A Day in the Life

Put Him Down.

Put him down. I’m told this on a regular basis. In fact, I’ve been told this on a regular basis since my first baby was born. Yet I didn’t. Put her down. Ever. Then with baby #2 I was cautioned again. Put her down. I couldn’t. I would miss something for sure.

I was wracked with guilt and plagued with fear about something terrible happening to me…to us, because I held my babies too much. I wasn’t sure if we would implode, explode or spontaneously combust, but I couldn’t stop. I was addicted. And they were too.

Then I noticed something strange. All of those well meaning voices cautioning, urging me to put her down, would allow a moment or two to elapse, then they would pick her up.

Baby #3. Put him down. He’s too big. He needs to crawl, walk, whatever. Put him down.

Then they would pick him up. I won’t say it was intentional, I can’t. Yet I would say its cultural.
And now I know.

I hold them. Each of them still. Maybe only for a moment here and there. If they are hurt, disappointed, sleepy, happy, nearby, accomplished. You name it, I will drop what I am doing and hold them. Now completely guilt free. They are well adjusted, socially balanced, independent, creative, confident, intelligent, silly, loving, occasionally cranky, stubborn, intense and periodically engage in meltdowns of epic and sometimes comical proportions. They are…wait for it…normal kids.
Catastrophe averted.

And I still hold them. I don’t carry them all…no way. Besides, I plank to strengthen my core, and I pray that God have mercy on my back. But I figure if we are going to do life together, the six of us, we might as well do it in close proximity to each other, while we still can.

As I type this I sit, holding my.last.baby.ever. And he is sound asleep.

I have grown completely accustomed to the pressure applied from the weight of his head against my chest. Him inhaling while I exhale and exhaling while I inhale. The soft melodic sound of breath passing through his tiny nose and the sucking sounds he still makes although he doesn’t breast feed anymore. I have grown accustomed to his scent and tiny body radiating so much heat that the both of us don’t need a blanket and our skin gets a little bit tacky from the sweat. I used to sit and try to figure out ways to get him off me and lay him down without waking him. But not anymore. I feel as though I’m on borrowed time. As long as he wants me to rock him to sleep, I will suck it up and do it…sans complaints.
I will breath deeply and memorize the sound of his breathing. I will dream of what kind of man he’ll become. I’ll think of how much more pressure the weight of his head against my chest now applies, and how it may be suppressing my lung capacity ever so slightly making my breathing a tad more shallow. I’ll think about everything. Everything, that is, except putting him down.

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A Day in the Life

I Just Love You…

Today by some unexplainably wonderful turn of events, my two year old began calling me ‘Mama Bear’ which sounds more like mama beew. And my four year old will be turning five soon, and has been flexing his proverbial muscles trying to show us who’s boss. My six year old freshly turned seven is budding socially and affirming her position in the family as the resident “sweetheart”. Then there’s my nine year old, who I will be holding for the last time tonight. Tomorrow, she will be ten. If I am being honest, and I am. I feel a sense of grief. Don’t get me wrong, I’m blessed, I’ve got a good life, but what I don’t have anymore is a nine year old. I blinked, quite by accident, and she’s gone. Six year old, seven year old, eight year old M. Gone. Nine year old M…gone. And what I have here before me is a lanky, articulate, intense 10 year old, who just wants to sit on my lap tonight.
If I have learned anything it’s this. Life is short. As the Bible reads “All men are like grass. All their glory like the fields, the grass withers and the flowers fall.”
I may not have those sweet fat legged babies anymore, but I have now. Right now. I have another moment, another glimpse, another fit of laughter, another walk in the sunset.
Because I have now, I must make the most of it. I must breath deeply and take it all in. That means there are days that I do not turn on a single screen. Hours of my day when social media is a distant memory. Moments however intense, I grab a member of my tribe and say “I just love you.” Sometimes I do it at the height of the intensity, the meltdown, the whining, etc. After all, if I only show love when they are behaving perfectly, and not when they are not. It sends the wrong message, that my love and perhaps even God’s love is conditional. And it is not.
His love never fails.

