Saturday, May 16, 2020

A Family Update & A New Adventure

Family & Friends, this is not an easy post to share. By nature I tend to be an "oversharer", (hello, enneagram 2 🖐), but in this case, I have been in such a vulnerable place and everything in me wants to hold the details of our family's last three months close to my heart. I ultimately decided to share, because in an ugly place of feeling sorry for myself, I heard God give me the answer to something I've been crying out for desperately the past few months. "Is there really a greater purpose to my pain? And if so, please God, show me."

Most of you know that pregnancy loss is a part of our family. I've shared openly about our losses both after Mackenzie and Levi. These were difficult seasons for us but we can look back now and see how God's hand was in every part of our story and the growing of our family. Neither Levi or Evie would be here today had we not lost those babies.

We thought we were done at 3 healthy babies but earlier this year we got the surprise of a lifetime when we found out we were unexpectedly pregnant and due this fall. After the initial shock we were all absolutely overjoyed. All three kids were so excited to make their little trio a foursome. Then, we were devastated to go in for our first ultrasound, to see a baby with a beating heart and to be told that our baby's heart was slowing down and likely wouldn't make it. To say we were crushed would be an understatement. Never before have God's plans felt so confusing. So messed up. So cruel and lacking compassion. Did we hear wrong? Did we do something wrong? Why show us a baby with a beating heart only for us to be told to go home and wait for our baby to die? These are questions I have wrestled with every day for the past 3 months.

After our first loss earlier this year, we decided that the blessing in it all was that God must be confirming that, yes, he wants for us to have four babies. We were surprised (albeit, very anxious) to find out we were pregnant again. And again, we went in for our first ultrasound to be told that this time, a gestational sack had grown but that our baby had never grown at all. Again, we were devastated. The Christmas baby we had spent so many hours dreaming about and planning for wouldn't be joining our family.

This has been a season of real wrestling with my faith. Is God who He says He is? Is He truly a God of compassion and love? Why does He create life if His plan is for me to bleed death down the drain of our shower? Are His thoughts and plans really, truly good when all along, He knows that my baby's life will be summed up in a matter of a few short weeks? Did He truly cry with me on the day that I logged onto my Amazon prime to click "add to cart", a tiny urn, to hold the baby that we would bury in our backyard? Why is He okay with me shivering in an ER as the remaining tissues of a baby that He created are sucked and scraped out of my body? Where is God to answer questions when our 7- year-old son asks, "Why does God let all our babies die?" Is an army of praying believers really enough to bring about a miracle? Because, we have had a literal army of friends and family members on their knees, storming Heaven's gates for us for 3 months, and all it feels like we've been left with is shattered dreams and hearts.

I am learning that the grieving and the sadness and the anger is good and even holy. I am learning that even if I don't understand what God is doing, I am exactly where He wants me. I am surrendered and my heart is broken more than it has ever been, and yet, I have never needed Him more than I do now. I am learning that if there wasn't this tension, the tension of not fully understanding God and His heart, I would stop seeking Him. If I understood everything and could put a definite answer to all of my pain and suffering, I would no longer have a need for God. And that, is why there is beauty in the tension. Because as long as there are questions, I keep finding myself at His feet.

Earlier this month, I was in another repeated cycle of feeling sorry for myself when I felt like He finally spoke. He didn't answer my questions of WHY we keep losing our babies or of why we now have more dead babies than living babies. But He did remind me that I'm not the only one hurting.

I started to think about how hard due dates are. The due dates of the babies I have lost have been some of the hardest days of my life. Long after our losses, these dates loom on a calendar and the closer they come, the more I dread them. The day that should have been a day of joy and anticipation of holding my baby against my chest and breathing in the smell of life, is replaced by a day that sits heavy on my heart. Life spins madly on but no one remembers due dates. Spouses don't remember and friends don't think of them. Understandably so, because months have passed. On the day of our baby's due dates, we as loss Mommas aren't watching a clock, anxiously waiting for our water to break or for labor to start. We still have to work and care for other children and go on living life. We should be carrying a giant basketball of a belly instead of a broken heart. Instead we grieve silently and we remember and keep those memories close to our hearts. I know I'm not the only one who dreads the due dates of my babies in Heaven.

