The giver

I am the giver.

I am the giver of birth to another life. I am the giver upper of my body. Nine months times three to grow tiny humans. Breastfeeding for a year or more. Repeat. Repeat. Gain and loose 40 pounds. Repeat. Repeat. Giver of a tiny safe place to grow brains, lungs, fingerprints, and teeny tiny hearts. Giver upper of those six pack abs and sleeping on my tummy to grow another life.

I am the giver upper of time. Giver of my own time to raise my own. Time run by a carefully mapped out schedule dictated by naps, lunches, nursing babies, school drop offs, and pick ups. Time carpooling to ballet and soccer practice. Time spent in the day to day life doing crafts, building legos, washing faces, and sweeping crumbs.  We want more of it and less of it all in the same breath. It is both our best friend and nemesis.  Sometimes the clock seems to never move, and yet, at the same time, it never stops.

I am the giver upper of sleep. Sleep deprived because of nightmares, cups of water, thunderstorms, and up all night nursing sessions. Giving up a full night’s sleep for days, weeks, and even months so that we can rock sick babies, feed hungry newborns, snuggle scared toddlers, and wait up for late arrival teenagers. We loose sleep worrying about doing everything right, doing nothing right, not being enough, being too much, how they are growing too fast, and do they know I love them?

I am the giver of choices. Yellow or blue cup. Goldfish or animals crackers. Sandals or rainboots. Yes or no. Choose joy or timeout. Choose kind. Please, please choose kind. Choose right or wrong. Please show me you know which one. Choices that break us, shape us and stretch us. So many choices. Choices to guide our little ones so that one day they will be confident decision makers.

I am the giver of discipline. Timeouts for tantrums at home, at the store, in the car. Punisher of yellers, and door slammers, naughty word sayers, and criers. Take awayer of iPads, and TVs and phones and friends and freedom. This one, this one, is when the giving is hard.

I am the giver of answers. May I play outside? Where are my shoes? What time is dinner? Where is my blankie? Why do I have to practice spelling? Sometimes, I listen and offer a thoughtful answer. Sometimes, I give answers without listening. Wait, I agreed to dessert before dinner?!

I am the giver of tasks. Pick up your room, hang your backpack. Clear your plate and wash your hands. Giver of laundry lists of “do”s to keep the house from falling into a post acopolytic battle ground. Giving orders and jobs to anyone who will listen, which basically means talking to the dog.

I am the giver of information. Dinner times, school activities, sporting events, show-n-tells, super student of the weeks, field trip permission slips, book order forms, and birthday party invitations. So. much. information. We will fall short. We will forget. Forgive us.

I am the giver of words. I love you’s, I am sorry’s and I forgive you’s. Words to build them up, erase their sorrow, and heal their pain. Words to cheer them on and correct, when necessary. Words to teach, encourage, and create trust. Words of wisdom and honesty to guide the way. Words to makes the cuts and scrapes all better, and when they are older, words to mend their broken hearts. May they always be words spoken with love and well intention. And when they are anything but, may there be more words to recognize the error of our ways.

I am the giver of love. Unconditionally. Without merit. Wherever. Whenever. Simply, for no other reason than, because you are mine. Giver of midnight snuggles, eskimo kisses, bear hugs, and air high-fives. Giver of jumping up and down squealing excitement love. Giver of holding you while you cry in my arms love. A mother’s love, like no other. It cannot be taken away. It will never run dry. Our love will love you forever.

I am the giver of myself. To my children. We give them all that we have. All the we are. We give. We give. And when we think we cannot possibly gove anymore of ourselves, we find a way to keep giving. Because time is one thing we cannot give back.

Fellow givers, you are not alone. I know somedays the weight of giving is heavy. Suffocating. Exhausting. I know that somedays it feels unappreciated. Invisible. Futile. But listen, my dear givers, your work makes ordinary days possible. Your work is the truest measure of love because it expects nothing in return. Your work matters. Your work makes the impossible, possible. Without you, the world would stop.

I see you, and I high-five you. So carry on because you are my hero.

Advertisements

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.

***

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?

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

****

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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