Tag Archive | contentment


Aren’t faults so much easier to see in junior high kids? The insecurity. The desperate throwing the stapler across the room for attention. The distinct need for braces, and definite lack of deoderant. And, the ifs. If I had a boyfriend. a girlfriend. if we didn’t have uniforms. if this test was cancelled. if i had a boyfriend, or better parents. if we win our game. if i had a boyfriend. did I say a boyfriend? That one was always popular. They never listened to me when I told them that, trust me, living with a man, pleasant as it is, is surely not heaven itself.

Those middle schoolers. I was always so amused, and so critical. And here I am, a middle schooler for a mom. Whatever irritation, fear, or imperfection there is – it colors everything I see. If I am sick, that is all I think about. If Ty is fussy, that is all I think about. If I have gotten no sleep, or have a headache, or worried about a decision I must make, it is all I think about. It is a shame of a way to live a life, with one olive poisoning the rest of the delicious salad (blech).
Like my abs, my optimism muscle has gotten weak with age, so I am going to exercise it. (Okay, neither were that great to begin with.)
Today was a wonderful, beautiful day.
I slept through the night!
At dinner Sam thanked God with scrunched eyes for all our dinnerrrr, and all our luuuuunch, and all our foooood (he draws out syllables when he is extra grateful.)
Both of the boys thought it was hilarious when I tickled them with an orange. Come on, anything for a laugh.
We drove the airport and saw two planes land. On the way there, a plane flew over our heads. The excitement in Sam’s voice when he saw it was priceless.
Before Ty’s nap, he threw all his animals out of the crib and then cried when each one hit the floor. I had to laugh.
Sam gave me a hug, unpromted, when I got him out of his high chair, and told me, Mom, I love you.
At lunch he said, Mom, I love Dad. I just love that guy.
Ty snuggled me on the way up the stairs.
We played outside, and it was beautiful – sixty and sunny. In January.
Sam gave Ty a “gently, gently hug” when he bumped his head. It’s only taken ten months, but, gosh, I think they like each other.
I got to chat with two friends from college, the disability insurance guy, AND the mailman gave me an especially personal smile. Good day for a stay-at-home mom!
I got to hear Sam and Todd wrestling, throwing the football, and saying their prayers.
The only casualties for the day were a broken candle, a cup of oats on the floor, and a ripped magazine. Not bad considering we spent 90% of the day inside.
Right now, I hear the most adorable voice in the world calling Mommy Mommy to give him some more big boy cup. Yes, the big boy cup is basically a graduated bottle habit we need to kick, but it is the cutest sound in the world.
I can see, and I can walk, and my kids smile back at me and we spent all day in our home, and not in a hospital and I have more than I need.
Today was a wonderful day.


a blink of time

When we were in high school, my sisters and I babysat for a wonderful family. Two families actually…brothers with kids. We loved them, still talk about them, and fight over their names for our kids. If more proof is needed, today – ten years later – I am writing a blog about them; last week, their mom wrote one about us.

See, recently I moved back to my hometown and found myself in need of a babysitter. And who would come to mind, of course, but my former kiddos – the two little girls that still in my mind have aqua glasses and gaps between their teeth and sleep with stuffed animals and nightlights on. It is cute, and ironic, and also disconcerting, that these girls can babysit my boys.
I don’t know why that would be so troubling. Kids grow up. Fast. It’s something since my very first public outing with a baby everyone from the Walmart cashier to the neighbors wistfully points out. “Oh, enjooooy these days. They will be grown before you know it, blah blah blah.” So I have no idea why the fact that the three little kids from Concord are in high school now is so riveting to my system. But it is.
See, if these kids are grown {practically} then it happened in a blink. Boom. They’re grown. And, if Jenn’s kids really and truly are done with playdough, and don’t play Candy Land, and don’t need you to pull up their pants with they’re done, why {gasp} MINE WILL BE TOO.

In a blink.

This is a theme for me. Yesterday – twice – I stumbled upon this quote.

“But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”
~Anna Quindlen

This mom makes me sad. I’m sad her moment is gone forever, with the kids talking about nonsense on the grass. But mostly, I am sad because she is me, and I am busy configuring the router and planning the menu and chopping the onions. Too busy.

But I am a firstborn, and so, it’s not just weepy Hallmarkness that the marching of time evokes in me.

Also, I feel motivated. Frantic, really. Something akin to the last day of vacation, run-outside-before-the-rainbow-moves, turn-over-your-paper-and-start-your-essay feelings. There is so much to do, and so, obviously, little time. I don’t know if my Uncle Jerry coined the phrase or just made it famous to us: “Raising little kids is the shortest years and the longest days of your life.”

