Talking About My Joys and Taking Back Motherhood

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I have noticed a trend in parent world. We write about things that are tough. We write about how hard life can be. We write about things we find funny…. Gross things we find funny, but no one else does. Often, in our writing, we tend to leave out all mush and gush (for the most part). I mean if I tell you I think my boys are possibly the sweetest, kindest little beings on this planet with the faces of angels… you are going to gag. The thing is I actually do feel this way a lot, but it doesn’t really work for purposes of humor. And with all this being “real” and not “fluffy”… I have traumatized my sisters.

And I quote: “This is not making me want to have children.”

A feeling I think they should have for a while, but I mean, I want them to know it is not all diapers and being perpetually sleep deprived. Sort of. Furthermore, I have noticed that this sentiment is also found on the World Wide Web. On many public forums I have noticed that more and more people are getting a bad taste in their mouths for parenthood.

Sidenote: I actually think this is a direct result of our culture’s view of sacrifice and selflessness. Traits that actually make your life better and make you happier, but that is a topic for another day.

I think in an effort to be real many of us have focused so much on talking about the hard stuff that we forget to speak about our joys. So without further adieu:

A Few Reasons Why I Love Being a Mother

I love the tiny cuddles and wet kisses that will one day turn into big, strong hugs and quick cheek kisses. There is nothing purer then the adoration a child has for his mother (and father). Nothing. To be loved wholly and entirely as you are, Jesus is the only one that trumps that. And on the flip side, there is nothing stronger than the love a parent has for a child. Which brings me to my next point:

Children teach you to love. I remember giving birth to my first son and feeling completely overwhelmed. Never in my life had I been so flooded with emotion. I could not even feel it was so much. Too much of everything. Of joy. Of fear. Of pride. Of love. I couldn’t decipher one from another. But when I came out of my haze, I stared at a perfect little being. I wondered at all that he was. The mystery. The smell. The tiny toes. The smiles. And a strange thing happened. Flowers smelled sweeter. I loved my husband more. I loved my mother more. I saw beauty in the everyday. I looked at animals that I previously ignored (I know I am a terrible person), and I found myself making squeaky love noises at them. I grew so much as a person that first year. Yes it was hard, but it was also so good.

And then my next son was born. Whatever hard part was left in my heart melted into a puddle. I didn’t have the haze I had with my first son. I could decipher the feelings. I knew this love. With his birth my ability to love grew by two more tiny hands. Living a life that is not just about me has given me new purpose and made me happier. Learning when to sacrifice and when to take care of myself has made me stronger. I have learned to be a teammate with my husband. Loving and caring for my little ones has spilled over into my relationships with others. I find that I have more compassion and more empathy. I recognize that everyone is someone’s child. Children have changed my character. They have made me a better wife, a better daughter, and a better friend. I care about people because I care about my people. You can’t have love completely encompass one part of your life and not have it spill over into other areas of your life.

Joy. SO SO SO MUCH JOY. Joy that makes you a crazy person. Joy you cannot explain. Ridiculous happiness that makes no sense. Holden said “Mama” for the first time, and I almost cried. Watching them do anything for the first time is a tear jerk moment. I mean look at all these parents with their video cameras and phones. They cannot get enough. And if you don’t have a 1509650_10153378807330824_3729871436344178622_nkid, you don’t get it. Parents look absolutely ridiculous. But I tell you, you have not lived until you get home from being gone and a little face peeks out the door and takes off in a full sprint towards you with a big smile on their face. Joy people.

Forever friends. My kids are my people. Just like I am my parent’s people. We get to do life together. How awesome is that? We as people are made for relationships, and the family structure gives us that. I could travel the whole world, own my own company, own a country, and I tell you that at the end of my life all that will matter to me is my family.

I once heard it said that saying “Why have kids when you can just have nieces or nephews, and send them back?” is like saying “Why fall in love when you can just be friends?” Is motherhood all giggles and smiles? No. Have I always felt so optimistic? No. Do I think everyone needs to have children? No. Love is not always easy, but it is always worth it.

