Posted in marriage, Own your Story

The #1 thing we fight about in our marriage

They say that the number one thing couples fight about is money. In our almost-ten year marriage, I think I can count our “Money-Fights” on one hand.

No, for us, the number one thing we fight about is this: Who is more tired.

Do you have this fight? It’s subtly nasty at our house. It usually looks a little like this:

Husband: (yawn) Wow! I’m tired.
Me: Oh yeah? Me too. How did you sleep last night?
Husband: Oh I slept pretty well. Alarm just came too early.
Me: Huh. Well, at least you didn’t have to get up with the baby three times last night!
Husband: Yeah? Well, I didn’t see you rolling out of bed at 5 to go to work with me!

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Me in exhausted newborn twin mode (2007)

 

And so it goes. We slap down our “I’m more tired!” card like some vicious game of Slap Jack until someone eventually gives up with rolled eyes and the winner feels smug in his her her debilitating fatigue.

Of course, this fight leads to all the other fights, like the dreaded “Division of Labor” fight.

Me: (slamming dishes) Why do you never help clear the table after dinner? Don’t you know I’m tired?
Husband: I worked all day! I want a moment to sit down!

For me, the weekends are even worse when I see my husband fall swiftly into NapTime Land on the couch.

I often feel like smothering him with a pillow because, even if I have the same opportunity to rest, because I can’t fall asleep easily.

Sleep Jealousy: It’s real, folks.

Somewhere, though, in the middle of the years of baby induced sleep-deprived-jealous-fighting, we finally waved the white flag and realized something important:

We are both tired.

Fighting about who is more tired was just making us both miserable, as if we could keep tally on something so abstractly personal.

Because it is personal. My husband’s exhaustion is HIS exhaustion. He is such a hard worker and he works 50-60 hours a week to provide for our family. He is tired.

My exhaustion is my exhaustion. Night time parenting is hard. Nursing a baby takes a ton of energy. Taking care of four kids and a house is tiring, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

We have different kinds of tired but one doesn’t trump the other.

So we stopped our stupid “who’s more tired” pissing contest and these days we try to acknowledge the other person’s feelings as real, even if my husband’s version looks different than mine.

It’s stretching, this type of acknowledgement. I’ve had to realize some important truths about myself.

Like, it isn’t my husband fault if I can’t fall asleep during an afternoon nap. His ability to fall asleep quickly isn’t a reason for acute rage (sleep jealousy, people). Napping is really, really good for him.

And, when my husband and I accept each other’s feelings as real, without feeling threatened, or devalued, it helps us to love each other more fully.

Author Iris Murdoch said, “Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real.”

These days, when I say “I’m tired” my husband is more likely to say, “I’m sorry. Let’s get dinner out” or he encourages me to slow down and rest, something I usually resist.

When he vents about a long, exhausting day at work, instead of trying to one-up him, I try to listen and affirm with a whole-hearted, “Wow, that’s exhausting. I really appreciate how hard you work for our family.”

My tired isn’t the only reality, and my husband’s exhaustion doesn’t mean that my hard day doesn’t matter.RealLove
Our tired is real. Our feelings are real.

And by acknowledging that, we’re working on the Love.

Do you fight about who is more tired in your marriage?
How do you support and love your spouse during exhausting days or seasons?
Share your story below!

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

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Posted in Christianity, Encouragement, life, Own your Story, Uncategorized, Waiting Sucks

The Waiting Place

My husband and I are waiting for a phone call. If we hear a “yes” on the other end of the line, our entire life is going to change. Wild, scary, exciting, growing types of change.

In January, we were told that we would get this phone call on March 8.
On March 8, we found out the date was pushed to April 15.
On April 15, we were told we would have to wait at least another 3 weeks.

So many times we have looked at each other and  sighed, “I feel like our entire life is on hold.”

We’re in the Waiting Place.

I’ve been in the Waiting Place a lot in the past year.

It’s an infuriating place to be.
You feel stuck.
You want to fly out of your skin but you’re forced to stand still.
You want to scream to the the sky, the doctor, the therapist, the school, yourself, God–HURRY UP!!!!

FullSizeRender
From Oh! The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Suess

There are long sleepless nights of “What if…this? What if…that? What if…nothing?”
There are long conversations discussing every scenario under the sun and every response to “this one” or “that one” but you can’t pick any one because you are in the Waiting Place.

