Marriage

Well, the title might be a little lofty, but follow me anyway.

I have been dealing with some stuff. And we all deal with some stuff. Yet lately my stuff seems so heavy and prevalent that it’s hard for me to even see the world around me. And I have become a hermit. Girls, sometimes just dealing with life is just way too flipping hard.

It’s easy to do (becoming a hermit, that is). I mean, I don’t really like being around people much at times. Sometimes, I don’t like people much at all. I hate small talk. I despise insincerity, I can be way too intense, and I usually feel like an alien in a room of people who look just like me.

Stuff with the kids, legal junk, business stress, work drama, bad days, weight gain, marriage conflict, financial strain, anxiety, depression, blah-blah-blah. Toss in limited time to relax or exercise, a nacho addiction, and the lurking worry that you might be drinking too often, and then you’re like,

“Hey world, here I am: a doughy, middle aged, stressed out mom, who cusses too much, maybe drinks too much,  who is socially awkward, overly critical, with alarmingly limited conflict resolution skills and a constant feeling of being stretched too thin. Who wants to hug the cactus?”

Why would I leave the house, if I am getting on my own nerves?

So I have bammed myself in, stopped writing, taken to living off of yogurt and a healthy/not-so-healthy fend for yourself mantra, and become a spectator of the world around me.

And now I am peeling back the layers of heartache, and months of good intentions, and trying to reintegrate into a world that sometimes feels like a revolving doors with giant cheese grater panels in place of the glass.

And it’s weird.

But I made myself do it. At least a little. And I lived.

Last week I invited a friend to get pedicures. Then I drove the next day to see a friend who I hadn’t seen in 10 or so years. I went to church two days after that, and then later that day, went to a book club with more than a dozen women, some of them strangers, but none of them my best friend, or my bourbon, or my cozy couch blanket. And today, I had a newer friend over, and made her lunch and held her baby and just talked. And it felt right for the first time in a long time. I was tired, and needed a nap after, but it was still good.

I could use the “peeling off the band-aid” analogy but that’s not accurate. I don’t have a wound. I am a wound. I am a downright mess some days, but I still have love and need love, so I have to leave the house, or open my doors and let others in, at least sometimes.

Have your ever been to the “petting” area of an aquarium and petted little sharks or sting-rays? Once when I was there, a worker said that the sting-rays like to rub up against people to keep their skin smooth. While I don’t have any proof that she knew what she was talking about, I can relate to this image: I have smoother edges when I rub elbows with other humans, and months of funk start to rub off when I finally emerge from the hidden sands in the safe and shallow end of the ocean.

People need people. Even grumpy, prickly, critical, anti-social, stressed out people. I also needed the months of hiding. Heck, it’s kind of been years. But for everything there is a season, and spring is finally coming. Did anyone automatically think of this though, lol?

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Winter is over and it’s feeling kind of good to move around again and plan a little life, to hug old friends, to hear new opinions, make new friends and even hold babies. I won’t lie and say it was all easy or pretend that I never felt a little out of place, but coming out of hiding will do that. The light is bright, but it’s so good for the soul.

If you are in a season of rest, just relish in it. But if your rest is becoming an addiction, a spot too comfortable and dark, maybe stick a pinky toe out from under your Cheeto covered blanket, climb out of your show hole, pop on some chap-stick, throw on some clothes with buttons and go rub some elbows, accept some hugs, or bounce a baby on your knee.

The healing is good out here. I’ll leave the light on for ya’.

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Dear Hubby,

Sorry this is a few days late. This has been a janky week. Now that we got the house in order and tackled that linen closet we have been talking about for two years, I can write you a little anniversary letter:

Every year of life, and of marriage, seems jam packed. But it also seems completely mundane and the same in a way. Not in a bad way, but the busyness of life can make it feel like a blur.

And if we aren’t careful to take note of what we have been through together, we might not realize how really strong we are. Not just because we work really hard at our marriage, but because we vowed to let God be the center of it. A cord of three strands cannot be broken.

So I figured I’d take a moment to reflect on the last year and what we have conquered together.

