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Mommy Martyr

January 26, 2016

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Yesterday was not a particularly shining day for me. I woke up feeling flat-out sorry for myself for a handful of reasons that now seem too petty and foolish to list. Most of the time Mondays as work days for me, but I had rescheduled our childcare for the week so we could take Ainsley to a doctor’s appointment in a city about an hour and a half away. My mom was planning on coming along so we could make a full girl’s day of it – shopping, Costco, Starbucks, but when the weather turned nasty that direction we decided to stay put and reschedule our appointment.

I was bummed. What was going to be a fun day out of our routine turned into a day at home with Ainsley in the middle of our construction zone with a bunch of mundane tasks on my to-do list. At breakfast Joe told me it would be a good idea to reschedule appliance delivery until another issue in the house was resolved. I snapped at him and told him how I had to have all the hard conversations and he got to “boss me around” (yes, I really said that!) Before he left for work, I told him to go to the gym after work, secretly thinking what a nice wife I was because I was encouraging one of his favorite activities. Meanwhile, I spent my day running errands, grocery shopping, trying to track down a specific brand of wine for a blog project I’m working on, and having conversations about our renovation.

When Ainsley when down for her (short!) afternoon nap, I did the “mommy hustle” and ran downstairs to put on workout clothes, get my 30 minute workout in, shower and be ready for inevitable wake-up 50 minutes after she went down. I felt rushed, per usual, and when she insisted on being held the last 2 hours of the day, more than a little frazzled.

Before Ainsley was born I dreamed about this type of schedule. Where I worked part-time in a creative job I enjoyed and got to invest time and energy into blogging part-time as well. When Ainsley came along it was so hard to be away from her 40+ hours a week and I longed to spend more time with her, something a part-time schedule allowed. But yesterday? Well, it got the best of me.

By the time Joe got home, I was in full-blown mommy martyr mode.

I had to spend the whole day with Ainsley, meeting her needs and cleaning up endless dirty diapers and preventing her from eating construction material. Poor me!

My workout was rushed. It didn’t consist of getting away to the actual gym but instead involved a workout video, free weights and a yoga mat in my messy basement. Poor me!

I had to have tough and/or uncomfortable conversations surrounding our house remodel. Confrontation is not my style. Poor me! 

The last two hours of the day Ainsley needed to be held, meaning I got dinner on the table while holding a fussy baby. My arm feels like it is about to fall off and there is a pile of dirty dishes in the utility sink waiting to be washed. Poor me! 

The list goes on and on. I was stuck in a pity party rut that ended with me blowing up at Joe for not being helpful enough. And then this morning, while doing my devotional and drinking a hot cup of coffee before everyone else woke up, I flipped the conversation and thought about things through Joe’s eyes:

He worked all day and spent precious time away from me and Ainsley while we spent time together. He works a full-time corporate job because he loves the structure, yes, but also because it allows for me to work my flexible job. When I couldn’t find the right wine at our local grocery stores he willingly ran after work to pick them up for me near his work. I got to workout during the middle of the day while Joe had to spend more time away from us to get his workout in later. After his workout, he ran to my mom’s house to pick up a few items for me for our home decor. He woke up early to let our dog out and let her out last thing in the evening, too.

When I flipped the conversation a bit, I realized that the story I was telling myself was SO one-sided. I was playing the mommy martyr game really, really well while Joe was quietly going about doing task after task without complaint. Have you ever had a day(s) that turned out like that? It was a light-bulb moment for me. Not to say that I’ll never act this way again, but taking just a few minutes to think about the other side of the equation put my own thoughts into proper perspective. Now that I’ve had some time for reflection, devotion and quiet time, it’s amazing how my heart becomes softened toward my husband and less focused on me, me, me!

For me, I’m realizing more and more that the key to a good day starts with getting up before the rest of the house. Mornings have always been my favorite time of day, and having a solid hour to sit, drink my coffee and eat breakfast, get in God’s word and then attack a few pressing tasks sets my day on a completely different trajectory than if I wake up when Joe gets up, just 30 minutes before Ainsley’s 7 am wake up time.

