Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Rock

Some people live their lives and what you see is what you get. There are no hidden meanings to things they say, there are no deeper feelings than the ones they share.

But she is not like this. She is different.

These other people will take a rock from a garden, a little bit dirty but otherwise ordinary. And to them, it is just a rock. Rigid and gray, small in size, a little bit fragile in places from years of wear. But she will take the rock and expose its truth, painting over it with splashes of gold in her mind, hues of deep umber and burnt sienna and she will say it's a metaphor... The rock means something deeper. Like in the bible or some great poem. And she will say, " Can't you see it? Do you know what it is?" And of course they have no idea what she's talking about.

There are layers upon layers to unfold, many pieces and aspects of the rock yet to be discovered. And it probably has many jobs like protecting little ants from rain and holding down weaker objects in the wind. It may look like a rock, its lines forming the shape a rock would be. But there is a deeper feel to it and it's heavy despite its size.. It doesn't always bounce when it falls, although sometimes it will surprise them and find its way bouncing right back up in the air again, resilient and strong like rocks sometimes are.

"All things have a purpose for God," she will say "even this rock...and you might not always see that purpose for what it truly is."

And maybe some will begin to see her view of the rock, what it is, if they're close enough to it...if they can touch it with out damaging it. Yet for the rest, in their mind, it is still a rock, dirty and ordinary, gray and small. They assume that it has nothing else to offer.

And so the rock will be placed back in the garden, passed by with out a second glance. And still she will say "Can't you see me? Do you know who I am?"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sleeping Babies

Last night was a hard night for all 3 of the kids. They were restless and cranky but could not really stay asleep. My daughter has issues with sleeping anyway that we'll be getting checked out soon. She also has night terrors, which I've read can be caused by lack of sleep. We actually got the kids down a little early last night since they did not sleep at nap time. They both went to sleep almost immediately and even the baby drifted off shortly after. Joe and I went outside to work on our vegetable garden. Some of our cucumbers didn't make it through the cold rain we had all last week and Joe bought new ones and some eggplant so with what was left of daylight, he planted the new plants while I pulled weeds and tied up some of the tomato plants with twine.

When we came back in, the baby was awake. While I washed my hands, Joe went out to take the trash and recycling around to the front. I heard Angelina stir and whimper and went quickly to her bed to try to evade a full-out night terror episode as has often been done before by getting to her at the first sign of her waking in a tumultuous fashion and calming her down with soothing reassurance that everything is fine. At first, I thought I had her calmed down but all of the sudden, she bolted upright and started screaming for her daddy and kept pointing at nothing and saying 'no.' This is very alarming every single time it happens, for many reasons. I took her outside to sit and watch her daddy finish bringing the trash down but she just screamed and screamed so we took her back inside. The episode went on for about 25 minutes, complete with hitting, high-pitched screams and running around, basically acting crazy.

By this time, Aidan was awake crying like a banshee so we got him up, too. I was sitting on the couch nursing Bella and Aidan was sitting with his daddy while Angel was in the bathroom, having calmed down completely after getting a juice box. After a little bit, Aidan wanted to sit with me so he snuggled close to Bella and me and fought sleep for only about 10 minutes more. By this time, Angel had come back out and was also falling asleep in the recliner with her daddy. Bella had nodded off once her belly was full.

I stroked Aidan's hair and soothed him with shoooshing sounds as he finally drifted off into slumber as well. As I sat there, I thought about the fact that I can't remember the last time my little boy fell asleep on me and figured it must've been when he was Bella's age or only slightly older. I relished the moments with my two younger babies sprawled on me sleeping soundlessly, and I breathed in their innocence and peacefulness, aching for this time to never end. I watched as Angelina slipped into a soundless sleep, snuggled against her daddy and we whispered to each other about our beautiful babies.

