To the Mom Who is Scared

As a mom of a one year old and three year old, fear has never been stronger. We need to talk about it. The enemy is attacking my heart and scaring me to raise these babies in a world like this. In a world full of so much tragedy, and so much pain.

Someone told me when I was pregnant with my first, “I don’t know why anyone would bring a child into the world we live in.” They didn’t know I was pregnant at the time, but I truly felt taken aback that someone would even think that fear would stop them from starting a family.

Now I am scared every day. The “what if’s” happen every time I leave my kids with someone else, every time we are out in a crowd somewhere, and every time I put them to bed. Fear is trying to take over my parenting.

All I can do is pray. I pray for peace. I pray for wisdom. I pray for protection. I pray for for the strength to tell fear that it is not welcome here. I will not live in fear. I will not be robbed of the joys that motherhood brings. I do not know what my children will go through in this life, but I know that if I live in fear, I will miss out on so much.

As a mom of two toddlers, I make a choice daily to focus on raising them well. Raising them kind. And raising them to know Jesus and His extraordinary love for us. There are things in this world I can’t control, but I am in control of how I raise my children and how I can love them well. I choose to focus on that. Let’s encourage each other to not live in fear. It can be tough raising babies, toddlers, teenagers. It can be scary. Let’s do our best to raise them well, raise them kind, and to tell fear it is not welcome here.


“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34


This calling of motherhood is not an easy one. But we need to remember that as we are doing dishes, picking up clothes, wiping noses and making sure everyone is fed, we are doing kingdom work. We are fulfilling the call placed on our lives to take care of our family. And what an honor. What a joy it is to be a parent. What a joy it is to have clothes to fold! And noses to wipe! Mamas, we are called to this. We can’t let fear take over our motherhood.

I will still worry, because I’m a mom and that’s what we do. But I will not let it take over my motherhood. I will do my best to focus on what I can control, rather than the things I can’t. We can’t control what is happening in our world, but we can love our families well. Let’s start there.

 

 

What I Wish I knew as a First Time Mom

What I Wish I Knew as a First Time Mom

First time Mom probs. I had a lot of them. It was so hard to see when I was in the thick of it, but I was having a tough time adjusting to motherhood. I loved being a mom, I loved (almost) every aspect of taking care of my baby. But just like many first time moms – I struggled.

I struggled with control.

I struggled with worrying.

I forgot about my husband.

I isolated myself.

When I was pregnant with my first, I received so much advice on how to do this mom thing well. Good advice, bad advice, advice that made me go… “say what?” All kinds of advice. But it didn’t matter what I heard or read, nothing could prepare me for what motherhood would be like. No one knows what they will be like as a mom, until they are a mom. So regardless of the advice you hear, remember that your journey is just that, it’s yours. Take the advice you like and leave the rest. And if you need to adjust or seek different advice once you are a mom, you do that!

I was so caught up in preparing to be a mom. Like most of us, I dreamed about what motherhood would be like. Since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom. Needless to say, I put A LOT of pressure on myself. I just wanted to do this mom thing right. But man, when you put those kind of expectations on yourself, you’re bound to fail.

Here are some things I wish I knew as a first time mom:

  1. Things will not go as planned. From the time that baby is out of you, things will probably not be the way you pictured it. When I first became a mom, I found myself feeling so disappointed with the smallest things. I was striving for perfection, and it is not even close to attainable. Grace on grace on grace. There’s beauty in the unpredictable moments. Rather than letting those moments stress me out, I wish I would’ve seen them as opportunities to lean on God even more.
  2. Take a minute, or thirty-seven for yourself. I was so fearful of something going wrong if I left her with someone. She was used to me and how I did things, what if the person watching her didn’t know those things? It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance to benefit everyone. I needed time for myself that I didn’t think I needed. The baby needed time away from me. Grandma got some one on one time in. It was hard, but it got easier each time.
  3. Include your significant other. I read all the books. All the blog posts. All the articles. I was ready to tackle whatever this baby would bring. My husband couldn’t possibly know what to do because he didn’t read the books. Turns out, he did know what to do! He’s Daddy. He knew how to love that child and bond with her. At times me and my internet knowledge got in the way of that.
  4. Grandparents want and need to help. My biggest regret from early parenthood is that I pushed them away rather than welcomed them in. I was so over-protective that they felt like they were walking on egg shells. That was their grand baby and I was just sitting there keeping her to myself! Goodness, I wish I could go back to those early days and share her with the people that love her so much.
  5. You will fail… daily. I wish I could tattoo grace on my forehead. Maybe I’ll run that idea by my husband and see how he feels about it. I failed daily and I still do. I used to beat myself up over it and feel like such a failure if things didn’t go as planned. I’ve learned to give myself grace in those moments. All I can do is all I can do. And as long as I’m doing my best, that’s all that matters.
  6. FIND MOM FRIENDS. I can’t emphasize this enough. As my daughter got older, I made this a priority. But I didn’t realize how important it was until I developed those friendships. We are all in this together. Put yourself out there. Go to MOPS. Go to Chick-fil-A where dreams come true. Invite another mom over for a play date. We need adult conversation and our kids need to interact with other kids. Get out there, mama!
  7. You will sleep again. I remember being in zombie mode for months. I was trying to enjoy the early days, but I was just so dang tired. The whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” didn’t make sense to me because there was always so much to be done. But looking back, I should’ve just slept.
  8. Do what is best for YOUR family. Oh the opinions that come in. It never stops. We are all doing what’s best for our family. Mom shaming is real, don’t let yourself go there. Don’t compare what you’re doing to what other moms are doing. Do what is best for your family and know that they are doing what’s best for their family.
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. “No. We are ok. Thank you though.” My classic response as a first time mom. “It takes a village” is a real thing. When someone offers help, take them up on it. You deserve a break and if you don’t want to leave your baby, have someone come over so you can take a nap while they watch them.
  10. Try really hard to cherish the moments you want to remember. I was so worried about every little thing that I forgot to stop and really enjoy those sweet, subtle moments. Was I doing the right thing with the schedule and nursing and diaper changes? Who knows. I just know I was doing my best, and I’ve learned to recognize those sweet moments, and stop to really cherish them.

