The Day I Didn’t Hold My Son

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

Sometimes I feel like that saying rings true even with my own kids.

I love my boys more than I could ever express, but sometimes I just see hear a little bit too much of them. I need time alone to recharge, and sometimes it feels like that time should last a week.

My husband and I have been toying with the idea of me returning to work part time. While figuring out hours and making sure my boys are well cared for are my main hindrances, I think about all the positives that come along with me leaving the house for a few hours a week. Aside from the small amount of extra income, I think about the time that I would be away from my family. A small part of me grows sad thinking about it, because I’m so used to being with them day in and day out. Yet, I imagine that the distance apart would make the times together that much more special.

Almost anyone who is a stay at home parent, especially to more than one kid, knows that breaks are few and far between. When I had just Joshua, his naps were moments of freedoms for me, time to regain sanity and accomplish some chores, do some schoolwork or just have a cup of coffee in peace. With two, nap times are rarely at the same time (if Joshua takes a nap at all), no matter how much I plan out the day.

This moment was so rare that I had to take a picture of it.

It isn’t uncommon for me it have to fold laundry without one of the boys “helping” or make dinner while begging Joshua to get out of our teeny kitchen.

What was once a mindless chore for me to enjoy (yes, enjoy) in peace and quiet, often turns into a battle where I feel like I’m losing my mind if I don’t remember to practice patience.

Today was one of those days. I put the boys down for a nap at the same time. We had spent some time in the heat outside, jumped and danced around with Joshua, and counting how many hours they had been awake, I was sure they would both sleep indefinitely.

Joshua never slept. Ethan took a nap that was half as long as normal.

I was tired as it was from cleaning different parts of the house all day and even more frustrated by this lack of quiet time. I brought the boys downstairs while I finished folding laundry. Ethan has this thing where he doesn’t cry, he screams. And it’s the perfect pitch to shatter my ear drum. So I listened to that while I tried to finish my chores.

Eventually, we got to a peaceful enough point when dinner was almost finished where I made an alphabet tracer for Joshua with a $3 chalkboard from Target and chalk paint.

He’s writing in his own H. I think it’s his favorite letter. 

Wouldn’t it be great if every moment was like that? Would I value more time with them like that if I was away from them more?

The truth is, it’s easy to get annoyed when I’m trying to finish up dishes and Ethan is screaming bloody murder from the high chair, begging to be held. It’s almost easy to stay annoyed for the rest of the day at my tired baby, because I know that if he would have had a normal nap, he wouldn’t have been tired at this time.

But at the end of the day, I look back and wonder if I should have held him more, regardless of how I felt or what needed to be done.

See, back when he was in the hospital in January, during his first day in the PICU, I wasn’t able to hold him. I had asked the nurses, but from what I understood, they didn’t want compromise with all the wires and machines that they had hooked him up to. I felt so helpless, watching my sleeping, helpless, frail baby fight for his life. As his mother, my innate job was to give him life and I could not do a single thing about his condition at that time.

It sucked.

The next day, the nurse on shift encouraged me to hold my baby boy. I was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning. It was the sweetest feeling in the world.

This was such a wonderful moment for me. I held him for what felt like forever.

So, on a day like today, when I imagine how good it would be to get out of the house, away from my screaming boys, I find it important to remember that there was a day when I couldn’t hold my baby. I hold on to Ethan extra long at night, after he’s fallen asleep, and stroke his sweet face and hold to his little hand. I want to savor every part of him, in the moments when I can. Whether I’m at home all day or work full time outside of the house, I want to take advantage of the time I have with my boys because I do not want to imagine another day where I long to hold my baby but cannot.

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In All Circumstances


I want to be grateful for the things that often get overlooked, and to genuinely express my thankfulness. 

Those are words from my last post

Have you ever heard that you shouldn’t pray for patience because then suddenly your patience will be very tested?