  1. Business-In it’s very own category for its obvious stress involved, we have closed a business, opened a business and grew a home-based business, while pretty gracefully handling people in and out of our home several times a day. Phew. That is no easy way to live! But we did it.
  2. We traveled quite a bit-In the middle of being slammed with our work, we took time to travel. We went on a romantic getaway to Cancun, took the boys to DC for a real educational experience, went an a cruise through the Caribbean with friends, went on a family trip with the Knudsons to Atlanta (where Kaden drank a silo of Coke products), and took the entire family (including Ricky Bobby) across country, climbing Pikes Peak (in a car, lol), visiting the Smokies, and going to our first White Sox game. And it was all because of how hard we (especially YOU) work and how we have been blessed.
  3. We worked out-We might not be on the cover of fitness mags, but we have carved out time to be healthy, even food prepping when we were really on top of things. Working out with you is fun, but it also gets me excited about growing old with you. The more years I have with you, the better.
  4. We briefly considered adoption-Infertility really stinks. And anniversaries are a chafing reminder of many, many losses. But briefly this year, we considered adoption, as we were approached to consider it for a mom with a last minute need. We talked with her, prayed about it, tried to imagine how to make space for a child in one short week, and then the mom decided to keep the baby. While this was a brief interlude of adoption struggles, we handled it, and allowed it to help us focus on what we really want in terms of growing our family.
  5. We parented-Every year, we hustlin’. Jackson got his license and we now spend 13% of our day tracking him on multiple phone apps. Kaden outgrew Jackson and entered the 5th dimension of puberty. We taught them new things, buckled down in new ways, and let go when it was right. We have prayed, argued and wrestled with many a decision, but we did our best to do it as a team.
  6. We prayed-We did like 21 days of a 30 day marriage prayer devotional. Well, like I said, we ain’t perfect. But we haven’t thrown the books away, and regardless of the devotional, we still turn to God for answers and nothing makes me feel more cherished than when you pray for me, for our marriage, for my work, for our children, and even for all of our friends. I love you so much for that, and I always will.
  7. We got help-We went to counseling, a lot, shopping around to find the right fit for us, never using time or money as excuses to skip when both of us would really prefer to sweep stuff under the rug and just grab a bourbon. When people say “marriage is hard” this is what is should mean: putting in the dang work to truly try to understand our spouse’s feelings and needs and tend to them, NOT just saying, “Well this is hard….next.” And thanks for letting me share a little of our struggles with the world so we can help make getting help normal and not a sign of weakness. Your commitment to God and our marriage is the strongest thing about you. Thank you!

You already know I love you but it takes more than love to last. It takes commitment, work and one hell of a sense of humor. Thanks for laughing at the crappy stuff with me, however inappropriately, and thanks for occasionally throwing chocolate and Mexican food at the problems. It’s actually a solid practice endorsed by world renowned therapists (it’s not). But seriously you’re the best.

And in the deep and sentimental words of Tim McGraw (kind of), I like you, I love you, I wants some more of you.

See you at the hizzy later,

I’ll be the one with the goofy grin 🙂

 

 

I hate labeling my kid. I go out of my way NOT to do it. I want to just know KG, to be his mom, and help guide him through his childhood. And I go out of my way not use diagnosis as a crutch (for him or for me). I also try not to be defensive of him.

But for the sake of understanding, I will tell you that he has a different mindset, different behavior at times, and definitely different social norms.

My husband and I have been married for six years. We are a blended family, and that brings on challenges, especially in regards to discipline. But disciplining some kids can be a little more complex, so we need help, therefore we found a counselor who specializes in more complex situations.

Our counselor asked us how other people’s views of my kids impact us. I paused. In general, I don’t care too awfully much what people think. And I work really hard not to let what people think of my kids or my parenting to (negatively) impact how I parent. Sometimes I have to pretend like I am in a bubble and tune out the world, but I pride myself on parenting the same way whether I have witnesses or if I am at home (it’s not exactly the same but I try.)

But do I care what people think of my kid in general? Well short answer: kind of. At least enough write this overdo post.

KG did everything a little late, talked differently, bit other kids, got kicked out off daycare, and found trouble around many corners. I have spent a lot of time in meetings. I have cried and snotted in front of many a teacher. I have even made teachers cry because I was frustrated and angry and feeling awfully alone. And I regret that. I now go out of my way to stand beside each teacher and support them the very way I pray they will support me. And I have realized that it helps if people actually like me (my intentions more so than anything), and care about my son (especially since he needs their guidance too.)

My son is a unique person, and I wouldn’t change him. He is creative and non-linear. Ask him to describe something to you, and his response might dazzle you. He has an earnest interest in science and memorizes science facts and quizzes me (I almost never know the answers). Last week he broke up a girl fight at school. This week he asked me if angels poop. He was completely serious. (That was stumper. Message me if you know the answer. Or if you want to hear mine.)

The journey of my son’s life has been affected by his trials and his differences, but I really do love who he is, how he loves, and I can’t wait to see his life continue to unfold.

I don’t want to change him.

But not everyone gets him. He is easily frustrated and easily angered. He says odd stuff, curses at times, and makes jokes at the wrong times. He is way too open about private stuff. He is bad at eye contact and handshakes and sometimes, he looks upset with others when really he is disappointed in himself. He is socially awkward at times too.[ I think he gets it ALL from me, but that’s another post ;-)]

I have to really, really, really work at not running around going off on people sometimes. I want to tell them what a good kid he really is, that he is generous, not stingy with gifts, tender-hearted, interesting, good with little kids, sweet with dogs, a great dancer and better at sports than he seems (he gets nervous.)

I want to tell the world that that he will be something; that he already is something.

