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.

20141009-213413.jpg

20141009-213423.jpg

20141009-213433.jpg

Random Musings

I am a man.

Raising children is complex and challenging. While it is rewarding, it takes everything you’ve got. All day. Every day. And this crazy, mixed up world doesn’t make it any easier.

My kids, like all kids, ask questions. a lot of questions. When I became a mother, I made a commitment to myself to answer those questions as honestly as possible in the most age appropriate way. How else would they learn about life and the world around them?
Well, my kids are a bit older now and the questions span the spectrum.

Yesterday, my daughter ran in front of me to open a door for me. Usually my little guy does it, but this time she was faster. It was just me with the kids, stroller, diaper bag, etc. Suddenly, not one, not two, not even three but four adult men proceeded to walk between me, my kiddos, and the LITTLE GIRL holding the door and go right inside without as much as a thank you or excuse me. There was very little room, so it required effort for them to make the squeeze. I was very upset needless to say. But I said nothing. I thanked my daughter for holding the door and said let’s go. Then came the question.

“Mommy? Why did those men think it’s ok to do that?”

I couldn’t tell him that. Not now. Not at four. Why make our history his burden? Or was it already?

I got low so that I could look him in his eyes. I said “I wish I could answer that for you. I wish I could offer you a reasonable explanation but there may not be one. What I can tell you is this: One day you. will. be. a. good. man. One that is worthy of respect. One that honors the women in his life and those around him. A man that is worthy of respect because he shows that other people have value and restores dignity to those he encounters just like Jesus did.
One day son, you will be a good man.” I assumed that most of my soliloquy slash rant went over his head. And was somewhat satisfied that at least it served cathartic purposes for me.

Then something happened that changed me and changed the way I see him.
He looked back at me and said “Yes ma’am, I already am.” and drank his juice box.

It reminded me of a photo we took on Mother Son date night at a museum. It read “I am a man.” That statement is so meaningful, and powerful. It is as relevant today as it was then. Yes it refers to the struggle for equality for both Native and African Americans, but today for me, it refers to the kind of man America needs to see more of. One who defies the pressure of culture instead of going with the flow. The kind of man who will be a leader in his home, his workplace and his community. The kind of man who lives his life knowing that what he represents is far greater than any one individual and that if the world is going to be a better place, it has to begin with him.

20140608-095152.jpg

A Day in the Life

Bye Bye Baby

20140513-163054.jpg

20140513-163242.jpg

20140513-163226.jpg

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.

20140513-163110.jpg

20140513-163138.jpg

20140513-163208.jpg

A Day in the Life

10 Reasons Why I Love Being a Mom of Girls

20140511-151703.jpg

20140511-023643.jpg

20140511-023606.jpg

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.

20140511-024203.jpg

 

20140511-024928.jpg

A Day in the Life

10 Reasons Why I Love Being a Mom of Boys

20140511-005443.jpg

20140511-005301.jpg

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.

20140511-005350.jpg

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.

20140511-152103.jpg

Random Musings

Happy Mother’s Day…to me

20140511-031033.jpg

20140511-031832.jpg

I mentioned the other day that for this Mother’s Day I would be giving myself the Best. Gift. Ever. and it’s true.

I ran down the list of all the things a woman might enjoy…chocolate, pearls, diamonds, a spa day, etc. Yes, I might enjoy all of those things, but nothing more than this: permission to do absolutely nothing and enjoy it. It’s a gift that only I can give myself. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Today I cancelled plans, and I did not plan. We took an impromptu trip to the beach and didn’t even prepare ahead of time. I didn’t pack towels, or lunch. That is work, and I was going to do nothing…and enjoy it.

Enjoying it implies that there is the absence of guilt. I didn’t beat myself up for not packing swimsuits or freak out that the weather may have been a little to cool for a perfect day at the beach. Except, it was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

It was also perfect, because although my mom is far, far away, today I felt close to her.

The one thing I know that she would want to do is go to the beach on Mother’s Day. So I did with my kids what I wished I could do with her. As my toes became engrossed in its sandy composition the shore of a beach thousands of miles away brought me close to my mom on Mother’s Day.

There were many gifts those therapeutic waves washed ashore, among them was also stress relief. The sun kissed my skin, the wind blew my hair, and my heart filled with joy watching the kiddos play, and simultaneously my heart emptied of cares.

Everyday is a gift from God, but this one was special. It was also a gift from me to me.

Happy Mother’s Day!

