I Wanted to Be SuperMom

Growing up I never had a favorite superhero. They were all cool, but I never connected with any one in particular. However, I did have plans to homeschool my 15 kids, live in a pristine home, cook incredible meals from scratch, adopt all of the stray kids and animals that might wander into my yard, and never elevate my voice beyond normal tones. So now that I think about it, I suppose I wanted to be SuperMom! But life held other plans.

The high expectations I set for myself lowered very little with the arrival of my first child. I still kept a fairly regimented schedule for him and me; with the arrival of my first daughter, I added on a small business and soon had the 3 of us on a finely tuned routine. There were definite hiccoughs along the way with crazy days thrown in here and there, but for the most part I was satisfied with how I was managing home and family. Then came baby number three!

She is a normal newborn with all of the regular disruptions that newborns bring along when they arrive – the piles of diapers, the erratic schedule, the heartwrenching sobs that appear to have no rhyme or reason. I can handle all of that; but add that to also having a new crawler and a stubborn two- year old and I am finding that my SuperMom powers have mysteriously vanished! There are moments when I just sit, mentally skimming through my to-do list and have no idea what to do next. My daily goal is to have all of the laundry washed, folded, and put away but it has not happened since the baby was born. I start a conversation with someone and stumble over my words when I am talking or stop and start over mid-sentence (and I was an English teacher!!). I used to deep clean my house on a weekly basis, bake bread every week, make sure my kids’ faces were spotless before leaving the house, fold their clothes before putting them in the drawer, and take the dog on half-hour walks every day. What happened to me?

As I cried in the shower the other day, it hit me square between the eyes that motherhood is a pride-stripping, self-losing, humility-growing, faith-building calling. In all the glory of singlehood, I thought I knew exactly what it meant to be a parent. I had my list of “My kid will never…” and guess what? I think at least one of my kids has done everything on that list. I also had my list of “I’ll never be THAT mom…” and guess what? You bet I am! And every time I scratch one of those “nevers” off of my list I swallow a bit of humble pie. It’s not a nice feeling, but you know what is? Recognizing that He who has begun a good work in me will be faithful in finishing it. Every bit of pride that is swallowed and every bit of self that is stripped away is making me a more faithful friend, a more loving wife, a more patient mom, and more like Christ. That’s worth more than all the Marvel super powers!

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It’s Raw. It’s Real. It’s Worth It.

My postpartum convalescence has provided me with ample time to reflect on motherhood. If I’ve arrived at any conclusions it would be this: motherhood is not a hobby; it’s not part-time; and it’s most certainly NOT a joke. Allow me to elaborate.

Motherhood is raw. Childbirth is simply a foreshadowing of what it means to be a mother: the intense investment of every fiber in one’s being to deliver life that is completely driven by love so deep that it’s excruciating. And then there is the euphoria that comes when my children learn and grow and flourish, when the connections are made, and when they reciprocate my love.  It is raw because rarely do I FEEL like a good mom; it’s raw because each day is a battle to put self second or third or fourth or fifth or even after the pets; it’s raw because I know that my family often gets my very worst when I most desire to give them my very best; it’s raw because it is 24/7/365 for the rest of my life.

Motherhood is real. At this stage in the game my days mainly consist of potty times, feeding times, nap times, refereeing sibling play times and cleaning the house just enough to keep it from disintegrating. I have a detailed plan for what I would like to teach my little ones; I have a vision for the kind of human beings I would like them to become. Yet when I sit back and evaluate my average day it doesn’t seem like I’m making any progress on the meaningful things since my days are filled with keeping these small people fed, clean, and safe. I even have to follow a detailed routine to ensure that I take bathroom breaks and complete my own personal hygiene before the day is done. And don’t get me started on my house! I love a clean and organized house yet lately it has been anything but that. And my marriage? Well, my husband and I have noticed that parenting seems to overshadow everything right now – even our relationship. We are taking active steps to reconnect as best friends again.  All this to say that real motherhood isn’t ONLY the Facebook highlights, the Pinterest crafts, or the model nurseries. It’s a blending of big imperfect people seeking to raise small imperfect people and that gets messy.

Motherhood is absolutely, totally, beyond a shadow of a doubt worth every moment. I don’t mean to be cliche here, but it’s true. The raw reality of motherhood is what makes it perfectly priceless; it’s my weaknesses that cause me to turn to Christ and to other moms for help. In the 3 weeks since my third child was born, I have reached out to a few mom friends and been indescribably blessed by their loving words of wisdom. One told me to not compare myself to other moms; another told me to remember that I’m not perfect, but I’m exactly the mom my babies need and to rest in that; a third friend shared that I need to accept that I can’t be a mom in my own strength and absolutely need Jesus each and every day (something I had grown lax in). And then there is my very own mother: she has spent several nights at my home, helping with the older kids and the housework and the meals and making sure that HER baby gets time to rest and recuperate. What precious memories I am collecting and treasuring in my heart from our visits together!  I am listening to my baby breathe on my shoulder while I type this. To think that she and her siblings are my daily responsibility to raise, refine, and rejoice over is truly a beautiful thought. I am thankful that this imperfect mom has a perfect Savior who sees the raw, real me as worth it, too.

