Ok, so maybe I'm being overly dramatic with this title but I'd be lying if I said this summer was a breeze. I work part-time at a Psych Hospital and have said to staff a time or two that I seriously might call to see if a bed is available just to get a break from my own reality.
Of course there were excellent moments this summer, but also a bunch of overly exhausting moments that I never thought would end. Summer's are typically the hardest times for me as a mom and some of that is really my own fault. I have yet to put my girls in a summer program, however I know of a excellent two day a week program that I might just be the first in line next year to enroll my girls in. (wink, wink)
Let me clear some things up before I dive into this post, because as expected I've had a couple of as I would call them negative "mom shaming" comments about my excitement for the new school year to start. To that I say #BYE! I absolutely love and adore my kids!! I'm fiercely protective of my babies and I could seriously cuddle with and stare at my daughter's faces all day long because they are the most adorable, sassy, and sweet girls ever. They completely melt my heart, however being the open book and real person that I am, I can't say that there were not times I wanted to hitchhike out of town (yes hitchhike because I don't want my car to be tracked lol) on a long journey to a place where kids are NOT ALLOWED.
Seriously ladies we have the right to say, "I'm overwhelmed, tired, and need a break," without getting the side eye from the mom who seems to be perfect and have it all together ALL the time. Sorry, I just don't have it all together! I'm a complete mess at times and I own it!
This summer my seven year old nephew came to live with us for the upcoming school year. To say that the last month and a half has been a hard transition is an understatement. I had no clue how difficult it was going to be transitioning from my two little girls to three. I've jumped in somewhat blindly from the start, with the "This will be easy-I've got this" mentality and being oh so humbled that nope I really don't- but thankful that God does! Wes and I are needing God's guidance and strength more than ever right now.
Our summer days were filled with running errands (typically with all three kids- insert bulging eye emoji here), checking out places for the kids to have fun and run wild, LOTS of laundry, exhaustion, tons of whining, nagging, tattling, me sounding like a broken record saying things over and over again, discipline that wasn't always effective, 20+ requests for snacks/juice/milk per day, lots of tears (partly from me), messes galore, and the list goes on.
Hear me out- I don't say any of this to complain- this is what I signed up for when I decided to become a parent and I would never give up this role. I say all of this because when we run into a mom who seems to be excited about a short break from kids, as women we should more supportive and understanding. We shouldn't be as judgmental.
On social media lately I've seen some articles, blog posts, and watched a few conference speeches given by moms about the complexities and joys of motherhood that have been amazing and super transparent, however I'm always confused at the super negative comments. With social media you could essentially have someone criticizing your parenting 600 miles away who doesn't even know you.
Mom shaming is real!!! I'm guilty of it myself mostly before kids. The things I would say and think about other mom's parenting styles before I even had children is actually quite embarrassing now. Oh, how God has humbled thee! Now one of the best compliments I receive from other moms and wives is, "Nicole you make me feel normal." Trust I'm right there in the trenches with you mamas!
I've had some of the most transparent and deep conversations with friends lately. Life isn't always easy. Newlyweds getting into the "real of marriage"-how it's not always super easy, couples in the midst of pregnancy challenges, discipline issues with kids, a spouse loosing their job, along with super positive moments as well. The fact that I could go to church feeling overwhelmed and have several ladies come around me to support while I break down in tears and then have a friend come over and say "girl I just had a good cry over there with so and so about my mom guilt and challenges in life too," is what doing life with others is all about.
Although this summer brought about many challenges for me- I'd be remiss not to mention all the sweet cuddles, kisses, quality time spent with my kiddos training them for life beyond myself and daddy, gospel conversations, lessons learned, answered prayers, and opportunities for growth in my own relationship with Christ. This summer God was testing my patience on all levels and yes I failed many times, but I'm still here loving my babies and striving to understand that I am not in control- God is!!
Some pics of our summer & 1st days of school!!
Wow! To say thirteen years flew by is an understatement. Where has the time gone? Not sure but Happy 13th Anniversary to my love, my best friend, and my most favorite person ever!
