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 […]

A Sonnet for Evelyn

Today is our only daughter’s first birthday. To celebrate, we’re publishing the sonnet I wrote for her. Happy birthday, Evelyn. Though as of now you do not speak one word, Each look you give still says much to my soul. Your deep blue eyes and smile ne’er I misheard: To seek love in my face remains your goal. My soul’s desire for you, child, is to know Man’s love, though good, is bent; it will fail you. So seek the Maker’s love and in it grow To hope in His return, the world made new. O, do not let your love rest only here. No, lay your treasure up in heav’n above, And do not operate in lonely fear, But […]

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 […]

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 […]

How I’m Combating the Crazy

Part of me dreads the summer. School ends Friday, and while I’m happy for a break from that routine, I fear that the kids and I will drive one another crazy in the first week. So I’m taking a few steps to proactively combat the insanity.   First, we’re kicking off the summer with a week-long media fast. I know–it feels counter-intuitive. Screens are my easiest go-to babysitter. Even though it feels like I’m just asking for trouble by denying myself this outlet, it actually has the opposite effect on our family. When we started this year off with a solid week of being unplugged, I saw only benefits: more calm and focused silence for myself, more independent and creative […]

A Teachable Moment

I could see the worry in his eyes as he sat buckled into his car seat. I closed the door and climbed into the driver’s seat for the short commute to school. My six-year-old had just been hit with the sobering news that his older brother’s classmate lost her dad last week. “How did he die?” He asked the question in earnest, and when I was slow to respond, he quickly asked again. Behind the question, I could hear wheels turning, trying to comprehend that the death of a parent is a real possibility in the world he lives in. I could hear his unspoken questions, too. Could that happen to you? What if you or Dad died? Am I […]