Posted in Mom Power

My Big, Brave Portland to Coast Adventure, Part 1

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This is going to be a super-duper long post.  A three-parter, even. A series, if you will.  Because, this weekend I did a thing. And it was a big and brave thing.  This past Friday and Saturday, I participated in the annual Portland to Coast relay walk.

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big and brave thing to you or to some other people. I walked ten and a half miles and stayed up all night.  Big whoop. But this isn’t some other people’s story.  This is my story, a walk in my very own shoes, so to speak. And for me, this was really big and brave.  And in the process of doing this big and brave thing, I learned some even bigger, braver, and more wonderful things about myself and about the sacred work of challenging ourselves, facing down our demons, and uncovering the truth about ourselves that can too easily become buried under the lies we’ve come to believe about ourselves.

Portland to Coast is something I’ve always kind of wanted to do.  I have heard the whole Hood to Coast experience is amazing, and I do love to walk.  Put some headphones on me with my jams playing and I will walk it out all. Day. Long.  So when my friend Tara posted on FB that her Portland to Coast team needed a few more members, I hesitated about 30 seconds, ran it by my husband (one cannot make away-for-a-weekend choices without the other parent fully on board when your kids are 3 and 5), and said, “ME! ME! PICK ME!”  I PayPalled her some dinero and all of a sudden, I was committed to doing a thing.  A walk. A relay walk.  No big deal, right?

Here’s the thing, though.  I had never met Tara.  We are “internet friends” who had connected through Project Mother, but never actually met in person.  I also had never met anyone else on the team before. And I would be spending 36 hours in a van with these people. And also, I had never actually done any kind of a race before. Like, ever. Not even a 5k turkey trot. Matter fact, I pretty much don’t do athleticky things. My idea of participation in sports involves a carefully-curated Beaver game day outfit, a frosty beverage, and lots and lots of watching.

But more than that, I’ve always identified as DECIDEDLY un-athletic, even to the point of being a little scared of pushing myself.  When I was 13, I was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, Graves Disease, or autoimmune-induced hyperthyroidism.  By the time they finally figured out what was going on, I was 5’3″ and weighed only 75 lbs, my resting pulse was 140, and I was getting lightheaded in dressing rooms trying on clothes.  As a matter of fact, the day that finally propelled us to a diagnosis began with a morning walk with my mom and me getting so lightheaded that had to sit and wait under a bush for her to run home and get the car to come get me- and also call the doctor and say, “We’ll be right over.  We need answers this time.”

Those were some very formative years for me, the years in which other kids were playing sports and doing athletic activities, and I was almost passing out from just walking.  Even after I began treatment and my body started to normalize, I was still fragile, easily fatigued, easily lightheaded.  Gym class was a nightmare. My body, already a long and lean type by virtue of genetics, also didn’t develop muscle well or even normally in that season as my out-of-control Graves-driven metabolism consumed every ounce of available matter to feed itself.  This rendered me also less physically strong than other kids my age and with my long limbs without an ounce of fat on them, I was horrifically awkward trying just about anything.  So I stuck with choir and theater and let sports be for the other kids.

Even though my body functions perfectly normally today and I live with no lingering symptoms as long as my meds are right (I did radiation treatment in my early 20’s and have been on a maintenance dose of Synthroid ever since) the misgivings I carried from that season have never really gone away. To this day I’m intimidated as heck of pushing myself athletically, both for fear I’ll be unable to do the things others can and for fear that I’ll, you know, end up passing out.  It’s hard to release that self-preservation instinct that kicks in when I really start pushing myself and feeling the endorphins kick up, that wave of panic that the world is about to dark and I need to back off.   So my self-identification as a bit of a weakling and my avoidance of sportsing and athleticizing has always run much deeper than, “It’s just not my thing.”

So I started training.  If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right and I was DETERMINED not to be the weakest link on this team of women I had never even met.  I told myself that if I couldn’t walk under a 15 minute mile, I might as well not even show up.  On my first official training walk, I did three miles at that pace and could barely walk the next day.  Plus it became evident early only that both my lower back and a tendon on the inside of my right knee had the potential to be problematic.  But I walked, I lifted weights, and while I certainly could (and possibly should) have trained harder, I did enough to give myself a solid shot and I went into the race stronger and more ready than I had been when I first signed up.