And so, came about the idea for Ezra & Evie, an Etsy shop I am designing around honoring Mommas of pregnancy, baby loss and infertility. This shop is still in the early planning stages but my vision is to provide various sized gift boxes of locally packaged and thoughtfully planned gifts that can be sent to loved ones and friends who have either just experienced a loss or are anticipating an impeding due date.

I can't tell you how many times I have had women reach out to me and ask, "How can I best support my friend who just lost her baby?" And every single time I emphatically tell them, "Find out her due date and remember it. Honor her baby on that day even if it is 7 months from now. Make sure you get it on the calendar." And almost every single time I give this answer, I am met with surprise.

I am certain that God's hand is written all over this new adventure because earlier this week while sitting on our back patio and doing the early research and planning, our umbrella fell on top of me and smashed our Macbook Computer. It was as if Satan caught wind of hope rising up within me for the first time in months and thought, "I'll end this right here." Well, we've got a massive deductible to pay and a computer that is out of commission for a while but I'm sharing today that Satan ins't going to stop me from moving forward in this plan to bless hurting Mommas. As hard as the past 3 months have been on my heart, I will continue to believe that a powerful testimony is enough to triumph over the enemy and I believe that in this season, opening a shop is the way God is calling me to share my testimony and to help other Mommas feel more seen.

I have no idea what the future looks like for our family. These days I have more questions than I do answers. I wish I could end this post smoothly by tying it with a pretty bow but the truth is, life is often more messy and hard than it is pretty and put together and Pinterest worthy. And, this is just where we are right now. We are hurting and broken and we feel a little less complete as a family than we did coming into the New Year. I was hesitant to share any of the details of our family's year so far because often times Social Media can become a place where we watch others hurting from the sidelines and we feel pity for them. I don't want pity. If we never grow our family again and the best way we glorify God here on earth is through the Baker Trio, I will be grateful beyond measure. If my little shop ends up sending only one box to a Momma somewhere, whose heart is hurting and she needs to feel seen, then the broken computer and sleepless nights of planning were worth it.

To all of our friends and family members who lave literally been on your knees for us, have showed up with meals and sent flowers, ordered us groceries, left coffee on our doorstep, delivered brownies, toys and games for the kids, have said "screw it" to covid isolation requirements to help watch our kiddos, have offered to show up and pray in parking lots during ultrasounds and to argue with medical technicians over results and policies, my gosh there are truly no ways to properly say, "thank you". Our family has never felt so loved by our community and the body of Christ. We love you guys more than you could ever know.

Thank you for being our tribe.

Love, Brittany

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Creating a Safe Home in a World That is Unsafe

In a recent counseling session I told my counselor that I have a vision of my home being a safe haven for our family. A home where, at the end of a long day, my husband can enjoy a warm meal, relax in a clean home and leave the stress of his work day at the door. A home where my kids can enter after a long day at school, they can walk through our front door and know they will be fully accepted and loved and can feel peace ... all while eating warm chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven.

Sounds amazing....AND incredibly unrealistic. Very "Pottery Barn Pinter-esque". I just made up a new 2020 phrase and I think it fits.

My counselor asked me “Brittany, what threatens this dream of your home being a “safe haven”? I began to rattle off things like, “When the kids fight.” “When someone gets sick.” “When my husband feels extra stress from clients and he can’t leave that stress at work.” "When we have unexpected vet bills." “When I burn the cookies”.

You see, the problem with this vision is that it doesn’t allow grace for the fact that our home is FULL of sinners. Our home is by it's very nature, broken. If I hold too tightly to this vision, I’m expecting perfection from imperfect people and I actually create an environment that feels threatening and creates an expectation of perfection.

I create the expectation on myself that I have to MAKE things perfect and I also foster attitudes of entitlement within my children when they come to expect perfection and they don't receive it.

This vision doesn’t allow for my kids and husband or even myself to experience pain, anger, frustration, heartache, brokenness or sin.

My counselor pointed out that by allowing my children to fight, by giving my husband the space to feel stressed, by showing myself grace for a messy home or an adult temper tantrum or burned cookies, I’m actually creating the “safe haven” that I so greatly desire.

