Part 3: 50 Things I Want My Children to Know

Part 1:  50 Things I Want My Children to Know

Part 2:  50Things I Want My Children to Know

 

 

31.  Don’t Poke the Dragon

In life, there will be many things you want to do but shouldn’t do either ever, or for a time.  My advice on these things is to not poke the dragon.  What I mean by this is, if you want to try something out of curiosity (insert your own mother’s worst nightmare), ignorance is better than knowing that you enjoy something you don’t want/need to do etc.  Don’t create for yourself a dragon to fight because you poked him awake with interest.  I would rather not know what something was like over knowing, liking it, and creating a struggle and constant temptation for myself.  Experimenting will not ease the desire, but awaken the beast.  Ignorance is bliss rarely in my book but in the book of experimentation, better to not wake the dragon and be inexperienced than to fight with a known desire.

32.  Ask Questions

Learn about your grandparents, aunts/uncles, and your own parents before they’re gone.  Learn the stories, sentimental things, details about their love stories or how they came to do what they do or how they became who they are.  How did your grandparents meet and fall in love?  What did they do for jobs growing up?

When people age and pass, with them passes the history of your family.  Don’t miss out on the story of all the things that built everything and everyone before you.  After all, it’s ultimately an incredibly detailed story of how you came to be.

33. Don’t Compare Time Lines

As you grow up, people will hit certain milestones before you: children, marriage, graduation, landing certain jobs and life accomplishments or successes you might desire.  Be careful to compare your life to theirs and say, “It’s never going to happen for me.” or “Why haven’t I had that chance or met that person?”  You start to feel behind or like you are missing out when compare your life to someone else’s or when you compare where you are to where you hoped you would be.  Your life was designed on God’s timeline for YOU.  He didn’t create you for your purposes in comparison to what He was doing for anyone else so don’t take into consideration what God didn’t.  Because of that, you aren’t truly behind or off course but rather on your own distinct timeline that has nothing to do with anyone else or any other “social norm” you may feel like you are racing against.  God doesn’t adhere to social norms.  He adheres to what He has for you.  The struggle for all of us is to find contentment in where we are and you can never be content if you can’t accept and love where you are and failing to accept and love where you are currently planted means you’ll never experience the goodness of the stage you’re in.  There is a time and season for everything under the sun.  In sweet time my dear babies….

34.  Neck Love

There are no such things as neck Botox or neck lifts so moisturize that baby, too.  SPF it while we’re at it.  Necks and hands both tell your age so either be proactive or wear lots of mittens and turtlenecks.  I’m not encouraging you to be vain but I am saying there is no shame in taking care of your body while you age.  When you’re greasing your face and keeping it fresh, don’t let your neck turn into a dinosaur.  That’s all.

35.  Money

Be smart with your money while you are young.  Don’t wait until you are married or in your profession to make good financial decisions.  Mistakes can be forgiven but poor financial mistakes can follow you a long time.  If you get bad credit while you are young, that credit will follow you into the first time you want to apply for a loan for a house.  Several late payments on your light bill?  No problem, until you move and have your lights turned on again and have to pay a bunch of fees because of your past payment history.  People who accumulate debts and poor credit are haunted by those choices even in to the years where they have since become smart, responsible adults.  Money isn’t everything but how you handle it will effect you.  Be a good steward of what you’ve been given and make good choices for you and future you.  I made good choices because my dad instilled this type of responsibility in me.  You don’t have to rich to be financially free from the burden of debt and bad credit.  Whether you are rich or poor, both individuals should choose wisely.

36.  Don’t Sacrifice for Having Money

There may be a time in your life where you are faced with job choices either for yourself or for your husband and money should not only be the only factor.  Be wise, make sure you and your families needs are met but happiness, time with your family, freedom, and purpose are more important than more money and less time for the things that matter in life.  If you have a chance to do something you’ve always dreamed of trying or doing, don’t let money be the only factor.  Sometimes in order to live and do, we have to step out on faith and make choices and take chances.  Be cautious but by all means, don’t be restricted.

37.  Write it Down

When you are a mom, write down what your children say and do and take pictures.  When you are growing up, journal and take pictures.  As much as you think you will remember every little thing about your children and every period in your life, every relationship, milestones, etc. memory fades…even of the best days.  One day when you are older and I’m gone, you will have at this point…hmmmmm….600 blogs to remember me by.  A record of your life will serve you, your children, and those that love you once you’re pushing daisies.

38.  Baby Steps

I hope I’m around to help you through many difficult and hard times in your life but when I can’t be or when I’m gone, let me tell you what I tell people when they are asking for advice on how to get through tough days or experiences:  set small goals.  Take baby steps.  When you wake up with a broken heart, anxiety, or are facing a really hard day, give yourself baby steps all day long to help you make it through the next hour.  Example:  I only have to work 2 hours and then my mom said she will call me.  After the phone call, I only have to work one more hour until I get lunch and can sit alone or with a friend (whatever you need).  Then I only have 3 hours until I can be home and then I can rest, cry, see a friend, etc.  It sounds so simple but sometimes in life, we hurt so much that we are just trying to survive.  You can survive by not trying to survive the month, but by surviving an hour at a time.  It gives you a sense of control because you have a plan and you have little goals or reliefs for yourself set up along the way.  I did this for myself when I had postpartum depression on my bad days as it was going away and I’ve helped many people with depression get through a day this way.  I wish you no heartbreak but if you are, this is some of the most practical advice in how to with the structure of a hard day.