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Essential Oils and my Birth Story

Eighteen days ago our little daughter made her debut. This is our third child, and it was my prayer and goal to be able to have a med-free delivery. I had inductions the first two times, requiring an epidural each time. I wanted to do everything I could to avoid an epidural, reduce, bleeding, minimize tearing, and hopefully remain infection-free in order to not require antibiotics.

Beginning in my 34th week, I started going to a chiropractor for adjustments and to learn a variety of stretches and exercises that brought me more comfort during those last weeks of pregnancy. These ended up being extremely helpful in managing contractions during active labor.

Starting in my 37th week I began two important oil applications:

-A blend of ylang ylang, helichrysum, cypress, white fir, geranium, and clary sage applied every night to my low back, ankles, and ankles to reduce bleeding.

-The Immortelle blend applied to my perineum every night to minimize tearing.

My water broke the morning before my due date. Contractions didn’t begin immediately so I began applying clary sage to initiate them. When we arrived in the delivery room, we began diffusing clary sage as well as applying it to my abdomen. I am so glad that we did because my body kicked into gear right when they started the pitocin drip. Thankfully, I didn’t require more than the minimal amount of pitocin!  Once active labor began, we started to diffuse wild orange for energy and a positive mood (the nurses loved our room!). My husband continued to apply the reduce bleeding blend every hour. As the pain increased, he massaged basil oil wherever the pain was the most intense. It is a warming oil so it helped my muscles relax; I also found the scent to be calming as well.

I was in active labor for 5 hours and delivered our daughter 14.5 hours after my water broke. I remained infection-free and only had one small tear; my doctor was pleased by this and also said that my bleeding was minimal.  This was my first time of actively using essential oils in my labor and delivery and as I compare this experience to my other two labor and deliveries I can honestly say that they made a  difference. My body, mind, and spirit were all positively impacted by the application and diffusing of the oils. I would encourage all of my mommy-friends to give them a chance and to also consider seeing a qualified chiropractor in the last month of pregnancy.  It’s a wonderful feeling to be in tune with your body and discover it’s full potential.

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The Adventure Begins

This new year is new in more ways than just a number. The sixth day of the year concluded with a tiny bundle of joy in our arms: 45 minutes before her due date. This was my first labor and delivery without an epidural so in some ways it felt like my first time of giving birth, despite it actually being my third. The pain was excruciating and shocking yet I would not have changed a thing; I found myself much more in touch with the journey of life that my body and my little daughter traveled together.  Ten days after her birth I still wonder at the fact that she grew from microscopic to nearly eight pounds in a mere ten months  – and it all occurred inside my own body! Incredibly miraculous! I do not want to lose that wonder with any of my children because that wonder nourishes my joy.

And abundant joy is the theme of my new year. I know that a home with 3 small under the age of two and one-half years is going to be a challenging one, but I pray that it will be a peaceful and joyful one.  The past week and a half of stretched me more than the past three years have as I seek to meet the unique needs of each of my little ones, making sure that each one is assured of his or her special place in our home and my heart. I can only imagine what it will be like when the baby no longer sleeps quite as much and the middle child becomes mobile!  But as long as I seek Jesus first, I know that He will fill my heart with joy each new day and provide me with the wisdom and calm that I need to care for my precious family and home.

I plan to blog a couple of times per month about this new season in my life as a way to reflect and rejoice. I am looking forward to it!

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The Adventure Begins

This new year is new in more ways than just a number. The sixth day of the year concluded with a tiny bundle of joy in our arms: 45 minutes before her due date. This was my first labor and delivery without an epidural so in some ways it felt like my first time of giving birth, despite it actually being my third. The pain was excruciating and shocking yet I would not have changed a thing; I found myself much more in touch with the journey of life that my body and my little daughter traveled together.  Ten days after her birth I still wonder at the fact that she grew from microscopic to nearly eight pounds in a mere ten months  – and it all occurred inside my own body! Incredibly miraculous! I do not want to lose that wonder with any of my children because that wonder nourishes my joy.

And abundant joy is the theme of my new year. I know that a home with 3 small under the age of two and one-half years is going to be a challenging one, but I pray that it will be a peaceful and joyful one.  The past week and a half of stretched me more than the past three years have as I seek to meet the unique needs of each of my little ones, making sure that each one is assured of his or her special place in our home and my heart. I can only imagine what it will be like when the baby no longer sleeps quite as much and the middle child becomes mobile!  But as long as I seek Jesus first, I know that He will fill my heart with joy each new day and provide me with the wisdom and calm that I need to care for my precious family and home.