I'm sure I've listed some things I've learned along the way on this journey called Marriage before but seriously the biggest thing I've learned so far and continue to learn is just how much I don't know. In thirteen years we haven't arrived by any means.
My husband and I got married straight out of college. Like seriously a semester after Wes graduated and a summer before I graduated. I wouldn’t change that but boy were we young, dumb (more green than uneducated), broke, and sooo "in love!" We had no clue the amount of work you put into real love! I am in many ways a very different person than Wes married at twenty-two and thank God for it. Shoot, I'm a very different person than the nineteen year old me that he met at the TSU bookstore that very special people (you know who you are) instigated into our first date.
Those days my biggest worries were whether or not my classes were going to get purged, if I was going to get into certain clubs and organizations, and how long I could be on the phone with Wes before one of us fell asleep (cell mins unlimited after 9pm). Now, the worries I have look extremely different. #adulting
Last night I seriously found Wes hiding out in the girls room rocking chair in the dark before bedtime from the chaos called having two kids aged two and four. ;) Maybe he was hiding from me too- trust me the “estrogen mafia” can be a bit much to handle at times!! Lol Bedtime consisted of sweet hugs, snuggles, kisses, prayers, and bedtime stories but trust it was coupled with tons of whining, tears over who gets to stand on the step stool to brush teeth first, missing slippers/dolls/bears, requests for more snacks, repeated needs to go to the bathroom to avoid having to go to bed, constant getting out of the bed to grab toys/ books/or knock on our door(10x’s smh), and I'm 100% sure someone got their hand or bottom popped at some point... Or was that the day before- nevermind it's actually EVERY night (insert bulging eye emoji here).
I wouldn't trade my life and crazy home for anything but I also won't sugarcoat it to be easy nor fun ALL the time. Being a wife and a mom is EXHAUSTING, and emotional. I don't always have a clue what I am doing. I'm just trying to do the best that I can. Gods grace is the glue that holds it all together (and keeps me sane). I want a successful marriage and to raise good, God fearing, well adjusted children. So far so good- but it doesn't happen easily and it sure doesn't always look pretty along the way.
In this day of social media, it is sometimes hard to decipher between what is true and what is real. Relationships require a ton of work. Don't be fooled into thinking every marriage you see on social media has it all figured out, while at times you may be just trying to keep your head above water . I can assure you Wes and I don't have it all figured out. We are just super committed to each other. It's the one thing we had coming into the marriage and so far after being tested, tried, and gone through the fire, we still posses this quality.
Last year was a testing year overall (Life stuff more than marriage stuff) and although this year is off to a great start, for the first time in our marriage we started a few sessions of Christian marriage therapy. We went to therapy because between work, children, extended family, and marriage things got a little off kilter and our communication toolbelt could use a new tool. We also go because we'd rather work together on issues early rather than wait until "crap" hits the fan.
This might be a cultural thing but I grew up in a home/time where we was told, “don't tell nobody your business.” We just didn't share our problems, nor seek counseling/ therapy for ANYTHING and trust my family desperately needed it! As I've gotten older I enjoy being a very open, crazy self discloser! I own my issues! If I can't be myself and real with people what's the point? It's strange the negative stigma sometimes placed on seeking help. So explain to me how a few sessions of premarital counseling at the start of a marriage is supposed to successful get you through the “for better and for worse” of 50yrs+ of marriage?? Kudos to you if that’s you but it’s not my story in my imperfect life. It's perfectly ok to get physical, occupational, speech therapy, etc if you need it but you just might get the "side eye" if you need marriage therapy? #confused
Wes and I made a vow before God, our family, and friends that we take very seriously. So by any means necessary we will continue to love, grow, and seek any help to strengthen that vow! I urge anyone else needing help to please do the same. No shade here. Well off to many many more years to come with the Love of my Life- Happy Anniversary Babe!!
A thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it more abundantly. John 10:10
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. Ephesians 6:12
Lately I've seen family members and many friends walk through the hard decision of divorce and I often wonder what happened? Were there things or people who could have helped and maybe supported the couple more?
Marriage is a topic I hold near and dear to me, not because I have it all figured out because Lord knows I DON'T, but because I'm in the throes of marriage. I'm in the fight to protect my vows and the struggle is real. I believe we could use people being more honest about marriage- the good and the difficult parts.
I started with these scriptures above because I’m a firm believer that the devil takes pleasure in ruining the family network. He wants to break up relationships, split up families, to kill, steal and destroy. He definitely doesn't want you to stay committed. We must remember our fight isn't always with flesh, many times it's a spiritual attack.
Having a good marriage takes work. Sometimes I wonder if engaged couples know what all they are taking on before they stand before God and others and say "I do." After the beautiful fairytale wedding, comes the the time to really "do" and I promise you the doing part is the challenge after the honeymoon period is over. I don't care how long you've known/loved a person, or lived together, marriage brings about a whole different ballgame of emotions.
While I was engaged all I could think about were the joys of being a wife. I honestly never really thought about what could occur during the "for worst" times when I said my vows but trust some hard times came. Wes and I have had lots of ups and downs along the way and then throw kids into the mix and somedays we are just barely surviving. ;) Imagine being in a boat trying to paddle upstream with NO paddle and then the boat springs a leak. Oh and just for fun lets add that someone forgot the life jackets at home... Yep that's us many days lol
Let me ask hypothetically in a marriage, what happens emotionally when you want to start a family but you are having difficulty? What happens when you have baggage and/ or dealing with family drama? What about if you or your spouse is let go from a job and can't find employment? What happens when your healthy spouse goes through serious medical problems and no longer looks or acts like the same person you married? What happens if mental illness attacks? What about when you just don't like your spouse? <--- I love me some Wesley however in our 12 1/2 years of marriage I'd be lying if I said I liked him the ENTIRE time...haha.
I'm not saying to focus on all the negatives and what if's, but I would like people to understand that just because you say I do- it doesn't shield you from life's ups and downs. Wes and I have this book of short stories of Christian couples who had been married 50 plus years and seriously the only difference between them and others is that they've held on longer and worked through more stuff. I promise you the stories were not all rosy either. They just worked through what life threw at them, good bad and sometimes ugly.
You can absolutely have a beautiful and awesome marriage and I wish that for everyone. I would urge that when times get hard (and they will just give it some time!!) to please fight for your marriage as much as possible (sometimes situations are beyond our control and trust I get it). Seek professional help before casually tossing around that "d" word. Get connected in small groups at church or with other couple friends who have healthy marriages. Chat it out with someone who had been there, done that, and made it through successfully! Pray, read books, listen to podcasts, just do whatever you can to try to get over the hurdles (once again if your situation allows this).
I'm no expert in marriage but I'd really like to be there more for my friends and others who are navigating marriage. I would never want anyone to look at me and my marriage and say "she has it all figured out." I'd laugh at that notion just like I did the other day when a friend told me I never look stressed as a parent (haha that's the sweetest but biggest joke I've heard all week- inserts bulging eye emoji here). I promise you Wes and I are still learning and making a ton mistakes along the way but seriously the one major thing we got going for us is that we are crazy committed to each other.
Let's vow to truly support each other through one of the hardest yet also one of the most rewarding roles we will have (in my opinion). God bless!
My cousin suggested recently that I write a blog post about how we spend birthdays and Christmas so here goes... This is simply what my husband and I have decided to do based on what we value and what's best for our kids. I'm in no way trying to say that my way is better- it just works for our family. The basic ideas below are not new as I've heard many other mamas talk about it, so I'm just reiterating what we've done thus far..
