Perfection isn’t Pretty.

“She’s so pretty, mama.”

I was walking down the aisle at Wal-Mart, a mom on a mission to hurry up and grab a few things and get home to my family. A little boy reached his hand out with the biggest smile on his face, so of course I returned it. I said hi, told him to have a good day, and continued on. That’s when I heard him whisper it; “She’s so pretty, mama.”

It knocked me off my feet a little. I haven’t had anyone other than my husband, my toddler, or my mom tell me that I’m pretty in God knows how long. He couldn’t have been any older than 3 or 4, but wow. He really made this girls day.

After I finished smiling about it I thought to myself “if only he knew.”

If only he knew how much I hate the way I look most days.

If only he knew how sometimes my temper gets the best of me.

If only he knew how many days pass by that my heart doesn’t feel very pretty at all.

He doesn’t know those things, though. He didn’t look at me and base his opinion on my stretch marks. He didn’t see the flaws I pinpoint every morning in the mirror. He didn’t see all of my shortcomings.

“She’s so pretty, mama.”

He saw the joy in my smile when he smiled at me.

He heard the happiness in my voice when I spoke to him. He saw another girl, much like his mama, just walking through the grocery store. He saw happiness. He saw kindness. He saw love.

We all have a way of letting our “flaws” tell us that we’re not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not nice enough. Not enough.

No matter how much we do, for a lot of us it’s not enough.

Instead of pinpointing your flaws, pinpoint your virtues.

Laughing too loud is pretty.

Crooked smiles are pretty.

Pure, unadulterated kindness is pretty.

We won’t ever be perfect, but perfection isn’t pretty anyway.

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Being a Mama.

The night I found out I was going to be a mama was one of the best, most terrifying nights of my life. Once those two beautiful lines appeared I didn’t know whether to scream, jump up and down, or puke. I ended up just calling my husband and shakily shouting “IT WAS POSITIVE?!?” while he just laughed and said that he knew. From that night on, my entire life has changed in ways that I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams. Since then, I have learned what it’s like to be a mama.

There were some things that I knew to expect during my pregnancy. I had heard about the morning sickness, the random cravings, and the stretch marks. There were plenty of things that I hadn’t heard though, that I wished I had. I wished someone would have told me I would cry because my corn dogs were “ugly” (yes, really!), that I would be so freaking constipated all of the time, or that pregnancy can feel so incredibly lonely at times. I wish someone would have really told me about the love. The moment my first son was born the weight of the love I felt was so great it could have crushed me completely. I lay awake at 3 am in my hospital bed gazing at this perfect being, crying my eyes out because of the love. That all encompassing love is being a mama.

It’s been over two years since I laid awake in that hospital bed. In that time I’ve become a mama to another perfect baby. I’ve celebrated birthdays. I’ve cleaned countless messes. I’ve given a million baths and changed a million more diapers. I’ve watched my husband be an amazing daddy to our sons. I’ve loved more than I ever dreamed I was capable of. The main thing I’ve come to realize in the past few years is that being a mama is talked about like it is one gigantic thing, but really, being a mama is all of the little things.

Being a mama is taking a break from cooking dinner to have a dance party in the living room.

Being a mama is learning to double what’s on your plate because they won’t eat it off of their own, anyways.

Being a mama is scratching little backs at bedtime.

Being a mama is sitting on the floor to build puzzles, play dinosaurs, or let your baby brush your hair.

Being a mama is having the pediatrician’s number in your favorites list.

Being a mama is praying they’ll fall asleep soon, just to wish they were still awake when they do.

Being a mama is giving just about all of your time, money, and mental space to the little people you brought into this world. It’s crying because you’re absolutely exhausted. It’s smiling so wide you fear it may break your face in half every time they learn something new. It’s wanting JUST ONE FREAKING SECOND to yourself and simultaneously wanting every second with your family. It’s pouring everything you’ve got into their little cups and hoping it will be enough.

