10 Sentences I Thought I’d Never Say

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

5 Reasons Not to Host a Fiver Party

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.

#1 Giving

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.

#2 Receiving

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.

#3 Anticipation

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.

#4 Gratitude

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. 

#5 Patience

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

8 Essentials for Moms

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.

#1 Pockets

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.

#3 Time

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,

Teresa

Stay At Home Mom, Check!l

The first time I had to deal with the issue of being called a house wife/stay at home mom was during a weird season of my life. I had just moved to a new city because my husband started a great job. We had been trying to start a family. By trying I mean it had been two years and no kids later. I was also trying to find a job while knowing I just really wanted to be a mom. That season of life pretty much felt as comfortable as wearing soaking wet jeans, with sand in my unmentionable places, while walking on a beach in 90 degree weather. I had to keep moving forward, but it was awkward.

Anyway, the house wife label crashed into me while checking a box on a travel visa for an upcoming trip to India. I was freelance producing a documentary short. We were going to Mumbai and Kolkata to interview girls rescued out of sex trafficking. This was a big deal trip, with big deal outcomes, and I was stuck on how the only categorical documentation I could note on a visa was “house wife”. Some of the girls we were going to interview didn’t even have birth certificates. They were healing from a life no human should ever endure. Yet, in my selfishness, I was lugging around the pride of a label I thought was beneath me.

It’s taken me five years to walk away from any negative perceptions hidden among labels. Three of those five years I’ve actually been a mom. Yes, it happened! We finally got the chance to become parents after thirty months of infertility. It’s a bit ridiculous for me to have allowed semantics to hinder my walk in freedom, because for me and maybe for you too a label can really mess with someone’s true self.

This label also refined me.

I had to dig deep to figure out why answering the question, “What do you do?” bothered me. Strangely I didn’t realize I had to dig deep into the stuff of mothering to find out why I was ashamed to announce my stay at home status, even though said status was my choice. There I was on my knees loading dirty laundry into front load washer when the hard truth hit me. Somewhere along my journey through life I had adopted this belief:

Staying home to raise children is weak and anyone can do it.

Just typing that out feels disgusting, but it was a paradigm I carried around with me and didn’t realize I held it until I became a mother.

I have lived the answer and discovered my belief is all kinds of wrong. I’d even stand up in a crowd and say: being a stay at home mom takes tenacity and a lot of emotional intelligence.

It’s all on-the-job training without annual reviews or raises. A mom, working outside her home or inside her home, is a mom always. At 2am, 2pm, and 11:57p she is always there where her children need her. I had a warped view of what a stay at home mom’s role was, and how it differed from that of a mom who puts on a belt to accent her work pants.

We are raising people. Living, breathing, thinking and creative people. Who happen to love us more than is explain-ably possible. My mother-in-law (also a brilliant and educate woman who stayed home to raise three young children) referred to the early years of parenting in a way I had never thought about. She said, “You are their entire world.” I mean wow. The minute a baby is born into our world, is the minute you become a person’s entire world. This is true until they become teenagers, and then I hear you have to remind them that you kept them alive and cuddled them in the early years.

It took me a while to live a lot of icky feeling moments to realization my belief about mothering was being refined. Over the past year, as a mom to two, I’ve been chiseled into a new pillar. It bears the markings of strength, sacrifice, and love that is equal parts fierce and tender. Every challenging experience has marked my soul and made me a bold advocate of being a stay at home mom. It’s my current role, therefore I’m a fan. What’s your current role? You need to become a fan of yourself too.

So, if I had to check a box titled “stay at home mom” today, I’d do it without shame. I’d claim it on a public document by checking the box with a neon green marker. If I had to stand in front of a stadium of educated Ph.D. holding women with a visible career path, I’d still gladly answer “What do you do?” with “I’m currently a Stay at Home Mom, smartest vocation I’ve chosen to date and is providing me with the most on-the-job learning, and we are encouraged to hug and have dance parties where I work.”

If you’re a mom who struggles with staying home or going back to work, ask yourself this question: what is my current belief about mothering and how does that belief affect my behavior?

