“In The Trenches”

We have all been there – that moment where nothing seems to be going right or as planned. That moment you are running out the door and everything happens at once – one child poops their pants; one kid pours everything out of the diaper bag; the dogs run into the yard because one kid opened the door; you lose your keys in the midst of repacking the diaper bag (only to find you actually put them in the diaper bag); you get everyone loaded into the car; you run back into the house to grab a sippy cup and the favorite toy of the week; you finally get the dogs back inside; a child unlocks their carseat; you get everyone re-strapped into their seats; you start the vehicle and realize … I’M ALREADY EXHAUSTED AND I HAVEN’T LEFT THE DRIVEWAY?!

Throughout life as a mom, there are challenging phases with children – I like to refer to these as “in the trenches”. Most moms and parents can appreciate this comparison and being “in the trenches” can sometimes feel like a lonely, never-ending phase.

Like when your little one is a baby – you are running on zero sleep and can’t remember the last time you took a real shower or slept for longer than 3 hours at a time. Or when your toddler is screaming at the top of their lungs because they can’t communicate and you clearly didn’t give them the right dinner. How about those Pre-K years when all the kids do is bicker over who gets to play with Elsa or they scream when you refuse to buy them strategically placed candy in the checkout aisle. Or the dreaded teenage years where there’s a 90% chance your child will hate you at some point if not all the time.

IN THE TRENCHES!

Ever been to the grocery store with 3 small children? I tend to wear workout clothes because I know taking my small army of strong willed children to the store does not usually teeter in my favor. One usually begs for that princess cup in the breakfast aisle; another is trying to climb out of the cart; while the other isn’t able to comprehend you have to buy the food before you eat it. By the end of the shopping trip (after the epic battle to get out of the driveway), I usually look slightly disheveled and understandably frazzled. Occasionally another shopper will smile and say “you have your hands full.” But there are also moments when moms gently smile and say something like “Oh honey, you’re going to make it. It’s just tough right now but I promise you will get through this. You’re doing a great job!”

Those women get it; they’ve been in the trenches at one time or another, raising babies, surviving the chaos and sleeplessness that is the very definition of motherhood. I am so thankful for these no judgment women, who even though are strangers, can relate to public survival with children.

Inevitably I am told moms do survive what I can only describe with a war term. During life in the trenches with our children we create those memories we will “laugh at someday” – but in the moment you just aren’t sure if you will make it. Someday you will be able to get out of the driveway without feeling like you are competing in an Olympic decathlon. Better yet, you will be able to go to the grocery store without having to explain to your child why you aren’t buying all the boxes of princess gummies. And when you do feel alone, trust me, you never will be – other moms are fighting the good fight right next to you. We are all muddy wishing for a long, uninterrupted shower!

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Believing in hummanity

Before having children my husband and I truly asked ourselves ,”Do we want to bring children into such a cruel and dangerous world?” “Why on Earth would we want to have babies when the human race has evolved to be heartless and selfish?” We’ve all seen daily horrific acts of violence and terrorism playing out on the news and sometimes in our own communities.  School used to seem like the safest place for a child – now parents have to worry about cyber bullying, bomb threats, shooting sprees, and other human created terror where our babies are being educated – not even movie theaters or marathons seem safe anymore. “Who in their right mind would want to have kids in such a scary world?!”Its easy to be scared and hard to be brave.

After much thinking and soul searching, my husband and I came the same conclusion – even though the world is frightening, we would do our best to raise children who had capabilities to change the world for the better. Lofty goals, yes, but shoot for the moon and even if you miss you’ll land in the stars. We knew and hoped that how ever many children God blessed us with, they would have every opportunity for greatness.

The world only seems like a dark, dismal place if we let it.  Our world is what we make of it for our children. Doom and gloom stories lead newscasts.  A professor of mine once proclaimed “If it bleeds it leads!”. When are media outlets going to realize heart touching stories are just as compelling as heartbreaking sagas?! I want to hear about the lady who, out of the goodness of her heart, raised thousands of dollars for a family in need … I know these stories are out there! We deserve to be informed (with unbiased, uncensored, truthful facts); we don’t always want bad news – GIVE US SOME GOOD NEWS! Help people believe in humanity again.

Besides the news, us moms have people in our daily lives constantly forcing us to question our mothering skills and our direct link to humanity.  Its amazing how a mother-in-law, grandmother, or even a friend can make you feel like the worst mother in the world.  Aren’t they supposed to be in our corner? They surely know how hard being a mom is? Maybe we don’t give them enough credit, or maybe we set our expectations for them too high.

Despite all the negativity in our society, there is great news – there are normal people in the world! People who empathize with others, compassionate people whose spirits and peace far outnumber the evil and spiteful.

Just when I couldn’t become more disillusioned, I finally had a girls night out and met a girl who was 35-years-old, a lawyer, and absolutely gorgeous. After some ice breakers, she informed me her husband of tens years left her a few months back – he had been cheating on her with numerous women, one of which was her good friend. They were even in the process of finally starting to try for kids after years of focusing on their law careers. She was completely blindsided. At the end of the conversation she was so thankful and professed, “Its so good to meet people who are normal. It helps me believe in humanity again.”

Human nature leads us focus on the negative more than the positive; but imagine the world we would live in if more people took their individual struggles and tried to find the silver lining. Even when our wounds are raw (like my new friend’s), we have the ability to follow her example by finding grace, dignity and triumph during tragedy. Easier said than done, but even a positive effort can change perspective!

Our decision to have children became easy – but being a parent is tough and the most difficult, rewarding thing a woman can do.  As moms we have to guide our children with our hearts and intuition, but also teach them the world can be scary and wonderful all at the same time. I hope my children come to think of me as compassionate, understanding, loving, truthful, loyal, protective, giving, and most importantly admirable – the opposite of the few monsters in the world.  Children first see the world through the eyes of their mothers.  Stay positive but don’t ignore the world, because we can always find light in the darkness. And remember, the good really do out number the bad.

The day my husband and I became proud parents.

The day my husband and I became proud parents.