Category Archives: motherhood

The one where I cry over a wet diaper

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You’re going to laugh at me.

This morning, I woke up early.  (No, that’s not the funny part.  Don’t laugh yet!)  I normally sleep until Mercy wakes up, since it’s hard to get out of bed with a baby draped over my lap, you know?   But this morning I woke up worrying about something, so I snuck out of bed and made coffee.  The boys weren’t even awake yet!  My house was quiet like my favorite 11:00pm quiet, only the sun was shining.

I heard footsteps upstairs just as the coffee finished brewing, so I darted back in the bedroom to hide with my cup of coffee.

I settled back in bed with coffee and a book.  Mercy woke up and climbed back in my lap to nurse.  As she did, I caught a whiff of her rank, wet diaper from nursing all night, and I had a sudden pang of nostalgia and sadness.  I wondered if it would be the last time I noticed that smell, combined with a warm, snuggly baby in my bed.  I would miss it, I realized… a scent marking this cozy time of motherhood.

Now is when I thought you’d laugh.

I knew I’d be sad about all the other lasts.  The last time teaching a baby to wave bye-bye, to blow kisses, or how a cow says “Mooooo!”  The last time I get open-mouthed, slobbery baby kisses, or laugh at a baby just discovering her belly button.  The last time I cheer wildly…  irrationally excited about first steps… and watch siblings get just as ridiculously excited.  “MOM!!!  Come here quick — Mercy is STANDING UP!”  A tiny miracle that — watching life unfold.

Last shared peach, sticky juice trickling down baby’s chin and Mommy’s arm.

Last time watching a toddler’s face light up as the fireflies blink on and off, and watch them chase fireflies in erratic patterns around the dusky front yard.

Last time hearing a toddler giggle with delight as I place a new brother or sister in their arms.

How can I be done, having babies?

No, never quote me on this, because I have an incredible weakness for the tiny ones, and you just never know…

But I do know that my growing-up children need me, and it seems like the bigger they get the more they need.  I don’t know how to be a grown-up Mommy.  Emotions from an almost 10 year old girl are way more difficult to handle that the emotions spewing from a 3 month old that just wants to tuck in and nurse.

How in the world do I take care of big kids?!

I wish I could pause time right now.  I’m not looking for later on… when things get easier.  (My guess is that’s a myth!)  My life is perfect right now.  I have a baby, my favorite thing in the whole world, and my older kids are independent, helpful, and still think I hung the moon.  They still hold me hand, tell me I’m the best mommy EVER, and ask me to tuck them in bed at night.  Half of them still scramble to sit in my lap when I sit for a movie.

So yeah, this morning, with a warm, stinky baby draped across my lap, I had a moment.  I watched my sleeping girl… memorizing her.  Freezing this moment in time.  Her chubby fingers twitching in sleep, the ones that like to pat my face and poke my nose.  Damp curls, growing longer by the day.  Perfect, healthy skin on that beautiful face, her adorable lips and tongue still making unconscious sucking patterns.

Oh heavens, I’m going to miss this.

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P.S.  I also sniffled a little as I tucked Zach’s outgrown fleece hoodie into a give-away bag.  I have no more boys to save clothes for!  It’s been a rough day for Mama.  *serious bawling going on over here…*

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Good stuff happens when I stay home from church.

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My friend Jana finally put a label on something for me.

Us mamas, we all know we should just be more with our kids.  Listen to them, speak their love language, take the time to figure out what their love language is.  Stop being so busy.

Jana and my mother-in-law were talking about how it’s easy to be a Martha mom, when what the kids want is a Mary mom.

You know, like Martha and Mary in the Bible?  Martha was busy.  Always busy.  Doing things that were important, yes, that were valid, yes.

But Mary did the needful thing.  She sat at the feet of Jesus.  She chose it.  It was a conscious decision.  The calming down, the stepping away from the frantic pace of cleaning and cooking for guests.  She knew it was more important to just be with her Jesus.  The Bible never says Mary wasn’t aware of the needs — just that she chose the sitting.

Mamas have to cook and clean.  We know that.  The kids know that.  I mean really, skip one hour of food, and kids start begging for mama to whip up a meal quick!  Starvation is at hand!

But too much happens easy.

Caring for our home is good, but being consumed and worried about it is not good.

“You are worried and upset about many things…”

Dirt doesn’t always have to be swept away.  Besides the fact that science has proved that some dirt is healthy for our immune systems, may I suggest that it might also be crucial to our children’s hearts?

I could literally spend all. Day. Cleaning.

