Tag Archives: motherhood

How Will Your Kids Remember You? 

We have photographs of Dave’s great-Grandparents in our kitchen. Up in that empty space above the cabinets. Right next to my vintage Sandwich Glass canisters. Their faces without smiles. Their bodies rigid. Slight blurs where people moved. You can’t tell what kind of people they were from their photos. Dave’s Grandma scribbled notes on the back for us, so I know who is who and when they came to America speaking Czech. 

Dave’s great-Grandpa came to the States, fought in WWI, then died of a heart attack while working his farm. Leaving his wife without a husband and girls without a father. 

Adelaide is in Summer School. I think they call it Kindercamp. She’s transitioning from the preschool to her new k-4 elementary school. Getting to know her new teachers, classrooms, and routines. We can’t leave our little city when Adelaide is in school. At any moment, she could need us due to a seizure or a meltdown. So that means no trampoline parks, bounce houses, play dates with friends in neighboring cities. We’re on call 5 days a week from 7:40 to 1:50. 

So we decided to come up with a fun tradition for Adelaide’s Summer School days. Donuts and hashbrowns. After we drop Adelaide off at school, we drive through and get a donut for Graham and a hashbrown for Bess. 

We are proud frequenters of our local donut shop. It’s one in a chain, but you can’t tell. In a world of gas station and grocery store donuts, I enjoy driving through a place that uses one of those hoses to sense your vehicle and makes a huge ding. They push the sliding glass window open and take your order face to face. The menu sign is wood with vinyl stickers. The donuts are no nonsense. Their Facebook page has 100-and-some-change followers and hasn’t been updated in 8 months. 

Grandma Tracy makes donuts from her mom’s recipe, and tells me stories about the beloved matriarch. She tells me about meals they made, how she stored her potatoes, how she canned meat, the little sweets she made for them, the dresses she sewed, and how they always had fresh milk. How life was different on the farm. “Those poor city kids’ moms didn’t know how to stretch the rations like we did. And we always had meat. Mom always made sure we had meat.” These stories are fascinating to me. Grandma was raised by a single mom during the Great Depression. 

I chuckle thinking of all these articles written for my generation. 

How will your kids remember you? Are you on your phone too often, making them feel unimportant? Do you put your phone away too often and miss those photos of everything they’ll want to remember? Are you making enough memories? Do you hug them often enough, but not too much that they’re uncomfortable? Are you reading enough books, while also making sure they play outside? Are you reading enough books outside? Will they remember you as a fun mom? Caring mom? Adventurous mom? Even-tempered mom? Confident mom? Strong mom? Godly mom? Graceful mom? 

I wonder if Dave’s great-Grandma even had time to think about her legacy while she was doing the wash by hand, canning everything in sight for winter, and raising a daughter with special needs. Grandma Tracy’s sister couldn’t walk. Only attended school through the 8th grade. Had leg braces. But learned to cook fried chicken. 

In May and June, we ate lots of donuts, while wearing pajamas. My kids may not even remember it someday, and it’s sad that I even wondered if they would. It’s embarrassing to admit that I actually wondered if they would remember me as the mom who let them eat donuts in pajamas. But the mantra of my generation is “Are you making memories?” Like we’re manufacturing them in a factory. 

The question needs to be asked: Do I do things with my kids so they can have a good time…or am I wanting them to remember me someday as a good mom? I think it depends on the day. I hate to even say that aloud. 

In previous generations, I think moms focused more on keeping their kids safe, healthy, fed, and educated. My generation is pressured into focusing on keeping our kids entertained and showing everyone now, and our kids later, that we succeeded in it. Like we’re simultaneously the activity directors  and marketing team of a Summer Camp. 

Grandma Tracy remembers the trips and dancing and candy. But she mostly reminisces about the day-to-day tasks. The love shown through doing what needed to be done. “She played with us in her own way. It was a good childhood, but nothing fancy. And we never once doubted she loved us.”

I have the advantage of an easier life and more time to play. But the motive behind the play matters most. Playing with my kids because I desire to spend time with them, not because I want them to think of me as a doting mom. Planning something exciting for them because I want to see them enjoy it, not because I want to be seen as an adventurous mom. Making a tradition so we can share an experience, but not expecting that to be part of my mothering identity.

