Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I'll Never Be A Good Enough Mom

Before I got married and had a child of my own I had this vision in my head of the kind of wife and mom I thought I’d be. I’d have a tastefully decorated house that I kept spic and span. I’d go grocery shopping and make delicious home-made meals. I’d do all of these fun extracurricular activities with my children and I’d have it all together! HA! Yeah right.

Obviously, I quickly learned that that would not be the case AT ALL! Shortly after we got married I got pregnant and had terrible morning sickness, to where I could not even step in the kitchen without having to run to the bathroom to throw up, let alone actually cook a meal! And then came the exhaustion. I’d come home from work and it was all I could do to just tidy up around the house before my feet started to hurt.

And then I actually had a baby. We won’t get into how difficult that is but any mom who has had a couple kids knows. You come home from the hospital in more pain than you’ve ever been in, more tired than you’ve ever been before and to top it off you now have more responsibility than you’ve ever had at any other point in your life. To say you’re a little stressed would be biggest understatement of all time probably.

So the months passed and I thought I’d get my act together. I thought I’d get my baby on a schedule, and while he slept I would clean and do laundry and wash the dishes. And then when he was awake I’d sing songs with him and read books and it would just fine and dandy. Except that’s not exactly what happened. Sure, some days I do get tons of stuff done and have bonding time with my little man but nine times out of ten that’s definitely not the case.

It seems like I have this never ending to-do list in my head. Vacuum the carpet, make the bed, do the dishes, fold the laundry, sweep the kitchen and then mop the kitchen, go buy groceries etc, etc, etc… The list never ends. Really. It never seems to end. For every one thing I check off, two more get added. It’s like Hydra. So when I look around my house and it looks like a crazy tornado swept through I feel like a complete and total failure.

And when this happens I begin to question my worth as a wife and a mom. I start saying things to myself like, “Wow, Levi and Alton deserve way better than me” or “Why is it so hard to simply do the dishes? I must be a bad mom.” The voices in my head are never kind. Never uplifting. Always dragging me down further and further. Telling me I’m not good enough, and I never will be. All because my house is messy.

Wait, what?

Yeah. I think I’m a bad wife and mom because I have dirty dishes.

Somehow, I truly believed this. And it really wasn’t until recently that I realized just how messed up and destructive this mentality is. And I know that I’m definitely not the only mom who has had these thoughts before. Crazy as it sounds it seems like we as women have taken it on ourselves to be Wonder Woman. We think we need to have a perfectly clean house, we need to be super involved in our kids lives and school activities, we need to be cooking and cleaning and working out and don’t forget to make sure you go to Whole Foods to get the healthiest food for your little ones otherwise you’re a "bad mom".

But it’s simply not true. These are the lies we as women have been fed most of our lives. Lies coming from our society, our families, and even sometimes the devil himself. But that’s just it. They’re LIES.

When I finally put this together I realized that I was finding my value and my worth in what I DO. And what I didn’t do. When I ran errands and cleaned the house and played with my son and worked out and put on cute clothes AND makeup and got a billion things done during the day I felt awesome. I did it. I've finally got the hang out of this mom thing. I’m so amazing.

And then the next day I wore the clothes that I slept in. I didn’t take a shower or brush my teeth. I spent half the day on the couch feeding my son and binge watching Netflix and not a single thing on my to-do list got done. And I felt awful. I’m definitely the worst mom on the planet. I can’t get it together. What’s wrong with me!?

And then my husband came home. Of course I apologized. I do every time.

“I’m so sorry! Nothing got done!”

“It’s okay. It will get done eventually.” He said.

It took awhile for it to really click. My husband still loves me. He’s not just gonna get rid of me just because our house is a little messy. He doesn’t have that old fashioned mentality. Instead, he says, “I love you. You’re a good wife and mom.” And then after a long day at work he gets up and helps clean the house.

