5 Gifts to Give Yourself for Mother’s Day

Yes, 5 gifts to give yourself this Mother’s Day.

Especially if you are a mother with a young family.

1. Grace.

Truth: We all need it, and especially those on the first line of defense (read: moms of toddlers) need lots of it, in huge serving sizes. Give it to others, your little ones, most importantly to yourself often.

2. Plastic, wipe-off placemats.

I know, I know, they are tacky and I can’t believe I’m saying this either. And usually they come in polarizing primary or fluorescent colors, and may or may not have Dora and Batman (or another crazy theme, like ants on a picnic table) scattered across them. I know, I get it–they are not cute.

But you are only in this stage once, this children-are-so-small-and-tender age, and with that, to some degree you have to let things go so you can enjoy them while they are still small. And to me, that means being able to clean up at least something quickly. There will be time for beautiful table settings later, I promise. And yes, preaching this to myself as I wipe down said (hideous!) placemats. Fist bump, sister.

3. Letting go of the need of perfectly snapping the freshly cleaned lovely little onesies at the bottom, all 3 snaps, snap-snap-snap, before you hang it up or fold it and put it away. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

4. Saturday morning hair forgiveness.

That crazy mess of hair that is either rolled up in a bun, pulled back in a cap or a ponytail, or somehow just out of your face so you can run after your kids, cheer from the sidelines at their early morning soccer game or run to the store before they wake up.

Whatever it looks like, it’s cool. You’re doing the best you can to be the best mom your can be, and sometimes that means that the fancy braids and whatnot that you’ve been pinning on your style board just won’t be used on Saturday morning. And that’s okay.

5. When all else fails, a hot bath and/or a massage.

Yes, you’re allowed.

Happy early Mother’s Day, mamas.


Heaven Help Us

Heaven help us when the little ones get sick.

All I want to do is cradle them, wrap them up tight, all swaddled up, like I did when they were so tiny and fragile. I want to hold them and rock them until it’s all better.

It’s hard to do that when they are bigger, have opinions, are the grumpy sort of sick people, and are all arms and legs that don’t fit so well into a receiving blanket.

And heaven help us when they get the sort of sick that includes the throwing up piece; it’s enough just to not gag myself and be valiantly calm and caring without holding my nose.



Five Minute Friday – Here

Here we go again–Five Minute Friday challenge, this time, on a Sunday afternoon!  And this time, later than usual as we were away for the weekend, and I, being the all-or-nothing person I am, wanted this weekend technology-free. Which mostly, it was.  I was very proud of myself for how few times I checked my phone. 🙂

So, there’s the explanation for the time lag, and below, is the late-ish installment of Five Minute Friday…

For a reminder-it’s a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes with freedom like you have no fear or shame.  Or propensity for run-on sentences, like I do.  Pretend those don’t exist or don’t matter. (Ha!) And then you have to be brave (or at least pretend to be) and link up to her blog. Encouraging the writer who links up before you is part of the deal, too.  This last rule is crucial, as we all need to encourage others. Why encourage another writer? Because at one point or another in our lives, we all need encouraging too.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready? go-

thanks to nuchylee for the image.
thanks to nuchylee for the image.

Here, in the midst of a happy Sunday, in the midst of a mini-family reunion, finally home from a conference, living in what I wish my daughter would have done—hug me overwhelmingly, bone-crushingly hard, with lots and lots of words about how much she needed me and missed me, here is where I live today.

Here, in the midst of too many words and too few minutes, always too few moments of time to write, to practice the what most days is the chicken-scratch writing from my soul, over-drenched with too many feelings and too many commas for any “real” writer to acknowledge, here in the imperfection, is where I live.

Here, where there is too much life, so much graciously abundant overflowing life, and not enough time to catch up to it, to ponder over it, or reflect on it, on how very lucky and blessed I am, here I am.

Here, where there is too much laundry and not nearly enough time or dedication to do it, here where there are messes made clean, repeatedly, but with great sighing, here, between the imperfect and sustaining love of a good man, here between the crayons and the play-doh droppings on the floor, here between the grooves of perfection and the spotless baseboards of what life tells us life should be: perfect, here, between all of those moments, here is where I really live.  In dusty, mostly messy and chaotic cycles of life, the loose ends of the unfinished business of living, here is where I love to live.

The Experts

thanks to the artist who calls him/herself prozac1 for this image.
thanks to the artist who calls him/herself prozac1 for this image.

