Mama I Will Be

I’ve thought A LOT about what I want to do when all the kids are in school, I still have a little under four years to decide.
 
I need creativity in my life somehow. I still think freelancing in journalism is the best fit. It would let me work in graphic arts AND write. But I also want to keep sewing. So maybe I can find a job for a crafting magazine or at least steady freelance work in that area.
 
I need a degree. The curriculum for the early childhood associates degree is a bit different from when I was in school a few years ago, instead of the ONE semester I had left, I’d be looking at another year or more to finish a degree I’m not sure I want. Unless I want to try being a teacher’s assistant part-time, or subbing. It looks like most schools require you to drive a bus if you’re a TA now-a-days and I’m not doing that. Have you seen me drive a car? Bahaha, no buses in my future.
 
I do know that once they’re all in school, I’m still their mama. I will still need to be present to help with speech therapy, homework, extra curricular activities. And while the inner girl who still wants to be a rock star has fought it, I’ll probably end up being a PTO mom. Because darn it, I do care about this stuff. I care about ALL OF IT.MamaIWIllBe
 
I will still need to be available to my kids as I have always been. That’s my main ‘career’, mama! I’ve seen how far my kids can go when I immerse myself in their lives and it’s worth it. Do I get a salary? No, but I’m making a difference in this world. Yes, B’s speech therapists and his teachers play a big role in his success. But, so do I. He and I have sat at our kitchen table, sometimes both working through tears, to master new words, blends, fine motor tasks. I have seen my son’s eyes LIGHT UP when he finally gets what we’ve worked so hard at. That wouldn’t happen without a parent there to help it happen, it wouldn’t.
 
So, where ever I land, it’s going to be with them first. These children will be grown so quickly. Ya know, then, I might write that book I’ve always wanted to. I may never get to retire because this world won’t count my years of being a stay-at-home towards social security or any of that. I’ll know that I had value, even when I had no monetary contribution to give. My children will know too.
 
Scoff at me, call my old fashion. But mama was, and is, and has always been my calling. It has been the one thing I have striven for from the get go. Infertility,miscarriage, I BEAT THAT. I beat that so many times to get these three. And they were worth it. They may leave me tired, frustrated, almost hollow some days. More often, they leave me laughing, filled with love, and joy. No career will give me that. I was built to be ‘mama’. And so mama I will be.

Parenting Without Judgment

My social media feeds are always filled with moms or things about parenting.  Mom friends, mom blogs, parenting sites, parenting products…I’m bombarded with motherhood all day every day, even when I’m taking a ‘break’ from my own children.  Most days, this is what I enjoy.  I was born wanting to be a mother.  I nurtured baby dolls from a young age and was overjoyed to finally get a baby cousin when I was older.  I even pursued a degree in Early Childhood Education.  I would say for many years, I was a bit obsessed with children.

What You Don't SeeThen I had my own.  And yes, they are snuggly, often sweet, and always irreplaceable.  I still love hearing about other people’s children and I still find pregnancy and infancy fascinating.  Yet, as I sit here in my third pregnancy, I can say that after this baby, I think I am ready to close the chapter on ‘baby obsession’.  I feel like I have fulfilled all the wants of motherhood, babydom, and ‘pregnancy euphoria’ that I could handle.

I am by far not the same person who gave birth to my oldest son almost four years ago.  While some of me has remained the same, much of what I have experienced and learned has changed me.  There is no more wild-eyed curiosity at all things baby.  I no longer wish to stroll through baby stores and baby departments for hours.  Almost every baby thing I need is packed away downstairs in my basement.  Yes, I am excited to see my new little bean on the ultrasound screen.   I am excited to feel s/he kick and move.  To find out the sex, nail down a name.  I’m more scared of delivery now than I ever was.  After hemorrhaging on the delivery table twice, I’m left a bit scared of what’s to come.  Granted, my doctors and nurses were amazing.  The bleeding was stopped, I did not get dizzy until I stood up afterwards to pee, and I required no transfusion.  So things went really well for me.  But, hemorrhaging is still scary.  Especially when you have two little ones already and tend to be the type of person who reads up on every potential bad outcome…  It’s scary.

