybe I should just CHILL THE FLIP OUT and go with the flow.

I know that this was sort of a more light-hearted post, but it was really a salve for me right now. This gave me a lot of food for thought, particularly this part: "One of my favorite truths from Scripture is that condemnation is a trick of the enemy, not the language of the heavens. Shame is not the rhetoric of redemption, so if we are a slave to it, we have moved outside the protective covering of mercy." Amen to that! I feel like maybe God's been trying to show me that marriage and parenting are a journey, and I need to stop trying to find The Magical Trick of Parenting and Marriage that Brings All Peace, and instead I should just realize that even the yelling and constant disciplining and exhausting bed times and all of that is helping to shape all of our characters to be more like Christ's. And it's also humbling me and making me see more my dependence on God, so that's all good. Anyway, thanks again, Jen!
Jessica - August 30th, 2013 at 4:16 PM
Oh. My. Goodness. I ask myself ALL. THE. TIME. WWAVD? Or even WWMDD? You know that one? What would Michelle Duggar do?! Those are my two "sweet families that we should be more like."
Thanks so much for calling me out on it!!

i'llprobablystilldoit...
Stacey - August 30th, 2013 at 5:29 PM
Loved this! My husband and I were talking this afternoon after reading your post trying to decide if we were Spicy or Sweet as a family. We (in complete denial) said that we were probably either Sweet with a healthy dose of Berbere Spice, or a Spicy family who could do a good job of acting Sweet when needed.

Not 15 min later I found a piece of paper on the floor written by one of my girls to the other:
"Lulu! Lulu!
She smells just like poo-poo.
Her hair looks like a rat's nest,
And she is a huge pest!
JK! The End"

Instead of getting upset, hysterical laughter ensued. Whatevs! Yup, we're SPICY!!
Angie - August 30th, 2013 at 6:36 PM
I was just telling my husband this morning that we need a chore chart and a behavior chart, or something. I'm telling my kids the SAME thing over and over and over....it's making me crazy. My 6 year old and 4 year old are constantly calling each other "poop fairy". My 6 year old occasionally mentions that she wishes she didn't have a sister.

Spicy?! Oh, yeah. We're spicy. I love this post. I may refer to it every morning until I quit comparing my wild children to other people's kids. Thank you.
Christie - August 30th, 2013 at 9:24 PM
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU from one overcritical of herself worried mom :)
Megan - August 30th, 2013 at 9:41 PM
I love the idea of stepping under the grace umbrella...my husband just laid down and said "I wish I didn't hate the kids right now.". We have 4 and we are ON VACATION with them, and how a 17- year old and 7-year-old can fight constantly I do not know. I was just thinking in despair of how I am going to get them to read nightly and practice violin once school starts, and why can't I get all our acts together, I needed this post...God is probably not too worried about the violin situation!
Debbie - August 30th, 2013 at 10:44 PM
When the phone rings, I always cringe if my husband answers. He usually answers, "Neighborhood Zoo!" But I'm sure that's what it sounds like in the background. Yep, we're spicy!
Tania - August 31st, 2013 at 1:56 AM
Wow! My husband just read this and asked me (tongue in cheek) "So when did you write this?" Thank you for bringing perspective, it came at the right time. This piece actually had me belly-laughing out loud at the truth it brought.
Teresa - August 31st, 2013 at 3:53 AM
You are my human hero. Can I keep you? We are a total 110% SPICY family.
Kara - August 31st, 2013 at 6:06 AM
Even Anne Voskamp agrees. From today's blog at http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/08/the-secret-that-shouldnt-be-a-secret-for-when-youve-messed-up-1000-things/

There are bad secrets and ugly secrets and I%u2019ve done things that only the angels and Him know how I%u2019m know angel %u2014 and you get to the day where your firstborn secret is ready to leave for the world and you want a do-over and you want a try-again %u2026 again.

