Relationships

As I near my 30th birthday, I’ve been reflecting on the past decade of my life. It seems as if life has had one theme: change. Most of which has been pleasant and positive. Marriage, babies, moving, new friendships. Things that warm my heart and put a smile on my face. Things I want to soak up and ingrain in my mind.

There have also been uncomfortable, unpleasant changes. Specifically the deaths of loved ones, moving away from family and friends, shifting of relationship placement, and loss of friendships. I don’t know if it was just me, but the last decade of my life seems to be chalk full of those things, especially the latter.

I’m not going to lie, Facebook has been the blazing beacon in making the last two uncomfortable changes much more obvious. Until social media, I had always considered myself a friend to everyone. I conversed easily with others and kind of went with the flow. But now, every “unfriend”, block, and ignored post makes it incredibly obvious that some people don’t like me. Sometimes it is expected. Other times, I’m left scratching my head, wondering why.

Either way, it is painful and cuts deep. I try not to let it bug me, but in my insomniac mind, late at night, I think over every conversation and interaction over and over again. Which, of course, doesn’t help my sleep-deprived state of mind. ūüėČ

And so, upon the recent discovery of another person who has blocked me, I’ve decided I’m going to do my best to keep trusting that there was a reason that person was in my life for a short or long season. That I’ve learned something from them. That it’s ok to not be friends with everyone.

And I’m once again stepping away from Facebook for the time being. I have more important things (my little human beings) to focus on. ūüôā I know that right now in life, they like me and love me and enjoy being with me. Ask them how they feel when they hit the teen years. ūüėČ

How do you feel when someone removes you from their friend list?

Advertisements

Goodbye, 2014

As I sit here, on the eve of a new year, the memories from the last 365 days come flooding in.

This year has been bittersweet. We have officially lived in our new state for one year. One year we have lived away from our family support system. One year we have spent adjusting to a new area. One year I have missed my former home with every inch of my heart.

But along with the heartache came hope. New friendships were made and are growing even as I type this out. Our house on the farm feels more like home than it did at this same time last year. Our family grew again this past summer, filling a hole I didn’t know we had.

The kids are growing and learning and changing so fast. Much more quickly than I would like them to. I am so thankful for the time I have at home with my six children. Our days are spent exploring with each other and enjoying each other.

Looking onward to next year, I am anticipating great things. I’m setting a goal to daily journal my life at home with each of the kids in order to attempt to preserve these sweet memories. The things my kids say, the things we do together, the fleeting moments we can’t get back. These really are the best days of our lives.

And so, goodbye, 2014! It has been a year of growing and changing. I’m thankful for all of my blessings this year brought, and I’m hopeful for many more blessings to come!

A letter to my husband

My love:

Last night, you¬†helped me¬†search desperately for a pacifier for our crying baby.¬† We¬†like to¬†joke about the pacifiers in our house growing two legs and walking away because¬†we can never find one when we need one.¬†I crawled on the floor, trying to peer under the armchair.¬† I was growing frustrated and I’m sure you could sense it.

You came over, without a word from me, and effortlessly lifted the side of the chair so I could get a better look.  Success.  You cradled our daughter in your arms and stuck the pacifier in her mouth.  Instant calm.  You held her on your chest, laid down on the couch, and drifted to sleep with our baby.  No complaints from you.  This is the stuff I know you live for.

I’ve lost track of how many times this scenario has played out over the years.¬† You are the calm in our storm of life.¬† You’re level-headed and steady when I’m past my breaking point. Eight years of marriage and that hasn’t changed.

We met at a concert at the¬†campus¬†I attended and we¬†started dating shortly thereafter.¬† We were 19 and you were my first real relationship. We spent all of our non-school and non-working hours with each other.¬† Apart from me getting cold feet a few times while dating, our relationship was strong.¬† 10 months after we started dating, we got married.¬† A “whirlwind romance” some have said.¬† I like to think the timing was just perfect.¬† A little over a year after that we welcomed our first child.¬† And¬†our family¬†has been growing ever since.

