May 26, 2014

Just a few things

Memorial Day usually marks the first real official day of summer and it's usually scorching hot and pushing 100 degrees by the end of May.  Today however, was cool and stormy.  Waves of rain and thunder came in all day long while I stayed home and washed tiny boy shorts and towels and underwear. 

While Jacob napped I managed to clean our bathroom and bring some order into our chaotic closet, where my plethora of blouses and scarves has come to be somewhat convicting because do I really "need" all of those clothes?

Over the weekend, I found out that my blog-friend Faith was in San Antonio for the weekend.  And thanks to the wonders of Instagram and the internets we got to meet up.  And to her delight, she didn't end up "in a ditch" like her husband feared she would.  We had a wonderful blate (blog-date) together and it felt like meeting up for dinner and a movie on a Sunday night was something we always did together.  I took her to my favorite Mexican restaurant for queso and margaritas, we did a bit of shopping and caught a chick-flick together.  Even though Sunday was the first time we had met in person, it was like we could pick up in the middle of a conversation we were already having thanks to the blogosphere.  She was just as fabulous and beautiful in person as she is on her blog and I was so excited that life and circumstance allowed our paths to cross for a brief Sunday evening.
I'm a bit hesitant to post this for fear that I'm flat wrong - but I think we may be turning a corner in the clinging-to-my-legs-in-the-kitchen phase with Jacob.  I was hoping that when he started walking and gained some more independence he might find something else to do rather than latch on to me while I attempted to cook dinner, and it seems as though my hopes and dreams in waiting for this to happen are coming to fruition.  Bits and pieces of motherhood and cooking dinner or just doing something else rather than being parked on the living room floor entertaining him is starting to feel easier and I'm grateful for the relief and the shift.  Though he has discovered shrieking and screaming when he even feels the most tad unpleasant about anything, so I've really just traded the clingy-ness for noise.  But you know what?  I'll take it. 
At the moment, I'm feeling like something new is brewing inside of my heart.  I don't know what exactly, but something is churning and mixing up inside of me and I feel like I'm on the verge of something big.  Maybe that sounds weird or vague or just plain stupid, but I can feel it in my bones.  God has been doing something in me for months.  Not that He hasn't been my whole life, but the last few months have felt big for my faith and my walk and my relationship with Jesus and there will definitely be more to come on this soon.....
Even though today was cool and stormy and the gray skies said spring, I know that summer is here already.  Graduations, weddings, new ministry opportunities, swim parties and barbecues, a Bible study, a Star Wars birthday party to plan, our summer beach vacation - so many things on the calendar to do and to be at and to look forward to.

I can't believe we're in the last of May already.  Time flies faster every year I think.  And I don't know about you, but I don't want to waste a minute of it.

May 19, 2014

A good-for-the-soul kind of day

This might sound silly, but I've always felt closest to God when I'm at the beach.  I've been that way ever since I was a little girl and when we would take family trips to the coast every summer.  It was as if I could reach out and touch the horizon and He was right there within my grasp.  As I got older, I would take my Bible out to the balcony of whatever hotel we stayed at and read and pray.  I would watch the sun rise and listen to the waves and feel the sea breeze in my hair and it felt as though God was right there - embracing me, surrounding me.  It's always been "the" place for me.  And not just for enjoyment, but for rejuvination and rest.

On the car ride home from church yesterday, I began to cry for maybe the umpteenth time that weekend.  My heart was aching and I had a lot on my mind and I blurted out to Todd how my soul was needing the beach.  I wished we could go, even if just for a little while.  And I tried to talk myself out of what I was needing.  Because how silly to need to run to the coast for a few hours just so I could get this invisible God-hug.  I told him I thought it was a dumb idea anyway and I went silent.

We got home and I crawled into bed for our usual Sunday afternoon nap.  Todd came in a few minutes later and told me to get ready.  His parents were coming over to stay with the boys and he was going to drive me to the beach for the day.  He knew it was what I was needing.  Before I knew it, we were on the road with our Icee's and beach towels, heading south.

