“MOM, CAN YOU PLEASE STOP AT THE FRONT DESK OF THE DAYCARE AND ASK THE LADY HOW THEY MAKE THE TOAST HERE? THEY MAKE IT BETTER, I DON’T LIKE YOUR TOAST.”
I met this update with surprising humility. It turns out, I am okay at being sub-par at making toast. Or really, this pure “out of the mouth of babes” moment helped me take to heart something about motherhood. Some people do things better.
This is an important lesson I learned first in the workplace. By all means, strive to do your best. Realistically, the best kind of workplace is made up of different people who do different things well. You probably don’t ask the staff accountant to drum up new sales, the HR specialist to fix a leaking roof, or the junior sales guy to balance the company books. It could happen, but it just may not end well.
Why then, as moms, do we expect ourselves to cover all aspects of motherhood well all the time? I really enjoy my job. I don’t always like people. This doesn’t shock me or freak me out. I can take a deep breath, re-evaluate, and go again. Sometimes I tap another’s brain. I emerge from the experience better.
Right before our son was born, I had a full out emotional meltdown because I was convinced our boy would be born and not like me. I remember waddling around the outdoor gardening section at Lowe’s with swollen eyes from half crying/half self coaching myself that I could overcome the rejection of an infant and bounce back on my feet. (Seconds into holding him on the birth day, I realized this was total hormonal/sleep-deprivation lunacy.) And now we, he – and – I are traversing the toddler years together and we frequently have moments where we don’t really like each other. I can take a deep breath, re-evaluate, and go again. I can tap another’s brain. I can emerge from the experience better.
So, in reflecting on my opportunities for growth (like toast), tonight I salute the areas that make me a little quirky, the areas of motherhood that other people do better. (This is big for my former type-A performance driven self). I would say join me in pouring yourself a glass of wine in this salute, but who am I kidding? Half a glass puts me to bed which already presents challenges in our household ~ see below).
a) Bedtimes: in our house, the joke is “kids, put your mother to bed.” I am just not a real big fan of being awake after 7:30. I would love for it to become law that everyone must sleep 10 hours a night. I would totally vote for that. I have night owl children. I’m done by 9:30p. You can imagine nights at our house are interesting.
b) Baking: I am partially into this endeavor: I like eating icing out of the container. I did recently have a freak rash incident of two and half successful banana bread creations. Beyond that, this art is lost on me.
c) Magazine-esque dressed children: I can’t stand matching socks. So I don’t. Yesterday our son wore a camouflage outfit with one of his sister’s pink fringed socks. Not ideal but it worked. I’m not a hater now, I admire this gift in others. Some kids literally look like they have just walked out of Gap Kids factory. If you’ve got it honey, work it. I just don’t and have learned to be okay with this.
I guess what I am saying, Mom, is don’t stress those areas that others seem to have it so together. Stop expecting yourself to be awesome all the time. You’re special because you are you. Even if that next lady makes toast better 🙂
I am excited to be part of the Hope for the Weary Mom Blog Tour with Brooke McGlothlin and Stacey Thacker. You can find out more and join the tour by clicking here
I’m not sure what I was wanting when I thought about a Christian Women’s/Parenting book. And then I picked up this one – intrigued by the title – and THIS IS IT!
Non-preachy, real. Lets’ go beyond saying parenting is hard. Let’s say the scary stuff that we think we aren’t allowed to say because we also call ourselves Christians. Let’s get real, because God is real. And God REALLY wants to help us. Now. Not later, not after we’ve calmed down after that bad attitude or scream fest. Right now, in the midst of that parenting struggle.
What do I like about this book? Vulnerability. Brooke and Stacey, these ladies get two thumbs up. They get honest about the messes they’ve encountered with a very meaningful bonus – God has worked and continues to work powerfully in those messes. They share how God meets them in personal, intimate ways, and how they have had the strength from Him to get back up after feeling knocked down. This book doesn’t read like one of those safe Christian pieces where you aren’t sure if the author really ever had a bad day. These women know they need God and their transparency can’t help but inspire: God has met them in their weariness, and He will in ours too.
In the workplace, I am pretty good at keeping my cool. Why is it, then, that at home, such little beings can so fervently and zealously shoot me out of my comfort zone and leave me on edge? What the? I used to feel guilty when I knew I had lost my cool. A brief moment of monster mommy would wreck and undo all the good that day. Even after apologizing, I felt like scum of the earth, my how the angels must mock me! That great cloud of witnesses they talk about in the scriptures? I’m pretty sure they would boo me. Or at least I deserved it. I appear confident on the outside, and burdened with “you suck as a mom condemnation” on the inside.
