May 14, 2020

Girl Mom

This poem by Tess Guirney makes me giddy about raising a girl:

If I choose to always grow,
maybe she will bloom like a wildflower.
If I make art from my everyday,
she too, will create her days full of colour.
If I let my tears fall and always when they need,
perhaps she’ll water the earth with an open heart.
If I’m clumsy-crazy and all about her Dad,
a beautiful-crazy-love is what her heart will search for.
If I let him forever romance me in the wake of day,
she will forever know no less.
If I say “I’m sorry”—even when it’s hard,
maybe she’ll be quick to forgive others.
If I choose to speak life in vibrant and rich colours,
let beige words never settle in her heart.
If I leave pretty love-notes, handwritten on every wall,
affirmations will line the depth of her soul.
If I choose the uncomfy and forever shake up my ways,
maybe she too, will stand to live life bold & brave.
If I take time to be alone & make dreaming paramount to my week,
she’ll learn solitude is important and a golden gift to seek.
If I look in the mirror and speak kind and gentle words,
she too, will forever know her worth.
If I fill our house with flowers, music & sweet loving scents,
maybe the silhouette of home will always be warmth.
If our front door is always open to those who are in need,
she’ll learn the golden purpose of life.
If I pray out loud and have real conversations with God,
maybe she’ll move mountains with her voice.
If I tell her I love her a million times a day,
maybe, just maybe, she’ll learn:
that even in my flaws,
my lack,
and my mistakes,
I gave her my entire heart—
My motherhood monologue.





We snapped these pictures on Mother's Day. My goofy girl couldn't stop belly laughing after seeing these. 

May 04, 2020

Sucky, Perfect Timing

2020 was supposed to be our year. 

We had worked really hard to be completely debt free and to save up for a house for our family. I am a sentimental person and I have always dreamed about the home I would make for my family. After 10 years of marriage, 2 kids, and a lot of hard work, we are ready to be homeowners. Speaking of the 10 year anniversary coming up this month, we also decided that we wanted to take a big anniversary trip. We have done a few small vacations with family, but nothing that was just Brian and me, without kids, since our honeymoon. This was supposed to be the year for a house and a much needed vacation. 

We would also celebrate our baby's first birthday with family. It would be a joint celebration of him, his four year old sister, and the Resurrection of our Savior, in one big weekend filled with carrot cake and plastic eggs. 

The pandemic is putting our plans on hold...maybe for a few months, maybe for a whole other year. We don't really know where the finish line for this marathon is... nobody knows. 

Sucky timing. 

***

I seem to have a knack for knowing when my son is going to wake up. Usually, I'll wake about 2-3 minutes before he does and just lie in bed. It never fails that he begins fussing a few moments later. 

Perfect timing.

I stumble to his bedroom to get him from his crib, sleepily tripping over my own two feet. His big sister Jade is not in her bed, which means that at some point last night, she moved to the couch. She has done this more and more recently, sneaking out to finish her night's sleep in the living room. It is only 6:30 and I don't want her to wake yet, so Cruz and I stay in their bedroom. I nurse him on Jade's bed and let him play around the room until 7:00 and we make our way out to the living room. 

***

I have a phone date with an old friend and mentor today. We haven't talked formally in a couple of years, only a few comments on social media here and there. I consider her a huge part of my spiritual and personal growth and I couldn't wait to catch up with her during Cruz's morning nap. I nuzzle Cruz's wooly blonde hair and lay him in his crib. No fussing from him. Praise hands. 

Jade and I brush our teeth and in an attempt to tame her tangle-prone hair, I ask her if she wants Elsa or Anna braids today. "Elsa," she answers confidently. One braid it is. Except she can't be bothered to stand still for the time it takes to complete a braid, so we settle for a small half ponytail to get the hair out of her eyes.  I brew a second cup of coffee and begin my phone date. 

***

I've learned a thing or two during this time in quarantine. I've learned that God has blessed me with a handful of friends who I would call "safe people" to confide in. I've also learned how to identify uncomfortable feelings, to grieve losses, and to express that grief to my safe people. 

Everyone is experiencing some kind of loss right now. Instead of pushing the loss I am feeling back down, and telling myself that my losses are not a big deal compared to what some others are experiencing, I will put my measuring stick away and grieve them. 

My friend on the phone affirms what I'm feeling, confirms it as grief, and assures me that it's not small.  I am reminded that no matter what, I want to be that friend that will just sit with someone in her sadness or disappointment and show her, "your grief is real and it's not small." 

With a refreshed heart and renewed hope, my friend and I say our goodbyes and no sooner does Cruz wake. Perfect timing. 

***

We measure our schedules by eating and naps. Cruz requires 110% of us. Nap time is sacred. This can get done during morning nap, this can get done during afternoon nap. Soon, there will just be one nap to measure with, but it will hopefully be a longer one. 

Brian gets to connect with a friend during Cruz's second nap. Another phone conversation, another hang up, and another waking baby. Perfect timing. 

***

We have been trying to go on walks and get outside when we can. At the beginning of this quarantine, we had unseasonably warm and sunny weather. It gave us hope for the days that we would be confined to our little apartment. In the more recent weeks, the weather has been more on track for the season, cool and rainy. Today, rain is in the forecast, but we decide to chance it for some fresh air. We put on our jackets, load Cruz into the stroller and the four of us set out around the neighborhood. 

