December 19, 2014

Gray Matters

This week, rumors of an impending local protest have restarted the barely paused conversations of the Ferguson trial and all that surrounds it. Hash tags came back in full force pitting #alllivesmatter against #blacklivesmatter.  As arguments brewed on news forums and social media, I sat on my bed and in an instant,watched socially correct fall away and hate arise. Though I desperately want our city to be a changed place and our society racially friendly, when issues like this surface the facades fall away. 

I am certainly someone who feels ALL the feelings… and it is a temptation to jump on a side of an argument and FIGHT! In my earlier years, I’d be willing to go on a warpath, leaving bodies in my wake strictly to make a point.  But, now I have a different lens. 

My family isn’t “white” anymore.  And we aren’t “black” either.  We are both.  I’ve been given a gift of entering sacred ground where I can see a bit of both sides. Not just from a racial stand point, but in all areas of my life.

And I’ve learned that it’s in the gray where things change.

In life, there are times where we feel so passionate about an issue, that we would do anything to see change.  I know.  I’ve been there.  And although my friends and family didn’t necessarily understand or even agree with the issue, they loved me and therefore supported my cause. 

It’s sort of like when your boyfriend played a sport in high school. You didn’t give a rip about soccer or sports or all the athletic-y stuff, but that boy had your heart.  So, you never missed a game.  Were you a soccer fan? No. You were a boyfriend fan. 

I’m learning we can either support issues or people. Some issues may never change while we are here on earth.  But people… our PEOPLE are all we have. We belong to each other.  So, if someone I love needs to take a stand for something I don’t understand? That’s ok. I will stand too. Maybe I don't even agree with them. That's ok too. Because I know that some day soon it will be my turn, and when I look back, I’ll need them behind me saying "I'm with her. Her voice matters." I'll need them to believe in me, in spite of their beliefs.

I learned a new word this week.  It’s called the Mandorla.  This is an ancient symbol of two circles coming together, overlapping one another to form an almond shape in the middle.  It symbolizes the interactions of opposing worlds and forces. To step into the Mandorla is to move beyond "either-or" thinking - even beyond ideas of common ground or compromise - and stand in the tension of opposites long enough for something new to emerge.

I just keep thinking about what a difference we could make if we were brave enough to step away from our “side” and towards the middle. What if we let go of a stand, and held on to our neighbor? Even when it didn't make sense?  What if we let down our guard, surrendered our right to be “right” and boldly waited in the middle.  I don't think we'd be alone for long. I'll bet we’d look across and see others slowly walking toward us….entering the middle circle, willing to believe in change. Willing to believe in gray.

December 10, 2014

my kid doesn't have to be good for santa

I was finishing up therapy the other day and went to check out. Ok, fine.  I was at Target. But, I’m pretty sure even my therapist would tell you this is a recommended course of treatment when used correctly.

Mills was with me, and the lady helping us said to him, “Santa is WATCHING YOU, you know… you’d better be a GOOD BOY! Mama, is he being GOOD?”

I started sweating. For the first time, my child- my baby- was being launched into to the goodenough gauntlet.

“Well of course he is! But what a ridiculous question!” I sputtered. “He is Mills! And he has been exactly who he is supposed to be every day of his life! You should really stop leaning over the children and asking them the scary things!”

Both Mills and Miss Target were giving me the “you’re so crazy” face, so I wheeled out and shoved all of us into my car.

What are we doing? Far sooner than we’d like to admit, our children pick up the monologue some may never be able to shake…
-am I good?
-am I good enough?
-do I deserve goodness in my life?
-do I deserve punishment?
-do I measure up?
-... and on and on and on.  If you are anything like me, I am still trying to untangle all those thoughts and put some better ones in my brain.

Am I going to speak an identity over my child of good vs bad that may be a temporary fix for behavior but could lead to lasting shame?  Am I going to lead him to believe that God, also, is watching and judging him… making a list and holding record of his wrongs? AND let random Target ladies in on the torture? NO WAY.

