Tag Archives: state of heart

They’re finally asleep…

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…and now I can see how amazing this day was.

I thought it was a bad day. In some respects, it was. My temper was short. My mind was occupied, attention elsewhere. I didn’t get a shower or do much of any self-care today. I was primarily concerned with my goals, most of which I didn’t even accomplish.

However, two things became glaringly obvious to me, after all was said & done.

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Why I Nurse in Church (Without a Cover)

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I’ve been working on this essay, off & on, for several weeks. I’m pretty proud of it, although I’m still tweaking it. I think that, despite needing further detail edits, my voice is pretty strong here. I’m satisfied enough to post it.

I realize that someone my read this who could choose to be offended by it, either the subject or my attitude regarding it. However, I feel strongly that breastfeeding in church is a pertinent issue affecting moms today, and that it is relevant to my personal life, to the breastfeeding world at large, and to the strangely oversensitive Christian church & culture, in general. I won’t apologize for these personal beliefs.

So if breastfeeding offends you and you have nothing nice to say about it, please disregard this post and seek your mental nourishment elsewhere.

I’m sad that I even have to say that. :-(

For those who will, enjoy my recent essay. :-)

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Sometimes, a kind smile is all we need…& wet wipes.

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Thank you, to the kind, older woman who took pity on the frantic, overwhelmed, not-entirely-sane mommy kneeling on the floor in a Target bathroom in front of her poop-covered preschooler while wearing her other baby yesterday afternoon.

You heard the panic in my voice, you knew how close I was to losing all my common sense, & then you realized how you could help me. You provided me with four wet wipes from your purse to clean the poop off of my potty-learning preschooler who had an accident during our shopping trip.

I don’t know how I appeared to you in that moment, but I know that, to me, you appeared to be an angel. My thank you was the most sincere, heart-felt, relieved group of words I’d spoken all day. You absolutely saved me in that moment, & you saved my poor daughter, too.

You heard the crushing tones I used while speaking to & around my little girl. You knew I was speaking from a place of fear & humiliation, not of love & understanding. And you helped me.

I wish I knew who you were, so I could thank you properly. But since I don’t, I will simply remember, forever, the simple kindness you showed me & the much-needed aid you provided. (I also will not forget to keep wet wipes in my purse again.)

Thank you, from the depths of my heart, for taking a moment to bring me back to my senses & providing me a moment to ground myself & regroup. And thanks for helping me to remember that my daughter deserves more than a frantic, frustrated mother who cannot control her own tongue in an overwhelming moment. I apologized profusely to her & listened to her tell me how upset it made her. I am shamed by my initial reaction, & I thank God that you were there.

What may seem like the simplest, easiest gesture to you was, in fact, an eye-opening moment for me that I won’t forget.

Thank you.

We all need help at some time or other. Have you ever had a complete stranger help you in a moment of weakness or need? Do you remember a time when you assisted someone unexpectedly? I’d love to hear about it! The kindness of strangers is a beautiful reminder of how much good there still is in humankind.

Ode to My Daughter

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Here’s a little ditty that I wrote for my eldest daughter this year. She is my miracle child, & she amazes me. Sometimes, when I watch her, words just seem to flow through my mind, like a song. They echo & resonate. They’re not much, as far as words go, but the emotion they express fills me each time they sail through my brain again. I love being a mom.

My eldest hunting for Easter eggs.

My eldest hunting for Easter eggs.


Ode to My Daughter

I love to watch you dance & run,
I love to hear you sing.
I love to listen to your jokes
& push you on the swing.

I love to make tomato soup
& eat some cheese with you.
I love to snuggle on the couch.
Your smile lights up the room.

I love to look into your eyes
that look so much like mine.
I love that you are sweet & smart.
I love that you are kind.

I love to cuddle you close to me.
I love when you are wild.
I love that you were given to me.
I love that you’re my child.

– Started 2/14/2013

Do you write poetry? Add your link in the comments & share your inspiration!

Letter to My 16-year-old Self

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Dear 16-year-old me,

You’ve already gone through some hell, & right now, you’re trying to cover up the heartache. I know. It’s ok. Things happened. The people who were supposed to treasure & protect you, well, they failed. It wasn’t your fault. It was theirs. Don’t let it define you, b/c you’re so much more than any of those things.

And that feeling you keep having, that desire to be part of nature, listen to it. It’s legitimate, it’s real, it’s worthy. And so are you. You were made beautiful. You were given a light that shines through your darkness. Don’t let anyone snuff it out.

