The Importance of Self Care

You know how people (wise people perhaps) seem to always say that you have to take care of yourself and that you can’t give what you don’t have?  You know what I’m talking about. Usually then they will talk about the importance of putting on your own oxygen mask so you can help others get theirs on.

Well, let me tell you a little secret.

I didn’t believe them.

Not one bit.

I used to think that self-care was for other people.  It was a good idea in theory, and it was certainly something I would recommend to anyone else.  It’s actually something I would probably insist would be essential to anyone wanting to live a well balanced life.

But it wasn’t for me.

If I’m going to be really honest, I then might say that perhaps it might have something to do with self esteem.  Perhaps I never really believed I deserved time for myself or anything for myself really.  I guess I believed that I just had to give it all away because I didn’t deserve to have it in the first place.

And I can’t justify that logic because really there is no logic behind it.

I remember the day actually that I first started to believe that maybe I should take care of myself and allow space for myself.  It was probably about ten years ago.  Out of the blue it hit me that I was spending my life helping other people.  I was loudly and emphatically proclaiming that all people deserve respect.  I prided myself on this belief. I believed this more than anything.

And yet I excluded myself.

Once I realized that, I realized that something needed to change.  I realized that if I was going to center my life around the idea that humanity was created in love by a God who loves us enough to die for us that I would kind of have to include myself in that humanity.  That to exclude myself from that humanity was actually a bit prideful and arrogant.  After all, who was I to say that I was set aside as the evil stain on humanity?

And so I went about the slow process of changing those harmful beliefs.

But then sometimes I still butt up against something that shows me how far I still have to go even ten years later.  A moment will come up where I take care of myself a way that I haven’t in years (if ever,) and I will realize just how much I have denied myself.  And I have denied myself simply because I didn’t believe I deserved the care that I believe should be afforded to everyone.  I didn’t believe I deserved to be treated as a real person.  I guess I didn’t really even believe that I deserved to exist in the most fundamental of ways.

And I think this is an easy trap especially for mothers to fall into.  After all, motherhood requires endless acts of self donation.  And it’s easy to get lost in those gifts we give.

But what I’m starting to realize is that to truly dedicate yourself to a life of pouring yourself out, you need be full too.  It must come from a place of strength, and it must come from at least an attempt at wholeness.

Because if we aren’t full ourselves, we aren’t really giving.  We are allowing ourselves to be taken from.

And it’s important to remember that because giving generates feelings of abundance and love while allowing ourselves to be taken from just leads us to feel depleted and empty and resentful.

I still have a long way to go.  I still have dozens of ways I dehumanize myself.  And I probably don’t even realize half of them.  But I’m open and I’m trying, and more than anything I would urge you all to do the same.

Make yourselves whole.  Treat yourselves well.  Remember just how very loved you are.

And from that place of wholeness and love, go out into the world and paint it with your love.  Let your sacrifices shine.  Make it a more beautiful place to live.

Because it is a beautiful world, and we are beautiful people.


Posted in Depression, Growth, Indisposable | 1 Comment

Trying So Hard to Do It Right (and coming up short)

Being a wife and a mother is important to me.  Very important.  It’s what I most want to succeed at, and it’s what I sadly most often fail at.

I had all of these ideas about this weekend.  We were going to finish getting ready for Christmas.  Our tree was already up, so all we had to do was decorate it and put up all of our other decorations.

It was going to be great.  We were going to have Christmas music on in the background.  The lights of the Christmas tree would softly illuminate the house, giving it a warm glow.  Afterwards we would have hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie.  It was going to be amazing.  We would all feel so close and safe and loved.

But of course it didn’t happen that way.  We couldn’t find the box with the ornaments.  The kids were all running around screaming, touching everything they weren’t supposed to touch.  The baby was cranky.  We couldn’t find the lights that I wanted, and when we found them everyone was upset because they weren’t the ones they liked.

It was a nightmare.

And I feel like I failed us all.