I don’t know how my kids will think of me when they’re grown, but I’m done thinking about it. I’m done wondering if I’m messing them up. And I’m done over-analyzing all I do in hopes of giving them some idealistic childhood. I’m bucking the trends of my generation. 

I’m just going to keep loving them well and collecting my vintage glass, which I’ll pass onto them someday. Bess will probably sell it all to buy hashbrowns. 

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Five Minute Friday | Define

“How would you describe yourself as a Mom?” 

“An incompetent loser.” 

That’s what I wanted to answer. 

Instead, I said something along the lines of, “I’m a stay-at-home mom. I was in drug-free labor for almost 20 hours before an emergency c-section. I’m a breastfeeding mom. A baby food-making mom. He doesn’t watch TV. We plan on homeschooling him. Probably starting kindergarten early, in one of those co-ops where he’ll learn Latin.”

I know there was more in my rambling answer. Can’t recall all of it right now. 

I don’t know what she was actually expecting me to say, but I’m sure my checklist made no sense. 

I had learned early on in the Mom Community to define myself by choices. These topics filled magazines, blogs, and Facebook forums. Birth, sleeping, feeding, free time. Everyone had an opinion. And it stressed me out. 

I was a new mom, with a fantastic support system, but I thought everyone was doing this mom thing better than I was. Graham was a difficult baby. Sleep eluded us. He was a frequent cluster nurser. He was strong-willed. I spent his first 8 months of life trying to figure out what I had done wrong. 

I hadn’t done anything wrong. Except the part where I was trying to control another human with his own desires. I hadn’t yet learned the difference between control and guidance. Breaking versus molding. 

In that moment, I tried to define my motherhood by some choices I had made. And decisions we would make years down the road. Trying to fit into a strange box of motherhood. 

It’s comical how experience changes you. How other kids change you. I spent a few years talking about homeschooling Graham early. Then we started him at the normal time. We didn’t join a co-op. He knows zero Latin. My kids watch lots of TV. Adelaide goes to public school. My girls ate homemade baby food, those pouch things, and jarred food. I’m about to have my 4th and final c-section. 

What would my answer be now? 

“I’m a mom of 6 kids, with 4 surviving. I’m learning to enjoy all these different seasons, including the really hard ones. I’m taking this thing one day at a time. Past that, I have no idea.”

And that’s okay. 


Time’s up. Join me at katemotaung.com with your own five minutes of raw and unedited writing. 

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Moving Upstairs

I got up early on Sunday. Really just decided not to hit snooze on my phone. Getting up on that first alarm is usually reserved for holidays and anytime our LifeGroup is having a brunch. But I was wide awake at that alarm. Because I was already crying in bed.

It was Promotion Sunday. I thought. I wasn’t positive, but I knew it was either the first Sunday in August or the second. There had been signs up for months, but I had forgotten to write it down.

We were out the door early and on time to church, which rarely happens. Not for a lack of trying. More because someone poops in a diaper as we’re piling into the van. Or a 5-year-old decides his shoes feel weird. Every single pair. Or I realize I haven’t brushed my teeth (or hair) or applied deodorant (or pants) as we are reaching for keys.

But we were early, and it was Promotion Sunday. And I realized we couldn’t promote Bess, because I had forgotten to separate their diaper bags and coolers. So we put Bess and Adelaide in their regular class. But their teachers weren’t there. They had subs. And I was faced with my most hated mom task: describing Adelaide to a stranger in two minutes flat.

“This is Adelaide. She’s almost four. She has several disabilities. She can crawl and walk around objects on her knees. She can’t stand or walk. She sometimes falls. She will put everything in her mouth and choke. She has two bottles. One for now, and one for later. She can eat Cheerios, but you need to feed them to her one or two at a time. Don’t put little babies near her. She will unintentionally crush them. She is 36 pounds. She needs a diaper change every 90 minutes. She is nonverbal, but she will sign for milk. Like this. It looks like you’re milking a cow. She will scream and cry for everything else. She will fall asleep on the floor if she gets too overwhelmed. She doesn’t really play with toys or other kids. She has seizures, but hasn’t had one in several months. We will be in Room +++ if you need us.”

Deer in the headlights. I left my complex child with strangers who weren’t blinking. I had seen them in the older classes before, but Adelaide was new to them. Bess’ allergies were a cakewalk after that little soliloquy. I nervously walked away.

