I can’t.

no more.

pandemic

political division

forest fires

drought

Afganistan

sex trafficing

church division

community turmoil

cancer

Haiti

and so on and so on.

The things that are happening around us are beyond overwhelming. The world as a whole is scary and dark and I just can’t take it on. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t turn on the news or engage with the destruction that we see happening all around us with the global world we live in. My heart and my head just cannot do it anymore.

It is not because I do not care. I care too much. I care to the point where it makes me physically ill and unable to do anything with the world right in front of me. Maybe you are feeling this too. This debilitating knowledge of hardship and suffering, but feeling so out of control and helpless that you just shut down.

I can’t keep doing that. You can’t keep doing that.

So what I can do is to make sure the people I love know how much I love them.

I spend far too many hours watching ridiculous horse dramas with our daughters.

I capture our children playing Lego and getting along.

I kiss that son of ours as often as he will let me.

I float in our pool and read a book.

I sit on our front porch and drink hot coffee.

I spend intentional time just being with my husband and strive to let him know why I love him each day.

I hug those I care about.

I kiss the tops of the heads of the children I have the privilege of seeing grow up.

I make a home that is comfortable and loving, to be a safe place to land when the world just seems too big.

I prepare for the upcoming school year and the opportunity to love and support another class of 1st graders.

I help our youngest get ready for her first day of kindergarten.

I give our dogs far too many treats and cuddle with them on the couch more than one should.

I listen to the crickets in the evening.

I pray. I pray a lot.

I do everything I can do to soak in all the good that is in the world and fill up with so much love that I can walk into the world, outside the safety of our home, and love others. Love others hard and love them well.

Love those who disagree with me.

Love those who are different than me.

Love those who are struggling to love.

Love those who are easy to love and those who need some grace. <we all need grace>

I cannot fix all the things that are broken in this world. I do not think we were designed to take on all the things that are broken in the global world. It is just not physically possible. However, I do think we are supposed to be the good in the communities that we are in. To love one another, support one another, give grace to one another, and to encourage one another.

If we all love in our own circles… our families, our workplaces, our churches, our communities, even our social media communities…then that love has to ripple out to the global world. But it has to start here, in your own heart, with what we can handle. We can’t handle it all.

Or atleast, I can’t.

Finding peace in her eyes

“She feels everything stronger.”

These are the words my wonderful friend used to help me describe our sweet girl and those words are a perfect description.

As our little girl was closing in on turning three, leaving her toddler stage behind her, it was becoming more and more apparent that Lady A’s personality would be just liker her mama’s: emotional and anxious.

Even as I write those words emotional and anxious my heart gets heavy because I have always seen these words in such a negative way. These words have always described me. Sure, sometimes before “anxiety” became a more common term, I would be described as a little girl who worried all the time, but it was anxiety. I have struggled with the negativity of those words and have viewed myself in such a negative light because of those words. My inner voice tells me that I am weak. It tells me to cower, to not feel brave, to not feel proud, to not feel good about myself because I am flawed. There is something wrong with me because I cry and I worry.

Even as I started to see these traits developing in our daughter I felt heavy for her because I did not want her to be like me. I felt that being like me would be bad for her. I could not find the strengths of my own personality, which was now becoming her’s.  I feared it was a flaw. 

That was when I knew it was time to find the positives about being emotional and anxious, as both Lady A and I would need to make these words our inner voices. God had created us this way and with perfect intention. I needed to open my eyes and my heart to what His purpose was in making us feel the strong way we feel.

Once I opened my heart to seeing the positives, I was blown away by what beauty there is in feeling the way my sweet girl and I feel. So far, I have noticed these things in her eyes and therefore in myself:

