Tomorrow starts the crazy-busy-work-weekend for me. Two days of Porter Flea and one full day of a big mural project. Can’t wait to show you pics of it all when I’m done. For now, I’m taking some deep breaths and powering through until Sunday night when I can finally sit down and relax! It’ll be a crazy few days doing work I absolutely love!
I decided last week to have a weekend full of special treats with Dave and D. Fun activities, delicious food, and little gifts. Dave had a three day weekend (a rare and special treat in itself) so we filled it up with fun.
We started off with a back porch picnic.
The next day was an Arrested Development costume party. We dressed D up as a “never nude” but didn’t get any good photos, unfortunately. We got plenty of photos of our Hot Cop and Rita costumes though. This party with friends was LOADS of fun!
When my friend Lillian introduces me to people, they say, “Oh! The Steph from Facebook!” and I get really awkward. We have a mostly comedic relationship, when I think about it, and our Facebook relationship is proof of that. Lillian is one of the best friends I have ever had, and I believe one of the best I ever will have. She is famous ’round here for pretty much all of the non-cell phone pictures, and she’s famous on Facebook for having some of the funniest kids ever. So as a breath of fresh air after all our emotional mother’s day posts, here’s Lillian with some comedic relief.
Thanks to Steph for inviting me to guest post on her blog…I am a photographer, and not a writer, so words are more of my second expressive language. That being said…I am a mom. I (somewhat guiltily?) did not have any trouble getting pregnant, and after birthing our first daughter in late 2004, we had a full family of 3 kids by 2007. Yes. Bam bam bam. It was intentional, and I knew that if I didn’t keep having babies while others were in diapers, if I stopped, I wouldn’t go back. I love having the kids so close together, but I can’t say it isn’t without it’s (many, many) challenges.
I am not a mom who tries to pretend that being a mom is my “only joy” in life. Though it IS (usually) a joy, because of the way my body and mind are wired, being maternal and dealing with three different emotional creatures at all times is very tiring on my body. Scheduling soccer games at two fields for three kids, sometimes all at once? I can do that. Two someones crying because the each of the other was mean to them, and someone else is simultaneously trying to organize my freezer? (actual event that just happened) Wears. Me. Out.
One of the most fascinating things about motherhood (or parenting in general, for that matter) to me is how there can be these three people that came from the same parents, living in the same household, born within MONTHS of each other, and they are totally different. TOTALLY. Have I mentioned totally?
Let’s meet the key players.
Sadie. Sadie is currently 8 years old. She is the epitome of first born female. She is good at everything. Literally. Everything. She is athletic, smart, a helper, a leader. She is type A, and loves to clean and organize. She is responsible and mature, practical and original. She has always worn outfits layered with colors and patterns, and they always look amazing. She is her own self, and has much confidence in herself. I hope this never changes.
Jackson. Jackson is 7. He is passionate. About anything he decides to be passionate about. Whatever he is, he is all-in. He is brilliant, and a very logical thinker. He does not love to clean…but he loves to sort things. He loves to sing, and loves to hug. He loves to be outside, though sports are not his strong suit. Team spirit, however? He is a champ. He is in love with love already, somehow, and when middle school rolls around, I am trying to mentally prepare myself for heartbreak after heartbreak. (his)
Then there is Amilie. Amilie is 5. She is all of 5. She is…words cannot capture. She looks different than the other two. They are blonde haired and fair. She has brown hair and darker skin. I have definitely been asked if she has a different dad. Nope. Just collected different genes. She is spunky, and girly. She loves to wear skirts, and the “spinnier” the better. She can get what she wants from who she wants, and when she wants it. I am afraid. Very afraid. Of the suiters that will come calling for this one. She is also in love with love, and the one who talks about God the most.
