Mama, Your Life is Profound

mamayourlifeprofound

Can I start off today’s post by just describing my current surroundings? My husband is at home with the baby so that I can have a moment to think, write, and reflect. With this time I decided to come to my new favorite café. The café is divided into sections, and I am sitting in a cozy dimly lit room inside. The room is filled with two oversized leather arm chairs, one oversized leather couch, and two comfy ottomans. There is subtle Latin music playing softly in the background and I have a large cup of coffee in front of me. To put it simply, this atmosphere is divine for a weekend morning writing session. I hope that as you read this, you too can pour yourself a warm cup of something amazing, cozy up with a chunky sweater or throw, and have a moment to yourself.

I haven’t written lately, but I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past few months. I have been thinking about my role as a wife and mother, and what that means to my family…what that means to me…what that means to the world. In short, I have been thinking about my purpose on this earth. In the sometimes routine or mundane tasks of motherhood, I have come to believe my purpose is bigger than it may seem. My purpose is bigger than the dirty diapers I change throughout the day, or the dishes I wash, or the dinner I cook night after night. And while my ultimate purpose is bigger, each task I mentioned is profoundly important in creating the bigger picture of mine and my family’s life. I can say this with new found confidence, because if I were to stop doing any one of these seemingly small tasks, the impact on my family would be profound.

I am one human being, and I only see the things in my life as they come my way, but God sees it all. He sees how all of these smaller and sometimes mundane tasks create the bigger picture of the world and of history.

Could you imagine if all of the mothers everywhere suddenly just stopped changing diapers, washing dishes, or cooking dinner (just to name a few of the things we do on a daily basis)?! I’m not talking about for a time, I’m talking about permanently! Like if no mother ever again did any of these tasks EVER! The world would have an epidemic on their hands.  Trust me ladies, what we do is important—even when it may seem we’ve given up larger dreams for the humble life of raising children. But even more important than what we do, is how we do it! Do we change the diapers with love in our hearts, or do we do it begrudgingly? Do we wash the dishes and make dinner with care, or do we slop everything together, longing for the day when we can do something more exciting with our time? How we do what we do can be life changing to those closest to us. As I write this, I am speaking to myself too!

When our children are older, they won’t really remember having their diaper changed, but they will remember how their mothers made them feel. If we treat our children with love, kindness, and respect, they will remember those feelings for years to come. And the way they experienced their childhood has profound effects on the way they engage with the world as adults.

I specifically use diaper changing as an example because it’s something we do when our children are very young; and when they are young is when we should start creating good habits—creating an atmosphere in our home of love, kindness, and respect.

So, with all of this said, this is why I wanted to start this blog in the first place—to talk about what I am learning in motherhood, and to encourage other mothers as well.  To put it simply, motherhood has absolutely changed my life! I have never before been more passionate about something. This is my greatest calling. To me, the weight of what it means to be a mother is profound.  I have the opportunity and blessing to raise another human life, and who knows who that little life will grow up to be?! Who knows how they may change the world?

So mamas, today as you go about your daily routine, remember the affect you are making on your family and children.  You are profoundly important!

I Have A Black Son

E Boy

I have a black son, with a beautiful cocoa skin tone, and wild curls atop his head. His dimples shine like the sun, melting the hearts of all in his path. I have a black son whom I have dreams for. I have dreams that he will grow up in a world where he has a chance—a chance to be a man of importance and integrity, a man of character and strength, courage and resolve. I have a black son who represents my world and brightens everything within it. I have a black son who matters. Right now, at 10 months old he is so cute! Everywhere we go we are met with “oohhhs” and “ahhhs”. People are fascinated with him and want nothing more than to be next to him. They want to hold him, touch his little hands and feet…and his hair. Their day is changed for the better if he gives them a smile or a wave. I have a black son whom today, everyone loves, and no one fears.

What will be his future? When will he cross the age threshold when he is no longer seen as the cute black baby, but as a danger or a threat? It’s hard to believe this is even possible, my baby seen as a threat?! I hope that as our society changes and grows I will not have to fear the day when my baby will be so grossly misunderstood or misinterpreted. I hope his heart never breaks at the realization that to some, his mere presence is off putting or even feared.

While I hope for these things, the reality is that at some point, the day will come when he realizes that he is not accepted by everyone. What will I say the first day my son experiences a situation in which his race is brought to question? What will I say the first time he is judged by the color of his skin? What will I say if he ever starts to feel different than the majority of his classmates? Will he feel it like an overwhelming wave? Will he know what is happening? I hope I know what to say.