My family should know that in our home, we allow fighting. We allow anger and stress and anxiety. We embrace our messy brokenness without judgement. We choose forgiveness and we model grace to ourselves and each other even on the days where someone has the stomach flu, half the puzzle pieces are missing, dad has lost his temper and one kid is streaking through the house naked.

I share all of this with you because we are in an especially hard season as a family. This vision of my home as a “safe haven” feels threatened often minute to minute. And, with the added stress of school closures and the panic going on outside of the walls of our home, we’re going to be spending LOTS of quality time together over the next several months. I get to decide what I want the next several months to look like and how I want our time as a family in this season of extra closeness to be remembered.

This morning a friend reminded me that, “The world can feel chaotic but our homes don’t have to.” This seems counter-intuitive when I’m sharing that I want my kids to feel free to fight and that I want the grace for myself to have a bad day. Just by admitting this, it feels like I'm inviting chaos into our home.

I think the point is that WE SET THE TONE in our homes for what FEELS like chaos. If we as parents react to every high pitched scream, every whine, every tantrum, every little thing that throws off our day, we DO create a sense of chaos inside the walls of our home. When we CREATE the sense of chaos, then the dream for our “safe haven” IS threatened because our home is no safer than standing in the middle of mass hysteria at our local grocery store.

However, if we choose to breathe deep through the bickering, to redirect when we’re at one another’s throats, to throw impromptu dance parties in the kitchen in our underwear, to play endless amounts of board games and to laugh when one kid is a sore loser, rather than becoming angry because the vision for a "picture perfect" afternoon has gone ary...It is only then that the energy in our homes feel SAFE for the ones that we love.

And so, I am working on training my brain to think quite a bit differently about what a "safe haven" within the walls of our home can and should look like.

It doesn't need to be home with stain free couches and perfectly plumped throw pillows and fresh baked cookies on the counter. It doesn't need to be a home free from fighting or potty training accidents or nap boycotts. We don't need to be a Stepford family that feels the need to walk on eggshells around one another to all be happy.

A "safe haven" can AND should be a home where we each feel accepted and loved in spite of sin. Safe to feel allll the emotions. Safe to ugly cry. Safe to be messy. Safe to be humble and willing to ask for forgiveness on the really ugly days when we've hurt one another and need a fresh start. I am coming to believe that with this perspective in mind, our homes in all of their messy, chaotic glory, can STILL feel like a safe haven from an outside world that is broken and scary.