39.  Pray

More than you need baby steps in life, you need PRAYER.  The older I get, the more I see the stronger my prayer life is, the stronger my walk is.  Pray out loud in front of your kids while they are young so that it becomes instilled in them.  I love to pray for people when an ambulance or fire truck passes while I have you guys in the car.  It’s something you both can understand and it’s a way that I’m teaching you that it’s part of a day.  I hope that every time you have worries, that it’s quickly followed by prayer.  I hope you saw me live this.

40.  Mistakes

So often, especially when you are young, you carry guilt or shame for things that you’ve done.  Remember that you aren’t defined by your mistakes.  They aren’t WHO you are.  They are WHAT you did.  A mistake is only who you are when you do it with no remorse.  You are your mistakes when you live in them un-apologetically.  Patterns with no repentance is a person.  Mistakes with repentance is something much greater than a poor choice….it’s a human with character.  Remember that this applies to other people when you are struggling to forgive someone else.

41.  Future You

Another piece of advice that your mom has given out to many a person….

When you are worried about how something will go in the future (example: What if I see the love of my life, aka ex boyfriend, out with another girl?  I won’t survive!)  remember this dang good advice from a simple mom:

When people worry about the future, they make one crucial mistake.  They assume that they will be in the same place in the future emotionally as they are today.  It’s putting a current you, feelings, fears, and all, in a future situation.  By that time, any number of variables have occurred and you won’t be the same person in the future when and IF it ever comes time to confront that fear.  Yes, you may see your ex in public but you can’t assume that when and if that happens that you will feel the same way you do in the moment of loss.  You may have moved on or realized that you weren’t in love, etc.  Basically, don’t put present you in a future situation where you allow the situation to have changed but not your feelings and ability to cope.  You aren’t today who you will be then so the situation you fear now, will not be the same situation.  I hope that makes sense because it is some dang good practical, logical advice.  High five, mom.

42.  Getting Clean

If you insist on taking baths then take a shower first and then a bath.  If you just jump right in the tub, your nasty will float around and you’ll just splash it all over you and become imaginary clean.

43Purchases

When you can, purchase quality things when you are buying things you will need long term.  Don’t skimp on mattresses, pots and pans, and luggage to name a few.  Better to buy quality up front than to replace the item 10 times and spend more in replacement than you would have if you bought a quality purchase first.

44.  Elephants

I don’t do elephants in the room and in your personal relationships using respect and good timing, I recommend that you don’t either.  In professor Randy Pausch’s famous last lecture he said, “When an elephant is in the room, introduce him.”  The only way to truly communicate is to talk about the real issues.  Get to them.

45.  Thoughts

Thoughts turn to feelings, feelings to action.  Don’t dwell on anything you don’t want to do or become.

46.  Beautiful

You are beautiful whether you’ve had three children, have acne, feel too skinny, feel too fat, have crooked teeth, or don’t like your clothes.  You were made with intention by a creator who doesn’t read fashion magazines or define what he’s made by a social preference.  No matter what the culture says or how you feel about yourself, you were made with perfect intention.  You are beautiful and the world never needs to validate that.  It’s true.  God says so.

47. Parking

If you value you car (and you better), park next to other nice cars that won’t dink your door with theirs.  Don’t park next to an old junky car.  Those cars have nothing left to lose.

48.  Friends

Nothing breaks my heart like hearing someone say they don’t have or didn’t have any friends growing up.  Be actively compassionate. Don’t let that ever be able to said by someone who lived their life around you.

49. My Best

I want you to know that I did my best with you.  Best from a human means sometimes I failed but know that ultimately, my heart, my hard choices, my shortcomings, all came from the place where a mother wants nothing more than the utmost of themselves for their child. I want you to know that I gave raising you the best parts of myself that I could have.  I hope you’ve felt abundantly loved, that your life was celebrated, and that we did it together.

50. Home

No matter how old, how far, how difficult, you can always come home.  We are always your parents and we always love you as you are, dearly and deeply.  It doesn’t matter how old we get or if we have families of our own, there is always something about home and we will always be yours.  We are proud of you.  Thankful for your every day.  Blessed to be your parents.  Better that we were.

 

 

Part 2: 50 Things I Want My Children To Know

20.  Worry

My dad always says that most things you worry about in life never happen.  Of course, that can’t always be true but if you live long enough, you’ll see that a lot of things you worried about ended up being pointless concern. One day at a time, babies.  “Worry is like rocking in a chair.  It keeps you busy but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”  Trust the Lord.

21.  Bumper Stickers

Don’t put stickers on your car.  Putting bumper stickers on your car is like putting stickers on one of the most expensive things you’ll ever buy and making it less valuable….wait….that is what you’re doing.