I wish I had some big, wise, amazing thing to write about “How to be patient” or “How to Wait Well.”

I don’t.

Right now, I feel like I’m in that quiet place you get to when you’ve cried your eyes out: Your shoulders stop heaving; your breath comes in shaky waves, but it’s slowing.

And you feel still.

I’m spent with the waiting. I was spent last year when we were waiting for answers from the school about Benji’s Child Study, about whether or not he would pass first grade, about the Autism testing.

I’ve reached the still place at the end of all my anticipation, scenarios, worries, and what-ifs.

“Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

I can’t fight my way out of the Waiting Place, like the boy does in Oh! The Places You’ll Go.

It’s too exhausting.

WaitingPlace
From Oh! The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Suess

But, if I’ve learned anything in the last year, waiting doesn’t last forever. It does come to an end.

And in the meantime, while my soul is still in the Waiting Place, life goes on. We may feel like our life is standing still right now but it isn’t.

Our Real Life is happening right now, not three weeks from now, not next month, not in the fall, not next year.

I have dinners to cook, stories to read, homework to check, friends to visit, boo-boos to kiss, a husband to dream with, a house to care for.
I have my family to love.

Love always moves forward. There is so much Good to be done.

Even in the Waiting Place.

Are you in the Waiting Place right now?
How do you cope?
Teach me how you “Wait Well!”

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

Posted in Encouragement, Mom Confessions, Motherhood, Own your Story, Self Care, Uncategorized

My 30’s suddenly got very Expensive (and why that’s ok)

I’ve always considered myself a pretty low maintenance girl. Except for a brief stint in my teens where I refused to leave the house without curling my bangs (the need for poof was real, folks), I’ve always been pretty comfortable with a minimalist beauty routine.

IMG_5419
“The Bangs” (I think I was 15 here)

My skin was perfect as a teenage (much to the chagrin of some of my girlfriends). I used plain water or makeup wipe to wash my face in the evenings (if I remember to do anything at all).

A pat of Covergirl foundation, a swipe of mascara, and chapstick completed my regular makeup routine. I felt like a million bucks.

Fast forward about 15 years. The bangs are gone, thank goodness (best decision of my entire Senior year in high school).

But my minimalist beauty routine was failing me–mostly because puberty decided to catch up with me in my early 30s.

After my fourth baby was born at the end of 2014, my skin started freaking out: acne, dry patches, oily patches– my face didn’t know what to do. Thank you, postpartum hormones.

I also started noticing that my hair wasn’t as silky and smooth as it used to be.

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Not the bangs, again! Thanks postpartum hair regrowth…

So this is it, I sighed, looking at the small forest of gray hair sprouting from my temples. There were too many to pull out any more. I’m getting old.

I don’t know if it was my postpartum hormones speaking, but I started to feel ugly.
Fatigue probably had a lot to do with it too. Sleep deprivation is not kind to one’s face…or self esteem.

IMG_4917
Photoshop, who?  This is real life, folks.

Are Moms supposed to be beautiful? I wondered. My husband assured me that I was.  I felt mollified but not content. I didn’t know who I was when I looked in the mirror any more. I was doing what I had always done but it wasn’t working anymore.

By the time my baby reached a year old, I was tired of waiting for my “postpartum hormone” to calm down.

I had to realize the truth: my body was changing. Though I am far from “old,” I am getting older.

So, although my frugal ways and pattern of minimal beauty habits screamed against it, I decided to start spending more money on self-care.

I threw out my bottle of $14.95 face lotion (that seemed “too expensive” when I bought it) and, at age 31, I purchased a full skin care regimen–my first ever cleanser, serum, lotion, eye cream, and night cream.

It cost about six times what I had paid for that tube of drug store lotion, and I felt super guilty about the purchase. Am I just being frivolous? I wondered.

But in the days and weeks of consistently taking time to wash and moisturize my face, I saw a huge difference–the dry patches and uneven skin tone were soothed, and the adult acne settled down too.

Using a quality product for my changing skin was actually a good thing (Imagine that).

A few months later, I crossed another boundary and bought shampoo and conditioner for $10 a bottle–each. I KNOW! Talk about guilt! Especially when I normally spent $3-4 on hair care products.

I justified the purchase by telling myself, “It’s okay. You only wash your hair every other day.”
I am a busy  mom of 4, after all.

And do you know what? The expensive stuff was amazing!  My hair wasn’t losing it’s luster! I had just been using crappy shampoo for years.

