How do you feel about that momma? Did you love that moment of motherhood in all it's gross glory? Was it a time of joy? Did you find the deeper meaning in your child using you as a human Kleenex?
What's that? No? You didn't like it?
What's that I just heard you mumble to your kid? "Not cool, child. Go find a real Kleenex. I think I might gag."
Tisk, tisk, tisk. What an ice-cold heart you have. How can you not find joy in that? Especially because right after, your baby looked up at you with their big, sand-filled eyes and said through bad Cheerio breath, "Danks Momma."
Doesn't that make your heart overflow and all the nasty worth it? Because isn't wiping boogers deep, meaningful, joyful work as a mom?
I mean, at the very least, isn't that how a good mother is supposed to feel these days?
I know the e-world of motherhood is telling you to look for joy in everything you do. It's full of sappy, sentimental adages about being a mom: "Measure your success by how many smiles your baby gives you that day." "Find your joy in the little things - the tiny hand reaching for yours, little eyes peeking at you in the mirror, and the deep, even breaths of your sweeties sleeping." "Embrace the crumbs on your car's seats, the drool on your jeans and the spaghetti in your hair - they're just reminders of your lovely angels." "If all you do is get up and survive and love your littles, then you're the best mom in the world."
Did you just cringe a little at that? Cause I sure did. Sure, there's truth deep in those sayings, but these days the message is so common, so frequent, so worn across the pages of the internet that all it does is serve to make you feel like you're a mom that doesn't care about her kids enough, love them large enough, or think about them deeply enough if you don't look at the mountain of poop-stain ridden onesies you need to fold with tears in your eyes and nostalgia in your heart.
Daily motherhood isn't like that. There are moments, of course. When even the most realistic, unidealistic and dare I say - callous? - among us feel those sappy, tender, mushy feelings that you read about online these days. They last a second, a minute - maybe 15 if we're lucky. Coming along unexpectedly, fast and furious, and disappearing as quickly as they arrived, dissolving into real life and the daily grind.
So here's the truth, from a fellow mother: Don't feel bad for one second for not liking the fact that you were just used as a human Kleenex. Normal moms are not super sappy 24/7. Normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill, average - the majority - of moms don't find motherhood one big ball of tender, touching, encouraging mom-moments. They don't look at the cheese in between the couch cushions and say, "Oh, little Sally must have been here - this cheese is such a good reminder of how lovely it is to be her mom!"
Nope. They're annoyed with the cheese. They're annoyed with their kid. And they're even more annoyed that their couch cushion has been ruined.
And I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that that's totally okay. You don't have an ice-cold heart because you don't like wearing boogers, you have a normal heart.
So if you don't connect with the super sentimental messages littered across the www, don't feel bad. Just because you don't view fingerprints on your newly cleaned windows as a precious gift of memories in motherhood, doesn't mean you're a grinch. It just means you're normal. Just because you woke up six times in the middle of the night, tired of walking back and forth from one bedroom to another and didn't look fondly back at the well-worn carpet the next morning doesn't mean you're not a mom who finds joy in her role as a mom - it just means your normal.
Sometimes, there doesn't need to be a deeper meaning behind mopping the floors, cleaning up puke in the car, or picking up crumbs on the table. Mopping floors can just be mopping floors. Cleaning up puke can just be - gross. And the crumbs on the table? Well, they're just crumbs.
You don't have an ice-cold heart. You have a normal heart.
Just because you're not a super sappy, sentimental mom doesn't mean you're not a good one.
For the majority of us, daily life is daily life. Full of tedious tasks, repetitious production and routine endeavors. But every once in a while, motherhood gifts us with a moment that stops us in our tracks. A moment that's made up of what every single mother has ever known: That this is all worth it. That there is beauty in the long hard days. That the sleepless nights, the sticky fingers, messy kitchens and yes, even the runny noses did in fact hold meaning.
Not because they have joyful meaning in and of themselves, but because all together, they represent and point to the important work we do. The joyful, meaningful work of raising a soul.
And maybe it is the fingerprints on the window that point us to that. Or maybe it is the crumbs on the table. Or the cheese in the couch. Admittedly, this gift is often given in the very small, mundane things. But this connection, this realization, is rarely at the forefront of our minds. Sure, it's always there, the engine running behind our daily tasks. And when we're blessed enough to have it jump front and center, it is a precious gift to be soaked up for all it's worth.
I do understand what the internet is saying. And it is a good, and rightful reminder. But it's also important to remember that it's okay if you don't feel that way every day, or even every week.
