Latest Elsewhere: The Biggest Lie We Believe As Parents

Every so often, I am blessed to contribute to Kids Activities Blog. This latest article is based upon a revelation I had last year and is dedicated to my precious Eden Grace, who taught me a very important parenting truth.

Parenting Lie

THE BIGGEST LIE WE BELIEVE AS PARENTS…

I think when you become a parent for the first time, and maybe even before you become one, there are certain lies you tell yourself. You don’t realize that they are lies, of course, until after you’ve been in charge of another human being for a certain amount of time.

As we add to our families, ideals that we had adopted and lived by successfully as the parent to one child can also shift innocently into lies. One of the biggest lies I’ve ever told myself about parenting was that I would figure out how to parent, who I was a s a parent, and the rest would fall into place. I’m here to tell you that hasn’t been the case…

Read the original post HERE.

Full Color KAB Watermark

My World in April

April showers bring…

april

While the world around me is buzzing, obsessing over Spring, Easter, taxes, sunshine, rain showers… April, for me, brings one thing to my mind, and one thing only… EJ.

I’m probably the only person on the planet thinking about that baby for an entire month straight, but I can’t help it. You just say the word, “April”, and there it is… “EJ’s day”. I can’t escape it, and I wouldn’t want to even if I could. I am EJ’s mother, and it is only right for a mother to love, celebrate, and long for a child that is no longer with her.

Sometimes the wondering still kills me. And then, I quickly come back to the awareness that I have four beautiful children, three of whom may have never existed had it not been for our loss. And my heart is able to rest in that gratitude.

EJ turns six this year, as does our precious Isla. She is a force. The world is blessed to have her in it. She’s like a jewel that the Lord placed in the crown of the earth. She shines. She is still the one that brings EJ up the most. A part of my mother-heart believes that somewhere deep inside that soul of her’s, she is connected to EJ in spirit – like a twin of sorts.

She planned our celebration this year – “Something fun,” she said, “like Chuck-E-Cheese.” She knows what six year olds like.

I guess this post doesn’t have much of a point, but more of a confession. A mother, even through miscarriage, never stops remembering, never stops thinking, never stops caring, never stops loving… And, especially in April, I go to bed hoping that I’ll see that precious one in my dreams. Just a peek, Jesus. Please.

 

If you or someone you know has lost a child to miscarriage, please consider checking out a book written from our hearts…

miscarriage

Blessings through Raindrops: Conversations of Hope for the Miscarriage Mom

We are currently working on a print version and each chapter concludes with an intimate opportunity to journal and release the words you may have been holding tucked into your soul for long enough…

You’re in my prayers tonight, friend.

xo,

Kristi

 

Dear Sunshine… A Letter to You on Your 5th Birthday

Isla Rae – my bright and shining one…

I can’t believe that we are celebrating your 5th birthday this morning. Where have these sweet years gone? I know we have so many good times ahead, and I look forward to the beautiful experiences we will share together as you grow and continue to bloom into this amazing person, but as I kissed your head tonight once you drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t help but to feel this pang of regret. I knew I had to write this to you before the sun came up and we became distracted by that glorious heap of chocolate donuts waiting for you on the dining room table.

sunshine

I missed you, Isla. Somewhere in those precious early days, I lost you in a fog of exhaustion and pain. My body wasn’t good to me when you needed me most. I could cry when I think of all of those irreplaceable pictures forever lost on that water-logged hard drive of the Mac in the basement. (Take note: Don’t keep your laptop on a bedside table nestled next to a tall glass of ice water…) I need those more than ever today, as I try so hard to remember you so new and so miraculous. Thank goodness for Facebook in that case. I have bits and pieces to look back on and cherish. So many snapshots of our days together. Some images are forever sealed in my memory. I can close my eyes and see you curled like a snail in my Serena & Lily pouch. The image takes me back to that quiet walk through town. You were just five weeks old. I looked down at you, fast asleep at my belly, and I knew I never wanted to forget what you felt like, in your smallness. If I take the time to remember, I can actually feel your weight, as if I’m holding you right now. How did you grow up so quickly?

Isla NB

I remember how alone I felt during many of our nights. Consoling you in the middle of the night seems like a distant dream. The aches and pains that plagued me robbed us of so much and the stress of life’s circumstances stole my thoughts from you almost constantly. And although I know you don’t remember, I decided to take on babysitting from our home, which definitely took a toll on the time we spent together, as well. I was reminded of all of that tonight, and, even though you couldn’t possibly recall those moments, I knew I had to tell you how sorry I am that our story didn’t start out better.

But before you think that this is the worst letter that a mom could ever write to her daughter on her birthday, I have to tell you something that will make all of that worth it.

Because of the pain…the distractions…the busyness…the trials…

Because of your mysterious, quiet spirit that has been from day one…

I got to fall in love with you, Isla Rae.

Of course I instantly loved you from the moment I knew of you, and that love became even more tangible once you were in my arms, but you were the child that I had to learn. And in that learning, I grew a love for you that has been so unique. It took work. While I sorted through my new self, I had to discover you, too. Your serious expressions, your smirks, and grins – all foreign to this heart-on-the-sleeve mama. I had to learn you, Isla, and it took effort and it took time. Today, as you turned five, I am a puddle. I am a puddle of emotions realizing how absolutely and utterly in love I am with you, precious child. I know you so deeply, and yet you are still such a mystery to me some days. Because I had to work so hard at cracking the code to your heart and spirit from the start, and at such a vulnerable time in our journey, I feel as though it is in you that I am so extra carefully and intentionally rooted. Not a day passes that you don’t completely intrigue and amaze me, and I adore you.

isla2b

 

I love you more than chocolate donuts and Oreo Blizzards.

I love you more than “lippies” and nail polish.