You are a hard worker and provider for our family.¬† You work diligently at¬†both of your¬†day jobs and come home exhausted. But that doesn’t stop you. You roll up your sleeves and jump right in to this beautiful chaos we call home. You choose to be present with us both physically and mentally. You are such an amazing example for our kids of what a dad and husband should be.

You’ve seen me¬†at my emotional high points, and you’ve seen me at my dark,¬†low points.¬†¬†You’ve walked with me through post partum depression.¬† You’ve forgiven me for saying and doing things I know I shouldn’t.¬†You’ve reasoned with me when I was unreasonable. You’ve loved me when I didn’t seem lovable.

You’ve sat up with me late at night, whether I was nursing a baby or awake with my own thoughts.¬† You’ve literally seen my body morph and change during and after pregnancy, and still call me beautiful. You’ve held my hand during six labors, day¬†and night.¬† You volunteer to get up with the kids at night, and don’t complain about it. You have given me a life far beyond my wildest expectations.

There are days I wonder why you chose me.¬†I’m impatient and selfish and a dozen¬†other things you don’t deserve.¬† And you love me anyways. Your unconditional love for me is like a fine sand paper, gently wearing away at all¬†my rough edges and flaws. And over time, slowly but surely, your patience and endurance is refining me. I’m growing into the woman you’ve seen all along. Thank you.

To me, you’re the¬†only one¬†I would ever dream of doing life with. You don’t need red carpet, or glitz and glam, or a trophy.¬† You find your satisfaction and peace in knowing that you make a difference in your kids’ lives; in my life. You aren’t perfect, nor do you pretend to be. You are human.¬† And I love you just the way you are. Imperfections included.

You’ve dreamed with me,
laughed with me,
and grown up with me.

I can’t wait to see what this new year brings.

I love you morer,
Deanne

Flashback Friday: Pardon me, but your flaws are showing

This post was originally published April 18th of this year. But I really wanted to share it again. So I’m making this my “Flashback Friday” post. Enjoy!

I just want to get this out in the open: I am not a perfect mom.

Phew! I feel so much better having said that (typed that?) out loud. Because, I mean, everyone thought I was perfect, right? (~crickets chirping~)

Let’s be honest here. I will never blog about things I’ve perfected, because that wouldn’t be physically possible. Imperfect me training up my imperfect children in the way they should go is a constant work in progress. I (as a mom, wife, human) am a work in progress. (And I don’t aspire to perfection; I want my imperfections and trials and improvements to help other people know they aren’t alone.)

It seems like there is some invisible expectation out there that says moms should have it all together. All the time. And never complain about anything. Ever. Especially not about their darling children. Because raising children is easy peasy, rainbows and sunshine all the time. And if you complain about your kids you are either a terrible mom, you can’t handle your kids, or you should stop having kids.

Am I the only one thinking that sounds nuts right about now? Believe it or not, I’ve heard people say these things. (Even from people who don’t even have children! What?!)

There are lots of things I have learned about parenting through trial and error. And error. And error. Life doesn’t come with an eraser or rewind button. We (moms) are imperfect people trying our hardest to raise our children as best as we know possible. Unfortunately every child is different, and unfortunately kids do not come with instruction manuals. There are some things about parenthood that no amount of parenting books and child-rearing classes can teach you. There are some things about parenthood that require rolling up your sleeves, pulling on your mudboots and jumping in head first.

So when moms feel the constant pressure to always have a cheerful façade on their faces (butter up, Buttercup, right?), to never talk about the struggles of the daily grind that goes with raising children, to always portray the epitome of Suzy Homemaker, we are really only setting each other (and ourselves) up for failure (at least in our own minds).

There is no such thing as a perfect mom, nor should there exist a ‚Äústandard‚ÄĚ that makes raising a family more difficult than it has to be.

