Category Archives: Lessons {Mrs.}

Mom Confession | Lingerie

As a virgin-engaged-to-be-married, I went overboard on the lingerie. We were engaged for 22 months, thanks to my degree requiring an extra semester…plus some, so I had too much time to buy honeymoon goodies. I also worked in retail, so all my lingerie purchases were ridiculously inexpensive. I couldn’t say no to a beautiful gown that was marked down 75% off to $10 and then thrown into a $1.99 clearance bin. My employee discount made it less than what I paid for a Diet Coke. My married friends all said, “Stop buying lingerie! You keep it on for five minutes and then it hits the floor.” But I didn’t care. I was thrilled to keep throwing things into my hope chest. Right on top of all the glass pieces I inherited from my still-living granny. She wanted me to enjoy it. She said she didn’t want to wait until she was dead for me to get the glassware I always saw in her basement as a kid. When she visited this last time, my babies everywhere, we ate off those plates and sipped our drinks from those glasses. How fun to have photos of us actually using the glass pieces I will pass down to my daughters, her great-granddaughters. When she visits again, we’ll sip more and chat more. Because there’s no point in having pretty things to keep them locked away and unused. The lingerie piled and piled, until it was time to be married. I packed every single piece into my luggage. Dave had a surprise month-long honeymoon planned. We stayed in several hotels, including The Brown Palace, but most of our stay took place at an old stage coach depot turned vacation home in Golden, Colorado. It was fabulous. We bought and cooked our own food, did laundry, traveled up into the foothills, through Rocky Mountain National, and down to the Springs. And I wore every single piece of lingerie. Some got the five minute treatment. Some I wore all night. I did dishes in my fanciest stuff and read books in my softest stuff. And here’s the confession: some of it was way too big. I bought lingerie in 4 different sizes. I knew my body would change with kids. I’m blessed with normal genes, which means I can’t be a supermodel or wear the clothes I wore in High School. My body has carried 5 children, some longer than others, and it’s changed. My hips are wider, thighs are thicker, and I never seem to lose my muffin top. I have scars and fluff and stretch marks. And it’s okay. I knew it would happen. It’s a small price to pay for Graham, Adelaide, Elizabeth, Laurence, and Flannery. My weight has fluctuated almost 100 pounds since Dave and I met. But I’ve always had lingerie from our honeymoon that fits. I’ve never gone to my drawer and said, “I’m too big for all of this.” There is always something to wear. And I chuckle that all these years later, I was still right to buy all the lingerie I loved. I didn’t keep all of it, because I only kept my absolute favorites. But the pieces I kept are so me, I can’t imagine ever giving them up. And they are small, medium, large, and x-large. Because I’m a mom who has been many weights. None of them perfect. But all of them clothed in honeymoon lingerie for my groom.

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Five Minute Friday | Time [and my thoughts on Alan Rickman]

Ready, set, go…

I fell in love with Colonel Brandon when I was 12 years old. As soon as I finished watching the Dashwood Sisters’ story unfold on the big screen, I checked out Sense and Sensibility from the library. I wondered if Alan Rickman was anything like Austen’s brainchild. And he was. As a preteen, I couldn’t understand Marianne’s inability to see Colonel Brandon from the beginning. He was everything I thought I wanted in a future husband. It doesn’t surprise me that I married Dave. I never thought love would be sex and roses and vacations. I desired for love to be sacrifice. I wanted a man who poured himself out for others. Gave his time and sweat. Dave’s dad unexpectedly died a few weeks after our engagement dinner. My fiance put his college on hold, in order to take care of his mom during their crisis. He did dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and checked her homework when she was getting weary and blurry-eyed. And he worked full-time. When she lost a second husband in a decade, this time with months of notice and preparations, Dave was there again. Mowing the lawn, doing home repair, cooking, and helping with his stepdad’s care. Dave hated the word stepdad, because he said Bob was more than that. “Bob loves my mom, my wife, and my kids as his own. He’s not my stepdad. He’s one of my best friends.” And when cancer took Bob from us, I watched my husband. My own Colonel Brandon. The one who does for others. Alan Rickman was an actor. A phenomenal one. And cancer took him, too. But I watch Sense and Sensibility with my breath caught in my chest. I marvel at how beautifully he portrays Brandon. Of all Austen’s men, the Colonel is one of my favorites. And when Mr. Rickman reads Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, I am transported to a 12-year-old Lyndse. Hoping she gets to marry a man who reads to her. And a couple decades later, she did. My love reads to me. My love has one of his degrees in English Literature. My love cares for others when things are falling apart and storms are raging and all hope seems lost. Austen wrote the man. Alan brought him to life. And I get my own little piece in my real life world. The one that’s filled with cancer and heartache and true love. Austen lived in that world, too. It’s why she was able to make a girl in 1995 fall in love with an ideal. RIP Alan Rickman. You will be greatly missed.

