That I Would Be In Her Shoes

This is a humbling post to write. Humbling, because I now sit here in the same position of a woman I once scorned, feeling all the way down how I know she felt, realizing only now what I was scorning. If I didn’t have a can of BBQ Pringles and my (second) glass of wine next to me, I swear I couldn’t write this.

Secondary infertility is something that, searching the internet, you won’t find much about. I kept googling for an article written by someone who was on my same path, who had my same story, that I could relate to; I found nothing. I found many by women who had struggled, but had received their blessings – the successes. I found still more who used the term to define their struggles to conceive child number 4 or 5 – still, I could not relate.

I remember when we first started actively trying for our son; all of my life I had been the Girl Who Went To College – the one who was breaking the boundaries by going to school and having a degree, a career. But my heart was rooted in the ground I grew up in – moms who had stayed home, cooked home-cooked meals, made dough from scratch, always had a washer going. I wanted that. I wanted babies. I got married, I loved being married. We decided we wanted babies – my family had a history of difficulty conceiving, so we thought we were starting a little on the early side. My husband used to joke that I would turn up pregnant after the first month just because I had said it wouldn’t be easy. It didn’t happen that way.

I’ll never forget the day I sat in my OB/GYN’s office, alone while my husband was at work, where he looked at me with apologetic eyes and told me how “it didn’t make sense” because I was young and healthy – how had we gotten to a year? He didn’t know; I didn’t either. We ran all the tests, made jokes about how I looked like a drug abuser because my arms bruised so easy from all the blood draws, got back perfect results every time. There was nothing wrong with me. There was nothing wrong with him. But we weren’t having babies. I had hit The Year – he glanced up at me as he labeled me in my chart with “Unexplained Infertility”. What was once a carefree desire suddenly became an obsession. I blocked every friend who became pregnant – I didn’t want to see it, I didn’t want to hear about it; I realized I was wrong and hard-hearted for doing it, my husband chastised me; I tried to explain that it wasn’t that somewhere deep down I wasn’t happy for them – it was simply that at that point my jealously was outweighing my joy. I sobbed into the carpet, yelling at God, about it while he was at work, beating the ugly mauve carpet with my fists.

We finally got our miracle – three weeks before our first reproductive endocrinologist appointment that we had waited almost 5 months and a mountain of paperwork for. It was unbelievable. We had felt like we had tried everything. I had become a slave to a calendar and a thermometer, my husband felt he had become a slave to my obsession. We almost lost our little guy at 22 weeks to preterm labor; we didn’t. He was finally born a tiny little 5 lbs right before Christmas. My answered prayer; the atonement for a million tears. And for the longest time, it was enough. I used to joke with friends that if I had gotten pregnant again before K was 1.5, I would have cried ugly tears. I wasn’t ready. But when he turned 2, it was like a switch flipped. I wanted another baby. Oh, how I loved K; but seeing him so sweet with friends’ newborns, how independent he was becoming – I wanted it so badly again.

For the first few months I wasn’t upset. We had just done another deployment – I couldn’t expect it to happen like magic. After all, K had not been easy. But now,  here we are again at the year mark. Again we have done all the testing. I did invasive procedures this time. Everything was maddeningly normal. Again my GYN told me with spread hands that he had done all the testing in his power, and we were normal; in fact, I am what’s lovingly termed a “super ovulator” in that my progesterone levels are what normally accompanies multiples. My husband is fine. I’m fine. But we don’t have a baby. And every day I watch my son getting older. I watch the gap widen. I do the math in my head. And again I catch myself feeling the unexpected tears every month when I go to the bathroom and try to convince myself that maybe, just maybe, it’s implantation cramping, only to be disappointed when the bleeding comes. We had one miscarriage that we know of; I lost it a few weeks before we were going to announce (at Disney World) while on vacation at the beach. Again, I find myself hiding the news feeds of anyone who becomes pregnant. Again, I find that it hurts.

I’ve heard it all. I am a nurse – I interact with my patients on a daily basis; they’re kind, and they inquire about my life as I do theirs. Almost always it goes something like this: “oh, what a pretty ring! How long have you been married?” 5 years. “Oh! Do you have any children?” Yes, one little boy. “How old is he?” He’s 3. Then it comes. Every time. “So do you want more children? Are you planning for more?” I’ve even gotten such gems as “Don’t you think it’s time he had a sibling? You had one – didn’t you figure out how it’s done?” And even “Oh, so is your little boy just so bad you couldn’t handle another?” Yes, even that. And no, my little man is as close to perfection as I could hope a toddler to get. At this point I’m reluctant to even start the conversation. Luckily if it gets too nasty, bringing up infertility and miscarriage usually does the trick to end it.

Which brings me to my post. I remember, years ago, praying for JUST ONE BABY, and seeing a dear friend post about secondary infertility. My mind went to the obvious place of someone who feels they are struggling more than anyone else (haven’t we all been guilty?): “Why can’t she just be thankful she has the one? I would give anything for one! She has nothing to whine about. I would be thankful.”

Now, dear friend, I realize that you WERE grateful. I hate it when people imply now that I’m not thankful for my one baby simply because it hurts my heart to not be able to give him the experience of a sibling. Our babies are miracles. And now I see how it is entirely different when you want your second. And now I’m living in the vortex that you were back then; and I get it. I get it so deeply. I live in the world of hating myself every day that I pray for #2 when I know SO MANY women who are where I was, begging God for JUST ONE BABY, mentally scorning me for my “ungratefulness”. And I feel that sting, because I was there; I often feel guilty as I research infertility treatments, as I call adoption agencies for their outrageous fee schedules, as I debate with my husband just how far we’re willing to go, just how much we can afford. I have a brother; I see the benefit of someone else being alive that knows what it was to grow up in my house, that will be there with me one day with me when our parents die. I will not be alone. I want my son to have that. I see women walking with gaggles of children following them in stores and I mentally sigh, “I hope she knows how lucky she is.” And then I think of all the women I know who see me with my little blond-haired, blue-eyed sweet little man and think the same of me.

I’m living in the vortex. The strange in-between, wrought with feelings and desires and heartache and realization. I’m a mother of one, not for lack of trying. I’m more than I ever dreamed I would be, and also dreaming of just a little more. I’m tucking my son into bed with a million tearful whispered “thank you’s” and an extra few minutes of holding, a reluctance to shut the door for the night, and dreaming of once more bundling a baby. I’m cherishing every milestone because I know it may be the last time I ever see it, and I’m wishing I could redo it just one more time. I’m stretching with gratitude when I awake from the 12 hours sleep my toddler’s given me, and then I realize I would love to be waking up all night and rocking someone again. I’m loving his independence and missing his needfulness. I feel guilt as I ask God for one more miracle, but I feel hope because He is the God of wonders, and nothing asked by His children is too much for Him. So I’ll live in the vortex. And pray. And thank. And pray.

