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.

Hand prints on the windows…

“Enjoy all these moments.

You will miss these moments one day.”

You hear this, you feel this, your heart hurts because you know it is true, and yet you just cannot take hearing it anymore. It makes you feel unbearably guilty that you aren’t soaking in every single second that your children are little. You know, like the time they pooped in the tub and then continued to poop when you removed them from the tub, and then as they ran to their sister’s room and put their poopy hands on the bedspread. Shouldn’t you be soaking that in!?

The truth is, you will miss that. A lot. You see the truth in the older generations’ eyes when they warn you about how much you will miss it. It hurts because you can see they hurt and you get fearsome of that pain. I get so much anxiety about this because I know that with each day that goes by so does a day of my children being this young.

I thought more about this today and then I looked around my house and saw all the evidence that they live here. I saw all the things that make this home their home too. I also saw all the things that are out of place or messes and saw them in a different light. I decided that today I would start trying to capture these crumbs of their childhood so that one day, when I do miss it, I can return to the moments, even if only in a picture.

I plan on making this a series, challenging myself to take a group of pictures each month of all the random things my children leave around the house, or other proof that they are growing up in our home, so that I know I am doing my best to soak it all in, even the poop on the bedspread.

Crumb #1- Crayons on the floor.

crayon

I seem to have this great idea often of letting my 3 and 1 year old color….Which 100% of the time ends with my 1 year old throwing the crayons everywhere. We then pick them up and without fail, always miss one. The 1 year old later found this crayon and used it to write on the window. Fantastic.

Crumb # 2-  Partially eaten fruit, randomly placed. Everywhere.

apple

This apple found its way to our unfinished stairs. It took a break here, half eaten, until my son later found it and continued his snack. Later, I found another apple under the couch. Having a 3 year old who can access the fruit drawer in the fridge has its benefits and its short -comings. But hey, they are eating fruit! We will call that a win.

Crumb #3- Roar.roar

Meet Roar, our 1 year old’s nighttime favorite cuddle animal. Roar sleeps with him and comes with him when he joins us in the morning. Our son loves coming into our bed in the morning, rubs our faces, and curls up to watch a morning show while my husband showers. Our 3 year old daughter joins him, or is already there, and she asks him how his night was and if he slept well. He grunts his “yup” or says his sweetest “okay.” It is pretty much the sweetest good morning conversation ever.

This is Roar, still laying in our bed, after a morning cuddle session. I will most definitely miss when he joins us in in our bed for morning cuddles.

Crumb #4- Safety corners. Ugh. Safety. Corners.

corner

We made it until we had a 3 1/2 year old and an almost 2 year old without these ugly things on our coffee table. But, we had a few super close calls to losing some eyes, so these suckers got gorilla glued to the coffee table. That’s right, we gorilla glued them to the table. They wouldn’t stay on without the glue. I would much rather look at an ugly table for a few years than have to see our child bleeding from their head because I didn’t like the idea of ugly safety corners. Now they can chase each other around the table without me having a heart attack.

Crumb # 5- Cups. All varieties of cups. 

cup     juice

I am constantly finding cups around our house. Our 3 year old has gotten good about putting her cup in the fridge when she is done with it, or at least on the table until she gets up to put it in the fridge. Our 1 year old (almost 2) is working on the skill of not throwing his cups everywhere. His cup was found on the counter, which was rather an impressive feat! I can guarantee there is at least 1 of these cups under our couch or our bed right now.

Crumb # 6- Nuks. Pacifiers. Binks.

nuk

Our home is littered with these. They are everywhere. The irony is that when we really need one, one cannot be found! We may or may not have had a late night run to Target to buy one before during a time of nuk crisis. This nuk, still spit covered, landed this way on our floor. Later, our son found it when he was ready for bedtime. He often has 2 or 3 in his hands to rotate when he is settling down. We find them in his trucks, in his farm, under couches, in our van, etc. These are truly crumbs from our son.

Crumb # 7- Snacks.

cheese sticks

Snacks are also everywhere. Try as we might, we still find a rouge wrapper or snack. Just be happy I don’t have a picture of the pear that we found in a toy bucket. By the time we found it, it looked more like a half-eaten chicken wing. Tonight our daughter helped herself and her brother to a cheese stick. We had given her permission and are really trying to help her grow in her independence. Somehow there was some sort of miscommunication between her, our 1 year old, my husband, and myself and she grabbed 3 cheese sticks. All of which were opened by either myself or my husband, as we were in different rooms. Our son is notorious for half eating snacks and then leaving them. Hence, 3 half-eaten cheese sticks that made their way to the end table. We are just grateful for having found them all. We hope.

