The Motherhood Spectrum


It was around 1:00 a.m., and I had been called into work for an exam. Still trying to wake up, I grabbed my badge and my keys and headed to the hospital.
 
After asking the standard questions while I set up my ultrasound machine, I wasn’t especially concerned. But as soon as I put the probe down, everything changed. Even at first glance I knew it wasn’t good, and that night I had the unfortunate duty of confirming to a hopeful mama that yet another one of her babies wasn’t going to make it. 
 
It’s the worst. The absolute hardest part of my job.
 
I left her room quickly, wanting to give her some privacy, but not before hugging her. As I pushed my machine down the ER hallway, I could feel the tears stinging my eyes just thinking about her broken mama heart. 
 
Before becoming a mom myself, I may have thought or even told this woman, “you’ll make a great mother some day.” But now I recognize her spirit and know for certain, she already is one. I saw it in her eyes. She already knows the fierce love, the ache, and the yearning to protect – all familiar ground for a mother. She already has that uncanny maternal instinct of knowing something is wrong, despite prior reassurance from medical professionals. She might not have any babies on this side of heaven, but she is no less a mother than I am. 
//
Rather than a binary system – you are or you’re not – I’m finding that motherhood is really more of a spectrum. 

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The Handprints On My Dishwasher

I used to imagine what my husband and I would be like when we had our first child.

We would be parents who didn’t act like “parents.” We would be COOL PARENTS.

We wouldn’t let our kid become the center of our universe. 

Our house wouldn’t be taken over with blocks and trains and dolls. We would relegate all of that “stuff” to a small, designated area. I would not be that parent who talks about their kid incessantly, or who’s social media is a gigantic, glaring spotlight on their kid, or who arranges their free time around their child’s schedule and activities.

Well.

The time has come and I’ve had to eat all of those words. Every. Last. Crumb. 
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Joy.


Two and half weeks ago, I posted this on Instagram, begging for prayer:
“Sometimes life sends a gentle nudge along to remind you to take it all in because it’s fleeting. Other times, that truth shoves you and knocks you down with its gravity, saying ‘TODAY IS ALL WE HAVE.'”


We had just received the news that my precious mother-in-law, Brandon’s step-mom, was diagnosed with AML, a type of leukemia. 

Our world stopped. Hard. 
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easy babies: real or mythical creatures?

You’ve heard them/seen their Instagram posts:
“Oh, Aden is just such a chill little guy; always has been!”
“Jackson doesn’t really cry. Maybe when he’s hungry? Even then it’s more of a whimper.”
“Addie: happy baby alert!!! #Blessed.”


Okay. I’m going to go ahead and admit how obnoxious those phrases can be, only because for a long time I wished I could say the same. 

But maybe you have one and can vouch for their existence? Or maybe you’re more like me with no real concept of what “easy baby” even means. My brain just doesn’t compute those two words being in agreement with one another, so when I hear that description, I’m quite honestly perplexed and intrigued, daydreaming about what that looks like.
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T W O Y E A R S

A two-year-old calls me mom. I know! What in the world.

I’ll admit I somehow became one of those people saying I had a “19 month old” or a “22 month old” so I have hereby vowed to no more counting by months since we’ve crossed the two year threshold. I apologize to those who find this utterly annoying. In an ironic twist, I too, find this annoying. Time to LET IT GO.
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a resolution for every mom

Sometimes your shortcomings just smack you in the face. Like, for example, the other day when I told my kid, “you do you.” As soon as the words left my mouth I braced myself for her to repeat my snarky comment back to me but thankfully it kind of zipped right by her.

Clearly, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to my mothering. 




There is one area in particular I know every mom can use some work in, because it’s one of my biggest struggles.  Continue reading

beloved weekly shares { week 1/52 }

Guess who’s back? Back again…

First, Happy New Year!

Back in October when I jumped on the #Write31Days bandwagon, I left my Beloved Weekly Shares in the dust. But I’ve missed sharing my favorite finds and links every week, so I’m starting off the new year with my first post of 2016 and a new round of BWS!

Welcome to week 1/52:

In this piece, I see myself as I am now: mom to a toddler, oftentimes frazzled and just trying to get through Target with everyone still smiling. But I also see my future mom self; who I’ll be when my babies are grown, and what I’ll say looking back over the most precious years of my life.

These fox flats. I die. So much so that I bought another pair a size up for Aven because her current ones are a little too snug. *P.S., they are on sale right now. 🙂

Sleep is important. I could have confirmed that for you right about Day 3 of Motherhood, since you really learn this lesson when it’s TOO LATE, but this article actually backs it up scientifically. Pretty interesting stuff. 

Sometimes I get on an organization kick, and I love my house so much when everything is in it’s place. (I just wish it came naturally to me!) Scrolling through this list of Jen’s top organization posts makes me want to spend ALL DAY getting things in order.

