We sat together on the bathroom floor in a puddle of tears. My two and a half year old son was curled up in my lap and his head rested on my squishy postpartum belly, when he whispered between deep sobs, “I miss you, Mama.”
My first baby boy had just become a big brother. The transition was easier than I imagined, but he had his share of tantrums and I noticed his feelings were swirling deep within his growing self. Change is hard, especially when change requires someone to make more space for someone else.
I tried to teach, coach and guide him through the field of blooming emotions he seemed to be navigating every day. However, we never fully got to the root of how he was feeling about being in his home with a newborn brother, until that moment on the bathroom floor.
It was just before his evening bath when he began to freak out about nothing. Like, literally nothing. He stood like a toddler statue planted beside the bathtub with his bare feet on the soft rug, his face was electric red and drenched with tears. His lips were a deep shade of purple as they stretched over his mouth to let out all the sobs.
I was exhausted from all the simple tasks of the day, and I wanted to walk away from his unravelling. I had just held my newborn through eating an unfinished dinner. I had just wiped bottoms and served meals and have responded to all the needs. I was present and available for my boys for over 12 hours, and I wanted to be off the clock. Obviously motherhood doesn’t have clocks or an office to leave the return to after a full night of sleep. Time is different in the motherhood. At that point in time I just wanted to put on clean pajamas and wash my face then relax for a brief moment.
Instead I reached deep into my love well and I pulled up a bucket of patience. For me in that moment love looked like patience. I chose to stay there in the tension between us.
I began to speak so quietly I could barely hear myself under his crying and incoherent babbles. His words were arrested by his emotions. I sat down on the floor and I held his hands. I looked into his blue eyes, and it was like looking at the ocean floor. There below the ripple and movement of water was an entire world of happenings. I gently pulled him onto my lap hoping it was all the safety, comfort and warmth he needed in that moment.
I waited for his sobbing to slow down and for his body to be less rigid. Then I told him softly, “I love you. Everything will be okay.”
He slouched down into my lap and laid his head on my squishy postpartum belly, then whispered, “I miss you, Mama.”
I stayed there with him for a long time, just holding him.
Not saying anything. We both cried. I missed him too, but didn’t realize it. My simple act of leaning in showed me how we can be around someone all the time but still long for moments together, reminding us of how things are and used to be.
We didn’t talk, we just cuddled and cried. That was what love looked like at that point in time when I chose to stay instead of walk away. When I chose to love well.
Do you have a a time when you chose to stay and love, even though walking away would have been much easier?
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There are things I say as a mom that I never thought would exit my mouth. When the words hit the air it’s like a slow-mo scene from any Wes Anderson film. The sentence is lined up just like a cast of perfectly paired misfits moving toward their wildly unreasonable goal.
My goal, in most scenarios, is to keep my boys from hurting themselves or just being decent humans.
So, in the name of raising decent humans, these are the 10 things I never thought I’d say, but did:
1. Don’t shoot your Nana! (With a water gun.)
2. No! You can’t bite your brother!
3. Don’t sit on the sofa without undies on.
4. Please keep your feet off the dinner table.
5. We don’t paint with yogurt.
6. Take that quarter out of your mouth!
7. Never put money in your mouth.
8. Don’t put your hands in the toilet.
9. Sure, you can wear your Flash Lightning shirt for the third day in a row.
10. Ohmygosh! Are you eating a cookie in Mama and Dada’s bed? No, don’t eat cookies on our bed. (Said to my 18 month old.)
These 10 are just a few of the many, and I know they will keep on keepin on.
photo by Miley Eaton
I’m planning a birthday party for our oldest boy. He’s turning four! This party will be his first with a guest list that includes more friends than cousins and it will be his fourth birthday party receiving gifts. I thought about hosting a fiver party. A party where his guests give him $5. He then gathers the money together and shops for the gift he really wants. We’re not going to jump on that wagon right now, and we won’t for a few more years. There are just too many amazing life lessons to learn from gift giving at little kid’s birthday party that get missed when handing over cash.