The second I could see the Cos-Way, I quickened with excitement and anticipation knowing that the waves and the water and sand were within reach.  As a little girl, that was the sight I always waited for.  I knew we were getting close whenever the giant bridge came in to view.
The moment I saw the water and heard the waves and smelled the air, I was ready to run to it.  My tired, achy, sad heart ran to God.  As I stood there taking in some of my most favorite scenery in the world, I thought about all of the many moments and seasons of my life where I ran.  When I was angry or hurting or confused and would run from Him and run hard.  I ran away a million times.  And if He has been doing anything in my heart the last few years, it's been creating a heart in me that still runs.  But instead of running away from Him, I'm running to Him.

And that's exactly what I did yesterday.  I ran to Him.  
I walked and I put my toes in the sand and I took in every crashing wave, every hue of blue in the sky, every seagull's song and I let myself feel embraced by this God who meets me at the horizon and reminds me not only that I am loved, but reminds me of who I am.
I could have stayed for hours.  I could have stayed all week maybe.  But even though I knew it was for a short time, it was absolutely everything that I was needing.
Todd and I walked along the shore for a good hour searching for seashells.  The kid in both of us still surged with excitement when we spotted a piece of sand dollar or a unique colored shell.  We brought them home with us, these fragile pieces of spontaneity and adventure.  A reminder of our day, a reminder of God's faithfulness to show up.  And a reminder of the love Todd has for me.
Wave after crashing wave, sand on my shoes, sun-kissed on my shoulders, I didn't want to leave.  
But I knew we had to.  My heart had it's perfect fill of the ocean's tide and the sound of the waves.  And of my Jesus who was faithful to meet me there and fill me back up again with His peace.
Before we headed back home, we stopped for dinner at our favorite restaurant in Port Aransas.  A little shack of a restaurant called Snoopy's. Sand on the floor, seabreeze-only air conditioning and some of the best shrimp you could ever eat.
They have an incredible view right on the water and we ate and remembered the other times we had come here, some with friends, others on random, spontaneous day trips to the beach much like the one we were having now.  We talked about how much we were looking forward to our family vacation this summer, and how we'd come back again with our boys.
I'm overwhelmed sometimes at the love this man has for me.  He knew what I was needing yesterday and went out of his way to make it happen for me.  He knows my heart well enough to know that a couple of hours spent on the beach is worth the time it took it took to get there.  That a few hours spent in the car together by ourselves was even what we were both needing together too.
It was a good-for-the-soul kind of day.  And I'm beyond grateful for not only knowing that I have a God who sees me and knows what I need, but a husband who does too.

May 9, 2014

Mommy Blog Part 5: The Death of the IT Mom

There are some things that no one tells you about motherhood. 

No one tells you that it's actually possible for a four year old to ask exactly 74 question on a twenty-minute drive and around question 41, you'll want to bang your head against the window.

No one tells you that at some point, your child will throw something at you like strawberries.  Because heaven forbid you attempt to feed your child something healthy and abhorrent like a strawberry.

No one tells you that your child will be red in the face screaming at you because you had the nerve to get up and do something insane - like go to the bathroom and pee.

No one tells you about how about how relieved you'll be at bedtime or how much you'll cry from exhaustion or feeling like a failure.  No one tells you that you're house and your bathrooms and your carpets and your everything will never ever be the same again.