You want to have not ranted about how the depths of his room could be the impenetrable hide-out for for the Al Qaeda and who would ever know what lurked behind his piles? And you want to have counted more gifts over his strewn disasters and grinning birthdays and lingered long around the lights of the Christmas tree and how it lit all their faces and you just want to unwrap your life again.
Lisa - August 31st, 2013 at 8:51 AM
Thanks! Needed that today! Totally LOL!
Leslie - August 31st, 2013 at 11:32 AM
Well said!
Temple - August 31st, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Moving back under the umbrella of Grace ....We are all spice!!
Shannon - August 31st, 2013 at 1:27 PM
"Sister? Would you like the last brownie? I want you to have it since you did all my chores for me as a surprise for my half birthday%u2026"......lost it there.
Sarah - August 31st, 2013 at 1:54 PM
Love this! While filling out my 2-year old's "get to know me" form at the beginning of this year, I had to answer the "special attention" question with "We have very big emotions and are working on how to best express these." Yep. Love those vibrant personalities and figuring out how to parent them!
Katherine - August 31st, 2013 at 6:16 PM
Aunts who don' have their own children can like this too.
Loved the lady who said her child was the only one flaying in the middle of the group of children at school one day. My mom and I attended a grandparent' day for her grandson when he was young and there he was, the only one sitting with his back to the grandparents. Children will be children and we should remember that. Some are curious-er than others, getting into everything they see. Who knows what great things they might invent one day if we just give them free rein. Kids imitate what they see and I have found that some bullies are just imitating bullying fathers who later were found to be abusive husbands to their wives. Teachers should be aware of this imitation thing and realize that kids do imitate. Parents should also note that they might be judged by their children's behavior, which is where the guilt comes in.
The golden mean fits in here somewhere. Being human means we will err at times. Be fair to oneself and know that only you can provide your own happiness. Don't look for others to give it to you. Enjoy the children, as soon they will push us into elderly adulthood...and we will yearn for our youth again...our own and theirs. Be kind, be gentle, be gracious, not mean...I have heard adults who have said they love to be mean...Sad...you don't have to be sweety sweet....kind, yes. We could all use more shared kindness. Bless all of you who have taken the time to respond to Jen's blog and raise your children as best you know how. .
politicaljules - August 31st, 2013 at 8:21 PM
I agree with the message, but I was concerned with one of the photos that come out when you post this on facebook. The one with the kids in the car, faces covered and someone in the back seat pointing imaginary guns? At first glance it looks very terroristic. Then when she talks about her kids killing someone someday, ew. Some things are funny, but somethings are uncomfortable. I dont think we should ever joke about killing. JMHO. My family is in no way perfect, and I wonder daily if my kids are going to turn out ok. But I cant worry too much or it will paralyze me.
John Q - August 31st, 2013 at 8:28 PM
Get a shovel, go in the backyard & dig your own grave. I'm so saving that one. More seriously - words to take to heart. Thank you.
heyruthie - August 31st, 2013 at 10:28 PM
I read this, and I knew *instantly* that we are a "spicy" family--as in, Habenero hot.

Within minutes after reading this, my 8 yr. old son arrived home from Wal-Mart with his new "protective cup" for baseball. (You know, the thing that covers his 'boy parts.') He immediately put it on, and....uh....tested it a few times.

With the Adventure Bible.

