Warning: Language may offend 

A Mother’s Verse 

This baby’s got me so confused

Where’s my jacket 

Where’re my shoes

Is it morning

Or is it night

This baby’s got me so uptight

Is he happy or is he mad

I just don’t know 

Go ask his Dad 

This baby’s got me so confused

At 2pm 

I sing the blues

Cuz the day’s half gone 

My clothes are amuck

And my only words are 

Fuck fuck FUCK 

This baby’s got me wild ‘n’ crazy

I used to sit 

And chat o’er tea

But now I’m wipin’ spit up 

Screaming God help me!

This is what meditation looks like in my everyday.  

Life can be a little too fast-paced sometimes. The mounting to-do lists, the feeling that there is just not enough time in the day to accomplish everything, the rushing from one commitment to another. 

 I really don’t like feeling rushed. My son notices it immediately when I am on “fast mode” and the impatience, distraction, and stress that I wear outwardly in this mode directly affects him. 

“Are you happy, Mommy?” 

“Yes, I’m just trying to be fast.” 

And then I think to myself, “But really, Andrea, what’s the rush?” Certainly, if there is a doctor’s appointment to be at, a church service to attend, a preschool class beginning, there is a need to be quick and efficient to honor the time of an important event. Often, though, I realize that I’ve created the sense of rush in my head. Some things aren’t as critical as I make them out to be. Sometimes there is just no need to rush. 

I am trying to slow down. For my own sake and for the sake of my kids. For anyone and everyone around me. So that I can enjoy them more and they can enjoy me more.

I have recently begun to enjoy making pizza from scratch on a Saturday. Sure, I love to do family outings or get out by myself for a little bit on the weekend. But sometimes I just like to stay home, with no to-do-list, and make pizza. My son likes to help. We make a mess of the kitchen and floor, and the pizza is devoured in a matter of minutes, but we were there. In that moment. We measured and counted and mixed and kneaded and rolled and chopped and grated and sprinkled. No other distractions. Just cooking. 

I also like to sit down, pen in hand, and work on my boys’ baby books. I spend the first little while reading over what I’ve already recorded, reminiscing over photos, giggling over memories forgotten. No other distractions. 

Sometimes I give my 6 month old a bath for the sole reason of giving my son a bath. Not because he’s covered in oatmeal or because he’s pooped all over himself. But just to feel the warm water on my hands and his silky smooth skin beneath my fingers. Just to watch him curiously grab for any and every toy that floats by his face.  

Some days I like put on my sky-blue dish gloves and wash the dishes by hand even when I could put them in the dishwasher. I notice the light shining in through the kitchen window, making the stainless steel pots shimmer, the towel on the counter getting soaking wet from upturned mugs  slowly drying. 

Other days I make a big pot of soup. I peel and chop an entire squash, slice onions, mince garlic. Saute. Boil. Simmer. Blend. 

During all of these activities I am enjoying the moment, noticing what is right in front of me. I am not browsing Facebook or mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest. I’m not checking my blog stats or trying to complete other chores. 

When I take the time to slow down, to make that pot of soup or play on the floor with my kids, I realize that life isn’t as busy as I think. And there is a whole lot of beauty and peace waiting to be discovered in those moments. 

What are some activities you do that help you slow down and enjoy the moment? 

What to do when life feels out of balance 

They say life is all about balance. If you’re anything like me, though, it can feel like an impossible task to balance all of the building blocks of your life – the relationships, the work, the household responsibilities, the hobbies, the social events, spirituality, fitness, and so on.

With the right perspective, however, I’ve realized that everything will get done…eventually. I used to try and do everything the second I saw the need, or it would stress me out. If there was laundry on the bed it needed to be folded. If the floors were sticky they needed to be washed. If the blocks were scattered they needed to be put away. Obviously as a stay-at-home-mom I could literally spend my entire day cleaning up mess after mess after mess. But this is not how I want to spend my time. So each mess does not get cleaned up right away. And I am learning to still remain calm, happy, and present. I look at each mess or area that requires my attention and notice it. “The shelf is dusty”. “I haven’t exercised in a few days.” And then I move on. I continue making the lunch or reading a book to my kids or getting ready to head to a playground. But I don’t panic and drop everything to get rid of that dust, and I don’t begin ruminating over the cycle of thoughts that sound something like  “My house is so messy, I can never stay on top of it all, I have so much to do and not enough time, blah blah blah”. Because then I’ve stepped out of the present moment and I’ve all of a sudden become a grumpier more stressed out person. Instead, I notice the dust and move on. No judgement. 

