Category Archives: Motherhood

When a Good Thing Comes to an End

Today is perhaps my last quiet day home with just me and the kids for the summer. Monday morning, I officially become a full-time working mom for the first time. It’s a transition I am excited to make, and I’m beyond grateful for the opportunities it opens up for not only me, but also my family.

But of course, in order for something new and exciting to begin, it means the end of an era. The stay-at-home mom season of my life has to come to an end so I can become a teacher again. Seasons of transition always bring with them a jumbled excess of emotions to unwind and make sense of, so of course this summer has kept me busy doing just that.

The time I’ve been home with my kids has been an invaluable opportunity. It has also been the most challenging time of my life. I’ve undergone countless overhauls on perspective, purpose, needs, and identity.

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I now know the negative effects sleep deprivation has on me;

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the impossible yet necessary quest to strike up a balanced friendship with isolation;

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three-year-olds can give you bloody noses (unintentionally of course);

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I’m capable of praising and loathing poop multiple times in any given day;

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play dates are sometimes more important for the moms than they are for the kids;

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and coffee has miraculous powers.

I’ve also learned one of life’s most important lessons in the time I’ve been raising these kids I love so much: Every experience- both and good and bad – is for a season.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom, and I will forever be grateful that God honored that desire of my heart, but for our family, it is time for a change.

My kids aren’t babies anymore because they weren’t created to remain in the infant stage forever. They were made to grow, and so was I. The greatest gift God has given me as a mother is that, no matter how many changes my family or I go through, I will always be a mom – Dash and Daisy’ mom. As their mom, I’m given an incredible responsibility to teach them how to be brave, try new things, and never stop learning or growing.

The saying, “All good things must come to an end,” may leave a melancholy air with it. As I’ve worked through my jumbled emotions this summer, I have decided it’s unfortunate and unjust to make that statement by itself. I’ve reflected on the numerous good things and times that have come to an end in my lifetime, but I can say with certainty that eventually, saying goodbye to those things has always brought about new good things, and oftentimes even better things.

So yes, I do feel a tad emotional as this time in my life winds up. I will obviously miss the luxury of staying in my pajamas on the mornings that follow up a rough night with a sick kid, but I am thrilled at the opportunity to leave a legacy with 130+ kids in addition to my own each year. I might not get to relish afternoon nap time in the way I used to, but I get to be a very active and empathetic cheerleader for Dash as we start school together in just a couple of weeks. Most importantly, I get to prove to my kids that it’s important to live with this philosophy:

When good things come to an end, make

 

Reflections of a Mom: Letting go of Excessive Labels

Much like we all tend to do, I spent my growing up years building a picture of what my life should look like when I grew up.

One of those pictures of my grown-up years definitely didn’t include me being a working mom. Nope. It took actually being a grown up and experiencing all of the unexpected experiences that come with living to bring me to where I currently find myself.

I thought I had a pretty good handle on what it looked like to be a mother coming into it. I’d watched my mom do it and do it well. Then I grew up and became one. I wasn’t shocked by the actual work that came with it, nor was I amazed at how rewarding being a parent is. What has been crazy for me to comprehend is how much like a never-ending experiment being a grown up is. As a child, I looked to my parents to know the answers to everything I had questions about. Now that I’m the one in that role, I understand more and more each day that it takes a lot of prayer and ad-libbing to make it through the days. It also takes living life on purpose.

I haven’t always done the best job of that in my mothering. There have been times I’ve felt like I was drowning in isolation. I’ve floundered with how to handle discipline issues or the best way to educate my kids in their early years. All the while, I held onto one part of my ideal picture of being a good mother, and I could find comfort in the fact that, while I might not be doing everything right, at least I was staying home with them, and that had to count for something. That meant I wasn’t failing at everything. (I didn’t see other moms who didn’t stay home as failures. It was just the picture I’d built for myself as ideal. In my mind, it had to be my forever calling because it was what I’d always pictured myself doing for forever.)

Meanwhile, a great many experiences began changing me and my perspective of what it meant for me to be a good mother. For the longest time, I had a neat little package answer of why I couldn’t be a working mom, but then the wrapping began to rip.

I began to realize that what was truly best for my family wouldn’t always look the same. I had proof of this in many other areas, so I finally allowed myself to accept it in this one as well. It was time for a new season. My husband was working himself ragged and we rarely got to see him while the kids and I were together constantly with no breaks from each other. I had been allowed the amazing gift of being there for all of my kids’ milestones, but their dad was missing a lot of them. I’d tried every work-at-home job I could find, but none of us enjoyed it when I did. It was time for me to step outside of my comfort zone and work part time.