I spent yesterday in a horribly melancholy mood.  As I scrolled through my social media feeds, I saw moms doing fun things with their kids.  I saw birth announcements, newborn cloth diapers.  I saw moms praising their children, some lamenting.  Normally when I feel like I’m not being the best mother, those posts about what crafts, perfect outfits, or nutritious meals other mother’s children are having make me feel bad.  Yet somehow, yesterday, they didn’t.  

Measure WorthMy children weren’t doing anything fancy.  They played with scented stickers, watched some shows about letters and learning to read.  They built forts, played mailmen, and chased our cat.  We had peanut butter crackers and graham crackers for lunch.  Yes, I let them drink juice and no, nothing was organic.  We even had super, not healthy pizza for dinner and boy did we gobble it up!  I wasn’t ‘exceeding’ any expectations yesterday, but I didn’t let myself feel the mom guilt I so often do. Why?  Four years of parenting has taught me this…

What you don’t see in those photos of moms with manicured nails, perfect hair, and NOT in their pajamas, is that they have dirty piles of laundry too. There’s a room in their house where toys likely cover the floor.  They have days they aren’t taking photos where they get stuck in their yoga pants and ill-fitting t-shirts just like me.  While we love to take pictures of craft time, learning time, and ‘good’ days, we’re not taking photos of tantrums.  We’re not taking photos of us crying in the bathroom because it’s Thursday afternoon and we’re lonely, tired, and need a break.  There are rarely photos of poop explosions, crayon walls, and food covered kitchen floors.  Yet these things make up parenting just as much, if not more so, than the other things.  

My transition from idealistic motherhood to the real life thing was not easy.  Find a mom who says it is, and I’ll bet she has a full-time nanny.  The more I let my children guide me and let go of the expectations to be ‘perfect’ – the more we thrive.  I don’t measure my worth as a mother by what other people, or other mothers, think of me.  I don’t care if you bottle feed, breast feed, cloth diaper, baby wear, work, stay home, eat organic, vaccinate, or live off easy meals.  What I care about is that you love your children.  That you provide for them.  That you teach them what it means to have love, respect, and compassion for our world and the people in it.  I don’t devalue you if you need help from SNAP or WIC, we’ve all needed help at some point and it does not determine your worth as a parent or a human.  I don’t care if you home school, public school, or send your kids to private school.  Just teach them, in whatever way you can.  

Stop JudgingThe point is, all these little things that others choose to judge us for – they don’t matter.  What matters is that our children grow up loved, educated, and nourished.  There won’t always be good days and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  If every day were filled with rainbows and lollipops, we wouldn’t learn.  If we received everything we ever wanted, we’d know nothing of value, respect, and hard work.  

Motherhood took off my blinders.  The world isn’t always nice and pretty and there are certainly people in it who are out to destroy any piece of happiness and contentment you offer yourself.  However, you don’t have to let others judgment change you.  You don’t have to take it to heart.  In turn, you don’t have to be the one who judges.  

If you see a mom who looks like she needs a hug, offer her one.  Offer the mom with two kids just trying to do her grocery shopping a hand, not judgment.  Play peek-a-boo and make her kid laugh, it doesn’t take much effort.  Stop rolling your eyes at the whining toddler, the crying baby.  It’s stressful enough without a stranger’s judgment.  Don’t sigh and make a scene when you get behind a mom or dad using WIC in the checkout line.  Think about how you would feel if you had to humble yourself to ask for help to feed your baby.  I guarantee you, it isn’t easy and they are doing what they need to do to make sure their child has what they need.  Don’t turn your nose up at the kids munching happily on nuggets and fries.  You don’t know their daily eating habits or how long of a day their parent(s) may have had.  

Stop judging and start respecting your fellow human-beings…  Stop judging yourself and embrace the world through the eyes of your child.  They’re too young to care about those things that we place our value in.  They see your value in its truest terms – how you treat yourself and how you treat others.  As parents, that’s a lesson we would do well to learn.

How Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom Is Different Than I Imagined

Being A SAHM Is Different Than I ImaginedBefore I became a stay-at-home parent I had my own preconceived notions about what being one meant.  I assumed that laundry was always caught up, houses clean, and there was a bit of leisure time once everything for the children was done.  Clearly, I had never been alone in a home with an infant or toddler before.  While some of my uneducated guesses did ring true, many did not.  Here are the ways that my life as a stay-at-home mom is much different from what I imagined.

  1. Cleaning My Home
    Before I had my first son, I could get away with cleaning the house about once a week.  We’d fill up the dishwasher  a couple times a week and I might have to run the vacuüm twice.  I only really had to mop maybe once a month.  In short, we weren’t really home enough to mess the house up much so it more or less stayed clean all the time.
    When I brought my newborn home, I was amazed at how many bottles he went through in a day and how long it took me to clean them. I was washing bottles in the morning and at night, mountains of bottles.  Our breastfeeding plans didn’t work out and I hated all this bottle washing.  There were also burp cloths littered all over the living room, his bed room.  He wasn’t even able to crawl or sit up, but he was already changing my tidy home into a messy one that I couldn’t keep up with.

    When he was a bigger baby, my house did stay remarkably clean until I got pregnant with his brother and was almost too sick to move from the couch for the first several months. Now that I have a toddler and a preschooler, hahaha.  Our house is clean, it isn’t always tidy.

  2. Laundry
    Honestly speaking, this one didn’t change much for me when I first became aS AHM because I was no longer washing my work clothes and my ‘normal’ clothes.  The babies laundry sort of took the place of my work clothes so the laundry was more or less the same.  I did laundry on Fridays or Saturdays and didn’t do it again for a week.  When I started cloth diapering my son at fifteen months, I added in a load of diapers 3 or 4 times a week.

    Then we brought home our second baby and wow.  I don’t know how that changed the laundry dynamic so dramatically, but I now do laundry at least every other day.  There is one thing I will say, our laundry room always smells like fresh laundry.  It isn’t always wrinkle free and my husband now has to pitch in and put a lot of it away, but at least we’re not suffocating under mountains of dirty clothes the way we did in the first few weeks as parents of two.

  3. Utility Bills
    I had no idea that our energy and water usage would increase so dramatically.  Sure, part of that is adding extra humans to your household.  The other part is that now you’re home almost all the time.  My house used to sit empty for nine or ten hours every day.  It is almost never empty now.  Toilets get used more, sinks, appliances.  Our house is certainly lived in now.
  4. Groceries
    I was never one to eat out a lot while at work. I’d pack my breakfast, lunch, and a few snacks.  I worked an hour away from home which meant a two-hour drive daily so I was away from home for about 12-13 hours every single day.  I packed a lot of quick things – cheap, processed things.  I didn’t enjoy eating those things so staying home has allowed me to get back to real food.  Real foods cost more, and we’re feeding more people now.  So, obviously, our grocery bills went up.

    We also spend more on things like hand soap and toilet paper.  The toilet paper was crazy to me at first, I couldn’t figure out why we were going through it 2-3 times faster than before.  You don’t realize how much time you spend at work vs. home and how that even affects how much toilet paper your house goes through.

  5. Downtime
    I assumed being a SAHM would mean I’d get a few more hours of downtime every week.  Time to relax, unwind. Oh man guys, this one slapped me in the face.  Before children, despite working full-time and commuting 10 hours a week, I had a lot of downtime and didn’t realize it.  My husband and I would spend Sundays lounging around the house after a night out on Fridays and Saturdays.  We had a lot of fun, and a lot of lazy Sundays.

    I have not had real downtime since before I went into labor with my son.  In fact, labor was my last downtime.  Seriously, it was the last time I didn’t have something I HAD to be doing chore or kid wise.  Any hobby I do now is multi-tasked with cooking dinner or caring for my children.  Date-nights are few and far between.  And I sit through them thinking oh no, I forgot to tell them where this is.  Oh crap, I left laundry in the washer.  Did I remember to fill up the cat’s bowl?  I mean seriously, there isn’t downtime as a SAHM.  If there is, you’re using it to budget or clean out the kid’s closet.