I looked back at my little wide-eyed-feisty-headstrong-loving-rowdy-rough and tumble-sensitive-spirited-beautiful boy and said this:

Your Papa and I are so proud of you.  Today, right now, after you threw your cookie at me and tried to spit in my diet coke, I love you more than I ever have.  I want you to grow up and be kind and brave and responsible and all the things.  But I want you to know above it all, YOU ARE ENOUGH!  Right there in your car seat, you are enough.  In the trenches of your middle school years, you are enough.  In the highs and the lows, your behavior will never merit our acceptance of you.  We are delighted in you.  Ok?”

He got really still and nodded.  And then he threw the rest of his cookie at me.

So many times I need Matt to remind me that I AM ENOUGH too!

author's note: mamas... you know that my heart is YOU! the above statement reflects me alone.  if you need santa to get you through the holidays, you better believe I will dress up like the angry elf MYSELF and come get those babies in line for you!  it's all about making it through the day.  we are in this together!

November 17, 2014

what i learned from my two year old today

Every Monday morning I’m in a state of shock.  I’m shocked that I have to wake up.  Shocked that I have to get out of bed. I’m offended that I have to function at any hour that doesn’t end in pm and it’s alarming that I am expected to take care of another human. Since Matt continues to deny my requests to stay home and help me, I’m forced to stumble around and figure everything out on my own.

Today was cold and rainy and I woke up feverish and that was extra shocking for me.  Mabel tracked mud on my new white rug and that was especially offensive to me.  Mills and I had a rough go at it right from the start.  He was “fixing my hair” with strawberry jelly while I was “pretending” to take a nap.  He kept switching out his Elmo phone for my iphone and hiding mine in the refrigerator.

While trying to get ready, he simply would not accept that he couldn’t brush his teeth with syrup.  Exasperated I said, “Ugh, Mills! Just because!”

And then.  He looked at me with those enormous liquidy brown eyes and said, “Can you just be patient at me, Mama?”


“Can you just be patient at me?”

How many times do I want to say that to people in my life?  Can you just be patient at me when I forget to cook dinner? All week? Can you just be patient at me when I don’t call you back over and over and over? When I cut you off in traffic because “Shake it Off” comes on and I start dancing? When I slip back into my old unhealthy habits and it’s really hard to love me?  When I isolate for so long that it seems like I’ve abandoned you? When I forget to remember that God is good? Maybe you can just be patient at me.

Today I’m being patient at people.  And tonight we are brushing our teeth with syrup.

November 4, 2014

train up a child

Dear Matt,

When we decided that Mills wouldn't watch TV until he turned two... We knew EVERYTHING about being parents, didn't we?? And, boy! Having a toddler that wouldn't watch a television show in the dead of winter (because he'd never been exposed to one) was so awesome, wasn't it?

I wouldn't change anything, except the not watching TV part. And I'm glad that you're now introducing him to "the classics" or whatever it is you're calling this list you've compiled. 

BUT, if I have to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang one more time, you and I are going to have a problem. It may not be rotting his brain, but it is rotting mine! I couldn't worship at church on Sunday because the tune and lyrics of "TOOT SWEETS" are burned so deeply into my soul. 

Let's move on to another classic. My turn. I pick Scandal. 


October 22, 2014

airing my dirty laundry

I know I’ve been away from blogging for a while. It’s because I’ve been REALLY busy having it all together. That’s just the way I do life. I’m calm, I’m organized, I never let our clothes mildew in the washer. I certainly don't let my child eat string cheese for three days in a row before I realize the pack is rotten. In a word, I’m “together”.

This summer we switched Mills to a new school. I’m not going to lie. It’s fancy. When I went to pre-school, they scattered a bag of stale animal crackers on a table, turned on Care Bears, locked us all in a room, and it was kill or be killed. Toddlerhood is all about survival.

You can imagine our shock when, after touring Mills’ new school, we learned that he would be participating in yoga, science classes from a local museum, and eating meals prepared by a nutritionist.  Let’s be honest, as much as this looks exactly like our life at home (except not at all)… I had some concerns that Mills might run away from home. To his new school.

Part of my “together”-ness includes waking up before dawn every day, cooking a hot breakfast from scratch and (especially this!!!) getting completely ready for the day care drop off. Hair, make-up, heels… the whole nine.