I try so hard to keep things running in this house smoothly.  But they never turn out as planned.  So I’m trying to figure out if I’m planning wrong, or if I’m not trying as hard as I think I am.

I’m the mom.  It’s my job to keep everything together.  To make sure everyone feels loved and comfortable and cared for.  To make sure the memories are made.  To make sure everyone has what they need.

And so when that doesn’t happen, my mind starts to spin out.  I start panicking.  I start losing my ability to get things done.  And I yell.

I try to be honest when I write.  I like to think that by being honest, I can help other people feeling the same way feel like they are not alone.  But it’s hard to be honest.  It’s hard to say that most of the time I don’t feel like I don’t stack up as a mother or a wife.  I worry my nagging and my snips and my yelling are hurting little hearts.  I worry that they will grow up not knowing how amazing they are.  I worry that they will hear my frustration running through their heads.

And I worry that they’ll grow up being lazy because they will see me not able to keep up with it all.  I worry that I’m not teaching them enough discipline if they don’t have to clean up after themselves some nights.  And then I worry that I’m expecting too much of them when I do require them to clean up after themselves.  I worry at meals that I’m yelling too much trying to get everyone to eat a balanced meal.  And then other days when we have pizza for dinner around the coffee table in the living room I fear that I’m spoiling them.

I worry about them at bedtime.  I hate the rush that always ensues trying to get them to bed on time.  It doesn’t feel normal.  It doesn’t feel calm.  It feels stressful and trying and tense.  And yet if I let up, then I worry about their sleep and if they are getting enough.  And I try to start earlier, but as early as we start, it never seems like enough time.

But most of all, I just worry that who I am will hurt who they will become.  I want more than anything to protect and nurture and inspire and lead them.  I want them to see how very much they are worth.  I want them to embrace the good that is within them, and I want them to feel confident to chase after whatever it is that they want to chase after.

But am I?  Or are all my weaknesses too much for my hopes and dreams to overcome?  Will they look back twenty years from now and remember the soft light of the Christmas tree, or will they remember the mom who was so grouchy because she was always so worried about failing them all?

I hope they see the good, and I hope I see the good.

Right now I seem like a really large hurdle to overcome.

Posted in Motherhood, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

In My Daughters’ Eyes

I was sitting on the couch rocking Tessie this evening when I turned on some music to sing to her.  I never sing well, but I sing much better with someone accompanying me.  A Carrie Underwood song came on, and as I sang along to it, Tessie started to get really relaxed and she just laid there staring into my eyes.  I still get goose bumps thinking of the moment.

In my head I started laughing thinking that perhaps she was hearing Carrie Underwood sing and thought it was me.  Perhaps that was why she all of a sudden became so peaceful.

But then I put away the self-deprecation for a second and I realized how utterly untrue that was.  I realized that it doesn’t matter that my voice can send all the neighborhood dogs running for the exit.  It doesn’t matter that people’s ears actually bleed when I try to hit a high note.

Nope.  To her, all that mattered was that I was her mama, and my voice is the voice she remembers from the time before she could remember.

I have brief moments like these, moments of clarity when I realize how pure the love of my children is.  But they are quick and few and far between.  More likely, the script going through my head is one of coming up short.  I play in my head all the ways I am failing my girls, all the things I do imperfectly for them, all the faults that I bring into our lives.

That’s a tiring head space to live in.

But then every now and then I get this epiphany.  I realize that my children don’t matter if I’m pretty or not or if I have a lot of money.  They don’t really care if I’m intelligent or witty, if I can cook well or if I can keep a house tidy.

While sometimes they might go looking for some of these trappings in me, deep down, all they really want is me.

And about who else could we possibly say that in life?

The world holds up a mirror and shows us our faults.  Our little ones hold up a mirror and show us who we really are, weaknesses and all, and let us know that we are absolutely accepted despite it all.

I’m sure this will all change.  I’m sure when I wake up and my girls are all teenagers, they will have a mighty detailed list of all the ways that I am failing them.