And probably because of this:
Because of how much joy and life and laughter and fullness that your children bring in to your home.  The home you thought was perfect because of your carefully selected throw pillows and designer paint colors.  But in actually, it's perfection comes with teethmarks on your coffee table and trucks strewn about your living room, and cans of green beans placed under the cabinets by your inventive boy.  A home is really made perfect with juice stains on those silly throw pillows and crumbs on the dining room floor and pictures colored outside the lines hanging from your refrigerator.
Even amidst a season of discouragement, my heart has never been more full.  I've often wondered how that can be, but I suppose it's one of the many wonders of motherhood.
The moment Tommy came into my hospital room after Jacob was born and beheld his baby brother for the first time, I was almost certain my heart would burst from all of the beauty and glory in that moment.  Nobody ever tells you how much your heart will expand when you suddenly find yourself the mother of not one, but two.  And I can't even imagine the hearts of the mama's with three and four and five and so on. 
As I've written and shared this week, reflecting on my story and journey of motherhood in this last year, my heart has also thought of the other mothers reading this post.  The mothers that have no babies, that desperately want them, whose wombs are closed or are healing or are anxiously waiting a miracle. I have to wonder what it feels like to read of my stories and struggles as a mother when I know others would give anything for these struggles to be some of their own.  I have a handful of very close friends who find themselves here and my heart aches and hurts wanting so badly for them to know all of this.  For you my friends, and you know who you are, I so long for you to have strawberries thrown in your faces and diaper blow-outs at 2:00am and your very own seasons of struggling in this place.  For laughter and toys and glorious children chaos to fill your homes and beautifully destroy your pillows and coffee tables.  Oh my heart hurts and I weep as I wait with you.  Those of you who have walked with me in my struggle here as you've waited and are waiting still, I am humbled to be loved in this place by you.....
During this last year of life, all I kept hearing in my head were all of the people who have ever told me to enjoy EVERY moment, because before you know it they'll be smelly, back-talking teenagers with an attitude or they'll be gone and you will never hear from them.  That's what they say you know.  And then you see all those stupid pins on Pinterest about how they won't be small forever and the laundry can wait and don't miss a single moment!  And blah blah blah blah. 
And to all of these people that have told me this, I keep thinking, "You don't have my baby!  They're not your legs he's clinging to!  You probably get to pee in peace!  You can probably make dinner without crying your eyes out!" 
What I wish we could hear more of is, "I know it's hard.  Hang in there.  I felt that way too.  Stop beating yourself up.  Let me watch your kids so you can have an hour to yourself."  Because really, we try - we try and try to enjoy every moment, but some of those moments aren't always enjoyable.  Enjoying every moment doesn't always make a difference on how you're feeling.  Sometimes we just have to admit, "Wow, this is crappy and I'm tired and I need a friggin break because I'm not just a mama, I'm a woman and I have needs and limits just like anyone else."
I think I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not the "IT" mom I had originally set out to be.  I have boys instead of the daughters I imagined.  I work almost full-time outside the home, I'm overweight, my laundry is still in baskets waiting to be folded and put away and my husband didn't get a packed lunch from me and wore a wrinkled polo shirt to work today.  Tommy eats dry cereal for breakfast and I pray that you never have to see my disheveled closets because they are anything but organized.
But the mom I am now isn't so bad I think.  I can throw a stellar birthday party.  Tommy loves my homemade coffeecake when I treat him to it on a Saturday morning.  I teach them how to play and be loud.  I build Legos and play trucks and explain Star Wars.  I teach them about Jesus and we pray and talk about God.  I bathe and read to and snuggle and feed and play with. 
Of course, some days never go as planned.  And there aren't picture perfect moments or sparkly Hallmark movie worthy memories made.
 But I'm building a life and a family and a home.  I'm raising these precious boys with a man who loves me.
And some days it's exhausting and frustrating and I just want to be done. And others are so rewarding and full that my heart can't hardly bear the glory of it all.  But they teach me.  They are always teaching me.

Tommy reminds me to be thoughtful and careful with my words.  He encourages me to speak life and kindness and is quick to call me out when he hears otherwise.  He invites me to adventure and to play and he lets me know how he feels or if I've hurt him.  He shares my passion and love for music.  And his tender, compassionate and sensitive heart, reminds me of my own.
Jacob is passionate and full of emotion.  He invites me to remember that this life isn't about me.  He encourages me to give even when I don't think I can anymore.  He has taught me patience and selflessness.  His smile is so bright and vibrant that it fills our whole house with something special.  There is a light in that boy that feels extraordinary to me.
These boys have taught me that they really don't need the IT mom I thought I was supposed to be.  The only mom they really me.