I love you more than pony tails and haircuts.

I love you more than cake and ice cream.

I love you more than dresses and pool days.

I love you more than music and cooking.

I love you more than Red Robin and shopping.

I love you more than Christmas and birthdays.

All those things YOU love…I love you more than that. Forever.

 

I love the way you wake me up every morning and you sound exactly like your daddy, telling me to come downstairs and make you breakfast. lol

I love how I’m one of the few people that you willingly smooch on the lips.

I love that you are strong, yet remarkably tender.

I love that you randomly beg me to slow dance with you, and you let me hold you on my hip while we twirl.

I love that you love only banana yogurt and have the best taste in shoes.

I love that you say the strangest things pretty much all of the time. There’s no one even remotely close to having your humor.

I love that you are my chef-in-training for just about every meal cooked in our little kitchen. Someday, when I’m older, and you are in your own home, I will probably beg to come over just so we can cook together like “when you were little.”

I love that the kitten makes you jumpy. I knew you couldn’t be that cool cucumber ALL of the time. 😉

I love that you love to have your hair curled and remind me to grab the hairspray every time. You’re well beyond your years in the hair department.

I love that you love to shop and I look forward to the days that you’ll help me to look more presentable.

I love that you love your sisters and always put them before yourself. You show such maturity in that way.

I love that you keep us on our toes – your dad and me. Although, I better never see you climbing the windows again. 😉

I love your face. You are adorably stunning or stunningly adorable, probably both.

I love that you’re mine and I’m your’s.

isla1b

 

I may have been a mess off and on these first five years, but I’m better now, and you have my heart, little girl. I’m so proud of who you are, and I’m so blessed to be your mom.

Happy Birthday, Sunshine. I can’t wait to celebrate you today.

 

Dear Daughter, Let’s Talk about Abortion

Dear Daughter,

Let’s talk about abortion.

abortion

Abortion, by definition is:

The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.

A medical procedure used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus.

 

It’s a hot topic right now.  Honestly, it’s a hot topic for me everyday, all day, any day for reasons you will know and for some you may never be privy to, because they are not my stories to tell.  But, because of the election coming up this year, it’s a point that many are talking about, and not for reasons I am happy to report.

You see, dear daughter, our nation is currently in a battle between good and evil, right and wrong, and we, as a people, are walking around in a gray fog.  Nothing is simple.  Everyone is afraid to speak up.  Well, if you’re conservative, anyway, because they’ll call you names.  They’ll make you look like a restrictive, unloving, terrible person. (John 15:18, Mark 13:13) Your life and words hold a mirror to their issues, and they don’t dare go any deeper than the surface of life.  They aren’t ugly, they’re “free”.  They’re not under the influence of selfishness and evil; they’re liberated.  Are they?  Are they free?  Is an addict on a high, free?  Sadly, no.  They are bound, because their freedom is false, but it’s too difficult to be sober…to feel…to be broken…to deal… So they lie and live in a fantasy.  Such is the state of our culture.  They lie to themselves to get through without breaking down.  The blood on our hands looks less offensive when you’re already wearing rose-colored glasses.

You see, dear daughter, the stuff below the surface hurts.  It’s downright overwhelming at times, and it’ll make you think way too hard.  It’ll keep you up at night.  It’ll make you cry in the shower.  It will haunt you while you sip your coffee.  It will seem so much bigger than anything you could ever change.

Who wants to think about rape and incest when they can think about lattes and play groups?  Who wants to read about itty bitty babies being stuck with needles and how it has been proven that they try to flee in a womb that was created to first and foremost protect its creation?  We’ve got shopping to do, errands to run, friends to call, and nails to get done.  We don’t have time for thinking so much it hurts and praying so much it impedes on our comfortable lifestyle.

To them, it’s uncomfortable, maybe even morbid, to attribute humanity to a “fetus” whose limbs are ripped apart and whose brains are suctioned away.  God forbid we be a morbid people.  That would make for such a depressing life, right?  So we sweep it away and just make it simple.  Don’t sweep it, honey.  They need you not to turn away.

You’ll hear:

It’s not a baby…

It’s an effect of something evil…

It’s an inconvenience…

It’s going to suffer anyway…

It’s not wanted…

It doesn’t matter…

But it does, baby.  It matters so much.  They matter so much.  They are me, you, your sisters, your classmates, your children.  They matter.  They matter.  They matter.  I get caught up, uttering it like a prayer bleeding from my heart.

Sweet daughter, it does matter.  It is real.  It isn’t an effect – it’s a person.  If God is in control, who are we to determine who lives and dies? If we are waiting for convenience, we will surely wait forever. Someone out there wants it desperately. It does matter.  It does.

I read a headline today calling one of the conservative front-runners horrible names because he was quoted telling rape victims to “suck it up”.  He’s being told to “go to hell”; he has undoubtedly ticked some people off.  He’s insensitive?  He’s ignorant?  He’s cruel?  Do they even realize the names that they are calling him…the attributes they are giving him are laughable in the fact that they are for the dismembering of infants?  They are discounted as worthy, simply because of their origin.

Dear daughter, I hate to even think the thoughts, but I was recently challenged by someone we love on my stance.  “What if your child…”  And I answered the clearest that I have ever answered anything in my life.  I know it was the Holy Spirit in me.  So, here is what I said to them and what I have to say to you, my sweet angel.

Those who believe abortion is okay under certain circumstances have a deeper issue.

It could be fear, anxiety, shame, anger, selfishness, resentment, unbelief, embarrassment, hatred…

The baby is not the problem – the issue is.

What if we saw rape and incest as evil, but a child as redemption?

What if we told the doctors to save?  To do their jobs and their best and try to save both lives?  

What if we rejected the bad report and believed for a miracle? And if the miracle didn’t come, we leaned on Grace and loved anyway?

