Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Walking the desert of motherhood in search of validation

My husband stood in the middle of the toy store, watching me pace the floor.  I was trying to find the "perfect" toy that was fun, educational, and not something that would end up in the junk pile going to Good Will in a few months.  The toy was for my girls' Easter baskets and if I had been on the ball, I would have ordered what I wanted on Amazon.  But even with Amazon Prime, I had passed the horrible cut-off "2 business days" window and I was pacing this stupid store one business day before the holiday.

It had to be something not too grand, but still something happy that could actually come from a huge fluffy Easter bunny.  I wanted to make my 4 yr old and my 20 month old smile.

 It took a while and sadly some grumbling before I realized what the problem was.  I told my husband,
"I want the girls to like what we give them.  It makes me feel like a better mom."
 Somehow, if the girls liked what I got them for Easter, I would feel validated as a mom.

The word "validation" echoed around in my mind for hours.  What does that mean?  Why don't we as moms always feel validated?  We are doing God's work right? Raising children, teaching them to love, and be upstanding members of society?  So, shouldn't I feel good about myself?  But, looking at how my life has changed since having kids, helped me realize, being a mom can feel like one long drought in the Validation department.

 When I became a mom four years ago, I quit my job of being a kindergarten teacher.  As much as I liked the job, it was stressful teaching and taking care of other people's kids.  It occurred to me that if I was going to raise kids, they would be my own. I was done with that part of my life.  However, quitting came at a price.  I now made no money.  My husband took over financially. Though we somehow made it work, it has been really tough to no longer feel like I add to our family's income.  Somehow, my wages were validating.

Another change in my life as stay at home mom, is that now I don't have the same co-workers I once had at my other jobs. If I want to "chat around the water cooler" I have to seek out those chances, arrange schedules, and then try to talk to my co-moms all the while being interrupted constantly by my kids. (bless their hearts, they have nothing to say until I open my mouth to speak to another adult!)

 I also don't have a boss telling me anymore that I am doing a really great job and to keep it up.  Now, I know spouses can be very validating.  But in my husband's defense, most of the time he is so tired and overwhelmed from working all day (like I am) that validating my efforts at home isn't always the first thing on his mind. But maybe someday, someone will put my face on a plaque and hang it outside, saying Most Valuable Employee.   Maybe I could get a gift card to Target too. I mean my husband gets incentives at his job.  I could think of some lovely shoes that could be my incentive. :)

Everyone also knows when you have children, they don't exactly take the time to thank you for such a well planned dinner or activity. My baby doesn't ever thank me for getting up in the middle of the night and making such scrumptious bottles, even though I KNOW she can sign thank you!  My kids might have their moments when they are hurt and cry just for me or when they randomly exclaim (usually after they have had a ice cream or a happy meal) "Mom, I love you!"  Truthfully this helps, but it is not too common of an occurrence, at least in my experience.

So, truth be told, validation for moms is a little scarce.  But this morning I got thinking. Maybe this is why women are so competitive as moms (I'm speaking of myself here). Maybe this is why we care so much about what other moms are doing.  Why we are always trying so hard to be perfect, and why it is so frustrating when our child makes a bad choice.   I remember being so embarrassed in our music class when my little girl was going through her hitting phase and smacking other little kids on their heads, for NO REASON.  For heaven's sake, I wasn't hitting anyone so why did I care?  Because I wanted to be validated as a mom. I wanted to have a perfect child and I wanted others to think of me as a really "good mom."

I knew I needed to take my questions to the Lord.  I like to get up early and say my morning prayers before the kids are up and when I can truly talk to my Heavenly Father.  While praying this particular morning, I was feeling a lot of shame for how often I scream and yell at my kids.  One minute I think I'm doing ok and then I get so angry from some stupid mess or when my little one (just after a bath) repeatedly puts ranch dressing in her hair to get my attention. I hate the competitive side of me or my judgmental side.  I also hate how often I take things personal.  

