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.

The Work of Special Needs Parents

I don’t often talk about the struggles  of being a parent to a special needs child/ren.  I feel guilty because my children are for the most part healthy. They don’t need fancy medical equipment, but they have very real disorders that need a lot of my time.  Apraxia of speech, oral sensory issues related to apraxia, fine/gross motor difficulties,  a phonological speech disorder, congenital trigger thumb, and possible hip dysplasia in my infant.  It takes its toll.  So here’s a brief glimpse into the mind of a special needs mama.

I feel myself buckling a lot lately, thinking I can’t, but then somehow I always do.

I am lucky. For the most part, my kids are healthy. But I am so, so very tired of specialists and therapies. No, my kids do not have any life threatening conditions. You really wouldn’t know that HOURS of our weeks are spent running speech drills, working on coordination, me researching how to best help them. Am I thankful that our life has not been a revolving door of doctors? Yes. But I’m still tired.

There are still days when I angrily ask God, why??? Why can’t we have ‘normal’. We don’t want to be special today we want to be plain ol’ normal, no speech, no upcoming surgery, no doctors calling to ask if we’ve taken our child for this screening or that screening yet.

SpecialNeedsParentingPlease don’t ask me how I do it. The answer is raw and dirty. I cry. Behind closed bathroom doors. In my van in the front seat before I dry my eyes so they can’t see. In bed silently while everyone else is asleep.  I tell myself to suck it the hell up because there was a time when there were no babies. When my womb was empty or healing yet again from another loss.  I get so mad at God all over again because shouldn’t I get to  have it easy after it was SO HARD to become a parent to begin with.

In brief moments, He answers. He gently laughs and reminds me, this is it. This is what I was preparing you for. You worked for it. And now you work FOR THEM. Cry, let it out, then remember the strength you built through all the waiting and the loss. You get to be the mother of special children, and one day, no one will know the struggle until you tell them.

You’ll use it to encourage others who are crying behind  bathroom doors and in front seats of vans. You’ll use it to tell the mom whose child is struggling that one day this will only  be a memory. And I move on. And do it. Just do it, do the work to help the child that you prayed for.

Because the child is here, alive, and well.

Mother’s Day Memories

On this #TBT, I did something a little different.
 
Instead of a picture, I’m going to share some of my favorite memories of the special ‘moms’ in my life.
 
1. Christmas with my mom. Especially as a child although she does it just the same for me as an adult. I figured out Santa very early on, I was always a little wise beyond my years in some areas, others not so much. When I figured it out around 5yo she let me help her with wrapping ALL the presents and would buy me one special small something to play with while we stayed up late on weekends doing all the wrapping. Now, if you know my mama, you know Christmas is her thing. There was not a corner of our house not decorated, she even wrapped the range hood in wrapping paper and let me tell you, to see our house so transformed at Christmas was just magical to me. I always love remembering those late Friday nights, her bedroom strewn with toys and gifts while she taught me how to properly wrap a present and let me ‘test’ our Christmas gifts. She also always took us shopping for a new outfit before every field trip. It was always special to me.
 
2. My grandma had a big impression on me. We stayed with her in the summer, anytime school was out, and after school. She lived right next to us. I’m so sad that dementia is not letting my kids see the granny I grew up with. It’s a hard thing for me to come to terms with. My granny taught me to do chores first thing in the mornings. We’d sweep, polish furniture, wash dishes, all sorts of things. She’d french braid my hair and I thought that was the most relaxing soothing thing I’d ever felt. I still long for that relaxed, pampered feeling some days. Every day mama would pack us a ‘satchel’ full of books and my granny would put both my sister and I on her lap and read us every last one of those books. When it stormed, she’d turn all the lights off reminding us her house wasn’t ‘grounded’. Then she’d have us sit in the floor, away from the windows, and she’d tell us ghost stories for hours. She’d tell us all about her daddy coming home in the rain, lighting matches and seeing horses that weren’t there. Dogs that turned into balls of fire. My granny was the best ghost story-teller I’ve ever come in contact with. And every time it storms, I long to sit down in the floor, Indian style, and listen to her tell me a story. I probably chose to be a stay at home mom in hopes of recreating such a rich childhood like she did for us. There is such beauty in the simplicity that is motherhood and it’s something I have treasured from very early on.
 