So that is each of them individually. This is them collectively. (completely on their own)
These three can make for much hilarity in our home. One way that I record their quips for posterity (ok, the ONLY way…) is through facebook. I am no good at writing things in a baby book (though I have terrific handwriting), so this gives me a way to look back and see the things they have said. I have combed through years of these quotes and tried to grab some for you to savor. And basically, the point of this meandering blog is to share those things with you…A look inside our home…inside the humor of parenting.
On Prayers and God…
Amilie(4)’s deep thought of the morning: “Everyone has cheeks. except God.”
Amilie (5): “Mom, why didn’t God write any hello kitty songs?”
Me: “who is saying prayer for lunch?”
J(4): “Me. Dear God, thank you for this day, and please help Sadie go to school every day. Amen.”
S(5): “I want to say a prayer.”
Me: “Remember that God really likes it when we pray kind prayers.”
A (3): “I got a booboo on my finger ankle.” (knuckle)
When Sadie (6) made her christmas list, one of the things she asked for was “glue in a bottle.”
Proof that if you deprive your kids of basic things, they’ll think they are really special.
I merely suggested that we may want to think about choosing some toys to get rid of, since we are most likely getting new toys for Christmas, and we sure don’t have room for all toys that exist.
Sadie (6) went and got a bag and has started trying to convince the other two of items we need to get rid of.
Jackson (4) RAN to find all of his toys to hide them.
Few 7 year olds would be as excited as Sadie just was to discover the hook on the cabinet under the sink for hanging a dishrag. “All RIGHT!! GREAT idea!!”
There may have been a fist pump.
Sadie’s (7) teacher calls right after school starts: “There has been an explosion of orange juice from Sadie’s lunch. She needs new shorts.”
Me: “Is she upset?”
Ms. D: “No. She just shrugged and said, ‘It has been QUITE a morning.'”
Well that’s the truth.
Me: “Amilie, what happened to that worm you were playing with?”
Amilie (4): “I killed it because it peed on me.”
Sadie (7) had an assignment at school that asked what she would ask a fairy godmother for. She said she would wish for a green olive pizza.
Me: “You wouldn’t wish for like, diamonds, or money, or a beautiful dress?”
Sadie: “Well, i mean, if i was making a wish when i was, like, super hungry, which I usually am.”
The kids have now tried turkish delight…basically a “celebrity dessert” to them, since they have heard so much about it from Edmund.
Amilie (4) hates it. Sadie (7) likes it a lot.
Jackson (6) says he loves it enough to go with the white witch for it.
J’s (6) hw assignment was to see how many jumping jacks he could do in a minute. it should have been to see how many he could do before skanking. 2.
Playing school. Sadie (7) is very tolerant of Amilie (4), to whom she is teaching the a b c’s. She has already threatened to send Jax (5) out of the class 3 times in 2 minutes.
Me: “So in the Olympics, if you get first, you get a gold medal, second place, silver medal. Third…”
Jax (6): “bras?”
Sadie (8): “how does reflective paint reflect?”
Me: “I am not exactly sure.”
Sadie, nodding slowly, “science.”
The other day Amilie (5) was trying to think of somewhere super far away, and “Antafrica” was the most superlative distance she could come up with.
Jax (6), after adding a vest and a tie to his outfit: “How do my toppings look?”
Overheard While Playing
S (7): “Amilie, this castle we are drawing needs double doors.”
A (4): Why do they need DOUBLE doors?”
S: “Well, because it is a castle…and they are rich…”
A: “Ohhhhh, cause they have to have double doors so they can carry all their money in?”
Sadie (7): Amilie, pretend you are a well-trained horse.
A (4): pretend it takes two years for me to become a well-trained horse.
A:now pretend two years have gone by and now I am a well-trained horse.
Getting ready for a friend’s birthday party…grooming is becoming a something at our house…
Jackson (7): “can I shave real quick before we go?”
Amilie (5) (with water slicking her hair down on top of her head…with water on her eyebrows): “Jackson, have you fancied up your eyebrows?”
Jax (6), eating purple grapes that he has peeled the skin off of: “I am eating green grapes.”