A Day in the Life

Simple not Super

If anyone could sneak a peak and see my home, as it is, at the moment, no one would accuse me of being Supermom. I’ve got the dishwasher whirring, and dishes in the sink. The washer and drying whooshing, and a big heap of clothes on the couch. Random toys strewn about littering a carpet that I may or may not have forgotten the color of. Cleaning yet never achieving clean. And somehow I feel so accomplished.
My kids didn’t spell ever word right, find the value of x, discover a cure for cancer.
Today there were meltdowns, screams, shrieks, squawks, soliloquies marked by intensity, and that’s not even the two year old. There were ominous battles that ensued over territories, and kingdoms. There were even lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Not actually bears, but there were caymans, giant owls, two snakes, a prairie dog and a fox. Oh…three snakes. I almost forgot about the black headed python.
And somehow by the grace of God, I had peace. All. Day. Long.
They made up games, they rode their bikes in circles, they colored without lines, they asked questions and discovered answers. The second most important thing I could give my kids is the freedom to be kids. Just kids.

You see, my goal in life isn’t super. Though it seems like it might be cool. My goal is simple, not super. To live a life of simplicity marked by simple trust in God. Like a little child.

He loves me. I love Him.

Simple.

Not trying to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Although it would be nice to have a completely-all-at-the-same-time clean house. It would also be nice to do all of the projects I see on Pintrest, talk on the phone all day, hang out with friends, and finish my schoolwork (I am completing a degree), and be a good wife, and homeschool and…and…and. But it isn’t worth the cost of my peace. So I prioritize.

It’s not a perfect system running smoothly like a finely tuned engine. It’s more like a boat making its way down the river.

So here I sit. Writing. Rocking. Drinking in the quiet moments with my rapidly growing two year old. Listening to him breathe, feeling his still baby soft skin and yes, smelling him. And knowing full well that this moment will not last forever. And choosing to let the laundry wait. Because he will not.

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A Day in the Life

Bye Bye Baby

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It’s official. And unofficial. My childbearing years are over. I may still be childbearing age, but my childbearing years are gone forever. And this time next year…I will be fresh out of babies.
I will have a three year old preschooler, a kindergartner, a second grader and a fifth grader. Yikes!
The truth is, I am very blessed. God has not held back His goodness from my life.
But tiny feet are becoming less tiny. Baby talk is becoming big boy words. And unbridled independence is rearing its ugly head.
You see, I have a conundrum of sorts. For the last decade I have been pregnant, having babies, or chasing babies. I’ve been nursing, rocking, patting, cuddling, swaddling, changing, bathing, soothing…babies for nearly a decade.
While I realize that new exciting adventures loom on the horizon, part of me…a big part of me, will miss those babies. I will miss those poopy, crying, melting down babies with snot running down their nose tantrums, fever in the middle of the night, vomit down the back of my neck, pee on me, little babies. But as I pen this cathartic post, I realize, that I will miss them because it defined who I was. I will also miss them because they were sweet, snuggly, and adorable. I will also miss having babies because I loved it. I drank it in, I soaked it up! It was hard, it was fulfilling, and it was incredible!!
It was what I was created to do. I know that I have purpose beyond that, but they are a huge part of my purpose.
But now I must raise my proverbial glass to sky, and propose a toast to babies. My sweet, fat legged babies, Momma will miss you. But you will still be enjoyed, celebrated, loved and taught. We have many more years by the grace of God, and together, your father and I will prepare you to fulfill your purpose. We will seek out adventures to share with you, distant lands to see. And I will never cease to pray for you. That always be found in the will of God. That your lives be marked with the love of God. And that it will be said of you as it was of Enoch, that you walked with God all of your days.
I look forward to meeting the children and people that you will become. And I will sit down with you and tell you all about four of the most beautiful, cuddly, amazing babies I’ve ever known.

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A Day in the Life

10 Reasons Why I Love Being a Mom of Girls

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1. Do the words ‘mini me’ mean anything to you? I realize it’s a bit maniacal and self absorbed but I love having tiny versions of myself. And I don’t apologize for it. They reflect the good in me, yes, but also the things that I must change. Often I don’t realize it’s in me until I see it in them. I love that I learn so much from them. I also love the camaraderie of having little people who share similar interests to you.

2. Because “Pink is my signature color.” That quote of course, is from Shelby (played by Julia Roberts) in Steel Magnolias. Yet it rings true for all the ladies in our house. My girls subscribe to the philosophy that pink goes with absolutely everything! I love the softness and inherent nurturing, gentleness of girls. Polka dots, doing hair, mini cupcakes, fashion and mani-pedis! Need I say more?!

3. They are imaginative. Obviously boys can be also, but I love that my girls are so creative and use their imaginations in everything!

4. I love their intensity. There are few words to describe when emotions are running high in our home. It’s not always bad. My girls are passionate and when they discover something that they are passionate about…it can get pretty intense. I love it!

5. They are helpful. My sons are helpful also, but my girls flow in a beautifully rhythmic way. They anticipate the needs of those around them and then jump in to meet them.

