Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guilty as Charged!

A mother’s guilt… (deep sigh)… ah yes the very familiar and unwanted acquaintance that lingers over all we do. I have heard it said many times that when you give birth to a child, you also give birth to a mother’s guilt. I wish (oh, how I wish!) this post was about how to relieve your mother’s guilt, but alas this is simply a let yourself off the hook post or it’s good to laugh at yourself type of post or even better…’re definitely not alone kind of a post.

I come humbly to you today to tell you one of my ultimate mommy guilt moments that happened just this morning. Our son, Cooper, is truly a combination of Blane and I in all aspects of his life. This even includes his eyesight. Our pediatrician discovered at 20 months old that one of Cooper’s eyes is far sighted (yours truly) and the other eye is a lazy eye (Daddy, I will refrain from any jabs or smart remarks at this point). We were assured that some of his eyesight problems could be remedied with glasses and a patch. Recently we were told that his prescription needed to be stronger and he would have to return to wearing the patch for 3 hours a day for 3 months. Shew, treatment seemed a little long but Cooper was amazing and religiously wore his patch.

This morning he had his 3 month check-up, which of course he has been excited about knowing that we would most likely be told to discontinue the use of the patch. Cooper insisted that today was the day because he could “feel his eye getting stronger”. So I proudly announced to the nurse and doctor that “WE” had only missed 3 days during the whole 3 months and “WE” did such a great job following the instructions.

The moment of truth came when the nurse began her examination. As the letters were displayed on the screen and his “bad eye” was covered, it was immediate that I could see the panic in his eyes as he could not see the letters on the screen in front of him. My mind raced with every possible question. What could possibly be going on? Why was his eye darting around the room like he couldn’t see? And why….oh, my…gulp….wait a minute… I quickly asked the nurse to double check his chart and verify the eye we should’ve been patching for the last 3 months (which by the way is approximately 270 hours of patch time if anyone is keeping track). It was then that my worst fear was realized. I had been patching the wrong eye the whole time. My pulse dropped, tears filled my eyes and if I could’ve found a hole to crawl in, I would have and then kindly asked the first stranger walking by to take and raise my child so I couldn’t “mess him up” anymore.

Cooper handled it with such grace and responded only how he knows to… with humor. He could see me coming unglued and came over and kissed me and patted my shoulder and pulled his favorite sucking finger out of his mouth just long enough to say, “baby brain!” That phrase has become Parker & Cooper’s favorite line lately anytime I do anything out of sorts or forget something or yes, believe it or not, find the milk or orange juice in the pantry. Hmph!

I have definitely learned to laugh a little more at myself today, which of course goes without saying so I won’t melt into a heap of tears anywhere I go. Can you relate? Apparently I am a slow learner too. I dutifully brought Cooper home this afternoon and immediately put a patch on his eye and yes, much to “my surprise”, I put the patch on the wrong side again, which was only discovered when Cooper said, “Mommy, that’s the wrong eye again”.

Isn’t it good to know that we have all been there, done that and have the mommy guilt badge to prove it. I’m pretty sure if it was a competition of badges I would be winning or at least pretty close to the top (just under my own mom that is).

I think it would be an interesting experiment to make notes of every time we feel guilty for 2 solid weeks. Chances are, it may be a little amusing once we are removed from the situation to look back and see what we spent all those countless moments fretting about so intently. It may be a good opportunity to see just how silly we were about the whole situation or we might just discover that we sometimes wrap our woes around like a warm blanket because we ironically find it more comforting to continue to worry and feel guilty. It happens, we make mistakes and sometimes we will cry and then there are those times that we can belly laugh it out with a group of girlfriends.

Let’s hear your creative side on this one. Can you create an acronym for GUILT that could help other moms laugh their way through it or better yet an acronym that will remind us to surrender the guilt back to God so we can get back to what really matters?

Here’s my first shot at it:

God Understands I Long for a TIME OUT!

What are your ideas?


Friday, March 9, 2012

Oh Cooper!

“Oh Cooper”. That is a phrase that is heard on more than one occasion throughout the day. You here it after he has said something funny that has made everyone laugh so hard that talking is no longer an option. You might here it after he comes running out from his sister’s room dressed in her dress up clothes complete with a pink feather boa and high heels. Or you may hear it when all I want to do is beat my head against a wall because the tantrum was so intense or he is set and determined to do it in his own way and in his own terms.