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That I Would Need To Be Humbled Daily

I will preface this post by saying that I have not always been a Christian. In fact, my husband was the trusting and long-road-minded individual who unequally yolked himself to me in the hopes that he could open my eyes to the beauty of Christ’s love for me. It worked; but with that beautiful blessing of the knowledge of my salvation and the forgiveness of my many many sins also came an astounding awareness that I am much more flawed than I had ever thought before. Being a mother has only magnified that – and convinced me even more of the absolute necessity of my relationship with a merciful and teaching God.

Those who know us, or have followed our story, know that we struggled with infertility issues while trying to conceive our son; after a year I went alone to my OB/GYN and was told that all of my tests had come back normal, and we were being labeled with “Unexplained Infertility.” All that was left was to start doing invasive surgeries on me in the hopes of finding some hidden problem. There are a few things from that time in my life that I remember vividly: I remember hating social media because EVERYONE BUT ME WAS PREGNANT. EVERYONE. I remember un-friending and stopping contact with friends (even close friends) who were conceiving the moment I knew, just because it seems that once someone announces a pregnancy, that becomes the only thing they’re capable of talking or posting about. I remember going to the grocery store one day and seeing a teenage mother yelling at her toddler in the cart, the toddler crying, and her with her finger in that baby’s face telling him how he was good for nothing, and hating her. I remember one day becoming so frustrated that I laid in the middle of my living room floor with my face in the ugly mauve carpet and sobbing harder than I had ever cried, screaming at God about why He wouldn’t give me a baby, asking Him to tell me what I was doing wrong that that blessing was being withheld from me, sobbing and crying why, why, why. I remember. I remember like it was yesterday.

And then my blessing came. One day at work, after a million negative hopeful pregnancy tests, two coworkers announced their pregnancies and my friends, who knew we had been trying (and that our marriage had almost fallen apart in the process as we blamed each other, blamed God, blamed the world, as I became more depressed and less open to my husband’s monthly attempts at consolation) said “hey, it always happens in three’s! Maybe you’re pregnant too!” They told me to go down on my lunch and have blood drawn. I was inwardly angry with them for making me go through another negative test, this one public. But I went. And a few hours later, while on the phone with a GI doctor, I went down and got my medical records and turned the paper around and only saw one word: “POSITIVE”. I screamed, fell to the floor, and cried. I later apologized to that doctor, whose ear I may have permanently damaged.

I had promised God, in all of my pleading, that if He would only give me one child, if He would ONLY make me a mother, I would raise that child a Christian, and never turn my back on God again. And though it had not been on my time, He had answered my prayers. He had given me my miracle baby, the one I had been told I may never have. I had a few scares during the pregnancy, one preterm labor at 22 weeks, but I prayed and begged and God each time had delivered my son, and he was born a petite 5 lb 11oz, but healthy.

And yet, I have failed God so many times since then. I have failed Him even today. Because, as we passed the 6-month mark of trying for number two, I have found myself being targeted by Satan in the worst ways. We managed to become pregnant two months ago – on the brink of announcing, I miscarried. And now, I am feeling it all over again. I have resented friends who have had easy times conceiving; I have judged other mothers who I considered not as worthy to have more as me; I have yelled angry words at the God who granted me the very thing I asked of him; I have begun hiding people in my Facebook newsfeed so I wouldn’t have to see daily bump pictures.

I was humbled the other day. I was following a woman into a store, with her three beautiful children in tow, and in my head I angrily thought, “I hope you realize how lucky you are.” Then I came home, my coffee in my hand, and looked in the mirror, and I very clearly saw the Holy Spirit point his finger at me and say, “I hope YOU realize how lucky YOU are.” And in that moment, I was so convicted. I have friends who are STILL trying for first pregnancies; friends waiting in adoption pools years long; friends for whom IVF has failed. I have already received a blessing they still long for. And I KNOW that longing! And yet I was scoffing at my own miracle out of jealousy and greed for another. I know friends who look and look and can’t find Godly husbands, friends who are in abusive relationships, and I think – I was blessed EVEN BEFORE I was given my son. I think on my loving family – my parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents, that I was surrounded with my whole life, full of love, nothing but love, ever. And I think, I was blessed EVEN BEFORE I was given my husband.

No matter what we pray for, no matter how blessed we already are, we can only seem to think about the next blessing. It’s like buying a new car and then wanting the new model; liking your house for a year and then feeling like you need something bigger and nicer and newer. We are all alive; we are blessed in different ways. I may never know why God has only given us one child thus far. But I MUST trust God with my life plan. I MUST be thankful for the miracles He has already shown me. I know what it means to be a mother – and I know others who would kill to have that. Our selfishness and our greed for control of our lives prohibits us from fully living within the blessings of a Lord who KNOWS our hearts! My God isn’t depriving me another baby; My God wants my happiness and weeps with me each month, wept with me during my miscarriage! God HATES to see us suffer as his children! But the world is not perfect. If it was, we wouldn’t need God. Our lives will not be perfect. But we have to actually daily focus ourselves and put on our blinders and see only the things we HAVE been given; not look only at the things we still long to have. I promise, friends, it is the only way we will make it through this life without bitterness.

So I challenge you to look in your own mirrors each morning, and think of something you have already been given that was an answer to a prayer; thank God actively for something happening in your life. Defeat the anger and bitterness of heart that the world would love to trap you in. My Lord, I promised you the same thing as Hannah as I laid on that carpet alone in our rental house in Florida – I will uphold my promises; you have kept yours.

1 Samuel 10-11: “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the LORD. And she made this vow: “O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the LORD, his hair will never be cut.”

Our love,

A&K

I Could Die Tomorrow

If Only I Would Have Known…

That, contrary to my popular belief, the simple fact that I have a child does not make me immune to the evils of the world – namely mortality. Surprisingly, this post is inspired by someone who doesn’t even have children that I ran across this morning thanks to the wonderful world of Facebook. She’s 29, and dying of brain cancer.

That’s about my age. And given six months to live.