So as much of the internet would say, "Carry on warrior." You realistic, regular, every day, totally normal warrior. Rest easy, knowing your head doesn't need to hit the pillow every night counting the ways you made a difference in the lives of your family or finding the little moments that made your day worth it. Those are good things in theory and should often be done, but sometimes a day as a mother - can be just that: A day. A good day, a bad day - qualify it however you want. But it was still just a day.
Just a another day with your ice-cold heart; that's actually quite warm, filled with love and totally - totally - normal.
When I suddenly catch myself swaying back and forth as I'm talking to someone who's doing it too - but they're actually holding a baby.
When another parent tells me, "We don't believe in the word, 'No.'"
The day Eli's molars broke through.
When trying to figure out why all toddlers always feel a little bit sticky.
When I'm in a large group of kids and lose track of Eli for .00001 of a second.
When I'm hiding in the kitchen to eat something I don't want to share with Eli and my husband catches me.
When I'm playing a children's song and realize it's kinda catchy.
When I'm in bad mood but someone says something funny, but not that funny and I'm trying to be a good sport. #tryharder
When I see two cool looking moms talking and I'm feeling left out because I want to be cool too.
When I'm trying to keep Eli awake on the car ride home before his nap so he doesn't get a power nap in and not want to sleep when we get home. #dontmesswiththeafternoonnap
When another parent lets me know that Eli's shoes are on the wrong feet (when I put them on). #iknewthat
Raise your hand if you've already started thinking about a Halloween costume for your little one(s)? We sure have - we're debating how cliche it would be to play into the glasses or not ... we'll see. Last year, Eli was a baby Ewok. It's okay if that sounds familiar but you don't know what that is. Or if you've never heard of it at all. It's from Star Wars - and I guarantee your husband knows exactly what it is. My husband was thrilled when I agreed to this costume. Here's how we did it semi-homemade.
Why you should actually care about the Ebola outbreak.
"I just freed an innocent man from death row and I'm still furious." This will definitely make you think.
A nostalgic post on motherhood.
Confused about ISIS? Here's how it works.
While this is an article about comments on interior design blogs, I think it's applicable for the entire internet. It's amazing to me the things people say online and even if you have pretty thick skin, the comments can still sting. I love what it says here, "It’s worth noting that it’s not the debate itself that presents the problem, it's the tone of the debate and the way we speak to each other. When we gather on open platforms, like blog comments or Facebook pages, we are leaving our discussion in the hands of that platform ... if you can’t say anything nice, say it in a smart, informed way." Preach it.
Six reasons women should study theology.
Last week I shared my new method for organizing Eli's clothes over on Twin Cities Moms Blog. I got so sick and tired of sifting through mountains of clothes each day and not knowing what fit him and what didn't. Here's how I keep track of what works and what doesn't - without a lot of work.
The mystery of the Obama's coffee. An embarrassingly-lengthy article on the mystery of the White House's coffee-consumption habits. But entertaining none-the-less.
Need a laugh? All the comments on recipe blogs. So true. This is totally one of my pet-peeves and I don't even write recipes on this blog!
Suing for "Wrongful Birth" - have you heard of the term? Essentially, it's parents that sue a healthcare practice, "for the harm their child's existence has caused them." Sounds terrible, right? Here's an interesting take on it about parents who are doing just that. Basically, a healthcare worker misread genetic testing results to the parents and their daughter was born with a rare genetic disorder. The parent's claim had they known they would have aborted her. But like most parents of children with disabilities, they admit that now that they have her, they couldn't imagine life without her - and so they feel terrible admitting it. So many thoughts here - I can't even. Read it.
I have to admit, it's pretty magical to be pregnant the first time around. You spend hours researching and fantasizing about your little angel child, picking out an adorable coming home outfit, finding the perfect maternity dress that flatters your growing bump and daydreaming about how you'll wear it to your shower, and researching the perfect stroller for hours on end that is both the safest and the most stylish on the market.
You study labor and delivery methods, carefully writing out a birth plan. You talk with all your friends and family about every detail going into the nursery. And you and your husband spend most evenings with his hand on your belly, both of you just waiting with baited breath to feel those adorable little kicks.
It really is bliss.
The second time around? Let's just say it's a little bit different.
- You crack your baby books about once every two months. And that's just the "what's happening to your baby/body" type books - and you're doing it mostly because you feel like you should. You tell yourself you'll take a quick pass through the labor and delivery type books a few days before your due date, but all bets are off as to whether or not that will actually happen.
- You view your prenatal appointments as somewhat of an inconvenience (because you have to find a sitter), rather than the highlight of your month/week.
