Mama’s Simple and Wise Life Lesson

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

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My wise mama taught me an important life lesson, one that as a kid I would roll my eyes and think “well when I’m an adult, I’m not going to have to do this.” Instead, it’s a lesson I now appreciate, cherish, and will teach my own kids.

Mama would always say:

When you leave somewhere, leave it better than when you arrived. When you borrow something, leave it cleaner than when you brought it home.

And she diligently applied this rule to every aspect of our daily life:

860272_1874362465723_1815623652_o.jpgWhen I’d try on clothes, mom would make me hang every single piece back up, button it, straighten it, fold the jeans, etc. and give them back to the attendant. When I’d leave a restaurant, if I made a mess on the floor, she’d have me tidy it up. If I missed the trash bin, she’d make me go pick it back up. I’d often get frustrated and say something along the lines of “But they hire people to do this! This isn’t my job.

She’d make me do it anyway.

Today I walked into the bathroom at my workplace and saw trash thrown near the trash bins and paper towel scraps near the dispenser. It looked pretty bad. Of course the average person probably pulled out the paper towel, grabbed it wrong, let the scrap fall to the ground, didn’t have a second thought, and moved along. The average person also might walk in, see what I am looking at, and think “this looks awful!” and leave with the same thought, taking no action.

This is my second home. It’s where I work, work I take pride in. It’s where my coworkers spend the majority of their waking hours. It’s a place that’s been good to me. I know my coworkers here, their spouses, and their children. I know our mailman. I know our janitors, and know many of their life stories and have shared with them my own.

I stooped over and began picking up all the trash, and tidying the bathroom. It took me about 20 seconds to do.

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When we care for these smaller things, when we take time to notice the impact of one person, we start to understand the world differently. We can suddenly see the impact of 10 people who stopped caring, and realize the impact of an entire culture who, out of habit, thought “someone else will do it.” We start to see how little decisions “pile” up – and these small teachable moments translate to every aspect of our life, our home, our family, our workplace, our lifestyle, our culture, our world.

Motherhood: Finding Common Ground Beyond the Labels and Mom Tribes

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Hi Crunchy Mamas! Hello Vaxers and Nonvaxers! Hi fit mommy, stay-at-home mom, working mom, formula and breastfeeding moms! Hi public school or homeschooling mommies! Hi adoption and foster moms! Hi homosexual and heterosexual mommies! Hi secular and religious mommies! Hi helicopter and hands-off mommies!

You know what’s beautiful? We all have something in common: motherhood.

The first time we laid eyes on our baby. The heartbreak of experiencing a sick little, helpless one. The heartbreak of miscarriage. The feeling of being inadequate and questioning our role, questioning if we give them everything we can. The ever-lasting battle of life balance. Of watching our bodies change. The beauty and awe watching our baby peacefully sleep in our arms….

When we start here, at this common ground, we start a REAL conversation. We recognize each other as mommies first, not the titles above. We recognize the love, gentleness, thoughtfulness, and life experiences that shape us, that shape our decisions (decisions that even we question while in our firmness advocating for them).

I want to hear why you don’t vaccinate, even when I choose to. I want to hear about healthy eating and how it would benefit my child, even though I eat… McDonald’s . I want to hear why you’ve chosen to homeschool, while I will go to work each day and send my kid to public school.

Because I believe these conversations are important. I think these conversations expand our worldview and help us relate as mothers. I think these conversations help us break down barriers and remind us that we are all working toward being better: for ourselves, for our babies, for society.

We have different views, yes, and we always will. But name calling, putting each other down, snubbing, etc. doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t open ears or eyes. It doesn’t empower. It doesn’t encourage. It isn’t inspirational. And wisdom doesn’t come from that place. Growth doesn’t start there.

And I’m not even sure I’m advocating that we can’t be frustrated at certain views! But unfortunately most people end the conversation from frustration, instead of letting frustration be the springboard toward dialogue and much needed conversation! Frustration should be the start of conversation, not the end! We have so so much in common beyond these labels!

There’s so much beauty in those we can’t possibly agree with, just start the conversation. And listen.

Listen to the heart first, not the label.

