motherhood

“Motherhood is a process. Learn to love the process.”

– Debra Rosenberg

on leaping off the boat…

Posted by on Jul 17, 2012 in motherhood | 0 comments

The kids splashed and giggled in the warm lake water, awkwardly swimming in their bright orange life jackets while I stood on the edge of the boat. I hesitated for just a moment, but then leaped awkwardly off the edge, plunging under the surface before popping up and wiping the water out of my eyes.

“I can’t believe you jumped in!”, Ben said to me as he swam over with Fiona tucked in his arm.

“Really?”, I replied, a little confused to why he would think it was so strange, but then Fiona wanted to come over to my arms, and our conversation ended abruptly, as usual.

As I sorted through what he said, I kept circling back to the time I have spent as a mom. Eight years. Over half of that time, I spent either pregnant or nursing (with a few blissful months in-between), and spent the last two years with a very clingy toddler. That means that doing anything “adventurous” was severely limited, both physically and emotionally. No hot tubs when I was pregnant…nothing that lasted longer than a half an hour when I had an infant or a toddler for that matter…

And honestly, after a while, it just was easier to tell Ben to take the kids on the water slides or on a boat ride or canoeing or swimming or whatever. As soon as I would get my suit on or try to head out to do something “fun”, I would have to take a kid to the bathroom or find a snack or nurse a baby. What was the point?

But this summer, things are different. All three of the kids are relatively independent, I am not on call 24/7 as a feeding machine, and get this…they can sometimes even get their own snacks. And I am finding myself re-learning how to live a little bit, and I do mean “learning”. Saying “no” quickly becomes a habit, and I still turn down things that could be “fun” because the kids might need me, even though they don’t, and they shouldn’t…at least not every second. (They are learning that too.)

So I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that Ben expects me to just say “no” too, because I have done it for so long. And I suppose that it would be a little surprising if I suddenly started doing things that seem out of character. I would have never jumped off a pontoon boat into a lake to go swimming, even last summer. But I did, just this last weekend, and got the frizzy, lake tangled hair to prove it.

“Motherhood” often is synonymous with the word “sacrifice”, and I wholeheartedly agree. I would give up whatever I needed to for my kids. But what it doesn’t mean is “unnecessary sacrifice”, and I am beginning to understand what the difference means. Giving up my time to listen, play, and cuddle? Absolutely. Denying myself a bit of evening swimming just in case they need me to be dry on the boat? Probably not.

I swam around for a while, chasing Parker and searching for “warm spots” while Ben got out with Madi and Fiona. A little while later, Fiona had to go to the bathroom…in the middle of the lake…and wouldn’t just go in the water.

But that’s another story for another day…one that required a bit more sacrifice, and a bruised knee to boot…

 

on pulling teeth…like a dad…

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in memories, motherhood | 0 comments

See that wiggly tooth? The one that is sticking out all perjankety and sideways? It was about two weeks overdue to come out when Ben left to go camping for the weekend. I told Madi that we could work on pulling it out while he was gone, but I was only kidding myself. I am not the tooth puller in our family….Ben is.

His approach is ultra direct…he dives in, cracks the tooth to one side, and yanks it right out.

My approach is a bit more subtle…I gently tug and twist, with very little success (obviously). You might even call it wishy washy or a failure to commit.

When it comes to parenting, Ben takes the same no-nonsense approach as well. Act up? Go to your room. Need a new bike? Let’s go buy one. Extra energy? It’s “go time”.

Me, on the other hand? I give way too many “opportunities to obey”, hem and haw about larger purchases, and sometimes will say “we’ll do that later”, even if I know later will never come.

We probably make a good team, the yin and yang of parenting styles, but I have found myself trying to learn a few of his tricks. How to take action instead of being frozen by indecisiveness. How to take a stand and stick to it. And maybe…just maybe…I’ll learn to pull out a few teeth.

Ben came home, waterlogged and tired from camping, and he and Madi ducked into the bathroom to check out her tooth. Ten minutes later, she emerged…tooth in hand.

Just like that.

 

Mama’s Losin’ It
 

I am linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop this week to “Share something you’ve learned from your husband about parenting. What makes him good at what he does?” To which I replied…”Just one thing?”

