Monthly Archives: February 2015

Pregnancy is *NOT* Fun

As much as I tried to hide it, I could feel my eyes gloss over into a cold stare. Did she really just say that? Here I was, in the throws of that lovely nausea that accompanies growing a child. I had spent a good 10 minutes that morning staring into my closet at clothes that already didn’t fit my growing tummy and behind, and here this lady stood in front of me, boasting of how much she loved being pregnant. I held back any snappy remarks about her memory failing her and just decided to smile, even though I was sure my eyes were deceiving me.

I don’t particularly enjoy being pregnant. I don’t find it “fun” to stare at my breakfast waiting for that first bite to send me at a sprint to the bathroom. I dislike feeling my jeans, the ones that used to be baggy, bursting at the buttons. The constant uncomfortableness, the sleeplessness, the waking up three times to find my way to the toilet. The waddling down the stairs, the “baby brain,” the endless doctor visits.

new camera002I don’t look to delivery with gleeful anticipation. In fact, I have nightmares about it when I’m not even pregnant. After our third baby was born, my second “all natural” delivery, I can remember my sister, three months away from having her second, coming to meet her nephew. The minute she walked through the door my eyes locked with hers and I pleaded with her, “Whatever you do, just GET the epidural!” Because, let’s face it, bringing that sweet bundle into the world is no picnic.

Copy of HPIM0797“I loved being pregnant! It was SO fun!” Surely she was joking. I half wanted to pull up my pant leg and show her my varicose veined calf to bring her back to sanity. Or maybe just tell her how if it hadn’t been for the wonders of modern medicine I would have died following our third child’s birth.

Instead, I decided to spare her the goriness of my varicose-y legs and try to read between the lines. Surely what she meant was:

“Pregnancy was a sacrifice. It wasn’t all easy, it wasn’t all enjoyable. But my goodness, I brought a baby into this world! A real, wrinkly, squinty, slimy, bloody, hungry, needy, pint-sized human being. And that experience, as horrifying, as frustrating, as incredibly hard, as NOT FUN as it was, it was worth it. It was truly AMAZING.”

Yes. I’m sure that’s what she meant.

Motherhood, from those first nauseating weeks to the waddling, waiting ninth month, from that first time nursing that tiny baby to loading up their cars and sending them away to college, is not always fun. Of course there are plenty of moments, countless days, of real, honest-to-goodness “fun.” But it may not be something you love every second. By golly, those temper tantrums get old fast. The grimy hands on the walls, the stepping on Legos, the last-minute homework assignments, the waiting up when they’re home late from a date with a girl you may or may not be head-over-heals about. But the things that try us, that push us, that we work harder at than anything, those are the things that are worth it. Parenting isn’t always fun. It’s not always enjoyable. But it is, without a doubt, unquestionably, truly amazing.

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Categories: Motherhood, Pregnancy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Playing with Fire

The river looked so peaceful tumbling over the rocks and through the snow-covered pine trees. The road weaved through the narrow canyon, the rock walls towered above us.

The kids had been teasing all morning to find a sledding hill and we hadn’t driven all the way through the canyon by our house since the flood almost two years ago. Perfect excuse to go on an adventure. A year-and-a-half and countless hours of hard work by so many people had masked much of the devastation the river had caused, but in several spots it was still apparent. We commented on the stretches of road that had obviously crumbled away to the high waters and admired the incredible strength the raging torrent must have had as it tumbled down the mountain. Mud slides where the pine trees and boulders had eroded away from water with cement-like consistency and strength. We had seen the devastation on a very real level that day as my husband’s half hour commute turned to four hours, and I panicked as I weaved around roads almost submersed in water to rescue my son from school, which they had closed less than an hour after the students arrived.

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The civil engineering that had fixed the broken roads and made the canyon passable a mere six months after was impressive. But what caught our eye more than anything else were the houses. Some hanging halfway off a cliff from undercutting, windows still broken, walls gone, some houses even moved from one location to another. Some still in the midst of repair, others abandoned. Nothing left to salvage.

“Why would anyone build a house so close to the river?” My husband’s face showed genuine concern and disbelief. Having dug mud out of basements for many weekends following the flood, he knew far better than I did the pain and work this had caused families.

The answer seemed obvious. The peaceful little stream, the majestic mountains towering around us, the pine trees so romantically enveloping the little cabins. Quiet, serene, beautiful… fun. I could see plenty of people jumping at the opportunity. But just a few little rocky steps down from the front porch trickling by was a danger that should have been obvious. It wasn’t the first time that river had flooded, and chances are, it won’t be the last.

