Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Like A Penny With a Hole In It

Have you ever started crying after accidentally stepping on a penny, while you were barefoot? No? Me either... My stress level has never been so high that I just broke out into tears at the thought of stepping on a cold, dead insect or worse, fresh toddler pee-- both of which, besides the "eww" factor, would need to be cleaned up by me. Maybe that's what a cold copper penny on a carpet feels like to warm barefeet that were fatigued, overwhelmed with life and only looking for slippers. I mean, I wouldn't know, but it sounds slightly plausible.

Of course, if that somewhat insane scenario did happen to someone, I don't think I'd judge them. It sounds like they need compassion and reprieve. And besides, they're probably judging themselves anyway (like majorly).

A penny with a hole in it. Who needs that? These days, a penny isn't even a useful form of payment for anything, let alone one with a deficiency. There's a kind of pathetic worthlessness that seems to encompass the idea of a penny with a hole. And though I'm pretty sure those exist, I completely understand their plight today.

Trying to explain to my kids:
-why they shouldn't say "damn" even though they just heard me say it when I stubbed my toe on the sofa or was splattered by hot oil while cooking dinner
-where the deceased family dog has gone (not heaven, but his actual, physical body, because apparently this is very important)
-why they can't have ice cream, candy, cookies etc. for breakfast
-how the changing of seasons happens
-why I yelled at them for what feels like the millionth time
... A Penny With a Hole in It 

Giving of my time, patience and love to:
-my husband
-my school work
-my internship
-my household duties
-my extended family
... yet feeling like it's never enough... A Penny With a Hole in It 



Family vacations, milestone birthday parties, massive end of the year graduate school papers, trying to start a family business, balancing the checkbook (mostly incorrectly/inaccurately), laundry/dinner/dishes daily routine, pre-K homework, taking care of a recently diagnosed sick spouse, full-time childrearing, government programs, social welfare research, Bible reading, sibling counseling, friends forgotten for lack of time, dusty books unread for the same reason... 

Wishing for more time in the day. Or maybe just another me. Or maybe just some HELP.

Underwater. On the inside. Random bursts of tears spill out, unable to contain the magnitude. Something somewhere is wrong. Don't take it as my professional opinion (especially since I won't be a professional for another year) but as a personal opinion of myself. It's not a normal thing for me. 

Lord, I need your help. My honest plea. My heartfelt prayer. My only hope.

I can't carry all that's been going on, but I do know someone who can. I guess I forgot. I got so caught up, trying to do it on my own. I've been foolish to think I was alone. I'm not a failure, but relying on myself to do it all has led to that looming feeling. Took my eyes off of Him, focused on my situation. Worst decision ever.

He is my lifeguard in this unrelenting sea of life. I'm drowning, but I won't die. Because I've got so much love to give; my lifelong to-do list is nowhere near complete. I'll get through this moment in time. Faith.

"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken." ~Psalm 55:22

..."Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done" ~Matthew 21:21

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I miss writing for fun.
I miss my blog and being able to get my inane thoughts out in literary form. Now my writings have been trained to be educational and intellectual. The nerve of graduate school! I'm awake at 6 am writing papers about federal and agency policies and law. I know it's important. After all, I'm the one that chose to study this field of work. I'm interested in it most days, but I just feel like it's taking so much from ME. As if I wasn't already spread thin as a mom and wife, adding school to the mix just made life an extra dose of crazy. Plus, I'm a recovering perfectionist (which is probably like a recovering alcoholic in that any moment could be the moment when you revert back to your old ways) which makes everything more difficult- even those things I love.
Looking back at my past writings makes me sad. Where is that woman? The one who synthesized beautiful thoughts and came out with clearer purpose after doing so. Is she still in me? Sometimes I honestly don't know. I think I may have killed her... or more aptly, let her die, which would be just as bad if we were talking about an actual person, right?

I think life is just happening faster than I can document and I'm not ok with that. Like my boys, when did they get old enough to climb on fire trucks and big enough to get in bouncy houses without assistance. And all without even looking back for their mom. Like seriously, when did that happen?! It's the independent stage of life that all moms of infants look forward to, but it's a lot different than anticipated.
I'm sure this is just a moment and I'll feel better once these dreaded 4 assignments are behind me and I'm on the beach with my family (which can't come soon enough). I'm sure I'm just going through a phase of general unrest and fatigue that my God can heal. I know I'll be all right.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." -John 14:27

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Horrible Mom

What is a horrible mom? Does she really exist? Is she inside of all of us moms, waiting for that moment of fatigue and irritability to reach an all time high so she can jump out and "shine"?