The experts say that happiness and sadness can’t exist at once.  That it’s impossible to be sad while you’re smiling, that it’s hard to laugh while your heart is breaking.

I disagree.

I believe you can be happy and sad at the same time; know sorrow and joy and how they deeply and mysteriously intertwine, but it’s only until you’ve had that experience of both joy and sorrow in a matter of days, or for some, the intertwining in a matter hours, that you truly start to understand this concept of both emotions co-existing.

It’s the occurs when you of course, are not expecting it.   It occurs when your whole world is brilliantly crashing down before you, a family member close to you dying.  It’s inevitable you know, it was obvious you know, but it’s coming still shocks you like a tidal wave you weren’t expecting, that phone call during Friday night dinner.  The phone call you had to take while sitting down.

It’s that moment then, after dinner your husband suggests that the best thing for the family is to dance, yes, dance, and so he turns on your mix, those songs on the iPod that you especially love, and you all dance like you’re crazy, and the 3-year-old is actually the wisest sage as shaking and shimmy-ing with awkward body movements is the truest and quickest way to joy sometimes.  And then she knowingly blurts out “FAMILY! -” when the Lumineers sing it, and then she yells out again the rest of her comments- “like what we are! Like us!” and you at once are so struck but the insight and utter surprise of her figuring out this beautiful concept, that you are blown away, a mix of happy and sad about knowing and appreciating the paper-thin fragility of life that of course, all you can do is cry happy and sad tears, tears of knowing real joy in deep sadness.

And it’s when the light is pitch-perfect, that golden-pink late afternoon color that as it sets over the trees, spills gloriously onto everything with a touch of warmth.  And it’s when you notice this at the park, your child, beaming with smiles and jubilant laughter and this golden hue on her face and your husband, at peace on the bench bathed also in this beautiful light, and knowing that in the drop of a feather, the blink of an eye, the turn of head, it can be all different, it can all change in a matter of minutes.  Knowing not that it will happen, but when, all the while trying to appreciate the small minutes in life where things are absolutely perfect in their own way.

Swiss cheese life

My life: it’s all swiss cheese and gift wrap at the moment. The translation? It’s sort of messy.

I liken it to swiss cheese: holey, missing parts-and somedays-it’s like there is not enough caulk in the world to patch the holes I keep stumbling upon, unaware.

This same sort of thing happens to me often around Christmas too; the literal sense of how I feel most days.

I, proudly thinking that I have prepared well enough for all the gift wrapping to come, that I have calculated out the correct density and height of whatever I’m wrapping, and have enough paper to more than cover all sides of the gift, proceed to arrogantly cut the paper to wrap the gift, only to behold this: the paper does not meet in the middle.

It doesn’t match up.

So, then in an instant, I realize I have to patch in some random gift wrap paper (because somehow, I always use the last bit of the gift wrap that would actually match it), all the while cussing and sweating and trying to figure out where I miscalculated, where I could have gone so wrong with the whole gift to gift wrapping paper ratio.

And then I usually sigh.

And that’s kind of where I’m at right now: a great deal of sighing, some holes and unsightly gaps in my life needing some patching, and a whole lot of gift wrap not meeting in the middle, not lining up nicely, where it should.

Oh, should. That nasty, guilty word.

And most of the time, it feels like all of this means that I don’t add up; that somehow others have figured out the answers to these sorts of problems, that they are smarter than me and somehow are able to guesstimate gift wrap and can get their gift wrap seams (and also: their lives) to measure up in some way that I cannot.

Not everyday is like this, but lately it seems a constant challenge. Some days the holes are pinpricks and paper cuts, and some days they feel like they gnaw at the very foundation of me, like the way a termite goes after wood.

Thankfully, though-I’m not alone in this.

Certainly I’m not the only one whose life is messy, not the only one whose laundry basket is generously overflowing but whose patience is running thin and low.

Not the only one, right? Right?  

And though I am so uncertain, so fragile at times, I am solidly certain of this: that God is here.

That Jesus cares.

And loves me, even me with the gift wrap calculation problems, even me with the more-holey-than-holy-swiss-cheese life, and is even ok with that giant laundry basket that seems to consume more dirty clothes by the hour.

This makes all the difference in the world.

This helps me, especially on those days that I stare off into the sunset and wonder, those tough days I want to shake my fists at the sky and say “This better be a really good lesson!”

