Update on the Move: I’m over it!

Hi there. As you sit where ever you are, I am still living in a tiny two bedroom apartment with my husband, mother, and two tiny children (a two-year old boy that is 100% Pentecostal and a 7 month old little princess). It’s a cute apartment that is fully furnished- that’s a huge blessing.  But there is one window unit pumping AC and it’s located across the unit in the dining room. That means we all burn up at night in the bedrooms. My toddler currently claims 80% of the bed he shares with his Memaw at night. And my husband and I are held hostage each day by the napping/sleeping baby in an uncomfortable pack-n-play in our bedroom. The washer and dryer are a called a “thin twin” combination, meaning it washes three towels at a time. The dryer vent hose that usually runs to an exterior wall of the home doesn’t. It has some weird vent cup on the end of it and it sits on the bathroom floor. That means all the heat from the dryer is blowing into the bathroom….which doesn’t have a fan, only a tiny window in the shower that opens. With 5 people living here you can imagine how hot it stays in there from having to constantly run it. The appliances are so outdated they don’t cook properly. A bag of microwave popcorn takes 4 minutes to pop half the bag. The corn that actually pops is scorched. Something is weird about the outlets in the kitchen because they make the appliances we packed cook hot and fast. Strange. All I can think about is how we had the electricity switched over into our name early so the movers would have AC. So I’m paying electricity for a home I don’t own and I’m sitting over here hot. Ha! Oh, but these are the days that memories are made, right? Ugh. I am always the one that tries to keep everyone encouraged and tries to keep everything in perspective….but even I am struggling.

We are so tired of trying to keep the children busy and entertained. I have spent a small fortune on cheap disposable toys and what was supposed to be “travel toiletries.” We didn’t plan on being in this position for very long so everything we need on a regular basis is packed away and stored in a house we do not own. Yep, you read that right…..we’ve already moved our belongings into the home. Don’t get me wrong, that was the biggest blessing we’ve received so far. And I am extremely grateful for that. But our “stuff” was moved here so soon because we were told a bum closing date. The seller has been back and forth about letting us move in early and frankly I’m really uncomfortable moving in early, at this point. Heaven forbid my toddler break something before we own it. People seem to be more worried about the dog. They have no idea! She’s the laziest sweetest thing that exists. Have you ever met a lab that never chews or digs? If you’ve met mine you have. She never did, even as a puppy! People should be worried about my toddler, not my dog. She is much more well behaved than my kid. Seriously.

Another thing bothering me is that I pulled my mother into this. She cares for my elderly grandfather. She even lives with him back home. She agreed to come stay with me for a month to help me with the kids while I try to get unpacked and somewhat settled. It would allow for Donnie and I to travel to nearby cities to purchase any furniture we needed, etc. But now that this is all dragging out, she’s spent her time in this hot apartment being held hostage to a toddlers nap and bedtimes. She doesn’t have a single space to her own to regroup at night. She’ll still have to go back home towards the end of July.

And then there’s my fur baby. Since she’s not allowed to stay in the apartment or the house that we are paying AC for, I had to stick her in an unbelievable kennel. It’s horrible. I packed her up, drove her 9 hours, and dropped her off at a kennel. I can’t even get them to call me back so I can ask about her. I feel so bad for her. I just know she thinks I’ve abandon her. She wasn’t supposed to stay but just a few days. Now it’ll be almost two weeks. Ugh, that makes me cry. For those of you reading this that think I’m over reacting, she’s not a typical pet. She and I used to travel a little and do dog shows. And she would win! I still have her ribbons and photos packed away somewhere at the new house. This all just sucks really bad.

Our original closing date on the house we are trying to buy was July 5th, I believe. It has been pushed up and then back so many times that I cannot remember the first time they told us to prepare to be here. I think it was July 21st? And we’re still here awaiting a closing date. Just this morning we were told to expect the original July 5th closing date- this coming Tuesday. And less than 30 minutes later were told to push it back to possibly Wednesday. Unbelievable!

So, here we are. Still sitting in this hot apartment, sweating in our sleep, driving by the house we love with all of our stuff sitting in it, hoping my dog is okay, and trying our best to make the most of it. But I would be lying if I told you we weren’t over it. We are so over it.  I’m trying my best to remain optimistic, but at this point I’ll believe it when I see it. And I want my damn dog back. Today.

Prove it to Me!

