Category Archives: Motherhood

When Is It My Turn?

Starting my family (albeit not exactly on purpose. ahem) at the ripe old age of twenty one, I’ve heard all the popular lamentations of the benefits of young motherhood:

“Oh, you’ll never regret having kids so young,” my co-worker crooned, “Just think of all the fun you’ll have when you’re my age!”

Or, “You have so much more energy in your twenties, it’s the best time to have kids!”

And my personal favorite, “You just couldn’t wait, could you? Well, at least you’re getting it over with early!”

In the midst of a dinner-time meltdown, with the three year old whining because she doesn’t like her food, and the 11-month old crying out of exhaustion because she missed her nap today, my husband and I will exchange looks and smile a secret, distant smile that says “Yes. Someday, this too shall pass. Someday we will be forty and retired, our kids will be grown, and our sanity restored.”

Yup, someday it will be my turn to grow up.  To find out what I want to do with  my life, that doesn’t involve whipping my boob out every two seconds, exploding diapers, and endless rounds of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” (bet you didn’t know he had a zebra! Or a T-rex!)

Someday I will have time to myself.  It’s a goal all mothers, all parents, in some way or form, dream about.

But is it the dream we should be focused on?

Should the  “me time” be so important?

Well, for one, of course, it makes us better mothers.  It’s important to rest and rejuvenate, to understand what our triggers are as moms when we-just-can’t-take-it-another-second and need that break so we don’t scream at a toddler who really doesn’t get it yet.

But sometimes, I worry all my focusing on the “me time” actually reveals a weakness about myself.  A selfishness, a lack of realization about what makes life worth living.

The truth is, life is never free of obligation and demands that sap our time, energy, and mental capacities.  At any minute, we could lose a loved one or get diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.  I will more than likely be that mother who, at the age of forty-five, feels she has finally survived raising her family, only to look down at  a positive pregnancy test one last time.  The task of aging parents and health problems is one many of us will eventually have to deal with.

These things are not the anomalies in life; they are life.

My biggest hope is to face my responsibilities in life not with dread, not with the attitude of “when will it all be over?”, but with joy. Real, actual, palpable joy.

Life is so so short.  Why do we focus our energies on complaining about our children and the demands they bring into our lives? Why do I sigh when Ada wakes up in the middle of this posting and interrupts my blissful, early morning coffee and writing time? Why can’t I be happy to see her beautiful, sleepy face and princess-pink pajama arms reaching out for me to hug her?

I definitely don’t want be preachy, or unrealistic about how downright hard it is to be a mom.  We sacrifice everything, we really do.  Our bodies, our time, our mental energies drained into planning the next meal-up, trying to fit in cleaning while entertaining kids, fighting a desire to just have a minute of silence with the constant babbling and bickering of sisters.

I want to realize that those things are the things that make life, life.  The things that are little by little, breaking down a selfish, stony exterior to reveal a more loving, more joyful soul.

I don’t want to live in the attitude of “someday, my life will start….”

I want to live in the here and now.

I want to embrace all of it, whatever that may bring me.

Last night at the hospital, my patient’s daughter tucked her mom in and said good-night.  She pulled me aside in the hallway, explaining “We are really trying to help her learn to get through the night by herself…that’s ok, isn’t it?”

This woman’s family had been by her side almost 24/7.  Happily. Cheerfully. I had never seen anything like it, and I told her that.

She blushed and started stammering, “Well, it’s, you see…”

I realized she thought I was reprimanding her and rushed to explain myself, “No, no, I think that’s wonderful. It’s so nice to see a family taking care of each other.”

She beamed. “Oh, well, yes, I can do it, so why not?”

Why not indeed?

Taking care of our loved ones. Sacrificing.  A constant back-and-forth from caring for ourselves and for others.  It never really ends.

It’s my turn to find the joy in that.


What Kind of Mother?

I have never rocked my baby to sleep.

Are you shocked? Horrified? Disbelieving?

Join the club.

Since the moment she first laid in my arms, my Mya has resisted any and all of my attempts at snuggling.  I entered the hospital this second time around, dreaming of the sleepy aftermath of birth, when I could hold my sweet baby girl to my chest and breathe in that brand-new baby smell while she slept contentedly.

That didn’t happen.  Instead, she took to barfing.  A lot.  With a first baby who nursed happily through a time in my life when I worked the night shift and survived on gallons of caffeine, I had no experience with colic or a “fussy” eater.  One kind nurse, trying to be helpful, suggested we suction out her little belly, hoping relieving it of mucus would cure the problem.  Against my mom gut intuition, I agreed.  Mya ended up with a gashed throat from the suction tube, which we didn’t discover until her one-week check-up, when we realized, through our sleep-deprived comas, that our baby had not, in fact, been screaming for a week straight just to torment us; she was in pain.

Moms, always trust your gut.  Even in the little things. We just know.

So, she spent the first couple weeks of her life miserable from the sore in her throat. Then, I contributed to the misery with a double whammy of over-dosing on the coffee I had missed out on during my pregnancy while simultaneously eating cartons of fruit in an effort to get a jump-start on losing the baby weight.  She threw up everything she ate, every time she ate. Cringe away, but I will again remind you that my first baby had NO problems with nursing.   The whole watching-what-you-eat thing with breastfeeding was completely foreign to me. The caffeine I was able to figure out pretty quickly, but I can admit that it was news to me that fruit, especially those of the heavily seeded variety, such as raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries, are major gas/colic contributors in babies.  After the “oh, maybe what I’m eating is affecting her” lightbulb went on, I stopped at nothing. I cut out everything–all caffeine, dairy, fruit.   If you’re thinking of going non-dairy, I highly recommend Blue Diamond almond milk, Silk is better for soy.  I especially enjoy chocolate soy milk, and I guarantee you that a two year old doesn’t know the difference…

So my baby had an upset tummy for a while.  She never slept well because she was so miserable.  It was a rough couple of months.  Everyone in my family took their turns in doing laps with Mya on their shoulder. It was the only thing that calmed her.  I think that’s where it all began–somewhere in the ceaseless laps, in the guilt I felt for bringing the pain about to her, she learned that I was not the person to rely on to rock her to sleep.

Oh sure, she’ll go to sleep for me if I nurse her.  But try to hold her or rock her, and she literally stands on end, pushes me away with her chubby little hand, and bellows at the top of her lungs.  It’s utterly heartbreaking.  All I want to do is rock my baby girl.  The true wrench of the knife, however, is the fact that she willingly and happily snuggles and goes to sleep for my husband, my sisters, grandmas.  Basically, everyone but me.