The week of the race, Tara asked all of us for updated pace times and I told her I was confident I could do my legs at a 14.5 minute pace.   At 3:30 on race day morning, my alarm went off, I drove across Portland to meet my teammates for the first time and get in a van with them for thirty-six hours.  We loaded up the van, headed to the start downtown, and at 6:15, one of my five new besties, Noelle, hit the road- and we were off.  Here.  Went. Nothing. Y’all.

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Team #HashHags, Van 1
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Me, hoping I can do this.

This is where I conclude Part 1.  Standing at the starting line, ready to do the danged thing- but with no clue how it was going to go.  Click here to read part 2.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

SUMMER BREAK!

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, Dear Readers!

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been publishing here much lately.

ALL OF THE THINGS have been going on- good things, God things, happy things, positive things, but when your primary gig is being responsible for  two small children 24/7 ANY things that are even THINGS take up more space than is even reasonable.  Am I right?  These kids, man.

So, I’m making it official and taking a “Summer Break” from publishing here.  I’m still writing, getting posts lined up so I can start publishing weekly again come fall and not have it be a super stretch and I have some posts ready to go over on the Project Mother blog this summer as well.

But as far as AWAP goes, I’m on vacaaaaaaaay!  See you in the fall ❤ ❤ ❤

Posted in Uncategorized

A Moment of Silence (Memorial Day Post)

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Today, Memorial Day,  we remember and honor those who have lost their lives protecting and defending our country and our freedom.

Let’s honor them with a moment of silence.

During our time of silent prayer and contemplation in their honor, let’s think about those they held dear, those mourning them, the ones they gave their lives protecting. And let’s think about how we can honor the memory of the fallen by loving on those they loved most, those their heart ached to go home to, those who ached to see them come home.

If you know anyone who has lost a loved one in the service of our country, consider how you might reach out to them and make them feel loved in the coming days and weeks.  Anything from an open acknowledgment of their loss today to a quick text next week just checking in on their life and telling them you’re glad to have them in your life.

Mark your calendars or set reminders in your phone for a few dates in the future to do the same, to send rays of sunshine at times when they least expect it.  Lift their spirits and help them feel some love.

If you’re reading this and you lost someone close to you in the service of our country, thank you.  Your loss is beyond comprehension.  The bravery of your loved one, your friend, the one you served alongside, it is breathtaking.  You are in my thoughts and my prayers today. I’m going to hug my babies, kiss my husband, walk in safety and freedom, and know that every bit of it is made possible by the hard work and sacrifice of your loved one- and yours as well.

God bless you.

 

 

 

Posted in Momming

When You Just Can’t “Appreciate The Moment”

 

My kids fight over me at bedtime.
Every. Single. Night.  

Jeff and I alternate nights with the kids, one night he reads and snuggles with Cam and I read and snuggle with Kenzie and vice versa the next night.  The conversation every night is the same, one of them GETS Mommy and the other is STUCK WITH Daddy.  This defies logic to me. Jeff is a VERY involved parent, he’s tender and nurturing, he’s really fun, he’s mindful and present with them and they both lose their ever-loving minds when he gets home in the evening. Also, THEY HAVE SPENT ALL STINKING DAY WITH ME!!! You’d think they would want a change of pace! But nay, at bedtime Daddy is a distant second runner up to Mommy, Pageant Queen of Bedtime.

On the surface, it sounds completely adorable. I mean, they BOTH want to snuggle Mommy!

But if I’m being perfectly honest, most days it actually makes me feel resentful. The entire day in this house consists of me doing things for the kids. And Kenzie is two and a half so most times she cannot decide which is the greater injustice, the fact that she can’t do things herself or the fact that I help her with them.  Either way she’s throwing a fit while I’m trying to do something for her that I would rather not be doing anyway.

One or the other of them COUNTING ON THEIR NIGHT WITH ME ends up feeling less like a sweet blessing and more like yet another demand on me that I can’t get out of no matter how tired and worn out I may be.  I am not kidding, I have been sick and throwing up and poor Jeff was having to deal with a meltdown because SOMEBODY DIDN’T GET THEIR NIGHT WITH MOMMY.