Brussels Bombing

 

Unless you have been underground mining in Chile, unplugged from the world at large (in which case you aren’t reading this, either), or attempting to sail across the Atlantic, you have heard about the shooting/massacre that took place in San Bernardino, California or the bombings in Brussels.  Was it Isis? Was it al Queda? Was it an Asian guy that lives an incredibly pressured home-life? What about one of those Arkansas boys that dresses in black and listens to heavy metal? (catch the reference, there? – this is me winking-) The media, and public-at-large, hears the pronunciation of that middle eastern name and starts assuming, terrorist. Guilty.

Let’s back up a moment…

The media and public are up in arms about possible ties to Isis. But does that really matter? Does it matter which group, club, or mosque they pay dues to? I realize that if there is some score tally sheet it would really help to decide which team to put the little mark under. That way we could see which team we want to play in the championship, and really give them hell! But other than that…they performed an act of terrorism, whether it’s considered domestic or international. And right now, sources are scouring in every nook and cranny looking for evidence of such. In essence, they are trying to “prove” belonging.

That brings me to my real point.

All of that got me thinking…what if I were in a country where my faith/beliefs were, um, disapproving(?), and they brought me in for persecution. Would they be able to “prove” that I was a Christian? Ouch. I’m not so sure they could. And if I really feel that way, shouldn’t exploring why be more important to me than “proving” someone else’s faith? I mean, aren’t we guilty of that all the time? Guilty of shaking our fingers at others with the, “and she says she’s a Christian,” look. Am I living a life that actually proves, to those looking at my life, that I am indeed a Christian?

Let’s honestly explore that. If I were taken into custody for “being a Christian,” what would they look for? Have I contacted a church through e-mail or phone calls/texts? No.  Have I contributed financially to a church? Yes. Although, I’m guessing a lot of you could answer no. No? Humph.  Am I listed on an official member list of a Christian church? Yes. Are you? Have I been witnessed as attending Christian “rituals” of church services, private meetings (small groups) with other Christians, etc? Yes. Have you?

But what about my personal life? My home life, away from “religious rituals.” Does my presence on social media reflect my faith? Or can I be seen posting videos/memes with profanity, vulgarity, or things contradictory to Christian faith? The point is…am I publicly leading my life as a Christian or am I following a set of Christian rituals out of habit? A set of rituals to check off of my Things to Be a Christian At list? What if you interviewed my closest friends and family? I’ll use their middle names, in case they disapprove of being mentioned- but what about Kristen? If you interviewed her could she answer to my Christian behavior, or my non-Christian behavior? Do I cuss around her? Do I drink alcohol around her? Do I gossip about others, act in vulgar ways, and become belligerent around her? Actually, yes.

Have I worshiped in her presence? Have I spoken to her about the Christian faith or encouraged her to follow the Christian response to things? Have I supported her in Christian spiritual growth and ask she do the same for me? Actually, yes. Could she speak as a witness and defend my belonging to the Christian faith? I believe so. But what about Nicole or Tareas? Could they be used as a credible witnesses to my defense? If I apply those same questions to my friendship with them they are not as strong. Let me be clear and say that I don’t doubt they would be there to help me. I just don’t know if they’ve witnessed enough to be as much help as Kristen. I can honestly say that I have physically worshiped with only two of my personal friends. After those three, the credibility of my witnesses really taper off. I would be in big trouble.

Don’t forget about the Prosecution.

Up until now we’ve seen what all I’ve done to defend my belonging to Christianity (truthfully, it’s a belonging to Christ). But what about the information the prosecution would present? What about the cross-examination of those three friends? All three of them, and the collective rest of my girl-group, have witnesses MUCH more about me that would “disprove” my Christianity. It would be a complete annihilation of any set of good practices that I had formed through Christian habit. It would be the ultimate victim turned faultor. The girl you see on television who was raped but is blamed for it because of the way she dressed and acted. You get the idea.

I have to admit they would have a good case. A really really good one. I have years and years and years of really bad decisions. Some are accompanied by really funny stories. Others are so embarrassing that I had to have a confession night with my husband where we opened up about everything in our past. Everything.  Ugh, those are the worst. There were a lot of witnesses. Too many to count…er, remember. And I would be worried to hear some of their versions of what happened. It’s not like they would be interviewing my parents or folks that extended grace and forgiveness towards me. No, you’d have a whole slew of ex’s and frienemies, angry students I failed, and a few in-laws. Ha!

