Both.

Ever since my oldest daughter started 4k, if you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up she’d always say a “mom.” Of course this filled my heart with joy because what better compliment than that, right? For career day in kindergarten, she went with her baby strapped to her tummy and diaper bag slung over her shoulder.

A few months ago, she came home from school with a drawing of her with a dolphin and declared, “I’m going to be a dolphin trainer when I grow up!” Of course I thought this was great and a creative career choice. “I need to learn to jump off the diving board, you know, for when I am a dolphin trainer,” she’d said this past summer. She even received a dolphin trainer barbie as a gift. “You know that means you’ll have to move far away from mom and dad,” my husband said to her at one point. “I know, but you’ll come visit me,” she answered nonchalantly.

A few weeks ago for career night at Wednesday night church, she eagerly planned to wear a snorkel mask and bring a stuffed dolphin. But that evening as we prepared to leave, she became quiet and worry swept over her face. Something was wrong, I thought. Her voice quivered a bit as she spoke, “Mom?” “What’s the matter?” I asked. Her voice was soft and slow. “Well, I think I want to be a mom instead.”

In the split second before responding, a million thoughts raced through my head. Here is one of those defining moments in parenthood, I thought. One of those times where my answer is really important.

*****

I wanted to tell her that I wouldn’t trade the path I chose for anything, but you, my daughter, can choose your own path. It doesn’t have to be mine, and I’ll love you and support you through it all. It’s okay to want to have a career that you love and kids too. Or have kids and no career. Being a mom is a joy that cannot be explained, but it’s okay if you don’t want to be a mom when you grow up. It’s okay if you do.

To my children, I’ll always be mom first, before anything else. While, I am okay with that and I love being a mom, that’s not all that I am. And you, my child, if you choose to be a mother- that will not be all that you are either.

You are strong, smart, capable and confident. You can absolutely be “other things” without betraying your motherhood. Be a dolphin trainer, a scientist, a teacher, a doctor, a writer- please, chase after those dreams and fight for them. Those goals and dreams, that desire to “be” is what makes you, you. You don’t have to give up on your dreams you are running after in order to be a mom. You are not less of a mother if you have a career, and you aren’t more of a mom if you don’t.

If you decide to be a career mom, you are not alone if you are exhausting yourself trying to give both your work and your family one hundred percent. Here’s a little secret-whatever you are giving to each side- it’s enough. Let the rest of it just be. And breathe, mama.

And if you decide to be a stay-at-home-mom you are not the only one on a difficult day wondering, as you stand over the sink eating cold mac n’ cheese for lunch with your toddler begging for “uppy,” while hearing yet another sibling fight, how can I do this one more day? 

Mothering is in no way glamorous, career or no career aside. It’s marathon nursing sessions, a sink of dirty dishes, piles of laundry, in which you actually ponder if death-by-laundry is possible. It’s cold coffee, yoga pants, lunch packing and grocery store tantrums. It is holy work.

But it is also bedtime stories, sand castle building and Candyland playing. It’s singing littles to sleep, pillow fort making, sloppy kiss and gigantic hug giving. Its bouncy curls, homemade crafts, Christmas concerts, nature walks and piggy back rides. And a house full of laughter.

You see, becoming a mother adds a layer of richness to your life; it fills a part of your heart that you didn’t even know exisited. But it doesn’t take away from who you were before. That person still exists too. She may become lost in motherhood for a while, but she’s still there.

*****

I wanted to tell her all of this, but instead, I looked her in eyes with a smile on my face and said, ” My sweet girl, you don’t have to choose.” Her head perked up with a glimmer in her eyes and a slight smile crept across her face. “I can be both?” She asked. “Yes, you can be both!” I answered. With a sigh of relief and a huge grin on her face, “okay,” she said excitedly, “then I want to be both!”

Satisfied and joyful, off she went- the future dolphin trainer AND mom. And my heart is full. ❤️

xo, Becca

 

 

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Great Moms and Grocery Stores

An elderly woman stopped me in the egg aisle at the grocery store this week in the middle of my toddler’s screaming meltdown. He was in a timeout for throwing the pack of hot dogs at his sister’s face.

To be honest, when she came towards me, I wanted to turn the other way-the last thing I needed was someone giving me parenting advice during this “situation,” or smiling telling me, “it goes so fast,” (because yes, in this moment, I hope it does) or “one day you’ll miss this,” (because I seriously doubt I’ll miss screaming children in the middle of the grocery store), Instead, I took a deep breath and braced myself for whatever snarky comment was coming.