Each birthday we celebrate is special but making it special has never depended on how grand or how much money we've spent on the occasion. Both my girls 1st birthdays we drove out of town to spend it w/ my husband's family. I did all my own decorations (thanks Pinterest!!) and it was a fun time... mostly for the adults and photo opps... because lets be real my one year old could have cared less if we were standing in our dining room alone w/ a cupcake and a lit candle. After stressing over decorations for a couple weeks, packing up kids, taking them out of their routines, etc, I honestly think if we have a third child I'm keeping everything much more simple, staying home, and saving my sanity along the way.
Second and third birthdays so far have been easy and sweet. I dropped off cookies at school and later in the evening we had Auntie and a neighbor couple over that my girls adore and just spent quality time together over homemade cupcakes. Malachi's third birthday we took her to her first movie after we had cupcakes w/ grandparents and Auntie at home. She loved it and still talks about. One day they will have an actual party with friends but trust it will still be simple AND small. We will definitely discuss their likes and wants as it pertains to birthdays as they get older.
I really want my girls to understand just how much quality time is a gift. We get birthday invites frequently but we just can't go to most of them because my life cannot revolve around kid birthday parties. People's time is valuable and sometimes hard to come by so I want my girls to always know that whether its two of us celebrating or twenty they are special and loved either way.
Any parent out there overwhelmed or maybe even annoyed by all the lost toys all over your home, I know I am. I promise I am not anti-toys, I just prefer experiences for my kids when I have a say. A Zoo or Adventure Science membership outlives most of the toys we get. Last Christmas the girls played w/ their gifts for like an hour and then moved on. Wes and I limit the amount of toys we buy the girls going for more quality than quantity. As for extended family- cash to apply to needed items and/or experiences, sports/dance fees, gift cards, and even next size up clothes and shoes are perfect! These are all gifts that keeps on giving unlike the mini toy shop hiding under my couch right now collecting dust.
Call me the mean, un-fun mom by this post but surprisingly my girls are very happy and content. They are blessed and happy with what they get and the way I see it I seriously have plenty of time before they really start making lists of wants so I'm not going to rush it. They are only two and four! We spend the holidays decorating, baking cookies, building gingerbread houses, praising God, spending quality time together, checking out all the cool Christmas lights shows, serving others, and yes opening up gifts too. This is all done without breaking the bank and keeping family time high priority!! What are your birthday and holiday traditions? I'm always looking for interesting, new, and simple ideas.
.A few weeks ago I decided it was time to figure out what I was doing (that was not productive)and make some changes. I was filling my mind with all the negative stuff going on in the world, feeling overly anxious about chores that needed to get done, and not reading my Word because I just couldn't find time in my schedule. Basically I was just busy but not necessarily busy doing what's most important.
Soo how did my more positive and less busy week go?
It was actually quite nice. I might have washed dishes once that week which is a shocker for me. Our sink and trash can seems to magically fill up daily. I was much more calm and relaxed according to my husband. I took a couple naps and listened to several excellent Andy Stanley sermons from North Point Church. I started re-reading an amazing Christian book on marriage called, "Becoming the woman of his dreams," by Sharon Jaynes. I will write a post about that book soon as it was eye opening! I spent much more un-rushed quality time with my family overall which was a blessing.
I also diverted being caught up in family drama. It was like the day I said I was going to only focus on positive stuff for the week the very next day all crap hit the fan and I was bombarded by a big family blow-up that had nothing to do with me. I was actually pretty proud of the way I handled myself not getting overly involved which is extremely hard to do with my family!
Although my week was great-I mean how could I not enjoy letting most of my home responsibilities fall by the waste-side while I put together puzzles and watch "Trolls" with the girls I'm not sure I can live my life 100% that free flowing. Parenting small children requires order. With this said, I definitely have to find a balance.
I know I'm in a better mood when there is order in my life. The way my personality is set up- it's necessary, but I will definitely also try to be more in the moment too. I also realize I'm just in a wild season right now that requires more energy and hands on work...this too shall pass!
So what did I learn...
On a super positive note-
On a super real note-
So I've been a bit MIA lately. I have to admit I've been in a sort of fog. Not a "feel sorry for myself" sort of fog but a "being too busy to do the things that truly matter" type of fog. Time to ask myself, “what am I doing and how can I change it?"