To my precious boys Tommy and Jacob - I love you both more than you will ever know.  No matter how I've struggled or will struggle as we all grow up together, I will thank God every day for giving you both to your daddy and me.  I have never known a greater joy than getting to be your mama.  I love you both so, so very much.

May 8, 2014

Mommy Blog Part 4: Something to Prove

I'm the kind of woman that wants to do it all, have it all, and be it all.  Which shouldn't be surprising considering the expectations I had set for myself as the "IT" mom.  I want to work and write and cook and bake and keep house and be involved in ministry and have parties and have big dinners with real dishes and mother and mentor and hang out with friends and craft and, and, and.  It's not always that I feel like I have to do all of those things.  I want to do them all.  I take joy in being a woman and creating beauty and living out all of these different places that God has invited me to live in as a wife, mom, writer, creator, Jesus-follower, and all around beauty-lover.  

While I am a mother, it's not all of who I am.  And since having Tommy, I think there have been parts of me that have fought to maintain my identity as a woman and not just as a mother.  

If anything though, the last year of life taught me that motherhood requires more selflessness than I ever thought it did.  That dying to yourself, your desires and wants and freedoms is something that is required if you are to ever be a mom.  That's where many of my tears and frustrations came from was not being able to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. 

Like even the simple task of cooking dinner.  If you haven't read my chili story - please, have a read.  It's quite entertaining.

The thing with doing it all too is the sense of pride that comes with it.  If I can juggle all of my balls perfectly in the air, then you will think I am amazing.  You will stand in awe and wonder of all that I am able to do and then I will feel fabulously about myself. 

Yikes.  Gross.

It was a humbling realization to learn that my desires and wants to do it all, and have it all and be it all were more than about pleasing others.  It was about proving something.  Proving something to you.  To me even. 

But, I realized I was needing to prove something to my mom.

If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you know that she died when I was 18, and that our relationship was distant and awkward.  And as an adult woman, I've spent most of those years grieving what we never had, the memories we could never make, and the conversations we would never have.  I was so wounded by her, that I set out to prove something to myself.  That I could be more or better or stronger or whatever - because I needed something from her that she never gave to me.

After this last humbling, frustrating, exhausting season of life with a challenging baby, never in my life have I wished more that she were here.  If she were, I would cry.  And I would hug her.  I would tell her I was sorry.  I would tell her that I wish I knew more of what grace was when I was younger because she needed it from me.  And I would tell her thank you for everything she ever did.  Everything she ever gave up.  Every sacrifice and ounce of energy and meal she made and love that she poured into the lives of me and my brother and my sister.  I'm sure there were nights she wanted to take off and have drinks with girlfriends.  Or spend an evening at Bible study rather than tending to my brother's medical needs.  Or just reading a book without interruptions or questions or laundry.

She may not have showed me love in a lot of the ways I was needing, but she did show me love.  And it's taken me five years and two boys, spilled chili and a bucket of tears to see and believe and know she loved me with all that she had within her to love me with.

It's been hard to feel like I've even been doing a good job in the last year as a mom.  But I've loved with all that I've had in me to love my boys with.  And if my mom were here, she would smile and cry and tell me that I was doing great and that my boys would know they were loved. 

Even if it took them 33 years to really believe it.

May 7, 2014

Mommy Blog Part 3: When having two children feels like ten

Days after he was born, I found myself studying Jacob.  Memorizing his face, trying to figure out what he was needing and what his different cries meant.  I couldn't get over how different he looked. 
Even though he was only a few ounces smaller than Tommy was, he looked so delicate and tiny.  His face seemed full of serious and pointed facial features, much like those of my husband.  I knew he was my son, but I felt different about him and I couldn't put my finger on it.  I tried to ignore whatever it was gnawing at me, because I had feared all along that I wouldn't be able to love him like I did Tommy.  I was scared that my heart wasn't going to be able to expand that way.

