Music to a Mama’s Ears

I’m a word person, no surprise there. But even if affirming words aren’t your “love language,” everyone can use an uplifting word now and then. And I’ve found that sometimes all it takes is a small piece of encouragement to refocus my perspective on how this whole motherhood thing is going.

So many times I feel ill-equipped for this huge task of raising a daughter, but thankfully this truth never changes: when I am weak, HE is strong in me. 

That’s some good news. 

So we can rest in the fact that we were perfectly chosen and have been perfectly positioned to raise our babies. Enough of this doubting and guilt and worrying. 

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So, two things I’d like for you to do:

  1. Find the phrase below that means the most to you. Write it somewhere you’ll see it today – your hand, your phone, your kid’s chalkboard…whatever works.
  2. Find a mom to pass them on to. Send out a quick text, comment on an Instagram photo, or tell them to your friend at the playdate today. Be the one singing the praises of moms in your circle, or the moms you pass in the grocery store. 

“You’re a good mom.”

“You are doing immeasurably better than you give yourself credit for.”

“You’re not in this alone.” (*Catch – you have to help them not be in this alone.)

“Motherhood looks good on you.”

“You were made to mother.”

“You inspire me.”

“You’re doing a great job.”

“Wanna make a Target run?…By yourself?” (*Must be prepared to catch baby mid air as mom makes a mad dash for the car)

“Hey, I could use some parenting advice… “

“Your babies are blessed to have you.”

“Tomorrow’s a new day!”

“___ year old’s are hard. But you’ve got this.”

“You are SUPERMOM.”

I sincerely pray some of these words put a smile on your face, hope in your heart, and buoy you up today as you walk confidently in your ability to mother well.

Moms: you are needed, cherished, loved, seen, and so so appreciated. Parenting is challenging, but no doubt – you can handle it.

So let this music of encouragement play in your ears over and over, until it sinks deep into your heart like a song you can’t stop singing. ❤

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S.

 

when motherhood gives birth to loneliness.


It’s been over a year and a half since I first became mom to a feisty baby girl with a quivering lip and bird cry that I could pick out instantly among the chorus of babies sharing our hall in the hospital. 

I still remember those first months vividly, despite the postpartum hormones and feeling like an legit zombie for at least six solid weeks. 

Such a time of transition and learning and becoming.

My world as a brand new mom naturally orbited around my baby in a perpetual three-hour cycle, day and night, and consisted of breastfeeding (full time job on it’s own – somebody back me up on this), naps, relentless diaper duty, and “playtime”….a.k.a., laying your newborn on a colorful mat to stare at toys they can’t quite reach and can’t quite see. Too nervous to brave outings with my “spirited” newborn, and no close friends with small babies meant I spent most days within the four walls we called home. It was a sweet time, just me and my babe. It was also a lonely time, just me and my babe. 

It doesn’t take long to discover the polarity of motherhood:

lonely and never alone.
chaotic and peaceful.
sweet and demanding.
noisy and quiet.
monotonous and ever-changing.
blissful and heartwrenching.

the best ever and also the hardest ever. 

Glancing over that list, it’s hard to believe anyone signs up for this emotional turmoil. It’s messy. But then, like most great things in life, none of us know what we’re getting ourselves into until it’s too late; and then we’d do it 500 times over. Easy.

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Feeling the confines of those four walls, I craved connections with people who spoke in actual sentences. That was the only real requirement.

YES. COME AND BRING ALL YOUR FRIENDS WITH YOU was my immediate response to potential visitors. 

They came to my door with smiles and gifts as I welcomed them in with words and feelings. Too many words and feelings, I’m pretty sure. Wow, this motherhood thing – it’s incredible! AND crazy-hard! Giving birth – also HARD! Finding time to take a shower during the day? Hard! How do I get my baby to sleep at night instead of all day long? I know you know the secret. Just cough it up! Is there a Moms In the Know Club you can sneak me into? And pronto?

I couldn’t help it, people. I was “feeling all the feels.”