Then I saw all the other kids from the class Adelaide was supposed to be in. They had all moved upstairs. She was now the oldest and biggest child in her hallway. And I started crying.

I walked into LifeGroup late. Tears wiped away. I wasn’t caring at all for the lesson. I was thinking about my daughter. I knew she was safe. But was she scared? Did she realize these were different people?

The question for group discussion: how is God moving in your life?

I wasn’t going to answer, but I decided to speak up. I felt like He wasn’t. Or that I wasn’t. That my life has been in a limbo for a few years now. I feel like everyone else is moving. And I’m standing there at the same nursery class giving the same instructions and feeling the same wonky feelings. Like I’m just as out-of-place as Adelaide. Everyone moving up to the next floor. As we are getting overwhelmed and lying down on the floor signing sleepy.

I ended up rambling in LifeGroup. Made no sense whatsoever. Dave teased when we left that I should’ve come in on a wrecking ball with my head shaved. I was chuckling and his eyes were sparkling. Dave doesn’t do pop culture, so I was actually laughing at his ability to even tell a Miley joke. But he was right. I was a wreck.

I served second hour. Playing with my girls and realizing Bess was going off to the next class. Graduating past her sister. They had been together almost two years, and Bess was leaving Adelaide behind. Headed across the hall to a place with a teeter totter and a play kitchen and chairs. And Adelaide was staying behind with crawlers.

I picked up Graham. He was furious with me. I had forgotten to tell him he was promoting. A friend dropped him off at his new room. With new teachers. He had moved across the hallway and his parents hadn’t even warned him about it. He said he would pretend to smile for my picture.

graham promotion sunday

That afternoon, I left Dave and the kids at my mom-in-law’s house while I went to a bridal shower. I’ve known Meaghan 14 years. I was her Sunday School teacher for a season. Her school teacher for a season. And I was taking her dish towels to set up a new home with a soon-to-be-husband. She was moving, too. And I was ecstatic that I had been invited to her special celebration.

I hit construction. Twice. Took three detours. I realized I wasn’t going to be there on time. But unless I sprouted wings and flew above the cans and cones and barricades, I was going to be walking into that party late. I was moving farther and farther away from that party with each detour. And a favorite Switchfoot song of mine came on.

No, I’m not alright
I know that I’m not right
Feel like I travel but I never arrive
I wanna thrive not just survive

I come alive when I hear you singing
But lately I haven’t been hearing a thing and
I get the feeling that I’m in between
A machine and a man who only looks like me

I try and hide it and not let it show
But deep down inside me I just don’t know
Am I a man when I feel like a hoax?
The stranger in the mirror is wearing my clothes

No, I’m not alright
I know that I’m not right
A steering wheel don’t mean you can drive
A warm body don’t mean I’m alive

And that song meant more to me than the Bible Study and the sharing time and the awkward feeling of being transparent when you don’t even know what to say. That song summed up how I felt about Adelaide’s non-Promotion Sunday that morning. And my non-Promotion Life.

I was late to the party. No one noticed. Only a few people even knew me. I ate food and cake and wrote down who gave what for the thank you notes. And I blended in. And I didn’t explain Adelaide to anyone, because not one person even asked if I had children. I was just one of 35 women at a bridal shower on a hot August Sunday. And it actually felt good to be so unnoticed. No tears. No caveats. No wheelchair. Just a mom eating grapes.

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And I returned a couple hours later to my tribe. Back to what is familiar to me, but still not always understandable. I was greeted with tiny kisses and a gift of rocks. And I still wasn’t alright. I still felt like I was never arriving anywhere. Adelaide wasn’t moving up. Our positions unchanged.

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It’s been more than a month since that Promotion Sunday. The bride-to-be moved into her new title of Mrs. Clay and crossed a parking lot with lavender raining down into her hair.

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Bess crossed that hall into the class her brother attended more than 4 1/2 years ago. The teachers are the same and just as wonderful as ever. And Adelaide stayed in her class, and was loved on by her fantastic teachers.

 

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I still often feel like I’m traveling but never arriving. But we have more successes than failures. And even though some days feel like slow motion, I know the truth is that Adelaide is moving forward. Ever so slowly, but she’s making progress. And I’m becoming better at noticing it all. Learning not to be bogged down with everything. We’re far from leaving surviving for thriving. But it’s within reach. And that’s enough for right now.