Today, I’m starting my day thankful. Thankful for forgiveness and fresh starts and the blessings that abound in my little corner of the world. And when you start your day thankful rather than in pity? Well, it changes your whole day.

Madison

Family

An Intention for 2016

January 4, 2016

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Truth be told, I wrote a whole list of intentions down in a blog post and was ready to hit “publish” but as I was laying in bed last night, thinking about the year to come, I paused. My list had a whole bunch of things, like feeling good in a swimsuit and reading more books and what not. Fine intentions, and things I still probably pursue in the year to come. But as I was thinking about what truly matters, I condensed my intentions down into one thing:

Be completely, 100% sold out for God in 2016. Pursue him in our home and in the world around me. Find ways to bless others through my desire to pursue Him. 

Please, don’t read this and think I’ve got it together. The intention above is a lofty goal for someone like me who makes plans for quiet time that get shoved aside in favor of less-important things, who lets her Bible go too many days unopened, and who things about her own self interests above others more than she would like to admit.

But grace, friends! Lots of grace for my intentions for the year and your resolutions and goals. Permission to fail and stumble and get back up and keep trying.

Madison

Family

Marriage Matters

October 21, 2015

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We had family photos taken a week ago by a dear friend of mine who is raising money for their family’s adoption. Family photos are my favorite, at least once they are over and done with! Once I have the photos in my hands I’m so thankful we captured this moment in time, when our daughter is tiny and our family is healthy and our lives feel so full. What a sweet season this is for us, after a season that felt as dry as a desert.

As women we spend a lot of time talking and talking about motherhood, don’t we? Blogs and articles and books are dedicated to the subject, and with good reason. Being a mom is important work! But where is the love and attention for our marriages?

I used to be very smug when people told me marriage was hard. Even as a newly married person, I still couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Marriage? Hard? Hardly! If you’re in that camp, I don’t hold it against you. If you haven’t yet hit that point where marriage is truly, deeply hard, it will come eventually. I can guarantee it.

We had one of those years. The years that test and stretch and strengthen you as long as they don’t kill you. And trust me when I say that sometimes you think it may actually kill you before you see the other side. I look at that photo above and my amazing, wonderful and loving husband and I thank my lucky stars for him every day. I think about our first kiss at 17 and the memories we’ve collected together. He’s my person, yet sometimes I don’t give him nearly the time or attention he deserves.

There are days when I give my best to my baby, my work, my friends and a bunch of people on the fringes of my life, leaving very little time or energy for my husband. I’ve been working on it, little by little. Investing into my marriage the way I invest in my child. Can you relate?

Despite all the parenting books I have read, I don’t think I’ve read a single one on marriage. In the past I’ve naively assumed that marriage is just supposed to happen intuitively without time or investment of resources.

I want to continue to strive after my marriage, to give my husband the best I have to offer. I want to take time to get away just the two of us, for date nights and vacations sans-baby and dates at home after Ainsley is in bed. To put down my phone and quit scrolling through Instagram when we’re together and really look him in the eyes.

It’s worth it. I’m convinced there are very few things more worthy of our time and attention.

Madison

Family

Confident + Kind

October 12, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 7.40.16 AMAs Ainsley gets older I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want her to be. Not about the vocation she chooses or the activities she participates in as the grows, but the important things that make the core of her being. We pray over Ainsley daily, but we always pray for her out loud before bed together as a family. The words that keep coming back to me are “confident & kind.” My prayer for you, sweet Ainsley, is that you’re confident in who God created you to be and kind to people from every walk of life.

Joe says that each one of us is best at practicing that which we struggle most with. I’m positive that’s true. Now that I’m a mom, I’ve become more reflective. I’ve thought about times when I haven’t been confident enough to be the person I feel called to be, or when I haven’t had the confidence to go sit with someone who is alone because I’ve been too preocupied with my own insecurities.