My fears worsened, when something in me snapped. I'm pretty sure it was somewhere in between Todd's treks back and forth to North Dakota, when all of that fell apart, and when I started working again.  It happened after one too many middle of the night diaper blow outs, or when Jacob would spew his entire bottle all over me.  When I was gone all day and I would come home and he would scream at me until bedtime.  How he woke up every hour and a half, but just because he wanted to be held.  It happened as I would sit there in the dark holding this boy and bawling my eyes out because I just wanted to sleep.  Looking back, there may have been some post-partum issues.  But I think it ran deeper than that too.

Over the next few months, it became evident that the nature of this baby was far different than that of my Tommy. Jacob loves attention and affection.  They are his most favorite things in the world.  He was not content or happy at all to be left alone.  If I got up or moved from his sight at all, he would throw a two-year old sized tantrum.  He seemed to be generally unhappy and I didn't understand why he was so angry all the time.  And I took it personally.  I felt like he hated me and that he thought I was doing a lousy job of being his mama.  And so I started to believe that.

There were nights, he would be crying.  Full belly, dry diaper, plenty of snuggles and yet still the tears.  "What do you need baby?  What are you needing?" I would cry.

Once Jacob started crawling, his anger and unhappiness seemed to get worse.  Especially if I was cooking dinner.  Oy, the dinners.  He would make his way into the kitchen and grab on to my legs and cry and cry because I wasn't holding him.  (Also, this STILL happens - this crawling up my leg thing at dinnertime phase has yet to end).  He wants to be in the midst of everything.  He wants to see what was going on and be a part of my spaghetti-making or lettuce chopping.  But you see, I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to cook my hamburger meat in peace.  I wanted him to not need me.  I wanted him to go play with his toys and look at my from the living room and smile as he was content being able to see me from a distance like his brother did when he was a baby.

And I was angry that he wasn't like his brother.  And I felt guilty for wishing he was like Tommy, because what kind of mother has those thoughts?
AlI kept thinking was that I had to figure out how to do all of this.  How to work.  How to cook dinner.  How to keep my baby happy.  How to have something, anything left for my Tommy.  How to be a good wife and keep my house clean and do all of the things that needed to be doing.  I had no idea that adding one tiny, little person to our lives was going to make all of life feel so impossible, so out of reach, so undoable.  Everything - life, me, my marriage, my house, my everything felt like a freaking mess.  And I was convinced that if Jacob didn't feel so challenging that I would be able to handle all of life as beautifully as I was before he had come into it.

What was true though, was that I couldn't do it all.  I was sinking and drowning in my inability to do it all and I didn't want anyone to know how bad it really felt for me.  It was Jacob AND it was life.  It was disappointment and a million other things too.  So when a challenging baby with a strong personality entered the picture, all of it seemed to send me over the edge.

For a a couple of months I tried to run from it.  I tried to busy myself with absolutley everything possible in order to get out of the house and to get away from this baby that felt like was sucking the life out of me.  I went to Bible studies or met up for dinners and tried to make arrangements that even looked like good ministry-related things, just so that I could simply be gone as much as possible.  I wanted my freedom back.  The freedom that came with having a four year old who could talk and take himself to the bathroom and use actual words to let me know he was hungry or if he'd like to read a story.  I felt choked and suffocated by having a baby again and I was desperate to regain my freedom as a woman.

But I had never heard any other mama talk about wanting her freedom back.  I had never heard any other mama cry because she just wanted her baby to be four.  I had never heard any other mama talk about how she just wanted to run away because her baby needed her so much that it was overwhelming and exhausting.  And so, I stayed quiet.  I beat myself up day after day.  And I cried.  I cried every single day.