In my next blog post I’ll answer the questions:

Why did you think being a stay at home mom was weak?

What changed your mind?

What about when they go to school, what will you do with all your time?

Have you had any challenges with wanting to go back to work?

Nurturing People Takes Root

Hello, I began Nurturing People as a hashtag, and it still remains as such.

But, I have a long relationship with writing. Mainly writing stories told by other people, and mostly those stories were shared through videos, but always began with words on paper.  Stop. I’m wrong. They always began with listening.

Although never proven, I think my heart is partially shaped like an ear. I adore listening to other people’s stories about the stuff of life. The second thing I love next to listening to others’ stories is composing her story or his story or their story for others’ hearts and souls to hear. Stories, when told in the right place at the right time, connect us and grow us.

And, so…

After three years of full-on-momming, and dabbling with freelance writing jobs, I decided to focus on my own thing and take Nurturing People beyond a hashtag.

My vision for Nurturing People is to share moments about growing through life as a nurturer. To share stories from my home and hear stories from your home, that grow you and will grow us. As this blog changes from less of my voice, and more of your voice, I hope we can stay connected.

And, just because backgrounds are part of who we are…

At home, I have two boys and I’m married to a great guy, both facts make me the only woman in my house. That’s a huge responsibility for many reasons. Sometimes I freak out about the depth of my calling to raise and nurture boys, but mostly I am grateful. Being a parent has taught me, and brought me into a live-able belief, that we are all created to nurture people at all seasons of growth.

My background in writing and interviewing began a long time ago in 1st grade. My teacher, Mrs. Findley, was most likely tired of answering all my questions and she told me I should be a journalist. So naturally I asked a question like, what is a journalist? Her direct answer lacked a sugar coating and was more like a hammer hitting a nail, a journalist is a person who asks a lot of questions.  I did in fact ask a lot of questions. My first spelling test was straight-up anxiety inducing because I thought I had to write out the entire sentence containing the spelling word I memorized. “Cat, the cat jumped over the fence, cat.” I raised my hand in the middle of the test and asked if we had to spell out the whole sentence. Getting the answer to that question, which was “no” with a laugh, “Just spell the word cat,” made me braver about asking questions. The right questions help with life. It totally grew me.

Fast forward through high school and into college where I landed at Liberty University for both undergrad and graduate degrees.  When higher education was all done with me, I left with a bachelor of science in broadcast journalism and a master of arts in communication. That nail hammered into me in first grade made a good kind of mark on my ego.

I’ve practice my interest for listening, asking questions, then creating content as an assistant news producer with ABC, a producer for The Zone Music video show, the executive producer and story producer with Facing Life Head-On, a producer with Zone Communication Group, a digital media producer at Possible World Wide,  a video producer at Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, OH, and a content producer for Water Street Mission. I plan on continue producing great content that inspires people.

Cheers!

Teresa B. Duffy

 

A Wise Walk in Faith

Every time I look at the star I think about the crazy long journey three kings went on. It took them 1-2 years, following a bright star in the eastern sky, to finally find the King who was rumored to have arrived. Those three wise leaders went on a faith walk for thousands of miles. I wonder if they ever wanted to quit and go home? I wonder if they got totally annoyed with one another? I wonder if they got sick or dehydrated or they had to buy a new camel to travel on? But as the story goes, they met Jesus face to face after moving forward with persistent faith. They kept their eyes fixed on that star, and their hope set on someone not yet seen. When they arrived at Jesus’ parents’ house they knelt down and looked into the eyes of a two year old. They met their King. This boy, who would spend about 30 years of his life as an apprentice to his wood working dad, would then go on to revolutionize religious paradigms. The wise men gave gifts to Jesus, toddler Jesus, which had deep meaning and prophetic intentions…nice to meet you here is embalming oil (myrrh). In faith they traveled and by faith they believed that this boy would be their savior; everyone’s savior. All they had to do was believe and have faith. So much has changed since then, but really so much has remained the same. Believe and have faith. This star is glowing with a reminder of adventure, faith, hope, rescue, redemption and celebration. #bemerry #youareloved #nurturingpeople

Intention and Surrender

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.

 

 

Flicker Moments

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.