The Nursery

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Alas, the nursery is complete. This is definitely NOT a mediocre mom type nursery. It is, however, one of those half-way into regret type nurseries. And that, my friends, is definitely mediocre mom-ish. Ha.  I can’t even remember where I got the inspiration to do an Alice in Wonderland themed nursery.  It must have been a late night Pinterest plan. You know the kind. Where you see a great idea, Google a few of the details and instantly convince yourself it is totally DIY worthy. I did get the ideas on what exactly to paint from Pinterest, but I can’t remember what led me to search that theme out.

I have to be honest….

We didn’t spend near as much as you may think, on this. Luckily, I know a fella. He’s pretty good at drawing/painting, etc. I paid him a very small fee (considering the job) to come and pencil the drawing on the walls and then I took to a lot of sorority acrylic craft experience and got to painting. I knew it was going to be pretty intensive hands on and look really good once finished. Because of this I wanted to make sure my husband had a stake in it, too. That way he also felt a sense of pride when walking into the room. It worked like a charm! He was really nervous to free hand anything, paint-wise. So I took to making a few stencils and let him have a go at the leaves on the trees. I wondered if he would grow tired with it after completing several of them. He actually didn’t. And I really enjoyed having the company while painting the smaller, more time consuming, details. (Psst! He actually painted the Cheshire Cat…and it looks great!)

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Before we had kids we used to go for a quick walk after supper. It always made me feel better after eating and it turned into a great time for us to talk about our day and what all was going on with us personally. Sometimes we were done walking but were enjoying the conversation so much that we would make another loop around. Spending time together painting the nursery turned into that talk-time that we had come to miss. We enjoyed it so much that we were planning “nursery nights” during the week so we could paint and talk. We would put our toddler to bed, grab our phones, and quietly play the radio while working on our big project. It was really nice to spend that time alone with him laughing again. Even over the small stuff.

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We were nearing the finish line one night when my artist friend sent me a text asking for some photos. He was excited about this project, too. I joked with him that as soon as we finished my husband would get a job offer and we would have to paint over all the hard work just to sell the house. He said he had just completed a Winnie the Pooh mural on four complete walls in a huge playroom….and that exact thing happened to that family. It took using a sander and five coats of primer to repaint their playroom.  I kid you not….I finally put the finishing touches on our nursery late on a Sunday night- my husband came home for lunch that following Monday and said he got an inter-company job offer to move to another state….8 hours away. You can imagine the mixed feelings!

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That was a month ago.

 We’re still here, for now anyway. So with a great artist friend, a garage sale crib, an already owned dresser, a host of small tiny tubes of acrylic paint (mostly from my college days), and searching the web for great bedding and curtain deals, this entire nursery cost around $300 (excluding the black lab). Seriously. I think I paid that much for my son’s bedding, alone.  My husband jokes that our daughter will definitely make up for the cost in clothes. Turns out he wasn’t joking. She already has more clothes than anyone else in the house…and I’m just now 37 weeks pregnant with her. Ha! Luckily, I’ve been resourceful with that too and have only spent around $50 on clothing purchases (consignments, Facebook resale groups, Varage Sale, etc.). The rest was donated or gifted to us. Such a blessing!

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Here recently I’ve been pacing in and out of her room. I love it so much but I keep looking for her. Sounds silly, I know, but she’s the only thing missing.  I’m ready for her to be here. I’m ready to dress her in her clothes and change her diapers and all the other things that come with her just being here. It reminds me of my favorite verse, “Everything has already been decided. So there is no use in arguing with God about your destiny.” Ecclesiastes 6:10 He has already decided her birthday. It has already been written. Until then, I’ll just take a few more trips into her nursery while it’s still quiet.

Sometimes patiently waiting,

Your Mediocre Mom

I Found Humanity in My 1 Year Old

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It took all I had not to tear up and lose it, in public, today.

Today was a proud milestone in my ever growing mommy memory. I am officially full-term in my pregnancy. So it is no surprise that I love taking advantage of our family membership to the Children’s Museum. There is a special toddler section that is enclosed where it is safe to let the smaller children run and romp without too much hovering.  Once I made sure my son, Sebastian, could maneuver his way up and down all the play stations I made it a point to stay emotionally attentive, but not physically. My son thrives in his independence. He loves to run, climb and jump…and I love to encourage him to do it. He loves to climb to the highest tower on the castle, look out into the play area, and say, “Momma!” At which point I throw my arms into the air and exclaim loudly, “Hey baby!”

