Finding My Balance Through Faith

It has been a long time since I last posted.  My aunt asked me why, and my mom answered for me “because she has found her balance.”

I may not be perfectly balanced.  There are dishes in my sink and laundry is piled up.  I have a to do list.  And I never get everything done that I want to.  The difference between now and two years ago is that I have finally figured out that we aren’t meant to get everything done.

I have learned how to prioritize, and to not feel guilty when I just can’t do it all.  I have learned to make time for myself to do what gives me life.  One of these things is spending time in the word every day.  In doing so I feel as if my life is as balanced as it ever will be.  Yet, I am still finding lessons wherever I go.

Last night I went with some family to see Miracles From Heaven.  This movie tore at my heart strings in every way imaginable.  If you haven’t seen it, I won’t ruin it for you, but I am going to share a big question it made me ask myself.

Over the last year I have really been moving forward in my faith journey.  I have been getting to know God in a whole new way.  I am stronger in my faith now than I ever have been in my life, and it feels really good.  I feel pretty confident in myself, that I am gaining ground as a Christian.  I am learning more, and sharing what I am learning with others.  I am putting my trust in God, where in the past I would have taken on the whole burden myself.

Watching this movie last night, especially knowing that it was a true story, I had to ask myself something.  Would I have the same amount of faith in God if things were going badly?

If one of my kids got hurt or sick, would I still trust in Him?

It is so easy to trust in His plans for you when things are going smoothly in your life.  It’s easy to say “I know God loves me, look at all he has blessed me with”.  But what about the trials?  Where would your faith stand then?

I would love to say that my trust would be just as confident then as it is now, but I honestly don’t know.

I watched this mother lose faith.  I watched her not understand why bad things were happening.  But at the same time, her daughter’s faith never waivered.   I want to be like that little girl.  I want to always trust.  I want to teach my children to always trust.

There was an Albert Einstein quote used in this movie that I will keep imprinted on my heart.  “There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Let’s choose the latter.

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Goals.

I see this word a lot on social media.  “Squad goals”, “Relationship goals”, “friendship goals”.  It has become one of those weird words that young(er)* people use without an explanation.  Under a picture of a happy couple – “goals”.  Under a picture of someone eating an icecream cone – “goals”.  Under a picture of a six pack (of either beer or abs) – “goals”.

Well, I may not have icecream goals, and I’ve already reached my relationship goals, and I’m not really 100% positive what a squad is, unless you are referring to a group of cheerleaders, but I do have some goals for 2016.  And with this being the last day of 2015.  And with the fact that I have been completely slacking in the blog department.  I thought I would share them.

  1.   Whole 30.  I am going to start my first Whole 30 on January 4th.  I spent a good part of 2015 taking steps to become healthier, both physically and mentally, and have really been wanting to try this.  I don’t really care if I lose any weight or not, I just really want to reset my body.  I want to see how much the unnecessary junk I put into my body really effects me.  I want to establish healthier eating habits for both myself and my family.  I want to focus on nourishing my body, practice mindful eating, and if I lose a couple pounds in the process – great.  My ultimate goal is to complete this every couple of months throughout the year.
  2. Simplify.  I have already started on this one.  My intention is to get rid of things we don’t want/use/need.  We live in a pretty modest sized house.  Holding on to things just for the sake of holding on to them has caused a lot of clutter to gather in our modest house.  The clutter has started to make my brain feel like it is going to explode.  And then we just buy more stuff.  It’s time to stop.  No more clutter.  No more unnecessary things.  No more wasted money and space.
  3. Celebrate.  I want to celebrate every day.  I want to wake up and have dance parties with my kids simply because it’s a Tuesday.  I want to celebrate friendships.  I want to celebrate my husband coming home after a long day with the kids.  I want to celebrate life.  I want dinner on a Thursday to be a celebration because we are all together, and happy, and healthy, and alive.
  4. Mindful living.  This includes less screen time, being more present in the moment, paying more attention, doing things with purpose.
  5. Make moves.  I have a couple personal goals that I have been sitting on, and I have every intention of moving forward with them this year.  I will share them when the time is right.