I sort of wish God had made parenting kids more spliced out in life. You know, a few months of good sleep here, a sabbatical year there. Which come to think of it, is probably why people love being grandparents so much. (Namely, that you have all the influence but get to go home and sleep all night in your own bed.) But parenting has no such privileges. It is all and not nothing. All all all. All day, all night, all energy, all the time.
I have so much I want to accomplish with these kids, and a few more I’d like to have. In my dreams I am part Pioneer Woman, part Ann Voskamp and these moms who have homeschooling blogs, and go on field trips, and learn spontaneous lessons about rock quartz in the backyard and read everything and go all over, adventuring.

But in real life…Right now, for instance, I have a headache. There are books all over, and they need to go on the shelf. If I don’t get a shower now, I won’t, and the cookie swap is tonight. And I’m so. so. so. TIRED.

See, mothering is like a marathon, sprinted. Yes. I am tired; that sounds about right. I have never run a marathon, but I’m pretty sure there’s not much time to do much else on the side. Sure, you do what you need to do – grab a banana, stretch a sore muscle, stop for a few words of encouragement to push through, and eventually the analogy breaks down, because I’m pretty sure there’s a glass of wine in there too once in a while. But irregardless, it is hard, and all you do for a while.

When I see my former clients soon, and they come to be MY mother’s helpers, I secretly hope they aren’t all grown-up looking. It would be easier to swallow if I pretend they are different kids from the two I colored pictures with. But no, I think it’s best that I remember.

And then I will look at mine, little and grubby and needing things, and I will try to stay focused, and motivated, and caffeinated, and organized, for this raising children stage.

Because hard as it is, it is a blink.

God, grant me enough sleep to do this job. Give me just enough breaks to be refreshed, but not enough to lose my focus. Grant me creativity, especially at 4:30 in the afternoon. Help us learn as much as we can about the big wide world, for you made it. Oh, and thank you.

home organizing

My family makes fun of me for a few reasons. I am going to assume that it is because they love me. Among these things: how I eat like my food is literally going to sprint from the plate unless I devour it like the Passover, the little cheer-thing I do after half a glass of wine, games I invent and make everyone play (ask me about the one I’m going to copyright and make millions off of), and lastly, how I discover hip new trends two years late. But seriously, anyone…Jack Johnson? Isn’t he great? Speaking of, if you don’t have an ipod you should get one.
Anyway, in keeping with this trend I am going to go out on a limb here and recommend something amazing, which I’m sure 95% of the free world has already discovered: HOME ORGANIZATION!!!!! Humor me here.
But I need to start by telling you this. My husband and I, like most married couples, have some long-standing arguments. Things like, is K & W a restaurant, what defines “clean,” “spicy,” and “yelling,” if one should consume a Mountain Dew everyday of the year, and whether or not the world will come to an end if there are dishes in the sink overnight. (It will.) I will let you guess which side of the fence yours truly falls for most of those. Anyway, another argument is over our townhome, whether it was a mistake to buy. I say we were suckers. Todd, Mr. Always Positive, claims it was a good decision. Who is right really matters little, because like it or not we are stuck with it, apparently, for the next decade or two.
It’s interesting, because what began as minor peeves and the inklings of should-we-sell conversations, now, after approximately two boys, four years, two realtors, eight showings, one job transfer, and, oh yes, one wife who is confined to these 1950-square-foot walls 24 hours a day with aforementioned boys, eventually fermented into full-blown NEED TO SELL discontment. It keeps reminding me of this quote by Martin Luther. “First the Germans killed the Jews because they hated them. Then they hated them because they killed them.” Forgive me for making a comparision of the Holocaust to something as petty as unwanted real estate. But it’s true. Actions breed feelings, perhaps more than vice versa.

But it’s true in a good way, too, and that is the point of my blog today. Act like you love something, and you will. What this means in practical terms, is that sometimes, the very best, productive, and prudent thing to do, is to spend a few hundred of unbudgeted dollars in home organization paraphernalia at Ikea. Yes, that is what I said.
I am learning, here in our little townhome, a very, very precious lesson. More precious than, dare I say it, a nice big yard, or a guest room, or lower HOA fees, or whatever. This lesson is contentment. I know I sound like a spoiled brat, that I need to learn this lesson over something so silly as living in a perfectly good home, but it is what it is. I am learning to be happy, here. To be happy now.
And I am loving this. Come visit. I dare you to open my coat closet, to find a pen in my kitche, to wrap a present, to peak in my laundry space, to step in my closet. My house is getting organized!!! Again, at the risk of sounding embarassingly old news, I am having the time of my life finding a “home” for everything, maxamizing storage space, putting things where I logically need to find them, installing shelves (why did I not do this before??), and, to put it simply, making myself at home. Making peace with my present. It is much easier to live in a house if you aren’t worried about what the next buyer is going to think of it. Which makes sense, because, apparently, there IS no next buyer. At least not until we retire. But that’s fine. I’m happy here.
Unless, that is, that any of you are so moved by this awesome sales job that you’re interested in viewing a Lake Norman luxury townhome at a steal of a price. In which case, send me an email and we’ll see what we can do. 🙂

