You Are More

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Embracing Toddlerhood: Pick Your Battles

As mothers we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I realize in my own life that I have this standard in my mind of the things I didn't want to do as a mother and then the things I wanted to do. I have this idea in my mind, this picture of what would make me a good mother, and then there is this intense pressure to be sure I measure up to that. A lot of these ideas in my head are shaped by the pressures that exist in society. All the things I feel like I have to do that are being shouted from the magazines, the television, the parenting experts, the mom that seems to have the most perfect children. Don't let your child watch too much TV. Don't feed your child too much fast food. Are you giving your child a perfectly balanced meal three times a day and offering healthy snacks? Is your child spending a proper amount of time playing? Don't ever allow your child to eat in front of the Television. If you don't do everything right then you are going to have all these bad habits as your child grows and you're not going to have that picture perfect child. The list of do's and don'ts keep piling in and it's impossible to keep up with everything.

The toddler years can be extremely hard. I have felt the pressure of all these expectations weighing on me more now than I have the entire first year of Jase's life. I feel like if I don't get it right now then I am going to have to deal with the consequences for years to come. I read a post recently that was meant to be somewhat humorous. It talked about the first child and how we are so hard on them because we want to do everything right. We stress so much about being the perfect mother who raises the perfect child that we forget to look clearly at the situation and pick our battles. That phrase has really been resonating within me lately, the idea of picking your battles. It makes me a bit anxious yet it frees me all at the same time. I wonder what my motherhood journey would be like if I learned to pick my battles.

When I started to really think about the concept of picking my battles I immediately thought to myself, well what will people think of me if I am not following all the guidelines to becoming a perfect parent? What will people say about my role as a mother? I had to stop and realize where the pressures of doing everything right were coming from. When I realized it was myself that was putting this unnecessary pressure on my role as a mother, I was able to see that it was me that could release that pressure off myself offering freedom in motherhood.

So I decided to start looking at the situations I am facing with my toddler and focus on what battles really need to be fought. Is it going to hurt my son if he watches Mickey Mouse while he eats if that's the only thing that keeps him still? Is it really going to damage my son's character if I allow him to graze at a tray on a table in the living room rather than force him to sit in a chair at the table? If my son would like to walk next to me holding my hand rather than be pushed in a shopping cart will I be setting myself up for failure? If today he asks to watch Toy Story and cuddle with me more than once is it going to make me a bad mother? If he ate his chicken and applesauce, but refused his green beans do I need to feel like I am failing at providing proper nutrition? Yes, there will be times that mommy needs for Jase to sit in the shopping cart. Yes, there will be times that we sit at the table to finish our meal. There will be times where these things will matter, but there are also so many times that I will make myself exhausted fighting a battle that isn't worth fighting.

You know, there's so much freedom that can be found in picking your battles. When we turn off our mind to all the expectations and guidelines around us that tell us how to become the perfect parent, and we focus on taking each moment step by step it offers us so much freedom. In that freedom it enables us to be even better mothers because we aren't carrying around the weight and pressure that we allowed to be placed upon us. Stressing out over every little thing can be exhausting, it can really wear you out. It's amazing how much freedom can be found when you focus on the battles that really matter. I'm really relishing that freedom that can be found in that today, and even though I know I may have to remind myself on a daily basis, I am going to continue to take it one step at a time and choose those battles.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Sweet Date

Before Jase was born Chad and I went on a special spontaneous date to Build-A-Bear. I had really wanted to take Chad there to pick out a stuffed animal just for Jase because I thought it would be such a special gift. It definitely has proven to be true. In this special tiger that we built Jase together we placed a recording of Jase's heartbeat. It's one of my favorite things that we have. Jase absolutely loves listening to his heartbeat in his tiger too. I can't wait for the day that we can tell him that was his heartbeat and him understand.

When we made that for Jase and saw just how special it was, we knew that we would want to do that for all our future kids. So we decided to make a family date of it this past Valentine's Day. Build-A-Bear was running a special for two stuffed animals so we decided it would be fun to bring Jase along to put together his own little animal. I think we may have to make that part of the tradition for the future as well. 