I’m an oncology nurse. I know how mind-blowingly prevalent cancer is today. You’d be amazed. I’ve seen women with breast cancer younger than me. Men with colon cancer in their 30’s and 40’s – well below the zone where you’re supposed to begin getting routinely checked for it. Children with leukemia for no particular reason. People with cirrhosis who have never had a drink in their life and people with stage 4 lung cancer who have never smoked. The world is an evil, horrible place, my friends.

And it made me think. I could get that news tomorrow. I could suddenly have a headache and by the time I thought to worry already be halfway gone. It could be any of us. She’s 29. I have a friend from nursing school who, months after her mother lost her battle with breast cancer, found out she too had it in her early 20’s – again, well before women are supposed to start getting yearly mammograms. What if I got that news? What if I got that news about my son?

Believe me, I can only write this because I’ve had a glass of wine, and because I’ve already shed the tears and prayed the prayers for all of the people I know, and all the people I don’t, battling disease before they should have to. None of us are guaranteed a hundred years – I think we forget that. Because it just seems so…wrong. No one imagines that they won’t see their grandchildren, or even see 30.

I was sitting on the floor today trying to convince my toddler to come give me a hug, which he shook his head “no” at with an impish grin before running around the other side of the island in our kitchen in an improvised game of hide and seek, and finally, I laid down and said, “Oh, Kaleb – come help mommy! The only way I can ever be better is if I get a hug right this minute!!” My precious baby came running over, laid on top of me, kissed my cheek, and hugged me as hard as he could, patting my back with his little pudgy fingers. I focused completely on that moment, committed every second to memory, and chose to cherish it.

The other day, he got in trouble for whacking the dog with a toy broom. He got put in time out, he pouted, he sulked, and when I told him he could come out a minute later, he came over, hugged Buster, and said “sowwy Bus Bus” as he sniffled. And then miraculously didn’t do it again. I had a moment of triumph as a mommy. “He’s a good boy. He knows when he does wrong, he apologizes, and he learns from his mistakes. Maybe I’m doing something right after all. Maybe he WON’T, in fact, end up a delinquent.” And I focused completely on that moment, committed every second to memory, and chose to cherish it.

Every once in a while, he will stay asleep at nap time when I go in and open his curtains, and I’ll get to sit there and watch his little mouth move in his sleep and his little hands hold onto his owl he loves, and his ridiculously-long-for-a-boy eyelashes flutter with his dreams. And I think, wow, we made that. Out of just our love, and the blessing of God that we weren’t even entitled to, we made this perfect little thing. And I think of Forrest Gump (my fave) and I think – “Isn’t he beautiful? He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” And I focus completely on that moment, commit every second to memory, and choose to cherish it.

At night, when I come home from a long day at work, where everything went wrong, I got puked on twice, pooped on more than I’d like to remember, and feel absolutely fried, the minute I walk in the door I hear “Mama!!!” said with such excitement it’s like the whole world just stopped, and I hear the hurried pitter-patter of his little short legs racing to meet me before I even get out of the entryway, and I feel like the luckiest woman that has ever lived. No matter what, I realize then, I am the only person in the whole world he will ever know as “Mama”. And I feel so blessed to have had that moment. And I choose to cherish it.

None of us will live to be as old as we want to be. And I may not even have Kaleb as long as I selfishly want to have him. But friends – regardless of what you believe about death, the fact is that we have had these moments. If I died, I am sure it would devastate my son; he would be lost, confused, upset. But he would remember what it felt like to have loving arms run to him when he got hurt, he will know his ABC’s and 123’s because we sang them at bath time, he will know what a loving set of parents looks like, he will know what it means to feel safe at home. I gave those things to him. And if I find out I’m dying tomorrow – I will die with more moments in my head than a lot of other people in the world get to have. And I will CHOOSE to be grateful for those. I will CHOOSE thankfulness for what I’ve been given – moments that I only have because God allowed me to live in the first place. The memories of kissing the back of his neck as a little newborn that was my favorite place, the pride I felt at handing my husband his only son – knowing it was the greatest gift I have ever given anyone, the way it sounded the first time my son said my name (I think I will perfectly hear that little voice, saying that word, until my last moment), how it feels to have him reach up and grab my hand and walk side by side with me.

And should Kaleb go “before his time,” I will remember what my mother said to me when he was a newborn and I was terrified of something happening to him – “He was never really yours anyway. He’s on loan to you from God and you have to love every day you’re given.” I have tried to do the best with him that I can while I’ve had him. I truly believe no one else could have been his mommy the way I have been, just as all of us are mommies to our specific children for a reason. Some mothers lose babies before they even get to know their personalities. Some mothers lose their babies in infancy with no warning at all. Two years seems a measly sum to me, but it’s two more years than couples struggling with infertility may ever get – and we were there before, wondering if we’d ever hear a heartbeat that we two created. There are bad days, and there are perfect days, and there are all the days in between. But, if I died tomorrow, I can say I’ve had a perfect life. I can say my son had a happy, loved life. I can say I had a wonderful husband and my son had a wonderful daddy. I can say that I got more than I deserved. More than I ever could have dreamed. And that’s why I feel for that woman, why I feel for all of us.

CHOOSE to cherish the moments. You’ll be glad you had them. And you’ll really love the “extras” you get every day past when you start doing it. My life, already, is a catalog of blessing, and I haven’t even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. But I’ve walked the road of the life I’ve been given, and tried to make the best of it that I can. And gosh, do I love it. I love it so, so much.

All Our Love, Allison and Kaleb

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Things Change

If Only I Would Have Known…

That my pre-child Views of the World were going to start changing the moment my son swallowed a demon became a toddler. Before we have our children, I think we all survey our respective upbringings and decide how we “will be and will not be” toward our own progeny in relation to how we were raised. I’m sure at one point when I was seventeen and told I couldn’t take the car out I thought to myself “I’ll NEVER tell my daughter SHE can’t go to the movies on a weeknight!!” Then we’re thrust into motherhood and the technological world overwhelms us and we’re slapped in the face every day by shared posts about how to parent and how not to parent, society’s attempt to push us to one side of the fence on literally every issue imaginable. I know since having Kaleb, I’ve questioned myself a million times about whether or not I was being a “good mom” because some radical idealist out there in cyberspace typed up this blurb that was totally contradictory to how I was parenting at the time. Kind of like how you go on WebMD with a headache and within five minutes you can convince yourself you have brain cancer (an argument for another day).