Why, yes--yes we are smokin' hot spicy.
Mesha - September 1st, 2013 at 7:19 AM
Love this. I took a test which determines which side of my brain I use more (left or right) and it turns out I'm one of those rare people who equally uses both sides. I constantly feel like I'm in a battle with my creative side and my practical side and I find this comes into my parenting style. So I'm going to claim that our family is sweet chilli (sweet, but with a kick of spicy).
Cortney - September 1st, 2013 at 4:25 PM
Best parenting article I'd read in awhile. Thanks Jen. Keep writin' sista! God has most definitely annointed you. And is there a funnier person on this whole-wide earth. ummmmm....NO!
Misty - September 1st, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Thank you so much for this. I come from a family of sweets, but I didn't recognize that "sweetness" until my "new life" began. Somehow I married a habanaro. (I didn't even know what a habanero was until we were back from the honeymoon.) 8 years later we have this crazy-wonderful family of full-fledged spice, and I've been thinking I'm doing something all wrong. So thank you. Thank you for encouraging me so.
Katie - September 2nd, 2013 at 11:33 AM
Big feelings about all things. I LOL'ed. My family definitely suffers from this.
Nikki - September 2nd, 2013 at 8:33 PM
So, I guess when one of my children whines and asks why the other got something he or she didn't, it's okay to say "because I love him/her more." That always puts a kibosh on the whining. Yes, spicy is the word. Thanks for the encouragement. ;)
Tracy - September 3rd, 2013 at 12:08 PM
As a single mom of 2 bipolar kids, I think you just saved my life today! :)
S - September 3rd, 2013 at 2:24 PM
Thank you for this post! I am exactly like you describe. I like we are fun, but often wish our boys knew how to turn on the sweet and manners charm. We are working on that...
Sharon - September 3rd, 2013 at 6:06 PM
Ii'm not sure where we fit in but because of your sense of humor I think you may get a chuckle out of this story. My oldest now 21 and a fightin' Texas Aggie..sorry...has been the one God has used to humble me time and time again. FOR INSTANCE....when he was in the 8th grade at our local christian school he had a teacher (great teacher but the mother of an infant girl and clearly had not been raised around boys) whom he drove crazy. She saw how smart he was but how desperately he tried not to be that "over achiever" at the christian school. He is that kid that you just can't put in a box. ANYWAY, one day I got yet another call from her and I do believe smoke was coming thru my cell phone. She said "Mrs. Teague, I watched your son back his bottom up to one of his classmates and FART....ON PURPOSE...He has farted before in class and I just spray the room thinking he can't help it (clearly, again she did not grow up around boys). WELL...I was sort of mortified but also her description really was kind of funny...I assured her he would be disciplined and we handed out appropriate punishment when he got home and begged him PLEASE...don't fart (we prefer toot) in class. Fast forward two days later, Saturday. My husband and I were running errands, he ran into walmart to pick up windshield wiper blades while I waited in the car. He returned and said "you will not believe what just happened. I was ALONE in the aisle so I passed some gas and just that second I hear a 'well, hello Mr. Teague'.....YEP....the teacher. MORTIFIED we both were but also laughing hysterically. We probably fit much more in the spicy category. My 18 year old got a small cross tattoo on her ankle this summer and my husbands mom probably won't speak to us until Christmas. I DESPERATELY want to come to Idea Camp, I live in N Texas and am the director at a Pregnancy Care Center....I believe our girls can be radically CHANGED as we share Christ with them...I need some new and exciting ideas. My husband is adopted (at age 9 with younger bio brother) and still has wounds we walk thru in our marriage..another day for your most recent post and life is crazy with four kids ages 7, adopted from China up to our 21 year old with two girls in between. YOU ARE AWESOME and make me laugh EVERY TIME I read a post, book or tweet...even the re-tweet about the 12th man during Saturday's game made me LOL.....but I love those Aggies!!!! Stay Spicy!!! It's so very refreshing!!!
Brianne - September 3rd, 2013 at 9:25 PM
God is showing me this RIGHT NOW in life. And, that negative ninny that lives inside my head is NOT form him. He is leading me. And in my imperfections, He is teaching me grace towards myself and my kids. And Lord KNOWS I need it! Thanks for this. Glad to know there are other Godly families out there that are spicy!
Esty - September 3rd, 2013 at 9:32 PM
a friend of mine frequently tells her 7 kids "we are a quiet people."
I like to scream at my husband while tugging too hard on his sleeve "WHY CAN'T WE BE A QUIET PEOPLE HUH HUH HUH"

Dr. Purvis says to give your kids the "gift of a joyful yes"...my kids tell me they get the "gift of a 'knock-yourself-out" or "do you need a knucke sandwich".

