Sunday, September 18, 2016


My oldest is a super social kid.  He typically has multiple playmates following him around, playing whatever ridiculous game he concocts, at every playground he goes to.  He’s only three, so everything might change, but at this point he seems like the leader type.  It is essential that I get this kid on the straight and narrow so he doesn’t lead other kids into crazy town. 
I thought preschool was going to be a breeze.  I thought he would cry when I picked him up and beg to go more.  This kid has pleaded to go to school for the last year.  He has been dropped off in multiple settings, without a problem, for a long time.  I’m the mom who throws my sweet lovely newborn in the wonderful nursery at church at week three.  You want to snuggle a baby?  Deal.  I want an hour without someone touching me.  Call if he needs to eat. 
Because I must have been due for my weekly dose of humility, Grayson threw me a total curve ball and preschool drop off has been awful.  Do I know this is normal?  Yes.  Do I care? No.  It sucks.  Having someone peel your kid off your leg while they scream for you and look like they are getting kidnapped by the boogie man, is just freaking awful.  When I go check on him 10 minutes later he is playing with the other kids, but he seems so timid and reserved for him.  This may not actually be reality.  It could just be the one way glass and my heart broken lenses I’m looking through.
Logically I know he is fine and this is a transition.  My PMS queen is reigning high this week and that B won’t move out of the thrown of my emotions.   I cried the entire car ride home last Tuesday.
Sunday rolled around and we had a rough morning.  Lots of time outs and lots of snuggles.  He kept crying that he didn’t want to go to church.  I honestly didn’t have one more emotional hand off in me.  So he came into big church with me…which was fine during the music but rough immediately following as sitting still or being quiet aren't really his strong suits.  So I grabbed Asher and we all left early.  I was pretty much ready for the day to be over at 10 am.

Being inside with my children on a hard parenting day is the pits.  So we went to a new park.  I tried to forget the small fact that we live in Chicago and soon this park thing will be a season of the past.  While I was not in a headspace to meet God at church, I was able to meet Him here. 

It was September 11 and the Salvation Army was putting on a multilingual church service in the Ampi Theater next to the park.  You could hear all the music while I chased around my two buggers who just needed a morning with their mom. The weather was perfect, and all the kids G played with got along so well.  It was 2 hours of redemption that I so desperately needed.

 I’ve been so hungry for a morning with my mom.  For someone to process all this preschool crap with.  Grief sneaks in when you least expect it three years out.  After I sobbed about the drop off last Tuesday I just continued my sob fest about the fact that my mom isn't here.   

I’m hoping this weekend can again be redemptive and fill my capacity for preschool drop off back up.  Monday Grayson bit someone (which is the first time he has since he was 1, so that’s awesome). Tuesday we did the peel off.  Wednesday he stayed begrudgingly without sobbing.  So Asher swept in and screamed for a solid 10 minutes about leaving his brother and the toy trains and tried to jump out of my  arms while I wrestled him out of the building.  So over it. 

Here’s to hoping for a weekend of nurturing moments that fill up my soul and mend my heart.   If anyone wants to join my support group at 9:20 Monday-Wednesday after pre school drop off, give me a holler.  I’ll make mimosas and we can all keep our sunglasses on.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Tree Tunnels and Vanity