We started off our evening with some pizza. Little man has already been trying to step into those big brother shoes and doesn't want to sit in a high chair anymore. So he got a booster seat and sat with daddy. He did pretty well. I can't say he's been that great at sitting still since that night though. He is such a busy little boy! 

We let Jase pick out his own stuffed animal and he picked out the puppy. He was so confused when we gave him the puppy not yet stuffed, he wouldn't even hold it. It was pretty amusing. We picked out a pink teddy bear for Elyse - you know it had to be pink for our precious little girl!

Build-A-Bear added this new feature where you put some characteristics into the heart of the stuffed animal. It was pretty fun trying to imagine what we would want to describe Elyse. Really got us thinking about what she would be like and I cannot wait to find out.

Jase was not a fan of the stuffing blower, he never has been a fan of anything that makes loud noises. But once the guy stuffed his puppy he was so happy to take it now that it looked like the animal he had chosen. We stuffed Elyse's and put her heart in it and off to name it. 

We chose to name Jase's "Baby" because that's what he calls all of his stuffed animals. Go figure Jase has called it "puppy" every day since. He also has grown quite attached to his little friend and sleeps with it every night. So much for mommy switching out the stuffed animals so we didn't ever risk not having his favorite. At least he hasn't grown that attached yet.

Elyse's little bear was given the name sweetheart, just seemed to fit a pink teddy bear. We got her heartbeat recorded at one of our last appointments and it is now safely stitched in her little bear. Jase also loves listening to his sister's heartbeat and we tell him every time that is what his sissy's heart sounds like. It's pretty cool that their heartbeat actually sounds different. What a testimony to how God creates us.

This little tradition has ended up meaning so much more to me than I ever thought it would, but I know these little animals with their heartbeats will be a special treasure for years.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Embracing Toddler-hood

Oh the dreaded years of toddler-hood. Everyone who has ever raised a child will tell you the horrors of all things toddlers. Their tantrums, their disobedience, their tendency to make giant messes, their sticky fingers, their constant ability to find trouble wherever they go. Any new mom who is quickly approaching the toddler-hood years would be scared to death of what they are getting ready to embark on...who wouldn't after hearing stories like that?

I've been asked if I think this season is harder than having a newborn. I've been asked if I have enjoyed this season more than the first. I have been asked countless times to compare the two seasons together and I have said the same thing each time. I truly believe each season has it's hard moments and it's beautiful moments. The foggy sleepless nights of caring for a newborn are followed by days full of snuggles and baby smells. You can't have one without the other. Toddler-hood is full of tantrums and whining and the biggest fits I have ever seen. But toddler-hood is also full of discovery, an unexplained amount of joy, and an incredible sense of wonder.

Every season will have it's fair share of difficulties as well as it's share of triumphs. Learning to embrace those seasons we are in gives us an entirely new perspective. Yes, even embracing toddler-hood. So much of our attitude through certain seasons determines how we make it through. I am learning that if I embrace this season of toddler-hood, the good, the bad, the funny, the sad, the times I want to pull my hair out, and the times I can't stop laughing...all of those things, if I embrace each and every one of them I will be able to love this season.

I think one of the hardest things about toddler-hood is feeling like we are the only one facing what we do on a day to day basis. Is my kid the only one who throws tantrums like this? Is my kid the only one who screams when he is asked to share? Is my kid the only one who tests boundaries? This is normal. Every bit of this crazy season of toddler-hood is just a new kind of normal that we have to embrace. Once we embrace it we will be able to look at each situation knowing this is what toddler-hood is all about. Not only will embracing this season help us make it through, it helps us in dealing with all the ins and outs of raising a child through the toddler years.

Toddler-hood is messy, but it's oh so beautiful. I can't even bottle up the amount of joy this season has brought me. I'm embracing this crazy season and I know you can too!

Do you have a toddler at home? What helps you push through this season? If you have already been through it, what's your best piece of advice?

Friday, July 17, 2015

To Seventy More

Photography Credit: J Christina Photography

Five years have come and gone, and I think it has to be the fastest five years of my life. So much has happened in five years. We have walked through college, seasons without jobs, seasons with more than one job, ministry, moving, two kids, and everything in between. The last five years of my life have been the greatest adventure. I can't imagine what my life was without this guy by my side, and i never want to.

