I made this video today as a Mother’s Day gift to myself–celebrating my babies, my treasures, my jewels. Everyday with them is a gift I am so grateful for.
Mother’s Day is a day for us mom’s to get spoiled, pampered and doted on. Some of you wholeheartedly agree. Some are skeptical–maybe you rolled your eyes when you read that sentence because you know that’s not really what happens. Your kids and spouse meant well, but…last year they got you a toaster oven for Mother’s Day and burned your toast while trying it out for the first time. The peanut butter they used to put on your toast ended up in wet globs on knives and spoons in the sink. There were dribbles of coffee all the way up your white carpeted steps leading to your bedroom while you nervously waited in bed, trying to put on a happy face for the cherubs donning you with flowers and wet gooey toast.
And I know that some of you Mama’s got nothin. You deserved so much more than nothing. So, so much more, but your kids slept in, your husband forgot, and nothing really went right. It was actually a really hard day
Maybe your experience was completely and totally Hallmark card commercial worthy. Your bedroom was sunny, lit up with the faces of those you love. Your perfect kids and perfect spouse brought you a 12 course breakfast in bed, Mother’s day pearls to match the new dress they also bought you…they let you sleep in until 11am, did the dishes, and folded and put away all the laundry for the week. The rest of us are all happy for you. Really, we are.
Whether your Mother’s Day last year was a catastrophe or a Hallmark dream, the one important thing for you to celebrate this Mother’s Day is that you are a Mommy–A pretty darn awesome one too. Being a Mommy to amazing, beautiful kids even on days when they are not acting so amazing or beautiful is one of the biggest honors we get as women. There are plenty of other amazing things about being a woman, but being a Mommy is pretty great.
Regardless of what others do for you or don’t do for you this Mother’s Day, you have the amazing privilege of spending the day reflecting on why you love to be a Mommy. Don’t let the day pass you up without counting your blessings and knowing you matter. As I sit and think about it, because some days are more challenging than others, I realize I am so, so blessed by the three amazingly spirited young ladies I get to be the mommy to. Here are just ten of the thousand reasons I love being their Mommy:
- Middle of the night diaper changes and feedings. I didn’t love it every time, but it was my quiet time with each of my babies. Holding them tight, rocking them, looking out a dark window at the moon, praying, hoping and dreaming for them…
- Sidewalk chalk. I love spending hours in the summer sunshine with them, drawing, doodling and creating.
- Story time. Sharing some of my favorite childhood story books with them cuddled up to me close with their blankies tight and thumbs in their mouths, and now that they’re older, reading through young adult novels at the same time, amazed at their insight and understanding of character development
- Playing Candyland, and winning. Seriously, watching my girls struggle with winning or losing, helping them do either with dignity and strength. Pretty awesome.
- Waking up early in the morning and seeing their stuff all over the house. Really. Sometimes I just embrace their mess and am so, so grateful that it’s there. Their crazy messes and their non-perfect selves. I love all of it. And then I wake them up and tell them to clean up the mess they left.
- I love my kids’ friends; They bring so much joy and liveliness to our home. Watching my girls develop their own little tribes among their friends has been really fun. I love seeing who they choose to hang out with.
- Pizza Movie night. Every Friday. No dishes, no fuss, just hanging out on the couch with our family and whoever else shows up. Just to enjoy each other. Just to be together, even if the movie is brainless and the pizza is cardboard bad.
- Adventuring together. Getting in the car and driving until we find something interesting. We love walking out on Silver Beach in the middle of winter. Once Belle’s pink Ugg boot got stuck in the ice and the big sisters had to fish it out of the water. It was such a simple, silly thing, but it is a memory our girls have retold over and over again.
- Watching their little lives take twists and turns I didn’t expect. What they loved as toddlers they don’t love now. What they were terrified as toddlers brings laughter and hilarity now.
- Standing back and observing them love one another, stand up for each other and fight for each other instead of with each other. It doesn’t happen often, but to see them stand as a united front is one of the most amazing parts of being a mommy.
It’s not always easy, if ever. Being a Mommy is the most fabulous and challenging job I’ve ever had. From one Mommy to another, please know that on the hard days and the perfect days, and the mostly ordinary days, you are an amazing Mom. Celebrate yourself. This Mother’s Day, sit back, enjoy your new toaster oven and count your globby peanut butter blessings. And when no one is looking, go buy yourself a brand new dress and Mother’s Day pearls to match. You so, so deserve it and more.
