Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Day of Dedication

Some days parenthood is hard. It's exhausting. It's the trying of every ounce of patience until you come to the end of yourself and find just a little bit left...only to have the life sucked out of you by the little beings you call your children. You would die for them, and yet there are moments when you wonder how you manage to keep them alive. There are days when all you can do is survive. No Pinterest projects. No homemade meals. Nothing post-worthy and certainly nothing you want to make a memory over.

And then there are days like today. Today was all of the reasons we became parents. Today embodied the feelings, blessings and emotions of parenthood that make you stop in the stillness of the evening when life is dying down and babies are cuddled up and you simply utter, "Thanks."

Today is one of the moments we etch in our memory: February 14, 2016, Valentine's Day. A day to recall our family's commitment to raise our daughter for the Lord. I remember the day dedicating Elijah in 2008. Now Michael and I offer Violet back to the Lord.

"For this child [we] prayed...So now [we] give [her] to the Lord. For [her] whole life [she] will be given over to the Lord." 1 Samuel 1:27-28

Today was the day we committed to give her over to the Lord. The day we acknowledge the gift of this child and recognize we are but stewards as we lead her and guide her. This day, a day to celebrate love, was the epitome of just that as we stood with our family and committed to share the love of Christ with this soul we've been entrusted with. I struggled to hold back the tears as the Pastor prayed over these precious lives. The beauty of the moment and the meaning surrounding it was one I wouldn't forget.

Our prayer of dedication is just the beginning. We can't choose for them - God has given us each free will to choose whom we will serve. But we are committed to raising these precious souls to know the God whom we love and serve, the Master who created them and sent His Son to die for them and give them eternal life. We can't make them choose Christ as their Savior but we are committed to making sure they know of His sacrifice and gift.

I've built an altar, stone by stone, surrounding the miracle of motherhood. Each prayer, tear and hope-filled moment of waiting now stand as a place I pause and give praise for the answers to prayer. The joy wasn't without pain, heartache and moments of emptiness. But my barrenness brought supplication, my grief brought surrender, my brokenness ushered gratefulness to make me appreciate each and every hard-fought moment that I had longed and prayed for.

We had so much fun as a family today. All of a sudden this precious baby became keenly aware of her big brother. He donned underwear (clean ones, I promise) on his head as he talked and sang to her. The belly laughs coming from the little one were enough to cause an eruption of laughter from each of us as we watched her discover her world. A fort of pillows was built in the living room while a daring little boy attempted to couch surf. We sat back as parents and decided not to scold and stop the silliness but rather we embraced it and let it soak deep into our hearts as we smiled at each other almost knowingly realizing this would be the icing on such a day full of sweet memories. This day wasn't without its trials or challenges. It wasn't perfect or fully peaceful. But it was, no doubt, a day that we'll remember for the moments we never want to forget.

We don't just sign up for the pretty, sweet, memorable moments of parenthood. We sign up for all of it. Every last heart-wrenching moment that shakes your faith and brings you to your knees. We sign up for the depth and breadth of parenting living souls that God so divinely sees fit to entrust us with. For the moments that try our patience and test our wills. For the moments that become memories etched in our minds. For every moment.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Pinterest Fail

You've seen it before. The pictures portraying the feeble attempts at the glamorous Pinterest projects only to be stamped with a huge "fail." Cakes that are flopped, crafts falling a part, pictures so pitiful you laugh but feel sorry for the poor soul who failed so miserably. Oh wait. That may have been my own failed photo. 

And so the story goes. I was scrolling through Pinterest looking for recipes, making my weekly meal plan and working on the grocery list I would need to accomplish these artful dishes. A beautiful spring wreath. Hand-crafted valentines. 101 creative ways to play with your baby. Fit and fab workouts. The more I scrolled through pins, the more depressed I became. "I wish I could be more Pinterest worthy." My husband wasn't about to step into this one. I got a look that said he loved and supported me but my musings weren't founded. But I knew what I meant. I'm not blogging about my amazing creations, sharing tips and tricks, offering new ideas and recipes I just "whipped up" because of my creative genius. My attempts to pin my interests were driving me to feel like I failed. It wasn't that I had attempted and failed at some Pinterest project. This was much bigger than that. This was me feeling like a homemaking failure. 

The truth is I've made a lot of the Pinterest projects that peaked my interest. Science experiments on snow days, new recipes that turned out to be family favorites, class treats for the school celebrations. I can actually say I've made things I am proud of. I was enjoying down time on a Saturday with my family and somehow feeling like I should be making, baking, crafting or doing something. I felt my inner monologue speaking "Put the iPad down. Step away from Pinterest." 

And so I closed the iPad and got down on the floor where my baby was enjoying her playmat. I pulled out a toy and laid eyeball to eyeball with her until she gave me the biggest grin. It lights up her whole face when she smiles like that and it made me realize there's no photograph on Pinterest that could capture that joy. I sat and talked with my husband - actual verbal words in conversation - and I became aware of the fact that no time was better spent. Sure, I could have made a craft and posted my photo for the "world" to like and approve of, but instead I gained his admiration by simply being present. We snuggled as a family on the couch enjoying each other and our time together. 