3. Aunt Vickie. My aunt also lived next door to us for much of my childhood and we spent a lot of time with her. As I’ve grown older she is more like a second mother than an aunt. And my children think of her as another grandma. She would take us for rides in her meticulously cleaned and waxed car. The leather seats were well oiled and if we didn’t buckle up, we’d go sliding across the back which we thought was fun. She’d take us down ‘spooky’ dirt roads and tell us stories about the ghosts on them. This tradition she has passed along to my boys and they absolutely love it. She’d let us listen to her HUGE collection of CDs and play VHS tapes of The Monkees for us. And she’d let us come to work with her at the library in the summer which was an adventure for us. We’d get to desensitize discarded magazines and books and hide out in the work stations. Of course she’d let us watch our very favorite ghost story tape in the media room too. And I STILL miss those stories! She still spoils my kids and I rotten.
 
4. I miss watching my Granny Ollie quilt by hand. She also liked to tell us stories about growing up which we loved.
 
5. My aunt Anna used to bring my cousins down every Friday so we could play. And we’d often all pile into one car and ride to the Dollar Tree which we loved.
 
6. My aunt Jane would let us come to her house to swim and we spent many Sundays playing at Granny’s with Colby.
 
7. While not part of my childhood, I am very happy that Becky is a part my children’s. They love going to Nana’s house and I love that they are so richly loved and cared for when there.
 
No family is perfect, but I am blessed with ‘mothers’ who care, love, teach, instill values, and let us have fun. I am not a perfect mother, but I try very hard to be a good one. And these women taught me how to do that. Thank you all.

When Babies Aren’t Babies Anymore

Today, it hit me. I’ve been a mom for over five years, but today I finally got it.
 
For some reason I’ve never been able to envision my children as more than ‘babies’. I’m fully aware that they grow, but in my mind, they are and were always going to stay babies. My five-year old had a little exercise to do on what he might want to be when he grows up. So I asked him and he told me very bluntly and clearly that he wants to be a police officer so he can carry a gun and catch the ‘bad guys’. Now I hear about bad guys every single day from my son. He is an avid superhero lover and loves nothing more than to tell me what superhero he is and how is going to fight those ‘bad guys’. I always just thought of this as play, I never realized he might be doing adult work and thinking about how this play equates to life. I should have, he is a smart boy and like his mama he is alllll about analogies and comparisons. This small child is figuring out this world, whether I’m ready for it or not.
 
He and I had a chat about police officers, their guns, and those bad guys. I am not ready to tell him that the bad guys in the real world don’t carry weapons that shoot freezing webs, that the things they do are far worse than what he sees in all his superhero movies. But part of me knows that this precious boy who I was still seeing as my baby probably already knows more of it than I wish he did. We talked about how police officers might also help those who don’t have as much as others. I showed him articles about real police officers doing toy drives for needy children or helping a mom or dad who couldn’t afford a car seat get one. And he grinned. He grinned so big telling me he’d like to help too. That’s when I broke.
 
Boy to ManThat’s when my heart burst in sadness and happiness all at once. I’m raising a little boy, but I’m raising him to be a man. A man I pray for every single day. An honest, caring, loving, smart man who will do things to make so many proud while making this world a better place. I pray daily for my children’s health, their happiness, and the strength to be the mother they need. I pray that he beats speech apraxia and that he accomplishes much. But I never think about him as an adult. At least I didn’t until today when my mind finally broke that baby mold I’d placed him in. I could see him, my baby, as an equal. Not a child, not my baby, but my grown son. I knew then that I’d always pray, that I’d always be worried and hopeful for him. That it would never stop and only grow. It also meant I’d get to experience his triumphs and joys. Not just the first steps and the conquering of a speech disorder, but a graduation, a true love, a JOB. Today I got it.
 
I always knew that police officers, doctors, firemen, military, etc all had dangerous jobs. They do, whether it be guns or disease they fight against, they put their lives at risks. I never looked at these people as someone’s son or daughter. I knew they were and I was grateful they had the bravery to put themselves out there so wholly to help others, but I never got that behind all of them, there was likely a terrified mama. A mama who was so proud but so scared of what her child was doing. A mama who stayed up at night worried, wishing just maybe that child was sitting behind a desk in an office instead.
 
I have no idea what my children will grow up to be. My only thought is that they grow to be good. That they’re kind to others and have morals and values and that they love. I’m lucky enough that one of them also has more bravery in his youth than I probably have as an adult. Somehow, I’m doing something right and I hope they continue down that right path. For all those terrified mamas behind the brave, the good – thank you. I don’t know how you do it, but thank you for raising courageous good souls who add beauty to this world instead of marring it.