  • We think. A lot. Therefore we are very thoughtful. We try very hard to see everything from all possible perspectives, but are also aware that no matter how hard we try, we are going to forget someone’s point of view and hurt them. This knowledge also saddens us, as we would never intentionally hurt someone.
  • We would never want to let those we care about down, therefore, we make really good friends. It saddens us to see those we care about sad, and it breaks our hearts to know that we might have hurt them. We feel for our friends when they are happy, sad, angry, frustrated, excited, etc. and would try our hardest to make sure our friends feel loved and cared for.
  • We worry we will disappoint someone, therefore, we try really hard to be our best. This makes us very goal driven people who will constantly try to take ourselves to the next level. We want to do our best at all times. As Lady A says with a cheer, “I do it!”
  • We really, really struggle to hide our emotions, therefore, you will always know exactly how we stand on issues. We will be truthful and tell it like it is, because we really do not have any other choice, as our faces tell on us. This makes us very trustworthy and transparent people.
  • We worry about things going badly, so we do not take the good moments for granted. We are so appreciative of all the good in life because we know how quickly it could change. It is actually quite overwhelming with how bad things could be that we have to be very intentional to stay focused on all the good.
  • We feel. We will be those people who are crying “happy tears” at your happy moments and we will be those people who will stand beside you on your worst moment. We will try to put ourselves in your position and bring ourselves to gut wrenching tears because we cannot imagine that pain. We are the definition of empathetic.

I am sure I will find more positives of our emotional and anxious personalities as I keep an open heart to them and watch our sweet girl flourish. I also know that I need to keep telling her these positives, and more, about who she is, as it will become her inner voice.

I have learned so much about her and about myself through her eyes. We are going to have to teach her and myself the tools to deal with the struggles that come with being emotional and anxious. She is still very young, but we already know we have to be very careful and intentional with how we approach our girly.

So far, we have been most successful in bringing out the very best in her and myself by focusing on the following:

  • Be patient. You have to be very patient. I have never been a patient person and I am blown away by the patience that God has given me when He gave us Lady A. In moments that I think I would have gotten very angry and loud, I get calm and quiet. My heart knows that is what she needs in that moment. I know I have to give her space, even if it means sitting with her in silence, until we can talk about the problem and fix it.  Things take us longer because we have to talk everything through, but my heart has been patient with this, as it is what our girly and I need.
  • Be mindful with our words. Both Lady A and I take everything anyone says to heart. We have to be very careful about how and what we say to her. We need to encourage her and lift her up, rather than talk her down.
  • Clapping. We do a ridiculous amount of clapping in our home. However, we know that right now, we our our children’s biggest cheerleaders, and frankly, they are ours too! We celebrate all the small accomplishments because we know they lead to the big ones. We encourage and say “You did it!” giving them the strength to believe in themselves to do it again.
  • We pick our battles. Every day we are given multiple opportunities to fight, yet we choose to pick our battles on the ones that stick to our family values and character. So, today she wants to wear a mismatched, mess of an outfit? Well, as long as it is clean and she is covered, we are okay with that. But, today she wants to use her crabby voice and be mean to her brother, that is a battle we pick because our family is not okay with showing mean character.
  • We talk a lot. We talk about what we did that was a great choice. We talk about how we feel. We talk about how others might feel from a choice we make. We talk about how we could make a better choice next time. We talk about how to let someone know how you feel. We talk about who we can safely talk to. We talk a lot.
  • We take breaks. Sometimes we just need a moment to pull ourselves together and calm down, so we all take breaks. Taking a break is something we can do ourselves in our home. Lady A often will take a break till she is calmed down and then we can talk about it or we just move on. Mommy takes breaks too. This is different than a Time Out in our home. A Time Out is something that mommy or daddy (or another adult) puts you in and you have to wait/think there until the adult who put you there comes and talks to you about why you are in Time Out and how you can fix it.
  • We give a lot of advance notice on what we are going to do and talk about any potential stressful situations before they occur. We prepare her for what we are going to do and help her feel safe and that she can do it.
  • We (adults) share our mistakes with our children and use our mistakes as teaching points for better choices in the future. Mistakes are not condemned or punished, but rather an opportunity for growth.
  • We cuddle a lot. We hold hands a lot. We love a lot.

As I started to watch myself through her eyes, I also realized that God in his perfection, had placed the perfect people in our lives to help us to recognize the gift of our emotions and anxiousness. God gave Lady A and I the most patient man in her daddy, my husband. I never truly appreciated his patience and his approach with me, until I really started to watch his interactions with our sweet girl. When she is really struggling, he is patient with her. He knows that yelling at her and talking down to her will just make the situation worse. Instead, he is calm, patient, loving, while also being strong and firm. I noticed that this is exactly how he approaches me when we are having a disagreement. He is the exact man for our family.

