Friday, July 26, 2013

Amazing Moms

Last week, I came across a blogger who has had to deal with so much more than most mom bloggers, I'd say.  She's an inspiration because of her unwavering faith and trust in God during a time that most of us might even doubt his existence.  Her love for her children and family shines thru in every post, and you should go check out her blog here.

Then, today, a friend shared another lovely lady's blog.  Just read about her on her bio page and you'll be THIS STORY and your heart will melt; more love and strength pouring out.  
And...her kids are hilarious.  Read this if you don't believe me ;).

Sunday, July 21, 2013


YES yes yes!!!  I'm so dang excited, I could hardly shut up last night and fall asleep because I kept talking to Jose about what we were researching all day... online graduate degree programs!!!!  I can't wait to be a student again!!!

My heart is about to burst from the excitement.  Let me begin by saying that in undergrad, I changed my major 5 times.  Yes, FIVE!  I feel like I didn't quite fit anywhere.  I wanted to be an elementary school teacher, but I also loved to write.  So I did English and minored in Applied Learning and Development, and figured I could become a teacher later.  

Then... I had kids.  That was not a setback or an inferior choice.  In fact, I'm glad I had them because I don't think I would've really figured things out without them.  After having Mirabel, I tossed around the idea of going on to study child development a bit more.  Maybe become a school counselor.  I really loved all of my child development classes/labs.  I've also wanted to open up a bakery, a gluten-free one.  But at the end of the day, I wouldn't feel right just baking cakes and cookies all day.  Yes, baking desserts for people can make the world a happier place, temporarily... still wasn't feeling it all the way, though.  And, hey, I may do it later on in life, but...

HB2 happened.  Not only that, but I've always been very passionate about many of the issues behind it.  In middle school/high school, I would visit care pregnancy centers with my mom, sometimes we'd volunteer.  I've wanted to counsel there for years.  In college, I looked into becoming a counselor there...but then other things came up.  The desire to help has always been there, and lately that desire has become more of an, "I need to do this, no excuses!" type of thing.  After HB2, I knew I couldn't make anymore excuses.

There are going to be a lot more babies born into a variety of difficult circumstances.  My favorite quote comes to mind,  "It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men" (Frederick Douglas).  What else comes to mind?  So many other horrific events that have happened lately, all related to the break down of family and insecure parental attachments, maybe not in obvious ways but definitely related.  From the heartbroken mothers on "I'm Having Their Baby," who can't keep their babies because they have no familial support system, and who find themselves struggling because their own parental relationships were likely not where they should be... to boys brainwashed by terrorism, whose mothers are not who they should be, or where she should be.  (I read that Rolling Stone article, and it has break down of family written all over it, definitely among other things.)  

All of this, yes all of it, coupled with the convictions stirred up after reading the book I mentioned in my last post... Not to mention, a study that Jose discussed with me that was brought up in a different book he is reading.  It's a study that mentions how children can grow up psychologically stable in spite of difficult extenuating circumstances if the attachments with their mothers are secure (a mothers role is so much more important that society thinks!).

And I won't get over the fact that I have been blessed and spared myself--can't ignore the motivating force behind a personal testimony.    

Have you ever felt like everything was pointing you in a certain direction?  Or I should say that God was just showing you so many things, all related to the one thing you just can't ignore anymore?  That's how I feel right now.  And I'm not scared anymore, that's how I know it's the right thing to do.
There will be Math (ahhh, yikes!  My brain was not made for it).  There will be tears; late nights; tests.  There will be situations that I cannot improve--all of these situations I will have to leave in God's hands.  I will say, though, he has made a way and will make a way.  

We've done research over the weekend, and I think we've found the right program.  To sum up future plans, basically I will get my MA in Marriage and Family therapy, then I will find a way to get an internship that specializes in child-parent psychotherapy (CPP).  I will be doing this over the course of the next four years (because I will be going at a snail's pace, still taking care of my kiddos ;)... and one day, I hope to do a few other things, but for now I'm just embarking on the first step of this adventure by enrolling in a statistics class. (Please keep me in your prayers!!!  Thankfully my hubby is a math wiz, so I've got a great tutor that I can pay in cookies. ;)  
(I know stats may not be a big deal to some, but, seriously, if you know KNOW this is a big step for a math weenie like me. ;)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always..."

 Mirabel outside of Savenor's in Cambridge, MA.  May 2011.  And that's Julia Child's writing in the pavement!

This past weekend was a rainy one.  Very refreshing for July.  I can't remember the last time it rained in July, in Austin.  We stayed home on Sunday and spent naptime organizing photos.  I think we have more than 21K now (I've got a great camera on my phone that I love to use!).  