And that's when the guilt set in.  I felt like a horrible mother for not wanting to be with my baby boy.  I felt full of shame because I couldn't handle having two children.  Six months, seven months, even nine months in and I didn't feel adjusted.  I felt lost and disrupted and there was no settling in to any kind of new normal.  I watched my friends with two and three and four children, mother with grace and ease.  I compared myself to all of them because I only had two and I felt like I couldn't handle any of it.  Somehow, having two children felt like having ten.  I was overwhelmed.  It felt like too much and they were taking too much from me and I was needing to fill myself back up with something, but it was as if the bottom had dropped out and no amount of anything was filling me up again.

All I knew at that point, was that if something was going to change, I had to be home.  I had to stop running away and busying myself and pretending that I'm the same person I was before February 28, 2013.  So, I quit.  I quit the bible studies and the groups and the random nights out with girlfriends and absolutely everything and committed to stay home.  Unless I was taking the boys with me, my commitment was to be home and to be what they needed if I wasn't at work. 

What felt frustrating was that even after I had made this commitment, no matter how much I gave and gave and gave to Jacob, it felt like it wasn't enough.  If I was on the floor with him for an hour and gave him my complete undivided attention, it still wasn't enough if I had to get up and go do something else even for a moment.

One of many nights where I found myself in tears to my husband, I cried about how much I resented Jacob for needing me.  He needed me all the time.  He needed so much of me and I felt like I couldn't be what it was he was needing.  And that's when a lightbulb went off.  The thing that had been gnawing at me since he was first born came to light.  It was his neediness.

It was how much I saw of my own neediness in him and something about it made me both terrified and angry.  I didn't want him to be like me.  I didn't want him to be needy.  Maybe I didn't want him to be hurt there.  I had needs as a child, many that went unmet.  As a child, as a teenager, I don't remember anyone ever asking me what I was needing.  My interpretation of this was that my needs didn't matter.  And what if I couldn't meet all of his needs?  I didn't know what to do with this realization - that I was parenting a child that clearly had my passion and emotions and deep feelings - and extreme neediness.  And what if I could never be what he was needing?  What if I failed him here for his whole life?   

I could see myself failing Tommy in the same way.  My words bit at Tommy all the time.  I was short and impatient and I started seeing hurt and woundedness in his eyes and my feelings of guilt grew all the more because I knew I was hurting him and I never wanted to hurt him.  He had needs too and I felt like I was treating him as though he was invisible.  My heart broke and I hated it.  I hated me.  And I hadn't hated myself in a long time.

Something had to change.  Something had to give.

By the time the holidays rolled around, I was a mess.  I had insomnia.  I was stressed.  I was over-eating and consuming foods that were just crap.  I was angry and full of contempt and everything that oozed out of my mouth sounded ugly.  I needed help.  I found myself pretending I was okay and I knew I wasn't.

So in one desperate, needy, tearful night, I sent an e-mail to a few friends.  I poured my heart out and asked if they could be praying and just check in on me.  I was honest about where I was struggling - brutally, painfully honest.  I shared the ugly.  I admitted that I didn't want to be with my baby and I felt horribly guilty about it.  I told them I was angry.  I told them I was hurting and felt like I was knocked on my ass and had no clue how to get up.  I told them I had been pretending.  And the very next day, I called my counselor and made an appointment.

Jacob's tears, his anger, his roller-coaster of emotion, the way he felt passionately happy or passionately pissed off, his affinity for affection and attention, it was like putting up a mirror in front of my soul.  Jacob is just like me.  And how unsettling to find pieces of yourself in the face of an angry baby boy.

May 6, 2014

Mommy Blog Part 2: Pride Cometh Before One Falls On Their Ass

When I was pregnant with Tommy, I had all of these first time mom hopes and dreams.  I would imagine what it would be like to sing lullabies and hold this precious bundle of life in my arms every night before bed.  I decorated his little forest-themed nursery and put his tiny clothes in order and as I rubbed my belly, I dreamed of beautiful memories and how full our lives would be.  I never read any books on pregnancy or even what to expect the first year.  I decided to rely on my gut instincts and take everything how it would come.  I felt so ready to be a mom that I was certain I could figure it all out.