He is harder on himself than anyone on this planet can ever be on him. And I suspect that’s why he is the way he is sometimes. Because he just wants to be better, to act better, to achieve more. And he doesn’t always know how. And it frustrates him.

And I don’t have all the answers. And I never will.

And not everyone is going to “get” him, or like him, or understand him.

But that’s life.

And that’s why I don’t run around making excuses for him (at least I try not to), or pulling the special needs card every time he doesn’t make the team or earn a spot somewhere. I have NEVER gone ahead of him and said, “Please choose him because he needs this” even though it might have helped, or might have kept him from some rejection. I never want to send him where he is not wanted. That is not successful living to me.

But damn does my heart break sometimes.

If people knew what I knew, would they treat him better or worse? Would he be more accepted or more often rejected? Because at this point, he might just come across as a tall, pretty cute kid with kick ass hair who is a little shy or a little funny. Or he might seem like a kid full of rage, with low self-esteem and a bad attitude. Or he might seem smart, quirky, extroverted and surprisingly thoughtful. And all of those could be true depending on the day.

My son, is incredibly, beautifully, wonderfully human.

And then there are the people who see him…really see him. And they go out of their way to connect with him, to lend him a helping hand or offer him a word of encouragement. Why do they get it when so many people don’t? I am guessing something or someone in their life has given them the gift of well-developed empathy. We don’t all have that gift, but I am thankful for those in my son’s life that do.

As a mom, there is nothing more rewarding than when others see the good in your kid, and can see when he is trying, can see past a lot of the junk, and offer some good old fashioned kindness.

I could offer you up some “awareness” day info to help you understand my kid better, but here’s the reality:

He’s not going to run through life wearing a shirt that tells everyone why he is mad at himself, or cussing for no apparent reason. He is not going to take me to work with him so I can put everyone in their place when they think the worst of him. He has to LIVE in this world, truly do life in it. And he will have to make some adjustments at times, and at other times, he will have to learn to embrace what makes him different and spectacular.

But he will have to blaze his own trails.

And in the end, we all could be a little more aware of why people act the way that they do, and ask the right questions if we really care to know. We can stop jumping to conclusions. We can even offer our help and actually come along someone who is struggling, and offer a pat on the back or a word of encouragement. We can make sure that no human being lives life unseen, or completely misunderstood.

We can be kind. We can be brave, untamed and trail-blazingly kind.

Awareness of ourselves, and our capacity to love, is what we need more of. And this is what I want my kids to learn too: LOVE is successful living, to me.

Moms come up with the best gift ideas…for everyone else. They make holidays special, even ones you didn’t know existed. She has been celebrating you and your kids like it is her job. Now is your chance to make her feel special.

But what to get/do for her? You know your wife better than anyone, but let’s face it; you’re not a chick. And you just might feel fresh out of ideas.

Here is a list of things you might not have thought of. They range from FREE to $9 to about $250 and none of them are jewelry, chocolate, or involve glitter that she will end up cleaning anyway.

Stuff:

A Water Softening Shower Head – These are only about $35 and will make her skin and hair feel like a million bucks. Does she ever make you touch her hair after the salon? Yeah, now you can help her feel all soft and silky all the time.

Sports Bras – If you know her size and if she exercises ever, I bet she would like several more bras. We never have enough and since people can see them a bit, we like variety of color and style.

Cooler Purse – I love my cooler that looks like a purse. I take it to wrestling events for my son (they say they have “healthy” concessions but it’s just sausage biscuits and Doritos) and I take it with me when I know I am going to be too busy to eat healthy.

Infuser Water Bottle – I don’t have one, but I have friends who love them. My hubby bought me a water bottle once though and I loved it because I knew he had heard me saying that I needed to drink more water.

Essential Oil Diffuser – I don’t have one of these either, and there are many to choose from (varying in quality) but these are great for making the house smell amazing while also providing health benefits. I want.

Services:

Mini Photo Session – For around $250 (in my area) you can get a short photo session with about 10 photos that you can later print if you would like. I bet you she never thinks there are enough “good” pics of the whole family. Now is your chance to blow her mind.

Spa Service – So many options here: massage, facial, nails, hair, or med spa treatments. Easy option is to get her a gift certificate from her favorite spa and let her choose. I would suggest $125 for a few more options but even $75 can help her get some relaxation.

Personal training – If she has mentioned this to you, then go for it! If not, proceed with caution. You don’t want to push your wife into working out by implying you think she needs to. But many of my friends would love this as a gift!

Housekeeping Services – This is another caution zone, but if my hubby either cleaned the house or hired someone to, I would make immediate love to him. Do what you want with that info.

Landscaping – I love a nice flowerbed, but I suck at it. My hubs has scored major points by building, filling and planting flower beds. It’s terribly romantic in an oddly manure way.

Free:

A letter from you – This is the crème de la crème of “words of affirmation” deeds. Just tell her why you love her and what she means to you and your family. Watch her heart melt and the love flow. It’s magic. Sing it to her, and well, ya know.