I’ve done it before.  The kids are starving for attention by the end of the day.  For some slow down mama time.  They love it when I sit on the floor and help stuff Barbie in a dress.  They want me to walk down the dirt road and watch them fly down the hill on their bike, and see the bunk bed addition they’ve put in the fort.  They want me to pick peas and blueberries with them, and talk about the birds and the bugs.

Will the piles of dishes kill us?  In some bizarre, freak accident, it’s possible.  Probable?  No.

This past Sunday I stayed home from church because my husband wanted me to rest.  He left my oldest son with me, to help take care of the baby.  I never really got the “me time” I was anticipating!  Cory took Mercy out to the sandbox.  She got sand in her eyes, so I carried her into the tub.  Sand trailed behind us.  I got out the broom, and realized the entire house needed to be swept.  The dirty laundry needed to be off the floor in order for me to sweep, so I started a load.

I got the baby to sleep.

Meanwhile, Cory was waiting for the baby to sleep so he could have some special mama time.  He wanted me to come sit on the dirt pile to watch him make a fire and cook hot dogs.

I kept telling him, “Give me 5 more minutes!”

He kept coming back, and I kept telling him,”Wait.”

A four-letter word for kids.

He’s a patient, sweet child, and I’ve taken advantage of it.  When Cory was little-little, he always wanted me to come outside and push him on the swing.  I always told him “wait.”  Now he’s eight, and he doesn’t need me to push him on the swing.  I missed it.  It still tears me up inside; but at least that lesson burned into my heart, and I try to drop what I’m doing if a kid asks me to push them on the swing.

So on Sunday, I knew better.  I knew that day was important, a future memory.  I wanted Cory to remember “The day Mommy stayed home from church and sat on the dirt pile with me.”  It’s the moments that make memories.  How we live our moments is how we live our days, and how we live our days is how we live our lives.

No, that quote isn’t mine — but I love it!  Time with my children will be gone before I know it.  I want my kids to remember a present, intentional, involved-in-their-lives mama.  Not a mama who was always too busy.

The house wasn’t perfect when Derek and the kids got home from church. but I did get the one, needful thing done.  I sat in the dirt and swapped stories with my son.  We made fire.

Thank you, Jana, for putting the chant in my head.  I don’t even try.  It’s just there — “Be a Mary mom!”

 

 

 

 

 

The post after my meltdown one

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You guys.  You’re just so sweet!  All the Facebook love, the phone calls, the offers of dinner, a pedicure, and just hanging out time for me and my kids.  You know who you are!   It meant the world to me.

Ruby Peterson, you are my hero.  One day, I promise, I will repay all the kindness you’ve showered upon me.  I’ll find some young mom still in the trenches of motherhood, and I’ll sit and chat with them at the Christmas party, and really listen, as the rest of the world swirls around.  I’ll bring a meal over for no reason other than to be a huge blessing.  Thank you.

So.  The rest of my week was not uneventful.  I just had courage, thanks to you all!

There was the bedtime routine where nobody was in bed yet, and the baby was cranky so we couldn’t put her down to sweep up the broken, special dolphin that shattered glass everywhere and made Megan’s foot gush blood and both girls were wailing at each other…  And meanwhile, downstairs, Zach was putting the baby monitor and toothbrushes and apples in the potty.

Yeah.  There was that.

The chili is still on my curtains.  Removing it is just not high on my priority list!  Oh.  And?  My fridge that was brand new 6 months ago?  I realized recently that I haven’t cleaned it yet.  Not once.  It’s pretty scary in there!

But then…

Then there was the day I just hung out with my friend Michele and her kids, and I wondered why my husband didn’t seem interested in coming over to hang out with us when he got off work early.  Well!  It was because he wanted to get home and make a meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and corn for me.  So I didn’t have to worry about supper!  Oh. My. Word.  Serious heart melting right there, folks!

My baby wore an outfit yesterday that said, “Who needs a superhero when I have my dad?”  Isn’t that just the sweetest cheesy rhetorical question EVER?

(My husband teases me about Anthony Hopkins and Johnny Depp, but he knows that he’s my real favorite!)

I was forced into time-out/prolonged nap time for a couple of days by a breast infection.  Nasty, those infections!  Derek came home from work early on Wednesday to take care of me (see why he’s my favorite?), and my mother-in-law took care of the kids when he wasn’t home.  My poor oldest daughter thought I was dying.  Like, with breast cancer.  No, no, I tried to explain about the baby not drinking enough, and it’s like the milk gets rotten and gives me an infection, and so Mercy just needs to nurse more.  Cory says, “But she can’t drink rotten milk!”  OK, I give up.