Love, Brittany

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

I have a confession to make: Last night, I collapsed in a puddle into my husband's arms, the second he walked in the door from work. Not because of our mountains of laundry that never seem to lessen or because of needy kids whose requests never let up throughout the day. Not because a messy home or because of one child's endless pursuit to take me out. (This youngest child shall remain nameless to respect her reputation as future leader of the world). Ha!
No, I collapsed into a blubbering mess because the overwhelming task of raising tiny humans in this world is downright SCARY. I can not sign onto facebook without being inundated with Coronavirus warnings and threats to stock up my pantry. In a moment of weakness I did an Amazon search and the price of hospital face masks is up to SEVENTY DOLLARS a pack. Yesterday I read a post on a friend's wall telling me to take my kids out of public schools because the government is after them and vaccines are of the devil. My next door neighbor believes that I'm destroying the ozone because I start my car in the mornings before I load my kids up. And, I thought very seriously about canceling our family adventure to go see the Beach Boys in concert this Summer because I couldn't think of a better place for a mass shooting to occur.
Look, I'm not denying that vaccines are harmful and I'm not saying we shouldn't be petitioning on the steps of the Capitol Building to advocate for our rights and the protection of our families. I'm not saying that my neighbor is crazy and that she's one step away from being sucked into some unknown layer of the Ozone. (Okay, I maybe AM saying that). I'm not saying that it wouldn't be wise to stock up on elderberry syrup and extra pantry supplies or that I shouldn't think twice before taking our family to a large public outing.
But what I am saying quite literally is this:
KEEP ME NEAR THE CROSS LORD JESUS. You guys, I am DONE. I am not usually an anxious person. I have been honest in sharing that I struggle chronically with bouts of depression. But, anxiety is generally not a huge "thing" for me. Lately though, I have been so burdened and overcome by the anxiety and the seemingly impossible MOUNTAIN of a task that is before me. HOW do I raise healthy, well rounded, kind and selfless humans in a world that is downright terrifying to me? How do I make informed and educated decisions about how to protect their bodies and their minds and hearts without allowing my own JOY to be stolen and trampled on by fear of the unknown and fear that I'm going to make or not make a decision that might alter the course of their little lives?
I was reminded in reading Genesis 3 today that after Adam and Eve sinned, God came looking for them and He asked, "Where are you?" He didn't physically want to know where they were. Because, He's God, and of course he knew exactly where they were physically hiding. No, he was asking "Where are your hearts?" "Why are you HIDING from me?" I was humbly reminded of how often I hide when I am ashamed, or fearful or feel utterly helpless.
I hop on social media to mindlessly scroll through Facebook and (surprise, surprise), I sign off more anxious than ever. I turn on the Bachelor to numb myself and get lost in the insane drama of catty women and a downright douche bag of a man. Hello, Peter. I hop on Amazon Prime and I search for hospital face masks or Easter outfits-- depending on which end of the stress pendulum I'm swinging towards in that moment. I tune out the voice of God or I silence my own thoughts by throwing on an audio book or a podcast. Anything to hide and avoid and numb what's really going on in my heart. Anything to avoid really seeking God in the middle of life's HARD and messy and broken places.
So this morning, I humbly came before Jesus, broken and with hands spread out in an offering of surrender. I offered Him my heart and I told Him everything I've been feeling and I asked for Him to renew His place on the throne and in JESUS' NAME to take back all fear and anxiety and power.
"Jesus, I am SCARED. I am afraid and I don't know how to put one step in front of the other. I don't know how to be a good wife and momma without fear taking over. I NEED you to lead me and guide me EVERY day, every hour and every minute. The thief may come to steal, kill and destroy, but I need YOU to surround our home with LOVE and JOY and PEACE. I need YOU to be my guide. Show me how to guard my heart so that I am not letting unnecessary fear take over. But, give me WISDOM in knowing when it is wise to take action to protect and advocate for my family. I need you Jesus."
If you're in my shoes and you're feeling overwhelmed and anxious today, my prayer is that you will be encouraged to know that you are not alone. I feel you. I am walking this same uncertain and scary road. I hope that today you can step into this place of humble surrender with me. I hope that you will borrow my prayer as your own and that you will insert your own fears and anxieties and questions. My prayer is that Jesus will draw near to both of us and that minute by minute, second by second, we will lean and turn our eyes to HIM to be our source of perspective and to renew our joy. We are not dependent on friends or family members to be this source of truth for us. We are not reliant on our government or politicians for their wisdom and direction. The inundation of facts and perspectives from podcasts or instastories don't have the final say.
All of these might have value but at the end of the day, if looking to them is creating more anxiety and less peace and less JOY, there's ONE we probably missed in the mix of it all and that is MORE turning our eyes upon Jesus.

Love, Brittany

Thursday, December 26, 2019

My Comeback Blog

I have spent the better half of 2019, wishing that I could be anywhere but here.  And by “here” I mean, present.  In my own body, doing the painstaking hard work of adulting. Has the word “adulting” officially been added to the Webster’s Dictionary yet? Because if not, that should be at the top of Merriam’s “to do” list of 2020.

At the onset of 2019, I was asked what my word of the year would be.  I was beginning the year feeling incredibly depleted emotionally and physically.  I chose the word "joy" because it was, quite frankly, the last thing I was experiencing as the New Year rolled in.  I remember my Ebenezer Scrooge "bah humbug" attitude on New Year's Eve of last year.  I was feeling cynical of all you bright, optimistic go-getters with your resolutions and proclamations of what the new year would bring.  I, on the other hand just wanted to climb under my covers and sleep the month of January away.  

So naturally, "joy" felt like a good word to refocus my energy on and pursue in the new year.  I couldn't realistically hide under my bed covers for the entire dreary month of January, but I could attempt to re-focus my mind and heart and look for joy the places it had been missing it in 2018. 