Being a mama is a whole lot of praying, heartache, and overwhelming joy.

It’s nights questioning how you are ever going to make it through and days thanking God you did. It’s looking into little faces and knowing that no matter the cost, you would do anything for them. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done, but being a mama is my favorite thing to be.

Sincerely,

One Hard(ly) Working Mama

Growing Pains

Growing up can be lonely. The friends you were once always in sync with are moving at different paces now; the people who once stood by your side are nowhere to be found. Most of us retain at least a few close friends from high school or college, but things change. Once were forced out into the real world reality has a way of taking over. Real life with real responsibilities sets in and it seems that has a way of making people disappear.

I moved away from my home when I was 18. I knew I would lose friends. It’s not convenient to keep a friend that you can’t make plans with after work or can’t physically be there at the drop of a hat. What I didn’t know was how easy it would be for some of them. For a long time I made sure to make frequent visits, but then I got married and started a family of my own. Cue the friends dropping like flies. These people that were once my tribe now probably couldn’t even tell you my kids names.

I can’t pretend like none of it is on me, there are friendships I should have put more effort into that I let slip away. Relationships that both sides failed to maintain. To those people I’m genuinely sorry. I care just as much about you now as I did years ago, believe it or not. I’m so thankful for social media so that I can continue to cheer you on from the sidelines, even if I don’t play an active role in your life anymore. I’m so proud of the things you’re accomplishing, I celebrate with you during the blessings and I cry with you during the hardships.

The friends that I tried for, though, it still hurts to know that they aren’t around anymore. Most of them are enjoying their 20’s, and socializing with the mom of two small kids just isn’t that high on their priority. I’m buying diapers on Friday and they’re buying beer. I’m reading bed time stories at 8 and they’re staying out until 2. I know that when your life just doesn’t align with someone’s anymore it can be a good thing. They’re “busy”, but really they just don’t think making the time for someone hours away with a lifetime a differences is worth it. No matter the reason, losing part of your tribe is hard.

I still love those people and cherish those relationships, even if they no longer exist. I know that we’ve grown and for whatever reason it wasn’t meant for us to stay close. I try not to hold it against you, and I hope you don’t hold it against me either. You might not always be a part of my tribe, but I’ll always be thankful for the time that you were. I guess we all have to go through these growing pains.

Sincerely,

One Hard(ly) Working Mama

The Things I Could Have Missed

I’m laying in bed listening to my babies breathe as they sleep. I have about two inches worth of space and I know I’ll wake up with a hurting back but I don’t care. There is no place I’d rather be each night than here, no life I’d rather live than this one. As I’m laying here I can’t believe I could have missed this.

While depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders have been getting more (well deserved) time in the spotlight they still aren’t things that a lot of people understand. For me, it’s been my day to day life for as long as I can remember. From waking my own mama up in the middle of the night because I was having panic attacks, to hiding in the bathroom in school to have a moment to stuff the darkness down I don’t remember ever walking around without this cloud. At multiple points the cloud would get so heavy, so dark, that I thought it might be better to surrender myself to it instead of fighting it. Thank God I didn’t, because I could have missed this.

I could have missed the moment I found out I was going to marry the love of the life, and the moments I found out we were going to have our children. I could have missed holding my babies for the first time. I could have missed the overwhelming, earth shattering amount of love that I have for my sons that seems to have the power to break me and heal me at the same time. These boys give me a whole new appreciation for this world, for this life. I’m so incredibly blessed that the Lord made sure I didn’t miss this.

After I had each of my sons, postpartum depression snuck in. It dug it’s roots in deep through old scars and made sure to leave a few new ones. There are some days that it’s still a struggle to clear the branches it has formed in front of me and keep going, but I do it. Sometimes I feel like I’m always chasing the sun, while the clouds threaten me from the horizon. The one thing I know is that as long as I find the strength to run I’m winning. I have to continue to win, or else I’ll miss all of the things I have worked so hard for. All of the things that I begged God for are worth so much more than giving up and letting the storms win.

