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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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

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.

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.