Then it occurred to me that no one else's opinion mattered.  I was spending far too much time trying to make everyone happy and feel good about myself.  I wanted others to validate my mothering.  The only thing that really matters is what God thinks of me. I don't have to care what others do.  Their validation doesn't matter.  God is the only one who knows my heart and He knows what I need.  I don't need comparison and I don't need wages.  I don't need to read every blog out there on how to have a perfect 3 yr old or how to make 500 slow cooker clean meals that will prevent cancer.

I can make my decisions with Him and His opinion is all that matters.  Don't get me wrong...I think it helps to talk to other moms and make the effort to reach out. I also think reading blogs and learning new things, sharing ideas and so forth can do wonders.  Validation from friends and family also helps a great deal, but in the end, it isn't what matters.  It is just icing on the cake.  The real point it to rely on the Lord, be close to Him, and understand His counsel to me.  That way, I have God validating me and helping me.  I never have to worry about doing something to please another person.  My best is all He asks of me.

Neil L. Andersen wrote a talk a few years ago entitled, "What Thinks Christ of Me?"  He says, "I testify that as you love Him, trust Him, believe Him and follow Him, you will feel His love, and approval.  As you ask, 'What thinks Christ of me?' you will know that you are His disciple; you are His friend. By His grace He will do for you what you cannot do for yourself."

This was His answer to me.  I didn't need an expert to evaluate my daily job. I only needed THE expert.  I need Him.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my Dad's birthday.  He would have turned 66 but his life was cut short and I am learning there was nothing I could have done about it.  To put it lightly, acceptance sucks.  But, I get that it is a part of life.  My little girls loves this picture and she recognizes Grandpa in it, even if he is not with her anymore. I miss his smile.

In honor of his January birthday, (Which he hated and always wanted to celebrate in May) I am posting my talk from his funeral.  Anyone who never knew him, missed out.  But this talk helps you get to know him a bit more.

I miss you dad.  Happy Birthday.

Lessons I have learned From My Dad

A quote from the book The Martian Chronicles matches my emotions today: “It fills me with such feelings that I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

            When someone you love dies, a gate in your mind is broken and a flood of memories washes over you.  This is what happened just an hour or two after we left the hospital last Thursday.

Luckily I had the foresight to begin a list of everything I could remember about my dad.  

At first 90% of it was about food.  My dad passed on to me a few traits and one of them was an ever-present sweet tooth.  He and I love candy. Halloween and Easter were favorite holidays (probably due to the abundance of marshmallow peeps being sold), and we stashed candy like thieves all over the house.  (For example, a few days ago, my mom found several petrified and forgotten milky way mini’s stashed in my dad’s temple bag). I was shocked since I thought I knew all his hiding places. 

Though candy was not his only love. My dad bought a bushel of Golden Delicious apples every September. He would then dry them, filling the house with a warm fall scent.  He also had a special place in his heart for Thai food, Jewish delis, hot mustard, and like me, any type or form of marshmallow.

But setting aside the black licorice and pastrami sandwiches, my dad was a scientist at heart.  I think of my childhood, going to his lab, looking at slides under the microscope and learning how to properly use a pipette.  He lived in a white lab coat and seemed to be saving the world, one test at a time. When children are little, parents will often read fairy tales to their kids.  Instead my dad gave me a children’s version of all the great scientific discoveries, complete with pencil sketches of Alexander Fleming.  And once when I was in elementary school he brought home a little plastic bag with tiny microorganisms that would glow.  It was his version of a night light.

However, beyond all of this, my dad taught me some lessons that have helped shape who I am.  Here are just three of the most important.

Lesson 1-My Dad taught me how to fall in love with words

Ray Bradbury said in his book The Martian Chronicles: Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle.”