 You know what I feel like would happen if I told this story on Facebook?  I feel like the comment section would IMMEDIATELY fill up with well-meaning folks saying things like,

“Oh, enjoy it while you can! They grow up so fast!”

“Oh, you don’t know how lucky you are! I would give anything for my big ol’ high schoolers to want me to snuggle them at bedtime!”

To be fair, there is more than just kernel of truth in those statements.  As a matter of fact, those very thoughts are a part of my inner monologue each night as I labor through bedtime and wonder why I’m not enjoying the sweetness of the jammy-wearing book-reading more (the mom guilt, man. It’s real).

But, here’s the thing:  Beating ourselves up for not enjoying the moments more is not only unhelpful, it’s counterproductive.

The fact is that I’m not resentful at bedtime because I’m a selfish, unappreciative person, I’M RESENTFUL AT BEDTIME BECAUSE I AM TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IN THE WEEDS RIGHT NOW AND I’M PLUM WORE OUT.

This is less about “Goshdarn me for not appreciating this moment,’ and ENTIRELY about “Bless my heart for being too darn tired to appreciate this moment.”

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I don’t think there is a single one of us who is not aware of how precious our children are and how lucky we are to be their mom. For my part, I spent an entire decade of adulthood wishing and hoping and dreaming of being a mommy before God saw fit to make it happen and I appreciate every day that He did.  We also all know how quickly life flies by- I turn forty on my next birthday. FORTY!  I’m pretty sure I was in college YESTERDAY!

But, like, it’s STILL hard, man.  And while it definitely seems like SHOULD feel heavenly to always have two precious children climb up on me EVERY SINGLE TIME I lay down on the couch, most times it just doesn’t.  I’m tired and they’ve been in my space all day and when I just want to lay down and rest by myself for a minute to charge my battery and THERE THEY ARE AGAIN- it’s just not heavenly.

But you know what I’ve noticed?  When I am honest with myself about how HARD it is and how TIRED I am, it somehow becomes easier.  When I let the struggle see the light of day and acknowledge the realness of it, it suddenly becomes easier to manage and I start to feel more blessed and appreciative for the good things about the moment.

It’s when I’m busy trying to pretend that bedtime with my kids is the coziest and most relaxing thing EVER that I end up discovering that I’m miserable.  When I chide myself with jabs about how I’ll feel when they’re gone at college and would wish these moments back, that’s when the shame creeps in and it seems to much worse.

But when I take minute and let myself say, “MAN, the days are long, no wonder I’m so tired at bedtime every day,” it becomes much easier to release the resentment and notice how cute Kenzie looks in her Wonder Woman jammies (especially when she runs at top speed into the kitchen, jumps emphatically into her father’s sightline and sings loudly, “WUNDER WIMMEHHHHHHHN!!!!)

So, this is still #IseeYouMama month and so there’s homework,  Because I know I am not the only one struggling with this and I SEE YOU, MAMA!!!!

  1.  For yourself:  Next time you catch yourself in a moment where you or someone else tries to tell you that you should be enjoying the mommy moment more, cut yourself some slack. Spend some time looking around and trying to identify the circumstances that are making it hard for you to enjoy the moment, look them in the face, name them as hard, and tell the voice that’s giving you hard time to SHUT IT!  Bonus points if you tell someone else about it.  I can tell Jeff when I’m tired, he doesn’t feel like I’m guilting him because we both know what will happen if he tries to do bedtime with both kids and NEITHER of us want that fallout.
  2. For Someone Else:  Next time you see someone complaining on social media about being a tired mom, show up for her and tell her YES! It is hard! Even if you feel the urge to offer her the sage wisdom of experience and tell her she should appreciate the moment more, don’t do it.  It’ll likely heap on the mom guilt she’s already feeling. Instead, acknowledge the truth behind what she’s saying, tell her it IS hard, validate her in that moment…she’ll probably find it easier to appreciate those things you’re hoping she won’t miss.

 

Be kind to yourself and others this week.
 