5 reasons why my little guy is not having a Fiver Party.
Gift giving takes effort and a bit of outside awareness. There’s an art to giving. The giver needs to think about their friend. They need to think about what their friend likes or dislikes. Think about what they have already or might want to have. There’s also the thought about their friend and giving something he or she would seldom buy, but will really enjoy getting. Giving is a learned experience, and learning how to give needs to start at a young age. A birthday party is the perfect practice point.
Understanding the value of receiving goes far beyond a gift wrapped in a rainbow of colors and tied with swirly ribbon. Receiving is equal parts humbleness and expressed thankfulness. In the context of a four-year old’s birthday party, there will be gifts my son may not like. However, he’s going to learn how to receive that gift with a grateful heart. He’ll learn how to say, “Thank you for thinking of me!” or “Wow, this is awesome!” or “I didn’t even know about this toy. Thanks for the gift!” These are all postures we need to take into adolescence then into adult life. I view a kid’s birthday party as a fun training ground for receiving.
Picking out a gift then wrapping it creates a tangible connection to the invitations for a birthday party. Usually there’s a simple excitement as you imagine how the receiver will feel upon opening your gift. anticipation can be a moment by moment feeling, or it can be a feeling that’s really hard to grasp. Either way, anticipation is all wrapped up in the act of giving and receiving. She can anticipate shopping for the gift, helping to wrap the gift, and then giving the gift at the party. All those things piled on top of anticipation of the actual birthday party make for some mighty fine icing on a cake.
Opening a present and expressing thankfulness is a foundation that needs to be built. It seems like entitlement is rooted in our DNA. We need every moment we can to strengthen expressions of gratitude. Receiving a gift that is $1 or $15 deserves the same amount of grateful expression. We don’t measure effort or the value of things when teaching gratitude as such a young age. We just teach that gratitude matters. Having the opportunity to receive a gift from a friend is a practical and favorable way to squash entitlement and give room for thankfulness and gratefulness to take root.
Have you ever seen this video of moths flying around a light? That’s pretty much what a group of three and four year-old party people look like. It’s gift opening time and they swarm. A swarm of givers close in on a receiver, and all the kids have to see what’s under that happy birthday wrapping paper. Everyone needs to touch and grab the present while huddling around the birthday girl or boy with all their energy and intention. There isn’t a better situation than opening gifts to teach patience in the presence of anticipation. Then, they have to touch that gift like their life depended on it. But they can’t and they won’t. Not until the birthday girl or boy says it’s okay. There’s a huge amount of patience being practiced within the gift opening time. Add to that the burning desire to shove cake into their mouths. So much goodness in gift giving.
For these reasons we’ll welcome simple gifts that can be unwrapped, because the intangible gifts are priceless.
by teresa b. duffy
Some of these things you can buy, and some of the stuff isn’t found in a store nor can you ship it to your front door. However, all of these eight things are going to make your transition into motherhood a little bit easier.
Pockets will be your extra hands. I recently saw a mom meme that said something like, if evolution was a real thing, why don’t mom’s have three arms? We don’t. So buy stuff with pockets. Get yourself a few sweatshirts or sweaters with pockets. Pajamas with pockets. A robe with pockets. Find a pocket for your t-shirt. Get pockets on your nursing bras. Just everywhere. Pockets.
#2 Slip On Shoes
You’ll be carrying your baby everywhere. When running out the door, 10 minutes late, just slip your shoes on. Honestly who has the time and energy to bend over and tie laces? Not you. You’re a mom to a newborn. You have to keep a human alive. Ditch the extra work, grab your diaper bag, baby carrier complete with cuddly baby, water bottle, baby blanket, car keys, snacks, phone, lip balm….you get the point. Just slip on your shoes.