He's the guy who keeps me grounded when I have lost my footing. He's the guy who slows me down when I try to move a little too quickly. He's my rock when I have forgotten how to stand. He eats the edge of the brownies and leaves me the center. He always falls victim to my sad eyes. He makes me laugh when I am being too serious. He hugs me tight when I need it most. He deals with my messy and he deals with my beautiful. He sacrifices so much to make it possible for me to stay home and raise our babies. He's the best daddy I have ever seen. He's far from perfect, but he's the perfect one for me.

I would marry him all over again a hundred times, and yes I would still do it at nineteen! I have the rest of my life with this guy. The rest of my life to discover and learn how to love him more. I have the rest of my life to grow with him into who God is calling us to be. The rest of my life to make mistakes and learn from them. The rest of my life to do things right and continue to do them. The rest of my life to choose to love when it's hard, and to continuing loving when it's easy.

Being married to this guy is a dream come true. Here's to seventy more, you always knock me off my feet.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What I Missed Getting Married at 19

When my husband and I got married I was nineteen. I never once thought that was crazy and I never once thought that I was too young to get married. I knew that this guy in my life was the one God sent for me, and I knew although he was far from perfect, he was perfect for me in every way.

I will never forget the day we got married. It was a beyond wonderful day spending it with my best friend by my side. But one thing I sadly will always remember about the day was when we arrived at our honeymoon hotel and were checking in there was a couple waiting right next to us. Obviously they could tell we had just gotten married from our attire and they proceeded to tell us that we had made the worst decision in our lives. We weren't even sure how to respond to a comment like that being freshly married. I wish I could talk to that couple now though. I wish I could tell them how I feel like marrying this guy has been one of the best decisions I ever made.

I've also gotten that look many times. You know, the look you get when someone finds out you were only nineteen when you got married. This look says you're crazy, what were you thinking, and do you know how much life you missed out on?

I wonder exactly how much I have missed out on?

I never lived on my own. Maybe this is why I can't stand to be alone to this day, I've never had to be! I graduated High School when I was 17 and went straight to college and lived with four amazing ladies. My second year of college I had the privilege to live with another three amazing ladies. Then I got married. You know what never living on my own has done in my marriage? It never really gave me a chance to develop my way of doing things. There wasn't a certain way I always had to have my kitchen. There wasn't a way I had to have my living room. I didn't have all these ways just set in my mind that I had to break when my husband and I got married. Getting married young we had the opportunity to create our way of doing things together. We both never really chose a layout of a home before, we didn't have ways we thought it had to be done, so we did it together.

I had my entire life ahead of me. Sure, I had SO much time ahead of me. I was young, still in college, freshly out of High School, why would I want to miss out on the best years of my life? So why not spend those best years with my husband! I have my entire life ahead of me and I get to spend it with my best friend. I get to learn about him, I get to make memories with him, I get to build a family with him and I have the rest of my life to do just that. There's no time wasted here, but time well spent.

I missed out on heartache from exploring other relationships. Something I hear often is how much I missed out on really exploring other relationships, especially when it came to intimacy. But I would like to argue here that it's way better being able to explore life with just one person....especially when you have your whole life ahead of you! And I don't have to bring all my exploration into the relationship that matters the most to me. I didn't miss out on anything here, except for maybe heartache.

I missed out on discovering who I was. That is who I thought I was. Marriage has this way of really bringing out who you really are. All those selfish tendencies, those bad attitudes, that character you wish you never really discovered all seems to find it's way out in marriage. You get to figure out who you are entirely, every little bit of you. I learned so much about myself those first few years of marriage and I continue to learn so much more. I'm discovering more and more about who I am on a daily basis, and getting the chance to be the best person I can be.

As you can tell, I've missed out on a lot getting married at nineteen. But I think we can all agree I probably would have rather missed out on it anyways. Being married at nineteen is something I would never go back and change. What's better than spending your life with your best friend?

Are you married? How old were you when you got married? Would you add anything to this list?