20140511-031710.jpg

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

Random Musings

32 Experiences Every Child Should Have

1. Camping-Not only does it help a psychologically and emotionally to spend time with nature, it teaches them to appreciate modern conveniences, and affords them a chance to unplug from media and electronic devices.

2. Kite Flying-Kite flying seems simple, but it expands their understanding of what is possible and it’s relaxing as well.

3. Playing in the mud-Playing in the mud is little kid therapy. Try not to discourage messy play. It nurtures creativity and helps development.

4. Having a pet-Learning to care for a pet teaches biology up close, and instills a sense of responsibility and can teach compassion. Also, when the pet dies, it is an opportunity to teach a child how to grieve properly.

5. Journaling- Journalling is great for kids because it creates a venue for the child to express themselves, record creative ideas and good memories to reflect back on. Also helps penmanship.

6. Never going to bed hungry-Food insecurity is a major cause of stress for children and can affect brain development.

7. Being looked in the eyes and told “I love you by someone who means it” every day.

9. Being read to and with every day-I might also add, creating a space just for them to read. Even if this is just a bin of books next to a beanbag chair. I know our lives are busy, but this simple activity strengthens relationships, develops of love for learning and helps a child’s ability to communicate and master language.

10. Traveling outside of the city/state/country they live in- This is important to help a child develop a balanced worldview and develop an understanding of other cultures and people groups.

11. Helping prepare a meal with loved ones- This helps teach responsibility, teamwork and life skills to be used later in life. It’s also a great opportunity for bonding.

12. Attending a funeral- This helps a child develop compassion, and learn how to grieve properly in a safe setting.

13. Attending a wedding/graduation/etc- This helps teach a child to celebrate the accomplishments of others.

14. Attending a live sporting event-This is just fun. It’s a good time bond and learn about the game first hand.

15. Attending a church service-This is important for a child to live a life anchored by faith and fed by fellowship with other children of faith.

16. Visiting a farm- This is also kid therapy, but more than that it helps children understand the human element behind the food in grocery stores.

17. Looking through a telescope into outer space- This is so important because it inspires children to know that there is so much more to the universe than what is contained within the walls of our homes and schools.

18. Building a fort out of anything- it’s just plain fun! It also encourages problem solving, creativity and much more.

19. A real life talk about stranger danger- The life saving information can protect their children (and teens) in a number of dangerous situations. There are definitely more today than ever. Whatever age they are have the talk with your child.

20. Permission to be who God made them to be-Try not to make them who you want them to be. Instead, help them discover who God made them to be and nurture that. Your love and support indirectly gives them permission to flourish.

21. Have something personalized by their parents in their bedroom. Not all licensed decor.- Your child is unique and at least one item in their room should reflect that you identify and celebrate their uniqueness.

22. Opportunities to enjoy age appropriate media regarding their specific interests- Children shouldn’t be burdened by adult issues in their down time. They should be able to enjoy magazines, books, websites, movies, music, etc on topics that interest them but doesn’t violate the level of innocence appropriate for their age.

23. People they love telling them no- While it’s awesome to always hear yes, sometimes we need to hear no. And sometimes that communicates love more than hearing yes.

24. Firm clearly established boundaries-Contrary to popular belief…children (yes, even teens) long for boundaries. They need boundaries. It creates a sense of safety, and helps them develop to their full potential. They will even respect you for it.

25. Having people in their life that think they are awesome just the way they are, but encourage them to reach higher.- It is obvious to a child when people don’t expect much from them. They rise or fall to meet the expectations of their parents. They need to feel accepted, loved and yes…challenged to be better.

26. Giving to the poor- Unfortunately so much of our culture feeds and reinforces selfishness. Giving to those less fortunate than ourselves, helps combat that.

27. Writing a thank you note-Also on the list of missing virtues of this generation is gratitude. This simple act can help cultivate that.

28. Holding the door for someone-This teaches a child to be considerate of others, teaches boys chivalry and is polite.

29. Giving up their seat for someone elderly or pregnant-Same as above

30. Learning to ride a bike-Just plain fun! It is great exercise, and also develops balance and coordination. Besides, it offers them a different form of transportation when they are older.

31. Learn to swim-Fun, exercise, relaxing…life saving!

32. Days when there is no schedule- Schedules are awesome. Routine helps children thrive, but sometimes our schedules are too aggressive and stressful to the kids. Relax! Let them relax too…once in a while.

20140416-141638.jpg

20140416-141945.jpg

20140416-142128.jpg

20140416-142815.jpg

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*

20140327-141111.jpg