God also gave me our sweet girl. She has taught me to love and to accept myself, just as I love and accept her. I have struggled with this for so long and it took for a sweet, little girl to show me to love myself. She has shown me it is wonderful to feel things stronger because I feel love for her stronger. I am learning through her how to embrace being me, so that each day I can teach her to do the same. I have such a bond with this little lady because I see and feel me. She is the person in my life who feels like me. We will hold each others’ hands and hearts. Right now it is time for me to be the mama and help her through each hard stage, but she does not realize how much she is helping me.

I am so grateful to have found peace in her eyes and peace in knowing it is beautiful to feel everything stronger.

Related Posts:

Hold my hand, sweet girl. I will love you through it all.

You will never be this loved again

Fear…. Irrationally, rational fear

Well hello there again, fear. I feel you sneaking up to remind me that you are still here, still with me, still trying to control me.

But I am fighting back. Instead of letting my mind spin out of control over the what ifs, I am pausing to think about the root of the fear and to put it in it’s place.

See, my mind keeps coming back to something I read, which I am just now remembering what it was, about someone who knew someone who lost their 2 year old in their sleep and something tragic happened to their 7 year old. This might not even had been the premise of the article, and as I am thinking of it now, I am almost certain I am getting it wrong. But what did stick and what I am reminded of randomly as my babies are sleeping in their rooms, is that someone’s 2 year old died in their sleep. I do not know how or why, but it happened. Which therefore means it could happen to my two year old or my ten month old or my husband or myself.

I’ve checked their rooms four times now. This is two more than my normal night checks. They are still breathing, peacefully, and beautifully.

Whoa, fear. Settle down.

See what I initially thought was that it could happen to me. Meaning, my child could die in their sleep and that this tragedy would hit me. The fear goes to the fear of experiencing something so tragic that I truly do not even want to give it words. The fear is of something so gigantic and represents more than just a tragic…but also life after it and so many unknowns that I pray every day, literally, that it is something my children or I never have to face. Every night when I lay them in their crib or bed, I thank God for them and for the day we have had together. I pray they grow strong and happy. And I pray that they will grow to know their grand-babies.

See, this is all we can do about fear, is give it up to our faith, because bad things do happen. Tragedy does happen. It might not happen immediately to your family, but it surrounds us. We also do not and will not understand why it happens. We cannot imagine the person we would become if it were to happen to us.

When I hit these moments of fear I have to remember that my children and my spouse are with me for a short time in existence on Earth and that they have been a gift, not a right. It is not my will to control our path together and it is my choice to enjoy the moments that are given.

I also have to remember that this irrationally strong fear of rational events, only has power when I allow myself to obsess over it. Instead I need to be aware of rational dangers, keep them in check, and give the rest up to faith so that my current moments are not stolen from me.

See that, fear, I just talked myself out of obsessing over you for tonight.

Plus, I just heard my daughter move around in her bed from across the hall, so I am feeling reassured.

You will never be this loved again.

2015/01/img_1765.jpgLittle man wrapped around my finger… 3 hours after his bedtime because he cannot sleep.

It has been an especially trying week. Our children are already less than amazing good okay sleepers. Then add some common sickness to it and we have entered a world of practically non-existent sleep. We cannot remember when we got a 2 hour stretch of sleep. Our daughter was sick last week and she so lovingly shared it with her brother. My husband and I each stayed home with a sick little man one day this week. When they are sick, they cannot sleep unless they are asleep on our chest. So, for the past two weeks we have been sleeping with a little on our chest or right beside us. They start in their bed/crib but out of survival end up with us.  This is just a minor setback and I fully understand that other families have it much worse. This is being a parent. It is exhausting.

It is also the most loving time in your life. Ever.

Even without being sick, littles love being with their mamas and daddies.

All the time.

I cannot remember the last time I went to the bathroom without a beautiful and curious 2 year old standing next to me, narrating my ever action. (That is very humbling by the way.)

I shower with her choosing to sit on a stool in the bathroom waiting for me. She has the choice to play with her brother and daddy, but instead would like to wait for me to finish my shower. My reflection time in the shower is interrupted as I keep checking on her to make sure she is okay. As soon as I am done, she stands up and says “Mama done?!”

While eating dinner, little miss tries her hardest to sit as close to or on either my husband or I. We repeatedly remind her that she can sit next to us, but not on us at the table. But, we have to repeatedly remind her of this through the entire meal.