Well

I have to admit that if you had seen me at any random point this past weekend, you would’ve never thought that I was trying to be more grateful in life. If you were to look up complainer in the dictionary, I could almost guarantee that you’d see a picture of me and my ol’ grumpy, tired, stressed self. 

On Thursday night, we noticed that there was a leak in the basement coming from our apartment’s plumbing. We live in an old 2-family house and, unfortunately, leaks and plumbing issues are a fairly common occurrence. Thus, they’ve been normalized. It means we have to rent the snake from Home Depot, put it through the drains, clear the clog, pack it up, bring the machine back, enjoy the use of our water. 

I was told on Thursday night to not use the kitchen sink. On Friday, I was told to not touch any water in my home. (I have a small bladder and two kids with sticky hands. I need to use the water in my house. And you know how much I love my shower.) As annoyed as I was, I was happy that my husband would be home soon with the rented snake to go about business as usual and that we can then enjoy our pizza/movie Friday night with the boys. 

Five hours

That’s how long my amazing, determined, hardworking husband worked to get the snake to go through the drain. To no avail. It just kept getting stuck. He decided he would try again in the morning through the opening under the toilet. 

The next morning, we enjoyed a nice breakfast with homemade pancakes and fruit. Afterwards, I wished my husband good luck as he went to the upstairs toilet. I was convinced we would have the afternoon to enjoy ourselves. 

I was so happy when he came down and said that all 75 feet went through and he was going to check for leaks. That is, until he noticed that all 75 feet were on the ground in the driveway. 

Somehow, it had gone up the exhaust and over the roof until it spilled on the driveway.

We rolled our eyes and laughed as he started his work again. 

For five hours

But then, something happened!

One of the PVC pipes cracked. 😩 Which meant that our issue was not only in the clogged pipe, but also in the broken piece that my husband now had to fix on Sunday after church. On top of this, I was stressed and overwhelmed with the boys, being inside with them all day, and the dishes that were piling up in the sink that I couldn’t wash. I wanted the day to be done. 

Eventually, nighttime came and we got up on Sunday and actually had a nice break from the reality at home. We even stayed extra late to avoid going back home and facing what was there. 

But my husband had a plan to temporarily reroute the water so that we could run the shower and sink, but no solid waste was allowed. I found that to be very annoying, though I was grateful to use my own shower on Sunday night.

Two plumbers came on Monday. Plumber 1 insisted he could do nothing because, well, our whole plumbing system is messed up. Plumber 2 stayed longer, tried diagnosing the problem with a camera, but came to the same conclusion. Also, they cut open a coupling that completely undid what Roland did on Sunday. 

To top all of this off, Ethan decided it would be fun to sleep like a newborn this weekend so I’ve been exhausted. And tired me = grumpy me. 

So here we are, on Tuesday, and I’m still waiting for a conclusion to this story!

Now in all of this, there was one prayer in the back of my mind. It was one that I was too afraid to utter or even think because I wasn’t sure I would be happy with the answer.  

“God, what are You trying to tell me?”

But I heard Him on Saturday night. He said to me,

Just the other day, I taught you about having the thankful heart of a child. I showed you what it was to unashamedly thank Me for even the smallest things in your life that often go unnoticed. If I took one of those things away from you — the ability to use the running water in your house with little discretion — what would you do? Would you complain about what you now lack? Or would you still be thankful for the things that you do have? What if you were to lose everything, like Job did. What would you be thankful for?

The words of the Bethel song played in the background. “We thank you for the cross.”


See, I conveniently left out many things from this story. 

In this old 2-family-house, we live in one apartment and my parents live in the other. So every time I couldn’t use my own toilet or shower, I was able to use my parents’. I was still able to use their washing machine which meant I didn’t miss a beat with keeping up with laundry. As much as this old house drives me crazy with all of its issues, I have a really good deal living here. And my husband, the amazing man he is, was able to take over inside the house for twenty minutes when I was overwhelmed on Saturday so I could get the boys down and simply have to worry about the dishes (which I could do next door) all while he had work of his own to do. 