Amilie (4): “No…they’re purple.”
Jax: “It’s not about what’s on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.”
Sorry, bro, not applicable in all situations.
Jax (7): “One day I want to see Mount Rushmore.”
Amilie (5): “One day I want to see a rock with 62 princesses carved into it.”
A (4): “Pretend I am a princess dog, and when I eat, i take off my clothes.”
J (6): “Pretend I say, ‘kibble?’, and you say that you only want meatloaf.”
A: “No, pretend I only want cat food. And I eat out of a hat.”
And finally, On Me.
Jax (5, on Valentine’s Day, when we were going on a date together): “if I am going to take you on a date, you are going to have to dress up more. And it must be red.”
I have no red. sorry to disappoint.
Jax (6): “Amilie, want to help me make mama a picture for her birthday?”
Amilie (4): “Nah, I wanted to get her something she would actually like.”
Before bed prayers:
Jackson (7): “That the [neighbor boy] wouldn’t get beat up on the bus anymore.”
Amilie (5): (in a whisper so he wouldn’t hear) “That Jackson would find a 4-leaf clover” (the VERY desire of his heart)
Sadie (8): “…that mama would get enough sleep and not be grouchy tomorrow.”
Jax (6) told me this morning that if I ever die, he will eat poisonous mushrooms so he can die too.
One kid, to me: “You are a mean wicked witch!”
Another kid, defending my honor: “No she isn’t! SHE IS THE KINDEST UNICORN!!”
I’ve been on this earth for 26 Mother’s Days. Most of them have been celebratory of the women I love the most. The great-grandma who speaks truth and light and grace in all things. The grandma who made fried chicken in a cast iron skillet on Sundays and still sings hymns when other words won’t come. The grandma who shows me examples of love everywhere we are- how to love my husband and my family and my church. The mother-in-law who not only gave me the gift of a godly and wise husband, but is a friend and counselor. The mama who pours her heart out to empty every day and then starts again the next day as if it’s not great and hard work to love her children so deeply. The Nashville mothers I have held dearly. My closest friends- the women who have stepped into the gap in my life to make me feel loved where I am, who brought me soup when I was sick, loved me on my darkest days, and treated me as family.
The last four Mother’s days have been a struggle in some way. I’ve written about my infertility so much. I will keep writing those blog posts because there are more of us out there than I can stand and I want us to be in this together. I’ve written blog posts about how hard Mother’s Day can be for women who want nothing more than to be a mother and cannot. And I will keep writing those posts because difficult days don’t go away in the 4th year of infertility and the 7th year and the 20th year and they don’t go away when you find a new path to motherhood. I’ve written posts about hope and about pain, about past, present, and future.
But this year is a new kind of Mother’s Day. This is the year I found motherhood at 5am. Pulled it into my living room and read it a story after driving overnight with my heart exploding with hope. This is the year I woke up on Mother’s Day with squirmy baby feet in my hair, got called mommy 100 times, was asked for when needing comfort. This is the year I am mama.
To all the mamas. The mamas with kids and without, the foster mamas who are temporary and forever all at the same time, the mamas who have lost littles and the littles who have lost mamas, I hope your day has felt blessed.
I have had many moments in the past 9 months, that I frantically thought, “I need to talk to Priscilla about this!” It’s been 9 months since we met, but I feel like I’ve known her for years. She has been such a priceless treasure in my life, whether she knew it or not, and I wanted her to share her story of motherhood here for you all. Priscilla, I’m so glad to call you a friend and so thankful for you in my life! Happy Mother’s Day from one sorta-mother to another.
“Happy Mother’s Day!”………….How odd still to be wished those words! You see, I am technically NOT a mother. Never have been pregnant. Never have given birth to anything breathing or anything living that could remotely be defined as coming from me. I am technically not a mother. And never will be one. It is honestly probably the greatest regret of my life that God didn’t ordain this for me. And yet people wish me Happy Mother’s Day.
