The Ordinary

This photo. There is nothing particularly exciting or profound about it at first glance. In fact, after we took it, I wanted to instagram it but I couldn’t come up with the right caption because it was, well, ordinary.

It is just a regular photo, and there is nothing about it that screams “photo op.” My littlest two and I were being silly on the couch just before naps when my daughter announced, “take our picture mommy!” So I did. And yet, the picture after several days was still nagging at me because I couldn’t figure out why I loved it so much.

And then I realized why. Because it is the ordinary, simple, million insignificant moments that make up motherhood. The quick snapshots in our minds of a kind word spoken, a kiss to our children, a hand to hold, extending grace, sharing a belly laugh and a silly face, that can easily just pass us by if we aren’t watching.

Little moments are the ones I will myself to remember because they can so quickly be forgotten among the big  “fancy” family adventures. While there is nothing wrong with said adventures, these little moments in time are where tiny hearts are shaped, lessons are taught, relationships bonded, lives are lived-in the ordinary, simple, regular days of motherhood.

Celebrate the ordinary with your little ones today, for when you store those days in your heart they make up one extraordinary life.

xo, becca

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This Act of Worship

If you have read any of my other blog posts, you’d know by now that motherhood has profoundly impacted my life and changed me for the better. It’s my greatest accomplishment and my favorite part about this one life God has given me.

But motherhood is also my biggest struggle. It encompasses my greatest fears and failures. We get this one life and one chance to raise our children. I am constantly evaluating myself. Am I doing it right? Am I doing enough? Am I raising kids who are brave, kind and will love Jesus?

Somedays, if I am honest, are long and exhausting and thankless. Somedays my kids don’t nap. Somedays the house is a disaster. Somedays we eat mac ‘n cheese for dinner. Somedays I hide in the bathroom for a minute and eat chocolate. Somedays I don’t do anything right. Somedays are just hard. And if you think you are the only one with hard days, I am telling you now, you are not alone.

Somedays I ask myself does any of this even matter? The thousand small, unseen and thankless acts in my motherhood journey that I do every day? The answer is yes; it matters. All of it. The face wiping, the lunch packing, the baby swaddling, the crust cutting.

One day last week while I washed dishes, folded laundry and wiped noses, I took these questions to Jesus. And he reminded me of this verse, The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

Notice that the verse does not say, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, I am grateful for.” Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.

So when I am consumed by motherhood and the seemingly mundane daily tasks that go along with it, I am reminded by Jesus that motherhood is my act of worship to him right now. In little daily moments, I am serving the kingdom of God as a

Changer of diapers

Kisser of boo-boos

Reader of bedtime stories

Maker of lunches

Wiper of sticky hands

Player of Candyland

Pusher of swings and maker of snowballs

Keeper of secrets

Singer of lullabies

Disciplinary of tantrums and mender of hearts

Raiser of tiny humans to know and love Jesus

So when I worship the Lord in all of these motherhood “jobs,” they take on a much greater spiritual and eternal significance. Why? Because I am not doing it purely for my children, I am doing it to serve God. I am serving him personally through each one of these tasks. God entrusted three incredible people to my husband and me to care for, to teach, to love. And the best way I can serve God in this season is to be their mom.

I am worshiping him daily through this gift of motherhood. Sacrificing myself and delighting in them. It is hard and messy and exhausting and consuming. But it is also beautiful, and fulfilling, and important. Yes, there is failure and tears, but there is also grace and joy and love. So much love.

xo,

Becca

Embracing the Crumbs

Crumbs. The story of my life right now. Messy floors, sticky hands, spilled milk and crumbs- on my floors, table, in my diaper bag and in my car.

Just today my younger two were eating a snack, while I furiously cleaned across the house. I hear them laughing and talking. And it is joyful. “Mommy!” I heard one call. “I need more crackers.” As I walk into the kitchen, I see disaster-crumbs all over the table, floors and faces. Breathe. I tell myself. They are just crumbs, I remind myself.