I couldn't help but think selfish thoughts of them being mine just for those minutes in the late hour of the night, how blessed I was to be their mother, how I might just be the luckiest person in the world. I thought about God and how He must feel, watching all of His billions of children sleep, aching over the hardships in their life, wanting to be closer to the ones who don't know Him, planning for each and every one of our lives. In those moments of quiet in the house that we sat with our sleeping babies, I came just a small step closer to understanding the love God has for every single one of His children and in that time, I also came to love my husband and my children just that much more.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Perfectionism Is Not Perfect

I have been letting my daughter help me with chores a lot lately. She likes to help me do everything. She stands on a chair at the counter in the kitchen with her little apron on and helps me cook and bake. She likes to help me fold clothes and she likes to help me sweep. She is a good little worker! But she's 3 1/2 so things are done the way a 3 1/2 year old would do them. I have a little touch of perfectionism, maybe even OCD. It's hard for me to see a hanging picture just slightly askew and not want to fix it. A random hair or string on someone's shirt drives me nuts, the itch to fix it tingling through my hand as I desperately try hard to not pull it off, especially of someone who I don't even know. And folding towels....oh my goodness....they're probably my favorite thing to fold, I LOVE how they square off in perfect lines when I have folded them, the stack of them neatly arranged.

However, a 3 1/2 year old does not care about keeping the flour in the mixing bowl when we're baking and she doesn't care about neatly stacked towels or even shirts that are right-side out or socks matched correctly. All she cares about is helping her mommy and being praised when she is done, regardless of whether she did it perfectly. She doesn't know what "perfect" is and I have slowly learned that my idea of perfect is not really important. What's important is that I allow my daughter to do as much as she can within her own measure of abilities and creativity. She is so happy when she hands me a sloppily-folded washcloth or a mismatched pair of socks...who am I to take that joy away from her and for what, because it doesn't look exactly how I would do it?

It's taken me a long time and lots of self-control to not go back behind my daughter and fix her sloppy folding or take the spoon away from her when she's stirring half the contents of the bowl onto the counter. I have been learning more and more that the more positive feedback I give my children, the happier they are (and this includes letting things be). I have also learned that just because I do things a certain way sometimes doesn't mean they have to be done that way by others and this extends into other areas of my life as well. I've been getting kind of lazy with doing things "perfectly" anyway. I have my children to thank for that; they have taught me these wonderful lessons just by being themselves.

I just don't see what good can come out of ridiculing my children just because they don't do things exactly how I think they should be done. And if I'm just going to go back and do it over because I think they didn't do it right, maybe I should have just done it myself in the first place. But how does that teach my children anything positive and where does that leave room for the praise that a mother is supposed to give her children or the joy that children are supposed to be allowed to have? I have to think about how God sees us as His children. We are the furthest thing from perfect, no matter what we do, yet He still loves us and He doesn't punish us for doing things imperfectly. So who am I to do that to my children?

So when you come to my house, you might see mismatched pairs of socks in my children's drawers and you might see inside-out, sloppily-folded washcloths in the cabinet in the bathroom. And some of them might even be fixed that way by yours truly. And when my daughter says "I did it, Mommy!" you will definitely hear me say "Awesome job, baby, it's perfect."

Friday, May 23, 2008

And All I Can Do Is Pray

The last few days have been a little emotional for me. My son's birthday was a hard lump to swallow, only because he is my "little boy" and he's sooooo amazingly beautiful with his big blue eyes full of innocence and mischief at the same time... And because I can't stand the thought of him growing older and facing the world and maybe hating me at some point, as children often do. For any mother who has a little boy, I would think that it's the same sort of twinge of pain each year as they get older. It's a different sort of love than the love I have for my girls...not more, not better, just different. I don't want things to change but I know they must. And all I can do is pray for him, that he will grow up to be the same loving person he is now, loving God first and always.