But instead, you know what she told me? “You are a great mom.” She didn’t even know me, and yet, here she was speaking truth into me at the exact moment I needed to hear it. And if I am honest, some days I feel anything but.

***

Motherhood is a lot of pushing off selfishness and pride, self sacrificing to the brink of a complete breakdown, and daily mental and physical exhaustion. It is also a lot of praying for grace, patience, joy and love. So often I feel unworthy, undeserving, and unqualified for motherhood. I know these are lies that the enemy uses to taunt me, weigh me down, and guilt me. I know these are untruths, but yet, somehow I still allow myself to believe them when I am having a hard day of mothering.

I made an ABC list recently to remind myself who God says I am. When I feel like I cannot do this gig one more minute or feel burdened by lies, I remember the truths of who God says I am. After reciting these, a few deep breaths, and perhaps a sip of coffee or a piece of chocolate, I carry on. So I promise, you can too.

Anointed

Beautiful

Chosen

Delivered

Even me

Forgiven

Grace given

His child

In his sight-perfect

Justified

Kingdom bound

Loved

Mercy given

New life

Owned by God

Paid with a price

exQuisite

Redeemed

Saved by sacrifice

Trusted

United

Victorious

Wisdom thru Christ

eXempt from hell

Younique

Zero without God

****

I smiled at the woman, thinking to myself how grateful I was that I didn’t walk away. Tears filled my eyes, “thank you,” I said. She reminded me of a truth I often don’t allow myself to believe or forget amid the chaos of motherhood.

She had no idea how much I needed to hear those words, how it encouraged me all day, or how it snapped me out of my frustration over (another) public toddler meltdown. So to the woman at the grocery store, thank you, you will not soon be forgotten.

I am not sharing this story in anyway to “toot my own horn” or to seek compliments on my mothering. I am certainly “a work in progress” with way too many flaws to list. But I am sharing for moms in this same stage as me, where both the best part and hardest part of motherhood is being needed all.the.time, when you are so exhausted by the weight of motherhood, you just want to curl up in a ball and ugly cry, and where your life, time, and body is not your own-you are a great mom. Don’t believe the lies the enemy puts inside your head or the snarky comments from naysayers. Remember the ABC Truth list of who God says you are. You are not failing, you are enough and your are worthy.

I am also sharing for the moms past this stage in life with grown kids and empty nests, look for the young moms at the store, in a crowd, or at a restaurant. Build her up, encourage her, smile and say, “I understand.” I promise, you will make us cry and our day. ❤️

xo, Becca

Tennis Shoe Trust

School mornings around here are always hectic. On any given morning my tasks include pouring ceral, brushing hair (“pink bow, mom!”), packing lunches, finding that missing mitten while carrying a cranky toddler, handling at least one tantrum about a “bump in my sock,” and telling my children at least 237 times to put on their shoes. No matter how prepared I am the night before, the morning always ends in a mad dash to get out the door on time for school drop-off.

I go through a mental checklist in my head. Backpack? Check. Lunch? Check. Pink folder? Check. Snow gear? Wait. It is finally warm out. No snow gear. Is it Thursday, do we need show-and-tell? No, it’s Monday. Oh! That means we need library book! Sweatshirt? Check. Tennis shoes? Check.

Except on this particular morning, I forgot the mental checklist. After school drop-off, I took the younger children to the playground for a playdate. It was lunchtime when we arrived home at which point I noticed a missed call on my phone. School called. Oh no!  I thought as I started listening to the voicemail. Savannah forgot her tennis shoes…wearing sandals…please bring for recess…

I glance at my watch. 11:44. Recess is in 14 minutes. “Kids, we need to go!” I say to my other ones in the middle of eating lunch. We scramble to jump in the car. My two year old crying because he is mid-chew. “Savannah needs her shoes for the playground.” I explain in the car.

Ugh. This is the second time this year we have forgotten her tennis shoes. I hope we make it in time, I think as we pull into the parking lot. As we enter the school, I see they are still eating lunch. The receptionist kindly tells me I may take her shoes to her.  As we enter the cafeteria, the kids and I scan the tables for her. And there in the back at the hot lunch table, I see her. And she has a huge grin on her face once she sees us. We deliver her shoes, and Savannah is happy. “My shoes! Thank you, Mommy! I can play on the playground!” She exclaims. She hugs me. We chat with her friends for a few minutes. The girls squeal over her “cute” baby brother.