I never had even heard of the books, and the movie would have gone unnoticed to me had it not been all over the Internet. To be honest, I still don’t really even know exactly what it’s about. 50 Shades of Gray has obviously caused an uproar. The newspaper this week devoted an entire article boasting of the film breaking box office records. What I do know about it is that it has left us questioning our moral values as a society. And for me, I don’t plan to watch to find out any more than that.

In a world that all-too-often seems to scoff at moral values it’s increasingly important for us to stand up.

Because if you play with fire you will get burned.

As attractive as something may seem, as romantic, as fun, as cozy, if potential dangers wait just right outside the door, it’s probably not worth the risk.

Porn harms. Period. Movies, pictures, books, whatever. If it creates strong emotions outside of a healthy relationship, it’s wrong.

Affairs, physical and even just simple, seemingly harmless emotional ones can devastate a family.

It can start small. Lingering a second too long on that magazine cover at the book store. A simple flirtatious comment to a coworker. Confiding in an old high school fling about a little spat with your spouse. When we cross that line, we are laying the foundation right at the beaches of a potential raging torrent. It may seem at the time like a stream, but why take that risk?

Let’s decide now. Let’s draw a line and never cross. If we can’t set the example, if we can’t show our children that our families, that our spouse is worth so much more than riverfront, flood plane property, who will? Obviously not the media.

Up the canyon and past the flood-devastated homes my family found a fantastic sledding hill. With red cheeks and giant grins, my boys mounted their sleds. My husband cheered with each tumble and jump, and we had a wonderful time. I can’t imagine giving something so incredible up for what originally might seem like a simple little look, a quick witty comment, a seemingly harmless movie with degrating and erotic content. The grass is greener where it is watered. Where are we going to water? No matter how wonderful the property may seem, if danger lurks in the shadows, I hope we will all choose to build our foundation on something more sure and strong.

Categories: Family, Marriage | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a…

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Categories: Family, little boys | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

And They Lived Happily Ever After (why marriage has been worth all the work)

With Valentine’s Day coming up, this post came to mind. Here are to all of the “…sometimes frustrating, occasionally exasperating, unclear, trying, wonderful, sweet, worth-every-minute, happily ever afters” out there. I hope all of you get to spend the day with those you love!

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This past weekend my husband and I loaded up our car with snacks, games, books, and music and buckled our kids in their car seats for a nine-hour drive. Our boys could hardly contain their excitement to play with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas, and grandpas. This wasn’t just any visit either. My brother-in-law was getting married, and my boys were getting a new aunt! The beginning of Uncle J and Aunt M’s ever after. We were all thrilled to share in their love and excitement. The handsome couple could certainly rival that of any fairy tale. Love radiated from them the entire day and everything about the wedding seemed picture perfect.

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In all of the tradition that comes with weddings, I was reminded over and over that tying the knot comes with plenty of advice. Everyone knows the secret to a successful marriage and is eager to share it with…

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Sometimes

Sometimes I worry. I worry that my children aren’t eating enough vegetables. I worry that I will never get caught up on laundry. I worry when my son’s bus is 15 minutes late dropping him off from school, that he will pick his nose in public, that he will never be the best at reading. I worry that my boys will spout off embarrassing family secrets to their teacher or classmates, that they sometimes forget to brush their teeth after breakfast. I worry that my boys will never find nice girls, or that they will find them too soon.

I worry because I’m a mom, and that seems to be my job.

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Sometimes I read the news paper and I worry. I see news about wars, scary things. I see sadness and despair. I worry about the future my children will have.

Then I see articles online. Other parents worrying too. They write about their concerns and their thoughts, their values, only to have it thrown back in their face by other worrying parents.

I see people fighting, spewing hate at each other over social media. Aren’t we all wanting the same thing? One might want to teach their daughter to respect her body and protect her from lustful boyish eyes. The other might wish to teach her daughter that her body isn’t something to be objectified, that she isn’t responsible for the inappropriate thoughts of others. Both well-intentioned, both wanting what is best. I see moms, women I respect, bashing each other for differing opinions on vaccines. Both arguing the same underlying cause: the health and safety of our children. But the passion of the argument and disdain for each other is thick. Such disgust on both sides, both sided by people I love.

It makes me sad.

Aren’t we all on the same team? Aren’t we all just worried parents? Aren’t our goals, our hopes, our passions, to raise good, kind children in a scary world? A world where some are killed for what they choose to or not to wear. Where health is a matter of whether or not they will have anything to eat that day or clean water to drink.

In a country where we are blessed with the opportunity to express ourselves, to make choices based on our beliefs and feelings, I feel like maybe sometimes we should put differences and arguments aside and realize we are so blessed. Many are not as fortunate as we are. Maybe it’s time we helped each other out, lifted each other up, and supported each other in the things we can agree upon.

