Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

I remember when I found out I was pregnant. I had already been diagnosed with MS and the idea of understanding how to live with the disease was still new. I was learning how to take my shots and, for the most part, was just trying to convince myself there was nothing to be scared about. A few months after my diagnosis, my husband was chatting with his brother on the phone. My brother-in-law (a physician) mentioned that age, pregnancy and MS aren’t always the best of bedfellows and if we wanted to have kids now might be a good time to address it. 

Twelve months after I was diagnosed I became a mom.

We brought my son home from the hospital and set him down in his  carrier on the kitchen table. The house was completely quiet and, might I add, completely clean and organized. (You know how they say expectant mothers like to nest…I was the Muhammad Ali of nesting. I cleaned the toilets and organized my shoes along with my underwear drawer the day I went into labor.) In that moment while my son was peacefully sleeping and we were in the safety and comfort of our own home, my husband and I looked at each other and I know exactly what he was thinking because I was thinking the same thing…”What on earth have we done?!?”

The next few weeks were spent sleepless. My husband took off one week of paternity leave and helped with late night changings and feedings. I’d had a difficult pregnancy with the holy terror ripped out of my backside. As a result my doctor gave me some strong pain meds which I hated taking because of the grogginess they left me feeling. My husband insisted I take them and one night I finally did. During the late night feeding when my son woke up, my husband handed him to me. “I’ll go downstairs and get the bottle made up, you change him,” he said. Okay, I thought, no prob. About 5 minutes later my husband came back upstairs and I was still standing in the same spot. He asked if I’d changed the baby’s diaper. “Oh man…that’s what I was supposed to be doing!” That was the last night I took those drugs. The pain in my hiney was just going to have to take a back seat (pun intended).

Nothing prepares you for motherhood; and I think that’s how it is supposed to be. There are tears and joys, laughter and sorrow, pain and comfort, sticky walls and tiny handprints, dirty floors and really dirty floors, stinky messes and messes that really stink. There are grass stains, dirt stains, chocolate and ketchup stains and stains from things where you’d rather not know where they came from. I’ve picked up enough toys to fill two dozen rooms from floor to ceiling. I’ve listened to enough made-up, knock-knock jokes to drive a wooden man crazy. I’ve corrected grammar and  explained the importance of brushing our teeth until I’m blue in the face. I’ve nearly drowned in sweat and humidity from more sporting events than I care to mention…likewise, I’ve screamed my lungs out cheering my kid’s name at more swim meets than I care to mention.  Band aids and neosporin are bought in bulk…as is anti-fungal cream. Absolutely no back talk, remember to say “please” and “thank you”and “use your words!” … Because for Heaven’s sake, mom’s ESP doesn’t work when she is tired and behaving like a grouch will get you nowhere fast.

We are a society that likes to hand out awards…the Ocsars, Emmy’s, Espy’s,  Heisman, Nobel Prize, and on and on. There is no statue to be awarded for the job mom does. The award is different. The sleepless nights, long talks, worries, tears, tireless work is worth it. Each day I watch my kid get off the school bus. He walks up to  me smiling with ridiculous neon orange bands on his braces. He hugs me and I lean over and smell his hair…the sweaty-from-the-playground smell. And there it is in a microcosm, the best part of being mom. It’s as if a mini-Oscars ceremony is taking place right when my son gets off the school bus. The award goes to me. God made me his mom and the joy is all mine.

For all the moms out there, remember…

Clean houses are overrated. Every now and then, take-out is acceptable…sometimes multiple times a week. Crying is normal …as is laughing and talking to yourself. Chocolate is medicinal. Extensions to the ‘5-second rule’ are always permissible depending upon your level of frustration at the moment. Long walks with or without strollers are encouraged and permitted…as are blowing dandelions. Flawless looking hair is for geeks. Chapstick counts as make-up. Perfection is boring and lame. You are above that because you are beautiful. You are mom.

The day I became a mom.

Happy Easter

My husband and I are in this tricky stage with our 10 year old son where he’s pretty sure Easter Bunny and Santa Claus don’t exist but is trying to find proof. It’s funny the questions he asks…they range from the immortality of Santa Claus to how can Easter Bunny hop all over the world and not be exhausted. His questions are grounded and seek out truth. However he’s recently stepped up his game. For Easter this year he was determined to set out a bunch of his Legos at the front door, back door and my and my husbands bedroom door to catch either Easter Bunny or his dad or I impersonating  Bunny. (Sidebar: if any of you have ever stepped on a Lego piece, you will understand my horror at his plan. Stepping on a Lego with your bare feet is tantamount to jabbing a fork in your eyeball.)  I digress….I quickly stymied his plan and he came up with an alternative. His alternative was adorable. Before going to bed he drew up a contract asking Easter Bunny to sign his name and include his paw print. So my husband the ever dutiful, consummate dad signed the contract “Easter Bunny” and drew a paw print…because what else are you going to do?