The Working Mom: Tonight I can’t ‘do it all, be it all’

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Let’s be honest. As working moms, there is SO much pressure on us to perform the impossible: be a dedicated employee staying late, but be the dedicated mom that leaves work early to not miss one ballet performance. And you know what? I’m not buying it. There is no such thing as balance. As working moms, we manage, and do our best as an employee, a parent, a student, a wife, a friend, an athlete, a volunteer, and the countless other things we are and do. But, even knowing there’s no such thing as balance doesn’t relieve us of the guilt we feel to do it all and be it all.

I wake up. See my daughter for about 15 minutes. Commute to work. Stay at work late. Get home late. See my daughter a couple hours. Get my daughter to bed late. Eat late. Clean up late. Pay bills late. And fall asleep sitting on the couch trying to make time for my husband.

Let me just tell you how my “balance” has gone these last few weeks:

– Most nights I go to bed late late because I get home at 7pm after picking my daughter up, and I still need to cook, feed her, spend time with her, and get her in the bath and off to bed. Then, after bedtime, begins the “adult” stuff like bills, cleaning, organizing, etc.

– Last night I was up a lot because my child wanted milk, and my husband was sick.

– This morning I got up early to check my work email, try to remember to put stamps on the bills, water the garden, and get ready before my daughter woke up.

– This morning I struggled to stay awake on my drive to work.

– The last few weeks I’ve been working overtime about three nights a week.

– The last few weeks I’ve forgotten bills, car oil replacements, lunch dates, doctor appts. and more because the overwhelmingly long checklist in my head and the few hours I have to fulfill them.

– The last few weeks I couldn’t sleep because I had a cold and my hips hurt when I lay down due to pregnancy and being in the third trimester.

Y’all, I’m exhausted.

They say…

“They” say I need to cook healthy and meal plan (that’s how to love my family and stay on a budget). They say I should go to bed early and get rest (if I want to take care of myself). They say I need to exercise every day (that’s to stay fit). They say I need to practice a hobby every day (that’s for future growth). They say I should be there for my family, but I should also stay late to meet a deadline (to be both a good mom and employee). They say I should limit my kid’s technology time (as a responsible adult). They say I should have her potty trained (if I’m any kind of parent…). They say I should move into a good home in a good neighborhood, but I should also not spend too much on a house loan and be saving money (for the future of my family).

Tonight, I can’t “be it all, do it all.”

Tonight I’ll eat pizza or mac and cheese because I stayed at work late and hadn’t had time this week to meal plan.

Tonight I’ll add water to the soap to make it last a few more days because I can’t seem to remember to buy any when I DO finally make it to buy groceries.

Tonight I’ll let my daughter play on the iPad past her bedtime because emotionally I need a little quiet time before trying to get her to bed.

Tonight I’ll sit in my chair and cry once she goes to bed, because I was too stern with her the third time she wanted her diaper changed in 15 minutes, but yet I hadn’t seen her all day and should have spent time loving on her.

Tonight, I’ll know that it’s okay, this is normal, and “this too shall pass.” That the hard mixes in with all the good, and the good memories and sweet moments remain as our strength.

Stay-At-Home Mama, Your Job is Invaluable

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Imagine with me a certain work environment:

You work seven days a week. Your boss, Boss B, calls you every morning at unpredictably early hours to wake you up with an urgent task. Once at work, Boss B stands over your desk as you type out his report, but as soon as you are about to finish what took an hour, he slams your computer shut and laughs. Then, he demands he needs it within the next 5 minutes. When you need to use the bathroom, Boss B follows you, listing off all the things he needs from you and recapping what you haven’t done yet. If you don’t pee fast enough, he starts counting, knocking on the door to the loud, demanding cadence of his voice. Oh and your colleagues? They critique you throughout the day, telling you what you could have done better and that they themselves can easily pull it all off. The day comes to a close, and you must drive him home. You must listen to his music on the way home, not yours. And, he never leaves your side. Also, did I mention you have zero sick leave? Notta. Zilch. Sorry my friend.

Sound like an exhausting job? Maybe now you understand the energy it takes to be a stay-at-home mom. It’s a 24/7 job that never ends and goes without breaks. You’re a cook, a psychologist, a maid, a recreational specialist, a teacher, a coach, a cheerleader, a motivational speaker, a nutritionist, a nurse, and at times a pirate or perhaps a firefighter, or even Elsa. Even vacations are with this tiny Boss B, and so is your lunch break. When nap time arrives, you only relax with part of your mind, the other part in expectation of when your child will awake.