{Please note: I had help with the baby. Plenty of help. I did not live 600 miles from the nearest relative. No. This was more of a mommy thing than a baby thing.}



I should have seen it coming. 
One day a couple months into this new gig, you wake up, look around, and find that the day has come when you’re on your own. The meals have stopped. The phone isn’t ringing anymore. The check-in texts disappear. Rather abruptly your surroundings are looking less “village” and more “nomad.” 

You squint at your calendar and it starts to make sense: your newborn isn’t new anymore. People have moved on and now expect you to put your big girl panties on and leave the diaper-wearing to your infant. The nerve of these people assuming I know how to be an adult with real responsibilities. 

When things got quiet, what I was really longing for surfaced: a community of women who shared both my season and my heart. Not just someone to bring me a meal and conversation, but someone who knew exactly what I was experiencing to walk this journey with me. Not just for a few weeks, but for the long haul. I didn’t know where to start, so I began to write

I wrote and I wrote some more. To my surprise, other mamas began to chime in with “me too.”  I found encouragement for myself by cheering others on. I was given the invaluable gift of solidarity: Yes, we hear you new mama. This gig is no joke. We see you and we get it. 

I even discovered entire ministries dedicated to building community among moms and providing them with soul-filling, scripture-inspired reassurance. 

This was all an affirming, blessed balm to a new mama’s soul. I was reaching out. And guess what I found? 
My very own little village. 

P.S.,  It was there all along. I had been sitting around waiting for it to come knocking. 

And for some, maybe it does come knocking. Maybe you are blessed enough to have a mom village at your fingertips. But the rest of us will have to seek it out and plant our feet firmly among those who are walking our current path. Among women who understand implicitly and can laugh or cry through the crazy with you. A safe haven to be honest about the radical changes in your life – good and  bad.


This might feel awkward at first – like where to sit at lunch on the first day of school. But it’s worth it to cultivate community. Invite a mom over for a playdate, even if you don’t know each other that well, and go from there. Start a supper club. Start a mom’s night out. Heck, start a blog! 

If you already have a strong sisterhood surrounding you, or once you find one, WHO CAN YOU INVITE IN?  Put “new mom” on your radar – is there someone at your church or workplace that needs support? Welcome her in. The more the merrier.

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No, motherhood was never meant to be a one woman show. So stop trying. It takes all kinds. It takes everyone pitching in, showing up, speaking up, providing the shoulder, calling, texting, listening, praying, cooking, baby-rocking, insisting yes you will go take a shower while I hold this baby to get this thing done. No mom should feel alone in this. Let’s not let that happen anymore. 

Let’s all jump in and help. You’re gonna get dirty and that’s okay. Sometimes you have to get messy to experience the magic in life.  





you are a good mom.


I need this reminder more often than I care to admit. I’m guessing you do too? Sure, I’ll take it on a good day when I’m winning at patience and understanding, but it carries even more weight and significance when I’m feeling like One Big Mom Fail. 

We doubt ourselves too quickly and judge ourselves too harshly.

So let me remind you: 

YOU are a good mom. 

You ARE a good mom. 

You are a GOOD mom.  

and, 

You’re doing a great job. 

I know it seems so SIMPLE, these few words. And yes, it’s actually very simple. But also affirming and powerful and LIFE-GIVING. Like one giant reset button. 

Whatever’s got you stressed or convinced that you just aren’t cut out for motherhood, let it go. Relax your shoulders. Say a prayer. Try to laugh rather than cry. Reach out to a supportive girlfriend and siphon some of her excess positivity. Remember the truth: that you are enough today and every day.

For real. It’s gonna be okay. Be kind to yourself.


Let’s all find a mom to pass these affirming words on to over the next day or so. Maybe a stranger that you notice with tired eyes and a screaming kid in Target, or just a mom friend that you know could use a little pep talk. When mothers come alongside other mothers and simply say, I see you, and you’re doing great – that is the greatest gift and compliment we can give each other. 


The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

both hands.