  6. Money
    Obviously, your finances change in a big way when you quit your job, forfeiting half your income.  I assumed that it was going to be hard.  And at times it has been.  However, if I had continued to work, all but about $200 a month would’ve went towards daycare and my 10 hour weekly commute.  Much of that would have also went into car maintenance.  Our finances were going to change either way and $200 a month wasn’t worth me only seeing my son for a couple of hours a day for me.  By the time I had a second child, I would have paid to work.

    So yes, we have far less money coming in, but we have become better with our money.  We have learned what we can live without and how that often improves our lives instead of hurting it.  We are so rich in love and happiness, we don’t need ‘things’.  Becoming a SAHM taught me a lot about money.  We learned to budget, coupon, thrift/clearance shop, and enjoy the simpler things instead of always wanting a new material possession.  I enjoy what we have learned about money, but never dreamed that being a SAHM would benefit us in this way.

  7. Motherhood
    I did not plan to be a SAHM when I gave birth.  It wasn’t until my son was a few weeks old that I sat down to do the numbers and realized that it might be a better suited option.  I had never dreamed I could be a SAHM.  When a coworker or friend told me they were going to quit their job and stay home, I’d always think, “Well,that must be nice”.  I pictured my children in daycare, and me spending all my free time with them.  I saw them learning at daycare and playing at home.  I thought SAHMs must spend all day doing ‘lessons’ and have a little preschool set up in their homes.  Maybe some SAHMs do this, and I commend them.

    My children spend much of their days playing.  I do formalized lessons with my preschooler once or twice a day, but much of their learning is through play.  We read, do flashcards, learn shapes, but we don’t have ‘school’.  I pictured myself as the mother who was always doing crafts and learning activities, perhaps bouncing through play groups, but it isn’t me.  I am not the mother I pictured.  Sure, we do some of those things.  But we don’t do them all the time.  Some days I am just trying to float and not drown in all my responsibilities as mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend.

    I’m not one of those super moms.  I’m a normal mom.  I love my kids, I want the best for them, and I do my best to give them a good foundation.  I value lessons in love, support, and acceptance far more than lessons in math and science.  Reading to my children while I snuggle them is one of my favorite things.  There is no chalkboard in my kitchen as I imagined.  There is a tidy box of workbooks, flash cards, and boxes full of crafts that we don’t touch every day.  I’m not the mother I envisioned, but I don’t hate the mother that I have become.

  8. Meals
    I assumed that stay-at-home parents prepared nice meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I thought, hey, they’re home, they have the time.  Oh boy.  Why didn’t any of these SAHPs that I knew warn me?  They probably enjoyed watching me those first few months as I struggled to get my teeth brushed and find time to get out of pajamas (it didn’t always happen).  I did prepare nice meals when I had one infant.  Once he got more mobile it got challenging.

    Once I was pregnant, had a toddler, and sick as a dog, I’m not sure I cooked a ‘nice’ meal for months.  My husband handled dinner while I tried to eat anything that wouldn’t leave me sick.  Some nights I cook something nice and some nights we do easy.  My kids prefer cereal for breakfast.  And their favorite lunch time fare includes things like peanut butter crackers, grilled cheese, and chicken nuggets.  I can do fresh-baked breads, stews, and decadent desserts.  Alas, I forgot that SAHPs have KIDS, who normally prefer something simpler.