But still I like to think that deep inside, when you take all those wants away, what will be left is just a simple and pure desire to be with the one they knew first and the one who knows them best of all.

(And in the interest of full disclosure I guess I should mention that Tessie woke up as I was writing this and no amount of singing without the music would settle her down.  So perhaps she really wanted Carrie after all.  To which I say, sorry kid.  You are stuck with me.)

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Setbacks Are Not Destiny

A few years back I gave birth.  It was glorious and amazing and more than I ever could have hoped it could be.

And then it wasn’t.

I remember bits and pieces from that time like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  It’s hard to see the big picture.  It’s just snippets of pain.  That makes me sad, but it’s what I have.

The good news is that I healed.  The bad news is that once you fall that hard, it’s hard to stop watching the sidewalk for craters.  It’s hard to believe that another fall isn’t just around the corner.  The fear lingers.

So as I got closer and closer to giving birth this October, I started to get more and more apprehensive.  Those days seemed long past me, and yet their shadow lingered.  Would I again fall?  If I did, could I pick myself back up again?  What if?  What if?  What if?

And then I gave birth, and I brought my newest daughter home and all seemed wonderful.

But then I had a day that was a little bit iffy.  It was within those first two weeks when most of us have iffy days, but that didn’t stop me from panicking.  I was sure I had fallen again.  I started researching postpartum depression (as if I didn’t already know enough,)  I started researching support groups.  I wanted to dig my fingers into my skull and grab out those scary parts.  Since I couldn’t do that, I just overanalyzed them.  Is this it?  Have I fallen?  How can I be sure?

But then I woke up the next morning and I felt pretty good.  The shackles felt like they had been released from my brain, and I was able to function normally.

This happened once, maybe twice, more during those first couple of weeks, and each one was milder than the one before.  But with the third one, even I believed that it would go away if I could just make it through the day.  I knew I would wake up on the other side.

And now it has been six weeks since my Tessie was born, and I think it’s been about four weeks since I’ve had an episode.

The storm has passed.

And I’m here on the other side laughing a bit at it all.

I ask myself when will I realize that setbacks are setbacks?  That they aren’t destiny.

I’ve always struggled with believing the bad.  I always assume that the bad stuff is real and the good stuff is a facade.  So if I make a mistake or I struggle or I fall,  I assume that is me and that is how things will be.  And when I’m doing well and moving forward and meeting my goals, I assume it’s the fluke.  Eventually I will fall, the reasoning goes, and all will be back to normal.

But this experience about a month ago is making me question that way of seeing the world.  If we assume we are the negative and the failures, then won’t we inevitably find negativity and failure?  After all, what is the point of standing back up if you believe the fall is the destination?

And I’m writing about this in regards to mental illness, but couldn’t it relate to anything?  Couldn’t it relate to goals and relationships?  To health and career and family and friends?

In the end, don’t we find what we are looking for?

And now I see this tendency within myself – this tendency to see setbacks as destiny – but I’m not quite sure how to remedy it yet.  Because sometimes insight leads to change.  For me, the road is rarely that straightforward.  I’m a bit too stubborn for that.

And so I ask all of you.  What do you do when you have a setback?  How do you keep your eye on your goals when you fall flat on your face?  How do you move forward?

I would love to hear!

Posted in anxiety, Depression, Overcoming Depression | 1 Comment

Soft Spaces


Possibly my favorite children’s book is Angel in the Waters.  I received it as a shower gift when I was pregnant with Magoo, and I honestly thought it was creepy at first.  It’s about a baby in the womb who befriends his Guardian Angel.  Throughout his development, he starts to become more aware of all that is around him, and then eventually he is born.  Upon his birth, he gets confused because he realizes that Mom is a person when all along he had thought of her as a place.

It sounds weird, I know.

Just like Love You Forever though it grows on you if you have that unique mix of hormones and baby love.