Imagine freezing time. You’re standing in your kitchen meal prepping your heart out before your baby is born. It’s going to be perfect! You’ll simply need to pop a homemade frozen lasagna in to the oven for dinner on a day when you didn’t: shower, didn’t take off your pajamas, and your baby didn’t let you put her down. Didn’t even put her down when when you had to use the bathroom. Yes, that’s something moms do. Use the potty while holding or wearing your baby. This is a day when you are desperate for more time. You won’t have more time. You will see more of the 24 hour day than you care to. You will shake hands with 3:52 am like a boss. Time will slip away and be stuck at the same time. Just realize the time you have is yours. Don’t be tempted to do more with it to impress anyone. Give yourself permission to do less and to love more during that first year, and even beyond the first year. Time will have an entirely new agenda and meaning for you as a mom. Go with it. Not against it. And for the love of time, eat your reheated lasagna in your pajamas even if it’s 2:43 am. You can’t freeze time.
#4 Pants Sans Zippers
As previously mentioned you might find yourself needing to hold or wear your baby a lot. Even in the bathroom. Go ahead and gift yourself with one less annoyance: just pull your pants up and don’t worry about zipping or buttoning anything. Aint nobody got time for that! The other liberating fact about pants without zippers: they feel like you are wearing your pajamas even when you are not. As a new mom this will become hugely valuable. Your body has gone through extreme changes growing a baby. It will go through extreme changes once you’re carrying said baby on this side. Let yourself wear your maternity pants as long as you want to. Be okay with leggings, which also look adorable with slip on shoes and can be paired perfectly with all tops that have pockets. So in summary: pockets, leggings, slip on shoes. It’ll save you time and you’ll feel comfortable. Tired, but comfortable.
#5 Comfortable Socks
You’ll be on your feet more than you think. Give yourself the gift of simple joys like quality socks. Even in the summertime, having your feet hugged by fabric and fluff makes you feel a little like you’re walking on a cloud. Reality will say you’re walking down the hall for the 20th time to get something, but you forgot what it was. If you step on a toy or the dog, your socks will cushion the blow. Oh, and socks will cover that pedicure you got before your baby was born, but now it’s been about seven months later and you’re not sure what your toes look like because again, aint nobody got time for that! Socks will help.
#6 Nalgene or Yeti or Both
Get both. Stay hydrated. A Nalgene will hold you accountable to drink 64 oz a day or more. Those little measuring marks are like your personal pep rally in a bottle. Drink, drink, drink… . The Yeti is awesome for extreme cold or hot needs. Coffee, tea, iced anything…fill that Yeti up and it’ll stay the exact, or darn close to, the temp you poured it in at for 24 hrs. And as we have already chatted about, you’ll see more of the 24 hrs in the day than ever before in your natural born life. Stay hydrated, Mama!
#7 No Expectations
Really, toss those commercial reels in your mind from Gerber, Pampers, State Farm, whatever your mother tells (love you, mom!) you or your favorite mom influencer on Insta. Just ignore those ideals you hold so closely to your heart. You are about to birth a new person into the world. People have their own ideas and agendas. Your baby will have his own agenda. It starts with how he enters the world and just rolls right on through the rest of his life. When you surrender and let go of your expectations you will be so free to enjoy life as a parent. Really. Hang on, you’re about to go on an adventure and the itinerary is going to be filled with alternate times, milestones, and missed appointments. You, however, will be filled with an intense love for your new normal that it’ll all balance out…if you’re wearing pockets.
#8 Smart Watch
Get a watch that will tell you how many steps you’ve done. Who is texting you. A watch that glows at a touch so you can actually see that you’re waking up at 4:19 am. I personally love my Garmin 230 Forerunner. It has helped me eat enough during the day so I didn’t fall over from lack of calories. This is a reality when exclusively nursing a baby while chasing around a toddler. I could visually see that while still in my pajamas and feeling like time was melting all around me, I actually walked a 5k inside my cozy house. My watch partnered with me to track the hours I did or did not sleep. And that data helped me rationalize my extreme exhaustion at one in the afternoon. I was kinder to myself and my toddler, because I had data telling me I only slept for three hours the night before. It was smart when I was not. Get a smart watch.
Before I go, I want you to know, you will be the perfect PERFECT perfect mom for your child. You are made for such a time as this. Buy the leggings, drink the water, dump your expectations, and fall deeply in love with your time as a mom.
