The bathroom door.

They say the older we get the faster life moves. Of course, scientifically speaking, this is impossible. The speed of time is no more faster than it was two thousand years ago. There are 24 hours in a day, and a minute is still sixty seconds long. As far as I know, sixty seconds lasts… sixty seconds, back then and now.

Although some would say how long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on

As funny as that line is, for me it’s a great analogy for the season of life that is raising little humans. The saying goes that the days are long, but the years are short.

Day by day, parenthood is standing outside a bathroom door, pacing and gauging at when that door will open. But year by year, parenthood is sitting inside that bathroom door thinking you have all the time in the world to do whatever it is you went in there to do.

It’s been 556 days since I last posted on this blog.

That’s a year and a half. Do you know what can happen in a year and a half’s time?

A lot. Yes, like, adding another human to your life, or losing a human in your life. Things like birthdays and holidays, and fall, winter, spring, summer, fall again, then back to winter.

Things like a pregnancy, a newborn stage, breastfeeding, pumping, loss of sleep, threenager season to ferocious four life, and baby milestone after baby milestone.

There’s been motherhood, career-hood, and wifehood.

It’s been a lot. It’s been a minute. It’s been 556 days.

Those days, individually, have been some of the longest days of my life. Yet at the same time I keep looking back to the time as a whole and I’m dumbfounded at how much has happened and how quickly it’s come and gone. My previous post titled, The Pirate’s Booty, was back on August 12, 2018. I was about nine weeks pregnant, sick to my stomach daily, and raising a threenager about to become a ferocious 4-year-old. I still remember that day like it was yesterday. The epic meltdown Brooks had. Carrying him home from the beach and locking myself in my bathroom, while he banged on the other side of the door crying to let him in. I was exhausted and nauseous from the early stages of pregnancy, and I sat on the floor and simply cried.

The bathroom door.

I can only imagine how long it felt for Brooks that day as he begged for his mommy to let him in. Meanwhile, there I was inside, thinking I had all the time in the world to wish that day away. Now, it feels as though I opened that door and blinked. It’s a year and a half later, I have a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old and I haven’t written a word on this blog since.

When people ask me what it’s like to have two kids, I always jokingly respond, “It’s more than one!” Life has been busy. Life has been tiring. Life has been chaotic.

Life has been good. And bad. And happy. And sad. It’s been crazy. It’s been mundane. It’s been life changing. It’s been same old same old.

It’s been life. And life equals a period of time. A lot of it as wasted time. These days it’s because Brooks takes about a billion years to eat any meal.

But more often than not it’s because I spend my time wishing away time. I spend my time with my kids rushing away their time. I spend my time waiting for bed time, for me time, only to sit on the couch and stare at screens to pass the time, until my bed time. Then I toss and turn and lose sleep time, because I’m too busy regretting how I wasted all my time, or didn’t spend enough time with my kids, and so now it’s guilt time.

That’s a lot of time.

When we wish away our time, we’re wishing away a gift. We’re wishing away divine opportunities. We’re wishing away a life that’s already short on time.

So when we’re in those moments where we wish we had more time, what we’re really wishing is that we spent the time we did have more wisely. We will never have more time. What we will have is the opportunity to make the most of the time we already have. This, my friends, is hard. This is something I do not do well, especially in this season of life.

Because little ones? All they want is your time. And I suck at giving them my time. I’m tired, cranky, and irritable most days and my patience is little. Many nights I walk out of Brooks’ room after putting him to bed and immediately feel guilt and regret because instead of enjoying this short season of getting to cuddle him in bed before he becomes a teenage boy who doesn’t even want me in his room, I spend it rushing him to get through his “routine” and sighing or yelling in frustration at his playful, innocent manner in how slow he does … anything. I spend bed time thinking it’s one more chore on my to do list instead of using that time as an opportunity to love on my boy before time makes him one day older the next morning.

Everyday, God gives us the gift of time, and then He gives us opportunities to use that time in ways that matter most, in ways that will make life extraordinary. Yet, most days, I take those opportunities and deem them as too ordinary a gift to be cherished.

Every year you close a new chapter in your life story. Don’t write the same one seventy-five times and call it a life.

Sitting on my desk are these words above from NYT best selling author, Rachel Hollis. When I first read this quote in her book, I saw it as a charge, a rally cry to go out there and follow your dreams and not settle for a mundane, ordinary life where everyday feels the same and you get to the end and wonder what the heck you even accomplished.

Now, though, I see it as something very different.

Living a story worth telling doesn’t mean replacing our ordinary life with the extraordinary. It means finding the extraordinary life within our ordinary.

Every moment with my children is an opportunity. An opportunity to learn more patience, to give more love, to gain new wisdom, to be more silly, to put my phone down and be present, or to build them up. It’s also an opportunity to lose my temper, to lash out in my impatience, to fuel my anxiety, to be a wrecker of fun, to engage more with my phone than my kids, or to put them down.

In a way, we’re choosing between being more like Jesus or staying exactly as we are. We as parents probably have more opportunities each day than most to be more like Jesus, which means we also have more opportunities than most to fail.

I fail. A LOT.

But what’s great about God is He never fails at loving us. So regardless of the gazillion times I will fail as a Mom on a daily basis, He will never fail me, or my children, as a Father.

What’s interesting about Jesus is how many different ways in the Bible He shows us how to love. For me, I think the biggest way He shows His love is not in miraculous healings or his teachings or his inclusion of all, though these are all incredible gifts, but rather in his gift of interruptibility.