Anyway, I was thinking about this about an hour ago.  Baby Tessie’s belly was hurting her a bit.  Usually when she is unhappy, I just nurse her and she is fine, but since it was heartburn, she didn’t want to nurse, and I didn’t think it was a good idea anyway.

And so I did the only other thing I know to calm her down.  I laid down with her on the bed, almost belly to belly.  She was all snug in her swaddle blanket, and she rested her little head on my chest.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  I watched as the tension eased out of her little body, and she drifted off into that gradual sleep in the way that only the newest of babies can do.

And I realized how much of me she was taking in.  She felt my body against her.  She heard my heartbeat.  She was inhaling me with every breath.  And I realized at that moment that I got to be a place to her again.  A source of comfort.  Home.  Peace.

And it’s moments like these that have always given me my greatest joy as a mother — the moments when I just get to be the something that soothes my girls and comforts them and brings them peace.

I think it’s perhaps that I’m always lacking in these things that I feel most honored to be them for my girls.  I’m often tense and anxious.  I lack peace quite frequently.  And when you are an adult, it’s not always easy to find equilibrium during those moments.  Reprieve doesn’t come easy.  But for a small child, especially a new baby, just a simple presence and a hug and maybe some kind words or soft music can restore that.

And I stand in awe of that gift – the gift of being able to give to someone else what you can’t always find yourself.  To heal the pain inside of yourself by easing it in another.  Of making the world of your child perfect if even for a moment.

Sometimes it feels so hard to make a difference in the world.  I guess it’s maybe for that reason that these moments are so special.  I can’t do a whole lot, but for these girls, what I have is sometimes enough.

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Overwhelmed about Labor

I love labor and delivery.  Those periods in my girls’ lives are some of my favorite.  Even though I always gave birth in a hospital, I remember those times as being intimate and peaceful and beautiful.

I get a bit protective about my labors.  I don’t want extra people there.  I’ve never even considered a doula because I’ve always wanted it to just be TJ, me, and any necessary medical personnel.  I had amazing experiences, so I never wanted anything to interfere with them.

But this also made me anxious.  It made me worry during the third trimester that things wouldn’t work out as planned.  That I would need a c section.  That I would never experience another one of those perfect birth moments.

And so I promised myself when I became pregnant with my fourth that I wouldn’t worry about labor and delivery.  If I need surgery, I would handle it in stride.  I would see it as just another way to bring my baby into the world.  I would find a way to make it beautiful.

And then I found out last week that my baby is oblique transverse, meaning she is lying at a diagonal.  And you can’t deliver a baby shoulder first.  It’s not one of those rare things or one of those things they just don’t think women are capable of doing.  The mom’s body is simply not made for it.

And so I started talking to my doctors.  They think I’m an ideal candidate for cephalic version which is where the doctor tries to manually flip the baby from the outside.  This doesn’t sound like a horrible option.  The problem with it though is that it is done on the day you are going to be induced, and at my hospital, they require you to have an epidural before it is attempted in case the cord prolapses and a c section is necessary.

I’m not a fan of completely sensation free childbirth.  I’m hoping the doctors would turn off the epidural after she would be flipped and I could go on with a normal induction.  But at this stage, I just don’t know.

And so then there is the option of other ways to flip her before we would get to that point.  My doctor told me about  So I’ve been trying those stretches to give her room to move.  And I spoke with a midwife at a natural birth location in my area and she hooked me up with a chiropractor who is supposedly amazing at flipping babies.  I see her on Tuesday right before my appointment with my high risk docs for my next ultrasound.

And that all leaves me here.  Right now.  Stuck in the complicated web of American obstetrics.

Because in some ways, I feel like I have very little control.  I see a regular ob and I see a perinatologist.  They make lots of decisions.  They have their idea of how things should be done.  And while I obviously have rights, a lot is also at their mercy.  And while I trust them and genuinely like them all, I also feel a need to be informed myself and make sure our interests are aligned.