My 13 month old has just started walking. Parents, you know how it happens. Those first unsure, wobbly steps VERY QUICKLY turn into a tiny human toddling confidently all over the house. I think it only took Aven between one to two weeks to get really good at it. She beams with pride and even applauds herself over this new milestone. It’s adorable. But in the beginning when she was first learning, she would reach up and grab one of my hands. Then she would stand there paralyzed, reeeacching up until she could grab hold of my other hand – only then would she feel brave and secure enough to lift her foot and make a move. It took both hands. I had to be all there.

This really made me think about how often I parent with one hand.

In a literal sense, it’s totally a survival skill for parents, especially in the beginning when you’re holding your child in one arm while functioning with the other. It’s kind of astounding what you can accomplish with one less limb out of necessity. But more importantly, how many times do I parent with one hand, in an absentminded or passive way? Giving my daughter only part of me? I know for a fact that 100% of Aven’s mama does not always show up. Often purely out of distraction with other things. Or sheer exhaustion from LIFE RAISING A BABY. (HOW do people have more than one child?? I need a nap just thinking about it.)

Of course, we can’t be engaged 100% of the time. I know this. Things have to get done, there’s work to do, and it sure would be nice if my floor were actually visible through the sea of toys. That’s what I tell myself. And that’s valid, a lot of the time. But showing my love has to be intentional, always. That’s where the divide between the talk and the walk appears. And for our little ones, LOVE is often spelled out with our hands. We have to SHOW UP. We have to put down our technology, our lengthy to do lists, our multitasking, our busyness, our expectations of motherhood, and our selfish tendencies so we can make ourselves fully available to our babies. Because you know what?

Sometimes both hands are required.

To hold their tiny little faces with two hands when you kiss them……Or for a tight hug with both arms…..To cheer and clap for their big and small accomplishments….So you can scoop them up close and tell them how big you love them…..For playing patty cake….To tickle them until their sides hurt from giggling….So you can splash and make a colossal mess during bathtime….Or for a dance session in the kitchen while the bottle is warming up.

So many opportunities for significant displays of love in the simple and mundane. But you’re gonna have to use both hands.

Colossians 3:12 & 14 says to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And over all these, put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.”

That’s the mom I want to be.

Parents – PUT ON LOVE.
Look with both eyes, fully focused on little faces. Listen to little voices with two ears instead of one. Use both hands. Use your whole self and your whole heart, because YOU make them brave. YOU teach them extravagant love. By simply being YOU.

the phrase that got me through my first year as a parent

I know a lot of moms really love having a newborn, so I’m probably in the minority on this one, but I’m gonna go ahead and say I don’t think I’m cut out for the newborn phase. 

Maybe I’ll feel differently if/when I have a second newborn….maybe it’ll come to me a little easier…a little more naturally. But when I think back on life with Aven up to about 8 weeks old, I mostly feel happy to have made it through to the other side. Not that she was a particularly difficult baby….she just wasn’t a particularly easy one either. 

There are certainly things I miss about a brand new baby…like her soft fuzzy head and countless little rolls. I miss her all curled up in a ball on my chest and the way she stretched with her whole body for a full 30 seconds every time she was awakened. But now that she’s older, I feel like I’m actually enjoying motherhood rather than just trying to survive it. She’s becoming super interactive, can actually communicate some, and is just plain hysterical. 

Being only a couple weeks out from her first birthday, it got me thinking about what words of advice were most helpful to me in navigating not only the newborn days, but my entire first year as a mom. There is one phrase that has been my go-to, my mantra, my life-saver, from day one to now.





TOMORROW IS A NEW DAY.

Simple, right?

Funny how it’s not even specific to motherhood. It’s pretty universal. But as a new mom, it spoke hope to me.



What it meant to me was that it didn’t matter if she or I had cried multiple times the day before.

It didn’t matter if I had to sleep cramped up in the crib with her because it was THE ONLY THING that made my sick baby feel better.