From a very early age, I remember both my parents having stacks of books next to their bed.  My mom seemed to devour a book each a night, and after my dad’s eyesight began to go, he received a special tape player from the library for the blind. It looked like my walkman and played all of his favorite books on tape.  He constantly listened to books and his running list as of a week ago was probably in the thousands.  I still remember being up in Yellowstone with my grandparents and seeing my grandpa sew a scrap of leather into pocket for my dad’s tape player.  My dad could thread his belt through and his player could literally be attached to his hip. 

My dad had many favorites.  He was the only person I knew whose favorite book was Les Miserable by Victor Hugo- the unabridged version.  He listened to it many times.  One author however stood out as his favorite.  He loved the works of Ray Bradbury.  He loved the poetic language Bradbury skillfully wove together into stories about traveling to Mars.  I soon fell in love with language and poetry too.  When I read something beautiful, I got trapped in the words and phrases, reading them over and over again, and savoring them like a piece of dark chocolate.  My dad was a quiet man but he would light up like a candle when we talked about Ray Bradbury.  My dad helped me truly fall in love with words.

Lesson 2-My dad taught me to work hard

Ray Bradbury said in his book Something Wicked this way Comes, “Too late, I found you can't wait to become perfect, you got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.”

Anyone who knew my dad, knew he was a very smart man.  School came easy for him and he was very good at what he did.  However, he taught me that working hard was valued far above any good grade that I got. 

I’ve always struggled with math; any type, whether it be algebra or geometry or even my basic math facts as a little girl.  Numbers felt so foreign compared to the words I loved, but to my dad, numbers were a second language. When I needed help on my math, we sat at the kitchen table, my dad’s diet coke and scratch paper at hand, and we would work through everything together.  I hated that math only had one right answer.  But my dad encouraged me to keep working hard towards that one answer.

Though my dad had health challenges he never let them slow him down.  He kept going to his job day after day and he did his job well.  He never gave up.

In 2003 my dad unexpectedly had a stroke that only affected the speech center of his brain.  He sat up in bed and could spout off all the technical terms about what happened to his brain, yet, he couldn’t remember simple words like lamp, chair, or bed.

During the following months, I had the honor of accompanying my dad to speech therapy where we worked on building up those parts of his brain again.  He had homework every night with loads of pictures to label.  It was an odd feeling to be sitting at the same kitchen table helping him with his homework this time around, but again, my dad never gave up.  I’ve applied his example in my life, over and over again.  And, each day, I strive to work hard at what matters most.

Lesson 3-My dad taught me that I matter

Ray Bradbury said in his book Dandelion Wine, “No person ever died that had a family.”

In 2011, Evelyn, our first little girl was born.  Labor had been difficult for me without an epidural and I felt so out of my element, being a first time mom.  When my family came just minutes after Evie was born, everyone crowded around the new baby at the warming table.  My dad, without a hesitation, walked straight to my bedside and asked if I was doing ok.  He cared.  He taught me that I matter. 
Many times in my life my dad has helped me see that I matter. At my wedding, he told everyone how proud he was of me. He sacrificed time and energy helping me with school. He was patient and supported me through my worries and challenges. Just weeks ago, he called to see how I was doing, offering his listening ear.  Being a young mom has pushed me to my limits often, but he has always defended me, loved me, and listened to me when things got hard.

I believe that even now, my dad still defends me, loves me, and listens to me. President Joseph F. Smith said,

“I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. … We are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors … who have preceded us into the spirit world. We can not forget them; we do not cease to love them; we always hold them in our hearts, in memory, and thus we are associated and united to them by ties that we can not break. … If this is the case with us in our finite condition, surrounded by our mortal weaknesses, … how much more certain it is … to believe that those who have been faithful, who have gone beyond … can see us better than we can see them; that they know us better than we know them. … We live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever. For now they see the dangers that beset us; … their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.”

I have a firm testimony of my savior Jesus Christ.  He loved us and gave His life for each of us.  He died, but (as my Evie would say), “he got his body back!”  My dad will get his body back too someday.  It will be perfected. The resurrection is real.  And the love I have for my dad will continue to grow as it always has.   