Crumb # 8- Toy cars.

car

Our son is obsessed with these. He plays with them all the time. They make him ridiculously happy. We have many of these types of cars and I find them in all places of our home. One made its way to the toilet even. As I write this, I see one under our end table and under our entertainment center. We pick them up each night and yet one always seems to get away.

Crumb # 9- Toothpaste and tooth brushes. But, mostly the toothpaste.

tooth brush

We are really working on supporting our 3 year old in doing things by herself and she is doing rather well with it when it comes to certain tasks. She recently became very driven to brush her teeth, “all by myself.” This of course leads to toothpaste messes. There is toothpaste on the counter, in the sink, on the wall, and on the step stool. I hope some found its way to her teeth. I know that one day she will figure out how to pick up after herself, but for now, I am so proud of her for trying to do things on her own.

Crumb # 10- Hand prints on our windows.

handprint

We have these giant 8 feet wide sliding glass doors in our dining room, which is the center of our home. The doors stay clean for approximately 10 seconds before our children touch them with their snack, snot, toothpaste,  dirt covered hands. Little traces of them. I know that one day they will not stand at the window in fascination of the bunnies hopping by, or the incoming storm, or wait for daddy to come home. One day, these windows will be spotless, and I will miss the hand prints on our windows.

 

So there you have my first 10 crumbs of my children’s childhood. In searching for the crumbs today, it made me look at the messes with such a different perspective. It made me appreciate the clutter, the smudges, the pieces of my children, and even if just for the moment, soak it all in. The fruit and snacks need to be thrown away and toys picked up, but before doing that, I allowed myself to soak up our environment and appreciate each of the pieces that make it our home. I challenge you to do the same. Find the pieces that make your home, yours with your family. Collect them. Share them. Or hold them close.

The parents who have been in the toddler trenches before us, are right.

We will miss these moments.

We can only soak so much in, but we can be intentional about it.

 

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

My journey as a parent is still very young. I still have so much to learn. Two and a half years ago this little lady came into the world, made me a mother, and has been humbling me and teaching me ever since.

Adeline (119)

Before actually meeting our sweet girl, I had a plan. See, I used to have a plan for everything. Read I find some of my biggest truths in the baby food aisle at Target  to find out about more of my plans that did not work out as I had thought.

I had a plan and a vision for how our little baby would be. We did not know the gender, as I hoped this would help us (me) to not plan out everything. I did plan everything that I could though.

Our baby would clearly be an amazing sleeper because I had read this book that other moms I know and respect have read and have seen fantastic results! Obviously, if I follow the instructions in the book my child would do just as the book said and would be sleeping through the night in no time. Our baby would also be such an amazing eater because when the time comes I am going to home-make all the baby’s food to only expose the baby to wholesome foods with spices and flavors.  And as baby would grow into a toddler, our baby would listen to everything we say because we would be strong and consistent. We would say what we mean and that child would do what we asked or else there would be a strong and consistent consequence. I mean really, there is a formula for raising children, obviously.

Okay, I really was not this naive. However, there is quite a bit of truth to the above statements.

Then this strong, sweet, beautiful, and dramatic individual entered the world. tree 13I use the word individual on purpose here, because that is exactly what she is.  She was not created in my image, but rather in God’s. She will not fit all the molds that I had previously thought my child would. She is not the child in the books I had read. She is her own person. She was created this way and our influence is not going to change who she is at her core. And that is such a blessing. In many ways she will exceed what I had imagined.

Our little lady still hardly sleeps through the night, 2 and a half years later….. 30 months.  Oh sweet child.  She did not work like the sleep book said she would. We “scheduled” her.  We gave her baths before bed. We even spent more money on the nighttime bath soap so that she would sleep. We swaddled her. We stuck to bedtime routine. She just did not sleep. We spent lots of nights without sleep. She just wanted to be with us. Now, as a toddler, she has these horrible nights where she wakes up so upset that I have to hold her in my arms and talk about butterflies and ponies, and everything wonderful in the world to calm her down. The only way we can get her to go back to sleep once we’ve calmed her is snuggled in tight next to us.