Today, though, I had a true moment where I realized that my pre-conceived world of parenting needed to change. I had a very blessed childhood – my parents were fair, I wasn’t told no to things I actually needed, we were a very “huggy” family, and I was only ever punished with good reason. I never had to go outside and get my own stick, I never saw a belt outside of the one my dad was wearing, and I never was “bent over a knee”. It’s just funny how things have evolved with this over-cautious politically correct complete and total crap movement over the past decade or so – a generation ago getting the occasional spanking was no big deal. Now it’ll lose you your kid if the wrong Super Wannabe Vigilante sees you do it. All that to say, I was not raised on the positive-reinforcement-only theory that’s making its rounds today. I believe (personally) that praise and positive reinforcement needs to be coupled with correction, otherwise Kaleb will never learn that sometimes choices we make end up having negative consequences. Life isn’t always sunshine and butterflies – when we do something we know is wrong, good things don’t come from that in the real world. That said, I try to reserve punishment for when he’s doing something that A) he’s well aware is a no-no, B) could hurt him or C) could hurt someone else. Otherwise I try to choose my battles, because I don’t want to be that mom that just runs around yelling “NO!” at the top of my lungs all day.

But today, for the first time, my usually angelic son hit me. I was standing next to him as he finished his breakfast, and as I moved closer to him, he pulled his arm all the way back and hit me right in the face, scowling and all. Immediately, I grabbed the offending hand, poised my own hand above his ready to give it a pop, and said in my Serious Mommy Voice, “We DO. NOT. HIT!” and at that moment, I stopped dead in my tracks. What was I about to do? How had I become so blind to how we often punish our children? There I was, ready and geared up to punish him for an offense…by committing the same offense to him. With tears in my eyes, I dropped his hand and simply told him that it was not nice to hit. But it has stayed with me all day – the shocked look in my toddler’s eyes as I grabbed his hand, as I realized that I had totally contradicted myself as a parent in that moment. If I don’t want Kaleb to hit other people or children, how am I going to teach him how to do that if I am responding to that negative behavior with a “well, I’M the adult – I can do it, but you can’t” attitude? I resolved in that moment to change my parenting style. Does it mean Kaleb will never be punished for doing something wrong or mean? Absolutely not. It just means I’m going to have to do a little work to figure out how to correct him in an effective way as opposed to the quick-reflex way I had never questioned before. I realized my child obviously isn’t going to respond in a positive way to that kind of punishment, because if mommy does it, it’s just going to perpetuate in his incredibly intelligent toddler brain an “if she is doing it, and she’s my role model, then it must be something I should do too” attitude in him. I’ll give my kid credit – he’s a smart one. But he’s making me a smarter mom too. I know when my husband sees this he’ll call me “one of those hippies,” but I feel like God literally stepped in the middle this morning in my kitchen, and gave me my own taste of gentle correction.

As parents, we’re always learning. And the way that your child responds to types of punishment or correction will dictate the way you handle those situations. I have one good friend whose one son was so attached to Skittles that any time he got in trouble he had to take a Skittle and throw it in the trash, and that alone was the worst punishment in the world to him. Being a parent has a huge learning curve, and we all have to do it differently; that’s why I hate so much all the advice columns that spring up and get shared around all day every day – because what works for one parent won’t work for another. Some kids respond to Time Out. Some kids seek your approval and pride and will act in the ways they think will garner them that. Others are more defiant and take repetition and a lot of patience. Listen to your kid, realize that as they grow, the way they respond to you will evolve and your tactics may need to evolve as well. I know as Kaleb grows the way we help him learn right from wrong and consequences of our actions will keep growing with him. And in the end all I’m really trying to say is, never be afraid to keep changing. Parenting is always a work in progress – God gives us these little people for much the same reason he gives us our spouses – to bring our flaws to the surface so that we can work on ourselves through them. I’m sure I’ll start seeing more and more of my flaws as the Terrible Two’s progress, and thanks to Kaleb, I’ll emerge into the Three’s a better mama.

 

All our love,

Allison and Kaleb

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To Go On Dates…Lots of Dates

Let’s face it – we moms run a tight ship. We cook, we clean, we fold laundry (as the toddler simultaneously UNfolds it in a smiling act of helpfulness), make sure no one is climbing the refrigerator shelves or figuring out “child proof” cabinet latches (“Install the latches”, they said. “They’ll never get into your drawer of Scentsy bars”, they said.”), keep the dog from sitting on the baby, get mac n cheese off the floor with a spatula (or maybe that’s just me?), make sure all the mandatory errands get run (“Put on your armor, kids…it’s Grocery Day”), and make sure all parties are still alive at the end. It’s tough business.

We are so proud of ourselves when we conquer 6 loads of laundry, a gourmet organic home-cooked meal (Look at that sauteed asparagus – definitely Pinterest worthy. I’ve outdone myself this time!), and dust the fan blades. We feel accomplished. We also managed to call Aunt Jolene, skype with grandparents, and document it all on Facebook for our friends to share in our triumph over another day (insert mandatory cape here – and let’s face it, all moms deserve capes).

But sometimes in all of that busyness, we run from one thing to the next, and it becomes a blur of obligations. We’re moms – we do lists. We do lists really well. And we like checking things off that list, preferably in as snappy a manner as possible before Combustion kicks in (you know that moment where you kid goes from “Yeah, mom, I’m ok – just give me a cracker and a juice and we can keep on trucking” to “DEAR LORD I’M TIRED – I JUST REALIZED I’M SO SO TIRED, AND I’M GOING TO FLAIL AROUND AND WAIL ABOUT IT UNTIL YOU GET ME IN MY BED!! WHERE. IS. MY. BEDDDD?!?!?!?!…. ROAR!!!!!!”? That’s Combustion.) Anyway, I think that one day a week, we should postpone one errand, just one. Save it for another day, even.

And go on a date. A date with our kids.

When Blake deployed last, I realized that on my days off from work, I became a frenzied mess of errand-running and Domestic House Goddess chores. Did I play with Kaleb? Sure. We played a lot. But cabin fever would set in, and to battle it I would run errands. One day, we were out at lunch, so we stopped at Chick-fil-a. I put my phone on silent in my bag, and we ate lunch. We ate a long lunch. And it was fun. It was a lot of fun.

