I had a rather large and disappointing blow dealt to me today. No, it’s not my health or anything to do with my kids. The fact that I even have to add that disclaimer shows me that there are way more important things in life than being disappointed about something.
Still, I felt the sting of tears in my eyes. My heart did ache. I was angry. I was sad. I allowed myself those few moments (okay, hours) of self pity.
We all have those magical things that make us who we are. We have personality traits that people like or hate or like to hate. We have our own personal ideas of what our lives should be and how we picture them working out. Once we get that vision in our mind, we set out on our path. Depending on who we are and what circumstances surround us, we either find some deviation of that path or blaze a new trail.
I have always been a firm believer in staying true to your dreams. There have been plenty of opportunities for change. Even more opportunities to conform or simply survive. The only way I know how to describe my feelings is to say that I have worked my whole adult life at trying to fan some embers of a fire. The embers smolder and smoke. I would use one of those old school fans you see people in colonial days keep on their fireplace hearth. I would fan the embers of my dreams. At times, I would see the fire ablaze. It would have so much heat radiating from it that it would take my breath away. At other points, there would be no sign of those amber streaks of light, only the remnants of what was once a hot, heaping pile of fire. But, there underneath all that coldness, in the depths of that darkness of nothing, there were the tiny stems of a sparking light. They may have been unseen to anyone who passed by the black and burnt woodpile, but they were there. They were there all along.
That’s how I feel about keeping my dreams alive. I feel like I try. I feel like I push. I can hustle. Where are the rewards? Where is my happy ending or my happy beginning for that matter?
Today was just a setback. I feed myself that line more often than I care to admit. So, here I am, still sitting at square one. I have nothing left to do but give it up to God. I will keep praying that I find my way. I will not lose faith in my cold, hidden dreams. I will not be selfish. I will not fall victim to self doubt and self pity. That’s what the enemy wishes me to do. He wishes me to fail. He wishes me to give up. My dreams are my dreams. Nobody can take them from me, not until I let them.
It’s quiet now. There are no televisions on at our house. I can hear the crickets outside the bedroom window. My newborn is asleep on my chest, my two year old is asleep in his crib. I find the quiet to be a magical fantasy. It lures me to leave it alone. It doesn’t want me to move. It doesn’t want anything to change.
I have read a million things these last two and a half weeks. Everything from parenting newsletters in my inbox to blog posts I find during a 2:00 a.m. feeding session on Pinterest. One post that really caught my attention in particular was about a woman who followed a blog. In this blog, the writer was a mother and wife. She posted all these awesome pictures and entries that made her life seem perfect. She had the perfect kid who never cried in any pictures. She had the perfect husband who never complained and was always the doting dad. She cooked perfect meals. Her life was amazing. The blog I was reading was written by a new mother. She had followed this woman and her “perfect life” and had been comparing her life to the things this woman was describing. It took the realistic mother only a short while to figure out this other blogger was a phony. Realistic mother went back and looked at everything she had been posting herself. She showed a few examples of pictures she had put with some of her entries. The first 10 pictures she took were never the pictures that she used. One example was a picture of her husband and daughter. The picture she used showed a smiling dad and a smiling child with their arms wrapped around each other. It showed them looking undeniably cute and affectionate. Then, she showed the pictures she took before the one she used. The kid was not happy. She was not smiling. The dad looked uninterested in being in the picture. This whole thing really made me laugh. We are all so worried about what we look like to the world that we “fake it till we make it.”
I am a mother of two wonderful boys. I love them with all of my heart. That is the truth. The rest of the truth is that they both poop a lot. I change a lot of diapers and it’s not pretty. I have a 2 year old who tells me no. I have to “smack his booty.” He won’t always take a nap. He gets toys out and won’t put them back when he is asked or told. He says “mine” all the time. He cries when he knows it’s time for bed. I have a 2 1/2 week old baby. He eats, sleeps, poops and repeats. He is hungry all the time. My nipples feel like they will fall off. His butt makes sounds that should only come from a grown man. I get peed on at least once a day. I know all the words to Dora’s songs. I had to take television away from my child because I think he is mildly addicted. My husband works away during the week. He gets to have time to himself. He told me today that I was “snippy” with him. My mother is here helping me right now because I can’t physically take care of my two children, cook and clean my house. These are all my truths. Is it embarrassing to put it all out there like that? Heck yes. Do I think it makes me look like any less of a person or mother? Heck no. My life is by no means perfect. There are daily struggles. I win some battles and I lose some brain cells. At the end of the day, I would rather I was honest with myself and anyone who cares to know about me. I don’t have it all together. No amount of edited pictures or fancy writing skills will ever be able to cover up that truth. I love my kids. I love my husband. I appreciate my friends and family for their help and support.
