Five Gems of Truth for Mothers

Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.

~Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm

 

For years, 34 to be exact, I have believed that the hospital I birthed my first son in, did me a great disservice by letting me walk out the double doors of their institution after my son was a mere one day old. Oh, they took care of me alright. They gave me ice chips during the birthing process. They had all the equipment needed, in working order, to deliver a healthy baby. The pitocin was running properly through the tube and into my system. It was a hard birth but it was a healthy birth.

I slept as well as I could after my baby was born and then the next morning it was time to go home. Everything seemed normal, but little did I know, little did I realize, little did anyone tell me that my whole life had changed the day before and I didn’t even know it.

I had a baby.

Not just any baby. But a real, living, breathing baby that got hungry and pooped and cried did all those things that real babies do. Not like the babies you get for Christmas when you’re a four year old little girl. Babies that don’t make noise and don’t poop and never get hungry. If they do, you just pretend to feed them. You pretend to soothe them. You pretend to change their diaper. And all the pretending works. But not with real babies. You can’t pretend with real babies. Real babies let you know if you mess up. Real babies let you know that their diapers are messy and haven’t been changed. Real babies will want some more to eat so they can fill up that diaper again and again.

As a new parent, you kind of expect all that to happen. That is the reason for baby showers. To prepare the unprepared. To prepare the ones who did and who didn’t plan for baby. Materially, anyhow. For the truth is – you can never fully prepare for being a mom. Or dad.

You can buy every little thing they advertise for the new little munchkins. From pacifiers, to cloth diapers to disposables, to itsy-bitsy onesies, to super soft blankies, to stuffed bears, to baby lotion… you get the picture. You can buy it all, or at least what you think you’ll actually need, and it still won’t prepare you for what is coming. You can read every book on pregnancy and every book on raising children and you will still be unprepared to some degree. But there is one simple fact on your side: you have never been a parent before.

This one simple fact may seem discouraging when it comes down to it. Except, again, for one simple fact: your child has never been a baby before. Nor anything that comes after. Be it a toddler, a preschooler, a kindergartner, a youth, a teenager, or………….

They will have multitudes of ‘firsts’ that will cause you to squeal with delight. Firsts that you have taken for granted and now see again, through their eyes, in awe. Firsts that you will have forgotten what it felt like to experience. Firsts that will leave you dumbfounded, amazed, frustrated, frightened, embarrassed, uptight, proud, and every gamut of emotion in between and beyond.

However, there are a few gems of truth in this life they call parenthood, or mothering, or fathering. Gems no new parent should ever be let out of the delivery section of the hospital (or the office for signing adoption papers) without hearing. Gems that need to be heard by new moms and new dads everywhere, in hopes of saving them moments, that can seem like hours, and hours that can seem like days, and days that can seem like months of discouragement, depression, hopelessness, frustration, anger, despair, and more.

Numero Uno… Remember, remember, remember – you have never done this before. You won’t have all the answers, so go easy on yourself. You get better at changing diapers the more you change them, just as you get better at setting boundaries the more you do it, just as you get better at extending grace the more you extend it – to yourself and to others. Practice, practice, practice. Extend, extend, extend.

Butt paste is hard to put on the first time. You’re afraid you will break baby’s butt by pushing so hard to get it to spread. Once you realize after applying it a few times that baby doesn’t even bruise from said application, it’s easier to do. You’ve practiced, practiced, practiced. You are an expert with butt paste. Just like you will become an expert in other things you once never experienced (in the land of parenthood).

Numero Dos… Your baby doesn’t know you are new at this. So you put the diaper on backwards. And who cares if you gave up on cloth and switched to disposable diapers? If your baby is well fed, is changed at regular intervals and when poopy, and is sheltered, your baby is being loved. And isn’t that the greatest thing, after all? Not what brand of shorts they are sporting, whether their polo shirt has a horse on the chest, if their shoes match their outfit. None of that matters and your baby won’t care.