Aren't we all guilty of doing horrible things sometimes? Like, not letting the driver in the left lane with the furious blinking light come over into our lane because we're in such a rush to reach our destination or simply (and more horrible), we just don't feel like it. When we do that, we don't consider ourselves bad drivers, do we? We justify why we did it and move on (hopefully).

Somehow, mothering is the same yet so different. Shouldn't we be able to be more than what we do in moments? Yet sometimes those ever-important, miniscule moments can define our relationships with our offspring as well as shape the people we are or will be.

Is the mother who shakes her crying baby a horrible mother because she lost her temper in an instant? The world thinks so. However, as a mother of a previously colicky baby (and now whining preschooler), I know what it feels like to get lost in the insanity of it all. Sure, I didn't shake my baby, but admittedly, I thought about it. I don't condone child abuse. I do condone mother sensitivity. Sometimes these two overlap uncomfortably, but that's a story for another day.

In class, we learn that all humans are complex systems. Essentially this means that something that seems simple (the mom shaking the baby) really has more components than generally accepted or explored (the mom who shook the baby was dealing with post partum depression, the recent death of her spouse, threats of eviction and overall hopelessness). While complexity doesn't excuse behaviors, it certainly sheds new light on an otherwise dull situation.

I started this post because I have been battling emotions of feeling like a horrible mom. My 3-year old has started to request shows by name and often cries when I turn the televison off. This is new to me as he has just started really watching TV and now seems to be addicted to it. It's definitely my fault, right? I've started using the television as a babysitter more and more. I've got papers to do, job quotas to fill, dinners to make. But, my child couldn't care less about that stuff. He only knows that mom isn't jumping around with him and Dora any more because she's doing "ho-work" (as he calls it). He surely thinks I'm a horrible mother, right?

Does the fact that my children have 3 (mostly) homecooked meals and 2 snacks a day erase my intermittent neglect? Or does the fact that I snuggle and kiss and cuddle them for 30 minutes before bedtime while lavishing them with words of affirmation negate the fact that I sometimes ignore their "fights" and temper tantrums? Where is the line of horrible-ness drawn? And more importantly, have I crossed it?

**Deep Breath**

It's easy to compare ourselves to other moms and feel (wrongly) superior. It's also easy to look at our imagined motherly selves and compare it to the actual mother we have become and feel incredibly melancholy.

The truth is, I'm not better than the (real-life situation) mom who has 5 children with 4 different men, works part-time and receives a substantial amount of government assistance. I'm the same as her in that we're both doing the best that we can for our children in this given moment of time. And above all, we both love our children to the core of our being.

Today, I vow not to let motherhood guilt cause me to abandon my school work or hobbies. I vow to show my children that real mothers are human and flawed. I want them to know I have dreams and goals for myself, as well as for them. It's important that they know that while they are one of my greatest reasons for living, they are not the center of my world because God is. I vow today to present myself as a perfect imperfection--horrible only in small doses and best if taken with milk :-)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Forward Thinking

Fresh off of the heels of my oldest son's first ever organized sports "Draft Day", I am pumped! As I watched my little boy running, with all his might, across the gymnasium, I swelled with motherly pride. Not because he was terrific (even though he totally was), but because... he was mine.

He lined up obediently amongst the other rowdy 3 and 4 year olds, listened attentively to the coach, and performed the requested "drills". But, aside from that... he was mine. You see, sometimes, we don't appreciate our children for who they are as an independent entity, only for who they are at the moment. And let's be honest, there are moments when we just don't appreciate them at all, like the middle of the cereal aisle when they scream for the "one with the man on it!" and then increasingly louder when you reply "no".

Sadly, I sometimes forget that my kids were gifts from God. Packaged in adorable, occasionally snotty-nosed, loud, squirmy, whiny wrapping, but gifts nonetheless. He gave them to me to protect and provide for, but also to love and mainly to see Him through them.

The day-to-day struggles of non-naptimes and veggie bargaining and juice wars often consume my existence of what it's like to be a mom. But, today was different (well those few hours of soccer were anyway) and beautiful.

I watched my child be himself. I noticed how he talked to other preschoolers, high-fived random adults, and pumped his little arms to run as fast as he could. He was awesome in just being who God crafted him to be. I'd be dishonest if I said I wasn't a little proud of the fact that he could follow directions while being sociable and still manage to be one of the best behaved kids out there today because I definitely was. But, bigger than that, I was just proud to be his mom in the stands, watching him exist in his own skin.