As far as mom goals go, I have high hopes that I will continue to simultaneously keep myself and my children alive, that my daughter will be potty trained before her 30th birthday, that my son will eat something other than chocolate for breakfast, and that maybe we’ll get one full, eight hour night of sleep.  2016 I’m coming for you.

*There is a good possibility that everyone of all ages use this termonology and I’m just really that un-cool.

Life After Post Partum Depression/Anxiety/OCD.

If you missed my posts on my struggle with post partum depression/anxiety/ocd, you can find them here and here.

I like to think I have come a long way since writing those posts.  Granted, that could have a lot to do with having two toddlers now, or the fact that I am still taking Paxil.  Regardless of the reasons, it feels really good to have my life back, and to be able to say, with confidence, that if you are currently struggling, there is hope.  You will get through it.  Whether that be with counseling, medication, self-help, or all of the above, there will come a time when you feel like your old self.

In my experience, I actually feel better than I ever did.  I spent a majority of my life suffering from anxiety, without even realizing that not everyone had the same intense fears that I had.

I realize that most may not consider me “healed” since I am still taking medication.  To this, all I have to say is that this medication saved me.  It gave me my life back.  It gave me life back that I didn’t even know I was missing.

Maybe there will come a time when I feel ready to go off of it, right now though, is not that time.

What this medication does for me, is keeps me from allowing my anxiety to rule my life.  I still get anxious, I still have to use mind over matter to get through certain situations, I still have to push myself to leave my comfort zone, but I think that’s just a part of being human.  What I’m not dealing with anymore?  Paralyzing fear, obsessive thoughts, depression.

The other day, I took both of my children, by myself, to their first dentist appointment.  By. Myself.  This might seem like nothing to some, but to me, it is everything.  The old me would have never in a million years been able to do that without having a  panic attack.

We go on regular outings now, just the three of us.  Stores, the library, the playground.  This make life while daddy is at work much more enjoyable.

I have successfully handled temper tantrums in the middle of the grocery store.  I have unopoligetically negotiated with my three year old in the doorway of a store.  I have a new found confidence in this whole parenting thing, and it is glorious.

One of the biggest, and best, changes I have noticed since getting my head right, is that my daughter has been showing more confidence.  There were times when I would notice anxiety in her, and blame myself.  But, ever since I started showing more confidence in my being, I can see it in her too.

Yes, she is getting older, but I honestly think a lot of it comes from how my own anxieties were rubbing off on her.

And although the medication obviously helps, since that is it’s job, there are other things that I have done that I believe have made a huge difference.

  1.  I started going to church, and studying the Bible.  I have begun to form a new relationship with God and Jesus, and this has given me a new hope.  I wake up every morning, and the first thing I do is my She Reads Truth devotional.  I start my morning with something so positive, how can the rest of my day go bad?
  2. I stopped comparing myself to other mom’s.  We are all going to do things differently.  Our children are all different.  What one likes, another will not.  Knowing, and being confident in the fact, that I am exactly what my children need has been the most freeing thing.
  3. I fake it til I make it.  I still get nervous about taking my kids to the store, but I pretend I’m not.  I tell myself I’m not.  And suddenly, it’s real.
  4. I have surrounded myself with inspirational women, both that I know in real life, and who I’ve never met on social media.  I weeded through my social media outlets, and got rid of anything that brought negative thoughts.  I’m working on doing the same in my real life, it just takes a little longer.
  5. I take time for me.  Before, when the kids would fall asleep I would spend hours on pinterest, or skimming through Facebook or Instagram.  Now, I read a book, have a cup of tea and watch my shows, have a conversation with my husband.

So, momma’s, there is hope.  If you are feeling lost, feeling like you will never get out of that dark hole, you will!  You will find yourself again.  But, in order to do that, you need to take your post partum mental health seriously.  If you are feeling like there may be something off, PLEASE contact a doctor, or therapist, or friend.  Reach out, and ask for help.  I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

And, if you are not suffering yourself, but know someone who is, or who could be, PLEASE reach out to them.  Express your concerns, in a gentle way.  Tell them you are there, SHOW them you are there.  This is not something that anyone should have to go through alone.