If there were a real life version of Candid Camera following me around in 2019, I'm pretty sure there would be 3 prankster millennial dudes sitting in some obscure electronics room, laughing their skinny jean, hipster tushes off at me right now.  2019 rolled in with a sucker punch and spent the year sending one blow after another.  If "joy" was what I blindly thought would just fall into my lap over the course of the year, I was in for a rude awakening.  What I found was that just "proclaiming" a word over my year, doesn't actually mean squat.  

In reality, I think I could say that my word for 2019 was grief. I've spent the year learning that often it takes losing and grieving, for God to really help you re-focus your heart, mind and priorities.  But grief is the opposite of joy. And, that's where this whole thing feels incredibly ironic.  

In 2019, I watched my best friend stand over her father's casket after a tragic farming accident and I listened to her guttural sobs as she said goodbye to him.  I saw my parent's 33 year marriage come to an end and have had to redefine what the word "family" means now that divorce is a part of our story.  My preschooler threw an epic tempter tantrum at the playground leaving me with a broken foot.  Our otherwise healthy, 3 year-old lab puppy ended up with an infection in her toe which meant I spent the majority of my summer, hobbling on said broken foot, while carting three out-of-school kids and a rambunctious dog, to and from the vet, 2-3 times a week.  All the while, incurring over $5,500 in vet bills.  I had two hospital stays and an unexpected surgery.  I watched my grandpa suffer and eventually pass away, leaving my dad, his siblings and my grandma to pick up the pieces and redefine what their family now looks like. And then, just as I thought 2019 couldn't possible throw anymore sucker punches my way, someone I love was diagnosed with cancer.  Watching people you love, suffer and struggle is far from joyous.  

I wish I could says that I responded to all of these really hard "adulting" experiences with grace and class.  It's humbling to admit that I spent so much of my year feeling sorry for myself and questioning God's heart in it all.  What I have experienced this year is a stripping of the many, many things that I depend on and idolize to experience a false sense of joy.  

What I missed in the midst of this year was a heart of gratitude.  What I lacked was faith that God was in the midst of it all.  And instead of leaning into it all and seeking HIS heart for me in the midst of a really difficult year, I found myself numbing myself to the pain and avoiding the real wrestling that would put me face to face with God.  One friend even pointed me back to the story of Jacob in Genesis 32 where he wrestled with God.  "Isn't it ironic that Jacob wrestled with God and came away with a limp and you're hobbling around on a broken foot?". 

And so, here I am, at the start of another New Year and faced, again with the challenge of choosing a word that will represent.  I've been mulling it over in my head for the last month or so and this morning at 4:30 am, while lying in bed, the word just came to me. Present. I don't mean "present" like the stack of gifts that were waiting under each of our pine Christmas trees.  I mean present as in "here and now", in the moment, intentional.

What I missed while wallowing into my Ben & Jerry's ice cream and railing on God for not rescuing me from pain, was being present.  When pain is a part of your story, being present is often the hardest thing to embrace.  

Henry Nouwen writes in his book The Inner Voice of Love, "There is a deep hole in your being, like an abyss.  You will never succeed in filling that hole, because your needs are inexhaustible.  You have to work around it so that gradually the abyss closes.  Since the hole is so enormous and your anguish so deep, you will always be tempted to flee from it.  There are two extremes to avoid: being completely absorbed in your pain and being distracted by so many things that you stay far away from the wound you want to heal."

I spent the better half of 2019 running from healing.  I stopped writing.  I buried myself in work.  I turned to social media and spent way too many hours scrolling and comparing and scrolling some more.  It's embarrassing, really.  I suppose I can sit here today and share honestly that tough experiences of this past year have brought me to a rock bottom place of recognizing the need for some drastic changes.  

I've never been big on New Year's Resolutions so while sharing my plans for change does feel quite a bit cliche, I hope it will encourage someone else who has been feeling similarly to myself.  This year I plan to get back to writing.  My husband says I am at my healthiest when I am putting words to the madness that is swirling around in my head.