22.  Listen To Your Parents

It takes us a good 20 years or more to learn this lesson.  As you struggle to think I have a brain in my head, remember that your dad and I are the only ones who will always have your best intentions at heart.  You never have to question our motivation.  Friends come and go, boyfriends are losers, but we will always be coming from a place where we are trying to do the best thing for you because we love you unconditionally.  However, if I try to get you and your husband to live with us forever, only in this situation can you think that we might me coming from a biased place.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t live with us…just to put that out there.

23.  Enjoy  Yourself

One of my favorite quotes because I LOVE nostalgia is, “Enjoy yourself.  These are the good ole’ days you’ll miss in the years ahead.”  When life is happening, classes can seem boring, dating can feel overrated, parents have dumb curfews, and college is hard. Life goes fast and as it passes, master the art of sitting in the moment.  Looking back, you will miss those stages for many of the same reason you despised them at the time.  Sitting in a desk at a job you’ll think, “Remember when I could just sit in class and go meet up friends.  Now I have to pay bills and set alarm clocks.”

One day when your kids are out of the house you’ll think, “Remember when the kids would be noisey in their beds and make us laugh at all the songs they were singing and things they were saying?”

Every stage has it’s merit and there is a time and season for it all.  Phases are seldom retrievable so as you putter through life, know that where you are now is a place that will be a memory you’ll miss later.

24.  Have Regrets

Don’t intentionally make poor choices but have regrets.  The only way you have regret is if you mature and grow giving you the ability to look back and see that something was wrong.  I would rather have children with acknowledged mistakes than immature adults too foolish to know the difference.

25.  Always Call

Always call us when and if you are in trouble, EVEN if the reason you are in trouble is because you are doing something really wrong.  I promise to keep in mind that you called us when you were in a bad situation when I hear what you did or what situation you got in to.  We’re always here and we always want to be.  No matter what.

26.  Your Dad

Your dad is going to tell you A LOT that he is funny.  You will also hear him tell you that he was “Class Clown” as proof.  While your dad is doing “stuff someone in a trashcan class clown humor”, come to mommy for some real authentic laughs, natural sarcastic style. Life lesson 26: Your dad is not funnier than me.

27.  Somebody’s Somebody

When you are in school and in life in general, you will make fun of people and people will make fun of you.  Anytime you see someone being made fun of or ostracized, as tempting as it is to join in, remember that everyone is someone’s sister, brother, daughter, son, mother, father….  All children have a mom and dad who want nothing more than for their son to be the first one picked on the team in P.E. or their awkward child to make just one sincere friend.  Someone loves that child like I love you, like you love your siblings, and like you will love your own children someday.  When you see someone lonely, hurting, embarrassed, being picked on, friendless, or hurting, remember that they aren’t just some kid or some stranger that you don’t have an emotional connection with, they are somebody’s somebody.  It will change the way you see all people. Of all the characteristics I could raise my children to have, I want you to be compassionate and brave enough to love people like this.

28.  Never Stop Saying “I Love You”

It’s easy saying ‘I love you’ as a child but as you get older, you realize that it can be awkward to be that vulnerable.  Never let it get to that point.  Tell those you love that you love them all the years of your life.  If you stop when you are younger, it will be uncomfortable to start again.  Don’t let yourself create a situation where it’s hard for you to tell the most important people in your life how much you love them.  One day they will be gone and you’ll be glad that you never have to wonder if they knew how much you cared.

29.  Guts

Follow your intuition.  If you are ever feeling uncomfortable with a person, place or situation, follow your instincts.  Even if you can’t put a finger on it, there’s a reason you feel that way.  Sure, you may do weird things like sit on your front porch afraid to go inside a 1,000 times for no reason but hey, someone had to be in there at least once.

30.  Consider the Source

When my mom saw that my feelings were hurt she would always say, “Consider the source.”  Who is saying this certain thing to you and should you merit their opinion and their motivation to say what they did?  Are they just a rude, mean person?  Jealous of you?  Instigators?  When a person brings you into something, consider who said it before you take it to heart.  At times, our hearts hurt no matter how logical it is that they shouldn’t but someone only has the power to hurt you if you respect their character enough to believe their opinion matters.

If that still doesn’t help, I will squash that little fourth grader under my foot.  I mean…with kindness.  ;0)

 

Home

I look down at the clock in my dirty minivan and it’s 3:51.  I realize I haven’t even brushed my teeth today.

Eden is in her car seat in her diaper only with chalk on her face but happy as a lark.  Salem is sleeping in her seat.  Praise the Lord.  How do people get anything done with a toddler and a newborn?  I see how people say they want 16 kids and then have another and say, “Okay, maybe just one more kid.  Or maybe, two kids is fine.  Okay, a puppy.”

I still want more children but today has been beastly.  We are trying to move and actually, have moved to an extent but we are living in box land at our new house.  I don’t know where anything is.  I’m Salem’s favorite pacifier and Eden, I can tell, feels out of sorts.  Our bathrooms aren’t up and running yet, our master isn’t finished, and I feel crazier than a one eyed homeless cat….who is missing a knee…and also this cat has a pain pill addiction.

