Posted in Family, Motherhood

This is My Motherhood

I didn’t awaken that morning expecting my life to change. I knew some things would be different. There would be diapers to change, extra laundry to wash, another mouth to feed. But true change? As in a shift in perspective change? As in a how-did-I-ever-make-it-without-you change? Yet there it was, covering me like a warm sweater. Fitting perfectly.

And I almost missed the significance of it.

My first day of motherhood.

Like many young girls, I had often dreamed of marrying my prince charming. Together we would create the perfect family which would, no doubt, include an adorable baby girl with a closet full of pink dresses and lacy hair bows.

In this dream, my prince charming and I never disagreed. The sweet baby never cried. Money was never scarce. I always looked put-together in my career suit, high heel shoes, and polished fingernails.

It now occurs to me how this childhood fantasy skipped from the start of marriage, family, and career and sprinted straight into a never-ending state of bliss. Never once did I consider the life destined to take place between the beginning and the end.

So there we were, my beau and I, planning for parenthood as best we could. Early November would bring with it a small bundle of joy. I would stay home with our baby girl for two months, and then return to work. Life would carry on much the same as it had.

And then she arrived.

To this day, I’m not certain exactly what happened.

This everything-must-go-according-to-plan woman was knocked off track by a 7 pound, 5 ounce baby girl packaged in pink.

I never saw it coming.

Not through years of dreaming and planning. Not through nine months of loving her through pregnancy. Not through hours of laboring to get her here. Not until I held her in my arms for the first time.

I had become a mother.

It was within that moment I began to see life differently. I began to sense the call to motherhood, and in accepting that call, new experiences became the norm.

Motherhood brought with it much learning. I quickly realized not every little girl is fond of pink and lace. And that some two-year-old boys can easily outrun their mothers despite their tiny legs. That even the youngest of children can struggle with shyness. That some toddlers have a will stronger than their adult counter-parts. And that an ordinary rock or weed can become a special gift when given from the lovely heart of a child.

If not for mothering, I may have never become an expert at capturing crickets, toads, and frogs. I most certainly would have never owned a pet rat (affectionately known as Mr. Rat), nor would I have willingly housed lizards, guinea pigs, or hamsters (or the babies they were never supposed to birth).

I’m sure I would have never carried on a conversation with the one lone fish who lived on my kitchen counter. Nor would I have taken on the large number of dogs and cats we’ve loved through the years. No, my entourage of pets would have been much less if not for motherhood.

Living as a mother has also stretched me in more important ways. It has caused me to question, at times, much of what I thought to be true. It has forced me to think hard, and to pray more. What has worked with one child has not worked with another.

And the heartaches, oh how deeply they hurt. I wonder whether a deeper pain exists than that felt by a mother whose child is struggling, or rebelling, or hurting, or leaving, or one who has already gone.

From the first child of my dreams, to the two boys who followed, on to a second daughter, and then finally, a baby boy. Five children. Five blessings. All with similar traits, yet uniquely themselves. All very much loved. Each one an important, vital piece of the life nestled between my start and finish. The in-between part I never considered as a dreamy little girl.

This is my motherhood.

Yours may look completely different. Regardless of how it looks -whether your expression of a mother’s love is given to your own children or to others who need it- please know you are making a difference. And, in turn, you are being made different, too.

Posted in Motherhood, Thankfulness

Finding Good in Unexpected Circumstances

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I don’t mind hotel stays. In fact, I welcome them from time to time.  Afterall, what momma doesn’t love daily housekeeping services?  Yet, as I sit here this evening, in my single-roomed home-away-from-home, I’m feeling somewhat restless. 

That’s what happens when your plans are interrupted and, rather than following your kids around town for homeschool basketball, you’re camped out in a hotel room all day. Just you and your sweet, youngest child who crawled out of bed with an unexpected fever this morning.

We awakened early, dressed quickly, and prepared to head out, but it didn’t take long to realize that simply wasn’t happening.  Instead, we removed his shoes and tucked him back into bed, sending dad and his older siblings off to their games and award ceremonies without us.