“Oh, you’re just stressed,” my mom said, waving off my complaints, “She can sense that.”

Well, yes, I’m stressed. I can’t do the one thing that moms are supposed to be able to do–comfort my baby.

Right now, at this moment, my husband is putting her to sleep. I tried to nurse her and she didn’t even want that.  I tried to go in her room and hold her, soothe her, rock her.  I’m like a dog; I never stop trying for her affections. She swatted at me, arched her back to get as far away from me as possible, screaming.  Almost every night of her life, my husband has put her to sleep or she has cried herself to sleep.  I feel like a murderer admitting that.  I don’t know what I do wrong.

It breaks my heart. My baby will be in one in a month.  She won’t be a baby for that much longer.  I feel like such a bad mother.  Mothers are supposed to be the nurturers, the ones kids want to come to for comfort and snuggles.  I’m plenty comfy enough for snuggling, I can be sure of that, so what is the problem?

What kind of mother can’t rock her own baby to sleep?


It is Now Safe to Use Approved Electronic Devices

Last week I flew to Boston for work.

It was a great time.  I have never been to Boston, and the hubby got to join me, sans children, which is a treat in itself. Things got a little crazy in the hotel restaurant with some shady dealings involving ridiculously over-priced greasy bar food (hubby) and a misleadingly innocent white chocolate raspberry martini (my bad).  Being the old foogies that we are, we looked forward in anxious anticipation to our hotel, not for the magic of the marital bed, but for the even less rarely visited miracle of sleeping in.

Ahhhhh.

Pure, uninterrupted bliss. Hours to lounge and sleep in as long as we wanted. No where to go, no toddler in too-small pajamas flinging herself and her stinky feet into our faces. No cranky baby with crazy hair demanding food the instant she awakens. No breakfast to cook, dishes to wash, naps to conquer, or laundry to fold.

Just the downy softness of our previously inhabited hotel bed sheets. Yes.

So of course, it would be fitting that at approximately seven o’clock am, the emergency alarm in our room would sound.

Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. (Imagine here the most annoying sound in the world.)

Here imagine the hubs and I, after recovering from mild heart attacks, springing out of the bed with all of the agility one can muster in a chocolate martini induced fog.

“Attention guests. The sound you have just heard is our emergency alarm. There is no need to panic. If you hear the evacuation sound alert following this message, you are to proceed to the nearest exit. If your floor’s alarm does not sound, please await further instruction.”

Superb.

The so-called “evacuation alarm” for our floor (the 12th, awesome) did not sound after the message, but the alarm and lights continued to flash in a most reassuring way. Now, here we observe the difference in the male/female make-up.  Or maybe, just our particular make-ups, but an interesting study nonetheless.

Somehow, before I had even registered what the message had said, Ben was fully awake, dressed, and heading for the door.  What the? How is that even possible? And more importantly, where is that man of action at two o’clock in the morning when the babies are awake? (Just kidding here, actually Ben is awesome at night awakenings.)

While I took the alarm and comforting robotic message that followed to mean what it said…namely, not to evacuate, it’s just a precaution, and we should wait until further instruction, Ben heard “GET OUT NOW!!!!”  He was in full-on panic mode.  He tore around the room, throwing articles of clothing at me, screaming at me to get dressed.  I was thoroughly perplexed. I needed to pump, put my contacts in, gather up my luggage, straighten my hair…what was all the fuss about? I imagined some elderly gentleman pulling the alarm in the hall and the ensuing chaos that followed.  I highly doubted there was need for evacuation.  I am a mom, I know these things. We moms have a gut feeling when something is wrong. Surely, I had time to get dressed. Right?

The fire trucks racing down the street towards the hotel finally convinced me otherwise.  So I left the pumping, left the contacts, left my People magazine with the latest on Brad and Emily on the desk.  Somehow, this ended up as any other morning, with me stumbling about the hallway in my pajamas, half asleep with morning hair and bad breath.

Halfway down the stairs (we were on the 12th floor, remember?) they canceled the alarm. I hated to say I told you so, but I did.  The alarm was explained away as a “health concern.”  Elderly gentleman with chest pain, perhaps? Yup, told you so.  Ben continued to stay angry at me the rest of the morning for valuing my People magazine over our lives.  Point taken, but again, I remained firm in my stance that I would know when a real emergency strikes.

At least I hope so. After we got back to the room and I finished getting ready, I did start to get a little scared at my reaction.  Was I too nonchalant about the alarm? Should I have bolted out of the door immediately? I took the time to throw on my glasses, put on socks and shoes, even combed my hair.  What’s the right reaction?  Do you risk looking like a fool bolting out of the door in a bathrobe when it’s not a real emergency?  Or is the real fool the one who takes the time to get dressed and pack up, as I tried to do.

I realize that real emergencies do happen.  That people discount the severity of some emergency situations, and as a result, lives are lost.  But on the flip side, treating everything as an emergency and panicking, causing chaos and congestion on the stairs as everyone tries to exit at once, also can be life-threatening.

It was interesting start to our mini-vacay, and probably not one I care to repeat.  It’s weird how you grow older and things that once seemed so exciting and wordly, like traveling and staying in hotels, become inconveniences.  Is it disenchantment or just realizing what’s really important in life?  I remember being so exited when I was little about getting to stay in a hotel.  I actually have several journal entries about vacations we took…entries leading up to the big day, looking forward to staying in a real-live hotel room, excited entries capturing every detail of the trip.  Looking back, I think those visits were $59 Days Inn specials on the way down to Florida so my dad could sleep a few hours, but to me, they were magic.  It makes me feel sad and disgruntled that traveling and hotels don’t hold that same appeal anymore.

I still like traveling for the sake of getting outside of myself. For stepping out of my comfort zone and making myself get dressed, leave my house, entrust my children to their grandmas for a night.  I like feeling like a part of something bigger than myself.  I like people watching at the airport, imagining others’ lives, joys, and sorrows.

I don’t like the crowds, the germs, the emptiness I see in others, the loneliness of travel, the worry of what could go wrong.  Here is a chance to get on a tangent, so I’m going to go for it: I especially dislike those people on the airplane that shoot out of their seats the second the plane is stopped and pile up in the aisle, ready to pole-vault themselves out of the door.  If you are one of those people, seriously, what gives? Why can’t we all just wait our turns?? I explained my annoyance pertaining to these people to Ben at the start of our trip, and he gave me an all-knowing Mother Teresa smile and patted my hand. He would show me how it’s done. Patience and kindness, my dear, he assured me.  By our last flight, he was elbowing twelve-year old girls out of the way and shooting me looks of exasperation as yet another person from the eight rows behind us somehow managed to beat us out of our seats.