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Moms Go From Sobbing To Dancing

I sob in a bathroom while my trio under 6 watches a cartoon in the living room. I watch the names. I just let the tears flow. I remember where I was. I remember my seat in an econ class with Dr. Richard Lanear. I was just thinking about how I needed to concentrate on taking notes, because his pants were distracting. They were polyester and had that starched precise line down the front. Like a military uniform. And he ran his class like we were his freshest recruits. When someone knocked on his door, he rolled his eyes. Late students were locked out. Who had the audacity to knock? He cracked the door and I remember waiting to see which 18-year-old was about to get it from a man wearing pants manufactured before our births. But he came back crying. “Go home. Go home and pray.” And he gathered his things. I remember running to my car. Driving right at the speed limit, but  running into my mom’s arms as soon as I hit that driveway. I remember my mom sobbing, but trying not to scare Micah and Nathan. Moms don’t get to completely break down when the world is falling apart. I remember the emails from a friend. Her fiance trapped. His last words to her. I remember praying they would find him alive in the rubble. I remember that they didn’t. I remember my brother enlisting. I remember his injuries. Cities and villages I will never see. Places I can’t pronounce. I didn’t understand then why he got nervous seeing litter on the road. Or why he couldn’t sit with his back to a door. I remember all those R & Rs. When he would catch up on all the missed sleep and my mom taught us not to wake him up. Don’t get near a sleeping soldier. They wake up scarier than they dream. And he still does. I remember hearing about the Marines who carried all the babies and toddlers from the Pentagon daycare and rounded them up to play safely. I remember learning it was a lie. When there are thousands of real heroes, who makes up fake ones? We don’t need falsehoods to feel good about an atrocity. We remember the real people who saved lives and dug people out and did a hundred heart-breaking things I will only witness during memorial specials. And I remember the heartache I felt about Benghazi. And the anger that followed and still follows. My brother and sister buried so many of their friends for more than a decade and Hilary Clinton still thinks she can become commander-in-chief. And I remember all of this in 6 and a half short minutes while I hide in our only bathroom. Sobbing and remembering and praying and getting it all out of my system. Because I get a few minutes for 14 years of feelings. Then I wash my face and go sing a Bubble Guppies song. Moms don’t get to break down when there are littles tugging at our yoga pants. But I sing that Bubble Guppies song as loud as I can. Because I’m alive when so many aren’t. “Line up! Line up! Line up, everybody, line up!” So many lost because they were at work on a weekday. And so many lost in all the years that have followed. Men and women who lined up and gave up their weekday jobs to do the hardest thing imaginable. And I sing and dance on the carpet. Just minutes after crying on our tile floor. Never forgetting.

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When You Yell At The Lady On The Phone

Poor Candice/Kandace/Khandice. I don’t know how she spells her name. I don’t know anything about her. But I came completely unglued on her. I had to apologize and ask for forgiveness. I was in tears. She actually laughed. It was a nervous laugh. She said she couldn’t possibly understand my frustration from all those bills being incorrectly handled. But I went off on a customer service rep who hadn’t caused the problem and couldn’t fix it. Didn’t fix it. Her manager’s manager still hasn’t called me back. After two hours of dealing with medical bill issues, I was a mess. And this is the reality. People will say things like, “You are such an awesome mom!” But I know all the time I spend parking my kids in front of television while I battle it out with a billing department, throwing Honey Nut Cheerios on their trays, doesn’t make me anything exceptional. An exceptional mom would’ve kept her voice calm, realizing that yelling at some random person was disrespectful. Downright horrible. A supermom would’ve made snack first. No, I’m not an awesome mom just because some genes are messed up and we are always dealing with a medical bill. I didn’t sign up for this like some sort of martyr mom. I just fell into this. And I fall into it every day. I beg God to help me. Most days, I feel alone in it. I know I’m not…it’s just how I feel. I’m not any better at this mom business than anyone else. Some days I get it more right than others. My house is messy all the time. My kids don’t like to wear pants. A YouTube video taught my kids the colors of the rainbow while I was writing a blogpost to help pay for more of Adelaide’s gear that isn’t covered by insurance. Awesome moms get up before their kids and spend time preparing themselves for the day. I wake up when my 20-month-old wakes up. And I look around me and think, “What is going on with my life?” I never get Adelaide’s ‘checklist’ for the day finished. I don’t think a team of professionals could do what I am supposed to be doing everyday. But I know moms who do get it all done for their kids with special needs. And they run businesses and get senate bills passed in their states and make PTO gifts. And I am over here wearing Dave’s pajama pants and having no idea where to even start at being a better mom. I am at a loss. I know some of you will read this and think I am being too hard on myself. Others will completely relate to feeling like you are the only one at prom without a date. This motherhood gig is hard. And I feel like everyone around me is doing a better job while I wash the same pee sheets day after day after day. And I wonder if Candice/Kandace/Khandice is going home to her own pile of pee sheets and dinner and squeezing everything into her evening while thinking about the stressed out mom who blows up at people who are just trying to do their jobs. Maybe she feels just as alone as I do.