So let's see what's going on currently in my life. I went back to work and although it's only PRN and I have complete flexibility of my schedule (which I love), I do work nightshift and those are twelve hour shifts. It's going very well and I'm still adjusting to this change in my life, but I know God has me there for a reason.
Lately, I've not been as enthusiastic about writing as much as I used to. I love to share my thoughts and experiences but finding the time to sit and write them out regularly has been much harder over the past couple of months. Usually topics and interests come to me and I feel excited and led to write but I think I've been pilling my life up with a lot of unnecessary tasks that has kept me in a constant overwhelmed state.
At a recent date night with my husband I told him that I'm feeling depleted, and frankly under appreciated. Between trying to keep the house decent, cooking, grocery shopping, doing the girls hair, serving others, being a wife, a mom, dealing with constant meltdowns and the "i need this and that" my almost 2 and 4 year old demands on a daily basis I'm feeling like "what about me!?!?" Don't get me wrong my husband contributes around the home and definitely tries to show appreciation for what I do but sometimes after a long stressful day when neither of the girls are listening it just doesn't feel like enough.
I am grateful for a husband who goes to work each day to provide for our family and still comes home to help w/ bedtime, bath, and will even help me detangle and wash the girls hair etc, but its something in us mothers that keeps us doing and doing some more that before we know it we've forgotten completely about ourselves. I have to stop feeling guilty when I just need a little "me time," something my husband constantly tells me to do. Some reason my need to do for everyone else takes over and I just can't get it through my stubborn head to rest and relax some.
So back to my date night...which by the way wasn't this deep the entire time. 😂We had some fun first but we also find its important to keep it real about what's going on in our lives and the areas we need to change. So my husband asks me WHY I feel the need to do everything and I randomly said if I don't then the whole house and responsibilities would come tumbling down. Then a thought came to me (perhaps it was the Holy Spirit) saying "but really will it or is this all in my mind?" Am I the one putting all these expectations on myself? What if over the next week I attempted to not get so worked up trying to "organize, clean and do" everything? Sure dinner needs to be cooked and the girls taken care of, and I have to go to work a couple days but what if most of the other things I did each day that stresses me out I just didn't do? My husband was on board but could I really do this?
As I looked over my every growing to do list that consumes my life I had to ask myself...is it really that pressing right now to organize the pantry??? Will my whole world come tumbling down if I don't start working on my Christmas photo books of the family... Yes I'm embarrassed to say that's on my list and its only Aug!! Hey I like to be proactive. 😉
Last, but not least, I've noticed that my sleep and attitude has taken a hit because of the not so healthy things I've been consuming myself with. There is nothing wrong with an episode of 20/20 but when I binge watch like ten or so episodes over the past week and every show is riddled w/ drug addictions, race conflicts, poverty, and who murdered who it becomes unbearable. When I wake up from a bad dream worried about who is attempting to kidnap my child I probably need to take a break.
We live in a fallen sinful world and the stories of hate and crime are a dime a dozen but there is good in the world too. I need to spend more time filling my mind with positive thoughts to combat the negative. I pretty much keep my social media time spent to a bare minimum lately so that's not been a problem. My challenge to myself for the next week- Sun to Sun is to consume my mind with only positive thoughts, books, blog posts, people, and God's word and avoid as best as I can (I do work in psych hospital so it will be very intentional efforts!!!) all the rest.
This week I will focus my attention on spending QUALITY time with my family, my God, and myself, the dishes and all else will just have to wait. I will just have to trust God that my world will not come crashing down! 😊
I can't believe it's been twelve years of marriage already! Please know that even after all these years we are definitely not masters at being married. It's a learning journey! These years include lots of trial and error coupled with God's guidance.
Here are some of the areas I've grown in (or still working on ;) along the way:
* God first, spouse second, children third, and all else follows. I've found that I'm less successful in my marriage when my priorities get mixed up and God isn't #1. It's super easy to get this order out of whack especially with small kids and/or the demands of life. Those demands can suck all the energy out of you but try to remember your husband or wife is not an obligation but a vow you made before God and others.
