I am absolutely my own worst critic. Sometimes I tell myself I am a bad friend, a bad wife, a bad teacher, a bad daughter, and today it was I am a bad mom. I got impatient, raised my voice, and had many, many thoughts of things I would rather be doing than pulling the boys off the wall they shouldn’t be climbing for the gazallionth time!!! My husband has been out of town and with my new teaching job, new online shop, and 20 month new twins 😉 I found myself running on empty.
I think we have all found ourselves at this point. It’s not a good feeling. I count down until it’s the boys bedtime just waiting for that silence, chance to sit, and just take a break, and after five minutes of just that, I want to wake them up and do the day over. I feel like I failed them. And honestly I just feel like a bad mom. But I’m not a bad mom, I just had a bad day. And honestly my day altogether wasn’t even that bad. I just had bad moments. And for some reason, I am letting those bad moments define my day and my quality as a mom. Bad day versus a bad mom is an important clarification to make.
The boys are sleeping and I sat on the couch and just kind of ran through the day in my head. And the bad moments just flashed in my head and I started to feel horrible. I even realized I forgot to feed the dog dinner. I had a friend visiting for most of the day and loved every minute catching up with her, but after she left and I found out my husbands flight was cancelled I went downhill fast! So I decided instead of doing the dishes in the sink, or putting all the toys away I would sit and crack open a book I have been waiting to read, but just never make the time for.
Hope Unfolding Grace-Filled Truth for the momma’s heart. Guys, I didn’t even make it past the cover and I felt myself wanting to cry. There’s just something about that G word that touched my soul tonight.
There’s NOTHING I did today that got me any closer or any further from God’s grace and love. In my best moment and in my worst moment there God’s grace was. And that my friends is the truth. That grace-filled truth I needed to be reminded of tonight. I want to reflect on Him and not on me. I want to live on truths and not my name calling lies I tell myself. I don’t want to run on empty but on grace that meets me where I am at and not where I should be, so that I can extend grace to those I encounter tomorrow. How can I extend grace to others, if I myself have not tasted it?
Thank you Lord for not giving me a second chance, but giving me grace. You give me chance after chance after chance after chance…Not to earn grace but to accept it. Tonight, I open both hands and humbly accept. And I thank you for giving me a new day tomorrow with my boys and a chance to make it a good day, but even if I have bad moments…Thanks for offering me grace in every one one of those moments. May I always remember Your grace is free, but it isn’t cheap.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Now onto page 1 after I feed the dog! 🙂
This tank pictured is available in our shop in which 50% of the profit goes to Feeding Children and Funding adoptions of children with special needs around the world! https://www.facebook.com/faith.family.fabulous/
Sure, there is the sleep deprivation. You know the complete lack of sleep that leaves you wondering if you really should be in charge of life in my case (two lives) when you try opening your front house door with your car key fab, and put the cereal in the fridge for the tenth time. But I knew about this. I was warned about this. Nobody told me motherhood was going to be easy, but nobody ever told me what the hardest part of motherhood is.
I got a job teaching for the last three months of school. I am taking over for someone on their maternity leave. I am teaching English as a second (or third or fourth) language which is exactly what I love to teach. I was so excited when I got the call that I got the job. It’s not easy getting teaching jobs around here, especially in my field. After I accepted the job and called my husband to tell him I got it, the next thing to do was figure out childcare. I have twenty month old twins and they are used to being home with me. I did something similar last year, but for some reason this year I was beyond emotional about it.
Decisions needed to be made and they needed to be made soon because my new job started in a week. With decisions comes a million choose your own adventure scenarios you try to figure out in your head but you aren’t just turning pages, you are affecting your kids. And for me sometimes the guilt sets in before I even pull the trigger on anything. The land of what ifs isn’t fun!
I am struggling to put it into words what I felt last night, but that won’t stop me from trying. When I was in my early 20’s, I quit my first job out of college to go back to school. I knew I was on the hook for paying for this second degree and I was trying to find a job that would pay enough to support my living and tuition expenses and would work with my student schedule.