- You forget you're pregnant all. the. time. Although it's always a good reminder when your toddler flops on your belly like a pillow and your unborn child brings the pain outside in, round-house kicking you in the uterus. These are the first of many physical abuses that second child will take from their older sibling - it's probably good they're already learning to fight back - it's just too bad that it's at your expense.
- Your bladder control is eleventy billion times worse than it was the first time you were pregnant. You thought it was bad then, but you had no idea. Sure it's annoying to have to pee when you sneeze or laugh too hard. But those incidents are few and far between in the first pregnancy. With number two, even going down the stairs with a spring in your step is problematic.
- You tell yourself you've got to remember to set aside special time to think about this baby all in the name of "being fair." After all, your first was all you could think about for nine months straight. This one at least deserves a couple hours of undivided thought before d-day, right?
- You eat soft cheeses of all kinds, deli meats without heating them up, chug coffee like there's no tomorrow and even contemplate sushi. Too far you tell yourself. Too far. Maybe wait for the third child ...
- You never have any idea how many weeks you are. With your first, every day counts, so when someone asks you how far along you are, the answer is, "25 weeks and three point five days, and the baby is the size of a rutabaga." With your second, "24 weeks? 26 weeks? No no, 25. Ish. I think. Probably. I donno. Somewhere in there. Please don't ask me about the fruit thing."
- You throw away the Buy Buy Baby and Babies 'R Us coupons because you figure you have everything you need for the next already since one has already survived under your roof. Then common sense sets in and you dig them out of the trash - there are some things you'll likely need two of.
- You whip out those maternity jeans the moment you find out your pregnant. After all, your stomach apparently akin to a memory-foam mattress: What? Four weeks pregnant? Okay, 16 week baby belly coming right up! Only this time, it's soft and pillow-like, rather than firm and tight. Those muscles disappeared long ago with that first child.
- Weird stuff happens to you and you don't think twice about it. The first time around, you thought you or the baby was dying at least twice a month, and you were Googling and researching you beautiful little brains out to abate your fears. This time, weird stuff happens and you just chalk it up to pregnancy. Even if it's not. It's a good excuse, right?
- You gain 10 lbs. in five weeks and don't even give it a second thought. The days of caring about being cute and adorable while pregnant are a distant memory. This ain't your first rodeo. You'll eat what you wanna eat. If you're going to be pregnant, at least you can be pregnant and happy. And we all know the key to a pregnant woman's happiness is the right food at the right time. And the right food usually consists of anything fried, buttered or sugared.
- Rather than plan that nursery from the moment you find out your pregnant, you start working on the nursery about eight weeks before that baby is due. Okay maybe five weeks, fine two weeks ... one week? You figure the pack n' play will work in a pinch or maybe even in the long-run. Who knows? Who cares? The baby sure doesn't.
- You become sad when you think about how the baby hairs on your head your body has worked so hard to grow back after baby number one are going to be lost again with baby number two. You are not looking forward to having the new-mommy-spiky-baby hair-halo around your hair line for another year.
- You understand that a birth plan is essentially writing down everything you don't want to have at your birth, so you don't give a birth plan for this one a second thought. Whatever happens, happens. And you figure you can at least give yourself a shot at having a desirable birth by having no expectations unlike the first time.
- People DO NOT CARE that you are pregnant when you announce it. The first time around, the room erupts in excitement at your news. Everyone's asking if you'll find out the gender, how you told your husband, and what you're most excited for. Second time around: "Cool. What's for dinner?"
- I promise, I know his glasses are dirty. They're always dirty. His whole body is dirty - he's 17 months old. I try my best to keep them clean, but sometimes, it's not worth cleaning them every 10 minutes. He messes with them more when I mess with them, and I'm pretty sure even with fingerprints, milk splatters, snot and food on them, he still has better vision than without them.
- If you wear glasses (or even sunglasses), please don't wiggle your glasses on your face and let my son play with them. I totally get it, you want to relate to him, make him laugh and interact with him. All things I want too. But please, please, please, don't play with your glasses on your face and say, "I have glasses too!" Or let him play with your glasses or sunglasses. I know it's a natural thing to do, I'm guilty of it as well, but it only makes him want to do it to his glasses because he thinks it's funny, and that's the exact behavior I'm trying to teach him not to do. So make him smile, make him laugh, just don't use your glasses to do it.