Numero Tres… Lighten up. Let go of expectations you have put on yourself and (perhaps not realizing) your child(ren).

We spend billions of dolllars trying to make our children into little conformities of our own desires. We try to keep up with the Jones’s and in doing so our children miss out on the one thing they are supposed to be experiencing: Childhood. We are afraid of them getting their name brand clothes dirty in the sandbox. We fret over style when we should be teaching values. Let them be children. Let them get dirty.

Numero Tres... Mama said there’d be days like this. A popular song verbiage that has tremendous value and truth. You may not have heard those words come from mama’s lips, but every parent needs to know, “There WILL BE days like ‘this’. There will be days of frustration, days of feeling inadequate, guilty and ashamed. Days filled with weariness, wishing you could throw in the towel and drive back to that birthing center and ask for a full refund.

But wait.

It could always be worse. It really could. Really. That is not just a cliche.

Close your eyes and count to ten. Slowly. Your kids didn’t set out to make you tired and miserable. They are children. More than likely they are doing what they are supposed to do. Being children. However, they may be in need of some timely guidance. So give it to them, in love.

Without uncontrolled anger.
Without instilling shame.
With discipline that fits the misconduct and is age-appropriate.
With forgiveness.
And in love.

Always in love.

Numero Quattro… Things are not always what they seem, but if they are, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.

Some times, on those harder days, if you wait long enough before reacting, you’ll see the situation for what it really is – funny. When you finally get past the embarrassment of the repairman coming into your living room to your boys’ ingenious raceway made of connected Kotex pads (true story – not mine, however) and step back and look at how creative your boys are – eventually you will laugh. I promise. But, if for some reason you can’t just then and things only continue to pile higher and deeper and you’re not sure you can do another day, you need to ask for help. At the point of a sigh replacing your joy, you need a break.

Asking for help is not admitting you’re a bad parent. It is admitting you are human and you are being honest with yourself. The person too proud to ask for help will only make it harder for her/himself and their family. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Ask for help. Offer help, if you’re stocked up emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Numero Cinco… One of the greatest pieces of advice I ever received was from my first son’s pediatrician. This is what he said…

Dance with your children.”

A month ago I spent a week with my daughter. During the course of that week she gave me a precious gift. A sign that read: “This kitchen is for dancing.”

And that’s what kitchens are for. Dancing with those you love and cherish. With those you have forgiven and those who have forgiven you. With those you have experienced life with. They are for making memories. They are for dancing…

with your children.

A Few Gems for Mother’s Day

Tell them and they’ll forget.
Teach them and they may remember.
Involve them and they will learn.
~Benjamin Franklin

Falling for Leaves

Just as there is no warning for childbirth, there is no preparation for the sight of a first child… There should be a song for women to sing at this moment, or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name the moment.
~Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

They may forget what you said,
but they will never forget how you made them feel.

~Carol Buchner

I’m beginning to perceive motherhood as a long, slow letting go, of which birth is just the first step.
~ Sandra Steingraber, Having Faith

Hugs can do great amounts of good,
especially for children.

~Princess Diana, Princess of Wales

A person’s a person, no matter how small.
~Dr. Seuss

Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.
~Wess Stafford

Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.
~Lady Bird Johnson

Children are great imitators.
So give them something great to imitate.

~Unknown

There should be no yelling in the home unless there is a fire.
~McKay

If you have a child, your duty of the moment
may be to change a dirty diaper.

So you do it.

But you don’t just change that diaper,
you change it to the best of your ability,
with great love for both God and that child.

And it must be done,
because the duty of the moment
is the duty of God.

~Catherine de Hueck Doherty

Choose your words wisely,
for it easier to build up a child than to repair an adult.

~Unknown

Children are not people to be molded
but little people to be unfolded.

~Anonymous

Let children be little for they only stay that way for a very short while.
~Unknown

Children are not a distraction from more important work.
They are the most important work.