This book addresses that – on page 21, “Instead of glorifying our weaknesses, letting them control our lives and break our hearts, we can learn to use them to glorify God, confessing our weaknesses and trusting him to make them into something good” I hadn’t thought of it like this, but when I carry around such negativity then I do glorify the weakness, and let it control me and break my heart. I think I need to earn back my good Mommy status by songs, stories, lullabies, and really awesome crafts. After I do all that, then God will want to help me, find me worthy again.
As it is turning out – God doesn’t want to wait until I “recover” from being blasted out of my comfort zone. God wants to meet me there! Even in those “icky, yucky, I’ve completely lost control, who are these children” moments. As it turns out, God is here all along. And He ain’t afraid of my mess.
Hope for the Weary Mom is a book about letting God meet you in the messy places of motherhood and finding true hope. You can find out more information here!
Motherhood – Working motherhood – Friendship. Does anyone else find these concepts a bit of an enigma?
Marriage, parenting and full time work leave very little down time. Very little hang time. Never before have I had such little time and such monstrous need for girlfriends. In hindsight, this is one tidbit that I was completely unsuspecting of when starting our family. I love our nest, for sure. But a lot of times I need that look from a girlfriend that reassures that I am doing okay, and that I am not the first one to need reminding of how cute and precious my offspring truly are. Young children have the uncanny ability to physically surround you and yet leave you feeling overwhelmingly alone.
Friendship is definitely one aspect that changed dimensions for me while becoming a mom. They have saved me in my more challenging moments and buoyed me through the good. Ironically, these times have made me more grateful for my single days. It can be hard to appreciate at the time, but in hindsight, these are some of my most precious life memories. I shared a UGA dorm room the size of a shoebox with a wonderful friend, and small Atlanta apartments with multiples. Depending on who had need, there was always had 4-5 girls in a 2 bedroom. It was for affordability, but it was also incredibly good for the soul. Built in cheerleaders, encourages, smiling faces, tangible love that was willing to share cereal with you at any time day or night. This is the stuff that makes for life lessons and life lasting respect.
I really enjoy working out of the home. The other side of this is that I am fiercely protective of time with my kids on the weekends. I simply don’t want to be a part from them. My weekends are times to catch up on tickling and giggling, and loving that can be otherwise rushed during the week. Because of this, I don’t think to hang out with girlfriends. But I still need them. How does one, while bouncing one on the hip, and chasing another, still make that bonding happen? For me, the jury is still out, but I think vulnerability is key. I have women that I rarely hang out with that I can trust my guts with. The good, the awesome, the bad, the really ugly. I can tell you how it is and be safe. I never thought I could share so much with you while physically seeing you so little. God has met me in the season of hectic-ness and provided.
At some point in life, you realize that some people like you, some people don’t. You do the best you can to treat others with love and respect, and you find women that you can reveal your real self to on a regular basis – void of doubt and insecurity. So, for now, I carry on and try and tell you how I am really doing in the brief moments we do have to fellowship. I try and tell you what I am learning, and that the new lipstick you’re trying looks awesome on you and you are doing a great job at mothering. I try and tell you about the recent sale I saw, a cool new recipe, and how the other day I thought of your dad, or your sister, and that I prayed for your sick family member. I tell you how much I really appreciate that you noticed my new, bold nail polish, because, well, there is typically never new or bold about my fashion 🙂 I try and admit the low points of the week so you can keep me in prayer. I try this, because this is what girlfriends do. I try and initiate a playdate if it looks like our kids mesh well. And then I open myself to another degree of vulnerability because, at the end of the day, you may not totally love my kid. And then I have to decide how big of a deal this to me, if one at all.
This happened. I was tempted to feel insecure, but then realized life truly is too short. It was the Easter party at daycare. Our enthusiastic daughter put her Easter basket on her head and wore it as a hat. I didn’t find it disruptive as her crew of 3 year olds were waiting semi–patiently to be released for their egg hunt. Her then “best friend” – these friendship dynamics start early – also put her basket on her head…. for about three seconds until her nearby mother urgently chastised her for being “inappropriate.” I let our daughter keep hers on her head. I suppose that makes me inappropriate, too? Perhaps. But, to be honest, it makes me inappropriately okay. I never heard from the mom again, no call for play dates, though we have each other’s number. Maybe I took it too personally, or maybe she is too busy… or maybe she is at home blogging on working mom friendships too :). Either way, this exchange helped to see that you put yourself out there and there isn’t a match every time, so you treasure it when there is. With motherhood, you truly get the packaged deal – to find people your whole family plays well with is a gift.
Friendships – they are truly a tricky necessity of life. They take time to cultivate, even trickier when you go through life seasons that don’t afford a whole lot of time. For those seasons, you just keep praying, keep laughing, and hugging on those precious people you do have. Because another season is coming… in due time. And in that season, when you do sit down with a girlfriend and mug of coffee, you will actually get to finish that good stuff while it is still warm :).