What if we gave a family the gift of a child if we weren’t ready or able to do it ourselves?

What if we changed?  What if?

We don’t want the headache.  If we outlaw abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother…  It won’t fix the problem.  It will most-likely turn us into a nation of liars.

It won’t fix the fear.  It won’t fix the shame.  It won’t fix the rebellion.

But Jesus and taking that courageous step into motherhood can.

Before I brought a child into this world, I stood in the shower with an active babe kicking wildly in my belly.  I was at the end of the road, and delivery was near.  I had just read an article on Facebook about a woman who had tragically lost her life during childbirth.  It engulfed me in thick fear, daughter.  Suddenly, I saw my child as a danger.  It could kill me.  This could be it.  The enemy had managed to make my own beloved a threat.  The tears rolled fast down my cheeks that night, and I begged my husband to “save me.”  If it came down to a choice, “choose me.”  “Of course,” he said.  “We can make another baby; I can’t make another you.”  A fear and response that I’m sure many have expressed.  Oh, but it was a mistake, dear one.  For, there is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for another. (John 15:13)  My fear and doubt took my belly, swollen with promise, and villainized it.

The moment I knew my child outside of my womb, everything changed.

The veil was torn, and I saw the intended depth of my humanity.  It was so much bigger and deeper than me.  My motherhood went below the surface that day and became my purpose.  I would lay my life down for you a thousand times.  No question.  My husband can find a new wife, but the world only gets one you, and you would be worth that sacrifice.  Those mothers don’t know.  They are me in the shower, being swallowed up by fear.  Their husbands are those fathers choosing the one they love over the one they didn’t know they’d love more than life itself.  They don’t know, daughter.  They don’t know.

You can be a voice of change in the darkness, dear one.  You can tell the world about redemption and hope and faith and love.  You can make them think.  You can make them uncomfortable, but aware of a better way.  You can invite any who will listen to go deeper and beyond the surface of this life.  You can stand with the victimized and violated and show them the truth of God’s love and bigger plan.  You can be the friend that pushes fear aside and tells your peers that a baby is not the enemy to their bright futures.  Choose the hard road, the narrow one, my child.  Choose to stand up for the weak and the forgotten.  Choose to love the unloved and the neglected.  Honor their lives with your tears in the shower and your prayers late at night.  I think that the angels rejoice over you when you do.  They sing over the infants playing at the feet of Jesus.  They say, “You are loved!  You aren’t forgotten, and your life matters to them, precious child!”

And if, in the sad and terrible chance that we ever face these scenarios that they speak of, we will walk that road together.  I would cry, pray, and hold you.  I would hail you as a hero, and honor your bravery and love.  And together, we would kiss the face of the most beautiful baby that ever lived, because he/she would be part of you

Abortion is not the answer, baby.  With it comes a whole host of new heartache.

For now, dear daughter, I will do my best to raise you up beneath the shadow of the Most-High God.  I will raise you up to be a mighty woman of God, who prays and believes that anything is possible – even the ability for our God to make beauty from ashes.  I will raise you to hope for better things, to pray for the lost and shallow, to believe for a lifetime of witnessing the miraculous.  That’s what I will do, and it is my prayer that you and your generation will not carry the weight of the sins of mine.  Believe in life, dear daughter, and protect it.

xoxo,

Mommy

Psalm 8:2

Psalm 8:2

If you, or someone you know has experienced abortion, and you are looking for something to help heal your heart, free you from guilt or shame, please consider the book, “I’ll Hold You in Heaven,” by Jack Hayford (aff. link).

Sanctuary

Tonight, as I folded a little laundry and listened to the last of my husband’s stories from the day, the movie The Help played in the background.  I love that movie.  I think it’s on the top of my short list of “movies I could watch any day any time.”  After my husband said his “good night” and headed to bed, I found myself glued to the movie’s end.  I’ve seen it many times, but it still grips me as tightly as the first time.

You is kind.

You is smart.

You is important.

I could never get tired of that scene.  It is so moving.  Tonight, it tugged my heartstrings in a completely new way.  A way that whispered, “Sanctuary.”

Sanctuary…

Yes.

I found myself coming to the realization that if I looked back on my day with my dear daughters, my quote would read something more like…

You is cruel.

You is annoying.

Go away.

Seriously.

I replayed the events of the day.  The majority of moments were good – better than most lately.  But there were a few segments of our day that made the “terrible moments” highlight reel.  The bickering.  The nonstop running in circles.  The cruelty passing from one sister to another.  The ugly monster rising up in me, yelling until my vocal chords hurt, only to cup my face in my hands in regret immediately after.  What am I saying to these children?

I have been crumbling the sanctuary.  Some days, emotionally and spiritually it feels more like a war zone, with my daughters going about their day beneath shame-shrouds that I have put there – lies that I am writing on their foreheads and their hearts with my cruel words back at them.

What is wrong with yoooou?!

I shout in exhausted exasperation when one sister hits another.

Wrong with her?  Nothing is wrong with her.  They are being children.  Learning boundaries.  Pushing boundaries.  Pretending boundaries don’t exist in the name of childish fun and freedom.  That is going to happen in a plethora of ways over the course of their young lives.  It’s about time I start parenting them based upon who they are and not how they are being.

They are kind.  They need guidance.

They are smart.  They need encouragement.

They are important.  They need attention.

They are holy.  They need sanctuary.

They have their whole lives to encounter unkind souls, impatient people…

Not here.

Not with me.

I am their sanctuary.

I see them – walking into their classroom wearing that dark shame-shroud that says,

I’m cruel.  I’m annoying.  I’m tolerated.  I’m unlovable.

I wonder how miserably far that will take them in life, and I am undone, because that’s not how I truly see them at all.