Last night was sort of hard for me because I don’t do well living in chaos.  The house of mount box more is stressful and it’s just not home yet, as it shouldn’t be.  I’ve never done well with being unsettled.  To Lance, a home is four walls.  To me it’s where I weave my craft of motherhood, find comfort, and create a life worth remembering for my pint size additions.

My fears in the move were realized today when I went back to our previous house to get a few more things.  We pulled in the driveway and Eden said with excitement, “Are we home?! This is Eden’s house.  I want to go inside!”  I could only stay for a minute which made leaving even harder on Eden.  Even though it’s an empty house, it’s still home.  Feels like home….

I had to put her crying into the van while she fought getting in because she didn’t want to leave Eden’s house.  It broke my heart for her.  I know she will be fine and that bitter-sweetly for me, she won’t even remember that house.  I just ache that she feels out of place.

Mothers do a lot of things and making a comfortable, safe haven for their kids is one of them.  If you were lucky, you had a home like that growing up.  I know I did.  It’s only when you get older that you realize that homes don’t feel that way because it’s familiar….Homes feel that way because a mother makes it.  Sometimes in a transition, you have to make it home for yourself too while you spout excitement for your children of all the wonderful things you will do together in your new house.

The whole way home from our old house I listened to Skittles cry that guttural, throaty cry that cats do during car rides.  She wasn’t too keen on the move, I guess. Other than the cat sounds, it was quiet on the way “home”.  We pulled in our new drive and Eden said, “This is not my home. This is the other house.”

I put on an excited face and tone for her but on the inside, I felt that ache, too.

Stronger

I run in just a little late like I always do these days after having a baby. I hand Eden off to my dad. He smiles, admiring her face while she excitedly reaches for his styrofoam cup. Leave it to babies to like cups, spoons, and paper more than toys.

I quickly walk up to the stage and take one big step up to my spot at the mic and immediately began practicing for worship with Lance singing and playing right beside me.

Nothing is any different this Sunday than all rest: always busy, familiar songs, typical practice.

I turn the page and we start to sing the song “Stronger”. It’s one of my dad’s favorites so I look up to see if he realizes that we are playing “his” song.

With the light of the sun bursting in behind him, I see the silhouette of my father, holding my daughter with her little cream tutu and leggings bulging out around his shirtsleeves.

I can’t hear him over the roar of the music and the sound of the monitors in my ears but I knew what he was doing.

With one arm holding up my child and another raised in the air, he was singing the song to her.

Their faces were just a few 6 or so inches away as he convictedly sang in his nothing fancy, holding a tune in a bucket voice. sincerely, he looked at her and she intently studied his face.

With the sound of the electric guitar, piano, and percussion behind me, the sound of my husband to the left, I couldn’t help but watch him sing those precious words to my child.

“You are stronger;
You are stronger;
Sin is broken
You have saved me
It is written
Christ has risen
Jesus you are Lord of all….”

In my predictable fashion, I couldn’t help but to well up in my eyes a bit. Between the chorus end and the next verse, I ran over to Lance’s mic to tell him to watch them on the floor.

When the chorus played again, sure enough, my dad raised his hand and sang to Eden.

I watch Lance.

He glances at me.

We both smile, thankfully, back at one another for a brief moment.

It’s hard for me to describe what it does to me to see three generations there on the church floor: me on the stage, and my dad holding his grandchild on the floor.

There was something about singing those words and watching that take place that moves me. I felt a simultaneous gratitude to God for who He is and who He gave me in my father, and then for my father and who he has been to me and is being to my child some 28 years after I was born to him.

I felt an intense feeling of being rescued by the grace of God in my life both spiritually and the earthly grace I had to be raised the way I was. When I was just a little baby like my daughter with no choice or control in the world of who would take care of me, he gave me my parents.

It was another one of those moments in my life where I’m standing in the middle of the result of my parent’s faithfulness and God’s provision.

When he is gone, I will remember him in that mid-morning light singing God’s grace over my first-born on a regular Sunday morning.

Some days God’s faithfulness is apparent immediately.  Sometimes, it takes life times, and even generations to see clearly.  Three to be exact.

When that song finished, my dad and Eden ran up to me before the next song began and he said, “Some time when no one is around, I’d like for you and I to sing that song together up there.”

I smiled in a sort-of tickled way and said, “Okay”.

Eden and my dad went walking out of the sanctuary and I think to myself, “Sometimes he just doesn’t know how good of a man he is.”

As they disappeared around the corner, I’m so glad I do.

Lead Me To Lay Down

I want one of those big, old maple trees in the yard. One that burns with those fiery orange leaves in the fall. No wait, a red maple. Wait, both.

I want a large deck with two levels that goes down to a large patio area. Out in the yard past the patio there’s a garden. One that I’m sure is only a good idea in theory.

The house is hardy siding without question. Maybe an interesting blue shade with chocolate, modern shudders. Or maybe a cool green with black shudders. The architecture is a mix of square and oriental funky lines with a mix of traditional. An amazing front door with character and barely any window in it, if at all.

The inside is 5 bedrooms, mostly hardwood floors. That’s a room for me and Lance, 4 kids, plus a guest room for company or maybe foster kids one day?

