Tag Archives: gratitude

A Nap Time Lesson

The kids are in their cribs supposedly napping.  Instead, I hear Emily yelling “Hi!” and Andrew giggling. I can picture them.  Emily is pressing her face against the mesh walls of her Pac N’ play while Andrew, on his hands and knees, stares at her through his own mesh surface.  Their faces are lit up with unadulterated joy.

They are best friends.

When in our living room,  Andrew is not too interested in me.  His eyes are stuck on his sister.  They follow her everywhere.  He smiles as she runs from room to room, creating havoc.  He babbles when she starts singing.  He laughs, really laughs, when his sister twirls, hops, and jigs to unheard music.

I look at them and remember.

The horrific pregnancies.  The long nights.  The colic. The postpartum depression.

The easy births.  Our first moments together. Their first smiles.  Their first laughs.

The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the frustrating, the fun, the painful, the joy–mixed together in life’s blender, a combination of bitter and sweet, to be drunk daily.   And I do.  Every last drop.  Because it’s worth it.

Right now, I listen to their silly noises and I feel at peace.

One day I will have another baby.  I will feel their movements inside me.  We will grow together for nine months.  We will meet and I will cry tears of immense joy.

That sweet baby will have instant best friends.  Soon  I will hear her or him laughing and playing with their siblings during nap time, and I will remember today.  I may even read these words again.  My heart will swell–for a second time–with feelings of great gratitude.

A tender mercy that I will not forget, but will embrace.  Fully.

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Filed under lessons from a rocking chair

Becoming the Mother I Want to Be

When I had Andrew, something happened.

I was tired, I was lonely, I was stressed, and I was overwhelmed.  Ben was working, attending school, studying for the MCAT, and trying his best to be there for me and the kids.

My little boy was fussy, very fussy.  He cried and cried, I cried and cried, Emily cried and cried.  I pushed joy away so I could have room for misery.

Emily was growing, maturing, turning into a toddler.  I wasn’t ready.  I wanted her to help me, but I didn’t want her to be adventurous or seek autonomy.  I wanted–I needed–her to sit down next to me, playing quietly.  Not running from mess to mess, taking advantage of me nursing to get into everything.

I was unrealistic.

I found myself turning into an awful mother. I went from using calm tones to relying on harsh tones; being happy and engaging to being angry and distant; patient to impatient.

My husband’s busyness and my loneliness excused me from improving my behaviors.

Until one day I really looked at my daughter.  What I saw was not a little monster trying to ruin my life, but a little girl, a toddler, who was discovering her little world, begging for me to help her.

How I viewed motherhood changed.

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the leaders of my church remind mothers (and fathers) that we are to nurture our children.

Nurture: to feed and protect; to support and encourage, as during a period of training or development.  (Source: Dictionary.com.)

I do feed and protect my children every day, but do I support and encourage? More importantly, do I support and encourage my toddler as she discovers her world?

I am not ignorant.

I knew what I could do to temper her melt downs or aide in her autonomy seeking behavior.  That is what my degree is in. Yet I was neglectful and I took the easy way out.

I have had several impressions reminding me to use my education to help me parent.  I ignored them.  Silly, really, considering I am often moaning to Ben that I can’t use my degree.

I am thankful that God is patient with me.

I can change and I will change.  These changes will not happen immediately, it will take time for me adjust my behaviors.

I feel powerful, I know that I can do this.

How have you grown/changed as a parent?

This post is (now) part of  “I’m Finding the Bigger Picture” event.  Click on over to see more events!

Bigger Picture Moment

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Filed under keeping the faith

A Stranger’s Kindness

I don’t cry very often.  Really, I don’t.  Tears might come to my eyes occasionally, but I normally brush them away and continue on with whatever task I am trying to perform.  Something happened yesterday that touched my heart so deeply that I couldn’t help but cry.

What was that act? Kindness.  Extraordinary kindness.

Ben and I are in transition.  He has started a new job that has some pretty rocking benefits.  As is custom, we must wait thirty days before these benefits take effect.  We were kicked off our previous insurance a few days before he started the new job.  Yeah, we don’t have insurance.

This hasn’t been an issue until today.  Rather, a few days ago when Andrew woke up screaming. Every 15-30 minutes. All. Night. Long.

The first night I figured it was my fault.  I had interrupted his sleep to pick Ben up from work.

The second night I thought he might be scared.

The third night I wasn’t sure what to think.

And this was our quandary: do we take him in to the doctor? If we had had insurance this would not have been a question.  But, because a doctor’s visit would require taking money from our oh-so-tight budget, we had to make a decision.