I caught a glimpse of not only who he is now, but what kind of person he would be in a few years and I loved the sight of it. So even though I should be working right now (my deadline is in a few hours) or finishing up 2 assignments for school (due Monday), I chose to document how wonderful life is as a parent. Most days.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Never Enough

I just read a blog post that inspired me to do some critical thinking (yes, I'm a fancy grad student now, and that's all we do). It was a wonderfully insightful post, written by an incredible mother, Christian and philanthropist who I have the pleasure of knowing :-) Read "How to Measure Success of a Mother".

As I sit up in the wee hours of the morning (3:17am to be exact), hammering away at the keyboard and probing the deeps of my mind to come up with something particularly genius for my classmates and teacher to read, I also think about how much energy I will NOT have for my children when they wake up. Then I feel guilty. Then the self-motivating pep talk begins. I tell myself that I can do this because "nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37). I think back to when my boys were infants (seemingly not too long ago), screaming at all hours, with no regard for the time. In those days, sleep was stolen in haphazard patches in front of the television with one hand patting a back or holding a bottle and always cradling a baby. Yet, somehow I made it to work (granted that was my computer in the next room) on time and always met my quotas.

Despite the obvious triumphs of the past, I still struggle with feeling like I'm enough. I question my dedication to my family as I heat up a Stouffer's lasagna for dinner, rather than slaving over a stove to prepare them a home-cooked meal. I debate my commitment to school as I do homework to the sounds of crying/laughing (because sometimes it's difficult to know the difference) and the NFL game playing in the background. I examine my devotion to my marriage as I choose to let the idiocy of reality television wash over me, rather than share intimate conversation with my husband. Looking around at the hurricane that is my life, I have the impression that I can be swept away at any unpredictable moment. I am clearly not enough.

But, thankfully I know who is.

I know a God who is made strong in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) therefore, I'm really not that weak, am I?

We humans (especially moms) like to think that we can do it all. We undertake so many responsibilities, we strive for perfection. We fail. We can't do it all on our own. God wants us to rest in our imperfections, so that He gets the glory for our success. Unfortunately, sometimes that means we have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death first.

Like my precious, fragile toddler having a seizure, blue lips and eyes rolled back, unresponsive, unconscious and me with no immediate transportation... BUT GOD steps in. He proved that no amount of CPR and parenting classes could save me in that moment. Only He could. I was not enough.

As my oldest son lashes out in frustration at his younger brother with a shove and exclaiming "I said, don't do that! You are so disobedient!" or giggles when he burps, rather than excusing himself, I sadly realize I am not enough to raise my rowdy boys into kind, mannerable men. I have to rely on God to mold them into His image, in His time (but seriously, any day now God).

The pressures of this life are difficult enough, without feeling like you're doing it all on your own. We have spouses and friends and community groups, but in those wee hours of the morning when our eyelids threaten to close and the to-do list stares menacingly at you, it is then that we truly feel alone. It is also then that we are most in-sync with God, despite that sinking feeling that rests in the pit of our stomach. In those solitary moments, those times we most want to quit and wonder why we even started, that's where God resides. He lives in those junctures of time when our failures illuminate his prowess. It is when we are truly isolated from the distractions of the world that we can see and hear Him clearly.

He never leaves us, but often we leave Him, thinking we can handle things by ourselves. We can't.

When I cry, confused and afraid, praying over my husband's heart condition, He hears me.

When me children disobey me and I harshly reprimand them, then question if I did the right thing, He comforts me.

When dishes pile up in the sink, laundry overflows from every basket in the house, homework sits undone, emails unanswered, family unfed, He breathes through me and somehow it all gets done.

I am not enough and contrary to what I think at times, I never will be. But He always is and I relax and rejoice in that.

*** This song has been on heavy rotation in my head for the past few days and it seems so appropriate to this topic, so I thought I'd share. "By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North***

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back at It

I have been an awesome blogger lately! I've told you all about the joys of potty training my almost 2 year old, which involves lots of bodily excrement on the carpets and floors. Then there's my impending move to South Georgia (bleh, who'd wanna go further south, right?) in a few months. I've also mentioned starting school for my MSW (masters of social work) degree and how much I feel inferior to my classmates because I'm "only" a stay-at-home mom, who doesn't exactly use that first degree I have. That last one requires a post all on it's own and I promise it's coming, though I can neither confirm nor deny if that will come sooner rather than later. I've surely also mentioned my hubby's health scares...

Wait, I haven't? I haven't blogged about ANY of that? The words are so vivid in my head. I remember coming up with cute, catchy phrases and everything... But then again, I also remember staring at a blank computer screen and saying "tomorrow" before going to bed or becoming engrossed in a reality show or 3 (don't judge me).

