The Stay At Home Mom

It's a good thing I write everything down, otherwise I would have no clue what we did on what days this week.

Last weekend we were in Canon City to see my sister in law for four days and three nights. Our usual limit is three days and two nights. But, this time we made an exception so we could have some more time with family. Two runny noses, non-napping girls and three colds later (Tim was the only one that escaped with out the crud) we realized, yes, we would do it all again. But man, kids sure are a handful. Duh, right?

I get asked this question a lot, "How is it with two girls so close in age?" My response is always, "Constant. It's not hard, it's constant." There is always someone who needs something, Tim and I included.

This week has amplified that answer. On Monday, after returning home and not getting to bed until after midnight, I woke up with the girls at their normal time (7am). In order to keep them quite enough so that Tim can sleep it involves a lot of shushing. I have found that taking them for a walk to the park is much easier. So, we went to the park to have breakfast. I was exhausted after getting about 15 hours of sleep over the course of the last three nights. We went anyway, it really is easier than shushing Karoline all morning long.

On Tuesday I took Alexandra (and Karoline) to her four month well visit in Littleton. We live in Westminster, so it's a 45 minute drive. We like our pediatrician and feel it's worth it to continue making the drive until our girls are old enough to no longer want a male doctor or can convey their thoughts well enough to tell a doctor what is bothering them. Anyway, after being told she was advanced in all of her developments I then asked about the soft spot on the back of her head that has yet to close. I had been doing some reading and found that it normally closes by four months of age. The doctor looked again. I then asked if her longer head shape could have anything to do with it. He looked again. Her head shape was unique enough that he did not feel comfortable making the call. He wanted us to see a specialist. A neurosurgeon. As a mom, my heart sank. And this was the second time I had heard something like this. Karoline has a crooked butt crack and has a little dimple above it. We had to see a neurosurgeon when she was about the same age to make sure there were no problems concerning her spinal cord. Her visit was extremely fast and ended with the doctor saying her butt was, "Underwhelming."

Here we were again, needing to see a specialist just to double check and make sure that our sweet girl was fine. I called our family and let them know, I texted friends. All were such a great support system and assured me that she would be fine. I called the neurosurgeons office and had to leave a message. As the day went on my fears started to relax. I tell you what, as a mom your brain can literally have you in the darkest of places when you think that there could be something wrong with your baby. The thoughts and scenarios that played out in my mind were nothing short of horrific. I prayed and talked it out with friends and was able to get back to a good place. The next day, Wednesday, the office called. They wanted to see Alexandra as soon as possible, Friday. My mind was off again. Did they want to see her because they felt it was serious? Then I thought, maybe it is just simply that we have good insurance or that they had a cancellation and wanted to fill the slot. But, my mind kept going back to my first thought, is it serious?

Thursday rolled around, I was able to sleep in until 7:30, it was wonderful. A friend of ours wanted to go for a morning walk. While I was running around trying to keep everyone quiet and gather up our things I ran into another obstacle. I had sat Karoline down to go potty before we left the house. After getting her pants back up she complained that her, "Pee pee hurt." That's right we use, pee pee, I can't bring myself to call it what it is with my two year old, I just can't. Anyway, this was the third time now. The first time we pumped her full of cranberry juice. The second time, a week later, we did the same thing. Now here we were a week later and she had just made the same proclamation, again. So, I called the doctor and got her in. My amazing daughter downed a bunch of juice and was able to pee in a cup, thank goodness. After an exam and a urine test she was given a clean bill of health. The doctor suggested upping her juice intake to keep her bowel movements at a daily rate. Apparently with little girls constipation can be a cause for "pee pee" pain. Who knew. All I know is we are going to get some prune juice and some flushable wipes. I wondered if maybe the toilet paper was also the issue.

Friday: I got up early with Alexandra and got the two of us ready. Then I got Karoline ready so she would be easy for Tim. Poor guy got hardly any sleep before I had to wake him up to watch Karoline. Alexandra and I found our way down town to her appointment with the neurosurgeon. The doctor was late so I was able to really enjoy some one on one time with my baby. After a few looks at Alexandra's head she told me that her head shape is completely normal. Then she moved on to looking at her soft spot, what I thought was her rear fontanelle. She felt around a bit and then gave a little laugh. Alexandra's rear fontanelle is completely closed. The spot in which I was referring to has no name, it is an extra soft spot. The doctor told me that she had never seen anything like it until just a few weeks ago in the NICU. After discovering that baby's extra soft spot she did quite a bit of research and still could not find a name for the extra soft spot. Thank goodness she had run into it just weeks prior so that this was not a shock to her. I'm not entirely sure how I would have handled being told that she had never seen anything like it before. She measured her extra soft spot and we scheduled an appointment for two months from now to make sure that the spot is closing. In talking to my mom later on, come to find out, I had the extra soft spot as well. I turned out just fine (go ahead, make a joke), so hopefully Alexandra will check out well in a few weeks too.