My store runs are now accompanied by a sweet little girl who would like to go shopping with mama. I repeatedly explain that we cannot open every banana, strawberry, and yogurt through the store. I narrate our shopping experience, redirecting her down the right aisles, and she echos what I say.  My store runs are significantly longer but must be timed for the potty runs as well, as little miss no longer wears diapers. Just last week she insisted on holding her mini-donut while she used the grocery store bathroom.  Maybe this is where we got the cold from? <wink, wink>

So my alone time is significantly less. Even as I write this, my littles and my husband are having some daddy time  in the playroom so that I can have an hour of “me time” before I take little miss to the grocery store with me. But, did you read that correctly, my alone time is significantly less. As exhausting and overwhelming as that can be, it is such an incredible blessing. My lonely 300 lb self of years past would never have believed that one day I would have such a loving and wonderful family that wanted to be with me all the time. I am not alone. I am loved beyond words. This does not just apply to me and my specific and bumpy journey to having a family. This applies to all of us who were once alone and blessed to find someone to share our lives with. Then blessed once more with the miracle of little ones. Blessed.

It is heartbreaking to leave my children every day but when I see my children at the end of an exhausting day at work, my sweet girl is my biggest cheerleader, saying “Mom!!! You’re back!!!!” and gives me the biggest, most genuine hug EVER. My son lights up when he sees me. My daughter will not leave my arms for the first 15 minutes when we get home. This is a little trying as neither will my son.

My daughter insists on cuddling in our spot while snuggled up under our blanket watching “my show” (her show). Little man crawls over and wants up too. So we snuggle. The three of us snuggle in tight.

The first words I hear in the morning, if she hasn’t already found her way into our bed, are “Mom!! Mama!!! I am done!! Mom!!” The last words I hear at night when I put her to bed are “No mom. Stop! Mom!!!!!! Mama! Stay. Mom!!!!” When my husband puts her to bed, most times she asks for me to go up and give her one last kiss. She asks the same of my husband when I put her to bed. She cannot get enough of us.

My point is, as exhausting and overwhelming it is, we will never be this loved again. Our children, Lord willing, will grow up. They will hit a point where they won’t even acknowledge that we have come home. They will hit a point where the thought of laying in your bed is grotesque to them. They will hit a point where the thought of watching you go to the bathroom is nauseating. They will hit a point where sitting next to you at dinner seems like a chore, as sitting with friends would be much better. They will hit a point where they won’t want to talk to you as openly.  We, as parents, will keep trying to get them to show us the ways they used to love us,  (expect for the bathroom thing. I am really okay with that moment being over) but they will grow up and find their own ways to show love. They will never again love us as whole-heartedly, as unconditionally, as genuinely as they do this very moment.

I recently read this quote,

“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” – C.S. Lewis

As overwhelming as it may be to always have a child on your hip or by your side, it is a blessing. What you are doing with those littles far outweighs what other things you could be doing. That child loves you with their every being. Soak it all in now.

You will never be this loved again.

Did I love enough today?

Tragedy happens. Horribleness happens.

You don’t have to travel far or spend much time online to be hit with that awful, gut-wrenching reality.

We cannot control tragedy. We can do our best to prevent it, but we cannot control it. Bad things happen to good people. No one is immune to it.

Okay. I have accepted that. Well, I have momentarily come to terms with that and have to rely on my faith when I let my mind go to those dark “what if” moments.

What keeps me up and my mind racing is my most difficult, nightly reflection:

Did I love enough today?

See, I cannot control what tragedies my family may face. What I can control is what I do with my time in this very moment. That is daunting to me. The heavy responsibility of knowing that I am deciding how to use each moment. Every single moment could be is a precious one and I do not want to waste them.

However, I also want some down time where I literally do nothing but waste time. That down time to re-energize and gather my thoughts. Time to let my brain recharge and my mind settle.

Anxiety increases.

What have I done? Have I wasted a hug or a smile or a moment that I will forever regret. Is my selfish need for some “me” time robbing me of valuable time with my family? How can I do better tomorrow?

Anxiety increases.

I am also a 1st grade teacher. Parents send their own little people to me every day to help guide them and teach them. Did I love them enough today? Or did I allow myself to get caught up in the daily routine or the sea of standards, to forget to look at each one of them, individually, and make a connection today? Do they know that I care about them and want the very best for them?

