My Sticky Lovely Life

You know those days where you turn around and take a look at where you’ve been and realize that in spite of all your flaws that you’re coming along nicely?  Yesterday was one of “those days” for me.

A Flashback: On my 25th birthday I behaved like an absolute brat.  I thought that the day should revolve around me and when my husband asked me to spend part of my day running errands for his youth pastor job I flipped out.

“You want me to return bottles, on my birthday?  I thought today was supposed to be about what I WANTED to do, not about your youth group pop cans.”  Then I spent the rest of the afternoon being crabby and rude.

innocent looking, ye self centered 25 year old Leanne and poor poor patient Kel

I know… shameful, I’d like to go back in time and smack that girl.

Motherhood has changed a lot of things about me, I now kill most smallish bugs on my own without fear.  I couldn’t sleep in to save my life and I drive a mini-van and I like it.  I’ve also developed a tragic addiction to sports bras and yoga pants but I try very hard to keep that behind closed doors.

I now spend most of my day doing things and thinking thoughts that revolve around others.  With a husband and two little ones to love it’s not really an option to make Mother’s Day, my Birthday or any other day “all about me.”

I actually have more of the opposite problem and yesterday as I lay in bed listening to the squealing and clattering of Kel and the kids making breakfast I had to force made my muscles to relax.  “The world will go on without my intervention, yes even in the morning.

I finally rolled out of bed at the shamefully late hour of 7:40… (we get up early here)

My Mother’s Day was breezy and relatively fuss-free.  The most complicated part of the whole day were the blackberry waffles Kel made me in the morning.  There were no linens or fresh flowers on the table.  But there were kids screaming for more syrup and steeling my bacon and you know what?  It was just right, I breathed in the chaos with thankfulness.  This is my life, these are the people celebrating my motherhood and this is how they do it, and I love them, so I love this.

Was it the mother’s day I imagined pre-kids?  Oh heck no, but it was everything I never knew I always wanted, china white plates next to sippy cups, my life always intertwining with theirs.

lemon blackberry sauce, my favorite waffle topping. Yes, you can have the recipe, you want it, believe me.

That! I want that! I don’t want waffles but I insist you let me drink all the syrup!

We had fresco tacos (takeout) for lunch and Chinese chicken broccoli with friends for dinner (takeout again!).  We know better than to tempt fate with a 1 & 2 yr old in a busy restaurant on Mother’s day.

Because my husband is in a crazy busy season, I was the one who did all the dishes and the mopping complete with 3 loads of laundry after bedtime.  Not once did my inner diva come out to play and demand to know why she was the dish doer and laundress on a day centered around mothers.  My heart for my family is getting in line with God’s constant call to forget about myself.

Motherhood has made the phrase “die to yourself” come alive in the form of a brown eyed girl and a blue eyed boy who have taken my life by storm.

Every morning when I wake up and lists for the day, the things I’d like to do don’t make top ten.  I’d like to do some cleaning and organizing, maybe a bit of writing and reading during a long afternoon nap time.  Instead my list involves folding little shirts and dishing out apple sauce, warming milk in the microwave and changing over a dozen diapers.  We go to the library and the park, the splash pad and the WalMart, when they’re healthy happy my world is at peace.

For a long time each morning I would scream inwardly: “Doesn’t anyone care what I want today?!”  I used to DO things and GO places!  I used to THINK thoughts and FINISH sentences!

I lived in a state of stress and frustration when I allowed those thoughts to dominate my brain space.

What I’ve learned about loving well, especially loving young children, is that you have to approach things with a “What’s the best thing for those I love” mindset.  That doesn’t look anything like the life I used to live.  But, as I learn to die to myself, the happiness I derive from setting my kids up for a great day brings me deep satisfaction and joy.

Many a mother’s prayer looks something like this:  God please keep me patient and sane today, help me to respond with grace and love when I want to scream.  Give me eyes to see the moments where I can show them your hand in our world.  Fill my mouth with words that will indicate the trust I have in you so they believe deeply that they are  fully alive in their Father’s world.  When I start to feel selfish, redirect my heart with your gentle teaching… and if they could nap for at least two hours at the same time that would be the icing on the cake.  Amen.  

Mother’s Day at the Penny Casa, 2012

Motherhood has rocked me and changed me, disassembled me and put me back together a different, stronger woman and I find myself thankful for this rebuilding.

Gifts for my Mom- 26 happy thoughts

This morning both of my lovely children rolled out of their beds around 5:50 am.  They actually lined up patiently next to each other and let me change their diapers assembly line style, which is a gift in the wee morning hours.