As a family, we are making some huge technology changes.  My social media apps have been deleted from my phone and the passwords have been changed, giving me access to social media only when my husband is home in the evenings to help keep me accountable.  I'll be scheduling all business posts ahead of time and only answering comments at set times.  We are cancelling cable entirely and the i-pads are being stored somewhere high up on a shelf.  Family board games are making a comeback this year in our home.  My kids will either learn to love it or their technology deprivation will send them to therapy.

Moving forward, Sundays are for Sabbath and rest.  I won't be doing photography sessions on Sundays as a way to be present with our family and to focus on how to best tackle the week ahead.

Other goals for this year are to read more as a family and for myself.  We also have a goal to be more intentional about getting our kids out of their entitled, upper class, white skinned American bubble.  I could go on and on about this last goal but that's more for another blog post in the future.

I'll be honest in sharing that one of the reasons I stopped writing came from the disillusionment I was feeling towards the blogging world and the trap I was finding myself caught up in as I desired to grow a larger following and gain popularity.  This was never, ever why I began writing over here on Little Mountain Momma.  If you've been a tried and true follower since the start of this page, you may remember that I began writing as a way to encourage other mommas who were struggling with postpartum depression. Eventually this blog began to extend it's reach further and speak to those dealing with pregnancy loss + the highs and lows of every day motherhood.  But, the more I found myself caught up in the desire to be seen and noticed, the more I began to hate it.  It felt inauthentic but I wasn't quite sure how to get back the intentional place that this blog originally began from.

Moving forward, my hope is that my writing over here will touch just a few of you.  If my words reach more than just a few, then that's wonderful.  But in reintroducing myself back into the world of sharing authentically on my little corner of the internet, I have to remain true to the reasons that I began this little blog so many years ago.

I'm just a wife and momma, like so many of you.  I don't want free clothing or sponsorships.  I don't need or want thousands of readers or followers.  I just want to bring light and encouragement to other women who are raising tiny humans to love Jesus and are trying to do it well.  I don't have any giant epiphanies to share today other than to be honest in saying that I'm right in the middle of a mess and I am more desperate for Jesus than ever.  If that's you too, then you're in the right place and I'm excited to do this journey together.  

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween friends! I'm not usually one who posts massive amounts of photos of my family but I figured, hey... why not?  This year we attended our first costume themed Halloween Party so we decided to have a little fun.  

Mackenzie wanted to go as a veterinarian (easy enough).  Levi, who wants to do EVERYthing just like his big sister, decided to forgo his Ninja Turtle dreams and be a puppy.  To which we said, "How about an injured puppy?" (To fit with the vet theme).  He was SOLD.  

Now, you would think that a puppy costume would be pretty straightforward.  Amazon prime.  
Bada-bing Bada-boom.  Yeah.... not so much.  Amazon prime failed me this time, guys.  The day before puppy was suppose to arrive in all of it's 2 day shipping glory (let's just forget about about the small detail that I waited until Halloween week to order), I got a notice in my email letting me know that puppy was canceled.  CANCELED.

AMAZON PRIME.  I would break up with you except that I love you way too much.  On Friday, Jeremy and I drove to every Target, Walmart, Party City known to man.  And our final solution?  A kid's Star Wars Chewbaca costume from the neck down and a sad looking puppy hat.  
Oh well, you can't win them all. #momfail

Evie went as a kitty.  She didn't really have much of a choice.  I shove her chubby thighs into anything I dang please.  That's the beauty of pushing a baby out of your hoo-hah.  You get to choose their halloween costumes for the first three years.  Yes?  Her flamingo costume is already hanging in her closest for next year. #momwin

And as for our adult costumes, Jeremy went as a dog catcher and I went as a crazy cat lady.  
It was perrrrfect.  

On Sunday, we braved the 80 degree late October temps for a yearly trip to Anderson Farms.  We continued with our tradition of bribing for photos in the pumpkin patch.  We'll make the trip back again next year for another round of, "SMILE LIKE YOU MEAN IT AND YOU GET TO PICK A PUMPKIN."

This year was also the first year that I had ever heard of Trunk Or Treat.  I've clearly been hiding under a rock for the past 8 years of parenting.  Low and behold, in all of it's Pinterest glory, there are pages and pages dedicated to this idea of decorating your trunk for Halloween.  