  9. Friends
    The hardest part of staying home for me is friends.  I feel like I never see mine and I lost so many when I stopped working.  It stung and hurt like hell to see friendships melting away into nothing.  I cried many tears and then I realized there wasn’t much I could do except try to reconnect or just let it go.  I thought staying home meant I would have more time to spend with them.  I do, but they’re at work.  And I can’t cart my kids around to concerts or drag them out on Friday nights.  Sure, I can get a sitter now and again.  I cannot predict a fever or a sitter cancelling.  People without kids don’t always get that.  I miss my friends.  I miss concerts, late nights just talking.  I miss messaging back and forth at work, having friends over for sporting events, just because, or just laughing over dumb things that don’t matter.  I would love for these people to come back into our lives and realize we’re not that different from our pre-kid days, in fact we’re way more laid back and fun.  We still listen to loud music, enjoy concerts, and yes, I still have a potty mouth and a sense of humor.  I miss being more than someone’s mother…

    The flip side of this is the amazing mom friends I have made.  They are fiercely supportive and caring.  While most of our chatting is done online, they are a lifeline I didn’t know I needed.  They have seen me through late night fevers, nursing troubles, postpartum blues, depression, and anxiety.  I never expected to form these bonds and friendships with these women, many whom I’ve never met in person, but I am grateful that I did.

  10. Family
    Naturally, your view of family changes when you have children.  I think I had a close family before I had children and started staying home, but my open schedule has allowed me the freedom to grow closer to my family.  I have bonds with them I didn’t have before.  I can swing by for lunch dates, pop in on their days off, or have a little day trip that I never could’ve done without lots of planning while I worked.  I didn’t fully expect or anticipate how much closer we’d grow.  My extended family is amazing.  My children are so loved and cherished.  And I feel as though I could never repay all the kindness and support my extended family has offered to my little family.
  11. View of Self
    I never realized how much my view of myself would change as a SAHM. I thought I would just be blissfully happy to spend my days in my home with my children.  There have been times that I felt worthless.  I have gone through periods where I felt like my lack of financial contribution and professional status meant I didn’t mean much to anyone.  I have been reminded of all that I do contribute and do to keep our family running and happy.  It has taken time for me to see this and value myself and what I do.

    I have a confidence in myself I did not before.  I also know that I have limits and imperfections like everyone.  I know that my value is not tied to how much money I make or what job title I have.  That’s a lesson I probably didn’t know I needed, but it has changed my view of the world and myself.

  12. My Marriage
    I am amazed at how much my marriage has grown and changed in the last few years.  Parts of becoming a SAHM were very hard on my marriage – the stress of changing finances and becoming parents can be tough.  There have been dark moments and difficult arguments.  There has also been growth and positive change.  I am even more amazed at how we’ve matured and grown closer.  I love my husband more fiercely now than I did before.  There is no doubt in my mind that I can happily spend forever with him.  We’re more honest, open, and closer than we were.  Parenthood and the changing dynamics of our family fixed something I didn’t know was broken.

Whether parents work or stay-at-home, their lives change.  Each time you bring a new child home, get a new job, even change working hours, your family changes and grows.  Change can be scary, but it can also be beautiful.  I’m supportive of parents who work and stay home.  Both offer challenges and rewards that have to be tailored to each family’s needs.  I’m blessed to have found the balance that works for my own family and to be thriving in our little corner of happiness.

Little Moments

specialmomentThe first time they fall asleep in your arms…

The time they fall asleep in your arms after not doing so for many months…

The first real smile…

The “Thank you Mommy”s…

The first time they see a lightning bug…

Their discovery of music and dance…

The excitement over snow…no matter how old they are.

The calm morning after a fretful, feverish night…

Teaching themselves to swing without your help…

Pausing over your breakfast to watch them successfully use a spoon, as you wonder just when this happened…

Realizing it’s been over a year since you used bottles…

Watching the wonder in their eyes as you walk through the aquarium…

…the zoo…

…the candy shop…

While we often mark down big events and special dates on our calendars it’s the little moments that truly make our lives special.  If we can pause for just a moment to experience life, we’ll find a special moment in every day.

Motherhood

MotherhoodThere are days when I have no energy left for wit.  When all I have left in me is just dead to the bone tired and I can’t function anymore.  I have cleaned up the same messes twenty times, I have been yelled at, had food thrown at me, and inevitably tripped over the very toy I swear I put up twenty minutes ago.

There are nights when bedtime is the only salvation I feel is near.  When taking just ten minutes to hide in the shower is the only alone time or the only thing I will do for me all day long.