 

on building self-confidence in our kids…

Posted by on Jun 16, 2012 in motherhood | 0 comments

“It’s not perfect.”

 

“I’m not beautiful.”

 

These statements have surfaced around our house lately, weighing down my heart. Where did they come from? What can I do differently? How do I replace these lies with truth?

I may not know all the answers, but for me, sometimes talking it out helps. So, here are my thoughts…while I was waiting to pick up Parker from his drama camp this week.

I would love to hear any other ideas and perspectives on this issue…we need to stick together!

Five Minute Friday: Expectation

Posted by on Jun 8, 2012 in motherhood | 14 comments

Today I am linking up with The Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday to talk about “Expectation”. My job? Write for five minutes…no editing, no over thinking, no worries.

Go…

When my first little daughter was handed to me, a crying, squirming bundle, I thought I knew what to expect. Kissable cheeks, lots of snuggling, awe at watching her grow, all things that did prove to be true.

What I didn’t plan on was the ridiculous amount of time I have spent over the last seven years talking, lamenting, sweating, stressing, cajoling, threatening, bribing, encouraging my kids to poop.

Yes. Poop.

Countless times, I have found myself crouched by the toilet, feeling like a Lamaze instructor, beads of sweat on both our upper lips, as I soothingly say, “Breathe…now push…don’t forget to breathe again…” When that doesn’t work, I dole out the Miralax and fiber like a pharmacist, carefully dissolved in their favorite beverages, disguised in their meals, and watch for the first signs of movement.

We talk about poop like we are investigating a crime. When, where, how much, and how do you feel, kids? And when it actually happens, we celebrate like there is no tomorrow…and drag out the plunger.

Never would have thought….not in a million years. Expectations…blown out of the water.

 

the little blue hat…

Posted by on Jun 5, 2012 in motherhood | 0 comments

 

 

I’m back again with another video peek into my life…this time I snuck outside after a tough bedtime to reflect on motherhood, time passing, and a little blue hat…that never really fit my Parker-man.

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Perspective

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in motherhood, perspective | 8 comments

Today I am linking up with The Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday to talk about “Perspective”. My job? Write for five minutes…no editing, no over thinking, no worries.

Go…

Just as I sat down to write this little ditty on perspective, Fiona walks over and starts stacking cotton balls inside of her new slinky right next to me. Then, she proceeds to knock over my glass of water all over the table, my pants, and the floor.

Perspective? Yep. I need it every day.

My days seem to be filled lately with endless messes, piles of stuffed animals to trip over, crushed crackers on the floor, shredded cotton balls everywhere, while my to-do list sits neglected. It is frustrating to feel like you are spinning your wheels and watching them sink deeper into a pit of mud.

But I read somewhere recently (and I’m paraphrasing) that even though it seems like you aren’t going anywhere, you can still change…yourself. Like staring at a wall while running on a treadmill…you aren’t actually “going” anywhere, but you are still changing your muscle tone and endurance.

So even in the midst of overflowing piles of crafts and perpetually untied ballet shoes and weeds that are taller than me, I can still find perspective. I am learning patience. I brought five bags of “stuff” to Goodwill this week. Parker and I played basketball…and soccer…and t-ball together. Fiona didn’t get hurt when Parker pushed her into the picnic table. I’ve been learning a lot about I Corinthians this week. I love my kids….even when they are ornery and don’t want to help out and throw massive fits when I say no.

Perspective. It changes things.

One Thousand Gifts…on Mother’s Day…

Posted by on May 14, 2012 in motherhood, One Thousand Gifts | 1 comment

By the time we got the kids to bed last night, I was feeling more than a little grumpy. From the gigantic temper tantrum Parker threw because we asked him to wear a polo shirt to church to the sullen attitude Madi pulled for a good chunk of the afternoon, it wasn’t as peaceful a day as I had hoped.

But as I headed out for an evening run, I thought about the little moments that I had with each of the kids throughout the day, and it reminded me (yet again) how blessed I was to have three healthy, beautiful, and strong-willed children. It is so easy to get caught up in the frustrating parts of motherhood and forget the wonderful, amazing parts.