* I don't have to say EVERYTHING I am thinking. Trust this is an area I'm still working on (ask Wes!) Wes is not super detailed and I am, so sometimes I may need to shorten my story to keep his interest. ;) Also if I am frustrated with him and need to tell him (which I do- no walking on eggshells here lol) there are ways to present the issues that are much more respectful.
* I can't change him... Ladies if you think you can change your man or vice versa good luck there. When Wes and I first had pre-marital counseling we were asked about the things the other one did that drove us crazy. Then we were asked if we would be able to live with that forever. Great question because many of those same things I listed Wes still does...Smh. Also keep in mind that everyone changes over time so Wes and I are not the same exact people we were when we got married to an extent. Shoot throw kids and sleep deprivation into the mix and see how fast it changes you and your perspective haha!!
* Pray for your husband/wife!!! Sometimes it's the only way to keep my sanity and not be that "nagging wife." ;) Seriously pray not only for the things you want changed but for their mind, health, career, protection, etc. God knows your spouse more than you do and prayer is the best way to support and love them. Prayer absolutely changes things!
* Wes and I are different for a reason. Sometimes I expect Wes to see or handle a situation as I would, but we are two completely different people. As much as I think I want Wes to be more like me, if I'm honest with myself that would probably drive me crazy. I know I couldn't handle two of me for sure! Wes and I are complete opposites, but it works out beautifully for us. He is calm especially under pressure, not overly emotional, he takes his time, thinks things through, sees the best in everyone, and doesn't jump to conclusions and I...well... sometimes I'm the opposite of all of that (in certain situations), so he definitely balances me out!
* WORK IT OUT! This was the best marriage advice we ever received from a couple who at that point had been married over 50 years! Whatever situation that has comes up our #1 goal has been to work through it together. Disclaimer: trust I do know that there are non negotiable areas but our personal goal was to just not toss that word around every time one of us got "up in our feelings" about something. We are not perfect in any way but we decided early on that we would not bring up the "divorce" word and so far twelve years in we have accomplished that. Praise God! My running joke is that it's taken me too long to train Wes (still working on it!) for this gal to start all over again! ;)
* Always be growing together and enjoying each other. Wes is my best friend and I love hanging out with him. We get on each other's nerves like no other but we also have fun together. Every opportunity for a date night (esp w/free babysitting- thank God for family! lol) we snatch it up! Remember to always be working on your marriage, reading, and associating with other married couples. A guy once told me at his wedding over 40 years ago his dad presenting him with a plaque with two pieces of the same cut of wood attached. One piece of wood had been sanded beautifully over time and was smooth and the other piece was left jagged and rough. His dad explained marriage is similar to that wood example in the sense that the only way to get to the beautiful piece of wood (a healthy marriage) is to work on the wood. If not it would stay jagged and rough. He wanted his son to be reminded of it whenever he saw that plaque.
Marriage is hard. If you aren't married yet, you may be tired of hearing this phrase and may think it's an exaggeration but it's true and I promise you will see one day when/if you get married. One book I read basically asks the question, "what if the goal of your marriage was to make you more Holy instead of more happy?" Many books I've read explain how marriage basically exposes your complete self. In friendships and/or dating you can somewhat highlight your good sides. I promise after marriage your partner will see the good, the bad, and even the downright ugly sides of you and if they are dedicated will still love you through it all. There is no where to hide! So no matter what social media may portray from pictures, posts, and what not- it's not happily ever after (directly after you say I do) without work, real love (not that fluffy butterfly stuff based 100% on feelings), time, and dedication. I mean seriously what do you expect when you take two flawed individuals and have them share their lives together ;)
I won't sugarcoat it-we've had some great and some rough moments along the way. I've personally grown so much and it has humbled and stretched me beyond words. I know 100% that my marriage is the hardest yet most rewarding accomplishment in my life and I pray for many more years to come with my babe! Happy Twelve Year Anniversary to us!!
