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

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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

To the exhausted new mom…I promise you, it will get better.

I see you, new Mama. And I know you are so so tired. I know you had no idea of what was to come once you brought your sweet little babe home from the hospital. You were so focused on the “perfect” labor and delivery that you never actually thought about what would happen once you brought your baby home.

And now here you are, a total hot mess. You haven’t slept in about 400 years. Your hormones are off the charts, crying one minute and smiling seconds later. Your breasts are so engorged with milk coming in that you want to scream in pain. Your pre-pregnancy clothes are not even close to fitting. You wonder, as you look in the mirror, will you always still look like you are 6 months pregnant?

I promise you, it won’t always be like this. I promise you, it will get better.

Your baby is crying and you have no idea what to do. Is she hungry, tired, gasey, in need of snuggling? And all you can think about is how you. Want. To. Sleep. And how you don’t know if you can do this whole mothering thing. You ask yourself why did I ever think having a baby would be “fun?” Because this? The exhaustion, the crying baby, the responsibility of keeping another one alive, the constant nursing is anything but “fun.”

I promise you, it won’t always be liked this. I promise you, it will get better.

I know, you feel like a human pacifier, feeding is almost constant with pooping, crying, burping and diaper changes mixed in. The clock becomes only a number because your baby has her days and nights mixed up. This is your life now, for the short term. It is tiring and messy and emotional.

I promise you, it won’t always be like this. I promise you, it will get better.

The stresses in the first few weeks are so overwhelming that sometimes it is hard to breathe. Your thoughts are consumed by bilirubin levels for jaundice, weight gain for your baby and tracking wet and poopy diapers. You wonder how long will my c-section wound hurt? Is my baby latching correctly? How in the world am I supposed to keep my baby awake while nursing?

I promise you, it won’t always be like this. I promise you, it will get better.

That when your baby cries every hour for you all. night. long. you ask yourself how can you possibly do this every night? When you pass her to your husband so you can have a break, she cries because she only wants her mommy, to snuggle, to nurse, to smell, to sleep on. And so while you hold her again all night, tears run down your  face because how can you possibly do this another minute? And then you feel guilty for wanting a minute alone, to sleep, to think, to breathe.

I promise you, it won’t always be like this. I promise you, it will get better.

In the middle of the night during another marathon nursing session, you wonder why didn’t  anyone warn you of this? Why didn’t anyone tell me being a new mom is HARD? Everyone said how great it is to be a mom. How amazing and fun it is and “it will change your life,” blah blah. But why didn’t anyone tell me that the nights would be so so long? That sometimes babies just cry for no reason. That breastfeeding is really hard in the beginning and you may want to throw in the towel. That you will feel sleep deprivation like you can’t even imagine?

So let me tell you, this coming from someone who had a really difficult time being a first time mom, it is HARD. And those first few weeks-the HARDEST. So if you feel like you are the only one struggling as either a first time mom or becoming a mom again for the second or third time. Your are not alone.

If you are a new mom and the weight of your new baby is making you catch your breath. Or you are so physically and mentally drained, you cannot even see straight, or if you are a soon-to-be-mom, I will tell you from someone who, at my lowest point, did not believe it woud ever get better, IT DOES. I promise you, a thousand times, it does.

But here’s the thing, when does it get better, you want to know? Well, I can’t answer that for you because it is different for each mom. But I can say that the joys of motherhood creep up on you, when you least expect it. Little by little.

Like the first time my first baby slept alone after being held constantly for the first 3 weeks. Or the first time I figured out the source of her newborn tears and soothed her myself. When I finally distinguished a hungry cry, from a tired cry, from a burp cry to a poopy cry. Or that time she looked at me with her big blue eyes during a midnight feeding as if to say, “thank you, mommy. I know I am a lot of work, but I love you.”

It gets better.

Like the first time she smiled a real, not gasey, smile right at me. Or the first time she looked around the room for me after hearing my voice. When she took her first steps and oh,the joy she radiated for days after that! Or when she tried her first blueberry, which must have been sour because she spit it out with a pucker face. And when she said “mama” to me for the first time.

