Who’s idea was this?

I “homeschooled” my boys for about 6 months, quite a few years ago.

I say “homeschooled” because it was basically public school, but at home and mostly online.

And it was only 6 months, because that was how little time it took before I realized that I wasn’t the homeschool type.

It didn’t take that experience for me to appreciate teachers, though.  Maybe its because I grew up with a dad that taught middle school, but I’ve always looked at teachers as underrated and underpaid.  Homeschooling for, like, a minute, just reenforced my admiration for the teaching community.  I came.  I saw.  I flopped.

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So, it seems a bit ironically cruel, then, that now I’m back to homeschooling with this whole social distancing thing that’s in effect due to the coronavirus.

I mean, REALLY, God?  Didn’t we discover that that whole experiment failed in this house?

I know some supermoms are doing it, and they’re doing it in style.  They’re, like, the Martha Stewarts of the homeschool set.  They pinned every homeschooling idea on Pinterest, and they ran with it.  They’ve got schedules and books and a specific schooling area set aside JUST for learning that looks like a little mini classroom- they even make their kids get dressed for school!  Which means that THEY THEMSELVES are dressed for school!!

Meanwhile, I’m over here- pj’s, hair a mess, trying to remember what day it is, justifying chocolate muffins as a balanced meal, and trying to figure out the REALLY important stuff- like when I’m going to be able to set aside time for myself.

And despite not constructing my materials from scratch, initiating challenging -yet fun!- science experiments, and being the virtual envy of every homeschooler wannabe, I still have a jam packed schedule.  I thought that I’d have a little more time on my hands with not being able to go ANYWHERE, but I’m either doing this whole “lockdown” thing wrong, or I was fooling myself.  Or both.

Probably both.

Actually, definitely both.

All in all, I love these humans I call my family, and I really don’t mind being cooped up with them 24/7.  I’m not saying that I want to do this forever- I miss my girlfriends and nights out at places that require you to wear pants- but temporarily, to get this virus under control and protect others, its not the worst thing ever.  After all, Noah was trapped on an ark for a LONG time with his family AND 2 of every creature.  At least I have WiFi.

Just don’t expect me to ever get the hang of this whole homeschooling thing.

That time that I was made to feel worthless…

(Image via Yahoo)

I’m not sure why I have to write this,

I don’t even know why or how this can still be a thing.

But I recently saw a comment regarding this topic on Facebook, so I guess it is, so here we go.

Let’s just clear this up right now: being a stay at home mom IS a job. According to Merriam-Webster, a job is:

  1. 1a :  a regular remunerative position *got a part-time job as a waiter *she quit her job :  a specific duty, role, or function *The heart’s job is to circulate blood.c (1) :  something that has to be done :  task *was given the job of delivering the bad news (2) :  an undertaking requiring unusual exertion *it was a real job to talk over that noise

Did you catch that?  Or did you just skim over it?  NOWHERE in the description does it say “only paid positions”.  It DOES say “remunerative” (meaning financially rewarding or lucrative), but it doesn’t say ONLY those jobs.  Actually, though, it also says “an undertaking requiring unusual exertion”, and if THAT doesn’t have “parenthood” written all over it,then I don’t know WHAT does.

Now, I get that many people ARE willing to admit that being a Stay At Home mom IS a job, but now that we’ve made sure to establish that, I want to address the latest conversation I saw on Facebook on the “worth of a stay at home mom.”  Someone chose to go off on one of those videos that gives a run down on what SAHMs do, what each of those jobs would cost, and then gives a grand total of what a SAHM would be paid in a perfect world.  This person took offense to that figure- apparently they get paid less than that “imaginary perfect world” number, and they needed to spout off their dissatisfaction at the ludicrousy of even the mere THOUGHT of a stay at home mom getting paid for each of the jobs they do every.  single.  day.

(Image via Yahoo)

But can I ask you a question?

Why?

Why would ANYone get offended at giving a WORTH to someone?  Why is it SO horrible to look at ALL that a stay at home does; take into account what it would cost for someone ELSE to do those jobs; and give a grand total?  To my knowledge, this video NEVER said that 1 job is harder or more important than the other.  Neither was it a call to action for all SAHMs to go on a strike (EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK!).

Nope.  All that video was doing was giving stay at home moms, like myself, that sometimes get depressed, think their job isn’t important or that they’re failures or that they aren’t contributing to society -or their families- at all, and they’re saying,”See?  You’re worth WAY more than you give yourself credit for,”

I ask you- is that bad?  Does putting a worth on the job of a stay at home mom cause YOUR boss to say,”Well, this has made me see that I’m paying you WAY too much”?

Trust me when I tell you that I KNOW there’s envy and difficulties on both sides.  I’ve been the mom who had to drop my kiddo off at daycare, worked a full shift (sometimes overtime), cried that I was a horrible mom for leaving my child, picked my kiddo up, and then had to put on the “mommy hat”- and it was HARD.  All of it.  And now I’m the stay at home mom who can’t even hide in the bathroom, and tries to talk the ear off solicitors at the door just to have some adult conversation, and cries because she worries that she made all the wrong choices that day.  Its ALL hard.