It’s not easy to merely observe something without placing judgement. What’s helped me with this skill is that I’ve begun to notice that all the things on my “to-do” list eventually do get done. Not in one day, but eventually. In order to give my attention over to the most important tasks, I remind myself that “something’s gotta give”.

I like to think that those things that truly matter – those tasks, moments, relationships that were most needing my attention, my time- will get done that day. Perhaps the floors don’t get washed one week, or my dinners aren’t home-cooked every night, or the dishes sit in the sink just one more day, or the laundry doesn’t get folded right away. Something always has to give in order to make time for the most important things: the trips to the park, the snuggles before nap time, the library visits to stock up on new books, the coffee dates with dear friends, the Netflix shows with husband. The time to sit and write. The 20 minutes on my yoga mat. 

When I’ve taken the time to feed my soul with these nourishing things, I notice the floors all of a sudden do get washed. And a homemeade dinner is put in the slow cooker. And I somehow get energized for that walk. And another load of laundry gets put away. 

Everything that needs to get done, does get done. I just need to slow down and open my eyes wide enough to see it happening. 

How loading the dishwasher gives my life purpose. 

The other day something just short of a miracle happened in my life. It was sunny. It was 12 pm. I was out for a walk. And I. Was. Alone. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself, though, because I rarely have the opportunity to enjoy the heat of the noon-hour sun by myself. This thought was shortly followed by another voice reminding me that most people, in fact, do not have this luxury during the week either!  Stay-at-home-mom or not, everyone has duties during the day, responsibilities that keep us from taking that much desired afternoon walk (or siesta, or beer, or coffee, or yoga class). I shamefully realized that I was feeling sorry for myself for something that most other people don’t get to enjoy either. I was being a mommy martyr (I discovered that term from this great post). And I wanted to stop being that.

During a drive with my husband this past year we began to talk about what we wanted people to know us as. I have a Bachelor of Education degree and grew up dreaming of becoming a teacher. Yet in that moment in the car with my husband I thought to myself that I didn’t really want to be referred to as a teacher anymore. Neither did I want to be known as “just a mom”. So I said to my husband that I wanted to be known as a writer instead. I have a suspicion that partly why I chose writer out of those three options is because I erroneously believe this to be a more respectable, or creative, or interesting, line of work than the other two choices.

I am learning to more fully embrace my role as a mom. I wake up in the morning and view the breakfast I need to prepare as my first work task, the laundry as my next one. The vacuuming has a deadline (Thursday) and the playgroup is my staff meeting. Grocery shopping is a business trip and naptime is my lunch break. The weekend? Well, it’s the weekend. During the week I am always working, never wasting time. Nothing is meaningless. Everything is important. All of it is what I do in this job of mine titled “Mom”.

Maybe in the future I will work in a classroom again, or maybe I will write, or maybe I will do something completely different. But I am trying not to get distracted with these future things when my most important job is right infront of me – raising my two sons.

What would it look like for you to approach tomorow with a sense of honor and privilege, believing that you have work to do in the world, that it matters, that it’s needed, that you have a path and you’re working your craft?

-Rob Bell (How to Be Here)

How going out to dinner can save your life.

In my last post I talked about how I often feel trapped as a mom. But when I dwell on this feeling of having no freedom it sucks away my happiness and zest for life. And since I can’t just quit my role as a nursing mom to gain the freedom I desire, I have to work around the obstacles in my life. Or, better yet, make them work for me. 

My husband and I don’t often go out to a restaurant with both kids in tow. However, we were recently invited out last minute on a weeknight, and since I was only planning on reheating leftovers for dinner I didn’t have anything stopping me from saying yes. I went back and forth between wanting to go and not wanting to deal with the hassle of it all. Driving in rush hour traffic with both kids, trying to be home for bedtime, waking up the napping baby, and so on. But we did go and I’m happy we did. I got to enjoy adult conversation and felt energized by the experience.

Going out to dinner, as simple as it was, was a spontaneous act out of the ordinary that gave me a taste of the freedom I had before having kids. I realized how crucial these novel experiences are to my own happiness. Since most of my time is spent being a mom, I need to create these experiences within this role. 