I am so in love with my two year olds laugh, my baby’s smile, and way their daddy loves them. I can’t imagine a day without little feet running through the house, two sets of big brown eyes to wake up to, and the kind of joy that only the love from your children can bring you. Times have been hard. The fight can seem never ending, the monsters will try to pull you down, and the clouds will try to drown you if you let them. It is so worth it to keep chasing the sun. Keep running, even when your body is weak and your heart is tired, because I promise you do not want to miss this.

Sincerely,

One Hard(ly) Working Mama

A Little Time

The time in between getting home from work and bedtime typically always seems never ending while simultaneously never being enough, and today was no different. There’s always so much to do! Check the mail. Cook dinner. Do the dishes. Pick up the billions of toys strewn from one end of the house to the other. Clean the kitchen. Do some laundry. Bath time. All while feeding the baby, changing diapers, playing referee to the toddler, and just about a hundred other things every day in a 3-4 hour time span.

Most of the time I feel like I’m failing. The baby screams if I’m not holding him. The toddler wants to play, or he wants to help except he wants to help only with the things he can’t do yet. I feel like I’m constantly saying “just a minute baby”. Someone always seems to be crying for me while I’m trying to do the things that keep our household running and the minutes just keep adding up. I just need a little more time.

Tonight wasn’t unlike any other night. Dinner had to be cooked. Dishes needed to be washed. The house needed picking up and the laundry needed to be done. My toddler grabbed the hand that wasn’t holding his brother and lead me from the kitchen to the living room, “down mom” telling me he wanted to play. He just wanted a little time.

So you know what we did? We played. We also picked up the living room together, did some flash cards, and put some laundry in the washer. I told him what a great helper he is and that I don’t know what I would do without him. His smile was enough to break hearts and put them back together all at once. I try so hard to make sure that I spend at least a little time every day making sure he knows how special he is, even though he and his brother deserve so much more than a little.

Tonight I walked in from work feeling defeated. Every time one of my babies cried for me my heart broke, just like it always does. Being a working mom isn’t easy. It’s spending most of your kids days gone just so you can make sure you can provide for them. It’s missing them every single second you aren’t with them. It’s coming home from work and immediately starting your second shift, because as a mom you’re never off the clock. Being a working mom is also knowing the joy of walking in the door and being with your babies again. It’s knowing just how precious a little bit of time with them is.

So tonight, like every night, I started out feeling like I was failing. Instead of ending it feeling like a failure, I’m laying in bed with my toddler who laughed like there was no happier moment in his life an hour ago because he was playing cars with his mama and my baby who just needs me close in order to be happy. Tonight, just like every night, I gave my babies my time. Sometimes it’s just a little, but I will always spend it making sure they know how loved they are in such a big way.

Sincerely,

One Hard(ly) Working Mama

I Really Do Care

Let me start by saying I know I’m asking for a ton of conflict by writing this. I try to keep my political opinions to myself for the most part to avoid any of that, but right now I don’t think I can anymore. Say your worst, it’s okay. Better yet, stop reading now if you feel this isn’t the kind of post for you.

We all have seen the pictures floating around of the First Lady wearing a coat that says “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?”. Well Mrs. Trump, yes I do. I really do care. I care so much about these things that I feel powerless to change. I care so much about these children who have been ripped from their parents arms, these mothers and fathers who have been thrown into detention centers because they’re seeking a better life. The racist people that plaster hateful comments all of the internet because they don’t share the same skin color or speak the same language as the people this is happening to. I care. I really do.

Let me clarify that I fully understand that there are legal ways to enter this beautiful country that I am privileged enough to call home. I also understand that we cannot accept every refugee seeking asylum here every year. I get it. It makes sense politically and economically. But that doesn’t mean that the way we go about these things shouldn’t change. I also understand that this isn’t something that President Trump has done singlehandedly. I know that the people in power long before him got the ball rolling on this. I know that he has since signed documents to stop the separation of families. I am not trying to spearhead him. I have also heard that the jacket in question was targeted toward the media and “fake news”, but to me that is still no excuse. Even miscommunicated insensitivity is insensitivity.