Many days I don’t leave my pajamas.  I can go a full week without wearing shoes.  My mailbox is the farthest I will get from home for days.

I don’t know what it’s like to eat out without someone having a meltdown or running around the table.  We can’t go anywhere that doesn’t have chicken and fries.  If we forget the sippy cups, it’s sure to be a long evening.

There are times when I just give up and literally sob in a corner.  When I feel like I have given up everything that made me who I am for two people who demand every bit of me.

Motherhood is exhausting.  It is heartbreaking.  It is work….long, hard work that does not end.

But there are days when I laugh uncontrollably.  When I don’t notice the dishes piling up or the self-filling laundry bins.

There are weeks when we go on adventures in the backyard.  We go to faraway lands and become pirates and sea creatures.

There are nights of wonder when they clear their plates of a new food.  There are evenings out where no one cries or rebels.

There are, “I love you Mommy”s and “You’re the best mommy”s.  There are “I made this for you”s.

There is a little hand tugging on your shirt and saying it’s okay.  A hug, a kiss, a good night snuggle you wish you could make last a little while longer.

Some nights I forget that it’s bed time and just enjoy the chaos.  The giggles, the screams of delight.  The, “You can’t catch me”s.

Motherhood is all-consuming.  There is love with no bounds and laughter with no bottom.

Motherhood is me.

Always Babies

BabiesMy oldest son is growing up…Last night as we sat on the couch I asked for cuddles and he said, “I not a baby!”.  Oh, the heartbreak.  Ten minutes later he was leaping into my lap, insisting on tickles.  Then running over to tell his dad, “Mommy cuddle me. I not want cuddles.”  And then right back to my lap for ‘tickles’, not cuddles.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember him as a baby…  It wasn’t that long ago, but at times I just can’t see it.  He was a big chubby cheeked baby with long blond hair.  At least that’s my favorite way to remember.  Now he’s a slender boy with short dark blond hair that he insists on growing out again so he can feel it ‘swish’.  He still gives out the same grumpy expressions, and the same delightful squeals of laughter.  He no longer eats everything in site…but will tear apart a box of his favorite snack in minutes.  He still loves his ‘moo’.

The part about growing up that I miss the most is that I will never again in his life have days of just he and I.  Yes, we’ll likely go on little trips or outings just the two of us.  But the days of he and I playing together, learning together alone ended almost two years ago when his brother was born.  Last night as I processed how big he had become I realized he’d start pre-k next year.  And that never again would my ‘baby’ be solely my baby.  His brother will get the year of pre-k to have one on one time with me – for the first time in his life.  I have no doubts he will miss his brother terribly for those school hours as they have never been apart.  Will he enjoy his one on one time, or will his independent, ever-moving soul be easily bored?

My children’s personalities are often night and day.  I can see me in my oldest and I can see my never sit still sister in my youngest.  Watching them interact reminds me of my childhood.  Fights over toys, periods of time where we played together in peace.  A love of being free outdoors.  Little reminders of the child still inside me.

I’m happy to watch my children grow and thrive.  Slightly mournful at the loss of ‘babies’ yet proud of who they are becoming.  And no matter their insistence that they’re too big for cuddles, I am grateful that they still climb up in my lap and snuggle into the crook of my arm.  They’ll always be babies to me…

Why I Might Be Done Having Children – Or Not

It never fails.  My husband and I walk into a baby store like Carter’s to get our tots new clothes.  I grab at the newborn outfits and proclaim, “How precious is this?!? Look how tiny.”  My ovaries ache.  And then tot 1 or tot 2 throws a holy hell tantrum fit because we drag him away from the block table when it’s time to leave.  I look at my husband, eyes hooded, “We are DONE having kids,” as I drag along whichever rug rat is proclaiming that he just wants to play, “I don’t wanna leave!”

