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.]

This Ugly House

Photo-1

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.

5 Permissions (and Commissions) for the New Mom

2013 January-Selah Paige Fox 147New Mom’s or Mom’s-to-be: Here is a bit of “sisterly” advice I gave to my own sister at her baby shower a few weeks ago. I gave her five “permissions” and five “commissions” as she embarks on the journey of motherhood. Enjoy!

5 Permissions for the New Mom
1. Permission to wear sweatpants. Every day. I always vowed I would not do this. But then I realized something: I can not be fully happy…until I am in my sweatpants. (Don’t worry, you will totally rock them.) (P.S. You can always change real quick into that cute [ahem: socially acceptable] outfit once your husband pulls into the driveway.)

2. Permission for Imperfection (in your house and appearance). Your house does not need to look like the pages of a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. And don’t think because you are not “working” you must be the Super-Organized-Clean-Freak you have always fantasized about being. It’s harder than it looks. I once saw a wall sticker that said, “Please excuse our mess, we’re busy making memories.” If you hold to this mantra, you will be happier. (P.S. If your house is making you scream, call your Mother or Mother-in-Law to come clean it for you. There’s nothing sweeter than falling asleep to the sound of her vacuuming downstairs while you nap.) And as for your appearance. Don’t expect to wear your skinny jeans home from the hospital. Freaks of nature do that. Once you are a new mom, you have limited time and energy to put into how good you look. So what if you only put mascara on one eye before leaving the house, and have spit up down the back of your black shirt? (Of course, you will be horrified when you later discover this in the bathroom mirror at Target.) But just remember, people won’t be looking at you as much as they will be drooling over your baby. Get used to having him/her steal the show. On some days, you will be truly grateful for it!

3. Permission to be late. No matter how timely you are (and any female blood relation to me is not very)–but no matter how timely you “were” you can just throw that out the window. No matter how hard you try, chances are, when you are loading Baby into his carseat, you will notice liquid poo has seeped through his pants. After about 37 baby wipes, and three peed/pooped on diapers, you will dress him in Outfit B, and run down stairs. He will spit up on you. You will run back upstairs and change your shirt. Once in the drive way, you will realize you forgot some “highly valuable” object (like the binky, cell phone, or for goodness’ sakes, the diaper bag!) and sprint back into your house to get it. This dash from your car to your house will happen about 3 times before you actually pull out and drive away. (Of course your neighbors will think you are psychotic, but maybe they already do.) Get used to this routine each time you try to leave your house. (And note: the more important the event (ie. weddings) expect even more delays. Your baby will want to show up fashionably late.)

4. Permission to open food at the store, (before you buy it!) You are a Mom now–go for it! Open the Teddy Grahams, the Goldfish, the Puffs! And don’t feel a drop of shame when you hand the cashier an almost empty bag as you check out. (So what if your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, and is only a month old?) Just look down at him, pat his back and say, “Hungry little guy!” Look straight ahead, smile confidently, and march that cart straight out of the store. (You gotta do, what you gotta do.)

5. Permission to Rest. Please. For the sake of everyone around you. Take. A. Nap. (If possible!) New mom’s feel SO GUILTY taking naps. Once the baby is sleeping…you do not need to remodel the living room, complete an Iron Man, bake a few pies, whip up a gourmet dinner, and appear helplessly gorgeous the moment your husband walks in the door. Get the rest you need. You will feel so much better, and be able to tackle your goals with more energy after that. (It’s amazing what soup sleep can do.) I assure you, your husband would rather have a sweet, well-rested, slightly messy house, than a Pinterest Perfect “Princess” who accidentally singes his eyebrows off the moment he walks in the door with dragon fire.

5 Commissions for the New Mom

On a slightly more serious note, I want to send you out into Motherhood with these five commissions: 

1. The Commission To Be A Kid Again. All of those things you miss from childhood, (you finally get to do again!) Building forts, crawling around on your hands and knees, snow angels, finger painting, wrestling, Play-dough, Disney movies, laying in the dark with a flashlight. A big part of becoming a Mom, is learning to have fun with your child. (And you don’t need to wait until your child is 4-years-old to start doing fun things–even babies like to have fun in their own way.) Be the kind of mom who gets down and plays, takes adventures, uses imagination, laughs out loud and dances wildly. You will impress upon this little heart more than you think. And your child (as all children) can always tell if you enjoy and embrace your life, or merely drudge along each day. Fill your home and atmosphere with life and adventure and joy.

2. The Commission To Not Fear Your Weaknesses. There will be moments you have no clue what you are doing. There are things that the “What To Expect Books” just don’t cover. And there will be days you aren’t sure if you, or your baby cried more. But where we are weak, God has promised to be strong. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He gently leads those that have young.” And He will give you everything you need to be a Mom.

3. The Commission To Enjoy Your Baby. Any mom can tell you how fast the time goes. It really happens before your eyes. Like a flash. The days coming may be tired, but they are so very happy, in a new kind of way I doubt you’ve ever experienced. Enjoy this little person in front of you. At the end of your life, you won’t care if you finished the dishes every night, or had a floor you could eat off of; you won’t care about the clothes you wore, or how many projects you completed, (or even how great your blog was;): you will be glad you cherished time with the ones you loved. They are the ones entrusted to you, they are the ones that matter. And this baby, who stares into your face with wonder, you have so little time to enjoy, before he or she grows up, and flies away.

4. The Commission To Know Your Worth. Our world doesn’t make much of “just being a mom.” But God does. Realize you are shaping another human soul, and no one can replace you, or substitute for you. You are his mother. The only one. You are completely unique, and God knew exactly who this little boy would need for his mother. He chose you. It doesn’t matter how unqualified or weak you think you are. He will give you everything you need to be his mom.