Looking at photos is bittersweet.  Jose used to insist that it was impossible to enjoy a moment if I was hiding behind a camera the whole time.  But now that our kids are growing up (well, Mirabel is 3 and time's flying by to me), he doesn't complain much about it anymore ;).  I don't want to forget these moments.  I've already forgotten how squishy Mirabel's rolly legs used to feel like.  I'm glad I at least have those pictures.  One thing I can't forget: How tough it was being a mom the first time around.

I remember waiting for the day she could walk, somehow thinking it would get easier (Ha! Amateur!).  But Mirabel didn't walk, she ran...and she didn't stop, until she was almost 3.  I savor these last few pre-walking days with Juliette, even though she is quite squirmy in my arms.  At 11 months, she's already trying to take off at the store, even though she doesn't get very far doing the army crawl and the sideways moonwalk.  You should've seen me today at Mirabel's ballet class.  There were a few other pre-walkers there, but Juju was the only one squirming until I put her down, and wiggling across the floor in search of a goldfish crumb or two, or maybe even a leaf.  She's so curious and energetic, but still squishy.  

Before Juliette was born, I managed to finish a scrapbook with a few favorite pictures from Mirabel's first year.  I haven't even started on Juliette's.  2 years ago, I bought a first year picture collage frame for Mirabel.  I tried buying one for Juliette yesterday, at the same store, and they no longer sell it.  I was more sad about it than I should've been.  Mom guilt, anyone?  But looking at those pictures over the weekend made me feel like I'd already lost my first baby and I was beginning to lose my second.  I mentioned it to Jose, and in that same conversation I realized that we're also gaining something more than what we had before.  Little did I know 3 years ago that Mirabel would someday love to dance, would befriend any passer-by with a friendly hello (followed by a hug), would want to watch Beauty and the Beast 3 times in one week, and would love to make robots from empty cartons... These moments are just as priceless as the ones before, and I'm slowly learning to live in and appreciate right now, and not yesterday or tomorrow, whether the babies are squishy or not.

Strawberry picking in Fredericksburg, TX.

As lovely as it all sounds, I've also had the opportunity to witness a few less pleasant traits blossom in this child whose personality is as curly as her ringlets.  Yes, she was the one expressing her frustration quite loudly today in class, as she struggled to put on her tap shoes all by herself.  And I admit, this is another moment that I wish I could press rewind or fast forward.  (Then I realize I don't really want to press fast forward, because if she's like this now, how will she be at 16 ;)?)  I see the little hairs on her head curl even tighter with every impatient scream... and I remember that God has a sense of humor.

Even though it wasn't fun to watch, I didn't take it too personally today.  Because, like everything else, that moment passed.  And I also remembered what I'd read just a few days prior, in a book that has been incredibly encouraging, and has given me a new perspective on moments like these that make up the beauty of motherhood... Drum roll, please.  That book is called: The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson.

It's like a refreshing slap in the face.  It's honest and so right on.  I think I've highlighted 98.9% of the book so far, but here are my favorite quotes,  the ones that are setting me straight:

"...servant leadership is the model that Jesus gave to us for all areas of our lives, including our roles as mothers.  He reached the minds, hearts and lives of his disciples not just by telling them what to do but by serving them in love--an example the contrasts starkly to the common view of what leadership is all about." (p. 63)

"Choosing to be a servant-mother means willingly giving up myself, my expectations, and my time to the task of mothering--and choosing to believe that doing so is the best use of my time at that moment.  It means that, by faith, I have already made a decision to make myself available in the routine tasks and myriad interruptions of daily life because I believe it is God's will for me to serve my family through them.  Making this choice ahead of time means I will expect problems and needs to arise and be ready to deal with them in peace instead of impatience and resentment." (p. 67)

"...the future is not where real life began.  Each day was God's perfect will for me.  There would be no wasted years of 'just taking care of the needs of my young children.' On the contrary, these years would be the most important of my life." (p. 68)

Juju almost a year ago!  She'll be a year next month!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The A Word