That’s not who they are.  That’s not even how they are “being,” yet I find ways throughout my day to wrap them in those suggestions.

No longer.

No more.

As I dig deeper into Rachel Macy’s Stafford’s new book, Hands Free Life, and her wisdom chisels away at my mind-clutter, I feel like the light bulbs are slowly coming on one by one.  It’s as if Holy Spirit himself is walking slowly through the “house” of my heart and mind and illuminating the dark places.  Sometimes it’s a beaming light that startles me awake.  Sometimes, it’s the peaceful glow of candlelight, a gentle reminder to make a change.  Listening to my grandmother’s good-bye to my grandfather, candlelight.  Realizing what I am doing to the spirits of my daughters, startling beam.

Life has the potential to be harsh enough.  We can be kind here.

Life is rushed the minute we walk out the front door.  We can be peaceful and deliberate here.

Life is brutally honest, even kicking you while you’re down at times.  We can establish the truth in love here.  Grace can abound here.

Tomorrow, when my daughters return from school and we’re back at home, just “being” and going about our day, the word sanctuary will be written on my forehead and heart, and I’ll start erasing the words I’ve written on theirs.  I’ll pull off the heavy shrouds and replace them with the godly covering that speaks worth and value based solely on, not what they do, but, who they are.

Kind.

Smart.

Important.

Holy.

sanctuary

 

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are mine alone, and any commission gained from products in this post is solely provided by Amazon.  Here at Klover House, I take sincere pride in exposing my readers to products, authors, and companies that I support 100%, and I promote from a place of personal experience only.  Thanks for supporting us through the use of any links found on our blog! xo, Kristi)

 

More posts from Klover House:

Living “Hands Free”

handsfree3

Dear Baby (published in “New Life Within”)

dearbaby

Before…You Were His.

his

Parenting: Meet Your Mother, The Human.

Yesterday, like so many other days lately, was a really hard day as a parent.  Somedays, I feel like such a failure at mothering my children.  The emotional highs and lows are almost too much to bear day-in and day-out, and I’m not the only one that has them – my daughters seem to be mini emotional rollercoasters too.  At this stage in the game, the household is intense, and some days (like yesterday), I just crack under the pressure.  I crack and I shatter, and they get a good hard look at their mother, the human.

human

Some days, after hours of the kids melting down, tattling, arguing, hitting, screaming, bickering, and ignoring the very sound of my tired voice, this mama just breaks down.  We can only take so much sometimes, and it’s on those days that I let my girls see my humanity – my brokenness, and here’s why…

 

I hope that they remember more than the uglies.

My girls need to remember me, in all of my complexity.  I know, myself, that I have very few memories of my own mother showing a variety of emotions.  I clearly remember when she’d had enough and lost her cool, and I remember a few specific times in which she was crying for reasons beyond my childish understanding.

I want my daughters to remember my brokenness as much as my laughter, because one day, they too will be wives and mothers dealing with the highs and lows of the mundane.  I want them to know that emotions are real, and okay, and not to be suffocated.  I want them to remember that their mom did more than yell.  She laughed, she cried, she praised and she sighed…she was human.

 

I hope that they observe that their choices affect others.

Even if that “other” is their own mama.  We were reading the story Cinderella: Kindness and Courage (aff. link), and as I was reading the words on the page, they were sounding familiar to both me and my girls…

They made her do all of the chores.

Who does all of the chores?  Mama.  Not because I want to, or because I don’t require help from them, because I do.  Little ones are expected to pull their weight around here in little ways – bring mommy your dirty dishes, throw your own trash away, clean up your toys, put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket, hang your coat and place your shoes in the closet…  Little stuff.  I don’t think I’m being a terribly mean parent by giving them responsibilities.  They choose, however, more often than not, to ignore me.  Yes, there are consequences, and yes, they oblige under pressure, but they don’t willingly offer to lend a hand when the task at hand doesn’t involve “testing” cookie dough or stirring cake batter.

So we had a brief chat after that line.

Cinderella’s family makes her do all of the chores.  They don’t help her out.  Who does all of the chores at your house?  Mommy?  Right.  The book said that that was cruel of them.  Do you think her step-family is being cruel?  Do you think it is cruel to ignore mommy when mommy asks for your help?  Do you think that if they helped Cinderella more and maybe took care of themselves sometimes that Cinderella would be thankful?

It’s important that my girls grow up with the understanding that their mom is not a doormat.  Yes, I serve them and serve them with love, but they need to appreciate being served or else they will grow to expect it.  When a service is no longer perceived as an act of love but rather as an obligation on my part and an entitlement on theirs, we are headed for trouble when they step into the real world.

 

I hope that they learn that others’ feelings matter.

A few weeks ago, I really angered my four year old.  I forget now what I said or did that made her so angry, but I think I put one of her favorite toys on top of the refrigerator for naughty behavior.  She was stomping her way down the stairs towards me, looked me right in the eyes and said,

I don’t like you, Mommy.  You are the worstest mommy ever!

And she meant it with all of her little heart, which broke mine.  It was the first time she had ever said those kind of words to me, and they hit me hard.  Little baby darts that stung her mama’s heart.  As I directed her to “Time Out”, a few tears streamed down my cheeks.  She locked eyes with me as I sunk to her level.

I know that you are angry with me for taking your toy away.  It is your consequence for naughty behavior.  You hurt my heart with your mean words.  I love you very much.  I love you too much to let you make bad choices.  Do you know that I love you?  Good.

And then, I hugged her tightly.  She didn’t escape her “Time Out”, but I didn’t want to let that moment pass unaddressed.  Otherwise, her harsh words could become commonplace, next time directed at her sisters or a friend…  I want her to remember my tears and think twice before uttering cruel words again.