I’ve been sitting in leaf piles this week.  And dancing.  And putting puzzles together.  And sharing my coffee time with children instead of shooing them away.

Because my children, those “animals that we don’t eat” (from The Croods… awesome movie!), they’re such unique creatures.  They make you want to tear your hair out and they tear your heart up at the same time.  I know I don’t need to explain this to you!  I love them.

I’ve been eating chocolate too.  Everyone knows that chocolate is good for the soul!

Have a good weekend, ya’ll!  May you also be blessed with chocolate, and yummy children too.

We bounce-bounce-rocked all the way to a month!

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(from last night…)

We made it to the one month mark!  Not that I thought we wouldn’t, but that first month can be crazy.  Crazy sleep patterns, crazy messes, crazy no shower days, crazy mac and cheese again meals, crazy music to get the baby to sleep.

I know the music that plays on the radio station between 9:00 and 10:00PM, and between 10:00 and 11:00PM.  That’s usually when we’re doing the “bounce, bounce, rock” around the kitchen.  Tonight a song played called “Days of Grace.”  Totally appropriate.

Mercy didn’t fall asleep until 11:15PM. I held her All. Day. Long.  (Maybe a wee, tiny exaggeration?)  Yesterday was fabulous, her napping in bed and me getting lots of school done with my big kids.  Today she seemed to be asking, “Do you still love me?  Even if I won’t let you put me down?”  She didn’t cry or fuss, as long as I held her.  She looked up at me and crinkled her eyes, just like me, and practiced her smiles and coos.

Silly girl.

So we read books together.  And I did what school I could.  She must know now that 7+8=15, and Beowulf was a great, legendary Celtic warrior, and how to spell the word “the.”  We go back and forth between Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 3rd grade; so by the end of the year she should be ridiculously smart!  Oh, and we listen to Mozart and Bob Dylan on Pandora, and Toby Mac on iTunes.  She really is well-rounded in her education so far.

She learned how to pay a bill over the phone, because the internet was down, and maybe she learned not to procrastinate bill-paying.

We talked about the chickadees outside at the feeder.  Two birds come every day, so we named them Toby and Mac.  (Yes, my kids love that artist.)

Mercy LOVES her siblings!  Megan spends the most time with her, and is rewarded with huge smiles.  She loves to grin at Kirstyn too, and Cory.  She just loves to smile, really!  Cameron doesn’t hold her much, but when he held her this afternoon she craned her head around so she could look up at him.  I think she was telling him that she understood.  Everything about him.  Maybe she’ll be my other introverted child.

Mostly she winces when Zach kisses her!

She’s just like me.  I’m rubbing off on her, literally!  Sunday evening, our church had a beautiful creek baptism.  Glorious!  I cried as some of the dads baptised their kids.  Anyway, as we were walking away from the creek, I noticed Mercy’s face sparkling in the sunshine.  It was my make-up, rubbing off on her from all the kisses and snuggles.

Now I’m going all figurative on you, but isn’t that what happens?  The people we spend time with rub off on us.

My kids love the things I love, say the things I say, and do the things I do.  Mercy even has my sleep patterns, from spending so much time with me!  Yes, girl, 11:15PM to 10:00AM is ideal.  I admit.  All of my kids love to cuddle, and all of my kids are fairly laid back.  The doctor yesterday even said as much, about Mercy!  Some things I’m proud to claim, like their penchant for words, and books, and gentleness with animals, their love of the outdoors, and just life in general.  My kids know bird names, tree names, and flowers.  They even know some of the weeds that are yummy to snack on, or have medicinal benefits!  Cameron, especially, seems to enjoy pruning and weeding with me.

My oldest child hates Cheerios, bananas, eggs, and raisins.  Just like me.

Every single one of my kids LOVES coffee!  I think I’m proud of that one…  Coffee wards of depression and cancer, after all!

Sometimes my kids drop a phrase or tone that makes me cringe and think, “Oh!  I speak that way.”

And I realize that I need to spend more time with God, to pick up His ways and personality.

So, baby girl — and the rest of my children — let’s hang out with Him together!  Your mama is learning just as much as you, on this journey of motherhood.  Let’s soak up His face, and sparkle with His grace.

Handling hardships myself is crazy talk!

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I read an article today, about how false it is to tell someone, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

It’s true, the false ring to that statement!