In our society, the significance and energy of being stay-at-home mom often gets downplayed. In society that emphasizes name suffixes, awards, resumes, concrete accomplishments with a start and end date, academic and career achievements, we sweep under the rug the abstract: raising a generation how to be compassionate, how to love, how to think, how to serve. Unfortunately, sometimes stay-at-home moms begin to fall for this lie too, to feel they themselves are less valuable than the suit wearing woman, exchanging their computer of honor for a wipe to clean little red bottoms. 

From working mom to stay-at-home mom (or shall I just say from mom to mom), let me tell you, I SEE YOUR VALUE. And your value is unimaginable, and your job is one of the most physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding careers there are – and one of the most rewarding and beautiful.

You are raising generations. And, you are on the clock constantly: You are teaching a child to love unconditionally. You are teaching a child to think deeply. You are teaching a child compassion. You are teaching a child beauty in a world full of hate. And mama, you are raising GENERATIONS – your love will not only affect this little one, but your little one’s teachings will create ripples in the people he or she comes into contact with, and with the children they someday raise. And when you shut yourself in a closet to cry so no one sees, or when you hide in the bathroom to eat that last cookie, I want you to remember this: Your job has immense value, and I see it.

Your career may go unnoticed. Your achievements unrecognized and unnamed. Your paper resume may sit empty. You may be critiqued for every tiny decision you make. You may feel insignificant when you say “I’m a stay at home mom” – but NEVER feel the need to make an excuse as to why you chose this path. And NEVER accept the lie that you don’t contribute to this society simply because you don’t have some official title and business card.

Mama, you are immensely valuable, an unstoppable force of love, selflessness, steadfastness, and compassion. You are the spark that will someday ignite a flame. You are planting the seed that grows and matures into a forest. Never see yourself as less than this. Never.

Announcing early after a miscarriage

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SURPRISE!

That’s right! We are expecting baby number 2 in June 2017! 

Anyone who has followed our journey knows that we had a traumatic miscarriage earlier this year — a loss that was truly unexpected and sudden, happening days following our first ultrasound, where we witnessed our baby’s heartbeat healthily beating, a checkup that came with the diagnosis of “Looks perfect! Congratulations. See you back in a few weeks.” The week that followed our miscarriage was filled with confusion, worry, regret, grief, depression, and lack of knowledge. We passed baby naturally, and ended up burying our second child under a Japanese Maple Tree. We sought closure as we named our baby Jordyn, and found peace in the fact that our child never experienced earthly suffering, our baby WAS with us all along even if for a short time, and that our child was in the arms of the One that we would have wanted him to be in all along.

Today, we announce our 3rd pregnancy while at 7 weeks pregnant. Some people are surprised by an early announcement. Yes, I acknowledge that the unthinkable could happen again. I understand the risk I am taking.

But here’s the thing — I want to announce baby now, because I want time to celebrate the LIFE that I feel and know and am experiencing. Miscarriage shouldn’t be taboo: I think society NEEDS to understand how unfortunately often it happens, and recognize the suffering that families experience from such a loss. There’s strength in community, even in one filled with pain. There’s strength in knowing you aren’t alone. 

Whether or not my baby survives, baby is living right now, with a heart beating inside me. I don’t feel the need to “wait” to see if my child will be alive later when my child is alive now. 

In only announcing the death, I miss the journey (whether short or long) of fully celebrating this beautiful child’s life now. If I announce only death, I am the only one that truly experienced the joy of the life now. I would experience it alone, and only in death would there be community.

I take a risk. But, tonight, I celebrate the beginning of life.

——-

*NOTE: This post is NOT to shame those who wish to wait to announce their child. And, if you’ve experienced a miscarriage, I mourn with you and am truly sorry for your loss. There is NOTHING wrong with waiting or desiring privacy — or wanting to keep personal matters private, or keep mourning private. This is only my own personal reflection of why I wish to not wait, and how I wish to give other moms courage to announce and celebrate life, even when paralyzed by fear.

Lord, bless this mess . . .