Just a few weeks after we’d switched to the new school, I had an off morning. In 7 minutes' time, I was able to wake up the baby, feed him a pop tart (Which clearly just appeared in my pantry! Only organic non-processed food for us.), make his sippy cup of milk, shove him into something not-pajamas, pack his bag, find his shoes and herd him in the general direction of the front door. That left 45 seconds for me.  I grabbed some dirty yoga pants from my bathroom floor, threw on a sweatshirt over my tank top, pulled on my obligatory huge sunglasses and we made a run for it!  (It almost sounds like I’m really good at this. Like I do it every day or something.)

I wasn’t exactly sure about the carpool protocol so I got out, walked around to Mills and carried him to the enormous full-window front of his school. I smiled and nodded at other moms on my way out, hoping they'd notice my friendly self rather than my disheveled state. As I headed home, I made a mental note to never have an “off” day again.  The mamas at this school were of the "beautiful people" variety, and I had embarrassed myself a bit.

Once home, I called my friend Betty in Chicago.  It wasn’t until I plopped down on my couch and propped up my leg that I noticed an awkward bulge.

“Oh no.  Oh, please no. Nononononono NOOOOOOO!” I moaned.
"Ugh! What is the matter with you??” Betty sighed.  I'd obviously woken her up.
“I can’t even talk about it.  I’ll send you a picture.  Mills can’t go back to that school, though. EVER!”
“Huh? I thought you loved that place??” She barely got her words out before I'd hung up on her.

Lodged above the knee of my dirty yoga pants?  A crumpled up pair of dirty underwear.

I, quite literally, had on some fancy pants!

How did anyone keep a straight face that day?? Can you imagine how proud these people must be to have added us to their prestigious institution?  It’s a wonder they haven’t offered to pay our tuition yet.  Or better yet tried to hire me to work with these beautiful young minds.  Me, and my together self.  Stay tuned.  It’s only a matter of time.

July 27, 2014

all choked up

This Sunday at church, we had a guest speaker preaching.  You may not know much about the south, but you know we live, breathe, die, and make idiots of ourselves over college football.  This preacher is a LEGEND in the football world.  A legend, people.  We are talking, works with national champions, IS a national champion, wears all the rings,  ALL OF THESE THINGS, HERO! (I mean, if I knew sports, I feel I could articulate this better.  He’s famous.  A really big deal.) AND, he brought all of his award-winning, sport playing, ring wearing family members and their beautiful wives WITH HIM.

Ok.  You get it. 

I was so in awe of his message today and overcome by this family.  They, like us, are an interracial family.  But they have generations among them and I was so drawn to the legacy they have created. We are just starting out.  They have paved the way with strength and honor and grace.  This is what we want to be able to build for Mills.  Towards the end of the sermon, I went to the nursery to get him so the family could pray with us at the end.

Mills is a flight risk.  A “runner”, as we like to call him.  So, he hasn’t darkened the doors of “big church”, nor will he until he is 17? Later? Hard to say.  On our way in, I grabbed a handful of peppermints and began shoving them in his mouth in order to keep him quiet and occupied until the end of the service.  It was sort of a beautiful moment to have all three of us sitting together in church, on the front row (I'm that girl now!) for the first time.  The preacher asked us to bow our heads and began to do the altar call.  I noticed that Mills was unusually still and began to smile to myself thinking about what a spiritually sensitive child we obviously have.  Clearly, he was responding to the Holy Spirit.  I opened my eyes to nudge Matt and alert him of our son’s holiness when I saw Mills clawing at his neck.  I began to pat him on his back and noticed his face was quickly turning blood red.  With people all over the floor at our feet asking Jesus into their hearts, the famous athletes and beautiful people just inches behind us, I suddenly began to scream, “he’s choking, he’s choking!”  All I could think was that I'd just killed my child with a breath freshener in order to beat other people to the front of the prayer line.  Talk about a mom fail.  Matt started to do a hybrid Heimlich/karate chop, the preacher kept praying, I kept screaming and the peppermint popped out. 

Sweet Lord.

When Mills was an infant, I was so overwhelmed I didn’t know what to do.  Matt would come home from work (into a filthy house, with a crying baby AND wife), kiss me, swoop the baby into his arms and say, “You did it!  You’re both alive!  Great work today, Mama!”  

