to the mama with a toddler and a baby

I read this blog post tonight that someone shared on Facebook, to the mama with a toddler and baby, and I was back there in an instant. With a lump in my throat. Feeling so very thankful I’m not there anymore, and wanting to help every single mom who is there because it’s hard. And you feel so alone. I pray I never forget how insanely difficult it was having a toddler and a baby. It was just SO hard. I want to cry thinking about it!

But you learn.

You will learn your boundaries. The things you can and can’t do. The errands that are worth running. How to scrape together 3 meals with what you have so you can go shopping alone after dinner or bed time. How to make it to your moms group (mine was a birth stories – turned postpartum support group) and how to wrangle two kids into their car seats.

That it’s ok to sob in the parking lot after your toddler was awful in the store. That it’s ok to cry in front of other people. To let go of some expectations. To let (make) your husband do bed time. That “snack lunch” is ok. That Netflix all day sometimes (or even for a week straight) won’t kill them. And one day you’ll realize that you are learning. And it will feel SO good.

Some days will be amazing and you will do it all. Feel all those feelings of accomplishment! Some days will be so defeating. Cry, grieve for what wasn’t, and pick yourself up so you can try again tomorrow.

It’s all about trying. Love your babies, you are doing your best for them. You are amazing.

Hugs to you, sweet mama. You’re doing a great thing.

P.S. it’s still hard. It always will be. I don’t fall for the “it will get easier” crap because I don’t think it does. You just get stronger. 🖤 🖤

P.P.S and let me remind you not to compare yourself to other mamas on Instagram, because I can guarantee that I’m not the only one who was literally posting the highlight reel of my life in that first year and then some, so that I could remember there actually were some good times amidst the dark struggle I will never forget. Here’s me, like “hey look, I’m ‘normal’! I can take my kids to the store and smile for a selfie because I feel like a superhuman because we got out of the house and I’m wearing both of them.” When really the only reason I was painfully wearing them both was so that my toddler wouldn’t run away from me. And it was still so hard that I avoided errands with them as much as possible until well…to be honest, I still try to avoid them 2 years later. But hey, I learned.  

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when your day is recovering from vacation

Today was a mac n cheese, hot dogs and peas for lunch at 3:00 on the unwashed-and-full-of-playdoh-table kind of day.

And today, I have the utmost respect for all parents who take their kids on “vacation.”

Actually, even more so, the moms who bring their kids home and have to deal with the recovery.

Until today, I don’t think I’ve ever realized how much work it is to recover from a vacation! Seriously, mad respect for every parent who has done this before. I’m still in the “never again” phase…tell me that goes away? haha

Last week was full of anticipation and excitement from my oldest and a little dread from me, but I will say, the weekend was overall great and we all had a fun time. All praise to Jesus. Seriously.

But today.

I severely underestimated how rough it would be to have not slept for 3 nights and then to get home and have to adult. So when the baby was up at 6am (since when is this a thing?), I went to nurse and hopefully snuggle him back to sleep, only to end up falling asleep on and off in the chair and wake up with ice cold numb legs 2 hours later. Thankfully he went back to bed at 8:45 and we both napped until 11…ish.

And then we got up, and the tears commenced. From everyone. Just kidding, I haven’t cried…yet. I can’t count the number of minor injuries that have happened in the last 4 hours resulting in tears. (How many times can you bump your lip or toe or bite your finger or your tongue while chewing on a baby pacifier?!?! It’s now in the garbage…) The number of arguments (which is ironic because one of the kids doesn’t even talk!) I’ve had to settle. The number of messes I’ve cleaned up.

But today I am thankful for…

A 4 year old who can make her own oatmeal and is content to watch a movie on her own and set it all up herself.

That same 4 year old who can spend hours doing crafts on her own.

Sleep.

Cookies. Because I ate all the cookies for breakfast. And lunch.

Clean laundry, and the energy to wash it.

Organic mac n cheese, which made me feel less guilty about lunch, because, organic.

Water spills, because that takes care of washing the table.

10 minutes to my self to write, even though I know the trade-off is 20 minutes of cleaning up messes we’ve already cleaned up.

GRACE. Because for real, I certainly wouldn’t have made it this far without it.

And perspective, because I know I’m not alone.

 

So, mamas who have recovered from vacation, hats off to you. For real. I know a lot of you and somehow you’ve all survived, so that gives me hope!

But for now, I’m sooooo looking forward to tomorrow!

when serving looks like staying home

I’m writing this to myself as my husband is about to go on an 8-day missions trip with our church’s high school group.

 

As Christians, we are reminded of our call to be like Jesus and serve others. We are frequently encouraged to do that in many obvious ways. Growing up, I was encouraged to serve others, and I am thankful to have learned the value of that. But, here’s my problem.

