a to-do list worth checking off

I’ve given myself quite the list of to-do’s prior to baby boy’s arrival. I spent part of Saturday and between church on Sunday tackling a few things on the list. In that time I managed to clean out and organize the kitchen cabinets, clean out the pantry and refrigerator, organize our master bedroom closet, and start packing a hospital bag.

It’s a perfect example of nesting at it’s finest. You know, no closet can be left unorganized, no drawer in disarray.

Clearly, my tiny newborn is going to be so concerned about the cereal boxes being out of place in the pantry, that it just has to be done. There is absolutely no logic to the madness, but it certainly won’t hurt to have a clean and organized house.

Allen has a list too, it mainly involves all things outside and all things basement and garage related. He’s knocking it out, and I wouldn’t trade lists with him if you paid me.

Which brings me to my point, I placed our lists on the refrigerator, so I’m sure to see them and be reminded of what I really need to be doing when I try to sneak a push-up instead of cleaning out a closet. Last night, before bed Allen needed to mark a few more things off his list, and as we were discussing the lists BK joined us, and ask for a list of her own. She made sure to say that she wanted just a few things on her list.

Smart girl.

And then she proceeded to name a few things while I wrote them on a piece of paper, in her own words:

  1. play
  2. help dad take some stuff to basement 
  3. help dad clean up garage
  4. go outside and play
  5. bake cookies 

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And I thought, now there’s a to-do list worth checking off. Helping others, playing and baking. I could handle that. She was satisfied with that list and at the end she instructed me not to add anything else, not until we do all those things. 

In a life sometimes driven by a to-do list and responsibilities I don’t particularly like, I thought about how much better things would be if I added some things to my list because they were really worth doing. Sure, things like cleaning out closets and packing hospitals bags are important, but you know what else is important? Baking cookies with my almost 4-year-old and playing outside in this beautiful weather.

Though she’s small, it’s obvious she’s here to teach me a few things, too. I just need to take the time to listen.

Today, as I check things off my various to-do lists, I’ll keep her sweet little list in the forefront of my mind. There’s always a million things I could be doing, but I need to really stop and think about what I should be doing.

And I don’t think what I should be doing is on any list you’ll find in my planner.

 

on your birthday

Today, Allen turns 30 and I’ve thought of at least 30 ways to give him a big shout out on the blog. Instead, I think I’m going to tell you a story about another birthday of his that I’ll never forget.

It was on Allen’s birthday that he proposed to me. Right back in the same place we met. It was genius, really. I never for a moment thought he would be putting a ring on my finger, I thought it was just a great spot for a birthday picnic. I think back to the day, years ago and still remember it like it were yesterday. Actually, I probably remember it better than some things that happened yesterday. The details, the weather, the things he said, the crazy butterflies.

We were young, probably too young to be engaged, and definitely too young to care if anyone thought that we were.

Sometimes I wonder if he really knew what he was getting himself into when he asked me to marry him.

I laugh because we thought we had it all figured out and less than a year later, we were married and on our own. I burned my fair share of dinners and he undercooked food on the grill on a regular basis. I fussed about the trash being taken out way too often, as he rolled his eyes at the newest item I added to my closet.  I think back to those years fairly often, so young and so in love. The love part was enough, it has always been, it will always be. We were living in a space a third of the size of the house we live in now, but those were some of the best times.

And then I think, if he didn’t know what he was bargaining for on that chilly February day, I’m certain that God did and it fell right into his perfect plan.

Our engagement seemed to fly by, just like the years that we’ve acquired from that fateful February day to this February day.

Here’s to you, Allen, on your birthday.

Thank you for sharing your birthday with another special day in my life.

I am incredibly blessed to call you my husband, and I can’t wait to spend so many more birthdays with you. No matter how old you get or how many birthdays you have, the one when I got to say yes will always be my favorite.

I look forward to filling in the gap from the day to that present with great memories. This year is going to be life changing, as we welcome our son, and change our dynamic from a family of three to a family of four.

But, if the years have taught us anything, it’s only going to get better. Here’s to your thirties, may the years continue to bring us happiness and be filled with love.

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dear working mom, i feel it too

I wrote this last year for Courtney Defeo’s blog, I’m going to work today after a much needed, unexpected break and I couldn’t think of a better way to start this Monday. The guilt is certainly alive and well on this cold and cloudy Monday morning, but I also know I have a great group waiting on me once I get to work and that eases the sting a bit. 

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a fellow working mother who simply ask, how do you manage to not feel the guilt when you leave your little one at home? Immediately I felt like a bit of a fake, not feel the guilt? Is that even possible? It was one of those times when I felt like my 12-point Arial font just wouldn’t be enough,  no words from my head to that blinking cursor would come through with enough emotion and heart.  I wish I could look her in the eye, face-to-face, over a cup of coffee, and I would tell her that isn’t the case at all.

I’ve felt it in the form of extreme sadness when it was my husband who took our daughter to her first day of Mother’s Day Out.

I’ve felt it in the form of anger and resentment when I couldn’t be the one who stayed home with her on the days she pleaded with me to do just that.

I’ve felt it in the form of selfishness when I get a mid-day picture of her and I can only think about how I wish it were me taking that picture instead.

And because I’ve felt all of those things, I am stronger and I have overcome many obstacles to step into the door of the school building at 7:15 each morning.

As I’m sure you are too, whether you are working from home, or your job is in the home, or you work miles away from home.

Believe me, I’ve felt the guilt you’re referring to and I think if you’re a working mother, you have probably felt it at one point or another as well. I think on any given morning (or evening, as sometimes those are the worst for me), your emotions have spanned the gamete. And my prayer for you is that you’ve experienced and felt just as many warm and fuzzy emotions, as you’ve felt guilt.