There is a live-in basement and also an apartment over the garage so that we can have family stay with us for long periods of time, if ever needed. Our church college kids could live there for free during the semesters or  families who are poor and displaced.

Stainless steel appliances. Not a huge, huge house…maybe 3500 square feet or so.  That’s a good size for all those bedrooms.

I have this house in my mind. I think about it probably too much. I guess an artist dreams of the perfect image to paint and I love to decorate so I think of the perfect home to accent. I’m a homebody, sentimental type too so I want a place to make cozy and welcoming for everybody. I dream of this house and settling down there for the rest of my life. Lance pastors the church. I stay-at-home and there’s nothing left to worry about.

Oh. I forgot one other major detail. There are two cars in the garage that are nice and well-kept so there’s no stress of worrying about having to come by another one in the near future.

That’s what security seems like to me: a nice home to settle in and enough money for cars to last me a lifetime. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about provision. I wouldn’t have to trust. Or have faith. Or learn to be content. Or depend on God to take care of me.

I guess a lot of people read that and think that having those things sounds nice. It’s the American dream. I guess that’s me too, but I’m not comfortable with that being what I need and long for. Material things? Really? That’s what is going to make me feel secure and complete? I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have cars to your name or a nice home but I am saying your heart behind it can be wrong. I think all my life I’ve been trying to fix things so I don’t have the discomfort of needing to have faith and depend on the Lord, both things of which I believe are not only essential but intended for us.

There are two kinds of church go-ers. The regulars and the major holiday-ers. Holiday-ers many times have some things in common with the regulars. They know the major stories. The Noah’s Ark scene in the nursery is a familiar scene. John 3:16 written on the church wall was a verse they learned in vacation bible school years ago. Some things from the faith become something that a lot of the population is generally aware of. Those just to name a few.

What about Psalm 23? I feel like some people who aren’t practicing a faith may know this one as well. It goes like this:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

When you read the bible without knowing context, there is a lot to be missed. These verses never quite hit me as much until I heard someone describing a shepherd. A shepherd, leads his sheep where they should go, including to the pastures where they would eat. He directs them and cares for them.  So Jesus, the sheperd, leads us where we should go. Takes care of us.  Watches over us.

Another element I missed is about the sheep themselves. When a sheep is full, it lies down. The verse says, “He leads me to lie down in green pastures.” Admist the perfect green around them, which would be optimal grazing, they instead lay down. Content. Full.

Now it all seems different doesn’t it? It’s very different for me. All of a sudden, the house I detailed doesn’t seem so much like a reward but a symptom of the fact that I’m always looking for somewhere else to graze. No pasture is too green.   I know my heart can change about seeking security in things that, in fact, aren’t secure. I really do desire a space that can accommodate having others and even families coming to live with us. I would love for that provision but right now, for how I long for those things right at this moment, I’m not sure having it would be a blessing or a sentence. If I were to be given all of that today, I wouldn’t know if it were a blessing from the Lord or trial He gave me to face in dealing with where my trust is. It’s true that parent’s sometimes let their kids gorge themselves on candy to show them that their desires to over indulge are actually detrimental. How much more so would God as a loving father at times, give us what we wrongly desire to show us that it was, in fact, wrong for us? I think He blesses many with gifts like what I talked about in the beginning with the big, deck and the hypothetical garden, but some of us want it because we don’t want to have to trust Him in lieu of those things.

Today…that’s me.

I want to say that he leadeth me to lie down in hardy siding homes and multi-tiered decks. I can’t tell you that I want to lay down in the face of those things as I type this tonight. Even more ashamedly, I have a nice, modest, cutely decorated home we picked out every detail for while it was being built.  And oh yeah,  two cars parked outside and some savings to buy the next one when one car dies. Embarrassingly, I even have stainless steel, hardwood, and tile baths. I’m just like the kid gorging on candy. One Snickers is nice, but then again, I could have a Butterfinger, a Reese’s cup, Peppermint Patti, and on and on and at the end of it….I’d just be sick.

My yard is a great size and my backyard is full of trees. Great big trees.  It’s my green, wonderfully provided pasture. I just want to remember how to lay in it.  Without the shade of maples.

Me, Myself, and Hallelujah

Lance left me all alone with Eden for approximately three days. I hated to see him go because I like the guy but also, he’s helpful to have around. When it nears 5 pm everyday, I wait for him (sometimes in the driveway) like a little kid waiting for the ice cream truck. I pass Eden off like the baton in one of those relay races that active people run in.

Sometimes the days are so long. Even if she’s dang cute. Even if she’s gallons of fun. We all need a break. Just like Oprah says, “Being a good stay-at-home mom is the hardest job in the world.”  Oprah, guys.  This is serious.

She’s right.

Of course.  (That just made my husband gag. He’s not exactly a “big fan”.  Not exactly going to be screaming in the crowd during Oprah’s Favorite Things. That one was for you, Lancer. )

Anyways, back to how amazing us moms are….

I’m in a perpetual state of awe of four types of women:

1-Women with lots of kids such as 2.
2- Single moms. Can I get a holler for these ladies?!
3- Teen moms. Can I get a fist pump and a prom dress?!!!
4- Women with crappy husbands or dead-beat boyfriends. Can I get a whoot whoot and a babysitter, please?!!!!