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Time’s up…join me at katemotaung.com for five minutes of raw, unedited, from-the-heart writing.

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Always The Friend, Never The Girl

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I didn’t date for most of my college existence. But I had lots and lots of guy friends.

It usually went like this:

“Hey, your nice. Can I sit by you?”
“You just used the wrong you’re.”
“But I’m talking, not writing. How did you know?”
“It’s my superpower.”

Wait. It went more like this:

“Hey, you’re nice. Can I sit by you?”
“Sure.”
“Great. Can I look at your notes? I was busy and missed class.”
“Ummmmm. What were you doing?”
“Helping orphans. Or taking a cute girl to Billingsley for coffee.”
“Not today. Try getting to class. There are cute girls here, too.”
“Where?”

Most of my college life was The Friend. The one he sat with in class, chose for group projects, had inside jokes with, and asked for opinions on anything with a heartbeat and an exposed midriff. Why did I put up with it? I would rather be a friend than completely ignored. Didn’t realize how messed up that was at the time, but we rarely understand these things at 19.

One friend needed someone to go watch basketball. I didn’t really care for the game, but it was better than studying what I was already going to get a perfect score on come test time.

“Will you go to the Lions game with me? As friends, of course. We’re totally just friends. Nothing else.”
“Sure.”
“Cool. I need to go home first to change. Ride along?”
“Who else will be there?”
“Ummm, does it matter? Nothing would ever happen between us. Like never.”
“I’ll stay in the car if your mom isn’t home.”
“Cool. But it doesn’t matter.”

“Mom, this is Lyndse. We’re just friends.”
“Oh, she’s lovely.”
“What? No, we’re just friends.”

“Hey, guys! This is my friend, Lyndse. We’re just friends.”

After telling 14 different groups of people at the game that we were just friends, I introduced myself to the fifteenth group.

“Hi, I’m Lyndse! I’m K’s fiance!”
And showed them my purity ring. Which was a cathedral set solitaire.

My night was made. As I silently chuckled and witnessed this kid, bright red and choking on his own amazing cologne, I felt power. If they didn’t love me, they would at least know I was there. Standing out among girls as the witty one. Funny. Slightly obnoxious, but not crossing the line.

I started using my sarcasm with all my guy friends. It made it a lot easier. I felt less undateable and more like I was calling the shots. I used the fiance line with a few other friends. Got the same results each time. Because nothing scares a Freshman Flirt more than commitment. Even when it’s a joke.

I spent many semesters being the sarcastic, smart friend-who-is-a-girl. I didn’t get to date any of the boys, but they still bought me lunch and carried my backpack and made sure my car started in the winter. There were perks to not being the girl who gets the guy.

But then I finally dated someone, because he wanted to introduce me to his friends as his girlfriend. He was a gentleman. He was kind. He didn’t lead girls on or chase every fake blonde. Things didn’t work out with him, but the few months we dated were fantastic. I was the object of his affection.

As a woman in her thirties, I look back and wonder how I became such a magnet for guys who wanted a girl, but didn’t want the work of a relationship. I was like a G-rated prostitute. Hanging out with a guy who didn’t love me, because I could make him laugh. And he would bring me snacks as payment. I obviously taught them how to treat me. But how did they know to even try in the first place?

Most of them are now married to dropdead gorgeous women. They have adorably perfect kids in boutique clothing. And dogs that could be in that dog show on Thanksgiving Day. And don’t get me started on their homes. It’s like an episode of House Hunters.