Motherhood has done a lot of things. Redefine beauty is one of them.
Any item I purchase for myself now has to pass the body fluid rule: if any kind of bodily fluid were to get on the item, would I be really upset? If the very notion makes me struggle, then I don’t buy it.
This means I have greatly expanded my repertoire of Goodwill and Clearance discoveries. For truly, the question is not “if,” but when. Anything that CAN come out of a little body inevitably WILL, and share space with whatever outfit, comforter, or throw pillow I am enjoying at the moment. (Imagine my recent adrenaline rush when I found a genuine, lined “London Fog” trench coat at the nearby Goodwill for $17! It’s like I’m business woman, Inspector Gadget, and Super Mom all in one! I can look put together at work and not be upset later when both a runny nose and peanut butter and jelly collide with the coat!). Particularly as a working mom, it is always interesting to see how motherhood meshes with, well everything.
I had a bit of an epiphany the other day, as I strapped our youngest, 20 months, into his stroller in the elementary school parking lot. We were about to walk in to the pre-K Thanksgiving Holiday program for our oldest. I looked down and saw a long string of little boy snot on my sweater. A little part of my heart sank, even though it was quickly resolved with a baby wipe. I felt a lot of things, but beautiful surely was not one of them.
So much of motherhood is icky. It’s not that I’m complaining or whining. It’s just no one gives you the Hallmark card that reads “Parenthood is still amazing…even after cleaning up vomit at 3:00am.” At the end of the day, I’m an optimist. Yes. I’m knee deep in the ickyness right now. But if I’m involved with icky-ness, then I am present. I am here. I’m all up in it. And for that fact, I am so grateful.
As we sat in the front row, our rapt attention to the pre-Kers walking in, I felt a strong mix of joy and sorrow. I felt joy to see the little face of our daughter light up to see her mommy, daddy, and baby brother there to support her. I felt sorrow for the few who searched for their familiar face in the crowd and their mix of confusion, worry, and hurt when their eyes didn’t make any meaningful connection. In that moment, I could care less about the snot that was so recently on my sweater. Here are moments of motherhood where the icky-ness fades away and the sheer joy of being present overrides everything else. The sheer joy of being present is powerful. To be present is to be beautiful.
“Beautiful” means to be pleasing, either in appearance or aesthetic. I’m not a fan of sugar-coating crap – literally. Please don’t wax poetically about how beautiful motherhood is when I am cleaning up an explosive diaper – off the little one – off the wall – off of me. It is not pleasing, in the traditional sense, for sure! But it does please me to be present, because I’m not owed anything. It pleases me to be a caregiver, to be taught unconditional love on the regular. It pleases me to choose humility instead of frustration and to continually see a tangible reminder that I have been entrusted with two tremendous gifts. It pleases me to remember to take a deep a breath, and live one moment at a time, a concept that has only truly begun to stick since having kids.
Still beautiful. Just in a new, different sense. Some mornings I have a pretty sharp outfit on, my hair is styled, and my make up fully applied. Other mornings, I’m not showered, I’m not really sure what I am wearing, and really, I don’t feel very winning.
Either way, winning or losing, I still get to be a Mom. I am present. And that is beautiful!
You know what I love in a home – in addition to love, family, and laughter?
A dynamic inventory control system. Yes. I said that.
I have 8 sticks of deodorant. No doubt a blessing. But really? I hate when I have recently rearranged routes and make special detours in a bold effort to meet an immediate need that truly was not all that immediate.
No true deodorant emergency. Really, I now have 8 sticks. This is not a true catastrophe. I’ll always use it. But, this is isn’t the first time.
Recently, I got a note home from day care – could I please bring in an extra box of tissues? Absolutely, I’m your girl. I immediately went to the store and got one. I cleaned the bathroom tonight. I had two extra boxes stowed away – you know – for that next time I got a note home from the day care.
Deodorant and tissues. Seriously, I am flirting with what trendy bloggers refer to as “first world problems.” But it does bug the snot out of me (no pun intended – yet, I do have hefty stock of tissues).
Why? Because the fact that I have stuff that I don’t even realize that I have makes me pretty much want to puke. I don’t even really know what I have! Millions of people around the world have so little, there is no confusion there. They don’t have this struggle.