I pushed aside the guilty feelings that come with being a mom, for by now I knew, no matter what “kind” of mom I was, I would always fight those guilty feelings, and I started substitute teaching on my husband’s days off from fire fighting. There have been days I’ve bemoaned all that I must be missing by being away from my family, but each day when I come home, I realize that my kids don’t look at me any differently. They don’t see me as less of a mother. I’m still the same mama they love and need, but now I’m able to offer them a different set of lessons.

I was able to see some of those lessons in action the other day when I took them to the park after I got home from work. I smiled to myself on the way to the park at the memory of thoughts I had before I was working. I would take them to the same park and think, “If I were working, I’d be missing out on chances like this.” I have now proved that this sentiment was simply not true. As we ran around the playground, I watched how much more independent we have all become since I let go of this notion and proved myself incorrect.

The reality is, my working has made me value the time I have with my kids that much more. I spent years building a foundation when I was with them all of the time, but now we get to start building upon what we started. I can stand back and watch them push limits I used to cautiously hold their hand through. As a bonus, they’ve learned to hold each other’s hand through the changes, too.

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I have a leg to stand on when I tell my son to be brave and try new things because I’ve been brave enough to do the same.

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As they grow, I can tell them to take care in what they allow to define them because I’ve begun the work of letting go of all of my worth and identity being wrapped up in them.

When they face seasons of transition in their own lives, I can say, “I know it’s scary and exciting, but growth never happens without purposefully changing the way you do things from time to time. And of course, I’m here for you as you take the risk ”

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I’m thankful to have gotten to a place in my life where I can be at peace with being a mom without throwing a label in front of it. It’s not about being a stay-at-home mom or a working mom,  a boy mom or a girl mom, a mother of two or a mother seven. God has called me to be a mother to some incredibly priceless gifts, and the roles I will need to fill throughout the years of raising them will change as much as they do. Motherhood requires letting go of so much, but thankfully we never outgrow the hugs.

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I have held off sharing this part of my story on here for a long while because I know that this topic stirs up all kinds of emotions in mothers. The last thing I want to do is place negative feelings in anyone’s heart, but now that I’ve had enough time to process my own experience, I believe it’s important to share my story. I look at it as only that. My story. It’s not necessarily what your story is meant to be, but I share it with the hope that you can apply the principles of living life on purpose and the importance of being open to change when change is what is best. That is how we all grow.

Blessings to you all!

~Kelly

The Abridged Tales of Car Buying with Kids

We bought a new car recently, which is the hugest blessing. The stories I could tell about why we needed this new car are enough to write an entirely new post, but we will settle for the abridged version: we now have two whole rear view mirrors (Hallelujah and amen!) and my prayer every time I get in the new car has changed to “Thank you so much, God, for blessing us with a reliable car!” instead of, “Lord, PLEASE keep this car from blowing up in a dramatic fashion that matches the noises coming from the engine.”

Anyway, the salesman we worked with was a nice young man who is completely happy with the status of being unmarried and not at all interested in being a parent. (Side note: Does it officially make me old that I used the term “young man” without catching myself until rereading the sentence? I think he said he was 26. Where has my life gone?) We talked with him quite a bit during several visits to the dealership to find the right vehicle, and on the second-to-the-last visit, we decided to be brave and bring the kids with us. Because car shopping an hour before nap time with an almost 2-year-old and a 5-year-old would obviously go well…especially if you remember halfway there that you forgot your daughter’s pacifier.

It just happened that this brave trip was not a bust because we found our car! By we, I mean my husband and the salesman. Meanwhile, I found several creative ways to convince Daisy that the fish in the fish tank were not going to make an escape and attack her while simultaneously reminding Dash that, while he was physically capable, he wasn’t actually allowed to help himself to the popcorn in the popcorn machine. Also, I did not have any change for the vending machine and no matter how many times the two of them said that the cookies and candy inside looked yummy, they wouldn’t be getting any today. At the point that nap time was officially upon us, my husband returned from the test drive and asked me if I was ready to go give it a spin. Daisy replied for me by throwing herself down on the front steps of the dealership so she could properly sob uncontrollably about not having her own water bottle. A girl is entitled to feel deeply about things.

CarRideOne of our last adventures in the old car. Here’s to many new ones as we drive around the new one!

Fast forward to later that afternoon when we had secured a babysitter and were back at the dealership to get the car. I was finally taking that test drive and we chatted with our salesman friend while we drove. He admitted that the very thought of having kids terrified him. I’m sure that observing the angelic behavior of my own kids earlier that day did not in any way solidify this fear. I chuckled inside as I contemplated how on earth I could convince this guy that it’s a worthwhile venture. I mean, until you’ve actually found yourself responsible for the health, well-being, education, nutrition, and discipline of a child, it’s tough to understand that the crazy that consumes your life is truly worth it. That it balances out with the incomparable love that you feel for your child.