Love you more than candy,
I’m approaching my four-year anniversary of motherhood. My two boys are responsible for this milestone. They are teaching me so much about life…
Recently I was in the bathroom when the door was busted open with the type of urgency an adult would use if there was a national emergency. I expected the person on the other side to yell, “Get out now! Your life is in danger!”
In the doorway stood a 40 lb three-foot tall boy in his Cat & Jack undies holding a mass of black fabric by his side.
“Mama, can you help me put on my Batman costume?” I told him no and to please shut the door because people in bathrooms need privacy, and I am a person.
He slowly shut the door and asked, “Mama why are you sitting down on the potty?”
“Because boys are different from girls,” I said. Then the door closed.
I stared at myself in the mirror, while washing my hands, and thought about what I just said. I need to get ahead of this before it’s too late. I was snapped out of my thoughts when my cute chunky toddler opened the drawer of the bathroom vanity with a force that left a bruise on my shin. But in all fairness, he absolutely had to get out the hairdryer.
Son, girls are different from boys, and here’s why…, but first I’ll put on your Batman costume complete with fake muscles and a plastic mask.
A girl will carry her baby doll, while singing a song about fairy dust. She will skip to the rhythm of her mud covered boots as they land on top of mossy rocks in the forest. She is equal parts nurturing and courageous adventurer.
You, son, can carry a baby doll in the coziness of your Batman muscles, while singing a song about garbage trucks. You will skip to the rhythm of your mud covered boots as they land on top of mossy rocks in the forest. You are equal parts unhinged curiosity and brazen adventurer.
You can fall and get back up. She can fall and get back up. She might cry because her baby fell down and got muddy, but you might laugh because your baby doll fell and got muddy. Neither is bad, just different.
Son, you are not like her because you are a he. You will be given the same opportunities as she will, but you’ll approach them differently. She will deserve to be heard and you will deserve to be heard, but standing side by side you probably will hear the same thing with a different spin.
Your approach to cleaning up the toys on the floor might take you into a spacial journey filled with more building and destroying to finally get those tiny Lego pieces into the box. Her approach to cleaning up the toys on the floor might result in giving the Lego pieces names and putting them to bed in their box.
She will think slightly different from you. She’ll do math slightly different from you. She’ll run her mile in gym class faster or slower. Maybe she’ll chose to walk, because she hates running and rather be out rock climbing. Whatever. That competition doesn’t matter. What matters is that you respect her. It matters that you hear her and acknowledge her as a person, and all people are different.
You are different from them and they from you. Girls and boys weren’t made to be the same. They were made to share and to be compatible. Our world needs more compatibility. More sharing thoughts, sharing adventures, sharing responsibilities.
Learn from the differences. Choose to remove labeling the differences, and just recognizing we need to be different from one another to thrive.
Oh, and son, before you run away to save Gotham I have one more thing to say.
One day in the faraway future, but in this galaxy, when you have real muscles, you’ll have the privilege to work alongside a girl. She’ll be across from you, and next to you, at the conference table. She’ll lead you on that building site as you look over blueprints. She’ll safely land the plane, despite turbulence, while you co-pilot. You might need to knock on her office door and gently open it. Please don’t just bust in like you own the hour. Be aware and kind.
Respect and love her differences. Don’t devalue her based on what she can or cannot produce or how she looks. Always look for her beautiful uniqueness and then figure out how it will balance out your weakness.
You’ll definitely save a lot of good people this way. . Oh, and girls can pee standing up, it’s just practical to sit down. Girls like efficiency. Girls are different from boys.
Okay, go Batman, make Gotham a better place.
Love you more than candy,
This time last year I thought I was going to die. If I wasn’t going to die I thought one of my kids would. The winter months were frozen with fear of getting sick, then dying. It was awful. I wasn’t sleeping much and my hormones were a mess. It also turns out that I was clueless about postpartum anxiety.
Last February my low point collided with a moment of long approaching clarity.
