Monday, May 15, 2017

Re-learning Reliance and Old Lady Backs

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I have an obsession with people who do their jobs well. 

I regularly monopolize entire dinner conversations talking about this. 

Last summer, I started taking barre3 classes pretty regularly. I quickly realized that Megan, the owner of the studio was one of these people. She graciously leads her classes with the perfect mix of encouragement and challenge. Every time I thought I thought to myself "oh this isn't too bad, I'm such a baller!" she would come move my arm or leg a quarter of an inch and suddenly I would be begging her with my eyes to make it stop while simultaneously feeling like I was getting the best workout of my life. 

Same with my newly loved physical therapist. I limp into her office once a week usually holding back tears from writhing back pain and within 30 minutes of her magic knuckles + stretches, I have a renewed obsession with how good she is at her job. And then I usually spend the rest of the day telling Mason about how she always knows exactly what to do and what is she anyway? Some kind of wizard? 

I always try to tell people when I think they're really good at their job because some people in this world really are NOT good at their job. (A certain employee at the Arkadelphia Walgreens with zero knowledge of the coupon policy comes to mind...) I've always thought that having the feeling of loving + owning your job must be the most rewarding thing ever. 

Last week I was sitting on a plane next to a Vietnamese man who was kindly making conversation with me in an effort to distract me from how claustrophobic my expanding belly and I were feeling in our 18 x18 inch box of cabin space. We chatted about how he and his friends wanted to take some time off work and go on a vacation and then he asked me the million dollar question. 

What do I want to do? You know? After I'm done staying home with the babies and stuff. 
(I don't know the answer to that question, by the way.) 

But really...I'm doing the job I want to do right now. I consider the SAHM life my job in this season and I don't want to look ahead and dream past it yet. Which brings these two trains of thought into the same station: I want to do this job well. 

So this is where things have recently gotten tricky for me. 

Today marks 31 weeks of gestating baby #3. At around week 25, I sat down on the couch one evening and starting having some contractions. On you know... every 5 minutes... over the course of a few hours. And then it happened again the next night. Oh, and my back felt like I'd been hit by a car or maybe a semi truck (not be dramatic). So I saw my OB (who is also REALLY good at her job, just FYI), and she told me to chill out on my life and cut out extra things. No unnecessary lifting, no exercising, no bathing the kids, basically she said get through your day as calmly as possible and when your husband gets home let him take over.

Well. This sit on the couch and tell your husband what needs to happen life might sound fun to some but I. HATE. IT. I don't want to be limited. I want to feel like I am pulling my weight and honestly, I want to go above and beyond and earn some kind of MVP award on this family team. I want to be good at my job. 

I probably don't even need to say this because I know most of the people who read this blog know my husband, but in case you don't... you should know that he is literally superdad. He can single handedly run this thing without my input. He dresses the kids in cute clothes and fixes their hair and takes them for donuts and he's just one of those people who seems to effortlessly do everything well. And he vacuums. So. 

So for the first few weeks after the stern face warning from my OB who scared me into submission, I sat on the couch. I watched him cook and clean dinner, bathe the kids, and take them outside to release the pent up energy of sitting inside with mommy lame-o all day. (I moved my buttprint from the couch to a lawnchair for observation.) I hated it. I mean, I loved and appreciated him but I was so annoyed because he was "doing my work." 

So you're probably seeing the pride issue here weeks before I did. 

A few weeks before all of this, I was feeling GOOD. I was over the hump of morning sickness and was feeling like I was doing this thing WELL. My kids were both in good swings of sleeping and eating (huge accomplishments in our home), and we were going on daily adventures. I was meal planning. I was just going to stroll through the rest of the pregnancy like one of those fake internet mamas with no cares in the world. 

And then before I knew it I found myself out of barre and into a group of automatic wheel chair clad old ladies sitting in a waiting room with a standing weekly appointment for PT. 

How just like the Lord to remind us of our humanity when we get a little too self-reliant. 

It's ironic to me how I - and we, as a human race- have to keep learning the same lessons over and over, just within the frame of a different set of circumstances. 

Being a "good mom" is not something we can earn by checking off a self imposed list of boxes any more than being a "good Christian" is. We can check off all of the good deeds on the Christian card and still be separated from our Creator. We can't earn our way to the top in the hierarchy of heaven. Life is not a point system. We know this. And we've got to let that go. 

I realize a lot of people aren't moms to toddlers and haven't been hit with the mommy wars of the internet comparison yet. However, I think this thread can be traced back through every season. 

We want so badly to be self reliant and earn a status that doesn't exist while forgetting the free gift we've been given at the foot of the cross where we all begin as equals with nothing to offer.  

So yeah, I do really want to do the job of motherhood well. But I also don't want to lose sight of what that means. It doesn't mean that we don't watch more tv in this season. It doesn't mean that we don't eat frozen pizza. It doesn't mean that sometimes its beautiful outside and I know we should be doing some sunshiney pinterest activity but my old lady back can't take were staying in. 

My sisters- be encouraged that there is no earning. 

We accept grace. 

We look up and remind ourselves that our strength comes from above, whether our floors are clean or not. 

We don't compare ourselves to one another, and we accept the help of our sweet husbands even if they load the dishwasher differently than we do. 