~John Trainer, MD

His little hands stole my heart…
and his little feet ran away with it.

~Anonymous

Every child is gifted.
They just unwrap their packages at different times.

~Unknown

‘Sometimes’, said Pooh,
’the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.’
~A.A. Milne

I adore his smile
I cherish his hugs

Being a mother is not about what you gave up to have a child,
but what you’ve gained from having one.

~Sunny Gupta

A person soon learns how little he knows
when a child begins to ask quesitons.

~Richard L. Evans

Never let a problem to be solved
become more important than a person to be loved.

~Thomas S Monson
There is no way to be a perfect mother,
but there are a million ways to be a good one.

~Unknown

How you speak to your child will become their inner voice. ~Unknown

I never pulled over the car just to stare at horses.
I never was willing to give someone else my last bite.
I never planned on handling someone else’s boogers
and I never listened to a song 50 times in a row.
I never found rocks in my dryer or had the power to heal
a wound with my kiss… until you.



A tired boy

Stupid Cat

I wrote this a bit ago, but thought you might like a laugh today…
I am usually not one to look down on people who use bad words. ‘Swear’ words. I don’t myself don’t make a habit of using them.
I grew up around bad words. I had an uncle I adored who swore with the best of them. He was really a sailor at one time, too. Go figure. He just wasn’t Uncle Dave unless 1 out of 5 words were cuss words. A ‘colorful language’ he had, some called it.
I never said bad words as a kid. I knew better. Uncle Dave could do it. I couldn’t. When I got married, I heard my mother in-law say bad words. The first time I heard her say them, I laughed. She had burned herself, I think, and this is what she said when the pain got the best of her…
“Bad words, bad words, bad words.” Literally. She really said those words. (And you thought I was going to tattle on my mother in-law, didn’t you?)
My granddaughter is learning to say bad words. She’s almost two now and the time has arrived for her to learn all the things you don’t want her to know. Like bad words. She likes to say the word stupid. It’s pretty sad because it’s one of the only ‘bad words’ the adults in her life say (besides the word dumb). You don’t realize how often it’s said ‘til you try to not say it.
Stupid cat.
This is stupid.
Stupid cat.
Look at this stupid mess.
Stupid cat.
Now Boo thinks the cat’s name is ‘Stupid’.
“No, Boo. We don’t say stupid.”
Actually we do, but we try not to.
My son couldn’t find his phone the other day so he asked me to call it. I did and when he answered, I was climbing into the car to take Boo home and my neighbor to the store. They were already in the car waiting for me.
“Hey,” I heard my son answer on the other end.
“Did you find it?” I asked my son over the phone.
“What?!?” he asked as if I were stupid or something.
Then I realized what I had asked him. “Never mind.”
I closed my phone and closed the car door.
“That was a stupid question,” I said as my neighbor laughed.
“Stupid question, gamma,” I heard a little voice perfectly pronunciate from behind me.
I did it again. Ugh. I wish I could quit saying that stupid word. I’m going to get Boo in trouble.

April 12th, 2015: This Week’s Offering

This past week, we had the privilege of watching our two oldest grandkids for a week while mom and dad went off to play in Hawaii for an anniversary celebration. I am certain we got the better deal! We were told we could spoil them as much as we wanted but though we tried, we didn’t have enough time to spoil them as much as we would have liked!

Grammy and clan – John is saying “Cheese”…

 

The week was filled with stories. Many we read, some we wrote, others we made for posterities sake. We took the kids shopping one day where they could pick out one toy and one outfit. Clara chose a girls’ Lego set – look out Uncle Mark! We put it together that afternoon. Those things are fun, no matter what age you are. She chose a pretty blue dress, whereas John was set on the Godzilla (“dinosaur”) shirt in bright orange. He opted for the dump truck/forklift combo in the John Deere section of the local Toys R Us. That was the extent of our ‘big’ shopping day and everyone returned home quite happy.