Jesus was constantly interrupted. (Hello, motherhood!) Yet He never once shied away from loving on anyone who interrupted Him. In fact, most of his healings, teachings and greatest moments in the Bible came from moments of interruption. To me, it’s the most important and valuable way He shows His love to others. It’s a lesson we can take and apply right here and now, regardless of what our circumstances are.

Don’t you see?

Jesus took what seemed like ordinary moments, ones we most likely would brush off or see as a chore, and turned them into extraordinary moments. Divine opportunities. Time well spent. A story worth telling.

556 days.

That’s how long it took me to write again. I’d love to say it was because I was living my ordinary life in extraordinary ways, but quite honestly it’s been the opposite. I’ve been living with the tension most parents live with — wanting more time with my children while wishing that same time away.

See, those 556 days individually, were long ones. Exhausting. Relentless. Hard.

So. Much. Time.

But 556 days collectively? It’s been a blink. A blur. A fast-flowing river where you’re frantically searching for branches to hang on to for dear life.

Not. Enough. Time.

Because how long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on, right?

And if you asked me today which side of that door I currently stand, I’d say,

HA! Trick question.

The answer is both.

As a parent, I’m always on both sides of that door at the exact same time.

How is that possible, you ask?

I honestly have no idea, but it is why most moms are emotional wrecks most of the time…

So pray for us.

And when in doubt, bring us coffee, wine, and/or snacks.

The Pirate’s Booty.

Last week, I locked myself in my bathroom and cried on the floor while my near three-year-old son banged on the door crying for me to “Open the door!” He had been in a tantrum for nearly an hour and a half now – one that started down at the beach in public where I had to just pick him up, leave everything behind, and carry him all the way back to the house while he kicked and screamed and nearly broke my nose about three times. It was his worst tantrum yet, and I was at a loss trying to calm him while down on the beach for nearly forty-five minutes before I had to pull the “just grab him and go” card.

It didn’t end when we got home. He followed me around the house pleading to go back to the beach and screaming, trying to unlock a door I now purposely locked just so he couldn’t get out. He raged and pulled and raged and pulled. I tried and failed and tried and failed to calm him. I was losing my mind and I was sure he was losing his.

On impulse, I went into the bathroom, locked the door and just sat on the floor. I began to cry, pleading with God to calm this kid down and to please give me the patience and energy to get through this. He banged the door and cried over and over and over again.

I banged the floor and cried over and over and over again.

Finally, in desperation mode, I opened the door to let him in and the kid just collapsed onto my lap and for nearly twenty-five minutes we sat in that position in complete silence, aside from his oddly cute silent cry breaths little ones have.

There we were enjoying a day off together down by the lake, swimming, playing in the sand enjoying the day before the rain came.

Then my son asked for Popcorn.

I only had Pirate’s Booty.

I had Pirate’s Booty instead of Popcorn.

Two hours later I was sitting on my bathroom floor crying feeling completely helpless, useless and worthless as a Mom.

Yes, it can turn on a dime just like that.

What started as a simple snack mishap led to this Mom questioning her Momming. Questioning her worth. Questioning her ability to even be a Mom at all. It led to this Mom reliving the past two hours over in my head and wondering what I could have done differently to not let this escalate. What I could have said, done, tried — surely I did this wrong. I always do it wrong. Voices rang in my head of just how wrong I was and I need to be better and I should try this or I should have done that.

And it all started with a snack mishap.

This is why parenting is so hard. Because we are people. And what started as a simple snack mishap that, believe me, my son has long forgotten, ended with the very real issue of me, a Mom, us, humans, looking at ourselves in the mirror and concluding, “I’m not cut out for this.”

And it’s SO hard, you guys.

A favorite author of mine, Jen Hatmaker, once wrote: “Parenting reveals our greatest weaknesses — emotions and reactions we were once only casually acquainted with (such as anger, impatience and guilt) suddenly become our closest friends when we become parents.”

I’ve never heard truer words.

I know I’ve always had a temper. A lot of people (who don’t know me intimately) see me as calm, cool and collected. And for the most part, I am… But I also have a hot temper and can snap like a twig; usually when it involves testing my patience or when my anxiety level is high (Hello, Parenting!)

It sucks that the most precious little person in my life who quite literally makes my heart melt, churn and hang out on my sleeve, is also the same precious little person that can bring out every single flaw I have.

Talk about a roller coaster ride of emotions.

The same child whose little heart beat helps me to get out of bed each morning and try harder is the same child who leads me to cry on the bathroom floor convinced that I can’t possibly go on.

It’s extremely confusing. It’s extremely exhausting. It’s extremely emotional.

And right here I want to say it’s extremely worth it.

But let me admit something. In those moments? The bathroom floor moments? It does not feel worth it. It simply feels hard. And you know what? We have to let that be okay.

We have to let ourselves feel the hard. If we don’t, we’ll feel something far worse.

Guilt.

I’ll choose hard over guilt every single day.

“The hard is what makes it great.”

(We can be good friends if you know that movie quote — without looking it up.)

The hard is what makes it worth it.

But within that hard, you need to have one more thing in order to get yourself off that bathroom floor (besides just needing to pee).

You need to have grace.

My goodness if I didn’t, I’d still be on that bathroom floor.

Because I had Pirate’s Booty instead of Popcorn…

Here’s what guilt would tell me: You are so bad at this Mom thing. You should have known he would want white cheddar popcorn after you guys just chowed that down together the last time you were on the beach. He has a good memory. He knows you outright told him that was your favorite snack so of course he’s now gonna wanna eat Mommy’s favorite snack because now it’s his favorite snack and he likes routine and you should have the same exact snack so you guys could do the same exact thing again, why would you tell him it’s your favorite, that’s all he’s gonna want now, and now look at that girl right there – she just popped open a bag of white cheddar popcorn (true story, like really thanks) and now he sees it and he’s flipping out and look what you started now – you should have had the popcorn. Now you can’t control your child. People are staring. Your son is running around the volleyball courts while you chase after him and you just look so stupid. You wanna have more kids? You can’t even control your first one over a little snack. YOU BLEW IT.

