Sunday, November 23, 2014

Why This SAHM Gig is the Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

I remember one horrendous night in the emergency room as I worked a tough shift as an RN. I had an active GI bleeder in room 7 whose blood pressure was dropping, a former OBGYN doctor in room 11A who was on an IV for his blood pressure, and it was CRAZY sporadic, and an active heart attack patient who was handed to me as I stood with a gaping mouth. I really felt like someone might not live that night because I didn't have enough hands, feet, and brains to care for everyone. Being an RN was so rewarding, but the bathroom breaks were few and far between and my dinner was chewed over an hour interval as I sprinted up and down the halls, trying to swallow before opening the patient's room door. But when the job was done at 7am, I got to go home. Once those tasks were checked off, and I handed my patients off to the next brave nurse, I clocked out. Physically. Mentally.

As difficult as that job was for three nights a week, this job as a stay at home mom is so much harder. Why? I have multiple bathroom breaks and I get to sit down to eat (sometimes). For a while I thought it was because of the decreased social interaction with other adults. Then I added in the lack of change of scenery. The same four walls can start closing in on you. Let's be honest: the diapers were in both places, so that wasn't the culprit.

Almost 6 years into this motherhood gig, and I think I've put my finger on a major portion of it for myself. Being a full time mom means my kids see me at my best and my worst--every single day. I can't call in sick when I need a mental or physical health day or try lying low at work when I'm in a funk. I'm the center of their world every waking morning, no matter my disposition. I can't hide my selfishness, my bad attitudes, my desire to be left alone on "off days." I am an open book to them. There is no mask I can wear to show them just the good side of me. You can't pretend all the time. So I'm raw. I'm unedited. I'm fully flawed. I'm in their sight all day. Almost every mistake.

I'm also their teacher of Jesus.

And as opposite as those two roles feel, God intends that for good. It's not a mistake in His design. He intends that to mesh beautifully, for the entire journey to point to him. Too often I've felt the pressure for it to point to me. My goodness. No weaknesses. Strive for perfection. That grows burden grows heavy quickly. My bones ache from the weariness of that load. You never win when you run the race of pseudo-perfection. It only ends in a beating of self when the sun goes down. Satan creeps in and whispers, "You screwed up again. You'll never get this right. How in the world did God pick you? You're going to mess these kids up." And the only remedy for that kind of poison going in your ear is to hear the voice of truth. It means you have to be IN the truth, listening for God's voice of encouragement and validation and worth.

It's in these days that I've come to realize that my goal for my kids isn't to hear them say, "My mom was a great mom because she had it all together," but for them to say, "My mom was a great mom because she pointed us to Jesus, in the good and the bad." If I hold up some pseudo perfection for them to attempt to achieve, they'll feel incompetent to stand after each losing day. But, if in my mistakes, I am truly real to them, if I point them to the one who makes us stand in His glory and washes us anew, then their confidence and their worth is found where it should be. Their model is Jesus. Not their mom. And the glory is where it should be, and I've been used for the cause of Christ inside these four small walls. And His mark on me makes me a good mom. And that's where I can rest my weary soul.

Happy 4th Birthday, Hannah!

My dearest Hannah,

I remember the day we found out you were a girl. I was SO excited lying on that ultrasound table that I started crying.

A girl to play dollhouse and babies with?!

 A little girl to dress up in frills and pink?!

It has been everything I dreamed plus so much more. In the last year (really the last couple of months) you've come into your princess phase. You wear your pink princess dress, complete with jewelry, crown, and disney heels all around the house. You live in your princess pajamas and love anything sparkly. You have 6-7 babies that go with you anywhere we go. If you see me getting ready you'll always say, "Mommy, if you want any of your kids to go with  you to the store, just ask me, and I'll go." You love being my shopping buddy, and I really enjoy your company.
Fearlessly riding rides at Six Flags!

I love this age! You have a sweet innocence, and you think mommy hung the moon. (I dread the day I burst that bubble for you!)  We have a sweet relationship blooming that leaves me so hungry for the friendship that will come. I thank God for you (and your brothers, of course!) so often. You have been the perfect spot of brightness and sweetness in our family. God knew you would balance our family beautifully.