Maybe I secretly thought if I was around long enough, I would move from the friend column to the girl column to the dropdead gorgeous wife column. Maybe I just liked having someone sit by me everyday and bring me food. Who knows.

What I do know, is that I ended up marrying a guy who loves literature. Always brews my coffee. Never fails to introduce me as his wife, especially when he’s left his wedding ring in one of three places while working on the house. He isn’t scared by yoga pants, laundry piles, kids in clearance finds, and brushing the teeth of a piranha disguised as a beautiful soon to be four-year-old. And he cooks and grocery shops and bleaches bathrooms. Loves me everyday, even when life is messy.

Twelve years ago, I somehow got the boyfriend I didn’t think I deserved and didn’t realize I needed. He took me on real dates. Genuinely laughed at my jokes. And helped me heal from being the study buddy to a lot of insecure and immature college guys. Who were still somehow sweet and charming. It’s like they all learned from the same textbook.

Dave was my Junior year miracle. So unbelievably corny. But true. And the best part…he didn’t care about basketball.

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You Know You’re A Filmmaker’s Wife When

“Sweetie, did we wash my villain clothes?”

“I’ve got an idea that should need only a few guys.”

“We found this perfect spot for the explosion scene.”

“You’re in the movie this time. I need someone to kiss.”

“I just watched this great tutorial on YouTube.”

“I think I can build that myself for way less.”

“That was all shot on the GoPro.”

“Can you run to Salvation Army to see if they have an old, nasty prom dress?”

“Thank you for always supporting my dreams. I love you.”

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Yeah I Saw Sparks

It’s so cliche, but I fell in love with Dave’s eyes the first moment I saw them. He walked into an ice cream shop and I turned to my best friend and whispered, “He is so sexy. I see Jesus in his eyes.” Then Dave sat down across from us. I blushed. We talked for almost 5 hours.

And that night, I told my mom I wanted to marry him.

A few years later, we were Mr & Mrs David Ballew. Alex, who had introduced us, was our best man. My sister was my maid of honor. Dave and I danced to a Coldplay song with twinkle lights all around the room. And he touched my leg for the first time when he removed my garter. His eyes were twinkling brighter than those lights, and I couldn’t stop looking into them.

And I haven’t ever stopped.

I promise I get that same feeling in the pit of my stomach when he looks at me. While he’s making dinner. Or making a bottle. Or making a Lego helicopter. His eyes have seen grief and joy and test results and I still get lost in them. They are my safe place. But also where I find so much excitement in myself.

It sometimes takes my breath away for a moment when I think back on that day. When I least expected to meet the person I would never want to be away from. And I didn’t want to leave him. Then, I got into Alex’s car and remembered I was dating someone. A really nice guy from my university. So sweet. And a great friend.

Dave just wanted to be friends, but there was no way I could continue dating someone else. I broke up with a perfectly wonderful guy, for one who wasn’t that interested in me. “I met someone else. He doesn’t actually want to date me, but I can’t date you when I’m in love with him. That seems like a horrible thing to do.”

My mom had always teased that ‘you never know when you’ll meet your husband’…which was her line every time I tried to run an errand in baggy yoga pants. But she was right, as most moms are. I didn’t wake up that June Wednesday thinking I would meet my future lover. Over strawberry ice cream.

And I didn’t think I would love him before he loved me. It just happened that way. And I waited and waited for him to either fall in love with me or just fall in love with someone else. Even though the thought of him marrying anyone other than me caused tears so many nights.

There are times when I forget that I’m a mom with three kids and a mortgage and junk mail to sift through everyday. And I just think back to our first kiss.

I don’t share the details very often, because it’s one of the most intimate and gorgeous nights of my life. Months before, he had already told me he wouldn’t kiss me until he knew he wanted to marry me. So when his voice said, “May I kiss you?” his eyes said, “I want to marry you someday.”

This month is the anniversary of our first date. And the anniversary of when he asked me to be his bride. One year apart. We went through four seasons together before he was in front of me with that ring box. And that’s another story I don’t share very often, but I just might if pressed.