 

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Here’s my view from where I’m writing this. There’s Chex on the coffee table (and floor) that my daughter more played with than ate. Books that she emptied off the bookshelf, dolls she strung out, a shopping cart she tipped over, a dirty high chair, her favorite bunny she must cuddle with, and more.

Typically in these moments, I put my daughter down to bed and then rush to tidy the house from the tidal wave of a two-year-old. I stress. I tell Tucker to help. I scrub. I get frustrated. Or, sometimes it relaxes me to place everything back in its perfect order. Sometimes I even fantasize about the times before children, with the house a beautiful serenity of peace, quiet, cleanliness, breakable decorations, and candles. Once everything is in order, I pause and soak in the serenity. Don’t we all? I mean it only lasts for a few hours…

Tonight though, I decided to stop. Sit. Stare. In the middle of the mess and chaos, tonight I see beauty and blessings. I see home. I see a place where my child plays and feels safe and secure. I see carpet that pads my child’s knees when she crawls on the ground pretending to be a cat. I see food left out, meaning my child was able to eat her fill and we were yet blessed with more. I see toys given by thoughtful relatives. Toys from birthday parties and baby showers – where we celebrated life, another year, and family. I see clothing folded in the chair, not yet put away – clean clothes that I am able to wash when needed in the comfort of my own home.

Instead of rushing to sanitize the chaos of life and place it within order, comfort, and control, tonight I pause. This mess means that I have abundance: of safety, of comfort, of entertainment, of food, of procreation, of family, of home. Being able to even HAVE a messy house, or a house to fuss about in general, means we are beyond rich.

And isn’t this just like LIFE? Right when we believe everything is out of order, we’ve lost control, we can’t find our way, we’re drowning in to-dos and should-dos, and we feel there’s no where to go to find peace, the veil is torn away in the middle of the storm to see its strength, beauty, and life giving water.

Lord, help me to see this mess for what it is instead of seeing it as a chore and a fuss. Help me to be able to sit in the chaos and feel warmth and beauty, giving thanks for my home, family, and life — beautiful messy life.

Lord, bless this mess.

Daughter, I won’t tell you “You can be anything you set your mind to” without one clarification

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I want you to believe in yourself. I want you to be confident in who you are. I want you to try new things, and try again when you fail. But there’s something about this motto I want you to fight against and resist– and a new meaning I want you to focus on.

When you hear the phrase “You can be anything you set your mind to” or “You can be anything you want to be” most people are using it in reference to careers. And, this is somewhat true. But, I can’t promise that grief won’t overtake you, that illness won’t steal your talent, that injury won’t cripple your career. I can’t promise you that you’ll have the resources to be a stay at home mom. I can’t promise you that a loved one’s illness won’t make you have to quit your job to take care of them. Perhaps you weren’t born with a voice to be singer, with an IQ to topple tests to be special intelligence, with the eyesight to be a pilot, the grace to be a dancer, or the stature to play basketball. I can’t promise that you won’t have to take on a job with long hours while studying for classes. And, baby, mommy won’t always have the money to send you to practice the hobby of your dreams. We may not always be in the best school district. I can’t promise either that all of your teachers will believe in you – or push you to thrive.

See this motto has a false facade of failure built in to it, as if when you see people with a lower paycheck or without a “desirable” job – that they’ve somehow failed. That they are lazy. That they quit too early. They didn’t give it EVERYTHING. That they didn’t prioritize. That they didn’t want it bad enough. And, we dismiss them. We dismiss their journey. We dismiss their humanity. We discount and dismiss the profound effect that where we grow up, our community, our opportunities, our income, our resources, our health, who we knew, our parents, ABUSE, DISEASE, ILLNESS, GRIEF, education, etc. have on our journey. Heck, perhaps they gave up a career for something more important to them — like having time with family. We forget that perhaps a woman isn’t “moving up the ladder” because moving up means less time with her newborn baby. It’s as if a job description defines how much we “tried” or the depth of our character – and we forget about the journey we’ve all individually and uniquely walked.

If success is only measured by a career, you may miss a more important aspect of life – and you may miss the opportunity to meet someone amazing. We forget in this phrase that THESE people without titles and distinctions and accolades of awards deserve respect and love too for their journey. That these people are role models with profound wisdom for us. And, we forget that sometimes stepping away from a dream can be an open door to love more vibrantly, to have more time with a loved one, to fight for a cause, to rest easier, to pursue ‘dead-end’ but enjoyable, fulfilling hobbies, and more. 