He has never been shy when it comes to playing with other children. When he was a bit younger it used to terrify me because he didn’t care that the children were older, faster and more aggressive. He would just jump in with them and let them knock him down. He would get up and run back into the fire. I love that about him. I’m a lot like that, too. But today he did something that stopped me cold. It made my heart swell, and I didn’t know if I would be able to hold it together for the sake of the other mother involved.

It was like any other play day at the Children’s Museum. I had encouraged him to jump or slide off of any surface he could scale. He made his way over to the giant leggos and began his latest construction project. The way he organized all the pieces before beginning let me know this one was going to be good. It had only been a minute or so until Ky-Ky approached us and politely took his seat with my son. He must have also seen the potential engineering project that was about to unfold and wanted to be a part of it.  There was one little obstacle. Ky-Ky had two complete casts on both of his arms. They started above the elbows and completely covered his hands. Sebastian tried to hand him a few giant leggos and quickly noticed that his friend couldn’t grasp them.  What happened next is something I will never forget.

My son pushed forward, on the floor, one giant leggo…..and his new friend bent over and used the balls on the tips of his casts to pick the leggo up. Sebastian leaned into him and clapped gently while giving a very encouraging, “Yay!” Ky-Ky delighted in excitement. Again, Sebastian pushed another leggo in his direction….and again, the child struggled to pick it up and place it on top of another. My son sat there and gently encouraged and praised this child for doing a great job. My one year old child was showing humanity and compassion for another human being. In some small sense of the world around him, he recognized and understood the struggle in someone else and chose to embrace the opportunity to show love, encouragement, and support. My 100 mph little boy had the patience to sit, teach, and reinforce a skill that brought sheer joy to them both.

I wish I could tell you the expression on the other mother’s face. But I couldn’t take my eyes off them long enough to check. After my son made sure the other boy could pick them up on his own, he jumped up and ran off to the next adventure. It wasn’t until then that I noticed his mother had been sitting as closely behind her son as I was mine. I made a small remark about her son being precious and she just smiled at me.  It didn’t take long to see her son following mine around. Her little boy approached me, as I was sitting on a bench, and leaned in to give me the biggest hug. I embraced him fully and pulled him up onto my knee to talk. My little boy ran over and leaned in to give him a hug, too, and then quickly ran off to play. At this point I was obviously in conversation with the boy’s mother. I learned he was only 11 months old. I complimented on how social he was and how that would come in handy the older he got.  She seemed comforted by it.

I know what you may be thinking….

Why did he have the casts on? Or, what was wrong with him? The truth is, I never asked her. It wasn’t important to me. I do have a question for you, though. Did it ever occur to you, while reading this, that the other child may be of a different race than my child? No? Good….it shouldn’t have.  Turns out, he was.  But our children had embraced one another without discrimination to skin tone or handicap…..and that’s exactly the way we both wanted it. We were both proud mommas today. We all four spent the next 45 minutes playing together on the see-saw, the bouncy bears, and using the touch screen station to match different types of bugs. Our boys delighted in learning along side one another. Just as I was there to give a hug and high five to her son, so was she to mine.  And every few glorious moments of giggling, as the other mothers and children stared at Ky-Ky’s condition, his mother and I would share a proud smile. I don’t know how other people treat them. I don’t know if Ky-Ky is avoided by other children because he looks differently. But I do know that today, he wasn’t. Today, he was treated normally, just as he should be. Today, he was included. Today, he was encouraged. And today, his momma saw a glimpse of humanity toward her son, not by another grown-up….but by another child.

God, please let us raise our generations to raise generations to love and accept one another. Put in us the passion to encourage and lift up those around us that may be struggling. Lord, put in us the compassion toward one another that has no boundaries to the flesh. Live in our hearts and let us raise generations to be your hands and feet, Lord. Send us into the day to be your light. Please, God, use us to show you to our children. And thank you, Lord, for using our children to show you to us, too. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

With love,

Your Mediocre Mom

To the Dad without Custody

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An Open Letter to the Dad without Custody

Dear Dad,

I want to encourage you, today. I want to share with you what your children think about you and what they will think about you in the future. But first I want to start by making a few obvious points. I don’t know why you don’t have custody of your kids. I don’t know what happened between you and their mother(s), and I won’t pretend to. I have no idea if you’ve even seen them in a while. But I know where your mind goes sometimes (a lot). I know that you are missing many nights of fun bath times and giggles over silly bubbles. I know that you are missing many nights of struggling to run a comb through their wet hair and hoping their pajamas still fit because it’s been so long since they’ve stayed a night, and you swear they have grown 4 inches since you saw them last. I know that even when you do get to keep them you often spend your time a little sad that you don’t get to experience those moments every night, with them. I know that for every night their mother struggles through night time routines you wish you could struggle through it more, because you hardly ever get to.