It was 5 years ago today that this amazing little boy came into our lives. We should have known from the very beginning that he was an independent spirit that knows what he wants. That is most likely why I spent the first day in the hospital on the highest levels of pitocin only to be told at 5pm that it appears he’s just not ready so let’s turn it off and try again tomorrow. Sure enough, the next day we started again and out he came. I knew without a doubt that this little boy was different.

This is my love letter to you, Oh Cooper!

My sweet boy, your first love is to make those around you laugh. Your Daddy and I tell you often that we are sure God has created you with a very special purpose and to bring laughter into the lives of others. You live with a level of intensity that is unmatched. When you love, you love intensely. When you laugh, you laugh intensely. When you cry, you cry with intensity. When you run, you run with all that you have. You don’t back down from a challenge although I still get gooey when you get that brief moment of embarrassment and come and bury your face in my neck.

I love the way you watch Parker intently and love her unconditionally. I think back to when we were told “It’s a boy!” and I remember the endless tears that fell because I had no idea how to raise a boy. I instantly thought about your sister and wondered what she would do without having a sister to turn to, to ask for help, to laugh with, work through broken hearts with and teach to drive. But little did I realize at that moment all the other important things you would be teaching her along the way. You have challenged her to go further and experience things that she would’ve never dreamed of doing without your nudging.

Oh Cooper, I look forward to our mornings and holding you during so many of them while you “hatched”. I am awed by your intense love of life. I am continually challenged when you chose to walk in the grass and dirt instead of the sidewalk right next to you or how every stick turns into the perfect weapon or why there is never a rock, a pinecone or leaf that goes untouched when you are around. In your mind climbing over the recliner is always the best option for getting to the kitchen rather than walking around it like everyone else. There was a time when I used to put my necessities in my purse, but now I realize that my purse is really a carrying device for your matchbox cars, Lego men and the countless pinecones and sticks you insist we are taking home to add to your collection and truth be told, I’m not sure I would have it any other way.

When my voice is raised and you see my frustration setting in for any number of things, you always know when Mommy needs a kind word or a simple hug. You are notorious for saying “I love you mommy”, “it’s ok mommy”, “what can I do for you mommy”. I love that when you hug me you often finish my sentence, “We fit together…like a puzzle piece”. Another favorite statement is when I tell you I love you, you respond with a gentle whisper, “to the moon and back”.

Your name means servant and little did we realize what a servant’s heart you would grow to have. You have filled our hearts so much that they overflow. I know without a shadow of a doubt that you are someone special and God’s plan for you and your life is immeasurable. We cannot thank our heavenly father enough for this opportunity to be your parents. Thank you for challenging us each and every day! We love you….to the moon and back.

Happy Birthday Buddy! Love, Mommy

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rough Equation

At some point you just have to give into the idea that today is just gonna be one of those days! (deep sigh)

I would be embarrassed and incredibly humbled if I showed you my to-do list for today. Pretty disgusting actually. It’s like that saying, “when it rains, it pours”. In fact, I am writing this blog while sequestered to my kitchen while my carpets are being cleaned. Cleaning your carpets you say? Ah yes, because I like the challenge of just adding one more item to my list for the day.

I’m not sure if you are anything like me but the larger my list of responsibilities, the more likely I am to get distracted and clean out that closet I was meaning to clean out months ago or suddenly I think it’s a good time to clean out that junk drawer in my kitchen. Why is that? Today it was peeling the paint from my daughter’s bedroom door. I was walking out of her bedroom when I saw a small piece of paint peeling from her door. I should’ve known better than to pull at it because of course that one small piece resulted in an endless pile of paint that kept coming off the door as if I had just pulled on a lose thread and the whole door was coming unraveled.

my unraveled mess

That unraveling paint had an eerie resemblance to my emotions today. I had not put today’s equation together until the final push to get everyone out the door this morning.

Cooper’s last trike-a-thon at preschool and I can’t be there to cheer for him!
Taking Cooper this afternoon to Kindergarten Round Up for the next school year!
Coming to the realization that “my baby” is turning 5 tomorrow!
Being overly emotional and pregnant!

I suppose it was my sub conscience that put the black dress on this morning. Cooper was gracious enough to let me off the hook and looked at me with one of his adoring smiles and said, “That’s ok Mommy, I’ll be ok at trike-a-thon by myself”. My feelings of having a hole in my super hero mommy cape were quickly replaced with the affection, confidence, and independence of my sweet little boy.