5. The Commission To Trust God. Thanks to the Internet, there are a billion things to fear, and you can look them all up on Google and WebMD. But before you do that, know: He loves you and loves your baby. And you are about meet your baby for the first time, but God has known him by name from before the foundations of the world. And whatever happens in this life, God loves him even more than you ever could, and will hold him long after you are able. He will care for him forever. His eyes saw him in the secret places of the womb, and spoke his being into existence. Therefore, God is stronger than any threat, wiser than any doctor, and more loving than any person. Every day, keep placing your trust in the God who made this child and will love him forever, and never stop loving him, even in the world to come.

 

 

[Readers, what other permissions or commissions would you give to a new mom? Or which permissions or commissions did you find helpful when you began motherhood? Please share in the comment section!:)]

What Turbo Kick Taught Me About Being A New Mom

I am not sure what gave me the boost of confidence before entering the YMCA that day. But it was dangerous. As I walked in with an extra skip in my step, I looked at the schedule hanging on the door of Studio 1 and noticed a class called “Turbo Kick” started in 10 minutes. Hmm, sounds more fun than the elliptical. (Big mistake.)

I should have taken some cues as I saw a myriad of very fit looking women waiting around in the lobby, all in cute elastic work out get-ups, and I stood there with my Adidas shorts, old basketball t-shirt, and chicken legs. I was not tanned, or toned, or terrifying like any of these women. I asked the lady with the mic on her face (who was clearly the instructor) what the class was like on my way in, “Oh, it’s just like Kick-boxing combined with Insanity.” Those were her actual words. Insanity. (For someone who struggles just to keep up in the Electric Slide at weddings, the only Insanity that I would be proving that day was my own.)
If only I would have walked away then. But alas…

Within the first five minutes of “Turbo Kick,” I was completely lost. The instructor was barking out commands that sounded like a foreign language. “Upper cut! Cross over! Back kick! Front kick! To the wall!” Huh? I was soon in a stampede of women and trying not to get run over.

I looked like a drowning victim. Arms and legs flailing in every direction. If I were in a pool, there would be whistles blowing, and lifeguards jumping in after me, and people standing by with their faces in their hands.

I was bad. I mean, really stinking the place up, and only 15 minutes into it, too. Unfortunately, the class was 55 minutes long. But I was already committed now. I tried to look natural. But as arms and legs flung wildly in every direction, and I did my first “burpee” since junior high track, nothing was natural about what I was doing. Or trying to do. I’d watch the instructor, then the lady in front of me, then the mirror, then the window, desperately hoping (praying) my husband didn’t feel the need to check on me.

Of course he did.

Later that evening, after he was done cracking joke #492 about the whole episode (for he had a lot of material to work with), he said, “And what were you smiling about in there anyway?”

“Because when I saw my reflection,” I confessed, “I thought ‘What if he’s watching right now?’ And it just made me want to laugh!” I couldn’t help it. There comes a point when you are so awful, it’s actually funny. I guess I would call it, “Insanity.”

This is a lot like being a new mom.

When you become a new mommy…you suddenly enter this new world you didn’t even know existed. Motherhood. You are surrounded by all these ladies moving at incredible speeds, who seem to know exactly what they are doing and you are left spinning around not even know what direction you are supposed to be going.

I’m only 18 months into motherhood, but Turbo Kick resurrected a lot of “new mom” thoughts that I’ve been feeling since the start of motherhood, and I’m not ashamed to admit them:

1. “I have no idea what I am doing.”
New moms have no experience, none. Zippo. Therefore, no matter how much you studied your “What to Expect” books, or baby-sat the neighbor kids…you can’t be fully prepared for what’s ahead of you. Don’t expect to hit the ground running. It’s okay to hit the ground and just…lay there for awhile. You will crawl eventually. You are new to this, and you will learn.

2. “I am surrounded by women who are better at this than me.”
Let’s just get this out there. It’s probably true. If you have friends with any mommy experience at all there’s a good chance they know the steps better than you. They know what they are doing, and you don’t. And that’s okay. You can give yourself some grace realizing, “I am a beginner at this!” Be patient. Don’t try to keep up with the mom whose been doing this for ten years, when you’ve only been at it for ten months. Don’t compare, (it leads to despair.)

3. “I am surrounded by mirrors.”
Not only are you surrounded by Super-Mommies…but you are surrounded by mirrors. These mirrors are those lingering questions in your head or your heart that keep saying things like, “You should know what you’re doing. Get it together. You aren’t good enough. You’ll never get it right.” Ugh. Mirrors remind us of our weaknesses and flaws. Look to God instead, He is where your strength comes from. He made you to do this, and He will give you what you need. In His time.

4. “This is hilarious.”
As a new mom, you can choose how you will respond. For me, that day in Turbo Kick, I chose to laugh. I could have been too proud, and walked out. I could have been too embarrassed, and cried. But I chose to laugh. I was SO out of my league! New mom’s, if you feel like you are clueless, laugh. Maybe you are. Give yourself permission to fail, to experiment, to grow. Some days you will cry, whine, or be angry with yourself, and set sky-rocket expectations to “do it better” tomorrow. It’s part of being a mom.

                               You are allowed to laugh. 

Because…this is hard. And because laughing–is evidence of humility. Of growing. Of not always knowing what you are doing 100% of the time. Whether you are a new mom or not, remember one of the the qualities of the highly esteemed “Proverbs 31 Woman” that we don’t often hear about is:

She smiles at the future.
She can laugh at the days to come.
(Prov. 31:25b, NASB, NIV)

You can laugh. You are learning, we all are are. Welcome to not having it all together. Welcome to growth.
Welcome to Insanity.
Welcome to Motherhood.