But let's be honest. Girl, you have SPUNK. You get a lot of it from your BFF and partner in crime, "Drew Man." You love to laugh and rough-house a little, just not as much as the boys...and with less intensity. Too much rowdy wrestling sends you whining to mama! With all the princess stuff you have going on, you still have a wild side. Case in point: you want a TOOT MACHINE for Christmas. I die. I die.
10pm. You were supposed to be asleep, but instead had your PJs stuffed with blankets!

You've surprised me so much this year with how much you've learned through Drew's schooling. You enjoy trying to write your letters and sometimes you answer questions from our history and science lessons that Drew can't answer. You're a smart cookie!

You are our cuddler! You especially love for someone to fall asleep with you at night, namely Daddy. :) He loves it and I often have to come pry him out of the bed after you're both snoozing away. Of course, piled in the bed are your 5-6 blankets plus your 7+ babies! There's not much room for Daddy to stay all night!

This year for your birthday we ate breakfast in our decorated kitchen, met Daddy for lunch at Logan's--your choice, and then went to Kids Only Gym. For dinner you got to pick again. You wanted Velveeta mac and cheese. No other kind would do. What a birthday dinner, huh?! But you were happy! We had red velvet cupcakes and sang, which you loved. :)
We had your friend party a couple of weeks before which was a Donuts and PJs theme. You were SO proud of all the decorations and excited to have your first friend party. You had a great time! (A good thing because Daddy and I were at the building until after midnight the night before, prepping!) We got you the new princess gown and slippers you wore plus the ariel baby doll you'd been (not) patiently waiting on. You were SOOOO glad to get your Ariel baby. didn't have enough babies in your bed already.



Favorite foods: watermelon, apples, bananas, any type of nut, green beans, "soft chicken" (aka chicken in the crock pot), spaghetti, BUTTER (you lick it off your bread), ice cream, french fries, apple pie, and gum.

Favorite activities: playing Super Mario World with Drew and Daddy, taking a bubble bath, running errands with mommy, playing kitty, playing babies, playing ABC mouse, playing with Jonah, swinging outside, playing in sand and/or mud, and riding bikes. You also LOVE going to spend the night with Deda, Grammy, and Jaja and Papaw. You rarely get homesick, but are very glad to be home when you come running to me!

Little girl, I am blessed by you every day! This next year will be so much fun and I can't wait to see all the great plans God has laid out for you. You are precious to me and Daddy, but are somehow worth so. much. more. to God. We love you to the moon and back!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Letter To Drew at Age Six


Six years ago the nurse placed you in my arms with brand new breath filling your tiny little body. I dreamed of all the things I would teach you and show you; I had no idea that you would teach me just as much, maybe more, in such a small amount of time.

I went back a few days ago and read over your 3 year old and 4 year old birthday summaries. It was so neat to me that you are exactly the same now as you were then, only more mature. Your personality is the same. Your interests are largely the same. And I can now look back on some of your personality traits that baffled me at 3 and see now how you've honed into those and used them to your advantage. For example, you used to take things apart all the time. Now you love to know how things work, from the inside out. Pools, tubs, washing machines, air conditioners, etc. How things tick makes YOU tick!

Drew, when I think of you, I see your sweet bronzed face and your shaggy sun-kissed hair. I see your newly snaggle-toothed grin and I hear you say "mama" so sweetly, in your very southern accented voice. I feel your warm little body up next to mine, as you have a constant need for affection and affirmation. I feel your love for me immediately. Those big, round eyes are filled with so much wonder and joy. You have a zest for learning through experiencing. You are fearless and determined. You are special, my boy. So, so special to me. And sitting here thinking about how amazing you are and how thankful I am to be your mom makes me tear up. A third of my time with you in our home has passed. And here I sit hoping that I'm making the most of it. That I'm making good, godly impressions on you. That I'm mothering you the way the Lord wants me to. Most of all, I'm praying that we are cultivating a love for the Lord in your young heart that will one day grow and produce much, much fruit.

This has not changed since you were young: you are "boy" through and through. If a country boy ever lived in the city, I think it's you. You would live outside if you could, playing in dirt and sand, climbing everything, throwing rocks and sticks, catching frogs and bugs, playing with your trusty side kick dog and building forts. I read recently that the greatest tool for learning in young children is being free to play outdoors. I would think "maybe" to that with Hannah, but with you, I know this to be the truth. You are in your element in God's creation. One day soon your Daddy and I want to move you out to several acres filled with mature trees where you can roam and climb and explore freely. This part of you reminds me so much of your Daddy.