Valentine’s Diapers

Valentine's DiapersOne of the perks of using cloth diapers is that you can match the diapers to your baby’s outfit or even pick diapers to match holidays and events.  Cloth diapers have come a long way from plain white squares of fabric and rubber pants.  Nowadays, you can find cloth diapers in almost any color and print.  Here are some of my favorites for Valentine’s Day.

Thirsties Limited Edition Sweetheart Collection – A diaper with a fresh white background and a splash of pink hearts make this the perfect Valentine’s Day diaper.  Available as a cover, pocket, or AIO diaper you also gets lots of options to meet your cloth diapering needs.  Orchid and rose are also great.

BumGenius Dazzle and Countess.  A deep purple and a bright, hot pink make these adorable peeking out from under a cute Valentine’s dress.

Rumparooz Spice is a gorgeous muted red.  Sherbert’s purply pink is rich while Amethyst is softer.  Tulip is the perfect baby pink while Crimson is red hot.  Lux would also make a fun valentine’s print with it’s blends of pink and red.  Rumparooz offers so many Valentine’s friendly colors you could set up an assortment for the whole day!

Grovia’s Persimmon and Poppy add a little more color variation to the lineup.

Applecheek’s Love HappensSuddenly Royal and Jem add two pretty purples to the assortment.

BabyKicks Red would be perfect for your little gentleman.

Best Bottom’s Strawberry Shortcake gives us a little pop of yellow with our pink.  Very Cherry gives a classic red and white while Wild Berry blends two purples.  If you want to mix in a little green, try Plum Pie.  For a splash of black and white try Cookies N Cream.

ButtomBumper’s Cherry, Plum and Pixie are adorable.  Bubble Gum gives us a little bit of green with all the pink and purple while Licorice gives us a black and white chevron sure to compliment all those reds and pinks.  Sweet Cherry mixes it up a bit with fresh cherries and flowers on a pink backdrop.

Funky Fluff offers Love Bug and Pink.

I’ve always loved Itti Bitti’s rich, velvety colors.  Mulberry and Papaya are simply decadent.  Danube and Hanako add some adorable prints.  And Bubble Gum gives us another pop of pink.

Tidy Tot’s rounds out our Valentine’s Day diapers with Violet, Cheeky Cheetah, Pink Circles, and the adorable Tweet Heart.

Of course, the best part about all of these cloth diapers is that they can be worn every single day to add a bit of love to your baby’s tushy.

*This post contains affiliate links for which I will receive a small portion of the sale if the link is used to make a purchase.  Of course, you don’t have to use the links to purchase, but we appreciate when you do!  You can read our full disclosure policy here.

 

Learn To Help Yourself

Take Care of YourselfLast week, I did something out of character for myself – I gave up.  I had a to-do list that was miles long and a pile of papers for my kids, my family, and my goals.  I felt in over my head.

As parents, we spend so much time taking care of our children and our families that we often become the background noise in our own lives.  We spend each day ticking off items on a list – appointments for the kids, a project for friends, maintaining our homes, work obligations….  At the end of those long tired days it is very easy to just snip off the end of list that we’ve put ourselves on and forget those tasks.  But the easy way, isn’t always the best way.

As I stared down the barrel of what looked like sleepless nights and a plate fuller than what I thought I could handle, I started taking off the parts that were for me.   When your days are already filled, it’s hard to imagine adding anything else even if it’s something you want and believe in.  I thought taking away those parts would make me feel relieved and at peace, but instead it left me feeling empty.  Yes, my days would be clear to fully devote myself to my children and my family, but there would be little room for myself.

Room for self – that’s an important part of being a parent that many people forget.  It’s easy to do.  From the time you become pregnant people’s reaction to you changes.  It goes from, “Good morning, how are you,” to , “How’s the baby, have you picked a name yet?”  For nine solid months your life will revolve around your growing baby and that growing belly.  When the baby enters the world, your own focus is fully centered on feeding, diapering, bathing, and loving this new being.  You will think of your child almost every single second of every single day.  Their care will, at first, leave little time for your own.  You may feel guilt when you leave them for the first time even and if you aren’t careful, you may very well lose yourself entirely.