I applied to for a nannying position. I was told many, many people applied for this job. The pay was posted and it was very good. Fortunately, the mom was reading my email aloud and someone I went to college with was there and he heard her say my name. He recommended me and that got me the interview and the job was mine! I remember feeling embarrassed that I was going to have to tell people that I was babysitting for a job. My friends were beginning their careers, utilizing their degrees, and getting paid way more than our jobs in college paid us and I was…babysitting. I was a broke college student. (again)
The the job started. I was taking care of four boys from after school to bed time. I made them dinner, ran them around to sports, helped with homework, and read the youngest stories before bed. The first day I babysat, after I left, the mom asked the boys what they thought of me. These boys had had a few babysitters before me. The mom told me the youngest exclaimed, “Finally mom, you got me a babysitter that understands me!”
John and I had a special bond from the first day we met. This is a kid who has everything. He goes to a nice school, has a nice house, goes on nice trips. I was a college student (again) with little money, going to school full time and working full time, and I just did not have that much to give. But what I had, I gladly gave to him. That was my attention and love. John and I could laugh for hours about things. I find him hilarious and for some reason he finds me pretty funny too. But beyond our humor, John has this ability to just say the perfect things to me in times that I needed to hear it. I remember sometimes telling my sister that she wouldn’t believe what he said because it sounded like out of a movie. He is always defensive of me. I could tell a million different stories of the things he said or the ways he would defend me, but I will share my most favorite. His brothers were making fun of my old car and my old flip phone. I thought it was a good teaching opportunity so I was explaining (trying to at least) that material things were not that important to me. I told them my phone and car do what I need them to do, and so I am OK with them being old. I said “I just don’t really care about things like that” John sensing that I was defending myself a little bit chimes in with a definitive tone and looks his brothers in their faces and says “Yeah, she cares about BEING TAN!!!” I appreciated the back up, and also the really good laugh!
Bedtime was a special time because with three brothers he didn’t always get one on one time. So it was a time to spend some quality time, just the two of of us. He would pick a book or five for us to read together. 🙂 Although we had a special bond, sometimes as most kids would, he would wish it was his mom or dad tucking him in. I would try to comfort him. I would rub his back and tell him that I loved him.
Yesterday John, the boy I used to refer to as my favorite seven year old, turned 14. If we have been Facebook friends for awhile, you might remember weekly I would post hilarious quotes from my favorite 7, 8, 9 year old boy. For his birthday, he wanted to spend the night with my boys and I. I never knew what present to get a kid who has everything, so again I gave him what I had, my attention and love. We picked him up let him pick where we got dinner from and choose the activities of the night. To no surprise he picked Wii and I gave him a fair warning that just because it was his birthday I wasn’t going to let him win. I told John I would be back after I went upstairs to put my boys to bed. He said he wanted to come with. I put each boy in their crib. I put Luke in his crib first and as I was putting Lincoln in his crib, I see from the corner of my eye John rubbing Luke’s back and tell him that he loves him. And then he walked over to Lincoln and did the same thing.
I had to fight the tears back hard. Something about seeing a boy I once would tuck in and say goodnight and I love you to, doing the same with my boys was almost too much for my heart. Something about thinking back about taking a job that I was embarrassed about at first, and realizing now it was more than a “job.” Something about recognizing I didn’t have that much to give, but what I had, I gave, and that was enough. Something about reflecting reminds me that God knows what He is doing and encourages me to trust Him even in ambiguity.
Happiest of birthdays to my NOW favorite 14 year old boy!
Lately I have felt so thankful for the gift of friendship. I am a pretty sensitive person, not in the sense that my feelings are often hurt but just that I am constantly feeling. I like how one of my favorite authors responded when someone asked her why she cries so often. She said this, “For the same reason I laugh so often. Because I’m paying attention.” I’m paying attention, sometimes more than other times, but I am tuned in intentionally. I’m not just paying attention to what’s going on out there in the big, scary world but I am paying attention to what’s going on right in front of me. And sometime’s if I am being honest, paying attention makes me feel a little crazy.