Motherhood is some hard biz-nassssss.

You know what’s so weird though? Even though I ice cream truck my husband and even though the days are non-stop work….there is something about being at home without a husband that is nice, too. Sorry Lance. It’s not personal.

I almost feel like it’s a little vacation. Like the kind where you don’t really have breaks but still, it’s like a tiny holiday as the Brits would say.

I think the reason I feel that way is because for however long I want, I can be all alone after she’s in bed. I’m never really alone anymore. Even on lonely stay-at-home mom days, there’s a difference to this kind of alone. I guess even when you want to be with your husband, after a long day there’s this pressure to still make sure you hurry up with your shower so you can spend time together etc.. It’s a great deadline but whatever happened to no deadlines? You know, when time is yours to squander? Sometimes that’s just nice. You really don’t know how much time you had until you have a baby. And I only have one human! I’m sure I don’t know how much time I have now…she says while writing a blog. I suppose two kids will teach me that lesson.

Even if I don’t have time, I will say though that I feel so accomplished  and fulfilled at the end of the day. Let me rephrase that, sometimes it’s at the end of the week. Occasionally, at the end of the day I’m too tired for productive gold medals to be awarded.

I just feel like a total woman now. Sometimes I will look at pictures of myself since I’ve had Eden and I think, “You don’t even look like your vagina is hurting in that picture!” Just kidding I don’t do that.

I think,”You had a baby! You gave birth! You are a mom and you are such a woman!!!!!!!!!!”

I’ve never had more respect for myself or my body.

My life has changed so much now that I wake-up all day (and all night) and I’m just a mom. 24/7, 365…a mom. I don’t even think about it most of the time. It’s amazing the things we women do and can handle from day-to-day. I’m such in a new life and a new mode that I often think that if I remembered what it was like to not be a mom, I’d be so impressed with how much I do now. How I work on little sleep and keep going, and going, and going…. The old me is proud of the new me, I’m sure. Again though, I don’t think you realize how much you do as a mom because it just becomes your new normal and you love it.

It’s a whole lot of what I thought it would be but, at times, way more than I bargained for but I think it’s always that for every mom. Motherhood is a gorgeous shock to your system.

When I was in high school, I got ready every day like I was going to the club. When I was in college, I started dressing more comfortably and cute on the weekends. Today, I wore the same pajamas I woke up in and didn’t touch my face, hair, or dare I say, teeth til after Oprah. That’s 5 pm my time folks.

It’s very different.

It’s also very awesomer-ish.

I ended tonight with a huge baby barf all over me, the couch, the carpet, her jammies, her face, eyes, and hair. First, I took some pictures and mass texted them out. Then, I cleaned it up. Put her to bed. And now I sit under the glow of my neighbors purple, orange, and black inflatable spider that’s on their roof and type a blog. I’m not really under it but it’s shining through the windows. And plus, I can’t be under it because there’s a one story spider web that reaches from the roof to their yard. Obviously.

I just ate stupid double-stuffed Oreos that I loathe. I’m wearing a new pair of pajama pants. I know…fancy. They are maternity though so not fancy. Medium fancy.

The house is quiet. And I’m alone on my little vacation. No one needs me.  No one to help.  No one to cater to.  No one making noise.  No diapers.  No barf.  No bibs.  No arguments over who needs to go let Skittles out.  No one to snore during the times of night that Eden isn’t crying.  Just me and silence.  Just me and more me again. There is so much me that I keep bumping into myself.   Hello, old friend.

Inhale.

Carefree, slow exhale. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

My house sure is nice this time of year.

Funnies and Freedom

I, Rebecca Secret Last Name, had a day to myself for the first time since I squeezed life into the world. It felt ridiculously amazing! I felt like I had taken hard-core drugs and was on the highest of high. At least I’m assuming doing drugs feels like going to Walmart all by yourself without having to squeeze a shopping cart down narrow aisles.

The first time in 4 months I was all alone. It was wicked awesome. You don’t realize how much you need that time until you are in the moment and you’re like, “Oh yeah, hello me…”

I went to farmer’s market and bought fresh flowers. I went, as I said, to Walmart and was able to whisk in and out. I even got myself a Panera smoothie, for the love of Besty! And let me not forget to say, I listened to music insanely loud and bumped like a teenager on the way to Prom. It was delicious. I really missed myself. Rebecca is a pretty cool person. I guess she’s been hiding in diapers and behind Boppy’s and Bumbo seats.

I finished off the day with throwing my buddy a stellar wedding shower and then later that night, crawled into bed with my exhausted husband.

You don’t realize it but “exhausted” for him means there will be a one man show that night in bed via sleep jabbering and unconscious grabbing of my innocent bottom in the middle of the night. Lucky for me, I was awake for three hours before I feel asleep (probably because of the drugs) so this means that I got to listen to Lance and correspond with him.

11:15 pm I get up and go to the bathroom. From the bed Lancey comes a callin’ in a voice of annoyance and disgust,

“She’s got green stuff all over her face!”

What?

“She’s got GREEN stuff all over her face!”

Who?

“The baby!”