I’ll never say that 1 job is harder or easier than the other.  Every job has its perks, and every job has its pitfalls.  My perk is that I get to be around my kids all day, every day.  Unfortunately, that’s also a pitfall.

Another thing, if someone STILL thinks that putting a worth on my job is stupid-

Do you ever say to yourself,”I’m worth more than they’re paying me”?  Have you ever demanded a raise?  Have you ever gone through  a performance review and gotten less than you thought you should have for the job you do?  How about this- do you ever scoff at foreigners that get paid in a different currency?

I know I don’t receive a paycheck.  By society’s standards, I’m broke, but this job I’m doing allows my family to be what it is.  Its not worthless just because my paychecks don’t get deposited in the bank.  I get paid in kisses, hugs, messy-handed high fives, pictures of dragons, rocks, bugs, and dandelions.  No, I couldn’t exchange any of that at the bank for cash, but the money we DON’T spend on a cleaning service, fast food, a chef, ride service, nanny, day care, etc., can certainly be pulled from our account and spent on other things we need.

One last thought before you go on about your day: giving my job worth doesn’t diminish yours.

Now, go be nice to each other.  We’ve all got it hard.

Wish You Were Here

Its been 8 years since I had to say “See you later”.

How has so much time passed?  How can it have been 8 years, when I can still remember every single vivid detail from the day we found out we had lost you?  It doesn’t seem fair that time plays tricks like that- making some good memories feel like its been decades  (like feeling you kick), while I can still remember how I lost my breath when I KNEW we had lost you, and I wanted to shout for your brothers not to look at the ultrasound screen, but I couldn’t find my voice.

Sometimes I get jealous of the moms that can easily name off how many kids they have.  For me, I have the option of either going into detail (which can be akin to picking at a scab until it bleeds) or naming off all but the ones I lost, carrying with that choice the mom guilt of not acknowledging the life- however brief- of one of my kids.

Moms of miscarriages and stillbirths, though- its a completely different club; not better, not worse, just… different.  We ONLY had a “fetus”or a  “clump of cells” or whatever society wants to claim.  Since we never had to stay up late with those babies, kiss their boo boos, worry about fevers, laugh at their silly antics, etc, our babies don’t seem to usually “count” as much as those who’ve lost a child.  Sure, people will say they’re sorry for our loss initially, but after a while, its felt as though we should just “get over it”.  They’ll tell us to “look at the bright side”, or (if we had kids after our loss) they remind us that “if we’d had the one we lost, we might not have the ones we have now.”  Don’t they know that’s ALWAYS on our mind when we start to miss our babies we’ve lost and then hear the ones in our arms call us “Mommy”?  We aren’t wishing we could have one instead of the other; we’re just wishing that there was some way we could have had them all.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking, Christopher- if I’d had your brothers AND you, there’s a chance I’d be more crazy than I already am, and we’d be WAY worse off financially; but to hear you laugh along with your brothers right now- I’d happily live in a cardboard box and eat Ramen noodles until you all graduated.

I know that “everything happens for a reason”- it was my mantra for getting me through those difficult, heartbreaking weeks and months after you were delivered; but despite staring into the eyes of each of your brothers, I still try desperately to understand the reason behind my losses.  I told myself-as I’m sure any mom who’s had a “Rainbow Baby” has- that maybe our new baby might have the cure to cancer or bring about world peace, but then I have to wonder what the world lost out on when we lost you.

See, each pregnancy starts off the same way: you see the “+” sign, and you realize you’re actually carrying another life inside you.  If its happy news. you start imagining what he (or she!) will look like, who they’ll be, what kind of addition they’ll make to your family, how your life will change…

And that’s the only part where I think this club I’m a part of has it a little worse.  Our babies we lost never even had a chance.  I never got to experience your personality, Chris.  You never had a nitch in our family tree, and since you passed at 15 weeks along, we never even got to examine your features to see who you looked like, because -as your dad has said, all babies look like aliens the earlier they’re born.

The only question I most definitely had answered was how you changed my life- and an overabundance of “what ifs”.

I think its time that the world should recognize any loss of life as significant and not something that they should be told to “move on” from.  It shouldn’t be marked as “less than” simply because the world never met our babies.  The fact of the matter is, WE did.  We had hopes for them, visions of their futures; we changed physically and emotionally with the anticipation of meeting them; we saw them squirm on the ultrasound and joked about paying them back for the heartburn and nausea; we felt them kick and just KNEW they’d have a career in soccer.

Shouldn’t that count for something?

Shouldn’t it be normal to acknowledge their due date or the date we had to say goodbye?

Shouldn’t we be able to count and celebrate their Heavenly birthdays without being told to move on?