So often I find myself getting caught up in feelings of frustration, because in this stage of life, I am finding it very difficult to serve outside of my home. It bothers me and I begin to feel useless. Useless, because it seems that no one sees or appreciates anything that I do. Useless, because I sit at home with my kids while my husband gets to serve somewhere else. Frustrated, because he gets to enjoy following God’s call to serve. And even a little guilty, because of the constant pressure to go out and serve.

But God, in his infinite wisdom, pulls me back in to remind me…

This isn’t my season to go work at the church building every weekend.

This isn’t my season to [physically] help another family in their home.

This isn’t my season to go on a missions trip.

This isn’t my season to help out in Sunday School.

BUT. This IS my season to serve in my home.

I like the word “season” because I think so well in pictures. When I think of seasons in regards to life, I see the ever-changing seasons in our world. I am blessed to live in an area where we get to experience each of these intervals, and witness them come and go each year. It reminds me that each season is temporary, and though it will come back, it will never look quite the same. There will be similarities, of course, with the snow each winter, and the flowers blooming in the spring, but some winters will be colder than others, and some autumns will bear more fruit. I know that I’m in a season that is going to be long and tough, but just like God never leaves me stuck in the heat of summer, he doesn’t leave me stuck in the depths of my feelings, and the seasons will change again. And I am so thankful for that.

Dear mama, if you’re in this season and you’re discouraged, take heart! Jesus sees you and is asking you to be obedient to his current calling.

He’s reminding us that He has called us to be wives and mothers. That serving Him means serving our families. Our children are part of “the least of these.” Right here, right now, we are called to something great! To teach our children in the ways of the Lord. To serve in our homes with our whole heart. To be faithful in the seemingly menial tasks He’s presented us with.

Yes, that means wiping bottoms and washing hair, cleaning toothpaste off the bathroom counter and sopping up yet another spill (more to come today, I’m sure). It means washing the dishes and feeding our kids sometimes twelve times a day. It means preparing them for the evening with daddy. It means putting the movies back on the shelf for the eighth time. It means washing and folding the never ending pile of laundry. It means stepping back from all of those things to spend time with my little ones. It means picking up the toys again, and putting dinner on the table after daddy gets home. It means attending another “show” and reading another book. It means putting down my phone. It means praying with them, and comforting them. It means putting my husband and my children’s needs first. It means serving Him!

I look forward to the day when I can again serve others more freely, and when the opportunities arise, I pray that God will use me. I get excited when I think about serving others as a family, and teaching my children about this matter. Today, as I anticipate my husband leaving, instead of resenting the fact that I don’t get to go, I’m going to [deep breath – because once I say it, I have to do it!] work on delighting in the season God has me in, and serving Him faithfully right here right now.

So, I’m affirming to myself that THIS is where God has me right now, and THIS is where he wants me. I’m choosing to obey. And I’m working on my happy heart.

 

Thank you, Lord, for opportunities to serve You in every season of life!

when it doesn’t get easier

Honesty: I struggle. A LOT. Raising kids is way harder than I expected it to be. Each phase I’ve gone through has brought joy, but also struggle. So many times I’ve heard, “oh, it gets easier!”

But no, it hasn’t.
One day I finally read something and it hit the nail on the head.

“It doesn’t get easier, mama. You get stronger.”

And I felt validated. And so strong! And I immediately saw this picture:

Your physical trainer shows up one day and starts phase one of your workout. Man, that’s intense. It hurts. Maybe you cry. Maybe it brings you to the end of yourself and you want to give up. But you can’t. You’re sweating and exhausted and so sore.  Every day you do the same thing. You sweat, you’re tired, and it hurts a little more because you were already sore.

And then one day, you aren’t quite as sore. You might not tire as easily. But the workout is the same. It didn’t actually expect any less of you, but you knew what to expect, and you gained strength and were able to get through it, just a little easier. Then, just when you think you’re getting comfortable, your trainer says it’s time to begin phase two and it starts all over again. And repeat until your life is over.

That’s motherhood.

I mean, I’m only four years into this, but I’m pretty sure this is the rest of my life. And I’m ok with that. Actually, I’m thrilled and blessed and exhausted and sweaty and so sore.

You give birth to the most beautiful child in the world, and from that moment on, you are being stretched to your max. Breastfeeding. Sleep regression. Baby who constantly needs to be held. You learn how to function on such little sleep that if someone had told you a year ago you could do everything you do now without sleeping, you’d have laughed in their face. But you are getting stronger.
One day you have to leave the house with the baby. Or 2 kids. And it’s horrible. The preschooler runs away and doesn’t listen and the baby is screaming and poops all over you. You wonder why you would ever do something like that again. But the next day you have to because you ran out of toilet paper and Target doesn’t ship fast enough. And it’s just as bad. One day you forget a little how bad it was, so you decide to try playgroup because you have to get out of the house, and the preschooler is disobedient and mean and screaming and you’re all but crying and another mom helps you clean up the basket of toys your kid just threw everywhere and says “I know.” And “you can do this.” And you get in your car and sob because you know you can’t. But you keep going, because you have no choice. Sometimes that “workout” feels good. Sometimes it kicks your butt when you don’t expect it to anymore. And that’s where I’m at right now so I don’t have much more to say. Ha!
But here’s the thing. If you want to get stronger, you have to keep pushing yourself. It hurts. It’s uncomfortable. It might even make you angry. You’ll get stronger physically (because carrying around a 20lb 7 month old is no joke) and mentally. You begin to learn your limits. You stop judging other moms.
So, mama who desperately wants it to be easier (that’s me right now!)…don’t focus on waiting for it to get easier. Pick yourself up and work for it. It’s so hard, but you’ll get stronger.