- Please assume that children wearing glasses under the age of two are doing so for a medical reason. I know lots of parents purchase fake glasses for their kids because, as everyone says, "Kids in glasses are SO cute!" But most people don't put fake glasses on a baby, or well, any child under about two years old because they'd never wear them for more than three seconds before becoming a chew toy. So please don't ask me, "What are his glasses for?" (Not even sure how to respond to that one. His vision?) "Are his glasses real?" or "Do you have him wear them so he'll look cool like a hipster?" What the what? I am not that vain. These suckers are $400, I'd say that's a little too expensive a purchase for vanity's sake. *Quick tip: If you look closely at babies and toddlers in glasses, you'll see a back strap or these things called stayputs, little plastic pieces behind the ears to make them stay on - fake glasses don't have them.
- Please teach your children that glasses are not toys. As I mentioned, I know there are parents that purchase fake glasses for their kids. And this is a bit of a tough one for me. I totally get why parents do it, I could see myself doing it too if our situation was different, but now that I'm on the other side it sometimes frustrates me because then young children think everyone's glasses are toys. And toys are meant to be shared. As much as possible, please try to educate your child about glasses and the difference between play and real glasses. And please, if your child attempts to take my son's glasses off his face, stop them! Or fair warning, I probably will.
- In the same vein, please teach your children about glasses and stereotypes. The first time another kid called my son a nerd at the park, I was tongue tied. The second time wasn't much better. It's hard to hear your toddler called names by an older kid, even if they tell you, "What? I'm just being honest." In many ways, I don't blame the kids, I blame parenting. So please, if your child's old enough to understand, teach them that: 1) Just because someone's wearing glasses doesn't mean they're a nerd, it just means they need vision correction. And 2) it's just plain not-nice to call people names - no matter how honest you think you're being.
- Please be sensitive about what you're asking and saying. He may be babbling in the cart next to me, but he does understand a lot more than what you think. Please don't ask me, "What's wrong with him?" or "Is he blind without them?" I hate to burst a bubble, but calling him Harry Potter or Clark Kent, or even a pirate when he's wearing a patch isn't all that clever, we've heard it a lot. Oh, and definitely, definitely don't do a double take when he's wearing the patch and say, "Does he have an eye under there?" or "Oh my goodness, I thought he was missing an eye!" You will likely receive a forced laugh that takes everything in me to muster while I rush off. I can brush off a lot, but those two things? Just. No.
- Please don't define my child only by his glasses. One of my fears when we first found out my son would have glasses was that he'd be forever defined as the boy in glasses. And that fear has already come true. And I suppose it's okay. It's inevitable and I'm over it. But while I love that so many people think he is super cute in glasses, it's so refreshing when someone chooses to comment on something else. His blue eyes, his hair, his giggle. I know I'm biased, but I think he has lots of great things going for him, not just his glasses.
For more information on our experience in getting my son glasses, check out this post and for answers to many of your questions about children in glasses, here's a FAQ .
As I mentioned yesterday, last weekend I helped host a baby shower for my sister-in-law. At the shower, I gave the devotion. I kept thinking we should trade me out for someone more experienced and wise than me - an aunt or grandma or well, anyone who's ever raised a child more than 17 months like little ol' me. I was really nervous. What could I have to say that would be helpful to a new mom? I'm floundering just as much, if not more, than she is! I needed to hear a devotion from a wise mother just as much as she did!
But as I prayed about it and asked God to enlighten me with just a teeny, tiny bit of wisdom to share, I kept feeling like maybe it was a good thing that I could share. I remember - very well - where she's at. I remember the research for what labor and delivery would be like, the anxiety of what color of stroller to select, the feeling that every single decision I made was the-most-important-one-I've-ever-made!
I remember worrying about the big things and worrying just as much about the small things. The fears that it would be harder than anyone admits and the delusions that things would be easier than people say ... I remember it well.
And I remember all the advice. Both unasked for and sought out. It comes at you a mile a minute when you're pregnant, then a mile a second when you actually hold that baby in your arms. You want to hear it. Yet you want to do it on your own. You're torn. Overwhelmed. Struggling to find the right answer for you and your baby, but it feels impossible because everything is flashy, and loud, and bright, begging you to choose it and it's all just plain confusing.
Yet over and over again in motherhood, God has brought Romans 12:2 to my mind. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Truth for the new mother.
I honestly don't consider myself a wise person. A person who has a deep and clear understanding of the bible, easily drawing out truths from the text. Someone who can read a chapter and actually have a lot to say about it. Or be able to transform a single verse into seven paragraphs of thought, lessons, challenges and encouragements. I have friends and family that are like that, and honestly, I envy them.
I knew I could only speak from my limited experience. And so my goal wasn't to rock her world with five brand new truths that fit her next role as a mother, it was to remind her of the one truth she already knows, but is so easy to forget in this stage of life. I wanted to be real with her. To identify with what's happening to her now, and what will happen to her later, and remind her of one simple truth through it all that provides direction and certainty in a role that can easily make a person feel lost and unsure: To test everything against God's word.