If that’s not a beautiful picture of how Christ loves us then I don’t know what is. How often do we get worn down by life, attempting to do it all on our own, trying desperately to get our act together, only to fail. Time after time. And then Jesus comes alongside us and says, “I love you. I’ve got this. Lay your burden at my feet so that I may carry it.”

You see our value rests in not what we can do but what Christ has done through us. I think we tend to forget this and we set the standards for ourselves SO high. And we will NEVER be good enough on our own. Because when we try to be good enough, we find ourselves absolutely exhausted and staring into the face of failure. But thank the Lord our value does not rest in how clean our house is or whether or not we’re making healthy, homemade meals. I’d have been out of the running a LOOONG time ago.

Now I’m not saying you should never clean your house or even that you shouldn’t strive for a clean house, those are actually really good things. But that is not what makes you a good wife and mom.

Being a good wife and mom is not about keeping a spotless house. It’s not about spending hours in the kitchen slaving over homemade meals. It’s not about getting a million things done and desperately trying to be Super Mom. If that's your definition of a "good" mom then you will NEVER be a good enough mom. It won't happen. I will never be a good enough mom in that sense. But I do love my family, and that's worth more than anything.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Letter To My Son

**Recently, a friend of mine wrote a letter to her unborn daughter and posted it to her own blog. Reading that letter made me extremely emotional but it was soo good, and it made me realize there are many things I want to tell my own son so she inspired me to write a letter of my own.**

To My Son:

My dear, sweet, little Levi. First off, I want you to know that I love you sooo much! I know you’ve heard it before and you’ll it every day for the rest of your life but that’s only because it’s true.
In fact, from the moment that second little line turned blue I was in love. A little scared, yes, but completely, whole-heartedly in love. And I promise that will never, ever change. I’m going to be honest with you for a moment, you were a bit of a surprise. Your father and I had initially planned to wait awhile longer before we started having kids. But God had a much different plan for our lives. One we could never have dreamed up for ourselves. So I want you to know that even though you were a surprise that you are not an accident, not a mistake and not unwanted.

Honestly, it was quite the opposite. I knew even when I was young that I wanted to be a mom. I knew that God had laid this calling on my heart long before you were ever born, before I learned I was pregnant, before I’d even met your father. Before all of that I wanted you. I prayed for you. I loved you. And I hadn’t even met you yet. But my heart longed for the day I would. And the day you were born I knew my life had changed forever, and it would never be the same.

From pretty much day one you gave me trouble. You made me sick and tired. You gave me aches and pains. You sent me into preterm labor. Twice. And don’t even get me started on childbirth. And yet, somehow, after all of that, when you were finally born and I heard you cry for the first time and they placed you on my chest, I knew I would do it a million times over for you because you were worth every bit of struggle I went through. You are worth it. I hope you never forget that.

And I hope you never forget just how worthy you are, not only to me, but to your heavenly father as well. Because, though impossible it seems, he loves you so much more than I do, than I ever could. He loves you so much that he gave his ONLY son for you. He died for you. And I pray you never forget that.

It’s sort of funny because before we had learned whether you were a girl or boy I thought for sure you were a girl. (Please don’t hold that against me!) Interestingly enough, I thought our friends, who were also pregnant at the time, were having a boy. Evidently, I got it completely backwards. (I guess I just don’t have the gift)

Even though I had initially thought you were a girl, when we learned that you were in fact a baby boy I was so happy, albeit a little nervous, but so so happy!
And I’ve come to realize something, that I’ve been given the unique opportunity to raise not just a boy but a young man.

Levi, I said earlier that I prayed for you long before you were ever born but I want you to know that I continue to pray for you everyday. I pray that your father and I will raise you to be a Godly man, something our society is in short supply of these days.

My hope is that you will be a man who continually strives after God’s own heart, day after day. I pray you will be a REAL man in a world full of overgrown boys. I pray you will be hope for the hurting and a light in the darkness.