 

Posted in Momming

If Mother’s Day is Hard for You #ISeeYouMama Week 2

This post right here goes out to anyone for whom the joy and celebration that is supposed to be Mother’s Day is mingled with pain, sadness, loss, or whatever is hurting your heart.   Whether you’re a mom or not, I see you this week.

I have a love/hate relationship with Mother’s Day.

On the one hand, I’m a big fan of days to celebrate stuff and honor people, I LOOOOVE celebrating stuff and honoring people.  It’s my favorite.

Me on Mother’s Day: 

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Yes, I love celebrating my mom, the moms in my life, and my family does a pretty good job of celebrating me.  Mother’s Day has always been pretty kind to me.

But on the other hand, Mother’s Day is not always kind to everyone- and if you know me, you know that I am NOT AT ALL A FAN of anything that is unkind.

Also Me on Mother’s Day:

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The way in which Mother’s Day can be painful for some people who deserve to have the day be happy, warm, and cozy is like a cold, hard, snowball in the face. I don’t like it at all.

If this is you, no matter who you are, I want to look you right in the face RIGHT FLIPPING NOW and tell you how much I wish I could fix whatever it is that makes this day so painful for you.  I want to hug you, sit with you and pour you coffee, tea, wine, or perhaps a punchy frozen umbrella drink that reminds you of a tropical vacay. I want to hold your hands and tell you that I see you and you’re not alone.

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Whatever it is that is burdening your heart today: the loss of a mom in your life, the loss of a child, separation from your mom or your child, the disappointment of an unfulfilling relationship with your mom or your child, pain and worry surrounding your mom or your child, a longing in your heart to be a mother that has gone unfulfilled, the delicate dance of being a stepmom- the list goes on and on.  Whatever it is, here is a hug from me.  I’m so, so sorry this is hard for you and you deserve a medal for getting through not only this day but through basically all of life carrying this burden.

And for what it’s worth, it matters to God, too.  God created our hearts and intended us to be a part of that loving, nurturing connection and the pain of that being taken from us in any way is something He sees.  Also, God lived here on this earth in the form of human who had a mother himself, he personally knew what it was to experience a mother’s love- and he knew what it was to see that mother suffer loss. I mean, we all know that Mary was VERY well-acquainted with grief. We also know that Jesus saw that grief, acknowledged it, and made a way for it. During the crucifixion, the following scene takes place between Jesus, his mother, and the disciple John:

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,b here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27, NIV)

Jesus looked at his mother, saw her pain, and made a way for what the loss meant for her, making sure she was cared for by someone he trusted and loved. He could not take away that pain from her, but he saw it, he knew it, and he provided for it.

Each of us is dear to our Heavenly Father, God sees our pain and grief through the losses associated with the role of Mother in our lives and He will make a way for each of us in the way only He can. It may not be an easy journey and His way doesn’t always involve taking our pain away or fixing immediately the source of it, but it does involve His grace, His provision, and His promise NEVER to leave us.  We are not alone and we can count on being tenderly loved.

But, enough preaching.  This is #ISeeYouMama month, and each week we have homework.  So here is your homework for the week:

For yourself:  Be gentle and kind to yourself this week. Whatever Mother’s Day looks like for you, give yourself grace to process it in whatever way you need to. If you are a believer in God and Jesus person, spend some time alone with your God, open your heart, and let Him minister to those wounds that He knows intimately.  If you don’t believe like I do, lean into whatever belief system you have and draw strength from: pray, meditate, walk in nature, whatever heals your heart. And as always, I know my God listens, even if you and He are not super tight at the moment. You can always talk to Him no matter what. I promise. I know Him.  And yes, that was another Elf reference.

For Others:  Think about who in your life might need an extra hug this week.  To some, you may want to say the words, “I see you and I know how hard this must be for you.” For others, you may just want to do something to lift their spirits this week- send a funny card, take them out for coffee, whatever. You know your people, trust your instincts.

And if Mother’s Day is great for you, you run after that joy like it’s your JOB.  Enjoy the gift to it’s fullest, draw strength from it, let it soak into your soul and let the love ooze out of you in the weeks to come.  When we are coming from a place of the strength, joy, and wholeness God intended for us, we can share that love more easily- just as He intended.