And I realized that I needed to do that more often. Pause my to-do list and listen to my baby babble while he shares his fruit cup with me. Try to teach him how to use a straw. Laugh when he flirts with the 18-month-old little girl at the next booth (what a cradle robber, this kid). Let him have a bite of my ice cream (or two). And never check my phone. Or mentally calculate if I can still make it to Target before nap time hits. Just sit, with my boy, and enjoy a good meal. We have all heard the importance after having children of continuing to “date” your spouse – what we don’t hear is that we also need to give undivided time to our children, too. To remind them that they’re at the top of our list, the forefront of our mind, more important than any menial task we have on our radar.

Now, we have “Mommy-Baby Date Day” once a week, and it’s usually at Chick-fil-a. It’s become a sacred hour in my life, and I love the tradition it’s making – one I know I’ll cherish more and more the older he gets. So I encourage, even challenge, you moms and dads to make a Date Day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, ice cream date, anything!), just once a week, where you put stress on hold and phones on silent and soak it up.

Let’s face it, Target will still be there tomorrow.

All our love,

Allison and Kaleb

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To Look Past Criticism

Maybe I should have titled this post “You’re not a bad mother because you work.”

Let me preface this post by saying that I’m pretty peeved that this topic (and the Mommy Wars in general) is becoming so “sided,” and that I’m caving in to commenting on the madness. But recently I’ve seen so many other blog posts showing up like this gem defending (rightly) Stay At Home Moms (SAHM’s) and haven’t seen as many good defenses of working moms, none that are being shared like hot cakes, anyway. And here’s the gist:

SAHM’s, you shouldn’t have to defend yourselves. And neither should working moms.

But let me tell you why I work, why I went back to work when my one and only son was six weeks old. First of all, and most importantly, I had to pay my bills. My husband works, and we are fortunate to have a fairly reliable income thanks to the US government. But, having traded in two two-door small cars for two four-door cars when he was born, buying a house so that he could grow up having a yard to run around in, and paying off both of our student loan debts, my income ensures that we can afford the luxuries we’ve been blessed with and still save some each month, as well as establishing savings for Kaleb (you can never start early enough for college these days, but I digress). Could I forgo some of these things and eat ramen every night and get to be a SAHM? Probably, but it wouldn’t be comfortable, and we like the elimination of a lot of financial stress that my job provides. It ensures that Kaleb will never be told “no” about something he needs (notice I didn’t say “wants”).

Secondly, I love my job. I went through college and got my nursing degree before a child was on my radar; I paid handsomely for that education and I intended to use it. I feel a huge amount of pride and accomplishment and happiness being a mommy, but I also feel an intense desire to teach and heal other people. I want to be the one person who sat down and explained something to them, possibly for the first time. I want to be the one fighting for their best interests and needs. I want to be the one ensuring that their care is done right, that they are able to go home and get more time, more years, with THEIR families because of something I’ve done. I’ve been the one holding someone’s hand before when they have no family and were given days or weeks to live alone in a hospital room. When I was gone after having Kaleb, I missed that. I missed my job. Because I chose what I wanted to do, and I love it.

I love being mentally stimulated. Kaleb definitely keeps me on my toes when I’m home with him, but my work does it too, in a different way. I have to constantly read new best practice studies, learn new procedures and equipment and diagnoses and drugs. I’m on my toes every second when I’m there, and that keeps me learning. And everyone should strive to never stop learning. It’s a beautiful gift we’ve all been given that we should be taking complete advantage of, no matter the subject. Not to mention, going to work a few days a week keeps me from going “stir crazy” in the house. It lets Kaleb go play with a friend (since we are so incredibly fortunate to have one of the best women I know keeping him – I truly wish everyone was lucky enough to have a friend nanny their child. It’s like he has a second family and the love and safety they give to him can’t be compared to anything. Anything.) and lets me get out of the house and switch it up for a bit. Personally, I think it makes me appreciate my days at home with him even more.

I also feel like through working, I’m teaching Kaleb some important things. I’m teaching him time management, organization, responsibility, work ethic, financial independence and budgeting, compassion for others, a sense of duty to the greater good and people in need, and gender equality in the workplace, which is something women fought for diligently in our country’s history. When I’m at home with him I’m teaching him about sharing, table manners and politeness, respect for authority, trying new foods, counting and letters, a love of reading, kindness toward animals, and family love.

Here’s the deal, friends. I’m tired of hearing people say that SAHM’s “don’t do anything all day” because anyone who knows a SAHM knows how entirely far-fetched that is. In fact, it’s pretty much downright laughable (and I hope you SAHM’s DO laugh at it, and then go back to your full-time job of taking care of your babies knowing that they’re just ignorant and they know not what they do). I’m home more days than I work, and I’m just as exhausted when I go to bed on those days as the ones I’m in the hospital. I’m tired of hearing people say that working moms “don’t love their children” because they don’t stay at home with them, because that’s also as far from the truth as it could be. We each do what we have chosen. I have moms I know who stay at home who envy me my job. I have moms I know who work who envy friends their ability to stay home. But we do what we need to, or what we’ve chosen to. And that’s that. Critics are going to surface no matter what life path you choose – YOU HAVE TO LOOK PAST IT. I used to get so mad when people would ask me “wouldn’t you rather be home with your son every day? It’s terrible you have to work and leave him”. I chose to have my job. I feel like I’ve chosen a job that balances well with my home life. And I also love my son, more than anything else on this earth.

SAHM’s, you’re good moms. You love your children unconditionally and do everything in your power to give them the lives you want for them.

Working moms, you’re good moms. You love your children unconditionally and do everything in your power to give them the lives you want for them.

So, MOMS EVERYWHERE, keep on doing what you do. You’ll certainly never have to explain yourself to me. 🙂

Love,

Allison and Kaleb

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To Balance Reality and Fantasy

If Only I Would Have Known…

That people online cannot be trusted. There’s actually a great blog post going around right now about “Fakebook” and how most of what you see online are the little rays of sunshine that peek through as peoples’ houses implode from a veritable buildup of toddler energy. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s not guilty.

It all starts when we get engaged. We post a million pictures of our faces smashed against our significant other, exclaiming how amazing he or she is. We post our pictures of floral arrangements (“Isn’t he the sweetest?!?!?!”) or the $300 purse he bought us for Christmas (“Isn’t he PERFECT?!?!?”) or eventually the ring (for a teeny tiny moment of braggery). Then comes the wedding, where every little detail is chronicled and at least 1,283 pictures are uploaded within days. Next comes our exotic honeymoon (we rode horses out in the ocean while the sun gleamed off our hair and we walked hand in hand down cobblestone streets before finally heading back to our private island cabana complete with gauzy white curtains fluttering in the salty breeze). When we become pregnant, we rush out to have pictures taken to showcase how good Photoshop can make us look while we’re the biggest we’ve ever been and our faces are flushed and bloated.