It gets better.

There are a million of these moments that make those first few weeks in the trenches absolutely worth it. Being a mom does not happen all at once, but slowy these moments and experiences build on each other and soon you will look back and say, “Yes. It does get better. A thosand times, it does.” And you will wonder how did you ever doubt that it would?

Yes, your baby needs you for everything right now, and that is HARD. But she won’t always. And that may be an even harder reality to adjust to one day. So let’s  not think about that now.

Before you can even blink you will find yourself like me, with your last baby at 15 months old, nursing only once a day and you will be sitting here rocking him to sleep wondering how did I get here so fast? Wasn’t my almost five year old just a tiny newborn? Because it all went by in an instant, really. Those first few weeks with each of my babies that seemed so long were really like a hot minute. I know the place you are at now is all consuming, and it is hard to even imagine yourself in a better place, like ever.

But I promise you, it will come. Push on sweet mama, you got this.

XO, Becca

Grace and Joy in the everyday

Sometimes the weight of motherhood is overwhelming. It is the only thing in life that is both the greatest joy and yet the hardest responsibility at the same time. Once you become a mom, you are a mom until you take your last breath. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It takes commitment, perseverance and a whole lot of grace.

The thing about motherhood though is in the midst of the chaos, challenges, exhaustion, there is laughter, and silliness and memories and joy. Always joy. It is for me, quite simply, the BEST thing I will ever do.

Somedays I cry. A lot. And I am frustrated. A lot.  And I also I loose my mind. A lot. But I also laugh, and dance, and act silly and have tea parties and play cars and sing and give hugs and kiss ouchies and smile a thousand times and say “I love you” a thousand and one times. All of this before my husband even walks through the door for dinner.

Motherhood is so wonderful, and yet some days it is equally so hard, but there is always grace and growing. Growing to learn from my shortcomings to be a better mom tomorrow.

For me, I am learning to not only extend grace to my kids and my husband, but to extend grace to myself. Which I think is even harder in some ways. I put so much pressure on myself to “go here” or “do that” or “clean this” or “teach this” and often times I just simply fail. I am learning to tell myself, that is okay. We are imperfect and so yeah, we are going to mess up, fall flat, come up short. We moms need to give ourselves that grace to be…imperfect. And so for me sometimes that means to let myself have a messy house, take that break (to eat chocolate) or don’t fold that laundry.

Right now as I type this, I have a sick baby with a very terrible cough, a house that looks like a bomb exploded out toys, and five baskets of laundry that need folding. Our family dog has “run away” twice since Saturday. And I laugh as I type this because the second time, she was not ACTUALLY lost, but after driving around our neighborhood for 45 minutes looking for her, I came home to find out she was in the house all along. I have eaten PB&J for the last two nights for dinner. Last night because well, it just just one of those exhausting days. And tonight, I accidently used spoiled ham on my ham and scalloped potatoes, which I failed to recognize until after I had mixed it up together. Yeah, and it is only Tuesday.

Sometimes motherhood is hard. And it’s moments like this that make me want to go off the deep end. Seriously. And these challenges can make me feel like I am failing, but also in these moments there is also grace to say, “it’s okay.”

You know what also happened this week? My “baby,” who is actually one now, so not even a baby, really- he pulled himself to a stand! And his sisters and I celebrated by dancing and the girls ran around squealing, “Sawyer is going to WALK soon, mommy!!” There was SO much joy! And my biggest, Savannah, started READING words, y’all! Like real ACTUAL words without any help! And I am like, “what!?!?” SO much joy! And my Scarlett, who will be three (!!) next month was cutting with scissors today, like a BOSS! SO much joy!

So there you have it. Despite the frustrations, exhaustion, and “off the deep end moments,” there is always joy, and memories and victories mixed in. That is motherhood. It is the everyday trials and everyday triumphs building together to create this motherhood journey. The best thing, I will ever do. So remember when motherhood feels overwhelming and hard and you feel like you are failing, extend yourself grace. And look for the joy. Because there is always joy. Just look at their sweet faces.

xo, Becca