So, what am I to do? As strongly as I was tempted, tonight, upon finding the surplus deodorant and tissues, to take inventory of everything in my home, this would not be the prudent choice. However, I am convicted, that a more organized person may make a more charitable person. Particularly going into the Holiday season, I pray my little discoveries in cleaning the bathroom will motivate me to make wise choices in my spending, to be mindful of others, and generous of those in need. Yes, I need a paradigm shift. I bet I can find a charity who will gladly accept my brand new, near case of deodorant. I pray that as I enjoy my blessing of having my job, I don’t use the income from it as a license to spend. I wonder if were a one income family, I would have a better hold on our bathroom’s contents. Okay, I’m not going to belabor myself over deodorant and tissues. But it is the principle of the thing – without good checks and balances, and in this case, a good inventory system, I venture to say in two income households, it is a lot easier to accumulate stuff. You get it because you think you need it, and need it now. It is easier to buy now than to double check. That reality is so icky to me.
We recently enjoyed a birthday party for our children’s friends. The hosts laughed at how suddenly wonderful toys in their backyard were, with new little ones discovering and enjoying them. Toys that their kids hadn’t really thought to play with until that day when friends were over. I shared with the Dad that our kids don’t need new and more toys – they need new and more play dates.
These next two months, I pray to keep community on the forefront, and not consumerism. We can all use a little more community.
Now, anyone need some deodorant?
Our daughter has started a new habit, altogether peculiar and wonderful. The last few nights I’ve checked on her, she is tucked in snugly, sleeping while hugging a small maroon bible to her chest. We had told her to pick out a few books to accompany her to bed, to enjoy looking, as long as she didn’t get up.
It’s nothing fancy, it’s not even a kids version with lots of cute pictures. It is one of those “$4.99 at the grocery store types”- smooth, maroon plastic, gold “Holy Bible” indented on the cover. Why that book, I wonder? She’s four, and while words amaze her, she is not yet truly reading them. Does the cool of the smooth plastic comfort her? Does she run her little fingers within the indented “Holy Bible,” tracing it because she knows that this is something special?
The image of her clutching the book the way she would a stuffed animal brings great comfort. Not because of anything I’ve or we’ve done. This wasn’t a pat on the back on what a “nice, wholesome Christian household” we are fostering. It is a beautiful affirmation of God’s availability and presence. This is a book that is living and active, by a God that is living and active. God can and does come in, bring comfort, and stay a while, whether we are good at inviting him or not. Daily, while I try and figure out parenting, He is here, in spite of my fears, and mess ups, and best tries that fall short.
Sometimes his Word is a living lullaby, for the big and small, letting us know he is here – an ever present comfort who simply wants to chaperone us to rest.
I guess I’m more of a pragmatic realist, or I’m crazy, but I don’t really subscribe to that philosophy that kids “grow up so fast. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.” Scientifically, I get it. They start as a pile of cells and BAM, 9 months later, they are 8lbs of little person that dramatically change your life forever.
Yes, kids grow. That’s what they do. I have to blink. Instead of an abstract pressure upon myself to not miss something, I try to appreciate the fullness of each day: the good, the bad, the ugly, the profoundly cute and indescribable depth of love that is parenthood; the continual challenge to selflessly pour yourself out to meet another need when you are so bone deep tired….can you possibly be patient one more time? Yes, you can.
Along these lines of thought, I have a growing list of things I just love during this season of life, of having two little kids, working, growing with a marriage that all gets better over time. These are very simple things, not often celebrated, you won’t find a card in the Hallmark section for these, but to me, they are unique and priceless.
1) Pudgy toddler hands and feet. I’m not sure what the cut off age is that these appendages stop being cute, but I’ve seen hands and feet on a toddler and I have seen hands and feet on an elementary school kid. They are so much cuter on a toddler.
2) The ditziness that comes with mothering two small children. Oh, I have had doozies. Here are my top three occasions where it became pretty clear that I was sleep deprived and sort of hanging on by a thread:
a) The time I walked into a room and said, “wow! I have a baby that looks just like that” to a friend who was holding our youngest. She politely leaned over and said, “this is your baby.” RIGHT.
b) The time I went for my annual check up and the nurse asked me when our son was born and I couldn’t remember the exact day, I gave her a range…”you know, about a year ago, middle of March.” I felt embarrassed and worried that she may subscribe further psychological testing. She reassured me “no problem, honey, I have a tough time remembering if my youngest was born in 95 or 96.” Apparently I am in good company.
c) In the midst of an Easter egg hunt this year, I interrupted my girlfriend with an abrupt, “sorry to interrupt, I have to make sure I know where my youngest is…oh, look, I’m holding him.” To which she gave me tremendous encouragement that “she liked hanging out with me because there was no pressure to have it all together.” Clearly, I abandoned that goal a long time ago.
“Didn’t I ask you to please leave Mommy alone?” My husbands voice just rang through the bathroom door where, in a small space, contained myself, my laptop, and our two children, checking out what Mommy was doing in her office, er bathroom.
Yes, these are rich times indeed.