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Sex After Three Kids

*****I once said I would never talk about sex on the blog. But it seems like all the people who shouldn’t really be talking about it are clogging the internet with their thoughts. So, here are some ramblings from a monogamous 32-year-old mom.*****

“Last night, I told my husband I’d slept with only 2 other guys. Not sure if he bought it.”

“Were you lying to him?”

“Lyndse, how do you not know the subtraction rule? You take the number of guys you’ve slept with and subtract 3. Or 7. Depends on how much you’ve gotten around. You can’t tell a guy your real number.”

“But my number is zero.”

“It can’t be. Nobody’s number is zero. And guys wouldn’t believe that anyway. You’ll need to at least say 1. You don’t want a virgin reputation.”

“I already have a virgin reputation, because I’m a virgin. I’m not going to add false notches to my chastity belt. That’s absurd.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, but nobody’s gonna date a college girl who says zero.”

My co-worker and I had very different worldviews about sex. I can’t even remember her name. This is the only conversation I even remember having with her in all the time we worked together. She saw me as a silly little college girl with a promise ring. I saw her as someone I didn’t understand who desperately needed to know that Jesus loved her…she was looking for love in some scary places.

I was a virgin on my wedding day. I don’t say it to brag, just to point out that Dave and I were clueless about sex. But we were clueless together. We had read all those books you were supposed to read before you get married. But reading and doing are two very different skill sets. We were both starting at zero. And our inexperience brought us together quickly.

We went away on a month long honeymoon. It was filled with joy, unmet expectations, funny conversations, fireworks…so.many.fireworks…and indifferent experiences. But it was fabulous. No schedule. Doing as we pleased. Caught up in exploring one another. Even when it seemed awkward.

But neither one of us would say that our honeymoon sex was our best sex. We look back and laugh. We have fond memories and hilarious anecdotes. And we would never trade that season of naivety and learning for what we have now. Because it was worth it to start at the ground floor and build our intimacy together.

Nine years and three kids later. Sex is different. We no longer dance around one another. We know what we like, love, hate, and what makes us yawn. We can tell one another anything and everything. Always transparent. And we can try new things and chuckle if they go horribly wrong.

Sex after three kids changes things. Literally. We traded gold canopy curtains for drying diapers. Exactly 22 bath toys took up residence where our candles and bath oil used to sit. We started keeping jingle bells on our door, because Graham is a sleepwalker.

We find the laughter, just like in the early days. But the reason for our laughter has changed. Making bets about which kid will wake up when we turn on the shower. Or who will cry for a bottle as soon as we light the first candle.

And we cherish all the moments we get, because sex after three kids is a gamble. Sometimes we hit a jackpot. Sometimes the house, with three tiny owners, wins. But Dave and I are still on the same team. We exchanged the zero for 1 almost a decade ago. It’s been our unique adventure. With straightforward math. I love our story more and more each day. drying diapersbath toysjingle bells

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We Are Still An Ampersand

It was Spring of 2010 when my mom surprised us with Switchfoot tickets. I was going to Cincinnati for a conference, and Dave was tagging along. Dave’s mom kept a baby Graham.

It was our first and last trip away without kids. We sang and danced through the concert. Strolled hand in hand through the art museum. Meandered through the farmer’s market. Toured the Creation Museum. Drove the bridges. Talked architecture. Just Dave & Lyndse.

This weekend will be our very first trip away without our three kids. And our first time away together since that lovely time in Cincinnati. We are headed to the place I was raised. Where Dave proposed. Where we honeymooned. The land of Graham’s first vacation.

No washing diapers, pouring bottles, cutting food, giving seizure meds, unloading a wheelchair, folding tiny laundry, singing/signing Old MacDonald, wiping poop from a 5-year-old’s bottom.

Just the two of us. A man and his bride. Reading books. Making love. Blasting our favorite music. Touring a castle. Talking about anything and everything and nothing. Enjoying one another with no distractions.

Of course we’ll miss our kids. We’re parents. We will talk about our three blessings. Wonder how they’re doing. Call our moms and ask to hear little voices.

But ‘The Ballews’ were a couple before they were a quintet. Dave & Lyndse. Just Dave & Lyndse. And we are going to hoard this time together like a dragon with his gold. Selfishly wrapped up in one another’s arms and gaze. For ninety blissful hours.