Alright soooo I am not crafty. Let’s just get that out on the table. It’s not open for discussion. It’s just the cold hard facts.
I am creative, and I do love to make and cherish memories. This is why I love Facebook and often why I am guilty of overposting, but I love to look back on pictures and commentary of wonderful moments and relive them over and over again. And hey all I did was click and tap on the keyboard. I didn’t have to cut, glue, decorate, and create a whole scrapbook.
If crafts have over five steps, I will surely mess it up, or honestly pin it and then NEVER do it. So if you want easy crafts that will help you cherish this crazy journey we call life, then maybe, hopefully you will want to craft with me.
Full disclosure I thought I saw this idea on Pinterest once but when I searched for it, nothing came up. So I’m not sure if I made this up.
So many people buy their kids an ornament each year for Christmas. The ornament usually represents a milestone or something special about that year. And when the child grows up (because unfortunately that’s what kids do) you give your kids their ornaments to put on their Christmas tree.
I wanted to take it a step further. My boys are 18 months and it’s been a whirlwind. I want to remember moments, cherish moments, and share those moments with my boys and their future families. So I started Ornament Books for them where I take a picture of the ornament and write a little note to them explaining why that ornament was chosen for them.
So here is what I did.
- Bought scrapbook materials and got the hot glue gun warmed up…KIDDING. I was just seeing if you were paying attention. I ordered a personalized notebook for Luke and Lincoln with a couple of clicks and the good ole credit card.
- Had my friend take pictures of the ornaments with her fancy camera. You could easily do this yourself but why not involve your photographer friend
- Developed the pictures
- Taped pictures and wrote a little note to my boys for each ornament bought each year.
That’s it. Four whopping steps. The hardest part of this “craft” was to pick out a picture of the boys that I wanted to put in the front of their Ornament book. If you’re like me…a completely biased mom that truly believes you have the cutest kids who are are the cutest in every picture, picking a picture can be challenging. After much deliberation and a realization that I really wanted to eat a snack, I picked a picture for each boy.
I loved writing the notes to my boys and taking the opportunity to tell them things that I may just assume they know. It warmed my heart imagining them putting these ornaments up on their own trees knowing the memories and love behind each one. I know my boys are only 18 months and there is some time before they are adults decorating their adult trees, but if the last year is any indication….life flies when you have kids!
Also don’t feel like you have to spend money on ornaments every year. My non-crafty self made the boys their ornaments this year. We had such a great time on the Polar Express where Santa gave them bells, so I used those bells and found Polar Express tickets on Pinterest. Printed, laminated and put some twine on it. BOOM! Under five steps again so it is Molly-proo I mean fool proof.
Here are some pics! I didn’t share all the pages, but just wanted to give you an idea.
I realize there are no artistic skills here that are going to wow you. I debated on even sharing this. This isn’t to impress you, but to give you an idea of a way to let moments become memories that will make your Christmas that much more special.
This is for my non-crafters that are intimidated by the world of scrapbooking like me, but jump at the chance to tell their kids how special the moments you have with them.
Let me know if you try this, or if you already do something like this =)
My mother in law Barb, hosts Second Sunday at her house every month. It is a time to spend with family sitting around the table. Lately it resembles a circus, but we love our monkeys. I love it because growing up I did not live by family and I love that my children get the opportunity to grow up with two of their cousins. Every Second Sunday has been amazing. My mother and father in law just get it when it comes to hosting. The second you walk in you feel so welcome and when you leave you feel missed and in the time inbetween you just feel loved. Hostessing is a gift and we are so thankful for Second Sundays when we get to embrace it.
Second Sunday this month actually took place on the first Sunday. We went to New Hope, PA and went on the Polar Express. I have been waiting to do this! Most of us wore our Christmas jammies and hopped on board to sing Christmas carols, sip hot coco, and do what we do on Second Sundays…make memories with the people we are blessed to call family.