And then there’s the other side of the coin, where I have most of the control.  It’s my body after all.  I can refuse medical procedures.  I can insist on things done differently.  I can seek out alternative or conjunctive care.

But the two schools operate differently.  High risk obstetrics and midwives don’t frequently have the same protocols or perspectives.  And you go out there into the world or into the internet, and you’ll meet as many perspectives as you meet people.

And I’m a people pleaser.  I usually do follow what I believe is best, but it isn’t without dragging around the shackles of everybody’s opinions to weigh me down.

And perhaps what all of this is showing me is just how divisive childbirth is as a topic.  We all like to say that women should be able to be informed and make the best decisions for themselves.  We believe all women deserve high quality care.  We believe we should respect the process of childbirth.

And yet, we really, really believe our way is the right way.  And we really do judge others based upon the choices they made.

Did they follow the doctor’s directions?  If so, why would they put themselves at the mercy of big medicine?  If not, why didn’t they do what is best for their baby?  Why didn’t they educate themselves and advocate for themselves?

In the end, women are kind of left to feel like all the outcomes rely on their choices while really having not that much control over the process.

I hope I don’t have to have surgery.  I hope I don’t need the version.  I hope (and pray!) that she gets into position on her own, I go into labor, and we pull this thing off without a hitch.  I hope to have another beautiful birth experience.  I hope it is empowering and peaceful.

But I also know that if I have surgery, I will feel guilty.  Not because surgery is a sign of weakness.  It’s not!  But because I feel like so many people will think that I failed them by not making the right choices.

And so I am sitting here with my head spinning and dozens of Google tabs open trying to make sense of things.

But Google won’t tell me the answers because the answers aren’t medical and they aren’t quantifiable.

The answer is that this is my husband’s and my baby, and this is my body, and we can make the decisions that work best for us.  And if that turns out to be a cesarean, then it is.  And if that turns out to be an all natural water birth in our local pond while howling ancient chants at the moon, then so be it.

If my decisions lead me to surgery, then I don’t want to feel ashamed about it.  I don’t want to feel judged.  And i don’t want to spend the last week of my pregnancy with my brain muddled by a million different opinions.

I’m intelligent, right?  I can make informed decisions, right?  And I can feel at peace with those decisions even if they are different from those of other people, right?

We need to make childbirth more holistic.  We need to stop it from the steady progression towards being overly pathologized.  We need for the medical establishment to make choices based on best outcomes rather than based on the threat of lawsuits.

But we need to respect women regardless of their choices and outcomes.  Because bringing a baby into the world is about a lot more than whether she or he enters it via a vagina or an incision.  It’s about nurturing that baby in the womb and then outside.  It’s about being a loving home.  It’s about sacrifice and self giving.  And from what I can tell, that can be launched equally well from a  bed, a pool, or a surgical suite.

But please do pray for me because while I am trying to accept all outcomes, I would still really like one last magical experience.

Ha!  And perhaps there’s my answer.  Instead of praying for what happens, perhaps I should start praying for the appropriate eyes from which to see my outcomes.  Because who cares what happens when half our reality is created in our minds anyway.

Good night my friends!

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Feels Like Home

It was the type of morning that I don’t particularly look forward to.  It was dark and rainy.  The little kids kept telling me that I was tricking them by telling them it was morning because it was so dark.  In between the taunts, they took minuscule bites of their breakfast making the meal last approximately 75 hours.

We finally got to the point where we were ready to leave, and my dog kept trying to run outside.  She’s terrified of storms, and she refused to let me walk her this morning, so all I can think is that she was trying to come with us to school.  Mommy has a new minivan, so there’s a strict no dogs rule inside of it at the moment.

We ran to the car in the pouring rain as century old houses don’t have attached garages, and we sat in the driveway for awhile as Magoo tried to get Mae bucked in her car seat from the back seat so I wouldn’t have to stand out in the downpour and do it.