If I have learned one thing from the post I read about “perfect mom,” it’s that she doesn’t really exist.
I stole this quote from one of my all time favorite movies and it seems to go well here, “The funny thing about that little white speck on the top of chicken shit. That little white speck is chicken shit too.”
Sometimes, I open my eyes and I am standing in our pasture. It’s those few minutes between darkness and daylight break. I look out over the high grass and see the fog settling. It’s peaceful. It’s quiet. The air blows just enough that I feel it move my hair. I can feel God there.
One week ago, we welcomed our second son into this world. Already having a child prepared me for what labor would be like. I said several times that I think a woman’s brain is trained to block some things about labor out. Otherwise, nobody would ever have more than one. We went in to the hospital early Thursday morning. My doctor broke my water around 8:00 a.m. Things progressed pretty quickly this time. (I was in labor with our first son for 8 hours.)
After four and a half short hours, it was go time. Every time I was told to push, I did. I would close my eyes so tight. When I opened them, I was standing in our pasture. I was feeling the dampness in the air. I was listening and waiting. I felt the comfort of knowing he was with me. I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t hear him. I just knew he was there. Before I realized what had happened, my son was being placed on my lap. I had tears running down my face. All the months of fears and worry had come to a screeching halt. The worrying had been about eating the right foods, getting enough rest, living with guilt of my first son not being my only priority anymore. All of these things and more had been challenges for me. In that moment, the moment he was placed on my stomach, the moment I heard him cry, the moment I knew my life would once again never be what it was before, I knew that God had been there with me. I knew that he had a hand in helping us through.
Life is such a beautiful thing. In moments like these, I am thankful that I can open my eyes and my heart to see the things that not everyone believes to be there.
This past week, I experienced something that I am sure most mothers are familiar with. I got the mystery stomach virus that is going around. When I say going around, I don’t mean my community. We live in east Texas. My mom’s neighbors in Florida had the same symptoms and they were sick for the same amount of days. My best friend who lives in Ohio, her dad had it this past week. It’s actually very strange. Anyway, did I mention I am 36 weeks pregnant? Not fun. Monday after work, I was exhausted. We did our usual nightly routine. We went to bed. I work up several times in the middle of the night with stomach cramps. I will spare details. The whole next day I could barely move. My two year old woke up crying. I thought for sure he had it too. I stayed home from work and kept him home from the sitter. Low and behold, he was actually fine. I checked him throughout the day and he showed no signs of sickness. His appetite was as big as usual. He was happy. I was so thankful he didn’t have it.
I was a different story. I had three main areas that I visited: the bathroom, the couch and the bed. I had no appetite. My poor child was stuck watching the same Dora DVD on repeat all day. I also handed him a ziplock bag of leftover pizza and he just carried it around and ate out of it all day (not my proudest parent moment). We lived to see Wednesday. On Wednesday, the stomach cramping was gone, but I was so weak that I couldn’t stand up longer than 10 minutes. It was awful. I missed another day of work. My 2 year old was stuck at home with me again because I was afraid to drive. Finally, although I was only operating at about 50% my normal speed and brain functioning, I went back to work on Thursday.
I guess my whole point here is that having a husband at home every night to help in these situations would be ideal. I guess I am just proud of myself because being sick is hard. Being sick and still having to function enough to take care of your kids is a whole different ball game. I am thankful that The Lord gave me strength, trust me, I prayed for it. Especially when I was taking breaks every five minutes from picking up toys because I thought I might pass out or changing dirty diapers and gagging. If you are lucky enough to have family close by or a husband home during the week, do all of us who do not have those things a favor, count your blessings. My children are amazing gifts. They teach me things every day. This week, the lesson was that even when you feel the most helpless, someone else is there depending on you.
I have developed an ice chewing habit. I have no idea when or why this happened. The ice must be crushed. I also prefer the taste of the crushed ice from my refrigerator, specifically. No doubt a pregnancy side effect, it is proving to be annoying, sad, and dangerous. It’s annoying because I was laying in bed last night chewing ice, I prefer my ice in a glass. I got down to the end of the ice in my glass. Not even realizing that I was doing it, I was vigorously shaking the glass to get to the softer pieces at the bottom. After a few minutes, my husband came in and took the glass from me. He said, “I’m going to put more water in this.” I think that was code for “stop shaking that dang glass.”