My point is there are way too many skeletons in my closet and not enough prayer beads on my necklace. I’m not even to bracelet status….I may have a key chain.  I don’t even have a little rough spot on my knees from spending enough time on them praying. So……..what do you do once you realize you would be found not-guilty of belonging to your faith? How do you convince a jury (or Judge) that you, indeed, are guilty of being a Christian?

Luckily, the Christian faith…..following Jesus…..is all about mercy, grace and forgiveness. It doesn’t matter how many years of “bad” or how bad my “bad” was…all any of us have to do is ask Him for forgiveness and to come into our hearts to live. That’s it. How would you get a group of non-believers to believe that is all there is to it? You can share the gospel, but believing is a matter of the heart. And changing the hearts of non-believers into believers is the job of the Good Lord himself. How do you prove in court that a changing of the heart has occurred? By taking a look at the evidence AFTER you say the heart had changed. And that, my friends, still isn’t completely full of evidence that I am living a Christian life. I’m working on it. I really am. But I challenge you- take a look at your own life. Are you publicly leading it according to how you claim your belief system to be? Think about that the next time you want to point fingers at others.

 

Cheers!

Your Mediocre Mom

Things I Didn’t Expect with My Second Child

Please note that these points reflect my personal life experiences and feelings. I do not expect others to agree with or relate to them.

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Things I Didn’t Expect with My Second Child…

  • That I would love and want to punch my husband in the face, simultaneously.
  • That I would need a 13 gallon trashcan in every room in the house.
  •  That I would put my inside-dog, of 14 years, outside. (reasonably, of course) Edit: She’s back in the house. I’m a softy on Mondays.
  •  That I would need 4 filing cabinets to organize all the clutter.
  • That I would never actually get to organize any of that clutter.
  • That I would buy all the necessary safety equipment and never get around to installing it. (anchors for dressers, etc.)
  • That I would activate the “5 second rule” in the nastiest of places.
  • That I would mourn all the personal time I used to spend with my first child.
  • That breastfeeding would actually work with this one.
  • That I would let my toddler play in public without matching socks. Or a matching outfit. Or combed hair. Crap.
  • That I would long to wear “regular clothes” and then hate them the whole time I wore them.
  • That I could judge what kind of day it was going to be based on: 1) what yoga pants I wore (aka were clean); 2) how well my toddler ate breakfast (if he ate at all); and 3) if my husband were going to come home for lunch.
  • If I need to leave the house at 9, I need to start leaving the house at 8 in order to be on time.
  • That I would so much look forward to the day I could drink a cold beer and then not be able to finish it because it wasn’t as good as I remembered.
  • Being happy that the drink wasn’t as good as I remembered!
  • That saying No to an authority figure would be much easier.
  • That I would never be able to clarify to people that want to help that I need help with the toddler, not the new baby.
  • That I could judge how long its been since I mopped my floors by how the house smells.
  • That I would give up a lot of battles that I used to think were worthy. (the short forks and the long forks no longer have separate slots in the silverware drawer.)
  • That my carpet would need to be shampooed every three months.
  • That I could wash every dirty item in the house and still have a laundry room full of dirty clothes the next day.
  • That I would give my husband “vacation days” to do what he pleases, only for him to come home complaining for three days, afterwards.
  • That every person in the house would get new clothes every 6 months and I wouldn’t get new clothes ever.
  • That answering a phone call depends on if we’re in the car with or without a screaming baby or if my toddler is in possession of it to watch Mickey Mouse.
  • That I would hum Elmo and Mickey Mouse in the only place I get to be alone – the shower.
  • That I would become the neighbor that hates the other neighbors for making enough noise to potentially wake the babies.
  • That I have zero patience for people that whine and don’t have any children. Because their drama filled life is sooooo hard. (insert rolling eyes)
  • That I would buy organic items at the grocery store and then stop by McDonald’s on the way home.
  • That I would care less what another mom thinks of me. Her struggle is hers and my struggle is mine. Period.
  • That I would LOVE being a stay-at-home mom. (I’ve had a job since I was 15. It was a HUGE adjustment for me.)
  • That the idea of taking a vacation and having to leave the kids makes it not worth taking the vacation. (I tried it once for 10 days. It was terrible.)
  • That I would compromise my beliefs about toddlers and technology to not have to watch the same cartoon 500 times in a row, myself.
  • That I would actually enjoy the tough moments of being a mother to two littles, because I know the time with their seasons is fleeting. ( I don’t mind having to get up at 3 a.m. to nurse the baby…she’s my last one.)
  • That I wouldn’t care about losing the baby weight.
  • That recovery from the second childbirth would be more difficult.
  • That having kids at Christmas is way more fun than being a kid at Christmas.
  • That the only day of the week I would have patience for anyone would be on Mondays. If you need to talk to me call on a Monday. Otherwise, wait until the next Monday.
  • That I would finally lose a lot of my politeness and start treating people how they treat me. Its kind of like being treated like step-family but being expected to act like real family. Nada. Not any more.
  • That my husband would tell me, in public, that my blog name was all wrong. He thinks I am no where near a mediocre mom. 🙂 I digress.