The first moments after Dash was born and my parents were getting to love on him for the first time, my dad said, “Your life just changed forever.” I wasn’t prepared for the terror that I felt at that reality. How on earth had I not considered the depth of that fact until that instant when I realized he was so right? My life would never, ever be the same, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Then Dad finished his thought, probably because he noticed how wide-eyed and panicked I was looking, “But it is so worth it.”

These are all of the things that were going through my mind while I was test driving a car with a guy who laid it all out there to us by saying, “I’m far from ready to take on being a father.” I smiled and said no one is ever 100% ready, but when it’s the right time, whether you think it is or not, it’s one of the most fulfilling gifts you could ever get in life. I have no idea if he believed us or not, but I’m pretty sure my husband and I both drove home in our new car with not only a new plan for how to minimize the amount of kid-inflicted scuff marks on our new seats but also an extra smile or two at how blessed we are with the little feet and hands that will “accidentally forget” and make their marks on the car just like they do in our hearts.

 

Why Just Living is Greater Than Sweet Justice

Dear Son,

You started a new chapter of your life this week by stepping outside of the humble little 1068 square foot house we call home to start preschool. It’s an exciting time of transition in your life, and we couldn’t be more proud of you.

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As you are just starting to consciously work on growing up, the world is raging with all manner of problems that leave my mind whirling as I attempt to process the facts and the emotions that have gotten mixed into an explosive cocktail that is shattering hope of immediate improvement.

My sweet boy, the world will never stop being a mess. Someone will always be hurting, misunderstood, ignorant, or unwilling to take the time to differentiate facts from feelings.You can’t control those people. At some point in your life, they will come after you as well, spewing their own hurt onto your life, and as much as I wish I could shield you from it, I realize I’m better off preparing your for it.

You’re getting to a place in life where you’ll begin to notice that life isn’t fair as often as we’d like it to be. Someone will inevitably misunderstand you; you will hurt someone’s feelings or they will hurt yours; you won’t get credit for something you worked hard on; or someone won’t value you in the way that you deserve. And it will hurt when you experience injustice firsthand, no matter if its small or big. So what do you do when someone wants to bring about their own version of justice and it effects you personally?

The main thing is this: Instead of searching for justice, live justly.

Your Papa often reminded me as I worked on growing up like you are beginning to now that God has clearly laid out how He intends for us to live. One of the scriptures that He pointed me to as we worked through the difficult scenarios we face in this world is Micah 6:8:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

How does one go about doing justly in a world that’s not fair? What kind of responsibility does that mean we should take upon ourselves?

As much as you or I might wish it means that we take a dramatic stand for justice or exact revenge, this isn’t the case at all. It’s going to be tough, but wait for God to bring about justice. He is the only One capable of doing it properly. (“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.” 2 Thessalonians 1:6) He’s also set up authorities to take care of the details. Those authorities aren’t perfect, and they won’t always do things right, but it sure takes a lot of pressure off to realize that they are the ones who answer to God for how the conduct the pursuit of justice, and God in turn will ultimately see that justice is served appropriately.

Instead of attempting to rid your world of injustice or paying back those who have wronged you, do exactly what Micah 6:8 says to do. “Do justly.”

This means we need to be “honorable and fair”* in how we act. When we are undermined by someone who does something unethical, we continue to be “consistent with what is morally right.”

It would be much easier to go with what people will tell you to do when your emotions are louder than reality. They will say its okay to fight back in the same manner you’ve been wronged. Instead “uphold what is just” by being an example of doing the right thing and using sound judgment.

I guarantee that you won’t become popular by taking this stand, but popularity isn’t a requirement for being a man of character. Doing to others what you would want them to do to you, on the other hand, is a great way to be an example those who want to stand with you for what is right in the eyes of the God who lovingly created you to honor Him.

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You will wonder at times if it’s worth it to live justly rather than seeking justice. You might someday face a bully who won’t leave you alone, and he has it coming. There could be a classmate who falsely accuses you, or a friend who betrays your trust. Life will likely deal you a difficult season that requires you to act more maturely than your peers tell you is fair. Your dad and I have both been there many times, and if there’s one thing we can tell you with certainty after surviving those unfair and trying times in our lives, it’s that obeying God’s Word is always worth it.

The world’s idea of justice isn’t as sweet as they think it will be. Otherwise, they’d no longer be searching for it.