 

I hope they see me modeling unconditional love and forgiveness.

In every situation, they need to see and feel the effects of my love for them.  As their parent, my love is unconditional.  I need to use these times of weakness to emphasize that truth.  Sometimes, it’s not easy.  Sometimes, I flat out want to take a break from being “mommy”.  You know that saying, “I love you, but I really don’t like you right now”? If their constant fighting pushes me to tears, I need to let that be evident (within reason).  Sometimes, moms cry.  Guess what?

Mommy is a person, just like you, with thoughts and feelings, even frustrations.  What do you do when someone hurts your feelings?  How does it make you feel when your sister shouts at you?  Does it upset you when you ask her nicely to help you with something, and she says ‘No!’ and walks away?  It does?  Well, I feel the same way.  And even when I am angry or frustrated with your choices, I still love you.  I forgive you for your naughty behaviors and love you always.  Do you know who else loves you that way?  Jesus.

 

I hope that they see me relying on and learning from Jesus.

In teachable moments, I use my brokenness to share with them the love of the Father, our need for Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds.

After our really hard morning/afternoon yesterday, both of the Bigs were enduring “Quiet Time” in tears.  I won’t go into great detail, but they are required to have a “QT” every day, and all they must do is remain on their bed for one teeny hour either sleeping or reading.  That’s it.  Well, a rowdy, frustrating morning rolled right into an even more frustrating “QT”, and neither child was giving in without a fight.  I let my humanity leak (too much) and yelled at them both, vowing to take away their most precious belongings for the rest of the day.  When they saw that I wasn’t budging and my inner monster had reared its ugly head, they tearfully retreated and laid in their beds just sobbing their little hearts out.  It was just a cumulation of the entire day’s frustrations boiling over within each of us.  I thought, “We can’t keep doing this.  They need to know what my intentions are here.”  So I sat down with the oldest one first.

Ava, all I want to do each day is wake up, make you and your sisters a good breakfast, and enjoy our time together.  I want to read you stories, watch movies with you, play with you in the playroom, run around outside with you, help you make things and watch you paint and draw…  I want to have fun with you and your sisters.

All I need from you is for you to listen to me.  Obey when you are told to clean up your toys.  Then, I will have more time to play with you.  Be kind to your sisters, so that they will want to play with you.  Take your “Quiet Time” without fussing, so that it’s short and you’re up in time to enjoy the rest of your day.  You are still growing, and your body needs good rest.

I don’t want to spend my day yelling at you and putting you in “Time Out” for things.  I want to enjoy you and laugh with you and play with you.  It hurts my heart to yell at you.  I am working on that.  I don’t want to yell so much.  Can we both do better?

And then, I repeated my conversation with Isla, stroking her face and wiping her tears.  She fell asleep in my arms, and while I knew this process was painful for them and ugly for me, I found some reassurance in knowing that all three of us were learning and growing through it.

Today, I’ll try to do things better than I did yesterday.  I may actually do worse, but I’m still trying and learning, and I want them to know that.  I want them to grow up seeing that.  I want them to watch me change before their very eyes into the mother, wife, and woman that God created me to be.

Mommy is human, just like me, and she messes up and makes mistakes.  She gets back up when the day knocks her down, and she asks for forgiveness and gives it too.  She loves me even when I’m making bad choices and her arms are always ready to embrace me, even when I’m disobedient.  She expects good behaviors, because she knows that I am good.  She prays for more patience and kindness, and she leans on Jesus for strength and grace.  I know Mommy has Jesus in her heart, because I can see Him working on her.  He’s changing her and helping her to be the best mommy I know.  I’m glad that she wants to be more like Jesus.  I want to be more like Him too.

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Diastasis Recti: Shame in the Middle

Diastasis Recti: a separation of your outermost abdominal muscles. The job of these muscles (called rectus abdominis), is to support your back and your organs.

Umbilical hernia: a sac (pouch) formed from the inner lining of your belly (abdominal cavity) that pushes through a hole in the abdominal wall at the belly button.

Shame: a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute

Me: all of the above

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Five months ago, my sweet Miriam Jane was born.  She was actually my smallest baby, born at just 6lbs, 14oz.

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Many of you may remember my complaint towards the end of this fourth full-term pregnancy that my upper mid-section was burning all day, every day, without rest.  I went on to find out that I had developed diastasis recti, an abdominal separation that is common among women of short stature and having multiple pregnancies (or multiple babies in a single pregnancy).  This pic is me at 38 weeks.  Miriam Jane made her debut just four days later.

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During my quick check in the hospital after delivering, one of the doctors advised that I have my abdomen checked well at my six-week postpartum appointment, and until that point, take it easy.  When I went in, they recommended that I continue to wear a belly band and forgo all exercise for an additional eight weeks.  That’s fourteen weeks postpartum of no exercise.  They also informed me that, in addition to having at least a 3 cm separation, I had an umbilical hernia.  My doctor suggested I see a surgeon and warned me against doing any core exercise that could exacerbate the issues.

I left my appointment feeling so discouraged.  Not only did I find it sickening that a part of my body that was supposed to stay intact on the inside was oozing through to the outside, but the thought of surgical repair scared me to death.  Realize, I have had four natural births, zero epidurals, no c-sections…  The closest I’ve ever gotten to a real surgery was a D&C after losing EJ, and, other than anesthesia, I would consider it a pretty easy/non-life-threatening procedure.  I don’t do surgery, friends.  I am terrified.

A friend of a friend recently messaged me a detailed description of her surgery.  I had to open it about six times to make it all the way through.  I kept getting queasy just reading about it.  As much as I’d love a nip and a tuck to heal and flatten this pooch out…I can’t.

So, like any chicken would do, I vowed to watch it just heal and melt away. Amen.