Isn’t this motherhood with small children? Cleaning one mess just to discover a new one?

I pause. Willing myself to remember this- the crumbs and their messy, smiling faces. One day they won’t need me, I think. One day their hands won’t need wiping and the floors won’t need sweeping. One day my house will be clean-and stay clean. But when the crumbs are gone, so will be their little hands, chubby cheeks and sibling giggles. I will miss the mess.

And the verse Luke 2:19 comes to mind. “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” 

What if we look at motherhood as Mary did and not just for the big moments but the crumbs too? Soak in the mess, the sticky, the hard and the sweet tiny faces. Treasure these moments, as Mary did. Ponder them in your heart. Be present with your children every day.

I’ll take crumbs any day, anytime, if it means I get to be a mom to my precious children. My children are my greatest gift. So embrace the crumbs. Clean houses are overrated anyway.

xo,

Becca

The Death of a Friendship

It was 2008. We met in spin class. In between sprints and mountian climbs, we bonded over The Bachelor, dogs and our love for J.Crew. We became fast friends, which was a welcomed blessing after my husband and I had recently relocated and knew exactly nobody in our new city.

We met religiously three times a week at spin class, where we’d sweat out life’s problems, and routinely be yelled at by instructors for the incessent talking amongst us. She shared with me how her sister-in-law was dying of cancer and about her own infertility journey. I divulged equally private issues. We listened, cried and laughed together.

Over the course of three years, we did more than just “spin,” we Christmas shopped, had doggie playdates, emailed back and forth, before texting was a “thing,” and exchanged birthday presents. Our husbands became friends too, and we’d meet for dinner some nights or they’d come over and play cards. She cheered me on during my trialthon races, back when I actually did that, and our husbands completed a trialthon relay race together. She watched our labrodoodle, Sierra, numerous times when we went on vacations. I brought her a beaded bracelet back from Maui.

We were basically inseperable. She was more than a best friend. She was the big sister I had always wanted. She was older than me by about fifteen years, if I had to guess, but I never did muster up the courage to ask her age.

She was the first non-family member I told I was pregnant. And I was so nervous to do so given her infertility background. She and her husband were not able to have children. But she was so happy and joyful for me. She was encouraging along the journey and so genuinely excited for us. She and her husband even came to the hospital when our first child was born, bearing gifts and flowers, and enjoyed some baby snuggles.

But as the year progressed, I noticed a change in our friendship. It is no surprise that Savannah’s first year was undoubtly the hardest year of my life. She cried a lot, daycare was horribly hard for me, she had too may ear infections to count, and I was bascially a hot mess. I needed my mom, who lives half way across the country, and I had nobody. My friend pulled away, at the very time I desperately needed someone.

I know to her, someone who couldn’t have children, I probably looked like a disaster. Which I wouldn’t deny, so I tried to be sensitive to her, given her infertility journey and how she must have felt. And now I had a baby, and it was a challenge. But I gave her the benefit of the doubt many times and continued to reach out to get together, to walk to dogs, come over to dinner. But I felt the distance starting.

The next year, once Savannah turned one, I felt my life was turning a corner. I could “see the light” at the end of the tunnel, and I was no longer a “clueless” new mom. I was excited to tell my friend, while we were on a walk one day, that I was pregnant with number two.

And her reaction was less than thrilled for me, and I’ll never forget it. I’m so surprised. Wow. I am just so surprised. That was all she said, but it was also how she sounded with her judgy tone when she said it. Like how can you possibly have another child when appears you cannot even handle one?

When I had told my husband about it, he said, Oh, you are reading too much into it. She couldn’t possibly think that. You are over analyzing. 

So as the months progressed, I saw her almost not at all. I started to notice she began treating me like other people she no longer wanted to associate with, which I had witnessed first hand a couple times over the course of our friendship. I mentioned to my husband that I was starting to think my initial analysis of that conversation was correct.