And so laid the foundation for the devotion.
And really, it's my prayer for all mothers - especially those of you who are currently pregnant with your first, or trudging through the murky waters of the newborn stage. While this applies at all stages of life - children or not - I think it's an especially important reminder when you're in those stages. So, I've edited my "speech" up a bit to be more generic, to apply to all of you.
It likely won't blow your mind or totally transform your thinking, but I hope it will remind you of why we're doing this motherhood thing and what really matters when it's all said and done.
ps. It is meant to be spoken aloud, so the flow may be a bit off as you read it to yourself.
I keep thinking about how the instant a new mom becomes pregnant, she is inundated with unsolicited advice. And on top of it all, she's also seeking it out, reading books, blogs and forums on where to get the best baby gear deals, how to prepare for nursing, labor relaxation techniques - you name it, most first time moms have researched it.
And while it may feel like you're researching a lot now, after the baby comes, you'll still be seeking out advice - sleep training solutions, how to get rid of diaper rash, and introduce first foods. You'll worry and question and wonder and research until you think you've reached the end of the internet and all the advice available, but there's more. There's always more.
The baby experts - the internet, blogs and books will shout at you, "Do it my way! This is the best way! Only 27 steps to get an angel baby! Here's how to have the perfect child!" And even more dangerous, "Here's how to be the perfect mom!"
But today I want to encourage you: Do not listen to them. Do not be caught up in their lies. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Because the thing is - contrary to what the world will tell you, it doesn't matter in the end if you breastfeed or formula feed, if you sleep train or co-sleep, if you use organic or processed foods. And I know deep down you know that. Those things will fade and die as the new fad comes in, and will not affect who your child becomes. And as you face questions and transition, I pray that you will do what Romans says, to test everything, sifting through the world's shouts to discern what is good, acceptable, and perfect. What is the will of God. Because the things you say and the way you spend your time as this baby's mother will show them what you value and as Romans says, what is on your mind, and as Psalms says, what is in your heart.
When that baby comes, I guarantee, even with the hours of research and preparation under your belt, very quickly, you will feel inadequate, unqualified and unprepared. You will want to run to the flashy book covers, the 10-step solutions, the easy promises. And while I'll be the first to admit - a 10-step solution can actually be very helpful in getting your kid to sleep through the night - that is not what matters.
What matters is another book: The Bible. What matters is that you give your child Jesus. That you love them well. That you instruct their heart. That you are present. That you overwhelm them daily with the grace of God. That you teach them about Job's suffering, Sarah's laughter, Paul's zeal, Ruth's loyalty and Peter's bravery.
That you teach them to love what God loves and to hate what God hates.
When you're in the trenches - when you have questions about when to introduce the pacifier or whether or not to get scented or unscented wipes - though they are real things that need to be dealt with, and at the moment feel so very pressing - the deeper question you should be asking yourself is, "How am I showing my child God's grace? What will they learn from me? At the end of each day - what will they say their mommy valued?"
Although your child's faith is ultimately out of your hands, you will have one of the biggest influences on their heart. As that verse in Romans says, TEST EVERYTHING. And how do you test everything? Through renewing your mind by spending daily time with Jesus. Memorizing scripture, reading the word and laying raw the multitude of worries, fears and anxieties you will have as a mother at his feet. Through doing these things you will be able to discern what is worth it and what is not - you will have the ability to do what is good, and acceptable and perfect for your child.
The shouts of the world will quickly fade, and the still, small voice of Jesus whispering to you will soon be all you can hear.
I'm only 17 months into this motherhood gig, and already I can tell you that parenting well and with intention is not easy. I know it will take years of consistency, thoughtfulness and intentionality to nurture and grow a soul that will someday, hopefully, love and follow Jesus.
My prayer is that your child's story follows the narrow path. That they would grow up to not only know their Bible, but to love it as an old friend. That they wouldn't just know how to recite a memory verse, but that its truth would root deep down in their heart, beating life into them right along with it. That they would not only know the old hymns, but that their meanings would make their wavering soul steady in the midst of trial.
And you as the mother, because of God's grace, you will have influence over this. My prayer is that your child would say their mother raised them with grace, forgiveness and purpose. That she was present. That she was oh, so fun. That she was inspiring. And most of all - that she loved the Lord and showed them Jesus.
As you embark on this journey, test everything against God's word. Know truth. Believe truth. And enter this amazing adventure of motherhood with confidence that you walk in God's grace and he will guide your path.