Ultimately, it didn’t even matter if I had made all the right decisions in parenting her over the last 24 hours.

Because every.single.morning when I hear her stirring around in her crib I am sweetly greeted with the thought that I get to try again. We get to start fresh. Even though every day holds new challenges, it also holds new opportunities. What I didn’t get right the day before can be tossed aside. And that new trick I learned for soothing my baby or making her laugh? ON REPEAT. At least until it doesn’t work anymore. With every mistake and every victory, there is a lesson about who your child is, and who you are as a parent. 

Tomorrow is NEW.



This mindset has also helped me learn to start again in the middle of my day, if needed. A bad moment doesn’t equal a bad mom, just like a bad moment doesn’t equal a bad child.  One minute she can be completely losing her little baby mind over the tragedy of her Puffs being “gone gone,” and the next she’s playing patty cake with a big grin and a scrunched up nose. I could learn something from her in that sense. She doesn’t get bogged down carrying the junk of the day with her. She knows how to shake it off (also one of her favorite songs, by the way.)  She’s teaching me a lot, this girl. I hope I always take the time for the lesson.

The STEADFAST LOVE of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end. They are NEW EVERY MORNING; great is your faithfulness. 
Lamentations 3:22-23 


What about you? What words of encouragement have gotten you through the toughest days of being a mom?




PEP TALK for moms

This one’s for all you supermoms. Yep, I’m looking at you. 


Since the day my daughter was born, I’ve become completely in awe of moms everywhere. Once I learned just how demanding and consuming motherhood is, I see things with new eyes, almost as if I had a LASIK procedure performed on my heart. Things are so much clearer to me now.  

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought how does she do that? as I watch moms around me just doing what they do. (AKA, being AWESOME.)

Like when I see the mom at Target wrangling her four children under four and I think it’s the most amazing feat I’ve ever witnessed. (Now I ask her if she could use a hand.) Or when I see the mom’s Facebook posts about being glued to her baby’s isolette in the NICU, never wanting to leave, and I wonder where she finds her strength? Surely I would never survive a trial of that magnitude. (Now I actually pray for her instead of just saying I will.) Or when I hear a baby losing it’s little mind in a restaurant, I no longer feel aggravation, but instead compassion. (We all have those moments with our babies. We just want to enjoy a dinner out too!)

If you’re a mom, you’ve had a moment like this. In fact, you’ve had countless unseen moments just like this, when it’s just you and your baby. I could list so many examples, but they’re all the same really. Selflessness. Unconditional love. Pushing through the hard moments and reveling in the sweet ones. That kind of unrelenting love that was first modeled for us by the Father. It’s so powerful. And you embody that love in a million tiny little ways every day. 



There’s a commercial I saw recently (which, if you’re like me, that’s saying something since I usually fast-forward through them!) and it is promoting healthy living. Every time the woman makes a healthy choice, like choosing a salad or taking the stairs, confetti falls from the sky and fireworks go off.

Imagine how this commercial would look for moms:

You take the time to pump breast milk at work even though it’s inconvenient and a hassle – someone in the hallway gives you a high five!
A marching band appears when you finish cleaning up the diaper that exploded and landed everywhere but inside the diaper!
You put down your phone and read a book to your child – a standing ovation ensues!

What mom wouldn’t welcome a little background cheerleader helping us get through the day? I have to remind myself that God says “whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.” And “whatever you do, do it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not men.” We don’t do it for recognition, a pat on the back, or applause. It’s not a competition to see if we are doing more hands-on childcare than our spouse. We do it because our babies are entrusted to us to care for by the Lord. He sees. And He’s pleased.


Moms, listen carefully. I know there are days when you feel unseen, unappreciated, and alone. You’re not. Here’s what you are:

You are seen. 
Special.
Inspiring.
Doing a good and important work.
Enough.
A hero.
Capable.
Significant. 
Strong! 
And so loved. 

No one can take your place. 

You are amazing, mama.

Oh this face.




Wanna keep reading?

Here are my thoughts on being a new mom.