The role of mother does not have to be the only one you take.  It does not have to replace your role as wife, friend, daughter, co-worker, even business owner.  While it can permeate each of your other roles, molding and shaping who and what you are, that isn’t a bad thing!  Motherhood can teach you patience, compassion, and perseverance.  It can show you just how strong you always were and how much you can accomplish when you are dedicated.  It can teach you to be humble and you will learn to multi-task with far greater ease than you ever have before.

Last week I gave up.  At least temporarily.  I threw in the proverbial towel and I resigned myself to give up the roles I wanted for myself.  Lucky for me, I’m not alone.  I have friends, family, prayers, and a power greater than myself.  Thanks to a combination of all these, I was guided back on track.  I realized that deciding to give up on the parts of myself that were just for me might make completing all my daily duties easier, but it wouldn’t be living in its truest sense.  When we exist without passion or goals, we aren’t truly living and I want to do more than exist – I want to truly live.

There’s a popular saying that God only helps those who learn to help themselves.  In one sense, I very much believe this.  I believe that God helps those in need, but I also believe we have to play an active role in bettering ourselves and our lives.  When you’re given an opportunity – take it.  When you’re given a chance to try something you’ve always wanted, you owe it to yourself to do it.  To be the best parent you can be, you must also take care of yourself and learn to let go of guilt when you do.  An evening away or a decision to take on roles in addition to that as a parent are good for you and your children.

Being Happy As The Parent You Are

There was a time in my life when I couldn’t imagine anything more fulfilling than being a mother.  I longed desperately to be a mother and finally, finally got my wish.  A struggle with infertility had made being a mother feel like the only thing I needed to be complete.  And for a while, it was.

Before ChildrenBefore having children, I worked full-time.  I enjoyed working and had no intentions of becoming a stay-at-home-mom.  However, once my oldest son was finally here and those weeks were speeding by to the end of my leave, I realized that I just couldn’t leave him.  I trusted the daycare providers we had chosen and visited, but there was a strong bond between my heart and this new being’s that pulled me ever so close to him.  There was no way I would be returning to work.  That was just over four years ago and I’m now a stay-at-home-mom to TWO little boys.  My boys are still young, but they are no longer babies.  They are capable of playing independently for longer stretches of time and I’m no longer caught up in bottles, naps, and mountains of diapers and spit-up laundry.  I’m still quite busy being their mother, but I’m often not nearly as content as I was in those first three years.

Occupation of MotherBeing a stay-at-home-mom has awarded me the luxury of witnessing so many of my children’s firsts.  I saw first steps, crawls, rolls, laughs, words.  I’ve watched fine motor skills become more precise and language skills flourish.  I’ve watched my children began to discover just who they are and what they enjoy in life.  It has truly been miraculous.  When they were infants and still loved to nap, I reintroduced myself to sewing and learned that my talents and passion for it were stronger than I’d remembered.  I learned to crochet, cook from scratch, and grow a garden.  I became an advocate for living more naturally and frugally.  I learned to help moms learn to cloth diaper and embrace more natural products.  My children not only brought me (and my family) joy, they brought me back to life.  They were an awakening I hadn’t known I’d needed.  It’s almost painful for me to look back on a life before them because there was always such a strong emptiness with me back then.  There was always anger covering a pain where my soul was aching for these little beings that I didn’t even know yet.  There was part of me there…but my kids brought back the rest of me.

Love Yourself MamaI love being able to stay home with my kids.  We make sacrifices so that I can be so involved in their lives and I truly wouldn’t change that.  I would be lying though if I told you that it still left me totally and completely fulfilled as a person.  I wish it did!  I know mothers who are truly content and happy being ‘just’ moms and I admire them so much.  While my children changed me for the better, I am and will always continue to be an individual.  My own wants and desires did not fade to black when the occupation of mother was added to my résumé.  I am very proud of the me who was so content and happy staying home and devoting her every being to the care and love of her children.  I’m still that mom, but one wants to add in parts of my old self once again.  After all, isn’t melding parts of our old and new how we evolve into something better?

We all too often doubt who we are as mothers.  We shouldn’t.  Whether we’re the mom who is juggling a career and motherhood, the mom whose whole life is staying home, or the mom whose found a balance somewhere between – we should embrace the parents we are today.  We won’t get to relive these moments, we won’t get do overs.  If we’re teaching our children to love and we’re loving them back, we’ve got at least part of it right.  Love yourself mama, your kids already do.