Love and hugs, let’s be kind to ourselves and each other.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Momming

Rosita Pig: #ISeeYouMama (A Case Study from “Sing”)

Ladies and Gentlewomen (and the two dudes who follow my blog), allow me to introduce to you Rosita Pig. 

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She may look familiar to some of you (specifically those of you who have seen the movie Sing), but for those who are not familiar with her, allow me to paint you a picture of our friend Rosita.

Rosita Q. Pig (I made up that middle initial) lives with her husband, Norman, and their 25 children in the suburbs of an animated city seemingly fashioned after Hollywood, CA. She is bright, witty, and talented- and she can SING!  Her favorite activities include belting Katy Perry’s “Firework” while washing dishes at the sink while her 25 kids fall all over one another at the breakfast table behind her. 

Despite her obvious talent, her days and nights consist of expertly managing the household  for her husband and copious children. Norman clearly loves her, but he is stressed out and exhausted from work, even falling asleep in an armchair before he can even hear her BIG NEWS about being chosen for a singing competition!!!!! 

Rosita’s main roadblock to participating in said singing competition is, of course, childcare. She tries to find a nanny, but…you know…she has 25 kids and it’s not easy to find a sitter.  Ever the resourceful, amazing creature that a mother is, she spends the night before the first rehearsal rigging an intricate system of pulleys, levers, and wires that would impress even Rube Goldberg himself that is designed to be able to do all of her household tasks for her in her absence.

The next day, her family awakens and goes about their business. Rosita’s systems function so efficiently and effectively that nobody even realizes she isn’t there.  They hear her voice on a tape recorder, have their food handed to them, their dishes washed, their lost keys located, and nobody even realizes that there’s no actual Rosita present. When she comes home at the end of the night and crawls into bed next to Norman, she asks how his day was. He tells her it was just another day, nothing different, “I don’t know how you do it all, honey.” Rosita gives a relieved smile and slips into exhausted, contented slumber.

Every time I watch “Sing,” I want to give Rosita a big hug, buy her a cup of coffee, stare deeply into her piggy eyes and say, “Oh, honey. I feel you. You are not alone.”

I, too, have wondered whether or not anyone would really notice or care if I wasn’t actually there as long as everything they needed was getting done.

I, too, have felt the disappointment and frustration of abandoning plans due to lack of childcare during the day.

I, too, have felt like there is absolutely no time for my dreams and talents and gifts amid everything everyone else NEEDS! FROM! ME!  UGGGGGH!

I, too, stand at my kitchen sink dreamily belting out ballads at the top of my lungs while my kids practically strangle each other at the breakfast table (except for me it’s Kari Jobe, “Foreeeeeeeeeeehver Heeeeeeeeeee is gloooooooooooorifiiiiiiiiiiiiiiied..”)

I have been there, Rosie, and you are not alone.

As a matter of fact, the entire reason the creators of “Sing” invented your character, Rosita, was because they knew so many folks out there would identify with you.

It is so easy to get lost in motherhood. There are a million reasons for it. Many of them are noble and good and represent the best of what we get to do as moms.  Some of them have to do with the circumstances of our lives, things that cause our jobs as moms to feel larger than life- special needs, tough schedules, challenging kids, absent or disengaged co-parents, the list is endless.

And it’s GOOD to give so much of ourselves to our families, it’s what we are called to.  But our families AND OURSELVES need us to hold on to who we are, to have an anchor in the endless sea of need and busyness that surround us.  We are stronger and more balanced when we are connected to who are are ASIDE from being Mom, when we feel valued and seen for WHO WE ARE and not just what we do for others.   And that’s what we are going to dig into this month, work on lifting ourselves and each other out of “Invisible Mom” status.

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We may not all end up like our girl Rosita…and frankly, we may not want to.  I mean, I could totally see myself up on stage in a sparkly costume singing and dancing to Taylor Swift, but I know that’s not everyone’s jam.

 

So let’s start small, here’s some homework for this week:

-Reach out to a mom this week and let her know you see her. Tell her she’s doing a great job, compliment her on something you admire about her, ask her how something in her life is going- just let her know she’s not invisible to you.  Whether it’s a kind word at school pickup, a FB messenger message, a comment on Instagram, a text or phone call, A CARD IN THE MAIL, tell another mom she rocks and you like her. If you’re really ready to rock, do it for more than one person. 