Love,

Your Mediocre Mom

An Open Letter to the All-Boy Mom

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An Open Letter to the All-Boy Mom

Dear Mom,

I have a son. So I understand part the joy of raising boys. I also have a daughter, so there will always be something that separates our parenting experiences.  I fully understand and respect that you and I will never share the same ‘trusted’ advice when it comes to parenting our families. You have a house full of men to raise. I may have one or more men to raise, too, but things just aren’t the same when you throw in a bundle of estrogen. I have seen some of you long for a daughter. I have also seen some of you find relief in not having one. I understand both.

My son was born first. When the 21 week ultrasound arrived for my daughter I was an emotional mess. I wanted a daughter so badly but had prepared and convinced my heart that being an all-boy mom actually suited me better. It actually does, in my tom-boy opinion. So to say my husband and I were excited about having a girl is an understatement. And once the excitement subsided we were scared to death. A girl?! I mean, I’m a girl….I know what we’re capable of! I fear the replica of myself walking around in toddler estrogen form. Eeek!

But there are some things that you need to hear from me, er us. Us non-all-boy-moms….we need you! You are the ultimate super mom, the superhero that withstands more than we imagine, the mom that laughs when we complain about our son (singular) getting pee on the floor, the mom that rolls her eyes at the mysteries of our only son’s questionable laundry….you are THAT mom! You make us look like weenies. You make us look unappreciative and often humble us when we complain of parenting boys.  And for good reason! But…we need you. In a really bad way. In a really important way. Your job as an all-boy mom surpasses all others.

You see, you are raising husbands for our daughters. You are the voice he will hear when they have their first fight with our daughter. You are the only way he will know how to do things, and he will use it to compare against our daughter’s worth. So we need you! We need you to raise them to get dirty. They will need that carefree-ness to put up with the tightwad-ness we call being a woman. If you are always scorning them for getting dirty they will lose the ability to find humor in accidental messes. And we all know there will be a lot of those.  We need you to teach them how to be a man’s man, but with a soft heart. Our daughters will have their own sense of independence but they’ll also need the strength that comes from having a good man in their corner. But he must also be gentle enough to sit and comfort her when needed, instead of walking out and leaving her to cry alone. We need you to let them feel the rush of competition, no matter how you choose to provide it. He doesn’t have to be an athlete, but our daughters will need someone that knows sticking through the fight and struggle is worth the win.

I promise to raise a daughter to be supportive to your son. I will teach her how to have respect for him…and even you. I will show her how to put her crazy aside and actually communicate with him. And yes, I will also teach her all the domestic skills that my mother taught me…laundry, ironing, cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc. But I need you to teach your sons how not to take advantage of someone that does those things. That starts with you. It would be even better if you also taught them how to do those things, but I know that’s a stretch. My point is, there is no other mother as precious to us as the all-boy mom.  You have a hard job. A very respectable, precious, important job.

Just know that I pray for you every night. I pray for your boys and I pray for my own job raising a future wife. Our complaints, needs, and jobs look differently….but the love for our children does not. Let that be what binds us as we trail along this journey. Hail to the all-boy mom!!

Love,

Your Mediocre Mom

I Am a Terrible Mother, to You.

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Son,

I am so sorry. I mean it. I am so very sorry. I tried to ask how it was going to go. I tried to ask how it was going to work out; how to make it work out. I am failing you. I was worried this very thing was going to happen. I was assured by other mothers that it wouldn’t and that things would naturally work themselves out.

I don’t feel like they are.

Before your sister was born, I was worried that I wouldn’t be enough for you. I was so worried that your sweet little face would be forced to stare at me from across the room….lonely, and unable to tell me. I was so worried that you would be crying and need me, and I would be tending to the many newborn needs of your sister, unable to be there for you. I cried at night, sometimes in regret, thinking about what I had done to you, by having your sister. Would you understand? Would you instinctively know? Would you allow me the grace to be distant from you, during this time?