Social media has made this almost exceedingly impossible. Instead of seeing the nitty-gritty things moms encounter on a day-to-day basis, we only see snapshots of the times that go right. Here is a typical conversation I have with myself in my head while scrolling through Facebook on any given day:

‚ÄúSo-and-so‚Äôs kids are always dressed perfectly; they never have snot trails dribbling down their noses or leftover spaghetti noodles dried in their hair. Her house is always immaculate (when is the last time I could walk across the floor without tripping on a toy?) and her food is always equally portioned (why won‚Äôt my kids eat anything but Goldfish crackers and pizza??). Her completed Pinterest projects are awe-inspiring and she is always doing awesome crafts with her kids. She just ran her 20th marathon! Her kids are even smiling while sitting in the shopping cart at Target (I‚Äôm usually the frazzled/frustrated mom with a screaming baby trying to corral her kids to stay near the cart). Even their recent family picture is flawless with everyone smiling and looking at the camera. What am I doing wrong?! World‚Äôs worst mom.‚ÄĚ

I need to knock it off! Deep down I know it isn’t always like that at their house. But when my own daily imperfections are sitting there staring me in the face, and I’m not allowed to talk about them openly with other moms to see if I’m the only one, it is hard to remember that we all have days like that. It is hard to remember my house isn’t always a war-zone, my kids are usually well-behaved at the store (I’m giving my kids the benefit of the doubt here), we do eat healthy food (although I wish my kids weren’t so picky about some things), I do find time to go on my elliptical (ten minutes a day counts as something, right???)…

And my kids are just as loved as anyone else’s. Period. At the end of any good-or-bad-or-in-between day, that is all that matters.

I don’t have this parenting thing figured out, and neither do you, and that is okay. We don’t need to figure it all out all at once. Take the little successes in stride and work on areas that need to be improved upon (FYI- I have found that bribing my kids with Dum-Dum suckers at the store is a HUGE sanity-saver!!!).

Don‚Äôt be afraid to share your struggles and successes with your friends and family. Post a status on Facebook without fear of negative judgments. Call up your support system and let off some steam on days that seem to offer more bad than good mommy moments. Because at one time or another we all have hard days. We all have days where we feel we are missing the mark in more ways than one. Days we need to be reminded that we aren‚Äôt alone in this journey. Celebrate the successes with each other, and build each other up in times that are extremely difficult. Set aside the assumption that if things aren‚Äôt going right today‚Äď things aren‚Äôt going as ‚Äúperfectly‚ÄĚ as they should‚Äď you have somehow failed Motherhood: 101. Remember: we are all works in progress!

Unconditional love and acceptance goes a long way in a world that seems to look down its nose at us. Stop judging other people by their current situation and, instead, start loving them for the total, beautiful mom they are growing into.

(When I was editing this blog post today, I found this quote and thought it fit perfectly!)

image

Have a blessed day at the start of this wonderful weekend of new beginnings!

On the Duggars and why their family size is none of your business

A¬†friend of mine and I went to the McDonalds play place yesterday with our collective¬†11 children, ages 7 and under, in tow.¬†It has already proven to be a long, cold winter, and our kids needed to burn off some pent up energy. ūüôā¬†Before we entered the building, she sent me the text, “Ready for lots of looks?!”¬†I had to chuckle because we are both so used to those looks.

source: snarkerati.com

source: snarkerati.com

And the comments, and the head counting, and the questions.¬† All are par for the course when you’re the mom to¬†multiple little ones.

And I usually don’t¬†mind.¬† I’m proud of my kids, and I want my kids to be proud to¬†be a part of our family. I¬†know that not everyone has had the ability to be part of a large family, so they generally don’t understand how much fun it is.

Recently, however, I have begun to notice a general “distaste” some people have for families with, what is perceived as, “a lot” of kids.¬† Most notably was when Jill (Duggar) Dillard¬†and her new husband, Derick, announced their first pregnancy shortly after they said their “I do”s.¬† (If you aren’t familiar with the Duggars, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have 19 biological children and are open to having more.) The backlash, hateful words, rude judgements, and internet “eye rolls” came flooding in shortly after they made their public announcement.