As a new mom, there are too many questions, and I don’t have all of the answers. I simply have to trust that God will guide me as I walk this road—mothering a little black boy in America. I have to trust that God will show me what to say, how to say it, and how to love and support this black son of mine.

But for now, I just want to say that my heart stands in solidarity with all of the mothers who have lost their black sons to senseless situations, at the hands of those who hate and judge them merely because of their outer physical descriptors— descriptions that bare no indication of the soul and heart inside.  Our son’s lives matter. They need to know that they matter, and that when one son is lost, it shakes the heavens and earth. They are not a statistic, they are irreplaceable!

Keep Calm and Flourish On!

keep-calm-and-flourish-on-4

I was watching my son (now 10 months old) as he was playing the other day. He was cruising around on our furniture, playing with his toys, laughing and smiling the whole time. It was so sweet to watch him engage with his world—exploring with such curiosity and awe. At one point during his play, he fell down and it looked like he bumped his head. Immediately, my mommy heart jumped as my body almost jumped up to help him! I sometimes have to remind myself to remain calm when he falls down –he feeds off of my reactions to things. Anyway, after he fell down I didn’t even need to jump to his aid because he recovered so quickly! I watched as he got back up, seemingly unfazed, and kept right on playing. I was actually surprised as I could have sworn he had bumped his head on a toy, but no, he got right back to his business.

While moments like these happen all throughout the day in the life of a mom, somehow this moment struck me in a different way. I thought to myself, if only we as adults could be more like babies, in the way we get up after a fall. In life we are guaranteed to make mistakes, have shortcomings, fail, and have EPIC FAILS! That’s just part of life. But as the popular saying goes, it’s now about whether or not we fall, but how we get back up.

As parents we are going to have many moments on this road when we feel like failures, or like frauds for even trying to raise another human life. But when these moments come, let’s not stay there. Let us not stay in that self-defeated position. Let us be more like our babies, getting back up and back on to business, or play, or whatever it was that we were doing. Let us try again. Let us be an example to those little ones watching us.

One of my all-time favorite scriptures related to this discussion comes from 2 Corinthians 12:9-“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” When we fall down, God is right there! It is through His strength that we can get back up. We can’t do it on our own…we NEED His guidance along the way, just as our children need our guidance. Even if sometimes it feels as if God is not jumping immediately to help us up, He sees us—just as I saw my baby fall. He knows what we need and when we need it. Falling down, failures, weakness…it’s all a part of this human experience. We need not be so hard on ourselves, but open our hearts to letting God help us get up and take that next step. Let us trust His plan and flourish on!

If you have experienced any “parenting fails”, I’d love to hear about how you got back up. Please leave a comment below or email me at theflourishingcorner@gmail.com. Also, it would mean a lot if you took a moment to like this post. Take Care!

A Podcast That Changed My Mothering!

I remember it very clearly—a very dear friend of mine, also a new mommy, asked me if I had ever heard of podcasts. I said that I had heard of them, but wasn’t sure how to go about listening to them. With great excitement and glee she responded, “Oh, Erica! You will love them! Let me show you how to listen to them, give me your phone!” She then proceeded to show me how to use my smartphone to download a podcast app (I tend to be a little technically challenged). From the moment the app was downloaded I was hooked!  I had already been on a great search for resources that would help me to learn more about motherhood, so this was exactly what I needed. I was also already an avid YouTube viewer, so listening to podcasts was a natural next step.

Shortly after I learned about podcasts, I found one that has truly changed and enhanced my mothering experience. I am talking about the Inspired to Action Podcast hosted by Kat Lee. Her podcast is completely devoted to encouraging and inspiring mothers in this all-consuming work of raising children. Most of her episodes consist of interviews with other mothers who are doing amazing things with the gifts and talents that God has given them. She always asks her guests to share a little about their family and motherhood story. Often times her guests have some amazing resources that they’ve either created or are a part of, and that they share about on each episode. Kat also does some solo episodes in which she shares about her own journey to motherhood (which is a tear jerker for sure!), and/or she shares tips on how to do some mothering aspect in a unique and efficient way.

Every time I listen to an episode (usually while in my car running errands, or while doing chores around the house) I come away encouraged and renewed that I am uniquely created by God to be the mother to my child. I am always inspired to take some new action that will enhance my mothering.