Yep.  Not happening.

Granted, my diet lately hasn’t helped (way too many sweets), and I am pretty sure that I’m one of those breastfeeding moms whose body hangs onto weight rather than burns it away, because I am still 25 lbs heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight, and it hasn’t budged by even a pound in four months.

I never had any problems like this before.  Just my natural activity had done wonders after my previous deliveries.  Between running around after the kids and good eating habits, I could always get back to my normal weight/shape fairly easily.

This is me just five months after having Eden Grace.  No tricks, no diet programs, gym memberships, belly bands, or workout videos.  This is just how my body bounced back before.  I call it the “I am a busy mom of three” regimen.  You know the one…you have coffee for breakfast, get to eat a handful of blueberries for lunch, devour a healthy dinner in 45.7 seconds, and you never sit down…

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Notice, my “mommy tummy” was relatively small, especially in comparison to my stomach now.  The “I am an even busier mom of four” regimen isn’t working, and according to what I’ve read on diastasis recti…it’s never going to.  I have to be more intentional this time, more focused.

Those closest to me already knew about my stomach’s condition, so they’ve never said anything in naivete.  Unlike strangers, they’ve never judged me as lazy, pregnant, large, or alcoholic.

Yep.  Alcoholic.

That was a new one for me.

Enter shame.

We went to visit my brother and his family in WV this past weekend and ended up having to take one of our daughters to MedExpress for a suspected UTI.  We left Ava and Eden with my sister-in-law, and hubs and I took Isla and Miriam with us to see the doctor.  Hubs dropped the three of us off and ran some errands, expecting to be back before we were even called into the room.

If you’ve been to a MedExpress, then you know that you check in, sit and wait, and then you go to another window to verify information, sign a couple of forms and pay your co-pay.  We had already been waiting for some time when we were finally called to the billing window.  The only other people in the waiting area consisted of a woman (by herself) and a married couple (probably in their late 70s).  It was quiet and peaceful.  I had just had a nice, heartfelt conversation with the staff member at the billing window, and I returned to our seats feeling totally at peace with the moment.  Isla, before returning to coloring a picture of Elsa that I had brought along, stopped to coo over Miriam, who was pleasantly hanging out in her carseat.

The elderly woman made a comment to me across the rows noting how much Isla loves her baby sister.  “Yes,” I replied.  “She’s one of four, and she’s by far the most nurturing.”  Then, I sat down next to Isla, who had returned to her artwork.

That’s when I heard the man’s whispers.  Apparently, he didn’t know how to whisper very well.

She must drink a lot of beer.  (brief pause)  Why else would she have a belly like that?

His wife in quiet rebuttal:

She did say she had four kids.

And when I heard the wife’s response, I knew it was me.  Initially, I just thought he was talking about someone else.  A friend, a family member…  I just thought they were resuming a conversation that was taking place while I was at the window.  I was wrong, of course, and when it clicked, something snapped in my spirit.  I felt it.  It was a dead-emptiness that suddenly took over all of my thoughts, and I felt such…shame.

I never, ever felt that way before.

Beer belly?  I never even drink.  Like never.  It’s kind of a joke between one of my friends and I that she’s going to find me a wine that I can drink, because I honestly hate the taste of alcohol.

I know, you might be thinking: What’s the big deal?  If I were you, I would’ve turned around and said x,y,z…  Who cares, right?

I tried thinking those things too.  I almost turned around and explained my condition, but I didn’t.  I just sat there, in my cloud of shame and hurt feelings.

My husband walked in just as the nurse called Isla back to see the doctor.

When I told him about the whispers later on, I broke down into tears.

After consoling me, he joked, “You should’ve told them that you drink a case a day and you were drunk right then.  How else can you stay sane with all of those kids?”  I told him that I’d be dealing with a whole other can of worms, but I appreciated his humor.

Fast-forward to two days later.  Isla had her follow-up with her regular pediatrician, and then I took her fabric shopping with me in a fun, upscale neighborhood nearby.  Since I was pricing fabric for an upcoming wedding, I spent a great deal of time speaking with the shop employee.  She was so kind and helpful, so our conversation eventually turned personal with her telling me about her daughter just having a baby boy.  Then it came.  The naive and innocent dagger.

Looking directly at Isla, she said:

It looks like your mommy is going to have a baby too!

And the automatic response came quickly:

No, I just had one.

Just had one…  How long can that possibly work?  Five months, eight months, a year?  Just is reserved for newbies.  I am quickly crossing that imaginary line, if I haven’t crossed it already.

So, I did what I do.  Left the shop with a smile and a “thank you”, and took Isla to the local coffee shop, where I drowned my hurt in a blended caramel latte and a double chocolate biscotti.  Counter-productive, huh?  I know.

Since then, I’ve had a few more cries, I’ve googled a lot, I’ve called my ob/gyne doctor, and I’ve decided to buckle down and take care of this problem.  I’m still trying to avoid surgery, and luckily, my hernia is umbilical, so bringing my abdominal muscles back together should also remedy the hernia.

I have created a Pinterest board to keep all of the information I find in one place.  I am also looking into the Tupler Technique (aff. link).  I’ll keep you posted on that.  The burning pain is less noticeable, but still present, so I am going to be more diligent in wearing a belly band and remaining aware of my posture throughout the day.

As far as the shame part, I’d just appreciate your prayers.  I know that until I am able to flatten up, the comments and questions are probably going to keep coming.  Please, be kind to those moms you see out there whose postpartum bellies are still hanging around.  They just might be facing the mother of all tummy troubles too.

 

 

 

The Girl Who Saves Me

Isla Rae.

My precious girl just turned four on Monday.

I look at pictures from just one year ago, and I am beside myself.  I can’t believe how the baby face has melted away and a little lady is emerging.