6. They are thoughtful. They are always using their allowance or lemonade stand stand money to buy gifts for others or give to someone who needs it. They plan surprises for the people in their lives even pesky little brothers!

7. They are delicate but not fragile. They may be soft and feminine, but not by any means easily broken. They don’t scare easily, they don’t often get grossed out and they seldom fall to pieces. They stay steady during transition.

8. Never a dull moment. They know how to have fun. While I disagree with Cindy Lauper that “girls just wanna have fun” I do agree that they know how to have fun. They can be downright silly! After we say goodnight, my husband and I hear at least another 15 minutes of whispers and giggles. And I love it! I hope my girls always whisper and giggle with each other.

9. They are strong and powerful. In the same way that a boys gentleness provides a contrast to his strength, a girl’s strength provides a contrast to her gentleness. Yet neither gender is bereft of either. I love that my daughters are sweet and gentle, yet strong and powerful.

10. They see the hero in their dad. And they see the tiny heroes in their brothers. They don’t play the damsel in distress, but they do want to be rescued, and they allow their father (and brothers) to do it. They let men be men and don’t mind it a bit. Although they are strong and capable they follow the ebbs and flows of sharing life with three men in the house. (Most of the time)

Bonus Reason:
I love their versatility. My little ladies like to camp and collect worms yet dress up like princesses and paint each others nails. Some may call it contradictions or complexities, but girls realize that we don’t have to choose. We can have and do it all. And to have less than the best of both worlds is boring and unsatisfactory.

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A Day in the Life

10 Reasons Why I Love Being a Mom of Boys

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1. When I look at them, I don’t just see the son I have, I see the man they will one day be. I see someone’s husband, father, or leader. I see forerunners of the next generation who will be influential in their areas where God has called them to. I see the societal impact that they will one day have.

2. They tend to be more physical. I hug my sons and daughters. But when my sons hug me, it’s like a cross between a sleeper hold and a head lock. And sometimes I think they want to snuggle but they really want to wrestle, and be tossed into the air and roll around on the ground.

3. They use fewer words. And more sound effects. My oldest son is still young, but loves to talk to me. And I love to listen. He tells me stories, he describes his day to me, he shares his grand plans for the future. He tells me the good, the gross and the super cool. But then there are times that we don’t have to say a word. Sometimes we just sit, or sometimes we just run….jump…climb. And other times we just growl, roar, zap, ping, fling, kazow and so on. We use words when we want to and don’t when we don’t.

4. They often appreciate the grosser things in life. If it gurgles, belches, or in other ways release gas, it will usually evoke laughter. They appreciate slime and goop and puddles and any combination of the aforementioned. Which is not to say that some girls don’t (we do) but without the appreciation of pink, frilly, flowery things, a boys appreciation for its opposite provides more of a contrast.

5. I love their brut strength. Muscle, brawn, whatever you care to call it, it gets the job done. My boys observe nature outdoors, but when nature comes indoors-they kill it with their bare hands. Usually it’s just ants or spiders, but they take care of it. They race to open doors for us ladies, they love lifting “heavy” things, moving furniture, and fixing things.

6. I love their lack of complexity. I would hardly call men simple, and I do not agree with the way that most men are portrayed as Neanderthals in the media. Yet, compared to a woman, there is a certain ease. There’s an uncomplicated approach to doing most things and a system of needs that is not a tangled, jumbled matrix of emotions. If my boys need something, I know that I can usually use one of a few plays in my mother-of-boys play book and they are good.

7. I love their hero complex. They want to come to the rescue all day every day. From fixing things to defending the “weak”. Usually it’s their sisters, me or a nearby baby. My sons want to protect everything. A robin built a nest outside of our bedroom window, my son became defender of the nest. I don’t know if this diminishes with age or not, but I hope my sons keep in touch with their inner hero forever.

8. It means a little more when they’re gentle. The fact that my boys are “all boy” or “rough and tumble” boys makes it exponentially sweeter when they control their strength and display gentle affection.

9. They are fun, and they are hilarious. Or as my oldest son would say-fuhlarious. That’s a cross between fun and hilarious. They have a way of bringing fun and levity into nearly any situation…even situations I’d rather not have it in. I need the balance having boys brings.

10. I love the glimpses of their dad that I see in them. This is not to say that I am thrilled to see them leave tiny underwear on the floor of their bathroom, but I love the nuances of his personality that I see in them. I love to see my husband’s smile on my son’s face. Or look at his feet and see a tiny version of his father’s feet. I love to see his dad’s patience and contentment in him, and sense of adventure in our other son. Seeing my husband as a father adds a priceless dimension to our relationship.