I’ve slowly branched out a bit more. I bought makeup that cost more than $5.95.

I’ve decided to invest in clothes that I love and are well-made, instead of talking myself into liking a garment just because it was on sale.

IMG_4919
A new haircut always helps (my baby was 9 months old before I “splurged” for this chop). See my silver? I’m embracing it!

All of these changes may seem kind of shallow.

But feeling bad about myself because my skin and hair were unhealthy just made me self-conscious, and ultimately made me feel shallow because I was thinking about looks all the time.

But when I decided to embrace that my 30s are going to require a bit more money and self-care, and started using products that help my body feel its best, I actually think about myself less because I’m not so self-conscious.

Beyond even the money issue though, I had to let go of my perceptions of what it means to get older, as well as what it means to be both a mom and a woman. I had to embrace these truths:

It’s okay to take care of your face and hair.
It’s okay to spend money on yourself.
It’s okay to want to feel beautiful.
You matter.

You are a woman first, not “just a mom.”

Taking care of myself is important. I’m glad that I feel like “me” again–older yes, but when I started take the time and money to care for myself, I feel more vibrant, confident, and beautiful.

What about you?
Did your 30s get really expensive?
How has self-care changed your self-esteem?
Share your story below!

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

Posted in boys, Christianity, culture, Education, kids, Mom Confessions, Own your Story, Parenting Ideas, public school, Uncategorized

The day I taught my son the F-word

Teachable moments. You know the ones–they come up out of nowhere and scare the living daylights out of you.

“Mommy, is there a bad F-word?”

My heart stumbled. I cocked my head at my first grader. “What do you mean, honey?”

“Some kids in my art class said there was a bad F-word.”

First grade?! Already? Is this what I get for sending my kids to Public School? “Can you tell me the word?”

He smiled sheepishly and whispered, “Fruck.”

Laughter bubbled up, unbidden. So he’s still a first grader. “Well, honey, there is a bad F-word, but it’s not ‘fruck’.”

“So, what is the bad F-word?” He asked, sticking his pencil in the corner of his mouth.

“Uhhh…”
scarterstudios M018I paused, my heart tripping over itself once again. Is this what the Teachable Moment looks like? Wide-eyed, innocent, and 7 years old?

While my pause was calm and calculated, the tension I felt inside twisted tighter until it was a palpable ache: I wanted to preserve his innocence. I wanted to tell him, “It doesn’t matter. I don’t want you to worry about bad words.”
But as much as I mentally chided myself about the “bad influence” of public school kids, I knew that was a non-issue.

Public school or not, my kids were going to hear things and learn things from others as they grew up, public school, private school, homeschool, or Sunday school. I can’t control the moments they are not with me.

But he was here with me right now. This moment, at our kitchen table, in our home, was a safe, teachable moment.

If not now, when?

He was asking me for truth. And the truth was, “asking Mom” wasn’t always going to be his first choice.

So I took a deep breath and said, “Well…yes, honey. There is a bad F-Word.”

I told him what it was. I said the word and he repeated it, making sure he heard me right. I tried not to cringe at the profanity coming out of my baby’s mouth. Instead I pushed forward, plunging down this new path.

“Sweetheart, I’m telling you this because I want you to know the truth. But with knowledge comes power and just because you know this word doesn’t mean you should say it or teach it to anyone else.

It is not your job to tell kids at school that you know this word. That’s their parent’s job, not yours. I am very serious about this. Do you understand me?”

He nodded, his eyes wide. “Yes, ma’am.”

I looked at his face, at the soft, smooth skin on his cheeks, knowing that they wouldn’t always be soft and smooth. I would be kissing stubble on my firstborn’s face before I knew it.IMG_4869I pulled myself back to the present, savoring his innocence and openness and the questions that he asked without fear or embarrassment. That precious door was wide open and I wanted to keep it that way.

“You know, sweetie, sometimes kids talk about stuff at school. Kids think they know stuff. But that’s not always true. But Mommy and Daddy—we do know stuff. So if you ever have questions about anything that kids talk about at school, you can come to us and we will tell you the truth.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

And then I helped him do his homework.

It was such a bittersweet conversation.

As much as I want to plant goodness into every corner of my children’s lives, the fact is that the world is full of hard, nasty, evil things. I want to shelter them from that darkness. But I also want to help my sons grow to be men who will be lights in a dark world. And if I am going to teach them to be lights, I can’t ignore the darkness.
F-wordI I have to be proactive.

