Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Unmaking

The past 18 years of my life have been a struggle. It wasn't until recently that I came to understand that this struggle was of my own doing. There are times when I find myself getting frustrated with my daughter. Everyone told me potty training girls is easy. Let me just toss my head back and let out a loud "HA!" This girl will be 4 in November and she wants no part of potty training. She will look us dead in the eyes and say, "Why?" when we encourage her to use the potty. No reason is good enough for her. She wants no part of it. There are times I find myself thinking, "She is so stubborn." Well, it seems she comes by it naturally. I can't help but wonder if this feeling of frustration is something that God feels when witnessing and experiencing my own stubbornness.

As I look deeper into my past I realize that the struggle started well before then. The age of 19 seems like such a pivotal time in my memory, but so much of who I am (or better yet, believe I am) started with childhood. Things people say, things they do, stick with you as you grow. These things help shape who you see when you look in the mirror. In college I struggled with my faith and my relationship with God. I began pushing Him away. I am honestly surprised He has any patience left for me. For the past 18 years I have cried out to Him, only to push Him away again. I told myself I didn't need Him.

I tackled things on my own. I was stubborn and even when I hit rock bottom I refused to reach out to God. I'm not going to lie. It was miserable. I have been miserable for nearly 18 years. I have been clinging to things that hurt me. When people would accuse me of not giving things over to God I would get defensive. They didn't understand. They had no idea.

The truth is, it doesn't matter. They were right. I was using that hurt as a reason to keep distance between God and myself, all the while longing to be near Him, to grow spiritually and to feel that joy that I once had. I used people who had hurt me as reason to not need God in my life. They were "supposed" to be Christian but they weren't acting like it. (How dare they!)

And what was I acting like?

Most days I felt stressed, miserable, and defeated. There was no joy to be found. I learned to fake it pretty well, though. Even a week ago, I was faking it. We went to church because it was the right thing to do. I wanted my children to go to church.

I can honestly say that my closest friends probably knew. Yet, they never made me feel as if I was doing something wrong, making a mistake, or left me feeling like a bad person. They also never left me. They stuck close to me. They prayed for me. They encouraged me. When they'd say they would pray for me, I'd cringe. When they talked about God, I grew uncomfortable. I knew where I needed to be, but I refused to let go of all the pain. I would try, longing to feel that joy, but then I'd quickly take it all back like a bag lady. I had held on to it for so long that the thought of letting it go was overwhelming and just not going to happen.

There came a moment when I couldn't stand it anymore. I fell to my knees and I didn't just pray, I cried out to God. I realized I had been hoarding sin, refusing to let it go. At that moment, I let it go.

That joy that I remember has returned. That hunger and thirst to grow closer to God is back.

The smile on my face is now real.

Nichole Nordeman recently released a song entitled, "The Unmaking." It's upbeat, yet beautiful, and it illustrates a moment that every one of us must endure.

"What happens now? When all I've made is torn down? What happens next? When all of you is all that's left? This is the unmaking, the beauty in the breaking. I had to lose myself to find out who you are. Sitting in the rubble I can see the stars."

Rubble has never looked so beautiful.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

True Beauty

I watched my daughter stomp around in her princess dress, tiara placed on her head, and pink princess shoes. She screamed angrily, "I a beautiful princess!"


We are told from an early age that beauty is on the inside, and while this should be true, it's not. It's a nice thought. It's a nice thing to say when our 3-year-old is screaming that she's beautiful and we want her to ACT beautiful. However, in today's world, outward beauty is what counts. You wear nice clothes. You fix your hair. You put on makeup no matter where you go. It was probably torture for my mom to learn that I attended many college classes make-up free and wearing a baseball cap. (I wasn't alone!)

The truth is, too often we define our beauty based on other people's opinions. You lose weight, people notice. You gain weight, people notice. We look in the mirror and we don't like who we see regardless of our pant size!

I have short hair. I LIKE having short hair. It's easier to fix and it's fun. I have had people tell me that they like it. I've had people tell me I'm crazy and women should have long hair.

If you're a mother it goes even farther. You have people trying to tell you how to raise your children.

Life would be so much easier if we didn't care what others thought. If we did what we wanted to do and if people don't like it then, oh well, it's not their life. Right? You can't make everyone happy all the time and while you're using all of your time and energy trying to make everyone happy you find yourself far from happy. What about YOUR happiness?  We need to CHOOSE to be happy. You like short hair? Then cut it. It's YOUR hair! You want to go to the store without make-up and wear a baseball cap? Good for you!  There is no law that states you have to spend 45 minutes styling your hair and putting on make up! You don't want to travel for every holiday because you want to start your own traditions with your children? Well, it's your decision to make and if that makes you happy, then go for it! Wait, you're not a size zero and you're happy with yourself? That's awesome! You ate an entire cheese cake last night? Well, if it didn't make you sick, then I think you're totally cool and I hope you enjoyed it!