11. It’s not about the pictures. I’m a photographer, so I am all about the pictures. But I also think there’s a time for it. Sometimes it can really take away from those moments. You don’t have to take a picture of every little thing. My fondest memories aren’t on my iPhone, they’re in my heart because I was really present for it.

12. Nap time is your time. Tired? Sleep. Want to read a good book? Do it. Call up a friend? Go for it. Whatever you do, do not let yourself feel bad about it. Nap time is an opportunity to take care of you. Without self care we can’t be the best version of ourselves. So take the bubble bath!

What a gift it is to be a mom. Enjoy it. Cherish it. Be the best mom you can be and call it a day. Don’t let yourself overthink every little thing from that day. Tomorrow is a new day with new mercies. And if all else fails, get yourself a DONUT.

4 Ways to Stay Connected In-between the Date Nights…

Date nights. I think we can all agree that they are from the Lord. There are all kinds of date nights – the few and far between, the monthly, the weekly, the bi-weekly. Whatever your date night of choice is –  we know that they are sacred. Adults of small children love to spend uninterrupted time together. We have gone through seasons of weekly date nights, and then we’ve had moments when we say, “we should probably go on a date night since it’s been a little over three months.” We’ll set a schedule and then life happens and date nights get put on the back burner. Right now we are doing twice a month date nights. It’s working out well. It definitely gives us something to look forward to. But what about the time in-between date nights? How are we getting quality time in? I find myself craving time with my husband, but have a hard time making it a priority.

Let me just say that this time is precious. These moments with our littles are fleeting. And I know it is flying by. But I think something that we should also be talking about is the everyday struggle of focusing on your spouse in the midst of parenting babies and/or toddlers. They are all consuming. Spending focused time with your spouse can be difficult at times. What if the kids don’t nap at the same time? What if they’ve given up napping altogether? What if you are so exhausted by the end of the day that you can barely keep your eyes open to focus on your spouse?

I ask these questions because we are in the throes of it. We have a one year old and a three year old. Spending time with my husband is something I desire, but feel like I fail at often. To be honest, I’ve deeply struggled with keeping my husband first in the midst of all-consuming toddlers. I want to give him the best of me, but there are days when I feel like there’s nothing left. I’ve prayed through this, and reached out to others but haven’t gotten any solid answers. Pinterest even left me feeling disappointed. Which can only mean one thing – it’s time to get creative.

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1. Couch Time – Allie Cassazza (http://alliecasazza.com/) talks about this on her podcast. She and her husband spend time together at the end of the day and just catch up. We are trying to incorporate this into our everyday. We want to have just a few minutes to sit on the couch together and try to connect. We talk about how we’re doing and bring up anything that may have been on our heart throughout the day. We pull out an activity for the girls (1 & 3 years old) that we know will keep them busy for at least a few minutes so we can have this time. Ideally we would have this type of conversation before bed, but we are both so exhausted at that time and want to give each other as much focused time as possible.

2. Daily Devotional – Whether you have time with your spouse in the morning, evening, or during the day – a daily devotional will change the game. These devotionals will start the conversation for you, so there’s no pressure to figure out what you’re going to talk about. We are currently going through The Love Dare Day by Day. It’s wonderful!

3. Car Ride – Depending on the age of your kids, a car ride might just be the perfect time to spend time together. We have taken advantage of this many times. After the babies get past the “I hate the car seat and nothing will make it better” phase, it can definitely work. Coloring books are usually involved. Oh and side note –  Color Wonder books will change your life. They have markers that only write on the page of the coloring book. These people are geniuses. Snacks are also a winner in our book. It’ll give us at lease 10 minutes. If we are feeling a little out of sorts or that we just simply aren’t connected, we will take a car ride. It’s good to get out of your house and in a different environment for a little while, even if it’s a short conversation. It’ll be focused time to reconnect.

4. The Nap Time Quickie – Like a quick(ie) conversation. Sheesh, it’s not that kind of blog. But listen, it can be whatever you want it to be. Let’s just keep it to ourselves. If the stars align and your children nap at the same time and your husband is home – do not pass up this opportunity. I will say it again – stop what you are doing and go find your husband. There will always, ALWAYS be something to do. I am so guilty of not wanting to deviate from the to-do list. But in these times of being parents to small children, you have to jump at these opportunities. I never regret putting everything else aside to spend time with my husband.

It took a while to figure all of this out, and we’re still figuring it out! Is there anything you do with your spouse everyday? Anything that helps connect you quickly instead of waiting for a date night? Let me know in the comments below!