In the last year I've watched you become a big brother again and EXCEL in that role. I tell everyone that having a 5 year old helper is the way to go when having a baby! You have stepped up to the plate this last year and been so mature in helping take care of Jonah and Hannah. Sometimes it feels like you're my partner during the day because you aim to be so helpful. Again, I'm so thankful for your willing heart!

The fifth year of your life was so great. Sure, we had our moments (especially as we both started out schooling at home) where we wanted to wring each others' necks, but you matured so much in the last year and gained a lot of independence. You love Bible class, being with other kids, riding your bike, helping Daddy with anything, swimming, helping with laundry and vacuuming, running, playing with Jill, going new places, snuggling and having 1:1 conversations, and having your back rubbed. You are a thinker and love having deep, meaningful relationships with people. I love that about you!

From the time you were small, this has been consistent: you are a JOY to us. Your fun-loving spirit and easy going personality make you a joy to be around. You're never boring, always full of spunk and life. You make my heart swell with pride daily, and I always thank God for the gift of being your mom. You teach me to enjoy, to live in the moment, to see the good in people, to forgive quickly and move on. You make me a more godly person. You really do. What a blessing you are to me!

I love you, baby, and I pray that when you are older your memories are filled with thoughts of knowing how very loved you were, just as God made you. I am your biggest cheerleader and fan and I value your love and friendship so, so much.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Happy One Year, Jonah!

To my one year old baby boy:

I thought time went quickly for your brother's and sister's first years; I had no idea! Here you are at 12 months old, and I see your independence blossoming, so I'm hanging on to all your "babyness" I can while you'll allow it. But every time I turn around, I catch you doing something new, branching out a little further out of your shell. I love seeing you learn and grow, but it hurts at the same time. I can hardly remember Drew as a baby, and he's only six. So I want to relish in this time with you, but it's just fleeting.
 You took your first steps just after you turned 11 months, and now at 12 months you're walking the majority of the time. You do toddle and fall a good bit, but you're so much better than even 2 weeks ago!

You still have just 8 teeth. You nurse 4 times a day: morning, morning nap, afternoon nap, and nighttime. You still don't like a bottle; I can only assume nothing's changed since we haven't tried since around April. You're eating solids like a champ! (So funny since you put off solids for so long.) You want to sit and eat at every meal we eat, so of course, you do. You've tried and enjoyed: pancakes, waffles, cereal, spaghetti, cheese, turkey, cheese quesadillas, eggs, crackers, pb&j....basically anything we eat that's not a meat, you'll chow down. You weren't crazy about your first cupcake on the night of your birthday, but I think it's because a) breastmilk is better and 2) Daddy shoved a large finger of icing in your mouth--ick. You REALLY LOVE ice cream. It's impossible to feed you fast enough. When you're unable to see the next bite coming, you start grunting and slamming your fat palms down on the high chair tray. Quite funny, you impatient thing! The only food you don't like is bananas. I'm devastated over this one because we eat lots of them and they're a great food! I'm going to continue offering them and hoping one day you'll change your mind. ;)

I cannnot complain about your sleep. You take a morning nap about an hour and a half to two hours after waking and sleep about 2 hours. Then around 2:30ish, you go down for a second nap and sleep 2 hours. At night you go down around 8pm and wake around 8am. Many times you nurse to sleep and other times I lay you in the bed to talk until you're sleepy enough to fall asleep on your own.