So, when he asked, I taught my son the F-word.

Should I have told him that we would have this conversation when he’s older? Perhaps. Maybe it was too early.

But at 7 years old, his first instinct was to come to me.  As he gets older, that instinct will fade.

The conversations we have now about language, what’s right and wrong, about light and darkness are forming his very soul.

The Teachable Moment is terrifying but, for me, being keeping the door open in order to teach my children the truth is a gift that can’t wait.

PS. House Church, Cussing, and ASD (teachable moments that DO NOT go as planned!)

How do you navigate these terrifying Teachable Moments?
Have you taught your child something huge and scary? How did it go?
Share your story below!

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

Posted in Encouragement, Expectations, Mom Confessions, Own your Story, Self Care, Special Needs, WAHM

7 Signs that you’re doing Too Much (and what to do about it)

So, how DO you know if you are doing too much? Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the line is between “I got this!” and “I’m going to have a mental breakdown.”

I am the Queen of “Doing Too Much.”

I have four sons, two of which are 3 and under, and two with special needs.

I have a husband and a house to care for.
11539035_10102113386324218_888264570455143371_oI also love to help people, volunteer, get together with friends, host parties, mentor college girls, and sew, read, write, and cook. Until very recently, I was a work at home mom (adjunct professor).

However, in the past six months, I have experienced major burnout and have had to cut back on non-essentials–and even some essentials–in order to regain some mental sanity, emotional peace, and physical health in my life.

If you’re flirting with that line, here are 7 signs you can look for to determine whether or not you are doing TOO MUCH in your life right now:

1. You start to forget things

We all forget things, especially as we get older…and especially when we add 1-2-3-4 (or more!) kids to the mix. For me, the tipping point was when I was was using my calendar to write down activities and appointments… and I was still forgetting them.

My brain was so full that it could not store any more information. I literally felt like I was losing my mind.

2. Little tasks feel overwhelming

For me, it’s the little things that put me over the edge. When my boys tell me that all their pants are in the laundry, something inside me just boils over. I am furious with myself–usually because we are already in a rush to get out the door, but mostly because I haven’t kept up with the laundry.

But on the jam-packed days, when I was juggling therapy appointments, grading papers, and evening volunteering, the sight of an overflowing laundry basket was just too much to tackle.
IMG_37813. You yell all the time

Our pastor once said during a sermon, “There’s always anger in hurry.” The truth of that statement has played out time and time again in my life.

When I’m too busy, I am constantly in this panicked state of “HURRY UP!” Doing too much caused me to slip into the habit of hurried anger.

4. You don’t have time to be kind

My “hurry up!” attitude was causing me to be unkind to my children on a regular basis. But even more than that, I was too exhausted and busy to be the loving person I wanted to be.

I love to cook for others, but my schedule was so full that I found myself saying “I just can’t” when I wanted to take a meal to a mom with a new baby, or have friends over for dinner.

5. You don’t have time to take care of yourself

In the blur of my busyness, I struggled to take care of myself on a basic level–remembering to drink water, brush my teeth twice a day,  wash my face in the evening, eat regular, healthy snacks.

Forget exercising and scheduling doctor’s appointments for myself!

6. You can’t rest when you’re tired

Well, to amend #6 a bit–I wouldn’t rest when I was tired because I had too much to do! The papers HAD to be graded. The laundry HAD to be washed (remember? no pants!). Dinner HAD to be made. Homework HAD to be supervised.
IMG_4854And if I wanted to spend very-needed time with my husband or friends, or fulfill my volunteering obligations (“I told them I would do it and I will!”), then there really was no time to rest or even go to bed at a decent hour.

7. You don’t have time to do the things that make you feel like “you”

Doing things for myself, like sewing, blogging, shopping, or reading always felt like a guilty luxury, one that I probably shouldn’t indulge in because, really, there was no time for that. But when I didn’t take time to do the things that brought me joy, I felt myself slipping into depression.

I was a big, hot mess. Something had to give.

In the past few months, I have taken several very important steps to regain my sanity, health, and happiness–because, do you know what? It really matters that I am a happy and healthy person.

Here are the steps I took when I felt like I was going to lose my ever-lovin’ mind.

1. Admit it

Saying the words, “I’m doing too much” can be life-changing.