Other things that have been causing some emotion are just family things. The normal routine of worrying about jobs and money and all that stuff. I mean, I know deep in my heart that no matter what happens to our family financially, God will always take care of us. I've experienced this so many times through out my life both personally and through other people that I would be really stupid not to admit that He is in control of that even if we were billionaires. My issues don't really lie here but elsewhere in the realm of these worries. My hubby has been very depressed and I don't know what to do for him. He's stressed out at work and he doesn't know what his path is. He's been in the same type of business for 15 years or so and doesn't know if he wants to stay in it but feels that he has to because he doesn't know anything else. He's switched jobs 6 times in the 5 years I've known him. I worry about his emotional status. It makes me sad to know that he is sad and to know that he isn't at the point yet where his first reaction to all of life's quandaries is prayer. He's getting to that point slowly and he is slowly learning to rely on God more and have faith in Him but it's hard for him. He's never known Him this way. And in the aspect of teaching our children these things, it doesn't come first-hand for him so this worries me, too, as he is the 'leader' of our family and should be setting this example as well. And all I can do is pray for him, that he will learn to lean on the Lord when he is weak and trust Him first and always.

I've also been kind of emotional over the issue that I briefly wrote about in my last post, with someone in my life and their shadiness. I don't even know how to handle this issue. Do I let it go or bring it up? My issue with them goes far beyond just this incident, too. It's hard to not be afraid that some horrible craziness will come out of this if I do bring it up because that is usually the case. And apparently, I'm always the wrong one. This person is in desperate need of some help. I love this person because they are God's child and I pray constantly that I have more compassion for them and see them as God sees them because I just can't do anything else anymore. The toxicity of their personality has just burned me too much. I wonder how I'm going to explain my keeping my distance from this person to my children, especially as they get older. And all I can do is pray for this person, that they will see the hurt they cause the people in their life and will try to fix themselves first and always.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Jumbled Thoughts

*Today is my son's second birthday. I remember writing about him last year on his birthday and how his turning one affected me. This year, of course, it's the same only now he's another year older. I can't believe how time has flown. I basically feel the same way I felt back then so if you want to catch yourself up on it, click here: May 21, 2007 *Yesterday, I found out that someone in my life has been doing something behind my back and while said action is not a HUGE deal, the shadiness of it just makes me really upset. Mostly because I know that said action is not done for any positive reason. I try to think about this person's motives and there is so much else also involved in general with the way this person works that it's hard to really understand why this person does anything that they do. I feel sorry for this person. I am always trying to remember to pray for them because I don't think they truly understand the extent of their craziness. It seems that a lot of the events that happen with this person always end up being really crappy but at the same time, end up helping me to learn lessons I might not have learned with out these happenings. The events that happen help to keep me from getting into certain behavioral habits that I might have otherwise gotten into with out the experience of them through this person because I know in some ways, we are alike in personality. Most of the time, the events make me feel even more so that I want to strive my hardest to be a better mother to my kids, whether it's by showing me what NOT to do with my children or by reminding me that these little beings are only on loan and that I really have to take care of them even better than I'd take care of a personal belonging a friend or relative had given me to protect. In general, they just make me feel like I want to be a better person. *I've started a new process of dealing with negative feelings I have instead of lashing out immediately, as I have done in the past. I am going to start writing letters to people I want to express myself to but I am not going to ever send them. I will keep them in a safe place and when I can go back to them with out the same feelings I had when writing them, I will be able to get rid of them. But for now, they will be written and kept and it will allow me to get my feelings out with out hurting anyone. I remember one of my old counselors telling me it's a healthy habit to get into, especially for me who loves to just express how I feel all the time, with a huge lack of disregard for anyone else's feelings. I'm usually a pretty blunt person, but this was not always the case. Somewhere along the crazy lines of my life I lost my filter and have yet to find it again so I am going to start doing this exercise instead of letting it all come out. (And really, I have started to find pieces of my filter along the way, apparently it got broken in one or two of my biggest falls, so I have started to gain a little bit of my filter back. Who knows if I'll ever find it completely. I pray often that I will.) I feel like this exercise is a good one to teach kids when they are old enough to write (or maybe even just old enough to express how they feel and you can write it for them). I can just imagine Angelina telling me she's so angry with me because I wouldn't let her have an extra snack and that she wants to hurt the baby because she takes a lot of my attention away from her..... Perhaps she won't be so crazy all the time. But I think at this point, she's still a little too young to articulate such feelings. *If none of this makes any sense because I'm being a little bit vague.....sorry.. But I'm just as confused as you are. That's why it's called Jumbled Thoughts!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Visiting the Past

Today, as I battle a crazy 3 1/2 year old, I am contemplative of how my motherhood began. I was 22 when I found out I was pregnant and for shock value, I'll admit to you that I wasn't married. (Gasp!) That in itself has been a hard thing for me to get over, my life back then, who I was and who I wasn't.....