A lot of us spend too much time worried about what others think.We spend too much time trying to keep other people happy. I'm not suggesting we become narcissists, I'm just saying that maybe it's time we started liking ourselves for who we are and stop worrying about what others think. Why do we care so much? I'm a people-pleaser. I have this habit of going out of my way to try and make others happy. They can criticize me and manipulate me, use guilt, even come up with crazy schemes just so they can get their way and I just take it.

It needs to stop.

It needs to stop for ALL of us.

Deep down inside we're all like my 3-year-old. We're all dressed up and just waiting for some one to tell us we're beautiful. Well, guess what?  You ARE beautiful!

Now it's time to believe it!

Friday, April 24, 2015

World's Okayest Mother

I have seen a lot of coffee mugs on Pinterest lately that read, "World's Okayest Mom."  Every time I see it I can't help but smile. We, as mothers, are all pushing forward, being the best we can be for our children. We are overwhelmed and exhausted, but we're doing okay. Right?

In my house we are all about feeding our children healthy foods. We "encourage" them to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. We don't eat a lot of processed foods and eating out is a rare treat. That being said, I currently have the biggest bag of Totino's pizza rolls that you can buy in our freezer. We have Pop Tarts and sugary kids cereal because while I want them to eat healthy, I also want them to be kids. A big part of being a kid is fun food like Cap'n Crunch, a cold soda, or a candy bar they get to pick out in the grocery check out line from time to time.

I make my kids clean their rooms. Their cleaning consists of straightening up a bit, shoving things under the bed, and tossing things in the closet. They come to me with smiles and say, "I think it's clean!" Most of the time it's not clean. There are comic books on the floor, markers strewn about, and Legos (evil, evil Legos). They stand, smiling, awaiting my reaction. "Is it clean enough?" The truth is they could spend ten more minutes cleaning it up a little more (and they know this or they wouldn't have thrown in "enough" at the end of their question), but I can see the floor now, and childhood is calling them. Yes, it's clean enough.

I drive them to therapies and appointments. There are days when I grow tired of hearing, "Mom?" from behind me. I find myself longing for quiet or the selfish need to be left alone so I can listen to one song while I drive. There is also the thrill of going to the bathroom without a 3-year-old chasing you down the hall shouting, "I help you!" (I wonder if her eagerness will remain in about 45 or 50 years when I actually might need help.  HA!)  There are nights when the two youngest gremlins keep popping out of bed to ask for help with a blanket or to complain about something. There are mornings when they are up too early and I haven't finished my first cup of coffee.

I spend my days doing laundry and cleaning, yet it feels as if there is never anything to show for it. The house isn't spotlessly clean and the laundry is still piled up, even though I do two or three loads a day. Most days there just doesn't seem to be enough time to get everything done.

My eldest states that he is tired of therapies. He should be. He's had therapies since he was 2. Sadly, there isn't a time in his life that he remembers NOT having therapies. Truth is, I'm tired of therapies too. There are days that if feels like a mundane routine. Yet, we keep going. We keep trudging forward.

My children don't wear ties and speak eloquently. They're not fluent in three different languages. My house isn't spotless. I don't vacuum while wearing a dress, heels and pearls and I don't have dinner on the table (homemade chocolate cake for dessert included) the second my husband gets home from work. I wipe Kaitlyn's snotty nose 20 times a day. I deal with accidents and bathroom messes. I clean up vomit and spilled food.

When my children are sick I take care of them. When Kaitlyn is struggling to breathe I hold her and we use her nebulizer. I read to them, watch TV with them, play with them. I help with homework and projects. I have awesome conversations with my boys. I try to teach them responsibility by giving them chores and saying, "I can't," just makes me want to push them more.

There is nothing special about me. I'm just an okay mom . . . and I'm okay with that.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why I'm Hard On My Special Needs Child

There was a time when I had to constantly say, "Use your words," to my Apraxic child. He would sigh in annoyance, take his time, and then speak. I honestly can't remember the last time I had to tell him to use his words. He does it on his own now. No more signs, no more gestures, no more tantrums. He slowly says what he wants to say. I stop what I'm doing, focus on him, and listen. 

When he tries to eat with his hands because using silverware is difficult we still tell him to use his fork. When he walks around with his shoes untied, we make him stop and try to tie them (even if it takes 5 minutes and multiple tries). When he struggles to brush his teeth, read, write, even hold a pencil, we keep pushing him to try. There have been numerous days when I've made him go back and brush his teeth again. He sighs or rolls his eyes, but he doesn't argue. He knows that trying is important. Practice makes perfect, right? 

I've had people tell me to just let him eat with his hands. "He's a child, what will it hurt?" I've had people ask me why I don't buy him Velcro shoes since tying is difficult for him. The zipper and button on his pants are difficult? Well, just let him wear track pants every day and then he won't have to worry about it. 

Sure, all of these things would make it easier for him and no parent wants to watch their child struggle, however it would hurt him more than help him. There will come a day when I have to send my special needs child into the world. It's not a kind world filled with rainbows and butterflies. Birds won't follow him around singing and he won't suddenly emerge in cartoon form into a dream land with no worries. The world is cruel and it will not bend over backwards to make my child's life easier. By doing that for him now I would be doing him a disservice. 