I have maintained for the past two years that this is my only goal.  Keep.him.alive. 

We had a close call, but today… I DID IT!  I'm exhausted.  

July 26, 2014

to the waiting ones

Dear Mama who can’t get pregnant,

(You became a Mama the moment you began to dream of that little one in your heart. That is where life actually begins...)

I see you.  And I want to tell you something.  I know exactly how you feel.  I know the unbearable pain you’ve carried for months, years even, waiting for your baby.  My very heart beats with yours.

I know what it is to weep on the cold tile of the bathroom floor month after month; sobs wreaking havoc on your body until you vomit and then mourn some more.  And I also know about the numb feeling that slithers in after the pain is too much to carry.

I have hated my body for forsaking me and not doing the one thing I felt women were created to biologically do.  I have felt that I couldn't face another "tomorrow" more times than I'd like to admit.  I have felt broken more than I've felt whole. 

I’ve cried at baby showers.  To the mom-to-be.  In front of her mother.  While we were supposed to be praying for the baby.  So I really know about avoiding showers.  And maybe tearing up invitations and flushing them down the toilet. 

I've stayed in bed at holidays and "been sick" for babies' birthday parties.  I used to hide from my life which made me feel ashamed, which made me angry at myself, which started a downward spiral to the dark dark place.

I’ve been afraid.  Angry. Disappointed. Hopeless. Lifeless. Weak. Ashamed. Sick. Confused. Belittled. Enraged. Exhausted. Embarrassed.  Utterly, completely alone.

I’ve watched every single friend of mine (even the infertile ones) have a baby.  And then their second.  Now they are on round three.  Somewhere along the way I began to withdraw and life became very lonely and complicated for me.

There is something I want to tell you.  You are not alone.  As long as I am here, understanding you, we are in this together.  You are not being punished.  You are extravagantly loved by the creator of the Universe.  Even if you don’t believe in Him.  That’s ok.  You are still loved and accepted just the way you are.

The only thing you have to do is make it through today.  Me too.  We don’t have to figure out why, or when, or what steps to take. Don't even THINK about tomorrow!  What's tomorrow?  We just need to do today.  One of my favorite parts of the Bible says,
Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Let's hang on to this promise.  

Let’s just do today, friend.  Together.

*Matthew 6:34

July 24, 2014

swimming in the shallow end: toddlers at the pool

As summer draws to a close (I MEAN! What even happened??) I’ve gleaned a few bits of wisdom about taking a little person to the pool.  If you have a toddler, plan on having a toddler, or see a mom actually trying to drown herself in the shallow end (she has a toddler) the following may be helpful…

adult swim: You'll face your biggest resistance with this little trick the lifeguards pull. I recommend pre-season training.  Set your kid up with a brand new toy until he is playing gleefully.  At the height of joy run up, blow a whistle in his face, rip him away and scream "ADULT SWIM!!" Sit him a few feet away forcing him to look on while a few of your neighbors roughhouse with the new toy. Repeat this daily, often and at random intervals. That's the closest you'll get to conceptually explaining adult swim to a 2 year old.

swim diapers are inverse diapers: If you are new to swim diapers, you may find yourself thinking, “AMAZING! BRILLIANT! Why didn’t I think of these?” However, there is a serious malfunction that still needs to be resolved.  While these contraptions DO keep water out of the diaper, they do NOT keep liquid IN.  So, let’s say you are talking to, I don’t know, an old high school crush at your neighborhood pool while holding a swim diapered child.  You may find yourself with a warm stream running down your own leg.  And that would be really, really awkward.  A friend told me.

potty fascination: Most toddlers have entered the realm of “potty” world.  While they may not be using it, they WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY.  Also? Have you noticed how loud toddlers are?  I’m convinced the insides of those hot little mouths are formed exactly like megaphones, because, wow.  So, in the event that you need to use the restroom during your trip to the pool, prepare for ALL OF THE guests to be fully informed of all the happenings.  It goes a little something like this:

“Mama go tee tee? Mama tee tee in the potty? Mama poo poo? Mama just go tee tee? HOOOORAAAAYYYY Mama! Mama tee teed! Time for treat! Yayy Mama!!!!! YAYYYYYYYY”

Just go ahead and check your shame at the door.