I prayed so very hard.

Please, God, don’t let him become lonely at my expense. Please, God, don’t let him ever think I love him any less. Please, God, let me still be his 100% mommy, during this transition. Please, God, give me the ability to do all this without hurting his heart. Please, God, please!

And I failed…..

There are times you fall and cry and need me….and I am in the middle of nursing your sister. You run to me in tears and I try so hard to pick you up, to comfort you, but there isn’t room in my lap, at the moment. The look on your face breaks my heart. I cry everyday because I cannot be there for you, like before. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes you see my crying and you softly say to me, “Momma.” It melts me. Because I think you know. I think you know I am sad about our relationship. I think you are also sad about it. You love your sister so much. You are constantly trying to give her kisses.

But sometimes you get angry.

Sometimes you are too rough with her on purpose. Sometimes you hit her. And I am ashamed to say, you receive too many spankings, for it. Sometimes I feel like all I do is yell at you, tell you No!, and spank you. And on those days I cry the most. I am trying so hard to raise you not to be a brat. I want you to have manners and respect and with that comes tough love…..but right now, in this season- in this transition- I want nothing more than to scoop you up and love you hard. Love you so hard that you would never question my love for you again. Love you so hard that our hearts sync the way they used to during our snuggle time. Love you so hard that you fully understand there will never be anyone to replace you….ever.

But right now I can’t.

Right now I am struggling. Right now I mourn you. Right now I am trying so hard and failing. Right now is just as hard on me as it is you. Right now I am a terrible mother to you. And I am so sorry. I can’t express how sorry I am. And I want nothing more than for our relationship to be what it used to be. Please tell me it will be. Please tell me you are okay. Please show me you understand how much I love you. Please! No one can affirm that to my heart but you. No one can assure me enough that it will all work out, but you. But you can’t, can you? Of course not. You’re almost two. I know you won’t remember this stage….scratch that…I pray you won’t remember this stage. I pray even harder that it doesn’t affect your heart, in the future. Please know how very much I love you. Please do.

Will you forgive me? Can you forgive me? Please, God, let him forgive me.

Love,

Your Mediocre Mom

I Am More Than the Sum of My Past Mistakes

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The only way I’m going to be able to sleep tonight is if I get this off my chest. Technically, it’s 2:26 a.m. Do you ever have those nights? Nights where God says, “Let’s talk.”  I’ve been tossing and turning all night thinking about it. You see, not long ago a close friend said something, in front of a pretty good size crowd, that completely embarrassed me. It was a pretty cruel thing to say out loud, much less in front of others. I was even embarrassed for my husband. Then, a few nights later, my husband and I surprised our small group and showed up for the last small group meeting for the year….and the topic showed up again. If you’ve ever heard me explain how God speaks to me you can see why this is happening.

Let’s start from the beginning of what’s bothering me so much. That night, in small group, two members shared “their story.” Which translates into the story of their walk with Christ….and also without Him. Our group leader had asked them ahead of time to do this, and informed the rest of us that we too would be asked to do so in the future. I don’t have a problem with sharing my story. But because of what my friend said to me a few days prior, I can’t stop thinking about it.

You see, I have a pretty promiscuous past. Fueled by a lot of feelings of worthlessness and self-medicated with a lot of alcohol. Throw in a half a dozen incidences of date-rape and you have yourself a snowball effect of repetitive behavior. The details of how long it went on and who was involved is no longer important. Really. What is important is the journey endured by those of us who are constantly being reminded that we are still just someone that is the sum of those past mistakes. I refuse to accept that label and I’ll tell you why.

I spent years, literally years, bitter and angry at myself first, men second, and the world last. I honestly believed that I was so worthless that there was really no reason to say no. I don’t really understand why, because from the outside I appeared so confident and happy and nice. And I was those things in other areas of my life. But when it came to personal self-worth, I must have missed that day of school. Or skipped it. I mean there wasn’t anything I could do about it. It was embarrassing and shameful, and it had already happened. What was I supposed to do about it? At the time I was aware that everyone knew. I was aware that it had become a reputation….but do you know not a single person pulled me aside to ask why I was acting that way? I’m not angry about that, but for those of us lost in that horrible cycle of self-deterioration….there is a reason. There is ALWAYS a reason. Sometimes more than one reason.