You see, I’ve been a youth leader for years. I’ve been privileged to be present at the spiritual birth of many kids. And moreover to be able to nurture and foster the spiritual walks of many, many teens over the years. So, I’m kind of a spiritual mother to many kids.
Also, I’m a foster mother and have been for two years. Part of me wants to say “Just a foster mother.” Like I need to qualify and define it for everyone. “No, I’m not a mother. I’m a sort-of, occasional, not really mother. I take in other people’s children, but they’re not mine. I’m just doing this for a moment, for a time, for a bit. But I’m not really a mother. Not really.” And I know people don’t need things qualified like this; it’s just my pathological need for truth that makes me feel the need to overshare.
I have had three kiddos who have lived with me. The first girl, A, was a pretty 16 year old who had more issues than a newspaper article. We got along well and she was pretty go-with-the-flow, but she had so many damaged places that she wouldn’t let anyone else get to. She moved on after a few very hard months.
The second girl, K, was a 15 year old who truly captured my heart. We got along so well and everything was so good for so long. If it was up to me, she could have stayed with me forever. But she had learned early in life that instead of following rules, manipulation will get you want you want. Rules are there to be gotten around, not to follow to get what you want. Manipulate and take a shortcut to what you want. She came by it honestly. Her parents only showed her this way and no other. So after almost 11 months of pouring into this kiddo, she was moved to a place of greater supervision and structure. I still have contact with her and can see her often. But the day-to-day has been sacrificed. In fact, she is going to Prom tonight and I can’t be there for that and that really hurts something fierce! But I can’t control her choices. So these are the consequences we live with.
Kiddo Number Three, A, a bubbly 11 year old, was with me for three weeks, shortly after K left, and was another heart-capture-er. These were three weeks of complete joy! She was a blessing to me and drank in all the love I had to give her. She was so great and time with her was a blessing. I was even given the gift of being with her as she asked Jesus into her heart!! After a few weeks and paperwork, I handed her off to a God-loving couple who will be her forever home! What a blessing!
So what have I gained from all this besides more gray hairs and wrinkles?? Oh so very much!! A greater understanding of God’s unconditional love for us that gives and gives and gives whether there are results or not. Before I started doing foster care, I was told by a foster mom that she told herself every day, “These are not my children. I am just holding them in trust for someone else.” My job is to love them. With my whole heart. Holding nothing back. Flooding them with the love God has poured into me. BUT (and this is a HUGE but), I have to love them with a open hand. Because they could leave at any time. This is the nature of foster care. You are choosing to love a transitory being. Someone who will be gone at some point in time. Maybe to a loving forever family. Maybe to a group home where structure is key. Maybe to their own family who have gotten things together. I am really good at loving with my whole heart. I kind of rock that part. But, I SUCK at the “open hand” part! It is the hardest thing I have ever done. Ever. Even saying goodbye to my own mother as she neared the end of her life was nowhere close to this hard. Nowhere close. It is not for wimps, that is for sure!
But I am called to love. That is my only job. All that love entails. All that love demands. All the joys and the hurts. My performance of this job is not in the results. I will never, in the eyes of God, be judged on the results of my loving. I just have to love well. My job is to plant the seeds. What grows from them is not my concern. That is in the hands of God. HE gets to be the one to determine that. Not me. No matter how hard I want it to be my determination. It is not my job. It is God’s job to decide of these seeds will grow to incredible heights or shrivel or die completely. When I judge my job on performance or results, I have left the path He laid out for me and things go horribly wrong.
But maybe…….that is the calling of all parents. To love a transitory being. To not focus on the results. To only plant the seeds and take your hands off and stop digging up what you have planted to analyze it and see if it is growing right. To only want to hear from God: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” at the end of each day.
So, maybe I will let someone wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. Because maybe I have more in common with those ladies who have given birth than I realized before. Maybe I am learning to love as a parent loves, expecting nothing in return except God’s approval and empowering to do it again tomorrow.