Maybe, as worried moms, here’s somewhere we can start:

  • Teach our children to be kind and compassionate. Example is the greatest teacher.
  • Create a home that welcomes others–particularly our children’s friends who may not get love and care anywhere else.
  • Fortify your marriage–a union based on mutual respect, kind gestures and words, and understanding.
  • Help our children recognize their potential. Build them up, not break them down.
  • Allow our children to experience consequences. Help them to realize the gravity of their decisions now so that they will recognize them later when the stakes are so much higher.
  • Spend real time with our families.
  • Teach our children that their worth isn’t found in the mirror, their closets, wallets, brains, or friends. Definitely not in the number of heads they turn. That no one, no matter what, should be objectified for any reason.

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Let’s support each other along this path, because as parents, we need all the help we can get. It’s scary out there, and there’s so much we cannot do alone. We owe it to our kids and their future.

And when we have realized all we have, maybe we can find ways to reach out to those who do not have the freedoms we seem to be taking for granted: the right to express ourselves through speech, through dress, through decisions of what is best for our children. Theirs is the real fight worth fighting. And maybe when we work together, instead of hating, we can make a difference.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Having Children Ruined My Life

It’s no secret that R, our first son, came as a surprise. Sure, my husband and I rarely (if ever) admit to it, but all you would have to do is simple subtraction to figure out we had only been married a year and a few months when we brought that little guy into the world. I suppose some people plan it that way, but we had just barely graduated from college. We were young. And I was terrified.

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Let me tell you about how my life was going to go. I had it so carefully calculated. We would graduate, move, find awesome jobs, and I would teach for five years before we started our family. We would travel the world. Oh, the places we would go! We would have lots and lots of money saved up, my husband would be successful, I’d be happy with my accomplishments. I could then stay at home for the next 10 years until our kids started their education. I would do it all. At least that’s what I had planned.

Before we became parents, we would sit in church and watch the little girl twirl her pink, frilly dress up and down the isle. She’d squeal and scream, making the prayer impossible to hear, and her parents would stare at her with glossy, exhausted eyes. We would walk home and talk about how we would NEVER let our daughter do that when we became parents. Yes, our children were sweet darlings that never disrupted or disturbed anything while they were still only figments of our imagination.

Then we brought that baby boy into this world and my little, perfect life was turned upside-down. I never taught. I graduated and tucked that diploma away in a box and in the back of my mind. Ah, well. Maybe someday, I’d sigh. Nights were nothing short of a nightmare (and I thought I didn’t sleep much in college!), and we lived in a small, plain apartment with obnoxious neighbors because we had no money. At the park the nannies would scoff at me, a young, clueless mother who obviously had done nothing with her life before having a family. While they talked about their future, about their planned trip to Cancun with their fiancée next month, my extent of packing never went far beyond diapers, a big, fat tube of Desitin and fishy crackers.

Having children ruined my life.

I had big dreams, plans, aspirations, and ideas that were dashed to pieces when that little boy entered our home. But as we prepared for him to come, loved him, held him, and imagined all the wonder and beauty in the world we had the opportunity to help him experience, something truly magical happened. A new life was set before me. A brand new one that I never could have imagined for myself. My once-flat tummy was now adorned with stretch marks. Marks that represented a tiny human I had the marvelous ability to grow inside me. I didn’t get to travel the world, but I got to witness a miracle. I got to see the wonder of everything through the eyes of a brand-new baby. I got to experience a kind of selfless love that I truly believe only a parent can feel. I slowly realized this life, it isn’t all about me. I found I didn’t have all, if any, of the answers. I didn’t care if the other moms “oohed and awed” at my resume and life’s accomplishments, or even scoffed because that resume and those accomplishments didn’t exist. It no longer mattered.

Having a baby was humbling. So incredibly humbling.

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Instead of walking home from church talking about how WE would never let our child dance and scream down the isles, we found ourselves locking empathetic eyes with the parents wishing we could help, but secretly deep down saying to ourselves, “twirl on little princess! You’re drawing attention away from our toddler howling for us to draw a ‘hooker’ (and by hooker we are hoping surrounding congregation realizes he means a truck hitch) with his ruby red crayon. Not to mention our youngest with the colored pencils up his nose.” Our real children, unlike our imagined ones, weren’t perfect. We were certainly not perfect, and I’m so thankful we had the chance to find that out.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we had waited. If life had gone exactly as I had imagined. I wonder if my life hadn’t been ruined by little ones if I would have been as incredibly happy as I am now.

Maybe.

But what I do know is that what happened was truly a blessing. That having children when I did taught me life lessons I may have never learned otherwise. Should everyone have surprise babies 15 short months after marriage? Is having a career and traveling the world before settling down a bad idea? Of course not! But if God sends you down a different path than you had always dreamed, know that your life may be ruined, shattered to pieces, only to be replaced with something far greater than you could have imagined yourself.

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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