As a vain pre teen I often found my mom annoying and embarrassing.  Did she always have to say the same thing at bedtime everynight?
Sleep tight.
See you in the morning.
I love you.
Did she have to leave notes in my lunchbox? I wasn't 5 anymore!
Why were normal things so fascinating to her?  I can vividly remember her making a huge deal out of the "tree tunnel" street.  I can't remember where we were going, but I know she would go out of her way get lost in the "tree tunnel."  I was not sure why trees that encompassed the road were so fascinating, but to her, they were.
My insecurities often held hostage my ability to question, explore, enjoy, and have fun as an adolescent. Never did I let lose and dance at a junior high dance.  What other people thought of me was significantly more important than any truth about my identity.  If I my peers considered me pretty, popular, and skinny, I was set. 
Junior high students don't have fully developed frontal lobes, and clearly mine was lagging.  Even thinking about this makes me want to go back in time and shake some sense into that little insecure girl.  I'm pretty sure my best friend almost divorced me in junior high due to the insane amount of energy I put into myself and my status.  Barf.
That same girl who was too cool for love and inclusion was the same girl that believed in Santa until 5th grade.  I never understood how our family could afford Christmas.  Santa was the explanation.
After much push back from my friends I asked my mom point blank about old St. Nick. I crushed a little bit of her soul with that question.  She knew it was coming.  She did a graceful dance about the spirit of Christmas that Santa represents, and how she believes in the magic of Christmas even if there isn't a fat man lording over toy making elves. 
I wanted to believe in the magic of Christmas.  I wanted my heart and my thoughts and myself to be bigger than my insecurities.  But in that season, the insecurities won more battles than they lost.  
Luckily my frontal lobe eventually caught up.  Life blessed me with some challenges to walk through.  My internal voice grew in size, as did my trust in it. Trusted people in my life spoke truth to me in a direct and loving way.  I have come along way from that insecure and self obsessed girl, and I know I have a ways to go.   
Today we were driving down a road that just happens to be a "tree tunnel."  I was explaining to the boys how much I loved this road, and how I couldn't wait to see it covered in snow again.
My desire to create magical experiences for my children runs deep in my bones.  My mother blessed me with magic seeking and grey hair genetics. 
Grayson then blurts out that he wants to see his big girl friend.  But he can't tell me her name because its a secret.  She loves tree tunnels and he wants her to see it.  He wants to give her a big hug, but she is too far away.  I ask him who he is talking about, and he tells me, "its her birthday next."  (We frequently talk about who's birthdays are coming up in relation to his.  First it was Asher's, then Jude's, then Grayson's.)   Never have I mentioned that it's my mom's birthday next.  It is on Wednesday.  
At this point the tears stream down my face.  I'm not sure how God gave my three year old the words I've been wanting to say for the last week, but He did.  
I too want to give my mom and hug, and experience the little things with her again.  What I wouldn't give for another birthday.  
I didn't probe.  I didn't ask for more.  I didn't want to ruin or explain away the little gift I had just received.  So instead I let the tears fall again, for the first time in a long time.  Life has gotten full, and I no longer need to grieve daily or weekly for the loss of my mom.  The wound is not as deep, and it doesn't sting as much.  
But today I remembered that its still there.  I miss her, so.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

On Children and Ego Shattering

I am not sure where I acquired the misconception that I was going to be God's gift to my children and them a gift to me. In so many ways they are special and wonderful gifts. In other ways they are awful and ego shattering. Please hear me out, and don't write me off as the worst parent ever.

My love for my children is fierce. I needed a good dose of humility and soul crushing. So God gave me Grayson. 
I often joke that Grayson was God's humbling gift to me. Its funny, because its true. 

This little politician is a riot, and he can win over almost anyone. He has no sense of personal space or volume control. We had a 14 year old girl move in with us for a period of time through an organization called Safe Families. Grayson broke the ice in about 10 seconds flat. It's hard to stay isolated when you have a persistent 3 year old banging on your door. He was essential in her feeling like a part of our home and our family and helped us to dig in and get messy, fast.

I know many little boys are crazy, fearless, energetic, and nutty. I love the dirt and the grime and the fact that my boys can play outside from sun up till sun down. 

But here's the thing I started noticing. Boys will be boys. But if lined up next to ten others, Grayson was usually the king of the crazy circus.

Jon and I have read articles upon articles about parenting. We have asked professionals within our circle for advice and ideas to help G succeed. To help him learn, listen, and actually hear us. We noticed that if we aren't ten steps ahead of Grayson, we were losing. 

Parenting is the most important responsibility we have. 

We have never felt so ineffective in our lives.

The host of my mom's group sent out a group text asking us to talk to our kids about taking care of their basement and toys. My heart sank. She was being honest, and I was immediately wondering what I had to replace. I was 99% sure it was something my kid had done. He is almost always "that kid." There are few places I feel comfortable outside of our home and the great outdoors. This group had been one of them, and I was afraid I just lost it. 

We have stayed with friends twice now while going on trips. I no longer will refer to traveling with my children as vacation because that is just utter bologna. Both times we stayed with close friends who we trust and love. Both times by the time we left we wanted to curl in a hole and never come out. Our friends may have not felt the tension and despair with the same intensity as us. Add some less that ideal sleeping nights on top of our already crazy children, and it was a recipe for disaster. It didn't help that Grayson's playmate was a typical rule-following first born. Sure, they might have to teach him to be flexible and break rules when he grows up. I have to teach my 3 year old how to not be a giant turd today. I wanted their problem. My insecurities glowed like a flood lamp in the night. My already fragile heart cracked a little bit more.