Sweetie, I’ve seen the most miserable, lonely CEOs, and the most vibrant, joyful, lively janitors.

So, let me tell you what you CAN and SHOULD choose. Of far greater worth than your career is your CHARACTER. This is what makes you “who” you are – the small choices you make everyday that define your journey and mark your path. You may not make a sports team – but how do you react to failure? People may be cruel to you, but do you still choose love? People may disrespect someone in front of you; do you stand up for them even if it’s unpopular? Do you choose patience? Kindness? Self-control? Do you get back up when you fail? Are you an encourager? What do you think upon when you have free time? What do you do when no one is looking? Are you continually learning and growing? But, do you also rest when you need it and take time to mourn? Do you know when to close a door and open another?

Baby, accept who you are. Embrace who you are. And, pursue your dreams – and push through even when no one believes in you. Give it your best shot, and anything that happens is a success story. But, remember along the way, it’s not your job title that defines your journey or your worth or how hard you tried — and not making it into a career doesn’t equate to failure. Success has many faces, the most important being your character. Pursue character first. Then, whatever career you have, you will be a success.

I love you.

– Mommmy

(Repost from Facebook: Miscarriage Announcement)

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Unfortunately on Monday after a long week and a half of family illnesses, we miscarried our baby. It was awful. It was painful. It was graphic. It was the deepest heartache we’ve ever felt. I don’t have the words to say how much grief I feel – and how much grief Tucker and I feel as a family — pregnancy clothes still out on our bedroom floor, sorted and ready to be washed, and a third bedroom still awaiting a crib, a registry that won’t yet be fulfilled — I thought about writing a blog post, but can’t bring myself to publish it, not yet at least. All I can say is we aren’t alright, but we will be. We are mourning, and always will, but mourning will take a new shape and light with time. We will always feel a hole, but it won’t always be filled with darkness.

However, we do know that we have a loving Heavenly Father, who mourns with us, who provides for us, who hears our prayers, who is a Comforter, a Healer, and our Savior. We trust in Him knowing that He knows our needs and works all things according to a greater plan. We don’t understand, but we trust in the One who suffered and died for us. We know that our baby is safe and loved, in a place greater than this with no pain, no tears, and no suffering. He is walking, laughing, and worshipping beside the Lord – in a heavenly Eden. Although I never got to hold him in my arms, for a short 11 weeks I did hold him close in my own body. Now, I will hold him forever in my heart.

Love you, Jordyn Eden Field.

(We did not know the gender, and only used ‘he’ as a non-gendered pronoun for ease of writing.)

 

NOTE: *This was posted on my Facebook on March 19, 2016. I wanted to share on my blog for those following my blog only.*

Dear Daddy (Open letter to daddies with little girls)

 

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After long streams of four-year-old run on sentences, ramblings, stories, and observations, I looked up at my dad and asked, “Daddy, do I talk too much?”

With a smile, my dad said reassuringly, “No sweetie. I like hearing what you have to say.”

* * *

Both of my parents were absolutely wonderful. I was truly blessed with a rich and loving childhood. While both of my parents made a huge impact on who I am today, I want to focus on daddies. While my father was a positive influence on my childhood, not all of my friends had this experience. I’ve sat down with many of my very best lady friends who have shared with me the struggles they faced and still face due to a relationship that could have, should have been beautiful, fruitful, and uplifting. Daddies have the potential to have such a huge impact on their daughters – and they will whether they intend to or not. And, sometimes us daddies don’t realize the impact until it’s too late. Today I want to remind the daddies, from a daughter herself, of what your little girl sees with her eyes, hears with her ears, feels with her skin, and what’s carved into her heart, mind, and soul.

  1. You teach her how to view her body.

When you’re with your guy friends in the evening sitting in the living room, and your sleepy, tired little girl gets up out of bed scared and slowly creeps into the living room holding her teddy, what does she hear you say with the guys? What does she see you watching? When an overly large lady walks in the store, what do you say under your breath, what are your facial expressions?

