BAM Family

BAM Family

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What's going on outside your window?

So much of my days are filled with this: 
 And this:
And this:
And this (which is so much more fun than the first three pictures!):
My life is lived tight within the walls of my little house--the cleaning, the cooking, the grading, the kids. Sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in my own little world and forget that there is a lot going on outside the walls of my house. 

This past week, my sweet neighbor and friend Amanda reminded me of the need to look outside myself--just by a simple text. All she did was remember that I had an important event in my life, an event that I was worried about and one that was going to have a large impact on my family. But it was the remembering that was huge. I thanked her for the text the next day and she brushed it off as if it was nothing. 

"I was just going to bed and I stopped and thought, 'What is going on in the world outside my house that I should be remembering?'" 

She thought about me so she let me know. She took the time to think about the life outside her windows. Her text made me feel loved and cared about.

Her thoughtfulness really meant something to me and it challenged me to look outside the windows of my house, beyond the dishes, the messy living room, the endless emails, and the play-dough playtime. My life is FULL and BUSY and STRESSFUL at times. But while there is a lot going on inside my world, there is even more going on outside.

Who is getting cancer treatment?
Who just had a baby?
Who is homesick?
Who just had a breakup?
Who is struggling?
Who needs encouragement?

 It only took my friend a few seconds to send me a text but her simple act made a world of difference to me. It encouraged me on a day that I was struggling...and also encouraged me to look outside my world to see where I can be an encouragement to others--it only takes a minute to send a text, an email, a facebook message, or make a call.

What's going on outside your window?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Happy 6 months, Eli!

Eli's 6 month birthday was actually 4 days ago...but as the 4th child in the family, it's just par for the course that this update is late, right?  (poor 4th child!!)

This little guy is a butterball of joy. He is my biggest baby yet--18 whopping pounds! That's 2 lbs more than Silas at 6 months...and...uh...Micah and Benji barely weighed more than that at TWO YEARS OLD! He is growing out of 6 month onesies and fits comfortably in 9 month clothes. It is crazy having such a big baby!
Little Man loves his milk! After our first rough month, I'm so glad that breastfeeding has been successful. We feed on demand...and he demands a lot! I love his thunder thighs! This kid has rolls!
We haven't started solids yet but we will in the coming weeks--all his older brothers started eating real food around 7 months or so.

Eli is on a 3 nap a day schedule (though not always at the same time or length every day). I moved him out of the rock sleeper a few weeks ago into a pack and play in my room. He still wakes up a lot at night (Yawn for mommy).
 Eli loves to be in the action! He is a squealer and grunter. He also loves to be tickled and talked to. Micah and Benji do a great job looking after Eli while I am in the shower or while I make dinner. Silas is such a good big brother too and loves to talk to "E-why" and nuzzle and "wrestle" with his baby brother.
 This is his new "trick"--Look, mama! I can sit up! He's still working on those ab muscles but he can sit up for a few minutes before falling or diving forward (we've had a few bonks before mama could catch him! Poor baby!).
He also loves to roll from his back to his belly but somehow has forgotten how to roll back so I have to "rescue" him a lot from this position. Aaron and I have witnessed him pushing up with his arms and also on his toes. Uh oh! Does this mean early crawling??? Slow down, baby!
Eli seems to be following in the footsteps of his older brothers: He loves this jumper! Some days, he jumps till he drops! He also loves to kick, either in his rocker chair (so he can make it rock), or in his bed (thunk! thunk! thunk! thunk!). In fact, I have bruises on my legs from Mr. Kicky-pants!

He also has started to play with toys, his current favorites being a set of plastic keys and a tiger that buzzes when he pulls a cord, or anything that he can put in his mouth and slobber over. He is my drooliest baby! I have to change his shirts on a regular basis because he drools so much. Nope, no teeth in sight!
He loves his mama the best, though he always wants his daddy to hold him and kiss his neck--lots of giggles! I tried and tried to get him to smile for this picture. He looks so serious but he really is a happy baby!

Everyone told me that after you have three kids, adding a fourth is a piece of cake. This hasn't exactly been true for me. I  feel like I am still trying to figure out my life as a mom of four, especially how to be a work-at-home mom of four! Most days I feel like I am being pulled in a million different directions every 5 minutes, especially since Micah and Benji are out of school for the summer too. Whew!

