Just for Laughs

Saw this on Facebook the other day - ha ha.
Everyone needs a quick chuckle now and then, right?  

Keeping my eyes open...

Here's another article from the past. One that I'm thankful I came across again.
I needed the reminder.

It'll probably be the last I'll dig up for awhile.  Fresh stuff is coming soon!!!! :-)

I love being a mother. I don't always like it though.

(I'll pause until your shock wears off - ha ha)

Now, I have friends that might always "like" it. They say things like, "Don't get frustrated at nap time - cherish those moments..." and "just exhale when they do that, it's not that important" and "don't you just LOVE the story this chaotic experience is gonna make when they're older?!"  I usually smile, knowing they're right - but still resisting the urge to punch them.

I love my kids. In a way that has to be supernatural - because it surpasses every ounce of effort I could ever put into loving them.  So this "not liking motherhood sometimes" issue had me a little freaked out.

I knew my life would entirely change once we started procreating, but it's so much easier to accept that dramatic, giant truth when you don't realize what it means on the day to day scale. And once I started to see my new ... identity... begin to unfold, I didn't always like it.

I like traveling. It's difficult to travel with little ones. I like ...no LOVE... to read. It's close to impossible to sit down with a book and read more than 3 sentences without being needed during those "early years". (listen to me - I sound like I have teenagers - ha ha. ::sigh::) I like to sleep...well, enough said.

Something else I've learned about myself is I squint frequently (and not only because my contacts'/glasses' precription is really REALLY old).  I squint when I'm frustrated, confused, angry, tired.....etc. It's like my body naturally tells my eyes to only focus on the object in front of me. I lose all peripheral vision and all my attention is on the thing I'm looking at.

It's not helpful. (and not good for my eyes either)

It's obvious that we need to see a problem from different angles to solve it. When I can see beyond the tip of my nose my blood pressure usually decreases and I start to see the story behind whatever is frustrating me.  And today, on the M5 bus with the girls, making our way home from the gym, I realized I was squinting.

The girls were really crazy antsy. There were just enough people around us for it to be entirely inappropriate. They were accidentally kicking onlookers. They were falling all over the place and elbowing elderly people. (Okay, maybe just one somewhat-grumpy elderly lady.) Every time I'd say through gritted teeth, "Girls. sit. down." or "stop. pushing. each. other." it would just get worse. And as I was squinting I only saw the chaos they were causing.

What made this commute different than most other rambunctious ones is I caught myself squinting.  I made a choice and WILLED my eyes to open wider. Not only did it relieve the headache that was starting, but it expanded what I was focusing on. I began to notice the bright sunshine beaming through the bus. I saw that most of the people (with the exception of previously mentioned elderly lady) were smiling at my kids and whispering about how cute they were. I saw that although their interactions were playground worthy and NOT bus appropriate, they were laughing and loving each other. My heart began to warm up again.

I soaked in the moment.

The tension left my face and I started to smile. I leaned over and whispered to them (whispering always gets their attention), "I love you girls. And I love being your mommy."  To my surprise, Elasia smiled at me with that one smile of hers (the one that I'm SURE is going to cause traffic accidents when she's older) and snuggled up close to me and whispered back, "I love being your daughter, Mommy."

(Now, Qara....well - true to form she took this tender moment as an opportunity to pull her sister's pants down and dump the contents of the entire diaper bag onto the seat she was sitting in. ::sigh:: but she's a charmer herself...in her own special "Qara" sort of way.)

Thankfully before the magic wore off and before I started squinting at the mess Qara had made, our stop was approaching. I quickly shoved everything back into the backpack/diaper bag and scooped them both up and got off the bus.  I let them walk home together in the sunshine rather than carrying Qara. I kept my eyes wide open and admired how cute they were as they skipped together on the sidewalk.

I saw so much:
Qara's little dimply arms (that I seriously have to decide not to bite). Elasia's green bean looking legs that she can somehow move so gracefully. I watched Qara running with abadoned, and as she got closer to the crosswalk, I saw Elasia stop her, hold her hand and wait for me to catch up so we could cross the street together.

I love motherhood. But I know I won't always like it. I think that's okay.