As I kissed on my daughter’s tummy I marveled at the fact that her birthday is a week out, she’s going to be three.  We plan on making her birthday celebration a week long event and my mind immediately starting singing my Mother’s “Almost a Birthday Girl” song, which she sang to us without fail when our birthdays were coming up.

It’s Mother’s Day this weekend and there are a lot of beautiful posts out there that have spoken to my heart on celebrating Mother’s day differently, IE without a mom.  So I’m not going to write that today.

I know that most of the time I share the heartache and grief associated with being the daughter of a mentally ill mama.  However that isn’t the whole story, not by a long shot, under the crust of pain there are thousands of lovely memories and lately I’ve been digging for them.

I don’t delve too deep into the theology of heaven and it surprises even me how little I think about it.  But somewhere inside of myself I feel like my parents are tuning in, I can’t define it or explain it and I am fully willing to admit that this belief may be all about meeting my needs, but either way I don’t see the harm.

I fully that my mom is whole and restored in heaven with God and that she doesn’t feel pain or sadness.  Which means that my worry that she feels misrepresented by me on earth is ill founded.  She’s at peace, yet still I feel compelled to honor her this weekend by sharing all the ways she succeeded and the moments where the beautiful person underneath the depression shone through.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, this weekend I will shout to the world all the things you did right, the acts that penetrated through your depression and changed the way I do motherhood.

my lovely mom

1)  You couldn’t wait to be a mom, you even tried to convince Dad to start getting you mother’s day gifts before you were pregnant.

2) You read me whatever book I thrust into your hands and this is likely what inspired my love for reading and words.

3) You grew the most beautiful geraniums in the back yard and often cut them into bouquets to share with friends.

4) You would often gather all three of us to the kitchen rug to share slices of cheese or a  carton of yogurt as we sat around you eagerly awaiting our turn like baby birds with open  mouths.

5) Every winter you would bring me fresh, warm bran muffins as I sat on the heating register “Sucking up all the heat” as Dad would say.

6) You made our halloween costumes, even if we were hobos in overalls for five years straight.

7) You drove me the 40 miles round trip to Children’s Bible Hour Choir every week without fail or complaint.

8) You took on a waitressing job to keep us in Christian School, because you believed it was the best thing for us and you were willing to deliver coffee and burgers to crabby dutch people to make it happen.

9) You made sure I made it to every orthodontist appointment for the SEVEN. YEARS I had braces on my crazy teeth.

10) When I didn’t want cake for my birthday you put candles in a coconut cream pie.

11) You let me sing to you and took me all the way to Toronto to see the Phantom of the Opera when it was my total obsession in middle school.

12) In High school when the girls were too mean, you picked me up crying from the office and took me on what you called “An Emotional Day Off.”

13) You did my toe nails for prom because I was too worried that I would mess up my manicure.

14) You always spent your work bonuses on your kids and one year bought us all all electric blankets because you worried we were too cold in the basement.

15) You were my biggest fan and my best cheerleader, you told me this often.

16) You made hundreds of meatballs by hand and without complaint for my graduation party.

17)  You and Dad moved me into my first apartment when I was too busy working three jobs to do it myself.

18) You weren’t weirded out at all when I met an Oklahoma boy on the internet.

19) You tried really hard to sing Lady Gaga.

20) You loved being a grandmother and I think it kept you going for a while in the end.

21)  You would spent whatever extra money you had to fly Noelle and I home for a visit because you said it kept you sane, even though we usually ended up fighting.

22) When Money was tight you sent checks to make sure I could afford co-pays to take myself to the doctor.

23) You taught me to kiss my babies, right on the lips.

24) The way you played “Little Mousey” when you tickled Noelle, she still remembers it somehow.

25) You never stopped telling me how proud you were of me as a Mom, almost daily

26) You had your estate set up so well that it was easy to take care of and you paid for my college in the end.

I love you mom and I miss all that you were and I ache for all that we didn’t get to share.

So Hi reader,  I know that this post might make you sad but please know that it’s one of the most healing things I have done in a while, so intently bright and positive for my heart.

It’s so easy to criticize our moms, especially before we find ourselves on the motherhood journey.

I encourage all of us as much as we are able to take our focus off what our Mother’s didn’t do right and make a list like this because no mother gets it perfect.

Let’s all view this mother’s day in the light of grace and do as much as we can to honor the women who gave and sustained our lives.

I’d love to read a few things from your life, and if you knew my Mom and want to add to my list, I’d love that too.