It is fun to watch my little boy and sad at the same time because he is growing older and questioning his beliefs. In truth, to me it is a relief that he questions what he believes. Asking questions drives us to find answers. I used to be afraid to ask questions…thinking that God is angry and demands my belief of Him sight unseen. There can be no bigger lie. 

Truth is, I think God loves our questions. The bigger, tougher, more controversial questions…those happen to be His favorite. He never shys away. I think God loves to show us who He is. Remember when Thomas doubted Jesus? Jesus waisted no time in showing Thomas his scarred side. Jesus was ready for the doubt; He welcomed it. Thomas’ doubt…his questions…his unbelief gave Jesus exactly what He wanted. A chance to reveal that He is the risen Lord. 

I suspect that this is the last year my hubby and I will play Easter Bunny…or Santa Claus for that matter. My 10-year old is too sharp 🙂 However, as time moves forward my 10-year old will become 15 and then will become 20. He will question and want proof of God. I am confident, relieved actually, that my son will get answers. There will be no question too big, no question too offending that God will not answer. He is a real God. Alive. Present. Here & now.

A most glorious Easter to you!

“Then He said to Thomas, Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop doubting and believe. Thomas said to Him, My Lord and my God!” (John 20: 27-28 NIV)

I Am Retouched “Untouched” Perfection

Couple of weeks ago a picture surfaced of Cindy Crawford. In of itself this is no biggie as Cindy is/was a supermodel and remains active in the public eye. She has appeared on many runways, countless magazine covers and even starred in her own workout videos. The unusual nature of this event lies in the perfection…or lack of perfection in these photographs. Supposedly the photos were ‘leaked’ prior to any photographic touch-up of the body, clothing or face. Cindy is standing in this sort of “I’m-just-stretching-my-back” pose wearing a black bra and underwear. She’s sporting a cool looking black fedora, some sweet earrings and wearing a black-feathered Cruella DeVille type coat…or maybe its a robe. At any rate, she looks awesome. Makeup, expression on her face…it all looks sexy. More compelling is that the photo shows her tummy NOT as a tight, flat midsection but instead a “I’ve had a couple of babies” midsection. Further still, regardless of how Cindy’s tummy (AND thighs) were not a perfect, plastic, Hollywood-ized expectation, the expression on her face shows that she really doesn’t care. She’s acting FLY. Appearing more than comfortable in her own skin, she acts sexy.

The “leak” of this photograph to social  media and news outlets caused quite the stir. I had friends on my Facebook & Twitter pages posting and tweeting the photo and congratulating Cindy for being “brave.” Brave…I guess because it takes a lot of guts to appear as your normal self and not your ‘pretend’ self in front of bunches of people.

So that was a couple of weeks ago. Fast forward to today, March 2nd. The photos now are being claimed to be retouched so that they appear untouched. You follow? In other words, the photographer of the original photos states that the pictures were stolen and were retouched (altered) to appear that they were untouched … untouched suggesting the real (untouched) Cindy Crawford is like the rest of us…not perfect; blemished. To further support  the “nonsense”  that Cindy’s tummy does NOT look like cottage cheese, Cindy’s husband tweeted a photo of her in a swimsuit looking amazing…like a supermodel.

The most interesting part in this story is not Cindy Crawford…it’s us, me and you. We saw what we thought was a person willing to be uniquely herself  in front of everyone regardless of wrinkle or age. We are drawn to that…at least, I know I’m drawn it. Realness. Vulnerability. Not fake.

That being said I have decided, and you are welcome to participate with me, that I am going to be retouched “untouched” perfection. I don’t plan on limiting it to just my sassy, sexy looks. I’m going full tilt. Home, mommy and wife…I’m all in. My ‘not-a-supermodel’ tummy will be the least of my retouched, untouchables. For that matter, my house is just sometimes going to NOT look like it’s out of Architectural Digest. On occasion my husband and I might NOT agree on everything. Further, I MIGHT loose my temper with my son. And you know Vogue magazine, it’ll have nothing on me, because I’m going to act like I’m smokin’-hot regardless of whether or not I’ve done my 35 burpees.