In all these things, I am so blessed and fortunate. In all of these, there are reasons to be grateful. Because even when I am frustrated by what I temporarily lack, there is so much that I still have. 

every post could use some baby pictures – these boys are something to be grateful for
But even if all of that got stripped away too, there would always be the Cross. I pray that I will one day learn to be content in that alone. 

Not Defined By Today

I am a mess today.

I’ve got baby food and baby throw up on my shirt. I’m wearing no makeup, though it wouldn’t matter if I was with the amount of sweat on my face. As such, the dark circles under my eyes are completely visible. My hair needs to be washed, or at least brushed. I’ve had a dull, barely noticeable headache since this morning. My temper is short. I’m exhausted. I’ve been counting down the hours until the day is done. 

Honestly, I’d take a picture as proof, but I’m not good with selfies (if you can believe it).

I’m sure you know these kinds of days. The kinds when the baby wakes up too early in the morning and hardly naps. The kind where the toddler doesn’t take a nap. The kind where you try so hard to give the kids a fun time but it feels like it only backfires. The kind where you think you’d be content with serving Oreos for dinner because you know the kids wouldn’t complain about it. 

Today was tiring and I tried to keep my cool as much as possible. But it took so little to set me off today. I lost it more times than I’d like to admit and I honestly feel ashamed for the way that I acted. 

But it’s on days like this, days when I feel overworked, underappreciated, and emotionally spent, that I am happy to know that I am still a child of God

My messy hair and clothes don’t define me. 

My moments of stress don’t define me. 

Today doesn’t define me. 

I am defined by Christ. It is His love and grace that gets me through not only the day but this life in general. It’s a sweet reminder that no matter how much I mess up, He is still faithful and good to me. 

“I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭NCV‬‬

http://bible.com/105/eph.2.8-10.ncv



Now, I think I need a shower

The Love of a Parent

I’m exhausted today. I got a total of 3 1/2 hours of solid sleep. Other than that, I was up with Ethan all night. 

Note: please do not interpret this as complaining. Stuff like this was in the bold print when I signed my contract for motherhood. 

Still, last night was one where I was looking forward to to being completely alone and taking some time for just myself. The boys didn’t take a nap in the afternoon, so they were tired and would go to sleep extra early, and Roland was at church for a board meeting which would inevitably go past my bedtime. I would have the house to myself for a few hours and it would be wonderful.

It was one of those days where you get kicked in the eye, your battery won’t start, and your favorite decorative dish breaks, to name a few.

Joshua explained to me that he was using the ball to get the candy bandaids. You have to give him credit for his resourcefulness!

While I was pleased with how I mostly laughed off situations that could have potentially been really stressful, I was looking forward to my quiet evening. But I had that feeling where I knew I should not count on my quiet evening.

Both boys were in bed by the time Roland left and about 2 and a half seconds later, Ethan was waking up. It was clear he wasn’t going back to sleep, so I brought him downstairs while I did the dishes and was able to put him back to sleep after that. About an hour later, he woke up again, so I picked him up and he threw up all over the floor (and him, and a little on me too).

I didn’t brush this off with laughter, though. My heart broke to see my baby uncomfortable and not feeling well. So I made a spot for him in my bed.

This was clearly his secret plan to getting more hangout time with me. Look how happy he is to watch Gilmore Girls with me!

I did my best to comfort him in any way that I could. I just wanted to see him rest and I could not sleep until I saw that he was resting.

The whole time I was awake, though, A verse was stuck in my head — if your son asks for a piece of bread, what parent would give him a stone? How much more will your Father in heaven give you?

““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:7-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/mat.7.7-11.esv

I did not want to be awake for 2/3 of my night. Even less did I want to see my son suffer, to any degree. 

