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

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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 “standard” 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:

“So-and-so’s 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’t 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’m 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’s worst mom.”

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’t 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’t 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’t going right today– things aren’t going as “perfectly” as they should– 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!

Evolution of Parenting

 

source: pinaquote.com

source: pinaquote.com

The parent I am now is NOT the parent I was when I first became a mom seven years ago.  Now that it is two against six or, during the work week, one against six, my mantra is “survival of the fittest”.  I’ve had to loosen the reigns to not only survive but because, quite frankly, some of my previous notions as a parent were kind of ridiculous. (Hindsight is always 20/20, right?)

First child: I can vividly remember saying (and, in case I forgot, my mother-in-law has been very helpful in reminding me, LOL) that my first child would never ever be allowed to sleep over at anyone’s house. It’s not that I didn’t trust our parents. I was more worried I would miss him and no one would know how to take care of him like I take care of him and he would be miserable without me. I didn’t let him sleep over anywhere without me for at least the first eight to ten months. Sixth child: Now? With baby #6? She has had at least three nights away from me in her four short months of life.  And my other kids can’t wait to spend time away from me (who they see all day every day). Seriously.  We pull into grandma and grandpa’s driveway and the kids are like, “See ya never!”  We live three hours from our families (aka our babysitters) and, honestly, I look forward to the few precious hours we can spend away from our kids when we go back home to visit.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, no?

First child: I was very diligent in filling out my first child’s baby book.  I even had a scrapbook of his first year of life.  I literally took THOUSANDS of pictures of him in his first year of life. Like, I’m pretty sure his first word was “cheese” because of how often I had that camera out.  I wanted to make sure I preserved every single memory possible. I  also made sure that I had recent pictures of him plastered all over our wall.  Sixth child: I own one of those fancy-shmancy cameras now.  And while I still love to take pictures, I don’t take nearly as many pictures now as I did then.  I don’t even have our updated family picture on the wall, or any pictures of our sixth baby printed out.  She does have a baby book.  That the hospital gave us. That has absolutely nothing in it except for her handprints and footprints from right after she was born.  That the nurses put in there for us. BUT each of our kids has a memory box full of different trinkets (coming-home-from-the-hospital outfits, first haircut trimmings, hospital bracelets, birthday cards, etc.), so I’m not too out of touch. 😉

First child: When it came to food, I swore up and down, left and right that my child would never eat sugar, or fast food. I found it alarming that some parents allowed their kids to eat *gasp* non-organic macaroni and cheese. I know, right? Sixth child: While I do try to feed my kids healthy and nutritious meals and snacks, I don’t lose sleep over my kids eating Happy Meals or sno-cones every once in a while. My mama-sanity sometimes depends on a trip through the drive-thru. Plus it gives me an excuse to order myself a caramel frappe. 😉

First child: My first baby never watched television. I used to be a naïve TV “snob” and couldn’t believe that some parents actually let their kids watch the electronic box.  I eventually tip-toed my way into the world of kids’ TV via Baby Einstein.  I mean, with a name like that it had to be worlds better than SpongeBob What’s-his-name. Sixth child: By the sixth baby, I have definitely become more lax with my TV censorship.  Typically I don’t like my kids to watch more than a couple of hours of television during the day.  But during the freezing cold winter months, and with having a newborn, and a crazy homeschool schedule, and kids that think 5:30 is an appropriate wake-up time… Sometimes we have the TV on more than I would like.  And that’s just how life is right now.  It won’t always be like this.  Remember… This is survival of the fittest, parenting-style.

First child: Whenever my first child’s pacifier fell to the ground, I would wash it off and, more often than not, sterilize it in boiling water. Any piece of food that fell to the floor would promptly be thrown away. Sixth child: I quickly inspect the pacifier and then pop it back in the baby’s mouth without a second thought. (Unless we are at a store or anywhere else in public.  I’m not that gross.)  Dropped food? No biggie.  We have the ten minute rule around here.  When my kids are scavenging for lost Cheerios in the couch, I take that as a signal that I probably need to feed them.

First child: My first child was held by either my husband or myself all. the. time.  I honestly don’t remember using the bouncy seat when he was a baby, and we didn’t own a bumbo. I even had a hard time letting family and friends hold him.  Ridiculous, right? Sixth child: I do have to say that our sixth child is also held the majority of the time.  But by her older siblings.  Seriously, they bicker about who gets to hold her, and there are plenty of “You are a baby hog” comments that are shouted out every day. So while I don’t hold my baby as much as I held my first one, she is still getting snuggled up and loved on pretty much every minute of the day.

