Tuesday, March 17, 2015

One, Two, Buckle my shoe

The winds have been strong the last few days and the weather has been warm.  As the air whips and whistles around me in a frenzy it's as if the world is expressing the current tumultousness of my mind.

For weeks I've been repeating the same thing to Whit.  "Soon, sweetheart, soon. Soon the snow will melt away and the weather will be warm....soon."  It's reminiscent of just two short years ago when I whispered those same words to myself and my overly large belly. "Soon, sweetheart, soon.  Soon the weather will warm up and you'll be ready to meet us...soon."

I  find it nearly impossible to fathom that not one but two years have passed since those days.  The time seems to slip more quickly by me as I reach out to grasp the memory of each day, to etch the ever-changing face of that tiny bundle in my mind.

The last few weeks I've been struggling.  I'm in yet another time of transition. I've climbed, resiliently, patiently, up the mountain of young motherhood and then joyfully bounded down, stumbling, of course, a few times on the way.  And now I sit, poised, at the bottom of the next set of mountains and I'm trying to decide which to climb.  Do I buckle up my gear and climb the career mountain, grappling my way through lesson plans and re-certification and student enrichment? Or do I look to see if some other mountain catches my eye?

All I know is that the mountain of early mothering is now behind me, for better or worse, I'll never be a "young new mother" again.  I've seen and experienced too much.  Even if we are blessed with other little ones I'll be the "experienced, multi-para" mom. Mostly that's a good thing.  I can share my experience and tips of the trade with other young new mothers.  I can be the wise sage whispering supportively to them.  And I'm looking forward to the day that I can wear that mantle with ease.

But for now, on this last day of having a child under 2 and in these last months before Whit climbs his own first mountain, I'm finding that the jacket doesn't quite fit; I still have a little more filling out to do.

So I suppose I'll walk the valley for a while.  I'll grow butterflies, catch fireflies and watch the clouds float by with my children, neither of whom fit into the "baby" category any more.  And I'll wait.  I'll wait for my next mountain and I'll tether my family as they prepare to climb up their own mountains.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

I'm not that kind of mother

Shortly after Eilidh was born, and even as I made preparations for her birth, I realized that I'm not the kind of mother I thought I would be.

The previous three years of mothering had turned me into someone that I had not expected to be.

Of course, can any of us really anticipate what motherhood will be like before we become mothers?  Until you have grown a human from one cell to a walking talking person using only your own body; until you have looked into that tiny face and realized that nothing else in the world really matters anymore; until you hear a small voice saying "Mommy..."

I learned as I experienced my first pregnancy and later when I studied child development that there are documented changes that occur in the female brain both during pregnancy and after childbirth.  There are hormones that sculpt and shape us to respond and care for the helpless little beings that we have been entrusted to raise.

Being someone's mother isn't something you can ever shake.  It's not a job you can quit or resign from.  It's not a hobby you can put on a shelf and pick up when you have time.  It's a change in who you are. 

I'll hold off on going any deeper here and get back to the point.  If I'm not the kind of mother I thought I would be, what kind of mother am I?  Asking this question took me on a journey of self-discovery like nothing I've ever experienced before.

I'm the kind of mother that somewhat strictly monitors what her children eat.  The kind of mother who strives to feed them organic, whole foods as much as possible.  And the kind of mother who allows her children to eat cookies and brownies for breakfast... hey, as long as they EAT!

I'm the kind of mother who teaches her children about the natural world - how plants grow, what makes the seasons, how to co-exist with animals.  And I'm the kind of mother who gives her toddler a smart phone to keep her from screaming while we drive.

I'm the kind of mother who wants to keep her children's greedy gimmes in check, who frequently uses the words need when explaining why I won't buy something.  And I'm the kind of mother who says "yes" when her child asks if he could, please, buy those cool spiderman pjs?

I'm the kind of mother who teaches her child critical thinking and problem solving skills asking "why" more times a day than an inquisitive toddler.  The kind of mother who wants to limit screen time because it's been show to decrease a child's creative thinking.  And I'm the kind of mother who wants to snuggle on the couch and just have a lazy time watching a movie and eating popcorn.  The kind of mother who, at the end of her patience, says "how about we just turn on the tv?"

I'm the kind of mother who gives my children what I think they need until they are old enough to stop asking for it.  And the kind of mother who encourages independence as early as possible.

I'm the kind of mother who stays calm, who gently explains why we can't go outside without shoes and a jacket when it's snowing outside, who has limitless patience.  And I'm the kind of mother who loses her temper and yells in frustration.

I'm the kind of mother who wants to spend every minute of every day with her child, soaking in the wonder and innocence of every stage of life.  And the kind of mother who needs to separate, recharge and be in a way I can only be without my children.

I'm the kind of mother who has full arms and a full heart with the two special little ones that I've been blessed with.  The kind of mother who wants to focus, fully, on the small family I have.  And the kind of mother who would never say no to growing her family.