2. Reduce (if you can)

Some seasons of life are just overwhelming, like when you have a new baby, or a family member has a health crisis and you are the primary caregiver. Sometimes you can’t reduce–you just have to ride it out (or see #3 below).

But sometimes, you can and should say “no”. It isn’t easy, but it’s needed. Last summer, I stepped down from an volunteer position that I loved. I didn’t want to, but I needed to let something go.

3. Ask for help

When I was in grad school, I had two college girls watch my twins and clean my house. It felt like a huge, guilty luxury but I really needed that help while I finished my master’s degree.

Lately, asking for help has looked like like enrolling my 3 year old in preschool last fall, teaching my older boys to load and unload the dishwasher, and coordinating with  my husband on busy grading weeks to let him know that I just couldn’t “do it all” when I had 50 papers to grade.
IMG_4619I hate asking for help (I think we all do) But admitting that I can’t do it all by myself lifts such a burden, even if I feel guilty at the time.

4. Ask yourself: Is this activity/responsibility helping me to be or become the best version of myself?

Recently, I’ve had to cut back even more, especially as Benji, my son with Autism, has started weekly therapy.

The stress of balancing marriage, four kids, house work, 4 appointments a week, and grading was starting to affect my mental, emotional, and physical health. So, I made the choice to stop teaching online so that I could focus more on being the type of mother that I wanted to be, instead of a yelling, stressed, “hurry-up,” angry, half-version of myself.

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote my resignation, and the other day, I asked my husband, “So, how has it been? Different?”

He nodded, “Yeah, it’s been better. You don’t seem as overwhelmed by little things. I mean, you weren’t bad before but…I can tell a difference. You’re getting better.”
DoingTooMuchI hate saying no to things I really want to do in my life, but at this unique season of small children with big needs, recognizing my own limitations has put me on the better path, one that leads to less stress and more rest.

Even more so, I’ve had the time do focus on the things that make me happy–like reading, blogging, making meals for people,  visiting with friends, and actually resting when I’m tired.

I’m getting better. I feel like I am becoming more “me.”

PS. When you can’t do it all, ask for help
Why you need to say “yes” more often
I quit my job (because I can’t do it all)

What is the “sign” that you are doing too much?
What are you actively doing (or not doing) in order to become the best version of yourself?

Share your story below!

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

Posted in Autism, Christianity, Encouragement, grief, miscarriage, Mom Confessions, Own your Story, Uncategorized

The other side of despair

You know that part in the Anne of Green Gables movie where Anne dyes her hair green and hides in her bed?
“Go away!” she sobs to Marilla. “I’m in the depths of despair!”

“I’m in the depths of despair” became a tongue-in-cheek catch-phrase for my sisters and me as we navigated our teenage years.

Like Anne, most of our woes were trite and worthy of eye-rolling, not sympathy. I really had no idea what despair was until I became an adult.

When I had my miscarriage, I was baptized in grief for the first time.
I learned what hopelessness feels like.

My motherhood journey has looked wildly different than I thought it would be.
On many occasions, especially in the last year, I have literally thrown up my hands, saying “I’ve got nothing. I have no idea what to do.”

And all I can do is ride the wave of that moment, or day, or month, and pray we all come out intact on the other side.

Sometimes I’ve stood on the edge of that deep, black pit, wondering if I am going to fall in. Other times, it’s only when I look back, far removed from the experience, that I realize how close I was to collapsing.

I probably overshare on my blog–I know it’s one of my faults when I teach in the classroom. When the semester ends, all my students know WAY more about me (and my husband, kids, and first crush) than I do about them.

But sometimes I think that if I didn‘t share–blogging or otherwise–I’d step over the edge, into all that blackness, and tumble down, down, down.

And it’s not just the act writing, though that’s cathartic.
It’s the sharing.
It’s a way of saying, ” I have a burden. Will you help me carry it?”
_mg_2860_1We all need a good friend to listen to us vent about our bad day. The sharing helps us carry the burden. In those really dark moments, it helps us back away from the edge.

But sharing is a two-way street. Every good friend knows that you can’t just vent about your own bad day–you have to make space to listen too.

And, for me, this act of “making space” has been key to me not succumbing to despair in some of my darkest moments.

I read an amazing blog post last week by Rachel at Hands Free Mama. In her article, “Your Role in a Loved One’s Struggle” she wrote,

On the other side of despair is connection—connection that comes from recognizing a familiar look of pain in someone else’s eyes and reaching out your hand.