The baby has green stuff all over her face. Really. How do you know that? Do you think you’re looking at her?

“The tape!”

Okay so she’s got green stuff all over her face and you are looking at her on a tape. A tape, right?

“The pill! Nevermind this is silly.”

Go to sleep, Lance.

After intermittent inappropriate slips of the hand, we reach midnight. Lance is asleep and he’s breathing erratically. He sounded panicked and scared. At first, it scared me but then he started whimpering and it was more pitiful slash wussy slash annoying so I decided to put the poor boy out of his misery and wake him up.

Lance, wake-up you’re freaking out.

“What?”

You are crying and breathing all crazy. What were you dreaming about?

“(mumbly mumbles jibber jabber) Nothing”, he says.

I kept pushing on out of pretend compassion for his distressed state but I more wanted a show because I was bored and lonely.

Lance, tell me what you were dreaming about because you were really upset.

“I was being chased by Jordin Sparks with a gun.”

Jordin Sparks the singer?

“Yeah.”

Why were you crying?

Then he whispered, “Because she was gonna get me.”

I started laughing uncontrollably. Then Lance entered a state of euphoric bliss and he also laughed uncontrollably. I’m not sure if he was awake at this point but it was funny so who needs consciousness?

At some point during the jollies, he woke up and we laughed for about 20 more minutes on and off. Then he said in all seriousness, “Stop laughing I need to sleep.  You’ve been touching me all night and waking me up!” 

Are you kidding me?  You are the one touching me all night like you’re playing slumber tag!

Gotta love sleeping with a crazy man. It was the perfect ending to the ultimate day of a momma single and on the run. I love my crazy husband.

Sticks and Stones

I often wonder what my life would’ve been like if I hadn’t met her.  I think about that more than I should considering how much time has passed.  I can still put myself back on that playground in 6th grade. 

I remember the last day of that school year, dropping to my knees on the dirt by the monkey bars and thanking the Lord that the year was finished.  It was early morning before school started with the dew still on the ground.  I walked to school everyday so no one was there yet.  It was just me, the empty playground, and the early morning sun.  I felt a burden lifting off of me as the last day started but the damage had already been done.  All these years later, the only redemption I see in meeting that person was that it gave me a compassion and love for children who are bullied and I love to counsel those hurting children.

6th grade was one of the hardest years of my life.  I don’t know that this person even knows that it was because of her or if she evens knows how hard it was for me.  And for what?  Why was this year so hard?  Jealousy.  

27 years ago I was born with a gift.  The gift of singing.  I learned very early on that people don’t want good things for others that they want for themselves and people will hate you for it.  Literally hate you.  And she did.  I really think the only thing I did to her was sing.  I went to her birthday party either the year of or the year before and she had a talent show.  I sang Janet Jackson “Again” for my talent alongside of one of my lifelong best friends who did back bends for her performance =0)  We still laugh about that.   The bad news was, I won that talent show at her birthday.  I’m not sure when she would say it started for her but the best I can tell, it happened then.  I’m not sure if she really remembers the details of things she said or how much she hated me.  For her it was expressing her anger.  For me it was picking up a tab of anxiety and creating insecurities in me that would last a lifetime.  My part of it stays with you much longer.  27 years longer.

Specifically, I remember her saying, “I’ll be on my world tour and I’ll see Rebecca flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s and I’ll say…”here’s to your singing!”

I had people come up to me on the playground and say, “Sing Rebecca.” 

If I did I was conceited.  If I didn’t I was “too good” for them.  I couldn’t win.   This became an everyday battle for me and the weapons were the words that look silly in hindsight but words that were meant to wound me.  And they did.

One time a really sweet girl came up to me after being put up to it by that girl and she said, “The only reason you can sing so good is because you try so hard.”

That would make me laugh now except for how bad it hurt me at the time.  I mean, what she said was ridiculous!  Basically, it was a backhanded compliment.  If you can even put those two words together.

McDonald’s, singing well because I tried ‘so hard’ (whatever that means), I’m sure seems like stupid elementary school banter but when you’re young and I guess when you are older too…no matter how ludicrous a comment, you are always hurt by the intent.  You spend your whole life being encouraged by your family and then all the sudden you enter the cruel world of cafeterias and yellow school buses filled with children unattended by their parents and it gets ugly.   All of the sudden, someone tells you you’re defective and it seems so blunt and shocking that it seems like the truth.  Somewhere along the way, you believe it.  You start to think, “My parents just say this and that because they love me but this person has no motivation to protect me so they must be being brutally honest.”  My mom told me then she was jealous but stuck somewhere in a life stage where you don’t have logical reasoning, I couldn’t believe it was that.  It was me.  It had to be.  A gift started to feel like a curse.  A curse that I believed wasn’t even a talent anymore because she told me so.

I picture her in my mind reading this and I think, “If she read this she would probably say this is dumb.  That was a million years ago and we were kids so get over it.”  Partly, that bothers me the most.  Everyone wants validation. Yes, it was a long time ago but time has nothing to do with how it effected you in that moment and those terrible moments build who you are an incident at a time.  Traumatic things take years to get over.  It would be like saying that my parents got divorced when I was ten and because I’m 27 now, it shouldn’t affect me.  Heartbreak from anything is life shaping.  Especially when it lasts a year.  Especially when you are a vulnerable, sensitive child.

