Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

This Spot


I’m sitting on our small couch, feet up on the ottoman, lights
out, Christmas tree on.  From this spot,
I can see the TV, the fireplace, outside through one of the small windows, the
whole living room – all of those things now quiet and dark.  From this spot I have rested, nursed three
babies, cried, slept, laughed, worked, and watched.
  Gazed out at children running around the
room, the seasons changing outside, and my life passing by faster than I can
imagine.

From this spot I have sat very still with three sleeping
babies in my arms (each at different times), looking down at their cherub
faces, curled up fists, and listening to their sweet sighs.  As I sat here in this spot, I looked outside
and observed every season change.
  Marveling
at bare trees showing fuzzy patches of green, bursting forth in swaying leaves,
turning gold, yellow, red and blowing away. 
Squinting hard to find the first snowflakes of winter silently floating
down.  Gazing down at my youngest child –
messy toddler hair sticking to her sweet cheeks, thumb in her mouth, hard sleep
weighing on my arm. 

In this spot, the moments of my life are performed before me
as I struggle to grasp them.  Snapshots
in my mind play out – if I am still enough to capture them.  Yet I am not usually still.  I spend less and less time here in this spot and
somehow, I am sure that I am missing it all. 
Someone please tell me it is not too late…not too late to sit here
quietly, smiling, holding on to these three.
 
For in this spot – this quiet, comfortable, ordinary spot, I have
experienced more life than I have ever before and wonder if I will ever
again. 

When It Is Dusk

I’m sneaking away from bedtime for a moment…two little girls
aren’t ready to quiet down yet.  And I’m
looking outside at this hot summer day ending…orange light reflecting on green
leaves and baking on orange bricks and turning burnt grass to gold and trying
to soak in the last of this day.  When it
is dusk and the day is ending and the night beginning is when I recall all the
things that are finite around me.
 
Littles only stay little for a time and they are growing in
front of me quickly and quietly yet steadily and my mind is changing and
shifting and realizing that maybe I don’t really know what I should be focusing
on. 
 
I look around at the living room strewn with forgotten toys
left after play…the kitchen with never-ending crumbs…outside with toys peeking
out of buckets.  My everywhere is full of
little lives and here is my own life that I’m not really sure I’m living – but I
must be if I hear them laughing and playing and jumping and hugging me…feeling
their little arms around me.
 
This life – the days run together into a quiet rhythm of
cooking and cleaning and picking up and folding and sweeping so that all of a
sudden it is dusk and I realize that a year has passed since I have been home
with them.  I wish I had something
profound to say – a way to hold onto this day as the light grows dim – but maybe
that is the trouble with me anyway.  I
always know what to say and when to say it and I’ve found these past months to
be strangely without words. 
 
I write best when full of angst and this year has been one
of the most profoundly peaceful and joyful periods of my life and like this sun
fading I’m holding onto it with dear life unsure of how to process it all to
say what it all means and to fold it deep into myself forever.
 
I can only be thankful for it all.  But isn’t thankfulness everything?  The first stars are appearing and I look up
to them anticipating the gentle night ahead.  

Working It Out

Today was not a good day. The kids were tired, I was exhausted. There was whining and crying and irritation and yelling and patience was absence and good manners had fled. We were left with the worst versions of ourselves and it showed in all that we did.

It was the typical ups and downs any of us would have in a given day no matter what we do. But for me, it just felt weightier. This job I do, it isn’t for someone else to profit from of which I get a small cut, it is for me, for our family, for our future, but most of all for them – these wonderful little people. And at times, I just don’t take it as seriously as I should. I become cold and unloving. I don’t hug or pick them up or read to them like I should. I focus on the tasks too much and the mothering too little and movies play too long and I start to realize that we are living only a shell of the life we should be living. It is overwhelming to consider the impact of repeating this kind of a day over and over and over.

Thank God in his infinite wisdom that he gave us night to rest and a new day to start again. So I’m looking at tomorrow in anticipation. There are no places to go, no deadlines to meet, no strict expectations except a day to be home and interact and learn and love and hug and be the best versions of who we were meant to be. I’m hoping that I can learn tomorrow what I want to live out in the days to come. Days that are quiet and purposeful and more than I could ever expect them to be. I’m working it out and God convicts me, but He is also gracious.

But for now, I bid you good night.

90 Days

Like many of you, I’ve had my share of jobs in different industries, with different schedules, and with a myriad of different expectations placed on me. But one thing each job had in common was the infamous “90 day probationary period”. That critical time where the company is supposedly watching you to ensure that you are worth keeping for the long haul.

Here I am now at home; formulating my own job, schedule, rules, and expectations and that 90 days is looming on the horizon. I can’t help but asking myself, what have I learned during this time and am I doing this job well?