As I wrote earlier about my daughter's relationship w/ their father, I really started to dissect my own relationship/idea of fathers growing up and decided to share.
I know very little about my biological father. He spent most of my life in and out of prison. I met him for the first and last time the summer before I started my junior year of high school. That was the first communication I had with him up until maybe a few years ago. From what I was told he was a very good guy early on while he and my mom were dating and was happy when I was born. Who knows he might have become a decent father but when his mother passed away he was introduced to drugs and the rest was history. My mom told me about what happened (the good and the bad) all while not trying to paint a horrible picture of my father. I heard from others that knew him that the drugs caused him to be very abusive towards my mom and reckless.
Growing up my interactions with my step dads were even worse. So really between my own father, grandfather, uncle, and two step fathers every example I needed of a Godly man was practically non-existent. Sure I went to church and had friends who had fathers around but my interactions with them were not as significant. It wasn't enough to combat all the negative I was witnessing/experiencing at home. I didn't personally get to see how a man was supposed to treat his wife, nor how a man was supposed to treat and take care of his family.
I know God's hand was over my life because I ended up marrying a man who was God's best for me and my girls. Wes and I are nearing twelve years of marriage. We are not perfect but I'm blessed to say that all the craziness I experienced and watched growing up has NEVER occurred in my own marriage/home. The physical fights, severe jealousy, multiple police reports, mental and verbal abuse, etc are now a distant memory. Wes and I may not have a ton of money or materialistic things but I can say 100% I live in a peaceful and loving home which makes me feel rich!
I'm also grateful to God that after all those years of having a non existent dad, my father and I finally got a chance to speak. Long story short a few years ago my sister reached out to my father while he was still in prison and started a relationship with him. Shortly after he was then paroled and we reconciled. I was finally able to let him know that I had forgiven him. At the time I didn't realize how significant this would be but after his connection back with my sister and I he stayed out of jail, off drugs and was actually doing well. He was happy and was motivated to stay out of trouble for the first time in his life because of us. We had all planned to finally meet up soon, until the day I got a call from my sister crying. A hospital had just called her and said our father wasn't feeling well so he stopped by to be checked out and then died unexpectedly shortly after they had thought he was starting to feel better. In the end my dad really had no one besides my sister and I to take care of all the final arrangements.
I believe that after looking at my own experiences with fathers, God has brought me though all of these ups and downs to show me that no matter what He is in control and for me to try to keep my eyes on him. He has always been the Father to me that I needed and he will continue to be the most important Father in my life.
God in His holy dwelling is a father of the fatherless and a champion of widows. God provides homes for those who are deserted. He leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious live in a scorched land.
I have two adorable little girls. A little backstory when I was pregnant (both times) I just knew I was having a boy. I (embarrassingly) corrected anyone who called the baby a "she," before I found out what I was having. I don't know what my infatuation was with having a son. I do know that my sister and I argued and fought like crazy over EVERYTHING growing up so I wasn’t sure about embarking on the drama of two girls close in age like my sister and I.
Well God constantly proves to me that I am not in control and very frequently throws out all my perfectly organized plans. So two girls it is...23 months apart, and I could not feel more blessed and happy by His decision.
I am learning more about the special relationship between a daughter and her father as I watch my girls. This is all new to me as I didn't grow up with my biological father in my life, nor any other strong positive male figure.
Wesley is a wonderful father and our girls absolutely adore him. I love how giddy Micah gets when daddy comes home from work. She is excited, screaming “Hi daddy,” and runs to him. She instantly gets upset if he doesn't pick up her within two seconds of him coming in the door. He sometimes doesn't even have time to put his stuff down before she is in his arms or wrapped around his leg.
I have a friend who has two slightly older girls and when I was first pregnant she jokingly said get ready for when they want daddy over you. She gave an example of when her girls would sometimes cry out in the night and she would go in and console them and then randomly one night she got up and her daughter said to her "no, I want daddy." Well needless to say I'm in the midst of those times right now, mainly with my three-year-old Malachi but my one-year-old Micah is following closely behind.