But maybe, if I can remember to stop squinting so much and take in more of the picture, I might become one of those precious friends that people like me want to punch.

just maybe.... ;-)

MMs: Golden Moments

Going through my older posts, I'd love to repost some of the ones that really encouraged me and gave me proper perspective on Motherhood. This one is from 2 years ago.  I still strive to treasure the Golden Moments:

I have these moments that flash through my mind, usually right before bed time that cause chills to creep up and down my back and tears to well up in my eyes. They are Dark Moments of self-doubt. Moments when I forget that the world doesn't rest on my shoulders and there are Hands that hold my children that are much stronger than mine. The cruel instant-replays of harsh words, bad decisions, and missed opportunities to show love to my children.

And there are Golden Moments. Moments when Elasia's eyes sparkle with mischief, sloppy syrupy hugs after pancake breakfast, playing with Qara's spring-like curls after a bath and the cuddles. Oh the cuddles. Watching Elasia patiently teach her little sister something or Qara run up to me confessing something she broke with big, bright apologetic eyes.

Thankfully the scale tips on the golden side of things most days. ::sigh:: Most.

Here's a peek at one of them from Saturday.  We had just come from an early afternoon wedding. We went to cocktail hour with our toddlers and all they had for food was a few chicken nuggets we bought on the walk from the ceremony to the hotel bar where the cocktail hour was being held.  Once we got home, I was expecting whiney, over-tired drama.  But instead...I got this:

A picture is worth a thousands words.

Yes, that is a big ol' bowl of peas that they're ravenously devouring.
No, that is not normal.
Yes, Qara had stripped herself down to only her diaper and the earliest chance she could find.
Yes, that is normal.

We skipped naptime and put them to bed early. And as I sat on the couch after bedtime, with my cup of coffee and "to do" list in front of me, I took a second to be thankful for the Golden Moments. It is proving to be effective ammunition to fight of the sickness in my heart that the Dark ones bring.

Encouragement for my friends

Let's sit on the metaphorical couch and drink our pretend cup of coffee and discuss things deep in our heart for a second. Here's what's in mine. It's something I articulated a long time ago on Facebook, but I've been wanting to shout from the rooftops lately:

So ... dear friends young and old, married/"partnered", single, and all the other categories my colorful friends' may include ;-) (and particularly moms of older children):

You'd be surprised how deeply uplifting it is for a mom of young kids to hear SINCERE encouragement/positive feedback from you. Things like "You are doing an awesome job" and "They are not going to grow up to be serial killers, I can tell!" and "You are the perfect mom for these type of kids!" etc. The"young kids/babies season" is tough on a woman's identity, marriage, and life in general. One sincere/helpful comment just to let her know "Everything's gonna be alright, just breathe" can turn a suffocatingly dark day into a bright, hope-filled one. 

Your words can help frame her inadequacies with grace. 

Just sayin'.

What's in your heart pertaining to motherhood today?

Heavenly Protection

On April 2, 2012 at 8:29 PM Amina Celeste Gahagan was born. Her name means Heavenly protection, safety and refuge.

We are so in love.....
 Sleepy smiles make my day.

The three sisters!

We found out we were pregnant last year during a very high pressure, stressful, and emotional season in our lives. (Hence the lack of posts too.) Having a constant awareness of a life forming inside of me was my accountability to not internalize stress, take on more than I could handle, and enjoy the process. Her little life protected me from damaging my health because of my martyr tendencies. Her birth was wonderful and even at 1 month old, I find that my obligation to her (simply love, nursing and regular newborn care) is keeping my life "manageable" in what could be another crazy season.

Thank you, God for this heavenly gift of protection.

MMs: How to Feel Miserable as a Mom...

I saw a very clever rePOST on Facebook entitled "How to Feel Miserable as an Artist" and wanted to pass it on to every artist that I know!  Then as I thought for a second, I realized how true and SURPRISINGLY similar a quick list for mothers would be.  Here's my mother version, barely edited into mother specific terms:

How to Feel Miserable as a Mother
1. Constantly compare yourself to other mothers
2. Talk to your family/friends about what you do and expect them to always cheer you on.
3. Base the success of your entire parenting on one season of your child's life
4. Stick with what you know
5. Undervalue your intuition
6. Let money dictate the quality of your children's lives
7. Bow to societal pressures
8. Only do work that your family will appreciate
9. Do whatever your children ask
10. Set unattainable/overwhelming goals. To be accomplished by tomorrow.

Thank you, whoever wrote the artist list! You get all the credit for this mommy list too.