So my little sisters, my readers, and the skeptics online, do not fear having kids. Children bring unimaginable joy, growth, and love.

Now excuse me while I go clean up the absolute destruction my kids caused while I was writing this. I did not want those DVD’s in the shelf anyways. Oh… joy.1779704_10153378806535824_4037883357466843504_n

All Day Long I Chase You

“You will never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow they’ll be a little older than they were today. This day is a gift. Just breathe, notice, study their faces and little feet. Pay attention. Relish the charms of the present. Enjoy today, it will be over before you know it.”

To my Holden:

Tonight I looked at you my little boy. I mean really looked at you. I took in all your features. Your perfect blue eyes. Your porcelain skin. Your dimples that you got from your Daddy. The little cleft in your chin. When did you get so big?

Who are you little man? My little mystery I wait to fully know.

I watch you, and I think about how all day long I chase you.

I chase you across the yard as you run as fast as your toddler legs can carry you.

“Ready, Set, Go!”

And off you run to explore the world with your Tonka trucks.

I chase you across the house.

This usually involves Mommy trying to put a diaper on your naked buns. Or frantically trying to grab a breakable item from you. Or running to grab you before you jump on your brother.

I chase you across the park.

Why play at the playground when you can run to the parking lot and check out the cool motorcycle, or as you call it, “metersickle”?

All day long I chase you. And all day long you wait for me to catch you.

But I have a confession. Sometimes I am not watching. Some days I never catch you. Not really. Sometimes I go a whole day, and I feel like I have barely seen you.

I don’t like when I feel this way.

Distracted. Tired. Bored. Out of touch.

I hate when I feel that way.

I think it comes with the territory of being a stay at home mom. This fight to be present.

Sometimes me, you, and your brother just survive the day. I get so busy trying to keep up with you two I don’t take the time to engage with you. My little man full of spunk and will.

Or I choose to engage with people who aren’t even there.

I can tell you are disappointed when I don’t pursue you. When I spend time on the computer or the phone instead of learning about you.

And I am sorry.

As I write this you are laying in your bed sound asleep. You had a day full of dirt and trucks, just how you like it. You enjoyed a nice bubble bath with brother. And as I watched you, and looked at how much you are changing, I made a decision.

No more social media on my phone. No more researching articles. No more mind numbing distraction.

I chose to stay at home so I didn’t miss a thing. And technology is starting to get in the way.  

I do not want you to remember me as a Mom constantly distracted by her phone. I cringe thinking of the times you have slapped the phone out of my hand.

I want you to remember me as a Mom who played with you. A mom who laughed with her friends over coffee. A wife who giggled and loved on her husband. A mom who loved to read. A mom who helped you learn new things. A mom who loved to be outdoors. A mom who pursued her little mystery of a boy.

I want to take all of you in, you and your brother, and remember these years with you.

I know I am not perfect. I also know that I need my own time, but I promise you I will be present. I will be here for you.

So run fast little boy, Mommy’s gonna catch you. 

 

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The Day I Got Whistled At… At 38 Weeks Pregnant

Before my story, we must go over the different stages of pregnancy. So without further adieu I give you the 3.5 stages of pregnancy cuteness:Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 1.21.49 PM

Early Stage- So we have the early stages of pregnancy where you have a glow and no visible belly. It is in this stage that although you are probably struggling through morning sickness, someone might appreciate that glow and hit on you.

Halfway Point– Midway through your pregnancy, when you are rocking a cute baby bump, it is possible you will run into a guy who is weirdly attracted to pregnant women, and he will hit on you. You will be a little grossed out, but feel a little pride that you still got it. Maybe.

End of Pregnancy– It is a sad truth that you must know, but in the last few weeks before birth… everyone starts to look like a balloon full of water. Everything swells. EVERYTHING. Your face starts to look squishy, smooth, and round… ironically like a baby’s bottom. This is a universal sign that the baby is about to make it’s appearance. It happens to everyone. Small, medium, large… doesn’t matter… every lady looks nice and bloated.