Oh, the boys. I promise you, their opinions aren’t worth even half what you think. What happened to you 7 years ago, that thing you don’t ever allow yourself to remember, it changed your perceptions. It made you think that a boy’s opinion mattered. It defined you. It stole from you, your family, relationships, self-worth, & dreams. It wasn’t your fault, & it really is as bad as you think. Deal with it now. Remember it, feel the anger & pain, talk about it with your therapist. I promise that nothing bad will come of talking about it. You will cry & rail & break down, but you will heal so much faster, allowing you to recapture your dreams & let go of the fear that haunts you.

Don’t let your mother’s disregard stop you from pursuing your dreams. Fight for them. Her problems do not have to be yours. Some day you’ll understand what’s wrong with her, & you’ll be able to forgive her.

And whatever you do, don’t cut your dad out of your life. I know he scares you. I know you don’t understand him. But I also know that he loves you so very much. He will die before you’re ready, & unexpectedly, at that. And your heart will break, b/c no matter everything that’s happened, he’s still your daddy. Let the hate go. It will poison you & steal your light, your love.

The truth is that your parents are afraid. Your light intimidates them, casting out shadows they hide in, unintentionally illuminating truths they don’t want to see. You are their mirror, & they fear you doing what they’ve done. They struggle to see you as you are, free of their self-imposed filters. They are wounded & have wounded you without knowing. They will grieve this. Do not punish them. Forgive them. Heal.

Try harder. Do your homework. Help around the house cheerfully. Be home by curfew. In only a few years, you’ll be free. If you can learn how to discipline yourself  now, you’ll succeed when you leave. Learn how to make a budget & manage your little income. This will save you a huge lesson & tons of money when you’re 18. Go to college, & try harder. If you don’t, you will find yourself in your 30s with no degree & few options.

Finish what you start. No matter how insignificant. If you can discipline yourself to finish things now, you will be able to look back  on it with self-satisfaction. If it matters to you, then it matters, period. And it is worth finishing.

Worry less about what others think of you & worry more about what you think of yourself. You’ll have to live with yourself. They won’t. And they probably won’t be around in 5 years to have an opinion anyway. Don’t live for them.

Listen to your gut. It’s a lesson you’ll learn eventually anyway, but it will save you so much grief if you can learn it sooner. You can trust yourself, young though you are. Despite what others say, your youth is not a handicap. You are trustworthy & intelligent. You’ll still make mistakes, but you’ll make fewer of them & learn more quickly in the process.

You are worthy of love. You don’t have to earn it. You do not have to be someone or something you’re not to have it. You do not have to compromise your values or beliefs or your very self to deserve it. You are already loved by your Maker, although you probably won’t really grasp what kind of love that is until you have children.

And you will have children. Two amazing, beautiful girls who will benefit from all the things you have gone through. You will be better able to protect them, love them, & cherish them b/c of your past. But learn from it first, so you’ll be ready. These girls will completely alter your view of your life.

Throw the damn cigarettes away. You don’t even like them. They will take over your life & leave you feeling guilty & ashamed. Save the drinking for later. Otherwise, your 21st birthday will be kinda lame. Go ahead & smoke pot when you’re offered it at 17, tho. That’s the only one you won’t regret.

Don’t do the Lupron treatment!!! You’ll understand when you get there.

Save your virginity. It is valuable, & your heart will crack if you give it to someone you don’t love with all you have. Remember, you are worth loving. You don’t have to sell yourself out.

You’re not fat, no matter what your parents say. You have an amazing body that can do amazing things. Dance. Your body loves it, & your soul thrives on it. Focus your energy into creating what is beautiful. Your body will respond to & exceed the challenge, & you will be amazed. Try belly dancing. You have a natural affinity for the sensual. This is not wrong. It is a gift that was given to you from birth. Use it wisely.

Be kind. Do not make fun of others or worry what others will think of you. Just be kind. Stand up for the underdog. You have a passion for justice. Do not let it be smothered by your need for acceptance.

Love openly. Love freely. Love everyone. You understand them, better than most. Learn how to channel your empathy, otherwise your heart will grow hard. If you allow that to happen, you will lose a large part of who you are. And you will miss yourself.

You will meet a man. I won’t tell you when, b/c I don’t want you to focus on it. I just want you to know that it will happen. And you will bring him hope. Tread carefully. He’s a beautiful, f’d up man. You will recognize him instantly, & he’ll own your heart. Love him. Take care of him. But see him for who he really is, not who he could be. Accept his flaws & forgive him. Be real. And be honest & up front with your demands & expectations. He will rise to them, if only he knows them. But don’t expect too much. He’s only a man. He’s your other half, & your souls knew each other before you met. Wait for him. He’ll make you his.

But more important than anything else I’ve said here, please love yourself now. Not what you’ll be, not what you can do, just for who you are right now. The beautiful, loving, funny, busy girl who’s dreaming big, impossible dreams. This confusion you’re lost in will pass, & you’ll remain. Sift through the influences, & toss out the bad advice. Whatever does not resonate with your spirit is not worth holding onto.