I don’t understand what the big hurry is.  If we all just waited out turns, let each row file out in a neat and orderly fashion, wouldn’t it be so much nicer?  But underneath  my surface annoyance at the inconvenience of waiting, what really bothers me about it is the underlying assumption that these people consider themselves more important than their fellow airline passengers.  They have somewhere important enough to be to justify cutting off half of the plane and holding everyone else up.  They have a laptop, Blackberry, headphone, Ipad, and whatever other sundry electronic devices people have to make themselves feel important. So get out of the way.

I do not have any of those fancy schamncy electronic devices. I’ll admit,  I am using a laptop right now, I would like a phone with a working camera, and I would love an electronic reader because I go through books like Mya does diapers, but I am also not apt to work anymore than I have to to pay for such items.  I also like to safeguard my time and myself from too much technology.  I worry about letting the computer, the TV, the ceaseless and mindless “entertainment” robbing our chance to fully live our lives.  I mean, there is even TV on our gas station pumps and in cabs.  Are we really incapable of just thinking our own thoughts while we pump gas?

I get that a lot of it is necessary and convenience. I would love having directions and Google at my fingertips.  It’s fine, if you don’t let it overwhelm you, if you don’t let it define you.  I just hate seeing all of these people traveling who hide behind their equipment, who are checking their smartphones the instant the flight attendant deems it safe to do so.  Is that really necessary?  I don’t think so.  I think a lot of the time keeping busy with all their stuff keeps them from being still with their own souls for a minute.  I know it’s scary to be completely by myself…sometimes I don’t like what I find.  The tortellini incident comes to mind…

Ben and I held hands, we talked, we read our People magazine during our flights.  (Ben pretends he doesn’t read those things, much like he tries to pretend he didn’t watch the Bachelor with me, but he is an over-the-shoulder reader. Don’t let him fool you. ) It was nice.  It was nice to just be quiet for a little bit.

Life gets too noisy sometimes. With emergency alarms, with babies, with keeping up with the latest Iphone.

You know what would help?

Sleeping in.  I should try that sometime.


Why I Run

I am a runner.

Wait…what’s that? What is that sound? Is that…stifled laughter?

Perhaps you need to excuse yourself and grab a glass of water.

Don’t laugh at me. So I don’t look like a typical runner. So my legs are short and stubby. So my upper half resembles Winnie-the-Pooh bear.  So I could be outpaced by my crawling 10 month old.

I still run.

In high school, I ran cross country and track. I was the laughing stock of the entire track team.  People would seriously laugh and point at me as I rounded the corners of the track.  Nobody laughed at me in cross country (well, besides my coach…) because nobody cared. We only had 4 female runners. You need 5 to qualify as a team.  So I ran free, no pressure whatsoever.  I loved running through the woods, around golf courses.  Oftentimes, I would find another straggler and we would strike up lovely conversations.  Apparently, talking while running cross country is frowned upon. Who knew? My best memory of running cross country was a race in Harbor Beach, Michigan.  It was so peaceful. It was a gorgeous, warm and delightfully breezy day, and the trail wrapped through the rolling woods and around the lake, sunshine glinting off the blue waves.  I loved it. In fact, I ran my best time ever that day. 27  minutes flat baby! Yeah!

In my typical track meet I ran a total of 4 miles. I was so slow, my coach put me in all the events that no one else wanted to run just to gain points.  This was not a secret. He openly told me and the rest of the team that I was a filler.  I would start off with the 2400 meter relay. I usually ran the second 800 meter leg.  There is a strategy to who runs which leg.  They put me in second leg, hoping I would cause the least amount of damage. It was hoped that first leg would gain a significant enough lead, while third and fourth could catch up from my shortcomings.  Then I would run the open 800.  Next, came the 1 mile race. And to finish it off, the 2 mile, a popular point-filler race.  In running the two mile, I again found out that talking during running races is frowned upon. In fact, I think it is downright illegal. I still talked to people. In fact, my proudest race is one in which I talked to a fellow runner, who was so distraught by her failures on the track that she was running and crying.  I talked to her through the whole thing, made her laugh, and challenged her to sprint with me to the finish line.  I didn’t let her beat me, of course, but still, she finished with a smile on her face.

To me, that what’s running is about. It is about challenging yourself.  When I run, it is a place in my life that I can set a visible goal and actually do it.  In the day to day, I feel like I am just surviving. Wake up, get the kids, get dressed, cook breakfast, clean breakfast, clean the kids, get the kids dressed, clean the rest of the house, lay Mya down for a nap, cook lunch, clean up lunch, play with Ada, lay Ada down for her nap, get Mya up, feed her, clean up, play with Mya, husband home, work, cook dinner, clean up, bathe the kids, put the kids to bed, work a little more, take a shower, collapse, do it all over again.

The hard part is that it never really feels like anything gets accomplished…my days are a lot alike, one running into the other. I love it, I do, but it does get a tad monotonous. The same things to do every day, and although it is challenging, it’s not always an invigorating challenge, one that you can feel like “Yeah, I did it!!”

Running is like that.

Getting outside, starting your run, feeling your muscles work in a way that haven’t in a long time, feeling the sun, the wind, the dirt, the sweat, your breath coming in ragged jerks. It makes you feel alive.

I like setting a goal and reaching it.  I haven’t really measured my road, so I don’t even know how far I run.  I set goals like “I will run to that blue house” or “I will sprint to that weird tree.”  I love when I am so tired that I feel like I can’t go on…and then I do. It’s a good practice for motherhood, actually.  When you feel like you can’t possibly get up one more time in the night, when you feel like you will scream if you have to wash your toddler’s sheets again, it helps to remember that, just hours ago, you were running.  You are strong.

I especially like the analogy of finishing strong.  No matter how much I suck at running, I always finish my run with a sprint.  I realize calling it sprinting is a generous term, but I don’t care.  The point is, I don’t let how tired I am at the end of the run determine the ending.  I determine it.  I run my heart out. And when I am done, I am left with the satisfaction of knowing that I gave it my all.  A nice life lesson, I would say.

Running is solitude.  For a mom, you know that is heaven. To just be by yourself for a few minutes, to hear nothing but quiet, to feel an inner peace.  I crave that solitude, always have. I’m kind of a loner person to begin with, but becoming a mom has made “my” time even more precious. I am thankful that I can use running as my time. Very convenient that I feel healthy, sneak some exercise in, and actually get mentally and spiritually recharged.