discipline: You will find the need to institute your discipline policy throughout the summer when your little angel acts out.  Navigating a screaming, puddle-jumper-ed, slippery, sunscreen-ed lunatic out of a body of water to the closest lounge chair takes a little practice.  Again, I recommend pre-season training.

no strings of any kind: IF your current swimsuit has strings on it that are functional in ANY WAY (read: are not backed up with clasps, brackets or industrial steel) girl, don’t do it.  You will be climbed and clawed at in ways you cannot imagine.  Standing in the shallow end with only one triangle up is NOT the way you want things to play out.  We aren’t in Panama City anymore, Toto.

werk It: Swim with your babies.  Really.  I know how hard it is to overcome body issues ESPECIALLY at a public pool.  Personally, I’d rather face a firing squad across enemy lines.  But I’ll tell you this. I have paraded myself ALL OVER our pool this summer and it’s been amazing! I remember my family members that played in the pool with me, and the ones who wouldn’t think about getting near the water.  Years from now, your child will not say, “Hey Mom, I really wish you had been seven pounds lighter that summer I was two.”  But they will cherish the fact that you were present and joyful with them.  Especially if your bathing suit doesn’t fall off while all their friends are watching.   

July 23, 2014

caller unknown

I experience irrational fear every time my phone rings.  I’m jumpy and my heart beat slams in my ears and I fumble around in my purse, palms sweating until I can grab my phone to immediately hit “ignore” or fling it away from my body.  Anyone in my circle knows this about me.  I have to breathe for a few minutes, regain composure, and then I’ll call back.  Usually. In a few hours or days or something. 

I do this to friends, family, my husband.  I’ll call him back 15 seconds after he called me.  “What were you doing?” He asks, knowing full well how this dog and pony show plays out.  “Brushing my teeth” I lie.

But sometimes the worst happens.  An unknown caller pops up on my screen.  The dread that overcomes me is palpable.  The bile that predicates vomit is quick to lodge itself smack dab in the middle of my throat.  My fingers numb at their tips and I feel an instant urge to drive my car into a river. 

I’m certain it’s the police, or the FBI, or worst of all the mean Librarian from the children’s department because she’s finally figured out I can’t find that book and I keep renewing it every three weeks.  I know deep down in my soul that answering this call will bring my family to its ultimate demise.

The terrorist caller leaves a voice mail.  They always do.

And for days on end, my life revolves around the single red circle at the bottom of my phone taunting me of the inevitable message that will certainly bring news that will alter my life forever.  I can’t sleep, I can hardly eat.  Things are tense at home until Matt catches on and breezily remarks, “You’ve got a voice mail don’t you?” 

“OH LIKE YOU UNDERSTAND!” I slump over onto the table and began to pull at my hair while rocking back and forth.  Matt offers to listen for me, but this is my cross to bear.

I had an incident a few days ago.  It was like all the rest, only this time my symptoms were a bit more severe.  I felt sort of hive-y all over and decided that one of my doctors from my past had re-run some blood work, discovered an incurable disease and was calling to tell me I only had days to live.  I survived the weekend but didn’t think I could live with myself much longer.  I sought solace in the middle of a grassy field to listen to the news. (okay, it was my yard.  Whatever.)  The caller was from California.  Somewhere menacing like San something where I’m sure there are prisons and medical clinics.  The beginning of the message was a robotic woman’s voice and I was immediately insulted that the news of my impending death or lifelong punishment was delivered by a computer of all things.

“…our home security systems allow you to feel safe and secure in your own home…you’ll never have to look over your shoulder again.” The message droned on.

I fell over on my sidewalk.  I was half laughing at the irony, sort of crying and completely incredulous.  Could these people not just torture me with a piece of mail that I’d throw away because I’m too afraid to open it?

I’m experiencing some posttraumatic stress disorder after this debacle and feel like a break from my phone is necessary.  If you need me, just send a carrier pigeon.  Or call my husband.

March 9, 2014

What's Eating Them?

I could tell by the looks on their faces that something had gone awry, but I had absolutely no idea.