Maybe you have a really great co-parenting relationship with their mother (lucky you!). Maybe you don’t.  Maybe your children’s mother has chosen to keep them from you. Maybe she chooses to manipulate them into not liking you, or maybe she defends you more than you think. Either way, there is something I want you to know.

They are not stupid!

Even if she chooses to make you look bad when they are younger, believe me when I say it won’t take them long to see more and more of the truth as they get older.  And we all know who they’ll resent once they figure that out. Let me give you an example. When I was a little girl I adored my grandfather. He was amazing! I was the only girl, of the grands, and he made sure I believed that I could run just as fast, climb just as high, hit just as hard, and throw just as far. He made me feel like I could conquer the world. No one in my family ever spoke ill of him.  When I got a little older I started noticing him being unkind to my grandmother. The older I got the more unpleasant it became to be around him. I once asked my dad if he had always been that way. My dad told me that he had, but that us grandkids adored him and my parents and my aunts and uncles didn’t want to ruin that for us. He also said that they often wondered what us kids would think of him once we grew up.

That is a true story. My point is that no matter what their mother is saying to them, or trying to make them believe, there will always be a part of them that will see and find out for themselves. Most of that you have no control over. But there is something you have a lot of control over, that will also make or break your relationship with them.

Fight for them!

I’m not talking about fight with their mother, or the ole in-laws. I mean keep trying! No matter what they hear while with their mom, you keep speaking words of affirmation to them. You keep reminding them, even if it’s too much, how much you love them and think about them. You keep telling them how much you wish you could spend every single day with them. You keep filling their little hearts with the truth of your love. And when they ask you why mommy says differently, don’t speak badly of her! Just say you don’t know but that it isn’t true. There will come a time, when they are older, that they will treat you badly. They may not even want to see you. Just remember that kids push away what they want and need the most…..even if it’s you. In kids, depression comes out as anger. They aren’t really angry at you….they are sad about something.  There will also come a time when they realize their mother was wrong, and even malicious. This will also make them angry and possibly push you away. Just know that it doesn’t have anything to do with you, personally. They are trying to work through their emotions and feelings and need the space to figure it out and come to terms with the truth. Still speak words of love and support to them.

Then they grow up.

So what happens when they grow up? I want to assure you that what we are blind to as children, we see fully as adults. Just like how my cousins and I see our grandfather. And don’t you dare let them grow up and realize that you never fought for them.  Don’t you dare let them grow up and have to ask you why you didn’t try, for their sake, regardless of what their mother did or said. Because they, too, will become parents one day. It’s then they will realize the love between a parent and a child….and everything about who they are will question that love between themselves and you. Make sure they are confident in whatever conclusion they come to.

So hang in their, dad. Your day is coming. You have many years of being unsure, feeling like you aren’t enough, being treated like you aren’t enough, and spending your time always making-up for lost time.  The day will come when they will be old enough for you to tell your whole side of the story. They will appreciate what all you went through for just a handful of hours with them. They will see how hard you fought all those years. They will see the ‘why’ of many things they hated you for, in the past. And their hearts will break for you. They will finally see, on their own, just how amazing you were all those years. They will see how much crap you put up with, or how much it cost you just to win some time with them. Just to win a hug from them. And they will absolutely adore you for it. I promise.

Hang in there Dad,

Your Mediocre Mom

Tiger Lilies

One of my favorite stories about my late grandmother, Nanny, involves her beloved Tiger Lilies. She lived in a decent sized home, with my grandpa, for as long as I’ve been alive. My mother lived there when she was a little girl, and it was a place of comfort and unconditional love for me. It was a place of endless homemade apple pies, special Minnie Mouse drinking glasses (for me, of course), and the best cast iron skillet hash browns I could ask for.

When I was in college my Nanny was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Luckily, it was very slow progressing and she lived for a very long time, considering. I graduated with my first degree in 2005 and she wanted to buy me something special. I asked for a bicycle. She had gotten to the point of not being able to drive and had forgotten to take care of the gift. I never could muster up the courage to tell her because I knew how upset she would be if she learned she never bought it for me. So when she asked, I went on about how much I loved riding it and how fun it was for my dog to jog along side me. I know I’ll answer for that one day…believe me, I’m prepared to defend that one.  Fast forward into completing my Master’s degree….