What I’m trying to do is say that I care about the way our country is represented. I care about the way we treat people. I care about the hurt we cause, and I truly do not understand those that don’t. I’ve heard so many excuses for the First Lady’s choice of wardrobe yesterday. “I don’t care what she wears, I care about what her husband does for our country.” “She’s just making a fashion statement, nothing wrong with wearing something trendy.” “Someone else should have told her not to wear that, it’s not her fault.” “It doesn’t matter what she was wearing, at least she went.” “It wasn’t even about those people, it was about the media.” It seems that, as a country, we make so many excuses for bad behavior. Not just Melania Trump’s, but anyone in power. Any celebrity, politician, or rich college kid get’s an excuse and some bad media, but that’s it.

Where are those excuses getting us? As a country, how are we ever going to get better by making excuse after excuse for bad behavior? It seems that these days, if you demand better than sexual assault, insensitive and tasteless wardrobe choices, sending your children to school in fear, and disgusting remarks made by the powers that be then you’re a “stupid liberal millennial” and should go “hide in your safe space.” Have we sunken this low as a whole? If you expect change in areas that clearly need it, if you want answers for abhorring events, then you are the one burned at the stake. But why? Instead of seeking the heads of those that are seeking justice why are you not seeking the same? Making excuses isn’t going to improve anything in this world. Turning a blind eye isn’t going to make this place a better place for our children. I really do care.

I’m not going to pretend like I know all of the answers. I’m not going to say I know what will fix any of this. What I do know is that I deserve better. My children deserve better. The children at the border deserve better. The children scared to get up every day and go to school because of the outrageous number of school shootings deserve better. The women nervous to go anywhere alone deserve better. We all deserve better. I don’t know the answers, but I know ignoring the issues isn’t one of them. I really do care, and you should too.

Sincerely,

One Hard(ly) Working Mama

Raising Men

My two year old is watching me do my makeup before work, he wants to do his too. I give him a brush and let him pretend. He loves to brush his hair, do his “makeup”, use bath bombs, spray perfume on himself, sometimes he even tries to wear my clothes. Some parents I know are so uncomfortable with their little boys doing anything “girly”, but I’m too worried about raising men for that.

You see, my son loves to do anything and everything that his mama does. Whether it’s the “girly” things like spend time in the mirror getting ready, household chores, or doing things for his baby brother. He’s even been caught trying to use my breast pump before! He also loves to do anything and everything that his daddy does. He loves to watch him play video games, roughhouse like he’s straight out of a WWE tournament, and strap on his boots for “work”. As his parents we don’t have a problem with any of these things, because we’re raising men.

My toddler likes to play with baby dolls and his kitchen set. Why shouldn’t he? One day he will probably be a dad. He also loves to smash his monster trucks together, play with his dinosaurs, and use Batman to beat up Hulk. Why would I discourage anything that means he’s using his imagination? Why wouldn’t I want him to express himself? Since when did we decide that little boys can’t do things that grown men do, like take care of babies and clean up after themselves?

To me, a man is someone who uplifts his family. He supports his spouse and children financially, emotionally, and every other way in between. That means cooking, cleaning, handling bath time for the littles, making up silly games, and singing sleepy songs. Why wouldn’t we want our sons to practice these things?

As a mama of two boys I expect my sons to grow up to be men who are kind, courteous, respectful, and responsible. I hope that they will become loving husbands and adoring fathers. I hope that one day when I’m invited over to their homes for dinner that they will be the ones cooking, cleaning, and taking care of their children alongside their partners. The only way to make those hopes come true is to do everything I can to make sure that I’m raising men.

Sincerely,

One Hard(ly) Working Mama