If you’re a mom, then you are a badass. Period. Done. No need to go above and beyond the typical around the clock labor of love called momming to be noted as a person who is impressive due to courage, skill or toughness. You got that badge the moment you found out you were pregnant and then chose to walk boldly into the next chapter of your life raising another human being.
Where is this coming from?
I was scrolling Facebook and someone shared an article about a recent Ironman competitor, who is also a mom, but it was shared with the caption “this mom is definitely a badass.” I was all like, wow! Yeah she is! But then I was like, hold up. To the mom who never left her house today because her baby was sick and her toddler is potty training and her first grader wore high-top sneakers with no socks and no raincoat on a cold and wet November day…wow, you are badass too!
Ok, so you can read all about runner-mom’s amazing finish and race here, Air Force mom pumps milk in 70.3 mile Ironman and smashes her personal record. because yes, the fact that this fellow mama actually made time to train insane amount of hours and continue to fuel her body while also keeping her kids fed, one who is still obviously being breast fed is ah-mazing! Air Force mom inspires me and makes me want to do harder things. Really. It really is all about the effort and the training season that leaves me awestruck, and can I just make the leap here to say that you, we, us–we are all in a training season and making a definite effort.
Why does it matter?
We can all totally understand the amount of discipline and community it takes to enable a mom to train for an endurance race. Right? Like, I have to work hard at eating 2,300 calories a day and drink 96oz of water and I’m not training for anything, Yet I’ve definitely had days when I bonk, like an energy depleted endurance athlete in mile 62 of her 100 miles. Minus the obvious finish line and good press that might accompany a grand effort to finish while, say, pumping milk. Seldom do moms get the level or recognition they deserve for the insane amount of courage they bring to each new day. I mean we have an entire grown population of millennials who know how to pee on a toilet (mostly) and we can thank our grandmothers for that. That training wasn’t easy. Amen? Amen!
Here I am feeding another human being with my body, while also raising and nurturing a pre-schooler. I’m also nurturing my nursing baby, too because I know that a person needs love and food to survive. All moms know this and do this…they feed, love, shelter and nurture. Sometimes we forget to do the same for ourselves, and that’s the badass part of it all. We just keep going. We put our obvious needs aside and run hard.
Run Sister, Run!
Now go on with your brave and courageous day. Hydrate, eat well, sit down for a few minutes at a time and realize when your daily finish line is in view, that you ran an amazing race today. You did.
So, if you are a mom, then you are badass. Period. Done.
(I’m dedicating this post to my sister, Nicole, who recently and miraculously delivered her third baby within four years. You are is most definitely a strong and courageous woman doing the valued stuff of life, while surrounded by community.)
I was reclining in the chair, at the dentist, a drill was grading away at my tooth when I realized that I was way more relaxed in that moment than when I’m pushing a cart filled with groceries and two kids. It was so relaxing to just lounge there and not do anything. I don’t know if this was a great realization or a tragic one.
I remember that first grocery trip as a mom of two, and I still get sweaty palms just thinking back on it. There’s so many decisions to make while picking out groceries. Then there’s the crowd of other casual shoppers sans kids who seems to be in a totally different minds space. The cart is never big enough for two small people and all the food. Someone will need to use the bathroom or eat or both. One or both kids will lick the cart or grab items off the shelf, most likely both will happen. Both are annoying, one is gross.
When my friend Helena told me she was deciding between going grocery shopping with her newborn and toddler, or to the park I let her know I needed to go grocery shopping too! With slight hesitation, I suggested we go shopping together, then take the kids to the park. I hesitated because it never occurred to me to invite another mom to go grocery shopping. What’s the worse that could happen?
Evidently this invite was exactly what we both needed in our lives. We met up to shop like two co-workers showing up for a meeting. We planned our route through the store and set our expectations about how we’ll split up and then meet up, but we’d never hesitate to text for backup. Just knowing we were in this together, even though sometimes in separate aisles helped calm our minds. It was not perfect, but it was wonderful.
We are co-laborers, co-workers, co-mommers. Why not meet up to do the hard things together? Even if “hard” gets redefined to all the normal stuff we did pre-kids. I remember strolling through my prefered grocer on a Saturday when I wasn’t a mom, and taking my time. I didn’t love it then, but I didn’t hate it either. It wasn’t hard. It was a function. Now it’s hard and a function of survival. I haven’t researched this, but I’m pretty sure groups did not go hunting and gathering alone. So why go grocery shopping alone?
In multi-family homes, 70% of people grocery shoppers are women. I must share that Tyler is an awesome grocery shopper and does lots of weekly trips for us. I love when he comes home with extra fun stuff to eat. His bounty actually represents his enjoyment for grocery shopping. Mine is all form and function. Anyway, back to moms and shopping with kids, each time I pass a mom with young kids in a cart I stop myself from high-fiving her. Next time I should, and I should recommend that she calls her friend to meet up in aisle nine.
Helena and I shopped for about 40 minutes, which evidently is two minutes below the average time women take to grocery shop, and within that time between the two of us there was one potty break, two crying kids, and two snack times. At one point I lost Helena and she wasn’t answering her texts. I didn’t panic. I just kept strolling on like Pete The Cat. Then I found her sitting in an Adirondack chair. Not a complimentary chair for nursing moms, but for sale chair in the outdoor aisle. She wasn’t testing to buy, she was nursing her newborn. Her toddler was swiping through family photos on her iPhone. We just rolled into the scene like cool cats and began chatting. My son chatted with her son and me with Helena. I was baby wearing, she was baby feeding and we had each other’s back. We decided our hunting and gathering was done for the day and it was time to check-out and get to the playground.