She no longer attended spin. She blew me off when I had tried to schedule dog walking dates, she never emailed anymore, and if I emailed her, response times were very long. She no longer was able to watch our dog on our annual Christmas vacation to see my family. She was just distant, and there was an awkward feeling in the air the few times I did see her.

I made a last stitch effort once my second child was born to see if she wanted to come snuggle the baby. Surely, she’d want to see us, right? She did end up stopping by briefly, to see Scarlett. But, in an odd sense, the visit felt like a goodbye. And my husband, who was also there, agreed that the visit felt final. There was no, let’s get together soon, or come over while you are on maternity leave. It was just over.

It has almost been four years, and I have not seen her again. And in hindsight, if I had known that was the end, I would have tried to save it. Asked her how we can salvage this friendship because it is too important for me to let go of.

Not every friendship is “friends forever,” and I get that, but this one felt so personal. She just cut me off without so much as an explanation. I didn’t want it to end. It wasn’t just a friendship where someone moves away, or you naturally drift apart, or mutually just go your seperate ways. I have had those friendships too, and it has not saddened me. I know that not every friendship stands the test of time or circumstances, but this one should have. It was deep enough to and yet, somehow, it still died. And I don’t know why, but I feel responsibile for that.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to run into her somewhere. Would we be friends again? Probably not. But I would love to tell her that I am sorry our friendship ended. And that it took me a little while to figure out being a mom, but I am OK at it now (most days, anyway). And I do not harbor any ill will towards her, but I wish the best for her.

And I miss her.

To be honest, it took me a couple years to open up and find other friends to invest in after this. I was afraid of being hurt and having the rug pulled out from under me again.

I realize now that I cannot control other people’s actions or feelings toward me. All I can do is be myself, be real with those I care about, give grace, be kind and show love. And if that is not enough than there is nothing more I can do. I have some wonderful women in my life now. And they are friends and a couple of sisters-in-law who get me and require no explanation of circumstances. They are kind, supportive and refrain from judgment. They love me and my flaws on good days and bad days. And I am so thankful for them. You know who you are.

xo,

Becca

I Almost Missed It

“Mom, my tummy hurts. And I can’t sleep,” said my big girl after I had alrady tucked and retucked all the kids in bed for the night.

I looked up from my phone in the kitchen, from the texts I was catching up on. And in that split second before I answered her, I had a choice to make. How was I going to respond?

My initial thoughts were those of frustration. Not this tonight. Please. After the demands and needs from my kids All. Day. Long. I am done. I am so tired from being needed, climbed on, whined at, tantrumed at. For the love, please go to bed. My timecard is full. With a husband who has been working 60 hour weeks for months, I live for the evenings so I can have a break, a moment of silence, so I can wake up and be a mom again tomorrow.

Often I am trying to distinguish the tears, bumps, bruises, and tummy aches from real or “fake” problems. Many times my patience runs thin on this front because the tears are all too frequent from my kids. Before you think I am being insensitive, the bigger picture here is I am teaching my kids to be brave and not to worry aout the little things. But this also means I, as the mom, have to help them recognize when it is a “big” thing.

So I looked at my big girl and instead of dismissing her back to bed, so I could have me time, as I have done before, something stopped me this time. This might be a “big” thing, I thought. I put down my phone, went with her into her room, laid in bed wth her, and asked her to tell me more abut her tummy ache.

“Do you feel sick?” No.

“Do you need to throw up?” No.

“Are you hungry?” No.

“Are you worried or nervous about something?” Long pause.

And right here is where I almost missed a moment with my big girl had I sent her back to bed.

Her voice quivered a bit, and she explained some worries she has about the playground at school. I listened. We talked. I offered advice. Slowly her confidence started to build and excitment crept into her voice. I could see her worries melting away.

“Can you stay awhile, Mom? Until I fall asleep?” She asked.

We snuggled and spent a little extra time, just the two of us, in the stillness of the night. Something we almost never do because she is not a snuggler, and there are two others also clammoring for my attention. I soaked in all this goodness and stored it away in my memory for safe keeping. This far trumped any of my own selfish evening plans.