A video from the kid(s) – Tear and laughter combined are the ultimate display of emotions. Involve the kids and you are sure to swell her heart and make memories worth more than diamonds.

Breakfast in bed – Never a complaint with the breakfast in bed. Just be mindful of what she actually likes to eat. And if you involve the kids, and the food turns out gross, that’s okay. But usher the kids out before she has to choke down soy sauce covered carrots on saltines. I might be speaking from experience.

A no-sweat dinner – No shopping, no planning, no cooking, no cleaning, and no thinking. Ahhhhhhhh. Sounds like a dream to me.

Quality time:

Plan an activity for the whole family – Even a walk followed by ice cream is great. Has she mentioned a bunch of times that she wanted to go on a picnic? Then now is the time to make it happen.

Alone time – She might like needs a little time alone. Give her a couple of hours to just do NOTHING. Maybe she wants to sit in the tub until her skin prunes, or she wants to read a salacious novel. Either way, she will enjoy having a little down time without the expectation of folding, wiping or cooking anything for anybody.

 

Whatever you decide to do to recognize your wife, just make it’s personal and don’t wait until the last minute if you can help it. Women are quite reasonable (even if stereotypes disagree), just realize that loving her is usually quite simple, just do it.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

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Today I shoveled up the body of a dead bird into the tines of a pitchfork and warily carried his body to the woods. And by warily I mean I looked the other direction while walking with his little body until I realized he had fallen off and I had to go back for him. Dead animals are cringe worthy.

 

I never planned to do that.

 

Well of course you didn’t plan that. How could you? –You might say.

 

Oh my dear, my plans were very, very different.

 

We moved into a country home on 17 acres over four years ago. I was entranced by the long tree lined driveway. I was welcomed by a porch the length of the house anchored by a porch swing. I was swayed by tomato plants, real hardwood floors that seemed to tell a story, and a sewing room with a future.

 

No, I don’t sew, or quilt or even needlepoint. This sunlit narrow room was supposed to house a crib, a glider, and a baby named something quaint, feminine and turn of the century.

 

But it doesn’t.

 

And I am a girl who is used to getting her way. I am not saying that I was born with a silver spoon – far from it. I am not saying I deserve more than anyone else – I don’t. I am not even saying that I am lucky – I am not.

 

I am just a girl that always seemed to know what was going to happen next. I could predict the future, or so it seemed. I didn’t have a crystal ball, but I had hellagood hunches, and they were almost always right.

 

Yet here I stand, on that novella hardwood, looking around at my home, my life, and I can see that my hunches can no longer be trusted. My fortune telling days are over.

 

So back to the bird.

 

I found him today. Deep black feathers with a purple hue. An iridescent crown the color of the ocean at night. Curved black beak. And completely lifeless.

 

And normally I would have left him to rest in peace undisturbed.

 

But now it is my job to escort him elsewhere. I am a dog sitter and I can’t have my clients eating yardkill and sending them home with a belly full of feathers or some weird disease. And as I did my “job” I thought, “How did I get here?”

 

Do you ever wonder that? How in the world did I end up here?

 

I was on a road that was broad and clear. And then I took a fork in the road, followed by a detour, complicated by a foggy sense of navigation. And somewhere in the nooks and crannies of the yonder, I took a path that led me here. And there is no way in a million guesses I would have ever guessed this life.

 

But it is mine.

 

I planned for a submissive and easy first child, but instead have a headstrong leader in the making.

 

I planned for a super easy laid back second child and have learned to navigate autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and even angry outbursts in my youngest son.

 

I said till death do us part, and then walked away.

 

I am full of caution, yet married an adventurer, a risk taker the second time around.

 

I planned to have 2 boys and a girl, yet instead I have a dog sitting business with dog poop, a vacuuming obsession, and dead birds.

 

I don’t recognize my life.

 

 

Hello God, are you there? It’s me, Kris. Quick question: Are you being serious?

 

I am certainly not one to put words in God’s mouth, but I can picture him saying simply, “Yep.”

 

So here I am. And as I try to process it all, my mind wanders to that sewing room, that baby room, sans baby. And I refuse to oversimplify infertility. My struggle has been fairly long and arduous. My husband and I have experienced repeated loss. The heartache is real. The scars are physical and emotional.

 

But I move forward. I still kind of want a baby. I still think it is possible. And if it happens, God will get ALL of the glory.

 

But I move forward. And I make plans for my future that don’t often include a baby, and I picture the future of my boys and I plan to love my husband with all my heart.

 

And I move forward. I show up to help my husband at his business. I help my boys with projects. I scout out clumps of dog fur in crevices forgotten. I exercise, cook, pay bills, apply make up, take my son to counseling, and plan vacations.

 

And I move forward. I relish in the time I have to devote to my children. I soak up the sun and enjoy the breeze, and notice all the little new flowers and host a herd of four legged friends.