Finding Blessings in the Chaos

This morning I woke up feeling blessed.  I had one little curled up next to me in bed, and another curled up next to us in her toddler bed.  I couldn’t help but smile thinking about how amazing it is that God chose me to be their momma.  I reached over and rubbed the biggest little’s back, and kissed the littlest little’s head, and just took it in.

Fast forward thirty minutes.  I was in the kitchen trying to get everyone breakfast, being pulled in every direction.  The sun was shining in the window, a toy fell on the floor, a little brother was bugging a big sister.  “Moooooom!” was being yelled every ten seconds.  Some of that magic from earlier this morning started fading away.

M didn’t like the oatmeal with the strawberries, so I made scrambled eggs, that sat on the table untouched.  B threw his eggs all over the dining room and smeared strawberry juice all over the kitchen floor.  Some more of that magic from earlier this morning started fading away.

It’s so easy to feel so blessed in the early, quiet, peaceful hours of the day, but what I really need to work on, is feeling blessed in the midst of it.

Don’t get me wrong, there is not one second ever that I am not thrilled to be their momma, but there are seconds when I want to pull my hair out and scream.  There are seconds when they push me to the very edge of sanity.  And it is in those seconds that I want to be able to stop, look at them, and embrace the blessing of being their momma.

I can’t guarantee that I won’t lose my patience, or raise my voice.  What I can guarantee is that I will be trying my hardest to find the blessings in the chaos.

So, mommas, I want you to join me.  When you are feeling down and defeated.  When your children are pushing you.  When you think you might just snap if you hear “Mooooom!” one more time.  Find a blessing.  Remember why in the early, quiet, peaceful moments of the day it is so wonderful.  Remember that God gave you this amazing job of bringing up these amazing little people.  And feel blessed.

Our Journey in Home Pre-schooling

I am certainly not an expert, so take all of this with a grain of salt.  It wasn’t until recently that homeschooling crossed my radar, so I am still learning, and researching, but I thought pre-school would be a good place to start.  We still don’t know if it will go beyond that.  We don’t even know for sure that we won’t send our oldest to pre-k next year.  In all honesty, this will probably sound insane to a lot of people, but I am going to follow my children’s lead.  If they show interest in going to public school, I will send them.  If they show interest in homeschooling, I will homeschool.

For now though, I will share our journey, as much as possible, in case anyone else has this on their radar.

For the time being, I am flying by the seat of my pants.  Our daughter is (in 8 days) 3 years old, so we are using a lot of crafts, books, and hands on learning.  I honestly don’t know what children are supposed to learn when they are three, but what I do know is that my daughter is a sponge.  She soaks in information, and wants more.  She is always asking questions.  She is curious about everything, and forgets nothing.

After doing some research (aka Pinterest) I decided to stick with a theme of the week, and incorporate learning letters into it.  Some weeks are dedicated solely to letters, others are more about the theme.  We’re only on week 2, so I may tweak some things here and there as we move along.

We also aren’t really following a schedule at the moment.  Instead, we are adding learning into every day life.  My main goal, for now, is for her to learn through play.  I want it to be fun for her, not strict.  I never want her to stop being curious about everything.

M is loving it so far.  She has been calling me “mommy teacher” and refers to our dining room as “school”.

And, in case anyone is wondering, yes, I was hesitant at first in fear that she wouldn’t get enough socialization, but for now we get that at MOPS, and mommy and me playgroup, and at the playground.  Soon she will, hopefully, be starting Sunday school and sports, so I think she will be okay.

So, follow us on this new journey.  I will share more regarding the themes and activities with pictures, but as I said before, most of my inspiration came from Pinterest.

Are you a homeschooling mom?  Were you homeschooled?  I would love to hear from you!  I am so interested in the thought of it, but always get so overwhelmed, it would be wonderful to hear your first hand thoughts!

When Bed-Sharing Comes Full Circle

As I mentioned before, we are co-sleeping parents.  For my oldest, that turned into bed sharing.  She has slept between us in our bed, besides a short stint last summer, since she was 6 months old.  She will be three this month.

As much as I love cuddle buggin’ her, our queen size bed recently started getting a little tight.  We would ask her if she wanted to sleep in her own bed, she would say no, and that would be that.