For those that know me well, you know I LOVE Christmas, and the Polar Express encompasses so much of what makes me love celebrating this holiday every.single.year.
My boys are almost 18 months old. And although having two babies to care for has me spinning in circles most of the time, my boys have reminded me so much of what really matters in life and the importance of slowing down and being present in the moment. There is not a moment in the last 18 months I could tell you Doug and I are all caught up with everything that needs to be done. That feeling is STRESSFUL. I like things crossed off the list. But there is no way we can be caught up. It’s just our reality. So I have had to change gears, and accept it and focus less on the doing and more on the being. In all honesty, some days I do much better with this than others. But I have found when I let go of the doing or let’s be honest when I let go of the frustration of the NOT doing, and have a day where I really focus on the being…it is more rewarding than anything I could cross off a to do list.
As the Christmas season approaches, the temptation to do do do comes about. The hustle and the bustle often wraps itself up in a sparkly, big box with a ribbon perfectly tied around it. But the reminder to focus on the being more than the doing comes to me as I am holding my sick son on my birthday this year and feel his heartbeat and admire his long eye lashes. And there it is, that gentle reminder to not think about the overflowing laundry basket or the legos that somehow are procreating all over my house. Just be. Just comfort. Just love.
So as we approach closer to Christmas I think about the story of the Polar Express and how the boy who once celebrated Christmas with complete adoration no longer believed. A bell was ringing but he could no longer hear it.
How many of us aren’t hearing the bell? Some of us are trying to create the magic ourselves. We try to ring the bell all day everyday and some of us can for awhile… but eventually our hands get tired. We think:
How much longer can I ring this bell?
Is anyone even listening to the bell?
Is anyone else going to offer to ring the bell?
Some of us are too busy and fill our lives with so much noise, we can’t possibly hear the bell.
Exhaustion, resentment, disappointment, and apathy take over and Christmas becomes something to do and another item to be crossed of the list.
But, it’s not your job to ring the bell. And it’s not mine. On Christmas, the day Jesus was born it became our gift to hear the bell. Immanuel (which means God is with us) was here in the flesh to give us joy, hope and peace and bring us the Good News.
As I sit on the train with my sons and nieces and see the way their eyes light up and their bodies can’t help but dance to the music, I know they are hearing the bell. And I hold them tight, and pray they never stop hearing the bell. I pray, just as the boys have helped me in the last 18 months, to hear the bell, I can do the same for them through out their life.
Friends, family, anyone reading I hope I can encourage you to be this season. You read that right, to be, just be. Being must come before believing, so don’t try to take a shortcut. I hope you choose to silence all the noise that is creating the soundtrack of your life for a moment and give yourself a chance to hear the bell. This season and every season. And I would like to thank the friends and family that have encouraged me to do the same, especially my two sweet boys and adorable nieces.
So here is my hand extended out to you to get on the Polar Express with me and remember “The bell still rings for one, as it does for all who truly believe.”
Thanks to Amy Petrilla for taking pictures so we can make memories. If you are local to me, hire her! She got FOUR kids to look AND smile at the camera. Christmas Miracle!!! https://amypetrilla.wordpress.com/
2 weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. That’s not too long.
Well did you know 14 days is 20,160 minutes. Don’t bother grabbing a calculator. I will just go ahead and tell you. That means two weeks is made up of 1,209,600 seconds.
So after years of failed fertility treatments I tried invitro. I have a couple of conditions that makes getting pregnant complicated and one that that can only be confirmed through surgery. I thought about doing the surgery but my doctor told me Invitro trumps it, so I trusted her. I had given myself the shots daily (well I made Doug), drank some weird stuff to help the quality of my eggs, changed my diet a bit and then I was told to wait. There was nothing left I could do. I was either pregnant or I wasn’t. It was completely out of my control, but completely consuming my thoughts. 1, 209,600 seconds made up those two weeks and I honestly wonder how many of those seconds were spent on thinking about the past and the unfair cards I felt God was dealing Doug and I. And I wonder how many of those 1,209,600 seconds were spent on freaking out about if I was pregnant or not and how I was going to react to the results. I spent so much time doing both those things, and none of it changed my past, present or future, nor provided any comfort.