I see kiddos who have differences, both minor and major, and I think about the heartbreak that parents experience when other kids use those differences to make fun of another kid or tear them down. Guys? It breaks my heart. Perhaps it’s because I got a little glimpse already into having a baby that’s “different” with her little skin tags by her ears and her tiny gap that we repaired in the corner of her lip. She was just an infant, oblivious to those differences, and she’ll never remember that as part of her story. But I pray every day that when she encounters children who are different than she is that she is includes them, brings them into the game or group, and can see past the differences to find common ground.

I’m also realizing that this parenting business is weighty stuff, isn’t it? If I want Ainsley to be confident and kind, to include and affirm others, then I need to do a better job of modeling that behavior in my own life. I feel SO convicted of all the times that I’ve fallen short, and so inspired to continue to ask God for the strength and capacity to model these things to my baby girl.

I’ve been thinking of taking these words and using them as artwork in Ainsley’s new room, both as a reminder to her and to me + Joe that we should strive to model true confidence in the form of humility and kindness to everyone we come in contact with.

On that note, does anyone have any great parenting books to recommend? I’m talking less about tactical books and more about general concepts, faith-based parenting and the like? I’m all ears!

Madison

Family

Make Motherhood Your Own

September 21, 2015

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For the last three days I’ve had the JOY to spend three uninterrupted days with women from around the country at The Influence Conference. I met up with my sister-in-law, Amber, and good friend, Laura, for some much-needed girl time, a break from daily routines and time to think about the bigger picture in life rather than the day-to-day tasks.

Did I mention this was my first overnight trip away from Ainsley? I had big plans for sleeping, but I found my heart needed girl-time and late-night talks more than it needed the extra zzz’s. So although I’m more physically exhausted than when I left, I’m filled up emotionally and creatively inspired more than I’ve been in a long time.

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Motherhood was the topic of many conversations and speaker sessions. As I took in all the information and digested what people were saying, I started to think about all the “shoulds” I carry into motherhood.

I should feel guilty leaving my baby for 3 days. I should miss her so much it hurts and shed tears when I leave.

I should feel more conflicted about being a working mom, and what does that say about me if I don’t?

 

I should make my own baby food.

 

I should read to Ainsley more and buy more developmental toys.

I should feel all the mom guilt about the things I don’t do well. 

Really, the list could go on and on. You know what? I didn’t shed a tear when I left Ainsley on Thursday morning. I missed her, but not achingly so. Knowing she was safe at home with dad and her Mimi, Nana and Papa all loving on her made me happy. I loved eating full, hot meals and sipping coffee and getting ready without rushing. And when I returned home? There was nothing sweeter than hugging that little munchkin and kissing those chubby cheeks. Enjoying my time away didn’t diminish my love for Ainsley. And, dare I say, it made me a better, more refreshed and inspired mom?

As I started to unpack the “shoulds” in my thinking, I realized that at the heart of almost every “should” was comparison. It’s not God’s standards that I’m holding myself to, it’s people in the world around me. And, as we all know about comparison, it’s always an ugly, unsatisfying road to walk.

We all want to be good moms. Heck, we all want to be amazing moms! To give our kiddos love, adoration and support. But how we arrive there comes in so many different shapes and sizes.

There is SO MUCH gray in motherhood, isn’t there? I have to imagine if we freed ourselves up from the “shoulds” and the guilt associated with the choices we make in motherhood the mommy wars would cease to exist. Because isn’t that what we’re all doing when we engage in those debates or carry that guilt or second guess our intuition?

In our hearts we know that this motherhood thing, it matters, it’s weighty and important and we’re desperately looking for validation that we’re doing it the right way. If the world tells us we’re doing things the “right” way, then we have no need to feel guilty.

I’m thankful that this weekend I was able to spend time with moms, women I know and respect, who have different perspectives on what it means to be a mom and what motherhood looks like for their families. I’m thankful for grace and forgivness and fresh starts in the name of Jesus, day-in and day-out.

For a while now, our family has been clinging and meditating on 2 Corinthians 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

If you’re carrying the weight and burden of shoulds, if you’re tired and weary and feeling like you’ll never measure up to the version of mommahood that you desire, I want to encourage you. Let’s boast in the fact that when we’re messy and imperfect, we can live freely by knowing that our imperfections are an opportunity to point others back to Him.

Madison

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