Today I learned the art of conversation. I mastered the recipe of quality time mixed with love and affection. Instead of tackling to do lists, I played a game of tickle monster and heard the cutest belly laugh of any kid. I don't have any pictures to share because I was too busy living in the moments and making them my own personal memories rather than preoccupied by documenting them. Today my Pinterest project became living life - my not-so-post-worthy-life.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

One Fateful Trip to Walmart

To every mother everywhere, I salute you. You've surely been there before. At least I hope so because if I find out I'm the only hot mess of a mama out there... Well, it could confirm suspicions of me my losing my mind.

This was my husband's drawing for me today. If only he knew. I am so far from super and I can prove it. 

There I was. A simple trip to Walmart. Only I have a baby now so there is nothing simple about even the smallest errand. She had been screaming since being put in the car seat, not typical, but in true form the movement of the car put her to sleep. I wasn't about to wake my sleeping baby by removing her from the car seat carrier. If I were a true baby wearer this little obstacle wouldn't have phased me, but nevertheless I fall into the baby carrier category. Have you ever carried a growing baby in one of those? If you've seen the thighs on this girl you could easily know this isn't a light load. Don't worry. I tell her all the time how much I love her rolls. However this chunky monkey is quite a load to carry, car seat and all. It's cold enough for a baby to need to be covered. So there's a car seat canopy, you know, the cool cover, plus a blanket. I'm heaving her out of the van and hiking the handle over my arm, attempting to pull the cover over her as a shield and making sure the blanket has her warm. In my effort to juggle everything, I lost my balance and somehow tripped on my own feet banging my shin on the door. Yeah, that's gonna leave a mark.

I parked near the cart return as I always do. My plan was to grab a cart and put her car seat down inside. My timing was seconds off because the dutiful worker was on his way through the parking lot with a string of carts to return. "Sir! Excuse me, can I have one of those?" I tried calling after him but he was unaware of me and my plight. I had parked much too far away to carry her and the car seat all the way in. My arms would surely fall off and I would probably huff and puff in the process. I didn't want anyone to have to call an ambulance. All of a sudden it dawned on me. "The stroller!" Her handy dandy stroller was in the back. I had to sit the carrier on the ground so I could pull out the stroller and set it up. Thank goodness I've mastered that contraption. I went to retrieve my baby and turned around only to realize I had forgotten to put on the brake. My stroller was rolling! Now I had my sleeping baby and her carrier thrown over my arm as I took off to chase my rolling stroller. Thankfully it only made it two cars down before landing on someone else's bumper. I checked to make sure there wasn't a mark and we had done no damage. 

I took a quick scan around the parking lot to see if anyone had captured what must have been a comical sight. I wasn't laughing. I was sweating. I'm certain it was a balmy 44 degrees outside. I put my baby inside the stroller and took off for the door. I high-tailed it through the store and retrieved the boxes of Valentine candy I needed. It would take 6 boxes to fulfill what I required. But I didn't have a cart and I was pushing the stroller. What was a mom in my position to do?! I put the boxes in the basket under the stroller. I declared to my sleeping baby loud enough for any worker to hear "We'll just put these here so we can PAY UP FRONT." I didn't want them to think I was stealing! 

I had to make my way all the way across the store for the other item. Why does it always work out that way?! By the time I went to pay, my little one awoke and realized she wasn't being held. This created a slight screaming fit while mama tried to hush and sooth her all why managing the self check out. Of course I had two boxes that wouldn't scan. Now my baby girl was working on her wail as I attempted to rock the stroller with my foot while typing in the pesky item number. Was it hot in there? I thought it was. I was definitely sweating again. 

Done. Now get out of there! Fast! I started booking it to my car. "Shhhh it's ok!" I tried calming her. She was fighting sleep. Eyes were closing...finally. She was calm. I parked the stroller, remembering the brake this time. I carefully picked up my baby and attempted to place her in the car as gently as I could while struggling with the awkward heavy carrier. The car beside me must have parked too close, or I was somehow crooked, but without warning...BAM! I hit the mirror of the car door. "Are you kidding me?!" Not my finest moment but then again I had several of these in a row to really compete for the medal. I was mortified. And I had woken the baby. I put her in the car and went to collapse the stroller, only it wouldn't. "What is going on? I know I know how to work this..." I had forgotten about my bags underneath. Ugh. How could one trip to Walmart cause so much stress? Had I remembered deodorant that morning? Why was it so hot??? I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The entire episode took less than 10 minutes but it felt like an eternity. 

For anyone who thought I had it all together...well, hopefully I've put your mind at ease. I am a woman. A very real fallible woman. I am a wife. I am a mom. And I struggle. I have good days and I have bad ones and surely by now you know that I can be a complete laughing stock. Still not convinced? Even after this entire trip I sat down in my car only to realize ... my pants zipper had been down the entire time. I feel like this was only a minor detail considering all the other reasons I had given for people to laugh, or maybe even pity me?! And there you have it folks. In case you were tempted to think I sit on a pedestal, I present you with this glimpse into my not-so-glamorous world. Laugh if you must. The truth is I hope you do. There is no crown. No cape. There's no "S" embroidered on my chest. This isn't an act. This is real life and I'm living it one crazy chaotic moment at a time. One fateful trip to Walmart at a time.