Here’s what grace would tell me: You spent the time to pack lunch and snacks to bring to the beach for your child so he can have extra time to play instead of having to go back home for lunch (and you didn’t even pack your own.) You were being a Mom.

I was being a Mom. Which is funny because I was on the bathroom floor telling myself I’m not a Mom. Not even a little bit.

See the irony here?

We throw ourselves under the same bus we’re driving… we are being Moms! We are loving, taking care of, trying our hardest to be our best selves for these little humans and when we fail our first reaction is to throw away our Mom cards instead of simply understanding we are just bigger humans trying to raise little humans and we’re not always going to get it right, we generally don’t know what we’re doing, and even if we think we’re doing it right, our child will find a way to let us know we’re not.

And I’ll be honest with you, more often than I care to admit I let myself feel this guilt instead of the hard, and I allow myself to think I’m unworthy of being a Mom at all, but if I’m not mistaken, I would bet most Moms/Parents go through this each and every day, as well.

I just hope you are not going through it alone. That’s why I’m here. To tell you you’re not. You’re not alone, Mom.

To the other Moms who have locked themselves in their bathrooms, closets, cars, showers, (wherever) and cried thinking, “I can’t do this,” I say right back, “Neither can I.”

But grace says, “That’s why I’m here.”

Grace says you were just being a Mom, and he was just being a Toddler, and we are humans who have bad days.

The beauty of God’s grace for us is that it’s free, and it allows us to be free to love our children in the same way, full of grace.

So why not give that to ourselves?

After all, it’s free.

After all, you were just being a Mom.

But here’s a little advice: the rookie mistake would be to just bring popcorn next time.

No no.

You bring both.

If you don’t, I guarantee they will want the Pirate’s Booty.

And you’ll only have Popcorn…

But you’re like, twelve… (This is thirty).

As a kid, did you ever wonder what you’d be like as an adult? Did you ever try to picture what you’d look like, act like, be like? When I was twelve, I used to try and picture myself as old, an adult, you know like, twenty-five. Because back then, twenty-five sounded really old. And, honest to Glorious God, I swore I was going to be a different person. Like, I wouldn’t look the same, act the same or be the same person. I just assumed I’d be someone completely different, at least that’s how I pictured it… am I making sense? Like there would be this magical shift and one day you’re a kid and the next you’re an adult, completely new and different from who you used to be. Perhaps I’m not making sense, but I believe all of us thought this way in some shape or form.

I have a friend with brown hair who struggled with weight growing up, and she truly believed as an adult she’d be like tall, blonde and beautiful – a legit different person. That’s how she pictured herself as an “adult.” I’m laughing out loud at the conversation we had. Why we thought we’d be anything but ourselves is beyond my comprehension.

I chuckle at this because we know, now as “adults,” this is ludicrous. If you look back at photos of my twelve-year-old self, I basically look exactly the same, just older and perhaps better at applying makeup and the correct wardrobe (I hope).

And personality wise? Sure, we have more experience, more wisdom and are hopefully more mature, but don’t let all of that fool you. Deep down inside, we are still our innocent twelve-year-old selves with the same fears and wonders, just a little rougher around the edges.

Growing up is weird. Can I just call that out? And can I also say that I never liked it? I was never really that kid who couldn’t wait to grow up. Maybe I just knew at a young age how good I really had it, being a kid, but adulthood just didn’t appeal to me. The work, the money, the responsibilities. Everyone was young and invincible. My parents were young and spry. I didn’t have to worry about them aging. They would live forever. We would live forever.

I can admit this mindset has absolutely played a role in my suffering anxiety and depression now as an adult. I see this and acknowledge it. I struggle with growing up because it makes me sad. The older I get, the older my parents get. The older I get, the older my son gets. The older I get, the closer we all are to, well, not being here anymore…

Hello, I’m Karen and I suffer from depression. I can come up with the worst thoughts, like ever. Sorry about that. Moving on.

So when I turned thirty this week, I needed to prepare myself to feel this way. Most years I do generally get depressed around my birthday, fighting the tug-of-war of wanting all the attention and celebrations to also wanting to hide under a rock and cry. It’s very real for me, and leading up to thirty, I knew I needed to process some things.

Pause right here for a little FYI moment for some readers: I know you mean well when you downplay turning thirty, or any age. I know you mean well when you say things like, “Thirty is the new twenty!” and “You’re going to love it!” or my personal favorite, “It’s really not a big deal! It’s just a number!” I get what you are doing and I appreciate you trying to advise me with all completely logical and rational reasons why I shouldn’t be emotional about turning thirty, but it doesn’t matter. For some people, it simply doesn’t work like that. For some people, logic is thrown out the window. For some people, like me, who take medication for their anxiety and depression, NEED this time to process, grieve and even sulk a little. I know that sounds ridiculous but for some, particularly me, it IS a big deal, it ISN’T just a number and it’s NOT the new twenty. I was twenty ten years ago. So stop it. You’re minimizing people’s emotions and feelings. There is no validation there, only more self-deprecation about feeling the way I’m feeling when so many are telling me not to feel that way. I love you, though.