And we are happy – that’s not a lie. But we sure have learned to showcase it. Bragging is human nature – it comes from a self-pride and a confidence in life, which are beautiful things. But I think it’s beginning to hurt us too. Lately I’ve stepped back from Facebook. Once an obsessive poster, now I put up a picture or two of Kaleb and post statuses every few days. But I’ve still been reading. And now that I’m not as invested, I’ve realized something. We have started begging comparison in almost every aspect of our lives. We are on a perpetual mission to prove to the world with swords raised high that we are the best mother, the best wife, the best housekeeper. And it’s taking its toll.

Women are being held to ridiculous, almost unobtainable, standards – and lately, it’s not by our husbands. It’s by other moms. Someone posts that their kid had a difficult night last night, and instead of receiving support and a listening ear, within 15 minutes there are 34 posts telling her what she should do to fix the problem. Suddenly, everyone becomes the Baby Guru. Then, continue scrolling, and what’s the next post you see? “I woke up early, did 6 loads of laundry, put an AMAZING dinner (ALL homemade, OF COURSE 😉 in the crockpot, washed the baseboards and vacuumed while dancing with the cord like Mrs. Doubtfire, and explored the concept of viscosity with the kids all before nap! Yay for productivity!!” You know what I did this morning? Rolled out of bed, changed Kaleb’s diaper feeling like I was wading through the trenches of WWI as he kicked me in the face a few times and spilled the powder, chased him around the living room with a plastic dinosaur because that’s what he thinks is funny today, and then sat and watched an episode of Bar Rescue during nap, all still in yoga pants and glasses. Keep scrolling. Next up will be someone’s post about how some common baby product or household item that 99.9% of Americans use on a daily basis is slowly killing your kid (AND it’s a government conspiracy – who knew???). Then comes a picture of a sandwich and a description bragging about how Paleo it is (I wonder what that even means as I smell my buffalo chicken mac n cheese cooking in the oven).

Before I receive the backlash that I’m sure I will, because you know you can’t say anything these days without a disclaimer, let me say that it’s all well and good what you choose to do with your kids and your days. There are a lot of days that I clean my house from the minute Kaleb goes down for a nap until the second he wakes up (and I usually curse and beg the gods for five more minutes, just five!!! I’m not done yet!!!!). I do laundry daily (who knew three people could produce so much?!?) and dishes, and I at least Swiffer. My kid gets three squares a day with snacks in between, and most of them are healthy and balanced. He gets more hugs and kisses than I’ll ever admit to him when he’s a teenager. He runs to me and hugs me all the time. I’m a good mom. AND YOU ARE TOO. And guess what? We all know that. Without all the posts where you desperately try to prove that to us.

We all want to share our good days and moments. We all want to show off those smushed-faced photos when our kids are actually smiling. But we have bad days and moments too, and that’s ok. No one is Supermom every day. But that’s what we’re obviously expecting from each other. We “like” all those posts, and then wonder if we’re being a worse mom than so-and-so because she did all 57 things on her facebook post with a newborn on her hip. Just because someone posts their bad day (or night, let’s face it) doesn’t mean they’re begging for advice. If they want it, they’ll ask for it (in a way that actually sounds like asking for advice), and then I hope they take it with 20 grains of salt because the same things don’t work for everyone. The moral is this: Don’t feel like you have to be Fitness Mom and Learning Activity Mom and Healthfood Mom and Perfectly Balanced Mom all the time. You don’t.

And stop “liking” those blog posts about being real, and then going and posting your usual statuses. What’s happening is that we know those posts about waking up and trudging to the coffee pot and being thankful for a ten minute shower without the door being opened on us are the reality of motherhood most days, but we still feel compelled to compete with other moms, to showcase that “look at me! I’m doing it! I’m doing it really well! Do you see??” attitude. Let’s be real. Let’s not judge each other when we sigh about some funny comedy of errors that happened while the husband was at work. Let’s quit admitting that we know that the reality is different than the portrayal most days, and then continue to put on a show.

Embrace the mashed potatoes in your kid’s hair. Chances are, the mom next door is battling squash.

All our love,

Allison and Kaleb

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Dear Son

Dear Son –

As letters flow around the internet these days, from men talking about their marriages both happy and failed, women doing the same, daddies to their baby girls, and fathers to their sons, I felt the need to throw mine in the mix.

A son is something I think most men hope for when they find out their wife is pregnant – a little buddy to play catch  and take camping and play rough with. And I remember a conversation I had with a coworker one night when you were very small and I was working the graveyard shift to get more time at home with you, talking about how her five-year old son had recently “broken up with her” for her husband, who was Dad, and therefore obviously way cooler.

I laughed. But then I came home, and it seemed so far away as your little few-pound self was just waking up with sleep still in your eyes and counting on me to get you fed and dry.

Then the months swayed on like they do, and we went through the days and nights where if anything was amiss at all the first thing out of your mouth was my name. I think in my mind I will hear the way “mama” sounded from your sweet little lips until the day I die. But today, at almost a year old, you tumbled over while you were playing, and even though I rushed to you, your eyes teared up and you looked to the window and cried “Daddy!” Daddy, who you haven’t even seen in three months, who I wasn’t sure you would even remember. It wasn’t “Mama” anymore, at least for today. And I realized something: you WILL one day break up with me, and dedicate your time to Boy Scout trips and bike rides and sports, and Daddy will become your hero.

The thing is, though, little boy, that I’m not upset by that, because I know that Mama will always be your safe harbor. Just like my mama has been to me, especially in my adulthood, I will get to be the maker of God-sent home cooking in your college years when ramen and Gatorade line the one shelf of your pantry, the sender of packages of things you didn’t even realize you’d needed to live on your own, the keeper of traditions when you bring your own kids back home for the holidays, the reason you know your ABC’s and 123’s and can write your name, the foundation of your love of books and reading and knowledge, the one your wife will one day thank because you still open the car door for her and tell her that she’s beautiful and meaningful and special. I will always be part of the reason that you are who you are, just like your daddy will be, in different ways.