-Take a few minutes this week and think about the things that make you feel the most like YOU! The things you’re good at, the things you find fun, the things that make you feel excited when you think about doing them.  Make a list of five things and put the list someplace where you can find it.

And I leave you with this final thought:  Even the smallest, most mundane things YOU do for your family- serving them dinner, changing diapers, ferrying them around to school and lessons and practices.  It matters to our kids that YOU are doing them.  Nobody else could do with their mom’s smile, their mom’s voice,  they way you smell, the way you pat them on the head and kiss their cheek.  You being there matters to them more than you- and probably they- even realize. It all counts, it all matters, even when it feels like it doesn’t.

Be kind to yourself this week.

 

 

Posted in Momming

“I See You, Mama” Seeing Ourselves and Each Other this May

My Darling Sister-Mom,  have you ever felt invisible?

I’ll go ahead and answer that for you, yes you have.  I mean…you probably have. Have you?  Because I have.

My friend Leah put it like this:

“Today I felt invisible.

On three separate occasions, and three different times of the day as I was dropping off and picking up children, groceries, etc., cars just turned out in front of me or almost into me. Like they never saw me. Like I wasn’t even there.

And it got me thinking just how often I feel invisible.

Today I felt invisible. I swept the kitchen floor but my daughter pointed out the dirt on the bathroom floor.

Today I felt invisible as I watched my sleeping daughter with my hand on her chest as she coughed in her sleep, trying to ascertain if her cough was from allergy drainage or something more. Maybe *fingers crossed* we should skip dance class tonight? But no. She woke up and complained about the leotard she was wearing because the others were in the dirty laundry.

Today I felt invisible as I tried to pay bills holding my fourteen month old son in the throes of an ear infection. Over and over I heard the automated prompt: “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you.” I will try again tomorrow. Maybe there won’t be so much “background noise.”

Today I felt invisible as I changed my EIGHTH poopy diaper (yay antibiotics) and complained to my husband via text that I felt like I was reaching my breaking point. He texted back the bill amount for his truck repairs.

Today I felt invisible as I showed up at my mom’s house, tired and done, handed her the baby, and she pointed out that he didn’t have socks on. And looked tired. Or hungry.

Today I felt invisible as I served nuggets and tots again. Because today was hard. As my days often are. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have it all together. I’ll get more rest than usual after collapsing into bed early tonight *if the stars align and my children don’t fight bedtime.* I’ll make time to wake up and wash my hair, put on makeup, cross one more thing off that never-ending, ever-growing to-do list. Maybe tomorrow someone will notice me.”

 Did you find yourself wanting to stand up and shout, “ME, TOO!” as you read that?  Did you also want track Leah down and hug her neck and shout, “I SEE YOU, MAMA! I SEE YOU AND YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!”

That’s what we’re going to do here together next month.  I mean- not all of us tracking Leah down and hugging her because that might be a little *awkward*.  Although if any of you happen to live near Leah and want to give her a hug for me, I’ll take it. We live across the country from one another and it’s SUCH a drag.

What we are gonna do is spend the month of Mother’s Day looking around us at the other moms and making a concerted, intentional effort to make them feel SEEN.  We are also going to make a concerted, intentional effort to allow ourselves to take up space in our own lives, to become visible, if only to ourselves.

As Moms, nobody knows the realness of our struggles quite like we do.  We are in a unique position to minister to each other’s hearts from a place of GETTING IT in a way that the rest of the world around us just doesn’t.  Who better to reach out to one another and lift each other up than us?

Now, not all moms are the same.  Not all moms are going to be in a place of feeling invisible and not all moms are going to respond to the same kinds of love that would make us feel uplifted.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

What it DOES mean is that the “homework” I hand out to y’all in the coming weeks does not need to be executed exactly as directed. You each need to put your own stamp on it and tweak it as-needed based on what you know about the moms around you.

But the end goal is the same:  To give another mom a moment of feeling SEEN in the middle of her invisibility.  It’s work worth doing.

So follow this blog, follow me over on Insta. And let’s do this thing. Let’s lift each other up, on a wing and a prayer. See you next week!