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Image Credit

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The DUFF {a semi-review with zero spoilers}

I went to the movies for the first time in almost 6 years. I left the kids with Dave and headed out for a girls’ night with my mom.

We had dinner and a former student made sure my meal was gluten and dairy free. Pork enchiladas for the win. I was finished eating in 12 minutes. It’s the Mom Curse. You cannot eat slowly, even when given the opportunity, because you have been trained to gobble. But the food was delicious and I enjoyed every single second of not cutting someone’s meal, reminding people to use inside voices, or cleaning up little people with baby wipes. My mom and I talked and no one interrupted us. Except our server, who was fantastic.

I paid an exorbitant amount of money for a Diet Coke and we took our places for a PG-13 movie. Now, let me preface all of this by saying that I am prudish with certain things. I don’t enjoy curse words, I hate when teen sex is glamorized, and I am not a fan of vulgarity. In good conscience, I cannot recommend this movie to anyone. Which I absolutely hate saying, because the overall message was superb. And the actors were all incredibly talented. If it had been PG, I would own it. I would pre-order it. I would host a DUFF party. But it wasn’t PG and the rating felt closer to R than PG-13. I love when the issues of cyber-bullying, inner beauty, and authentic friendship are addressed. I loved certain parts. But, I will never be able to watch it again. And that bummed me out. I am sure it followed the book, but the language and vulgarity were gratuitous. To the point of being uncomfortable and icky. These are my opinions…you may see it and disagree with me. To each her own.

But I had a wonderful time with my mom just having fun and not being someone’s caregiver. I peed without anyone watching me. I shared my drink with no one. And that was a beautiful thing. I will go out more often with my mom, but I doubt I will be seeing anymore movies anytime soon.

Without spoilers, I will say this: as a person who has been cyber-bullied, I think it is an issue that needs to be at the forefront of our conversations. I give The DUFF 5 stars for showing the atrocities of bullying. I give it 0 stars for being anything I could ever show my own children when they are teens. Cuz their Mama is too old school and didn’t understand 1/2 the jokes. And that’s okay! I am happy being me and making the choices I make for myself and my family. I don’t regret them. Well, I regret buying the Large Diet Coke. I didn’t realize it was like 96 oz. I was too caught up in the freedom of not pushing a wheelchair or wearing an Ergo…

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Five Minute Friday {mercy}

“Mama, will you read me mine bedtime story?”

“I am trying to sweep the kitchen.”

I almost said this to you. So glad I stopped myself. I am too tired to think.

“Of course, sweetie. Do you want to read it in my bed?”

“YES! Mama’s bed! Let me get mine piwate ship!”

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You have been sleeping in my bed for almost 2 weeks now. Colds, allergies, croup, ear infections. You are sleeping strange hours. You are up several times a night. Sometimes dozens. You are waking with night terrors. And waking with a stuffy nose. You are asking for milk. And water. And you have gotten up to potty every night. {Thank you for not wetting my bed.} As you migrate all over every square inch of my queen-sized bed squeezed into a 9 x 8 ft room. My bed is filled with your toys and books and your sweet little toddler-sized pillow. There is no point in even making my bed at this point. Your poor dad keeps sleeping on the couch. He isn’t a mom. He isn’t used to being kicked in the face and chest and back and everywhere else. You have been kicking me since you were 16 weeks in my womb. Always restless. But always wanting to snuggle your mama. Yet he is in here tonight. You are both snoring. And you are both talking in your sleep. Mercy, no wonder I can’t rest. These amusing one-sided conversations of half gibberish and ‘real’ words infest my dreams.