It was the first beautiful day after a long winter and my friend and I set our kids loose at the park on a Sunday afternoon.  As long as we caught the occasional visual and saw no blood, everything else was fair game.  Stealing other kids’ toys? Whatever- it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Work it out.  Eating rocks (again)? Maybe they’d fill up on them and take a great nap.  Approaching the street with oncoming traffic? Great running practice.  We all were happy to be out of our houses and into the great wide open.

I’d clearly had too much fresh air when I sauntered up to a family having a picnic nearby.  “Sorry our kids keep hijacking your toys,” I said jovially.  I wasn’t sorry.  I was just geeked out on sunshine and out of my head with unusual friendliness.  We struck up a conversation and it was all going well.

My son had wandered up at this point and asked to be held as the families swapped adoption stories.  “I LOOVEEE LIIFFFEEEEE” I thought in my head as I wondered why I didn’t get out more/talk to people on a regular basis. 

I noticed one by one that each of the husband-wife pair began to look less amused.  I immediately began doing a mental playback of the things I’d said, searching for a possible offender.  I didn’t know how to gracefully exit the conversation, so I just kept talking.  With the baby on my hip, I distractedly obliged as he pretended to feed me.  He is super in to pretending these days.

As I tilted my head slightly towards one of the men, I saw each expression shift to horror in a ripple effect.  Out of nervous energy, I began over animatedly interacting with my son’s game.  “Mmmmm! Yummy! (smacking noises and ridiculous carrying on).  But this time, I noticed there was actually something in my mouth.  And it was salty. 

I froze for a moment, then slowly, ever so slowly, turned to see my toddler with his finger up his nose heading back for more of what the all American family had been watching for who knows how long now.  Surely not.

I looked back at the pristine families on their precious worn out quilt, all slack jawed and shaken up from the trauma thinking to myself, “they’ve just witnessed the most horrific scene of their life. How do I get out of this?  What’s my exit plan?”

So, with a cheek full of, well, you know, I smiled a talked about, well, I have no idea, and my face burned crimson.  I turned on my heels and headed to the car, looked at my baby and said, “We do NOT put our boogers in Mama’s mouth!”

And also, that’s why we don’t get out anymore.  Now I remember.  

February 25, 2014

why my family will never “tolerate” homosexuality

I remember the last time I was tolerated.  It was a family-ish function and there was no question I was simply being “tolerated”.  It’s a cold, isolating, sterile feeling.  I’d rather have someone just say “gosh, I’d rather chew on a handful of rusty nails than sit here with you” than to be endured.  It’s uncomfortable and it’s degrading.

This week we are being bombarded with news of nation-wide discrimination, inundated by acts of hate, and it has left me hurting all the way down in my gut.  How can our country even THINK of entertaining a bill that would deny another human being service? Prevent an athlete from playing his game?  It all seems so primitive and cruel and it’s scary that we “the land of the FREE” are back in this place. 

I hear rumblings of tolerance quite often as if to say we are making progress.  I don’t want to tolerate anyone anymore than I want to be tolerated.  We don’t get it all right in this family (a lot, actually). But let it be said of us that we LOVED!  Let it be known that anyone, from any walk of life was welcome in our home.  May our legacy be that we loved scandalously when others turned away, that we embraced and formed relationships with anyone who was willing and had a full life of abundant grace.  We don’t stand for tolerance here… we believe in ferocious love!

January 17, 2014

one year ago today: finding my way

            I don’t remember when I stopped painting my toenails for my fertility appointments, only thinking it felt oddly like I was in a relationship going stale and I was the bad girlfriend not doing my part to keep things exciting.  I also remember the nurse practitioner had lipstick on her teeth as she cooed at my empty uterus blipping on the screen, “Sometimes we just don’t understand these things, honey.  I’m sure you’ll find your way.”  We had been trying to get pregnant for four years at that point.  For me, finding my way was becoming a mother.  That was two years ago today.

Twelve weeks and one miracle adoption later, I was holding my newborn son.  I was a mother.  We were also a transracial family.