So here’s to us. The hot mess that we are…the retouched “untouched” perfection that is you and me.

…And that is all we need to be.

“Good Morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.” said Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:28 MSG)

Let Go and Let God…***middle finger***

I think if I hear the phrase “let go and let God” again I will have to flip that person the bird. Truly. I detest that saying. I’m in a bit of a sour mood…grumpy actually…as I’ve been coming to terms with slowing my life down from recent MS news. New spot on MRI. Re-MRI in the spring and in the meantime take care. If more new spots at next MRI, than I’ll have to start taking a new drug that will have not-so-fun side-effects. I’m not dying…(that’s good news)…but, this isn’t fun.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last several weeks being pretty PO-ed with myself for being bitter. I shouldn’t be bitter. Again, I’m not dying. My son is happy and healthy. Hubby is gainfully employed and even my dog has remained healthy.

It can be tough learning to walk a different pace. Just because you are living a slower pace doesn’t mean that all of the sudden you are living in perpetual vacation. It’s a balance. A balance between life and moments of pause. Finding what that balance looks like is aggravating. Some days are perfectly balanced with activity. Others with downtime. Some days I want to be active, but I just can’t seem to find my gumption.

The phrase ‘Let Go & Let God’ means that I let go of my internal struggles and let God take over. Fabulous. Why hadn’t I thought of that? The truth is that there is no reality behind the phrase ‘Let Go & Let God.’  I fight and fight…and fight. And, no matter how many times I try to let go…the struggle is still there. It is unrealistic for me to ignore the situation, to not be afraid, to not be disappointed and to not fight. The burden remains.

All that being said, I can still hope. Not hope in my situation but in a Savior. My situation can have either a positive or negative outcome. Flip a coin and sure hope that my MRIs look good, but there is simply no guarantee. But I know that in Christ my hope is safe regardless of circumstance. The burden acts almost as a catalyst moving me closer until I am a whisper away from the mouth of my Savior and finally, I can hear Him. The voices that keep screaming frustration in my head begin to silent. My situation remains unchanged, but His presence brings peace and the burden becomes lighter because I no longer carry it alone.

We, me and you, were never designed to fight our struggles all alone. We were meant to give our struggles over to God, but not in a vacuum. Not without dialogue. Not without relationship. Not without the constant going back and forth conversation that takes place between a kid and her dad.

Reality check: continuing to believe that God will become the manager of our problems if we only “let go” is a lie. Recognizing that our problems are an opportunity to be drawn into relationship is pure grace.

I turned 40 a few months back…

I did. I had intended to write some really deep, inspiring blog post on the day it happened, but…the day got away from me.

Fast forward a few months…my little boy just had a birthday and has moved into double digits. That was tough. He’s my only so I don’t get another ‘turn around the bend’ ; I’ve got to soak it all up now. At any rate, my son’s birthday reminded me that I missed blogging on my 40th …it also reminded me that I’ve got something to say on the matter:

I love birthdays.

Granted that’s not a very deep statement, however it’s true. And it’s not for the reasons one might think such as cake, fav foods, lots of good drink, partying with good friends. I did all those things on my birthday and in abundance…my jeans told me that I might’ve birthday-ed it up a little much this year…you only turn 40 once. (I do love buttercream frosting)

Frankly, birthdays are a great reminder that you aren’t dead. That you are alive and regardless of your age, you’ve got to live. I see my son getting older. Wanting to go faster on his bike, watch scarier movies, talk about more adult-type stuff. It makes me sad that he doesn’t need his training wheels…but, good grief, we can’t use our training wheels forever.

This year, after having spent the last 10 years taking shots every day for treatment of MS, my dosage changed. The FDA approved my drug at a higher dose so that I only have to take it three times a week. Holy cow, was I excited. I felt like I was playing hooky on those days I didn’t have to take my shot. I have pretty bad necrosis on my arms and legs from years and years of shots, but this year…this point in time…I get a break. Without the last 10 years I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the change in my drug.

These were the thoughts on my mind this year after turning forty. Not incredibly deep or philosophical. I don’t plan on meditating every day now that I’m 40…beyond quiet time I spend in my Bible. I don’t really get the whole “make the world a better place crap for my son because now I’m older and he needs a better earth to live in.” Every day of life, regardless of health or circumstance, is a gift. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I can’t hold my breath waiting for it. In the end, life doesn’t need to be complicated… just need to keep your eyes forward and live.

…”I came so they can have REAL and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” John 10:10 (MSG)