Yesterday I had a great run.  The weather was perfect. It was the weather right before a thunderstorm. I love that weather.  Of course, I enjoy pleasant sunny days, but there is nothing like the tumultuous weather preceding a thunderstorm.  The air is charged. I love it.  And it makes for superb running weather.  I gulped in the fresh air, feeling like I couldn’t get enough. Ada is sick again…she has been sick for like a month straight, I swear, and we have been cooped up a lot.  I felt wild to just be outside.   I ran by the lake, which is always my favorite part. I love water. I read a book once in which the main character is told that she must always live by water so her soul would never thirst. I feel like a bit like that. Just seeing water calms me.  I looked up at the dark clouds rolling in and I felt connected. I felt like I could feel the presence of all the people I have encountered in my life who have gone before me. Lily, the baby Maddie I have never met, even a boy in high school I knew who committed suicide. I felt with certainty that they are happy, and I felt that they wanted me, wanted everyone to be happy too. It was a great feeling.

I enjoyed my run so much that even after I set my goal and finished strong, I kept running. I didn’t want it to end.  I cooled down by walking to my house.  I thought it would be lovely to sit for a bit under our big maple tree, to stretch and just think. Prolong my “me” time for just a time longer.

And then I got closer to the house. I tried to pretend I didn’t hear it, but I did.

Both children, screaming at the top of their lungs.

I sighed.

Opened the garage door, to find my husband on the couch, attempting to contain both screaming children as they tore out of his arms.  The story went something like this: Ada had slammed the bathroom door on Mya in indignation when Mya had unassumingly crawled into the bathroom to see what her sissy was up to.  How rude.  Ben held Mya’s poor crumpled fingers and scolded Ada.  She was so distraught about her actions that she then jumped off the toilet and in the process, somehow stubbed her toe on the same door.

I took Mya from my husband.  She looked up at me, her little face pleading for me to understand the unrighteous plight she had just endured. I smothered her with sympathy and kisses and she buried her head in my shoulder. I felt her little body relax in my arms as she sighed, one of those lingering, ragged sighs after a good cry.

I will run again.


Tears & Tortellini

Made my shamrock cookies today. Yeess!

Actually, I lie.  I searched Meijer for a shamrock cookie cutter and couldn’t find one.  Still, I pressed on and mixed up some sugar cookie dough with the help of my two year old sous chefs.  Alas, being the crafty challenged momma that I am, I couldn’t figure out how to make shamrocks out of the dough.  Should I use a butter knife and cut the shape out? Should I use my heart cookie cutter and smush it around a little?

Pathetic, I know, that I couldn’t figure it out, but luckily for me, pseudo mom was in the house and came to the rescue. In case you are wondering who pseudo mom is, she is my cousin-in-law who happens to nanny for a little girl the same age as my eldest.  We hang out a lot, attempting to tired out the girls enough for some peace and quiet and coffee for ourselves. She also happens to be exceptionally crafty and creative.  She always has a Kleenex on hand and in true Mary Poppins style, can fit diapers, wipes, and a complete outfit change into a tiny compact purse.  Thus, I have dubbed her pseudo mom.  In some ways, she is a better mother than I, which is slightly embarrassing at times.

Like today. When pseudo mom had the brilliant idea to make the leaves out of cookie dough balls, and add the stem.  In technical terms, smush two balls together for the top, add one at the bottom so it resembles Mickey Mouse, and then shape a stem.  Why I couldn’t think of that on my own, I have no idea. But there it is.

I was glad today was a good day.  We made cookies, played outside, and had a nice relaxed day.  It was really great, because yesterday…was…not..a..good..day. At all.

Eldest child Ada didn’t really start out doing anything majorly wrong per se.  I was really stressed out with work and it was just one of those days when I felt like I couldn’t take a single more second of her whining.  One of those days when every little thing she did just grated my nerves.  She has a slight cold, so her boogers are everywhere.  She has taken to the annoying habit of just tapping her fork/spoon/utensil of choice on the table with every meal, waiting for the moment when I explode.  She has an abnormally small bladder and has to pee every two seconds, usually at the exact moment I sit down to feed Mya. She wants to do make-up. She wants me to paint her nails. She wants to go outside. She wants to go in the basement and play, but not alone, I have to go with her.  She has to pee. She wants to watch cartoons. She has to pee again.  And so on and so forth.

So I wasn’t in a great mood to start out with.  Maybe I was a little short with her. Maybe I irrationally snapped at her to stop banging her spoon or I would throw it in the trash.  Maybe I sighed in exasperation when she had to pee for the billionth time that morning. Yes, maybe I contributed to what was about to happen….

It all started with some noodles.

Ada has an obsession with tortellini noodles. I keep a bag or so handy, finding it to be a nice and quick side dish for dinner.  They take literally minutes to cook and make me feel fancy. Plus, they are frozen,  making it easy to stock up when they go on sale.  What started out as a side dish with our steaks one night morphed into an all out obsession on Ada’s part. Every day she wants tortellini noodles for lunch.  Most days, she even asks for them for breakfast.

That day, I happened to know that there were only a few scattered noodles left in the bag. Not enough for a full lunch, just enough to leave the monster hungry for more. Being the naive mother that I am, I thought I could outsmart Ada and suggested she have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch instead.  She protested.  She cried. She kicked. She screamed.

“There are no more noodles left, Ada” I said smugly, crossing my arms and feeling pleased with myself.

Before I could stop her, she whipped open the freezer door and extracted the noodles from my not-so-clever hiding place behind the hamburger.

Crap.

The details get fuzzy after that.  All I can vaguely remember is that there was much screaming, much crying, that somewhere in the midst of all this, Mya woke up with a poopy diaper that had exploded, my work phone started ringing, and I totally lost it.  At one point, I had to lock Ada in her room and I sat on the steps outside of her room, holding a crying baby, listening to my toddler throwing the tantrum of the century, and all I wanted to do was run away.

I knew that I was not being in control. I knew that I was just being impatient and irrational to start out with.  I knew that I could have handled things way better than I did.

And knowing all that just made me feel worse.

I wish I could say my guilt and realization made me snap out of it. But it didn’t. Even after Ada calmed down and finished her lunch (yes, she ate the noodles, don’t judge me) I continued to be grumpy.

Do you ever watch those shows or hear those stories about people doing amazing things, like chewing off their own limbs to survive or lifting up cars to save a trapped toddler? You think…yeah, I could do that. If it really counted, I could be heroic.