I am hanging up my cape for the day and just taking it by the moments. We can’t be all things to all people all the time but we can sure be someone special in the little eyes of the ones in our presence!

Speaking of ….carpet guy just turned off his machine and the rest of these to-dos can wait till later, I have a trike-a-thon to go catch!

Hang in there Mommies and “Enjoy THIS moment, for THIS moment IS our life!”


Sneak peek at Cooper's Star Wars party prep:


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Opportunities of Grace

GRACE! GRACE! GRACE! Why oh why are you so hard to give and yet I long for it multiple times a day? More times than not I find myself challenged by my own challenges. Hmmm? Feel like you need to reread the last line? Let’s see if I can try this one more time. It is one thing to talk about something on a blog, or discuss a challenging question at our weekly mom’s group or prepare a lesson for our Children’s Sunday school and then it is another to actually have to practice what you preach on a daily basis.

It is inevitable that once I complete a children’s Sunday school lesson, I will be given the “opportunity” to put my words into action. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed and sometimes I can even set my watch by it. So why then am I caught off guard every time? A perfect example was after last Sunday’s lesson on grace. I have found amazing reward from learning the Bible through the children’s eyes. Children’s ministry really is where the spirit moves and it’s so much fun to watch little ones get excited about their faith. Can you imagine if we could feel as free to jump with joy during worship like they do? (insert deep sigh)

OK, so where was I? Oh yes, grace! We discussed the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) and how the father could have easily turned his son away but instead showed him grace and welcomed him back with open arms. To help illustrate this to the kids, we gathered around a locked door and a key ring filled with keys. Each key represented a different reason as to why the father accepted his son and loved him so unconditionally. The keys were marked with attributes, such as strength, good looks, sense of humor, and money. After we discussed each key, we tried it in the door, which of course couldn’t be unlocked. It wasn’t until the final key was revealed that we were able to unlock the door. The last key was grace. It was important to teach the children that it wasn’t because he was good looking that his dad wanted him back. It wasn’t for his strength that he was anxious to have him back working on the farm. It wasn’t for his silly jokes that they had missed him all that time and he surely couldn’t buy his way back into the family. Instead, it was a gift that was not deserved but given freely because of the father’s unconditional love for him. This is true with our heavenly  father as well. Grace is not something we've earned but rather God gives it to us freely because of his unconditional love for each of us.

We came up with a fun way to help us remember grace:

G = Grace is GIFT
R = REMINDS us of Jesus and God’s love for us
A = His grace is ABUNDANT
C = CANCELS out our sin
E = grace is EXCITING

Well wouldn’t you know, approximately 26 hours later I was given just the opportunity to put my words into practice. My daughter was given a glass of grape juice (strike 1, on me), which I set on the end table next to where she was sitting (strike 2, on me), and of course it was only a matter of time until that  glass (a full glass I might add) would meet its demise on my tan carpet. Now, if I had had the chance for just a split second to hit the pause button on life, I could’ve remembered a few key elements:

1.     YOU gave her the full glass.
2.     YOU set it on the lower table when it should’ve probably been left on the dining room table.

Now this is where I am really embarrassed to admit the third strike, gulp…

3.     Weren’t YOU the one who only hours earlier had scheduled the annual professional carpet cleaning, which would happen 3 days later?

Yep, I knew in advance that this was really not a big deal and yet that didn’t seem to stop the explosion of my words, my temper, and my blood pressure.  I had a get out of jail free card and could’ve really thrown Parker for a loop with a simple, “Oops, that’s ok. It was just an accident. Let’s clean it up together.” She didn’t know that the carpet cleaners were coming, but what really stinks, is that I knew. Hmph!

It made me think that this must be what God experiences. He knows when we’ve messed up and He knows that there will be more messes around the corner but He also knows our heart and He knows that this will be “professionally cleaned up” in a matter of time. He gently squeezes us and says, “So what do you say we go clean up this mess so we can go have some real fun?”

Not to worry, something tells me tomorrow will bring even more opportunities to put my words into action and share grace. I also know that there will be even more moments that I will be asking for it for myself! If there is anything that is guaranteed with having children, it is the multitude of favorable circumstances that require an abundance of grace. Hmm, you think maybe that’s the way God feels about us?