I, in true fashion, went a bit overboard.  "Camping in The Pumpkin Patch" was the theme.  I shoved a giant tent into the back of the SUV and we passed out s'mores.  I may have been trying to make up for the failed puppy costume. 

Tonight, for Halloween, we will continue our tradition of Papa Murphy's Jack O Lantern Pizza and trick or treating for the first time in our new neighborhood.  After the kid's go to bed, we will steal all of their Halloween candy and blame it on the  Candy Fairy.  I think it's safe to say that after a week of packing in all of the traditions and festive Halloween activities, this momma needs a week long nap!  Just in time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas Season.
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why Perfect Parenting Is For The Birds

Last week I got a call from my 8-year-old daughter's elementary school principal.  The conversation went something like this:

Principal- "I'm sorry to be calling you but we uhhh...had an incident today at school.  I have M here in the office with me.  She's here because a boy in her class poured paint on her boots.  Then she ...well... she... she kicked him in the private parts."


Today, as I arrived to my son's preschool for pickup (already late I must add), his teachers asked me to step into his classroom.  My heart immediately sunk.

"We need to talk.  Is something going on at home?  We're concerned about L.  He keeps falling asleep in class.  He seems very out of it.  He can't seem to follow simple instructions without his eyes glazing over.  Is everything okay?"


In all seriousness, here's what I wanted to say:

"NO.  No. No. No.  Everything is NOT okay.  My oldest is kicking classmates in the MANLY PARTS.  My middle little has become the preschool narcoleptic.  The baby doesn't sleep at all.  But, don't worry... SHE'S not falling asleep with her face in the dog food bowl.  Which, by the way is her favorite place to be...eating the dog food, that is.

Last week while nursing the baby, I pulled a piece of scrap metal out of her mouth.  Yes, metal.  I have a laundry pile so large that it could rival one of Colorado's 14ers.  We don't even bother to fold clothes anymore.  My second grader goes to school daily with two different socks on because who even has time for matching socks???

Guys.  I don't even know anymore.  I'm frazzled.  I'm exhausted.  I look it.  I feel it.  I spend much of my nights lying in bed between feedings wondering just how many hours of therapy all of my mistakes and missteps as a parent are going to take to "fix" my kids.

Today at the playground after school, as I was wracking my brain for answers to all of life's hardest "mom questions"... it dawned on me: Never before have I needed Jesus like I do as a parent.  Never have I been so humbled and so aware of my dysfunction.  I've always been a wreck.  It's just taking these daily parenting shenanigans for me to see just how much of a wreck I truly am.

So today,  I sat plopped down on the cement sidewalk of the playground while my baby attempted to shovel handfuls of leaves and wood chips into her mouth.   As I sat there, head hanging and heart low,  I realized something.  Perfect parenting is for the birds.  I found myself waving the figurative white flag of defeat.

Or was it a flag of victory?

You see, maybe coming to this place of surrender truly is a "mom win".

No amount of hustling or striving for perfectionism as a parent is ever going to "fix" my children.  

It's not a matter of IF my kids are going to need therapy.  It's just a matter of if they will choose to go. My children are going to grow up with baggage and dysfunction and probably a bit of a trauma.

You want to know why?

Because my kids are sinners.  Because my husband and I... we are sinners.  Because we come from a very long line of sinners.  We are broken big people trying to raise broken tiny people.  

And every day that I still don't get this parenting thing "right", I get to point my kids to Jesus.  I get to ask for forgiveness.  I get to plead for grace and mercy and wisdom.  All of which are things that I probably wouldn't be asking for if I didn't have tiny humans looking at me to make all of their huge life decisions.

It is exhausting and scary and many days I feel so overwhelmed that I wonder if today is the day I end up in the psych ward of our local mental hospital.

But maybe, just maybe, this is exactly the place that the Lord desires for us to be.  Maybe, it is here in this place of humble parenting, head hanging and arms raised in total surrender of our understanding and will, that God does his holiest and best heart work.
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

These Are My Confessions

I feel like I'm about to confess to a murder.  I promise you, I'm not.  That would really make this post interesting though, wouldn't it?  In "mommy world", I sure feel like this confession puts me right up there with jailbird Martha Stewart.  Only, I haven't committed tax fraud either.

