Happy New Year! I want to write about goals and dreams and hopes for the new year because isn’t that what everyone does? Instead I’m just going to ramble and write what my heart tells me.
Yesterday was my first MOPS meeting of the New Year. If you aren’t familiar, MOPS is an amazing organization for mothers of preschoolers (kids 0-5). Being a mom to young kids isn’t easy and if I didn’t have this amazing support system, I don’t know where I would be some days when I hit my parenting lows. Anyway, on Christmas Eve just a few weeks ago one of the moms in our group lost her sweet 19 month old daughter very suddenly. An email circulated on Christmas, letting us all know what had happened. Since then I’ve been consumed with grief for this sweet mama I don’t even know. Yesterday at MOPS, nearly 100 of us hugged and cried and grieved for her. At one point, a friend of mine said something along the lines of, “it’s so great that we get a break from our children to spend time in this amazing community, but what’s even greater is that we get to leave here and go pick up our kids afterwards.” I lost it.
You see, I’m not always the greatest mom. Sometimes I downright hate being a mother. It is SO HARD. I complain about the things my kids do. I feel sorry for myself more often than I should. I crave time away from them. But at the exact same time I could NEVER imagine my world without them.
Over a year ago someone I follow on Instagram shared these lyrics from a Leonard Cohen song and they filled me with so much hope:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
~ Leonard Cohen (from his song “Anthem”)
For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with trying to understand my purpose on this earth. I am so hard on myself – expecting that everything I do has to be perfect. The truth is, there is no perfection in life. There are wars and division of politics. There is hate. There are sweet, innocent children that die every single day. But without all of this darkness, would we notice the light? Would we truly be able to appreciate all the good that there is?
Instead of focusing on the things in life that don’t work out, we need to ring those bells that still can ring. Stop focusing on perfection and give what ever amount you have to give. Feel pain so that the good is all the more glorious. That is my hope for 2017. I’m going to find the light through the cracks. I’m going to love my family as deeply as I can, knowing their fate is completely out of my control. I’m going to trust in something far greater than myself.
It’s the eve of Christmas Eve and I’m sitting in the waiting room at my son’s therapy with extra time on my hands so I thought I’d write. The snow is dumping down outside and Christmas music is playing lightly in the background and I can’t help but feel happy. My favorite thing about Christmas is the feeling- it’s the pause on all the horrible annoyances of life that normally bring you down, but for some reason are so much easier to handle when Christmas is in the air. I don’t want it to be over! At the same time, I’m so hopeful and excited for the new year on the horizon. I’m excited for new opportunities and goal setting, and the hope that a new year often brings along with it.
This year I kept with my tradition of making a creative family Christmas card in photoshop, but unlike years past where I’ve mailed out 50+ cards to family and friends, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it this year. Something about the perfectly staged happy family photo just didn’t feel right to me. Sometimes I get sick of putting on a happy face all the time and playing into the expectation that my life and my family should be perfect. It’s far from it. I’ve been through a lot this past year and there have been moments where I truly felt like all the good in my life was falling apart. It was hard to keep up with the “perfect” persona we all feel compelled to slap on our faces out in public or on social media, but I still did. I think a lot of us do just that. I’ve been a lot more conscientious as I pass people on the street, or meet up with friends, or see a perfectly posed photo on Instagram that what I am seeing is not the whole picture. Life is messy. Life is tough. We are all suffering in one way or another and I hope each of us can be more aware of that.
I hope this Christmas finds you surrounded by love and the people who lift you up. I hope that even in the stress of the holidays you can see and feel the true gift of the season.
Merry Christmas from my less-than-perfect perfectly posed family to yours! 😉
At the end of October my son, Landon, turned five. Since I dedicated my last post (one of only 7 blog posts I’ve written this year!) to his siblings’ birthdays, it’s only appropriate that he gets a post, too.
But, it’s tough.
You see, this year has been really rough on my little family. A big part of why I’ve stepped away from blogging is due to the stress I’ve experienced from several areas of my life. I guess I’ve been so overwhelmed that my love of writing and photography has just sort of died… or at least moved to the very back burner. Sad, huh?
Look at my beautiful, bright, blue-eyed, magnificent child, Landon Drew. Just looking at that photo fills me with so much love it hurts. It also fills me with worry and a bit of sadness. You may remember near the start of this year I wrote about overcoming struggles with him and how we had finally found our way and that four was a miracle age. Well, I spoke too soon. I really don’t want to go into details, but we have been on quite the behavioral roller coaster ride with this guy. We finally got in with a therapist near the end of summer and got some answers and we are slowly making progress. Bit by bit I am starting to better understand who my child is and what he struggles with each day.
Landon at five years old is stubborn, oh so stubborn. But he also has a big heart and the goofiest, most entertaining personality, too. He loves doing puzzles, playing dress up, irritating his baby brother, potty humor, cooking (he seriously makes the best scrambled eggs!), sweets, and going to school. This year Landon is in a preschool class for “barely 5’s” and goes for 2 half days and 2 full days each week. This has been a great way to get him ready for next year when he will start kindergarten (!!!). Landon has no desire to participate in any organized group sports or activities yet, but loves playing baseball and football with Dad in the backyard. He’s got a pretty mean throw! Landon stands out in our family with his blue eyes, thick lashes, and shaggy golden locks (which he took scissors to the other day, resulting in a buzz cut and tears from his momma). This kid is my wildcard, but I wouldn’t have him any other way.