 

And I never look back.

 

My oldest son occupies that sewing room now. It sports new flooring, and a fresh new roman shade, and it almost always covered in skinny jeans, Vans, and food crumbs.

 

I write, and walk dogs, and hire and schedule the staff, drink protein shakes and text my friends, all while moving forward.

 

I am living the life.

 

This is the life God wants for me. And I want it too. Because I want Him. And in all things, and all situations, we can honor Him with obedience, even joy.

 

And if I can be obedient in these small, inconsequential, even gritty tasks, how gloriously can I represent Him in the great and honorable, even noble tasks?

 

I am a firm believer that we are always in training for something. Maybe something bigger, maybe something more important. Or maybe we are to just follow God with a lamp to our feet to light the path in front of us, unaware of where that path might lead us (Psalm 119:105). We fall down, we shake off the dust, we march one foot in front of the other. And we keep moving forward.

 

I don’t know how you got where you are. You might not know either. But I am not sure how much it will matter in the long run. Because nothing is achieved in straining to see the view behind us.

 

So ask yourself, “Am I moving forward?” You don’t have to shy away from your story, but let’s walk and talk at the same time. Embrace your story, forgive your plans that God did not set forth, and move forward.

 

I had a dream, and a plan and even a Pinterest board for my baby room ideas. But God had a plan that I never saw coming. But I can still love that plan, my life and even the inglorious minutia of my days. It is a choice, and I choose it, and I choose it in every tiny forward step I take.

 

Are you with me? I don’t know where I am going, but it is ahead of me. The road will wind and will take me to low and scary places at times, but He is with me, and He is waiting, my eyes are on Him, and I am moving forward.

 

 

 

 

 

Selfies really irk people. They seem vain, self-serving, pathetic, and well…selfish.

 

I used to hate selfies. I hated their captions. I hated their angles. I might have even hated their owners.

 

Young people love selfies. They have selfies sticks and they aren’t ashamed to use them. Their image is their number one subject matter. When I was 20 you had to ask a stranger to take a picture of you with your crappy 110 cameras. It was guaranteed to suck. Every time. Then you would throw the photo in a drawer with 600 other pictures of you with your eyes blinking or rolling back into your head like your demons were being exercised. No self-respecting human enjoyed this experience.

 

When we did get lucky and have our good hair day memorialized by a random photo (probably of the dolphin floating behind our head), we didn’t know what to do with the picture. Put it on the fridge? Send copies to all the grandparents? Frame it for our own desk so we can look certifiable? There was nowhere to broadcast it and no one cared.

 

Perhaps no one cares now when we post pictures of ourselves, except to get offended.

 

But I care. And I am getting over being grumpy about it.

 

I might not truly care that you had a spinach and goat cheese omelet that was to die for, or that you finished your 11th 5k, or that your clothes fit better this month than last, but I care about you, and so should you.

 

Famous people have their pics taken all the time, but they know to expect that so their hair looks fantastic and their clothes are so put together and they love it. Their lives are being recorded because they are beautiful and important and everyone wants to see how they live.

 

But what about regular people? Who is telling their story? I mean, we have “Humans of New York” but no one cares about humans in Clarksville, TN or Springfield ____________ (insert random fly-over state). There are no paparazzi grabbing pics of me in my hideous green bathrobe right now while I type this in my dirty kitchen. I am just boring in the eye of a public. I am a wife and a middle-aged Tennessee mom of two.

 

But if I’m being honest, that kind of fires me up! I go to IEP meetings every month and advocate for my son. I take my boys to the doctor, maneuver the DMV, clean baseboards, walk dogs, help manage my husband’s business, encourage women and sometimes even brush my hair. And no one is getting all this sweet action on film. Who is telling my story?

 

I have taken pics of every aspect of my kids’ lives. I have pics of them in their tiny hospital hats, UT Vols onesies, preschool graduation robes and pee wee football uniforms. I have pics of their first day of every school year, every Halloween costume, every milestone and thousands of pics of them sleeping (because let’s be honest, we love them the most then.) We have every birthday cake, every vacation, and every animal they have looked upon at every zoo cataloged somewhere. But we are rarely in the picture.

 

We try to capture dad too, grilling, building, painting, napping, coaching and accepting honors for his job. But unless we wore sequins and were his arm-candy for the banquet, we can float around unseen. We hold it all together, we capture it all on film, and then we proceed to be invisible. Then we feel kinda sassy one day and post a pic and then feel like a douchey loser because non-vain sophisticated moms who put themselves last aren’t supposed to do lame stuff like this.

 

But no more. No more selfie-shaming of the lady folk. We deserve to have our lives seen and if no one else is going to ask us to say cheese, we will just cheese it up in our own way.

 

Good hair day? Click it. Good work out? Click click. Feeling smart in your new glasses? Click click click people. If you can photograph a plate of food, you can photograph your face.