And then it was time to go, and I looked in my rearview mirror, and I saw the most amazing three little girls grinning back at me.  The rain had made the whole morning an adventure for them and despite the lallygagging, for the most part everyone was listening and things were smooth and calm.  I turned on the windshield wipers and sat in the driveway for just a moment letting the storm wrap all around us as we stayed dry and cozy in our car in the driveway.

After we dropped them off at school, I turned on the radio, and “The Cowboy Song” by Garth Brooks came on the radio.  This was always one of my favorite songs.  I had the following lyrics from it in a picture frame on my desk in grad school.

“So when you see that cowboy, he’s not ragged by his choice.  He never meant to bow them legs or put that gravel in his voice.  He’s just chasing what he really loves and what’s burning in his soul.  Wishing to God that he’d been born a hundred years ago.”

It’s clearly not one of his most well known songs.  And my life has never even remotely resembled that of a cowboy.  And yet of all the lyrics of all his songs, this is the one that perhaps has spoken to me the most for many years.

You see, as an adult I never felt like I fit in.  I never felt like I was on the same wave length as the rest of the world.  I always felt out of place, and I always had a sneaking suspicion that perhaps I was more suited to life one hundred or even two hundred years ago.

I guess that I always felt that I was running myself ragged trying to live my kind of life in a modern kind of world.  The two just didn’t feel very compatible.

Outward, I didn’t look any different, but on the inside, I just felt like my pieces didn’t quite fit the modern puzzle.

And so when I heard those lyrics, my heart would flutter.  I would have an actual, visceral reaction.  They almost gave me a high.

And so when the song came on this morning, I was quite excited.  I hushed Mae in the backseat as I anticipated the words.

But then they came on, and I didn’t react the same way I had years ago.  They were still beautiful and perhaps universal, but they no longer seemed to fit me.

And I realized that perhaps for the first time as an adult, I feel like I fit.  I don’t feel out of place.  Yes, there are things that I would gladly steal from centuries past.  I think we would all do better if we lived more in communion with each other as opposed to parallel or even against each other.  But besides that, I feel like this life fits me.

Perhaps it’s just a product of being in my late thirties.  Perhaps we have paid some of the dues required to live life more on our own terms.  Or perhaps I have just found my niche.

I just know that for most of my life, when I would think about the future, I would look forward to it with anticipation.  I would look forward to more schooling or advancement in my career or a more authentic feeling career.

But these days, I’m just content where I am.  I’m happy with my little (or getting biggish!) family.  I’m happy using what little brainpower I have left over writing my words.  I miss helping others with their words, but I know the time to do that will come again.  And I love that my main goals in life right now are to seek peace and fulfillment and holiness while leading my family by example and by teaching.

My job right now is to literally make myself the best version that I can be so I can model that to my girls.  It’s to help mold and nurture the best little people that ever happened to me.  It’s to take my husband’s hand and move us all into the future with all its doubts and uncertainties and promises and wishes.

Life is full of ups and downs.  I’ve learned this the hard way just like we all do.  I just feel blessed right now to be in this phase of life with these people surrounded by the love and community we find all around us.

I pray that we all have moments and days and maybe even years like this.  Where life just feels right and we just seem to fit.

And since the title of this post just happens to be the title of our wedding song, I figured I would attach it for you all.  Complete with video from the movie, The Notebook.  Because as much as I might try to deny it, I really am just a sixteen year old girl at heart when it comes to movies.

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Election Despodancy

I don’t write about politics on here.  I think I might have written about something political once or twice.

I don’t really know why.  I guess part of me is afraid of sharing my views – afraid that people will reject them.  And I think it’s fairly certain that people will disagree with them because a) I am very passionate about them, b) I align with no particular political party, c) I’m very passionate about them.  Did I mention that already 😉

Eight years ago (and even moreso 12 years ago) I had a very clear idea of who I thought should run this country.  There was no ambiguity.  There were no questions.  There was no deliberation.  It was extremely clear.  I did not agree with the candidates on all issues, but to me, the better option was obvious.