I'm the kind of mother who receives odd and sometimes disapproving looks as I push my cart, singing and talking to my children in the grocery store. Who wonders if the people around me think my parenting choices are strange, or wrong.  And I'm the kind of mother who gives knowing and understanding looks (that are likely perceived as odd or disapproving) to other mothers with young children pushing their carts through the store.

I'm the kind of mother who doesn't want you to call her daughter beautiful and instead focus on her strengths, personality and beautiful soul.  And I'm the kind of mother who thinks her daughter is, obviously, the most beautiful creature I've ever seen.

I'm the kind of mother who dresses her children in matching, perfectly tailored clothing from head to toe.  And the kind of mother who's children are often running around half-dressed and mis-matched.
The early days of mothering with a 7 month old Whit

So what about the other side?

I'm not the kind of mother who has it all together.

I'm not the kind of mother who has it all figured out.

I'm not the kind of mother who knows she's doing it right.

I'm not the kind of mother that thinks I'm doing it better.

No, I'm not that kind of mother.

I'm simply the kind of mother who loves, laughs, and cries with and for her children.  The kind of mother who thanks God for every moment I get with them and tries to do her best all the time.

Just like you.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Last Saturday my wonderful husband had the idea of loading up the kids and going out to find a Christmas tree.  I know some will find it antiquated, but I grew up with a live Christmas tree and the "hunt" for the perfect tree is one of my favorite holiday traditions.  So off we went.

Speaking of family traditions, Whit has begun his own.  For the third year in a row he has tried to make the tree hunting process as difficult and un-enjoyable as possible.  The first time, when he was just 18 months old, he ran from one end of the tree farm to the other, on a mission.  Come to find out there was a play set over the fence that he couldn't play on. Cue tears.  Last year the frigid weather had him curled as tightly to his Nana as possible while Kirk, Eilidh and I found, posed with and cut down a tree.  This year, although the best to date, he firmly planted himself in his seat and stated "I'll just wait for you here in the truck while you go and cut down the tree."  Ah... perhaps in ten years he will realize how fun it is to bundle up and traipse among evergreen trees for hours in search of PERFECTION?

Now, everyone has their own idea of a perfect tree. My mother would settle for nothing but a Blue Spruce.  My sister prefers short, squat trees that need a little love and I would always pull my father's hand in the direction of the tallest most evenly balanced tree I could find.  You can imagine that deciding on a tree in that family really did take hours with my peace-making brother saying "Can't we just get this one?" at least a dozen times.

This year I had to contend with one grump who wanted a blue tree, a toddler who just wanted all of the trees and a husband who wanted to get the process over as quickly as possible since we had just spent a good five minutes convincing Whit to just leave the truck.

But, in the end, we found the "perfect" tree.  Just like we do every year.  It was Glorious. Full branches, a beautiful texture and color, just the right height and fatness. And was it ever balanced and even had a hint of blue in the green branches.

But, just like every other year, as we cut this perfect tree from the ground, dragged it home, trimmed and placed it in the tree stand we realized just how perfect it wasn't.  Suddenly all I could see was that the tree was leaning to one side.  We had to catch the thing three times as it fell, unbalanced from the tree stand.  As the branches settled after cutting the bright blue twine away I noticed that several stuck out at odd angles and there were far more bare spots than I had remembered from just an hour before.

So there we were, with a gloriously imperfect tree.   As we breathed deep calming breaths and discussed our ignorance and poor choosing I looked Kirk in the eye and said "At least there's a good blog post in this."  Because there is.

This tree is a metaphor for our lives.  Everyone has a different idea of perfect.  And when we look at our own or others' lives for just a brief moment it's easy to see the vision of perfection.  It's only when we get the tree home and really look at the details that we realize there is nothing at all perfect about it.  There are bare spots.  There are parts of our lives that don't fit neatly together, that stick out at us every time we look in the mirror.  You never know when that perfectly balanced tree is actually going to turn out to have a twisted trunk because it has grown on a hill or had branches cut and shaped to appear that way.

And when you realize your tree isn't perfect you have two choices.  You can toss it in the burn pile and go with an artificial, always perfect tree or you can decorate what you have.  You can place ornaments like memories on the branches not to disguise but to accentuate the imperfections.  You can find the perfect bare spot for your ballerina ornament and happily place your childhood Rudolf on the top because the type of tree you have is too bendy for the ornate star topper.  You can turn the tree, just so, to find the side that is the most "normal" to show to the world and then sit back on the couch and see the tree leaning toward the wall and knowing that it's only the tight screws at the very base of the tree that is keeping everything from falling apart.

Photo Updates 2014

The first week of August I began a new job, my first since Eilidh's birth.  Just a few weeks later we moved into our new home and started the settling process.  So here we are, months and months later and I've finally downloaded pictures from the last six months from our camera to our new computer setup.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Thankful November

It's been far too many days since my last blog post.  I can blame it on many things but the simple truth of the matter is that I moved it off of my priority list for too long.  During the month of November I challenged myself to find one different thing to be thankful for every day, and quite a challenge it was.  Some days were easy and some were much more difficult.  November of 2014 proved to be one of the more challenging months of my entire year; a fact I wasn't expecting when I began this journey of thankfulness.  But you know what?  I learned more through this simple exercise than I expected.  I learned that so much of how life treats you is a reflection of how you treat life.  Even if I didn't start out each day in a thankful mood, I did my best to end it that way.  And I found that I could turn around almost all of my frustrations just by saying "I'm thankful...."