That was close, I think as we make our way home. I am relieved. I made it in time. I didn’t let her down. She can count on me. And my heart feels full.

The day carried on without incident and on our walk home from school I asked Savannah if she was worried Mommy wouldn’t bring her shoes to school. “No.” She said immediately. “You brought them last time I forgot. So I knew you would bring them to me,” she said as she skipped off down the road.

I knew you would bring them, I repeated back to myself. Her words hanging in the air. She trusted me. Even though it was in the final hour that she needed her shoes, she believed I would bring them. There was no worry. No doubt. No fear.

And right there, I realized I could learn a lot about trust from my kindergartner. She trusted me fully with her whole heart. She believed in me. Can I say the same about trusting my heavenly father? How often do I question God? How often do I worry about plans, relationships, finances, health issues. I ask and ask. Are you sure God, I ask again. Are you listening God? Is it time yet, God? Any minute now, God? I worry. I rant. I stress. I doubt. I get anxious in the waiting on God. In the trusting.

But do you trust me? He whispers.

What if the answer I am waiting for is not about the answer, but in the actual waiting. Waiting so I can actually trust him. Trust. Him. That he knows. He hears. He answers. He always provides. Maybe the answers come once I finally let go.

But do you trust me? He whispers.

What if I trusted God as fully as my daughter trusted in me to bring her shoes? What if I never doubted God and his timing as my daughter never doubted mine? Has he not demonstrated through past answered prayers that he will always come through for me as I had done for my daughter? Yes. Always. 

But still, I let my imperfect, broken, sinner flesh dictate my feelings and actions instead of handing it to God and saying, Here God. You got this for me. I. Trust. You. 

But do you trust me? He whispers again.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

This verse doesn’t say to trust God with part of your heart and only acknowledge him some of the time. But with all your heart in all your ways. I am working on having “tennis shoe” trust in God with everything from a close parking spot at the grocery store on a rainy day with kids in tow to big life altering events–like preschool closings. And in doing so, he will lead me on the right path.

And the next time one of my children forgets their shoes, lunch, homework, or mittens, (because I know there will be a next time) it will remind me to keep trusting God in the midst of whatever struggle I may be facing.

My five-year-old taught me an invaluable lesson about trust that day. And I know that inevitably there will be a day that I fail one of my children-even with my best efforts-because I am human and imperfect. But she can always count on God. We both can. He will always be there. He never disapoints. He never falls short. He never leaves. He never fails.

xo, Becca

Lost and Found

Occasionally in conversations with other moms I am asked, “Was adding one child, two or number three to the family most difficult? For me, the answer is always the same. The first one.

She is how I became lost in motherhood.

Sometimes the most difficult times are the ones we are most grateful for in retrospect because they push us and change us.

If I am honest, for months after my first baby was born, I mourned the loss of my “old”, easy, independent life. I wanted to be everything I was before being a mom, but the reality was-everything had changed. had changed.

Before babies I was confident my life would not change for a baby. “The baby will fit into my life,” I famously declared when I was pregnant. But then she was here. And everything was different. My compass pointed in all the directions I said I would never go- sacrificing myself for the joy of this precious baby girl. My path of plans so clearly defined before becoming a mother- climb the corporate ladder to be a managing editor, continue to travel the world, win my age bracket in a triathlon, and basically be a self-absorbed, self-serving human (wow, that does not feel good to write)-but that was no longer the road I wanted to follow.

I traded in drinks for marathon nursing sessions, early morning spin for 5am baby snuggles, Good Morning America for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, lounging on the couch on a Saturday afternoon for the floor filled with Legos and Candyland, pedicures for doctor appointments. Pencil skirts and pumps for yoga pants and messy buns. Margaritas and appetizers for strong coffee and Cheerios.

Motherhood is humbling, isn’t it?

Some days, I am so lost in this season of life, so deep in the trenches with my littles, caring, teaching, shaping these little humans into who they’re meant to be that I don’t even know which way is up. How did I get here? I wonder. I am so lost in this life.

I spend my days smashing peas, playing Duck, Duck, Goose, reading Go Dog Go, singing the ABC’s for the millionth time, wiping floors, washing sippy cups, kissing faces and matching socks. This is motherhood, and it is beautiful, isn’t it?

Somewhere under the spit up, swaddle blankets, 3am feedings, toddler tantrums, spilled milk, lullabies, and sleep deprivation; I am still me, I think to myself.

Some days, I catch a glimpse of my former self from a song on the radio, a drive by of a familiar restaurant, a peek at a sundress tucked in the back of my closet, an old pair of running shoes.