I came home from college one weekend and really wanted to visit my Nanny. I knew the disease had progressed some and I really wanted to take the time to talk with her before, well, she forgot who I was. My mother had mentioned, through numerous phone calls, that she had gotten a little worse but was okay. I fixed my usual glass of sweet tea and we took our seats on the back patio. Huge oak trees towered the house and provided a nice shaded area to watch the birds play in their bath. As we sat enjoying the mild weather, I waited for her usual set of questions. Like clockwork she asked about school and how everything was going. I was especially excited for this question because I had been working really hard on a specific research project. I knew that telling her about it would make great conversation and excite her that I was doing so well. So I began…

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A few minutes into my story she interrupted me and said, “Don’t you just love tiger lilies? They are so pretty.” It caught me off guard, but I actually took a moment to look over at them and did notice how beautiful they looked. I commented back that they were indeed pretty. A moment later I picked up my story again and started explaining the ways I was gathering my data. Again, a few minutes later she interrupted me and said, “I love them so much. Your Pa (my grandpa) would dig them all up if he could. No telling what they would look like, then.” I guess my mother saw the look of confusion on my face because she politely covered her mouth with her hand and giggled. I couldn’t help but giggle along. I agreed with my Nanny on her tiger lily comment and made a joke about what my Pa would plant there instead. A minute later I tried to get back to my story and she cut me off again…she said, “Don’t you just love how they cover up the ugly parts of the house? That bottom concrete part always looks so bad on people’s houses.” At this point I had given up and joined my mother in a full belly laugh.  I realized I wasn’t going to finish my story and that my Nanny wanted to talk about her flowers, instead. I couldn’t blame her. I politely followed suit and spent the next two hours talking about and enjoying her beautiful flower beds and bird bath.

Later I learned that the Alzheimer’s wouldn’t let her mind focus on content any longer than a few minutes at a time. She was trying to listen to me, but every few minutes she would forget what I had been talking about. In order to talk about something that was less confusing to her she changed the subject. And since she had always put so much time and love into feeding the birds and growing her favorite flowers she chose to talk about those, instead. At first I felt like a jerk for confusing her. But the more I thought about it the more her interruptions started to make sense.

That was years ago. It’s still one of my favorite memories of her. But since I’ve married, become a mother and a better Christian I find that her interruptions have immense meaning to me. You see, life is busy. Life is fast. We spend so much time trying to hurry to the next planned event or appointment. We hurry our kids through daily tasks, often losing our tempers, and become impatient with other drivers for actually driving the speed limit. We spend twice as long as we should in the grocery store but then become irritated that we have to wait 5 minutes in the checkout line. We argue with a spouse about the route they take to get somewhere because we think it may take us 5 minutes longer, that way. Like it matters that dadgum much. Heaven forbid we have to spend 5 extra minutes in their presence. We hurry along and try to hurry everyone else along with us that we no longer realize we are doing it. It’s then I hear her interrupting me. It’s then I hear her stopping me mid-story to look at something beautiful. To admire something lovely. It’s then I hear her telling me that I could hide all that ugly with just a few tiger lilies.

Why do we do that? Why do we become so busy with hurrying that we think others should also move at OUR speed? Especially children.  I want you to think about the people in your life that are busy telling their research stories. And then I want you to think about areas in your life when you become too busy telling your own research story. I’m about to give you permission to do something really big…….I encourage you to interrupt those people! Stop them numerous times mid-story if you have to. Now, I’m not asking you to walk around telling people to shut-up. But if you have a friend that is brain-fried from being busy and in a hurry…..give them a single flower with a note about slowing down to smell it, have them meet you in the park, have them meet you in the garden section of  a local Lowe’s or Home Depot, make a friend-date to a local butterfly garden, send them a hanging bird feeder to admire from a window.  Do something to stop them mid-story and allow them to admire something that doesn’t ask them to hurry or allow itself to be hurried by you.  You don’t have to give a big explanation for why. Once they realize they have been able to just breathe for a moment they will understand.

Secondly, I encourage you to interrupt yourself. You know those moments when the thought crosses your mind, “this is where all those moms recommended I get in the floor and play with my child instead of get the dirty dishes out of the sink…” yeah, leave the dishes in the sink. Choosing, in that moment, to play with your child is admiring the lilies. Even if it’s just for a few minutes before you jump up to do the dishes anyway. When it seems as if you catch every red light on the way to work, after leaving the house 10 minutes late, choose to find the lilies at each light.  And for Heaven’s sake, plant some of those dadgum tiger lilies somewhere in your life.  They really do cover up the ugly parts.

Love,

Your Mediocre Mom