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The gap between her two front teeth that once was so prominent, has closed so gradually, that I feel like I never even noticed it waving goodbye.  Her blonde locks have taken off, cascading down her little back, catching up quickly to her big sister’s.  I can’t believe she’s four.isla95

 

Four.

Four years ago, I endured the most painful delivery of all my four.  She took her sweet time making an arrival, so I decided to speed her along.  I found out the disastrous way that Pitocin and “natural birth” don’t mix.  Alongside wishing I had wisely avoided the incredible added pain, I have always felt as though I hijacked her birthday and have regretted rushing her every day since.

Isla2That’s Isla, though.  Teaching me patience and keeping me in check.  Since before Day 1, she’s been my chisel-child.  The one who is shaping me continuously.  

Be more patient, Mama.  Trust me, Mama.  I’m good, Mama.  I can do this on my own.  

I’ll dress myself, Mama.  I don’t need your help, Mama…

She’s this little, independent, mysterious soul, and I am her constant observer.

She’s been fierce from the start.  I wrote about our challenges when I was pregnant with her – the hemorrhage that loomed over her little body like a rain cloud.  It didn’t bother her, though.  She’s not easily affected by outside circumstances.  She’s steady and stable.  Fetus, infant, toddler, child…it didn’t matter…she’s always been my calm, cool, and collected child.  I admire those attributes in her, and I have this feeling that they will still describe her well as a young woman one day.

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But what sets Isla apart the most for me as her mama, and what I think of everytime I think of her birth, her existence…she saved me.  She saves me.

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After we lost EJ, Isla saved me and my mama-heart.  I fought hard for her.  Fought the darkness that invaded my soul.  Fought the raincloud that loomed over her and the fear that came with it.  Fought the 41st week of pregnancy, the intense summer heat, the ankles that were the size of He-Man’s thighs, and the Pitocin.  Fought and fought and fought and won.  We won.  She saved me and we won.  I won the greatest gift when God gave me Isla. I was already the blessed mother of Ava and EJ, but with Isla came the gift of hope.  She’s my “Sunshine”, my “Bright and Shining One”.

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All of my babies are so amazing and breath-taking in their own unique ways.  This is Isla’s specialty.  She saves her mama.  On days that I want to yell and throw my own tantrums, she speaks to me in her adult tones, and she may as well be holding up a mirror, because instantly, she saves me from my ridiculousness.

I look at her and I get lost in her dark eyes.  They pierce my soul, reminding me of the depth of God and His goodness, and she saves me yet again from any petty distractions I’m facing.

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She climbs up next to me while I am “working” and adds her two cents to my vlogs and asks me about what I am working on, and she saves me from any loneliness that has crept into my morning as a SAH/WAHM.  In a silly kind of way, she’s like my little co-worker at times.

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She randomly (and frequently) talks about Baby EJ.  It completely confounds us.  It’s as if she somehow knows that she is EJ’s womb-buddy.  They were conceived just three months apart.  Although I’ve written about EJ as a daughter, she is convinced EJ is her brother and she talks about “him” as though he is a very real part of her daily life.  It amazes me.  When she talks about EJ, she saves me from any heartache, because I am instantly reminded of this beautiful family that God is allowing me to build during my time here.

I’m humbled daily – by a four year old.

I’m changed daily – by a four year old.

I’m moved daily – by a four year old.

I’m challenged daily – by a four year old.

I am so thankful for our sweet Isla Rae.  She’s beautiful through and through.  She’s our little painter and chocoholic.  She can house a dozen donuts or chocolate chip pancakes in a single sitting.  She is all muscle, though.  Even when she was a baby, she was a teeny little muscle.  She can stand on the knuckles of her feet in an amazing and totally unnatural way.  lol

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She can sass with the best of them and she loves being in the kitchen.  She’s got the most beautiful hands and nails I have ever seen.  No joke.  She’s a Rockstar and one tough cookie.  Dental work…doctor appointments…ER visits…she doesn’t even whimper.  She loves her sisters so deeply.  I can count on her to always be caring for someone.  All day, every day…she’s taking care of her sisters.

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She will ask me if I like her outfit, hairdo, shoes, because she’s destined to be a fashion blogger. 😉  She loves having her nails painted and is a natural dancer.

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She wants to learn to play the violin and loves to swim.  A cup of hot chocolate, a Hershey Kiss, a cookie… it doesn’t matter if we’re picking Ava up at school or if she’s returning home from a Daddy-daughter date, she is NEVER empty-handed when it comes to her big sister.  Ava is tops in her book and Isla is always thinking of little ways to bless her.

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Her mealtime prayers are especially long and almost always include a wish list of some kind along with a plea for the “people that don’t have any aw-fer-ring”.  Her heart makes mine melt.  Every.single.day.

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Happy Birthday, sweet Isla Rae.  Thank you for saving me.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for refining me.  I thank God for you, precious girl.  You bring such strength and beauty to my world. xoxo

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Dear Daughter, I Enjoy You.


Dear Daughter, I Enjoy You.

As I was slowly making the descent from upstairs, I allowed the exhaustion to wash over me, mentally, physically, emotionally. Out of nowhere, a thought hit me, and I knew immediately that it was one worth paying attention too.

“How tiring these kids are.”
“These days are long. They are hard.”

And it hit me.

The faces I made throughout the day. The sneers. The snorts. The sighs…

And a voice asked me a simple question…

“What if you could look at yourself that way? You wouldn’t be your own friend. You would lose a friend over such behavior.  And yet, you treat your own flesh and blood…your baby in such a way.”

I have gone as far as to roll over in the bed in the morning and growl angry words like, “You are being sooo annoying right now, child.”  All they want is breakfast.  All I want is more sleep.

Seriously.

I did that.