Okay. Back to the process. Here’s the deal. It’s not always necessarily grieving getting older or sulking about what’s ahead. It’s taking the time to say goodbye to what was. It’s taking time to grieve the past. It’s taking time to grieve change, even if it’s a good change. We all need to properly grieve change, whether good or bad. If I don’t, it sits inside my heart like a brick and I cannot fully give my heart to what’s ahead until that brick is removed. So the night before my birthday, I sat in a quiet, still house with a legit shot of whiskey (okay, Fireball) in my hand – I’m not a big drinker, but I thought it would be fun to commemorate my twenties with how I entered it :). I reflected back on the previous ten years, prayed and thanked God for them and did a virtual “cheers” to Him for all he’s done for me and given me in my thirty years. I’d like to think that just for me, Jesus had himself a little whiskey that night too.

But in reflecting back, something surprising happened. For the first time I can remember, my sadness and depression over a birthday went away. Maybe it was the presence of God, the praying, or the shot of whiskey, but in the moment I felt such peace. I felt even a little happy. I felt grateful for all that happened leading up to this big day. I was grieving, yes, but in a good way. A grateful way. Not sad it was over, but happy it happened (cheesy cliches for the win).

It brought about a single thought that I then told a friend of mine the next day. I said, “I’m grieving my twenties because it’s like this: my life started on the day I was born. But the rest of my life began in my twenties.”

A lot of good and bad happened in my twenties. In my particular life story, the most change happened in that span. In a span of ten years, I went from being a kid in college, fresh out of high school, to married with a kid of her own. SO MUCH has to happen in your heart, mind and day to day for that to take place. The growing, learning, maturing process in a short ten years that needed to happen for me is overwhelming when I look back, and the fast pace changes did inevitably bring about the shift in my mental stability, bring about hardship and emotional baggage, bring about struggles with self-identity and depression and anxiety related issues. My twenties brought about loss of loved ones, loss of self at times, and loss of childlike innocence. It brought about some of my hardest days.

But you want to know what else it brought me? Christ, Adam and Brooks.

My twenties brought me the greatest gifts I have ever received. It brought me the rest of my life.

I started my twenties as a pot-smoker, college kid who didn’t know Jesus, and ended my twenties as a straight-shooter Mama who now works for Jesus…

A lot can happen in ten years. A lot has happened in ten years.

Is thirty the new twenty? No, thirty is thirty. Is it a just a number? Sure, in a literal sense, it’s defined as simply a cardinal number.

But to me, it’s the end of what was one of the most important decades of my life. Does that mean my thirties won’t be just as important? Of course not. In fact, this decade and the rest will be more important. I may have been given my most precious gifts in my twenties, but now I get to spend the rest of my life living it all out, and hopefully not screwing up too much in the process ;). I am still twelve at heart, after all.

Speaking of, if I could go back and have a conversation with my twelve-year-old self, I’d let her know that, first of all, twenty-five isn’t old and second of all, you will still be you; just older and better looking – and we will high five with glee and thank the Good Lord above because that was my awkward stage and I wasn’t quite sure how it would turn out – (see photo below). You will still be the Karen everyone knows and you will still have the same fears, dreams, and innocence in your heart that you had back then. You’ll see that life is hard and scary and we are not invincible; that bad stuff happens. But the good news is you will meet Jesus and in a way you will become the new person you thought you’d be, but in a much different, more beautiful and glorious way. You will get married, have a job, do scary things like give birth and become a Mom. You’ll drink coffee and sip wine at dinner when you used to hate the smell and taste of both. You’ll cry and grow and laugh and learn and get hurt and hurt others and try and fail and try again. You’ll struggle with depression and anxiety and be scared of things you never thought you’d be scared of. You’ll say goodbye to loved ones you never thought you’d lose. You’ll pay bills and clean your house and do laundry and care for a little human and answer to a boss and make decisions, share life, and live with a spouse. You’ll be an adult in every sense of the word.

But there are two things that will never change:

You will still be you (this is a good thing, kid).

And no matter how old you get, no matter what number you reach, no matter how many “adult” things you’ll be doing… you will always, without fail, still feel like you’re twelve.

Adulting is basically doing adult things while never actually feeling like an adult, and everyone being super confused as to how they got there in the first place.

“But you’re like, twelve,” my older sister’s exact words as she looked at me in astonishment the day I gave birth to my son.

See?

 

[Me, 12 years old, and at the peak of my awkwardness]

IMG_6776

Can’t wait, Not yet.

I once heard it said that we raise our children up to actually send them out. The intention of raising kids is to someday let them go. All that time and effort and investment, all that love and devotion, all that protecting and hosting and raising them up here in our homes, is all just to one day leave our homes.

We’re sitting here working our butts off raising these little humans to some day leave us.

Some of you are like, “Noooooo!”

And yet some of your are like, “Yayyyyyy!!!”

But all of us are somewhere in between.

I had just finished my several minute speech to my son about how big of a boy he was and how he was going to sleep in his big boy bed ALL. NIGHT. LONG. And that Mommy was not going to be happy if he came into our bed that night. That I wasn’t going to let it happen again. I wasn’t going to be nice about it this time.

Okay, Mommy.

Somehow I believe him every time with those words, like he truly understands what I’m trying to tell him at two and a half years old. Nonetheless I leave his room with confidence, like, okay, tonight’s the night he’s going to sleep in his room and he’ll never come crawling to our bed again.

But something happens within minutes of that confident strut out of my son’s room. I go from a confident Mama, excited for the better sleep I’ll hopefully get that night, to a guilty Mama, half hoping he ignores my speech and comes crawling into my arms so I can cuddle the little man he is before it’s too late.

It’s a tug-of-war of emotions that I believe every parent goes through on a daily basis.

And not just parents, but individuals in any phase of life.

I believe it’s one of the signature tug-of-wars in life that account for so much anxiety, depression and restlessness.

It’s a tug-of-war that has our shoelaces tangled, always causing a stumble in our present-day joy.