***Special Unicorns End of Pregnancy- But there are the chosen ones. Women like me. We take this Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 1.20.12 PMend of pregnancy look to a whole new level. Forget cute little bellies… most people who do not know us are convinced we are having twins.

We are the ones who rock the elephant limbs. At the end, we say hello to massive swollen ankles, swollen feet, and swollen legs. We take off our wedding rings for fear we will have to go to the emergency room and have them cut off because our fingers have gotten so big. While your ballooning might resemble that of a child’s party balloon, genetics has blessed us with the ability to balloon to proportions not unlike that of a hot air balloon. No stretch marks all pregnancy? BAM. We only have two weeks left until our due date, but due to the fact that we have gained 15 pounds of water weight in the last week… we get the blessing of the tiger stripes.

We are the proud. We are the few. We are the swollen.   Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 1.15.57 PM

Story Time:

One day during the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I was attempting to go into labor by walking around my neighborhood. As I waddled back to my house with my toddler in tow, I heard someone whistle at me. “Whew wheeew” I immediately stopped. There is no way. I heard it again. “Whew wheeew” Like a penguin, I waddled in a circle trying to figure out who was whistling at me. “Whew wheew” I figured out which house it was coming from, and I glared at it. Seriously? What kind of creep whistles at an enormously pregnant woman who is pushing her toddler in a stroller? Gross. “Whew wheeew” Someone has some problems. I strutted away from the house and into my home. I was indignant that a man would dare whistle at me when I was with my toddler son and pregnant with another.

Over the next few days I told my family and friends about the creepy man who lived on my street. Every time I told the story I began to think that maybe I wasn’t such an awful looking end of pregnancy lady. Although it was still gross that I got whistled at (I honestly don’t think it is ever OK to whistle at a woman), I began to feel a little more confident in my XL men’s tees and sandals my feet fat stuck out of.

Then one day as I was getting out of my car, I heard it. “Whew wheew” But I was no where near the creepy man’s house?

And that was when I realized… that the creepy man who thought I was cute… was actually a parrot.

The end.

 

 

Photographing and Documenting Your Child’s Childhood- The Nightmare Continues

I am writing this post as I sit waiting for my phone to download approximately 6000 photos, dating from last August until this June, onto my computer so that I can print these photos out and put them into photo albums.  I want to print all of them, but I must go through them and pick and choose which ones will make the cut. I didn’t do that with Holden and now I have two photo albums with 700 pictures stress-memechronicling the first six months of his life.

Plus, I still have the photos on my camera and the all the special occasion photos to print up as well.

Does this seem a little excessive to anyone? I sometimes wonder if having cameras on every device imaginable is actually a good thing. I stress so much about capturing all the precious moments of my little ones that I wonder if that stress is causing me to sometimes miss out on these precious moments?

Question: Is a baby’s smile still as cute even if you do not capture the first ten times he does it?

I mean the memory books, the photo albums, the photo books, the scrap books, the picture frames… Am I the only person overwhelmed here? Holden is almost two, and I have not printed a picture since he was six months old. I feel a panic attack coming on every time I think of how I need to keep up with preserving all these memories.

I know this stress is nothing new.

I just have to take one look at the stacks of photos that have yet to be put into photo albums at my Mom’s house, and the way she cringes when she looks at them, to know that mine is not the first generation to be swallowed by the monster that is personal family photos.

But at this time, with the internet, it seems we have this whole new level of crazy. The internet is a wealth of information that unfortunately can show us exactly how we do not measure up. One look at Pinterest and all the crazy, cool ideas and ways to preserve memories for ourselves and our children, and you realize that you could make a full time job out of the art of photo preservation.

AND.I.JUST.CAN’T.KEEP.UP. h6T6Fvcongrats-baby-photo-albums-facebook-upcoming-pregnancy-ecards-someecards

Maybe I am not organized enough? Maybe I am not artsy enough? Maybe my children will be so sad that they are not able to see a photo of themselves from every day of their lives?!!!!!

Maybe.

Or maybe I should focus on capturing select, beautiful moments in their lives? But how do I even do that when every moment is beautiful and perfect? (Insert nervous twitch.)