I’m over here trying to build something and it’s really easy to talk myself out of it, until I reach back into my memories like I’m reaching into a bag of peanut M&Ms. There, in my mind, is a sweet crunchy reminder of a visit to Mother Teresa’s house. Yes, the Mother Teresa. And, also this quote. That and this remind me to keep going.
“Mother Teresa didn’t walk around complaining about her thighs — she had shit to do.”
Of all the people who were trying to build something out of nothing Mother Teresa definitely had things beyond herself to run toward. But I learned something shocking while in her house.
I stood where she loved and served others, where people would seek out her advice and wisdom and where her body rests. I stood in a calm quiet so unique in the city of Kolkata. Blue cotton curtains danced on the June breeze and the words of her story floated into my heart with just enough familiarity to be shocking. Shocking, because how could Mother Teresa and I have anything in common (anything other than: we share the same name.)
I read about her story to serve the poor with no money, no resources and no infrastructure. She only had a calling from God.
When you consider the intense motivation of a calling from the same voice who spoke out into the nothingness, “Let there be light,” and then there was light. When that same voice calls you forward, you go. So, she moved without anything, to build a great something, and left a legacy.
You and I are not unlike Mother Teresa. I totally believe that God created each of us to leave a unique mark on this world. To build something from nothing. And guess what else? It’s not going to be easy. Your calling to go requires extreme tenacity, and it may require you to stay. Sometimes staying is boring and lonely; the hardest part.
Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels
How exciting and thrilling is it to need a passport then board a 16 hour flight? There you are just skipping over continents like a kid dancing from one puddle to the next. That’s the stuff people tell stories about at dinner parties.
They went somewhere in Asia and said it was a nine hour drive from the airport mostly on dirt roads. They had no access to Amazon Prime. They went to serve, because that was their family’s vision. Their team mission. They lived in a hut with a dirt floor and didn’t drink coffee for a year. They fed their kids rice mixed with whatever veg they could forage, and bathed them in the same basin the village goats drank from.
That’s the kind of “answering a calling” and “building something” people talk about between passing the butter and salting their steamed broccoli.
Back at the Mother House, I stood in the museum dedicated to her life and that’s where my heart and soul felt in awe of how familiar Mother Teresa’s life was/is. That’s the shocking part. How can someone so brave and loving be so understood?
The words I read talked about her feelings; how she felt after laying the foundation she was called to build. And here’s the shocking thing about all of it…
Mother Teresa felt alone and depressed.
Not for a short while until her popularity increased, or funding came through, or a quota of people were fed and healed. She felt alone for nearly half a century. 50 years of loving, serving, feeding, mentoring and leading people while feeling alone and depressed.
But she never gave up. She didn’t quit. She remembered the moment when God clearly told her to go. And then it turned into stay. So she did. She stayed through the hard and lonely season of building something great. Something noble.
Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels
Hey there, you! Called to stay or go. You. Called to build something with nothing. Called to do the very thing only you were created to do. Listen. Listen to the same voice that spoke it all into existence. Whether you’re at home with your little babies, you are on a great mission. Whether you are going to pack your family up and leave the suburbs for a row house in a zip code you only read about in the news. Whether you decide you’re not going to date anymore and live a life dedicated to serving a hidden people group, because you’re called to. Go and stay. Build a foundation.
A note for you, Mama, at home raising your babies. You’re on an adventure to build a foundation too. You might not need to bathe your kids in a water basin used for the village goat, but let’s face it, bathing your kids is a labor of love regardless of the location. And although sometimes you crave nothing more than to quiet time alone, yet struggle with feeling lonely daily. You are never alone.
You’re seen and heard by the Creator of the Universe…a loving Father who called you from the beginning to love Him and then to love others. Find others, then love them. That’s how you and Mother Teresa are alike. She loved the people she was called to love. She didn’t do it for the feelings, she did it because of the calling.
I don’t know if she complained about her thighs or other stuff. What I do know is she got shit done.
Don’t get hung up on the stuff complaints are built on, you’ve got shit to do.
Love you more than candy,