It’s the tug-of-war called, “Can’t wait… Not yet.”

We live in a can’t wait, not yet world. And as a Mom, I find myself right smack in the middle of it, grasping for what was, while wishing for what will be.

And missing the opportunity to take hold of what is.

I can’t wait until he’s older and can take care of himself a bit more.

Please stay little forever.

I can’t wait until he’s in school and I have more time to myself.

Please stay innocent.

I can’t wait until his bed time tonight.

Please crawl into bed with me.

I can’t wait for my son to grow up and change the world.

Please stay as you are and let me put you in a bubble to never leave me.

It’s easy to chuckle at these back and forth mindsets, but it’s these mindsets that leave out the most important mindset of all, the one God calls us to be in every single day.

It’s the mindset of right here, right now, today.

Today is the only day we have. And I’m a sucker at wasting my today’s.

I’m a sucker for letting my past consume me, and my future indulge me.

I’m a sucker for forgetting to be present now, in my son’s life, loving, cherishing, and accumulating moments in my days I can hold on to forever.

I’m a sucker for hating his tantrums. Who wouldn’t? Tantrums suck. All you want him to do is understand logic and reason with him, to help him understand why what he’s crying about is ridiculous.

You can’t go IN the TV, that’s not possible!! It’s a screen! It’s not real!

Sometimes I lay my head down at night, though, and realize I’d much rather have my son crying over the fact that he can’t go play inside the TV than come home someday as a teenager and cry about the break up he just had.

And then someday when he does come home as a teenager and cry about that break up he just had, I’d much rather have him cry over that than cry over the loss of a spouse, or worse, the loss of a child.

As hard as it might be for us to understand, the present moment is always the best moment. Our past was never as good as it seems now, and our future will soon just be our present in which we’ll be looking towards the future again anyway. We will continue in this loop without ever truly finding contentment in what is.

If we continue to live in a can’t wait, not yet mindset, the joy we are looking for will never be found.

God calls us to live in the moment. He’s very clear in that when Jesus says in Scripture, “Let tomorrow worry about itself.” He’s very clear in that in Isaiah when it says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” He’s very clear in Scripture when he gives enough Manna only for today to the slaves escaping Egypt.

A friend of mine I used to work with always used to say, “These are the good old days.” It was his favorite hashtag when posting photos of his children. It always made me smile because what he was essentially doing was letting us know that this moment, right here, right now with my children — these are the best days. Not my yesterday’s, not my tomorrows. Today.

The cliche, “Those were the good old days” when looking at our pasts, never does our present justice. If our yesterdays were the good old days, then today is just a day; a day that will someday be the good old day we long for.

It’s like Andy Bernard once said on the hit show, “The Office,”

I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days, before you’ve actually left them.

Life is pretty difficult at times, and there are so many days we want to forget, re-do or even wish never happened.

But I’d say most of the time, God willing, we live pretty good days, and we’re missing them, because we can’t wait for what’s ahead, and finding guilt in our not yets, instead of seeing our present for what it truly is: All we have.

Today is all we have. Today is a chance to begin again. Today is a good, new day.

The present is always waiting for us to join it. And God has given us the parameters to do so in the ordinary, extraordinary routine of the hours between two twilight’s.

Twilight Comes Twice. It’s a children’s book about dawn and dusk, a simple reminder that the sun goes down and the sun comes up. Every day. And twice, in between, we get the gift of these golden hours, these pockets of waking up and winding down.

No matter how beautiful and epic and glorious life is right now, the sun goes down.

And no matter how ugly and rejecting and hurtful life is right now, the sun comes up.

~Leeana Tankersley

I can’t lie and say that when tomorrow comes, I won’t be wishing for bed time only two hours into the day.

I can’t lie and say I’m going to cherish every single moment and find joy in all the nuances of my day.

I can’t lie and say I won’t be wishing for the weekend back or looking forward to Friday again.

After all, I am one who lives in a can’t wait, not yet world.

But I know my heart longs to live in the here and now. And I know yours does too.

I can make myself cry with the guilt I have when I go to bed knowing I just wasted my day with my son. But in the moment, it’s so hard to see this is the only day we have. It’s so hard to see past the tantrums or our tiredness or our laziness or the five loads of laundry. It’s so hard to see past the fact my son will NOT be this little forever and will one day grow up and will one day not even fit in my bed.

It’s hard to see past all of that, because our minds and hearts are not even focusing on the present. We’re not even there. We’re in our pasts or we’re in our futures.

We’re thinking about the days of good sleep when sleep alludes us because of this toddler of ours.

Why won’t he sleep in his own bed?!

Yet the moment you feel his little body spoon up against yours at three in the morning, believe it or not, you’ll smile and spoon him back, breathe in his smell and kiss his forehead.

Your mind isn’t on the past, nor is it seeking the future.

It’s simply being. Loving. Cherishing.

The exact opposite of how you’d think you’d react to losing sleep.

Because, oddly enough, it’s the most joy you have felt all day, during a moment you’d least expect to find it: the present.

Right here, right now, at 3am.

And it is a good old day…

How to get a good work out in.

Sharing Part 3 of my series, How to be an imperfect parent, successfully! Enjoy these 4 easy steps on how to get a good work out in while Momming…

Step 1: Wait until Toddler asks to get dressed.

Step 2: Begin to dress the toddler who asked to get dressed.

Step 3: Have Toddler who literally just asked to get dressed now fight getting dressed with every fiber of their being.

Step 4: Dress the Toddler anyway because YOU’RE THE BOSS.

NOTE* This will also build up your cardio because your heart rate goes way up.

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How to stick to just one cup of coffee a day.