So, today…three gifts…three moments…that I will stick in my mind as I remember Mother’s Day this year…

#488: We went to Twisted Rooster for lunch, where all three kids actually ate their food with gusto. (This is a bona fide miracle, folks.) But the really interesting part was that we happened to be sitting by a television that was tuned to a soccer match. Parker noticed it first, saying “Why is there soccer on the tv?”, and that led to us watching part of the game unfold. Madi and Parker were especially transfixed, asking question after question about what was happening on the screen. We saw a couple goals being scored, a player get red carded, a fight (that was an interesting discussion), and the crazy conclusion to the game with all the fans rushing the field. It was one of the first times that Parker has shown any interest in watching a game on television, and he even asked if we could watch more at home. Makes a mama proud…

#489: As I mentioned, Madi was down in the dumps all afternoon, but she finally snapped out of it when I redeemed one of her “Mother’s Day coupons” for a pedicure/manicure. We hunkered down on the fluffy green rug in the bathroom, and she carefully applied sheer blue nail polish to my toes and nails, and then I painted her toenails too. I was struck (once again) how grown up she is getting, talking about nothing and everything, and how determined I am to make sure we stay connected as she keeps getting older, even if it means I get my toenails painted every color of the rainbow.

#490: I have this horrible habit of hunkering down with Fiona in her toddler bed before she falls asleep. I fold myself into strange pretzel-like shapes and try to cover myself with an edge of her purple duvet. Then she rolls over and scootches down and around until she gets into the perfect position for sleeping. I take her little hand in mine, and she tucks her head under my chin to go to sleep. Last night, every time I started to leave, she clotheslined her arm across my neck, preventing me from leaving. “Don’t leave!” she pleaded each time, and I couldn’t help but stay…and stay…and stay. Finally, I was able to sneak out after two hugs and two kisses. It’s ridiculous, but one of these days, it will be over…and she won’t be that little or that snuggly anymore. So for now, it’s what we do.

That’s what I will remember…soccer games, blue toenails, and purple duvets…another Mother’s Day in the books…

The 1000 Moms Project: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…”

Posted by on May 10, 2012 in faith, motherhood, perspective | 2 comments

 

1000 Moms Project

I started reading Proverbs 31 this morning, intending to revisit the “wife of noble character” passage, but I couldn’t read a word past Proverbs 31: 8 – 9:

 

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

This isn’t the first time I have read these verses, but it is the first time that I read them in the context of verse 1:

“The sayings of King Lemuel – an inspired utterance his mother taught him.”

I can just picture his mom holding onto his chin and saying, “Lemuel, don’t forget this. When you are the most powerful man in the kingdom, you can’t forget about those who cannot speak for themselves. They are important too. Don’t forget.”

And I think about the critical role that we as mothers take on as we bend and shape the lenses that our kids look at the world around them. We teach them how to respond to the hurts and needs of the people around us, and that becomes part of their genetic makeup, their knee-jerk response.

Over at A Holy Experience, Ann Voskamp is asking 1,000 people to stand up and thank their moms publicly, sharing the gifts and sacrifices that they made, and in return, they will fund a Maternity/Child Survival Program in Haiti for a whole year. It is an amazing real-life example of taking our blessings and using them to bless others.

But it isn’t my first example. My Mom, like King Lemuel’s mother, not only sat me down and told me how important it was to look out for others, but she showed me through her example. She has x-ray vision when it comes to seeking out and taking care of the needs of others. A temporary home for a friend and her infant son who had nowhere else to go, lavish gifts for families that can’t afford them, substitute motherhood for a friend’s daughter after she passed away from cancer.

Even today, in the midst of chronic pain, she constantly looks for ways she can provide for the people around her, and it challenges me to pass down that vision to my kids. How do I teach them to see…truly see the poor and destitute, hear those without a voice, and take care of the needs around us?

It starts with a simple post about a mother’s gift that provides for a woman and child in Haiti.

It starts with a plea to the Holy Spirit to sharpen my own vision to see the needs around me and use my voice to speak for the speechless.