 

And you don’t have to feel sexy to take a pic of yourself. Feeling accomplished, sad, introspective silly or inventive? Capture it. This is your life ladies, and one day you will be crazy old, and you will wonder where all the time went, then you can pull up some 40 year old photos of yourself in a swimsuit, a graduation gown or a pair of over-bedazzled jeans that fit just right and you can remember that you lived and that on some days, you even crushed it.

 

Ladies you are living, and balancing and struggling and accomplishing. And there’s no paparazzi creeping around your windows showing the world how kick-ass you are. Oh, your friends and toddlers take pics of you that make you look crazy, and that’s okay, but what in the world is wrong with wanting to remember a moment, a look, or a feeling that you earned, you felt and you lived?

 

Take that selfie dang it. And if anyone tries to make you feel bad, 86 them or tell them to go photograph a rock or something so they can feel intellectually superior.

 

Sometimes I feel small, or old or frumpy or weak. But when I am feeling strong and lovely and confidant, I might decided to make a 16-piece collage of myself and hash tag it to the moon and back. It’s my life and my business and my aging face and I will selfie as I please.

 

And if anyone thinks that is vain or pathetic or self-serving, they can get over it. Because they are my memories and my feelings and I have the right to enjoy them, now and when I am old and when I have grandchildren to tell my story to.

 

Wealthy ladies used to commission artists to paint a portrait of them. They wanted to leave a legacy and capture a fleeting moment or fading youth. My face won’t end up in oil and hanging in a museum, but my little photos of my little life make me feel significant and memorable for a few minutes here and there. And in a life full of minutia and beige and ordinary tasks, it’s not too much to ask.

 

I want to know what I look like when I am doing my best. And I shouldn’t have to pose with a friend or my kid or my dog to validate that desire. I am accomplishing things and I want the world to see it. I want to see it.

 

Want this moment to last? STOP. And post a selfie. Now. #iearnedthisselfie

 

For pics of my dogs, kids, omelets, my biceps and even my face, feel free to follow me (or just stalk me) on IG @mrskriswolfe

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Moments before I realized I had gotten carried away writing and forgot to get my kid from school. Ah. Life. #iearnedthisselfie

 

 

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Am I the only mother who…

 

Thinks of dropping off her kids 6 miles from the house––in a blizzard because they are fighting.

 

Always knows the cost of a flight to Mexico. Just in case I need a little “me” time.

 

Has all the good chocolate in the bathroom closet. Or the safe.

 

Sees a call from the school during a workout and finishes the work out. They’ll always call back.

 

Tells my child to stop touching me before I go bananas.

 

Wishes that the school didn’t send 15 notifications about snow days so they kids will just go to bed so I can go to bed and read about fictional lives.

 

Resents PowerSchool for constantly telling me “what’s up.”

 

Prays we don’t get in a wreck in the car circle because I am wearing a bathrobe and snow boots. And no actual clothes.

 

Tells my kid we are out of syrup so he will stop having Elf moments and leaving syrupy paw prints all over the kitchen.

 

Drinks an Angry Orchard in the bathroom for a mini vacay (that was just once so and it’s practically apple juice, so you know, stop judging me, lol.)

 

Does the Jacob’s ladder at the gym AFTER the workout because it’s more fun and relaxing than cleaning the house.

 

Counts my Easter Peeps before leaving the house and when I return (to keep an eye on my kids sugar intake of course.)

 

Has a thing called “snack dinner” (insert glitter cannon), which is propped up to sound like a carnival of epic proportions but it’s really just a smorgasbord of crap from the fridge with questionable remaining minutes of quality.

 

Being a good mom is really subjective you know. Some days are Mary Poppins days. Some days are Bloody Mary Days. Some are like a scene from The Shining. But some dang reason, our kids love us anyway. So bask in that for a minute. You are loved unconditionally. Weird isn’t it?

 

Like little mini Frankensteins, they were created to love us. Well not really. But it’s fun to imagine.

 

Keep crushing it mom. One day their counselor will enjoy the stories.

 

Stress is inevitable. Throughout the day you will have many opportunities presented to you in which to enjoy stress.

Have you ever noticed that some women seem to handle it more gracefully though? While some of us are losing our cool easily, crying at the drop of a hat, and getting irritated often, some women (and men) seem to be taking it in stride.

I have no doubt that these ladies break down too. I can just picture them in their pantry, Hulk-slamming a carton of Pop-tarts and punching a bag of marshmallows. We all have our days.

As a student of the world, I have been watching these wondrous creatures to see if I could observe a pattern of what makes them different from those of us who spazz out so easily, and here’s what I have observed:

  1. These goddesses of the world eat right-They might not be “skinny” but they are healthy looking. They are taking the time to make good food choices, drink water and even take vitamins. They are not putting their nutrition on the back burner. They do not take kindly to putting junk in their systems, and their lives show the fruits of their efforts: they have the energy and overall health to work out, play with their children and enjoy life. They have invested in themselves, and it is paying off in their quality of living. They don’t eat to simply survive, they are eating to create the life that they desire.
  2. These smart cookies take time for themselves–You can find these ladies taking time to read the Bible, go for a run, take yoga, lift weights, dance, create and even vacation. They are not ashamed of taking time to nurture their mental and physical health. And they don’t feel guilt ridden when they want to take a girls weekend or time away from their children. They seem to understand that even women need time to be fully human, not just a mom or a wife, but a woman with her own spirit to feed.
  3. These wise souls don’t take on the problems of others–While they are the first to listen and even pray with you, and probably among the first to lend a hand in your time of need, they are not absorbing or owning the problems of others. Their faith allows them to pray for you and with you and to be available to you without sacrificing their own health or well-being. They are genuinely empathetic without becoming engaged in the depth of despair around them because they realize their own limits and they are okay with them.
  4. These joyful creatures actively seek contentment–While they are not always dancing with joy, they are willing to accept certain circumstances without feeling hopeless. They are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and they can almost always see it. They realize that there is a time and a season for everything, even sadness, and they accept the lows in life with faith and hope. They are not bottling up their emotions, they just aren’t worshiping them because they are too busy worshiping God.

On a very good day, I am this woman. But most days I am a work in progress. These women aren’t perfect though, they have just learned to love themselves because they know that they can be more to this world and for their family if they will take efforts to reduce their stress, take care of their bodies and take time to pursue their passions.

I can’t be all things to all people. I can’t even be all things to one or two people. But I want to be useful and joyful congruently. I want to serve a purpose and I want to be content in doing it.

Whether I am driving the kids to school, walking the dogs, making lunch for my husband, or propping my feet up, I want to enjoy this moment for what it is, neither taking on stress or creating negativity. I want to be free, truly free to live the life God designed for me.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5.1)

But some days I have to remind myself of my limits, get out of my own way and just lean into Him and enjoy the ride.

Life is short. I want to enjoy it. If not now, when?

Hi there sweet girl,

 

I have named you hundreds of times over 30 years. It started when I was 11 and I would try out names for you in the back of my diary. I can’t remember them all but I can recall Meg and Emmie were tops for me in middle school. I am now 41 and I still have a list on my iPhone. I still read the credit of every single movie and show I watch and look out for names that will perfectly capture who I imagine you would be.

 

I already have two boys. They are crazy and cool and you would rock their world. They would probably treat you like an alien for a few months, but I suspect Kaden would shower you with love and Jackson would protect you with all his heart and soul. They would make you laugh and teach you about Star Wars, basketball and video games. They would take you for walks down to the creek, through the bamboo and up to the barn. They would read to you and steal your Halloween candy. It would be perfect.

 

When I found out that my second child was a boy, I cried for a minute. I had decided to only have two children, so I began to mourn the idea of having a daughter. Eventually I had an epiphany. I realized that in my 20s I wasn’t ready for you; I wouldn’t do you justice. I was hardly a tomboy, but I was kind of a sailor: dirty jokes, potty humor and bad decisions (no offense to sailors). If you had learned how to be a woman from me, you would be a lot of fun. You would make everyone laugh. You would love bad words. You could make men blush. And that’s pretty cool for a while. But cool isn’t enough.

 

If we had met in my 30s, you might be a little different depending on which “me” you met: the broken me or the “risen” me that was born after years of abusing myself and recreated after meeting God, learning to trust Him more than myself, and finding wholeness in Him. I gave up a lot of myself to find myself and my joy. You will see what I mean when you meet Him. He is worth changing everything for. It’s beyond description really.

 

The forty-something me is the best me I have ever known. I am nicer to the world, and I am so much kinder to myself. I have decided to stop trying to change certain parts of me. I apologize for the right reasons. I believe in my own mind. I love the strength of my body; I don’t use it to please others who don’t deserve its gift or the tiniest morsel of me. I find joy in the little stuff.

 

I have met the man I want to be your dad. He is so amazing, I didn’t even know if I wanted to share him with you. I enjoy being the center of his love, below God, but above cheeseburgers, which is a pretty sweet spot if you know him. He loves the boys so much, I am afraid the love he would have for you would break him but I know it would change him in all the right ways. It would multiply our love for each other. He would spoil you and cherish you and show you a reflection of God’s love that is generous beyond measure.

 

I am ready to meet you now. I think we would be a smashing team. We could split cheesecakes like my mom and I used to, we could cook together and go on the biggest adventures. I could help you be brave when you wanted to hide or stand in the shadows. I would take you to all the libraries in the world and you could imagine that you are the hero of every story. I would tell you that you are beautiful, and smart, and witty and compassionate and courageous. And I would mean it. And you would believe me because I would bathe you in the Truth and it would keep you safe in the strongest of storms.

 

I don’t know if we will ever meet, but you would be so loved. Even though we haven’t met, I know you will change the world. I might not have been ready for a daughter for a very long time but I am there now. I will teach you how to be really fun and respect yourself all at the same time. I will help you chase your own dreams. You will have the best brothers, the gentlest father and a wonderful family. You will know God and He will shine brightly on you. You will be you. And you will be surrounded by unconditional love.

 

Even though you don’t have a name yet, do not fear, I have one or two in mind. If God introduces us, we will figure out the details. I will learn to live on less sleep. You will be instantly okay with a mom with thinning eyebrows because you won’t know any better 😉 Life won’t be perfect, but it’ll be worth it and I will help you navigate it, and try to step back when you don’t want my help, when you need to find yourself and reconnect with God.

 

If we never meet, it’s okay too. Just the thought of you has made me a better woman, and for that I thank you.

 

With all my love,

 

Mom

So I have thinking a little bit lately about what it means to be a good mom and a wife, and how my views have changed over the years.

 

My oldest is 15 and I was 25 when he was born. I had several notions of what kind of mom I would be, what kind of kid he would be, and what kind of life we would have. It looked a lot like the inside of a snow globe – perfect.

 

It’s New Year’s Eve, and even though this isn’t your typical New Year post, I am in a spirit of reflection and gratitude. This happens this time of year, especially because my birthday is 11 days away. These 11 days become introspective, and the older I get, the sweeter they are.

 

See, when I was younger, I wasn’t very kind to myself. I guess I had something to prove. I wanted to prove I was good: a good mom, a good wife, a good cook, a good housekeeper, a good decorator, and good everything. Being imperfect at anything wasn’t even an option. And sometimes what it took to be good cost me so much.

 

I went through a Martha Stewart phase. I tried to make gifts and my own wrapping paper, make baby food, breastfeed, send Christmas cards, turn the house into the mall scene from Elf, and attempt to have friends, a job, and be a good lover to my then husband.

 

But I wasn’t centered on God. I thought I was at times because I talked to him, especially when my marriage was an absolute wreck or when I wanted him to fix my life. But everything I did was centered on receiving approval from my kids, my husband, and from the world. I was window dressing, but I was failing.

 

I am not saying that if you put a lot of effort into any of these things, that you are insecure and desperate for approval. Many guys and women truly enjoy the things they do, but if you don’t, may I suggest you simply STOP?

 

For example, instead of making a fancy appetizer platter for you friend’s party you are attending tonight, run to Publix and get a pre-made party tray. You will be surprised at how no one cares. Cheese blocks cut into cubes or into roses still taste like cheese.

 

Here are a few more ways to be kind to yourself:

 

  • Teach your kids how to make their own breakfast or do their own laundry.
  • Eat out on holidays when you just want to skip the shopping, cooking and two hour clean up process, sore feet, and exhaustion.
  • Skip holiday cards. Well you are probably thinking, now you tell me? If you forgot to do them, who cares? I love getting them, but I get about three a year now because I don’t reciprocate, but weirdly I still have friends.
  • Let your house be a little messy. Ask the kids or hubby for help. Hire someone to help out once or twice a month. Stop looking at the pictures from Southern Living Magazine and trying to live up to that. They have a whole staff. You don’t.
  • Go easy on Pinterest y’all. It’s fun, but it’s like being in a library for me: it’s overwhelming because I know I can never read all those books, and I am probably never going to even complete one Pinterest project. It’s just not that important.
  • Stop comparing yourself to your friends. We are all struggling and comparison makes the crazy go ‘round. So your friend had the best maternity pics that made her look like the Virgin Mary glowing in the blue lagoon and you just keep taking pics in those same ratty sweatpants. Big deal. Rock those sweatpants.
  • Set realistic standards with your relationships. You can’t be everything to everyone so use your time in the car to check on the friends who really matter to you. Don’t over promise your time. Don’t be afraid to say NO THANK YOU to an invitation when you just aren’t up to it.
  • Stop setting so many goals. Pray about what you really need to work on for your health and spiritual wellness. Goals can seem very appealing on the front end, but you might be focusing on the wrong things with all these goals. One or two goals in a year are usually more than enough.
  • Ask yourself why? Why are you doing it? If it is out of guilt, obligation, fear of upsetting someone, desire for approval or advancement, just don’t even bother. You are wasting your precious energy. If you truly want to do it, GO FOR IT! Do it with reckless abandon, thanking God for the opportunity, but you still don’t have to be perfect. No one expects that of you, except maybe you.

 

Most importantly, take care of yourself. Nap if you need to, work out if you want to, eat chips in your closet if you feel like it. Protect your sanity and your health. It’s a must.

 

For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church (Eph. 5:29)

 

This verse relates to marriage, but let’s think about it. Can you be good in any relationship if you are not good to yourself?

 

I pray for you to be kind to yourself today, and everyday in the upcoming year. Be gentle and loving. Be patient and forgiving. Offer grace and unconditional love.

 

This is how to be a good mom and wife. Be a good to you.