Thursday, April 30, 2015

TBT Why Moms are the Toughest People in the World (Originally published on 10/3/13

Let's just start with a short recap of the past month in our house.  Kevin got roseola.  Jeff and I got the "I think I'm going to die" kind of stomach flu.  We got well for about a day, and then the whole house got Scarlet Fever (read-- strep that is so nasty, the sore throat is the least of your problems).

But this is how the humorously horrible day went down:

Two days prior, I had taken Daniel to the doctor and MADE them do a strep test.  Rapid Strep Test came back negative. Doctor all but rolled her eyes at me and said, "Send him to school!  He just has a little cold virus."
I said, "Okay..."

A friend asks if I can watch her 1 1/2 year-old at the last minute.  She had a sitter cancel.  I say, "No problem!" because the last time I watched another little boy, my kids were so entertained by him that it was easier.  The doc said the kids were fine.

Friend drops big baby off at 7:30 am.  He screams for the first hour.

He poops nasty yellow liquid.

I think, "he must not feel very well."

I call his mom.  She says, "I'll be there in about a half hour."

It's time to take Daniel to school.

I go upstairs to pee.

I come downstairs and there is a broken lamp, a crying child (not mine), another crying baby (mine), and two sweet, peaceful children coloring.

I pick up the lamp, snuggle each baby, put them in "baby jail," clean up the broken glass, ask the "big boys" (a 3 and 5 year-old) to get their shoes on.

I look at the clock.  Plenty of time to walk to school. I will just put the big baby in the stroller and the little baby in the baby carrier.  Danny can walk, and Nolan will ride his strider.  

I go outside to get the baby carrier, and when I come back in the house, the two babies are both screaming.  Kevin is gushing blood from his eyelid, cheek, nose, and lip, and the other baby is sitting there beating the crap out of my Kevin.  I tell the other baby, "We don't hit!" and sit him in time out.  He screams.  Kevin is screaming, and the other two have become bored of getting their shoes on and are running around in circles in the living room repeating, "La la looo!  La la looo!"  I get Kevin calmed down a little, check the clock, remove big baby from timeout, and weigh my options.  If I drive, I'll have to install the 4th carseat, get everyone in and out of the car seats, probably hit the traffic light, find a parking spot, and load and unload the car... It will be faster to walk.

So we walk.  And by the time we get to the end of the block, I notice that Daniel has no backpack.  So we go back and get it.

Now we are really late.  I hate being late.  And I really hate being late to kindergarten because if you're late and miss the open door, then it closes and locks and you have to go in through the front door dragging all of the other children and you have to push the buzzer and sign in and give a reason for being tardy and the kids I'll have to drag through the hallway are loud and they disrupt the whole school, not just me.

So we really hoof it.  And we are getting really close, and it looks like the Kindergarten door is going to still be open when we get there because we have 1 minute left.  And then Daniel sees a friend.  So he takes off running to say hi... and he runs past Nolan, who was in front of all of us on his Strider... "winning" the race that only Nolan was competing in.  And when Daniel takes off in front of Nolan, Nolan stops.  Flops.  And screams.

And Daniel has already run out of sight to an area where I am sure the pedophile-kidnapper that I just got an email about is lurking, waiting for my child.  So I have a baby on my back, a baby in the stroller, a 5 year-old who ran off towards a pedophile (for all I know) and this floppy, screaming child who does not follow me when I walk away if he has a fit.  Nolan's fits have been known to last for (seriously, I've timed them) 30 minutes or more, and that Kindergarten door is going to close and if there's a bad guy over there, so help me...

So, after 5 failed (because he flops on the ground) attempts and holding Nolan's hand and pulling him towards the school, I turn into my Herculean mother and pick Nolan up kicking and screaming and carry him upside down to the Kindergarten playground just in time to see Daniel happily bounding through the joyous open door.

I set Nolan down.

I text Jeff.  "You're getting a vasectomy."

Nolan finishes his timeout.

The other moms and dads on the playground are understanding, which is nice.

We make it back home.

Friend comes to pick up crabby diarrhea baby.

I give Nolan a snack in the car on the way to school.

He is really hungry at snack time because he didn't really have lunch, so his teacher gives him 4 helpings of fruit and yogurt.