If loving those God brings into your life makes you a mother, then I guess I will wear that badge proudly and stop qualifying how I don’t really fit that term in the traditional sense. I love. I do it well (some days). I can trust God to love through me, if I will let him.
So………Happy Mother’s Day, All Ladies Who Love!!!
Julie was my boss when I was in college. She was a great boss and has turned into a great friend. She’s such an encouragement to me in my journey to motherhood that I KNEW I had to have her share here. I love having her advice and wisdom in my life; I know you will too!
When I became pregnant, I was living in Hawaii, enjoying the beauty of the islands, with a decent job and sharing a house with my best friend. I was 29, certainly not too young to be a mother, but the situation wasn’t ideal. I had been divorced about 2 years before, ending a marriage that had only lasted a year. I liked my job, and it paid the bills, but I had no savings and owned almost nothing. My boyfriend was a US resident, but a citizen of Cameroon (it’s about half way down the western coast of Africa – I had to look at a map too). We had been dating for almost a year, but I had tried to break up with him more than once because although he was a nice person, I didn’t think that our relationship was going anywhere.
My mother had visited me that fall, and after she quizzed me incessantly about my relationship, I had finally told her that he was from Africa. I suppose I expected her to be upset with me for dating a black man. She wasn’t angry, but she was worried. My Mom was born in 1931. In her worldview, it just wasn’t a great idea for people to date interracially. She didn’t really disapprove, but she did worry about what other people would think. “What about the children?” she asked me. I explained that I doubted that we would stay together long term anyway, and children were not in my plan with this guy. “Besides,” I said, “are you trying to say that you wouldn’t love your grandchild if he or she was biracial?” She told me not to be crazy, that of course she would love any child of mine, but that she worried about how he or she would be treated, and she reiterated that it wasn’t fair to the child.
Only a few months later, I found out that I was pregnant. The early weeks of finding out and telling people were extremely stressful. I wasn’t sure what to do. My boyfriend did not even believe me at first, and then suggested that maybe the baby was not his. I have never been so hurt and so angry in my life. Later he apologized and tried to help with untenable suggestions. My roommate was alternately excited and supportive and irritable and frustrated with me. She was dealing with her own challenges at work, and was trying to make decisions that depended somewhat on me making decisions. My Mom had always been there for me, whatever was going on in my life, but I was honestly afraid that she would not support me this time. She was disappointed, and my Stepdad was angry.
When my parents let me know that, despite their initial reactions, I could still count on their love and support, they wanted me to move home. That plan was very attractive to me, but at the same time, I didn’t know if leaving the multicultural world of Hawaii for southern Missouri would be the best choice for my child. I was a wreck.
One night during this time, I fell asleep praying for guidance. I don’t remember exactly what I prayed, but it was something along the lines of asking God to tell me what to do, and to help me believe that things would be okay again someday. The next morning, I awoke with the remains of a very vivid dream in my mind. I felt so good that I tried desperately to hold on to the dream. I couldn’t recall much of it beyond the memory of a warm bright light, but I felt an overwhelming sense of calm, and I could still hear a reassuring voice saying to me very clearly, “His name is Andrew, and everything is going to be alright.” I hadn’t even begun to look at baby name books yet, and after that morning, I never considered another first name.
Because of the baby’s position, my ultrasound couldn’t confirm the gender, but I referred to him as “he” anyway. My doctor was worried that I was too convinced that the baby was a boy. “What if it’s a girl?” she asked me at almost every visit. I answered the same way every time, “I am hoping for a healthy baby. A girl might be easier, because I’ll be raising him alone, and I’ve been a girl, so I know about that. But he’s a boy, and his name is Andrew.”