Thanks to a mom on a mission, so many children with Down Syndrome in China now have the chance to join families and flourish. This makes me smile, all the way from my heart to my face.

And if you’ll let me, I wanted to share a piece of my own. It’s the first piece I’ve had published somewhere other than my own site, something I hope to do more of in this new year. I snapped this Instagram picture several months ago when my new North Face jacket arrived in the mail….and was promptly hijacked by my toddler. It made me realize all the many, countless ways we moms give of everything we have.




I’m really looking forward to this next year, and I can’t wait to share with you as I go. Thanks for being here! 

xo 
Shanna 


Mickey & Minnie Gift Roundup

*Affiliate links used in this post. Thank you for supporting the writing here at Beloved Nest!

Our girl is infatuated with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Infatuated, I tell you. No lie, the first word I hear when I lift her out of the crib every morning is “Mickey?” And while playing with her toys she randomly breaks out in a sing-song voice exclaiming, “Oh toooodles!” This is a real situation, people. It’s as if they’ve cast a spell on her with their “Meeska-Mooska-Mickeeeey-Mouse!” chants. 

But who am I to keep a girl from her true love? So of course I’ve been searching for some cute (read: non-cheesy) Mickey and Minnie gifts for Christmas and her upcoming February birthday. And since I know a lot of you have little Mouse-lovers in your home too, I thought I would share my favorite finds with you.



o n e  //  Minnie Mouse Lights & Sounds Scooter
This is a touch too “grown” for my girl, but I love the three-wheel feature. Might be on the list for next Christmas.

t w o // Mickey Mouse Tee 
This is actually a boys tee but I bought it in Aven’s size because it was too adorable to pass up. 

t h r e e // Mickey Mouse Chevron Sheet Set 
Seriously love this pattern and how it isn’t overtly Mickey or cartoonish.

f o u r //  Delta Children Club Chair – Minnie Mouse 
We have one of these, and it’s as cute as it looks in the picture. It’s inflatable with a washable cover and is the perfect spot for Aven to hang out while she watches tv (can you guess her show of choice?), eats a snack, or reads books.  Sometimes I catch her turned around facing the back of the chair so she can “talk” to her friend Minnie or give her kisses. That alone is reason enough to own this chair. Just the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen. 



f i v e // Girls Minnie Mouse Pullover Shirt
Although this sweater is a few sizes too big for Aven right now, with that cute Minnie face I almost want to snag it now and hold on to it for later! 

s i x // Minnie Mouse Toddler Ballet Flats 
If we owned these, I guarantee you my child would insist on wearing them every day. 

s e v e n // Minnie Shopping Cart 
Aven is getting the CUTEST vintage-style kitchen for Christmas, so she would flip out over this shopping cart to use with her kitchen. 

e i g h t // My First Library: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
For every day leading up to Christmas, I’m going to have a book for her to open. This is a set of 12 books, so that covers about half the days! I’m excited to see my tiny bookworm’s reaction to these. 

n i n e // Delta Children Mickey Mouse Easel (Double Sided)
We have an easel similar to this and it is one of her favorite things to play with, especially the chalkboard side since the cold weather is forcing us away from our beloved sidewalk chalk. 


As I wrap up this post, I am incredibly tempted to break out in the “Hot Dog” song and dance, but I will spare you. Just know that it’s on repeat in my head right now (and always, actually). I’m sure you can relate! 

I hereby grant you permission to give in to the Mouse obsession. Welcome to the clubhouse


*Disclaimer: We received the Delta Children Club Chair for review as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scout program. All opinions are my own!

2 1 m o n t h s { update }

Remember that time I wrote every day for 31 days straight and then took a two and a half week hiatus? Well, I’m back! Just needed some time to recoup. 

It has been a minute since I did an update on Aven. Well, it’s been three months and in the life of a toddler, that’s a chunk, so here we are talking about all things Aven. 


First, can I just say how much I love this age? She is totally my little sidekick. We go everywhere together and she’s becoming such a helper with whatever I’m up to. 


She’s also a talker, so we always have some kind of conversation going. When she talks she nods her head around like a teenager and it’s hysterical. I am also loving the fact that I can actually reason with her and talk through things, and she understands me. It helps us avoid at least some meltdowns and tantrums. 

She’s just becoming such a little person, and it’s so fun to watch. 

C l o t h i n g
Aven wears 24 month/2T clothing for the most part. We do have some 3T stuff that she can already fit into (WHAT IN THE WORLD). Shoes – size 7. Diapers – size 5.

Nope, she’s never been a small one, and that’s fine by me. 🙂



R o u t i n e 

Not much has changed in this arena since I last updated at 18 months. She’s up around 7a, eats breakfast pretty much right away, and the first thing out of her mouth every morning is “Mickey??” so we often start the day with an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. 