While this was not how I intended to spend my day, I cannot bring myself to complain. For blessings still abound, even when my circumstances don’t meet my expectations.

May I share some thankfuls with you instead?

I’m thankful we made it to Friday this year before sickness hit our family (normally, this happens earlier in our National tournament week). 

I’m really thankful we didn’t miss big brother’s gold ball game.

I’m thankful we’ve already made not one, but two trips to Andy’s Frozen Custard (always a must-have since we don’t have one near home).

I’m thankful this sickness is not that awful stomach bug I’ve been hearing about. 

I’m thankful we had some leftovers in our little kitchen, along with plenty of coffee and creamer!

I’m thankful for some quiet in the middle of our busy – and for the “do not disturb” sign which allowed us to snag some much needed rest.  

I’m thankful for being here with my little man, for mommy’s presence always seems to make things better. Which reminds me of what a privilege it is to be somebody’s momma. And oh, the love motherhood brings with it. In the midst of the difficulties we face, there is such love.

And for that blessing of love, I am most thankful.

Posted in Motherhood

Son, You Are Loved

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Dear Son,

Thoughts of you fill my mind tonight.

It’s your first night not living at home.  And although you’ve been away from home many times, you’ve never not lived here, in this house, under this roof, with your dad and me and your siblings.  Yes, tonight is different.

You packed up most of your favorite belongings -and a few necessities- and transported them to a new room, a new place, a new home.  College life has begun.

We helped you settle into your dorm not because you were incapable of doing so yourself, but because we needed to do so.  We needed to be with you, to linger there with you, just a tad longer. Thank you, son, for not being bothered by our presence.  Thank you for allowing us the privilege of being with you as you embark on this fresh, wonderful adventure.

And as you face the challenges that will certainly come, may I remind you of something profoundly important?

Son, you are loved.

We loved you in the months before you were born, even before we first laid eyes upon you.

We loved you through every sickness, every bump & bruise, every skinned knee and busted lip. Through times of correction and discipline. Through every failure and success. Through heartaches and difficulties. Through times of celebration and laughter.

Son, we have loved you through it all.

And that is what we so desperately want you to know. To remember. To never, ever forget.

You are loved.

No matter what your future holds.

You are loved.

Our love for you is not based on your works or successes, although we know you will have many.

It is not dependent on your ability to play ball or to obtain a college degree.

Our love for you is simply based on who you are – You are our son, and that makes you loved.

And as great as our love is for you, there is One whose love for you is even greater.

You know Him.

Son, don’t neglect spending time with Him. Taking your troubles to Him. Thanking Him for your blessings. Knowing you belong to Him.  You are his child, and that truly makes you loved.

 

Posted in Motherhood

It’s Okay, Sweet Momma

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So you had a bad momma day.

Maybe you yelled at the kids. Or left one at church, thinking he rode with daddy.  Perhaps you neglected to sign the permission slip, causing your kid to miss out on the class field trip.  Or there’s that funny story you told about your teenage son, only to realize he was embarrassed – and not the least bit amused by it. Maybe your forgetfulness caused you to break a promise. Or you failed to notice that pretty yellow flower she so carefully picked for you.

If you’ve been mothering long at all, chances are you’re guilty of at least a few of these (and could add to this list with little or no effort). Truth is, as much as you love your darlings and wish to be a perfect mom, you are not perfect. Neither are the rest of us. And that’s okay.

What makes it okay is this:  you refuse to give up.

Sure, some days you want to quit. Some days you may check out, but you never completely opt out.  You pick yourself up and begin again.  As hard as it is, you keep moving. You keep changing those diapers. Wiping those noses. Correcting that sassiness. Attending those ball games, piano recitals, and band concerts. And holding on to that discipline, even though it’s sometimes tough to be tough.

I’ve watched you hug those babies, young and old alike. Your smile and tears both resonate, “they are mine”. You offer forgiveness and grace. And you love, sweet momma – oh how you love!