Looking back, it's cute how I thought I would just "know" what to do in any given situation when it came to being a mom.  And for Tommy, he really did fit into my picture of motherhood and parenting perfectly.  Hew as a great baby, a great toddler - he's a great kid now.  And perhaps his greatness confirmed to me that I must be a great mom too.

A few years ago, I could easily see myself shaping up to be the "IT" mom I had envisioned.  I was on my way with my shiny, new baby that was the poster child of ease and delightfulness.  It's pretty easy to be the "IT" mom when you have the "IT" baby.

Tommy really was the easiest baby in the world.  Sure, I can remember a few especially frustrating nights, but for the most part, he was easy-going and laid back.  I could wash dishes or fold laundry while he played on the floor with his toys as content as could be.  We could leave him in his swing for hours (um, not that we did that or anything) and he was perfectly happy in there.  I could make dinner while he played with baking sheets and Tupperware.  And when it came to bedtime, I simply laid him down, turned on his mobile, kissed him goodnight and closed the door to his room.  He slept through the night like a champ from the time he was six weeks old and never woke us up again except for maybe the 2.5 times he was sick.  I could take him to the grocery store with me and he would sit in the cart and be his sweet, well-behaved self.

Who needs books?  Who needs help?  I've got this.  Clearly.  I mean, check out my stellar baby.

As he got older, things that are typically hard transitions were again - easy.  Weaning him from the bottle, taking away his pacifier, moving into a big boy bed and even potty training went down without a hitch.  While there has been a little push-back from him as he has grown and found is voice and opinion, he is generally obedient, compliant, sweet and well-behaved.

Even when he was pouting, he was freaking adorable.

And naturally, both Todd and I felt like we had done something right with our son.  We must have made the right discipline choices.  We must be creating some great environment for him to grow up in.  We must be pretty darn good parents because we had this pretty darn good boy.

Why not do this again?  We had this parenting thing down.

Perhaps when we found out that we were expecting baby #2, we were also expecting another baby just like Tommy.  One that looked like him, acted like him and a parenting experience identical to what we had done thus far with Tommy.

Again, it's cute that we thought having another child would go exactly like our first.  Admittedly, we were a bit naive and a bit lost in the whole romantic notion of having another baby together.

My pregnancy was rough and maybe that should have been an indication of things to come.  We were about to have our worlds rocked by a boy with so much passion and emotion that no amount of mother's instincts or what to expect books could ever prepare us for.  A boy that has pushed back since he came into the world.  And a boy that has taught me more about myself than maybe anyone ever.

My Jacob.

May 5, 2014

Mommy Blog Part 1: The IT Mom

When I was younger, I always had this vision of what kind of mom I was going to be.  You know how some girls make lists about the kind of man they are going to marry?  I had that same kind of list for what a good mom looked like.  And I was determined to be her.  The "IT" mom.

She looked very together - stylish, trim and sassy.  She would drive her four kids around in her SUV to soccer practice and gymnastics and piano lessons with finesse.  Four children was of course the perfect number when having a family.

She was the kind of mom that made hot breakfasts every day.  She would send her husband off to work with a packed lunch and a love note and a wet kiss and would stay home all day and play Barbies and tea party and dress-up because she would have daughters.  Boys were messy and loud and smelly, and I was sure daughters would be way more exciting.

The “IT” mom would never lose it – even on the bad days when she was tired or emotional.  More importantly, her kids would never see her lose it because she was going to have all of that under control.  She would always be happy and smiling, because how can you not be when you’re living the dream of a SAHM.  And you have all daughters  And YOU’RE MARRIED?!  Isn’t that what life abundant and fulfilled look like? 

Isn’t marriage and children and getting to stay home the dream of dreams if you’re a woman?

This same mom, the one I imagined I would be, she would sit and do crafts daily with her kids.  Grandparents and friends would receive handmade gifts on a regular basis because of all the time she spent with her precious girls.  She would of course make from scratch meals every day, have a tidy and kept home and have perfectly well-behaved, honest, polite children.  She was the epitome of balance, thoughtfulness and productivity – women would envy her and wonder how she seemed to master everything with such ease and beauty.