Thursday, February 9, 2012

30 things to do before I turn 30

Ok, I guess I have to make this official already. Many moons ago, I was turning 25 and my roommate was turning 30. She and I made lists and went ahead crossing things off. Now, five years later, it was a little overwhelming to do this all over again. My last big list ended with jumping out of an airplane on my 25th birthday. Things have changed slightly. I am a stay at home mom and I can't exactly take my one yr old bungee jumping with me. So, this list had to have plenty of variety.

 It took a while to get some ideas. I looked up many, many lists of other people who were turning 30 and they were all the types of things I don't do, have already done, or they were things that would take longer than four months to complete. Considering the circumstances, I think this is a pretty good list.

30 things to do before I turn 30
 Started groundhog day 2/2/2012 ends on 6/2/2012
1. Read the entire Book of Mormon
2. Complete a puzzle by myself (at least 500 pieces)
3. Cook one complicated recipe from Julia Child
4. Write 30 letters to 30 people
5. Attend the Holi festival
6. Fulfill my commitment and sing for the residents of an assisted living
7. Take my daughter to the zoo
8. For Lent this year, give up buying anything "new"
9. Take my daughter to a children's reading hour
10. Make my own "mommy file"
11. Roll my own sushi
12. Clean and detail my own car
13. Plan a special Valentine's dinner for my husband
14. Watch 10 movies from the 1930's
15. Bake 12 new cookie recipes
16. Learn to polish shoes
17. Take a ceramics class and make something start to finish all by myself
18. Do an act of service for someone who needs it
19. Make something special for my family
20. Practice yoga at least 30 days
21. Discover a new musician and get the album
22. Take 30 photographs
23. Discover a new author and read one of their books
24. Submit some of my writing to a writing contest
25. Write a children's book
26. Try a new type of food or restaurant
27. Take my daughter for her first taco at my favorite Mexican restaurant
28. Go to the Natural History museum
29. Get my own cowboy boots from a thrift store and go to my first rodeo
30. Enter and ride in a formal bike race/ride.

 Yes. There you have it. On my birthday I will probably be biking, baking, or writing somewhere. Please comment if you have suggestions, ideas, or advice. The next four months should be a lot of fun.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Thoughts while cleaning my kitchen...

While cleaning my kitchen today, I got to thinking about the world we live in. I have just recently switched to a new gym. This one has a row of twenty t.v.'s blaring many different stations while I'm trying to focus on what I am doing. My husband and I for many reasons have chosen not to have t.v. at our house. While many people groan at the thought, it has given us some real peace. We have Netflix and choose movies or t.v. shows off Hulu instead. While the commercials are still present our peace comes from not having to see many things that are just in my opinion, smut and dirt.

 I hate dr. Oz and I hate the Oprah Winfrey network and the things that are advertised. I think reality television (if you can call that reality) brings out the worst in people. It is a step lower than good old mr. Donahue, Jerry Springer, and Ricki Lake of the old days. The real housewives of Orange County is somehow always on when I need to switch to my cardio routine and I wonder to myself why people like watching it.

 The Super Bowl was last night and we joined family to eat some excellent food together during the game. Everyone knows the commercials are what makes the game worth the watch. Well, almost every other ad featured some woman dressed like a sleeze, in a strappy outfit with her breasts busting out, or in a bikini. I ask, since when did sexy equal no clothes? Are we that ridiculous and primitive that the only thing that excites and stimulates is extra skin and photoshopped cleavage? As my friend calls it, we are surrounded by " live porn."
 Maybe the reason this is really getting to me is that I have a daughter that is barely a year old. Someday she will come across a number of these examples.... Children's clothes that are designed to amp her sex appeal, people that create themselves through fake means that nothing real will be left.   What is to keep her from believing her sex appeal is all she will have to offer?  She is growing up in a world where if someone doesn't like their body, all they have to do is get surgery or alter themselves in photoshop or just erase who they are altogether and live out their life on the internet as someone else. Now, I know this sounds preachy and believe me, I have my own struggles with self image. I don't think there is anything wrong with looking your best.... But I have had to be wary of that line where I am becoming something I am not.