So, I hope that I can raise you up to be a good man, a good husband, a good student, a good teacher, a good worker, a good friend. I hope you learn respect. I hope you thank your wife for cleaning the house as best she can after putting in a full day’s work; I hope you appreciate the time she will spend raising up your own children, because it’s not as easy as it looks. I hope you tell her she’s beautiful regardless of how much time she spent to look that way, because sometimes, son, life gets in the way of glamor, and people who are hungry for that are probably seeking your attention for the wrong reasons anyway. I hope you ENJOY the religion you choose, so that you can be an enthusiastic leader to your household and friends – what better compliment could there be? I hope you at least ask me before you forge my name on a piece of homework you forgot to get signed. I hope that you don’t get drug into this country’s addiction with hand-outs – believe me, there will be no satisfaction in sitting around your house all day doing nothing and getting handed things you didn’t earn, and one day you will pay for it – or be rewarded for it, if you choose to forgo those things. Or maybe you will never be rewarded, other than knowing you have done the right thing and lived blamelessly and left the help for those who truly needed it, but that is worth it in itself. That said, I hope you jump to help people you know are really in need of something. I hope you will admit when you’re wrong. I hope that you will always be as sweet to animals as you are with Buster now, because a good dog is a great thing to have. I hope that your wedding day is the best day of your life, then trumped when you see your first child for the first time. I hope you take shifts during the night to help your wife out like your daddy did with me, when she’s exhausted and frustrated and hasn’t slept in days. I hope you bring her flowers for no reason. I hope you remember all the cool Elf on the Shelf scenarios I cook up.

But most of all, son, I hope you never question my undying love for you. I know that even though in a few years Daddy will be the coolest guy you’ve ever met, you’ll always love me for being Mommy, even on the days when the “uncoolness” wins out and you refuse to give me a kiss in the carpool line because “EVERYONE would see it”. And I hope you know that no matter how old you get, or where you go, or who you’re with, or how far or old you are, I’ll never break up with you, either. And you’ll really appreciate that one day, when you’re craving some homemade macaroni and cheese.

Love,

Mama

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To Do What Works

If Only I Would Have Known…

that sometimes, all the plans and wishful thinking of new-motherhood (you know, the ones where you’re dreamily Supermom and do everything the super ultra granola way while getting a full night’s sleep because let’s face it – babies don’t do much else than sleep, right? AND cooking your family three wholesome meals a day…plus snacks) have to just get thrown out the window for the sake of pure sanity. Prior to getting pregnant, I had never second-guessed my own childhood – I was formula-fed, sleep trained, ate Gerber baby food out of the jar (plums. yummmm), and wore disposable diapers. And guess what? I’ve graduated college, am a contributing member of society, found someone who would actually marry me, and made a pretty darn cute baby (if I do say so myself). So I guess it’s safe to say I’ve turned out all right. And I have. My mom was a fantastic mother. In fact, I had a great team of parents who I’m proud to still be close to today. And even though we’ve done a lot of things differently already, I find it really fun to talk to my mom about parenting. And I’ve realized in talking to my mom about parenting that a lot of my views have changed as Kaleb has been born and grown. One of those things is “sleep training”.

I use this term loosely. Most people say that it’s “teaching your baby how to sleep”. I don’t know if you can physically do that. I like to think of it as teaching Kaleb that even though I leave the room at night, I’m still present to meet his needs; for him to learn the process of self-soothing by incorporating it into a consistent bedtime routine that he can recognize. In essence, letting him learn “oh. These things mean it’s bedtime. And bedtime means it’s time for sleeping.” Does that make sense? The reason I say that my views changed was because when I was a new mom, desperate to conform to the hip trends and doing what the majority said was “right” (another term I try to avoid altogether), I was so against ANY form of Cry-It-Out I wanted to puke even thinking that some awful parents out there used it (I even wrote, and luckily didn’t publish, a blog post about this passion of mine). But that was back when K was new. And things change. Which is why, after talking to a friend who I had shared our sleep training story with and had success with her daughter, I’ve decided to “come out” with our sleep story.

When Kaleb hit 6 months old and was still waking every 2-3 hours (4 MAX) every night, I realized something wasn’t working. We had struggled with sleep from the day he was born. Since he was only 5 1/2 pounds, his little bitty stomach, combined with my quickly-digested breast milk, just couldn’t hold a lot. He woke every 45 minutes. I kid you not. I ended up sleeping in the recliner in the nursery just to save myself the ten steps it took to get across the hall. I was exhausted all the time, and even ended up with some post-partum depression every evening when the sun went down, literally dreading the night time. Then I became Obsessed-With-The-Thought-Of-SIDS Mom, so Kaleb started sleeping on my chest and I laid in the center of our bed in a pillow barricade so I wouldn’t roll over. I actually got 3-4 hour stretches when we did that, so that’s what we stuck with. And it’s what worked. Until he got too big. Then I transitioned him to the rock-n-play sleeper beside our bed. Then he moved to the pack-n-play butted up to my side of the bed. After that, we moved his crib into our room and I pushed it up against the far wall. Once he was used to sleeping in his own crib and he hit six months old, we moved him to his own room. By then, he was used to his crib.

But he was still waking every 3-4 hours. I knew that physically he was not hungry that often, that his stomach could hold more now and he was mature enough to be able to sleep at least a 6-7 hour stretch at a time. We even had a problem laying him down. What first started out as feeding to sleep followed by a few minutes of rocking/bouncing and a put-down gentle enough to get past a sleeping bear quickly turned into an hour-long ordeal of rocking in a very specific way and sudden awakening and screaming the minute we put him down (no matter how asleep he seemed in our arms). We were at our wits’ end. I caved in and decided to become one of those terrible parents I had previously condemned. I decided to research sleep-training methods. None of the No-Cry solutions worked for Kaleb. He only screamed louder. So after much research, I decided on the Ferber method. It’s a modified CIO solution where you don’t just shut the door and leave forever, leaving your baby to just literally cry until they exhaust themselves to sleep. You do your bedtime routine and lay them down saying some form of “ok, it’s time for sleep now.” You help them get settled (for Kaleb it was helping him roll to his tummy and putting in the paci with a few pats on the butt) and then you leave in few-minute intervals.

I stood right outside the door and waited. Within a few minutes he awoke and realized I was gone. He started to cry. I waited three long minutes, then I went back in, shushed him and helped him back onto his tummy and reinserted the paci. I patted his butt for one or two minutes, shushing the whole time. Then I left again. He cried. I waited five minutes and repeated the process. Then I left and waited ten minutes. After that, it’s always ten minutes. You repeat the process for a reasonable amount of time (obviously not all night). Previously, Kaleb had started to learn that if he cried, mommy would come rushing in and immediately pick him up…so obviously he would cry any time he was put down. The Ferber process taught him rather quickly (more quickly than I had imagined) that he wasn’t going to be rewarded with snuggles for refusing to sleep – thus prolonging his bedtime, thus making him even crankier with each passing minute. Between the 30 and 40 minute mark, he stopped crying, I heard him shuffle around, and watched him from around the doorframe glance around for me, put himself on his side, pop in his paci, and go to sleep.