You might be wondering where the name of this blog comes into play. Well, here ya go...

On Monday when I was exhausted and took the kids to the park anyway I felt myself getting sick and weak. I was not taking care of myself well enough so that I could take care of my kids. On Tuesday I found out about Alexandra's head shape and was beside myself.

Wednesday was a blur. However, I left something out of my earlier description of Wednesday. That afternoon I lost my temper with my small, fragile two year old daughter. It was not my finest hour, I was less than patient with her. I prayed about it and was hoping to make sure that something like that would not happen again. I even went as far as to question being a stay at home mom. I wondered, is it really in my kids best interest for me to be a stay at home mom if I have moments like this? Maybe being away from the home for a little bit would rejuvenate me?

Thursday morning when we went walking with my friend I found myself telling her that I felt like I am barley surviving as a stay at home mom. She told me that she loves being a stay at home mom and that she wouldn't want any other job in the world. I told her I felt the same way, until I had two kids.

That afternoon I needed a break from the constant, I couldn't take it. I put Karoline in her playroom and put Alexandra in her crib. I went to the bathroom and turned on the fan so that I could have just a few minutes of not hearing anything but that fan. I cried. Then I realized something so simple. I am blessed. Blessed beyond measure to have my, "problems."

I have thought about my response now for two days. It broke my heart that I even said it, let alone said it to someone else. I would never, EVER want any other job. There's not enough money in the world for me to miss out on a smile from my little joy, Alexandra. Or a complete sentence with so much thought behind it from my sweet Karoline.

My sister in law put it so nicely, she told me that we are all allowed to have our "moments." But to me, this whole last week was full of moments.

Today I came to realize that my problem is not that I'm not, "surviving" as a stay at home mom. It's that I feel that I'm not thriving. I'm disappointed with the way that I have wasted opportunities to show my children love and compassion at times of adversity. I haven't taken advantage of many teachable moments. Life is so short, why not let your daughter take her time deciding which shoes she wants to wear. Or bend over and learn about the different colored flowers on the way to the mail box.

After writing this blog I let it sit for a few days. I felt so much better after getting it all out. I thought seriously about not posting it. But, on September 2nd I read this in my daily devotional...

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me....For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I'm openly sharing my weakness in hopes that it will help lift up others. I stopped taking care of myself during that busy week. I was tired from worrying about my girls. I was hungry, getting used to the new allergy free diet for Alexandra was taking extra work, and I wasn't taking the time to find alternatives that I could eat. The last conversation I had with my mother in law before she passed is one that I need to remember more often. I was pregnant with Karoline and she told me, "Take care of that baby. But, take care of YOURSELF first." In order to be the mom that I want to be, the mom that thrives, I have to take care of me.

If I am taking care of myself then I can take care of my family on the level that I wish to do so. With myself taken care of the girls and I can stay busy. We do better when we get out of the house and explore. For weeks now I've been saying that I need to do more. Talk is cheap if you don't do anything about it. So, from here on out we are going to go and do, and explore. We are going to take advantage of life. We are going to live and learn and love. Don't get me wrong, there are still going to be times that my two year old gets me almost to the edge of exploding, and I'd be lying if I didn't think that I would never have moments I'm not proud of ever again. But, my hope is that by openly expressing my desire to not let that happen that it will happen less often. She's only two, a simple time out or a nap will work wonders for both of us.

During that week that I felt so overwhelmed I reached out to a friends older sister, who I am blessed enough to claim as my own. She had wonderful advice for me. One thing that stuck out the most was something she had seen on Pinterest. A little sign that said, "Don't judge someone else's highlight real to your behind the scenes." That simple realization made a huge impact on me. I hope that by sharing this week's events that those who have found themselves comparing take a step back and look at their roles as mothers on a smaller scale. With the internet and social media it is easy to get wrapped up in only seeing the super mom moments.

In my opinion, parenting is by far the hardest and most rewarding job out there. I pray that we are all able to give ourselves a little slack for the moments we aren't proud of. And, the strength to move forward and thrive as the parents we want to be.

Taking the time to enjoy smiles and exploring a glass with my smallest little girl. 

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