Anxiety increases.

Am I spending too much time worrying about my littles at work that I am taking precious time from my littles at home? How do I, as a working mom, balance the drive between my first passion, teaching, and my current incredible blessing, my family?

Anxiety increases.

What if today is my last day with my husband and sweet children. Today they are all healthy and thriving. What if tomorrow that all changes? Did I do enough with my moments today to truly embrace the incredible blessing that is my family?

_________________________________________________________

Then, I step away from all distractions and all reminders of the terrifying, out-of-control world we live in. I snuggle up with my babies or join them in whatever activity they are engaged in… And I stare. I awkwardly stare at my children. I take it all in, like a glass of ice water on the hottest of summer days, and just focus on that one need. The need to be in the moment with my family.

Anxiety starts to decrease.

I ask my daughter what she wants do and often it is snuggle, read, movie, or horsey…. So we snuggle, read, watch a movie, or play horsey. We grab my son and play ball. We lay on the floor and “hide” from my husband. We build a tent using kitchen chairs and what seems to be an endless supply of blankets.

Anxiety decreases more.

We have movie nights, where Peanut eats more popcorn than my husband, legs crossed, fully engaged in the storyline. Bubba Boo jumps on me and bites my face. (He is only 9 months old.) I look at my husband, squeezed up with my daughter, matching popcorn bowls, and down at my little man, and think,

“This. This is the simple moments I long for.”

My anxiety is momentarily gone.

Tragedy happens. Horribleness happens. The weight of knowing how precious each of our moments are is too heavy.

So heavy.

Mind-bogglingly heavy.

I cannot allow my thoughts to go there.

How can you measure how much you loved today? Will it ever be enough to a mama? Probably not. But, when I am fully engaged in the moment, I know they are loved by the way the love me back. I know that my children have seen and felt love by the way they love each other. It is important to be aware of how precious our moments are and to do our best to love as much as we can in those moments. However, I think, as someone who strives to be “perfect,” it will never be enough.

So, maybe my nightly question should be,

Did I love enough today?

Adeline Horse Will train
Please understand when I do not respond to calls or texts.
I am doing the most important job right now.
I am loving Elsa, Godzilla and their daddy.

I find some of my biggest truths in the baby food aisle at Target.

formula

It happened again. I spent way too much time in the Target baby food aisle trying to decide what to feed my little man and fighting the judgement I felt from myself.

The Target baby food aisle and I have a long history. We began our relationship when my two and a half year old baby girl was just 6 weeks old. You see, I had plans. I was going to nurse her until she was at least a year. I did not understand why people would make the choice to not breastfeed. I mean, it is best for babies, great for moms, convenient, cost-effective, and natural. If you couldn’t nurse, it was simply because you did not have enough resources to get you through it.

And then I had our sweet girl and all my plans went out the door, along with my ego, my perceptions on being a mom, and my preconceived notions on what makes a good parent.

Let me apologize now to all the parents that I wrongly judged before I became one myself. I am so sorry. I had no right to think the things I thought or to have said the things I said. Life handed me a big plate of crow and it has changed me.

Despite my best efforts and I do mean best, tried everything and anything efforts, I do not produce enough nutrients to help my babies grow through nursing. My little lady was starving by the time she hit 6 weeks. Growing mere fractions of ounces when she should have been gaining pounds by then.

Break my heart. Knock me down. Feel like a failure. Cry for months.

Broken.

I tried even harder with my second, pulling out every stop and seeking out every resource. But it is my reality.

Two and a half years ago I had to walk down that baby food aisle and buy our daughter formula. You know, the devil’s juice as some mom boards might have you think. The formula can even says “Breast milk is best for babies.” Really?!?! Really formula can?!?! Even you are knocking me down and letting me know I am not doing what is best?! Well guess what formula can, I cannot give them my breast milk. They do not grow. They will starve to death if I do not give them what is not best. You, formula can, have become my best option.

Ehh, so I shameful buy the formula can, feeling judged because I had judged so many before me. There was that crow again that I have to eat each time I go down that aisle and to the check out or in public when I shake my formula into water for my child to eat.

I have made my peace with my inability to nurse, kind of, and have moved on, kind of.