I AM moving on.  I know time hasn’t stood still, as much as I wanted it to.  I take care of the kids, the house, the pets; I live my life; I keep moving forward; just, sometimes, I want a day to remember a life that was so extraordinarily important that he left a mark on my life without ever living IN it; who’s tiny footprint never touched the ground, but touched my heart; who’s sole purpose, as far as I can see, was to come into my life to teach me that sometimes love means letting go and trusting that God not only knows what He’s doing, but that He’ll fill the hole that was left behind.

Shouldn’t a life that important be counted?

I miss you, Christopher Scott.  Now, forever, and always.

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Coming to Grips with Who I’m Not

Before Pinterest- I was AWESOME.

I mean, I don’t like to brag, but I was crafty, creative, made amazing meals, was able to entertain my boys, was an amazing wife- heck, I was even pretty good and knowledgeable at running.

And then Pinterest came along.

Now, I don’t know if you know this, but unless you’re able to recreate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel using the items from your kiddo’s lunch, you’re doing a sub-par job as a mom.

I have well over 20 “boards” on Pinterest, all designed to make me a better EVERYTHING.  By all accounts, if you were to look at my page, you’d probably think,”Man- that gal is like Wonder Woman”, and you’d be wrong.  I’m a Sortasupermom, but I digress.

The funny thing was, for a long time, I spent more time “pinning” the life I wanted, and less time LIVING that life.  5,296 pins (give or take) on how to entertain my boys, and for what?  They’re currently “cleaning” their room by throwing the items at each other, and using the pillows as weapons and fort material (another thing to clean up later).  They don’t care that I pinned how to make yet another craft using hands and footprints.  Pins about new meal ideas?  They like all the old ones (plus, there are only so many mealtimes in a lifetime- I’m pretty sure I have more than I need to justify more pinning).  Pins about hairstyles?  Oh, good grief- my standard go to is the Mommy-tail, and if I EVER have any time on my hands, and I use it to style the perfect updo on myself, I give you all permission to have me committed.  Pins on how to decorate my home (ok- holding onto those) using nothing by pallets (I might have a problem there)- we don’t make enough money to even afford all the hundreds of pallets I’d need.  Oh- and pins on how to make myself a better, more informed runner- because pinning about running is JUST as beneficial as running itself, obviously.

Its hard, because I compare myself to others a lot as it is.  Facebook doesn’t help in that area, but Pinterest is the “friend” that says,”You can be that awesome, too!  Just follow these simple 6,235,728 steps (pins)…”

Everyone thinks about who they are.  Little kids are always asked what they want to be when they grow up (for the record, I’m still not an astronaut or a rock star, but I DID become a mom); adults are asked what they do for a living (for the record, the next person who tries to tell me that being a Stay at Home Mom isn’t a job, well, I might slug you- or better yet, have you watch my boys for a week and see if you need a vacation… which I won’t pay you for any of it).  And you can read articles all over geared toward teaching you how to be who you want to be.  One of the slogans for a military branch is even “Be all you can be”.

But its not often that someone is told to embrace who they AREN’T.

Coming to grips with who I’m not designed to be is kinda freeing and a tad on the terrifying side.  Its hard, because- especially as a mom- I’m told I should be able to have it all, do it all, be it all, but I’ve found that that mindset just breeds discontent with what I have and who God created me to be.  Its scary, though, to ask the questions: What if I’m NOT supposed to be the crafty mom?  What if I’m NOT supposed to be the wife that always has the perfect conversation starters and is able to “complete” her husband (answer: I actually CAN’T complete him- that wasn’t God’s design for wives, otherwise, why would we need God?)?  What if I’m NOT supposed to be Julia Child in the kitchen?  What if I’m NOT supposed to be the next Flo Jo?

What if all I’m meant to be is all I am right now?  Is that enough?

I’ve told my boys too many times to count that they shouldn’t compare their lives and our family to their friends, so why am I constantly trying to achieve perfection based on what I see according to Pinterest and Facebook?

Hopefully no one started reading this, thinking,”Oh!  She’s going to tell us her secret!”, because that isn’t going to happen, otherwise the title would be ‘How I Came To Grips With Who I’m Not- And How You Can Too!”  Even as a Christian, its hard to accept that I was lovingly made a certain way, with certain gifts, and that I don’t have ALL the gifts.

And, I most definitely don’t have the gift – nor the patience- to create lunch art.

Happy Mommy Day to Imperfect Mommies Everywhere

Today at church it was brought up how differently being a mom is today compared to past generations, with all the ‘in your face’ expectations that we have now.  It used to be that you’d only hear advice/criticism from those closest to you (other than the silent judging from the strangers you might encounter on the street or at the store), but nowadays we’ve got all the Internet to tell us how badly we’re doing and how we could be (and should be) doing things/parenting/ life in general better.  Strangers on the other side of the world can suddenly become Cyber SuperParents, boldly exclaiming from the comfort of their computer chair (or table at Starbucks) how you can-nay, SHOULD- do all.  the.  things.