We model reliance on the Father and work hard out of the knowledge that our status before him doesn't shift up and down a sliding scale of how good we are. 

This is how we do our jobs well.  

I hope the Lord doesn't have to allow your back to blow out on this one. 

In case you're curious, here is a photo of my jacked back, taken 12 years ago.
Yes. Those are titanium bars and screws. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why Are Moms So Whiny?

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I just read an article that had been posted on a very popular mommy blog about how unhappy moms are. The author cited lots of sources explaining how the majority of stay at home moms feel clouds of depression creep in pretty often while going through the motions of the day to day repetitive work of sippy cups and diapers.

Maybe “depression” isn’t the right word. I studied Psychology in college and my understanding of depression is an actual diagnosable mental disorder that needs medical attention in the form of therapy and or drugs to help more “happy” neurons fire up in the brain. Obviously I took very scientific notes in neuropsychology.

So, no. I wouldn’t say that me and all my SAHM friends of the world are suffering from an actual depression.

I want to stop and REINFORCE that I DO think that actual depression is a very real thing that needs to be taken very seriously. I DO know a lot of moms especially that suffer from postpartum depression after bringing new life into the world and I along with everyone else applaud the way that these ladies fight to overcome it.

But. I’m not depressed. A lot of my friends aren’t depressed. A lot of the mommy bloggers aren’t depressed. It seems like maybe from the outside looking in that there are just a lot of whiny moms out there. ARE we whiny? I mean. We all have our moments. But why? When someone comments about our children is our immediate reaction to reiterate what a BLESSING they are in our lives or to tell our latest “you wouldn’t believe the actual hell that I live in with these tiny people” story? I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve been mulling this over.
Why are we whiny?

That article I was reading said that maybe we just need some more recognition. We need our husbands to come home and break out into a song.

 The floors look grand!
  I can tell you swept!
 The children are clean!
 And so well kept!
 Your sweatpant shorts look so nice!
 That greasy hair looks so good with your eyes!
  Go on to Target! Spend all of our money!
   I love everything you do, my beautiful honey!

But seriously, any of my male readers… that Target part is not satire.

Obviously we don’t really need a compliment on our sweatshorts. (I hope I’m not alone in rocking these babies several times a week…) But it would be nice to know that someone really did know how hard we’d worked all day.

To have the most disgusting parts of our day acknowledged and applauded.

To know that someone knew EXACTLY how many dishes we’d done and loads of laundry we’d folded.

To just KNOW that SOMEONE KNOWS how many times we’d chosen to silently die to ourselves from the time our feet hit the floor.

I think we get whiny when we forget that someone DOES know.

            Someone who has clearly taught us that in His Kingdom, the grossest, most mundane jobs are those that are the most highly rewarded. Someone who teaches us over and over that when we seek prominent positions and public pats on the back but forsake caring for our “least” we will be punished (Mark 12:38-40).

            By the way, all of us good Bible belters should remember from our VBS days that children are dearly loved by this Someone. They are treated like treasures by our Savior himself. It is our privilege to care for the people that Jesus pulled in close.

            These are good reminders but what about real life?

            My daughter has had the stomach bug this week and I UNDERSTAND the inward tug to DUMP a list on my husband when he walks in the door of everything noteworthy I’ve accomplished. I have no co-workers and yes the Holy Spirit indwells but I’m not getting a lot of verbal feedback during the day.

Sisters. Let’s reel it in a little. Our husbands cannot bear the burden of fulfilling our self worth. Yes, it is nice to be recognized and encouraged, but lets make sure that we aren’t expecting them to say enough flowery things at 5:01 PM to fill a void that will be empty by this time tomorrow. What if WE (note: I am saying ‘WE’ as in… me included) started with some recognition of our men?

Hey. Thank you for working so hard to provide for our family.


I know that you have a lot on our plate at work, and I know you’re doing this all for us. We appreciate you.


            OBVIOUSLY this work ain’t easy. Nothing about life is supposed to be easy. It’s exhausting. Which is another reason why we need to stay connected to our source of life. A wise old friend recently told me that she just likes to check in on new moms and make sure they’re “reading their Bible and not pissing their life away.” Insert that emoji with the laughing tears.

            Staying connected can look different in different seasons. Sometimes it’s a quick verse on a bathroom break. (Am I talking a lot about the bathroom today?) Sometimes it’s just leaving our Bible open on the kitchen counter and rereading the same verse multiple times a day as we walk by. We need intentional time with other moms to decompress (not whine… but WINE… you know what I’m saying?). We desperately need to remember that we ARE seen and that our work has ETERNAL significant value.


            I like to daydream about what my kids might become. Or who they might influence in even a small way that might in turn win souls for the eternal Kingdom. What if my faithfulness in being present and intentional with them today (even when I’d rather check out on social media) could lead to something incredible down the road?

What if my repeating that verse just one more time to my three year old daughter was enough to make it stick? And then what if she recited it one day down the road to someone who REALLY needed to hear it?

What if my son grew up to be a man of such character that people were just DRAWN to him? And then what if he used that opportunity to open his mouth and share good news to a confused world?

Our labor is so messy but so significant. Lord help us to find joy in our effort.