For Part two my series, How to… be an imperfect parent, successfully, here is my secret to sticking to just one cup of coffee a day!

Step 1: Wake up earlier than your Toddler to enjoy a fresh, hot cup of coffee.

Step 2: Enjoy one glorious sip of that fresh, hot cup of coffee.

Step 3: Have Toddler wake up earlier than they should after just one sip of that fresh, hot cup of coffee.

Step 4: Set hot cup of coffee down to retrieve Toddler.

Step 5: Forget about cup of coffee for a very long time because, Toddler.

Step 6: Remember cup of coffee and reheat in microwave.

Step 7: Actually have a few sips of the coffee.

Step 8: Repeat Steps 5-7 several more times throughout the day.

Step 9: Do one long, final reheat in the microwave to make it super hot because you for real swear this time you’ll drink this cup of coffee, hot.

Step 10: Toddler…

Step 11: Open up microwave at 4:55pm to heat up Toddler’s dinner and find the cup of coffee you forgot you put in there four hours ago.

Step 12: Chug down final sips of cold cup of coffee.

Step 13: Replace with wine because it’s now 5:00.

*Guaranteed to work daily.*

How to… be an imperfect parent, successfully (Part 1)

I love a good “how-to” book. Self-help. Advice. What to do when. But when it comes to parenting, I have yet to find one that truly tells you like it is and helps you navigate the everyday how-tos of what a day in the life of a Mommy looks like.

I’m not talking about articles like “How to soothe your child to sleep in three easy steps” or “How to create date nights with your husband” or “How to stop a tantrum in your toddler” where they genuinely think their advice helps you, comforts you and teaches you. I thank them for their efforts, but these articles and books tend to forget one major factor in their advice: the little humans themselves. Little humans cannot be “how to-ed.” No. There are no “how to’s” universal enough for all us parents out there parenting little humans as different as the snowflakes that fall to the ground that could possibly work for all of us (apparently every snowflake that falls is a different design — Go God).

Give me the realistic how-to’s. The ones that simply show you how to get by because when raising little humans, getting by is a successful day. The how to’s that get the job done, but perhaps not in the most ideal way. The how-to’s that we all, every single parent out there, can relate to because we are imperfect bigger humans trying to raise imperfect little humans to at least be better imperfect versions of us bigger humans raising them.

So with some inspiration from one of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker, who in her latest book wrote some hilarious, satirical “How To’s” on all sorts of everyday life occurrences (thank you for the laughs, Jen), it got me thinking about my own every day. What “advice” (laughable) could I give future parents ready to take the plunge or parents already… plunged(?) with me that will actually show them how to do this whole parenting thing: love them with everything you have, make it up as you go, and laugh about it along the way. As always, I wrote a few down and they are short, to the point, and written to make you feel better about yourself. I will try to post one weekly!

Here I share with you my first “How To” of my mothering experience in what I’m declaring a “series,” titled: How to… be an imperfect parent, successfully.

 

HOW TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR BODY:

Step 1: Get dressed in front of your Toddler.

Step 2: Let Toddler see your butt and promptly yell, “YUCKY!”

Step 3: Declare “Yucky” the new slang for “Daaaang” and feel proud of your butt.

 

Stay tuned… 🙂


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The crazy reason why I do not give my child a bath every night.

Because Momma is tired and she sometimes needs a break.

The end.

No, really. That’s it…

Were you looking for some scientific, statistical or proven fact as to why I don’t bathe my son every night?

You’re not going to find that here.

What you will find is a Mom doing her best (which sometimes doesn’t look all that great), who just wants other Moms to say, “Me too.”

I’m not sure where it all started, to try and act like we are superwomen. It’s a nice thought, and I do believe Mom’s are as strong as ever, and we pack a punch. I do believe we can conquer anything or accomplish the impossible. I do believe we have a chip on our shoulders and we feel the need to constantly prove ourselves.

But this need to constantly prove ourselves to the world has turned into a need to constantly prove ourselves to each other. This was supposed to be a rally cry for us Moms. It was supposed to be an “Us against the world!” mentality. It was supposed to be a team effort…

Instead it’s turned into a competition.

It’s turned into mom-shaming. To guilt trips. To judgments. To the belief that to show any sign of weakness, to show any kind of mistake, to show you don’t feed your child all organic is to admit you have failed.

You don’t have your child in the best day care? You don’t stay at home with him?? You quit your dream job so your partner can work??? You took your dream job so your partner can stay home????

You don’t bathe your child every night??????

How dare you?!

Our false need to have it all, to be perfect, to SHOW. NO. MERCY., has turned us against who we actually need the most.

Each other.

We need each other, Moms.

We hurt one another when we continue the facade that we can do it all. When we won’t admit we’re tired. When we put out there only the good stuff. When we show only our strengths and never our weaknesses.

When we share only the “you should’s” or the “have to’s” but not the “I’ve been there’s” or the “me too’s.”

That’s when we fail as Moms. That’s when we hurt as Moms. That’s when we lose as Moms.

We lose a competition that was never supposed to be one in the first place.

When you are a Mom, there is no other person in this world that can relate to you more than another Mom. When you are a woman, there is no other person that can relate to you more than another woman.

We have got to have each other’s back. Because no one else will. Not in the same way we would. Not in the same way we could.

On those tough days I’m putting my son to bed when his diet consisted of popcorn for breakfast, half a banana for lunch and fruit snacks for dinner, I don’t need to know how I failed as a Mom that day.

I need to know that you failed too.

When I admit I don’t give my son a bath every night, I don’t need a collective “gasp” from the Mom’s who do.

I need a collective chant, “Momma, you do you.”