From first thing in the morning until bedtime I hear the phrase "I want daddy" frequently. Every piece of artwork and anything done for the first time or done well she proclaims, "I need to show or tell daddy". If I say no to something or she is just over me she will say, "I want daddy" and go find him. We've learned to be on the same page with her technique of asking the other parent when one says no (I didn't know this scheme would start so early) :-) This past Sunday at church Wes was talking with someone AND had Micah in his arms and Malachi said she needed to use the bathroom so I said ok I'll take you and she said, "no I want daddy to take me."
Of course I don't get jealous...right :-0 ... I know my girls love and need me too, but I do jokingly think well what about me? I mean seriously Malachi just started saying that I am bossy. It actually sounds more like "you're not da bossy" or "stop being da bossy" when she she says it ;) To which I respond "bye girl, I sure am because I am in charge!" Strange how Wesley hasn't been called bossy yet...??? lol
I love the time they spend together. Malachi loves watching sports with daddy, Wes takes the girls on walks frequently, and I know they both prefer daddy's soul music bath time sessions over my regular boring ones ;0 (I mean who wouldn't???). At breakfast Malachi says she wants daddy's cereal (which is any of the cereals daddy likes) and at bedtime she wants to say daddy's prayer (which is actually the Lord's prayer haha)
I am blessed and grateful that they can have experiences I never had growing up. I don't know exactly what the future holds but we will enjoy this sweet time now because the pre/teenaged years may bring about a different adventure. sigh
If you were able to catch my last post about my shopping debacle with the girls, I must give a follow up post. I finally came to the conclusion that I was really the one at fault in that situation. :)
Let me explain...
I am blessed to be in community with many women of different ages and places in life that have children and can offer wise suggestions and advice. I also try to take every opportunity to go to events for other moms to socialize, learn, and ask questions. So recently at a mom's coffee event at church, I asked a friend who has a little girl close in age to my oldest daughter Malachi what she does at the grocery store. She was so kind to share her tips with me. She told me that she and her husband have been talking to and training their daughter on how to behave in a grocery store since she was about six months old and she has it down and knows what is expected of her. Wow-before their daughter even understood what was being said she was being taught the correct behavior. Light bulb moment for me!! I was actually quite embarrassed when I think about how much this makes sense and how far I was from the mark in this situation. I've worked w/ kids for many many years and I've ALWAYS told parents to set clear expectations, follow up with praises and /or consequences, and just be consistent. Funny how this tidbit completely evaded my memory when it came to own my grocery store issues.
For the longest Malachi was super easy to handle at the grocery store. She was the only child for close to a couple of years and she would sit in the basket and as long as she had a snack or toy she was set. Before she could really talk and ask for things, I had no problem with her begging wanting chips and candy that she saw. She also wasn't as familiar with those types of snacks so she had no reason to want those items anyhow. So it wasn't until recently when I would try to bring both girls, that along with her new level of independence and vocabulary, all the begging and whining began. I never really had a clear grocery store expectation set for her because for so long it just wasn't a problem for me. Then when it became a problem I was so worn down by the whining that my goal was just to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible without losing my temper and/or sanity. I'm also not sure why but I honestly thought it was just a stage that she would grow out of...haha!!
After my conversation with my friend, the very next grocery trip I set clear expectations for Malachi. I had her repeat them back to me as well as the consequences for misbehaving, and icing on the cake I also said a little prayer out loud for her behavior so Malachi can hear what I was saying (I promise this praying method has worked wonders for me when it came to her sharing at school). Instantly it was like I was shopping with a different kid. I didn't even have to resort to what I'm sure at some point many moms have done, you know the threats, bribing, and sometimes giving in just to have some peace and quiet. I am happy to report that so far I have taken both girls back to the store a few times since my crazy trip a couple of weeks ago and all is well. There have been absolutely zero tears, begging and whining and we all leave the store in good spirits. Thank God!