I laid there long after she had fallen asleep with my hand still firmly in her grasp. Thankful for the moment- that I almost missed. Thankful for being needed. Thankful she shares her fears and worries with me. Thankful I am her mom.

How many more opportunities will I have like this? And how many have I already missed? I wondered. Please God, don’t let me be so busy, tired, distracted that I miss anymore, I prayed.

And this? Motherhood at its finest. Those little unexpected nuggets of time sometimes we forget to see amongst the busyness, the chaos, the crying, the exhaustion. These moments we tuck away and savor during the really hard ugly days of motherhood. This is one of those times, I thought, that will carry me through the really hard days which, if I am honest, are more often than I would like to admit.

I won’t soon forget tonight- a sweet, seemingly ordinary moment that was anything but, that almost passed me by.

xo,

Becca

An open letter to the woman who shamed my toddler and me at church

To the woman at church who shamed me for bringing my toddler to the worship service,

You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. So I won’t stoop to your level and pass judgement on you as you have upon my child and me. But I will say this…You were out of line. 

You told me my child was a distraction to many people in the service, and that you were glad I finally stepped out to change his diaper. And that you were going to ask me to leave. Yup. You actually said that to my face. I promptly hurried off to the bathroom with tears stinging my eyes. Appalled at what had just happened.

And if I had not been so shell shocked by your hurtful words I would have said this to you…

You had absolutely no idea what it took to get out the door to get to church this morning. Rounding up three kids on a Sunday morning is no easy feat. One fought me on which dress to wear and another on how her hair was to be done. My toddler clung to me with every step, like a koala, begging and crying to be picked up. On top of that, kids needed teeth brushed, shoes on, diaper bag needed packing and snack cups and water bottles needed filling. Not to mention I needed to get ready, myself.

Once a month, my husband serves on the audio/video team and let me tell you, it means the entire family serves. By that, I mean, while he serves, I fly solo at church. We eat breakfast at church (a total lifesaver), and I take them to the bathroom, drop the older two at Sunday school, while lugging my “velcro baby” and diaper bag in tow.

I sit with my toddler in the back of the service. He is a stage four clinger, and cries if I leave him in nursery. Armed with my bag of tricks, we settle in for the service. For the most part, he is content. We sit and look at books quietly, he plays with his cars, sucks his paci, and stuffs his face with crackers. Sometimes he fidgets, makes a “joyful” noise, says “mama” or lets out a loud squeal. BUT he is 19 months old! What more can you expect? If he cries, I promptly take him out of the service. But today, he NEVER cried. Loud? Yes. Cry? No.

I can’t even tell you what the sermon was about most weeks because I am too focused on keeping my toddler happy, as quiet as possible and content. I leave feeling less than fulfilled and exhausted. What is it about going to church solo makes me feel as if I have just run a marathon?

It would absolutely be 100% easier not to go to church on weeks where I do it alone. A lazy Sunday morning in our jammies, watching a show with my kids, snuggled on the bed. No race or rush off to get ready for church. But no, I go because it is important to me and important for my KIDS to learn about Jesus, how to worship him, and that Jesus loves THEM.

Yes, church is hard now, but it matters-teaching them that God love us-all the time. Children are part of the church too, and they are the future of the church. Do you really want to push their mothers, who are raising up the next generation, away?

You see, all you thought about was yourself and what church was going to offer you, and apparently a joyful toddler in the service was not part of your “plan.” What if you, instead, asked, ” How can I be a blessing to others?” And what if, in place of passing judgement on my toddler, you prayed for him and me?

Church, above all, should be a place where grace abounds, love overflows and kindness runs rampant. And you have, sadly, fallen short of displaying any of these things.

Imagine, for a moment, if I had been a single mom coming to church for the first time, instead of a long time church goer. And if that was the response given to someone looking for love, looking to belong, looking to understand what Jesus is about. Think about a first-time attender being treated like that. She’d probably NEVER come back and it could be the difference in her and her child spending eternity with Jesus.