Its gotten to the point that, even those you know IRL (that’s “In Real Life” in computer speak- don’t you feel more knowledgeable?) will post carefully crafted pictures and posts to depict “The Perfect Life”- when you know full well that their life looks NOTHING like that.

I know.  Don’t try to lie.  I’ve been there.  I even have all the photos I DIDN’T post (because they weren’t “perfect” enough) sitting on my phone/computer because I can’t bare to delete them…because they’re pics of my boys, and my boys aren’t perfect and I love those silly, imperfect photos… just not enough to share with all of my Facebook world because, come on- my boys look dirty/silly/not posed/are picking their nose/my mom-skills could possibly be judged based on how they look or what they’re doing.

Which brings up why in the WORLD we have people on our social media sites that we even try to call “friends” if we question whether or not posting something will get us judged, but that’s another topic for another day.

Someone told me once that they only post the good stuff to social media because they don’t want anything negative to pop up in their memories, and I get that, but -for me- sometimes I LIKE to see the struggles I’ve gone through because it reminds me in that moment of all it took to get to where I am NOW.

I should also point out that, even when we don’t talk to our kids constantly about how they should look or act or anything (you know- healthy self image and self esteem and all), what kind of a message are we sending when we take for-freaking-ever to take that perfect shot JUST so that everyone we don’t know personally will ooo and ahh over it.  Honestly.

If we’re constantly told as moms (and dads) to “enjoy it while it lasts because it goes by so fast”, then shouldn’t we be posting about more than just the perfectly posed Instagrammable moments?  I’ve never heard anyone ever say,”Enjoy it while it lasts- it goes by so fast- except for the bad times.  Don’t worry about enjoying the bad times- like when the kids are throwing a fit or whatever- you’ll never miss that.”  Actually, I said that to my Grammie once and she wisely brought up that there’ll even be a day when you’ll miss the tantrums, because at least you knew where your kids were.  Now that my boys are getting past the baby stage, I actually have times where I miss those late nights, holding them when they couldn’t sleep, watching HGTV and the Food Network, knowing that I was the only person that could calm them down.

I should also point out that I’m pretty positive that not waiting on the ideal shot until a picture is taken is something that even my boys will get behind, because it means that they won’t have to spend 30 minutes of each and every major holiday morning waiting for all their brothers to just get it together, stop messing around, and for the love of all that is sacred and holy can we just smile already so we can take the dang picture to show everyone how happy we are, dang it?!?!

(Not perfect, but one of my absolute favorite Christmas pics!)

Here’s to all you fabulous, perfectly imperfect mamas out there.  You guys are amazing- make up or not, posed or not, perfect kids (BWAHAHAHA- man, that was a good one) or NOT.  You’re in good company.  I hope you all get the best scribbled cards, special rocks, and fistful of weeds- and maybe even a rollie pollie or 2.

From my Imperfect Brood to yours

Don’t Let Me Forget

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(Image via gagaoverbabies.blogspot.com)

As I sit here, holding your perfect little 9lb 1oz body, a million thoughts run through my mind: “Holy cow- he’s mine!” “You seem so small, but 9lbs is big- isn’t it?” “I’m a mom!  Wait- I’m a MOM?” “How am I going to do this?  I can’t even keep a plant alive.”  And then you yawn and stretch and you grab my finger as if to say,”Don’t you DARE go anywhere mom- you’re mine, and I’m yours.  We’re in this together.”  And I pray,”Please, God- don’t let me forget this moment.”

I hear laughing (which is sometimes suspicious with boys), and I look in your room to see the two of you acting like whales- stretching up high while standing on the bed and “diving” onto the floor while making splashing sounds.  I grab the camera to record the moment, but deep down I know that watching a video of this years from now won’t be the same, and I pray,”Please- don’t let me forget.”

Its been a long day- it usually is when you’re a stay at home mom, or a mom at all, for that matter- and I’m watching the clock intently, willing it to move faster.  I look over to the living room and I see your 3 year old self, rocking out to The Backyardigans, complete with fantastic break dancing moves.  I think to myself,”This is what keeps me from selling you on EBay.”  You look at me, smile, and say,”Bee boop- I am a robot!”  I sigh, and pray,”Please, God- don’t let me forget.”

You’ve had a long day- we both have, but somehow it seems to have been harder on you.  I guess its tough being a toddler.  15 meltdowns, no nap, and a world record cry-fest, and you’re looking like you’ve gone a few rounds with a prize fighter- drained, red eyed, snot nosed, and ready to collapse.  What I wouldn’t give for you to finally pass out so I can relax!  You look at me, take take my hand, lead me to the rocker, and say in a shaky voice,”Hold you.”  I pick you up, gather your once-smallish body onto my lap, and listen as your breathing gets deeper.  I stare at your perfect face with the freckles I love sprinkled across your nose, much like your brother’s.  I can practically see the moment when your tired body finally gives in to the exhaustion, as a small smile creeps onto your face.  I breath deep, knowing that tomorrow will probably be the same as today and I pray,”Please, PLEASE, don’t let me forget this.”