The rest of the afternoon is fine.  I pick up the boys and start to get dinner ready.  At about 5:15, the doctor calls and says, "So, Daniel's strep test came back positive.  I guess moms always know.  I've called in the prescription for Daniel, but if your other kids aren't feeling well, you'll need to come get them checked also."

Meanwhile, Nolan has fallen asleep on the couch.

I wake him up, thinking it is just because he missed naptime and we need to go get Daniel's prescription.  The other two kids are already loaded in the car, and as I pick up Nolan, he begins to make that coughing/ hiccuping "this is going to be ugly" noise.  Well, I pick him up and sprint for the garage, but the chunks splatter the carpet, basement door, and wall.  I've gotten him to the garage by the second round, and now vomit has landed in my husband's shoes by the back door.

So, we get Nolan some clean jammies, clean up the inside-the-house chunks, obtain a puke bucket, and go to Walmart for the prescription, some Clorox wipes and gatorade.  By the grace of God, we make it all the way through the store and out to the parking lot where Nolan pukes on and in the grocery bags.

So we spend 15 minutes wiping all of the things we just bought with Clorox wipes and I begin to laugh, because, really, this is just hilarious.  As I am laughing and wiping, I see Nolan begin to pull down his pajama pants in the parking lot because he has vomited on them, so the laughter continues because, is there anything funnier than vomit-covered naked children in a parking lot?

So we get everything wiped down.  We get everyone in the car, we make it home, tiptoe around the puke in the garage.  I get Danny his medicine, get Nolan cleaned up, pajama'ed, and puke-bucketed.  Wash my hands a million times.  Nurse Kevin, and get them all to bed.

I hose down the garage, scrub the living room carpet and walls some more.  Then I head upstairs and take a shower.  Just as I get my jammies on, Jeff gets home from work.

"How was your day, hon?"

I just laugh.

And this isn't really an abnormal occurrence, and that's why moms are the toughest people in the world.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Video Evidence

Last week I gave a talk called "Measuring Stick" at a MOPs group.  It was all about how we measure ourselves against an invisible measuring stick of unattainable expectations and we measure ourselves to what other people's lives appear to be.

And I had given this particular talk a few times, so I video-taped it.  I wanted to get a couple of clips of me saying something and people laughing so I could put it on my website and become a YouTube sensation so people would buy my eventual book and ask me to come speak to their group and pay me money so I can stop clipping coupons and wearing ugly old clothes that don't fit right.

Then I watched the video tape.

It. was. not. good.  It was not good at all.

I watched it amazed at my exploding amounts of fake energy attempting to cover up the fact that I was exhausted because I didn't go to bed until 2am and woke up at 5 so I could try to perfect the talk, get it right and say the right thing so I didn't look like an idiot in front of all of these women who might really benefit from it if I say it the right way.

I watched the video shocked at how incredibly fat I have gotten. (The camera really does add 15 pounds.)

I watched the video mortified at how many times I clap my hands, jump up and down, and generally go overboard with my facial expressions.

And I thought, "This is how I really look and sound?  I thought I was a good speaker.  I am not.  I am not good at this at all.  This is embarrassing.  Why on earth would I try to do this to these poor people sitting there listening to me?"

The fact that I was listening to myself speak about loving ourselves and loving God and allowing God to define us instead of the size of our jeans, putting down the invisible measuring stick that we pretend will make us good enough if we reach the top...  while I was judging myself, measuring myself, allowing my inability to speak well define my worth as a human being is, of course, beautifully and painfully ironic.

But this is the way this messy life works, right?  This is the way pain points me to God, and He says, "See this?  This is where you hurt.  This is where you struggle.  Lean into Me, and I'll heal you.  It will take a while.  It might take the rest of your time on earth, but you will get better. It's okay to go ahead and move towards getting better."

This measuring myself against my own expectations is one of my struggles and even while teaching how to overcome it, I am overcome by it.  And I must try to overcome it again.  And again.  And again.

Maybe I should listen to WHAT God was telling me to say in my talk instead of judging my talk. Maybe I should trust that God will put words to what He wants me to say like I ask Him to do before I speak.

Maybe I should stop shoulding and start doing.

Okay, here goes.

My weight does not define me.
Criticism-- my own, from others, or the made up kind that people aren't actually saying or thinking-- does not define me.
The annoying things I do when I'm nervous and over-tired do not define me.
The response my talk gets does not define me.

My God defines me, and He says that I was "fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139) in His image (Gen 127)."  He says that I'm worth dying for.