Your family has hurt & betrayed you. You’re still here. The church has failed you. God is still here. Your friends will come & go. There are a few who will always be here. Cling to these truths. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are worthy. So be at peace with your present, & look with joy to your future. It’s going to be amazing.

Love, Me (age 31 years & 11 months)

Children need to be liked

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“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

That’s what my dad told me when I was in my early teens, & it still rings in my ears to this day.

I don’t remember why he said it or how the conversation came about. What I took away from it is that my dad didn’t think I was a good person. When I’m feeling insecure as an adult, which is more often than I like to admit, his voice & those words still echo in my head. They make me question my value, my worth.

If my own dad couldn’t like me, why would anyone?

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Especially as I’ve gotten older & had children of my own, I think I can understand what he was saying. He didn’t like choices I was making. He didn’t like attitudes I displayed. He didn’t like how I treated others at times.

But what he told me is that he didn’t like me.

So obviously, there is something wrong with me. I am defective in some way.

He never told me why he didn’t like me very much. If he’d tried, I’m not sure it would have mattered. The fact is that, according to him, anything likeable about me was negated by the rest of me.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Those were his exact words. I still remember his exact words. They’ve defined a part of me that I’m not sure will ever change.

Most of us take our parents love for granted. Most of us assume that they like us, too.

Can you imagine if your parent(s) didn’t like you? What kind of hit to your self-esteem do you suppose that would be? Would you wonder how in the world they could love you if they couldn’t even like you? Would it make you doubt their love? Would it make you wonder if anyone ever truly liked you if your own parent didn’t? How important would it be to you, then, whether or not other people liked you? What would you do to get someone to like you?

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

As parents, we are the creators & protectors of our children, from their physical bodies to their emotional development, even down to influencing their personalities. We help them define who they are and how they see themselves.

We wield so much power.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Even though I now think he really meant that he didn’t like certain things I was doing or saying, a part of me can never say for certain that my dad actually liked me. Since he died seven years ago, I can’t ask him either.

I try to consider how he treated me to give myself some perspective. That’s a tough one, since he crossed over to the dark side (in other words, physical & verbal abuse) on several occasions. It’s hard to not believe that he wouldn’t have beaten me if he’d liked me.

What did I do to make my dad not like me?

I’ve answered that question in a hundred different ways over the years. None of that made me feel any better, nor did it “cure” my battered self-esteem.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

I’ve spent most of my life since that day trying to fix myself. I’ve done things I’m ashamed of in order to “earn” someone liking me. I’ve changed my personality, altered my physical appearance, participated in risky behavior, all to earn that elusive “like” of which I’m so undeserving.

It affects almost every relationship I’ve had since, even my marriage. I doubt almost every person’s claim of love. I analyze every compliment. I worry any time someone is “busy” & can’t spend time with me. I question whether people really want me or just want something from me. I accept every criticism in complete & utter humiliation as just more proof of how worthless I am.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

It became the defining statement of my life.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

I’m now a mother. I look at my children. I’m filled with the most ferocious, overwhelming love that often threatens to swallow me whole. I would do anything, ANYTHING, to preserve their physical safety, their emotional health, their mental development, their sensitive spirits, their very souls.

And I like them. A lot.

I like their inquisitive minds. I like their questions. I like that they call for Mommy when they’re scared or hungry or lonely or bored. I like their intelligence. I like their smiles. I like their view of the world. I like that they don’t fear me (or much of anything else, for that matter). I like to be there for them, to calm them down when they’re overwhelmed, to share in their simple triumphs, to watch as understanding dawns across their beautiful faces.

I like them. I like who they are. I like who they will become. I like how I feel when I’m with them. I like that they came from me. I like that I see the future in them.

I like them, & so I tell them.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

It’s the only way I know how to quiet my father’s voice. Whenever I sense its presence, I pull whichever child is nearby and handy into a big hug and whisper those words. The words I wish I’d heard instead.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

I say it often. No one ever sees us. No one ever hears it but my girls. Sometimes, they don’t even hear it except in their dreams. But I’m imprinting it on their souls.

To me, they’re the most miraculous part of life. They are a wonder. No matter where they go, what they do, who they become, they will always amaze me. I will always love them, & I will always like them, too.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

If I don’t like something they’re doing, then I have to look at myself & figure out what I’ve been teaching them.

If we don’t like our children, who learn from & mimic us, then really, isn’t it possible that we just don’t like ourselves? And is that really their fault? And are we really so unlikable? Really?

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

Our children take our love for granted. I want my children to take my like for granted, too.

Because ultimately, while we all want to be loved, don’t we all really want to be liked, too?

I like my girls. I bet you like your children, too.

You should tell them.

The Pressures of…Pinterest?

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What did breastfeeding women do before Pinterest?