But you know what’s really heroic?

Someone who can keep their cool when they are trapped at home with small children. Someone who will not get sucked into arguing with their two year old over tortellini noodles.  Someone who will not sigh when their toddler has to pee 700 times a day.  Someone who can always answer “Why Mama?” kindly and patiently.

One of the hardest parts about being a mom, especially a stay at home mom, is that you really get to know yourself.  There is no one to blame but yourself, no one to rely on but you.  Alone all day with no other adults, you come face to face with you–in all your weaknesses.  And that can be a very scary thing.  To realize that all it takes is tortellini to break you down into a screaming, crying, loathsome mess.

And then there was tonight. When I tucked my daughter into bed, after a day of playing and cookie making, and she hugged me close and said “I wuv you Mama. I never leave you in the whole wide world.”

Tomorrow I will do better.

And buy more tortellini.


First Ladies of Fashion

Michelle’s arms.

Kate’s hat.

Two of the most powerful women in the world–one the leader of the United States (we all know that the wife is really in charge), one the future Queen of England.

And all we can talk about is their clothes?

Help me to understand why we do this.  Never in a million years do we hear about what the President is wearing, how “saucy” the feather on his hat is, or how “bold” his sweater color choice is. (Ok, maybe there was some talk of him wearing shorts, but still…)

Why are women judged so much by appearance? And more importantly, why do we women do the judging?

We are all guilty of it. Admit it, you’ve done it. I know I have.  Even surfing my mommy blogs, I always click to the “about” page to get a good glimpse of who is blogging.  “Oh ok, maybe she is a better writer than I am, but my hair is way better.” (A totally hypothetical example, as my hair always looks terrible. Curse my flat head).

I think stay-at-home moms are the worst.  As “non-productive” members of society, we feel the world is judging us constantly; and we in turn, judge other moms, other women. And what’s easier to judge on that the way we look? It’s a quick way to compare ourselves to others and “size up the competition.”

The question is of course–why do we feel the need to compete with other women?

It’s exhausting, really.  I do it myself. Part of the attraction of mommy blogging is reading about other moms, how they do things, how they get through the day, wondering if they actually get dressed, how they manage to do it all…and comparing that to our own lives.  I compare and contrast. Who’s better, who’s worse? That mom does arts and crafts? And makes homemade cookies? And works out an hour a day? Hmmpph…well good for her. But I don’t like her shirt.

I’m working on it.  Obviously, our need to judge and compare stems from feelings of self-doubt and insecurity.  Finding the source of those feelings is an individual journey, with many facets.  But the fact that  society, what the global news focuses on, is women’s appearance, shows us we are not alone.  There is a widespread, cultural, societal, deep, ingrained emphasis on how women look. And like it or not, that affects us. It’s hard to shake our own desire to judge and compare other women when every media outlet tells us that the most important part of being a woman is what you look like. And don’t even get me started on the more pressing issue of the fact that these women are powerful because of the men that they are associated with…

We are more than what we wear.  And I don’t care how great Michelle’s arms look. My arm has a little jiggle to it, but it is strong enough to hold my babies, to work to support my family, to hug my sisters, to type this message to you, to wipe the tears from my eyes when I cry with mothers who are grieving.  The arms of women are the arms of strength, of love, and compassion.

And that matters a heck of a lot more than killer triceps.

Saucy... or sad?


Who’s the Boss?

Let’s take a poll.

All you moms–and be honest–how do you go to the bathroom during the day?

Perhaps I’m a weirdo, but this is something I wonder about in the secret lives of other moms.  How do they manage to go to the bathroom during the day? And what if, God forbid, you have go to #2?  Is anyone else like me and forced to share the bathroom with both children, who for some reason, want to be held the second I sit down?  Be prepared for this admission, but I have literally held both children on my lap while I went to the bathroom.  There, I said it!

Lately I have been feeling a little out of control when it comes to my children.  They follow me around all day, the littlest one clinging unsteadily to my leg, shrieking in protest when I attempt such atrocious maneuvers as walking; the eldest, prostrating herself on the floor in front me, whining simply because she is bored.  Mya demands to be held for her meals, not content until she is resting happily on my lap, shoving my food in her  mouth and exploring my water glass with her chubby little fingers.  When she is not eating or attempting to escape up the stairs, her preferred method of entertainment is to have me walk her around on my hip, showing off various items of amusement throughout the house.

I know, I know…if you don’t want her to do that, don’t give in to her demands, you are thinking.

Let me ask you something: Do you enjoy blood-curdling screams during your dinner? Hmmm? Do you?

And I have, I’ve tried to set my foot down.  Just two days ago, I was trying to cook dinner and she wanted me to hold her.  I have always held my children a lot. I’m a big believer in keeping my babies close and letting them experience the world safely from my arms.  (I never had one of those wraps, but I definitely will get one if, ok who I am kidding, when I have another child.)  I would plan my household chores around which ones I could do when she was sleeping and which ones I could do when I was holding her.  For instance, vacuuming and unloading the dishwasher are one-handed chores, while chopping vegetables for dinner requires two hands.  But all of this was a heck of a lot easier when she was not a twenty plus pound infant who can reach, pull, grab and otherwise test the limits of how far she can actually go without hurtling out of my arms.  At ten months old, even with the incredible bulging bicep I have developed (left arm only, very attractive), it’s getting difficult to lug her around all day.

The problem, of course, is that she doesn’t realize this.  When I attempted to show her that she would, in fact, survive if I placed her on the floor during dinner prep, she resisted quite heroically.  Picture, if you will, a baby dressed in piggie pajamas, head thrown back in screaming protest, every fiber of her chubby being downright mad. And the cry–I wish you could hear my child scream.  She has the most shrill scream I have ever heard.  It grinds you and deafens you in a way that is almost unbelievable until you have actually heard it.  By the time Ben got home, my ears were ringing and I am certain I suffered some sort of hearing loss akin to sitting in front of speakers at a heavy metal concert.

But I tried.  After she screamed for a bit on the floor and exhausted herself, I put her in her crib, hoping she would be so tired she would fall asleep. Ha!  So we moved back downstairs.  After more time had passed, I even tried nursing her to calm her down.  No such luck.  Finally, I did pick her up, but sat down on the couch with her.  The indignation!  She wanted to be in the kitchen, gol darnit!