So, guess what sweet girl, we do. We will love you through this.

Our little lady is a finicky eater. I am saying finicky as a polite way of saying she is a pain in the rear when it comes to eating. Once she was old enough to eat with her own plate at the table the fights began. She would throw the food and scream, so much screaming, about food that she loved the day before. We would consistently offer her the things that we were having and she would throw giant fits. My husband and I could never enjoy eat our meals because we were dealing with her mealtime melt-downs. Everything we thought would work, didn’t. We were having a battle at every meal. Then we changed our approach and followed what we felt in our hearts. We offered her what we were having. If she didn’t want it, she didn’t have it. But, she didn’t have anything else. No arguing, no begging. Just these are the options. We celebrate when she does eat… which makes her eat more. We are learning. She is learning. She is eating. We clap anytime any of us eats, so there is a lot of clapping. Mealtime is becoming pleasant again. We had to back down from our approach, follow her lead, and love her through it all.

Now, like I said before, my time as a mother is still very young. However, I see we are coming over the hill of the baby trials and moving into the mountain of the parenting trials of raising a person with character. Whoa. Talk about anxiety. She is even getting to the age where she will soon remember how we talk to her and treat her. This is where my husband comes into play as an incredible influence in the way I want to parent.

You see, a few months ago I made a terrible, horrible, mistake. I compared and talked down about my child, in front of my child, for her being her. Oh my word. That is not the mother I want to be. We were with friends who have a daughter who is two weeks younger than our girly. Their child was doing a wonderful job of eating her meal and was looking at our child confused as to why she was throwing a full out temper tantrum over the meal, and then our daughter proceeded to make her negative opinion on whatever followed very clear to everyone.

I was so embarrassed and I even said something like, “She is eating her meal. Why can’t you be like her. She is so easy going and you make everything so difficult.” We all joked it off because our two year old cannot understand what I had said and we talked about how she is definitely dramatic. We then packed our little family up and started for our hour and a half drive home.

My husband is a man of few serious words, so when he is serious, it is best to listen. He has heard me talk many times about the mother I want to be. We began our drive and he began to speak:

“You cannot compare her to other people. She is her own person. You would not want to be compared for being you.” – Truth. Painful truth. I had done exactly that. She is her own person and has her own strengths and her own areas of growth and it is our role to help her bring out those strengths and to help her in her areas of growth. It is so wrong of me to expect her to be someone she isn’t.

“You need to stop being embarrassed when she acts this way. It is not a reflection of you.”-Truth. More painfully, he saw my embarrassment. She is her own person and she was really struggling in that moment. Instead of helping her through that moment, I was embarrassed about what someone else might think of her behavior. Truthfully, I should be embarrassed for how I acted in that moment.

“She isn’t going to listen when we yell at her. I know I don’t like being yelled at and I don’t listen when I am.”– Truth. This is very true for most humans. No one likes being yelled at. Some respond by doing whatever behavior is required to prevent the yelling or some just ignore the yelling. Our daughter and my husband are the later. Our little girl responds infinitely better when we calm down, whisper to her what we would like her to do, and ask in a respectful manner. Which, really, isn’t that how everyone would like to be treated?

My husbands words really resonated with me and has had a direct impact in how I handle situations with our little girl since. Our world is more peacefully since making a change in how I relate and connect to her.

Your child is not giving you a hard time. Your child is having a hard time.

I think of this quote often now, when our little lady is having a melt-down. I scoop her up, take her aside, and try to calmly help her use her words to let me know what is going on. When we are in situations where she needs a break or isn’t being kind, I will often join her in “time-out/time-in” to have a talk about what happened and how we can fix it. I am not perfect with this, but I am trying. I will love her through it.

Parenting is not how I thought it would be. In many ways it is even more of a blessing. These little people are incredible individuals. However, they do not fit the mold that we may have had for them. There is not a “how-to manual” for raising children that works for all children, as they are each their own person.

It is our job as parents to help them be the very best versions of themselves. It is our job to see their strengths and help them develop them. It is our job to see the areas where they need support, and to be that support. It is our job to be flexible to their changing needs.

It is our job to hold their hand and love them through it all.

Thank you sweet girl for teaching me so much already. I am excited to have you hold my hand, love me through it, and teach me more tomorrow.

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.