The greatest gift I have been given as a result of sharing about my life on my blog is that on a weekly basis, I have friends (and even strangers!) send me private messages saying, “me too.” The other night I sat chatting with three women on facebook, in awe of the gift I have been given.

They share their stories with me, stories of their grief, their waiting, their adjustment of their expectations, and always their overwhelming love for their children.

I share.
They share.
We carry each others’ burdens.
We back away from the edge, hand in hand, walking towards light, in hope, together.
_mg_2809Everybody has something. But you aren’t alone in your pain.
Take the first step–share.

You never know how God will use your story to bring hope to another person.

 

What’s your story? If you shared it, what would happen?
What COULD happen?

I hope that this story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

Posted in Encouragement, grief, Mom Confessions, Own your Story, Self Care, WAHM

I quit my job (because I can’t do it all)

I quit my job on Monday.

It was the right decision, but it didn’t make it an easy one.

I’ve been working from home, teaching University level English courses online, for the last three and a half years.
Since the day I started, I’ve had two babies, a grand total of four little men.

And I’ve kept plugging away at my work, at times teaching up to 4 classes in an 8 week term (usually 2). While some online professors have an easy (or easier) job, teaching English online is brutal. The University I worked for has a one-week turn around policy for grading papers. On the “off” weeks, I was giving copious notes on outlines and thesis statements. Add in answering hundreds of emails, grading discussion boards (on top of papers), and dealing with plagiarism on nearly every paper, let’s just say I didn’t have a lot of down time as a WAHM.
IMG_4619I felt like I was handling it all pretty well though…until last year, and especially last fall after Benji got his ASD diagnosis.

We added therapy to our weekly schedule and suddenly I was spending hours per week at the Autism Center, driving, scrambling to find babysitters, or on the phone with the insurance company.

The stress was overwhelming. It even started affecting my health, both physically and mentally.

I’d thought about quitting in December but still I wavered: I was so fortunate to be a mom who can work from home when there are so many women who are dying to be in my position. Didn’t I owe it to them to keep the “dream” alive, the dream that says, “Yes, 21st century modern woman: You may not be able to have the whole pie, but you can have a little slice of whatever you are determined to put on your plate!”
IMG_5028But here’s the conversation that put a knife in that “dream” and sealed my decision to quit.

I had just finished grading for B term and told my 8 year old twins, “Guess what, boys? No more papers! I’m all done!”
“Yea!” They cheered. “Now you can spend time with us!”

Ouch.

That was it. I knew I needed a change. I had been praying a lot, asking God to give me truth about the reality of my life, and here’s what He revealed:

I wasn’t being the mom or wife I wanted or needed to be.
I wasn’t even being a nice person.
I didn’t even like myself.

I was a mean person who was strung out, exhausted, and who yelled all the time. Plus if I graded just one more paper about “The Road Less Traveled,” I might just lose my mind (or what was left of it).

And as fortunate as I was to be working from home, it just wasn’t worth it anymore.

I can’t do it all. In fact, I didn’t want to do it all any more. I’m kind of over it.
IMG_4878
Yet, knowing myself, it feels weird to admit that.

I’ve eagerly been in school and/or working since my twins were 7 months old (they are 8.5 now).

I invested years of my life into my Masters degree and into teaching, both on campus and online. And I was a darn-good professor too.

But the truth is, I need to invest my life where my love is.

I love English, and I love helping students become better writers, but it’s hard to  keep loving something that doesn’t love you back. And honestly, as much as I tried to be a personable, relateable, likeable, genuine, caring online professor,  the thousands of students I’ve taught aren’t going to remember my name next week, much less 20 years from now.
I am a blip on their life-radar, and let’s be real: I will easily be replaced at the University I worked for.

But my kids only get one mom. I am not a blip to them; I am their whole world. And I need to move them back into the center of my world. I know this the right decision.

But not all good decisions are easy. Can I be really honest? I got a lot of warm fuzzies telling people that I taught at a University. I felt validated by raised eyebrows and the impressed tone of voice. It made me feel like I was more than “just a mom,” like I was an intelligent human being who was making a difference in the world.

So, as much as I am saying “Good riddance” to the horrific stress of being a WAHM, it comes with a bit of mourning too, a saying “goodbye” to that prideful little corner of my heart (not to mention the lost income. God will provide, right?).