when it’s just too much

I don’t recall having always been an extremely anxious person. Nervous at times, sure, and all the normal anxieties following a scary movie.

But then, motherhood.

I’ve read so many blogs about this “postpartum anxiety” (PPA) subject, and quite frankly, I’m disappointed with the fact that until a few months ago, I had never even heard it brought up in conversation. Like, guys, this is a big deal. Why aren’t we talking about it?!

Some things that I’ve learned:

I’m not the only one.

Anyone can empathize with you, but moms who don’t deal with PPA don’t get it.

I struggle with being envious of moms who don’t deal with PPA.

I would be completely and utterly LOST without the HOPE I have in Jesus Christ.

God’s power is made perfect in my weakness. I HAVE to trust Him or I will literally go crazy.

Maybe you get it. Maybe you don’t. But here’s how it is.

It’s been a long day, and you’re spent, and just so done. You’re struggling to get the kids in bed. The big one is tucked in and drifting to sleep. You nurse the baby to sleep and all of a sudden the cares of the day are gone. The only thing that feels right is to sit there with your sleeping baby keeping them safe. You hug, kiss, pray, whisper “I love you” eight thousand times, and you stand at the door and all of a sudden it’s heavy. So heavy. Like, you muster all your strength to just close that door, and you catch your breath as a lump forms in your throat and you try not to cry. You cry out to God (again) to protect them and give you peace because you can’t do it. You can’t leave. Something is going to happen. You don’t know what, but something will. And you take another breath and walk away, because they are in His hands and you know he loves both you and them more than you could possibly imagine. Trust. 2 hours later, you get ready to head to bed yourself and after checking each lock on the doors twice and making sure no windows are open, you sneak in the kids’ room. Are they breathing? No one got sick? Maybe a picture, because you can’t remember the last time you took one and you literally just have to do it. Shoot, the baby is stirring…quick, one more look at these beautiful little people who you’re slightly terrified you might never see alive again, and you rush out. You sink into bed with a sigh, praying and working to keep your mind off the “what ifs” and on Jesus, and meditate on your favorite verse, Isaiah 26:3. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” And you try so hard to turn off the anxious thoughts to spend a little time with your husband who doesn’t understand. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t. But every time you can, it’s a little victory, and there’s no one to cheer you on, because no one knows. And all of a sudden the baby wakes up and you’re a little annoyed because you’d really like to sleep, but you’re a little relieved because that means he’s with you all night long, and you know he’s ok.

It’s Sunday. You convince yourself that it’s worth it to go to church. Victory. You get there 10 minutes late and find a seat, and you don’t judge others for being late anymore. Victory. You join in with the singing and you’re glad you are there. You sit down for the sermon and 5 minutes later regret it because your preschooler is sitting next to you being noisy and dropping pens and asking for snacks, but you can’t send her to Sunday school because you can’t let her be away from you. And the baby. You can’t keep them both quiet and learn anything. It’s Mother’s Day and you feel like the worst of all when you’re so fed up with it all that you actually take her to Sunday school for the first time ever. Huge victory. But no one knows what a victory that is. She has a great time, and goes every week and all of a sudden she’s been going to Sunday school for a year. Victory. The baby is another story, but I know I’ll get there eventually.

It’s Wednesday and you want to serve at Youth Group like you’ve committed to. You take a deep, deep breath (or 12) and let your preschooler under someone else’s care. One time you have a panic attack knowing that person is going to drive her somewhere, because you know she might not be buckled correctly and the “what ifs” take you down a terrible path. Now you have the baby, too, and while it’s gotten easier to be away from your oldest, your list of “trustworthy” people to watch him is short. You can’t leave him, but you can’t take him, because that’s just not worth it anymore, and no one understands.

It’s every single day of the week. Many moments of every day. The struggle is real. It’s all consuming. Every single time I can leave my children in someone else’s care (even my husband’s, sometimes) is huge. Not for me, but for God. Through His strength alone, am I able to walk away. I am so thankful for his timely reminders that I don’t need to carry this anxiety when it’s just too much. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ my rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

And that is why I needed to share this today. I am learning to share my weaknesses to share Christ’s power.

SO thankful for that power. May He receive all the glory in my weakness!

[What A Beautiful Name]