First child: I vowed I would never, ever be angry with my sweet firstborn.  Looking at my tiny, innocent newborn, I not only thought, “My child will never ever do something naughty enough to provoke anger out of me,” but I also thought, “I will never, ever be mad at/frustrated with my child.” Famous last words. Er, thoughts. Sixth child: I’ve learned that, while my kids are angels, they are most certainly not perfect. They are humans and have a big learning curve.  On occasion they will need correction.  On occasion they will make me upset.  And that is okay.  That is life with kids. The good news is that, over the years, I’ve learned that consistency is key. And while my sixth child doesn’t have the capability to be “naughty” right now, I know that, at some point in the future, I will have to put my parenting skills to use.

First child: I remember holding my son for the first time, gazing at this tiny person who was fully dependent on me.  My heart literally grew three inches that day.  I couldn’t imagine loving anyone more than I loved my firstborn.  When I got pregnant with our second child when my first was only 9 months old, I remember worrying that I would never be able to love another baby as much as I loved my first. My mind couldn’t even fathom it. Sixth child: I think it is safe to say that a mother’s love is not divided but rather multiplied. I’m always amazed at the instant love I feel after the birth of each of our children.  I love our sixth baby as much as I loved our first.  And the love each of my kids have for each other is nothing short of heartwarming. It makes all of the times they argue and fight a little more bearable.

For those of you with kids, how has your parenting style changed over the years?  Are you more lax than you were at the beginning?

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

 

Life: Simple

 

Image found via Google image search

Image found via Google image search

Ever feel like life is just too full?

Everything in life is moving in hyper-drive, vying for my attention, emotions, energy. I try my hardest to keep up with the housework, schoolwork, child-rearing, and wife duties, but, more often than not, something has to give. Generally speaking, that “something” is, 9-times-out-of-10, housework.

I wouldn’t consider myself a slob in any way, shape or form.  But, I’m busy.  So it isn’t unusual to see dishes on the counter or a pile of clean laundry waiting (ever so patiently) to be folded.

While I absolutely hate that my house is rarely Pinterest perfect, I have also come to realize that this is just the stage of life we are in and it won’t always be this way.

We had a guest speaker at my MOPS group this past week.  I absolutely love listening to other moms share their heart, their drive, their passion because, more often than not, I can totally relate to some aspect. This speaker was no different. The topic? Home organization.

The speaker was very real and her topic so extremely relevant. She is a mom to 6 kids (all born within eight years, which is so similar to my six in seven) who has found a way to avoid the stress and chaos that comes from having so many children (who in turn have so much “stuff”).

Live simply.

I have been on a mission lately to trim down our possessions and try to live a more “minimalist” lifestyle.  When you have eight people living in a 1400 square foot house, less is always better! So I could really relate to what the speaker was saying. And something she said really resonated with me: when our homes are so cluttered and unorganized, our minds will not be 100% present with our kids, even though we are physically present.

Wow!  The more I think about this, the more I realize how right she is. When my house is a disaster-zone, my mind goes 100 miles per hour, racing through to-do lists of things that need to be cleaned, items that need to be put away, chores that need to be accomplished. It is so hard to be totally focused on my sweet kiddos when there is so much chaos around us.

And then there is the ripple effect: I become short with my kids and blow up over the smallest things that happen. The kids ask me to play/read/cuddle with them, but I’m so pre-occupied that I say “no” more often than I’d like. Someone spills something accidentally while I’m attending to something else, and my emotional thermometer erupts and overflows ugliness all over an innocent situation.

Those mind-consuming things can actually rob us of our emotions and energy.

On the flip side, when my home is orderly, peace follows.  I don’t feel the constant nagging, reminding me of everything that I have to do.  Instead, I can relax and truly enjoy my family.

Now, how can I ever get to the point where my house feels more peaceful and less… not?

Talking things over with my husband (who tends to be the idea-shaper in our relationship) we decided that we have too. much. stuff.  Sure, I had made strides in clearing out some of the clutter, but if I were to be honest with myself, there are many other things I could part with.  Having less “stuff” will mean less cleaning, tidying, organizing of said “stuff”. I need to get to the point where we are living more simply so life doesn’t seem so overwhelming. So I can focus more on what truly matters (my family) and spend less time and energy putting out the “fires” of life (the daily demands).

Live life simply so you can love more extravagantly.

That is my new mantra in life.  I want to be more present with my kids and, in order to do that, I’m going to cut out any unnecessary distractions life may throw my way.  And that includes extra “stuff”.