I am the same but also different. All the selfish and self-absorbed parts are gone-motherhood takes that from you, and isn’t that a blessing? Motherhood has made me a better person, but in some ways worse because patience. The struggle is real, ya’ll! But really, my capacity to love exceeds my wildest dreams, my ability to forgive is more than I thought possible, my desire to give grace to them and my husband is paramount, and my protective instinct is fierce when it comes to my children.

You see, I had to get lost in order to find all of this.

Are you lost in motherhood too, Momma? I am telling you, it is okay, to be lost in this place. One day, you will run again, you will attend yoga classes, go out for a girls night sans baby, enjoy a date night out with your husband, finish that novel on your nightstand. I promise, you will come up for air, sooner than you realize.

But for now, be lost. I cannot think of a more beautiful thing to loose yourself in than in motherhood.

xo, Becca

 

 

The Sweet Spot

In tennis the sweet spot is the location on your racket if in which the ball is struck will result in the ball rebounding with greater velocity than if struck on any other part of the racket. In other words, it basically is the perfect hit.

***

At dinner every night we recently started asking the kids two questions. What was the best part about your day? and What was the worst part about your day? And let me tell you, my children love this. Seriously. One of my daughters has taken it upon herself to lead these questions every night, asking each person with unconstrained excitement. We all listen intently, laugh at the silly answers and talk about the sad ones. We reflect on how a timeout could have been prevented, why your sister made you feel sad, who was the Uno! champion, and how did you show kindness.

Last night as we were taking turns answering these questions, I looked around the table at my husband and each of my children. All three children were eating their food with no complaining, we were having real conversations as opposed to squabbles about how many bites to eat. No one spilled their milk. I didn’t have to cut the grapes in half. We were laughing at my toddler’s silly faces. I didn’t race to scarf down my food to tend to a crying or nursing baby.  It was just so…pleasant.

And in that moment I realized, I think we have [finally] entered the sweet spot.

In motherhood, the sweet spot is after the baby phase and before the teenage years. Right now my kids are almost 6, 4 and 2. Old enough to play nicely without mom refereeing every move. They all can use words to communicate, no more endless cries and super ninja tricks to decipher their needs. There are no other babies on the way so none of that pregnancy drama. We are no longer dictated by a nursing and multiple naps-a-day baby schedule. I can *sometimes* leave the house without my diaper bag and it not be a total disaster. My girls are actually helpful with small tasks and chores around the house. My former Velcro baby no longer cries while in Sunday school. My children sleep all. night. long. Need I say more?

We have not yet entered the “mom is not cool” phase, and my kids still prefer to hang out with me. I know this will not last forever. But of course, I will not complain if they “skip” this phase. Problems can be solved easily-which movie to watch, which dress should I wear, which snack should I eat? No mean girl or boyfriend-stealing drama. No curfew abusing or worry about friend choices and drivers licenses. Enough said!

We can spend hours playing at the park or a day at the zoo and my kids are so excited. I declare one night, it is a “two scoop” kind of ice cream night and my daughter shouts, “Best Day Ever!” Yup, I agree. These days. They are! My children right now are easy to please, they hang on my every word, and little simple joys are their biggest delight.

These are the days right now. The sweet spot days. The ones I am storing up for when I am old and wrinkly. The ones I will look back on with nostalgia.

I am in no way saying that I don’t have hard days in this season. Because, trust me, I do. Last week I had three sick kids, and let me tell you something-I was exhausted and totally over all of it. It’s just that now, the good days outnumber the bad days.

I am not foolish enough to believe these days will last forever. One day, I will have three teenagers at the same time. And I know from my mom friends with older kids, that will be no easy feat. I know motherhood will get harder again before I can blink, so until then, I am soaking up these sweet, sweet days.

We went to our first ever family movie a couple of weeks ago. All three children not only made it through the entire movie, they sat well, engaged in the experience of “going to the movies.” It was so glorious!

I used to imagine that one day, a day like that would come, when I wouldn’t be elbow deep in newborn blowouts or round the clock nursing. Back in the days when I looked forward to bedtime because that meant morning coffee would soon follow. When my husband and I used to divide and conquer kids, passing the baton in a relay race where we rarely had time or energy for an uninterrupted conversation.

And now, all of a sudden, here we are, the sweet spot, all together at the movies.

Little victories. Simple joys. These are the days. And they are so so sweet.

xo, Becca

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

IMG_1395

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