But here’s the problem.

If you stay caught up on politics and if you believe that it really does matter and if you also believe in listening to both sides and weighing them carefully, then black and white starts to fade into grey.

We change.  We grow up; we evolve; we become, hopefully, more tolerant of ambiguity.  We look at other people’s opinions and consider their perspectives, and ultimately, some of what we believe will start to look different.

And that kind of sucks sometimes.

I remember sitting in a bookstore post 9/11 and reading a book of people’s quotes who agreed with me.  They were all so certain of the other side’s belief in their moral superiority.  I was certain in the other side’s belief in their moral superiority.  That’s all I ever heard – you are wrong and we are right.

And that pissed me off because in politics, there is no all right or all wrong when it comes to candidates.

But I remember being jealous of those on the other side.  I wanted their absolute conviction.  I was fairly convicted myself, but not on the level they were.  My convictions were intellectual.  They were emotional and moral as well, of course, and I still believe most of those positions are the moral choice.  But I didn’t have the absolute, dogmatic view that I was clearly in the right.

But now, over the past six years or so, some of my views have changed.  My views are more in line with those I believed had all the conviction.

But now I feel even more uncertainty.  Now I question even more.  And now I start to feel panicked and despondent.

What is a person to do?

In the end, I know who I won’t vote for.  And I know who I probably won’t vote for.  And which is which would probably be a toss up for anyone who knows me.

But it all makes me sad.  In a country the size of ours, with the talent and resources we have, with the intellect and passion and morality that shine forth every single day, why are we left to vote for two main candidates who almost nobody respects?

I thought I was going to share more specifics about my views of the candidates in here, but looking at it now, I don’t think I really want to.  I don’t think it’s necessary – I have nothing to say about them that hasn’t been said a thousand different ways.

I guess I’m just lamenting a world where being respectful isn’t a prerequisite for the highest office in the land.  Where character really doesn’t play a part.  Where candidates are forced to take specific stands on specific issues and we don’t really get any choices when it comes to any viewpoints that differ.

My girls aren’t allowed to watch either candidate speak.  I’m loath to think of what they might pick up from a single political speech much less a debate.

And that’s what gets me the most.  We do not have a candidate who I feel can speak for ten minutes without saying something disparaging about other people or groups of people.  I protect my children from politics just as I do from music and television with explicit messages and lyrics.

And I don’t think I’m odd in this.  I think many people feel this way.

And that’s our world.

Don’t we all deserve better?

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Well today, Labor Day, marks the end of the summer, and suddenly I felt the urge to write something about the impending end of us being a family of five.  I’m 35 weeks and 2 days today.  My earliest was born at 35 weeks and 5 days and my latest at 37 and a half weeks.  We could still have just under a month, but if that’s the case, this little missy would be the exception rather than the rule around here.

We took the girls to a park/farm this evening.  We had a picnic, they caught some Pokemon, and TJ chased them around the park for quite some time.  It was tiring and splendid.  It was the perfect way to end the summer.

I am getting really excited for this little one to come.  The more I get ready for her, and the more itty bitty outfits I organize (and organize again) the more real it becomes.

I remember this time during my first pregnancy.  It was late spring and the lilac tree outside of our living room window was in bloom.  There were tulips everywhere.  I would come home from work, TJ would grill, and I would sit in the rocking chair in her room and just stare at it all.

This is happening, I would think.  This is real.  One day, a very real little girl would be in my arms and our lives as parents would begin.

And now we get to do it for a fourth time.

Things are getting a bit better now, but for about 10 days there, life was a little bit painful with this little one.  Every step would send pain shooting through my legs and back and the contractions were getting stronger and stronger.  I didn’t know how much longer I could hold on.

