Can I Get Through Phase Two?

The moment that one decides to become a parent. . .actually, I am going to go out on a limb and say that the moment one decides to become a mother. . . okay, I’ll speak for myself. The moment that I decided to become a mother, I felt like I gave myself over to the “experts”. The best way to breastfeed. The best way to get my infant to sleep for more than an hour straight. The best way to communicate with your husband about parenting, household duties, etc. The best way to lose the baby weight. I no longer saw myself as a reliable enough source. And although sometimes I did a pretty good job filtering the unsought advice, and my son is still alive, sleeping through the night, and showing promising evidence of me not totally messing up this whole parenting gig. . . I now realize, that was only Phase One.

Phase One was the “keep him alive” phase. Where in all my sleep deprivation and new parenting confusion, I kept myself motivated by uttering the phrase, “just keep him alive”. This tiny little human that depended on his parents to, well. . .KEEP HIM ALIVE! There was lots of prayer…Lots of crying…Lots of happy tears… And now I can proudly say that I have made it through Phase One! Only to come to the realization that, there’s more! Phase Two!

Sometimes in my anxiety and worry-filled days, I wish I could go back to Phase One. Where my biggest worries were: should I introduce green veggies first or orange ones? Or whether my newborn’s poop was the right color and texture. I was totally not mentally prepared for my little baby to be his own little person so fast. He knows just enough to have his own personality and opinions, but not enough for me to know that he is unaffected by my choices, and sometimes my mess ups. Phase Two is completely just as stressful as Phase One, not only because I still have to make sure that he stays alive, but that I don’t totally mess him up in the process!

I know that my influence will only be, well . . . influential, for a designated time, until he becomes his own person, with his own life. But Phase Two was way more stressful when I hadn’t accepted that my son, is also God’s son. He has me, and he has his dad, but he also has a Heavenly Father, that loves him way more than I ever could (which was hard for me to come to realize). That I could only do so much and there would come a time when my faith would be put to the test in this area of my life, and I would just have to trust God. Trust God that I did the best that I knew how, and trust that although there would come a time when my child wouldn’t have his parents, constantly aware of all his choices, attitudes and life changing decisions and milestones, that he would always have that relationship with God to hold him accountable, praise him, discipline him and influence him.

There’s always this verse:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

And then there’s always the worrier in me saying. . . But what if he does stray? Phase Two is critical in developing my child’s faith, his character, his personality. He is not even two, guys. And I’m stressing out about the type of person, husband, friend, father, worker, he is going to become and how I only have a designated amount of time to influence him and teach him. I think the stress I put on myself comes from wanting my children to know God their whole lives, the way I came to know him in my 20s. Oh, how it would’ve impacted many decisions I made based solely on my own foolish understanding. But hey! I am right where I am meant to be, living the life that I am meant to live, with the people that I am meant to live it with. I believe that with my whole heart, mainly because earlier this week I was encouraged to study how my life up until now, has been preparing me for this exact life that I am living.

Luckily, I have learned, I don’t have to do it alone. I am not perfect, but He is. I have messed up in my past, but He hasn’t. I have been wishy-washy in my faith, but He remains consistent and true. I haven’t always been this faith filled (and there is way more room for improvement!) Yes, I was raised knowing God, but I didn’t put all my trust into Him. I didn’t rely on Him more than my own understanding. I didn’t understand the power of prayer. I didn’t see His plan or me as more valuable than my own plan for myself. Some have seen this change in me as a “brainwash”, but I like to look at it more as a growth. A transformation. An evolution. An enlightenment. A complete renewal that is helping me get through all of these phases of not only motherhood, but life. And if I try to spend my time now, worrying about all the phases to come, I will be sacrificing precious time. Precious time with my child, to share with him this overflow of love that I feel from my “brainwashing”. Precious time with my husband, who was given to me, for me to walk beside as we take this life on together, and enjoy it. For us to do our best through these parenting phases where we rarely have alone time and cherish them. Because one day, it will be just the two of us in our home again, and although I would like to say that I hope we would be beaching it up somewhere, soaking up the sun and relaxing, I know that there will be times when we will wish we were going through Phase Two again, and we will never get this time back.

