When Motherhood Gets Messy


“Don’t touch Mommy when she’s on the potty.”

This is an actual rule in our house. One of those rules you never imagine making before entering motherhood, but makes total sense after the fact. My daughter is two, and when I’m on the toilet, she likes to stand right up next to me, with her hand on my thigh like a faithful midwife.

A midwife who won’t leave. Who screams and pounds on the door when I try to lock her out. It’s rather stressful…for all digestive purposes.

My daughter has a way of entering my space. Whether I want her to, or not. How I am disarmed by a two-year-old day after day, I am still trying to figure out.

We’re in the potty training stage right now. Which means…I currently spend most my free time sitting on the bathroom floor. Waiting for her to “finish.”

I never thought I’d be comfortable eating my breakfast cereal or drinking my coffee while she stinks up the place. But I am.

I am reaching new “lows” like a Limbo champ.

Public Bathroom or Wrestling Cage?

Public bathrooms are the worst.

My daughter is obsessed with them. Every time we’re in a new store, she wants to “go.” I’ll open the door of the stall, and she races in like she’s first in line at the gate of Disney World. And she always heads for the same place, that little one foot gap between the toilet and the wall. You know, the place where only two things—the plunger and toilet brush–should be? But alas. My girl makes three and picks them up and greets them like long lost relatives. That’s when I start screaming, “No! No!!! Yucky!! Put those down!! Yucky germs! No! No! Not in your mouth!!!” So much for peaceful parenting. Get me in a public restroom and I’m a fire-breathing dragon.

The whole experience is catastrophic. And as we take turns going potty, I’m not sure what’s worse: my turn, when she stands with her hand on the latch of the stall door, and smiles, knowing I am at her complete mercy, while I threaten her, “Don’t you DARE open that door!!” Or her turn, when she nearly takes a plunge into the enormous toilet while screaming, “I do it myself!” and then rummages her hand through the “feminine napkin” box like it’s a Happy Meal. Either way, it usually ends in a lot of screaming and scuffling and banging around. Sounding much like a wrestling cage-match to the person in the stall next to us.

(If you’re not a mom, imagine someone trying to sit on a toilet and wrestle an alligator at the same time. Because that’s much what’s going when Mommy and Toddler are in the next stall.)

[Click here to finish reading the rest of this post at Thriving Home Blog, where I have had the priviledge of being featured by Polly and Rachel.]

You Know He’s A Good Dad When…

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You know he’s a good dad when…she is crying in the night, and he gets out of bed and goes into her room to soothe her. And after a few minutes, you don’t hear her crying anymore…

You hear her laughing. In fact, you hear them both laughing. (And you roll your eyes and groan into your pillow.)

You know he’s a good dad when…he builds forts in the living room, and tells stories in the dark and at least once a week does something extremely impulsive, unpredictable or dangerous with your child. Something that makes you ask, “What were you thinking?!!” (This is part of what makes him a dad.)

You know he’s a good dad when…after you get home from your date to the movies, and the babysitter leaves, he goes into her room and carries her tired, sleeping body into your bed, just so he can hold her close, and ask her how she’s doing, and tell her how beautiful she is, even if this means she will just roll around and kick you both in the head for the next two hours. And somehow, he still falls asleep with a big smile on his face.

You know he’s a good dad when…everyday when he gets home from work, your daughter bolts through the house to greet him and screams hysterically like someone who has just won “The Price Is Right.” (And this is completely fitting, because you know he is worth more than all the money and treasure in the world.)

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You know he’s a good dad when…he sneaks her some kind of treat or dessert without you knowing. Right before bedtime. Right after you just brushed her teeth. And you find this out while she bursts into the room, shouting, “Dad gave me chocolate chips!!!” And though he is “shushing” her fiercely, you see a giant brown ring around her mouth. And he just grins.

You know he’s a good dad when…you catch him belting out “Let it Go” at the top of his lungs. When he’s by himself. (Even though he denies it, and tells you how much he hates that movie.)

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You know he’s a good dad when…he sits with her and actually watches shows like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” And he watches intently, like this is isn’t a show about a tiger who doesn’t wear pants, but instead like it’s “the movie of the year” and and it’s won all kinds of awards. And like this is the most important thing he could ever be doing. (Because to her, it is.)

But above all…

You know he’s a good dad…when your daughter’s hair smells like Old Spice deodorant.

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Because he holds her that much. And that close.

And you pray he always does. You pray she always carries his scent on her.

Because every little girl needs to know she is loved. Like this.

In the way only her Dad can love her.

In the way only her Dad can make her feel.
Prized and precious.

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This Ugly House

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My house has problems. Does yours? First of all, I have the ugliest linoleum kitchen floor. Ever. Sometimes I feel the need to apologize to guests when they walk in. It’s yellow and brown, and looks a lot like the geometric pattern of throw up. Maybe it was all the rage in the 60’s, but today it’s retro-horror. Even the most vintage-loving hipsters out there would find it ugly. I’m pretty sure the floor’s design came straight out of one of those optical illusion books I read as a kid. So, if you happen to drop your Cheerios, don’t even bother looking for them. They are lost. To hunt for them is dizzying. You won’t find them again until you feel something crush under your feet.

