Mom Guilt

Mom guilt. I can’t shake it. It’s there every time I turn around. What my kids eat. What I eat. What we should be eating that we don’t. Organic? GMOs? Antibiotics and growth hormones? Stress. Some days I just want Oreos. Milestones and growth charts. Do we vaccinate or not? Babywearing. Sleep habits. Breastfeeding. Bottle feeding. Stress. I should be savoring these moments, right? Some days I just want to sleep. Looks from other moms at the playground. Judgment from older folks at a restaurant. Advice from a lady with three dogs and no kids. Stress. Some days I just want to hide at home. (But then I feel lonely.) Laundry piles. I’m so behind. To-do lists and should-do lists. […]

Can I See His Face?

I’m always amazed at the way our small children can teach us deep truths about God.  When our third son was born, his older brothers were eager to meet him. They each got to hold him, kiss him, and love on him. Even after we were home from the hospital, they couldn’t get enough of the new baby, always wanting to see and touch him.  After a great many holdings and kisses and too-strong hugs, I began to weary of their enthusiasm. It took a lot of energy to oversee their boyish love on a newborn, so frequently I’d only allow them to look on while I held the baby. They were fairly happy with this arrangement, except when he […]

Picture Day Fail

It started before the sun came up. I dragged my weary body out of bed. Before I could mentally process the fact that I felt physically unwell, one of my children was already calling for me. I got dressed and carried the baby with me to wake up her brothers for school. As they slowly began to move, I headed downstairs to nurse my little one. That’s when I remembered it: today was picture day. When my oldest came down with hair askew, I asked him to help with breakfast while I fed the baby. He prepared only his own breakfast and was soon engrossed in last year’s yearbook—because today was picture day. His brother came down the stairs asking […]

What Seeing the Total Eclipse Taught Me about Myself

We descended like a swarm of bees upon the city—hovering, crawling, buzzing. Our family had arisen before dawn to make the journey into the heart of totality, and our arrival was swift and direct. We chatted with other devotees on the same pilgrimage. We unlocked little boxes to compare astrological charts and maps to choose a suitable location. We invited others to join us. Another flock welcomed our company into their fold for the day. We waited in sweltering heat with children and ants and anticipation. We shared shade and water and moments. We knew the times and the seasons, but we all secretly longed for something more than what we knew. We wanted to feel it. The change began […]

Do I Want My Children to Be Careful or Take Risks?

“Be careful!” I yelled toward my two oldest boys as they traipsed out the back and slammed the door behind them. They were off to play with their cousins around the family greenhouse that adjoins our property. Even as the instinctive words left my mouth, I caught myself. Is this really what I want for my boys? To be careful? Granted, my boys can be reckless and impulsive, but as they mature, do I really want them to remember that their mother’s greatest concern for them was that they’d be careful? I’m well aware that we live in a safety-oriented culture. (Think car seats, insurance, cabinet locks, extended warranties, and outlet covers.) I’m aware that my upbringing has conditioned me to […]

On Our 14th Anniversary

Marriage is like turning a marathon into a 3-legged race. I’m running along at my own pace, eyes fixed on the goal, when I sense someone running beside me. I look over and see you running toward the same goal at about the same pace. We fall in step and decide that running this race is better as a team, so we stop and bind ourselves to one another hand and foot. At first we’re just happy for the companionship, and even though we’re bumbling along trying to find a new stride, the challenges are fun. But then the binds grow tight and chafe, cutting deep into the flesh. Indeed, the binds have fused our flesh together so it’s impossible […]

Making Mounds

Our garden continues to teach me about life. This week Mick and I had the rare opportunity to work in the garden together. We tilled up the rows that flooded and prepared to mound them like the rows of mounds that not only survived the heavy rains, but thrived in them. We decided to do three rows of alternating mounds with the center row offset from the other two. Mick and I began working simultaneously. I envisioned us working side by side in rhythm down the length of the garden, but I quickly became frustrated. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get my mounds in the right place or to the right size. I seemed to be […]

My Fight against Depression–One Mile at a Time

I feel the weight of life right now. Work is stressful, four little kids at home is stressful, and balancing life is just overwhelming at times. With my history of depression, I’m well acquainted with the process, and I can feel it coming on. So I run. Like, Forest Gump run. To be honest, I don’t like to run. It’s really hard to get motivated sometimes. But there is one enormous reason why I continue: it forces me into a mental battle. I used to think that running was about proper technique, having the right shoes, and breathing rhythms. While those things are important, for me they only define about 10% of whether or not I’ll be successful on my […]

On Pulling Weeds

Pulling weeds in our garden has become a bit of an escape for me. The chore I hated as a kid is now an outlet to get away from the noise of my own kids. This physical task gives my mind space to think and process life. One day, early in the growing season, I went out one morning to hoe. I didn’t have much time, but I figured I could do a little each day and keep our garden well tended. The work was easy because the weeds were small and tender. I had to discern carefully between the desirable plants and the undesirable plants and proceed with caution, because in their tender shoots all those plants looked similar […]

Combat the Crazy Update: Week 1

Our media fast is going even better than I had hoped. No one is pestering me for screen time. The kids are spending larger amounts of time reading or in independent or collaborative play. We are all enjoying the structure of a new routine with set expectations. Preparing for all of this has been work, but having to make fewer daily decisions means I’m more relaxed and able to be flexible. Maintaining the new routine requires me to be both physically present and mentally and emotionally engaged, which hasn’t been easy, but I’ve noticed that the kids are now less demanding of the time I’m not actively engaged with them because they have so much of my attention in the […]