Monday, February 8, 2016

What it's like to be a Truck Driver's Wife

Being a truck driver's wife is something you can't comprehend until you are in that position, but I guess that's how it is with just about anything in life.  I know I will learn valuable lessons from this time in our lives.

Right now, this is my life.
The life of a truck driver's wife...

It's waking up, looking over and putting your hand on a cold pillow.

It's counting down days, hours and minutes until he returns.

It's praying with your kids every night that he stays safe.  That he is alert.
That other people don't put him in danger.  That he comes home in one piece.

It's thanking God for his sacrifice while simultaneously asking God if there is anything else he could do to provide for the family.  Anything that would keep him home at night.

It's being glad to see him but finding it hard to change up a routine that has kept you sane while he's gone.

It's burning inside from sadness that he has to go again.

It's loneliness.  That he's gone.  That you have no friends that can relate.

It's being a single parent day and night while he's gone.

It's trying to be positive and strong when your are exhausted and missing him so much.

It's a yo-yo of the heart as he comes and goes in the blink of an eye.

It's feeling guilty that you don't make enough money to keep him home.
Or that staying home with your kids means he sacrifices time with them.

It's short phone calls and video chats that become the highlight of your day.

It's anticipation and dreaming of him walking through the front door smelling like diesel fuel.

It's disappointment and let down when traffic or mechanical issues delay him another day.

It's little presents he brings home, because he's been thinking of you.

It's a surprise early homecoming that gives you a long weekend.

It's a man doing the best he can to do his job to provide for the family that he loves.

It's tears in his eyes as he leaves and wiping them away before he pulls out of the driveway.

It's being loved by a man like that.  One that has long days and short nights.

It's knowing that his job is not driving his truck.  It's being a good husband and father.
That's what it's like to be a truck driver's wife.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

God, I Don't know if I can do this; The Pressure of Parenting

I was standing in front of the dishwasher assembling sippy cups yesterday when the most pleasant warm feeling, like a ray of sunshine from the inside, came over me and erupted on my face in the form of a smile.  What was so amazing about those sippy cups?  Nothing, really.  They are just your ordinary princess cups that are similar to those used by 2 year olds everywhere.  But the 2 year old living in my house uses them.  That makes them special.

I can honestly say that nothing else in the world- no job, no good or bad experience- nothing has taught me more than parenthood.  I'm still a novice, but the years I've spent caring for little lives has changed me.  There's no more me, really.  Not the way there used to be.  Parenthood has freed me from the sentence of self in so many ways.  Of course, I'm still human and selfish in many ways...but after being given the title of "parent", the self I once knew is no more.

The journey really began 6 years ago when I found out I was pregnant with a baby I would miscarry a few months later.  That's when it all began.  That's when I started loving someone God mysteriously created.  That's when I realized the heart wrenching pain of loss that only a parent understands.  From then on, I started learning how to love more completely and fully.  It's a love that differs from that of a spouse.  This love cannot and does not give back the way a spouse can or does.  Yet, this love gives back just because it exists.  This love needs you.  This love depends on you.  This love literally cannot survive without you.

I was talking to my husband a few months ago about the adjustment we've had after the birth of our second daughter and my new role as full time stay at home mom.  I told him how much I love being with our girls, but how stressed I had been.  I realized that underneath the mom face, deep down, I was really scared.

I felt this immense pressure.  If they didn't eat, it was because of me.  If they didn't feel safe, it was because of me.  If they got hurt, they needed me to help them.  They needed me to help them to take a bath, to help them watch out for cars when crossing the street, to help them with toileting...they needed me.  And for most of the time, day and night, Mommy was heralded to fix every problem-from a dirty diaper to a meltdown over not having the kind of lunch that was expected but never voiced.  I said aloud in tears several times, "I don't know if I can do this."

Having a baby and a 2 year old to care for most of the time by myself taught me more than anything else in my life.  I have cried more, prayed more and had more temper tantrums.  I have also loved more, laughed more, and felt so much satisfaction and peace.

I read something recently that reminded me to cherish this job I have been given.  The article discussed how we always want to know what God's plan is for our lives.  What career should we try? What person should we date and marry?  The point of the article was that we should just live our lives without worrying so much about those decisions, because what God wants for us is salvation. Live satisfied with that knowledge.  His salvation is the point of life.  It's not a box we check off.  It's a way of life.  His love.  Himself.  We have been given his eternal gift of life, and he wants us to live!
I am at home with these two miracles every day, and I need his salvation!  I need him more than ever, or I will become completely overwhelmed raising these little humans that require so much from me.  I want them to see that their mommy is human, yes flawed, but forgiven.  I want to extend the same grace to them that God gives to me.  They bring me joy that I never knew existed.

