How Light Shines In the Black Hole (Part 2)

So hopefully you've read The Black Hole of Motherhood (Part 1) which gives a glimpse of what life is like in the early years of parenting.  The following is now just a couple things of which God has been teaching me in said Black Hole. I hope you might find it helpful, challenging or encouraging.  

One of the best things I have recently learned: 

How to Get Rid of Stuff:
 Too much stuff swirling around in the Black Hole adds extra unnecessary gravitational weight. Shout out to Allie Casazza at the Purposeful Housewife as I have found her teachings to be very inspirational and I have been growing in simplicity and minimalism.
I know this is exactly what I look like when I clean. I bet you wear the same.
Example: I had THREE pizza cutters in my kitchen junk drawer. One for small pizzas, one for big pizzas, and one for when we have homemade pizza parties with lots of people which has happened once in my lifetime.  (Seriously, do you sense a small dose of craziness in that logic? I do now.) Now I have one pizza cutter.  The best one. The favorite one I always wanted to use anyway.  It makes me really happy every time I open that drawer and it isn't so crowded and every time I actually use the awesome pizza cutter.  I have been doing this in every drawer, closet, room in our house.  Approximately 40 car loads to Good Will. Not exaggerating.  It's been amazing for the whole family.  
Just Kidding.  De-cluttering is more like this girl. Isn't she great?  
I've also been getting rid of stuff like perfectionism.  The idea of being a perfectionist actually makes me laugh now.  I am not perfect and I never will be and I have NO desire to try.  I will give you *excellence* and I will give you my best.  I have been so inspired "there is no way to be a perfect mother but a million ways to be a good one." Amen, Jill Churchill. Amen. This applies to every aspect of life.  Why strive for perfection just to fail and compare myself and obsess over it?  I'm a follower of Christ. That means whether I eat or drink or whatever I do, I do it to the glory of God and Jesus is my Perfect.  

During my time in the Black Hole I've also been learning 
How to NOT Get Rid of Stuff: 
There are lots of motherhood moments where you are in the Black Hole and you're not getting out that day.  The children are hungry, the cupboard is bare. It's Monday/Friday/Middle of the Day/Night and you're 6 million hours sleep deprived and you've got one cup of yogurt for two kids, a half used bottle of Coconut Water they don't like/ won't drink, some random veggies in the freezer and a brown banana.  Guess what's for lunch people? Smoothies! And that expired flour is a "sensory bin". Those old shoes are your "dress up activity for three hours". Moms in the Black Hole are resourceful.  

Seriously Pinterest, No mom has time or sanity for  a smoothie like this.  Smoothies are one color, generally a shade of greenish reddish brown depending upon how old your bananas are and how much spinach you snuck in while the kids weren't looking. Let's all just be honest about this.  It is however fabulously beautiful, I'll give you that. 
So I'm going to stretch my metaphor here if you'll just go with me.  I've had to decide what NOT to get rid of when it comes to the essence of who God created me to be.  I've had to fiercely sort out "Who am I, at my core, when I am in the Black Hole today?" When I may not see another adult besides Husband for days.  When there is no written evaluation or even physical observation because Moms spend a majority of their time with kids by themselves.  When my career is on hold, I'm beyond exhausted, and my To-Do list is a never ending cycle of: Make Food, Do Laundry, Clean House. On Repeat, Ad Infinitum. 

Will I get dressed? Will I read my Bible? Will I play with my kids? Will I be kind? What kind of wife will I be? How will I evaluate my day and my life? This is a huge topic which I'm sure I will write more about another time. For now, there is a lot of wrestling with these questions (and others) in the Black Hole.  
My current conclusions: These are the things I choose to preserve as precious, I choose to prioritize, I choose NOT to get rid of:
My faith, my joy, my femininity (as in getting dressed, wearing make up etc.), my covenant of marriage, my pursuit of personal and spiritual growth, my delight in my children, my scrapbooking. 

I don't achieve all of these every day, but these are what I have found to be at my core, when all is stripped away, when no one is watching, and even if no one else cares, this is still me.  It's really good to know this.  I think a lot of moms feel they lose themselves in the Black Hole.  I encourage you to not let it be a losing of yourself but rather a defining of yourself of the short list of who you really are and what really matters to you.  And if what you find is sad, or scary, or empty, know that God would love to meet you there.  He is close to the brokenhearted. 

So this is where I have been and why I haven’t blogged for a while and which means this post is so long!  My plan is to post every now and then in those beautiful windows of time when the children are sleeping, my caffeine is still kickin’, the laundry is done and Husband is watching sports. 

Blessings to you! 

The Black Hole of Motherhood (Part 1)

Hey friends, I’m back!
“Where have you been?”
Well, I affectionately refer to it as “The Black Hole of Motherhood” or Black Hole for short. 
I say “affectionately” because to be in this place is evidence of God’s grace in my life and a true miracle.To have the privilege to raise children and be a mother and wife is an out of this world God-given gift. 