What in the world will they do with all these photo albums anyways? At this rate my children are going to have like 200 photo albums to go through when they are older.

I have decided that the picture insanity needs to stop. In order to stop the insanity, I have come up with a resolution for myself.

First, I will give myself grace. I am raising two beautiful boys and the world is not going to end if I do not properly document every second of their childhood.

Second, I will enjoy my moments with them rather than constantly pausing to photograph or digitize the moment. I will remember to pause and take mental pictures. I will keep my focus on them and being there for them in that moment. I will push away thoughts of needing to share the moment with the entire world.

Reminder: Shelbi, it is OK to have private moments that no one will know about. stress

Lastly, I will continue to do my best to pick and choose the photos I cherish to pass on to my sweet ones. I still believe it is important to capture memories. I just do not need 100 pictures from each event or moment of their lives. One or two will suffice in most circumstances.  Less is sometimes more. Plus, those little moments will add up to a lot at the end of the year.

So today, dear friends, I just want to encourage everyone to let go of the photo obsessing and stress. I encourage you to embrace life in the present without any technology. I am doing my best to do just that.

We are all in this together. We will survive this messy world of immense pressure, immense responsibility, and immense love… this world known as parenthood.

And we will survive the demonic force that is the photo album.

I promise.

 

 

 

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Brotherly Love

11391676_911787972216986_426202011465667517_nRiddle me this:

How does one protect their baby from their toddler?

Granted I live in a tiny house so it is much harder for me than most to hide the infant from the walking terror/love machine that is my toddler Holden.

Many-a-time I have found Holden laying on top of my baby smothering him with kisses. Poor baby Hudson has had many incidents of secondhand chocolate hair or leftover dinner from Holden’s mouth smeared on his head.

Tummy time is rough because I cannot take my eye off of Hudson. Last time I did I looked over to see Holden laughing hysterically while he dragged his flailing infant brother on a blanket around the room.

Once, I narrowly escaped having to preform the Heimlich maneuver on my 2 month old because the toddler decided he wanted to share his gummy bear vitamin.

Do not even get me started on the baby’s naps during the day. Heaven forbid the baby get some uninterrupted sleep during the day. Holden practically forbids it.

Holden for whatever reason thinks it is important that he sit on his brother while his brother lays in his infant swing. No matter what I do, the kid likes to cuddle up to his brother in that tiny chair. Do you know how horrifying it is to look over to check on your little baby and all you see is the butt of your toddler as he tries to keep his balance on a moving infant swing?

The toddler is omnipresent. He is everywhere. Hudson has no where to hide from the almost-two-year old tornado who can scale any bed and climb any crib.

imgresI spend most of my days telling Holden that:

“Brother’s face is not a race car track.”

“We do not cover brother’s head with the blanket.”

“We do not watch movies on top of brother.”

“Brother doesn’t like pillow fights.”

“Niiiiceee brother… gentle… good job… NO HOLDEN NO!”

Holden finds all of this so painful. His little boy heart is full of so much love for his brother he can hardly contain it. He hunts for Hudson. When he sees his brother, his face scrunches up and he coos at him, right before giving the baby a nice open-mouthed kiss. Unfortunately, after this is usually when the smothering begins. I have to be very careful when I intervene because Holden panics and hurries away… often elbowing or kicking the baby in the process.

I imagine in his toddler gibberish Holden is asking me why brother cannot play with him yet.

Brotherly love is not always so awesome, but somehow Hudson will survive the immense love of his brother…

And somehow Mommy will survive this without developing an anxiety condition.

 

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What Day Is It?

Quotation-Tina-Fey-mom-happy-Meetville-Quotes-271152I am not going to lie. I feel tired. I don’t know why I am tired, but I am tired. It feels like everything I do is exhausting. Between the future mechanic toddler who is determined to run in the parking lot and touch every tire rim, truck, and “metersicle” in the vicinity, and a infant who, like all infants, just wants to be held, nursed, and cuddled, I find that my energy tank gets emptied pretty early in the day.