That was a success co-momming meeting. I’d do that again. Thanks, Helena. You’re the best.
P.S. Women do 51% of the grocery shopping But when was the last time you were at a grocery store and saw a mommy & child space complete with a nursing area and some crayons and coloring books for big sister or brother? The average shopping time of 41 minutes for women, that’s not saying with or without kids, is a long time for little minds and bellies. Maybe there can be a change in the grocery store experience for moms with kids? For now, invite your friend.
I have been practicing the balance of intention and surrender since the minute I became a mother at exactly 4:58 pm on that Sunday in April of 2015. I was on an operating table unable to move, with tears gushing out of my eyes because I heard my baby boy’s cry for the first time. Giving birth that way was not my plan, but it was perfect for me and him. Perfect because he and I were safe and healthy. I had to surrender to the reality that my birthing plan wasn’t going the way I wanted it to. I had to be intentional about not letting an unplanned c-section mess with my mind. I chose to intentionally surrender to the experience, and it birthed the start of an amazing adventure into mothering.
Why is intention and surrender so valuable during parenting? In short, it keeps you sane.
Mainly because when raising people you have to constantly be aware and present. Also when you are constantly aware and present 87% of the time things don’t make sense. I’m still in preschool and toddler phase. Brains in my house are growing faster than my lawn. Not my brain, that’s another post, but my kid’s brains…wow. Anyway, the other day I was in the kitchen, where I spend way too much time, prepping another meal and it was way quiet in my house. I caught myself enjoying how quiet it was before I snapped out of it and realized it was a dangerous quiet. I walked in the direction I last heard my three-year old’s feet running and found him in the bathroom about to eat toothpaste. I had to be intentional about stopping my thing to go and figure out what he was up to. So there I stood in the bathroom surrendering to the reality that if I was three I would probably want to eat sparkly bubblegum scented toothpaste too, and also maybe I shouldn’t have kept that toothpaste at arm’s length of a little curious consumer. Of course I freaked out enough to prevent the glob of toothpaste from going into his mouth, but I also calmed down enough to extend grace and teach him that eating toothpaste is not good for his body.
How can two opposing concepts coexist?
I recently had to be super intentional about mitigating mastitis so that I could solo parent for eight days. The timing of my plugged milk duct was not good. So every two hours for a full 24 hours I had to be intentional about surrendering to my body’s issue and take care of me. Meanwhile I had to let go of whatever else was on my agenda. I chose to look at the time as a great bonding between my second little boy, who was days away from his first birthday. It was awful and glorious at the same time. Sometime between nursing, pumping, and warming up my heating pad again I changed my baby boy’s diaper. He had pooped out a fully legible UPC sticker from an avocado. I was intentional about feeding him a healthy fat, but totally surrendered to the reality that he ate a plastic sticker covered in ink. I chose not to freak out. I chose to laugh. He laughed too. It was a perfectly gross scenario.
There are so many more stories I could share that exemplify the collision of intention and surrender within parenting, but I’ll stop here. You get it, right? When you find yourself passionately responsible for human lives the only way to joyfully make it through the day is to dance with these two concepts. Be kind to yourself as you carry two opposing mindsets and realize that it is possible to be intentional while surrendering.
There will always be laundry to fold, but it won’t always belong to tiny boys. There will always be a dish to wash or a cup to dry, but it won’t always belong to learning hands. There will always be groceries to buy for meals that are or are not eaten, but those meals won’t always include conversations with curious minds asking things like, “what was that thing we caught in the stream today?” and giggling over unknown words. There will always be sunny summer days, cold shallow creeks and muddy banks, but there won’t always be a baby to wear or an little hand to hold as we explore. These flicker moments get me through those stuff of life moments.
Your identity is not anchored to the person you wake up next to. You are not the sum of your achievements, your kid’s achievements, your failures or your kid’s failures. Your value is greater than your ability to produce, to harvest or to make seven healthy meals in a row. You are more than the thoughts in your mind telling you all the shoulds, coulds or tries. Your being is rooted in a stillness and a peace that began before time. It’s rooted in a Truth that is all-knowing but also mysterious. Your identity is rooted in the quiet peaceful place where comparison and harsh thoughts have no life. You are created to know Love and to live in freedom. Live your calling from the place that rests deep inside where Truth and Love reside.
We’ve been struggling lately with listening well and acting on listening. But today was different. I’m moving the boys into the same room. This little guy was my helper, and together we disassembled and assembled his little brother’s crib. There was a spark in him as we teamed up and I gave him a role that was bigger than his solo abilities. He stood back and saw what we did together and literally danced. “Look mommy, we worked as a team!”
Above all else mothering makes me feel totally alive. Also exhausted, but that’s a part of living. These are my people and they have their own personalities and character traits. We are individuals who are fully connected, but each on different places in our journey through life. These truths make every day an adventure, an adventure that causes me to feel totally alive…even at 12am, 3am, 5am and during stuff like sleep regression and growth spurts and working through fear of the dark and brothers not wanting to share or picky eating. Each day is about being fully alive despite, and because of, the feelings that flow through the day.
What if there was less negative social justice and political banter on social media and more community action? What if we reserved our conversations about human rights and financial turmoil and whispers of war for interpersonal commitments that foster a local difference? What if we each picked a little gap to stand in, then found others standing in that gap and together make plans that build bridges or ladders?
In this season of life my local calling is in my home. I believe young families are the bricks that build a safer happier community. I’m standing in this gap and I’m glad to have surrounded myself with other brave people doing the same.
Find your local gap, then be there. Let’s allow ourselves to feel small in a big world, because all wonderful beginnings start small.