See the doctor or eat.

OK. Maybe not that drastic, but close.

The threat of repeating the last three nights, and the potential of an ear infection, led us to the doctor’s office.

I must say, we are very satisfied with our pediatrician.  He has taken care of our kids–and us–very well.  Ben even shadowed him! We know him and trust him.

The doctor did not find an infection.  He did find a sore, in the back of Andrew’s throat, resulting from a virus that he has seen once or twice this year.  The good news: it only lasts about 5 days.  The bad news: it is very painful. The ultra bad news: there is nothing we can do about it.

Needless to say, it was not a good visit.  I could feel our bank account protesting against our hsatiness, “If you had only waited another day, you wouldn’t have needed a doctor!”

I was feeling pretty defeated.  I had Andrew dressed and was only waiting for the doctor to dismiss us.  As he finished typing, and opened the door, he said something I did not expect.  He said to Ben, “Don’t worry about paying.  Take her [me] out to lunch. She needs it.”

The tears surprised me as much as his words.

Kindness.

I hope we can do the same for someone in the future.

P.S. Andrew’s sore is much better.  He was able to sleep all night last night!

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A Big Slobbery Thank You

It just so happens that I forgot to mention one major culprit in my emotional drama of last week: Miss Flow.  While I am grateful for this physical reminder of my fertility, I can’t exactly gush about how she messes up my emotions.  Everything seems much more dramatic when she visits.

I recovered a bit of my spice over the weekend.  Your comments were a gigantic help in reminding me of the support group I have.   As much as days like those suck, it feels less overwhelming when I know that other people can relate.  Reading your comments while drinking Diet Dr. Pepper certainly alleviated much of the sadness I felt.

In case I forget how incredibly lucky I am, let me list a few things that made me smile this weekend.

Watching this little girl canter and twirl around our living room.

Feeling her sweet, slobbery kisses on my cheek.

Smiling as she sings little songs about me, Ben, and her little brother.

Tickling his numerous rolls.

Listening to his little baby noises.

Feeling like the greatest mom in the world as he smiles and laughs when I walk into the room.

Finally, all of you.  Your kind words of support.  Your wise suggestions.  Your digital hugs.  I really am a lucky gal.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Please Keep Me and the Baby Safe

The following is a real account and happened to me last week. In an effort to expand my writing, I decided to turn it into a short story.

Her husband quietly woke her up, expressing his regret that it was already time to leave.  She quickly dressed and brushed her teeth.  After dropping her keys and wallet into her purse, she buckled her 6-month-old son into his carseat.   She kissed her sleeping daughter’s cheek, grateful that her friend agreed to watch her.

In the car, she and her husband were quiet.  It was much too early for substantial conversation, so they stuck to general chit chat to keep them both awake.

Before long the airport was in view.  With anxiety building, she parked in the space reserved for drop-offs and hopped out.  She hugged her husband tight and kissed his ready lips.  A second later he was walking away and she was back in the car, pulling away from the curb.

Her mind was swirling with emotions.  The trip was to be short, yet her heart still ached.  She watched as water dropped sporadically on her windshield, teasing the tears out of her eyes.

Her brain, on a constant watch,  alerted her to the potential danger.

“Oh crap,” she muttered.

Thoughts of her broken windshield wiper sprang to her mind.   In the high speeds of the freeway, the passenger’s side wiper would often get thrown off its set rhythm and hit the driver’s side wiper causing it to overextend itself off the window.   This could prove dangerous when the rain was intensely pouring and it was dark.

A little prayer began working itself up from her anxious stomach.

“Please keep me and the baby safe.”

She intently watched the road, hoping the rain would continue to sprinkle.  Her vision was horrid in the dark and only worse in bad weather.  If the rain turned more unfavorable, she would be in a lot of trouble.

A few minutes later, the rain started coming down in droves.  Prayers erupted out of her mouth, overlapping each other so that when one ended another began.

“Please keep the windshield wiper working. ”

“Please help me to see.”

“If the wiper is to go out, please help it to go out where I can safely stop.”

As she started descending from the point of the mountain, she saw the wiper struggling.  She knew she only had a few minutes before it would stop working.  She looked around her and realized that cars were behind, ahead, and to the side of her. The next exit was 5 miles away.  She was trapped.

Her prayers returned to the original one.

“Please keep me and the baby safe.”

Like a surreal dream, she watched in slow motion as her windshield wiper overextended itself.  The rain instantly covered her window and all visibility disappeared.

She screamed.