Her children's birthday parties would rock.  Her kids would be reading before kindergarten.  She would make award-winning cupcakes.  Her planner and her closets and her life would all be perfectly put together and organized.  She was thin and fit and exercised all the time.  Heck, she taught the fitness classes.  She helped out at church with all things children.  And of course she had sex all the time with her husband – and that’s why they were so happy together.  All of the daily sex they were having.  Because how great to be able to have sex every single day when you're married.

She was the image of the “IT” mom to me.  This organized, fit, crafty, sexed-up woman.  It was who I was going to be.  And if I wasn’t like her, I would die trying at least.

I’m almost certain that I came up with my version of the “IT” mom because it was who I wished my mom was.  We had an awkward relationship at best, and I desperately wanted more from her and with her.  I spent most of my childhood feeling missed by her as her affections and attentions were extended primarily to my brother who had special physical needs that she had to tend to an almost 24-hour basis.  I remember making a vow when I was younger that I was going to out-mom her and be everything I wished my mom was and more.  I would show her how to be a good mom because I was pretty sure she sucked at it.

A few months ago, I watched my image of the “IT” mom shatter to my dining room floor, hot chili dripping all over my screaming baby and my refinished dining room chair.  And I knew that this mom I thought I was going to be, would never be me.

May 2, 2014

Coming Soon: The Mommy Blogs

So, I know I only have two kids.  I know I'm still a relatively new mom seeing as I've only been a mom for four (almost five) years.  But in the last year of life especially, something in me has changed.  After fighting exhaustion and feelings of failure and one strong-willed, passionate, emotion-filled boy, my perspective has shifted.  Painfully, oh so very painfully, I've been growing.

There's been spilled chili and thrown strawberries and bite marks on my coffee table and a baby at my knees in the bathroom angry that I'm not holding him as I attempt to pee.  All of the mess and the chaos and the brokenness I discovered inside of me has been part of this great undoing in my heart of the expectations I had of myself as a mom.  And even more so, an invitation to grace.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been working on some blog posts in regards to motherhood.  One post morphed into two, and those two morphed into another, and before I knew it, I had five posts worth of motherhoodish things to say.  And I'm almost certain, I could keep on going and write a short book.

I've been quiet about this piece of my life for awhile.  Probably because I never imagined I would struggle in the ways that I have in this role and I've wanted to hide it.  I've allowed myself to sit in shame and believe I was alone here.  I never imagined the difficulty I would have within myself as I went from having one child to two.  I heard this transition was rough, but I didn't know how rough until I caught myself sobbing tears as I chopped lettuce at my kitchen counter while my baby screamed at me and would cling to my legs with all his might.  I realized that a lot of my struggles poke at the places where I miss my own mother and desperately wish she were here so I could ask her of it felt this hard.  So I could hug her neck and tell her thank you and give her the grace I never did when she was alive.  When I was clueless about what it is that a mama even does or feels or goes through.

Next week, I'll be sharing some real, raw and honest pieces of my mama's heart.  There are both Seasons and Stories in the whole journey of motherhood and parenting I've learned.  And I have plenty of them to share. 

And this boy - who I cannot get over how he is looking at me in this picture - he has been the greatest challenge and one of the greatest joys I've ever known.  Even when I've felt like I'm failing him, or missing it all together - he knows he is loved.  And he loves me right back.
I hope you'll stop by next week for a story or three.

May 1, 2014

Summer in May

Remember that time I posted about Bluebonnets and I said spring only lasted for a few weeks here?  Yeah, I wasn't kidding.  See?!  
I don't really mind though.  I might get a little tired of the heat come October when the rest of the world gets all show offy with their golden leaves and crisp fall weather.  But I love the sunshine and the color of the sky and all the summer everything - even if it has been 100 degrees already.
It's time again for popsicles and sunglasses and mini-pools and playing in sprinklers and long days full of sunshine.
What's up summer?  I've missed you.