Now, I am grappling with feeding my little man solids. We are in the stage where I am a really busy full-time working mom, who has 2 kids 2 and under, and still want what is best for my babes and have to balance between being the ideal mom who home-makes all the baby food or who just breaks down and buys some. I made all of our daughter’s. I took pride in being able to make her food, as I wasn’t able to nurse her. This I could do. Well, turns out she is a crummy eater. Her homemade food, with the variety of vegetables, fruits, spices, etc. had proved to have done nothing in the sense of making her a great eater. I planned to home-make all of our little man’s food too. But, this became a stressful thing, as it was another thing I needed to do in my limited time at home. I decided that I would remove this from my plate as there are other alternatives available, such as buying store bought baby food. See my post on re-priortitizing-and-re-structuring.

On that last trip to the Target baby food aisle, I was there to buy baby food. The adorable, colorful, organic pouches sit on one side, while on the other side are the cost-effective, more traditional jars, which are now plastic containers. Total conundrum. Do I buy the ones that are adorable and organic and modern in their sleek pouch style? Or, do I buy the ones that look like they’ve been around since before I was born, they do only have natural ingredients, but are not in fun pouches (that I squeeze out into another container anyways), and cost literally less than half…..

There it came. The judgement again. I knew which was the better choice for our family. The cheaper ones. But, my son is my baby and all babies deserve the best… Isn’t the best the adorable, modern ones?! Internal struggle. I could buy the cheap ones to use at home but also buy the pouches to use when we are in public, so people won’t think I am less of a mom for settling with the basic baby food. A woman walks into the aisle and moves towards to organic, modern, adorable things and I put my head down in shame and then I think, really?! Really. How lame am I? The reason you feel as though this woman or anyone in public is judging you is because you once judged others like you. You have thought these thoughts of others and now you think everyone thinks this way. This woman probably doesn’t even notice you are here, or if so, you are probably just blocking her way, as you’ve been standing in this aisle having this struggle for the past 10 minutes. This is ridiculous. Get over yourself and just get your baby some dang food.

So, I fill my cart with 20 of those cheaper, non-organic, non-modern, non-adorable, baby food containers, and scolded myself for being that person that I cannot stand. The one who is so worried with what other people think that they cannot even make a simple decision.

Those trips down that Target baby food aisle are not a pretty walk for me. They reveal some of my biggest truths.

Truth- I failed at breastfeeding. In all the traditional ways, I failed at it. I get that we can sugar-coat it, but the reality is I am a part of the statistic of women who cannot nurse. I know that I am not a failure as a mom and that I tried my best, etc. etc. but I have to buy formula. We have a natural disaster and run out of formula, I am screwed. <insert irrational anxiety> I cannot breastfeed my children. They will not grow. There it is. Truth stated.

Truth- I really have not found peace with not being able to nurse and it is something I am going to grapple with for a while. However, I do know that this is a small setback in life’s plans and that it is something that we can easily overcome, by buying formula. I am grateful for our newborn “crisis” being relatively, practically nothing compared to what some families go through. I know it could have been something so much bigger, scarier, harder.

Truth- Things rarely work out as planned. However, they do work out. I have to find peace with this and rely on my faith to know that there is purpose and that it will be okay, just not necessarily in the way I had envisioned.

Truth- All parents want what is best for their children. However, what is best is not the same for everyone. I found what was best for my children. It doesn’t necessarily always fit what society or packaging or even well-intention people think it is.

Truth- I am judgmental. This is the hardest truth of all that I am hit with every time I walk down that baby food aisle.  This is not a trait that I like or that I am proud of. It is a trait I am working very hard at changing. My experience with nursing has taught me so much about this and I have become much less judgmental because of it. If going through this experience made me realize how judgmental I was and helped me to see other perspectives more, then I am grateful for this experience. It has and will continue to help me grow.

So there it is. My battle in the baby food aisle. It seems so small but it really does stop me in my tracks. I think the biggest take away from it is, that no matter how you feed your baby, and there are plenty of options out there, you are feeding your baby. You are providing your little one with nutrients and love and helping them grow. It isn’t your breast, your bottle, your homemade food, your adorable pouches, your basic store-bought baby food, etc. that define you as a mother.