Am I hard on my special needs child? You bet I am. My job is to prepare him to go out into the world one day and to be ready. I do not want a 30-year-old son walking around with his shoe laces flapping about his feet, eating with his hands, shrugging his shoulders and saying, "I have Apraxia," just because things are hard. My dream for this kid is to see him succeed. To see him EASILY do all the things his little brother can do and hear him smile and say, "I have Apraxia, but I still did it!" He has his own voice and it is my job to help him find it and one day, when the time comes, go out and use that voice! 

So far, it seems to be working. He works twice as hard to do half as much and he's okay with that. He's comfortable with who he is and he has accepted the challenges in his life. He is happy, ornery, and has such a positive outlook on life! So, the next time you see me pushing him or encouraging him to try just one more time and you say, "You're too hard on him," I will smile and say, "Thank you."  I AM hard on him, but he'll be all the better for it one day! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Much Better Place!

First, I read about people bashing Kelly Clarkson because of her weight. Then I read about people attacking Pink because of her weight.


Do people not have lives? Why are we so worried about how others look or how much they weigh?

There is always that person who fixates on weight. You see them and the first thing out of their mouth is, "You've lost weight," "Have you gained weight?" or "You're actually keeping the weight off." These are the same people who will tell you they ran into so-and-so and "she's gained a lot of weight."

Who cares! Get a hobby! Worry about your own weight and stop fixating on others.

I have learned that those who fixate on other people's weight aren't the most likable people. I am raising my daughter in a world where she will always be under a magnifying glass. It's sick! People preach about how we should love ourselves, but how can we when we live in a society who frowns upon anyone who isn't sickly thin?

I was shocked to read that people were attacking Pink because of her weight. She's healthy and she's NOT overweight! Once upon a time Marilyn Monroe was the pinnacle of beauty and she wasn't sickly thin! How easily we forget. How sad that things have reached this point. It has become ridiculous!

Wouldn't it be great if we all saw what a person was like on the inside instead of focusing on their outward appearance?

For those who always point out other's weight and/or flaws, go take a long look in the mirror. None of us are perfect, physically or otherwise. It's time to start looking past outward appearances and start appreciating people's inner beauty.

The world would be a much better place for sure!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Positive 10

I was challenged (more like dared) by a sweet friend to post 10 positive things about myself.

10 seems like a lot.

The funny thing is, it only seems like a lot in reference to myself.  I could easily list far more than 10 positive things about my friends.

This seems like it might actually be a good thing, so in the spirit of positiveness (and fun), I'm going to just toss it out there!

After a lot of thought, here are the 10 positive things I see in/about myself:

1.  I'm strong.  (I feel far from it most days, but I wouldn't be where I am today if I were weak.)

2.  I have a heart for encouraging others and building them up.

3.  I find it difficult to mistreat or hurt others, even if it means hurting myself.  (Maybe I should say I tend to put other's feelings before my own!)

4. I'm a good mother!  (I have proof!  My gremlins tell me this daily, so it must be true . . . right?)

5. I can write a story that will keep your attention.  (Hey, not everyone can say that.)

6. I have naturally curly hair.  Be jealous!  Ha.  Most days I HATE it, but people pay money for curls, so I'll take it!

7.  I listen to what people tell me (especially if it's about me) and I actually think about it, it doesn't just go in one ear and out the other.  

8.  I'm small enough to ride on things with Kaitlyn and play with my kids at bouncy houses instead of sitting on a bench and watching.  That's a pretty cool thing.  (Sometimes it pays to be little! LOL)

9.  I have learned to find the bright spots in any situation.

10.  Life isn't always easy, but I'm still standing.

That wasn't the easiest task to master, but I did it.  Take a minute to think about what is positive about yourself.  We all have a little bit of awesomeness in us (that's why those who love us CHOOSE to love us!)

Some days it's just nice to see ourselves the way others do.  Trust me -- it's a cool thing!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Super Hero Chucks

Today, one of my very best friends told me to put on my Wonder Woman chucks because I am a super hero.

These shoes in which she speaks are a metaphor. The path I have walked through life has made me the person I am today.  It has made me stronger. I look at who I was at 19 or 20 years old.  Even at 24-years-old.  I have come a long way.

That young woman no longer exists, but memories of her are etched into my being.  They serve as reminders of not only how far I've come, but how strong I am.

No one understands your struggle as well as you do.  No one has walked in your shoes.  Maybe their paths have been similar, but they haven't walked it in your shoes.

Hold your head high and remind yourself that you ARE strong.

And never forget those who reach out and take your hand along the way, refusing to let go. Those who only make you feel loved and strong.  (Should they make you feel weak or bad about yourself, then let go of their hand. You only have two hands.  Reserve them for those who love you the most.  Hold tight to them!)

Never take them for granted.

Odds are, they're wearing their super hero chucks as well!