The skies are grey and the air is cool, but less than ideal weather isn't a deterrent for a curious four year old. Puddles are splashed in, dandelions are picked, races are run down the streets. By the time our neighborhood adventure is complete and we are turning our key to enter our building, the rain begins to fall. 

Perfect timing. 

Walking into our building, it hits me. 

As a Christian who grew up going to church, I've heard of God's perfect timing constantly. Sometimes it is hard not to become desensitized to such phrases, reducing them to Christian cliches. But words and themes are one thing when you hear them being talked about. They are another thing when they are being spoken to you, by the Spirit inside you. And sometimes He speaks to us by orchestrating ordinary things in an ordinary day so perfectly, to remind us that He has the big things too. 

Okay, Lord. Your timing is perfect. 

It still sucks. Things are not happening on my timeline. But knowing that God is actually allowing things to happen according to His will and perfect timing, makes what I think is sucky timing, easier to swallow. 

2020 will be an accumulation of 366 days (Hello, Leap Year). If every day in this year is a day that He has made, then each day in this year is worth rejoicing in. 

The timing sucks. But I'm choosing to believe that it's perfect. 2020 will not be a waste. 


A picture that reminds me to rejoice. 

April 20, 2020

A Day In The Life Of A Teacher Mom During The COVID-19 Pandemic

It's Friday, the last day of the work week, though I'll be honest when I say that the days feel a bit ambiguous. It doesn't feel like a Friday. Nothing feels normal right now. 


We are "up and at em" around 8:00 and the mornings always seem to be a quick rush of breakfast, nursing Cruz, changing his diaper, and etc. I need to login to my email and Google Classroom to check things for the day. It is still early, so there isn't much to respond to yet. 


We are out of k-cups (I am picking up groceries later in the day), so I make a pot of French Press using some of my favorite Cincinnati coffee, Highlander Grogg. It makes the morning feel a bit more luxurious. While making coffee, I am texting a good friend about potty training her son and the current housing market (Wow, I don't know if I have ever written something that makes me feel more "thirty-something.")


The kids eat their blueberry waffles and Cruz is ready to nurse again. He has already nursed once this morning, but is extra clingy lately. I go back and forth between feeling frustrated that I can't seem to separate myself from him to feel productive, to being overwhelmingly thankful to have all this time at home with him and Jade.  




Cruz is about ready for his morning nap. The kids curl up on me for a few minutes. I put Cruz down in his crib and Jade notices that it is snowing (It's mid-April, by the way). She immediately asks if we can play outside. I somehow divert the subject and get out my computer to begin working on emails and grading assignments. 

Not pictured: Getting my heart checked by my four year old doctor while responding to emails! 


Jade dresses herself and I feel pleased with her outfit choice! I fix her hair and we go brush our teeth. I continue working on grading until Cruz wakes up. 


Cruz wakes and I nurse him again. Then he crawls off my lap to play with Jade. The kids are playing well together, hallelujah. 


Brian works on some things from the table and I get lunch ready for the kids.  


Jade really enjoys washing dishes and asks to "wash" some after lunch (We always rewash if we are not standing right there with her). While she is doing this, I sneak off to get ready for a conference call. 


I conduct a conference call in my bedroom closet while Brian has the kids and cleans up from lunch. 

A little later, both kids are supposed to nap. I put both in their shared room, but hear a lot of giggling and chatter for awhile! During this time I grade online work, do some parent communication, catch up with my kids' babysitter on the phone, and text with my sister in law. I feel overwhelmed with the online grading, which feels ironic since it is less grading than when we are in the classroom. I set a goal to grade work until 4:00, since I need to pick up our groceries at Kroger between 4 and 5. 

I end up grading until 4:20 since the kids finally fell asleep and are still napping. I make myself get up and bundle up to go out in the cold.


I go to Kroger to pick up my online order. They are out of cilantro, black beans, and chick peas, three staples I really need for the next few meals I planned. So I decide to quickly run in the store to see if I can find them. I do find them and inevitably grab a few more things. 


I come home and nurse Cruz. Then it is the mad rush of putting everything away, making dinner, and eating together. Neither Brian nor I have eaten since the morning and the kids are always hungry, so I make a quick "breakfast for dinner" of eggs, hashbrowns (from the freezer), tofu sausage (I am trying out some basic vegetarian things), and fruit.  I barricade Cruz in the living room with some furniture so I can make dinner and he is NOT happy (and let's us all know)!


While I am making dinner, Jade snacks on some apples and carrots. Getting her to snack on carrots is a huge win for us because we struggle to get her to eat vegetables. 

We eat our breakfast for dinner and then begin the process of cleaning up and winding down for bedtime. Once the kids are finally in bed, Brian and I watch a couple episodes of The Office together before we crash for the night. 

This was our fourth week of working from home. Every day looks different and I can't say that I have found a great groove. Some days I feel strong and other days I feel like everything is falling off my plate. I think it is important to document our days and to write since we are making history. I am encouraging my students to write and I am doing the same...maybe not super creatively right now, but just to get something written that I can look back on when we are on the other side. There is no doubt that this experience will shape our future. 

We keep on keepin' on, in hopes that this experience will make us stronger, kinder, and more grounded in the future. We will move on, and we will overcome, but we will never be able to be the same. 

“It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby