Mom, I saw your heart.

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Four months into holy matrimony I was over it. I picked up the phone and called you because my husband and I had just had an argument and I was ready to throw the towel in. Adjusting to marriage was tough. You and I were on the phone and I bawled while panicking and asking “what am I going to do when you’re gone? How am I going to get through this without you?” And you told me “you will, you will get through it. Hopefully I’m not leaving you anytime soon, but if I do, know that you will get through it because you know how to pray and prayer changes things. You WILL make it!”

FB_IMG_1430714901402Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mother. Such comforting names in the midst of a storm. Just saying the name seems to make you feel like everything will be alright and they show up when you need them. I need you mom. I need you every day. I need to know that I’m doing a good job. I need to know that you’re proud of me and honestly, I just want you. Your presence alone made me feel comforted. You were my safe place. People often commented about how close we were and it was true. We had many of hard days in my early years, but we had very good, solid days too. I knew things about you that no one in the world knew. The things you found disgusting, the things you privately enjoyed. You had a bluntness with me on EVERY subject that few others, if any, got to experience. We held each others secrets even when we didn’t recognize them as such because we were just being us, doing what we did in our sweet bubble. It was good. It was safe. It was love.

A little more than a year after our phone conversation you lay in your death bed not speaking, eyes closed. I wondered if you were just resting or if you were all drugged up on painkillers that day. You were in a lot of pain then. Thinking that it was definitely the latter I sat beside your bed with my belly full of baby and I cried. I cried a weary cry. I was exhausted. I was scared. I was trying to wrap my brain around what was happening while also trying to “live in the moment”. I didn’t want to miss a minute of you, but it became so hard to come see you emotionally, and quite frankly, physically. For a moment you opened your eyes and said “what’s wrong?” I told you that I just wanted you to make it until my baby was born and in typical you fashion you stated that we would just have to pray and ask God for that to happen. And he heard our prayers because you held on until a week after Johanna was born. You did it and I know in my heart you held on for me. Even in your last days you thought of me. God bless you for being so stubborn. But that’s what we did for one another. We had each others backs. I was your baby and you were mine.

20150504_095527-1As adults we looked out for one another as best friends do. Like that time we took our annual trip to the Ritz Carlton to celebrate our birthdays and I walked into the lobby to see you with the saddest look on your face. I asked you what was wrong and you told me that they wouldn’t serve you in the hotel restaurant because it was close to closing time. Well, I wasn’t having that, obvi. Nobody puts my mama in the corner. After speaking to the manager and explaining to him that not only would he bring you food, but that he would have exactly what you wanted delivered to the room since they couldn’t be bothered to seat you, you gave me a big ole proud smile and nod of approval. I could hear you thinking “that’s my girl”. And I was. As adulthood had me navigating through the difficulties of our relationship from my childhood and coming to terms with what was in the past while embracing the present, my respect for you blossomed and for a few short years, I saw you. Not as a mom, but as a woman. I saw you. I saw your heart. I saw your unspoken hurts. I saw the scars of the wars that you fought, some I knew about, but others you kept close to your chest. I didn’t need to know the details because I’ve never been a particularly nosy person, but I did pray for you. I wished you happiness and joy. I wished you the peace of God in every area of your life.

Now as a mom I wish I could say to you that I get it. Being a mom is hard. So hard. While I break my neck trying to avoid some of the mistakes you made, I end up making brand spanking new ones. Then I get scared. I don’t want to screw this up. I don’t want to screw Johanna up. I often look back on a troublesome interaction between her and me and wonder if that one thing I did or didn’t do will be the thing that sends her to therapy in 20 years. I want to pick up the phone and ask you if you think I did the right thing, but you won’t answer. You can’t, I know. So I give it to God because he can answer, and he can guide me, and that’s what you taught me to do anyway. Lean on Jesus and not my own understanding. I’m doing it mom. I’m doing it. He is my rock and it’s because you introduced me to him and his love. You drowned me in lots of expensive, awesome gifts in our time together, but that gift of the knowledge of Christ is priceless. Thank you.

I want so badly for you to be proud of me. I asked you once if you thought I would be a good mother. After thinking for a few seconds you said “yeah, yes I do. I think you will be a really good mother.” Thank you for that vote of confidence in me. You have no idea how those words carry me through a rough homeschooling day or one of Johanna’s fournager tantrums.

Thank you for the friendship. Thank you for the lessons. Thank you for being the kind of woman and mother that deserves to be missed. I was blessed to be born to you. I only pray that Johanna could say the same someday. Oh, and hey, mom, look at hubby and I. We’re all making it and stuff. Prayer does indeed work.

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Dear Moms, I support you!

Over the course of the last couple of weeks I have noticed a trend. Women, judging other women, especially mothers. I know that’s nothing new, but once I became a mom and realized how tough it really can be, it opened my eyes and gave me a whole other respect for women and what we go through every day. The toddler years with Johanna taught me that everything isn’t always what it seems.

One day when Johanna was in daycare she developed a cold. She was really developing a fever so they called me to come and get her. She looked a mess. She loved to play hard and when she played hard her hair would come out of whatever style I had it in and wind up looking truly unruly like she wasn’t loved at home. I thank God for one of the teachers at the daycare, Miss Kristina. She would put Johanna’s hair back together again at the end of the day before I picked her up. However this particular day Miss Kristina was not there. I walked in and Johanna had dried snot on her face, crazy toddler hair, and droopy sick eyes. My poor baby! I cleaned her up as best I could, but there really was nothing I could do to her hair until we made it home. So I grabbed her some juice and left. What happened next was my aha moment.

2015-04-08 15.02.36Johanna’s nose would not stop running! It seemed like the moment I had her blow and wiped it, it started right back up again. As I hopped on the train and looked for a seat that had enough room for me to park her stroller, I looked over to a nasty stare by a woman sitting in the seat across from us. She looked from Johanna to me and then shook her head. I looked at JoJo and there she was again with her waterfall snot and hair looking shoddy. I wanted to tell that woman wait! You have no idea. I’ve wiped her nose a million times and I promise you she didn’t look homeless before we left the house. She was well put together, but you know, she’s almost 2 and she loves to play hard, so her hair just doesn’t survive some days. For a moment I felt like a horrible mother. I felt so bad that Johanna was being judged because I couldn’t keep her looking put together and I was being judged too. Then I realized that yeah, no, that lady would not make me doubt myself as a mother. I actually do a pretty kick arse job and stuff happens. I’m a good mother, but I can’t control everything!

Later that night as I was laying with Johanna trying to get her to sleep, I thought about all of the times that I had made that exact same judgement on moms prior to having kids. Gosh I was harsh! I judged them on so much. My kids would never have snotty noses. What kind of mother lets that happen? I would never answer one of their why questions with “because I said so!” My daughter’s hair would always be super neat even without putting her hair in braids, and she would always be dressed to the nines. Wellll…as I type this Johanna is wearing play clothes and the pants have holes in the knees, and her braids look mighty nice today I must say. So much for that.

I say all of that because I want moms to know that I’m sorry that I ever judged any of them. I’m sorry if I ever shot any of them a dirty look because of my perception of what was going on with their kid. I write this to tell other women, moms or not, stop it. Stop judging other women when you know how hard it is to be a woman and a mother. Motherhood is tiring. It’s beautiful, but it definitely comes with its challenges. Trust me, we already put enough pressure on ourselves to be the perfect mother, we don’t need anyone else’s pressure added to it. We learn that we have to pick our battles and sometimes that means that our kids’ hair is going to look really crazy leaving from daycare. Sometimes when the day is really stressful it means that we are going to let our child’s kindle babysit them for an hour or two because we need the break. We are human, we do the best that we can, and if you see us slipping, perhaps you should offer a hug and some help instead of judging. And if we refuse your help, that’s ok too. The offer, if it comes sincerely from the heart, is much appreciated, but we’ve got this. Just don’t judge us without knowing the full story.

Mothers, I love you. I support you. If you are a mother that truly loves your children and give your family 100%, I adore you. It’s hard. It’s very rewarding, but it can be tough. We second guess ourselves and beat ourselves up. We are afraid of ruining our kids’ lives, not giving them enough opportunities, not noticing their talents early enough, or catching any learning issues before it’s too late. We want to make sure they have the perfect birthday party, the right influences, look well put together, and can compete in this world. We have so many balls in the air that I have no idea how they don’t all come crashing down on us. We’re pretty amazing human beings! Remember that the next time someone turns their nose up at you because your kid is screaming their head off in the middle of the mall. Let them judge as you handle your child the best way you see fit. They’ll get over it and you should too.

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