There is always room to grow.  No matter how old you are.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Letter from the Mom I am Now to my 50 Year Old Self

Dear Me,

I'm writing this letter to you to remind you.   I want to remind you of what it's like to have young children that you are home with 24 hours a day.  Right now, your younger self often hears people your age say how they've forgotten what it's like.  I want to refresh your memory, so that you are able to help those moms you encounter with tiny, precious ones-primarily your own daughters.  Hopefully, this letter brings back memories of the days you lived 20 or 30 years prior.

Do you know how it is when you're really tired?   It's hard to concentrate, pay attention or even be friendly.  Well,  that's what it's like for you every, single day now.  You haven't slept through the night in years, really.  Once the first started sleeping through the night better, you were pregnant again getting up to pee every few hours or just too uncomfortable to stay in one position too long.  So, when those mothers of little ones don't give you a warm smile or seem zoned out, give them a break. Better yet, go over to her house and entertain the kids while she gets a nap.  Even 30 minutes makes a huge difference.

Right now, your younger self often hears older people say, "If you ever need a break, let me know!" Well, you do need a break, but there is way too much for you to keep up with to try to coordinate another person's schedule.  You have two little ones with appointments every week while you try to run a household pretty much by yourself while your husband works.  You don't really want another person telling you that you need to call them.  A better option would be to ask the mother what day of the week and time you can come over to help her by watching the kids, cleaning or bringing her a meal.  She will be so grateful that someone is helping her with something...anything!

It can feel completely overwhelming and lonely to be home all of the time with small children.  Don't forget that.  Don't get so caught up in your life that you let your daughters get to a point where they feel they might break.  It is hard for your younger self to admit right now that you need more help.  Your daughters or other young mothers will most likely feel that way, also.  That doesn't mean you take over, but give her the opportunity to vent and talk to you about how she is doing.

Here's a biggie older self...don't judge!  Yes, you may have done things a certain way with your babies, but things have changed.  Let others raise their children, as long as they aren't harming them, the way they see fit.  Be supportive!  It is not just physically exhausting to have young ones.  It is mentally and emotionally taxing in a way that nothing else ever will be!  So, give words of encouragement and be her biggest cheerleader!  Let her know you are there for her, and let her come to you with questions if she wants.  Your job isn't to raise her kids.  It's to be a support for her.

The most important thing you could do is pray for her.  She has the weight of the world on her shoulders.  Everyone needs her 24/7 right now.  Pray for her and with her.  This is a season, and yes it will go by quickly as many people your age tell me right now.  However, it doesn't always feel like that.  Not on days when the 2 year old disobeys all day long and the baby has been crying nonstop because another tooth is coming in.  Saying it won't last long doesn't make her feel any better.  It makes her feel like she's not allowed to say she's had a rough day.  Remember to be a cheerleader.

Let her know that if she wants to go out of her way to make super cool cupcakes and decorations for a birthday party, that's okay.  If she has a house that has unfolded laundry and toys all over the place, that's okay.  She shouldn't feel guilty for either.  Often, your younger mom self reads articles subtly bashing moms who want to be creative and also making it seem like their kid's rooms need to look like something out of a catalog.  There's a lot of pressure on us moms from society, too.  If she seems stressed that she needs to do what everyone else is doing or not doing, give her words of affirmation and point out everything she's doing right.

It's taken me weeks to have the time to write this to you.  Both kids are actually napping at the same time.  Yeah, a miracle.  I'm sure you will have great wisdom to bestow having raised kids.  Remember to give your adult children space to raise their own families, but the closeness and love they need to make it through the rough days with your help.  It's all about balance.

See ya in a few decades. :)


Jenn


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Musings of a Guilty Mother

I'm guilty.

I'm completely and utterly guilty.

As a mother...

I'm guilty of losing my patience, yelling, complaining, pushing my own agenda on my children, wishing they would just sleep and leave me alone...

I'm also guilty of loving my children with a ferocity that only motherhood birthed.  I'm guilty of having an innate need to protect them from harm and lead them to know the Truth.

My children have changed my life.

I'm no longer able to go out with friends whenever I'd like, or even my husband for that matter.  I can't go sit in a coffee shop and relax while people watching.
I'm no longer able to get up in the morning, before I talk to anyone, and have the quiet solitude that my personality thrives on.  I don't always get the luxury of a shower every day.  I'm always tired.  I can never seem to catch up to all of the work that needs to be done.

I'm not able to live the life I once did.

Now...

I wake up to coos and calls for mommy.  The highlight of my day is gazing into my children's eyes and hearing them laugh.  I play with dolls and toys that move and light up.  I'm often cleaning up bodily fluids and wearing them, too.  I watch purple dinosaurs and princesses on television.  I read stories about going potty and how to share.  I often have a baby strapped to me and spend my days and nights feeding and cuddling with her.  I reheat my coffee 3 times in the morning, because I'm kissing boo-boos, rocking a little one and squeezing in housework.