I feel like part of my day is spent in a daze. I thought I was forgetful before children, but I really have reached a whole new level of absent minded-ness.

The other day I was at BJ’s restaurant and the waiter asked if anyone owned a red Charger. I own a red Charger. Apparently I had left my keys sitting on top of my car. I had presented the perfect opportunity for someone to live out their “Grand Theft Auto” dreams. Thankfully someone brought them into the restaurant instead of driving off with my car. The funny thing is the first thing I thought of was that if my car was stolen, my expensive carseats, baby carrier, and double stroller, would be gone. Take the car, but leave my ridiculously expensive baby items!

I can not even remember the last time I bathed the infant. The toddler gets a bath every day because I use the bathtub as a baby sitter, but I can never remember when the baby was washed last. I now have to schedule a day to give him a bath because I am afraid two weeks may be too long to go without one.  I schedule everything on my calendar now. It is the only way I can remember to do things. I have little symbols I put on the calendar because I am embarrassed about some of the things I have to schedule.

Pretty soon I will probably forget what my calendar symbols mean and the baby will start to look like Pig Pen from the Peanuts comics.

There is nothing like a trip to the doctor for a well baby check up to remind me that I may be losing it. When my doctor asks how many diapers the baby goes through or how many times he eats, I look at the toddler as if he can help me remember, and then throw out an answer when my brain starts to hurt too much.sleeping-mom1

I have no idea when my little guy released himself last. I can not even remember what day it is… some days I do not even know what year it is.

I graduated with my BA in three years, but somehow I struggle to keep my life organized with two kids.

I now understand why when my Mom yelled for one of us four kids she sometimes had to say all four names before she got the right name. I get you Mom. I get you.

By the way, would you like to watch your beautiful grandchildren while I sleep?

 

I Survived Doomsday: A Tale of Sickness

 Sometimes when I am having a really rough time with the babies I think to myself “Is it too early to drink?”

And then I think “It’s 8 am Shelbi. Yes, it is too early.”

imagesYou know, since having two kids under two, I feel like I have officially earned my “Mom Badge”. 

I mean I went through some rough experiences while adjusting to one baby, but I do not feel like I really earned this badge of honor until I survived doomsday in my own household. In a matter of one week, we were hit with the tummy flu. “We” being the kids and I.  Luckily, my husband’s ironclad immune system has yet to fail him.

“We” may be a little bitter about this.

Do you want to know what I experienced in that week of tummy flu? Projectile EVERYTHING.

I sat in disbelief as I watched my toddler come up to me, lay his cars down on the couch, and proceed to vomit straight out all over the couch. The kid was like a dragon laying waste to all that he breathed his fire on. I mean it came out of his nose! Do we as adults somehow know how to block vomit from spurting through our nostrils? When do we learn this skill?

The best part was that while I was cleaning up the couch I realized there was another distinct smell surrounding the area. Yes, Holden had peed all over the couch. Somehow he had positioned his diaper in such a way that he could spray the couch. It seems the dragon deemed it necessary to put out his vomit fire with his very own urine. He is such a sweetheart.

And then it was the baby’s turn to vomit all over me and my bed.

6a8a2db524e8d72fe98a626910a1abf7As if that was not enough, the baby decided to spray his feces onto my shirt and face while I was changing him.

By the time the nausea hit me I had spent all day cleaning up disgusting messes. And then I had a “You know you are a Mom when…” moment.

You Know you are a Mom when:

You get sick and because you are breastfeeding you don’t quite make it to the bathroom in time and thus have ANOTHER mess to clean up. You have a meltdown. Your husband hears this meltdown. His reaction is to sweetly tell you to just take a shower and lie down, and he will clean up your mess.

This was not exactly what childless you had in mind when she thought of her husband whispering sweet nothings into her ear, but nonetheless, it is at this moment that you fall in love again. You think, “This is true love. Truly, there is no greater love than this. That a man lay down his life for his puking wife.”

The romance is real people. 

And no I did not let him do that. A girl needs a little dignity in this life.

 

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