And in the midst of this blissful season, I have often felt like God has sequestered me in the Black Hole akin to Moses shepherding in the desert for 40 years before God called him to lead Israel.  It’s a good place, a learning place, and a challenging place. So if you're interested, this is what the Black Hole of Motherhood is like.

In the Black Hole there is no “day” or “night” because you are attempting to be asleep and then must awake again every few hours regardless if the sun is up or not.  The terms “day” and “night” become rather meaningless when you're exhausted. It’s all the same to you.

In the Black Hole, “Every day is Monday and every day is Friday”. It sounds impossible, but it is true. You live in this impossible reality.  Every day is awesome, and every day is hard.   
Living at the intersection of these opposites twists your mental and emotional state like an old phone cord metaphor no one understands anymore.  It’s complicated. You feel like this guy all the time: 

All the jokes about “baby brain” or “pregnant brain” because you forget stuff or feel like a ditz, are no longer jokes. The reality settles in you are no longer pregnant, you no longer have a baby but rather a toddler and there is no such thing as “toddler brain”.  The truth is you’ve gotten dumber. Your brain cells have melted to be more unusable than the plastic kiddie plate you microwaved.  Your synapses are no longer working like all the toys that need new batteries but there are no batteries to be had for synapses.  They’re just gone.  The brain that is left is in a constant state of making sure husbands and children are  healthy, safe, fed, groomed, dressed, happy and educated and meanwhile you have lost the ability to properly conjugate verbs.  You forget to schedule appointments and the appointments you do schedule you forget you actually scheduled.  You can’t remember anything or anyone important unless they are standing in front of you covered in milk dancing in a diaper to a Disney song.  In fact you can’t even remember how old you are exactly. An approximate age becomes totally acceptable because really, does it even matter?

One of the LEAST noticeable effects to inhabitants of the Black Hole is the slow atrophy of one's "coolness".   Example: These are the top 10 songs for last month. 
(from top10songs.com) 
Of the 18 artists mentioned, I know three of them and have “heard of” two others.  This is a giant red flag I might not know what is cool anymore and therefore might be entering into the world of “Not Cool”.  Now let’s be honest, I was never living on top of Cool Mountain in the first place but I would like to think I at least had a little cozy spot somewhere in the vicinity of the village.  

Not anymore. I don’t know who “celebrities” are, I’ve never snapchatted or tindered or who knows what else.  I recently realized everyone around me everywhere was actually wearing neon running shoes and lo and behold, I was wearing “mom shoes”. I might also be wearing mom jeans and mom shirts.  I’m not sure. I’m still a bit in the Black Hole though I get to come out for air every now and then.  

 Most importantly, Time is warped in the Black Hole because time passes much slower. Example: If you live in the normal world you go to bed for 8 hours and wake up in the morning refreshed and off to wherever you go. A mom in the Black Hole, “goes to bed for 8 hours” but every 45 minutes just as her body begins to enter REM sleep she is abruptly awoken by a crying baby, a potty training toddler, a hungry cat, a toddler’s nightmare, a crying baby, a thirsty toddler, and then a happy baby wide awake.  Not all at once of course.  Remember each of these things happens approximately 45 minutes apart.  To interrupt someone’s sleep cycle as such is surely used as a form of underground torture in dark foreign countries but in the Black Hole of Motherhood, it is just a normal night.  The effects of the time warp thus make these “8 hours” feel like 100 hours.  Time passes similarly between nap time and the time in which Husband comes home.  The seemingly “two” hours between 3pm and 5pm, are equal to 100 hours in the Black Hole.  It is *forever* until Daddy gets home. 

So here's where we do some Mommy Math. Every night is like 100 hours and every day after nap is also like 100 hours. Furthermore, days that are too cold to play outside get multiplied by three, days when you are sick get multiplied by five, days when your child is sick get multiplied by ten, and so you see the math is very complicated.  Not to mention when you have multiple children you do not “add” the extra hours but rather multiply “to the power of” using exponents. What I’m saying is…if you are speaking to a mom with a three year old and a one year old who by the very nature of this statement is living in the Black Hole and you, normal person think, “So these three years have been a little crazy and she’s tired sometimes” the answer is:  Well, in the normal world I've been tired for about 26,000 hours. According to the time warp of the Black Hole I have been tired for almost six and a half million hours. Approximately. 

But being tired doesn't mean being unhappy.  Being this tired just means I am humanly frail and weak and this gives God the glory because He is Strong, and Capable and His grace is Sufficient. When my energy and ability to function like a humans person seems non-existent, I come to the end of myself and find God there.  

So what have I learned in the Black Hole these last couple years? A lot! So much that I'm going to stop here and I will make that the Black Hole Part Two.  

If you made it to the end of this, Bravo. Thanks for reading! 