Children are perceptive, they remember (and understand and process) more than you know. A little girl will learn about her body from a male’s perspective first from you – in how you treat her and talk to her, but also how you speak about and view other women, including, and most notably, your wife – her mama. I’m not speaking simply about “lust” – but also body image, size, color, shape, skin texture, the whole gamut. Help her learn that her body is her own and is to be respected and valued. Teach her not to be embarrassed or ashamed by her feminine form. Teach her that her body is beautiful in whatever skin color, size, or shape. Teach her how to take care of her body, but not to become obsessive and abuse it. Teach her that she doesn’t need to look like a pin-up to have the affections of a respectable male. Teach her that breastfeeding is beautiful and acceptable – and don’t make rude comments toward a lady who chooses to do so. Yes, have intentional conversations, but SHOW her in your actions, in your speech, and in what you own. Do you tell her mama she’s beautiful even when she’s sweaty and without makeup? Do you keep your eyes on your beautiful daughter’s face as she’s talking to you at the pool when an attractive woman walks by in a bikini behind her? Your actions speak volumes, but so do your words. Lack of words can also speak volumes, and can sometimes unintentionally communicate shame and embarrassment. Talk to your daughter about her body – truly. You should. And show her how a real man treats women.

  1. You teach her positive touch.

The first male, more than likely, she will receive touch from is you – perhaps the first time you hold her in the hospital after she was born. That first caress is life changing. The hugs she receives from you when you get home from work, the pat on the back when she’s feeling blue, the high five when she catches her first softball all teaches her positive and acceptable, loving touch. She NEEDS this from you.

Unfortunately, some fathers are uncomfortable with touch – until it comes to discipline. The touch your daughter receives from you should not only be when she’s done something wrong – grabbing her to put her in time-out, pulling her abruptly off of her brother in a fight, etc. A daughter needs to learn positive touch from YOU (not her teacher, not a boyfriend, not a brother) – from YOU, least she internalizes that she should only be touched by a male when he’s mad or lusting . . .

  1. You teach her the value of her mind and aspirations.

Set aside time to intentionally talk to your daughter and take interest in what makes her eyes glow. Pursue her mind. Ask her questions; answer her questions; read her books; get involved with homework; take her to work and let her shadow you. Teach her that her mind is to be cultivated and valued by men – teach her that she is every bit of worthy of becoming a doctor, an engineer, a police officer, etc. And when she takes interest in this, do not laugh, do not tease – believe in her.

The key word here is INTENTIONAL. Looking back on your life, you don’t want to remember all the times your daughter came up to you as a toddler, begging for you to read her a book – but you told her, “Not now, daddy is watching football.” Or then as a middle-schooler she came to you to ask you about life and instead, not putting down your magazine, you nodded and said, “mhm,” “yeah,” “that’s great sweetie.” In the long run, your conversations and engaging her mind will have a huge impact on who she is – and how seriously she expects a man to take her dreams and pursuits. Put down the remote, and pursue her mind.

  1. You teach her about dating and marriage, how a woman should be pursued.

 In this culture, marriage is advertised all around us girls from a young age – from dress up, to Disney movies, to TV shows, religion, everywhere. But, where us girls will experience marriage first hand is watching you with mommy. Your relationship with your wife (or girlfriend) will resound and echo in your daughter’s heart and mind for the rest of her life. Yelling at your wife will cause not only your wife pain, but also your daughter, as bringing home flowers for your spouse will make your daughter’s heart sing as well (until the teenage years when she throws up in her mouth!). She will learn how a husband (or boyfriend) should treat his wife (or girlfriend) first from you – and her years and years of experience watching and learning about marriage will take place first and foremost in your home. Pursuing your wife, and learning to be a team, to love one another, to deal with stress, to talk through your problems will do just as much for your marriage as it will for your daughter’s future – not just her future marriage, but any situation she works closely and as a team with a male.