One year ago today, I looked into the sparkly eyes of my beautiful nine-month-old boy and said, “What are we supposed to do?”  My husband left for work again and there we sat, both crying in our tiny rocker wearing dirty PJs soured with spit up and heading into a day of counting down hours and doubting one another. Complete meals had stopped months ago—instead I grazed throughout the day, as time allowed, like a wild animal. I avoided calls from friends, and hoped neighbors didn’t notice my car rarely moved from its spot.    With splatters of baby food and nubs of mushy crackers, showering was futile. I didn’t even bother to remove the mounting pile of diapers from my front porch. I aimlessly bounced and swayed in my hallways praying for something, “Baby stop crying, time go faster, someone turn me into a mother.”  I wasn’t really even sure what I was praying for.  It seemed I was looking for my way again.  And perhaps, motherhood had found the wrong girl.

What I didn’t expect was that I had never felt more alone than I did at home with my new baby.  It was as if I was living life in one of those snow globes. My surroundings were beautiful, seemingly perfect, even.  I could see out, and people could look in on me, but no one could connect.  And here’s why:  I still felt empty inside.  I’d repeated the sweet Southern mantra “I just want to get married and have children” for as long as I could remember.  When the second part of that seemed it might never happen, I deemed it the cause of any feeling of sadness or emptiness inside.  But then, then… after all those years of trying and pain and feeling like a failed science experiment, my dream had finally come true.  The guilt I suffered when I still felt pangs of sadness or emptiness was almost unbearable.  Who wanted to hear me complain?  And after all those years of whining?  Because, as my mom said to me, tongue in cheek, one day as we heard my son waking from a jokingly short nap, “well, you finally got what you’ve always wanted!” 

Everywhere I looked, I saw new moms, smiling and cooing like Disney princesses visiting with little girls.  Giddy instagrams and Facebook posts and even real-life encounters had me convinced that I was just not mother material.  Because living in a magical kingdom, I was not.  Each day my husband would come home to me, a blubbering, sniveling mess, and he’d say, “You’re both alive! It was a great day here! Good job, baby.” I'd stare down at my sweet sleeping son, twirl one of his chocolate curls around my pinky and wonder if he would grow up and remember these days. “Giddy “was not even on our radar. 

I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for my Lolly.  She is my dearest friend and the one who finally said, “Amanda, sometimes it’s just hard.”  I remember crying and crying and asking her why she didn’t tell me all these horrible things about motherhood before I took the plunge.  “It’s awful!” I wailed.  “I don’t know what to do with him, and I’m so gross, and he cries, and I never sleep any more, and why would anyone have a baby to begin with?”  She just smiled in her beautiful, gracious way and reminded me that if people knew the gory details, no one would have babies.  “It’s worth it, and it gets easier every day” she assured me.  I remember not being quite convinced this was worth it at the time, even with my precious baby in tow.  I daily had the horrifying thought “this is why we couldn’t get pregnant.  I don’t have the mothering gene, or whatever.  It’s not supposed to feel this way.”

But, as time passed, I had a revelation.  Every time I felt sadness or loneliness, I began to recognize it as an emotion that did not necessarily have anything to do with being a mother. Perhaps it was the writer in me, aching to get back to my craft and take a break from washing bottles and bottoms.  Or the grown-up, fancy me who actually did enjoy showering, dressing up, and going to a lovely dinner with my husband.  Sometimes it was just standing in the sun and remembering what my dreams were when I was young and fearless, without a care in the world.  I had to get back to that place where I remembered all the parts of me I had forgotten about in the overwhelming, life-changing, alien, early days of motherhood. And it was in those very moments, my baby would look at me and laugh his musical giggle, and things just got easier. 

There is one line of thinking that “I was made to be a mother.”  And that just isn’t me.  I am a mother.  And, second to wife, it is by far the highest honor I have.  But I was made for so much more.  I have gifts and talents that God has given me and when I use those, I am a better mother because of it.  Once I shifted my perspective, the depression slowly faded away.  It’s okay if staying at home all day, every day with your babies is your greatest joy. It’s also okay if the thought of that makes you panic and start itching all over.  Just like we all have different strengths and talents, we also have very unique ways of mothering.   My mistake was trying to find my identity in this whole shebang. Motherhood isn’t my identity.  It’s a gift, a bonus, the miracle I never expected.  It has taken me a while, but we are getting into our groove as a family.

And I think I’m finding my way as a mother.

***Special thanks to Amy Lemley Bailey at for inviting me to share!***