I plan to blog a couple of times per month about this new season in my life as a way to reflect and rejoice. I am looking forward to it!

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More Than a Tree

I am gazing fondly, wistfully, and not a little regretfully at our Christmas tree. Each year’s tree is my favorite and this year’s is no exception. It’s our first full-sized tree and has a place of honor in our little apartment. It is cheerfully adorned with old and new ornaments, including little reindeer made from traced baby feet.  It is drinking its fill of Sprite and so far it’s still green! I inhale deeply of its delicious festive fragrance every day; every morning our two-year old rushes over to it and begs for the lights to come on. It’s almost part of our family now, hence the regret. I know that in just a couple of weeks the gifts will be unwrapped; the ornaments will come down and be safely stowed away for the next tree; the lights will be unplugged and wrapped up; and the tree? The tree will be taken to the dump never to be seen again.  How can something be so treasured and then so quickly removed and forgotten?  The more I reflect, the more I realize that this happens frequently in life.

My mind has been drifting over the year as I prepare for 2017. It’s painful how quickly a year passes; wasn’t it only yesterday that we toasted in 2016?  Each year I determine to savor the little moments more, to slow down, to keep my priorities in the right order, to treasure time with family and friends, yet each December I regret all of the little moments I took for granted, the days I counted instead of savored, the misplaced priorities, and the lack of time with family and friends.  Suddenly I’m aware of my aging dog, that this might very likely be my last year in my home state, and that people close to me aren’t getting  younger. Simply comparing my children’s pictures from January with how they look now is a startling reminder that time changes things.

Passing years are much like our Christmas trees. They are received with great joy and anticipation, adorned with idyllic resolutions, hopes and dreams, and all too quickly worn out and relegated to unknown recesses of our memory. I realize that we can’t carry the old years with us into the new ones, just like we can’t save every beloved tree, but I think we can absorb each year to its fullest that we are allowed to live.  I plan to do just that in the remaining 2 weeks of 2016 and in the years to come. I think I will forego the usual new year’s resolutions and instead focus on: “A Bit More and a Bit Less.”  I am going to devote a bit more of my time and attention on souls and a bit less on possessions. (For example, if I have to choose between reading a book to my kids and reading status updates on Facebook then Facebook will lose every time.)  I will try to rejoice a bit more and complain a bit less. I may even be a bit more spontaneous and clean a bit less!! I think that with this new motto in mind I’ll be able to bid our Christmas tree adieu with a peaceful heart. But until that day comes, I’m going to enjoy it for all it’s worth!

What about you?

 

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The Golden Calf at Christmas

This morning I read Exodus 32 to my children during our morning Bible time. If you don’t have all of Exodus’s chapters memorized, this is when the Israelites grew impatient with waiting on Moses to come down from Mount Sinai so they demanded that Aaron create a god for them. Their demands are ironic considering that only a few weeks prior to this they had pledged to always honor and obey God because they recognized all He had done for them.  It’s also interesting to note that Moses was on Mount Sinai in order to receive God’s laws, the laws that would guide the people in their desire to honor and obey the LORD. We are familiar with these laws: The Ten Commandments.

I know this story quite well but a few verses particularly jolted my attention this morning. “Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other. And the tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets.” (verses 15-16)  Imagine that! Seeing God’s words written in His very own hand! There could be no arguing about the significance of those words; I would give anything to see the law written on those stone tablets. “And it came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.” (verse 19) Just like that something so powerful and so priceless was gone. Why? Because of man’s sinful disregard of what is truly important.

My train of thought continued to seek application from these verses. How does this relate to me at this time in human history, more specifically, in this particular season? Christmas is a time of remembering God’s generous gift to mankind; once again, He reached out in a rare and tangible form to provide a way for us to have a relationship with Him. This time it wasn’t law written on stone tablets; instead, it was His only Son come as a helpless human infant who would later climb to His death on Golgotha. Why? So that the Law of Love could be written on our hearts (Romans 2:15).  And once again, this is a story with which I am quite familiar. My head nods in agreement when I am challenged to live a committed life to Christ, but my heart easily strays away to pledge allegiance to things with little eternal value.

Perhaps my actions are not as deliberately blasphemous as the Israelites’, but my commitment to Christ is no less significant than their pledge.  Just as t flagrant sin caused the tablets to be shattered at the foot of the mountain so can my witness to the world around me crumble when I allow sin to take hold of my life.  This is a necessary reminder for me as I enter the holy season with my children following wide-eyed behind me. I am a witness to them around the clock on a daily basis; when I sin, they are the first to see it and mimic what I do.  In the flurry of decorating, baking, and gift-wrapping, I pray that a golden calf of temporal admiration will not steal my heart from the Baby in the Manger and the King on the Cross.

 

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