Go ahead, say it: first world problem. (But just for the record, when my brother-in-law, who lives in Africa, sent pictures of their new missionary compound, I couldn’t help but notice: even their floor was nicer than ours.) Just sayin.

We are renting this house, so we don’t have the freedom to change things. And while I love the location, there are some things I would love to fix about this place. Like, there’s no dishwasher. And old siding. The bathroom is somewhat decrepit. It needs repainted. And there’s definitely something funky going on with the shower tiles. And it’s tiny. (So tiny that when my daughter is on her potty chair and I’m on the toilet at the same time, our knees almost touch. That’s fun.)

But lately, we’ve had a bigger, less trivial problem: our doors freeze shut. (As in, we can’t get out of the house frozen shut.)

We realized last Monday morning when my husband tried to leave for work—and then he couldn’t. That was the day he jumped out the bedroom window in his dress clothes, and proceeded to kick the front door open Chuck Norris style. That was the day I stood there in my pajamas, head-over-heels (or slippers) in love, as my very own ninja-warrior saved the day and drove off to work.

That was a week ago. Since then, he’s acted out this little kung-fu scenario every day. And it’s not so funny any more. It’s plain annoying.

Finally, it happened to me. Selah and I were about to leave for Target to buy her some Mini-Mouse underwear, when I realized we were stuck. The door re-froze from my husband’s morning escapade, and we couldn’t get out.

Immediately, “Survival Mommy” sprung into action: I threw my weight into the door. Nothing happened. I tried kicking it. Nothing happened. I went to the bedroom window and tried to open it. Nothing happened. Then, I started to panic. “What are we going to do Selah!?” I kept asking her over and over again. And she just stood there all bundled in her coat, looking up at me like a little marshmallow. I had to do something.

That’s when I opted for my default weapon of choice: the blow dryer.

There I was, for about 45 minutes blow drying the door frame. And as the ice began to melt and I stood with a puddle of water forming around my feet, I kept picturing that little tag on the blow dryer. You know that one that has a red “X” over the blow dryer in the bathtub? And then I started thinking about what my obituary would say, “Mother dies of blow dryer electrocution. She was that stupid folks.” (Do you ever do that? Start writing your own obituary in your head when you’re doing something dangerous?) My next feat was chipping at the ice around the doorframe with a hammer, a screwdriver and…a grilling fork. (It was a real low point for me.) But I was determined. We were getting out of the house. We were going to Target. We were buying Mini-Mouse underwear. I would break a window if I had to.

But thankfully, by the grace of God (and perhaps some angelic intervention), the door finally opened. Which meant, we made it out of the house without breaking any bones or windows. And, I didn’t even get electrocuted in the process.

Hallelujah.

Now, this may not come as a surprise, but I’ve really been falling out of love with my house lately. I’m constantly noticing every little, and big, need for improvement. I’m constantly pointing out some new problem or failure. I’m constantly house hunting online, or browsing Pinterest to pin ideas for my dream house someday. Or, I’m researching how to spruce up a rental. How to utilize small spaces. How to make everything look nicer, and better than it does right now.

I was down on my hands and knees today, washing my kitchen floor from all the mud and ice that’s been tracked in. And as the warm water mixed with the clean scent of Murphy Oil Soap, and I scrubbed, I began to think about all the places I’ve lived. Places smaller than this, uglier than this. Places three times the size, and much more beautiful than this. But you know what I’m finally realizing? It doesn’t really matter. Our house. What it looks like. Because it’s not the house that makes me happy. It’s the people that live in it.

The more I scrubbed, the more clearly I could see it:

My kitchen floor is ugly, but the little feet that patter across it somehow make it beautiful. The feet that dance upon it, turn it into sacred ground. And the little girl who lays on it in front of the stove, makes it fade altogether in the background with her beauty.

My house is small, but it forces me to be closer to the man that I love. The man that jumps out of windows for me, and kicks in doors. The man who comes home at the end of the day and fills this place with music.

We get stuck inside sometimes, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck with anyone else on earth. We lose power, the heat goes out, but I wouldn’t want to be under blankets with anyone else.

It is bitterly cold here, but the neighbors next door begin to make it feel a little warmer. The other young moms down the road remind that spring will come. That we will take walks again. That things do grow here. When we let out our roots into one another’s lives.

This house has it’s problems, but this is exactly where God wants us to be right now. And though there are some ugly parts, this is a place where the Spirit of God dwells. This is a place where we love Him. Where we worship Him. Where we enjoy Him. This is a place where He speaks to us. And that suddenly makes this place holy. And sacred.

We could have the most beautiful house in the world. We could make the pages of the Ikea catalogue materialize all around us. We could Pinterest our way into some kind of paradise. But unless God is here, unless God is filling this place, it is just an empty space.

So God, come, come fill up this house once again with Your presence. Come dwell here with us. Because wherever we live, I want to make my home in You. And I want You to come make Your home in me. (John 14:23) Let us turn our eyes upon You. And look full in Your wonderful face. So the things on earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of Your glory and grace. 

I’m not saying I won’t still drool as I look through Pinterest, or that I won’t dream as I walk through Lowe’s. I will still really admire the beautiful houses of my friends. But as long as God has us here, I will love this ugly house. Because it’s the people that live here, that make it beautiful. And the God who dwells here, who makes it holy.