 I have learned that:

  • A young toddler on the potty is not likely to stay on the potty, and neither is what comes out of the young toddler.
  • An older toddler that is potty training will repeatedly have accidents even when he is given the “rules” for what to do.
  • Toddlers who like to climb and open doors are likely to fall and/or escape.
  • The smiles and laughs of my children are the most beautiful sights and sounds I can and will experience in a day.
  • It’s the little moments of focused attention with each one of them that keeps them happy and content through the day.
  • Coffee with my kids is fun and insightful. (And don’t worry, not too caffeinated.)
  • If I demand respect in a loving way from my oldest, she gives it politely.
  • Trusting the kids to go outside on their own builds my trust in them and gives them independence they need to succeed in life.
  • Anything that can go wrong in the kitchen will. (But it has always been that way with me anyway.)
  • Dishes will always be dirty, laundry will always need to be folded, and there will always be crumbs and hair where there should not be. But I will not always have this moment to hug and kiss and dance with my babes.
  • Each day is a gift and no matter how simple must be treasured and purposeful.
  • I need to be thankful for each moment as they are slipping between my fingers like sand.

I’m not sure if I were to be rated by an outside, unbiased source if I would fare too well for this 90 day period – I yell too much and I get angry over silly things, but I always apologize and forgive and seek to be forgiven.

These 90 days have been a wonderful gift – something I will treasure in my heart in the days ahead as the seasons change and new adventures in mommyhood unfold.

The First Week

Thanks everyone for being patient with me while I was quiet this past week. You see, this past week was the first week I was home with all three of my kids in this new stay at home mom role. And what a week it was! Now, you are probably thinking I’m going to tell you about the highs and lows of last week – well, sure – that is sort of the point, but the first thing you need to know is how peaceful and quiet it was. I’ve been home with the kids off and on for many reasons over time – vacations, daycare shutdowns and illnesses, but there was something very different about this time – this week.

I shutdown Facebook, kept email quiet, and tried to keep my normal distractions to the bare minimum and I concentrated on just enjoying them. Focused on taking these little people in my life as they are in each moment. When my sister Kim first came home to her kids about a year ago, she told me, “You know how people say that there is so much you miss when you are not home? Well, there is SO.MUCH.THAT.YOU.MISS.” Her words cut me to the core and I couldn’t get them off my mind for weeks.

Here is what I missed:

Big girl Kayla telling me I’m the best mom in the world along with “nothing was fun today” nearly every day last week. This girl dreams big and wants that “super fun thing” to do every day. She is so much like me, I can barely stand it. I can’t help but love her.

Three year old Zach’s little arms around me saying “I love you mommy” along with “I want daddy! When is daddy going to be home – I don’t want you!” He’s definitely daddy’s boy, but I won’t let him get away with it – he’ll always be my wonderful boy.

Sweet Abby’s head snuggling into my chest before naptime along with the screams of pain from falling hard into the ottoman. I’ve never seen a cut and bump so large on such a little chin. But this is Abby in all her glory – all girl, all wiggly toddler, all fun, no fear.

The endless diapers – diaper ping pong between Zach and Abby – I’m telling you – it’s a conspiracy!

Explosive diarrhea – somebody had to have it, right?

Daily dishes.

Mountains of laundry.

Coupons to be cut.

Littles to love and kiss and hug and comfort and read to and snuggle and just cherish – no matter what, just to love in each moment.

I missed all those things.

While I know none of it is glamorous – it doesn’t matter. It all means something – it is all significant, it is all eternal. This week is the beginning of our new life and I’m ready and willing and able and most of all HERE, fully. No distractions, no other priorities – just HERE. Quiet, listening, peaceful, thankful for this wonderful gift.

On to week two!

Leftovers

I’m not a big leftover fan. There’s something about food past its prime, slowly rotting in small plastic containers that just doesn’t work for me. Oh, I try. Some leftovers work out just fine. Unfortunately, most leftovers don’t make it past the 4-day-in-the-fridge rule in our house.

Yesterday was a low point for me. I picked up Kayla from school and we went home as usual and I continued working – just like any day. Something went wrong with the items I was working on and I had to shut down interacting with her for a few minutes to “put out the fire”. Once we resumed working on her homework, my stress was at an all time high.

We went to pick up Zach and Abby from daycare. Things got worse from there – Zach could not stop misbehaving, Abby kept screeching and crying and doing stiff board tantrums. My fatigue got the best of me and I went into survival mode. We ate cereal for dinner (pop tarts for dessert!). I put on a movie for the kids after dinner and I sat with them and watched it. At that moment, I realized that what my kids get on most days is “leftover mommy”. Leftover mommy has already given her best for the day.

I put it in high gear to get out the door in the morning to get Kayla to school on time and me to work. I powered through the series of meetings, interactions, conflicts, and projects that consist of a typical day at the office. I rushed to get Kayla from school and then simultaneously did one home related project (a personal goal for each day) and continued working while helping Kayla with her homework. By the time I picked up Zach and Abby – the fresh, tasty, healthy, gourmet mommy was gone. Leftover mommy was there.

Leftover mommy shows up too often in our house – even with my best efforts to keep her away. Sometimes caffeine helps, but that likely causes “high-strung yelling mommy” to come out and she is much worse.

Even though I’m not always the mom I want to be, I pray that my kids see “real mommy” most of the time. Real mommy apologizes when she yells too much, kisses hurts away, hugs and loves even when kids are mad or sad, and does her best to care for their needs and let them know how much she loves them. Real mommy tries not to let the other mommies visit too much, but the truth is, sometimes they are there.