But I’m ready to say “hello” to lots of Good Things too:
more “come in” and less “go away”
more “now” and less “later”
more self-care instead of self-denial
more energy and less exhaustion
more kindness and less irritation
more patience and less yelling

And more love, much more Love. 11539035_10102113386324218_888264570455143371_oBeing “just a mom” may wound my pride, but making the choice to be the mom that I want and need to be is the best decision I’ve made in a long time.

Did you quit your job to be more available to your kids (special needs or not)?
Was it a hard decision? Why or why not? (or both)
Share your story below!

I hope that our story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you.
TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 

You might also like: STOP saying “I don’t know how you do it!” and say this instead

Posted in Autism, Benji's Story, Mom Confessions, Own your Story, therapy, Uncategorized

We do therapy because someday he’ll be on his own

It was our testing day for Speech Therapy. I sat in a child’s chair at a low table, Benji on my right hand side.

The therapist prepped him: “I’m going to ask you a series of questions.”
And we began.

“You and a friend want to watch TV. You want to watch Ninja Turtles but your friend wants to watch Space Racers. What’s the problem?”

“I like Ninja Turtles!” Benji said enthusiastically. “But Silas doesn’t. He’s three.”

My mind raced. He had rarely, if ever, watched TV with a friend. But he watches TV with his brothers! “Well, let’s say you and Silas wanted to watch Super Why and you wanted to watch Octonauts. Why would this be a problem?”

“But I like Ninja Turtles, but I like Space Racers too. We can watch Ninja Turtles and then watch Octonauts.”

The therapist concluded the segment. “And why would that be a good idea?”

“Because I like them,” Benji answered.

She went on. “You and a friend want to ride bikes. Your friend wants to go to the school play ground, but you want to go to the park. What’s the problem?”

Pause. He had twisted in his seat and was staring at the colorful posters on the walls.

“Benji?” I prompted. “Did you hear what she said? If you need her to repeat the question, just ask.”

He turned around and asked. She repeated the question.

“We can both ride bikes.” Benji replied. “I got a new bike! And I have an Angry Birds helmet!”

“But your friend wants to go to the school playground and you want to go to the park. What’s the problem?”

He didn’t answer he question about “the problem” but I knew what a problem was: He thinks “playground” and “park” are the same thing.

“Benji,”  I interjected. “I know a lot of times we play at the school play ground but it is different than a park.”

The therapist looked at me and said gently and respectfully. “I can’t have you jump in. If you prompt him, it will distort the results of the testing.

Blood rushed to my face. I nodded and swallowed hard, chastised. But I understood.

So I watched and listened. At times, I don’t know who was squirming more: Me or Benji.

A realization washed over me as I sat in agonizing silence as Benji struggled to interpret and answer question after question (in 15 “what is the problem” questions, he could not identify even once that the problem was “we want different things”).

It is second nature for me to jump in and help him communicate. I know when he is confused, which words trip him up, when I need to repeat a question, or when I need to interpret his feelings for him or reinterpret a scenario so he can understand it more clearly.

It isn’t a perfect science; in fact, we probably have a 60/40 success/failure rate with our communication but over the years, I’ve forged tools to help us both cope.

I knew that our session today was just a test, a baseline. I knew we were in a safe, controlled environment, but I felt completely helpless.

I bit my tongue, at times, literally because it was so hard for me to not jump in and help him. My own back ached with the stress of seeing him carry the burden of his inability to communicate.  The disconnect, without all of my normal prompts to hold him together, was so hugely real that it brought tears to my eyes.

I pressed my lips together. This is what it’s like for him, when I’m not around.

This realization reverberated through me, its concentric rings pulsing, widening, until I could see my son as an adult, and my heart broke as I saw him still struggling with communication and relationships, far beyond my everyday aid.

No! I can’t let this happen.
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No. I’m not going to let this happen.

I blinked away my tears, and was back in the present. I put the pieces of myself back together because I knew the truth.

I’m not always going to be around. Someday, I really won’t be able to jump in. He’ll be on his own.

So that’s why we were in this room, this test, this therapy session right now when he is 8 years old.

I can’t help him on my own. That’s why we do therapy: It’s our bridge to Someday, the Someday when he’ll be on his own.

Yes, he struggles right now, and so do I, but each day, with the right tools and strategies, we are making the choice to get stronger, both for today and tomorrow too.