For the past 7 years on this blog I have shared DIY projects, baking debacles, elaborate holiday celebrations.  I even once shared a post with feline shaped cookies where we forced a party hat on our less-than-thrilled cat and celebrated his 1st birthday.  Poor Belmont.  May he rest in peace.

Almost every one of these posts has revolved around my children in some one form or another.  I think for the most part, I do a pretty good job of enjoying my children. I do love my children. Most days I even really like them.  I find them funny and charming.  I have three of them and I chose to have them so... that says something positive, right?

But guys, here it is... here is the honest to God truth...

I hate, loathe, despise and want to murder Summer break.  Can you murder Summer break?  Is that even a thing? 

Because I totally want to do it

I am less than 24 hours into Summer Break and I have chosen to vacation at the nearest Whole Foods. I strategically chose this spot because I can be in a setting that makes me feel "semi" more adultish, they provide new and interesting toys for my child and an abundance of coffee and overpriced cake for myself.

Yes, cake for breakfast.  This is how I self soothe.  Go ahead, judge away. 

As I type this I find myself methodically pushing a stroller with one foot, sleeping baby in tow, while plastic play food is shoved at my face every 12 seconds by my now graduated pre-schooler who wants me to pretend to eat plastic bell peppers. 

This is going to sound incredibly pathetic. But this morning I cried.

Summer break has been quickly approaching. Coming like a hurricane, swirling and whirling as it looms ominously in the sky, threatening destruction.

And I cried at this thought. 

I don't know what this says about me, guys.

I cried at the thought of 16 hour days where I am forced to answer hundreds of repetitive questions like, "Do Ninja Turtles have penises?" and "Can you make Barbie Big Boobs talk?"

The endless bickering, the whiney proclamations of, "I'm borrred..." And, quite possibly the worst...

The look.  The one where their eyes get big and wide and they stare blankly at me as if every ounce of creativity has left their little bodies.

The look they give as if to ask, "How are you going to entertain us today, mom?" 

It's like the look of death

When Mackenzie started Kindergarten several years ago I discovered something.  I am a better mom when she is in school.  And now, I've discovered it yet again. I am a better mom when BOTH of my kids are in school. And I have zero ounces of shame in admitting this.  Zero.  I like my kids better when someone else is caring for them.

I get a chance to miss them.  When they come around again, I'm actually excited to see their squishy faces.  I hug them, I slobber kisses all over them and I realize -- wow, I generally like these kids again!

But Summer Break, you destroy all notions of me missing my children.  You stick me in a tiny, humid house and make me want to hide in a closet with allll the Sangria, while my tiny humans parent the heck out of themselves. 

Ohhh, that thought alone almost, AMOST makes me smile.

Today is officially Day 1.  And I feel like the first step to recovering from Summer Breakitis is to admit that I have a problem. 

So here I sit, foot officially numb from the back and forth of the stroller, confessing to you my dirty secret. 

My preschooler just shoved a pear at my eye and said, "Mom!  You wanna look inside of it?!?" 


No, Levi.  I actually do not want to look inside of the plastic pear. 

But I'm a mom.  I'm a good mom.  So that's what I'll do.  I look inside of the plastic pear and pretend to be remotely interested. 

And that's what I'm going to do the rest of the whole dang Summer.  I'm going to pretend I'm remotely interested. 

I'm going to don my mom bathing suit and suck in my postpartum jiggly belly while I chase my kids around swimming pools and splash pads.

I'm going to serve popsicles loaded with sugar and red food coloring (or is it green?) and then watch as they bounce like hooligans off the walls of my home and get their sticky hands on my furniture.

I will plaster on a giant smile.  I might even adjust my attitude sometime around mid July after the fireworks have been lit and the garden veggies have started to sprout. 

You might even see photos of me enjoying summer break with my three tiny humans, eating the popsicles with them and traipsing around Colorado together.

But please know... when August 23rd rolls around and it's time to start spending exorbitant amounts of money on school supplies and tacky backpacks...

I, my friends, will be in my happy place.
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