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Bonus Reason: They are surprising! Just when you think you want to put a boy in a box…don’t! My boys never cease to wow me. They thoughtfully surprise me with flowers, cards, books, snacks and unexpected hugs and kisses. I have learned to speak their language and they have surprised me by learning mine.

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A Day in the Life

The Night Shift

Apparently I am working the night shift tonight. Or should I say this morning.
Not in my old rocking chair this time. I am nestled between my sweet husband and our two year old who is running a fever, and woke up to vomit on me, hug me and drift back off to sleep.
My husband woke once or twice during my hazmat containment phase to mutter “I love you.” And something else I couldn’t quite make out.
I am exhausted and now thinking about what my day might be like tomorrow in lieu of baby’s symptoms and my sleep deprivation.
But what comforts me is this: the Healer is here tonight and He doesn’t sleep or slumber. He works not only the night shift, but the life shift. He’s got me. He’s got my son.
And my dear husband may never know the impact of those three little words uttered between snores. But I will cherish them tonight, on the night watch, and years to come when our kiddos are gone and its just he and I again. I will remember how even in his sleep I am on his mind. A love like that is just the fuel I need to keep on going, to keep on working the night watch and handling hazmat containment.
And as for my precious son, I’m prepared to stand my ground and fight this virus with everything I’ve got.

Not on my watch virus, not on my watch.

” And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14 NKJV

A Day in the Life

I Love What I Do…Most Days

I love what I do and I do what I love.
It’s a rare privilege to be able to utter those words and even more rare to mean it.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days that are filled with excruciating inadequacy, and aching inability to produce the desired results. Yet there is something absolutely thrilling about the challenge.
So what do I do on those those days I’m exasperated and overwhelmed? I simply surrender, I give up.
I don’t mean quit or throw in the towel…I mean that I lay aside my type A-ness, my agenda, my modus operendum, and I embrace His. I embrace theirs.
God explains to us in a very loving way that His thoughts are higher than thoughts and His ways higher than our ways. He also urges us as a loving Father to trust in Him with all our heart and not to lean on or rely on our understanding. Instead we are to acknowledge Him in all our ways and He will direct our paths. The truth is…sometimes I am wise in my own eyes, I try to do it my way. That’s when I get overwhelmed and exasperated. Motherhood is tough stuff, The last thing we need to do is go it alone. We must go and surrender in prayer.
Not only do I embrace His way, I embrace theirs. I tear up the schedule (so to speak) and I build a fort under the dining room table. Or I may kick off my shoes and spend the afternoon in the backyard doing.whatever.they.want.to.do. I may even read the same book aloud eight consecutive times making the same sound effects each time.
Truth is, sometimes I can be like the The Very Busy Spider in Eric Carle’s book. We can entirely miss out on the Father’s call to worship, our husband’s call to simply be, and our children’s call to not do.
Slow down, Mama, slow down.
It’s a gift from God to do what we do and to love it. Don’t let your type A-ness get in the way of intimacy with those you love or in the way of enjoying what you do. Your effectiveness depends on it.

A Song for Parents

A Book for Parents

A Day in the Life

Yes, It’s 3 am

I believe that I now know why God made two year olds so cute. And yes…it’s 3 am.

Tonight everyone decided that no one was going down without a fight. Really it wasn’t just tonight, it’s been three.long.nights in a row. Much to everyone’s dismay, tonight happened to be “Momma ain’t playin night.” Momma is not getting a hundred cups of water for well hydrated kids, or rescuing bears, taming lions or feeding already full kids. I am not reading the entire Library of Congress. No, tonight, Momma ain’t playin.

* Enter two year old stage left*

He abides by his own set of rules. He is both lawmaker and judge. And little did I know, it was actually “Baby is playing night. All.night.long.

Book after book, seemingly endless game of peek-a-boo after seemingly endless game of peek-a-boo. Ongoing pleas for wah-wah, false alarms for the potty, def con 5 level meltdowns.

Maya Angelou might know why the caged bird sings…but I know why God made two year olds cute.

They sing, they dance, they say cute things. They even closely resemble the baby you fell in love with. Then one day, somewhere around their second birthday, they lure you into their vortex of tyranny. It’s exhausting, it’s humiliating, and it’s downright weakening some days. But at the end of the day when they collapse in surrender, you catch a glimpse of that baby who stole your heart and once again you decide that this whole parenting thing is rewarding after all and they won’t be this small forever. *sigh*

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