You’ve got 3 older brothers with busy schedules; a busy mom and dad; and yet you smile through it all.  I can tell you’ve been watching me intently today as I’ve been cleaning the disaster that is our home, and suddenly I hear your tiny voice say,”Sit with me.”  I’ve still got floors to vacuum and counters to clean, but as I’m about to say,”In a little bit”, I realize I’ve been saying that to you all day.  Cleaning IS important, but I realized that all day I had been saying,”Cleaning is more important than you”, so I sit down.  You grab hold of my hand- much like your oldest brother did those many years ago- as if to say,”You aren’t going anywhere.”  And I don’t.  And I pray again,”Please, God- don’t let me forget.”

Failing Beautifully

This morning I awoke to the sound of yelling and a tiny human hitting me in the head.  For the next 3 hours, all of my thoughts were punctuated by the words “I want”, “Mom”, and “Why”; and anytime I sat down for even a fraction of a second, I had one or more of the boys clamoring for my attention, or more so, for my ability to do something for them.  This was all before I’d been able to even have a cup of HOT coffee.

Not for the first time, I checked the user agreements on Craigslist and Ebay to see if, at the very least, it was at all possible to time share my kids.  I mean, there HAS to be a wonderful couple out there that wants to experience parenthood, without all the muss and fuss of pregnancy, labor and delivery, right?  This could be their answer!  But, alas, apparently when you try to get rid of your children- even if only for a little while- the words “abuse” and “child endangerment” are thrown around.  Sheesh.

The thing is, I know I’m not a bad mom (even if the oldest boy thinks so when I nix his plans for a Friday night).  I love my boys- more than any human on the planet could love another.  I just have days where I want to run away.  That’s all.

Or, at the very least, hunt down the creators of Taratabong and Tilly Knock Knock and…

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Well, we’ll just leave it at that.

Today (ok, yesterday, too) has just been a long, exhausting day filled with WAY too many moments that stressed me out, crushed my patience, and all but pulverized the tiniest fragments of sanity that I have left.  I’ve yelled, threatened, and probably made some terrifying faces during the course of it all (no mirror was around for me to see for sure, thank God), but I’m still a good mom, and its important that I say that.

Because everywhere you look today, everyone (including some well meaning Christian sites), will unitentionally tell you that if you’re a GOOD mom, then you won’t lose your cool.  That if you’re a GOOD mom, you’ll find a kinder way to get your point across.  If you’re a GOOD mom, a harsh word will never cross your lips.  That GOOD moms are always able to step away, count to 10, breathe deep, and then respond to the mattter at hand.  That GOOD moms will always find a way to keep a level head.

The problem is, all this talk about what a good mom does or doesn’t do, can leave a struggling mom thats having a rough go of it and barely hanging on, feel even worse- because her teenager was giving her an attitude and she was baited into arguing back; she allowed her kids more than the recommended time on the computer one *ahem* every *cough* day so that she could have a few moments to herself; or that time she was SO TIRED of hearing her name being called (“mom”-because what other name SHOULD she have?), that she snapped at her 3 year old that just wanted to show her something “cool”.

I’m a good mom.  Good doesn’t mean “perfect”, but the last time I checked, nobody I know could turn water into wine or feed a small army with just the lunch of a small boy.

Trust me.  I checked.  Those 2 miracles would come in REALLY handy around here.

Yep.  I’m a good mom.  I yell, I fight, I argue, I threaten, I bribe, and I blackmail when the situation calls for it, but I also love my family with a love that can’t be measured.  If you aren’t perfect, you aren’t alone.  You’re still a good mom, too.  I’ve been told that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and -shocker- he also knew LONG before we had these kids that at times we’d suck hard & fail miserably- and, yet, here we are.  Failing beautifully.

We’re still good moms.  God thinks so, too- even if we DO look for loopholes on EBay occasionally.

Of Motherhood and Monsters

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(Image courtesy of www.medicaldaily.com)

Motherhood.  Hard doesn’t really begin to describe it, does it?  Yet, that’s the blanket statement I use when words fail to adequately describe the level of difficulty something is.  Like,”My 10 year old’s math homework is hard“.  I guess I could also say,”My 10 year old’s math homework stumps me because its been 26 years since I’ve done it, and I’m pretty sure they’ve changed the rules since then”, but I’ve got things to do.

Being a mom is like being given a monumental job, but you’re denied resources, directions, equipment, and even additional help at times, all while being told every step of the way that you’re doing it wrong; given “advice”; told by 1000 different people 1000 different ways to handle every.  single.  challenge you face while completing the job; and still being expected to juggle all your other daily responsibilities.