Using Cloth Wipes On The Go

Cloth Wipes On The GoFor me, the scariest part of transitioning to cloth diapers was learning to successfully use them while we were out.  Almost three years later, I can’t believe I ever felt like cloth diapering was difficult, even for the diaper bag.  As a cloth diaper veteran, it all seems like second nature now.  I often get emails, messages, and comments from parents who are new to cloth and feeling a bit overwhelmed when it’s time to take their cloth diapers on an extended outing or even a quick trip to the store.  Let’s be honest, EVERYTHING is new when you’re a first time mom or dad.  You over pack the diaper bag, or you forget key components altogether.  It happens.  Here are a few tips to make taking your cloth wipes with you while you’re out easy and stress free.

  • Designate a certain amount of wipes for diaper bag use.  Luckily, cloth wipes are pretty cheap whether you make or buy them.  Make sure you buy enough wipes that you can leave a stash in the diaper bag .  Obviously you’ll need to restock when the diaper bag stash is all dirty, but you won’t have to worry about leaving yourself with no clean wipes at home if you’ve purchased or made enough to have extras.
  • Get a small wet bag to keep clean wipes in.  It’s always easier to grab your wipe pouch when you need it than rifle through a diaper bag for clean wipes.  A pouch keeps them together and easily accessible.  It also allows wipes to be moistened before a trip.
  • If you’re out and about daily, wet your wipes before you leave home.  If you’re going to be out a few days in a row, go ahead and wet your diaper bag wipes before you leave the house.  This way they’re completely ready to grab and go when baby needs a change.
  • If you’re not out daily, store diaper bag wipes dry and take a travel size spray bottle.  If cloth wipes are wet and left to sit more than a few days, they get stinky.  If you and baby aren’t making daily trips out, it’s easier to store your diaper bag wipes dry and  fill a travel sized spray bottle with wipe solution so you squirt the solution as needed.  These spray bottles are easily obtainable at most dollar and big box stores.
  • Keep a small stash of cloth wipes in your car.  Cloth wipes can be made very cheaply which means you can afford to have extras.  There will inevitably be a time when you forget to restock the diaper bag wipe box.  If you’ve left a small stack of wipes in your car and you can get to some water, you can get your baby’s bottom (or sticky ice cream fingers!) cleaned up quickly and easily.

*This post contains some affiliate links.

Present…Thankful

Life.  Stuff.  Me.  Mostly me.

It’s all those little things that get in the way of what I want.  And what do I want?  Most of the time I don’t really know.  I’ve always been filled with too many thoughts that all race at once.  Good ideas, good intentions that normally don’t come to fruition.  Granted, some do.  Some things I stick with and see through.  Others fall by the wayside of being mother, wife, friend-titles I take seriously.  A few fall to the wayside of laziness and for those I have no excuse.

Yesterday was one of those days where everything builds up and then you break.  The anger, the frustration, the I-don’t-give-a-damns all tumble out of you in a sobbing mess.  Much contributed to my dam breaking; to do lists that were too long but somehow got accomplished, except the things I wanted to do for me…  Those things I want to do just for me are the ones that always get cut.  There’s no blame, it’s just part of being an adult.

I poured myself into a sunken pile on my bed and I sobbed.  As I reached to my bedside table for a tissue, my hand skimmed too low and hit a row of books nestled inside the table.  I pulled one out, unsure what it was, where it even came from.  I began to read and the book resonated within me.  Words leapt from the pages and they touched my heart and warmed my soul which had grown as cold as my uncovered feet.  I lay in my bed among soft pillows and I read.  I could hear chaos ensuing in my kitchen.  Children who weren’t listening to their father anymore than they had listened to me, but in my bed, with my door closed I stayed.  I could hear dinner ending and bath time ensuing, but this book had a message I needed to hear.

Overcoming Seeds Of DoubtI read through pages that turned into chapters, said a prayer of blessing for the person who had sent this book my way.  It wasn’t needed when it arrived many months ago, but now, in my crumbled mess, it was vital for my sanity.  By the time my boys were ready for goodnight kisses, the book had calmed me.  I marked my place and sat it aside.  I walked to my youngest son’s bedroom where I could hear him asking for mommy kisses.  I nestled that little head in my hands and I covered him in kisses as he giggled, wrapping his little arms around my neck.  I thought that this, this is what I live for.  Not that part of the list that never gets accomplished.  Not these things others expect me to do or all these avenues I feel I’m being pushed down.  This is my happy, this is my purpose.

I tucked my son in and traveled to his brother’s room.  More kisses, more hugs, more of my head resting on his chest a bit longer than usual as I said goodnight.  I soaked up that little heartbeat, cherished that kiss and hug.