Viva la spice, baby.

Amie - September 4th, 2013 at 10:31 AM
"Condemnation is a trick of the enemy, not the language of the heavens...Move a few feet back under the umbrella of grace." Loved this as it speaks to parenting, but also to the walled off, deepest part of my heart. Each time I read a post, I am stirred, along with thoroughly amused! Please keep writing. Your voice is valued.
Chris Carter - September 4th, 2013 at 5:06 PM
This is so good. I may or may not have cried through the whole thing...we are not a quiet and sweet people either. Eight loud, complicated, intense, opinionated, amazing and fearfully made individuals living what we call the Glorious Chaos. Thank you for this!
Keri Mason - September 4th, 2013 at 8:29 PM
I spewed my drink out of my mouth laughing at WWAVD?! HI-Larious I tell ya. Love your blog and the belly laughs it brings!
Marie Balazik - September 8th, 2013 at 10:58 PM
This hits home!!!! So funny I am Italian and so relate, was at a wedding this weekend and my friend Kelly said u have to read this blog , it is you and your family! Can't tell you how many times my husband says , shhh take it down just a little, we are all one of a kind! LOL
Louisa - September 10th, 2013 at 7:11 AM
Great post! I couldn't agree more.
Sarah - September 10th, 2013 at 2:33 PM
Lady, you make me laugh so hard. Thank you!
Kirsten - September 11th, 2013 at 1:37 AM
Are we friends? I think we are. I don't know you, probably will never ever meet you- but you have completely given a voice to my thoughts. I have 4 children, 3 somewhat normal, albeit a bit twitchy older ones... and then the baby. Have you ever seen the Croods... yep, that's my 4th.... release the baby! God willing we'll be ok one day! Thank you for your honesty and your encouragement!

