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. 
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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 


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

sunshine & rainbows


I saw this play on a famous quote written on an Urban Outfitters mug, and I catch myself repeating it constantly. “It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but a good amount of it actually is.” Please don’t be concerned that I get my inspiration from places such as Urban Outfitters. I will explain. (The mug is sold out or I would link up to it…and also buy it for myself.) 

So many applications for this, but motherhood may be the most fitting of all. 

A good amount of motherhood ACTUALLY IS glorious. That’s the secret sauce in this parenting concoction, I’ve decided. I mean, why else would we sign up for this more than once? So much of it is utter chaos and madness and just….insanity. Some of the phrases that exit my mouth are at minimum – ridiculous. “Aven, honey, we do not high five the dog in the face.” And let’s be honest, a good amount of it is also just really, really tough. 

BUT THEN. 

In the midst of an overcast day, we catch a glimpse of sunshine that manages to radiate through the gloom and mundane. The sunshine is blinding it’s so bright. It comes in the form of a gummy baby giggle. Or witnessing their first unsure steps. Or the first unsolicited “I yuh you mommy.” (Actually that last one is definitely a rainbow in my mind. A giant, coloful, unforgettable rainbow.)  These moments – the rays of sunshine and rainbow prisms – shine so brightly, they warm our faces and reflect on our skin and pierce to the depths of our mama hearts. They tuck themselves away to be drawn upon later – a balm for the weary mom’s soul, a sweet memory for reflection at the end of a demanding day, a catalyst to the energy we need to survive the all-nighters. So powerful is this light in our world that it pushes out the dark that has come before and repaints the scene in vibrant color.

If today has been arduous or exhausting or marginally insane for you, just wait for it. Your sunshine is coming. The rainbow is forming. Sometimes the light finds you, and sometimes you have to chase it. Either way, what we find in those bright moments is the promise that mothering is good and important work. HARD work, but SIGNIFICANT. So, so significant. 

And worth every cloudy day. The light always wins. 


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.

//

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.

//

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.