Once I moved away from home for a bit I was really left to my own devices and for the first time I couldn’t hide behind the social scene I had become so accustomed to. It was just me. And my ugly past. My humiliating past. Ugh….it was horrible. I knew no matter what I did from that point forward I could never repair that part of my life. And I hated myself for it. Once again, what was I supposed to do? My anger turned from myself towards men. I hated them. All of them. Not a single one could escape my wrath.

I feel so sorry for the guy I actually dated throughout college. How did he put up with me? I would get so angry when he would try to open a door for me. If we went out to eat I would either pick him up or meet him there. There would be no picking me up, Sir. Man I was bitter. I didn’t want another man to do a single thing for me. I could take care of myself. I had trusted so many of them before and been caught time after time in situations I didn’t want to be in. And it was not going to happen anymore. So I didn’t let it. I jumped into the driver’s seat and made sure I was never caught in another situation that I couldn’t get myself out of. That mentality continued to control my life for a several years. I was driven in school, I had a steel wall up around my heart, and I had an escape plan for every scenario possible- including the limits of self-defense I was willing to use if I had to. I could finally take a deep breath and relax.

Life was pretty good for a few months and I was proud of myself. I remember one day specifically, I had trimmed and cut the yard, checked the oil in my car, put a little air in two of the tires that were low, washed three loads of laundry, put supper on the stove and was sitting on the back with my feet propped up, finally enjoying a glass of sweet iced tea. It was one of those days where you feel really accomplished. And I couldn’t help but notice for the first time, in a long time, that I was a little lonely. By this time I wasn’t dating anyone. That bitterness I spoke of finally flushed any chance of a healthy relationship down the drain. So I had been single, and loving it, for a little while. Still, the thought crossed my mind that afternoon.

I hadn’t really decided to start dating yet when I made the decision that if I ever did I would go about it the right way, this time. Honestly, I needed to find out what “the right way” was. I had way too much experience in what was considered wrong, and I was too embarrassed to ask any of my friends what “right” looked like. So I started at church. When I would go home I would visit my hometown church, which I loved. Even if it meant going by myself. I will never forget hearing our pastor say what I think was life changing for me. I can’t even remember what the whole sermon was about, but the one sentence that I can still hear his voice say was, “Ladies if you want to marry a King, you’ve got to become a Queen.” Talk about a light bulb moment. It seems so simple, but I had never heard it put that way. You don’t meet a King in a bar and Queens don’t dress like the girls I would see when I was out. That’s it!! I am my problem.

That sparked a whole journey in my life that led to self-forgiveness, forgiveness of others, and a gentler disposition towards others. I began to chip away the cement that bound me to my past a little at a time. One at a time I spent time forgiving the men that had taken advantage of me. There actually came a time when my hurt turned into remorse for those people. I actually felt sorry for them and understood for the first time that they too must have been struggling with demons. They too have their reasons. And they too could possibly still be drowning in that ocean of worthlessness that I had been for so long. So I began to pray for them. And I prayed for me. And I realized that I needed to do everything I could to become the Queen my King deserved……whoever he is.

I dove into self-help books about being single and being married and “Finding Your Million Dollar Mate.” That’s actually the name of a really good book I read. I made sure to stick with the Christian centered literature. And I learned SO much about myself. Seriously. In a matter of a year I had become this new person. I rededicated my life to the Lord and felt ready to attend a discipleship camp….which was amazing! My closest friend got to see some of this transformation and she was really happy for me. She too, was making some changes. We began to talk more about church and getting involved. Then the day came when she and her husband were baptized, and I got to witness that. Talk about a good day!

I guess that’s why I was so hurt and embarrassed when she made the comment that she did. Had she forgotten that I’m not that person anymore? I can’t deny my past. After all, it’s part of “my story.” But man if felt horrible to be thrust back into that old reputation. That’s who I was, but it’s not who I am now. I’m not angry at my friend. I’m confused, but not angry. I knew that one day I would be called on that old life and have to answer for it. And it could still happen again. I just didn’t think it would be by someone that had actually seen so much progress in me. Someone that had witnessed the change in my life. And that makes me wonder….how many other people that I spend my social time with still think that about me? Have I done all that I can on my part to change that? Or have I done exactly what I have needed to do and it’s others that just won’t change their own way of thinking? Do I also do that to other people? I mean, is there someone in my life that I still judge by the standards they held themselves to years ago, but no longer do?

I think that’s the important point. Is it you this post is speaking to? Have you changed? Or are you the one oblivious to the changes around you? It’s important that you understand, you are more than the sum of your past mistakes. And so am I.

Your Mediocre Mom

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

Where there's no guilt in cereal for supper.