It continues with me being an example to my kids, speaking Truth into their lives and then living it out.

And someday, my kids will hopefully pass down this vision to their families, carrying on the tradition of Lemuel’s mother and our family’s history.

Thanks Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

empathy in action…with a dose of party planning…

Posted by on Apr 26, 2012 in memories, motherhood | 3 comments

After a week of taking nerve block meds for my shingles, I cut myself off. I was done feeling like everything was softly pinging off my senses, turning me into a ditzy, confused, unexcitable version of myself. I was ready to deal with whatever pain was left over so I could feel again. Be myself again.

It seemed like a good idea Sunday night, but by Wednesday afternoon, my back was throbbing and it felt like every nerve in my body was firing at once. Not the best experience in the world, which made me so mad that I couldn’t see straight. What was I supposed to do? Go back on the medicine that dulled the world or just deal and stop complaining? I slammed pots and pans around the kitchen, muttering under my breath, while trying to ignore the ruckus going on in the living room.

“You can’t come in the living room, Mom!” my kids shouted with glee, “We have a surprise for you!”

“Great,” I grumbled, “just what I need…another ‘surprise’ to make my day”. (In our house, “surprises” usually meant a lot of extra clean up work for…me.)

But I dutifully closed my eyes and was led into the living room. When I opened my eyes, I found that they had pulled off a “party for Mom”.

I was led to a special chair with a pillow for my back, and given Madi’s Nutrition Week crown to wear while I experienced everything the party had to offer.

 

Decorations…

Presents…

Entertainment…

Dancing…

Snuggles…

…and the best distraction from my own frustrations I could ever imagine.

The “shouldn’t-be-surprising” part is how clearly kids can pick up on feelings even when they are not plainly expressed. The “proud-to-be-their-mama” part is how they made a concerted effort to help me get through the afternoon. Empathy turned into action. (Plus, they are always looking for excuses to put on a “show”…two birds with one stone, right?)

Today was much better. No more temptations to jump back on the meds. No need for a party today. But I think I’ll keep the decorations up for a couple of days…just in case I have a rough moment. It does this mama’s heart good.

motherhood is for hybrids…..

Posted by on Apr 15, 2012 in motherhood | 3 comments

motherhood is for hybrids…..

According to CNN commentator Hilary Rosen, Ann Romney was not qualified to speak about women’s issues considering her not “working a day in her life” She backtracked on Twitter all the way to an on-air apology, but the statement was out and the damage had been done. The fire had been stoked, both on Twitter and in me.

 

I am so tired of women bashing each other for their choices. It happens in the political arena and it happens at the mall play area. We demean and challenge and nitpick until all that remains is a shredded motherhood banner that says only “her”…look at her, making choices that are different than mine. Look at her, so I don’t have to look at myself.

If I had to reconstruct that banner, it would say, “motherhood is for hybrids”.

That’s right. Hybrids.

All moms have an engine that fuels them…in the shape of their kiddos. It drives them to passionate activism, sparks their instinct to protect and nurture, pushes them to look outside themselves, and guides their decisions. It is all consuming, motivating, challenging, and fulfilling, enough to fully propel a woman through life and hardly give her a moment to refuel.

But I believe that every mom also has another engine that fuels her. The form that it takes is as unique as a fingerprint, but it is there in each mom. It is there in the mom who teaches Sunday school every week, in the mom who is the caregiver for an extended family member, in the mom who helps run the family farm, in the mom who gets up every day to teach her kids, in the mom who gets up every day to volunteer at school, in the mom who earns the primary household income, in the mom who teaches nights and weekends, in the mom who swaps childcare with other moms, in the mom who squeezes in work hours between bus pickups and drop offs.

For some moms, these engines run full tilt, in concert with their job as a mom. In others, they fire up during certain seasons of life…a part time job to get the family through economic difficulties, volunteering at her kids school, or jumping into the workforce to help pay tuition.

The blend of motherhood and “the rest” may be unique to each woman, but collectively, it is what gives moms our strength. Let’s stop attacking our own ranks, and wave the banner of motherhood high once more. Motherhood is for hybrids, and if I sat down with Ann Romney, I am certain that she would agree.

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