When I had my second child, I had two boys under two.  I will not lie, those first months were hard.  They felt like prison.  The first time I ventured out alone with them my youngest was almost six weeks old.  I was in desperate need of soy formula as his dairy allergy and my low milk production had brought me to a crossroads where I was done living off twenty minutes of sleep here and there.  I was done watching my baby cry in pain, telling my oldest that ‘mommy can’t play right now’, and taking a billion supplements to try to produce more milk when it just wasn’t working.  It was the turning point where I actually enjoyed being a mom.  My baby was full, content, no more screaming.  He was sleeping for hours instead of minutes, and I started to enjoy BOTH my boys.  But I was unsure if I wanted more children.

Before I even had my second son, people were asking if we’d try for a third.  Try for that girl…Those words always angered me.  I didn’t need ‘a girl’ to complete my family.  I just wanted healthy children, that’s all that ever mattered to me.  And I said just that to nurses, sonographers, family, strangers, and friends.  Gender was not important.  That we had beat infertility and that we had healthy thriving children was.

I am currently not interested in being pregnant or having another child.  I get asked at least twice a month when I’m having another.  Parenthood is hard.  It just is.  Being at the beck and call of two other small, demanding human beings is tough sometimes.  It doesn’t matter if I’ve got a fever or if I feel awful.  My children are too young to understand that.  I don’t have family living close by to just stop in and give me a break.  I don’t even have a babysitter…Their care is almost entirely my responsibility while my husband is at work.  Barring a hospital stay or major illness, I don’t get a break too often.

Sure, my kids are cute.  They’re funny.  They’re also messy, sometimes irritable, and highly impulsive.  They’re prone to fits of giggles and tears.  They share their love of discovery…and their germs.  It’s a known fact that one of them will throw a fit every single time we go somewhere.  It might be small, it might be big.  They’ll embarrass you in a public restroom, “Mommy, you pooped!”  Even if you didn’t.  They’ll make you so proud when they say thank you or excuse me to complete strangers.  They’ll be your hero when they offer a hug if you get a boo boo of your own or they see you’re sad.  Parenthood is hard…but it is beautiful.  It is rewarding.  It is inspiring.

AnotherBabyI’ve asked other moms how they knew that they were done having children.   Some weren’t sure that they were.  Others gave me the look – the ‘are you kidding me, do you want one of mine’ look.  But the most important answer, the truest I’ve heard, is that I will just know.  And I get that.

When my first was about nine months old, I knew I wanted to have another.  And my husband agreed, although not as enthusiastically.  I conceived my second around the time he was eleven months old.  Now that my youngest is growing close to two-years, I’m still not ready.  Some days I truly believe that I am done, that our family is complete.  Others, I long for our missing puzzle piece.  That other being, that spirit baby that is meant to be brought to life.  I’m in limbo.  I’m done but I’m not…

The beauty of life is that not everything has to be decided all at once.  I didn’t have to fill out a form saying I’d have x amount of children.  I’m allowed to change my mind as long as mother nature will let me.  Even after that, there’s adoption.  There’s foster parenting.  There are options.

If you see a mom with young children, don’t assume that she wants to be asked if she’s done.  If she wants to discuss family planning, she’ll likely do it with her husband, maybe a doctor.  If you wouldn’t ask about her sex life, don’t ask about having babies.

Motherhood, womanhood, can be a touchy subject.  We give our bodies up to another human being for nine months.  They borrow those bodies as they nurse, climb, sleep, seek comfort.  They leave their mark on our bellies, hips, hearts.  Childbirth and pregnancy can be deeply empowering, but for some there is pain.  These are not always smooth experiences, some are left unable to have more children.  And being asked is painful.

For now, I am embracing the countless blessings that I have.  I am content and happy with what life has offered and what it has in store.  I’m still wiping bottoms and sticky hands.  I often find picture books and toys tucked into my bed or shoe after my children are asleep.  I will miss these things one day, and perhaps decide that I’m not done with that part of my life.  But more importantly, I will foster every stage I have with my children.  I will pray that the stages never stop advancing and growing.

Whether I’m done or not, I’m going to love the children that I have.  And I’m going to pray that they’re always so happy to see their mama and greet her with kisses, hugs, and smiles.

Are You Really Too Busy?