So back to my original question. . .Can I get through Phase Two (without being overcome with anxiety)? Yes! But not alone. And not only will I “get through” it, but I will LOVE it, CHERISH it, PROTECT it and NURTURE it because before we know it, we will be onto the challenges of Phase Three, looking back on Phase Two and thinking it was a piece of cake.


My Children are my legacy.

Often I feel like the decision to put my faith first might not be understood by people that I thought played a big role in my life, or like I am constantly finding myself explaining why my family and I have made this choice, as if we need others approvals. Some people think that people seek faith for some kind of structure, for others it may be a way of finding hope, but for me, it was purely about love. In my short 24 years of life, one thing I have learned to be true is that there are many different types of love and many different ways to show love. And starting a marriage and a family, we had to decide, “how were we going to love?”

Looking around at our old lifestyle, it seemed that a lot of love we were witnessing was based on performance, or a “what can you do for me” type of attitude. That kind of love is more temporary than what we have found. And when that love would fade, I would feel a hole in my heart that I would seek to fill with all of the wrong things. My mom was always great at showing me unconditional love, as most mothers do, but it was hard to carry over that principle into a relationship. Undoubtedly, I would love my son unconditionally when I became a mother, but what about my spouse? Could I love another imperfect human being UNCONDITIONALLY? What did that even mean? Yes its true, that in our vows it said, through the good and the bad, through sickness and in health. Those are words that I had seen over and over again in movies, weddings, and just two years ago I had recited those same vows myself. But to truly live in unconditional love, and see it portrayed and played out in a relationship that wasn’t a mother/child relationship, was new to me.

It is no surprise, that THAT is exactly why my faith is so important to me now. I realized, I had a “God shaped hole” in my heart (as the song says), that I couldn’t fill. Not friends, not relationships, not even family. And once I started exploring my faith a little more, I realized that it was God’s unconditional love for me that I was missing. When I would hear in Catholic school that “God is love”, I never could grasp what that truly meant. It was too abstract for me. But now, I fully understand. Forgiving us, time and time again after we disobey Him, is unconditional love. Being transparent with Him and ourselves, and being humbled enough to listen to advice that God might have for us, despite what we may want for ourselves, is unconditional trust. Having a place to be able to go and seek advice, friends, comfort, laughter, and not only all of those things, but Godly advice, friends, comfort, and laughter that would keep my family close and safe from the broken world that we live in, THAT is why we raise our family around our faith now. We very quickly learned as a new married couple that there was a big difference between getting advice from faith filled people, and nonbelievers. Not because their advice didn’t make sense, or wasn’t logical, because most of the time it surely was very logical, but there is a difference in logical advice, and biblical advice. And trust me, it was a hard lesson to learn but the biblical one has your family’s best interest at heart 100% of the time, even if it may not always be easy or comfortable. It doesn’t taint your heart, nor have bad or selfish intentions. And guarding your heart from things that may cause you to stumble in your marriage, is something that we weren’t doing enough. Sometimes that includes not listening to certain music, or not seeking advice from certain people. Sometimes it means dressing just a bit more modestly, or surrounding your kids with people that will have godly influences on their lives.