Wow, it’s been seven whole months since I last wrote a blog post. Wow. At the start of the year I made a resolution to write more here and I made it two posts before I gave up completely. God had other plans in store for me. Part of me wants to share everything that’s been going on, but part of me isn’t quite ready to re-enter blogland yet. However, one thing I will never regret about starting this blog is being able to look back over memories of my children growing up. So, if anything is worth posting about, it’s my sweet babies.
This past summer my oldest and youngest celebrated their seventh and second birthdays just a week apart. This is for them.
Roman Michael – TWO!
Oh Roman, where do I begin. You are the light of all of our lives. So goofy, so sassy, yet so sweet. For your second birthday we got you a balance bike (this one and it is the BEST for the price) and it was a HUGE hit. You are so freakin’ FAST on that thing. It is the cutest and most terrifying thing ever to see this tiny little thing flying down the street on a little bike. The other day we were getting ready to walk to the store and I was getting the stroller out of the car and set up while you and your siblings played in the driveway. Once I had it all ready to go, I went to put you in it and you were no where to be found. Little man, you almost gave your momma a heart attack! I found you two blocks away, cruising on your bike in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Talk about a bad mom moment.
At two, here are a few of your favorite things: playing with mommy’s purses and shoes (I seriously clean up shoes scattered all about the house throughout the entire day), snuggling your special “banky”, riding bikes and scooters, going to music class, eating mommy’s sandwiches, snuggling, playing with play dough, playing monster with sissy and brother.
Roman, you are so funny! You make me laugh each and every day. You are the chattiest little two-year-old I’ve ever met. Like seriously, in the car sometimes I just want to tell you to SHUT UP. No, I wouldn’t trade your chatter for all the silence in the world. Sometimes you babble away and I can’t understand what you’re saying so I’ll say, “What Roman?” And you’ll respond, “Oh, nuffing.” Kills me! And your facial expressions? I can’t even. You are so expressive and flirty and HILARIOUS. I really can’t wait to see all you accomplish in this world as the go-getter you are. You are everything I wish I could be.
Leila Jade – SEVEN!
My beautiful daugher, the one who made me a mother, where do I even begin? Whenever I sit down to reflect on the amazing person you are I instantly cry. I am beyond blessed to be your mom. You are so stunning in all ways, from your big beautiful squinty-eyed smile, to your tender love for your little brothers, to your crazy creative soul. You amaze me.
At seven years old you are already more than I will ever be. You’re a dedicated pianist, a beautiful ballet dancer, and an amazing engineer of recycling bin contraptions. You’ve lost your love of dolls in the past year (which breaks my heart a tiny bit), but you’ve replaced it with a love of writing and creating and rollerskating and bike riding. Gone are the days where everything you loved is pink. Instead you prefer green and blue. This past week you started 2nd grade. Instead of squeezing my hand tightly as I walked you to class, you pushed me away and ran off with your friends before we even entered the school. I am continually fascinated watching you grow and learn and develop into the unique individual you are. I’m grateful to be your mother and to have you as a best friend.
Building a close relationship with my 4-year-old son has been a journey. Don’t get me wrong, from the moment I felt those first kicks in my belly I loved him fiercely and when I held him in my arms for the very first time, I knew he would have my heart forever. However, as a parent you quickly learn that while you technically do hold all the control in the parent-child relationship, you really have no control. If your 2-year-old decides that it is his life mission to refuse to wear socks and shoes, chances are he will be going shoeless that day.
I’m going to be real honest and admit that a year ago I thought something may be wrong with my son. Either that or something was seriously wrong with me as a parent. The terrible twos were beyond terrible and three was in a completely different realm… like who came up with ‘terrible twos’? Two was NOTHING compared to how terrible age three was. There were many nights where by the time I got all three kids to bed, all I could do was drown myself in tears. And the thought of dealing with what we went through that day again tomorrow was almost enough to turn me into an alcoholic. Instead, I spent a lot of those days commiserating with my mom friends who also had difficult toddlers. And I got really familiar with the stares as I carried my barefoot 3-year-old kicking and screaming over my shoulder with no coat on in the middle of winter to pick his big sis up from school.
I hit some of my parenting lows during those rough days with Landon. I said things I never could have ever imagined myself saying when he was just a sweet new babe in my arms. I raised my voice more times than I’d ever like to admit. I thought things that no parent wants to admit thinking. And I’m telling you all of this because I think it is 100% completely normal and now that we are on the other side of the terrible/horrible/horrendous twos/threes, I can say that it will get better. If you are in the throes of it now, stay strong. Pull out all the love you can find in your heart and pour it out on your sweet, monstrous child. Under all the tantrums and the stubbornness and the seemingly utter dislike towards you is still a perfect little God-given creation.
Today Landon and I have a very special bond. We’ve worked through more things than my first born and I ever had to. I now better understand his personality and what he needs and he better understands how he should behave and how to communicate in a way that benefits all of us. Growth is a miraculous thing. The age of four has been a game changer. Whereas a year ago it was at times like a war zone during the bedtime routine, he now sweetly asks me to carry him up the stairs on his way to bed. Every night as his little legs and arms are wrapped around me with his head on my shoulder, he gently pats my back as I carry him up. Some nights I can’t hold back the tears of happiness thinking just how far we’ve come in his four short years. He loves me. He really, really, really loves me. And the love I feel in return is so heartbreaking… in the best way possible.