A couple nights ago, as we were going to sleep, she was pushing on both of us, stating that her spot was not big enough, to which we replied “well, you would have a bigger spot if you would sleep in your own bed.”  She told us that she didn’t want to be in a different room, so, taking advice from some other momma’s, I suggested putting her bed in our room.  To my surprise, she actually loved this idea.

The next day, we moved her bed into our room, and for two nights now she has been happily sleeping in it.  Last night, when I got her all tucked in she said “Mommy, this bed fits me just right.”  Huh, imagine that…

So, what started as co-sleeping, and turned into bed-sharing, is now back to co-sleeping.  I know the next step will be moving into her own room, which weirdly enough makes me a little sad.  It may be my anxiety speaking, but there is something I really enjoy about waking up and seeing her peaceful sleeping face.

Either way, it makes me so proud that this is something that she is doing on her own.  I told her that last night before she went to sleep, and the smile she got on her face was reassurance that I might just be doing this parenting thing okay.

P.S.  Her brother, who has been sleeping in his crib, in his room, since he was 6 months old, ended up in bed between my husband and me in the middle of the night last night.  Luckily we are both on the same page in knowing that some day we will have more than enough time just the two of us, so for now we are just soaking them in.

Monday Motivation – Give Yourself A Break

In my experience, mom’s are always trying to do it all, for everyone else.  Very seldom do they take time for themselves.  And in the rare occurance that they do, they feel bad about it.

Well momma’s, I am telling you to give yourself a break.  In all things.

Have you been extra hard on yourself lately because you can’t keep up with it all?  Stop.  Go take a long bath, everything will still be there when you get done.

Have you been feeling down, and tired, and beaten?  Stop.  Call up a girl friend and get some coffee.  Chances are she will completely understand, and you will feel much better afterward.

Have you been feeling overwhelmed?  Stop.  Take a walk, or read a book, do something that relaxes you.

I know it is easier said than done, trust me, I do, but make sure you take some time for yourself.  It is not selfish, it is necessary.

Embracing New Seasons

I have a confession.  I am not a baby person.

I never have been.  Besides some little cousins, with pillows under my arm, Madeline was the first baby I ever held.  Hers were the first diapers I ever changed.

Since then, I have held a few more baby’s, and changed more than a few more diapers, but the truth is, unless I gave birth to the baby, I have close to no desire to hold it.  And I definitely don’t want to change it’s diaper.

I just don’t really get them.  They are miracles, yes, and that is wonderful, but the joy I have for being out of that stage is almost embarrasing.

That being said, give me all of the toddlers.  Yes, they talk back.  Yes, they throw temper tantrums, and sometimes make me want to pull my hair out, but I will take this all day long over all day feedings, every three hour wake ups, spit up down my shirt, and blow outs.

I can officially say that we have entered a new season, and I am loving every second of it.  Blake is no longer a baby.  He communicates with us (even though he only knows a handful of words), he understands when we ask him to do things (even though he doesn’t always do them), he eats with utensils (or flings food across the room with them), when I reach my hand down, he holds it.

Sometimes I will be walking behind him, watching his little head bounce around as he runs, and I can’t help smiling and thinking to myself “this is my life”.  I have two toddlers, and I love it.

I can’t guarantee that I will be welcoming every new season with open arms, that as they get older and need me less it won’t make me long for their little hands in mine, but for now I am just soaking it all in.

I am embracing the tantrums, because it means I have strong willed children who know what they want.

I am embracing the fighting, because in two seconds they will be giggling about something else.

I am embracing the mess, because my healthy, happy children made it.

I am embracing it all, even in the midst of it, even when I have to just shake my head and walk away, even when there is spaghetti sauce splattered on my dining room wall, because this is my life, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Tackeling Mommy Guilt

We’ve all had it at one time or another.  It can come in all shapes and sizes.  Maybe it’s something that eats at you every day.  Maybe it’s something that creeps up here and there.  Regardless of how or when you have it, the reality is that you aren’t alone.