He slept almost 8 hours straight. When he woke up, I fed him, realizing he was most likely genuinely hungry, and put him back down. He went right back to sleep without a fuss. It had taken under an hour to sleep train my child. And guess what? The next morning, he still greeted me with the same huge smile he always had, still reached out for me, and now three months later we are so close still that when I came in from work tonight, the moment he saw me he said “mama!” and crawled straight over to me across a whole room. Melt. My. Heart. He now has no problem sleeping. Our bedtime routine consists of a warm bath, some playtime, a book in his reading chair in his room with the lights dim, a bottle or breast feeding with the lights off, prayers, laid down, and door shut. I can literally lay him down and just leave the room. Now my sweet boy sleeps 11-12 hours straight most nights without complaint. During the night if I hear him start to whine on the monitor, chances are if I give him five minutes he will have put himself back to sleep before I can even get to his room. Do I feel like a bad mother? No way. Kaleb is incredibly LESS cranky now that he gets the sleep he needs at night, and I know I did nothing that harmed my child in any way. His trust in me doesn’t seem to have been compromised in the slightest, and our bond is just as strong as ever. Only now we’re both also well-rested. It also helps me to distinguish when there truly IS a problem, because I know if he starts waking up every 3-4 hours again, something is wrong. It’s either a tooth, or an ear infection, or sickness, which helps me to respond quicker to those needs. Do No-Cry solutions work for some parents? Yes. Do some parents have the Fabled Miracle Baby that magically sleeps through the night from day one? Yes. And those are the solutions that work for them. This just happened to be what worked for US. I share it to give hope, even if you don’t use the same method as we did, that one day, one method, WILL work for you and your baby and you WILL sleep again! I have been humbled by our success with this adventure. It made me feel better that I was continuously going in to comfort K while he learned – he never thought I had just LEFT him forever. And it taught him what he needed to learn – that mommy doesn’t need to come in there every few hours because he could do it himself. Once he knew he was capable, and trusted me to come when he really had a need, it all fell into place. And life is a more beautiful, sleep sheep-filled place.

Our Love, Allison & Kaleb

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That He Would Be My Best Friend

If Only I Would Have Known…

that even though his vocabulary is limited to “mama,” “baba,” “moo,” and “hi,” this little person would become my best friend in the whole world, and one of the few people I can share just about anything with. No one ever tells you that kind of thing.

I remember longing for him. I remember being so entirely overcome by my desire to be a mother; I remember the days when I would begin by calmly talking it through with God in my head and somehow ending up with my face buried in the carpet in the small sunny spot from the window of our back door in Pensacola crying hot tears and asking of Him in my loudest voice “Why not me? Why will you not make me a mother? Why is this prayer taking longer than I dreamed to be answered?” My heart still aches for that prior self, and even more so now for all those that I know are out there right now as I type this, sitting in their showers with their faces in their hands after yet another negative test, wondering if it will ever happen for them the way it so easily happens for some others.

I also distinctly remember one night out at the O-Club on base sitting next to a fellow military spouse friend who was pregnant with her first son, and confessing to her how lucky I thought she was – that if anything ever happened to her husband she would have this small version of him to love; how terrified I was at the realization that if Blake were gone, he would just be gone, with no trace left behind to still feel connected to him by looking into identical eyes.

With a deployment in our future, as it is with most military families, I am reminded of those moments. I was so incredibly thrilled when we found out Kaleb was a boy – somehow I had just sensed it. And here I am, with a literal mini-me of my husband smiling up at me from his crib when he just wakes up, everything I ever could have dreamed and so much more, with his daddy’s perfect blue eyes and one dimple, little sideways smile and round face. Honestly, if I hadn’t given birth to the child I’d wonder if there was a shred of me in him! I love every second of being his mama, from the messes we make trying to figure out finger foods to the noise a pot and wooden spoon can make (which is more than you would think!). And after admittedly taking the news of our orders in a mascara-running, ugly-cry fashion (you know what I mean – that gross snot-nosed blubbering type cry), I’m starting to realize that I’ve been blessed. I don’t have to go through this alone. I have a little friend who is overjoyed to see my face every morning, who likes to chit-chat with me over meals, who reaches out to me any time I walk by, who will sit out in the backyard with me in an inflatable dragon swimming pool not caring how I look in my bathing suit, who cuddles before bedtime and almost flat-out refuses to end a good bath. I’m not going to pour out a sappy line about how he is going to look to me to be “strong for both of us”, because the truth is, he isn’t even going to realize what’s going on. He doesn’t know there’s any need to be strong, or stoic, or brave. He just knows that I’m mom, and I’m good for a game of chase-the-dog-around-the-house or a quick batch of sweet potatoes (yum), and that we’re buds.

So, dear friends, I think what I’m trying to say is that the current circumstances, which are admittedly still hard to face sometimes, have truly opened my eyes to just how big of a gift I’ve been given in my son. That even at almost 9 months old we’re already buddies, something I hope I am able to foster and not hinder as he grows up. There are mornings when I happen to wake up a little too early and look over at the monitor beside the bed and almost feel a little bummed that he’s still sleeping because I’m just so eager to snatch him up and start our day.

Sometimes I see Kaleb as my little personal angel sent from God for me have a little piece of Him around when I need His presence most. When I look at my son I can still see all the good things in life, no matter what chaos is happening in the moment, or what awful news is on tv. Here is what I’ve found over the past few weeks, what I whole-heartedly believe: God has given us our children as tiny little extensions of Himself – by caring for them we are loving God, and in their love we also are receiving hugs and kisses from Him by proxy. How amazing is that?? God wants to be our friend; He wants us to cry out to Him in the hopeless times and he wants us to know how incredibly loved we are despite everything else going on around us. We can’t physically see Him, but we can see our children. And I hope that we are all able to see them as our friends, even when they’re too young to understand a word we’re saying, and realize that this relationship is a treasure in itself. Some days I wonder why no one ever told me about just how cool it was going to be building a story with my little boy – but then I realize it’s something that every mother should come to on their own, because it’s such a sweet feeling when you do.

Our Love, Allison and Kaleb

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