Many were mad that she announced her pregnancy before her first trimester was over (but when¬†Kate Middleton did¬†the same thing¬†shortly thereafter, no one even batted an eye). Others were counting the days to make sure that no “hanky panky” had happened before the wedding (don’t worry, guys… this baby is a welcomed, wanted honeymoon surprise).¬† And still others were frothing at the mouth in anger that the Duggar family is the single cause for global overpopulation, and how could they be so selfish, and carbon footprints, and haven’t they ever heard of birth control?!?!?!?!

Let me tell ya, it is extremely nauseating seeing this kind of hate over what should be a joyous occasion SPEWED all over the internet. Don’t believe me?¬† Just Google search “Jill Duggar pregnant” and see what comes up. My browser says 5.9 MILLION results, many of which, I’m assuming, are nothing but rude vitriol.

source: people.com

source: people.com

And now that Josh and Anna Duggar have announced their fourth baby is on the way, I think the crazy comments have really ramped up a notch. The heads are spinning and “the people” aren’t happy.

Listen, “people”, we live in the 21st century.¬† In the United States of America.¬† Where feminism is “all the rage”.¬† Where women viciously fought for the right to their reproductive choices.¬†¬†Abortion, whether I¬†like it or not,¬†is legal here in our country.¬† A woman can¬†legally dispose of her unborn baby at any time up until birth. ¬†And no one had better try to stop her or they will come face to face with the most repulsive¬†forms of feministic banter¬†known to man kind.¬† They would undoubtedly¬†be met with the “don’t like abortions, don’t have one” argument.

But when a man and a woman, in a loving, stable marriage decide to have a child (or multiple children, or children by the dozens), suddenly that woman’s reproductive rights are hauled out into broad daylight, ridiculed, shamed, and made fun of.¬†Because she is allegedly selfish, and foolish, and stupid, and any other mean-spirited thing one can come up with in their narrow-minded mindset.¬† Obviously she should not be allowed a choice in this instance.

Anyone else see a problem with this line of thinking?

To them, I say this:¬†“If you don’t like large families, don’t have one.”

The birth rate in the USA¬†is actually on the decline, ¬†and has been for the last six to seven years.¬† I, for one, am not the least bit worried about overpopulation anytime soon.¬† (And actually, that claim has been¬†proven wrong¬† many, many, many¬†times.)¬† (I am, actually, concerned about the future ramifications (less people paying in to taxes and social security, economical implications, etc.) of having a lower population.) (Wow, that’s a lot of parentheses.)

When we announced our last two pregnancies, we were met with an¬†array of comments. Everything from the simple-yet-appropriate “Congrats”, to people making jokes (yes, we know what causes it; yes, we own a TV; and comparison to the Duggar family… because having¬†six kids is really close to having 19 kids), to other people all out ignoring our announcement.¬† And while the positivity far outweighed the negative, the negative reactions are the ones that stuck with me the most.¬† Many of the naysayers are people that spend less than a few hours with me and/or my family each year.¬† So really, they don’t truly know us or our family¬†and they¬†had¬†no right in making any sort of comment beyond “Congrats.”

Some people liken having a large family to having lots of little annoyances and inconveniences (aka children)¬†running around.¬† Those people couldn’t be more wrong.¬† And so we have welcomed each new child into our family with the anticipation and excitement of seeing their little personalities grow and blossom, helping them become the people they are meant to be. Kids are human beings, not inconveniences that need to be managed.

source: raiseawesomekids.com

source: raiseawesomekids.com

We need to stop worrying about how many kids so-and-so is having, and stop letting this media-frenzied world feed us¬†the news they want to sell.¬† The number of children someone has is between them and their spouse.¬† Yes,¬†kids can be challenging and a lot of work.¬† But the effort you put in to raising decent human beings will pay dividends tenfold. The fact that the Duggars (and many other people) choose to have large families does not impact¬†anyone in any way.¬† The fact that good people (like the Duggars) are raising up responsible, mindful, and respectful children-turned-adults should give¬†us hope for our future generations. That is something¬†we should care very much about. ūüôā

And so, if you find yourself wanting to have more children than the national average of 2.1 kids per couple, talk to your spouse about it and come to a logical decision that works best for you and your family. Pay no attention to what everyone else says you should do because, at the end of the day, you are the one raising any current and future children. Not the internet hater across the country.