Lunch around 12 and not long after is heading for a nap. Naptime is usually 1.5-2 hours. I always lay down with her initially, and sometimes I linger and nap with her because I know these days will be ending soon. 

After waking up, she eats an afternoon snack and watches tv for a bit. Dinner is between 6-6:30p and then she heads into what we lovingly call “crack mode.” Basically she runs all over the house, using every last bit of energy stored up, and dances, sings, yells, throws her arms in the air and generally acts like a fool. It’s hilarious. 

7:30p is bathtime (her favorite) and she’s laying down by 8p. We just sing a few lullabies and then lay her down awake. She falls asleep almost immediately most nights. If she does cry, it’s short-lived, because girlfriend is tired.



F a v o r i t e s 
As mentioned, Mickey and Minnie Mouse are the center of her universe right now. She is truly obsessed. She sometimes yells out “Oh tooooodlessss!” in the middle of playing with toys, and has the funniest granny-style dance moves to the opening song. So of course, we had to represent when Halloween rolled around. She was the cutest Mickey you have ever seen, minus the ears because this kid tolerates nothing on her head. Instead she got little mouse/pigtails. 

Her other favorite tv show is Sesame Street because of “Eh-mo.”

Stuffed animals: Ella the Elephant, Blue the Doggie (she calls him “Bew”), Monk Monk, and Goat. Needs them all in her crib with her night. Not into baby dolls at all, but animals are apparently her jam.

Airplanes / Helicopters / Trains

Mickey Mouse.

Outdoors. If she’s outside, she’s happy. 

Pretend cell phones.

Yogurt dips. Puffs.

Bubbles / Balls / Books / Shoes / Coloring  

Did I mention Mickey Mouse? 


W o r d s  /  L e a r n i n g 
We are teaching her numbers, letters, colors, animal sounds, and shapes during playtime/bathtime/car rides.

Her vocabulary is really growing, and she’ll put together two- or three- word sentences now, like “Aven eat” or “Mommy go upstairs.”

She cannot say her L’s. Instead she replaces it with a “y” sound. Which makes so many words just so stinking adorable, like “yeh-yow (yellow) or “yight” (light). This is my favorite thing, maybe ever??

She can count to 10 with help. She can recognize her name when spelled out, and can recognize almost all letters. We are starting to teach her the alphabet using foam letters during bathtime.

New animal sounds, of the nontraditional variety, because those are more fun: Deer: “grunt grunt” / Turtle: “wah wah wah wah” / Crab: clicking sound while making “pincher” fingers / Hippo: “chomp chomp”. I have a video of some of these I’ll post on Instagram later 🙂

P e r s o n a l i t y 
Friendly. Social. Talkative. Demanding. Opinionated. Joyful. Girly. Sensitive. Dramatic. Sweet.

Q u i r k s 
Hates to have her feet touched  //  Every time she sneezes she yells “tissuuuue!”  // Waves at literally everything  //  “Sniffs” every flower she sees, even pictures of flowers.  //  “Fake” sleeps, complete with little snores and whistling sounds that I can only assume were learned from cartoons // Is OBSESSED with order and organization (she will put things back, shut drawers, and close doors behind me all.day.long.)  // Boo-boos require ice, but not for the boo-boo, just for her to munch on.

Crazy kid. 



F i r s t s 
Library trip
Day trip to the mountains
Kiddie train ride
Encounter with chickens, goats, pigs, and horses
Learned to give “thumbs up!”
Potty *attempts*




Oh, Aven Harper. You make my heart sing and my face smile. I’m so proud to be your mom.  



31 Days of Learning to Simplify: My Mothering


There are about one million ways I could think of to improve my parenting. One million ways I fail and mess up, and one million times when I’ve said or done the wrong thing. I’m sure the people around me would gladly dispense advice and there are books full of checklists to make sure I’m doing everything just right, all the time. 

It’s so much pressure. 

But God doesn’t put pressure on me to be a more perfect mom. His approach is much different, gentler. He picks my tired self up off the hot seat, and then he doesn’t just leave the seat empty for me to find my way back again. He sits in my place.

He sees me in the monotony of my days, at my best and my worst, and he’s pleased. He tells me I’m a good mom (sometimes more than once, when I really need convincing). 

That’s because the Lord looks past my mom “failures” and “wins” and peers deep into my mama heart. 

He knows the soaring love I have for this baby of mine, because he sees with the eyes of a Father. A kind Father. A good Father. 

When I feel all caught up in my constant striving to do better and more, I need to remember who he says I am. That is, already enough

Right where I am – I’m enough. You’re enough. 


I’m my best mama-self when I see myself how he sees me. When I parent out of that place, I’m not relying on techniques or methods, I’m just relying on the One who made me a mom in the first place. And He’s enough. 


I am nearing the end of my Write 31 Days Challenge! If you want to read through some of the other posts in this series, click here