Later in the evening, when it was too late and I was too tired, I sank into the couch with still wet hair and I browsed through my Facebook feed.  Not looking for or really at anything.  But a video pulled me and I clicked it.  Again, it was what I needed in that moment.  To hear that we’re our own worst enemy.  That we fight ourselves, deny our potential and our purpose far too often.  He was there…the book, the hugs, the video.  All pieces to the puzzle I’ve tried to put together while begging Him to answer.

For a moment all was clear and I knew my path, my purpose, my light. However, doubt doesn’t fade immediately.  The seeds, once planted, weed their way through our being.  They’re intertwined with all that we want and those hopes and dreams can come to feel like a burden instead of wings to freedom.  The book though…it reminds me.  Be thankful for who you are NOW.  Be happy where you are NOW.  The rest will come, but only when we lay our doubts to rest and learn to be thankful, not critical.  It will all come when we learn to be content and joyful.

I lay in bed this morning, ticking down that to do list.  As if I had learned nothing at all yesterday.  I could feel my head starting to ache, but as I reached for my glasses, I saw the book they were resting on and I stopped.

Be present…be here…now.  And be thankful.

Present.  Thankful.  Now.  Here.

The Day That Isn’t…

Beacon of HopeBack in September…I was so excited about Christmas this year.  Granted, I’m excited about Christmas every year, but this year there was to be a special announcement.

One week (or perhaps just a few days) before Christmas, we were to find out the gender of the baby that I lost in September.  Just as I had made an elaborate video to announce our new babies impending arrival, I had a big plan to reveal baby M3’s gender.  I was so excited that the time was going to work out so that we’d find out right before Christmas.  As soon as the ultrasound was done I was going to rush over to my favorite baby store and buy an outfit in the appropriate colors that screamed BOY or GIRL.  Two outfits actually – one for my mother and one for my mother-in-law.  And oh how a big part of me prayed for a girl.  One tiny precious little girl among my rough and tumble, but painfully sweet boys.  If that box had been filled with a pink outfit, my heart would have leapt higher and higher.  Of course, if that box had been filled with more blue I would have rejoiced just as freely at having another protector.  Another precious little heart for me to teach how to be kind and love.  And who could teach me in things like superheroes, race tracks, and playing in the dirt as my other boys so love to do.

I can’t help but be a bit sad – occasionally weepy this holiday season.  I am so blessed to have so much good in my life that it can often overshadow what I feel is bad.  Yet in the quiet of the morning and the stillness of the night I’m often left alone with the thoughts of what could’ve been and it becomes a heavy burden.  While there will be presents beneath my tree, there will not be the promise of another child’s birthday to await next spring.  There is not a growing life in my womb to be celebrated…

As it so happens, my oldest son was born just two weeks shy of Christmas.  It is always such a celebratory day for us.  We celebrate this beautiful child who brought into our lives so much more than a new life.  Through his labor hope and proof that miracles happen were born.  God's GiftsHe proved to us that dreams come true if you never give up on them.  He was a beacon of light that pushed his way out of a darkness many mother’s sadly know about – but not all escape.  His birth showed me that I embody strength and courage and still kept a soul gentle enough to be brought to tears by a brand new baby’s cries.  Such a small baby, born three weeks before he was to come, just couldn’t wait to tell the world – we did it.  My mom, dad, and I – we beat this infertility thing and we’re here.

I view my two boys as true miracles, it would be hard not to when you look at how many of their siblings failed to thrive in my womb.  With so many living, walking miracles in my life I often feel guilty that I still pray for just one more.  God placed within me a mother’s heart and that is one calling that I have never wavered upon.  There were many times when the darkness in me called upon me to give up…but, I was never one to be told I couldn’t do something.  My mother’s heart always won out in our battle to become parents.  And, I do sincerely believe it will win out in our battle for “just one more”.

I’m not wrapping up any big news to place under the tree this year.  The day that I was so impatiently waiting for will not be.  I am wrapping up love and hope.  I’m walking proof that perseverance is a trait worth holding on to and that if you want something to happen, eventually it can.  I do not hold time’s playbook.  I don’t get to peek under God’s Christmas tree and see what he has waiting for me.  However, if I take the time to breathe, let go of my fears and anger, I can open my eyes and watch all the past gifts that mean so much play out before me every single day.  For that I am thankful.  I am clearly blessed….