And did I mention that the average completion time of said job is roughly 18 years, give or take?

It seems nearly impossible, and yet, with all the adults running around- some even having tiny humans themselves- it apparently is not.

It leads me to wonder, though, why more of the older generation doesn’t warn the newbies more.  They’ll wax nostalgic about all the good times, but they’ll leave out the teething years- where NOTHING helps; they’ll conveniently leave out the story about the time when they were sick with a sick 5 year old, but instead of taking care of themselves, they had to deal with throw up on ALL THE THINGS while trying to keep from throwing up themselves.  Memories of “cuddly babies with the new baby smell” abound, while they fail to mention that the ACTUAL new baby smell is akin to a sewage treatment plant.

Just once, I wish that someone had told me (before I had my first): “Once he’s born, hold tight to him, but not so tight that you aren’t willing to take a break for yourself, because you’re going to be bone-tired soon.  Like, the kind of tired that swallows you whole; where you feel like you’ve been running forever without rest and without an end in sight.  Enjoy the sweet coos, because all too soon, they’ll be replaced by the harsh words of an angry teen, and they’ll say things that will hurt you, and you to them, and in the middle of the night you’ll cry yourself to sleep thinking about how you failed that day.

Don’t rush to get them to walk, because soon enough, they’ll be all over the place, whether you want it or not.  Enjoy the inactivity- one day your calendar will be filled, but it won’t be overflowing with YOUR social engagements.”

Yep.  I would’ve respected an individual who had told me that.

Today, I got told off by a toddler because I wasn’t playing pretend to his standards.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

I listened to a 2 1/2 year old scream at me because my imagination wasn’t in sync with his.

I also answered a slew of questions, most of which I had to Google- although, next time I might just make up the answers.

Scratch that. I don’t want my child to get funny looks when he explains that you can’t see the stars during the day because they’re cosmic ninjas.

I attempted to mop the floors 5 times before remembering that I have boys.

I’ve dealt with 5,022 fights…5,023…5,024, and that’s just within the last hour.

And I’ve watched as a toddler fought naptime harder than any boxer has fought an opponent.

I’ve had people tell me that “at least, as a stay at home mom, you get the occasional break.  You don’t have a boss breathing down your neck, making sure you’re always working”, and, to a degree, they’re right.  I don’t ever have the fear of being fired (though, I think my hubby fears I’ll quit one day), but can I tell you something?

I’m a runner, or at least, I pretend to be when all the stars align, and I’m able to get in a run; and I remember saying once that I don’t need to schedule rest days because something always seems to come up that keeps me from running anyway.  And I had someone tell me that having to take a rest day because something came up- that ultimately didn’t let my body rest and recover- WASN’T a rest day.

I’ve figured out that the same goes for all the “rest” periods I face throughout the day as a stay at home mom:

  • Naptimes are where I catch up on cleaning.
  • BRIEF moments when he’s actually paying attention to a cartoon- again, spent cleaning.
  • Bathroom breaks are, well, for going to the bathroom.
  • Even the RARE moments when I might get to watch something other than a kids’ show are spent holding a kid, building towers to be knocked down, answering questions, or playing make-believe.

I’ve also heard that each day you should try and get in at least 15 minutes to yourself, but to that I have 2 questions: when, and in what universe is 15 minutes considered enough time to recharge?

But, the “hard” part is, we as moms are expected to do it all, and God knows, I’ve tried.

I’m a mom to 4 boys with 4 different levels of neediness and difficulty; a wife to a man that works 5 days a week from before the sun comes up to an hour or so before the boys go to bed; a runner when life allows; a team mom; a pet owner; a caretaker of a home that never stays clean; a cook; a chauffer; a referee; and an owner of mass quantities of mom guilt that screams I’m never enough.

On some level I know that my boys won’t need therapy in the future because their childhood wasn’t magical, complete with organic snacks, homemade costumes, a full activity schedule, and a tree house in a large oak tree, but that still doesn’t stop me from figuring out the financial costs and logistics of having a large oak transplanted into our yard.

Yes.  Motherhood is an amazing blessing, and I marvel at each new and wondrous thing my boys learn- like flushing the toilet.

Just kidding.

They still haven’t mastered that.

I stand in awe that God entrusted me- ME! the girl who has a black thumb- to care for 4 miraculous individuals.

But don’t be fooled.  Motherhood is hard.  So hard that words fail, and your mind apparently blocks it out as you grow older.

So, could we all just promise to do this one thing?  The next time you see that frazzled mom- you know the one- holding a screaming toddler, arguing with a defiant Kindergartner, and getting yelled at by an older kid, could we all just PLEASE not stare wistfully at that mom, telling them to “enjoy it while it lasts” because “it goes by so quickly”?  Because, honestly, it doesn’t feel like a fleeting moment when you’re in the trenches.