I try to teach lessons I often feel I fail at myself.  I apologize to my 2 year old almost every day for my failures and pray with her daily that we would both learn to love one another better.

I'm guilty of being human-of having a sin nature.  And I want my daughters to know that none of us are perfect, but we don't have to be.  We serve the God that is our perfection.  I want them to see a mother that will fail miserably, but repent, to God and to them, and keep pressing on so that Christ's transforming power is evident to them.

I look at them, and it astounds me.  It astounds me that I had something to do with their existence.  God allowed me, an immensely flawed and sinful person, to be a part of the creation of two of the most precious beings I've ever laid eyes on.  Granted, there are days when all I want to do is sit in that coffee shop by myself, but overall, I can't help but give God the glory for the immense mercy he gives me.  And even beyond.  He uses the fire of circumstances and people, good and bad, to refine me.

I can't help but be grateful tonight.  For the way my life has turned out.   I can't help but praise the God that I continue to learn about.  My God.  Jesus Christ.  The one and only Son and maker of all.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Holding a Dream

I'm holding a dream.


When I look down at her,
I see hope manifest-
I see prayers I can touch.
I see my daughter.

Her little fingers and toes-
Her eyes and her nose,
Perfectly formed
by God's own hand-
Masterfully molded
where once there was naught,
Created, designed
in the midst of loss.





She is His handiwork,
a being like no other.
Sent by God in his timing
to help heal this mother.




She is a light
that shines brighter than most;
For hope is more radiant
The greater the cost.

God is so good,
and merciful and kind.
This child is his,
Not mine.

Yet, he entrusts me
with this most precious gift,
To love and teach her
who He is.

My heart is full
as I reflect,
on the journey we've traveled
to sit where we sit.

Surrounded by graciousness,
Prayer and support-
Our baby girl
is a product of love.

Dear God above,
we give thanks.
For you are magnificent,
and greatly to be praised!





Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How we Named Our Rainbow Baby

Just months ago, I was unsure that this pregnancy would progress to the point that it is now.  But here I sit...typing over an 8 month pregnant belly.  Thanks be to God.

Once we knew the gender, I immediately started researching names.  I really wanted this name to reflect what this little girl means to us.  I wanted it to be a reminder of the hope that can still be possible after devastating loss as we had miscarried just one month before becoming pregnant with her and thought we were going to lose her several times.

I've always liked the name Lydia.  I knew that she was mentioned in the Bible.  I knew that she was a woman who was most likely very smart and a business woman in her day.  She heard the Gospel, and the holy spirit changed her.  She shared it with everyone she knew, and the news of a Savior spread even further because of her belief.  She was also known for her hospitality towards the apostles and believers.

I looked up some other meanings.  I found two very contrasting definitions.

Lydia means travail-strife, heartache, agony, labor.  It also means beauty or light.  I thought this very fitting.

This little girl was conceived at perhaps one of the most stormy and dark periods of our lives.  Her life, a beautiful light, braved the storm.  Though the circumstances were dire, God saw fit that she should enter our lives becoming the unexpected rainbow in the midst of darkness.  Just like the rainbows we see in the sky, she seemed to come out of nowhere when we were still cowering from the storm.  And sometimes, it seems that something so gorgeous just can't be real.

She is a miracle of God.  He healed my womb.  He kept her safe and healthy.  She has already given so many hope before she is even born.  God has already determined that her life is one that others will know, and in turn, know him. 

We chose Elise for her middle name.  This means oath or promise of God.  How fitting as God made the rainbow a sign of promise in the Old Testament after the worst storm in history.  It reminds me of the hope God gives us.  We have life because of death.  

And it's the same with this little girl.  Though our other baby died, life still followed.  And we believe that baby is in heaven with Jesus experiencing life that we have yet to taste.

I thank God for every day with Lydia.  For every elbow in my rib and hiccup in the middle of the night.  I know she is a gift that I am astounded God is entrusting us to parent.

Thank you all for your support and prayers.  It means so much to feel your love.  We're almost there!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why I'll Never Trust my Dog around my Child Again

We adopted Bailey from the Humane Society 6 months after we married.  We had been every week for several month looking at the dogs.  We would watch them, analyze them and go outside to see how they reacted to us.  This was our first big decision as a married couple.

When we saw a litter of hound mix puppies, we fell in love.  They were so cute with their floppy little ears and extra folds of skin.  We had it narrowed down to a brown one and tri-color pup.  We decided on the little guy with the black face, brown eyebrows and black and white body.  He had come up to us sniffing in a curious, sweet way.

The cutest pup in the litter.
The next week we went to pick him up after he had been neutered.  The poor little guy was still groggy from the medicine.  Eric cradled him carrying him to the car to take him home while I went to work.  He was the cutest little 3 month old puppy we had ever seen.