And as I was groaning on my couch one evening, the miracle of it all struck me…

We had spent the majority of the years 2003-2007 trying to get pregnant.  I would cry before I would fall asleep, and I would dread waking up in the morning.  Things that I adored doing all of a sudden felt pointless.  I wanted a baby so desperately, and with each passing month, I was more and more sure that if we ever had a child at all that it wouldn’t be one that I would be able to feel growing inside of me.

I mourned that experience for many months turned into years.  It was a time of fear and uncertainty, hope and despair.

And then one random evening, the test turned positive, and everything changed.

That night was October 6, 2007.  And here I sit, September 5, 2016 waiting to welcome not my first but my fourth little girl into this world.

And I find myself trying to catch my breath whenever I think of that.  The blessings just seem too great, the gift too overwhelming to wrap my head around.

So I am sitting here in a flutter of excitement and nervousness.  The anticipation is starting to get to me.  And all I can feel is that I’m floating in a sea of bubbles composed of gratitude.

And my goodness does that sound corny, but are there any real words that can capture the blessings of our miracles?

Life will change in innumerable ways over the next couple of months.  TJ and I won’t be able to sit on a park bench relaxing while watching the girls run around.  We’ll be bounced back into the days of constant feedings and sleepless nights and round the clock doing.

But to be able to do all of that for all of these people is the greatest blessing of my life.

So many times people talk about children and the sacrifices they require.  People wonder why we possibly wanted to do this four times.  And all I can think is that the sacrifice is the joy.  We must dedicate our lives to something, so why not lay them at the feet of those we most adore?

I don’t know if it will be one day or one month from now, but soon I will get to hold my baby girl, and my heart will burst just like it did with her sisters.  I can’t wait for that moment.  But in the meantime, I guess I should rest.  Because one thing that times 1-3 taught me is that rest does not come easy to a new mama.

God bless you all, my friends!  Please pray for a safe entry into the world for my baby girl and a safe delivery for me.

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These Kids Break My Heart

Today was Meet and Greet at my two older daughters’ school.  It’s always chaotic.  Of everything school related there is, nothing triggers my craziness like bringing 575 different school supplies to school and then trying to sort them into all their respective receptacles along with dozens of other kids and parents.  Oh, and I get to do this all while trying to stop the wee one from destroying things.

Fun stuff.

But as stressful as it is for me, it is very exciting for my girls, and I always try to stay cognizant of that.  I try to hide my level of overwhelm until we get into the car and I can silently shudder all the way home.

Today I got home and I had five minutes to kill before I had to turn around and take Magoo to softball.  So I spent that time looking through the photos I took and posting them to Facebook.

A little while later, I was sitting on the bleachers during practice, and I went through those pictures again.  This time, they almost took my breath away.

Because this is Goosie’s kindergarten year.  Her first year as a big kid, complete with lunch box, fancy nap mat, and more glue sticks than your typical kindergartener can count.  And I knew she was excited, and I knew Goosie excited gives a whole new meaning to the term, excitement.  But still… when I saw those pictures, I was overtaken by the sheer amount of joy in her face.

And it broke my heart.  And it brings tears to my eyes even as I type it.

And I don’t know why I feel this.  I don’t know why my proudest and happiest parenting moments are also sometimes tinged with the slightest bit of sadness.

But they are.

I think it has something to do with their excitement and their innocence.  It has to do with the joy that can only come through childhood.  It’s born of the knowledge that one day markers won’t excite them, and a brand new sharpened pencil from their teacher won’t make them giddy.

Like everything with parenting, these moments of pure joy are reminders that this time is fleeting.  It’s a snapshot.  A whiff.  A deep breath.

Things here today will be gone before we know it.  Times will change and they will change. And as much as I desperately wish I could build a shield and keep in all that is beautiful and innocent and childlike about them, I know that they are meant for the metamorphoses their lives with take them through.

So I might mourn a bit in these joyous times.  But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying them.  It just reminds me to hold on to the present.  And it reminds me that when your heart stretches beyond its known limits, it’s bound to hurt a little.  But that’s how it grows.

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