And if I believe that He is really who He says He is, then as difficult as it is sometimes, I have to believe that I was fearfully and wonderfully made in God's image.  And I have to believe that I'm worth the most perfect, amazing, flawless human to ever walk the earth getting beaten, tortured, ridiculed, and murdered so that all of my failure, fat, screwed-up messiness is forgiven.

It's really hard to believe that I'm worth that.

But He says so.  So I guess I am.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

TBT Lost My Balance, Found Seasons Instead (Originally Published on 2/14/12

There is so much talk in the world today about "finding balance."

Well, I'm just feeling so unbalanced lately... I really need to just even my life back out.
'My life will be so much better when I find a man who balances me.'
I need to find a balance with my job...

Blah blah blah blah...

Either I am way more like my father than I care to admit or "having a balanced life" is pretty much a load of garbage.  Much like the load of garbage sold to young girls about there actually being a perfect man out there in the world.  Or the load of garbage sold to teenage boys that Axe Body Spray makes beautiful women want you so much their clothes fall off when you walk by.

My life has never been "balanced."  And I don't ever foresee it being that way.  I am passionate.  And I am a visionary.  And I am an artist and a mother and a wife and a triathlete and a Christian and a friend and a sister and a professional presenter and a teacher (kind of) and a cook and a laundry-doer and a coupon-clipping grocery shopper and a DGL Coordinator and a...

And if I fit my definition of "balanced," I would be able to wake up at 4 am to write for 3 hours before the kids wake up, do a load of laundry every day (yes, get it into and out of the washer and dryer, folded, ironed, put away...), do the dishes directly after every meal, have the dishwasher unloaded and ready to have dishes put in it, have a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, work out to train for a triathlon for 1.5 hours every day, play with my kids every day.  Teach them something every day.  Read every day.  Clean every room of the house once a week.  Volunteer at the nursing home once a week.  Present for MOPS once a month.  Present for CollegeBoard once a month.  Spend time talking or participating in an activity with my husband every day.  Call my mother, father, brothers, sisters-in-law once a week.  Get Daniel to school on time with his hat and mittens and snowpants. Remember everyone's birthdays and send them cards on time. Plan ahead enough to take a decent family picture for Christmas cards before Christmas Day rolls around.  Spend time with friends.  Go to play dates a couple times a week.  Go to church.  Volunteer at church.  Be in a book club.  Be in a writer's group. Blog....

Balance, to me, means that I am able to do all of the things I love AND all of the things I have to do just to get by.

And, you know what?

There are 24 hours in a day. I am a raging lunatic if I don't sleep.  And something's gotta give.

If I am going to ever finish this book, then my kids will wake up some days with no clean clothes; the dishes will sit in the sink until Jeff comes home; dinner will be something I can make in 15 minutes, the amount of time that I spend working out will be much less than the amount of time I spend drinking coffee and staring at a blank computer screen, and sometimes I will forget the Hershey Kiss roses we made for Danny's teacher.

And when the book is written, I will spend a large amount of time working out, training for a tri.  And I won't write.  And then it will be baseball season and Jeff will be gone lots of nights, and I'll drag the boys to a bunch of baseball games...And after the tri is done, then it will be August, and I will present for the CollegeBoard in Texas all August long.  And then I won't have written for a couple of months and I'll feel all "unbalanced" because I'm not using my brain.  So I'll seek out several groups of people to help me use my brain...

And this is just how life is.  Season after season... Busy with everything, then bored and lonely with nothing.  And chasing after balance just makes me feel like I'm doing it wrong.

But I don't think I'm doing it wrong.  I am just doing my best to live the life that God gave me.

And that looks more like  Ecclesiastes 3. 1-8 than as my friend, Matt Colley says, "a rolling ball of zen in a world of chaos."

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
With that, I will stop this pointless chasing after balance and just live trying to get the timing right... Healing when it is Healing's season, Laughing when it is Laughing's season... Writing when it is Writing's season... Playing when it is the Playing season... Last time I checked, none of those are listed on the calendar, so the beautiful thing is that I will only know what season it is when the season arrives.

And while I have a favorite season, I only love the Fall because it is so refreshing after a long hot summer, and I only love the winter because you can't ski without snow and it doesn't snow in the summer.  And I only love Spring because it means the Winter is over....