In an eery dichotomy, “Heavenly Father” and “Holy s@$&” escaped her mouth.

Vivid images raced through her mind.

Giving birth to her daughter.

Finding out she was pregnant with her son.

Watching her daughter walk for the first time.

Making love to her husband.

Walking to the duck pond with her kids and husband.

Saying good-bye to her husband.

“I’m going to die.  I can’t see.  I will either hit the car next to me or hit the barrier,” she thought.

A sudden calm enveloped her. Not knowing where the car next to her was, she pulled into that lane, slowing down as she went, and drove into the emergency pullout lane parking within centimeters of the barrier.

She willed herself to not cry.  She waited until all the cars had passed before opening up the door and fixing the windshield wiper. Her legs were shaking, her breathing heavy, and her chest tight by the time she sat back in her seat.

Take the next exit that will allow you to take the back roads home,” the Voice said.

She pulled back on the freeway and took an exit ten miles down the road, following the Voice’s advice.   Thirty minutes later she pulled into her cul-de-sac.  She finally allowed herself to weep.

“Thank you, Heavenly Father, thank you.”

With a grateful heart, she unstrapped her son, shut the van door, and went inside.

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What’s Up With the Balance?

After reading all of your responses to my balance question, I decided to try various suggestions and see what works for me.

I can tell you one thing: mornings do not work.  At least not yet.  My sweet little boy does not cooperate with my well intended plans.  He prefers to wake up every hour or so from midnight until 7 am.  Apparently he is trying to tell me that I must either a) go to bed earlier or b) sleep in later.  Going to bed early is a great idea; however, dear husband does not come home until late.  If I want a few moments of alone time with Ben, I must give up something else.  I choose to give up and early bed time.  A small sacrifice, really.

At this point in my little guy’s life, it is silly to expect so much from myself.   He and I are still figuring each other out.  So, I am no longer sticking to the blogging while napping thing.  At least not exclusively.  Let’s face it–naps are not as scheduled as they once were.  Giving myself little “bloggy breaks” every now and then are okay.  As many of you mentioned, it’s okay for kids to learn to entertain themselves.

As for being present?  I am going to quote from an e-mail my dear friend sent me.

“Somehow, we’ve come to believe that we should enjoy every moment of parenting. A lot of parenting – even cute cuddly babies or adorable toddlers SUCKS. It’s grunt work. It’s exhausting. It’s physical. It’s unending. IT’S WORK.

It doesn’t mean you don’t love your babies with every breath in your body. It’s just that it’s difficult to DO it – especially when you don’t get a lot of relief – day in and day out.”

Like most people, I put a lot of pressure on myself.  I expect to be the perfect parent, housekeeper, wife, friend, and woman.  Deep down I know this is unrealistic and even maniacal, yet those desires remain.  As I fail and fail pieces of my self-worth break off and shatter.  It seems hopeless,  because it is.

I have a husband who is in school.  He is gone frequently.  And, this will not change.  It will most likely get harder before it gets easier.  The high expectations I have set for myself are impossible.

To break free from this prison of hopeless expectations, I am learning to listen to those promptings that can help guide my actions.  Naturally, this is a tough thing.  It requires that I let go of my pride and humbly accept the help that is being offered from those around me.   “Those” meaning my husband, my friends, the Lord, and all of you.

Today was a rough day.  Little sleep, early morning appointments, and refused naps lowered my spirit.  But, in between the hard parts, there were tender mercies.  A random giggle from Andrew, a sweet kiss from Emily, a thoughtful call from Ben, and some appreciated e-mails added together to remind me that the tense moments are generally small and easily forgotten when I focus on how blessed I really am.

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All Things Aside, I Think I Have It Easy

My brain is whirring from all the thoughts that are being produced.  Its noises keep me awake and wake me up.

I dream about cranial nerves, heart tissue, blood characteristics, and components of the Central Nervous System.  I am haunted by exams, papers, and due dates that I have missed.

In case you’re wondering, I am not in school.  These strange dreams and clogged processes are the product of my husband’s stress.  See, he has asked that I help him study this week.  That means that I can’t blame my kids for my late nights.  No, this week I entirely blame my husband.

I’m not complaining, though, because I have it easy.  I may stay up late quizzing him, but he must take the exams and write the papers.  He also must stay up later (or all night) to complete his various assignments.

Between helping him at night, preparing meals, keeping little toddlers occupied, and nursing a growing boy, my days are quite cluttered.  I may not get around to each of your blogs daily, but I will catch you here and there.

Until then, be grateful that you aren’t preparing for medical school.  I know I am.

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