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Boppa and John

Every day included an egg hunt (at least one!), seeing who could blow the biggest bubble (the wind won!), and going for a walk. Every night was popcorn and movie night while we snuggled on the couch together, catching up on the latest Planes, How to Train a Dragon, Bob the Builder or whatever the movie choice was for that night’s entertainment. We sang along to Frozen, sat in suspense wondering if Dusty Crophopper would stall while trying to put out the fire, and wondered if Bob really would be able to fix ‘it’.

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After a wonderful worship service with the Cedar Hills Church, we were able to spend Easter with my mom and dad and cousin, coming to join us for dinner on Easter Sunday. The next morning we would be heading for home.

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It was hard to say good bye when Monday morning rolled around. Not a day goes by that a tear or two doesn’t drop when thoughts of those two, not-so-little-anymore precious kids wash over me. I stop and, instead of mulling over what isn’t meant to be, find the joy in what is and give thanks for the memories that we were able to make together. 

And  in the coming home, there awaits new memories to be made with our newest grandson, Finn. To say he is adorable, to say he is cute, to say he is awesome (to say the least)… well, I’ll let you judge. But the reason why I am so taken with him, is his personality (and the fact he may just have red hair like his mama). He is always so happy (especially when mom and dad are around). And this week took the cake.

You see, Finn has had a Grammy issue. He doesn’t like me to hold him. He didn’t want me to feed him. He hated me to change his diaper. I may, in fact, be exaggerating (but it wasn’t far from the truth). Until yesterday.

Yesterday Finn arrived with smiles, as usual. But something was different… He smiled at me! And it continued. He let me rock him and he fell asleep in my arms. He let me dance with him and we watched the birds fly by the window. He let me walk him and he watched the trees and flowers go by with me. And the very best thing was when I was taking him home. He was a little fussy – not crying – so I turned some music on and oh, what a treat!!! He sang all the way home! It was the same word over and over, (“aaaahhhh”) but it was music to my ears

God takes the broken hearts and heals them. How do we know this is not the song He sings over us (Zacheriah 3:17)? It surely touched my heart in a mighty way.

While on our trip to Idaho, we took a short detour to visit the beautiful Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in the town of Woodruff. Meandering through the outskirts of the main town, we passed several lush green farms, trees with ferns growing out of their trunks, and a gorgeous old church, its walls bursting with thousands of stories begging to be told. It stood across the street from an old school house, which boasted its own memories and stories of childhood days past. A familiar, old, steel gray merry-go-round and ladder slide stood ghostly still, vacated in the school’s play yard.

Shortly down the road, tulips by the thousand waited to be photographed and so I did what anybody else with a camera in tow would do and started shooting tulips. Reds, purples, pinks, yellows and what seemed every color under the sun were waiting to mesmerize the visitor and take your breath away. 

And so they did.

I am sharing some of the photos from our week up north via the tulip festival. It was short, but it was sweet. Enjoy.

 

This Week’s Offering

Heading south from Medford, Oregon, stands a fairly quiet and quaint little town.  Founded in the 1800’s, the city of Ashland began unofficially with just a water-powered sawmill and also a flour mill that stood along Ashland Creek, giving credibility to those who wanted to call this paradise their new home.

Ashland is known for its Shakespeare Festivals, the Ashland Hotel, wineries, outdoor recreational attractions and more, not to mention Southern Oregon University. But the greatest treasure I have found in Ashland is a not-so-small park, tucked away just off of the main road. And I mean, right off the main road.

Lithia Park boasts 93 acres of pristine and lush blades of soft, green grass, picnic area, blooming flowering cherry and magnoliia trees in the spring and colorful autumn-hued trees in the fall. In the summer, the playground equipment is in full use and the creek cools off tired hiking tootsies. 