I remember telling my now-husband, Joe that I was pregnant. His first reaction was "get rid of it." Back then, my husband was a completely different person too. He had no clue who God was in his life and he didn't understand the value of life, especially not one as small as the one I carried within me. I didn't even hesitate or mull over that idea for a minute. "This baby is going to be born, even if I am not going to be her mother," I said. Then he said that we should try to "be together." My husband and I had tried to date before this but we never got along as anything more than friends. (Don't ask me how we ended up doing what we did to get pregnant, I haven't a clue.) Aside from that fact, I knew how totally crazy he could be and how totally crazy I could be and when we were crazy at the same's just say you didn't want to be anywhere near us. So, to me, the idea of us being together, having a "normal" relationship was out of the question entirely.

A few weeks later, I showed him a picture of my sister-in-law's 9-week old baby in utero. It was like a light bulb came on in his head. "It really is a baby!" God bless my husband and his confusion at that point in his life. I feel sad that there are so many people out there that just have no clue or are convicted of the idea that what is in a pregnant womb is not a real live baby.

At first, my decision was that I would put the baby up for adoption. But that idea didn't consume me for very long. I began thinking that I needed to grow up and take care of this baby, with or with out Joe. He wanted a part of the baby's life as well, even if it wasn't as my husband. On his end, it was more than just taking responsibility for his "mistakes"; he really loved me and he loved the baby in some way. It wasn't long before I realized I loved him too.

The birth of our daughter was 3 1/2 years ago and I can't believe how amazing our lives have been since then. For me, personally, deciding to give up my previous life to become a mother to this precious little being has definitely been the best decision I've ever made. She is an absolute blessing in my life. She has taught me so much about myself, about life, about love and about God.

Sometimes, I wish God had made sex completely impossible until marriage. Somehow, magically, we would be able to do it on our wedding night but up until then, we'd be like Buckingham Palace guards protecting an important treasure. But I guess there is something to be said for the mistakes we make and the lessons we learn from them. For me, making that mistake led me to learning about the most important things in life and I try to keep that in mind as I raise my daughter and her siblings, through their good days and their bad ones.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Yay, Maaammma, we did it!"

I did it. Today I took a big step toward being a normal mother. I loaded the kids up in the minivan and went grocery shopping with all 3 for the very first time. This is a big deal to me because not only do I have an issue with going places without another adult with me but I have also been afraid of the idea of trying to grocery shop with 3 children in tow. Even thinking about the logistics of having all 3 kids in the store has always caused a large mass of overwhelming confusion to swell in my head. But I am tired of being afraid to go places on my own and I am tired of feeling like I can't do things with my 3 children just because I don't know how to plan.

So I made a plan. I would have Bella in the Baby Bjourn, Aidan in the front of the cart and Angel walking beside me. It was the perfect plan. I could fit all my groceries in the main section of the cart if I got a large-sized one. I made sure I had juice cups and snacks packed in the diaper bag for the kids. I gave them a snack before we left, had Angel visit the potty, then I loaded them up in the van. I know that even in small things God is listening to our prayers for help so I said to Angel "lets say a little prayer for Mommy and this grocery adventure.." As I pulled out of the driveway, I whispered "Lord, please help me on this grocery trip, give me patience with the kids, help them to behave and help me to get through the store quickly. Amen."