When you have six kids, you multiply that by six birthdays, and six sets of gifts at every holiday.  It gets to be a LOT!  Our toy room and the kids’ closet is out. of. control!

I’m kind of ashamed to say this, but here goes: I am waaaaaay behind on folding and putting away laundry.  (Again.) I’m not even exaggerating when I say I have ten loads of clean laundry sitting on my bedroom floor, waiting to be folded and put away.  There are also approximately four loads of dirty laundry waiting to be washed. PLUS our closets are all completely filled with clothing.  Something is wrong with this picture.  We obviously have WAY more clothing than any eight people would need. And I’m stressing out because, every day, I go into my room and see the clothes that need to be folded and put away, plus the clothes waiting to be laundered.  It is ridiculous!

And then the toys. OHHHHHH, the toys.  We have one small room dedicated as the “toy room” (although a more accurate description would be “toy dumping ground”). Two toy boxes, plus a dress up box, plus a large play barn.  Then in the boys’ room are the Legos, K’Nex and other building toys.  In the girls’ room are all of the baby toys, pretend toys, and stuffed animals.  And lastly is the kids’ closet.  Toys covering every available inch of shelving (Duplos, Lincoln logs, Weebles, Barbies, etc.). Trying to keep the toys organized and in their place takes an act of God most days because my kids are quite the professional mess-makers.  It is EXTREMELY stressful because there are so many sets and totes and pieces and oh. my. word.  Just thinking about it makes my head spin.

I’m done. This is insanity! My stress level is up and my patience level is low. So I’m making it my goal to eliminate 50% of our stuff.  I want to live more simply so we can love more extravagantly!

The less time I spend cleaning and fixing and organizing means the more time I can love on my kiddos. This isn’t going to be easy but I’m committing to this not only for my sanity but to bring peace to my home. (Before and after pictures to come!!)

What about you?  Are there any areas of your life you can pare down so you can focus more on what truly matters?

The Face In the Mirror

Source:  shakespearefiorenza.blogspot.com

Source:
shakespearefiorenza.blogspot.com

Dear friend:

I see you standing there, disappointment resounding in your eyes. The thoughts going through your mind are made apparent by the downcast look upon your face.  You turn to the side and, carefully studying what you see in the mirror, you heave a big sigh.

Your once bright eyes are now shadowed, the sleepless nights ever-apparent. Your body is soft and slumped in places that once were youthful and toned. Your back aches from the constant lifting-carrying-rocking-bending-kneeling your body is now accustomed to.  Your stretch-marks looking bigger than ever. All of the things you deem as imperfections seem to stand out in stark contrast to how you used to look.

I’m here to tell you to stop it.  That disappointment you are feeling, the ache to have back the body you once so proudly walked in, the ache to look any other way than what the reflection is showing you right at this very moment.

Stop.

I’m here to tell you that motherhood has changed you.  Spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Physically.  You are not the same person you were before you saw those two pink lines, heard that first cry, smelled that sweet baby smell, kissed those itty bitty baby toes.

Whether it has been days, weeks, months, or years since you became a mom, you are changed.  You cannot be the same person you were before.  And that is ok.

Your body spent months growing a human being.

Think about that.

You had a person (who started out as smell as the period on this page) moving, changing, hiccupping, rolling, in. your. body. This didn’t happen over night. For many women like you, this took nine long, hard months of pregnancy, which didn’t always come easy.

Food aversions. Nausea. Exhaustion. Discomfort. Pain. Emotions.

But all of that was worth it in the end, wasn’t it?

Maybe the words of others are blaring in your mind as you look at yourself in the mirror.  The words of loved ones and even strangers can cut deep when you are already feeling so vulnerable and uncertain in this “new” body of motherhood.  Words that tell you you don’t look good enough, small enough, well-rested enough… The judgments come fast and quick, catching you off-guard.

I’m here to tell you that you are beautiful. Period. No matter what others say. They haven’t felt those first flutters from your growing baby, or experienced the joy that came when you heard that first cry, or the pride you felt upon first seeing the tiny little person who has your eyes.

Those naysayers’ opinions hold absolutely no stock in how you, as a mother, should look.  So ignore them. They’re wrong. Their voices are loud right now, but let mine be louder.

We can’t expect ourselves to do one of the most amazing things in the world (grow a human being) without changing spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and, yes, physically.

Your body is perfect just the way it is, no matter what the numbers on your waistband or scale say. If you don’t believe me, ask that little one staring up at you. To them, there has never been a mother more radiant and perfect than you. They’re talking about the YOU right now, not the you from your pre-baby years.