When I sometimes let my child watch TV for hours because I’m just so. darn. tired., I don’t need a lecture as to why that’s wrong.

I need the latest and greatest movie ideas to keep this going all day long.

Because you’ve been there.

You’ve done that.

You get it.

After all, you’re a Mom too…

And in the world of Motherhood, there’s a Sisterhood. And Sisters need to stick together…

Let’s stop telling Mom’s why everything they’re doing (or not doing) is wrong, and instead share with them all the ways they are doing it right.

May there always be encouragement rather than judgment.

May there always be a dialogue rather than debates.

If you’re wrong in the way you’re right, you’re wrong even if you’re right. ~ James MacDonald

May there always be love rather than shame.

May there always be a “Sisterhood” in Motherhood.

You do you, Sis. Go get ’em.

P.s. I didn’t give my son a bath tonight…

All together now: “Me too.”

A love letter to 2017.

 

Dear 2017,

I pray this letter finds you well.

Kinda.

Sorta.

Not really.

You see, you have been a big skim-board to the shin.

An unpleasant, unexpected, cringe-worthy sting to what was supposed to be a pleasant walk along the ocean.

Sure, maybe a lot of it was my own doing. I wasn’t paying attention. I was blissfully ignoring the warning signs. I had my feet dipped in the clear blue water expecting happiness, contentment and peace, only the kind you receive when you do in fact have your toes in the water and you stare out into the deep. Only the kind you receive when you live in a fantasy world and think you can live a problem-free, easy-breezy life. I politely denied the fact there were amateur skim-boarders and beach-goers along the water line, trying to find the same escape I was. It was packed. The Jersey Shore is always packed. I didn’t see it coming.

Or… maybe I did. And I simply wasn’t quick enough to step out of the way. I wasn’t quick enough to ask for help, to grab hold of the people around me willing to pull me out of the way of what was to come.

So ya got me. Ya got me good. Right in the shin. And oh man have I been angry. No body likes getting hit in the shin. Even the strongest of men will whimper and limp in agony over a nice shot to the shin bone.

I’ve been angry at you, 2017. For a lot of reasons. You tore me down emotionally. You tore me down physically. You tore me down mentally. I hit rock bottom in many ways this year, finding myself hysterical, delirious, ill and collapsed on my kitchen floor more times than I can count, for no apparent reasons other than this overwhelming weight on my chest that pounded hate into me with each breath. You made me hate myself. You made me forget myself. You made me believe I was nothing. You had me convinced everyone hated me, including my spouse, my son… and God.

You took the small confidence I had when I trusted God and grabbed his hand and leaped into nothingness except the faith I had that he would catch me when I made changes to my job, schedule and finances… and you gave me the illusion that I had fallen. You pulled the rug from under me, a rug that was supposed to be new and adventurous and a step toward my goals and dreams and instead of celebrating the accomplishment, I found myself gasping for breath, like the ocean I once stood at admiring and aspiring to conquer swallowed me up whole, never to be seen again.

I have been so angry at you. You deceived me. You belittled me. You stripped me down to nothing. You hit me in the damn shin. And I have been limping away ever since, looking back at you with a clenched fist and angry, tear-filled eyes wanting nothing more than to punch you in the face, 2017. But I haven’t had the right words to say to you with all that I’ve been feeling.

But here I am. Day 1 of 2018 and I’m ready, and I have something to say to you. I’ve been waiting a long time to say this, to get the right words out. To give you everything I’ve got for what you put me through, what I allowed you to put me through. You deserve what I’m about to throw at you. You deserve each and every word for the pain you caused. You ready for it? Okay, here we go:

Thank you.

Take that, 2017…

You taught me something. You taught me that evil is real, but God is greater. You taught me that I am worthy, because “if you are doing anything of worth, then the enemy is doing everything in his power to make you quit,” (Jennie Allen). You taught me that I am not alone. You taught me that no matter how far down to the pit of the ocean I can go, God is still there. And so are many others, willing to share the oxygen tanks they’ve acquired in their own journeys to the pit. You taught me that when you reach the end of yourself, God can reveal Himself. You taught me that sometimes it’s okay to realize you don’t have it all together and that embracing your weaknesses and faults and shortcomings is actually a good thing because it allows you to learn how to love yourself for who you really are and not who you thought you needed to be in order to be loved by God. He already loves me and sees me and knows me and accepts me even when I daily don’t accept myself. When you convinced me to hate myself, I saw it as a story already written in stone, but God saw it as a clean slate.

Yes, I am tired. No, I am not “cured.” Yes, I still battle. No, I don’t have it figured out.

I struggle. To love myself and love others well. I struggle to love God. I struggle to tame my anxiety and depression and have accepted the need for outside help like counseling and medication. I struggle.

Like everyone else.

Like everyone else who struggles to say ‘thank you’ to 2017 when all they wanna do is kick it in the pants and move on. Like everyone else who struggles with the giant weight on their chest that pounds the words, “You suck. You are not enough. You are not worthy. Nobody likes you. No one cares about you. You will not succeed.” Like everyone else who sees the surprising, yet unfortunately not so surprising, tragic events happen in our world every other day and feels this overwhelming loss of hope and faith in God and humanity. Like everyone else wondering where the money will come from, where the strength will come from, where the people will come from to help in their needs. Like everyone else who you tried to destroy, 2017.

We struggle. But we are battling. We struggle. But we are resilient.

You see, you forgot about one thing 2017. Probably the most important thing in your attempt to steal, kill and destroy us.

You cannot kill what you did not create.

And you see the God who did create us? He’s not in this job to kill.

He’s in it to save. To love. To protect.

To heal.

To take each and every single skim-board to the shin for us.