Could we maybe instead offer up something ACTUALLY helpful?  Maybe help to push their cart to their car?  Or- if you know the mom- offer to watch the kids for an hour so the mom can get a coffee and decompress?  Or, heck, maybe we could just smile and say,”Kids can be jerks.  Ya know, there was a time…”, and talk about our own battle stories.  Anything to let that mom know that she isn’t alone, because loneliness is scary and dark, and its where the monsters hide.  Monsters that claw at our nerves; maul our confidence; laugh at our worries; and scream every fear imaginable until it echoes in our minds every waking hour.

Motherhood is “hard”, but when you know you have people supporting you, you’ll make it out alive; and maybe one day, you’ll be able to be there for another mom going through the same thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Ways to Help a Grieving Parent (and 3 Don’ts)

October-infant-loss-month-2013-e1381331575122

The 15th is Pregnancy/Infant Loss Awareness Day.

I thought about not writing anything since I’ve already written a couple of posts on my losses (HERE & HERE), but since its something I’ll never likely ever forget, I don’t see a problem with posting something again.  My losses- my kids that went to Heaven- they’re a part of me and they always will be.  Regardless of if everyone else has forgotten about them and figured I should have already moved on, I haven’t and I won’t ever “move on”.  That’s like telling an amputee,”Oh, come on- aren’t you over it yet?  Suck it up.”  People would look at you like you were insane or, at the very least, insensitive beyond belief, but for whatever reason, when you lose a child, you’re expected to learn to “deal with it” even sooner than someone who’s lost a limb.  Why do we accept the difficulties that come with learning to cope with the loss of a body part, but we give a time limit on how long it takes to get over losing a part of your heart and soul?

Every single day I wish I wasn’t a part of this club.  I think about my boys all the time ( I knew the gender of one, and -considering I have all boys now- I’m just going to guess that the other was a boy, too), and, years later, it can still feel as fresh as when I heard the doctor say,”I’m sorry, but I can’t find a heartbeat.”

Yeah, I know that there’s some that will point out that if I had the ones I lost, I wouldn’t have the ones I have now, but can I tell you something?  Telling me that doesn’t help- if anything, it can make me feel even more guilty. (Mom guilt is a real thing and it sucks.)  Besides, I’m a mom- I can multitask.  I can be thankful for what I have and grieve the ones I lost- AT THE SAME TIME.

I know.  Mind.  Blown.

The funny thing about the comments well-meaning individuals will say after you’ve lost a child (or anyone, for that matter) is that, most of the time, they aren’t very helpful.  So, in honor of this month, I’m going to give you a list of things you can say (and do) when someone has lost the most important thing to them in this world:

  1. “I’m so sorry.”  Simple.  Straight forward.  No frills.  No BS.  Timeless.  Its like the Little Black Dress of consoling phrases.
  2. “I’m here for you.”  And then ACTUALLY be there for them.  They need you.  Whether its a shoulder to cry on, someone to vent to, or to just sit in silence to not feel alone, they need you.
  3. “I love you.”  I’m not talking about professing your undying love and devotion during their time of grief- I’m talking about letting them know that they’re loved, even when they might be unlovable and pushing you away because they just want to hide away from the world.
  4.  “Is there anything I can do to help you out?”  And then, like #2, follow through.
  5.  “I’m bringing you dinner- what do you want?” They might say they aren’t hungry.  That’s ok.  Bring them a freezer meal (in a container they don’t need to worry about getting back to you).  They will be at some point.  Studies have shown that humans need food to survive.
  6.  “Do you want company?” Be ready to visit them if they say yes.  Don’t just say it.  If you aren’t able to, don’t offer.
  7.  If their child was out of the womb when he/she died, share memories of things you loved about him/her.  Don’t shy away from mentioning the loss.  Their child was real and alive and breathing and a part of their world.  Their child was there, and then one day, they just weren’t.  They’re feeling that loss.  Don’t ignore it.
  8.  Buy them a gift card for dinner for them to go out once they’re ready to leave the house.  A freezer full of meals is nice, but the ability to leave the place where all the memories are- words can’t express how much that meant to my hubby and I.  The loss of a kiddo- no matter how old- is hard on a marriage.  I dare say, it could be the hardest thing your marriage can go through.  A date night away to be a couple again where you aren’t surrounded by ghosts, well, its more important than you could ever realize, unless you’ve been there.

I need to point out that these suggestions can be combined in any number of ways.  Do some, all- the possibilities are endless.

Ok, mathematically, maybe not, but you get the point.  Also, grief isn’t a timeline with a point A and a point B.  A lot of people will stop checking in on them after a while (because those people feel the parents might have “gotten over it” by now), but, the thing is, that’s when things tend to get a little lonely and when you should make an effort to check in.  See how they’re doing.  Let them know you’re thinking about them.