Posted in Christianity, Encouragement, grief, Kelly Clarkson, miscarriage, Mom Confessions, Motherhood, Own your Story, Piece by Piece, Self Care, Uncategorized

Ladies, let’s stop aplogizing for our tears

I loved watching Kelly Clarkson sing “Piece by Piece” on American Idol earlier this month. It was a moving, emotional ballad; Kelly struggled with tears through the whole song, at times even losing her voice to tears as she pushed through to the end.

The audience—and America—wept with her, as she sang about how her father abandoned her as a child, but now that she is a mother, she knows that her children’s father will never leave their children…or her. Piece by piece, her husband’s love slowly put her heart and hope back together.

When Ryan came up to conclude the show with her, she apologized for crying over and over. “I’m really pregnant!” she laughed.

There was something profoundly familiar about her tears and her response. So often, our knee-jerk reaction as women to our own sudden tears is to say, “I’m sorry! I don’t know why I am so emotional!”
Our second response is to look for a scapegoat, usually a hormonal one:
“Stupid PMS!”
“Pregnancy hormones! They get you every time!”
We even use the hormonal excuse when there is no hormonal excuse:
“I don’t know why I am so emotional. It isn’t even that time of the month!”

We believe that our tears, sudden and uncomfortable, always need to be explained away. And if they can’t be easily excused, we make jokes about the emotional weakness of being a woman.

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I am smiling in this picture I vividly remember this day. I was going through a miscarriage and tears came unexpectedly and often.

The thing is, emotions or tears aren’t right or wrong. They simply are. It’s how we act in response to our feelings that is right or wrong.*

We shouldn’t have to apologize for feeling.
But so often, as women, we do.
I have a friend who is a passionate and vibrant person. She also cries very easily—about seeing her daughter learn and grow, about her passion to help women in our community, about the beauty in the world. Her tears and apologies flow freely.
Though I know she often is embarrassed by her strong emotions, I find her tears refreshing and honest.
Crying often expresses emotions in a way that words cannot.
It can reveal truth about our deeply felt experiences.
So instead of apologizing for our emotions,** what if we looked a little deeper and asked “Why am I crying?”

Hormones may be an easy answer but, the thing is, hormones don’t give us emotions; they simply highlight or emphasize emotions that are already there.  

Kelly’s song was deeply emotional on its own. It would have been difficult to sing even if she had not been pregnant and it had not been the final season of American Idol. Adding all that together made her performance even more impressive.  The reality is, her tears were what made the song even more beautiful, raw and relateable to listeners.

I wish she didn’t feel like she had to apologize for crying.

But if I were in her shoes, I would have done the same thing. Somehow it’s the socially acceptable thing to do as women.

It is a lot harder to simply let our tears be, without explaining them away (
It really is easier to blame our hormones, isn’t it?).

But owning our emotions is a part of embracing what it means to be a woman, a women who was created with God-given emotions, God-given hormones, and yes, even God-honored tears (Psalm 56:8).

When we stop apologizing and dismissing our tears, and start asking “Why?” about our emotional experiences, it helps us to build self-awareness. Owning our tears helps us to realize that our stories are real, valuable, and worth telling.

And when we can own our stories, we can more readily empathize with the emotional experiences of others.
We are able to “ Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep”  (Romans 12:15).
Tears
Our tears don’t need an apology or a hormonal explanation. Embracing our emotions and our tears is actually an act of love and respect. When we embrace our emotions as part of being a woman, we can more freely respect our own tears as healthy and normal.

And in loving and respecting ourselves, we can also more freely respond to the emotional needs of others with love and respect as well.

*Sadly, I often respond to my emotions with negative actions. When I choose to hurt others because I am angry or upset (or whatever), an apology is needed in order restore my relationships.

** I’ll admit, saying “I’m sorry!” is my first response when I cry unexpectedly! Instead of apologizing, here are a few suggestions for an alternative way to respond to our tears:

“Thank you for listening. I feel really emotional right now.”
“As you can see by my tears, I’m really passionate about this.”
“This always make me cry.”
“Hang on. I need a minute to collect myself.”
“I am so overwhelmingly happy!”
“This reminds me of my grandma. I miss her.”
“This makes me really sad/angry/upset/overwhelmed.”
“Darn you, Hallmark!”

Why do you think we feel the need to say “I’m sorry!” when we cry?

Why it is hard to accept our emotions, even our tearful ones?
What would we gain by accepting our tears as normal and part of “our story”?

TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know? If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