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Becoming a Christian, hasn’t been about becoming a new person. I am still the same girl I was 5 years ago. Still have the same humor, ambitions, values, etc. It is as my good friend said, “It is not about transforming, it is about being transparent.” That couldn’t be more perfect. Yes, some parts of your life will be transformed as an effect of being stronger in faith, but I am not perfect, nor do I think I ever will be. I do not think I am better than anybody else. I do not look down on those that aren’t Christian. But instead of seeking approval from others in my educational success, in my mothering, in my relationships, in my financial success. Instead of comparing myself to others, or seeking self worth in the wrong things, and valuing myself based off of that, I am transparent about my problems with everyone. That includes myself, and my spouse. But, I am also transparent about my faith in that I know that with God’s help and the people that he has surrounded me with, He WILL get me through anything. He has made me for a specific purpose, that only I can fulfill. I believe that we each have a role in this life, that only WE can fulfill. We are not replaceable, and there are no small roles. I believe that with my entire being. And as I struggle with not focusing on my degree or career. As I struggle with sacrificing it all to be “just a mom” (as some may say). As I struggle with being in a town where none of my friends or family live nearby. I realize that this person that I am becoming, is way more valuable and important to my husband and son than anything I thrived to be before. My income may be $0. My life may revolve around sleep schedules, household chores and potty training. But I’ve realized that my children, are my legacy. Who I am today, impacts who they will grow up to be. And the values that I instill in them through my lifetime, will help them get through theirs. And hopefully, without seeking approval in the wrong places, or putting their hope in the wrong people, or trying to find self worth and value in the wrong things, would help them to feel self worth, happiness, peace and LOVE. I am not saying they will not struggle because of their faith, I am saying that they will have the confidence to know that although God may give us more than we can handle, there is nothing He gives us that is more than He can handle.

I may not be an expert in my faith yet. Even four years in, this is still very much the beginning of my investigation into my faith. I can not answer all the questions that people may have about the “why”s of life. But nor do I seek to ever be an expert, or know things beyond my control. I am focused on the now, and how right now, my marriage is the best it has ever been, I have the most trustworthy friends I ever had, I love my life as a stay at home mom more than ever, and most importantly, I have the most peace in my mind and in my heart, than ever before.

He did it again . . .

It happened…I had a meltdown. I woke up, nothing seemed different. Noah hadn’t woken up yet, it was probably 8am. My husband had already left for work. There was nothing in particular that set me off. It just….happened. “Was THIS going to be my life from now on?” That’s all I kept thinking over and over. Changing laundry loads, waiting for the baby to wake up to begin my seemingly endless journey of diaper changes and temper tantrums, while getting smacked in the face and beat up by a toddler? Who was this girl that was staring back at me in the mirror? This wasn’t the woman I knew three years ago. Actually, three years ago I would’ve thought I hit the trifecta of disappointment. Pregnant out of wedlock, dropped out of college and wedding pictures of myself 7 months pregnant. Not the fairytale I had envisioned. Everything that I knew, had gone down the drain. My education, my career. Was I going to be JUST a wife from now on? JUST a mom? Don’t get me wrong….NOW I have come to love my life in its entirety, the beautiful, unpredictable, mess that it is. But for this split second in an ordinary day, I was having a serious moment of identity crisis. I had lost myself.

I called my husband, unleashed an unforeseen tidal wave of emotions that there was no way he could have been prepared for, cried a bit, then brushed it off and went on my with my day. Never truly dealt with the not so minor meltdown I had just had, but duty called and there was a screaming toddler that needed me to get it together and take care of him. But in the back of my mind, I kept thinking: Is this my life now? Just holding myself together for the sake of my son? My husband?

Then of course, the next day was MOPS at my church. The meltdown that had just occurred the previous day was long off my mind by now. Until this verse was read,

Isaiah 43:1 “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

It caught my attention. Made me think of my moment of hysteria the day before, but then I brushed it off again and continued talking to the other moms at my table. It wasn’t until the theme of the day was revealed and the video started that I knew, “today is for me”. The theme was, The Courage to be a Mom, and it started off with “Do you ever find yourself thinking, is it enough? What do you find your self worth in, and what happens when you no longer have that? Do you still feel value because you know that you have God by you?” It clicked…. Isaiah 43:1, “I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” God was speaking to me that day. Putting my mind at peace, because this motherhood gig, IS enough. People don’t praise motherhood as much as they praise educational achievements or career promotions. And that is where my self worth use to lie. In my educational achievements, my independence, my ability to do life on my own and not rely on anybody. And when I gave it all up to stay home with Noah, I was JUST a mom. JUST a wife. But there is the problem. It is NOT a ‘just’. And I was losing my way that previous day, because I lost sight of the value that lies in what I do every day.