One thing I know for sure is that “perfect mommy” is never here. But I’ve decided I don’t like her very much. She is much too obsessive and critical to live with. It’s best that she not have the key to this house.

I know I don’t always have it together, but I’m thankful that the unconditional love shared between my children and I is strong enough to weather these different mommies. God’s mercies are new every morning.

What mommy (or daddy) are you today?

Lightening Fast

This journey of motherhood has changed me in more ways than one. I’m a person that loves structure, routine and predictability. All three of those went out the window when sweet Kayla Beba came along almost 6 years ago. Two more kids later and it continues to be a whirlwind of chaos. These three babes have made me a better person and I’m so grateful.

While we’ve established routines and structure along the way as they have grown there is still so much unpredictability on a daily basis – sometimes good – beautiful pictures created or new found skills, sometimes bad – never ending poo. What continually takes my breath away however is the speed at which this life is flying past me. It is a much more dramatic pace now as I watch these wee ones grow, change, and experience this life.

I was really good recording their milestones when they were babies and even kept a 1 year guided journal for all three of them. But now that they are older, I’m having a hard time keeping up with everything new and exciting that happens on a daily basis. I’m trying so hard to stop and take mental snapshots of these new things – Abby’s mischievous smile, Zach’s funny comments, Kayla’s dramatic stories. Try as I might, I can’t slow down these experiences – they flash before me lightening fast. I grasp at them in vain and leave with only a tiny glimmer of what they were. And even though it feels like it will never be enough – at least I have that tiny flash of a memory tucked deep into my heart.

We laugh and sing and dance together and I feel as though my heart will burst with love for these three. I push away the thoughts of the future and days when they will leave me and focus so hard on living in the now – capturing this joy. There will never be another day like today.

I’m so humbled to be in this place…this holy ground where God allows me to feel this overwhelming love for my children. I’m so thankful that I opened my heart to this possibility – to throw caution to the wind and allow them to live and grow in me and close to me.

One More Day

My coffee is cold, but I take another drink anyway and pad on over to warm it up. I look out into the living room at their faces – watching a movie…sweet and innocent – and I’m happy, content. I know that I am meant to be here for today, for this time.

Little boy – over the illness that put him down for nearly 5 days. He says, “I feel good today, mama.” I’m so happy.

Big girl – quiet and a bit warm. “I want to go to school” she says and then coughs hard and gets quiet again. “I want you to go” I think to myself. But in my heart I know that we just need one more day.

I need one more day…one more day to snuggle close to them, to let them know I love them, another day to pass this test of motherhood. You see, I get impatient and angry and I yell too much. I’ve been home with them so many days in the past two months and for some reason, I just can’t get this thing right. But a good friend reminded me today that Every day that you wake up in the midst of your mess and resolve, every day that you try, and yes even every day that you fail, your heavenly Father is proud of you.”

So I keep trying and each day there is small progress and I know He sees.

I’m here with them, one more day and who knows how many more and I will keep loving them and working on this patience thing and being a bit quieter and a lot more loving.

Holding On

She – round, dimpled face, messy hair, mischievous smile…running, squealing, trying so hard to talk.

Me – momma to three, watching my last baby growing so fast…each stage so bittersweet, holding on so tight…too tight, maybe.

Last few days…so.hard.to.face.

Not so long ago, she was born; so fast her sweet little head didn’t have time to become misshapen. Breastfeeding was as natural as if we had known each other our whole lives. The hours spent in my comfy place as she nursed…I watched the snow fall. Time slips through the hourglass and I’m in denial of what is so obvious…it’s all ending…one of the last glimpses of babyhood.

She would rather play and read her books…so opinionated in her arched back and fussing…toddlerhood embraced so soon…too soon…my heart hurts.

I swallow my tears…I smile and hug and kiss her…I let her go…those little wings starting to take flight…

My sweet baby, how I will miss our quiet moments in the half light, your content sighs, your sweet little face sleeping in my arms, so close…

I will never forget this time we’ve had together my little Abby. I don’t know when it ends, but I’m always here, my love.

My Sweet Abigail

To my Abigail – a very late birthday tribute.

I look in those deep, blue eyes and touch my fingertip to her dimple and watch her wiggle and shoulder sway across the room. This sweet, little baby is NOT a baby anymore, but a toddler?!?!?! I’m in disbelief…

I think back to last year at this time – sweet little bundle in my arms sleeping and nursing, waking me up at all hours, cooing, and snuggling, and smelling of sweet, newborn goodness. I look out at the same snow, quietly falling, darkness drifting in…

This little girl – the gift I didn’t know I needed…I can’t imagine life without her screeching and boisterous laugh, sweet little hands around my neck, pulling my hair, open-mouthed kisses that sometimes bite. So smart – pointing at what she wants, nodding and shaking her head yes at questions I ask – so staunchly opinionated about life.

My sweet Abigail, my life was not complete without you. I’m in awe of the gift that is you and I enjoy every minute we have been given together. In some ways I wish that time would stop, but it is so much more exciting watching you grow and become the sweet little girl God made you to be. I love you my sweet babe.