I would write more about our sweet baby but...he just woke up from his nap! Happy 6 months little boy!

Friday, June 19, 2015

You don't have to enjoy every minute to be a good mom

When my twins were babies, I was consistently bludgeoned with this advice by well-meaning people: "Enjoy every minute."

I hated this phrase...mostly because I was going through one of the most difficult experiences of my life. Just keeping up with the daily care of two infants was hard enough--and I was supposed to "enjoy every minute" too?

I felt like a failure.

 One of my favorite bloggers, Modern Mrs. Darcy, wrote an article the other day about marriage, called "What makes a relationship work?"

This line stuck out to me:
...I’ve been warned by older and wiser friends not to panic if we hit a rough patch—strong marriages have bad weeks, months, even years
We seem to accept the truth that "strong marriages have bad weeks, months, even years" so why does this truth seem harder to swallow when applied to parenthood?

 The thing is, our kids are people too, complete with little personalities, big attitudes, funny quirks, and loud opinions. And just like a strong marriage, our relationship with our kids requires work and daily maintenance.

In my seven+ years of parenting, I have come to realize that relationships with my children can and do go through difficult times that are frustrating, irritating, exhausting, even soul-crushing--trials of growth and times where I literally pull my hair out and think what-the-heck-am-I-doing?

There are so many times I have thought "I am a bad mom" or "I am not doing my best" when really, I was just going through one of these trials of growth. And growth is uncomfortable and painful and....not enjoyable.

The truth is, you don't have to enjoy every minute to be a good mom, despite the little old lady in the grocery store who sighs "it-goes-by-so-fast,"  and the "soak-up-every moment / enjoy every stage / be-the-perfect-parent-today-or-screw-your-kids-up-for-tomorrow" social pressures that we are inundated with on a daily basis.  

Parenting is hard because we are in relationship with tiny humans, and all good, lasting relationships have hard times. The key words there are "good" and "times," because there are good times too--seconds, moments, days, and years that are good, and should be soaked up and enjoyed.

Those are the times where we feel like good parents.

But the reality is, whether in marriage, or friendship, or parenting, or any relationship, feelings can be fleeting. It's the sticking through the hard times that spells commitment, the "I-will-do-my-best-no-matter-what-because-I-love-you" that is the true marker of a "good" mom.

Is motherhood enjoyable? I think the answer to that question depends on the mother and the moment you ask.

But if the litmus test of a "good mother" is how much we enjoy it, we will always be sentimentalizing the past or wishing ourselves in a less difficult parenting moment (naptime, anyone?).

We need to release the expectation of "enjoying motherhood" and focus on the reality of growing our relationships with our children, and all the good, bad, infuriatingly messy, ugly, and beautiful aspects that relationships with people bring to our lives.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

When Silence is full of words

I haven't blogged in a month. And it isn't because I haven't had anything to say. Actually, it's because I had too much to say...but I haven't had the the words to say it.

I still don't.

All I can say is this: I've been going through Something Hard, something that I want to talk about and write about but don't always have words for.

Writing has always been a way for me to process my thoughts, feelings life. And I've felt like I want to write about what's been gong on, but I can't. Not yet.

My husband has this theory that goes like this: People want to talk about what they want to talk about. Meaning, even if you didn't intend to have a certain conversation or say whatever you said, subconsciously, you wanted to say exactly what you said. 

He calls it "The Corner Theory," meaning you back yourself into the "corner" you want to talk about, either consciously or unconsciously (usually the latter).

This is why people tend to tell secrets to strangers, like the person sitting next to you on a cross-country flight.

Writing is a bit more conscious and deliberate. There is such vulnerability in "putting it all out there." Writing is big, black, bold...and, in a way, permanent. It's committing to the idea.

I have talked about the Something Hard with a lot of people, and that has helped me process some of the crazy and scary and unknown. But the words fall and float away as soon as they're said. Nothing sticks. Nothing's permanent.

But writing about it still scares me, because somehow, making the commitment, saying the words, makes it real, like honest-to-goodness THIS is my life. THIS is real. THIS is hard, damn it.

For me, writing is accepting the real.
It's brave. 
And I'm not brave, not yet.
 But maybe someday I will be. 

For now though, until I have the answers and words, the Something Hard still looms large. I am so full of words, but I don't know how to say them. 

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