 Earlier, as I got my flat tire fixed, I looked through the reading materials trying to be positive about the world. It was hard but I had to pull myself away from the several newspaper articles about the coward Josh Powell and his hellish and nauseating actions. (Sometimes the media dwells on something so much that I have to step away for a while.) People magazine can be very addicting for me but I have tried to stay away from it. Usually I just feel fat and angry when I am done reading it. But today I saw an old headline on People's cover. It read: "Elizabeth Smart engaged!"

 It really hit me that in this world, a place where people are so often giving in to the wrong influences and where some fall victim to the madness of others, there is still hope. This girl endured hell. I remember when she was abducted. I was in college and was feeling so scared something that horrible could happen. I expected the worst for many months and dutifully made sure my window was locked every night. Then one day, it was over... And not like everyone expected. She was safe and ok and now, almost 10 years later... She is getting married. She is making a difference and fighting back. She isn't a victim anymore, claiming the rest of her life as hers.

 Now that is the type of example I would love my daughter to learn from. Not the Kardashians or the latest Disney channel tween who will sell out within a few years and get hooked on drugs or plastic surgery. But here is someone real, who believed in God instead of holding on to anger because she had to go through what she did.

 It is getting harder and harder to stand up for what you believe in without offending someone, but I am grateful for all the many people that teach love, kindness, strength, hope and while we are at it... even modesty.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Few Firsts and What The Rolling Stones Taught Me

Last night I spent most of the night up with my baby, rocking her, talking peacefully in her ears and humming to her so that she might stop crying.  Our one and only daughter is almost past the definition of "baby."  She is a few days shy of turning one year old.

She has been very healthy until now and though the Dr. today couldn't find anything really wrong with her, I  just kept thinking that she probably caught the cold I've had and have been trying to ignore for a week. As I struggled keeping her little body still and relaxed and as she cried and screamed at me to make things better, I felt frustrated.  What can I do?  Everything felt hopeless as she wriggled and batted away at the bottle I thought might help.

Then I remember that everything to her is a first.  Everything is brand new... well except for maybe the taste of a bottle, the feel of her car seat and our goofy smiles at her when she wakes up.

But this low-grade fever, the taste of spaghetti, and even the clown fish swimming at the Dr.'s office are just a few firsts for her.  Feeling an ache in your muscles and a throat as thick as sand is all new.  It was the first time she didn't really feel good.

Our daughter is in fact, a first for me.  She was my first diaper change and the first living thing without feathers, scales or fur that depended on me for everything.  (Pets were nothing compared to what a baby needs.)

I still remember that first ride home from the hospital.   Everyone tells you how surreal it is to come home with a little baby in your arms and no one will be taking over.  It is all up to you... You will learn how to feed her, change her diapers, clothe her, get her shots, take her to the Dr., and don't forget to sing to her, play with her and be amazed by her... all while letting your body recover from the major event that it has gone through.  Talk about overwhelming. We drove home and while I sat with the baby in the back, the song, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" came over the radio.  Were the Rolling Stones trying to teach us something about parenting?

No, you can't always get what you want 
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes
well you just might find
you get what you need 

Boy does this ring true after my first year of parenthood.  If I got what I wanted, labor would be easy, feeding a baby would come perfectly naturally like all the lactation specialists said it would.  I would always get enough sleep and our little baby would never wake up screaming just because she lost her binky.

But, man I got what I needed.  Nine months of pregnancy and a labor that taught me my life and the baby's life is only in the hands of God.  I got major feeding road blocks and a complete lack of sleep.  I got  a happy baby who looked to me for everything, and I knew nothing.  Humility was always the main dish.