Thoughts From a Working Mom Turned Stay At Home Mom For the Last Eight Months

I was so excited to be a SAHM because I thought that not only would I have precious time with my son and the ability to cook and clean really well but that I could also scrapbook and blog and exercise and read books to my heart's content. I also thought it was great timing to pursue a Master's degree.

I have not exercised or scrapbooked or read a book. Not at all. Except textbooks. About biology. And math. Gross.

This is my first blog since. I don't have time to write anymore.  This is all you get.

<<Insert awesome inspiring blog here about being a busy mom and focusing on what's important and being thankful for the little things >>



My Big Promotion

Hi friends,
I am writing to let you know that I have officially accepted a position at Mathews Family Inc.   My husband offered me a position to be a full-time mom to this adorable little boy and I just couldn’t refuse.  The job has no vacation days, no paid benefits, (in fact no paid days at all) and I am on call all days, nights and weekends.  Hopefully, we will double my work load next year if God allows us to add another little one to the brood.  This way I could have even more responsibilities but no raise or bonus since I’m not getting paid anyway. (Although the laughs and the hugs are pretty awesome.)

I know you are jealous as this totally sounds amazing and I have to say, I am pretty excited.  This baby just gets cuter and cuter and I’m going to get to teach him to talk and walk and take him to the zoo and the park and all in all just spend my days living the dream.  I am sad to leave the professional world but we are just considering this a temporary early retirement for a small chapter of life. Me and Michael Phelps…you know kind of the same thing ;-) Who knows what God has in store for the future but we feel this is the best decision for our family at this time and figure no matter what, investing in our kids will never be something we’ll regret.

This was the letter I sent to my co-workers and am now sharing with all of you! One week down of two weeks notice so just one final week to go! We are excited for this new chapter of life and so very grateful for the opportunity God has given us. We'll keep you posted!


To Dads, With Love

(my husband and son left, my husband as a baby top right, me as a baby bottom right)

  No dad is perfect but these days it is getting harder and harder to find a *good* dad. A staggering number of children are growing up with dads that are uninvolved, uninterested, abusive or simply not there at all.  My heart truly goes out to these families, these kids, these moms. To these, and to those that have lost their fathers, I know Father's day can be hard and I pray that God meets you in the hard places where He promises to be a "Father to the fatherless". (Ps. 68:5)  Not in a cheesy platitude way, but in a real, tangible way that God will provide for you, and love you, and watch over you in a way better than any earthly father ever could.

By the grace of God our family has been blessed with some amazing fathers and I am so grateful they continue to be a part of our lives.  My dad, my father in law, and my husband are all really strong men but they all have really tender hearts too.  They have worked hard to love their families well and I have reaped these tangible and intangible benefits in countless ways and I truly thank God for the family name and legacy they are building.  These men show me God, which is why God created the role of "dad" in the first place.  They love, protect, provide, discipline, comfort, and lead by example.  To think our Heavenly Father feels this way about me multiplied times a thousand is just overwhelming.  

Dads kind of get the shaft because as you get older you don't have much to buy them anymore when they have every tie, grill set, coffee mug and golf knick knack they could ever want and then some.  And really I find dads (men) to be simple in their desires to just be at home and be with their family and eat and watch TV (or insert hobby of choice hahaha). So to these three amazing dads and to any others reading this, I hope this is a small way to let you know how much you are appreciated. And if you currently don't feel appreciated, hang in there! The value of a good father truly lasts a lifetime and will continue to increase every year that goes by.  Thank you for changing diapers that we don't remember, making us eat peas that really aren't that bad, thank you for lectures that we hated but appreciated and thank you for phone calls when there just isn't anyone else to call but Dad. 

Proverbs 20:7 "A righteous man who walks in his integrity, how blessed are his sons after him".

Happy Father's Day 2013. xoxo


My 30th Birthday!

Throughout the course of my 30th birthday Easter weekend....

I got a massage
I got my "hair-did"
Went downtown to the Macy's Flower Show

Had Easter dinner (that I didn't have to cook!) and Egg Hunt with great friends
Had Ben and Jerry's Half-Baked ice cream (my favorite!)
Got to go for a jog for the first time in approximately a year
 (so good...so out of shape but so good...)
Was "vandalized" in the middle of the night by sweet friends with a birthday banner 
in our front yard

Took a 10 minute shower (quite the new mom luxury for those of you that don't know)
Enjoyed Birthday/Easter brunch with chocolate chip pancakes and strawberries (my favorite!!)

Was privileged to be at John Piper's last ever sermon as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist
Celebrated the amazing sovereignty of our amazing God and risen Savior for Easter
Had a super fun birthday party with my super awesome awesome friends playing Taboo and eating delicious homemade birthday cookie cake

Watched hysterical YouTube videos with said friends and laughed like crazy
Kid President Pep Talk (click here for a great laugh!)
Received birthday wishes/texts/voicemails from so many great friends and family
Played with a super cute baby who happened to be especially snuggly on my birthday

Came home and am getting ready to snuggle into bed with my amazing husband
God is good
30 years old...bring it