As I am learning more and more in this new role, I find that resources like the Inspired to Action Podcast are extremely valuable to me. If you are also looking for something new to add to your own pocket of tricks, check out Kat Lee and her wonderful podcast. You will NOT be disappointed!

As I continue to share on this blog, I plan to share other great resources that I find that can help us as we grow and flourish together.

Oh! And to that friend who initially introduced me to the wonderful world of podcasts, thank you so much! You know who you are!

Here are just a few of my favorite episodes from the Inspired to Action Podcast so far:

Race Against Naptime!

Now that Baby E is crawling, cruising on furniture, and almost walking, the race is on once he goes down for a nap! My mind is spinning with how much I want to get done in that precious window of time when he is sleeping. Have you ever felt like this as a parent? I find that I make mental lists (sometimes physical lists) of all that I want/need to accomplish when I have a moment to myself. I plan and I plan, and then when he is finally down, all I want to do is sip my coffee that has now been reheated for a 3rd time this morning! I always need to take a moment to let the lactic acid fade that has been building up in my arms and legs while rocking him into a drowsy stupor. However, this morning I thought I’d take a moment to write a post while sipping my triple heated cup of Joe.  And since we are on the subject of productivity during naptime, let’s go there.

We live in a society that highly values productivity. We are sometimes judged for what we “do” rather than who we are. And that has never been clearer to me than since I made the decision to be a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM). When I meet new people, and they ask me what I do for a living, I find that I feel the need to reference my previous career before stating what I do now. I am sometimes afraid that once I reveal that I stay home with Baby E that people will lose interest, or not know what to talk about going forward. It’s not that the people I’m talking about don’t value motherhood, particularly SAHMs, it’s just they may be unaware of the intricacies of our day, or of that fact that we have additional interests unrelated to the fact that our primary job is taking care of our children and the home.

I too, before taking on this new role, never knew that becoming a fulltime mommy and homemaker involves so much. There is a certain level of attention to detail, and organization that is involved with caring for a home. So much so, that I am learning new tips and tricks on a daily basis. To be honest, it can feel overwhelming at times. While my husband is a HUGE help, and contributes greatly to taking care of our home as well, I am the primary person responsible for making sure that meals are planned, groceries are purchased, chores are divided and completed, baby’s needs are taken care of, husband’s needs are taken care of, doctor’s appointments are made and kept, social calendar is tended to and relationships maintained, and that our home is an overall place of warmth, love, joy, and peace (I’m almost certain I’ve left something out in this list).

Before becoming a SAHM, all of these things still needed tending to, but for some reason they didn’t seem as “in my face” as they are now. Perhaps before I was so busy with my outside work, that the work of the home took a backseat? Also, before I became a fulltime mom and homemaker, I didn’t have a baby to attend to, so my desire to create a warm and peaceful oasis of a home was not as strong.  Whereas now, it is my primary focus, and I really want to do it well!

With that being said, I don’t want to fall into the trap of believing that my productivity level as a mom determines my worth. I don’t want to believe that lie that says the cleanliness of my home determines how good of a mother I am. THAT’S NOT TRUE! I heard one mom say that every basket of undone laundry represents time she chose to spend with her child/family instead. I love that!

The point is not to just forget about cleaning, or forget about getting things done that need to get done. The point is to practice self-compassion. As mothers, whether we stay home/work from home, or work outside of the home, our work is never done. We need to give ourselves GRACE. What we do on the whole is irreplaceable…and I know this full well having lost my mother at such an early age—experiencing a loss that rocked the foundation of my existence.

So, there will always be dishes, and laundry, and bathrooms to be cleaned. Instead of rushing around during naptime day after day, take one of those moments to practice some self-compassion and engage in a little self-care. You will feel rejuvenated and have the ability to be an even better mommy once naptime is over!

Sip up these moments…

1276

My son was born a little over 8 months ago, and the time is whipping by! I look at him, and the way he can crawl, pull up to stand, get his various needs met through his baby communication! I am constantly amazed by his growth and development. The memories are fresh of the earlier days when he would simply lay there, unable to roll back and forth, unaware that his hands were his own…it seems like it was just a month ago that I was pushing! As people always say, “My, how time flies!” I find myself thinking about how I don’t want to miss a moment…trying to devise a plan to slow down time.