My son came running up to me, smiling ear to ear.  He held a box of blocks in his arms.  “Build me mommy! Build me!”  But I was just too busy.  “Not right now, maybe later.”  And his face fell.

Was I really too busy?  Or were my priorities mixed up?  I could’ve finished the laundry later.  The dirty dishes weren’t going anywhere.

BusyThere are so many opportunities to take advantage of a moment.  So many chances to turn an ordinary day into a special one.  Will my children grow up and have fond memories of a clean house? No.  They don’t care if there are crumbs around the floor boards or toys on the floor.  Will they cherish memories of times that I sat aside my work to build a block tower taller than them?  Likely.  Because when I look back at my own memories, they aren’t of cleaning or browsing the internet.  They’re of playing and happy days.

It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday, to trudge along with all the mundane tasks I think need checking off my list.  Some of the best moments are of when I forgot about what I was ‘supposed’ to be doing and actually did what needed to be done.  Reading my children their favorite book for the 500th time, showing them what happens if you mix a little vinegar with baking soda, or just pulling out those blocks.

There is much love and fun to be had…when we just forget about how ‘busy’ we are and seize the moment.

This Is Life

We are in potty training mode at my house…It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last.

Yesterday  was spent cleaning literal pee and poop off my floors, chairs, couches.  We did have some successes and my son found much pride in those.  I was angry and frustrated much of the day and I was exhausted, left feeling defeated.

I woke up with tight sore shoulders, tension pulling at my temples – reminders that I let the stress get the better of me yesterday.  Potty training, messes, fights over toys, fifteen calls back and forth between pharmacy and doctor, a week of waiting to get a simple refill…and it still hadn’t been done.   I didn’t want today to be full of ‘annoyances’ or fights like yesterday.  And as I was bent over picking up dirty towels, my youngest son stood over me.  Thick beautiful lashes framing those soft, baby blue eyes.  Little crinkles in the corners as he smiled big and wide.  He was happy.  He was toddling around in his pajamas, waiting for a diaper change, and he was happy.  I smiled back at him, his happiness pooling into my own chest and filling my own heart.  Warmth that starts from deep within and pulls you out of your own trivial worry and frustration.

ThisIsLifeClothes and diapers were changed.  A minor whining event over not getting pants with a reminder that it’s easier to potty without them.  More phone calls and finally success.  I jokingly stick my tongue out at the boys as I pour their cereal into their cheery colored ‘fishy’ bowls.  They giggle and cackle because mommy is being silly.  Their laughter is worth more than money.  It permeates your soul.  It breaks apart the bars I place over my own heart so often.  It reminds me that life CAN be simple.  You don’t have to worry because everything important is right here and it is safe.  It is happy.  You are doing GOOD.

I easily get caught up in what I don’t like about my day.  I let it take over my mood and I often miss the happy parts that have been laid out for my taking.  Dishes and laundry end up trumping block towers more often than I care to admit.  But if I take just a few moments, I see their happiness.   Pure and simple delight in the simple things of life.

I take a step back, and I immerse myself in their innocence and their happiness.  There is nothing extraordinary in the every day…except that those moments will be worth more than any sum of money when they’re gone.  This is life.  This is my joy…

Bye Bye Hell-E-Phant

Does anyone else own the playskool elephant ball popper,  I call it the hell-e-phant?!? I loathe this toy. My kids enjoy it for five minutes and then somebody starts crying because they jammed it.  They stick crap down inside of it that isn’t supposed to be in it and I spend 45 minutes trying to get whatever is in it out. So today, the hell-e-phant met it’s demise. Me, a hammer, and a screwdriver said no more… Bye bye hell-e-phant. I am not going to miss you.

Hellephant

Crap my kids jammed into the hell-e-phant:  balls that go with other toys, play hammer, play screw driver, action figures, socks, blocks, legos, toy cars, forks, spoons, food, and lots of other crap I probably never knew about.

**Please note that my children will probably whine for the hell-e-phant and I will begrudgingly pull it out of the trash and put back together later. If I’m lucky they won’t say a word and off to trash land it will go because I don’t dare force this toy on another parent!**