So, what you're saying is, I've been an awful blogger? My apologies. To my few loyal readers, but mainly to myself. I enjoy writing, but I've discovered I'm a pen and paper type of girl. The computer holds so many distractions and lately I've noticed I'm an easy target for distractions of any kind.

Anyway, all of the above notwithstanding (especially that potty training stuff, yuck), life's been good this past month. With the help of God, my family has made some major decisions. And as a result, in my personal devotion/meditation time I'm currently studying FAITH. We all know what it is, but walking in it is so totally different.

One of my favorite quotes is from Martin Luther King Jr. "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." S-C-A-R-Y! I cannot even imagine walking down an actual flight of stairs when I can't see the whole staircase; I trip down the stairs plenty as it is now! However, I know that in life, I've done that very thing. I don't recall ever making as big a life decision as moving 200 miles away from my extremely supportive family and friends. Some might say marriage, but for me it was a very simple decision. Even having children, once faced with the option, was an easy choice. Moving, however exciting it may be, is proving to require a huge leap of faith. Sorry to be cliche, but they are tried and true phrases for a reason.

In dealing with my faith, I think about Peter walking on water with Jesus (Matthew 14:22-33). As soon as he started to question himself and his faith and his God, he began to sink. It's when we take our eyes off of Jesus, that we begin to use worldly knowledge to try to explain things. And most times, that worldly knowledge means nothing and leaves us doubting our sure thing, which is God's love and perfect timing.

I could go on and on about faith, but I'll leave you with these verses in the hopes that it will comfort those going through faith struggles with me. Press on, people!

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

2 Corinthians 5:7

We live by faith, not by sight.

1 Peter 1:7

These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Corinthians 2:5

so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

Luke 17:6

He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I'm Loving!

  Here's the latest edition of the "I'm Loving" positive thinking exercise. Writing this usually helps me to be more grateful for all of the awesomeness that fills my life.

  I'm Loving that I have plans for the next 3 weekends! Some people might see that as an annoyance, my husband included, but as a stay-at-home mom, there are rare opportunities for adult interaction and getting away from the little angels to let my non-mommy flag fly. I'm super excited about my school orientation, family birthday party and wine tasting event. Let the fun begin!

  I'm Loving that my oldest son thinks it's his responsibility to potty-train his brother. He's so cute when he encourages him to "pee-pee on the potty" and claps at his minor accomplishments. He takes such pride in helping his brother become a big boy. And even when it leads to spilled urine on the bathroom floor, I still remember the cute face and potty dance that came before it and can't help but to smile (most times).

  I'm Loving hearing the voice of my youngest son. He is a 2 and 3 word sentence talker now. Everyday he says new things that surprise me. The first thing was "more cookie" then later that day it was "high five". He's now moved on to "where daddy" and "No! Mine!" which is definitely not my favorite. His voice is so different from his brother's and I love the fact that I can tell what's happening in another room just by their evolving tones, cadences and words.

  I'm Loving that my oldest son's favorite songs to request these days are Christian songs! This is a huge milestone for him. I wrote previously about his love for secular music and stubbornness towards new music. Now, he's a totally different kid in that regard. I hear him in the bathroom singing "how great is our God" and I can't contain my joy. He often asks "what's so funny, mom?" when I start smiling at his sweet singing. While we still dabble in a few mommy-approved secular songs, we primarily listen to Christian music and he loves it. I love that he loves it!

  I'm Loving summer. I never thought I'd say that. I hate bugs, dirt, getting sweaty, and generally everything associated with summer. But as mentioned on previous posts, kids can change ya! So far this summer we have enjoyed gardening, going to water parks, playing in water in the back yard, having a picnic, watching fireworks, sidewalk chalking and painting outside. The heat wave was unbearable because we were forced to stay inside for a few miserable days. While I'm still not fond of all things outdoors, I definitely love it more than ever before in my life (girl scout camping days included) and I don't dread it at all.

  I'm Loving having inspiration to write. I love to write. I compose poems and songs all the time in my head and even aloud with my kids sometimes, but I hardly ever have time or real motivation to get them on paper-- until recently. Last week I had a dream that I was captured by. When I woke up, I was still entranced by the characters and their story. I was inspired to write it down. I formulated a plan and I feel so exhilerated by the thought of what it could be! Writing a novel isn't easy work (I've started one before) but I'm excited about the new path that I think my writing is taking. It's always been my desire to publish a book and I think getting this vivid dream out of me and onto paper will get me to that goal. Keep me in your prayers, as trying to write a grocery list is hard enough to find time to do around my house!

 I'm Loving lots of things, but most pressing right now is my love of sleep! So at nearly 2am, I bid you all goodnight/morning as I go lay down. I hope to dream and gain more insight into novel!