 After that, he was like our child.  We took him to ride in the car with us to run errands letting him hang our the window with his ears flapping in the wind.  We taught him how to do tricks and got up every 3-4 hours to let him out while potty training.

Neither one of us had ever had a dog that was so obedient and sweet.  He tried to console us when we were upset, snuggled with us on the couch and wanted to please us in every way, it seemed.
Now, I'm nervous looking at this picture.

Five years later, we brought home our daughter from the hospital.  We followed all of the guidelines you read about letting him adjust to her and keeping a watchful eye.  After a week or so, he seemed adjusted-sleepy, but adjusted to having a little human around.  As she started talking, "Bay" (short for Bailey) was one of her first words.  She would ask where he was, call for him, she fed him under our supervision, and she gave him commands that he listened to...

That's why what happened a few weeks ago shocked us beyond belief.

It was a Saturday evening, and we had just finished dinner. The kitchen and living room are closed off from one another.  We had moved from the kitchen after cleaning up and turning the light off to the living room.  We were letting our almost 2 year old daughter play before bath time.

Sitting on the couch watching her play with her tea set, she saw us give each other a kiss.  She wanted to give us kisses and then asked to give Bailey kisses.  We told her she could, and she proceeded to go find him.  About a minute passed with silence.  And then we heard a growl and snap from kitchen.
 
We ran in to find, in horror, that Bailey had bit the side of her face.  He had been getting into the trash, and he reacted when she tried to grab him and kiss him.  At first we thought it superficial, but then saw his teeth had penetrated her precious, perfect skin in three places.  Not knowing the extent of the injury, we quickly scooped her up, threw on some shoes and ran to the car.  It was terribly cold and had been snowing all day.  The ride to the emergency room was a slippery one.

We went into the ER and immediately got a room.  We waited an hour or so for the doctor to assess the damage.  She needed stitches, and since we knew our dog had his shots, she didn't need any vaccinations.

It was over 3 hours before the doctor came in with two nurses, a long board with straps to hold her, and the supplies needed.  She did amazingly well, not squirming at all.  My stomach sank when the doctor inserted the needle into my baby's face.  I turned my head into my husband's chest and held back the tears.  She got 5 stitches overall.

When I asked about scarring, the doctor stated he was most concerned about infection.  Of course, this was my first concern.  However, I didn't want my little girl to have a dog bite scar at the age of one.  I didn't want my precious baby's face to bear the scar of something that was avoidable.

Maybe it was kind of selfish, too.  I also didn't want to explain to people that our dog did this to her. Not because I am embarrassed...because it's heartbreaking on multiple levels.  The dog we love could have seriously injured our baby girl.

We proceeded home with an antibiotic and finally got her to bed around midnight.  Our snowy evening turned into a scary night out-at the last place you want to be with your child.

She started healing very well that next week with three bandages on her cheek.  She wasn't afraid of Bailey when we got home, but wary of him.  And I'm glad she has learned to stay away from his face.

I was so angry at him.  Not only did he hurt my baby, he changed my view of him.  I couldn't look at him for days, and probably said some things to him that I wouldn't want others to hear.

But I think we needed to change how we treated him.

I look back now and see our mistakes.

He is a dog.  Not a human.  We never should have treated him that way.  We never should have assumed he would never do anything to our child, because he's still a dog.  He still has innate instincts.

He was in the trash knowing he wasn't supposed to be.  He was in the dark.  His back was turned, and a small child, much like a small animal, got close to his face while he was devouring something coveted.

We didn't see it, but I'm sure knowing him, he abstained from snapping as long as he could.  She probably tried to kiss him and he moved his head, and then she tried again.

He did what I think any dog would do.

Since then, she knows not to get close to his face.  He isn't allowed in our kitchen when food is present or anywhere near our daughter if she has food.

Some have asked if we're going to get rid of Bailey.  Well, the thought has crossed our minds.  But then I think, how can we fault him for something we chose?  We chose to treat him more like a human than a dog.  We chose to let our daughter invade his space by giving him kisses.  We weren't remembering he is still an animal.

My sweet girl with her bandages.
I get emotional when people ask what happened.  When they see the bandages, they usually get this surprised look on their face and say something like, "Oh no!  What happened?"  I try to just say she got a boo-boo, but that doesn't suffice usually.  And when we say it was our dog, people always ask what kind of dog and tell stories of malicious dogs they know that have hurt children.

But that isn't what happened here at all, and it's even worse to have to try to explain and defend our dog.  No, our dog is not vicious whatsoever. He is a really good dog that did something instinctual. And yes, we still love him, but we do treat him differently.

I can't go back in time and change things, but I can write this so that other parents are aware.  The best dog in the world can do something terrible just because they're guarding their food from something they think is below them in the pecking order.  Don't assume an animal will never act like an animal.