Parenting 101 (part 2): Enjoying the View

Tonight, like every night, I will kiss my kids and tuck them into bed, and pray they don’t remember how I’ve failed them. I will lay in my bed, like every night, and think of how to be better, love better, be more present, be more prepared and ask myself, “how do I not fail tomorrow?”

The answer is the same. You are here. You are present. You love them. You are a good Mom. It’s not what you do. It’s not what you say. It’s that you love. And I love you.

I spent five days in the hospital, and by God’s grace He made me grateful for it. 
I saw the leaves on the trees. I was able to look above the concrete, from the elevator hallway floor-to-ceiling windows, and see creation.  

I saw people. Hurting people. Lonely people. Chronic pain. 100s cycled through; hundreds cycled through- just the NE wing: floor 7- in five days.

I saw my friends. I saw love. I saw compassion. I saw that I matter to a lot of people. I saw that I am not alone. As much as I believe that horrible lie, I saw that I am NOT alone.

I saw my husband. I saw how much he cares for our family. I saw how much he protects me. I saw his unique, individual, only-Joseph-shows-empathy-to-me-this-way love. 

I saw my kids. Not just their physical bodies. I didn’t just hear their words. By God’s grace I saw their hearts. 

When they weren’t even there, I saw them. I saw that my performance and parenting skills, at which I have often boastfully reassured myself to be good, does not produce mathematical results. I saw that there are not always answers to every question. I saw that I don’t have to make up an answer to every question when I can’t find one. I saw that my life that I define as “Crazy” is beautiful. 

I missed them. I missed the crazy that I often want to run and hide from. 

It was oddly bittersweet getting into those elevators; I knew I would not be able to stop several times a day, feel the warm sun peering through the glass, and see the view above the buildings. 

It’s amazing how quickly the images of hurting people leave my mind’s eye when the day to day tasks and frustration arise.

It’s amazing how all that I “saw” starts to become blurred by the distorted lenses of fear and doubt.

I am choosing to take off those lenses. I’ve done this before in other ways on my journey, but this time I don’t want to put them in their protected case. I want to step on them, crush them, destroy them, so they can never be worn again. Anyone with me?

Let’s take off the lenses of shame. 

Let’s take off the lenses of judgement. 

Let’s take off the lenses of doubt.

 Let’s take off the lenses of fear. 

Let’s let anxiety be the uncomfortable, itchy eye-sore we never want to enter our home, instead of wearing it like our cozy sweatpants we’ve had for ten years that we don’t want to get rid of.

And for those of you who don’t identify with any of this parenting stuff, love those in your life who might. Spend time with them so yours eyes see a little more clearly the reality they face daily. “See” them. Listen to them. Ask questions. Offer help with your hands not your mouth. 

Use your mouth to speak words of encouragement. If you start to judge, self-reflect. It’ll be better for everyone, including yourself! Maybe you’ll see the amazing qualities you have to be life-giving to someone who feels hopeless and helpless.

I Love this picture of my daughter and I hiking! 

This is friendship.

There are many mountains we will climb in this life. Let’s not kick someone in the knees and make them fall to their face. Let’s help lift each other up when it’s needed. Let’s walk side by side. Let’s find a walking stick to empower each other and strengthen each other. 

Find your people. Be that person to someone. Love even when it’s hard. Be the light that shines hope in the darkness not a magnifying glass to imperfections. 

Who’s in?

I used to say, “until my munchkins next nap,” but in this season the reality is my writing will wait, “until the next time I have an opportunity.” So in the meantime, surrender, smile, breathe, cry if you need to, kiss those you love, and find an opportunity to make someone’s day, not break it. 

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Do you ever feel isolated, depressed, or alone? How do you break it? This is what I did today.

Do you ever feel isolated, depressed, or alone? How do you break it? This is what I did today.

I started off this week super productive. After staying up late Sunday night meal planning to stretch my dwindled budget through the end of the month, I was up early for a doctors appointment. I made breakfast, loaded up all the necessities for me and my munchkin for the day (food, food, and more food), got him up and dressed and out the door. After the doctor, it was Costco, Target, Sprouts, then back home in time for lunch and nap.

Feeling über-motivated, I decided to meal plan for the month. I went Pinterest crazy with recipes and strategies. In the meantime, I made homemade chili with my best friend, Mr. Crockpot.

After nap I enjoyed an amazing afternoon playing chase, follow-the-leader, soccer, and rolling and dancing on the grass outside with my favorite little buddy, while waiting for “Daddy” to get home for dinner.

Following such a productive, fun Monday, you’d think I was set up for a successful week. Why then did I wake up tired, sore, sad, and sluggish?

Besides the obvious “I’m pregnant” response, there was something else wrong. All morning I battled this depressive and emotional state and nothing was fixing it.

I had a good breakfast and took my son to the park to get out of the house.

The empty park mimicked the desolate feeling in my heart. The family of crows seemed to mock my aloneness as they sat in the tree above me squawking and shaking the branches. It’s kind of funny now, in hind site.