Show your daughter how she should be pursued whether it’s dating, the first year of marriage, or years into a marriage. Pursue your wife in love, respect, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Assist your wife at home with chores. Value and cultivate your wife’s mind and hobbies too! And if your marriage is bad, don’t give up and don’t give in to petty name calling, yelling, and the cold-shoulder (how childish!!). In fact, honestly, I don’t think you should EVER yell at your spouse in frustration, when they’ve made a mistake, when they’ve forgotten a task, etc. etc. There’s no reason to – there’s NO fruit that comes from it except to cultivate abuse, intimidation, manipulation, and to drive a wedge in your marriage. And no, this isn’t “idealistic” – I’m a product of a few generations of family that yelling at one another is absolutely unacceptable. YES we make mistakes, and this doesn’t come easy for all of us. Seek counsel if you see this trend. Seek counsel from a male role model who is a good example and will hold you accountable and offer constructive criticism, speaking into your life. Put your spouse first. Put your family first. Cultivate the relationship you said “I do” to “for better or for worse” and the little girl who grew from this relationship will be cultivated in love too.

If divorced, realize that your x-wife is still her momma, someone she still loves. Calling her mama (who she sees as half of herself) a “whore” or “worthless” or “ugly” or any other name will directly affect her own value and insecurities – to hear the man she loves call the woman she loves such ugly names. Yes, your x-wife could be wrong, and could have done awful things, but speak to your daughter like an adult. Explain to her what went wrong and why it hurt you, sure. But, be mature. Be the adult, not the child.

Lastly, teach your little girl that marriage does not have to be the ultimate goal for her life. Teach her how to be a strong, independent woman. Teach her that mommy was already complete and valuable without you, but that you chose to be together, to be a team, and to pursue each other out of love. Instead of joking about a third grade crush, talk about the science project. Instead of only buying her kitchen sets and Barbie and Ken, buy her a toy chemistry set as well! Marriage is beautiful and valuable, don’t get me wrong . . . but teach her to be secure with or without a man.

  1. You teach her about your faith.

Let me get a little ugly on this one before being encouraging: Here’s where actions definitely speak louder than words. What does your lifestyle say about your priorities and your values? If you claim to be a Christian, going to church every Sunday without fail, and then proceed Monday through Saturday to treat your wife poorly, to ignore your daughter, to yell at your coworkers, to hide porn magazines under your bed, there is one thing she will learn for sure, she wants NOTHING to do with your so called ‘god’ if that’s the type of man a Christian is (which I would argue you probably aren’t a Christian at all . . . [neither are you a car if you stand in a garage and claim to be one] but let’s continue.).

This is a resounding story I’ve unfortunately heard from both men and women in my life – watching their father attend church, put on a suit and a face, then do nothing to practice what he preaches at home. If you’re a man pursing the Lord, it’s a lifestyle, not a fancy church date. Does your daughter see you in the Word (and are you learning from it)? Does she see you serve your wife selflessly (and do you desire to do so)? Does she see sound leadership in your family from you? Does she see you show kindness and respect to strangers? Do you have a prayer life? Do you pray over your family? Do you pray with your daughter? Do you teach her your values in word and deed? Do you support and respect your wife and other women? Do you have other men in your life that know you intimately and hold you accountable in your daily walk? Do you understand your faith and believe in its principles and values NOT to gain some earthly reward or title but to gain Christ? And if not, and you desire to be here in your life, ask God, who is the provider of all things, to help you and humble you (Matthew 7:7-11). Realize you can’t simply “fix” yourself – humble yourself before the Lord and be faithful to prayer and reading the Word, and your heart and mind will begin to change (Ezekiel 36:26-27, Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 1:17-21, others). Pursue Christian community, not just on Sunday, but throughout the week – invite people into your home and your life, holding you accountable and being mutually encouraging (Hebrews 10:24-25, Galatians 6:2, Proverbs 27:17, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Psalm 133:1, Romans 12:4-5, etc.). Be encouraged that you are NEVER too far for the Lord to change. The most loving, healing, faithful Father will give you strength to be a father when you place your life in His.

 

There is so much more I could say here, but unfortunately not many of us have the leisure of sitting down and reading a blog post for 45 minutes – so I’ll leave you with the gist of the matter. If you would have given me that kind of time, thanks, you’re really sweet. 🙂

Last, NONE of us are perfect. And no dad is super-dad. As dads, you will overreact. You will be too harsh. You will be too tired. You will be too trusting – or not trusting enough. You will be too stubborn. You’ll get bored playing princess or tea party, but more than often, if you are pursuing her, and you keep the above in mind, she will remember the good, she will have grown for the better, and she will look back and smile and look forward with joy and hope. She may be a moody teenager and want nothing to do with you in high school, but she’ll come back to call you her best friend when she’s in college. Don’t lose heart, dad. You got this. And you have the sweetest little lady to cherish.