And if you find yourself on the opinion bandwagon, maybe you should use the advice of our forefathers: if you cant say something nice, don’t say anything at all!

That time all my blog posts disappeared…

Imagine my surprise when I logged on to WordPress this morning to discover ALL of my blog posts had been deleted.

My stomach got sick immediately.¬† Granted, my blog isn’t anything special.¬† Nothing glitzy or heavily-trafficked like many of the bigger bloggers out there.¬† But still.¬† This is my tiny sliver of the Internet.¬† A place I feel like I am safe in talking about my life; a place I feel like I can somehow make a difference in the life of someone else.

Immediately I got defensive.¬† “Who did this??” I thought.¬† “Who in the world hacked into my blog and made this nightmare happen??”

Thankfully, I had all of my posts saved to my laptop hard drive.¬† But what a headache to go through and repost everything. Tears came to my eyes thinking about all of the time and energy I put into each post, only to have them all simply taken away by some devious person. I text messaged my best friend and told her what happened.¬† Why are people so bored and intent on making other people’s lives miserable? And for the sake of what??

But then, humility.  Oh yes, humility.  That seems to be the theme in my life lately.

On my blogger’s “dashboard” (which, for you non-bloggers, is the command center of all of our posting), under “posts”, I noticed¬†“trash 51”.¬† Surely if someone had wanted to make my blogging life difficult, they wouldn’t have forgotten to empty the trash can of all of the posts they worked so hard to delete.

And then I remembered that yesterday I went through my post dashboard and decided to “clean up” my drafts that have been sitting for months.¬† Somehow I must’ve clicked the “select all” and subsequently “trashed” all of my posts.¬† All of them. And then busily went to attend to my son who woke up from his nap with a special “diaper surprise” for me….

No hacker.  Just me being incompetent and busy.

*sigh*

Isn’t that the way we all¬†react in certain situations sometimes? We always think worst-case-scenario and automatically point the finger at someone else.¬† Because¬†surly our current situation is not a direct result of our own choices.¬† Right?¬† Someone has to be to blame, and it certainly can’t be little ole me…

It is easier blaming someone else instead of realizing that when we point our finger we actually have three more fingers pointing back at ourselves.

source: aklimastra.blogspot.com

source: aklimastra.blogspot.com

And so today I am thankful that my blog posts are not all gone.¬† I apologize if you got a million and one notifications from my blog as I went through and re-published my old posts.¬† And next time I will be a little more careful when I am editing my dashboard. ūüėČ

To the Mom Who Is Having A Hard Day

source: laurajul.dk

source: laurajul.dk

Hi, friend.

I see you standing there, your tear-filled eyes looking lost and empty.¬†You’re having a bad day, a tough day, a hard day. Maybe this is the first hard day in a long time, or maybe it is yet¬†another hard day in what seems to be a reoccurring¬†theme in your life.¬† You wish to be anywhere but right here at this very moment. You wonder what you did wrong to make all of the good days seem like a very distant memory. You pray that this day would just. be. done.

I get it.

Maybe your husband works long, late hours, leaving you and your kids at home, alone, day-in and day-out.  Or maybe your husband is serving our country, spending weeks, months, years away from your family. The brief moments of adult conversation seem to pale in comparison to the busy, noisy toddler-chatter that fills your ears from sun-up to sun-down. Everyone else seems so busy with their own lives to even notice. Solitude amidst a tribe of your little ones; it is deafening. Missing what life was like before these little blessings entered your world.  Missing friends and family, and wondering if being a mom will always feel this lonely.

I get it.¬† I promise you aren’t alone.¬† I know those moments when you feel like you just can’t have one more conversation about Legos, or Sesame Street, or bodily functions.¬† But I promise those conversations, while repetitive, are important. They are building a bond between you and your child that nothing can separate. Hang on to those times when you get to have adult time, and don’t be afraid to reach out to other moms in your area.¬† Chances are they need a friend just like you.