Your role as a mother is defined by how you love them, support them, give them what they need, and find what is best for them and for your family, within your own abilities.

Slide over perfection, I am moving on to a world of do-overs.

christmas cookies Life is full of do-over opportunities.

If you are like me, you strive for everything to be perfect the first time. Anything short of this is a failure. I get so focused on making things perfect the first time, that I lose sight of the opportunity for growth in mistakes and the gift of patience in second chances.

In my rational mind, I know that this focus on perfection, especially the first time doing anything, is a ridiculous view on life and definitely not one that I want to raise my children with.  However, I have to constantly remind myself of this and work towards being okay with imperfections and not to obsess over them.

The holiday season gives us many opportunities to come face to face with imperfections. It is such a beautiful and festive time of year, but can also be a very stressful season. When I think of Christmas, I think of all the wonderful memories that I had spending Christmas with my family and all the memories I want to create with my own children and husband. By default, I view all these memories as amazing moments, that I have to execute perfectly, because we will only have 18 chances to give our children the most amazing Christmas memories while they live at home.

I write this with a bit of sarcasm, because I know how ridiculous it sounds.
Tell that to my anxiety when I am in the moment.

This was the first Christmas that our daughter would start to understand and get excited for everything that the Christmas season brings. I made it a point to make the whole month of December special for both her and our little man. The day after Thanksgiving, they each got a box with two pairs of  Christmas pajamas to wear for the month and a Christmas activity to go with it. Then starting on December 1st, they would find 1 wrapped book under the tree, which were mostly of a Christmas theme. We went to look at lights and made cookies. We chopped down our own tree and decorated it with over 12 strands of lights. We put perfect colonial style wreaths on the windows and used spotlights to best illuminate it.

And welp, it went great! It was memorable! But, it was not  perfect.

Those pajamas got a lot of use, but also took some convincing to get our 2 1/2 year old to wear, as they did not have puppies on them.

The books were great, but took the first 5 nights of teaching her how to be grateful and not chuck gifts across the room when you don’t like them.

The tree was beautiful, except for when it came crashing down at 4:30 in the morning, breaking many of our ornaments. It then was given the addition of 2 black fishing line anchors to the wall.

Looking at lights is one of my favorite things to do. I think our little miss likes it too, until she gets car sick and throws up on herself.

The house looks great with the classic wreaths and the spotlights work great at lighting them up, along with our bedroom, which is lit up better than Margot and Todd’s room on Christmas Vacation.

And those cookies….. We had so much fun making them with our neighbors. We were silly decorating them and each had a funny story. They weren’t even perfectly decorated but the story outweighed their imperfections. Until, I put them in a ziploc bag and they all stuck to each other and broke.

bad cookies

I couldn’t possibly let my neighbors take these broken mess of cookies to their families for Christmas, even if they were decorated in a completely inappropriate manner. It ate at me for days that I had ridiculously put cookies in a bag instead of a container, where they would be safe. I did not use the correct tools.

But, surprisingly, I didn’t flip out in my classic flip out fashion. Instead, I remembered the do-over. I could make them over and fix it. So, that is just what I did.

cookie
I even took peace in the idea of doing them over and explored with my camera while at it.

Those adorable cookies you see at the top of this post are the do-over cookies. Our neighbors came over again and all the kids (five kids under the age of 6) decorated our do-overs. They weren’t perfect but they weren’t broke either. Plus, we made even more of those special Christmas memories while at it.

So, our Christmas wasn’t perfect. There isn’t such thing. It was a memorable and precious one. These memories, as flawed as they are, are stories we will treasure.

I have to remind myself of this in those moments that I strive for perfection.

And to start taking peace in the world of do-overs.

The To-Do List: Friend or Foe?

With the holiday season upon us, many of us are making our to-list lists, checking them twice, and adding more and more …. in fact, probably spending more time making the lists than actually tackling the things that are on the list. Some of us might even add something to the list, that we’ve already done, just to feel the accomplishment of then crossing it off the list… Don’t deny it. You’ve done it.

We make these to-do lists in the hopes of actually being able to complete the list. Lets be honest, we will never complete these lists. We will constantly want to be striving to do more, make something better, trying to be ahead of the game, and yet, often we are still feeling very far behind.  We stare at these lists and feel defeated. We are dragged down by the knowledge that the list is going to beat us. It is always going be there and we will never defeat it.