Ever since we relocated for my husband’s work, I have eagerly sought out different locations to meet other moms. I so desperately need people in my life, as I think we all do, I’m just ultra-aware of how much I care about the people in my life.

Maybe it’s because from a very young age it seemed like every best friend I ever made moved away not long after. This taught me that maintaining friendships requires a lot of work on both parts. I have found that most of the time the other party doesn’t put in the same effort. I have also found that my very closest friendships DO put in the work. And we chase after each other if a few weeks have gone by without a call.

The hardest reality for me right now is that I haven’t connected with anyone in this new city. One mom and I connected immediately and then after a few unsuccessful attempts of getting together, she started back at work. Since all the other kids I see at the playground are raised by nannies, I thought I’d form some friendships there. We had some fun mornings digging in the sand with our little ones, until the parents decided preschool was the best summer option for their two-year old.

Eeeeevvvvery-once-in-awhile I see other moms with kids on play dates and wonder, “How the heck did they meet? It must have been “Gymboree” or “Mommy and Me”.

This morning I called my sister, who lives five hours north of here, crying because I felt so alone and isolated. I battled uncontrollable tears. In this crowded overpopulated city, where is everyone?

Have you ever felt like loneliness was drowning you?

It’s a weird reality that nothingness can feel like a giant ocean swallowing you in the waves.

As my sister and I often find in our conversations, I make the bitter comments about how “all the moms are working and letting nannies and preschool raise their kids” and she being a full-time working mom of two kids under three makes the comments about how moms who are home have “so much more time to get things done”…on and on go the differences.

Despite our vast differences, we both know in the depths of our hearts that we want the best for our kids, and each other’s kids; we long for our children to be happy, healthy, God-fearing individuals who love The Lord and want to serve and love others.

We talked today about how we all have different realities, but ultimately the only way to survive our worlds is relationship and support.

After our brief heart-to-heart moment we both scurried off the phone to chase our toddlers onto their next adventure.

I still felt empty. Really? Can’t this darkness just leave already? I have an amazing child to hang out with, yet I feel alone.

We left the park to do our little lunch and nap routine at home.

We finished reading and singing and I began to pray before putting him to bed.

It hit me.

Since he was a newborn, I have prayed the scripture, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper in the name of Jesus,” and we put on the full armor of God. Now that he’s older he’s able to repeat what I say and is learning where the armor goes. It’s been such a joy listening and watching him get excited about participating.

Today, as we said these things together God reminded me that “No weapon formed against me shall prosper!!!” This verse has power! Not only to protect us as we sleep (like we had just prayed), but that it’s God’s Word, His promise to me that when I stand in faith and in His reality, not my own, that the Enemy cannot mess with me. I am God’s child. I am protected under the blood that Jesus shed to conquer Sin.

I put my munchkin down. As I thought about this verse my emotion didn’t change, but I mustered up the energy to say those words out loud again. This time believing them for myself.

Do you ever feel so defeated that even the truth seems impossible to listen to?

Let me encourage you today. That was me this morning! I muttered those words once and the heaviness felt just a little bit lighter. I said them again.

I’m not going to over-dramatize the results and tell you the skies opened up, a light shined down and a beautiful choir started singing in the background… I will tell you this, the darkness left!!! To that I say, “Thank you, Jesus!” I am ready to face the rest of my day, whatever the reality of today might be. I’m putting a smile on my face, and doing my full-time job, the job and purpose God has set before me:

I am going to nurture the precious, little, miracle 19-month old baby boy with whom God blessed me.

I can only live my life, not everyone else’s. I can only pray God sends me wonderful friends in this new place and trust that He will, just as He lifted the darkness today.

In the meantime, until my munchkin’s next nap: Be someone’s friend. My life lesson for today: I’m going to stop looking for friends and start looking for opportunities to be one. I’ll start by smiling.

How much better do you feel when someone walks by and you actually acknowledge each other’s existence with a smile or “hello”?

Will you join me?
Will you commit to being a friend to someone?

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Control Freaks Anonymous

Hi, my name is Danielle! “hi, Danielle!” and I’ve been a Control Freak for 27 years.

Yes, thats right. I celebrate my 27th birthday this weekend, and given my 10 month old’s ability to assert his will, I know I blessed my Mom with this control issue from birth. Thanks for putting up with me, Mom.

Have you ever found yourself so frustrated at someone, and as you thought about the details you got more and more frustrated realizing the person has done nothing wrong, and you’re just a control freak?!?!

Okay, maybe it’s just me…maybe not.

There’s something about leaving my munchkin in someone else’s hands that makes me feel like I’m the only one who knows what he needs during the day.

This is ridiculous!! When I’m gone he’s with one of three people: his Dad, his Grandma (mil), or a close family friend from church. Each of whom he adores! My issue has nothing to do with competence, it’s simply, I’m Mom and “Momma knows best!” Right?

I swear to everyone that my munchkin is not on a set “schedule”, “I let him tell me what he needs.” Yet I find myself writing minute details, down to activity suggestions for specific times during the day, that I pray will be followed. I’ll come home and want a play-by-play, and as I listen, secretly I’m stirring inside wishing I could’ve done the day differently. Wondering how the rest of the evening will play out since I wasn’t here with him.