Jesus loves me, even through that.  And that is awesome.


You know those favorite shirts you have? Those wonderfully soft, comfy shirts that you wear over and over again? Your favorite tees, you have any of those?

I do.  I have several like that, and my favorite one is grey, with an illustration of small frog playing a guitar on it.  My small daughter sees this and asks “what’s that?” and I tell her; and she (this is why I love children) accepts this as-is, as if it would be totally natural to see a frog strumming a guitar.  Yep, frogs playing guitars occurs in nature. Up next, unicorns with wings!

Back to the point-I love this shirt. Would probably wear it all the time if I could just for the sheer comfort, if not for the awesome guitar frog picture alone.

But this shirt-hasn’t had a breezy life.  It’s easily close to a decade old, and not only that, it went through my husband’s wear and tear for a couple of years, then one fine day became mine when I shrank it by putting it on too high heat in the dryer for way too long.  And when it became mine, then the wear and tear only just began, for I am not easy on clothes.  I probably launder them too often (and we’ve already learned that I do not know how to use a dryer very well) and I usually catch my jewelry or my ring on delicate threads. Shirts generally do not look at me and think: yes! She should be my owner!

But the shirt is so soft and pliable now, so much so that I can sleep in it if I so chose. Didn’t start out that way, but with all of the washing and drying, the wearing and inevitably, tearing or pulling, and the constant use, it’s become a treasured shirt.  And it should be considering all it’s been through.

This is not unlike life, you know.  The constant wearing and tearing, the consistent, relentless wash-dry process called life should be enough to break us down and make us soft and supple, too.  Sometimes this happens, most times it does not, and we get bitter and rigid.  But who wants to wear a rigid shirt?

Not sure what happened to you in the washer-dryer process of life, or if like me, you feel like you are being constantly tumbled, but I do know one thing for sure:

It ain’t a bad thing to be considered soft.

Play-Doh life

So, being doing a lot of thinking lately.  A lot.

And you know, sometimes that’s a good thing, like when you need to work through a sticky problem, when you need to figure something out, or like what I used to do when I was a 10 year-old: plan my revenge on my sister for always tattle-telling on me.

Those are good things to think about.

And then there is this huge, grey, fuzzy pit of thinking that I always seem to fall into and have a difficult time getting out of: over thinking.  Not so good things for me to think about.

I tend to do it quite often this over thinking thing,  and usually do it without realizing it.  Then someone makes a remark about something, and I realize, oh hey.  No one else is worrying or thinking about this as deeply as me.  This usually occurs when I’m trying to figure out the office stapler or the best way to approach a project.  Sometimes the over thinking is beneficial and sometimes it’s just dumb.  For instance, the stapler.  Seriously! Who thinks about staplers?

So, been thinking (ironic! I know!) about this lately.  And also about choices too, and how there are so many choices in life.

I was reminded of all this when I sat down to play Play-Doh with my child.  Play-Doh!  Haven’t held that cool, squishy weirdness in years.

Needless to say, it brought back a lot of memories, and a distinct recollection of myself at about age 5 or 6, fretting about the major choice in life, which came down to whether or not to combine the two different colors of Play-doh into one giant, lovely, chaotic mess of color.

And I have to say this: I am quite lucky that my childhood was so wonderful that this was the only thing I remember fretting about.  This says loads about my parents and their loving way of protecting me from the world that is sometimes savage, dangerous and too beautiful for a small child to process.

So…back to 30-ish year old me holding two colors of Play Doh in my hand. And back to the same fear; the same risk-averse thoughts I’ve had my entire life:

Do I or don’t I mix these colors?

Are there back up colors somewhere else in case this doesn’t work out?

And what about if the colors turns out to be that cold, stale greyish putty color instead of something beautiful?

What then?

What I’ve realized is this: besides over thinking, what I have carried with me throughout the years is this risk-adverse thing too; this insane, innate need to want all of my life (and all of my Play-Doh) choices to come with some sort of guarantee, some sort plan B, something that could confirm that I won’t make a mistake.

And you know what I’ve learned?

(Clearly nothing, since I am still afraid of mixing Play-doh.)

I’ve learned that sometimes you have to just roll the dice, toss the hot pink in with the subdued green and hope for the best.

And if it turns out to be that frightful putty color, well, that’s life.  And the good thing about life is that it can be modified, it can be changed, it can be mixed again and again.