I have trouble faking it. Major trouble. I am a truth teller to a fault. So when people come up and ask me how we are doing, I want to tell them that my insides are reeling. I want to tell them that what appears like a picturesque family feels like a complete facade. I want to tell them that we are only surviving this season. It is making us question whether we are capable of a third child or adoption. I want to unload all these thoughts and feelings that flow through me like a babbling brook. They trickle in the distance and wash away the pebbles of joy I am trying to collect.

And then there are the good days. Like this exact moment where both of my children are playing with Play-doh on our back porch. No one is crying, no one is fighting, no one is screaming. And in this brief moment I feel like I nailed it, and I fist pump the air like I own this parenting crap. The good moments make me question how dramatic I am about all the hard moments. Why do hard moments seem to be much more frequent and significantly more powerful? I want to minimize the challenges we had just the weekend before. They feel like a painful reminder that I am not enough, and that despite my best effort I might fail.

And then I remember. Children are blessings. I remember that those big brown eyes that test me and push my buttons all day long were grown within me. They are mine to nurture and look deep into. Those boys' souls are ours to develop. It is our responsibility, and we are capable. I cling to the support God has put in our lives like I cling onto my postpartum fat cells. The friends I can be so truthful with and those who love our boys unconditionally carry me through the week. I am not alone. 

So there is this fine line we are walking, where we tell the truth about the hard days and the challenges we see in our kids. But we also allow ourselves to be completely overwhelmed by the joy we can find in the small moments. I celebrate every small victory by rewarding myself with some sort of dessert. Both kids napped today: cookie. Made it 30 minutes without someone in timeout: lemon heads. Rewarding myself with every little victory is rotting my teeth out.

I have never been more aware of my own soul's need for redemption. It was not my mother's heart attack or passing that broke me. Instead the sweet and spicy little gremlins I grew and delivered have brought me to my knees. As painful and challenging as this season is, I know we need it. I know our marriage will be deeper and capable of more as time continues to move forward. I know my patience is growing. At a snail's pace, but growing none the less. I know that I have to trust that God knew what he was doing when he entrusted us with these boys. He loves them more than we do. 

So please forgive my emotional vomit in the playground conversation. While your sweet, angel children take turns on the slide mine will continue to chuck wood chips in the air and pretend the sand is snow. I am trying my absolute best. And please don't tell me that boys will be boys. I know this, and I am still losing my ever loving mind. Don't tell me how fast this season goes. The years may go quick, but my days feel so long I should have 30,000 steps on this stupid Fitbit. Please feel free to sit with me in this mess, but keep the advice giving to a minimum. We are seeking advice from professionals. G has a sleep study coming up because he snores like a fat man. We have reached out to our pediatrician and have some next steps. We are sitting in the tender space of wanting answers and solutions. But we do not actually want anything to be wrong with our babe. We are getting advice from the experts, and what we need are friends. Friends that can not only tolerate us in this mess, but who can jump in with us. If you are a mom needing a friend who will let you say that parenting can be ego crushing and at times emotionally debilitating, I'm your girl. I will share my cookies, candy, and wine. I am sure the challenges will continue in different ways through the years as wee ones grow into big ones. But today I will sit in this space. I will give myself grace. I will divvy up time-outs equally between myself and my children. I will snuggle my littles when they let me and hold onto the pebbles of joy we collect on our treasure hunt. I will trust that God is creating something beautiful from what feels like a disaster within me. One time-out at a time. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

It's been a long time...

Cue Aailyah and Timberland lyrics.

I shouldn't have left.  I shouldn't have left writing.  I miss it desperately.

So despite the fact that I have lost any readership or credibility, I've decided to come back.

Now two kids later and completely humbled by parenting, I'm a hot mess and I'm back.  Maybe sporadically at first, but I am trying to dig in and get disciplined in an arena that serves my heart and my soul so well.  If anyone is still out there, I look forward to connecting with you again.  If not, I look forward to getting my heart again on paper to be able to better process and share my soul.