The woman in the video was right. Nobody says, “What you’re doing is changing the world,” even though the world would fall apart without moms. It sounded a little drastic to me when I heard it. One thing was to try to relate to this woman in order to make myself feel better, but another, completely different thing,  was to say that I was “changing the world” by being a mom. But that’s besides the point. It absolutely takes courage to be a mom because it IS more significant than what society is telling us is praiseworthy. I didn’t get my degree yet, I rely on my husband to provide for us, I live far from my friends, my mom and brothers, and my hometown, my life rarely even remotely resembles my life three years ago. But yes, it is all worth it to be JUST a stay at home mom. Mothering matters. And I’ve always wanted to be a mom. Why was I letting something like a job or degree take away from the blessing that is being able to be not just a stay at home mom, but a mom in general? I wasn’t throwing away my potential, or all of the money that I had spent so far in college. I wasn’t ignoring my talents, or missing my calling. I don’t need those things right now in order to be the best version of myself. And I will not allow the shallowness of the society that surrounds me to belittle that.

There IS meaning to what I do every day. It is my calling. And while I may never receive monetary praise for what I do, or even verbal praise for that matter, there is a little boy whose hugs, smiles and kisses outweigh any of those things. My son relies on me, my husband relies on me, and God relies on me, to do the best job that I can do in raising my children. And just like that. He did it again. When I almost spiraled down an out of control, emotional ride, He stopped me right on my tracks. At that meeting, the woman on the video was basically in my head and my heart. Some may call it coincidence,  I call him God.


Sometimes, I will have sporadic thoughts fly through my head and I literally wish I could chase after them and catch them with a butterfly net, and release them once I’ve sat in front of my computer. However, that sounds like a very trippy world to live in, and it is certainly not the world I currently live in. I say this because I had one of these moments this past weekend. I thought to myself, “Wow, that was a good one,” and I’ve been waiting for three days and can’t remember. I had all intentions of remembering. But then my toddler probably climbed up onto something that made me fly over to him before he cracked his head open, or threw his food all over the floor because I probably had JUST mopped it, or some other “mom-esque” situation that you all can relate to fellow moms. Isn’t that hilarious? I think that’s how life works. You want to make it work your way and on your time. But that’s just not the case. At that moment, maybe that thought is just what I needed. But only for that moment.  So for now, I just have to wait for them to to come back to me. If they ever come back to me. And if they don’t, I’ll just have to hope I have something to jot down my witty thought next time before it flies away into the colorful world of escaped thoughts that never return.

“Mom-esque” by the way is my new favorite phrase  that my friend Ciara came up with in random conversation. I think its what all non-mom friends refer to when they are describing their friends that are new moms. For example, “Oh, you have spit up on your shirt and your hair looks like it hasn’t been washed in days, how mom-esque,” or, “How cute, you use to carry cute purses and now you carry a semipermeable backpack full of what looks to be, a first aid kit, a kitchen and a changing table all in one, you’re so mom-esque,” and so on. Kind of like burlesque, but the complete, entire, polar opposite.

A Big Circle of Love and Learning

Right now, life is pretty darn great. I think I finally have this mom thing under control. My son just turned 13 months. My husband and I have gotten over the “hump” that having a child made us go through in our marriage. Not necessarily a terrible hump, but definitely, a hump. I reach out to great friends when I need them, and I know how to feel close to God in my every day choices. I can filter out opinions that I don’t really care for and I seek advice from those that I find wise. However, it was not always like this.