And it started to sink in how I was hurting little hearts everyday. I am hurting little hearts. With my words. With my actions. With my eye rolls and sighs…

But those things aren’t  real. They aren’t reality. Reality is, I am simply exhausted and poorly behaved. Reality is that my children are…children. They are silly. They are wild.  They require a lot of energy.  They are beautiful. They are loved.

I like them.

I admire and adore them.

I enjoy them.

I need to remember their smallness. My eyes…my words…my touch…my moods…are their world. For 90% of their day, I am their world.

So here’s my pep talk to myself:

Get it together, girl. Straighten up, sister. You have got to use that heart and that head of your’s and wipe that nasty exhaustion off of your face. Wipe it off on purpose.  Don’t let it ruin the tenderness in your smile. Don’t give it ground. Step up your game. You are their mama. God put you over these girls like a guardian angel. One they can touch and hear and smell and look to for love and guidance. Put on your wings today, mama, because they require a whole lot of protection. And sometimes, you have to make a choice to shelter them from even yourself. Lay that bitterness of a messy house down. Cast that resentment of a sleepless night aside. Forgive those early-risers, knowing that they are just excited to start a new day. Pray for a little of that to rub off on you too… You are the mama and you enjoy them. Time to start living like it…

Dear Daughter,


Forgive me. I don’t mean to be so hard on you. I want to see you sparkle from sun-up to sun-down. You are smart, funny, vivacious, and inspiring. Your giggles are darling and your smile is so pure. You are brave and adventurous and I wish I could have more of that in my own weary bones. You are special and gifted. The Lord made you well. There is no one else like you, and no one else has my heart on a string like you do. I’d give all I have away in a moment and still be satisfied knowing that I am your mama and you are mine. I’m sorry for letting my bad mood discolor our days together. You won’t know this, but I need a reminder. Your sweet, soft cheeks are going to help me through the hard days. They were the first bits of you that I cherished. I kissed and caressed them from day one. I kissed them so gently, hoping that you could sense your precious worth when we couldn’t yet share words. I still sweep my hand along them towards your little chin to this day as a way to send you a quick love letter. So, that will be my reminder to myself to keep my word to you. To protect you from my tired looks and grumpy words. When I see them, touch them, smooch them…I will remember your smallness and my bigness, and I will behave as a mama should – with patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, love, joy, peace, gentleness and self-control. Sounds familiar, huh? Yeah, those Fruits of the Spirit {Galatians 5:22-23} that mama holds you accountable to…well, I’m going to start being those things too. You deserve that from me. I love you, Daughter. I so deeply love you.

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Bad Day; Good Life

Today was one of those days.  One of those rotten, awful, bad days.  Yesterday, I talked about making memories, well, today was the kind of day that I don’t care to remember.

I started the day at 5 AM and by 7:55 AM I had already given one poopy child a bath.  By 3 PM, I had JUST finished my only cup of coffee and had cleaned poop off of three separate children four times and had redressed two of those kids twice!  You following??  I cleaned up a pee puddle in the kitchen and Play Doh in the dining room.  By 6 PM, I was making dinner and discovering my lunch in the microwave, and by 8 PM, I had scrubbed Eden’s carpet twice and stripped two different kids’ beds.  I washed, dried, and folded two loads of laundry, loaded and emptied the dishwasher twice before hubs came home and did it a third time.  I showered while he set the kids up for dinner, and that was only because, in my exhausted stupidity, I grabbed the hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven glass Pyrex dish with my bare hand, so I had “had it” and needed a breather.  I vacuumed the second floor for the third time this week and changed our sheets, because I have been sleeping on cake crumbs for two days.  (The Bigs were just trying to “get away from Eden” while they ate their cake, and our bed seemed like a good place to hide.)  Miri has been crying all afternoon/evening because I caved and ate chocolate yesterday.  After this day, it’s taking all of my willpower not to dive into what’s left of the chocolate raspberry meltaway egg. It’s now 9:45 PM and I can’t touch another dish or toy.  The house is just going to have to look like the post-dinner mess that it is for the rest of the night.  It.has.been.a.day.

Tomorrow, we start all over again, and I am praying that it goes much better than today has gone.  I love my babies.  I enjoy them.  Today was rotten, but I kept rolling that quote around in my head about it being a bad day, good life, just so I could maintain my sanity.  It worked about 80% of the time.  The other 20% I had to try to control the cursing in my head.  I kept coming up with phrases that included a whole lot of potty talk, like, “It’s not the pits, just the s***s.”  Because well, as Isla admitted, today was donned the “Poopy Day”.  I mean…who has to clean up poop like six times in ONE day?!  Ok, I’m sure some people do, but I can’t.  I just can’t.  It’s where I draw the line!  *Sigh*

So, anyway, if you had a crappy day, literally or figuratively or both…I’m sorry.  I feel for you, mama.  Tomorrow will be better.  It HAS to be better.  Just remember this:

Father God, I come to you as a tired, exhausted mess of a woman.  Please forgive me for my shortcomings today and for my impatience with everyone in my household.  I pray for grace and strength to do better tomorrow.  Help me to grow my children up in a household built on love and understanding.  I invite you, Holy Spirit to bring peace to our home in a deeper way.  Help us to feel Your presence and follow your lead in every moment of the day, especially the rough and yucky ones.  Help us to see this day for what it was, just a messy one, and help me to enter tomorrow with a new and refreshed perspective, rested and recharged, ready to take on the day.  Thank you for my family.  It is a gift that I treasure.  Let my words to them tomorrow be words of kindness, life and hope.  When I am tempted to yell, I ask that you would be there and give me wisdom on how to handle whatever challenges I am facing as a mother and wife in a more Christ-like way.  Help me to make our home a sanctuary for these people that I love.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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