As we read, you repeat everything I say or whisper it while I say it or shout it before I can even turn the page. You love this ‘night-night’ book. You have it memorized. Ironic. Bedtime is usually the hardest part of our day. You will not give up and close those gorgeous eyes. Just say ‘night-night’ and drift away.

But I would never ever give up reading that bedtime story to you. In my bed. Where the stunning red throw pillows are always on the ground or covered in your drool or being used by a stuffed animal. You will always be more important than sweeping that old kitchen. The dried Play-Dough and chunks of waffle can always wait. They will always be there. Always. But you are in your last month of being three. And with each day that passes, you get closer to four. And eighteen. And closer to giving up Play-Dough. And closer to fewer waffle messes. I don’t wish for those days, but I am sure I will deal with them when they come…something about seasons. Let’s not think about it right now.

Time’s Up…

 

Five Minute Friday

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Be generous and leave an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s the best part about this community.

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Five Minute Friday {Rhythm}

I have two ‘out-of-the-box’ kids. And I am pregnant with another child. One who could be a billion different things. Passive, aggressive, or both. Compliant or strong-willed. Developing along with the norm or having special needs. The ultrasound didn’t tell us much. She is a girl. With long legs. Her organs look good. We don’t get to know anything else until she is here and showing us her personality and abilities. We know that we already love her. And Graham decided that she is no longer a shark, but a penguin. I am wondering if she will be a good swimmer…

I have been begging God for the ability to handle one more child in the mix. Just recently, someone told me she didn’t think I could handle three children. Some days, I agree with her. Especially on the days when I am completely emptied before lunch. Or before mid-morning snack. Other days, I realize that it doesn’t matter if she {or I} think I can’t do it. Because it needs to be done. And I will do it. And I have been chosen for the task. And Scripture tells me over and over again that I am not doing this alone.

Lately, I have been reading everything I can find on balance. My relationship with God, my marriage, the babies, our schedule, this house, our budget, & my ever-growing desire for freezer chocolate. Each Bible Study or book or article or blog post has pointed me to truths. To Scripture about what God wants for the Ballews. We are growing.

Today is the first day of summer. On the last day of summer, we will add a child to our family tree.

One season left to prepare for this blessing.

This week, I am feeling more competent as a mom. Not because our house has been clean the entire week. Or because Adelaide has achieved some motor skill milestones. Or even because my family eats well. Those are good things. But, I feel like a competent mom because I am realizing that I am doing my part. I am praying over my kids. I am pointing them to Jesus. I am caring for them. I am doing my best to keep them safe and healthy. I am taking time for myself, to ensure that I am refreshed and ready. God is doing a work in me. He says, “You can do this. I am here. I have been here all along. I will never leave you. I promise never to forsake you.”

I am waking up with hope and joy and I can see how God is going to add another dancer to our troupe and I will help lead her in the rhythm of the Ballews. Our end of the summer baby girl will fit into our family perfectly. And I will parent her with God’s guidance and some extra freezer chocolate.

Speaking of rhythm…

graham zumba

Graham loves Zumba. On a stepstool. With no pants.

Time’s Up!

Five Minute Friday

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Be generous and leave an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s the best part about this community.

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Five Minute Friday {Imagine}

I am raising a strong-willed William. Every day, Wm. Graham pushes me as far as he can possibly push. He uses all his three-year-old might and shoves with reckless abandon. And I get closer and closer to the edge of that cliff. That cliff we call Motherhood. The view is amazingly breath-taking…when you aren’t right on the edge. Holding on with your toes and praying you don’t fall headfirst into a spiral. When you can breathe and enjoy the moments, there is nothing like motherhood. But this strong-willed, creative, passionate, dramatic, loving, disobedient, stubborn, intelligent toddler wants to see how I will react when I am out of the comfortable viewing area and headed toward destruction. He laughs as he watches my toes curl and my arms flail. He snickers as I attempt to balance. Wasn’t I just near that machine that eats quarters and promises spectacular sights from a safe distance? And so I cry out to God. With exhausted toes so curled they can’t hang on any longer. I beg for just 1 more inch of grace. A 1/2 inch of empathy. Or a 1/4 inch of understanding. Please grant me 2 1/8 inches of kind words. When I want to scream. Cry. Hide. Jump? And the Lord gives me a yard. A few inches at a time. And I lie down next to this child’s bed, all 5 feet 6 1/2 inches of me stretched out and still praying as he sleeps. I can’t imagine even one day without him.