"I can do this." I said to the air and took a few deep breaths and by then we were at the store. I parked right near one of the cart returns, also part of my well-thought-out plan. I grabbed a cart, brought it over to the minivan and unbuckled the kids. I put Aidan in the front, just as I had planned. I had Angel hold on to the side of the cart, strapped Bella in the Baby Bjourn and we headed toward the store. But just as I was about to enter the store, I noticed that there was one of those little race-car carts right outside the door and so did the kids. "Mommy...can we ride in that?" (Angel) "Vroom, vroom...caaarr." (Aidan) This was not part of my plan. But I know the kids love to play in the car on the front of the cart and pretend they're driving and I thought maybe this would keep them occupied. So I loaded them into the car cart and put the diaper bag underneath. I had tons of room in the main section even though it was quite a bit smaller than the large-sized carts.

At first, the kids fought and pulled and nagged at each other. Aidan has this horrible screeching squeal he shows off when Angelina bothers him. All eyes in the store were on me. In some of them, I saw pity. Some of the older ladies looked sort of annoyed and some had big sympathetic smiles...Who knows what anyone was really thinking? I don't even look like I'm old enough to have 3 children but there I was, meandering through the fruits and veggies with a 4 month old attached to me and 2 very loud and boisterous children under the age of 4 in the front. I made sure that my wedding ring was noticeable.

After the craziness in the fruit and vegetable section, the kids quieted down some and I found a sample tray set out in the organic groceries section. I gave them each a little cup of cereal and we continued on. At some point, Angelina no longer wanted to ride in the car with her brother so she walked beside me. For the most part, the adventure through the store was uneventful. Angel kept insisting we go home here and there but other than that, we traveled with ease. When it was time to check out Angel helped me unload some of the groceries onto the conveyor belt and they both got lolly pops from the old man who bagged our groceries.

I loaded the kids back into the minivan, got all the groceries in there as well and I returned the cart. As I climbed into my seat, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief and said "I did it." And with sticky root beer-flavored lolly pop spit dribbling from his mouth, Aidan exclaimed from the back seat (in his broken 2 year old language) "Yay, Maaammma, we did it!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

5 (Disgusting) Reasons Why I Love Being A Mom

Yesterday, as I was giving the kids their lunch, through the back of the chair my son usually sits in I noticed some random pieces of food underneath his booster chair. After they were finished lunch I wiped his hands and face and then braced myself for what I was going to find underneath the booster chair, as I cannot remember the last time I cleaned under there. The booster chair has a little tray but he likes sitting with us at the table so we've never used it. The tray snaps into a hole probably the size of a quarter. My son likes to shove food down there for fun.

So, as I unbuckled the booster from the dining room chair, I was met with a gloopy gloppy mounded mess of I don't even know what, topped off with an apple slice from lunch and there were a few stray cheerios from breakfast surrounding the mound - like guards protecting their apple queen on her thrown. It made me start to think about all the gross, disgusting, dirty things I meet with on a daily basis as I perform my duties as a mommy. And it made me think about the fact that no matter how grungy these things can be, I love doing them. I enjoy taking care of my children, doing services for them that no one else would or could with as much love as I put into it.

And I find that once I get through all the laundry, the poopy diapers, the bath water that seems to turn to mud as soon as I put my kids in, the spit up on my shirt, the chewed up spit out food my son loves to leave under the table, and yes, even that disgusting goopy mound of apple queens and cheerio guards, underneath it all lies the spirit of these beautiful children who God gave me to love, nurture and take care of.

Here are the top 5 disgusting reasons I love being a Mom:

#5. Wiping snot off my children's faces when they're crying helps me to remember what sensitive little beings they are
#4. Giving my children baths in almost-black water and then having to refill the tub to rinse them off again tells me that they had a really fun day outside
#3. Washing Bella's poopy diapers humbles me and makes me feel like I'm doing a loving service for her
#2. Washing out juice cups full of curdled milk or cleaning up gloppy messes of God knows what beneath the booster seat reminds me to check each day to make sure they didn't leave cups or food laying around.

And the # 1 disgusting reason I love being a Mom is:

#1. Changing diapers, particularly wiping Aidan's large poopy butt, humbles me and reminds me that maybe some day they'll be doing the same for me!

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Mother's Day Weekend

I don't know about anyone else but this Mother's Day was probably the best Mother's Day I've ever had. My hubby really outdid himself, making sure I knew how appreciative he is of me for taking care of the children the way I do and even though they're still small, he got them involved a little.