I still sing today and it’s still my passion.  I deal with terrible nerves.  I deal with crippling nerves that can butcher any song =0)  It’s much better than it use to be but sometimes I’m about to sing and I feel like those little girls on the playground.  I feel like both of them.  The one that hurt and that one that taunted me.  I don’t hear her voice in my head but rather the echoes of what she made me believe about myself.  She’s kept me off the stage most of my life. 

There are times I’ve just gone for it in an attempt to get over it and it’s helped me heal.  I tried out for a musical in high school.  It was my first audition and first musical.  I got the lead.  My freshmen year in college I sang for a vocal coach in Nashville and within 8 weeks found myself in Atlanta singing for a producer and being offered a deal.  I backed out a week before I signed which is a long story but not one I regret.  I came back home to sing for Campus Crusades for Christ every week at our hometown university.  I sing almost every week at church now.  It’s not that I don’t forgive that girl.  It’s not that she’s kept me from nervously sticking my head out there to sing and be vulnerable to be judged all over again.  It’s just that the ease and pleasure has been sucked out of it and that’s what she meant to happen to me at the time.  I’ve been afraid to succeed.  Afraid to be admired because someone might be jealous.  More afraid to not be admired for it because I will feel like the little girl praying in the dirt who believed that she wasn’t good enough.  I feel afraid that if no one thought I was good, then she was right.  She took my confidence one hateful agonizing day at a time and I’ve been fighting to get it back ever since.

All of that was hard for me to say.  It’s hard for me to accept accomplishments and even harder to say them out loud.  I still feel like she’ll catch me by the swingsets and tell me I’m cocky.  It’s ridiculous.  There is no reason that we should be ashamed of our gifts.  It’s a slap in the face to the Creator who gave that gift to us for His glory and a million ways it could be used while we are here on earth.  I’m fighting with more and more ease at being confident in what I’ve been given and to  just continually go out and use my gift for its purpose.

It hasn’t been easy.  There have been two more girls in my life just like the first one I’ve talked about since then so it’s harder to heal when those forces stay present in your life.  Again, those girls probably don’t know I’m writing about them but their feelings for me have been so strong that they are probably suspicious.  I don’t hate these girls.  Any of them.  I forgive these girls.  It was just very damaging.

Thankfully, the little girl who wounded me so bad in 6th grade apologized to me many years later when we were in late high school.  She told me she was jealous and that she was always so ashamed and that’s why it took her so long to apologize.  Apologies and forgiveness are very soothing and healing to the soul.  I was thankful for that.

I hadn’t seen or heard from that person in 13 years until recently.  Out of no where I got a message from her on Facebook.  It was a nice short message.  The subject: If I was still singing.  I’m sure she has no idea how ironic that was for me and how much she and that same subject matter has effected me since.  But we don’t always know how deep the injuries are we inflict and they are easier to forget when you aren’t the inflicted.  I understand.

So.  Today I find myself with a little girl I fear to send into the treacherous world of 1st through 12th grade.  She will come from two musical parents and I hope she sings so she can give us that spectacular third part harmony when Lance and I sing on our family vacations =0)  There’s still a little part of me that would be afraid for her to have anything about her that stands out.  It’s almost like putting a target on your back in a world where no one wants anyone to have blessings more than they’ve been given. 

I’ll tell her these stories one day.  I’ll tell her that I use to put vegetable soup in the toilet and tell my mom I threw up because I didn’t want to have go to school that day to see what words would be used to gut and ostracize me that particular week.  I’ll tell her those “mean kids” called me one day and tried to ‘befriend’ me and asked me to go to the movies.  I was scared but so desperately wanted to be accepted that I said I would go.  I did all that to hear I was on speakerphone and I heard another kid laughing saying they were going with the “I hate Rebecca” club.  I’ll tell Eden that after that call, I walked into the living room and crumpled in heartbroken tears into my mother’s arms at an age when I was too old and cool to do such a thing.

I’ll tell her she can cry to me when the world and those who inhabit it play rough.  I’ll tell her I’ll protect her.  I’ll remind her of the truth and who God says she is.  Tell her it’s okay to sing.  It’s okay to crumple. And I’ll tell her when it’s all said and done, you’ll be just fine and doing the same thing for your daughter one day in a kitchen somewhere.   

What a life we have to live and hurt through to end up as women to help our children live through all the same things we are still trying to get over. 

I look at her teensy eyes and wonder what her life will bring.  The people she will meet.  The people that will hurt her.  The moments that will define her by monkey bars and in high school hallways and offices as she ages.I wonder who she’ll be and what gifts the Lord has given her to make her special.  I pray she never finds herself hurting alone on a playground at dawn but I know pain will inevitably come somewhere, sometime, somehow, by some person.  And when it does, I’ll be right there with her with dirty knees by the hopscotch squares thanking the Lord that it’s all over when it passes.  What a grace that all things pass and what a God who makes all ugly and damaging things beautiful in its own time.  One day.  One year.  One song at a time.

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