I also think about my excitement for his new and upcoming developmental milestones, and also the slight pang in my heart that we can’t go backwards. He will never be a newborn again! After this first year is over, he will be considered by most a toddler! I want to bottle up these sweet baby moments and save them. I want to be able to pull my bottles of delicious baby goodness off the shelves of time to experience again and again in years to come.  But alas, none of that is actually possible. I have to sip up these moments in the now, slowly, drinking them in one by one. I have to practice being fully present whenever I am with him, and appreciate every moment while it is before me.

With that said, I want to take a moment to say how grateful I am for my baby boy! I thank God on the regular for this precious gift of motherhood. I am fully aware that the sleepless nights, loads of laundry, spit up, and poopy diapers are all actually the sweet daily reminders that I have been given the opportunity to raise another human life. I have been given the opportunity to love another like never before, and to be loved in return.

Don’t get me wrong, motherhood is hard. I don’t remember the last time I actually had a full night of sleep without disturbance. However, in all its hardness, it holds a beauty that should not be forgotten among the struggle. I heard it recently said that when the days of motherhood feel overwhelming or challenging, and it’s hard to be grateful for this time, to go and take a moment to look at your sleeping child. Their sleeping face will melt your struggle (even for a moment) into gratefulness at the precious sight.

Have you taken a moment to practice gratitude for your baby/child today? Have you smelled their fragrant baby skin as they lay against your chest? Have you gotten down on their level and played with them for an uninterrupted amount of time? I encourage you, especially if today is “one of those days”, to take a moment to just go and look at your child. Bottle the memory at least, drink it in now and say thank you!

Bye-Bye Perfectionism!

Imperfect Day

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day and saw a post that really touched me. The post was written by a weary mom of a four month old who was struggling to hold it together. She talked about the fact that she had always envisioned motherhood looking a certain way, and how reality didn’t quite compare. She stated that she wanted everything for her daughter to be absolutely perfect, and she didn’t think she could make this dream a reality. While this mom had some other serious concerns she was dealing with, adding to her stress, the part of her post that stood out to me the most was her use of the word PERFECT. And while my heart went out to her (and I did reply with a post of encouragement and resources relevant to her situation), I couldn’t help but think about my own struggle with perfectionism over the years.

Now, from the outside looking in it may not appear that I struggle with perfectionism. While I love a clean home, mine is hardly clean at all times (especially since the baby). I don’t do my makeup perfectly or my hair. I don’t necessarily have a “Type A” personality, or any of the other stereotypes you might think of when you think of someone who is a perfectionist. But nevertheless I struggle with perfectionism. Or as I recently heard it referred to-idealism.

How you might ask? Well, I’ll give you an example that many of us can relate to-working out. Whenever I get on a “health kick”, I will come up with the most perfect or ideal workout plan for my life (or so I think). Something like, “I will wake up every morning at 5am, work out for 30 minutes to an hour, pray, read my bible, and then shower for the day!” I always plan to start this new workout routine in the coming week-MONDAY-WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY. I’ll do great on Monday and Wednesday, but there is always a hiccup come Friday in which I am not able to wake up at the ideal 5am hour, and I’ll need to push my workout to later in the day. However, by the time “later” comes I’m no longer as interested and I promise myself that I’ll have a fresh start in the coming week. Inevitably other “hiccups” happen and my PERFECT workout plan goes out the window! Have you ever done this? Am I the only one?

This idea that everything needs to be perfect or ideal before we can start or complete our goals is false! In fact, this thinking can be very dangerous and prevent us from ever making headway on our goals in life, or as mothers. For one thing, in case you haven’t heard, NO ONE is perfect! There was only one man who held that title, and he paid the price for our sins over 2000 years ago on a cross! Perfectionism can be out biggest road block in ever accomplishing anything.

With that being said, the new thing that I am growing in is learning to be ok even when things aren’t perfect or ideal. I’m learning to say “Bye-bye to perfectionism”—to keep going anyway, to keep striving for success even when the hiccups come, as they surely will. As long as we keep moving forward, we are doing ok.

And to that mom who I saw on my Facebook feed, you’re so brave for sharing your struggles! There are many moms out there who feel the same way you feel at times. They always envisioned that beautiful home with a white picket fence, and a perfectly designed nursery that they would bring home baby to, and instead baby is sleeping in a pack & play in their one bedroom apartment in a three story complex. Its ok if things aren’t perfect, life never is. And I know that my own baby feels safe and warm in his pack & play in the corner of my bedroom because he’s got a mama who loves him to pieces, and is doing the best she can!

Share with me your own struggles with perfectionism/idealism. What have you learned over the years? How are you working through the imperfection of life? I’d love to hear!