Then, last night, I realized something.  It was at that point when my sleep deprivation seeped away and my heart changed from wanting the baby to sleep so I could... to wanting the baby to feel better.  It wasn't about me, it was about her.   But that was also the point when I knew I could only do so much and the rest was up to her to learn. Last night after we had done everything in our power to help, she was learning that we are mortals and we get sick.  And being sick just sucks.

Poor thing.  Life lessons are hard, but they are there to make sure we don't glide through life like ignorant lemmings.  We learn, we grow and now I get to watch this little baby learn and grow...Painful and perfect as it is.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reflecting on my 2011: First as a mom and as myself

Well here we are, another new year at our faces and an old one at our heels. I like to try to make new years resolutions because I think it helps me keep myself on track. I like the challenge. Probably the same reason I observe Lent.

Anyway, this year I had a few things that seemed fitting  to try. I won't bore you with the lame resolutions like to floss everyday.  But the one I wanted to mention was my resolve to write in this blog weekly. I love to write but I do have to push myself on occasion. So, I have decided to write weekly.... we will have to see how this goes.  At least is will give me something enjoyable to add to my list of "to-do's."

Back to contemplating...It seems so odd to look at my life now, and look back to where I was a year ago, obsessed with the unknown and looking at upcoming parenthood with a chill of excitement and fear. Things have peaked and fallen and begun to swerve into a direction I had no way of foreseeing. Having our daughter arrive safely was a total miracle. Getting used to a newborn and surviving the lack of sleep was another miracle.  Finding out she had hearing loss, visiting with Doctors and specialists, and then finding a way to get our own hearing aids for her was beyond a miracle.... it was upsetting and scary and yet, I feel like it all needed to happen.

Our daughter was late and when I was taken in to get checked, the nurses performed the stress test to see if she was doing ok.  When she didn't respond to the loud noises, they induced me and we had her that night.  When she came, it became clear that the cord was not only around her neck, but also tied in a true knot, which cinched at her delivery.  So, needless to say, we believe her hearing loss saved her from further complications.  I will be honest, it took a while for me to see things that way.  My husband helped me to recognize it and after a short period of mourning for her, for her loss,  I felt fine.  My heart was healed by the Lord.  Our little girl was the one to teach me to be happy no matter what.  She smiled at me and progressed as happily as any child, reminding me that everything would be just fine.

Shortly after that, I became a mother of three overnight and just for 3 months.  No, I didn't have triplets, I just became a nanny for the summer.  It was hard and I was so exhausted, yet it taught me when push comes to shove, I could totally handle three kids.

Shortly after that, my husband decided to go back to school to become a chaplain and I chose my path and stayed at home to teach our daughter and be there with her always. My nanny job was over and the baby and I were together all the time, (all day and almost every evening) as my husband was at school after working all day.

I think this has been the hardest tender spot for me.  I have heard people say you need to re-invent yourself each time you have a baby and others insist that working a part time job will help stave off the baby blues.  But really, how do you keep a woman sane whose a people-person at heart?  I love being with the baby, but at this stage, things are too lonely and slow in my life.  Don't get me wrong, I can hear the voices out there insisting it will change, but no matter how many kids you have... Motherhood can be isolating.
I miss the chats I used to have with co-workers every morning.  I miss the days when I was in school and had classmates and discussions and papers to write.

Now I am learning how to keep to a budget (which I did great till December!) and find things to keep my heart happy so our little girl will have a sane, stable mommy (I must admit here that I have an addiction to shopping that has reared its ugly head.  Things started innocently by getting baby and I out of the  house, but budgets and casual shoe shopping do not go hand in hand).