I will be more quick to say yes to these dinner invitations in the future, I’ll take a new route when going for a walk instead of my regular path, I’ll take my toddler to the playground instead of washing the dishes, I’ll drive the long way home from a play date so I can treat myself to a latte and listen to the radio. I’ll start a new book. And always make time to write. 

Too many people miss the silver-lining because they’re expecting gold. 

-Maurice Setter

When the mail teaches you an important life lesson 

I recently ordered some new toys off of Amazon for my toddler. It’ll take a couple of weeks for the toys to arrive but I decided to tell him that I ordered them anyway. Not because I enjoy listening to a toddler whining for new toys but to use this opportunity to teach him about patience. The line I keep repeating to him is “patience is waiting without whining”. I’ve come to realize that this message is for myself just as much as it is for him.

Being a mom is difficult in many ways. One of the most challenging aspects is the feeling of being trapped. I find it very difficult not to feel sorry for myself and dwell on the fact that I miss the freedom I had before having kids. I’ve made it a habit to resent this lack of freedom and complain about it, sometimes only to myself. 

Just like my 3-year-old, I need to learn how to wait without whining. This is the phase of life I am in. I know this phase will pass and things will get easier. My children will get older and become more independent. But there’s no point in living miserably and ungrateful until that day comes.

I need to remind myself that someday soon my package will arrive with all the freedom I am missing in this stage of my life. For now, I will wait. Living to enjoy the things I do have right in front of me, everyday. 

Why I’m using my camera more and Instagram less 

I often find myself rushing to take pictures of the cute things my kids are doing so I can post it on Instagram with a clever tagline. Then a second later I wonder why I feel the need to post this picture online for everyone to see – what am I trying to prove to the world? That I’m a good mom? That I have a happy life? That I do fun activities with my kids? That I look cute today, too? After having this 7 millisecond conversation with myself, I quickly delete the photo and move on with my day. This moment never shows up on social media and it isn’t left on my phone for a future #tbt post. The moment is gone.

I was about to delete one of these photos recently when I stopped myself, realizing how much I actually did want to hold onto this moment (I was nursing my baby to sleep in his room with my toddler at my feet quietly playing an iPad game). These moments are simple, yes, and probably not as Instagram-worthy as the person hiking the Inca trail, but these moment are my life. My everyday. They are the moments that will be completely forgotten but which I will yearn for again one day. Moments I will look back on nostalgically. 

 I’m going to stop deleting these pictures just because I think it’s lame for wanting to immediately post them to Instagram. I’m going to start saving these pictures, but not for anyone else except me. For my future self. To help me remember that yes, I was a good mom, and yes, I did have a lot of fun with my kids, and yes I did look cute that day, too. 

Andrea, you have a new life follower. And that follower is you. 

Should Moms Earn Grades? 

Prior to having children, I obtained two university degrees and then worked full-time as a teacher. Throughout my schooling I earned multiple scholarships and awards, consistently held a GPA higher than 4.0, and received exemplary evaluations from my supervisors and employers. 

Now I am a stay-at-home mom of two under two-and-a-half, and the majority of my days are spent changing diapers, nursing, planning activities for my curious toddler, preparing suppers, doing laundry, etc. There’s nothing in my life that would explicitly highlight a great accomplishment. There are no scholarships to be awarded or A+’s to be given, no “best of” rating to earn or “top 10” list to make, there is no trophy to win. 

For someone who is very accustomed to working towards and obtaining these types of external rewards, and basing my success (or failure) on them, this motherhood thing was a difficult adjustment. How am I supposed to feel accomplished now that all of these rewards are removed?

A while before having my second baby, my husband asked me what so far has been my proudest moment. I went quiet as I started to reflect on all the major milestones in my life so I could make an informed decision. My husband looked at me, dumbfounded, and said “Having our son, I would hope!?” I grinned sheepishly, slightly embarrassed that this hadn’t even crossed my mind. This little conversation helped me realize that raising kids is no trivial task. 

At night I take a moment to sit on the couch, look down the hallway towards the rooms where my boys are sleeping, and remind myself how amazing my children are. They bring so much joy to my life and to others. Therefore I, as their mother, am highly successful indeed. 

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”

– Mother Teresa