I recently found this letter in my desktop. I must have been 6 months pregnant when I wrote this. I had just come to the very real, yet scary realization that I might have fallen in a slight depression. I had heard, read, done everything to prepare for the postpardum depression. But this was not POST, this was PRE. I was anxious about the type of world that Noah was being born into. I was stressed out about all of the “best” things professionals recommend for my child. Was it going to be a natural birth? an epidural birth? Would he get vaccinated? Would we breastfeed? How long if we did? Would we co-sleep? Everyone had very convincing opinions on THEIR way of doing things, but quickly I realized that, we would have OUR way of doing things. And neither one would be better than the other.  Before I go on, let me explain, that I haven’t always had a healthy relationship with God. I didn’t always fully understand his role in my life. I didn’t know how to pray, or how to seek his guidance, but I wouldn’t have made it without Him. So….in my despair….I prayed for comfort and peace, and I finally let it all out of me. Oh yeah, did I mention that all of these conversations and questions, I was having with me, myself, and I? Never did I actually think to ask someone for help, or their opinions. Never did I voice my thoughts to anyone, even though they were consuming me, day and night. I told myself that it was “normal,” And in all of the anxiety, I found myself only thinking about one thing: my beautiful baby boy, and what I genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, wanted him to know most. I tried to gather all of my feelings. I only knew how to express myself through art and writing, and having a little bit of overdose of art from art school assignments,  I sat down and wrote this letter:

To my dearest Noah,

I can certainly start out by saying, that your momma is far from perfect. I have a big heart that sometimes leads to foolish decisions. But the one thing I will never consider foolish, was the decision to make you with your daddy. We are so in love. Crazy in love. Just as he said we would be since the second week that we met.  We always knew that we wanted to create a little miracle made from the both of us, a little piece of him and a little piece of me. And I can only imagine that you are going to be more perfect than I could ever imagine. As a mom, I always wanted to be able to keep my kids safe. And I fear to fall back on that promise with you. Being that your daddy and I only dated for a year and a half before having you, and we hadn’t planned out all our little side steps yet on how to run a family, I want you to know that you were made from pure love. And that is a gift that I hope becomes a part of you and you get to share it with the rest of the world. Because it needs more people with big hearts. Big hearts of truth. To care for the needy,  be insightful and considerate of others feelings, and always have sympathy for the hurting, as you will remember what it felt like when you were in pain. I often worry that I won’t be a good enough mom, even though people seem to have more confidence in me than I have in myself. But I do know one thing, being your mommy is the ONLY thing I have ever wanted with my whole heart for as long as I have lived. I pray to be your best friend, your secret keeper, your partner in adventures, and your safe place. I pray that you feel safe in my arms, your daddy always said he always wanted me to feel safe in his and believe me it worked! I pray that people don’t take advantage of your good heart and that you always stay close to family. My mom has been my strength for as long as I can remember, and she has a heart bigger than anyone I know. She is the most selfless person and the most giving and I hope if you ever need to turn to someone for comfort and love, you seek hers. She has been looking forward to meeting you since the day that I found out you had been created as a little bean inside me. Every day since, watching and feeling you grow has been a joy greater than I ever imagined. When I actually was able to sing to you and feel your reactions, it seemed that all the adult worries of the world went away and it was just me and you in a bubble. Even though I always told your dad there was no such thing as living in a bubble, I believe it now. I don’t know how a tiny little triumphant baby boy could keep me going in my darkest of days, but you did it Noah. I love you so much already and I can’t wait to meet you and see what a wonderful man you turn out to be.

                                All my love,
                                    Your momma

God teaches us that we can always be forgiven. I have learned to be more forgiving with myself and my family. I have learned the true meaning of unconditional love. Real, imperfect, raw, sometimes tough, love. And patience. Lots of patience. And these are things, that I learned from God, and then my children will learn in return. And that’s how it works. Its all a big circle between God, my family and I. A big, giant circle of Love and Learning.

Until next time……