When I was in the midst of my post-partum anxiety, I felt it all the time.  It would eat me alive.  I was sure I was doing everything wrong.  I would lose my temper with my oldest.  I would despise getting up in the middle of the night with my youngest.  I couldn’t keep the house spotless.  I wasn’t spending enough time with my first born.

These thoughts ran through my head constantly.  They had me convinced that everything I heard or saw regarding parenting was about me.  I was a bad mom because I didn’t breastfeed, I was a bad mom because I bed shared, I was a bad mom because I had an epidural, etc.

Luckily, I got myself some help, and these ridiculous thoughts stopped.  I realized that I was doing the very best I could, and that it was all okay.  I wasn’t a bad mom.  I’m not a bad mom.  And neither are you.

Last night I had a flash of mommy guilt.  I get them every now and then, as I’m sure you do too.

It has been a long week with my littles.  The youngest is teething, and has a cold.  He has also 100% entered toddler-hood.  He is into everything he shouldn’t be.  He is testing his limits, and testing my patience.  His big sister is on the verge of becoming a threenager.  She is sassy, and strong minded.  The two of them have started fighting like brother’s and sister’s will.  Neither of them have been sleeping well.  I’m sure many of you can relate.  I know I am not the only momma going through this right now, but that doesn’t make it easier to go through it.

It was getting late, both kids were tired, but both kids were refusing bedtime.  I hadn’t been able to exercise earlier in the day, which has become a refuge for me.  My husband took number two upstairs to put him to bed, so I told number one that mommy was going to do her workout, and that she could get cozy in her spot (she has a designated couch spot that she has referred to “her spot” since she could say those words) while I did it, and then we would go to bed.

This did not end well.  It took me forever to get through my half hour work out.  She wanted to build a fort, she wanted to make a tent, she wanted me to read her a book.  I kept saying “hold on, mommy just has to finish this”, and each time mommy guilt would rear it’s ugly head.  I felt guilty that I was saying no to her requests.  I felt guilty that I was taking time to myself and not giving her my 100%.  I considered turning off my DVD and building a fort and a tent and reading a book.  But in the end, I got my work out done.  I took a shower.  We went upstairs and snuggled until she fell asleep.  And she was completely fine.

You see, there are all of these voices telling us and reminding us that our children are only little once.  That a time will come when they will no longer ask us to do things with them.  That their needs should always come first.  That taking time for ourselves will somehow turn them into serial killers.

So here is my question, momma’s, where do we draw the line?  When is it okay for us to say, “You know what? Momma needs some time.”?

I’ll tell you what I am slowly figuring out.  It is okay to take some time for yourself.  In fact, it is completely necessary!

Don’t get me wrong, my children do, and always will come before myself.  However, if I don’t take care of myself, of my needs, I can’t be the kind of mother they deserve.  If 9 times out of 10 I do make the fort, or read the book, but there is one time that I need MY time, that doesn’t make me a bad mom.

If I have the week that I’ve been having with my little’s, and I am excited to be able to run out the door to work at my brother’s store, that doesn’t make me a bad mom.

It doesn’t make you one either.

Next time mommy guilt tries to get the best of you, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.  Tell yourself that you matter too.  Look in the mirror and remember that you are still a person beyond being a mommy.  Don’t let it get the best of you.  And always remember, you are not alone.

Monday Motivation – You’ve Got This

To the momma who barely made it through last week.  Your kids were fighting.  Your baby was teething.  You ran on fumes.  Today is a new day, you’ve got this.

To the momma who feels like she can’t keep up.  You’re dishes and laundry are endless.  Your kids are like tiny tornadoes who leave distruction in their path.  Take a deep breath, you’ve got this.

To the momma who is making a change.  You are starting a new job.  You are heading out on a new journey.  You are moving to a new town.  Keep your head up, you’ve got this.

To the momma who is questioning her sanity.  You can’t remember what you were supposed to be doing, but you know it was something.  You called your child by the wrong name, twice.  You left your coffee in the microwave for 24 hours.  Smile, you’ve got this.

Remember, we are all in this together.  You are not alone.

This week I challenge you to reach out to someone.  A new mom.  A friend you haven’t talked to in a while.  Someone you know needs some kind words.  Let them know you are there.  Give them some words of encouragement.  Take them a coffee.  Just be there.