Peace will come to you personally when you let go of trying to make things right and live right by loving mercy and walking humbly with your God. I’ve prayed since you were tiny that you would live by this verse. I know you’re only human, and that there will be times you won’t get it perfect, but a real man will learn from his mistakes and be stronger for them. I just ask that you be the real man that I know you can be based on the evidence you’ve shown me in your first five years.

Keep fighting for just living in a world that is hungry for justice. Show them that peace is attainable when we live lives that honor God and point others to His Word. Your journey has just begun, but that doesn’t mean I’m praying for you any less as you learn to live out faith in this world one experience at a time.

All my love,
Mom

*All parts of the definition of justly in quotation marks came from this source, which gives the Hebrew translation of the words “just” and “justice.”

 

That Post Where I Focus on the Exceptionally Wonderful Little Things That Make my Life Full

These two great posts by my friends Jen & Ashley reflect perfectly on what I was working on writing this week! Expectations. Gratitude. Space. Intentionality. They make for an epic battle of finding peace and balance. Here are a few of my reflections on letting go of expectations while choosing gratitude and joy in the exceptionally average.

Expectations are a vicious beast. They can change something that is good in a person’s mind into vile, wrong, and completely dysfunctional in a matter of minutes.

I could list one personal example after the next of how I’ve let expectations ruin my day, annihilate my confidence, and completely change how I did things as a parent, housekeeper, wife, and woman.

One example that appropriately fits since I’m sharing this on a blog is my views of how I blog. I’m sure I’ve shared it a few dozen times on here before that how I deal with writing (which does involve blogging quite a bit for me) is a parallel to how I’m working my way through life.

When I first started blogging five years ago, I went into it with no expectations or preconceived ideas of what makes a blog a good one. I thought it would be the easiest way to share updates and pictures with family who lived far away. As I got into it, I found so much joy in reflecting over the little and big things that made up my days with my family. I began to work through my feelings by having an outlet to write about them.

My expectations for blogging started to change when I began reading more blogs by people who made something impressive out of their corners of the Internet. After a while, I decided that no one really wanted to read about every single trip to the park that Dash and I made any more than I wanted to post about the same old same old again. Sometimes in motherhood, – make that life in general – the things that become mundane after weeks turn into months which turn into years don’t seem as noteworthy. And the joy that once came with recounting the little things can be forgotten and replaced with the need to take on bigger things.

I don’t think this is a completely terrible thing. It’s really not necessary to retell every detail of a trip to the zoo to enjoy the trip to the zoo. It’s obnoxious to hear someone constantly promote how they cleaned their house, potty trained their child, or found success in dating their spouse better than I ever could because of their flawless, printable and pinnable 10-step plan.

But sometimes, it’s good to revisit the little things that used to bring myself and others joy to share. Expectations of what other people might want to see when they choose to open up my blog space or what I expected the space should look like by now need to be put aside and replaced with what inspires me to this day. I have changed immensely in five years, but I still love and prioritize my family, which has both gained and lost smiling faces in the meantime.

They inspire me to be better.

They make me rethink my expectations and choose to embrace them with their current strengths and flaws.

They make me laugh and cry within a five minute span.

They make me better and do a great deal to shape who I am.

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They make me work hard every day to overcome the lies in my head that I’m not pretty enough, worthy enough, or together enough to deserve them. Because they will catch whatever mindset I choose and adopt it for themselves. And they are, just as I am, created just right in God’s image.

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They make me step outside my comfort zone and try things I’ve never tried before. They cheer me on!

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They can make summer days in the back yard the perfect mixture of laughter, playing, relaxing, and going crazy.

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They are my people. The ones who wake me morning or night, smother me or sometimes push me away, the ones who God hand selected to gift me with so that I could be who He intends me to become. I love them with all of my heart.

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Looking Outside my Bubble

Fact: Having a five-year-old requires me to know my faith. It’s a wonderful, challenging, intimidating task to explain why I believe what I believe and live my life the way I do.

One thing I find equally refreshing and terrifying about children is their unabashed willingness to ask “why.” When it comes to God, prayer, and the Bible, life and death, heaven and hell, and mean people, bedtime conversations can leave me more than a little exhausted.

At the same time, I’m incredibly grateful for the chance to voice my beliefs. I’ve become painfully aware recently how much I’ve put my focus on those who claim to already be a part of my faith. When I think of pleasing people, I tend to worry about not saying something that might cause fellow Christians to be disappointed, judge me, or shake their heads because they already had figured out what I was just coming to realize.