Needles to say, dinner was late that night.  Siighhh…

So I am facing a battle.  I am trying earnestly to teach my children that I am not on this earth to be there 24/7 entertainment director.  The girls will be 3 and 1 in May, and I do believe it is perfectly acceptable to start expecting them to play on their own.  I fear that in trying so hard to stay home with them and play with them and otherwise be with them every day, I have created somewhat of a monster.  The “entertain me Mom” monster.

In writing this post, I have gotten up approximately twelve times to attend to Ada.  I decided NOT to feel guilty about sitting down to type this while simultaneously refusing her requests to watch “just a little bit of cartoons.” Let her play.  Be the live example of this post.  Right.

Knowing I was testing her, she started off  by firstly tearing off the printer door and whipping it across the office. (Not sure how she even managed that, but two years do have superhuman strength at times…). Then she enjoyed the view from the naughty corner for a two-minute timeout.  Then she had to go potty.  Then she wanted a banana. Then she wanted to wedge herself into the tiny place between my desk and printer, precisely close enough to me to be not actually touching me, but close enough where I can feel every banana laden breath on my arm as I type.  When I asked her to please move, she tried the other side, resting her chin on my arm like a puppy.  When I still encouraged her to go play, she stepped it up a notch, trying the whine-on-the-floor routine.  Next, she licked the office door and watched for my reaction.  She threw my phone on the ground, breaking the battery.  Enjoyed another time-out.  You get the picture.  Finally, she gave up and entertained herself playing with Mya’s baby gate.  Not the entertainment of choice I would have guessed, but hey, she was happy for a grand total of three minutes…at which time, Mya awoke.

Moms, it is not our job to provide ceaseless entertainment for our children.  Let them be bored.  Let them whine and lay on the floor until they decide to pick themselves up and go play.  I want my children to develop their own imaginations, without me constantly saying “Why don’t you color? Why don’ t you play with your easel? Read a book?”  Yes, we guide, yes we interact with them, but we don’t create a crutch for them.  We don’t over-structure and under-stimulate so that, given two minutes to themselves, they don’t know what to do.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not the one in charge.  Like there is a little boss in my house, demanding and controlling, always watching me with disapproval.

My boss...she's very demanding

Today, I’m going to take charge.

Wish me luck.


The Best Days

Sitting amongst all the women in my husband’s family one holiday evening,  we discussed life with little children.  “It’s hard to see past that time in your life when you are living it” said Ben’s aunt.  I nodded in agreement.

Ben’s maternal grandmother sat on the couch, her little body comically perched atop the leather cushions.  Her eyes peered out through the thick lenses of her glasses. “Those are the best days of your life” she said wistfully, a small sad smile on her face.

It’s a sentiment I’ve heard echoed time and time again.

“Enjoy this time in your life.”

“They go so fast, don’t they?”

“I miss those days.”

And I get it, I really do.  I love this time in my life, with all the little frustrations and stresses it brings.  I am fully aware how fleeting this time is, how every moment spent cuddling my babies is a moment straight from Heaven.  I try very hard to cherish every small thing and enjoy the times just spent laughing with Ada, or kissing Mymy’s chubby little cheeks.  I get that it is a precious time.

But for some reason, whenever I hear people tell me that these are the best days of my life…I feel a twinge of something…If I’m honest, there is a slight twinge of annoyance, in the implication that I am somehow not aware of my blessings, along with the sheer amount of times I hear it.  As I said, however, I get it, so that part of it is just a brief moment, nothing that really bothers me.  Most people are just trying to help.

What I think really bothers me is fear.  Hearing people wax on and on about this being the best time in my life, and how much I’m going to miss it, and aren’t these babies precious makes me fear what is to come.  Will my life be meaningless without children?  Do I have anything to look forward to once they are grown?

My post-baby body clearly leaves a modeling career out the picture, so what’s next?  I get so panicked thinking about it sometimes. I will literally be playing with my children and start thinking of all those friendly reminders to cherish this time and I will start to see the moments vanishing before my eyes.  Mya laughing at Ada’s in the bathtub–gone.  Ada twirling on the top of the stairs in her princess dress she donned after naptime–gone.  Like beads on a broken necklace, I see the moments lost forever.

It’s such a balancing act every day.  Do I do the laundry or read the kids a book? Do I unload the dishwasher or play Chutes & Ladders with Ada? Should I put Mya in her crib or hold her right through her nap, breathing in her sweet baby smell? It’s enough to make a person crazy.  Especially in light of the all the recent losses of babies and young people I have seen, it becomes harder and harder to know where to draw the line. Yes, I want to enjoy my kids, but I also want clean dishes.  And yet, even cleaning my house is tainted with guilt as echoes of “best time of your life” sound in my head.  And then throw the fact there is work and husbands and your own personal time to deal with..it’s amazing we can even function through the day!  Sometimes, I almost wish I was back in those pioneering woman days, when there was so much work to be done to merely survive the day that feeling guilty for not enjoying your children enough was just not an option.

I think especially for mothers who choose to be home with their kids, there is a level of guilt attached to it.  As in, if I’m choosing to be here instead of productively making money, I better really choose it.  I sure as heck better cuddle, snuggle, read, play, and cherish this time–because I chose it.  At least, it’s that way for me.  My job at the hospital especially is a job that is always there, always needing people to come in and help.  So every day that I don’t go in, I am consciously choosing to be home–so I better make it count.

This post feels a bit rambly, but hey I’ve been up since 1, 4, and 5 am with both children and especially child #2, who inherited child #1’s horrible poop bug (actually a real thing–rotavirus).  Poor baby.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I hope we can all enjoy our children, yes, but not take it to the extreme I sometimes border on, in trying too hard to cherish it all that I am not living the moment.  Writing down every cute thing, snapping pictures everywhere, capturing all the memories without really living them.  I hope I can learn to balance it all, to let go of my guilt in unloading the dishwasher, to not have an internal battle when the time comes to lay May down for her nap.  I want to look forward to the future, seeing my children grow, even spending time with them as (gulp) adults.  (I know this will happen in theory, but I can’t fathom it.  It is mind-boggling to me that my husband is his mother’s baby!!)  I want to know that there is life after children.  But hopefully, never without children in it.

I do believe the munchkins are awakening.  So, in the meantime, I leave you with this, a little reminder of just one of the best days in my life…

Ada swinging free

Mya's turn!


A Vision for the Future

There really wasn’t a good way to follow up on my sad post.  So I didn’t. I avoided the issue and instead posted about laundry.  Much like the need to crack a joke after crying in front of someone, I decided to go the harmless route of posting about nothing.  And so I continue.