And although you are a little boy now, I know the day will come when girls will go from having “cooties” to being cuties. (I know, cheesy, but I couldn’t resist) And you will begin to take notice. And to be honest that day scares me.

Sadly, we live in such a perverted, sexualized culture intent on dragging good men down. And though I am obviously not a man myself I know the temptation will be beyond belief. They will come at you with porn, with sexualized movies and ads, with the notion that all of this “stuff” is completely normal. Please believe me when I say, it’s not.

And I pray you know that. I pray you will be a man who goes against the grain, who challenges this depraved mentality. I pray you will be a man who treats women with the respect they deserve - no matter who they are or what they wear. I hope you learn to rise above that.

Our culture so often sees men as animals who only want one thing and can’t control their “urges”. But I pray that you will raise the standards for men in your generation, that you prove to them that not all men are dogs, that they’re not only after one thing, and that gentlemen DO exist and you are one of them. Not only that, but I pray you show women that THEY are worthy of a man who treats them well like you do.

I pray you will learn the value of hard work; that you always strive to do your best day in and day out; that when teachers and friends and employers look at you, they see someone responsible and capable and hardworking.

When I think of the man you will become someday the word that comes to mind is courage. I pray that you will be courageous in the face of fear, that you will be a man who stands up for what is right, even if the world is standing against you.
I pray you learn that,
Being brave is not about being fearless, but having the courage to do what scares you the most.

Levi, I hope you know that your father and I will always support you, no matter what direction you choose to go with your life. Your dad and I will always be your biggest fans. I do hope however, that you choose to follow wherever God leads you, whether that is to become a missionary in Nicaragua or to be a high school math teacher. (Just so you know, if you do become a math teacher there’s a good chance I will not be able to help you beyond basic algebra) I simply pray you have the continual courage to go after your dreams no matter how much they may scare you.

And I know, as much as I don’t want to think about it, that someday you will be all grown up. You may go to college and get married and have kids of your own. And although watching you learn and grow is such a joy and a privilege I know that day will come faster than I think and as I’ve said before I know I will miss the days when you were just a little boy in my arms. But to watch you go from a little boy to a young man is an incredible responsibility and nothing could make me happier.

So I have one last prayer for you. (Although not really) I pray that you will be a reflection of Jesus Christ. That you will be a man who fights for his family, his wife, his friends and his God. That you would be a witness every single day to those around you and realize that God has placed you when and where you are for a divine purpose. Because you are beautifully and wonderfully made. I know God has an amazing plan for your life and I hope you never forget who you are, but most of all, WHOSE you are.

Once again, I love you so much. Nothing you ever do will change that.
Love, Mommy

Thursday, September 21, 2017

To Levi - The Hardest Job

August 3rd, 2017

I know I should be folding laundry right now. Or washing the insane pile of dishes. Or packing for the big move. In fact, there’s probably a billion other things I SHOULD be doing right now, and yet, I’m laying here watching you sleep, just trying to soak it all in. Your tiny hands, your tiny feet, your tiny, little snores.

You see if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the few short weeks you’ve been here on this earth it’s this; Motherhood is hard. Pregnancy is hard. Labor is hard. Sleep deprivation is hard. Trying to clean the house with a screaming, fussy baby is hard. But when you curl up in my arms and fall asleep, or you flash me that big, heart-melting smile, it’s all completely worth it. Every struggle, every tear, every hard day. You are worth it.

I heard a saying once that went something like this:

“Parenting, the days are long but the years are short.”

You see I'm beginning to realize that things are hard now, yes, but I know they won’t always be. And I know you won’t always be this little. Before I know it you’ll be all grown up and I’ll find myself missing the days when you were this small, when I could hold you in my arms.

So the chores can wait a little while longer. Because there will ALWAYS be laundry to fold and dishes to wash. But you will only be this little once, and so I’m going to enjoy every minute I can get.