And this is tragic.

So thank you for solidifying my biggest fear, and the source of most of my anxiety in coming to church. And that is that my child is a distraction to others. If I was not a strong woman, I would probably crumple into a ball and forget church completely, but I love Jesus, you see. And if I let you stop me from coming then Satan AND you, win.

So, my toddler and I will see you next week. Hopefully, we are sitting next to you, and some of my toddler’s “joy” rubs off on you.

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to those such as these.” Matthew 19: 14

xoxo, Becca

 

 

Confessions of a First-Time Kindergarten Mom

My mom has told the story of when she dropped me off at my first day of kindergarten for years. And how when she was crying in the parking lot a woman asked, “Why are you crying? You have more children at home.” I think the comment bothered my mom for years, and I admittedly never understood why on earth would my mom be crying about me going to school or why that woman’s comment upset my mom. Until now.

Twenty seven years later, I understand now, Mom! Funny how sometimes it takes us years to understand our wise mothers. Sending off your child to school is bittersweet no matter if it is your first, second, or last child because you love them, you want the best for them, you worry about them,  you will miss them. More children at home does not in any way dimish the significance of ushering another one into school. It is a milestone for that child. And now it all makes sense, Mom.

So now, here I am, a first-time kindergarten Mom, and I have ALL the feelings. Joy for my girl because she is SO ready. Peace because I know in my heart that she is going to rock school. Worry that she will be okay without me. Grief because I hate change. And let’s be honest, this is a BIG change. Sad because I will miss her and because this means I have to let go a little more. AGAIN.

We went school supply shopping today–finally. Something I had put off for weeks because I was in denial that this is where we are at. I know this is the next natural step for her. I could see the joy and anticipation in her face as she picked out her pencils, markers and 20 glue sticks. (seriously, why so many glue sticks?) But as the mom, it is never easy to let go.

With each milestone, I see that I have to let go a little more so they can grow and be strong without me. And this is HARD. But they need me, I rationalize. Well, yes that is true, but not always in the same way, you see. It is our job as mothers to guide them, teach them, encourage them, love them, but not hold them back from who they are meant to be. We have to loosen the grip so one day they will fly. 

I am excited for my girl, really! But at the same time, I am, selfishly, sad for me. The first day of kindergarten is as much about the Moms (and Dads) as it is about the children. Because for the kids, it is about the beginning of the “school days” chapter, until graduation, which I will completely ignore, for now.

And for the moms, it is the realization that daily life as we have always known it, will never be the same. And that is why I fight the tears from falling. It is a reminder that my children will always be growing. Even though some days feel like they last forever, each day ends and another begins and time carries on.

The days of all three of my littles at home with me everyday are done. It is the end of an era. A chapter in my life that was both filled with the greatest joys and also some of the darkest days. Are we really here, already? And I am just a little bit nostalgic about it all. We get one shot at being a mom and doing it “right.” So now I sit here and question everything these last five years.

Did I teach her enough?

Did I prepare her enough?

Did we laugh enough?

Did we read enough?

Did we snuggle enough?

Did I encourage her enough?

Did I do ENOUGH?

And then I hear the little voice in my head. Relax Momma. You DID enough. You taught her enough. You prepared her enough. You laughed enough. You read enough. You snuggled enough. You encouraged her enough. Now LET GO, Momma. She’s got this and so do you.

So on the first day of school, I’ll pack a carefully planned lunch, make an extra special breakfast, pick out the perfect photo-worthy outfit, take a thousand pictures with her chalkboard sign and walk her bravely into school. I’ll smile and tell her I am SO proud of her and that she is going to have so much fun and that I love her to heaven and back. Then I will kiss her goodbye and let go of her hand so she can grow up a little bit more.

And once I am sure she cannot see me anymore, I will almost certainly burst into tears.

xoxo, Becca