My Mother's Day actually started out on Saturday. I went to Maryland to hang out with all my sisters and my mom to celebrate Mother's Day. It is the first year in which our entire group of sisters, including the sisters-in-law are mommies. So there we were, 7 sisters with our Alpha Mommy, stuffing our faces and talking about all kinds of things. Two of us are pregnant (no, not me!) and 2 of us just had babies (yes, me!). It was a very nice time. Thanks, Mary for hostessing us all at your house.

So, while I was gone, my hubby busied himself planting me a vegetable garden as part of my M's Day gift. I now have tons of tomato plants, zucchini, red and green peppers, cucumbers and even a few cantaloupe plants just to see how they turn out.... I can't even begin to express how excited I am. Since we moved here, I've been wanting to plant a vegetable garden in the boxes the previous owners had built and used for their own vegetables. Each season went by and we just didn't have time. Life just sometimes gets in the way of our plans, I guess. This year, I had pretty much let go of the idea even before it was time to start readying the soil. My hubby knew how much I wanted one and thought it would be a fantastic idea to do for me for M's day. How right he was! And of course, because he's so silly and can never wait to give me a gift he knows I'll love, he just had to show it to me as soon as I got home Saturday evening.

The boxes are at the top of a small hill in our backyard, kind of out of sight especially right now because our hill garden is a little overgrown. So he walked me to the steps leading up the hill and made me shut my eyes. I wasn't sure exactly what he had done but I let him lead me up to the top and he positioned me so I could see everything then told me to open my eyes. How happy I was when I did! There were rows and rows of 3 different kinds of tomato plants. Then the peppers and zucchini and cantaloupes. At the back were the cucumbers. He pointed each one out, making sure I noticed that he "planted" the little plastic stakes labeling each one. The vegetable garden is supposed to be from him and Bella.

Not only did he plant me a vegetable garden but he made spaghetti for dinner because I didn't get home until 6:30 or so. My husband makes the best spaghetti! After dinner, he told me we were going to go out to Home Depot and pick out some flowers for the front garden. So we got the kids ready and off we went. He told me his ideas for the bed and told me to pick the colors out. I will have to post pictures. It's really pretty and it will be even more beautiful when the other flowers that were already there are blooming. This, too, was part of my M's day gift. We got back and in the dark, he planted them immediately!

Later, after the kids were in bed, he gave me yet another gift because he just couldn't wait until Sunday. This one was from Angelina and Aidan. It was a Willow Tree figure of a brother and sister. I LOVE Willow Tree figures and want to start collecting them. So far, I have only 3. He also gave me a really cute card from the kids and a really beautiful one from him. And this all was only on Saturday!

Sunday was a great day, too. We got up and he made me breakfast. Pancakes with strawberries in them, eggs and bacon. Yum! Then we got ready and went to church. We never go at the same time because it's hard with the kids, they act really crazy usually, but I had mentioned that I really wanted to go as a family. So we left early to get a spot in the cry room which is usually packed full. It was nice. Noisy but nice. When I go to Mass, I'm by myself and while I like that aspect a little bit, I really feel like I want my family there so even though it was a little hard to pay attention, there actually wasn't the stress we normally have because we were in the cry room and there were kids crying and screaming but it wasn't our kids! And the cry room is meant for that anyway. I miss going to church with my family and I realized that attending Mass isn't necessarily about what we get out of it, which is what Joe usually complains about (not getting anything) and I sometimes feel, but that we're there praising our God and making time for Him, even if we are a little distracted.

After Mass we went to lunch and then drove to the York Galleria mall and walked around. I'd never been there. I got 2 new pairs of shoes because, like a lot of mommies, I've been going with out new shoes for a long time. I have one pair of running sneakers that are 3 years old and that is it, besides a few pairs of cheap flip flops that are rapidly falling apart. I'm usually pretty simple when it comes to shoes, I don't even like to wear shoes and am not usually concerned with buying a pair for every outfit I own. (I don't even own a lot of clothes, either.) But actually, lately, I've been kind of developing a shoe fetish and want to have lots of pairs of shoes...I'd be in big trouble if we actually had the money for that!