 

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That “Crazy” Mom Without a Hobby

Tali,

You’re almost one! And this momma is in tears. I’m crazy about you. For nine months, I rebuilt my life to prepare for yours while you were in my tummy. Mommy and daddy moved twice, changed jobs once, and finally settled in a place we knew you’d be safe. I felt your first wiggles, your first hiccups, and heard your heartbeat. I watched you put on a show for mommy and daddy the first time we saw you on the ultrasound. I wrote about you, dreamed about you, talked about you, and celebrated your new life. You took your time in my belly, pushing me into 42 weeks and I gained over half my original body weight. Baby girl, I couldn’t even roll over in bed then! I was too big! The day you were born I labored for 23 hours. I had the epidural put in twice, was put on oxygen, and had numerous other unexpected complications along the way. I cried when I learned I wouldn’t be able to continue, and we were rushed into surgery for a C section. My body was wrecked, but my love was overflowing. I don’t remember seeing you for the first time; mommy wishes she could remember, but I had so many drugs in my body and was so exhausted my memory didn’t hold on. But I remember holding you in the hospital, I remember your perfect nose, lips, fingers, wiggly toes. I’ve never seen so much beauty in my life. During maternity leave, I couldn’t walk. My body was having a hard time healing. Daddy would get up and bring you to me. I would nurse you and pray over you. Pray over your safety, your happiness, your future, your faith. We went on our first walk a few days after being home. I only made it a block before I doubled over in pain, but we finally made it out of the house together. I loved being home with you. I loved holding you while you slept on my chest. We couldn’t go anywhere or see anyone because you were a little fussy, but I gladly gave up seeing my friends to hold on to you. When I went back to work four weeks later, I cried. I had the smell of you on my shirt, a picture of you in my agenda, and a pump to try to continue to give you nourishment. Every three hours I went to a room at work and pumped because I knew that this was the best way to nourish your body and keep you healthy. For many weeks, I also cried in these moments. I felt like I abandoned you. It felt so wrong to be away from you. I missed you so much. I wanted you with me. You got the flu a few months into your life. I was so scared. Your tiny little helpless body. I didn’t know what hurt, I just tried to hold you, and comfort you as you squirmed and cried, and then cried because you couldn’t breathe because your nose was stuffy. Mommy cried too. Mommy and daddy got the flu too. You kept mommy and daddy up all night and it was hard to function with the flu and no sleep, but we did it together. We saw your first smile, heard your first laugh, saw you roll over, heard your first babbles, saw you first play with toys, saw you first sit up on your own, and held your hand for your first steps. Mommy took so many pictures of you… probably too many. Mommy couldn’t stop telling everyone about your accomplishments. You celebrated your accomplishments too — you would wrinkle your nose, grin, and clap your hands looking from mom to dad for approval. You’re still working on walking though; you’re a little wobbly and you kind of look like you just got off a Merry Go Round, but you’re almost there. Don’t worry, I have plenty of film to show your friends someday. I always thought that my grades, my career, my volunteering were what made me alive, what made me significant, but I never knew this type of love, this type of happiness. YOU are my biggest accomplishment and being a mom my greatest blessing. I don’t want more. In fact, I want less—and more time with you. Of course I posted pictures of you almost everyday! I couldn’t think of greater beauty in the world, and I wanted to share it.

Tali someday you won’t understand why I want to know every detail of your day, why I pray for you every moment I get, why I will cry when someone hurts you, why I will jump with joy for your accomplishments, why you will catch me staring at you when you get all dressed up with bouncy curls, why I will want pictures of you with every new step in your life’s journey, but it’s because although you were born on an early morning in September, you will always be a part of me, you will always be with me. You will always be my better half. My life was perfectly adjusted to fit you in it, and God picked you for me and me for you. Someday, you might know this love too, but in the meantime, I guess I’ll just be a “crazy” mom “without a hobby.” That’s okay though. I’m okay with that. Someday you’ll understand. Until then, I’ll keep taking my photos, writing in the memory book, celebrating with you, weeping with you, and teaching you all I know about life. I love you Tali bug.