My newly formed habit is sad because I take a tumbler full of ice with a little water in it to work with me every day. By 9:00 a.m. the water is gone. By 10:30 a.m. I have chewed all the ice in my tumbler. The rest of my day is sad. It’s hours upon hours of me dreaming about my ice. I crave it. I need to google this and see what exactly the deficiency is that is causing this extreme ice chewing issue.
My new favorite habit is dangerous for obvious reasons. Every single bite I take puts me one step closer to ruining my teeth. I’ll probably have dentures by 35. I guess that just gives me something to look forward to. Now, for the not so obvious reason that chewing ice is dangerous. Last Sunday after church, I was driving home. I had left my tumbler with ice in my car during church. The nice hot Texas sun had melted my ice to perfection. I couldn’t wait start chomping on my ice. Anyway, as I was driving, I tipped my glass back to get a lovely mouthful of melted ice. As soon as I tipped the cup, a giant clump came tunneling towards my mouth. Before I knew what had happened, my lip was busted. I looked in the rear view mirror and smiled. I had blood trickling down my teeth. I rolled my eyes. I thought long and hard about what had just happened. I closed my eyes, I took a deep breath, and I proceeded to chew my ice. Some things are worth a bloody lip.
Today, on Mother’s Day, our church sermon was about showing our children how to be godly. It was about putting God first and always following his word. We were told that our children see through our ways. If we are simply pretending to be good people and not actually being good people than our children know.
For anyone who has known me longer than the 5 years I have been a Texan, they know that I didn’t belong to a church. They know that I did not always make good choices. They know that I did not make God a priority in my life. I can’t say that I know if it is the family I married into, or the friends I have made since living here, or the simple fact that I am now responsible for small humans that has made me want to put God first in my life. Looking back at stupid things I have done, there is no reason why I should be alive. There is no logical reason why I shouldn’t be a complete mess. I believe that God has a purpose for me. My purpose may be nothing more than to raise my children in a God loving environment. Whatever his intention, I am open to it.
Mother’s Day is a wonderful day. It reminds you that you must do your best for your children everyday. The worries and burdens of everyday can follow you around, but if you look into your child’s eyes and see the reflection of a good person, you have won half the battle. The other half of the battle is to remember to be a good person for them to look up to instead of just pretending to be one. I believe that being a mother or just a parent is a true gift. My Mother’s Day was wonderful. It was full of love, kisses and time well spent.
What is it about a woman’s legs/ankles during pregnancy? It must be the fact that the baby is pushing down on every single thing below your bra that causes all the fluid in your body to go straight to your ankles. This is my second pregnancy, so I guess I should have expected it again. Call me crazy…but I really examined my ankles the other day. I even said to myself…”I think I can see my ankle bones…maybe they won’t swell this time.” Notice I said “I think” I can see my ankle bones. Honestly, it’s a struggle to see anything below this large watermelon someone so generously asked me if I swallowed. Now, back to the ankles/cankles. The thing that makes me the most sad is that I can no longer fit said cankles into my fabulous cowboy boots. Cowboy boots are the essential must have outfit piece here in Texas. You can wear them with a dress, you can wear them with shorts, you can wear them with jeans, or you can wear them with nothing. They are that thing that makes you feel sexy when you are walking away. They give you confidence. They say “look at me.”
I love every single pair of my boots. The problem is that my boots don’t love me when I’m pregnant. They allow for no “give.” This hurts my feelings beyond explanation.
I have some fabulous boots. The problem is that no matter how fabulous your boots are…they never look fab when you have two oversized sausages stuffed into them. Last time I was preggo, I tried shooting some of my maternity pictures in a pair of my boots. The result was hideous. If I still had facebook I would look the picture up and insert it here. Let’s be honest, I’m double L these days (large and lazy). Just take my word for it…I looked like I was in pain. My husband also had to pull them off of me!
All of this brings me back to my solution. I own a pair of boots, non-cowboy in design. They are leather and they have a large piece of elastic in the back. This piece is good and stretchy. I can wear them when I’m preggo and when I’m not. My question is this, why can’t they make a pair of cowboy boots like these other “fit all stages of my life boots” that I own? Surely, I am not the only large woman who has swelling in that area who also enjoys wearing her boots? I just want to scream!
I feel it necessary to note that no boots were injured in the writing of this post. (Hey, I’m hormonal…you never know.)