So...anyway, that was my Mother's Day weekend. A lot more than I could have ever imagined. It made me realize that even when Joe makes comments about my "not working" and he eludes to the idea that he doesn't think taking care of 3 children all day is hard, I know deep down that he understands a little and that he appreciates what I do. The weekend made me feel very special, like he really does think I'm doing a good job.

Now I have to start planning on how to top him for Father's Day!!!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mother's Day

In two days, it will be Mother's Day. This year, it happens to fall on the same date as my parents' wedding anniversary AND my brothers' birthdays. My Mom said that the day my brothers were born was also Mother's Day (and of course, it was their anniversary.) What an exciting day that must have been! Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! And Happy Birthday William and James!

In the past few days, I've been thinking about my very first Mother's Day. I was a few months' pregnant with my first baby, Angelina. I was 22. I can't remember much about that time except an overwhelming chaos in my head, a mix of worries about what my life would be like once I had a baby and wondering whether I would be a good mother to her and be everything she deserved.

My third Mother's Day, I was about to give birth to my second baby, Aidan. We were excited to be adding another child to our family. Our lives had been a little crazy in the first year or so of our marriage with already having our first baby. Things seemed to have settled down a little and we welcomed the stability of an addition to the family with open arms. We were also anticipating our homebirth with him, a VBAC at that.

My fourth Mother's Day, I was once again pregnant. It was the very beginning of my pregnancy and I was a little worried about what taking care of 3 children would be like.

This year will be my fifth Mother's Day. I pause to think about my first Mother's Day compared to this one. How different everything is! My first one, I was so unsure as to my life's path and my ability to be a good mother to a tiny helpless little being whose heart I would have the responsibility of loving and raising. This year, I now have 3 children whose lives I am responsible for and there are so many things that have changed since that first Mother's Day. I have grown in so many ways, strengthened by both my failures and my successes as a mother in the past 5 years. My love for my children has no limits and I have come to know that my ability to be a good mother has reached far beyond even my own expectations. I am also reminded that as mothers we are called to such an important job and that because we are not perfect God does not expect perfection, only that we try to achieve it.

So much has changed in the 5 years. Below is a poem summing up the physical changes but with a deeper meaning.

The Anatomy Of A Mother

Arms once heavy with the burden of physical labor
Now surround my small child for a gentle hug
Lips once locked in passion with my honey
Now have the power to kiss boo-boos away
Breasts once viewed as an obsession of men
Now provide sustenance for my growing baby
Hips once straight, almost boyish and lean
Now curve to hold the seat of my clinging child
Heart once selfishly turned inward and weak
Now beats for the breath of my children

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers out there! To the ones who are newly pregnant, to the ones who are newbies as well as the old pros, to all the grandmothers, to all the great-grandmothers, to the ones who gained a lot of weight during pregnancy, to the ones who allow their children to change them more than just physically, to the ones who chose to have their baby instead of aborting it, and especially to the ones whose paths were not always clear but defined the beginning of their life by the life they carried within them.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Just a little excerpt from a certain little book I am currently working on (aside from my motherhood book).. It's totally not your "new-age" ideas about finding happiness and what our lives are about.

To say that I am perfect and that my life is great and that I am completely happy would be a lie. When I began writing about my struggles and my feelings, I spilled out a lot of thoughts and ideas about what happiness is and wanting that “perfect” life. I struggled a lot on my way because I didn’t realize that some of the desires I had were not going to get me to a place where God could use me for His will, no matter how badly I wanted Him to at times. I also didn’t realize that it wasn’t just going to happen overnight. I can’t just wake up one day and be happy and everything be in a perfect place and everyone around me be who or what I want them to be for me or even have me be who I want to be. Everything takes hard work and following God’s path is the hardest thing to do. But it’s also the most rewarding.