And NO I'm not talking about donkeys.  Or the party they represent!!!
My husband says I'm the biggest feminist he's ever met.  And guess what?  I'm also the most vocally pro-life person he's ever met, too.  Everyone's got something they're passionate about.  This my thing, right here, peeps.  Feel free to read or ignore.  I don't mind either way.
Have you ever been in labor?  If you haven't: Nothing compares to labor, folks.  It feels like you're being ripped in two, and sometimes you really are.  It is not for the faint of heart, huh, as you might imagine thanks to my lovely description. The uterus is stronger than any other muscle in the human body for a reason.  It's a powerful vessel that deserves to have its rights protected…and therein lies room for debate. But the debates we're having distract from the real issue.
We value freedom and independence in our country.  Freedom of speech, dress, choice… But in trying to define independence, we've lost site of it; we've forgotten that true independence can only exist alongside dependence--on more than just ourselves.  I, personally, believe that dependence should be rooted in God, but I'll try to speak in more general terms, to make a point that doesn't need defending.
Though I am pro-life, you will not find any of my funds going to support an organization that plasters aborted babies (yes, I did just say babies) on massive posters for all eyes to see.  More harm than good comes from that approach.  To me, pro-life means supporting what sustains spiritual, physical, and emotional life.  
Have you ever seen anyone skipping to an abortion clinic with a smile on their face?  Not me.  The few women I know who've had an abortion certainly weren't happy to do it.  Though they were (yes, were) pro-choice, they actually felt robbed of a choice when considering their limited options before going forward with it.  Fear interferes with our ability to make choices.  In fact, it robs us of any true choice, really.  I'm gonna get Christian on you, again, excuse me, but I'm just itching to say it.  Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  (You knew I was gonna have to throw a little bible in here somewhere, huh?  Just not using the verses you typically see being used in this context. ;)
General Fears: How to break the news to the parents?  How to take care of this baby after it's born, on a limited income, and without ANY SUPPORT (spiritual, physical, and emotional--because, yes, being a mom requires all that kind of support, and then some)? MORE SPECIFIC FEARS: How do I give birth to  a baby that was conceived in an unfortunate event, or at the wrong time, or with some rare health problem?  Though I personally don't believe any conception comes about by accident, I know that's not enough to convince anyone who frowns upon my "uneducated, Christian" way of thinking. But I wanted to add that in, to keep my position on this issue clear.
To really provide choices, we need more than what pro-life and pro-choice politics can offer.  If there were fewer underlying fears, there would be fewer regrets, and fewer debates… because we can all agree that behind these fears is self-doubt, which stems from a lack of support. Liberal feminists will argue that they are strong, independent, and intelligent.  I'm an independent feminist who also considers herself strong, independent, and somewhat intelligent (when my kids let me sleep thru the night ;)-- I didn't get that way on my own.  Anyone who thinks they did is lying to themselves.
Yes, my faith is the primary source of strength.  But I've also been blessed with an amazing support system. We live in an ironically detached society that promotes independence.  I can tell you that I am independent because somebody (thankfully, many somebodys) believed in me by loving me.  Sometimes parents do that, other times it's someone else…  Even as a married adult in a healthy relationship, I cannot imagine what kind of struggle I'd face as a parent if I didn't have a support system.
To those about to formulate an argument that sounds something like, "Well, it's easy for you to be pro-life BECAUSE you had that support system and you're married--you're in a totally different situation."  I'll say this:   My support system doesn't look anything like George Bush's.  It looks more like Obama's.  I'll just leave it at that.  Oh yeah, and I was almost aborted, just a quick sidenote.  So I guess I fall under the, "at the wrong time" category--though my husband would beg to differ.  At age 2, I knew what food stamps were and wore dresses as blouses when they were too short for me.  Thankfully, I am alive because my mother realized she had a support system, and didn't have to make a choice she'd regret, and truly didn't want to make.
To those who say that anyone who gives their child up for adoption is weak, and that it's an easy choice, I'll say this:  Remember what I said about labor--that it can literally tear you in half?  Imagine going thru that kind of pain physically AND emotionally.  Carry a baby for 9 months (it's really 40 weeks, so yeah), go thru 20 something hours of labor, and hand that baby over to someone you hardly know but somehow trust.  EASY?  HECK NO.  I have a hard time leaving my 10 month old with a sitter!!
I watch way too many baby shows, one of them, "I'm Having Their Baby," features an ex female soldier who went to war.  She said she'd rather be at war than give her baby up for adoption.  THESE WOMEN NEED OUR SUPPORT TOO.  To selflessly make that kind of decision requires the kind of strength that could only exist if some kind of support system was in place, before AND after.  THEY ARE GIVING THEIR BABIES A CHOICE; they're placing them in the arms of loving, stable families that will allow them to make their own wise choices as independent adults who understand their freedoms.
Abortion breaks hearts.  Pardon me for getting sentimental, but I think part of the problem is that we've taken the sentimentality away.  My mother used to make a lot of statements that started with, "When you become a mother…"  Well, I'm a mother now, and I feel more passionate on my position  than ever before.  But there's no power in passion without execution--just not the kind that keeps a heart from beating.  Wherever you stand, can you truly say that you're doing your part in showing these women they truly have as many choices as we say they do?

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