The past week, eldest daughter Ada has been quite sick with a nasty bug.  She had diarrhea and loose stools for five days. It was awful.  I work as a nurse, I deal with poop all the time, and I still have never seen such poop come from a person…let alone such a small person.  Two days ago, it culminated in Ada waking up from her afternoon nap and wailing “Mama, I neeeed help!!” Never a good sign.  I fearfully climbed the stairs to find my child literally covered in poop from head to toe.  A trail of poop extended from bed and across her carpeted room to the top of the stairs.  I held Mya in one arm, deposited my poor child into the tub and embarked upon the scrubdown of a lifetime.  Seriously people, I scrubbed poop out of her eyebrows. She cried, Mya cried, I cried.

Thankfully, yesterday she seemed to back to her normal self.  Because I had let her rest on the couch and watch  TV and her movie while she had been sick (she now tries to play the “sick” card when she wants cartoons. Devious child) I decided to forgo any work or chores during Mya’s nap to focus on “Arts & Crafts” time with Ada.

Did you watch the episode of The Bachelor (I confess: I love watching that show) a few years back when one of the contestants made a vision board? In the book The Secret I also came across the vision board again.  Both the lady from The Bachelor and the book are kind of crazy, but the concept makes sense: Visualizing clearly what you want and focusing on that goal can help you achieve it.  Making the vision board helps you 1) identify your goals 2) create a visual picture for your goals 3) have a concrete vision you can come back to to refocus.

Lately I have been struggling with what I want to be when I grow up.  I work as a nurse, which truthfully I hate (I’ll talk more about this later) and another job from home, that I theoretically love, but is also very difficult in the fact that it really stresses out my home life because there is not a whole lot of distinction where works ends. Plus, between the two jobs, I work between 20-30 hours a week without a babysitter, which is not always fun.  It leaves me feeling like I am doing nothing well. The house is always half clean, Ada watches more TV than I would like, Mya just wants me to hold her more, and the to-do list for work is never done.  I don’t feel that I have reached my calling in life yet, if that makes any sense.  Honestly, I would love to do something with writing, but there are so many things holding me back with that–namely, I don’t feel I am good enough, there are a million exceptional writers out there, writing is not a “real” job, I am being selfish even right now writing this blog while I ignore my children, and so on and so forth.  But nothing excites me or fulfills me so much as writing the perfect sentence and hoping it will somehow, someway reach another person as others words have affected me.

On the other hand, I have no clue what I want from here. Part of me never wants to think about anything else ever again beyond my little family bubble.  I have half of my Masters degree completed, two jobs, two kids, a house, and husband at the age of twenty four.  So I think I have time to figure it all out, but it’s part of who I am to always want to plan the next step. In high school I was a very motivated and dedicated person–I don’t know where that drive went.  These days, my brain seriously feels like scrambled eggs. If I make it through the day’s chores of cleaning, balancing work and playing with the girls, or miraculously managing to put on make-up or get dressed, I feel like a hero.  Beyond that, I’m lost.

To help me sort it all out, I decided to make a vision board. I thought it would be a fun project, and most importantly, it involved a glue stick, one of Ada’s absolute most favorite things. It was even one of those blue ones that turn clear once they dry.  Awesome.

Now I’m not really one of those arts & crafts kinds of mothers.  I mean, I secretly love doing dorky crafts with the kids, but I’m not a super creative person with fun kids craft ideas. That award goes to my friend Megan, who runs the playgroup.  She always has fun craft ideas up her sleeves and we joke that we will be sad when our kids grow up and we don’t have an excuse to play with crafts anymore.  I just stick to the basics–coloring, finger painting once in a while, cool glue sticks.  Actually, I happened to fail cutting and pasting in kindergarten, warranting my parents being called in for a parent-teacher conference, to which you can imagine their reaction. Hint: it didn’t involve hours of scissors practice.

But I do have a cool dedicated “arts & crafts” corner–i.e., a small three drawer unit from a garage sale that holds various crafty stuff. So yesterday, ignoring my craft-challenged status, Ada and I embarked upon our vision boards with stacks of magazines, glue sticks, and safety scissors.

(Side note: if you have noticed my frequent use of the word “challenged” lately, as in vertically challenged, stain challenged, craft challenged, it is in satirical protest to the use of the phrase “staff challenged” recently employed by the hospital I work at.  A nurse educator actually trained us that we are never to use the phrase “short staffed” when we are lacking adequate staff. We are to say “staff challenged.” I worked last Saturday assigned nine patients, three of whom were in isolation for nasty superbugs, one who was being discharged on fifty meds, none of which she had any idea what she was taking them for, and one with a critical hemoglobin requiring a stat two unit blood transfusion.  Translation: I barely had time to breathe, let alone be confident that I was providing proper patient care.  I was very “staff challenged.” Hmmmphh)

Getting back on track, we had a fun hour of cutting, gluing and discovering.  I just picked out any words or pictures that I like and decided to put them all together to see what I found.  Sort of like the idea of just writing whatever comes to your mind to discover your innermost secret thoughts.

This was the result:

Apparently I really enjoy coffee, pink flowers, I want to make shamrock cookies, I like writing…and I want to be a mom who makes smoothies? And if you look closely, yes, I want that trip to Hawaii. And no, I don’t want 25 kids, the 25 was for my upcoming 25th birthday in May…I always have felt like 25 was some sort of adult milestone, hence the pressure to figure out what the heck I want to do.

And here is Ada’s board:

Poor girl. What will her kindergarten teacher say?


A Place for the Pain

This is a sad post.

I’ve been dreading writing it.  I want to write happy, humorous posts to hopefully bring a smile to my fellow moms out there and any readers that stop by.  But even though I dread it, even though I’ve sobbed my way through writing it, I felt like it needed to be said.

Life is not always happy.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of sadness. And it seems, the worst form of it, in the death of our beautiful angels, our babies.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I went to Kohl’s with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and Ada to get a jump start on Christmas shopping.  They took Ada to the shoe section while I ran manically around the store, trying to finish all my shopping before Ada got too whiny on their hands.  While having the use of both hands, I of course also used the time to catch up on some phone calls.  As I darted down an aisle, talking on my phone, I happened to see a girl I went to school, passing by with her mom.  I had last seen her in July, for Mya’s baptism and she had been near the end of her pregnancy, her first.  She knew she was having a boy. We had chatted about babies, pregnancy, and parted with mutual warm feelings in the glow of mommyhoodness.  Seeing her push her cart, back to her skinny self as I passed by, still talking on my phone, I just gestured excitedly to her and mouthed “Baby??”