To take what you meant for evil and turn it into good.

Ya got me good, 2017. Ya really did. I gotta hand it to ya, I’m still limping.

But I’m not angry anymore. In fact, I’m actually now quite amused. Because the fact that anybody can get hit that many times in the shin with your skim-board can really only mean one thing…

You suck at skim-boarding.

With Love,

Karen.


Dear 2018,

I pray this letter finds you well.

Question — do you skim-board? …

 

I’m not that girl.

Hi, I’m Karen, a wannabe writer, and it’s been six months since my last post…

“Hiiiii Karen.”

This is just a post to let any readers out there know, all two of you probably, that I’m still here. I’ve just been… ignoring the fact that in order to be a writer, you have to actually write.

I’m not sure as I’m even typing this what this post is going to be about, or if it will be about anything at all. I really have no idea where this is going, and it may not go anywhere.

Right now, I’m sitting here on a Friday morning on what is my “staycation.” My son slept at my parents house last night, my husband is out golfing with his brothers and father, and so I’m enjoying a cup of coffee on my front porch all by my lonesome after “sleeping in” until 8am. Ugh, what happened to sleeping in?!

I got the urge to pull out my handy dandy Chrome Book I bought for myself last Christmas to use strictly for writing, thinking it would motivate me to write more.

How’d that turn out, Karen?

Shhhhh.

So here I am. Writing. About nothing. But at least I’m typing something out, right? Are you still reading or did you give up yet on my jumbled thoughts all over the page?

Stay with me.

Over the course of the last couple months, something dawned on me: It’s been a really tough year.

For my family. For me.

I’ve lost three loved ones in the span of nine months, two of them in the same week. The other, the day after my birthday. I thought all was status quo, and then one simple move that I thought would be an exciting new step for me, changed everything. I started a new job back in May (still at Liquid Church), after five years in a comfortable, steady and familiar role, that unleashed a fury of anxiety and panic I never knew I had, opening the floodgates to a lot of soul-searching and counseling and, well, crying. Lots and lots of crying.

I realized it was a lot of change in one year.

And I don’t like change.

And my body and mind let me know how much I don’t like change too.

I always had my suspicions about my struggles, but when a professional tells you that you suffer from anxiety and depression, it becomes all too real. I have been fighting it, ignoring it, pretending it’s not there, but this summer it has all come to a head. I’m in a place right now that’s working hard at accepting these facts and understanding that it’s okay to be this way, but that’s really hard for me to admit. I’ve prided myself over the years on being the “girl who has it all together.” But over the past six months I’m realizing one huge flaw in that perception:

I’m not that girl.

Hey, World? I’m not that girl.

Hi, I’m Karen, and I’m not that girl.

“Hiiiii Karen.”

As the summer winds down, I’m learning more and more that I’m actually still in the accepting phase of all of this. I keep thinking I’ve turned a corner, and then I’ll frustrate myself with thoughts of, well, I just need to be a better Christian or I just need to have more passion or I just need to love God more, or I just need to take medication and it will make me better.

But it doesn’t work like that.

I thought by the end of summer, I’d be back on track.

But I’m not. I’m still in this. I’m not writing this post to give you the happy ending. I’m not there yet. It’s not over.

And I’m realizing it may never be. I’m not saying that in a “I’m giving up” way, I’m saying that in a “I accept this”  way.

This fight may never end. And I need to learn to accept that. I need to learn to accept who I am and accept I don’t have it all together.

But I also need to learn how to accept that. There are two different ways to accept something.

Think of it this way:

Your leg was cut off. Will you sit there and say, oh okay now I can’t do anything but sit here with one leg, I guess I have to accept this fate. Or do you say okay, my leg was cut off, I can sit here and do nothing or I can accept this and learn how best to live my life with the one good leg I have?

I struggle with anxiety and depression. I can accept it by sitting here and feeling sorry for myself. Which I admittedly do a lot. Or I can accept it by learning to live my best life with it. 

Where is your acceptance at? I’m still learning. And I’m trying to show myself some grace, because this is hard. I’m hard on myself and I would bet you’re pretty hard on yourself too.

We all need to understand life is not one line on a chart that projects upward. It’s not an easy three-step program to get you to the end of it fairly unscathed.

It’s a process. And process looks a little funky on a chart…

I have on my laptop a sticky note that simply says, “Process,” and one that says, “Student” as a reminder to myself everyday that everything is a process, and I need to be a student of that process.

Life is a process.

And I honestly cringe every time I see it because I hate process.

I hate the process of things!

I’m very impatient, and always looking for the quick fix, the easy way out or the fastest solution. I will do anything to skip the process.

But I’m learning that it’s in the process that we see progress.

Progress rarely looks forward moving. It’s really more of a zig-zag, dips and turns and valleys and mountains. It’s a treacherous hike. But in order to progress, we must trust the process.

Trust the process.

This has been a very frustrating time in my life. This has been a very frustrating concept to learn. And admittedly, I’d always rather skip the process to just get to the other side, unscathed. That has always been my MO.

But this time I’m trying hard to accept where I’m at, and accept that being in this process is exactly where I need to be.

Trust that this zig-zag, criss-cross way of progress is actually forward movement.

It’s redemptive movement.

God’s number one movement in this world is a redemptive one.

God is always moving towards redemption.

He wants our lives to always be moving towards redemption.

But nothing can be redeemed when we don’t accept that we are broken people in need of redeeming.

Redemption comes in our acceptance.

Redemption comes in the process.

Redemption comes when we can boldly admit, I am not that person.

I am not that girl.

And God says, “Good. I never asked you to be. Now come with me, please. We’ve got some redeeming to do…”

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