And they are right.  You are the source of their comfort and needs.  You are the one that stays up late at night, checking temperatures and praying for health for your sweet babies. You are the one that foregoes taking a shower for the second day in a row in order to play Legos with your little boy, or play dress-up with your little girl. You are the one who selflessly gives of herself, even when all you want to do is run in the other direction.

Those things you do for your children are not dependent on what you see in the mirror, or what others see walking down the aisle at Target.  Because the thing about motherhood that matters the most cannot be seen by the human eye.  The thing about motherhood that matters most goes much deeper than appearance.

Your heart.

Your heart, your love for your children, is the most beautiful thing you or any other parent can possess.  No scale or tape measure can accurately count that.

And when you think about it, the way you are right at this very moment is a testament to that love for your children.  Your mom-heart is shining through.

Friend, the next time you look at your reflection, take pride in knowing that your body, albeit different than what it was before kids, is actually more perfect now. Hold your head up.  Know that what you do matters, and how you look does not. You are the mom that your kids need and love, right at this very moment.

You are amazing.

Sincerely,
A mom who has been there.

Source: beautyredefined.org

Source: beautyredefined.org

The Problem With Opinions

source: quotes.hacklife.org

source: quotes.lifehack.org

In one of my other posts, I touched on what I wish people knew about raising a large family and what it is like to be a part of a large family.  I love the positive reaction I received from other parents with many children and/or people who grew up in a large family!  I feel blessed that I have been given the opportunity to raise so many little ones! 🙂

The other day I was browsing the internet and came across this awesome blog post at “Tales From the Mommy Trenches”. (Seriously, go check it out!) I couldn’t help but empathize with the author and every word she wrote.  If I had a dollar for each time some Johnny-Do-Gooder tried to shame me in my choice to have a large family, I would have quite a bit of cash in my pocket.

Last night, as I was laying in bed trying to quiet my mind, I couldn’t help but think about the mom in the blog post, as well as myself and other moms of many.  And moms in general, no matter how many kids they have or how their family came to be (whether grown in their womb or in their heart). I didn’t realize gaining the title of mom came with the open invitation for others to speak their minds on how we are running our lives.

Every time I walk into the store with my “gaggle” of children, I notice the stares and comments given by strangers.  Oftentimes someone in one of the stores will feel it is their duty (?) to come up and inform me that I have my hands full, or some other typical comment.  I usually smile and try to be polite about it.  I do not want my kids to be ashamed of having a large number of siblings, even though I’m sometimes meant to feel shame when answering embarrassing questions. (“Do you know what causes it?” “Have you heard of birth control?” “Are you addicted to pregnancy?”)

Not too many years ago, having a large family was the norm.  Now?  It is viewed as a physical anomaly, much like sprouting an extra head or set of arms (which, by the way, I would not mind at. all.).

There have been a couple of reasons thrown around various blogs lately; some authors have even gone so far as to say choosing to have a large family is “irresponsible”. Many people feel that having a large family is selfish and the cause for overpopulation.  I wish I had the ability to describe my feelings in regards to that as eloquently as this author did. Other people feel that we can’t quite possibly know our children on a personal level because there are so many of them.  I don’t even feel the need to explain how ridiculous I think that thought process is. But despite my feelings and opinions on the matter, most people cannot will not change the way they interact with parents.

And it is often times heart breaking.

Making jokes about large family parents needing to find a different hobby, or suggesting that we put a TV in our bedroom (no thank you!!) are not clever, nor are they appropriate.  Would the commenters like it if someone started making jokes out of their private life? Since when is talking about a couple’s private life acceptable? Those opinions are the open door to shaming someone else.

Telling a mom that maybe she should stop having children because one of her current children is throwing a tantrum in the check-out lane is anything but helpful.  Telling a large family mom that she cannot handle her kids after she mentioned having a rough day with the kids is extremely hurtful. Moms with many kids have the right to have a bad day, the same as a mom with fewer kids.  Instead of passing judgment and issuing hurtful comments, offer support and a hug.  Sometimes that is all that we really need.

Reminders that “this too shall pass”, “it won’t always be like this”, “you’re doing great”, and anything else that is edifying are wonderful, NOT belittling.

Children are a blessing and something to be celebrated, whether that child is a couple’s first or twentieth! Each person on this planet has a purpose and unique role to fill.  Making a parent feel shame for bringing another life into the world is not only rude but it is also unproductive.

The problem with opinions is that we cannot control the opinions of others.   The good news is that we can control our own opinions and practice the old adage “If you can’t say something nice [or uplifting or positive or motivational], don’t say anything at all.”

Now excuse me while I go cuddle with my little blessings! 🙂