On the talking front, you've said byebye, mama, and dada. You've attempted to clap a few times, and it's possible you tried to wave bye bye this last week two different times. I'm loving watching you put 2 and 2 together and mimic us. So sweet!
You visited Six Flags for the first time this last month on our vacation. You rode the log flume and the carousel and loved both. You also rode the Scooby Doo ride which terrified you and you dug your fingernails into my shoulder the entire time. I had no recollection of it being that scary, but you didn't cry--just held a death grip on my arm. You were such a trooper the rest of the trip. You didn't complain the entire way there, and only got fussy the last hour of the trip home. You enjoyed swimming with Daddy & Mommy even though it was cold, but you weren't a fan of Hannah's splashing in your face. You played a lot at the children's museum and ate happily at every meal. You were a joy to be with!
Now that you're mobile, I have to be on baby watch at all times that you're awake. You love to unroll the toilet paper, touch all over and in the toilet, empty the laundry baskets, climb the stairs, and drag all the contents of the cabinet out. You want to go outside with whomever walks out the door, and you get your feelings hurt if someone closes the door before you get there! You really appreciate when I let you climb the stairs to go up and play with Drew & Hannah.
Drew absolutely adores you. You feel the same about him. In the mornings you both greet each other with smiles and hugs and he speaks to you in a high pitched sing-song voice that is so, so sweet. He helps feed you, hold you, guard you, and play with you. You eat it up! You and Hannah are a little rockier now. ;) She likes to help you, but she pushes you a little father than you want sometimes and you don't shy away in letting it be known that you're unhappy. Other than that, she really loves you and tries to offer you her food and toys. She likes sharing with you. :)
You love: being outside, eating, nursing, your blankie, bathtime, being tickled, climbing the stairs, and being carried.
You're not-so-crazy about: bananas, being put down, being left from going outside, sitting in a parked car, being left in the nursery (just started--sadness), and being told "no."
Jonah bug, you own my heart! Your incredibly sweet smiles just melt me! I'll admit that I coddle you sometimes, but it's because I know you're almost out of the full baby stage and I want to hang on to your babyness for a lot longer! You're such a sweet boy, and my prayer for you is that you would have a heart for Jesus and long to worship and serve Him in this life. I know he will do amazing things with your life, and I pray I can be a vessel to help shape you into a real man of God. I love you, my dear son! Happy first birthday!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Jonah walk & talks

 For the record, 3 days after you turned 11 months old, you took your first steps! I thought I didn't want you walking this soon, but I'm beginning to look forward to some aspects of it. Also, you've begun babbling like crazy--and loudly! If I call for Drew upstairs, you try and mimic me. So fun!

Yay for milestones!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Jonah @ 11 Months

The last month with you has brought some fun changes. You've become a really great eater. For the kid who gagged until 9 1/2 months old on anything, you've come a long way! Last night you had mashed potatoes, green beans, a roll, and corn on the cob--and no gagging! ;) You nurse a little less than last month, but usually every 3-4 hours, on average. You're at least 22 pounds now, fully in a size 12 month clothes, and still a size 4 diaper.
 You're still not talking much. You're a pretty quiet fella. One day you mustered out what sounded like "Daddy" and haven't said it again since. You'll say "bye bye bye bye" when you're in your room alone, and you squeal for any other need, either with a smile or scowl. ;)

 The biggest news: YOU SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT! (Cue the rambunctious cheering and clapping!) You fall asleep around 8ish and sleep until 7:30ish. Works for me! You are, by far, the latest one to sleep through the night, but probably the best sleeper early on. I had you pegged to STTN by 6-8 weeks, but you had to show me up. :)

Last month we celebrated your first Easter. We went to Mamaw Betty's house and played all day. You were not at all interested in the eggs, but you did enjoy watching everyone else run around like crazy folks!

You looooove to be outside. In fact, you start banging on the door and squealing when your siblings go out without you. You enjoy strolling, riding in the push car, and swinging. You even let the dog lick your hands while I silently gag behind you. (See? I'm making progress because I allow the dog to lick you.) If you hear the bath water running, you speed crawl to the tub. You splash and crawl around and have a ball in the water. You have no problem sticking your face straight in. You'll be a fish like your siblings!

You put ev-er-y-thing in your mouth. Old food? Paper? Tiny toy? Bug? Makes no difference to you! I'm constantly sweeping out your mouth for random finds. :)

You're a pro at climbing up the stairs, so we have to keep the gate locked at all times!


You want to be held a lot. I'm wondering if you're going through a teething phase with the extra fussiness and desire to be held? You still only have 6 teeth--4 on top, 2 on bottom.

You take two naps a day: one around 9:30am and another around 2:30pm. Having a consistent naptime routine is helpful to us!

You are still generally such a good natured baby. You rarely fuss, though you're coming into your own little will, easily seen during diaper changes. :)


We love you dearly and are almost heartbroken that you're already almost one!
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