I have found that I often put all of my energy into encouraging those who are already in the faith. This is not completely a bad thing! Living out the life of a disciple of Jesus is extremely difficult, and every last one of us is, on any given day, in need of encouragement. I do not regret nor do I plan to stop investing into the encouragement of fellow believers because the Bible commands me to do it, and I can personally testify to its importance.

What I am working to remedy in my own life is my outlook. Instead of shying away from neighbors, getting so wrapped up in my to-do list, or always embracing my desire to be a bit of a recluse, the time has come for me to notice the world around me.

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The fact is, I have two precious children who live right inside my home and heart who have yet to come into their faith. And one of them is growing into the age of curiosity about this faith thing that Mom and Dad are always talking about and striving to live out.

So when I tell him that I believe the Bible and the Bible says to “be kind to one another,” “forgive one another,” “love one another,” “be brave,” and “pray without ceasing,” he won’t buy into it if I’m not doing it.

Is this a new concept I’m just now realizing for the first time? Nope, but now it really means something to me.

My love for his sweet, searching soul has awakened an awareness in me about the many sweet, searching souls I encounter as I live life. I’m over the idea I’ve seen attempted in multiple settings of “clean Christianity.” It doesn’t exist, and I can tell you from giving it a try that it’s exhausting and imprisoning. Messy things happen when people are involved, no matter who they are or what they believe.

What the world needs from me is more than a church smile. Never once does the Bible say I should do that. Instead, it tells me to put on the armor of God and stand. (Ephesians 6:10-18) It tells me to love the LORD my God with all my heart, soul, and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself. (Matthew 22:37-40)

This is what my corner of the world needs just as much as yours does. It’s overwhelming to try to grasp the need once we see it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to remedy the problem one step at a time. Some difference made is better than no difference made, and I personally can’t live with knowing the cost of not trying for those who are precious to me.

Growing Up

My son turns five years old today. This has been the age that I’ve been dreading the most since his birth. Each birthday up until then didn’t bother me because I still had plenty of time for him to be little. Now that half of a decade has passed, I can’t deny that he is growing up.

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I see evidence of his growing into big boy shoes every day. He takes leaps off of tall objects now with confidence, and I can watch him knowing that he can safely land the jump because he’s big enough now. We’ve spent years with me hovering around him and catching him because he wouldn’t otherwise be safe, but he’s ready to take more risks now.

Our conversations have changed. We actually cover some deep topics together and he can stay with me for five minutes before moving on to some question about bugs or robots. Selfishly, I wish I could shield him from some of the realities we’ve had to discuss like sickness, death, and bullies. I want to hold onto that innocent little boy who could curl up on my lap without limbs spilling over the sides of it. That’s not who he is anymore, however, and it would be a shame if I missed out on the time we have right now by lamenting what’s already come to pass.

Discipline has a new level of challenge to it that hurts my heart more than it ever has before. When he was small, I could guarantee that if I was consistent, loving, and firm in what I expected for long enough, he would change his poor choices. Sure the days of training were brutal, but one day, he got it, and he was happy with his new, improved way of doing things. Now that he’s maturing, he puts thought into the real “why” of what he’s doing. He understands consequences and good choices versus bad choices. He rationalizes with his limited perception of truth. Life and what I expect of him no longer seem fair to him as a result of what he thinks he understands, and there are times that he willfully chooses misery over compliance. I know from experience that this will be a life-long struggle because he’s human.

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I’m having to learn to let go of how wrapped up I tend to get in his feelings. Five is a milestone in independence, after all. While giving birth and caring for a baby then a toddler has required me to finally fully realize that life’s not all about me, having a little boy on the verge of becoming a big boy is making me accept that life’s not about letting my identity be completely wrapped up in someone else either. Being on either extreme of the spectrum is dangerous.

Sure, I have learned a lot about giving up selfishness over the last five years, but it’s because of those realizations that I can accept that not allowing Dash to be his own person because I’m not ready for him to grow up is simply another form of selfishness. I’ve been preparing him to be independent from the first few months of his life, so now it’s time to let go just a little bit more and let him take some risks as he learns how to make it through the roads ahead.

I’m grateful for the way God gracefully allows this process to move along in baby steps. This birthday is a big deal to me, but it’s only one more step towards him being grown up. Thankfully, we have many more years to grow together before he’s a grown-up. He’s not a full-fledged man yet, and he does still enjoy cuddling with me even if it’s a tighter fit than it used to be.

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As I choose to let him be bigger in my heart, I’m reminded that he is, in fact, God’s child. As much as I want him to belong solely to me sometimes, He’s always been God’s, and His purpose for my growing-up boy is to mature and flourish into a man of God.