As soon as the word left my mouth, I knew.

Please dear God, no, I thought.

Her face held for a brief moment, and then crumbled in grief.  Her mom put her arm around her, offering up a tight-lipped semi-smile for what must have been a dreaded familiar scene.

The girl cried, her tight blonde curls shaking.  “I lost him at eight months,” she sobbed, “My baby.”

I felt sick.  I wished I could rewind time.

“Oh my god. I’m so sorry.”  The inadequate phrase.  It didn’t feel like enough.  I felt her grief pierce through me like a broken piece of wood. “What is his name?”  I hoped she would notice that I knew he was not gone, that he would always be her baby, that he is with us. An “is,” not a “was.”

She told me his name is Brayden and I asked if I could hug her.  She nodded yes, so I hugged her, feeling like a murderer, and cried with her.

It was an awkward parting.  How do you walk away from someone after their life has shattered in front of you in the aisle of Kohls?  A “nice to see you, have a good one” doesn’t exactly cut it.

I found my way back to my family, sobbing uncontrollably. My mother-in-law thought that someone had robbed me.  I felt like what happened was even worse. I hated myself for doing that to the poor mother.  She must dread going out in public for exactly that reason–callously unknowing near-strangers, forced to share her innermost grief in public, a reminder over and over again that she is not a normal person Christmas shopping at Kohls.  I know that I didn’t know. I know that.  But still.  I should have somehow known.  I should have spared her yet another moment of grief.

Baby Brayden and his mama have been on my mind ever since.  That night, Ada and I added them to our bedtime prayers.

About a week later, I was at work at the hospital I missed a call from a good mommy friend of mine, Meghan.  That’s strange, I thought, she doesn’t usually call–we are more text people.  Being at work until 11:30 pm, though, I didn’t return the call.

Early the next morning, she texted me.

Meghan: Have you heard?
Me: Heard what?
Meghan: I don’t know how to say this….but Lily died.

 

Lily (left) and Ada, about a month before

Lily is the daughter of Meghan’s best friend, our  mutual friend Lauren.  We had all three been pregnant together, all given birth to our daughters.  Lily’s birthday is May 14; Ada’s, May 17.  They are a mere three days apart.  It had been a lifesaver to go through the experience of having an unplanned pregnancy with Lauren.  She gave me strength, hope, and inspiration.  Our daughters played together and I often dreamed about them growing up together, starting kindergarten together, becoming best friends. For those of you who don’t know the story of Lily’s death, please visit Justice for Lily. Lily’s death is unimaginable, too unbearable to even talk about. But I urge you to support the cause against child abuse and honor Lily’s memory.

The funeral was horrific.  The whole day was almost cliche in its sadness–the hauntingly beautiful grieving mother clutching a teddy bear, the tiny pink coffin, the cold and gray November sky.  No mother should have to endure what Lauren went through.  No mother should have to bury the baby that they carried for nine months, loved and cuddled.  It’s hard to pick the worst moment, but I couldn’t bear the thought that Lauren had to leave her.  As mothers, we kiss every part of our babies’ bodies–they came from our bodies, we boast stretch marks and saggy skin as testament to their passing through us, our bodies nourish theirs through nursing–they are a part of us in more ways than one.  How could she possibly walk away from her baby, leaving her in the cold, hard ground?

Lauren has been incredibly strong.  She has an amazingly close family and her faith is incredible to see.  But every day, I wonder how she does it. How she gets out of bed in the morning, how she bears to see another baby, how she can stand seeing me and Ada, a reminder forever, of the age Lily would have been.  How do you keep faith in God after such a tragedy?  It’s not a normal tragedy. It’s not an accident, a “nothing could have prevented it” part of God’s plan…it’s the worst, most unimaginable, unspeakable horror in the world. The pain of an innocent, beautiful baby and a mother’s loss.  A mother who only wanted to love her child, a mother who is more dedicated to her child than you can imagine.

I can’t believe that it can happen. But it did. And it does to more mothers, every day.  Yesterday I saw this blog post, a mother asking people to put bows on their babies to honor the memory of her four month old daughter, who loved to wear bows.  The blog is full of posts of the mom dreading going back to work, even a countdown of days until she had to leave Maddie.  And then sadly, one day, she left her forever when Maddie stopped breathing at the babysitters. Another mother and child to add to our nighttime ritual.

What are we to do with all this pain?

I find myself hoping I can find the good.  After all, that’s what we cling to isn’t it? If we can’t find the silver lining, what are we left with? Just the pain.

I find myself wondering when it’s my turn. Nothing bad has happened to me yet, but I feel like it has to hit sometime.  Imagining myself as the mother walking behind the pink casket.  What would I do? How do you pick out an outfit for your daughter’s funeral? Do you put on make-up? How do you care about anything, ever again?

I want to use the remembrances of these little angels to transform myself into the perfectly patient mother. To kiss my babies every chance. To laugh lovingly with my husband. To always use kind words to all I meet.  To cling to the knowledge that there has to be a God out there to help us through this, a eternal happiness to look forward to.

And yet, this morning, in the darkness of the early dawn, I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror.  Pale, blotchy skin, under eye circles to the floor, inside out pajamas.  A truly ghastly sight.  Ada lay naked on the floor, crying and constipated.  A potty chair full of pee that I forgot to empty last night emanates a not-so-pleasant odor.  Mya wails in her crib, awoken too early by her miserable sister.

How do we reconcile the divine spark with the everyday?  Whining, poopy diapers, potty chair full of pee, greasy hair.  Where do we find God in all of that?  How does a mother bury her child one day and wake up the next?

I want to believe that there is a transformation that occurs in all of us before death.  A sudden grace to sweep away the imperfections, a elegance of manner that infuses a personality, a graciousness that only death can bring. But it’s not always that way.  I think part of the reason I lob along as a nurse is hoping to find God…I see so many people near death, and acting, well…like two-year olds.  They whine, they complain, they need diaper changes.  It scares me to think that’s all there is.  I want to find dignity in death, to see evidence of the eternal in someone so near to the other side. But I haven’t yet. So far, all I’ve seen is…just death.

I don’t know the answers, or even all the questions.  I want to know that there is a greater good, a higher purpose, but it’s so hard when I see so much destruction, so much waste, so much pure evil in the world.  A mother who has lost her child represents the greatest loss of all.

Please everyone, pray for these mothers, pray for ourselves, that we may keep our babies close, our tempers in check, and somehow, someway, find joy in living the every day.