In the early 1800’s, people from Ohio and Kentucky made their way to western Oregon, settling in this small area and since these settlers hailed from Ashland, Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky, they most likely agreed the best choice for a name was that of the hometowns from which they came.  With the opening of their post office, the city of Ashland became official.

In 1892, Lithia Park was started as an 8-acre project for a city of then almost 3,000. Ashland was the largest town in the county at that time and was growing faster than any town south of Portland, six hours north. People began coming from all over to visit and camp in what would become Lithia Park and drink the fresh, bubbling, lithium rich fountain water, now known as Lithia-water, right from the porcelain fountains at the entrance to the park.

Parts of the park have been restored and in 2014, Lithia Park was named one of the top ten Great Spaces by the APA. Parts of the park are stil undeveloped, which gives you the feeling of being out in naature, but also knowing you can stop for a slice of great pizza at Martolli’s Hand Tossed Pizza on the way back to the car. (Yum!)

I have lived in Medford for almost eight years now and have driven by Lithia Park a few times, strolled it briefly less times, but this week I have visited twice and plan to revisit it tomorrow as it’s nothing short of breathtaking. Especially now, with Spring’s buds and blooms opening wide to the fragrance of a new and bright season. 

As the cherry trees drop their petals in the soft afternoon breeze and gently land on the pond water like freshly fallen snow, the wood ducks that have stopped over on their migration north show off their colorful, feathered coats for all to see. A flutist sits on a bench inside the bandstand, playing classical tunes that echo out and through the wooded areas that are filled with cedars and firs, rhodededrons,  azaleas and more. A trail guide is available and one day I will pick one up to see all the places there are to behold, but for now I don’t want to miss what’s right in front of me. 

A Priceless Gift

a gift from God

comes unwrapped
placed into waiting arms
to be held
cared for
cherished
protected
and loved

time passes
it becomes easier
to take gifts
of any size
shape
or form

for granted

we forget
how precious
how delicate
how beautiful
was that gift
placed in our arms, in our care

we praise in one moment
possibly even praising the very gift itself

but one thing’s certain – 

we can easily
too often,

shatter and break the gift
in the next

without thought
without feeling
without knowing
without acknowledgement
without remorse

and oh – that so precious gift –

if it hasn’t died inside already
is slowly dying inside now

we must
tame our thoughts
tame our words
to bring life
to the gift and gifts we’ve undeservedly been given

a tameless tongue
a tameless mind
both reflecting a tameless heart
could cause that gift to disappear
choosing to run from the dark of night within
and the arms that once overflowed
now reach out in want 

and being raised by a village,
as some say,
we will all have to answer why
for the tears of one

Smiling As We Sleep

I snuggled a little LoveBug this morning while he slept. My head tilted and resting against his, I could feel him smile in his sleep, his cheek against mine. The feeling that he trusted me, could rest peacefully and in safety. He had his feet pulled up and was positioned to look like a little ball of cuteness. (Which isn’t hard for him to do.)

That’s Finn.

And that’s what God wants from us…

To snuggle into his chest when the horrors and happenings of this temporary life pounce upon us like a lion, who. tears at the flesh going for the heart. We are left broken, dying, done. Tears don’t come anymore. What was – no longer remains.

We can feel as if we are being devoured by things that seek to bring us to despair, deteriorate our hope, and diminish our faith. We want to curl up in a ball and shut out the rest of the world, longing to be held and have someone we can trust tell us it’s going to be okay.

And that’s what God wants to do for us….

To hold us close as we let go and lean into His care, His comfort – into Him. He wants us to know we are safe and that He can be trusted. To shut out the whole of the world and find our rest solely in Him alone.

He wants us to be like Finn, the little LoveBug. To lay down our cares, and press into the one who holds us safe and secure. Resting in Him, letting Him deal with the heartaches and the horrors of this life, which can allow us to smile while as we sleep, instead of waking up with nightmares. And I bet that, just like this Grammy, God smiles when we finally let go and trust Him as we sleep.