I admit it. I sit in front of my computer while nursing my newest addition & gleefully click away on what I like to call “the happiest place on the interwebs.”

My newest addition. Pretty cute, huh?

Now I know that everyone says breastfeeding time should be spent bonding with Baby, but perhaps they had babies who actually looked at them while sucking the life from their chests.

I do not.

Neither of my children ever looked at me. Not once. So I busy myself with other aimless pursuits, like Pinterest. And I’m totally ok with that.

Recently a blog post  has been circulating Facebook about the pressures moms face these days from the internet, namely Pinterest and blogs. Pressure to complete crafts and projects. Pressure to do and be some superwoman who sews all her children’s clothes and makes fun, interesting, healthy snacks (no goldfish for you!) and does creative crafts with her kids that both teach & entertain and decorates her house with old toilet paper rolls & shipping pallets and maintains a girlish figure in designer clothes.

Click the pic to go to the blog post how-to at http://matsutakeblog.blogspot.com.

And I get the point of the blog. I really do. Because we’ve all felt the pressure, and it’s easy to sometimes forget the most important thing we can do as mothers is make our children feel seen, loved, cherished, and important.

BUT…

I can’t help but feel that Pinterest (along with most things on the Internet) got a bit of a bad rap.

Maybe I’m being a bit sensitive,,,it’s been known to happen…but I don’t think so.

Because I think moms were feeling the pressure long before Pinterest or Facebook or blogs ever came along. The pressure was there before the parenting magazines were arriving in our mailboxes. Women in the ’50s felt the pressure so much, they took drugs to be the wives and mothers they felt they should be.

Check out http://ramblingasusual.blogspot.com for this & other posts. BTW, I’m totally doing this in my laundry room.

I think the real issue comes down to our hearts. The state of our hearts.

When we can accept that not being perfect is ok, that completing countless projects & crafts doesn’t make us better mothers or people, and that love isn’t measured by toilet paper rolls turned into stunning works of decorative art, then we can let the pressure roll off our shoulders and simply enjoy the wonders of motherhood.

Go to http://ivaalex.blogspot.com to get the how-to on this lovely TP roll wreath.

I know that my pride & insecurities can result in comparing myself to other moms and me wanting to measure up to the expectations we all feel. But when I step back and simply look at my children, I realize that they are happy, they feel safe & secure, and they just want to spend time with me, doing what I do (good or bad, so I’ve got to watch it).

It’s when I shake off the expectations that then I can be the mother of MY children. Because my children are different than all the other children out there. My children need different things. They learn in different ways. They enjoy different activities. They are unique individuals whom I know better than anyone else does.

You see, I don’t have to do everything the other moms are doing. I just have to do the things my children need and respond to.

While Pinteresting, I just might stumble across something that I want to bring into real life…and then I can. Or I might find instructions for a project I’ve been wanting to do but wasn’t sure how. Or I might find a recipe that actually fits into my limited skills and is tasty & healthy to boot. Or I might find an image that fills my heart with peace or a quote or verse that soothes my restless spirit.

Click the link to check out http://tinywhitedaisies.tumblr.com.

Or I might just spend 20 minutes (while my child refuses to acknowledge me beyond my breasts) enjoying pretty pictures. Score!

And actually, I have made a few of the recipes I’ve found on Pinterest. It made me feel good to give my family something new and made me feel encouraged to have a new meal in my box of tricks. (I’ll post some reviews with links later.) However, I feel no guilt about the plethora of other recipes I’ve pinned and haven’t tried.

My point is, whether we Pinterest or not, none of us need be slaves to the pressures of society or blogs or how our moms did things or whatever. We can’t do anything about what those around us say or expect.

But we CAN each study our own hearts and identify the unreal expectations we place on ourselves. Really, isn’t the pressure we feel just a result of our own internal monologue pointing out when we haven’t been the wife, mother or woman WE think we should be?


Maybe I’m all wet. Maybe none of this really applies to anyone else. But I know it’s true for me.

I’m learning that I don’t have to be perfect. There is room for improvement, always, and I try to consider those things honestly. But I’m confident that none of those things will be repaired or improved by a new craft, outfit or dinner. Those things are temporary and fleeting.

You know what’s permanent? The fact that God determined that I am the best mother for my children. He decided that I was exactly what they need, and He will give me what I need to fulfill my role. Pinterest can’t do that.

Found this on Pinterest, uploaded by user, & it makes me feel good. Would love to give credit!

So I’ll continue to enjoy my Pinteresting and the creativity of others. I will continue to happily pin all the meals I’ll never make and all the crafts I’ll never craft and all the clothes I’ll never wear and all the vacation destinations I’ll never visit, and I will smile all the while. Because who knows?

Life is full of surprises.

You can follow me on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/MommyLearns/.