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One of my favorite things about being a mom is how much I learn about myself and my husband is the process. It’s inspiring and sometimes uncomfortable but growth usually is. ~Renee Crabtree
I don’t know where to start. I guess I love that I have the opportunity to watch and help these amazing little girls become even more amazing young women. It is as if I have been gifted with a varied bouquet and each part of it is beautiful and precious in its own right. I love that in their late 20′s they still call me Momma. I love learning how to be an even better mom at each juncture of their lives. I love the hugs, the kisses, the tears, and the laughing. I love that God has trusted me with them for just a little while.
I enjoy watching them make decisions in their lives. Sometimes it’s difficult to watch because I *know* the outcome will be hard for them, but it’s necessary for building character. At other times I get to see their confidence grow with each positive outcome. ~Annette Ernsperger
I love the joy my children give back to me. Cindy Gray
This article appears in the May 2013 Edition of Michiana Family Magazine
Our family has traveled a lot together. I mean a lot. We took our toddlers to Slovakia, Austria, Hungry, and then Poland– all on one trip. When they were a bit older, we brought them along to India twice for a mission trip and research for our book. While these were phenomenal trips, trust me when I say that there is nothing glamorous about traveling with small children, and there is no place like home.
If you are a parent with small children, you know how important all their special “stuff” is to them. Special blankies, special socks, special teddy bears…you know you cannot leave your driveway without them without a nuclear fallout coming from your tiny tots in the car seat behind you. Packing and repacking all these special items becomes a full time list making job, and you know you have to check it once, twice, three and four times before you leave on your trip.
On one of our trips, we were traveling with about eleven other adults and our two small girls through the hills and side winding roads of Poland. I had done such a great job of packing juice boxes and animal crackers in their own suitcase for our trip, knowing they might be hard to come by in a place we didn’t really know. Maddie had her special blankie affectionately named Stringy because of all the strings she pulled loose over the past four years of every night of her little life. Our two year old Whitney was busy entertaining the van load of adult friends with little else to do than hang on for dear life as we drove the winding roads.
Then it happened. Maddie looked at me and said “I don’t feel good.” Immediately, our driver sensed the tone in the “I don’t feel good” and pulled to the side of the road. But it was too late. There was already vomit all over her lacy white shirt and all over Stringy. So we did what any good parents would do in a foreign country. We dumped the lacy white shirt on the side of the road in Poland. I feel so bad for littering in the beautiful nation of Poland, but, we were out of options. We were about to pitch Stringy to the hills until there was a loud pitched wail from a heart broken four year old. Someone dug out a bag, and we stuffed Stringy in it to be dealt with later. Guess what memory is the only memory our girls have of our Eastern European trip? The vomit and the lacy white shirt being tossed out on the side of the road.
A year later, when we had forgotten how difficult travel with young children is, we took a family vacation to Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom. Our hearts were racing with anticipation as we drove up, up, and up to the top tier parking level. The girls grew more excited at each character sign they saw. “There’s Mickey! There’s Ariel!” shouting together, while my pregnant self took yet another sip of the anti-nausea medication. Then, sullenly, “Daddy, when we stop? My head spinning”, from our sweet red headed three year old Whitney. “Just ahead sweetie…as he looked at me with deer in the headlights look. We both knew what was happening. I threw off my jacket and threw it on to her lap just in time for her vomit to spatter all over me, the jacket and her big sister. I am not joking when I say that one second later, big sister took one look at little sister and took her turn vomiting on my jacket and her little sister, and all over the rental car.
And this, my friends is the only memory our girls, now 14 and 12, have of our first magical trip to Disneyland. All that money, travel, time…all for one memory of vomit covered clothes.
While we have had too many mishaps such as I have mentioned, we have had countless memorable moments as well. While traveling with small children can be challenging, I’d like to encourage you and say that some of our best family moments have been on the road.
Here are six things we have done to keep our sanity while on the road with young kids:
- Have an anchor. Everyone, including mom’s and dad’s need an anchor to home. Something that will bring the comfort of home to wherever you are and whatever you are doing. For me, it’s peanut butter. For Maddie, it was Stringy…until a whole bag of her clothes got swiped somewhere in London and Stringy went missing forever. (Insert sad, dramatic music) We always try to put a glorious spin on Stringy’s demise — “At least he met his end in London, not in some random garbage dump in Indiana.
- Pack light. Keep it simple. You can rely on your wits to get you through a situation way more than you probably think you can. There is nothing worse when you are traveling than trying to juggle a thousand toys, books, movies, etc. while trying not to lose your children in airport security or on the luggage carousel.
- Let go of your need to control everything. Rides will be late. Blankies will be lost. Sleep will not come as you hoped. Let it go. It’s all a part of the experience. Your life will be fuller and richer for the memories you are making along the way.
- Easy Does It. Don’t over schedule your family’s daily activities. They (and you) will need probably more rest away from home compared to normal. Schedule rest time, or a day off from vacation while you are on vacation. Regrouping and getting everyone on the same time clock will ensure many more happy days of travel.