Andrew was born on his due date, and was healthy with only minor complications. My roommate was my labor coach and we laughed through the night together. Two months later, my boyfriend and I separately amicably, and baby and I moved back to Missouri to be near my family, who have always cherished him. I never thought that what I heard in my dream only applied to a healthy birth, and I have held fast to it through the years. As a single parent, I’ve often felt the need for a quick prayer (sometimes screamed!) to remind God of His special promise. There have been challenges, but even in the darkest, scariest moments, every time I give a problem to God, He finds a way. He has outdone Himself fulfilling His promise to me. I have been lucky every day to get to be Andy’s Mom.
In June, my son will turn 18, and in August he will start college at Yale. Even as I get teary-eyed thinking about saying goodbye to him and to this part of motherhood, I’m still reassured because I know this:
His name is Andrew, and everything is going to be alright.
My dear friend, Kim, has a great story to tell, and I wanted to be sure to ask her to share it with you all this Mother’s Day. I know the hard road of infertility she is traveling, and am so beyond excited to share in her joy now. Thanks so much for sharing, Kim!
About three and a half years ago the Lord made me a mother. My husband and I were so surprised to find out we were expecting! However, at 11 weeks, we lost our sweet baby. Our pregnancy at that time had been one of those ‘werent trying, but weren’t exactly not trying’ type of things, so we both were relieved when I did get pregnant because it had been a few months and no surprises. That pregnancy seemed to give confirmation that everything seemed to appear in working order. We grieved for our sweet angel baby, and began trying again shortly after. But nothing happened. Month after month, nothing happened. I became confused, angry, sad, and scared.
Something happens when you first hear the words ‘infertile’. To me it meant ‘impossible’. We kept praying & trying. Then one Sunday at church, we went up forward to the alter to ask for prayers of physical healing for our infertility. After the worship ended, our pastor announced it was adoption Sunday and there would be an expo and everyone was encouraged to ‘check it out.’ My husband looked at me, and we both knew we were going. It was life changing and that day the Lord revealed to me His plans for me and my future family. We began the adoption process the following week.
Starting the adoption process was exciting, but at the same time it was draining. I was so excited and over-eager to grow my family. The days went by and nothing happened. I was still not a mother. Now at this point I just didn’t get it. What was God doing up there?? Why was I receiving all these mixed signals?? Pregnant, not-pregnant, infertile, adoption…What was going on? Then one night, after dealing with days of late-night crying fits, my husband sat down next to me on the couch, held my hand and said to me ‘I need to say something, and this is probably going to be a long conversation… but I think you are depressed. I’m worried. We have to figure this out.’ I knew at that time I wasn’t clinically depressed, but I did know I was in a bad place and my heart was not right with the Lord. I think from the day my pregnancy ended, I began defining myself by motherhood. I was failing because I couldn’t produce children. Because I didn’t have a little person running around calling me ‘momma’ I was worthless and utterly useless. These were all lies I was letting the enemy feed me. I couldn’t see that I am a daughter of THE King! The success of my life is not determined by kids, and I owed it to my future children to not draw my joy and hope solely in them. I have had to learn to not make children idols in my life.
Two weeks ago my husband and I received that long awaited phone call announcing we were parents. Two days later, we got an email containing the first images we would see of our son. The Lord is faithful and keeps His promises! We are still traveling down this long twisted road to parenthood- one that I am sure will continue with more tears. But, unfortunately the Lord never promised easy. He never promised a smooth ride. What He did promise is eternity and ever-lasting love. He promised us Hope! He promised to walk this journey with us!
Mother’s Day is a celebratory event for an exclusive club I have been begging to get into year after year. But by God’s grace it isn’t an idol upon which my happiness hinges anymore. This year God has made me an adoptive mamma with a baby overseas! A baby that was already being formed on that morning my husband and I dragged our broken hearts to the alter and prayed for healing! He was already creating my family and I had no idea! One of my favorite lines is from my favorite book* and is “Don’t ever doubt
in the dark what God has promised to you in the light.” The storms we face are inevitable, and our plans often lie in ruin at our feet. But our God is a Healer, and He makes beauty out of ashes!
*Dancing on my Ashes by Heather Gillion & Holly Snell