 A Thankful November

Day 1: I am thankful for today and the opportunity to be thankful every day.  This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Psalm 118:24

Day 2: I'm thankful for my budding village and all the love and acceptance I've experienced since moving back to this sleepy small town.

Day 3: Technology. I'm grateful for the current technology that allowed so many distant friends to get in touch with me yesterday on my birthday -I'm blessed! And also for the ability for my children to get some face time with Grams and Papap!

Day 4: As I rush around in the morning trying to get myself and two little ones ready to explore our day I'm thankful for the wonderful women who love and care for my children while I go out on my mission to educate our youth.

Day 5: I'm thankful for the opportunity to educate myself and hopefully plant seeds of change in my community.

Day 6: It's not the majestic mountains of Alaska or the beautiful sunsets of the Hawaiin shore, but these rustic and cozy hills are home. I'm blessed to be nestled in this safe little valley especially now as the trees put on their finest colors.

Day 7: Sometimes you have someone in your life for whom you can never be thankful enough. Someone that, without, you would be unsure of your own identity. Someone who not only knows your entire history and completely gets you and accepts you, but still insists they like you. Someone who tells you that you are beautiful when you feel the least like it and tells you they love you when you feel the most alone. Today I'm thankful that I have a certain someone in my life who will fight for anything and everything they believe in, who puts EVERYTHING he has into EVERYTHING he does. And I'm thankful that the budding little family we share is at the top of that list.

Day 8: Saturdays....enough said.

Day 9: Without going into too much detail.... a self-sufficient 4 year old.

Day 10: I can't help but feel blessed to have the warm sun shining on my back and fresh air to breath as I walk through the last few "warm" days of Autumn.

Day11: I'm thankful for all the men and women who have served our country. I'm proud to call so many of them family.

Day 12: I'm thankful for people who give me the reassurance that there are others out there who see the world the same way I do and that I'm not alone in my beliefs and principle.

Day 13: I've enjoyed the warm days recently but this morning I welcomed the crisp cool wintery smelling air and I'm looking forward to the beauty of the first snowfall.

Day 14: Although a three hour delay threw the schedule-happy side of me for a loop today, I was thankful for the opportunity for a little extra cuddle time this morning with all of my most favorite people.

Day 15: Tonight I taught my four year old son about death. It hasn't been a great day and this will likely be (obviously) the most difficult post of the month. But the thing about death is that it brings life into sharper focus. It makes us sit back and think about, not one thing, but EVERYTHING that we have. I'm thankful for a man that taught me that life is to be lived and that a smile and friendly "Hello" can get you just about anything. I'm thankful for the times, however limited, that we had together and I'm thankful that every time I look into my daughters smiling blue eyes I will know that a little bit of Pap is living on in her.

Day 16: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:17 (ESV) I'm thankful for the peace that comes with knowing Him.

Day 17: Without the sun there would be no shadows; without the darkness we could not appreciate the light.  I am thankful for the light.

Day 18: Thankful for the strength of prayer.

Day 19: The last few days have passed in such a blur. As I prepare for another difficult 24 hours I'm thankful for all the warm arms that have made their way around me today.

Day 20: "Mom" is the best title I've ever had. I'm so thankful, especially today, for the two little ones who have taught me so much and can always make me smile.

Day 21: After an exhausting 72 hours, I was welcomed back to school this morning by many caring co-workers and loving students. Feeling blessed to be at work today (did I just say that?!)

Day 22: No matter the day, the situation or sentiment, I love every member of my big and crazy family. Whether you are related by blood, marriage or adoption (both formal and informal) I'm thankful for every single one of you.

Day 23 & 24: (I finally missed one!) I was so thankful to have the opportunity to celebrate new life last night. And I was especially grateful for my amazing Mother-in-law who does everything she can to make my life easier!
Psalm 139:13New International Version (NIV) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Day 25: I'm thankful for love, joy and peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control.

Day 26: I'm thankful that certain holiday foods allow you to remember those that you cannot be with.

Day 27: I no longer eat turkey, so for me thanksgiving is far more about giving thanks than devouring the bird. Today I'm thankful that we had the opportunity to see a few family members that we don't often see. We've had a simple, quiet day surrounded by love; I couldn't ask for anything more.

Day 28: Sisters

Day 29: I'm thankful for the freedom and opportunity to celebrate our special times.  Our yearly holiday activities are actually becoming "traditions" as Kirk and I enter into the fifth year of celebrating with our own small family and the fifteenth year of celebrating together.

Day 30: I'm thankful for the imperfections of my life.