And my main take away from these past few years as a working mom is something all moms can benefit from hearing:

It’s okay to feel the guilt, as long as you aren’t living the guilt. Guilt isn’t there for you to dwell on, it isn’t there to dictate your life. 

I don’t ever expect to stop feeling guilty, emotions are good, they are real. Just like I don’t ever expect to stop feeling happy when I see goodness.

As we think about our family growing, I’m not sure that this is where I will always be, but this season of my life will stay with me forever. I will always remember these days. I will remember how on the good days (which most days are) I felt like my heart might burst with satisfaction. A room full of kindergartners in one part of my life, and a home full of love and my favorite people in the other part of my life. And I’ll remember the bad days too, I’m sure. But my hope is that the good will always shine through.

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thoughts on two

I’ll be honest with you, I feel like this pregnancy is creeping along. It’s a bit annoying because I know once he arrives the time will pass with incredible speed. I’m not sure how or why it works that way, but it does, I’ve been there and I know how quickly everything changes.

From newborn to infancy to toddlerhood. I feel like I merely blinked my eyes and life moved forward at an alarming rate.

But, time passing slowly isn’t a bad thing. Not at all. It’s nice to feel like time is dragging, I know our days as a family of three are limited. We’ve made it our goal for the new year to stay home more, enjoy more dinners at home, play in the playroom more often, we’ve adopted a more structured nightly routine. We’re all thriving in this environment,  it seems to be just the thing we needed.

It’s easy to admit that I have a little fear moving forward. How will this enormous dynamic shift change our family? If I’m honest, I’m mostly worried about Braylen.

She’s never known anything other than this life as a family of three, she gets all of the attention, she is our focus. In just three short months, things are going to change in a major way for her and I don’t know that there is any way I can actually prepare her for what is to come.

I’m not worried about the tough infant stage. The late night feedings and sleep schedules. I’m worried about dividing my time between the two of them. Which seems silly, I know. But, it’s something that I’ve never had to do. It’s also something that she’s never experienced.

For the past four years she’s had us all to herself. She’s never been jealous or acted out to get our attention, because she’s never had to vie for our attention. It’s always been hers.

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It is my hope that she falls into this role seamlessly, and she probably will. She’s smart and she loves to feel like she is helping with anything we do around the house. It’s up to me not to become completely consumed by this new role, but to embrace this change and make sure she feels included.

In reality, I know there will be times that require extra patience from her (and myself). Perhaps instead of worrying, I should look forward to those, because we could all use a little more patience. In the end, this is an enormous blessing for our family, and I know these feelings will subside once the baby arrives. The unknown is toughest part and the anticipation sometimes gets the best of me.

Apparently, my lesson in patience has already started. This is all normal, right? In the end, it’ll all work out, I’m certain. I’m also certain that seeing the two of them together may cause my heart to explode with love and gratitude. And for the reason, I can’t wait for that day.

I answered several questions about the nighttime routine and chore chart in the comments yesterday. I’ll also get a more detailed post together next week. 

 

Not Super Mom? You’re Super Wrong!

Quick! I’m going to say the phrase Super Mom and I want you to tell me the first thing that comes to your mind. If you’re like me, it’s quite picturesque. She’s making the quintessential  breakfast in a perfectly decorated kitchen, with perfectly clean baseboards and perfectly happy children. There are no crumbs on the floor, no dishes in the sink, everyone is smiling. Sort of like something out of a magazine shoot with glossy pages and smiles full of perfectly white teeth.

The problem is, our perception is far removed from reality. Reality doesn’t look like the covers of parenting magazines. In reality, we know that one of those children is going to drop a few crumbs on the floor, that breakfast is going to cause a mess in the kitchen, and there will be some whining before breakfast even hits the plates. That’s life, both messy and beautiful.

I don’t think that the super mom we have in our head is a true representation of the real super mom. Instead, I think there are tons of super moms, walking around, raising little ones, falling into bed each night with full and grateful hearts, no mater what the day brought their way. That my friends, is super mom.

No, it’s not the super moms we’re lacking, it’s a reality check. I think maybe our view of who she is and what she does is skewed. Actually, skewed isn’t the appropriate word, our view is wrong. Super wrong.

You know who I think super mom is?

I think super mom is you.

I think she’s the one who loves her children with every fiber of her being.

I think she’s the one who kisses skinned knees and fights back tears when her children are hurting.

I think she’s the one who sacrifices on behalf of her children, who puts their needs above her own.

I think she’s the one who encourages other moms, especially new moms, the ones with teary eyes and stained shirts.

I think she’s the one who just sat on the floor and played Candy Lane for the millionth time, while the laundry wrinkled from staying in the dryer too long.

And what does she look like? That’s not hard to figure out, just look in the mirror.

She looks absolutely worn out after sitting beside a steaming shower at 3:00 in the morning to give her congested child some relief.

She looks like you, and me. She looks like your neighbor, or the person beside in the preschool pick up line.

She looks like she just threw on a pair of yoga pants from her closet floor to run to the grocery store.

She looks like she’s doing her best, she’s giving her all, even when she feels like there’s nothing left to give.

I think we should stop shunning the idea of being super mom and start accepting the notion that there’s a little super mom in us all. We should stop dwelling on our weaknesses and embrace our strengths. It’s just as important that we stop bashing others for their strengths. You know what I mean, you also know that if you think really hard about it, you have strengths that others would love to have.

That’s right, I think we’re all super moms in our own unique way. You know what else I think? I think that if we’d take the time to appreciate others and their abilities we’d all be a little happier, we’d all have a little more peace in our hearts.

So go out there and be super mom. 

Own it.

Love your children, splash some dry shampoo in your hair (you can fool so many), and encourage a few others along the way.

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