You search for better ways to handle that same old issue.  You determine what battles are worth fighting and which don’t really matter.  You learn to say, “I’m sorry”, modeling love and humility to your children.

You delight in teachable moments. You involve yourself.  You show up and stick it out.  You allow yourself to look ridiculously silly – all for a little laughter and a memory your kids will never forget.

You pray, and pray, and pray some more.

You do mounds of laundry and dishes. You answer tons of questions, or the same question tons of times.  You give – so much at times it’s as if you have nothing left to give.  But may I whisper something to your heart, dear lady:  it is so worth it.

When you feel you can’t do this motherhood thing anymore – step back, take a deep breath, and allow God’s word to spread grace over your weariness. This is where you plug back in, recharge, and vow again to never, ever give up.

Because you love, sweet momma – oh how you love.

And the One who loves you and called you to this task sees your efforts, knows your heart, and enables you to finish well.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Posted in Motherhood

Little Boy, Smile

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As our oldest son prepares for his high school graduation and what lies beyond it, I can’t help but ponder the blessings we’ve experienced because of him. 

We are so thankful God made us his parents and, although we haven’t done everything exactly as we should, we have loved him with all our hearts – unconditionally. 

We pray he has learned not only from whatever good we’ve accomplished, but from our mess-ups as well.

Most of all, we pray we have successfully pointed him to the One who never makes mistakes and never disappoints.  To the One who has all the answers he will ever need.  To the One who will always be there, even when his dad and I cannot.  If we have done this, then our boy will always come out smiling in the end.

Little Boy, Smile

Little boy, smile
As I hold your tiny hand.
Teaching you to trust
While helping you to stand.

Little boy, smile
As I leave you, a hug and a kiss.
Promise I’ll be back soon
For my sweet boy I’m sure to miss.

Little boy, smile
As I chase you through the lot.
Praying for your safety
Until once again you’re caught.

Little boy, smile
As you choose your many friends.
Yes, we’ll go to the park;
Play in the dirt and the sand.

Little boy, smile
As you run and jump and climb.
Now it’s on to baseball, basketball.
We’re having such a grand time!

Little boy, smile
As we gather your broken heart;
Deal with disappointments;
Lead you to a new, fresh start.

Little boy, smile
As your friends are growing too.
Now you’re driving on your own.
Careful son, I’ll wait up for you.

Little boy, smile.
Senior Day has come and gone.
Graduation is upon us
And your childhood, about done.

Little boy, smile
As I watch you from afar.
My little boy, all grown up
Still capturing his momma’s heart.

Little boy, smile.
Find your place in this world.
Your momma’s prayers go with you
As you choose your shield and sword.

Little boy, smile
As you journey through each day.
Remember you are loved.
Near our hearts is where you’ll stay.

Little boy, smile.
That’s what I’ll always long to see.
My precious boy — now a man,
Smiling back at me.

Posted in Mail on Mondays, Motherhood

Mail.on.Mondays: Dear Child of Mine

 

 

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Dear Child of Mine:

I know you dislike me saying no to your ideas for fun and adventure. You see my “no” as an unwelcome interruption to your plans.  Especially when everyone else is going there, and doing that, and wearing such things as they do. Yes, I am keenly aware that when I say no, it hurts a bit.  And I’m so sorry.  The last thing I want is for you to be hurt, or to feel left out, or to miss out on the friendships that await you.  Yet when a “yes” is not best for you, I must stick with my “no”, however unpopular it may be.

I understand that other parents aren’t always bothered by the things that concern me.  Sometimes I may err on the side of caution more than others think I should.  Sometimes I must listen to that uneasy feeling that surfaces in my mind, in my heart, even though I cannot fully explain it.  Sometimes, my child, I simply need you to trust me.  To know that even though I will not always make the right decisions, every decision I make is made out of my deep love for you.  Can you trust that’s true, my child?  Oh, how I pray that you do.