I know that every day is a new day with him. Every day does change. When it’s just the two of us, I do follow his lead and don’t force time constraints on him. However, I know consistency is crucial for babies, so I try to keep certain things routine like story time, walks, errands or park days, bath time, etc.

I’m embarrassed even as I write these sad facts. Please Moms out there, tell me I’m not the only one!

As I drove to work, I pondered who I could call and vent my frustration without sounding like an idiot. Then I realized I hadn’t done my daily reading. I open up my app at a stoplight, and read the following from She Reads Truth- Daniel (my son’s name…ironic?) By: You Version:

“What am I clenching in my fist that I refuse to see as His [God’s]? What is it that I long so desperately to build, to control, to call MINE?

Epiphany: Gasp!! My child!

Can this really be? Am I that much of a control freak that I’m not trusting God with His very own creation. My Baby, My munchkin, My miracle. I feel so foolish. Yet just as I’m about to beat myself up, I remember Grace.

I realize that just as I have to guide and redirect my munchkin’s steps to protect him, God does the same with me. When is it that we assume our learning is over? No matter how old, Daniel will always be my baby; I will always be God’s child.

I am on a journey and need to let go! I am not in control. You’d think I’d know this after being “redirected” as much as I have been in my life.

As hard as this lesson has been, and as much as I’m still frustrated over Daniel not eating as much as I feed him, I need to get over it! Or GOI (pronounced \’gōi\ or goy) as my husband and I say frequently with sarcasm (I think it sounds nicer, thank you very much). Oh…my..gosh I really do have an issue, don’t I? Now is when I just need to laugh.

Well, until my munchkin’s next nap: thanks for letting me share my heart with you! I hope my tough life lessons or “redirections” will help you find peace or guidance in your circumstances, even if it is just to laugh at my ridiculousness.

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On a side note, my mom and best friend, who I call my sister, are coming to celebrate with me this weekend. Keep an eye out for fun stories and pictures from our girl’s weekend.

Opinions: No one wants them, but we’ve all got them

Venting…Ready….GO! People are really opinionated! It doesn’t matter if I even know the person, people are ready and willing to share their plethora of vomit wisdom and knowledge even if you don’t ask for it. Scccrreeech!! Time for the breaks before I lose you. Can I let you in on a little secret? I am too. Eeeekk! I said it!

Ugh! So, I had an epiphany: the things I despise about myself, I am so quick to criticize about other people. I have, however, been on a mission to change my negative, critical way of thinking for a few years now, but there’s still pieces to chisel away.

This epiphany, fortunately, was a quick reminder of how important my support system is to me. I have those friends I call when I’m having a really rough day; those friends I can call on a great day who will be excited with me; friends I call when I need to vent about rude comments I get from people, like, “Enjoy your pedicure now, because once your son gets older this will never happen!” and they’ll give me some humor to lighten the mood; others who know when to listen; others who have the perfect wisdom, experience, and encouragement to offer like, “the only reason you care so much about what others say is because as moms we put enough pressure on ourselves, we don’t need others to do it for us.” They remind me, and all my opinions, to breathe, and see the good intentions in those “opinionated people.”

Then there’s my best friend, who I proudly call my sister, who knows which of the above I need and when, without me even opening my mouth. (Thank you for that, Em!)

Then there’s my amazing sister, who I call my friend, who also falls into most of the above categories. I love that I can call her to tell her about the goofy, awkward, overly concerned customer service I received, and she knows I’m not judging the poor guy who asked five times if I needed to talk to the supervisor about not being satisfied, simply because at the register I decided I didn’t want to buy that $40 bathing suit…and…we laugh!

Here’s another lesson on giving myself some grace: 1. For not being perfect, as much as I’d love to always be right, I know I’m not (shhh don’t tell my husband I admitted that); 2. For caring unnecessarily about strangers opinions, or anyone’s for that matter; 3. For giving my opinion when it isn’t asked; 4. For being hypercritical of myself and circumstances, trying too hard to control everything.

My friend gave me some great words last night, ” We aren’t meant to control balance every part of our lives, so why do we strive so hard to achieve it? Instead, we should wake up every morning asking, ‘what is my purpose for today?'”. After all, in order to achieve “balance” something’s gotta give. So why stress about it every day? Just let go! Ask God! Let God!

I was looking at my son’s precious prints and it reminded me. We’re all unique. We were given our own design to make a mark on this world. We have one life on earth to live out a purpose. Here’s my point: I want to be the person anyone can call for any reason and know without a doubt I will be the one to listen, encourage, offer advice (using wisdom to know when it’s warranted and when to keep my mouth shut). I want to help people; be a light to people, be a mentor, be a friend. I am a work in progress, but aren’t we all?!?

Until my munchkin’s next nap time:
I hope my transparency will help you find peace and joy in your circumstances! If you’re looking for that support system, I’m here for you. I may not have all the answers, but we can learn together. In the mean time, smile! It’s amazing what a smile will do.

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