While this season may be long and difficult, inspiring and insightful, it is a season, and unlike the dirty laundry and dishes, someday it will be done.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Because Someday They'll Be Big (Originally published on 1/25/12

So, the other day, before Dr. Mario could eradicate all of the viruses from our home, the boys and I decided that it would be fun to watch Toy Story 3 together.

And you see, I blubber like a baby when I watch this show.  The first part gets me all teary, the home movies of a little boy playing, taken, I'm sure when the mom or dad had just enough time to think, Gosh, this is cute.  I bet I'll want to remember how cute he was someday.

But then the reality hits that the little boy is big.  He's going off to college.  His room probably smells like a hockey bag.  And as the cute little boys and I snuggle on the couch all achy and sick, I look over at their cute crusty noses and sob and think, someday they're not gonna want to snuggle on the couch with me anymore.  They'll be big and smell like boy and they'll be too embarrassed to hug me.

So, of course, Nolan points to my face, frowns and says, "Crying, Mama.  Cry."  And Daniel, sensitive soul that he is, says, "Mama!  Why are you crying?!"

"Because, honey, someday you will be big, and you won't want to hug me."

"Can I hug you now, Mama?"

"Of course you can, honey, of course you can."

Not to be outdone by his older brother, Nolan comes barreling onto my lap, "Me too, Mama.  Meeee tooooo!"  The pushing and shoving of brotherhood already in full swing.

"I will hug you when I get big, Mama."  Daniel says, so concerned.  His blue eyes big and sincere.
"Me too, Mama.  Me too," says Nolan.

Funny, I don't believe them.  Not that they don't mean it.  They just don't know what it means to be a teenager yet.  They just don't know the long winding road they have ahead of them.

Just like I, most times, don't know what it means to "cherish them while they're young."  Because right now they're so... crusty-nosed and whiny and oatmeal-smearing and juice-spilling... But they're also... crusty-nosed and oatmeal-smearing... And it's cute, the noses.  The innocence.  The bubble bath-smelling.

And I know I should see them as their adorable selves more often, appreciate the way that they are now with sleepy-head hair, dinosaur t-shirt and diaper, bright orange shorts combined with a button-down Cars pajama top...

I should appreciate their goofy little kid quirks and strange way they see the world.  I should look at Nolan needing to be snuggled and Danny wanting to play with me as opportunities to love, not interruptions to something I have to get done because...

Someday they'll be big and smelly.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

TBT Easter Egg Hunt (Original 4/2/10)

Nolan is really precious until he gets upset. Then he has this ridiculous, paralyzing scream that generates an open-mouthed stare, stuttering, and one step in every direction resulting in moving nowhere. 

Daniel is equally precious and well-behaved until I want to accomplish something. It doesn't matter what it is... 
Now amazingly enough, I pick today to want to get a couple of things done... nothing too fancy, you know, a little laundry, a little vacuuming, a couple of dishes... and a shower. That's it. So, of course Nolan picks today to scream his paralyzing scream, and Daniel, of course, wants to undo everything I try to get done.

So, I put Daniel down for an early nap so that he'll be awake in time for the Easter Egg Hunt in the afternoon, shut the door, put up the baby gate... Put Nolan in the crib...thinking, 'he'll give up eventually and stop screaming and just sleep...' and get in the shower.

Apparently this was a bad idea. I get out of the shower and hear.... Nothing. At first, I think, "Ahhhhhh."

Then I hear a small rustling in the back of my closet, then chewing noises. Then something that sounds like..... Like....Exactly like Plastic Easter Eggs getting dumped out onto the floor and m&ms scattering across hardwood. Yes, that's exactly what it sounded like, because that's exactly what I saw when I walked into my closet....

My precious little Daniel's face COVERED in chocolate and a mouth that had been stuffed with as many m&ms as he could fit in there, along with at least three fruit snacks.

The Easter baskets I thought I had been so clever to assemble early because I knew I'd run out of time, demolished, over-turned. Danny's huge chocolate-covered toothy smile turning to fear as he watched the flames shoot out of my ears...

And all I could manage was, "Time out Now!" before flopping myself down in the closet and having myself a nice little cry. And that precious little Daniel gets himself out of time out, peeks his head around the corner and says, "Matter Mama? Matter Mama?"

Then he sits down next to me, pats my knee with his chubby little hand, puts his head on my shoulder and says, "Milk?"