I am confident that one day, when you are older and have children of your own, you will better grasp these matters.  In the meantime, I pray that you’ll begin to notice my yes’s a little more – and be grateful for them.  And may you learn to look at my no a little differently too.  Perhaps you will realize that maybe, just maybe, there is something good hidden beneath momma’s no, possibly even a blessing in disguise.  Wouldn’t that be awesome!

As I speak these words to you, my precious child, I can’t help but hear God speak them back to me.  You see, in God’s eyes, I am a child as well – His child.  And as His child, I am sometimes troubled when His answer to me is no. But through the years, I’ve come to realize that when He says no to my plans, He is placing me in the perfect position to experience something better.  A beautiful blessing I would have missed had He not said no earlier.

So I am learning to trust Him more, and I pray that you’ll do the same. That you’ll learn to trust this momma who loves you so very much.  And that you’ll learn to trust God who loves you even more than this momma of yours can. 

Oh, how I love you, sweet child of mine. 

Love, 

    Mom

Posted in Motherhood

Glad to be Mom

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“Mom, I’m so glad God made you my mom”.   Wow! Such sweet words spoken by my precious four year old son last night.  Yes, I’m well aware that he’s only four and that right now he’s pretty crazy about me.  And that one of these days he will probably not speak so freely to his mother.  But for now, he speaks these words proudly. And he means every word.  And for that, I am thankful.

I can’t help but wonder what it is that makes him so glad I’m his mom.  I wish I could truthfully say it’s because I’m such an awesome mom, that I rarely make mistakes, and that I never allow the mundane duties of my day to interfere with special times of book-reading, puzzle-working, and snuggling with him.  But the truth is, I’m not a perfect mom.

Yes, I long to be a great mother and, hopefully, I make the cut most of the time.  But there are moments -and there are days- when I fall very short and I fear this blunder or that will be the one my children never forget.  But oh, how I pray that it won’t be.

Like most moms, I am quick to recall the bad choices I’ve made during my mothering journey, but it takes a tad more effort to remember as many good things.  Why is that?  Why do we find ourselves replaying every tiny slip up while seldom noticing the beautiful successes along the way?

We desire only the best for our children so naturally, we aspire to be near-perfect, champions of a mom to them.  But regardless of your definition of a good mom, there is one thing we all want for our children. That one thing is love.

We want our children to know the depths of our love for them.  We have an urge for them to experience God’s love for themselves.  So we speak it over and over again.  We live love in front of them.  With a heart of sincerity, we own up to our mess ups.  By doing so, we prove to them love still exists, and that it can truly cover a multitude of sins.

When they’re small, when they’re big, may we never stop declaring our love for them.  May we always steer them toward the ways of God.  And may we never letup telling our children how glad we are that God chose us to be their mom.

 

Posted in Motherhood

Letting Go is a Hard Thing

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Letting go is a hard thing, and it seems I’ve stepped into a river full of it.  A perpetual state of letting go. That’s where I find myself today.

My sweet four year old is becoming a big boy. So many of his cute little sayings are no longer spoken.  I must remind him to hold my hand and to slow down. Our recent talks reveal the mature and inquisitive mind of a growing boy, not the gibberish ramblings of a baby.  Ready or not, it’s time to bid farewell to the baby stage, my final baby stage.  Please excuse me while I grab a tissue.

My youngest daughter is becoming a beautiful young lady. She nearly has me on height and her foot has outgrown mine. As I observe her cooking skills, her love for shopping, and her attention to detail with a particular hair style or outfit, I am reminded that her teenage years are just around the corner.  How can this be?  Where is my baby girl with all those Shirley Temple curls?

And then there are my two older boys. The ones I still remember so clearly as little boys playing with power rangers and ninja turtles, catching frogs and lizards, and pretending to be all the normal things little boys pretend to be.

The younger of the two has since joined the high school ranks and will soon sit behind the wheel of my car, chauffeuring me around. The same old car his two older siblings first learned to drive.