- Meet your own Needs. Take a little time for yourself every day. Even if it means waking up before the little ones. Make your coffee. Step outside and breathe in strength for the day. You’ll need it, and you can be a better you to your family if you are centered and strong.
- Remember, There’s no place like home. Traveling is great fun. But honestly, there will be about three things your children remember from those epic trips. And those memories won’t be those you’ve spent hours calculating and dreaming up. Home is comfort, a place of rest and peace. Home is what they will remember most of all.
This post appears in the March 2013 edition of The FAMILY Magazine of Michiana
Just for fun…here are the 131 books I have read from January 2012 until February 2013. I keep track of all my reading through Goodreads.com, and have taken part in the Goodreads book challenge for the past few years, which means that at the beginning of each year, you can set a reading goal for yourself and keep track of all your reading there.
You can click on each image to see how I rated the book and if it’s worth your time to read! I’d love to give you any recomendations if that is helpful. Happy reading!
I read 100 books last year. 110 or so really, but I did not finish about 10 of them because they were just that awful, so I won’t count them here. I read about 120 books in 2011. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “How do you find all that time to read?” I’ve been called lazy and that’s why I read. Inferences of others imply that I have a lavish life, that’s why I have time to read. I’ve also had people ask me if I do anything that matters other than read. All very interesting, loaded questions that I won’t answer here. But, I will tell you how I do find the time. Here goes.
- I hate television. I never watch TV, ever. Unless it’s the Today Show while kids are getting ready for school in the morning and I sit on the couch in between getting lunches made, signing papers, Stuffing random gloves in backpacks, etc.
- I loathe cooking. I don’t enjoy it–like, at all. I DO cook for my family on a daily basis, but I keep the cooking and baking time to the bare minimum.
- I’m not in a crafty phase. I do enjoy scrapbooking, but crafty time is not how I spend my spare time right now.
- I listen to books in the car. For whatever reason, I cannot listen to fiction books in the car because my imagination wanders too much. But, non-fiction books are easy for me to listen to, even while I’m grocery shopping. I just bring my headphones and stuff my Kindle in my purse and I am instantly transported into a place in my head where I am really not grocery shopping, but learning something as I am doing the dreaded task of grocery shopping. (I know, I don’t like to cook OR grocery shop. I am sure there is something wrong with me).
- I love to read.
- I have a passion to read.
- I cannot stop reading.
- I want to learn all I can from books that I cannot learn from what is my here and now. I want to learn from other’s stories. How they have handled obstacles, how they survived overwhelming odds, what their lives looked like along the way. I never want to stop learning from others.
- I want my spectrum to be broad. Living in the same culture for twenty years now, I never want to forget that there is a “rest of the world” that does not live like me or think like me.
- Reading makes me a better writer. When I begin to write about a topic, often I hear the voices of other writers inside my head (I know this is not normal either. ) These writers urge me to paint a story with words I would never normally choose.
Reading will always be a part of my life until the day I die. I find time to read because I love to read. People will spend time doing what they love, and I love books!
Over the past five years, our family has had the wonderful privilege of having our pictures taken by our amazingly talented friend Brittani. She is seriously amazing. And talented. I got so tired of taking my very opinionated and occasionally feisty girls to the mall to get their pictures taken by a stranger in a sterile, unnatural setting. The very first time we went out with Brittani to get our family pictures taken, I knew she was magic. She literally followed the girls and captured the smiles and unique characteristics of each of them the way I would want to capture them to remember for years to come. She wasn’t ever put off by their fussiness or feistiness, or this last time when Miss Isabelle insisted on wearing her silly glasses and flamboyant scarf. Brittiani totally went with the moment and captured it in a magical way–with joy and grace.
If you are in the market for a family photo session, I’d highly recommend Brittani. Her website is phenomenal. She does weddings and lots of other fun stuff too.
Check out this amazing deal:
I’ve been having a gradual epiphany of sorts. I know the words ‘gradual’ and ‘epiphany’ are sort of oxy-moron’s but it’s been a thought gathering strength over time. The thought ended with me staring straight into the Beatitudes in the Bible, Matthew 5. The words Jesus said,
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I realize that each of us is on a different spiritual journey. Some live their faith out loud for all to see. Some live their faith quietly, shyly, but very, very strongly. Those who live their lives the loudest with the most notoriety and attention are not always those living the Beatitudes the loudest.
Celebrate yourself, in your little corner of your world. Celebrate that you are living the way Jesus called you, in your own way, with your own voice. Your voice is strength in His ears. Your joy in serving Jesus in whatever way you know how is His joy.
Be loved. Be strong. Just Be.