I won’t even try to list all the horrible tragedies that some people are facing.  But you probably know somebody who is, or you might be facing something yourself.

I was just going to talk about what I know — motherhood.

Even my midwife uses this phrase.  She said it to me when I sat in her office for my first visit with baby #4.  I told her, “I didn’t mean to get pregnant this soon!  I don’t know how in the world I’m going to handle four kids!”

She said, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”

Ha!  I would have burst out laughing if I wasn’t the polite type.  God gave me that baby, my sweet Megan, in spite of myself.  He also gave me a mother-in-law that lives right next door, to help with my kids, and a husband that loves babies and doesn’t mind a disaster zone for a house.  He gave my husband a good job, so we can afford to have babies.  And he made the coffee bean.  And placed the idea of Starbucks in somebody’s brain.

There’s absolutely no way on earth I could do this alone.

Just last night, for example, I was crying at 10:30, rocking my baby #6 to sleep.  She doesn’t always sleep too well outside of my arms.  So I had a mess in my kitchen, a mess in my laundry room, dust and dirt everywhere, clothes piled high in my bedroom, stuff covering my kitchen table and counters, and a chicken in the crock pot that’s been simmering on low for days.

Maybe it’s the chicken that got me.  I’ve turned it off a couple of times now, let it cool, and then turned it back on because there’s no way I have time to pick the meat off the bones and make soup.  So it’s still just cooking.  It might still be cooking next week, or maybe I’ll just feed it to the cats.

I’d like to make bread, but I can’t even make it to the store to buy bread.  So we’re dipping shredded wheat in hummus.

I did finally get my bathroom cleaned, halfway, heading into week #4 of unclean, while Mercy was lying on my bed after a diaper change.  She seems to enjoy gazing around my room while I change her diaper, so I have about 5 minutes of free time until I have to pick her up again.  I scrubbed in the toilets, since the grime was starting to come alive, (and when you sit on the toilet you don’t really want to think about living organisms down underneath…) and I wiped down on the toilet, so I don’t have to scrub dried pee off of Zach’s hands every time he pulls himself up to the bathroom sink.

Then 5 minutes were up, and Mercy told me she wanted me to hold her again.

I wiped down the floors today.  Maybe I’ll do the sinks tomorrow.

I did take the trash out, since the maxi pads and piles of diapers were starting to stink up my whole room.

My Bible right now usually consists of flipping the daily calendar on my kitchen windowsill.  If I get up at a decent time in the morning, I can read my Bible and drink coffee all alone.  I’ve enjoyed that a few times.  But Mercy usually sleeps until 8:00 or even 10:00 some mornings, and after sleeping off and on all night, half-sitting, propped up on pillows, I’m usually gonna choose the extra sleep!

My kids watch TV in the basement until I wake up and feed them.

I’m freaking out about another year of homeschooling.  Add a newborn, and only God could pull off such a stunt!

I lean on Him, hard.

Last night, with tears burning my throat, and that sweet baby in my arms, I asked Him to help.  Just. Help.

I don’t have elaborate prayers these days!

My suspicion is, that the people who do manage to do it all themselves are full of pride.  And those people who are falling apart at the seams?  Maybe even contemplating the end?  Facing heartbreak?  Why in the world would you tell them that they can handle this… That God expects them to… That He gave all this tragedy to them.  What happens when they fall flat on their face?  Shame, and failure.

No.  If God did give it to them, He meant for them to bring that burden to Him.

And sometimes… sometimes it’s not God.  Our adversary, the devil, walks about this world as a roaring lion.  This fallen, sinful world.  This world that is not meant to be our home.  This world that is not perfect, and where people die.  And people hurt you.  And you have to watch children hurt and die.  And God never meant it to be so full of pain.

(I’m not still talking about just having a lot of kids.  I know why that happens!)

You might be lying if you tell somebody that God gave them the trial they’re facing.  Maybe a couple who desperately wants children is facing infertility.  Or a child is handicapped.  Or dead.  Or ill.

This world is ill, and God didn’t make it that way.

We did, and He offers hope.  He will take vengeance on the evil that we were never meant to handle.  He will justify the righteous and defend the innocent.

It doesn’t make the pain of this world go away, but it gives us hope.  I’m pretty sure life would be terrible without hope!

Hope is Jesus.  The answer is Jesus.

Next time you hear somebody say “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” please speak up and say, “Yes, He will, but He’ll also give you Jesus!”

(P.S.  My laughable “trials” of motherhood insanity are nothing compared to what some of you are facing!  I’m not trying to compare apples to oranges.  But the answer is always Jesus.)