Time’s Up!

 

Five Minute Friday

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Be generous and leave an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. That’s the best part about this community.

 

 

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How Not to Breastfeed in an International Airport

Since Adelaide’s ophthalmology breastfeeding “moment” received some laughs, I will share a story very few people have ever heard.

Graham was what they call a frequent cluster nurser. Meaning he tried to kill me. For the first 4 months of his life, Graham nursed every 45-90 minutes. From 4 months to 7 months, he was still nursing every 2 hours. Then, after we started some solids at 7 months, he stayed at 2 hours. Just to keep me on my toes. We didn’t move to every 3 hours until closer to his birthday. At 14 months, he self-weaned. Then, I finally lost those last few pregnancy pounds…which led to Adelaide.

I always used a cover with Graham. Because he was my first. And I was so self-conscious I couldn’t even function worried about offending people. Even in the heat of summer, that child was under a cover. A few examples:

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nursing cover 2

nursing cover 1

Let me be clear: I have absolutely nothing against covers. I used one with Adelaide in certain environments. Like when I forgot to wear a nursing tank and didn’t want in-laws to see my belly.

nursing cover 8

And I will use one again with this baby. But, I have learned that the tiny part of my breast that shows during breastfeeding is far less than what you even see on ABC Family, at a magazine stand, or walking through Wal-Mart. I have also learned that no one is even watching me.

But when Graham was a baby, I was in everyone-is-looking-at-me-all-the-time mode…it is infamous with new moms. We think our child is the loudest of any child around. We think every stranger is watching to see when we will do something wrong. Then, we realize with our second children, that most people are so self-absorbed they don’t even notice us or our kiddos.

We were at the airport when Graham needed to eat. The boy usually refused bottles, so I rarely even bothered with those. So, I grabbed my cover {and screaming child} and made my way to a secluded section of the airport. We couldn’t see or hear anyone. We were away from all people and their eyes. There was no way I would offend anyone. We were all situated and doing well. Then, a man decided to sit in our little deserted section. I readjusted the cover. Wrapped it around Graham’s body, just to be sure this stranger didn’t get a glimpse of anything. Why he chose that seat, I have absolutely no idea.

His phone rang. So, Graham did what any baby would do. He unlatched, flipped up the cover, and looked for the exciting noise. It was like a horror movie. My worst-case scenario. My entire breast was exposed. But, it got worse. I shot milk almost 6 feet. Into a stranger’s eye. Literally in his eyeball. I juggled covering myself and keeping Graham from hitting the floor. I was burning red and ready to cry. The stranger got up and walked away. No words. No expression. He didn’t even wipe his face.

I was immediately relieved. I would never see him again. This was an international airport for goodness sakes! Everything was going to be just fine. I finished nursing Graham. Burped him. And made my way back to my family.

Who was sitting there waiting for the same flight? He wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. I pretended like we had never seen one another. Fortunately, we had only a little bit left to wait for our loved ones to arrive. Until the flight was delayed. And we were there for several hours. I was stuck in one of the most awkward moments in history. With no escape.

When it first happened, I should have said so many things. “Oops! So sorry! He likes your ringtone!” or “I’m sorry. Do you need a baby wipe?” or “Why did you sit here, weirdo? Were you wanting to see something?” Ok. I wouldn’t have said the last one, but I was sure thinking it.

This scenario wouldn’t have happened with Adelaide and will never happen with Baby Tomato. Graham unlatched and flipped up that cover, because he couldn’t just look out the corner of his eye and see it was someone we didn’t know. My babies actually tend to look around and unlatch less often when uncovered…with Adelaide’s ophthalmology appointment being the exception. And if it does happen again? I already have my line ready in case someone else gets it in the eye. “Great news! You are less likely to get an eye infection now! You’re Welcome!” Just doing my part to share the healing properties of breastmilk…

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