Here is the change in perspective, the kaleidoscope view, for that never ending to-do list: Make it your friend, not the judging foe who is staring you down like a failure. Make peace with the fact that the list is going to be a constant in your life, much like a friend, helping support you and guide you through your days. The to-do list can separate the must-get-dones, the want-to-get dones, and the hope-to-get-dones. The to-do list can help you make better, more thought-out decisions on how your days/weeks/life should look. Therefore, be honest with yourself on what you do put on the list. Maybe even sort your list into must do, want to do, and hope to do. Groceries would fall under must and that awesome Pintrest project would fall under want, and realistically, organizing the storage room in the basement would fall under “hope” but probably won’t do. To be honest, my list currently has no organization about it.

Most importantly, your to-do list means you haven’t thrown in the towel on life.  You haven’t given up. You are going to wake up the next day and keep trying to tackle the list down. You want more out of life. You want to give more to life. You have a purpose. You are going to rise to that list and take what pieces you can off the list, feeling so much accomplishment and pride. Then, much faster than you took the items off,  you will add more to the list with great aspirations and visions of what could be.

So, as I look upon the piles of to-do lists that I have floating around on the dreaded collect-all counter, and around my lesson plan book, and taped to the back of my phone (because it is more in my face than in the notes section of my phone), I am going to spin that anxiety of having soooooooo much to do, to the peace of knowing I have a purpose. I am calmer knowing that I won’t get it all done, ever. The list isn’t mocking me, screaming “failure” at me, but rather letting me know where I am headed. Anything that I can get off the list is a success and anything I can add to it is an even bigger success that I am here, I have hopes, and I have a path to reach them. Because really, the to-do list is really just a daily bucket list and all your days add up to your life.

What’s on your list? What are you going to do with your life?

Re-prioritizing and Re-structuring.

You know when life gets to feeling really heavy, but you can’t point a finger at why? That is where I have been lately. I am very blessed to have an incredible and supportive husband and two beautiful babies. I have a warm home and am in the 9th year of a career I am very passionate about. I have food in the fridge and pantry, gas in our …mini van…. and really, really, life is good! I should be so grateful for all these blessing and know that so many have so much less. But that is when it hits me…the rock in my stomach. I have so much love in my home and enough material things to survive a full life-time on and then the guilt of not being okay with that all.

The house gets clean. The house gets messy. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The laundry gets done and then someone spits up, poops, or throws up on it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I am going to clean the shower. Shoot. Both kids are asleep and I just got a moment to actually talk with my husband, should I take this opportunity to connect with him or clean the shower… another day the shower doesn’t get clean. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I have lesson plans to do, meetings to attend, meetings to re-schedule and then attend, emails to write, phone calls to re-call. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I finish 8 hours at school redirecting behaviors and come home to redirect a 2 year old and a now mobile 9 month old. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I hit this wall about two weeks ago when I was randomly crying at the slightest and most inopportune moments, you know, the moments when you are supposed to have it all together. That is when I knew this was my bottom and I needed a change. I needed to re-prioritize and re-structure how I was living my life and by default making my family live theirs. My family deserves to have a mom and wife who is grateful, joyous, and present, as these are the traits I hope to see in them as well.

I recently read this quote, “Remove stressful activities and demands from your life. If you cannot, then learn to joyfully deal with them. Either way, no more complaining. You are in charge of what you allow in your life and how you cope.”- Brendon Burchard

So, I cleaned “house.” I stepped down from some activities that were adding muck to our lives  to make room for other things that bring joy to myself and my family. I took a look at things that I thought were important and things that I thought weren’t and restructured how our home could work…. And, I started saying “no,” because I had also read the very true statement that “Every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. Make sure yes is worth the no.” I am saying yes to my family. Yes to the minimal requirements.  Yes to enjoying my hobbies again. And yes, to enjoying the moments we have as a family, as my littles will only be so little for so long.

I am saying no to anything that takes us away from that or that will bring negativity into our home… as life hands out enough of that yucky stuff on its own.

As I snuggled up with my little girl today, who is home sick and therefore I am home with her, I kissed her on the head and said “Thank you baby girl for making me push pause and see what is important.”

…and then we snuggled in and watched a movie together. That is a moment I can forever say yes to.