A week of extravagant loving

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My husband went back to work today.  I have to admit, I’ve been feeling a little panicked about this day!  (Me, alone, with six kids…)  He took the whole week off of work last week, just to spend time with us and help me out with kids and household stuff.

He’s been reminding me of Jesus.  Because, honestly, all week I’ve felt kind of guilty that he “wasted” a whole week of his vacation time on me!  Extravagant love.  I told him this last night, about the guilty feeling, and thanked him for giving me a whole week of his time.  He said, “No, nothing I ever do for you is ever wasted.”  He called it a wise investment, this week with me.

Love can leave you feeling vulnerable, because sometimes you can’t repay.  Sometimes you have to accept extravagant giving, and realize that in the heart of the giver, you are worth every single moment or penny.

And it can make you fall hard in love all over again.

I watched him sweep and mop the floor this week, just because he loves me.  He rocked my newest baby, and my bigger babies, and took care of kissing the boo-boos this week, and made pot after pot of coffee, did laundry, re-filled the soap dishes, changed diapers, bought us ice cream, took us to the park, drove us to a tea party and time with friends 2 hours away, built a tee-pee and slept in it with the boys, rubbed my back, organized the basement and the shoes, went down the slip and slide with the kids, chased away bad dreams, switched out bed sheets, put my bedroom and bathroom back together after painting, built a campfire and roasted hot dogs… and if I could be cheesy for a minute?  My heart caught on fire too.

I kept thinking, “He has nothing better to do?”  and it was true.  He chose that he had nothing better to do than lavish his time and energy on all of us, his family.

He kept saying, “I wish I’d done this with all of our babies… taken a whole week off!”  I said no, we were okay.  And maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated it back then?  I’ve been upset before, that he couldn’t just see that there was hair on the bathroom floor and please vacuum it up because I’m really not supposed to life anything heavier than the baby!  I fumed instead of communicated, and took for granted his love.

(Now, I’d like to think I’m better at just letting go some of those messy things.  My kitchen floor didn’t get swept for days last week, and the crunch was an inch think by the time he swept it up!  It didn’t bother me.  My laundry room is a disaster.  I kid you not — a disaster!  It’s okay though.  My bathroom hasn’t been cleaned since before I went to the hospital.  That’s OK too.  I had company over to see the baby, and they sat at my table where discarded kids’ PJ’s were plopped next to the breakfast dishes.  Like my wise husband more than once has said, “What’s important will get done.”  I’m breathing in a baby, and her vanishing newborn days, and trying to focus on the other sweet young people in my life.)

I think that love, when not taken for granted, and just accepted in all it’s forms, can overwhelm you with its power.

We’ve had a rough year of it, my man and I.  Probably the roughest, relationally, since that infamous first year of marriage!  But it’s also been the sweetest year of all.  The thing is, God’s grace and love shine when we are weak.  And because we have God’s heart beating in us, we are stronger and more in love because of our struggles.

Yep!  I kind of love this amazing guy.  And Mercy, just so you know, in those those arms is one of the best places in the world!

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Join

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Today I’m joining Lisa Jo and her 5 Minute Friday crew.  It’s a beautiful community of honest, real people.  They pour their hearts out for 5 minutes straight and then hit “publish.”  No changing words!  I rarely join them (it’s SCARY!), but I’ve been inspired by my sister Anna’s storiesGo check her out!  You won’t regret it.

Join…

Join.  It requires a giving and a taking, this joining.  Always, when things are meshed together, there is NEW created!

I joined this family when I married my husband.  I choose to join myself permanently.  I joined the throngs of motherhood the day I got pregnant for the very first time, and now I’ve re-joined that group 4 times since.  We’re joined at the hip, the boob, the ankle, and at present babe — the hair.

I didn’t mean to join these groups so early!  My mother became a wife when she was 27, and gave birth to me when she was 28.  I just assumed I’d follow in her footsteps.  I’d see the world first, work longer at an orphanage, get involved with more children’s ministries.  And now?  I AM doing this.  (Well, minus the orphanage…)

My joining, it happened 4 years before my planned time, but God always has better planning.  Every single time.  He has me join friendships and places and situations to my life that are sometimes scary, sometimes uncomfortable, but I join anyway.  Because I choose to be joined, by Him.  It’s my surrender.

Beauty flows from surrender, and I have 5 breathtakingly gorgeous children that are joined to my life permanently.  That were created through a joining.  Through them I see the world, and I see God’s heart, and I work His kingdom work.