But I do know that NOT all of those seconds were spent worrying and regretting. I would describe my emotional state in those two weeks as equivalent to being on autopilot. I just was trying to not get emotionally invested in anything because I just didn’t want to feel. Thanksgiving took place in those two weeks, and I was working at a college teaching students from other countries English. Most of the students were going to experience their first Thanksgiving in the United States, but for many their first Thanksgiving ever. There were a handful of students who did not live with host families and lived on campus. The campus would be closed but they were allowed to stay there and told me they would be microwaving something for dinner as places wouldn’t be open and had they had no form of transportation. As they were telling me this, my heart whispered (but a loud whisper) cancel your plans and invite them to your home. I pictured us around my dining room table. I felt happiness, I felt excitement, I felt emotion. I felt alive. I told my students you are not doing that. You are coming to my house. And then I was scared that I was going to be fired for inviting students to my house. So I ran up to tell my boss and clear it with her, and as I entered her office a coworker of mine (Director of Activities) said she was just about to send an email out to me asking if there is any way I would be willing to host one student for Thanksgiving. And she looked hesitant to say it, like she anticipated I was going to turn her down harshly. I said yes, I just invited invited them all! (It was six students).
As most things go, I called and let my husband know…last. He heard the excitement in my voice and he gave me no hesitation. We cancelled our plans with his family and prepared a feast for two South Korean girls, one man from China, and one man from Colombia. The two Saudi Arabian men spent it with their friends. In the preparation, the prayer before the meal, the meal, and the conversation around the table I felt so much gratitude. That gratitude left no room for worry or regret, but room for genuine happiness. I was just so thankful for what I had in that moment. This man who chose to be my husband, this house we were making our home, this job I loved, these students who were now guests in my home and friends, and this opportunity to share a meal with them. A feeling of no matter what happens it is going to be alright took over. A reminder that God is good ALL the time. Those seconds that were spent on being thankful is what made a difference and provided a comfort I so appreciated at that time. I must have been on cloud nine because when my student I lovingly referred to as Gustavo the Grouch asked if we could go to Walmart so he could get a Black Friday deal on a play station game I said yes. Way out of character for me to partake in Black Friday and I made them all promise they would be super kind to all employees working. But I digress…
I know I have brought up my infertility a lot, and I am sorry for those who are sick of hearing about it. I write about it because it was a challenging time for me but also because some of the other struggles I have I don’t feel comfortable sharing in a public forum. Not because I don’t want to be open, but because when they involve other people then it’s not just my story to tell. So it gets tricky.
But this isn’t really another post about infertility. And it’s not really even about me.
It’s about two weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. 20,160 minutes. 1,209,600 seconds.
I want you to think about your last two weeks. How much time did you spend worrying, regretting, fearing? How much time did you spend giving thanks?
“No amount of regret changes the past. No amount of anxiety changes the future. Any amount of gratitude changes the present.”–Ann Voscamp
There is no time travel machine to go back in time and no crystal ball to see the future. But there is always the choice to give thanks no matter your circumstance, and with that choice comes the power of changing the here and the now.
Don’t deprive yourself of that.
Not on Thanksgiving.
PretendI wrote this not so much as just a personal struggle but a struggle I see a lot of people going through. Lately in so many actions and behavior it is clear at the root of it all is fear. We don’t like to recognize that or admit to it, and for some of us we have been living this way for so long we are not even away that it is fear that enslaves us. We don’t realize it is fear that dictates our decisions and our actions. And so I wrote this as a plea to change this way of thinking and this way of living. Because we all have another choice.
I am tired.