The oldest is experiencing his last year as a high school student. With each passing day, he is one step closer to graduation and adulthood, and one day less the little boy I still remember. I tell myself to “breathe, momma, breathe” because surely it’s not time already.

I think I’ll grab another tissue, or perhaps I’ll snag the whole box.

Friends, I honestly don’t want to let go.  I prefer to hold my children near, watching over them, ensuring they make good decisions, keeping all the ugliness of this world far from them.  That’s what this momma wants to do. Yet, I know I cannot; I must loosen my grip and let them go.

Ironically, their dad and I spent most of their childhood preparing them to leave.  To step out of this warm, cozy nest of a home, spread their wings, and soar into the uncertain days that lie ahead.  We have pointed them to God and shown them His love so that, when it’s time to go, they are prepared to take flight and find His purpose for their lives.

Although we didn’t expect the flight lessons to end so soon, we will step back and give them space.  We will instruct a little less and pray a little more.  We’ll be proud of the adult children standing before us.  We’ll thank God for the privilege of loving them, raising them, and sharing our lives with them.

And this momma who doesn’t want to let go, her face will beam even though there are tears; and her heart will feel warm even though it aches.  She will recognize every phone call, visit, and hug as a great blessing.

And she will keep on preparing those younger children for their flight as well. Maybe it will be easier each time. Maybe it won’t. Either way, she’ll keep doing what must be done.  And she may need another box or two of tissue along the way.

 

Posted in Motherhood

Motherhood — What I’ve Learned

So many thoughts flood my mind as I think of motherhood.  I suppose having children ranging from age 23 down to age 4 gives me an interesting outlook.  I remember holding my firstborn in my arms and wishing I never had to work again.  Then there’s chasing my second child through a parking lot after he escaped my grasp, scared to death I would not catch him in time. With my third, I learned that cheese must be folded a certain way before it could be eaten, and that socks must not feel funny to the toes or they simply could not be worn, regardless of how far behind schedule we were running that day.  Child number four helped train me in dealing with a will stronger than my own, requiring dad to come home from work a time or two to enlighten said child with a new perspective.  And, of course, the baby of the family who continues to be our own special entertainment, keeping me young and teaching his older siblings that little ones really can be pretty cool.

Please allow me to share with you some things I’ve learned on this journey called Motherhood:

  • Toads don’t survive well in the washing machine, nor do bullfrogs in a bathtub filled with hot water.
  • Manners are great, but a kind and compassionate heart is even better.
  • There is no substitute for being involved … know your kids, know their friends.
  • A piece of thread attached to a stuffed animal is great at pulling out teeth, even teeth that are not at all loose.
  • Pray, pray, pray for your children. There is nothing better you can give them than a life that’s been prayed over.
  • Leap Pads, Magna-doodles, and I-pods are sometimes life savers.
  • Consistent discipline in the younger years makes the teenage years much better.
  • Newborns become high school graduates in a very short period of time.
  • At some point, the children will all be doing their own thing, so don’t neglect your husband. One day it may be just the two of you.
  • Small green lizards can be tamed and occasionally, a frog can be resuscitated.
  • Children are extremely delighted over the discovery of baby hamsters (Tip: Never believe the pet store concerning the gender of your hamsters!)
  • Trust your momma intuition.  If you’re not at peace with it, don’t let your children do it.
  • Weeds and small rocks are beautiful treasures when they are given from the sweetness of your child’s heart.
  • How you live in front of your children matters more than what you preach to them.
  • Hugs and “I love you” matter a lot, regardless of your child’s age or height.

I hope you gathered a little wisdom from these things I’ve learned, as well as a few chuckles.  Whether you’re new to motherhood or you’ve been at it for years, please be encouraged in knowing you are not alone. Although the task before you may seem daunting, hang in there! You will no doubt have amazing and entertaining stories to share in the days ahead. In the meantime, enjoy each day. Enjoy your children. Enjoy your motherhood.