Melissa - September 13th, 2013 at 11:56 AM
I needed this. Have you heard about the new study that says yelling at your children can have the same effect as abusing your children? Three children, close in age, two of them boys, none of them easy going, needless to say, I have done a lot of yelling. I have been beside myself thinking that I have somehow damaged my spiciest child for life, beating myself up for not being more patient, soft spoken, understanding, etc...I could totally relate to the panic of getting it all wrong, when I so badly want to get it right, especially when it comes to my children. Thanks for giving me hope that maybe I'm not doing such a bad job.
Judi - September 13th, 2013 at 9:59 PM
I taught my sons how to make armpit noises when they were little. Does that make us a spicy family? I also convinced the 2 younger boys that I was really Tina Turner but had retired from singing. (I am White and much younger than Tina, but they were kids and easy to fool.) Every time her songs would come on the radio, I would make them be very quiet and listen to me sing...this ruse only worked for a few years, but we got a lot of mileage out of it. My kid was the one who pulled the fire alarm at school and had the fire trucks come. My daughter was the one who brought two chickens home for pets. One of my sons called me at work one day and asked, "Mom, how do you cook rattlesnake?" He and his friend had killed one and hated for it to go to waste. My daughter got in a fight - a FIGHT, mind you -with the preacher's kid over whether or not there is a Santa Claus. (She was on the "pro" side.) I have agonized over the sweet families, but we are who God made us to be. We love each other dearly. And so far, not one of my children have committed any felonies.
Dawn - September 14th, 2013 at 9:04 AM
Sarcasm is a spiritual gift right???????
We would be labeled "Caution: Extremely Spicy Family".
10 kids, loud genes, sarcasm in abundance, and lots of great times laughing and carrying on!!!!
I feel guilty sometimes too about not being the "sweet Mom", but I get over it. Especially when people tell me they wish they were in our family!!!! YEAH!!! They know where the fun is!!!!
Holly - September 16th, 2013 at 4:04 PM
I have never been a blog reader but you have changed that. Yep, I am a believer. How blessed am I to have stumbled upon such a gift. You had me in tears then laughing out loud, more tears, then some belly laughs. God gave me the opportunity to be a step mother to two beautiful children, ages 13 and 8. Never having children of my own, this momma-like business is earth shattering. We are spicy, and have been kicked up a notch now that we have made it to the teen years. I have so many moments where I think, 'God, what were you thinking by letting me near these children. I am crazy, I am emotional, and my sarcasm will ruin them.' I went from single in my twenties to turning thirty and becoming a stepmother of two all within 6 months. Phew! This post made me step outside myself and see the precious, the kind, the uplifting, and, most importantly, the Godly that passes between them and I. Thank you so much for sharing your words, your life, and your faith. I can't wait to read more.
Lou - September 17th, 2013 at 3:35 PM
I'm wondering what flavor sarcasm would be!? Lol! This reminds me of the time my oldest asked if he could go live with my brother's family, because "they are nice to each other". I might have said "go ahead". I can't remember. My favorite parenting guy says, "it's not the ruptures in relationships that are important, but how you repair them". Thanks Jen!
Cat Barlow - September 28th, 2013 at 11:02 AM
Oh thank you. This has liberated me from trying to achieve "sweetness" when it's obvious we are (well I am ) spicy! Hubby and I have have a one year old, we both work outside the home very strange hours and let's just say we are non traditional. Does it tell you anything about my homemaking skills when our small group(church) does a dessert thing and the only thing I'm allowed to bring are plastic spoons? I often compare myself to my best friend, who stays at home and has two perfect sweet angel girls. She is always infusing a cage free chicken with homemade basil something, taking them to bible study and their hair bows match their outfits (she actually introduced me to this blog, because it appears that everyone feels an equal level of suckiness in mommy world). Our family is anything but that! Good to know I don't stink as bad as I thought I did.Seriously, thank you!
susie - October 4th, 2013 at 8:04 AM
I was struggling a few months ago with some "big" issues with my 18-year-old daughter and crying and lamenting the fact that I had failed as a mother. I was doing all of this in the car with my 21-year-old daughter, saying, "I don't understand, I have raised her the right way. Why is she making these choices?" And on and on... My very wise 21-year-old simply said, "Mom, why are you freaking out? Do you realize that you are saying if she was making good choices it would be because you had done such a great job? You really can't take credit for the good either. It's only by God's work that any good happens." Boy, that shut me up and put things into perspective for me! We all need Gods grace and mercy to make it through life, and He is so good to grant it to us anew each day!

Love reading your blog! BTW, we are a mostly spicy family, which I love!
Ginger Daniel - October 10th, 2013 at 12:47 PM
Last night I was giving up and one blog can give me this much get up and go again. I taught on grace last week, and I cannot seem to live in it myself. Jen - seriously - thank you. Because I am so tired of feeling like I have to apologize for who my kids are or who I am as a Mom. Exhausting. Can we just break the china and throw out the Normal Rockwell photos?
Meredith Nystrom - October 10th, 2013 at 6:46 PM
Oh sweet Lord, I just NEEDED THIS. You are hilarious and i love this whole post. #spicyfolyfe I also just sang your praises on my blog. Don't go over there - I am obviously stalking you...
Lori McLennan - October 17th, 2013 at 1:46 AM
Phil, I and our kids ages 33, 31, 26 & 25 know all about loud! I love your gift of writing. Seriously, how delighted to have just read this. I had forgotten much of what you are sharing. Kinda like after you give birth. My husband would laugh listening to me talk about how easy giving birth was.
Wendy Hagen - February 16th, 2014 at 8:20 PM
I have come back to this blog post (in my head and now in real life) so many times as my kids spice it up. Thank you! And now as I am preparing to speak at church services on mother's day on "Lies Moms Believe" I will be quoting you (if that is not okay, please drop kick me or mail me your bodyguard) when I talk about comparison. This parenting thing is NO JOKE.
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