Things NOT to say and do:

  1.  Don’t say,”He/she is in a better place now.”  Sure they are, but I wanted him here.  Are you telling me that being with me WASN’T a good place?
  2.  Don’t say,”Everything happens for a reason.”  No.  Just, no.  Now is not the time to wax philosophical.  If you say this, be ready to be slapped and watch them say,”Do you know the reason I did that?”
  3.  And, finally, do not- under any circumstance- contact them or attempt to go over there if you can’t keep yourself together.  Their loss is not about you.  This situation is not yours.  I don’t care if you’re the grandparent- it wasn’t your child so you don’t have a CLUE what they’re feeling.  They don’t need to be trying to console you and keep you together when they’re feeling lost and confused and falling apart themselves.   If you love them, get a straw, suck it up, and keep it under control.  They need you to be the calm in the middle of their hurricane.  To do anything else is selfish on your part.  Its ok to shed tears with them, but when it reaches a point where they’re telling YOU that its going to be ok, there’s something wrong there.

These are just my thoughts on it all, but considering I’m speaking from experience, I think I’m a pretty reliable source.

In closing, if you’re readng this and you’ve lost a child, my heart goes out to you.  As a nation, we only recogize the heartache bereaved parents go through for 1 month out of the year, but I know that you don’t just feel that empty feeling during October.  I wish there was more I could do than just offer up kind words, but I also know that unless I could give you back that piece of your heart you lost, there really isn’t much more I could do.

But, boy, do I wish I could give that to you.

october

Its been 6 years…

Grief

Grief: n. noun; 1.  keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.  2.  a cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.

Loss: n. noun; 1.  The fact or process of losing something or someone. 2. The state or feeling of grief when deprived of something or someone of value.  3. A person or thing that is badly missed when lost.

My own definition: Grief: 1.  something that can sneak up on you anywhere, at anytime from anything and has the power to hit you like a Mac Truck going 1000 miles an hour.

Grief is a strange thing, and the things we can do to ride the waves can be even stranger to anyone not experiencing our particular grief.  The two definitions I gave don’t say a single thing about time limits or how people should react to each, but it astounds me sometimes how people who’ve never been through it will interpret each one.  It also blows me away how people will unintentionally give values to that which was lost, even though those same definitions don’t state that the person or thing of value that was lost must have any particular value to anyone else.

6 years ago, at 12:10 a.m., I said “Goodbye for now” to my son, Christopher Scott.  He was 15 weeks along when he passed, though I didn’t find out until I went to an appointment at 19 weeks.  Initially, everyone gave their condolences and was there for my husband and I, but -like most people who’ve never encountered this situation themselves- they gave our grief a timeline and a value.  I was told things like,”He’s happy and whole in Heaven now” and “At least it happened before you got a chance to get to know him” and-

Actually, no.  Let’s stop at that one for a moment, shall we?

Have you ever been pregnant?  Even if it was a surprise pregnancy, tell me that you didn’t envision his or her future.  Tell me you didn’t talk to him or her.  Tell me- if you have other kids- that you didn’t wonder what features they would all share and picture them all playing together.

You KNEW them.  You knew that at a certain time every single day you’d get sick, and you’d joke that your little bean was already putting you through the ringer and promise them that you’d pay them back.  You knew every poke and prod and eventually could pinpoint what part of their body was working to break your rib.  You knew when their witching hour was and wondered if it would be the same once they were born.

You KNEW them.

I knew my son.  I knew he’d probably look just like his 2 older brothers and that they’d probably all be wrestling before he was even walking.  I had plans for him.  I pictured his future.  So, tell me again- how was I lucky?

See, here’s where I take issue with everyone’s opinions.  Those that haven’t been in my place- or your place, or anyone’s place that has lost someone.  They think I should conform to those opinions and they make comments that either make me feel foolish or bad about my own feelings.

Its been 6 years.  Ya know what?  It still hurts and causes my heart to break all over again sometimes.  I think about our family dynamic and how he would’ve changed it; how they all would’ve gotten along.  Ya know what else?  In neither of those definitions did they give a time frame.  If you look up the 5 stages of grief, you’ll see: Denial/Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.  Do you know what it DOESN’T say?  How long someone will experience each stage.  Or what order.  Or if one of the stages will be skipped.  Or the fact that even once someone has finally reached the “Acceptance” stage, that a song might come on or a certain date will come ’round that sends them right back into the isolation or anger stage.  Or that, years later, they’re still bargaining even though their loved one is long gone- “If I could just have one more minute with him again- just one- I promise…”

Its been 6 years.  I still can’t listen to ‘London’ by Brandon Heath without remembering that I had been singing that song to him the day before I found out he’d actually passed 4 weeks prior.

Its been 6 years, but some days it feels like yesterday.

Its been 6 years, but please don’t tell me -even now- that everything happens for a reason, because I still don’t see it and I likely won’t until the day that him and I are reunited in Heaven.

Its been 6 years.  I’ve been through every single stage of grief multiple times over.  I’m sorry my grief doesn’t fit YOUR specifications.