a letter to me

It is no secret. I was a horrible new mom. I was selfish, I worried, I stressed, I (gasp) tried to keep the house clean and dinner cooked, and I doubted myself, my calling, and, basically, whether life would ever be what I hoped it would. Well-meaning books and magazine articles remind you you can’t be a “bad” new mom, but, oh, I was. Then again you probably already knew that if you’ve read much.
I think my major problem – besides lack of sleep, which I am convinced is the most effective form of torture mankind could ever utilize – was perspective. I lost all sense of time. On some level I think I truly believed I would never again have a shower longer than eight minutes and that Sam would be crying from gas the rest of his life, a life that, incidentally, was destined to be cut terribly short from SIDS, nasal congestion, or general bad parenting.
Thus, it is with an understandable amount of apprehension that I anticipate the arrival of little Ty. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. But more than nervous, I feel determined. I know my mistakes, and I will NOT make them again. I can’t wait to meet our newest little guy, and show him how much his mommy loves him, and also that she is unfazed by inconsolable crying. It won’t be easy, though, so I’m writing myself this letter to read when things start looking bleak.

Dear new-mom-again Jessica,
First of all, stop right now and say thank you. This is hard, but it is not cancer, it is not heartbreak, it is not war or AIDS or persecution or imprisonment. God is allowing you to be stretched and made holy in the most wonderful, blessed way possible – with a precious little newborn. So say thank you.
Now take a long, deep breath. It may seem like this will last forever, but it won’t. Right now you are worried that this little guy will roll over in his sleep, that he has some undiagnosed allergy, tumor, or infection, that without you watching him like a hawk he can’t possibly survive newborn stage. Relax. Chances are good that before you can blink, he will be sitting in his Bumbo with a smiling doggy bib eating sweet potatoes reading “Green Eggs and Ham” and saying “mmmm.” Chances are, he will survive, and so will you. And that crying, gas, or colic? He might be unhappy now, but he won’t be forever. One day he will be bouncing and laughing in the farm animal chair, he will die giggling when Daddy tickles him, and he will jump up and down squealing the name of his favorite stuffed animal.
You’re tired. Every minute of crying is longer, every burnt piece of toast more devastating, every “no” from Sam more obnoxious, every too-small piece of clothing more offensive, and every worry more terrifying than it actually is. It will all look better by bathtime.
So just wait. No matter how awful-horrible-no-good this day is (and it’s only 8:26 in the morning), it will end. Eventually, all babies will be sleeping, and you and Todd will laugh at something Sam said and that you found mounds of toilet paper behind the television and nipple shields in the potato chips, and you will climb in bed and watch 24, and it won’t be so bad.
But until then, enjoy. You may be tired, someone may be fighting a nap, you might be worried about asthma or fitting in old jeans, what to make for dinner or whether Ty is allergic to peanuts or not. Nevertheless, there are still beautiful things happening. Sam might be finally learning his colors, or Ty discovering his hands, or maybe the dogwoods are starting to come out, or a new dachshund puppy going for a walk, or a friend just finding out she’s pregnant, or the sun making that pink color it does at about 5:45pm in May. Don’t miss the good things. One day the boys will be gone and your house will be empty, and believe it or not you will gladly give up your blow-dried hair and vaccuumed floors and 5:30 dinner reservations to be cleaning up playdough while two kids are crying. (So I hear anyway. 🙂 So until then, relax, trust, and enjoy. You’ll all make it! I promise.
older mom Jessica

Today I Am Thankful…

– for long naps (his, not mine)
– for summer in winter
– for the ability to run, even if after nine minutes I was sure it had been forty
– that I am a student again…go niners 🙂
– for Harris Teeter, and that I make delicious meals but spend way less than I ever thought possible
– for a husband who loves his job, and coming home
– for football, even though I still don’t know what “secondary” means
– for vowel sounds, the squinty smiles, and separation anxiety
– for the privilege of being the first person my baby sees every time he wakes up
– for a good eye doctor, accountant, conscience, skillet, and pastor
– that I finally fit in jeans (I got new ones, that’s how.)
– that I am finally sleeping, cooking, exercising, and reading the Bible regularly
– for technology, because I don’t care what anyone says, it makes me feel less lonely
– for answered prayers
– that I get far more than I deserve.