Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

One of Those Moms

Before I had children, I was probably a much better mother. At least I thought I would be a better mother. I can remember thinking that when I had kids, I wouldn’t become one of “those moms” I would see while shopping at Walmart. They were the moms with disgruntled kids and a cart full of diapers, wipes, bananas, string cheese, and other mysterious baby things. Their kids would be crying and whining and their faces would be crusted over with ketchup and boogers. I would look at the mom with pity and think, “How hard can it be to wipe your child’s face before you leave the house?” as I pushed my cart filled with Diet Coke and rice cakes farther away from the noise and chaos that seemed to follow that mom around the store. I knew that when I was a mom my kids would always be clean and cute. Their clothes would match, their hair would be combed and their shoes would be on the right feet. I would never be one of “those moms” who let their child run around the yard in a diaper or wander around the store with a pacifier when they were old enough to talk. My children would always say “please,” and “thank-you,” and would never throw one of those giant tantrums in a store because they wanted a candy bar from the check out lane. And I would never be one of “those moms” who wandered around in sweats that obviously need to go in the wash and wearing a hat because she couldn’t remember the last time she took a shower.

And then, 7 years ago I became a mother and everything I thought I knew about being a “good” mother flew out of the window. Over the last 7 years I have done every one of the things that I swore I would never do as a mother. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in the store and discovered that there is some glob of goo on the corner of my child’s mouth. And of course I lick my thumb to try to scrub it off. Diet Coke is still a necessity but rice cakes have been replaced with bananas and string cheese. As soon as my children learned to dress themselves I lost some of the control over what they wear. My boys often pair their favorite orange t-shirt with their shiny red shorts. I do try to comb my daughter’s hair every morning, but by the time we are ready to leave the house, it is back to being messy. My youngest was walking and talking long before she gave up her pacifier. It was just easier and a sure fire way to get through the Walmart trip with at least some of my sanity intact. My children do say please and thank you, but sometimes not without prompting. And yes, there has been at least one tantrum in the check out lane that involved a candy bar. I spend most of my days in comfy sweats because it’s easier to run up and down the stairs as I’m doing the 800th load of laundry. And I do have a hat or 2 that I can throw on when I haven’t taken a shower because of a morning emergency — which usually has to do with somebody doing something to someone else that shouldn’t have been done. Or, the cat has puked on the rug. In other words, I’ve turned into one of “those” mothers.

I’ve learned that being a mom is less about making sure the children look presentable and more about making sure that they act presentable. It’s about teaching the kids independence; washing their own face and getting themselves dressed. Even if that means I have to deal with a ketchup-crusted chin or an orange shirt and shiny red shorts. Although, honestly, sometimes their wardrobe choices are more than I can handle and they are sent back into their room to try again. It’s about teaching commradery. And realizing that it’s hard to keep curls in place when you are battling evil with your brothers. It’s about teaching the child to respect others so that “please” and “thank-you” will happen more often than not without prompting. It’s about teaching self-control so that a “no” answer doesn’t turn into battle of the wills. It’s also about learning to think of others as more important than yourself. So, that when the morning turns into a teaching opportunity instead of a shower opportunity it doesn't throw you for a loop.

And so, I’ll happily stay one of “those” moms who gives her all for her kids; even if it’s isn’t apparent to others. And hopefully, in return, I’ll be one of “those” moms whose children rise up and call her blessed. Maybe, someday. Now, has anyone seen my hat? It’s time to go to Walmart again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Worth the Trip

Every part of me wanted to snuggle down under the covers and just ignore the little voice that was calling from the next room. It had been a long day of traveling over the river (the mighty Mississippi) and through the woods (there are a lot of trees in Minnesota) to reach Grandmother’s house. But we had finally made it, gotten settled in, had a wonderful dinner and gotten all of the children tucked into bed. I was pooped and ready for a good, long night’s sleep. But, alas, it was not to be. It was one of those nights when each of the kids was up numerous times for numerous reasons. “Where’s my blankie?” “I heard a noise.” “Where’s the bathroom?” “This bed isn’t comfortable.”
I wanted to bury my head in my pillow and pretend I was on a quiet beach somewhere far away. But, I heard another “Mom.” “Lord, please.” I silently pleaded. “Can’t they just sleep?” I hauled myself out of bed and stumbled in the dark to the bedside of my middle child. I leaned over him in all of my middle-of-the-night beauty and whispered, “What do you need?” in my slightly annoyed voice. He looked up at me with his sleepy little eyes and said, “Mom, you’re so pretty. I love you.” My heart melted as I tucked him in, gave him a kiss and stumbled back to my room. The trip had been worth every cold dark moment outside of my comfy covers.
That night reminds me of so many mornings when my alarm clock calls in the early morning, heralding the start of another day. Every part of me wants to hit the snooze button and snuggle back under the covers. But, another voice calls to my spirit, “Daughter.” “Lord, please.” I plead. “Can’t I just sleep?” But, I haul myself out of bed, grab my Bible and head to the couch. I sit down and lean over my open Bible. And His words wash over me. “The king’s daughter is all glorious within… you are precious in my sight and I love you.” My heart melts as I listen to the words of my Father and I know that the comfort of my covers can never match the comfort I have found in the presence of Jesus. I’m so glad I didn’t push the snooze button this morning.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My first mommy moment.

I remember the first time I really felt like a mom. It didn't come the moment I found out we were having a baby. I think that feeling could be classified as elated shock. It didn't come the day of our ultrasound when we discovered we were having a healthy baby boy. It didn't come at the hospital seconds after hearing Kyle cry for the first time. All of those were wonderful and amazing mom moments. Each one of them reminded me that I was a mom.

But, it was a moment almost 6 weeks after Kyle's birth when I really felt like a mom for the first time. And not just any mom -- Kyle's mom.

It was Kyle's first Christmas and we decided to spend it in Minnesota with Jack's family. We had had 6 whole weeks to get to know our new little bundle of joy and we wanted to show him off to everyone. I was still getting the hang of the mommy thing but I had the basics down. Kyle didn't sleep much or well, but we were getting used to that. Kyle didn't eat much or well, (hard to believe when I see his chubby baby pictures) but we were persevering and supplementing with a bottle. The first couple of days went well. The grandparents were doting and Kyle was adorable. But the third day... was overwelming. It was Christmas and there was perogie to eat and presents to wrap and unwrap. There was music and noise and laughter. Kyle was passed around from Grandma to Aunt to Grandpa -- I think we even made Uncle Robert take a turn. And he was a trooper -- for a while. And then he lost it. He started crying. And not the sweet sniffles, but the loud, wailing, "this kid has lungs!" kind of sound. Aunt Jill took a turn and bounced him and rocked him and sang him a song. Grandpa took a turn and walked around and around the house, showing him the Christmas lights and the mirror (usually Kyle favorites). And finally Grandma took a turn and rocked and sang and shh-ed him in her sweet Grandma way. But Kyle wasn't buying it. He screamed and squirmed and was quiet only long enough to take a breath and start in again.

And that's when it happened... I gathered my firstborn into my arms, held him close and walked back to the dark bedroom. I hummed quietly in his ear and gently stoked his back. And to my utter amazement he quieted down. I felt him snuggle into my shoulder and relax. That's the moment I really felt like a mom -- Kyle's mom. We had all used the same tricks and techniques. We had all rocked and walked and sang and shh-ed. But only I could do it with the special mommy touch that Kyle needed in that moment. And so as Kyle hicc-upped and fell asleep, I continued to rock and sing and stroke and marvel at the beauty of my first mommy moment.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

And so it begins...