Going to the gym also became my refuge in the morning.  I spent all year trying to get my body back after our girl was born and right around October, I figured I had lost a total of 33 lbs.  I had managed to lose the baby weight and then some.  But it wasn't just about getting into shape.  The gym became a place where I could listen to talks, books, scriptures, and music, and see other people. Plus, I got up early enough that both baby and husband slept the whole time I was gone.  The only drawback was my tired afternoons :)

Other things to cope... I learned how to make flower pins and small, button earrings that were baby friendly so I could try to be stylish and not lose my ear lobes during the grabbing stages.  I gave myself a schedule of what to clean and when, so our little apartment was somewhat in order.  I listened to a lot of music, watched movies,  found recipes and cooked more.  But what I really needed to do was to get out and visit others.  And now, I am realizing I created a monster.

Our little girl is the most social person I have ever met, besides me.  She blooms in front of random people at the grocery store and she can get the most downhearted to smile back at her.  Is it bad that I love the attention she brings?  I love hearing people's comments about her.  Sometimes they just comment on her to each other and I can over hear what they are saying.

Point is- I love seeing her bring out the best in others and I don't feel like I can take much credit for how she is.  But it is nice to think that what I do with her each day is bringing her up the best way possible.

So, yeah... this year has been a lot to handle.  A lot has come and a lot is coming.  Part of me is just excited for the things on the horizon... like the new Andrew Bird album and my sister-in-law's wedding, and the Hobbit movie, and my 30th birthday this year, and seeing our baby go from crawling like crazy to walking like crazy, and hearing some more words and hoping she gets some more hair.

Everyone says when you have a baby, it is the most exciting time of your life.  I argue that seeing them grow is what makes it worth it.  Not only that, but seeing yourself grow in the process has made a world of difference.

ps- the above image is from and is for a T-shirt for Mothers month.  I loved it and had to use it in this blog.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Paradox of Motherhood

I still remember the most common saying I got before our daughter was born. It was this: "Don't forget! Your life is about to change!" I'd think to myself, Duh, of course it is. I am having a baby. Maybe what I should have been doing is preparing mentally for things to change. But that is my question... How do you accept these changes and find joy in them when you are still kicking the walls because your life is now totally different?

I have a had time writing this because I don't want this to sound like I don't love being a mom. I told my daughter this morning over her bottle that I knew she was a gift to me. She is so good and happy and could make me smile on the worst days. This little baby is a gem of the rarest kind. I wouldn't want to lose her for a second. However, I do feel like I have, in a way, lost myself in the process.

In the beginning you have a baby and you are so bent on keeping that baby alive and happy, going down your list of things to do that in a way, you forget what you are missing. Life has changed from that eternal date night to now you and your spouse trying to get down the basics. I never thought I would, but it has almost been a year and I think I got most of the basics.
But now as my husband goes back to school, in addition to working full time, I find myself alone with a baby a lot trying to learn how to enjoy the time we spend together.

Not only that but now, budgets are a way of life. Going to the gym at 5:45 in the morning has become the only time I get for just me. Running to the store to get a gallon of milk is as complicated as moving to another state, and my opportunities to be alone with my husband are few and far between. Everyone keeps saying, "get a new hobby," or "buy some new shoes to cheer yourself up." This just resulted in a lot of false starts and a brief stint where I went to Kohl's and Forever Young Shoes too often.

Looking at my heart, I know I have a great relationship with God. I read scriptures daily, I pray constantly, I know the decisions I have made are correct, but I don't know what He is trying to teach me here. I do have faith, but I also can't seem to navigate my way through this. I know I am still me. I know I love my daughter. But why is parenthood so tough on the mother? I think it is because she is the one that takes all this change head on. After our baby was born, my husband still had his same job to return to, yet this is the first time in years that I haven't had somewhere "to go " each day for most of the day.
In the past few months, I have taken my social nature and tried to use it to help others. I visited friends and family and I do what I can to make people happy. But most of the time, I feel like I am still struggling with a loss. A loss of the way things were and now, everything I do relates back to me as a mom. I know I have more dimensions than one, but at this time, I don't know how to tap into those without denying my daughter of what she needs and deserves.