Beautiful Mess

Messy houses and motherhood go together like peanut butter and jelly. You cannot have one without the other. Somedays the messes are never ending and overwhelming. But look closer Mama, and you will see something beautiful.

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Those cracker crumbs on the floor are what is left from your giggling tea party with your preschooler. Where you both dressed up in fancy hats, and sipped apple juice in your grandmother’s teacups because those cups never get used enough. You both said silly words like “scrumptious” and “divine,” and you wondered if you’d ever laughed so hard. Ever.

The glitter on the table still lingering after three days is from your Valentine’s Day heart craft. You and your kids made cards for Daddy because he works so hard for the family. You talked about why you all love Daddy and used ALL. THE. GLITTER. because hearts can never have too much sparkle.

The snowpants and boots by the front door- the remnants of the kids squealing about waking up to the season’s first snowfall. You and the kids sledded a hundred times or more down the hill in your yard. After each run, giggles and smiles saying “Again! Mommy!” Because how can you NOT?

The pile of books laying next to your son’s bed is evidence of before bedtime snuggles where you read “Little Blue Truck” ten times and tucked him in twelve times because he is just too cute, and said I love you fifty times because tomorrow he will wake up one day older.

The dishes filling up the sink are from baking cookies where your first grader cracked the eggs all by herself, your toddler spilled the flour because well, it happens. And your preschooler poured in the entire bag of m&ms in the bowl because the more chocolate, the better.

The legos cluttering the stairway, that’s where your three year old learned to build a tower, but quickly realized the real fun comes from knocking it over. Again. And again.

The nail polish bottles on the bathroom counter is from when you gave your two year old her first mani and pedi and you can still hear her little voice saying, “Me so wuvwie (lovely).”

The train set taking over the dining room floor, that is where your boys played for hours building, making “Choo choo” sounds and talking about riding the train at the zoo last summer. Your heart was so happy watching them play so nicely, you thought it might burst with joy.

The couch cushions and pillows thrown across floor are from your kids making stepping stones to run across the room without falling into the hot lava and dungeon of dragons.

The basket full of dirty clothes sits and waits to be washed. Your 6 month old is cutting his first tooth and the only thing that soothes him is mommy’s snuggles. You’ll take snuggles over clean clothes any day because you know all too well that babies don’t keep.

These “messes,” are evidence you are doing awesome, Mama. Because awesome moms have fun with their kids and messes are proof of just that. Childhood dreams come true and memories are made from these messes. Aren’t they beautiful?

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The Perfect Gift

“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!” -The Grinch

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Christmas. I love everything about it. The festive decorating, baking, the lights, elf on the shelf, wrapping presents, Christmas carols, gingerbread houses, trimming the tree. I love it so much that every year I overwhelm myself with activities, events, and traditions because I want my children to “experience the magic” of Christmas.

I know I am not alone here when I say I get carried away in all the Christmas craziness. Admittedly, somedays I lose sight of the real reason we celebrate Christmas- the birth of Jesus. I fill my calendar with crafts and baking, gingerbread house creating, parades, concerts, Santa visits and more to make each year full of memories for my children, all the while stressing myself to the max.

So here I was on a Saturday lugging my three children by myself to lunch with Santa at the firehouse. We’d already seen Santa last weekend with his reindeer because Hello? MAGICAL!  There, I had traumatized my toddler because, he will want to see a picture of himself with Santa one day! I mean, doesn’t every child have a screaming Santa picture? (totally kidding, don’t judge). But back to the firehouse, another Christmas “to-do” I added to the list because fire trucks, hot chocolate and Santa sounds fun, right?

If there is one thing I have learned about parenting, is that nothing ever goes as planned. And sometimes these activities sound much better in my head. We arrived and waited in the long line to see Santa. Again. It was cold, crowded and very loud.  My littlest refused to walk and DID NOT want to see Santa. He was hungry, crabby, and tired. The best combination. My girls were indifferent about the whole thing. And I began to question, what am I even doing here, honestly?

There we were standing in this crowded room of Christmas mayhem, stressed and crabby, making “magical Christmas memories,” (insert sarcasm here) when my four year old pulled at my jacket. I bent down while still holding my crying toddler, and she quietly said, “Mom, this isn’t what Christmas is about. You know, Santa. It is about Baby Jesus’s birthday. He was born on Christmas.”

The weight of her words nearly knocked me over. Truth spoken from a four year old. I squeezed her hand and smiled. Both humbled and proud. Humbled that it took words from a four year old to remind me that this Christmas fluff doesn’t matter. And proud that she KNOWS the true meaning of Christmas. She IS  listening to me. “Oh, sweetie,” I said, “that is so true! Thank you for reminding me of that.” Thank you, Jesus, I prayed, for this moment and for the words from my precious one.

If you are paying attention, your children can teach you more than you ever imagined. I learned a valuable lesson that day. One I am proud to say came from my daughter. A truth I preach to my children, but apparently don’t always practice. That none of this stuff really matters. The toys, the events, the elf on the shelf, the Santas. They hold zero eternal value. But Jesus does. He came for the world to save you and me. And that, THAT. is what I need to focus my eyes on. That one night in Bethlehem, the Savior was born, and He would change eternity. The King of all Kings brought hope by coming into the world in the simplest of ways, in a stable, born amongst the animals. So for now, all the other trimmings and trappings, the ribbons and wrapping can wait; for I’m basking in the glory of the birth of God’s perfect son.

xo, Becca

P.S. If you are reading this and have never heard about the birth of Jesus or have no idea about his Great Love for you, I encourage you to read Luke chapter 2 in The Bible. And then let’s meet for coffee to discuss.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

 

 

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.

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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

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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