After we pack.

Someone pinch me as I include my honeymoon lingerie and leave the Transformers toothbrush…

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A 2am Selfie Is Better Than Nothing

1. Finish my statement for the upcoming sentencing hearing.

2. Get a cute photo celebrating my first ever payment for my writing.

My only two Monday goals.

I failed on both counts.

After more than half a dozen hours working on my statement, it’s still not done. I thought I was done, until I read it with fresh eyes. It needs a lot of work. I cut some paragraphs. Moved stuff around. Examined my word choice. This is my only time to make my thoughts and desires known to the judge. I need it to be amazing. I still have 7.5 pages to edit. And it needs to be completely finished by Wednesday night. Dave is helping me, because he’s a wordsmith and loves editing. I haven’t edited since I stopped teaching. All my work in the past 6 years has been grossly unedited and slightly neurotic and full of meandering. I’ve never actually watched Dave edit before last night. It’s part of his job, but it’s not like I keep one of those video baby monitors in his hybrid-cubicle at the office. I was pretty impressed. And a tad annoyed. Which is normal, when the person you love most on the entire planet is finding fault with your work. I knew I needed more polish, less raw. But he made it bleeeeed. I actually love him more for it. It takes guts to edit your wife. Who’s been up since 5am. And is under so much stress she might actually implode.

Since I spent my day working with the worst content matter imaginable, I forgot to take my cute photo. I was going to shower, do my hair, get dressed, and do something pinterest-y. But, in Lyndse fashion, none of that happened. I decided that done was better than perfect. So I snapped a selfie at 2am. In Dave’s t-shirt. Hair crazy and unwashed. Eyes excited, because I made $75 whole dollars.

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Then I drank my first alcoholic beverage. I sipped some beer the night Bob died, but last night was my very first drink. A hard cider. Well, about 4 oz of one. Dave brought it to me and we clinked the glasses and everything. A paid writer. I get goosebumps. I’m 32 years old and I honestly didn’t think anyone would ever pay me for my ramblings.

At least my day matched my current life season. Never going according to plan, messy, down-to-the-wire, authentic, so very far from perfect. But with Dave by my side in all of it. I love him so much.

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Sorry, Girls, He’s Taken

Dave worked all day, went and helped a widow, then came home just in time for nighttime toothbrushing duty and putting our kids to bed.  Since we are actually celebrating our anniversary next weekend, I was surprised when he carried in a bag of goodies. I had mentioned last week in passing that I really wanted some wedding cake. He bought me a layered coconut cake. Which I ate while he was cooking me dinner.

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I had also mentioned last month that I wanted Taken. I love vigilante justice movies. I ended up with Taken and Taken 2.

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And this card. Who says the cobbler’s family never has shoes? I become absolutely giddy when my designing husband designs something for me.

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TAK9N

Nine years ago, you took the heart of my good friend, Dave, and have since held it captive. If you were looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you….

…or at least, would make me a nightmare if I were trying to recover Dave’s heart. Lucky for you, he doesn’t want it back. Says you can keep it. Which begs the question, “What am I doing here, making yet another Taken film?” The answer: actors guild insurance. I can’t let them take it from me. I’m 63 years old for crying out loud.

Giddy, I tell you.

I love my witty, caring, gorgeous husband. Nine years. He took my heart, too. And I never want it back.

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So I Broke Up With Mother’s Day

Several years ago, I woke up on Mother’s Day to the smell of French Toast. Which is my favorite food. Well, one of my favorite foods. I was getting breakfast in bed on the day meant to celebrate me. I had peeked at Facebook. Moms in my newsfeed were getting breakfast, flowers, mugs, homemade cards, Hallmark cards, jewelry, chocolate, and handprint crafts. Little prints turned into flowers and butterflies and so many Pinterest things. I waited for the breakfast. That French Toast was going to be my first surprise of the day. I just knew this was my year to be spoiled and appreciated.