Maybe you were up all night with a sick baby. The luxury of napping during the day is no longer an option with a toddler and preschooler running around.  Catching up on sleep seems near impossible, and you are feeling run-down.  Your tank is near-empty. Days when there are more hours than energy left before bedtime. Where did the energy you used to have disappear to? Will life always be this hard?

I get it.¬† I so, so get it.¬†Sometimes it seems like there isn’t enough caffeine in the world.¬†But look at that sweet baby that only you can bring comfort to.¬† The baby who loves you and needs you and silently¬†thanks you for your self-less, sacrificial love through the late-night hours. Find the strength to make it through the day and pray for peaceful sleep tonight.

Maybe you have been struggling with behavior problems.  The kids that you love more than life itself are driving you up the proverbial wall.  Whining, bickering, temper tantrum-ing, fighting.  You bounce between refereeing and feeling like you have somehow failed your children.  Your mind is swimming: Where did they pick up this bad behavior? Will they ever get along? Am I cut out for this mom stuff? You want. to. quit.

I get it. But, remember that your kids are human beings and not puppets: they make their own decisions and sometimes that means making bad decisions. What matters most is teaching them forgiveness and unconditional love. Be thankful for the opportunity to teach your kids under the shelter of your love. You are just what your kids need right now. Find the courage inside to say, “I am enough for my kids.”

Maybe you’re having a day where you are¬†stretched thin. A day where you barely have time to breathe between all of the errands (doctor appointments, story time at the library, play group, grocery shopping, school pick up). A day where there just aren’t enough hours to get your ever-growing to-do list done. A day where you feel like you just can’t juggle anything else.¬† You’re afraid to let anyone down, but you are the one who suffers in the end.

I get it. I have days where I want to shut down “mom’s taxi service” and lock us all in at home. I’m here to tell you to not be afraid to say no. Don’t worry about disappointing your kids if you cut down on the rat-race schedule. These moments you have making memories with your kids can happen anywhere. It’s okay to say no.¬† It’s okay to skip a swimming lesson every once in a while. It’s not okay for you to be so rushed and run ragged that you can’t enjoy this one life you have to live.

Maybe you are fighting depression.¬† The long days seem like a struggle, the minutes ticking by ever-slowly.¬† The simplest, smallest interruptions that often accompany kid-life (spilled milk, forgotten homework,¬†whining)¬†trigger a fire deep inside of you, erupting in anger. Or maybe you just can’t find a reason to smile amidst the antics and folly of your kids.¬†Instant regret and mom-guilt follow.¬† How many times have you had days where you just want to lay in bed all day, buried beneath the blankets in total darkness? Will there ever be joy in life again? Why am I so down when I have so much to be thankful for?

I get it. I’m right there with you. But every day you press on and¬†push forward, every day you say “I can do it” over and over, every day you refuse to give up: you are a warrior momma!¬† Tomorrow is a new day.¬† Hang on to the hope that tomorrow will be better.¬† One step at a time. Make a list of all your blessings and hold it close for hard days like today. Don’t let the pain and sadness of the moment have victory over your life.

Maybe you are having financial problems and you just don’t know how the bills will be paid. Or maybe you’re battling health issues, trying to deal with chronic pain, or awaiting a diagnosis.¬†Or maybe you’re¬†struggling through marital problems and you feel like you don’t know when things will turn the corner. Or maybe you are grieving the loss of a loved one that you would give anything to see¬†again. Or maybe you are dealing with anxiety, trying to curb the worries and troubles in your mind. The list could go on.

You aren’t alone, friend. Our challenges may be different, and the roads we are walking may not look the same,¬†but we are all foraging through the wildness of this life together.¬† Sometimes when all you can see is the darkness and fog around you, you just¬†need someone to tell you that breakthrough is just around the corner.¬† Hope is just around corner.¬† Maybe not today or tomorrow, but I promise you¬†that the days won’t always be this hard.

bad day

source: pinterest.com