The happiness I speak of isn’t rooted in all that new-age thinking of letting go and finding my ‘oneness’ and being my own light, etc. It isn’t rooted in being rich, finding fulfillment in the easy things in life, doing what makes me feel good. It is rooted in God. I am not supposed to have the kind of control over my life that people read about in books that spout such ideas of creating our own universe in which God serves us and we are the center. God is meant to be served, to have the control and I am meant to be one small flame in the light of His world, serving Him in whatever He wants me to do. My happiness lies in giving my life to Him, allowing Him to move me through my past and using my present to create a better future for myself and those around me, in His name.

This “glimpse” has given me a new view of things; the momentary eclipse allowing me to see the bad of the past but then also part of the good that will come for the future, an idea that has planted itself in my soul and caused me to really look at myself inwardly and not just on the outside as I would in a mirror or as the world would see me. Somewhere along the line, God put a real mirror of truth in front of me, allowing me to see that eclipse, allowing me to see the two paths I could choose from, allowing me to understand the general idea that this life is not really mine, that I am just a small dot of paint in the entire picture He has painted of His world…a small dot but with a very significant role. God has a plan for every single being on this earth, a place in time for each person to complete His masterpiece. I have come to understand that if I am not a part of it, the entire picture would be incomplete. It has taken me quite a long time to realize this fact, to understand it and most importantly, to accept and believe it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Lesson Revisited

I wrote the following entry about a year ago, when my daughter was but 2 1/2 and stamps were 39cents instead of 41. I found it the other day while I was searching through my writing folder in Word. While reviewing it, I am reminded of the lessons learned and I stop to think about how much I've grown just in the last year with my patience and my understanding of the way a child's mind- particularly Angelina's- works. One of the things I pray for most, especially when it comes to my children, is patience. It has been one of the hardest things for me to learn and has been quite elusive since I've had children. But I know that God is always patient with us, His children, and He expects us to be just as patient with our children. In the situation described below, patience plays a huge role in my dealing with my daughter and we both learn a lesson in the value of not just a stamp but of how my patience with her allows for moments of joy.

The Value of a 39¢ Stamp

My daughter loves stickers. And when I say stickers, I don’t mean just real stickers with glitter and cute pictures and fancy colors, I mean anything that is sticky….That’s a sticker to her. She always peels the produce code stickers off the tomatoes, the DOLE stickers off the bananas, the “REMOVE” stickers off of the wipes bags….But what she REALLY loves is going into my purse and pulling out my “stickers,” other wise known as stamps. Usually, I just have the standard American Flag stamps but occasionally, I have flowers or snowflakes or some tribute to a classic star or icon.

Lately it’s been the flags, though, and no matter how hard I try to hide my flags, she finds them. I am semi absent-minded and often leave my purse unsuspectingly on the floor by the door or in a chair or on the table….always within her reach. My husband always scolds me for it, especially when the contents end up strewn about the floor or table, the stickiness of my lip gloss smeared everywhere, including my child’s face, receipts crumpled and thrown as if our entire house were a trash bin.

And then there are my stamps. American Flags stuck to every surface imaginable, tattered and crinkled, piled and stuck together and sometimes ripped in half. And why do I get so angry? Not because she did something that I know somewhere within her 2.5 year old mind she knows is wrong, but more specifically, because they are stamps. Beloved, valuable, can’t send a letter or bill with out them-Stamps. Would I be so upset if she took 39 cents from my purse and lost it? Even if it was several times in the same period of mischief? No, I wouldn’t. For some reason, stamps have a value that goes beyond the 39 cents and I’m not sure why. In my mind, having lost the innocence of a child, having forgotten what it’s like to discover such a find as an entire book of “stickers,” having never had the freedom to express myself through sticker art, I can’t fathom why anyone, even a 2.5 year old, would waste stamps like this.

But as I look into her big blue eyes, as she stares at me with stamps stuck to her cheek, her shirt, her socks, and the lip gloss gleams with glittery sweetness across her face, I realize that my idea of the value of a 39¢ stamp is not even close to the value of a happy 2.5 year old who just found a wonderful, priceless treasure.