Then, I heard Dave snoring. I don’t know what I smelled, but there was no breakfast. I had a husband who had fallen asleep while working on a project for his job. A sink full of dirty dishes. Laundry. Toys. And since I had been trolling Facebook all morning, we were now going to be late for church. I was unshowered. In more ways than one. I crawled back into bed and cried. I was the only mom not getting anything. I just knew it. I cried until the last possible moment that I could still get us up and out the door and still embarrassingly late.

No “Happy Mother’s Day!” greetings for me. I shook my husband awake. We threw ourselves together and rushed out the door and I was seething. “Are your allergies bothering you? Your eyes look weird.” Yes, my eyes look horrible. The whole of me looks horrible. So glad I get to look pretty on ‘my day’ of all days. On the way to church didn’t seem like the appropriate time to discuss the failed morning. So, I did the adult thing. “You didn’t even make me French Toast! Every other mom gets a freaking parade and I get nothing.”

I will leave to your imagination the other brilliant things I said on that short ride to worship our Savior. The highlights: I am not appreciated, you think I’m a bad mom, I do sweet crap on Father’s Day, and I have nothing to post on Facebook about my morning. Obviously, I was being a rational person about this, so Dave’s response was totally in love. “I’m glad I didn’t do anything. You don’t need breakfast. You need to think really hard about not being a jerk.” This is the stuff marriage books are made of. We were winning at life.

We never resolved it. We gave gifts to our moms. Ate with them. I gave gifts to my sisters-in-law. We moms posted Facebook messages for one another and tagged one another. Graham made something at church…there was a coffee filter involved. I somehow made my Mother’s Day on social media look decent. Dave, who is rarely even on, didn’t post anything. No “My wife is an awesome mom and I want to thank her for blah blah blah.” I went to bed crying more than I had that morning. And since we had been gone the entire day, my house was still trashed.

The next year, I decided to release Dave from all of it. The over-the-top-craziness of a holiday that I just couldn’t handle. I didn’t even tell Dave he was released. I just did it. He had spent an entire year, minus that second Sunday in May, thanking me for mothering his children. He had cooked me breakfast on so many Saturdays. He had brought home movies he knew I wanted. Downloaded albums and books he knew I would like. Cleaned our house. Cared for our kids. Sent me sweet/hilarious/thoughtful/ornery texts and emails with inside jokes only we get. I knew it was time for me to break up with Mother’s Day. At least how I had known it.

I awoke Sunday morning to Dave making me an iced coffee drink. He was ready for church. I got ready. We got the kids ready. “Hey, do you want a picture with the kids?” Yes. I did want a picture with the kids. I had bought myself some jewelry from a local swap page. Just a couple of fashion rings. $5 nothings. Graham and Adelaide ‘gave’ them to me. Graham thought it was funny. I couldn’t stop laughing at his giggles.

I smiled the whole way to church. It was my first Mother’s Day with two kids. I sipped my drink. Looked down at one of my rings. “Happy Mother’s Day. I was going to buy you a card, but they were all worthless. They were about how horrible I am as a husband and how you are way too good for our family. I refuse to fuel the self-deprecation commercialization machine.” I laughed so hard I cried. Pretty tears this year. We had a wonderful Mother’s Day celebrating our moms. Gifts, cards, Facebook posts. We returned to a messy house that night and I crawled into bed realizing it had been my best Mother’s Day to date.

Mother’s Day isn’t evil. So many moms are able to handle the day and its splendor. I am just not one of them. I cannot do it. It’s better for my family when I realize it is just another day to be loved in the same way I am always loved. Dave has continued to spend the year loving me and serving me and surprising me with more than could ever be squeezed into a day. I still enjoy seeing everyone’s gifts and meals and handprint crafts. And I love the pictures of moms with their kids all dressed up. I love when families celebrate moms in a way that works for them…that’s what matters.

“What did you get for Mother’s Day?” That’s the question everyone asks at church. Lyndse The New Mom was always taken aback by this sucker-punch greeting. Scrambling for an answer that didn’t make it seem like I was unloved and unappreciated on this created holiday. Now, I just smile. And shuffle my crew along. I’m not cynical. I’m not anti-Mother’s Day. I’m just free. Free to wake up on that Sunday and just enjoy my day. Zero expectations. And lots of peace. And coffee. I guess I have one expectation. I love coffee.

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