So if I, as a fleshly parent who can so often get stressed and annoyed with her kids (I can’t be the only one…) could give up the one thing I thought I deserved and looked forward to so much for my son and willingly give him what he needed from me, how much more will my perfect Heavenly Father give me?

 When I am broken and need comfort, he is the one who is with me until I finally find my rest. 
When I have any need, He is the one who supplies it. 

As a mom, what I can do is so limited in the grand scheme of things. I cannot always be there for my kids. Sometimes, all I can offer is temporary comfort in trying times. 

But my God reigns over all and is all powerful and is still willing to give me the things I ask for.

In fact, he loves me so much that he gave up his only son for ME.

I don’t think I could give up either of my sons for anything. 

“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:7-10‬ ‭MSG‬‬

http://bible.com/97/1jn.4.7-10.msg

Ramblings of a Tired Mom

I am a stay at home mother of two. Joshua is 2 1/2 and is the sweetest, most loving and hilarious boy I know, and Ethan is my handsome, smiley 3 month old.

I adore my boys. I thank God for these wonderful treasures. But, we’re all human in this house, so our days, even the really good ones, are never perfect.

None of this makes me special or even gives me a reason to blog (does the world really need another mommy blog?), but my thoughts over this past week were enough reason to get this all out in writing.

Let me start with this: I am tired. Over the weekend, I suddenly got mastitis, and while I’m on antibiotics for it, I couldn’t quite get all of the prescribed rest I needed. While Ethan is an overall happy baby, he isn’t the easiest to put to sleep, and his waking schedule overnight is off the wall. A few weeks ago, he was getting into 6-7 hour stretches, and I sang my praises to the Lord. And then, without any notice, he went back to waking every 3 hours (though the other night, when I was the most exhausted, he chose to wake up every 2 hours, like clockwork). Maybe this is normal, I don’t know. To be honest, these things didn’t affect me so much when Joshua was a baby. It was just me and him all day, and if the dishes or laundry didn’t get done one day, it didn’t really matter. But now, I have a toddler whose life also depends on me and my doing things around the house. While he is very good and usually independent, it’s exhausting to have to keep up with him and a demanding baby who doesn’t have the whole “sleep” thing nailed down yet.

Everything became too much for me to handle the other day and I lost it. It was so bad that I, someone who finds it extremely difficult to ask for help, asked my mom to come from work. I left Joshua playing by himself and Ethan crying screaming on my bed while I sat in the hallway and wept. I had a dozen things that had to get done and he had not taken one decent nap all day. I knew he was well fed and clean and plain tired, and I would rock him to sleep, but every time I would put him down, he’d wake up crying and unable to be soothed. I felt like a horrible mother for not being tender and loving to my precious boy and holding him for as long as he needed and instead simply listened to his screams from the next room.

All the articles on Pinterest that I’ve ever read while nursing him flooded back to me – the ones about why you shouldn’t let a baby cry it out, about how to get your 6 week old to sleep through the night, and other ones like it. While he eventually fell asleep for a couple of hours, I couldn’t shake the guilt. It wasn’t until a couple of days later that it hit me that I’m sure that my mom didn’t pick me up with my first whimper and wasn’t holding me all the time, considering she had a toddler and pre-schooler to tend to. I might be biased, but I think I turned out OK. I’ve always felt secure next to my mom, don’t think I suffered any brain damage from crying as an infant, and have no recollection on if she left me in the crib alone for twenty minutes because my brothers needed some lunch.

It was in that moment that I realized that it’s OK to not always be holding my baby (and my back knows it!) or to leave him crying in a safe place for a bit if I cannot tend to him in the moment, whether emotionally or physically. He’s going to be OK. And in a little while, I’ll be OK too.

This is why I write. For that mom who maybe needs to know that another mom has been there. To be raw and honest in a world where it’s so easy to put on a mask of perfection. To show that it is OK to not always have it all together.