The Kind of Parent I Want to Be

No ever thinks about what kind of parent they want to be when they’re younger, at least, I never did. Even when you talked about what you wanted to be when you ‘grew up’, I’m sure if or when you said like mommy or daddy you really didn’t know what those words meant. I don’t think we really think about what kind of parent we want to be until we actually become parents. Yes, you more than likely talked about it with your future spouse before marriage. You shared how you grew up, how your parents were, things you liked and didn’t like and maybe even gave your own thoughts about how you would parent. When you got engaged, you talked about becoming a family and how that would change your twosome. Feelings of excitement and nervousness filled your body about the possibility of a ‘mini’ you or your husband. And then when you got pregnant, you thoroughly prepared yourself for your new role, envisioning what it will be like and trying to plan for it all. Then reality sets in and it hits you. It hits you HARD. And just like that, you’re officially a parent. There is no slow motion in parenting (despite how many moments we wish we could). The minute you become a parent it’s as if someone threw you in the ocean and just as you stand up, SMACK! you get crushed by a giant wave. You fight to get up again and you’re pretty out of breathe when SMACK, you’re hit again this time even harder. But now… now you know what’s coming so you’re prepared for this big wave….you get up, get your bearings and…nothing. Ahh, time to relax……SMACK! Parenting doesn’t stop. And even when you think you have the hang of it, everything changes.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of parent I want to be. Sometimes, it keeps me up at night. Sometimes, it leaves me in tears. Sometimes, it fills me with so much anxiety and fear that I start to panic wondering if I’m doing the right things. Am I doing the right things? Am I doing anything right?! Am I being the kind of parent my kids deserve? Because let’s face it, our kids deserve everything. And I don’t mean that in the entitlement kind of way, I mean that in the parenting kind of way. They deserve to get everything they can from us because it’s going to make them who they are one day. So shouldn’t we give them the very best of us? Is that even enough? If your parents are Baby Boomers like mine, then you probably grew up hearing ‘I only want the best for you’ or ‘I want you to have more than what I had’ or ‘I want to give you more than I was given’. Our parents always wanted more for us. They just wanted to give and give and give. They never stopped giving. You don’t understand that kind of ‘give’ until you’re a parent. You just don’t. There is nothing like it. When you’re a parent, you give until there is nothing left to give, and then you give more.

We want to see our children grow and succeed and become the best possible versions of themselves but being a parent nowadays isn’t easy. In fact, it’s almost nearly impossible. I don’t know how my parents did it. I really don’t. To try to keep up with a job, a marriage, children, a house, cooking, cleaning, school, school activities, sports, extracurricular activities, homework, meetings, church activities, volunteering and all the other things that come along with life as a parent seems completely unmanageable! And on top of that, now everyone gets to document it. Now everyone gets to show off what ‘amazing’ parents they are. This is not meant to insult anyone at all. I’ll be the first to say, I love sharing pictures of the fun things I do with my kids, who doesn’t? And I know almost all moms would agree with me that in the middle of one of your child’s meltdowns, not only is there no time to share it, but it’s such utter chaos that the thought of sharing it doesn’t even enter your mind. Yes, we share the best parts of parenting and it’s great, but sometimes it makes life seem a little less real, don’t you think? That’s when I personally have to step back and ask myself, why am I even on here? Why do I care about what other people are doing? I need to be spending time with my kids!

So here’s what I’ve decided. Here’s the kind of parent I want to be.

I want to be the kind of parent that one day, my kids will thank me for all the things I did, the things I taught them and even the times I was really tough on them. I want them to have the best memories of their childhood and look back upon it with fondness, joy and love. I hope that fondness fosters future memories for them with their children. I want to be the kind of parent that doesn’t give up….EVER….and always tells my kids I love them, no matter what they may say to me. I want to be the parent that teaches my children not only how to pray but to KEEP praying, because God hears your prayers (even if you don’t get the answer that you want). I want my kids to know I pray for them every single day (usually more than once!) and that will never stop.

But right now, I want to be a yes mom to my kids. No, that doesn’t mean I will give my children everything they want, but it means I will say yes to the things that I know one day they won’t ask me for. Yes I will play with you, yes I will lay with you, yes I will color with you, yes I will run around the house and chase you, yes I will read you that story again, yes I will spin you around for the hundredth time, yes I will make silly faces with you…YES, YES YES! I need more ‘yes’ moments. I need to give my children more ‘yes’ moments, because these are the ones you can’t get back.

Listen, I am far from this parent. I know that I can write these words so much more easily than I can put them into action. But this is an aspiration for me. This is me saying, YES I CAN DO THIS! Yes, I can do this on the days I run out of patience and it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. Yes, I can do this on the days I’ve been yelled at, slapped, smacked, bitten, peed on, spit up on and been thrown food on. Yes, I can do this when the house is a mess AGAIN, no one is listening or eating or doing anything they should be! Yes, I can do this because in the end, THIS is all you have. The days might be exhausting and unbearable and even downright miserable at times, but it’s the little moments, the little glimpses of pure joy that make it all worth it. The moments when I’m running around with my husband and our kids on the lawn in the middle of summer having a water gun fight and laughing so hard it hurts. The moments when you almost forget where you are and what you should be doing because you’re just enjoying those precious moments with your kids. Find your ‘yes’ mom and cherish those moments. I know I will.

My Last First Date…

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Seven years ago today I went on my last first date. Around that time, I had been going on a good amount of first dates. I had been in a series of serious relationships prior to and fed up with they way they dragged on for years only to end in heart break. I really just wanted to find the person I was to spend the rest of my life with and decided if the first date wasn’t a hit, I wasn’t going to try and make something happen.

My now husband and I spoke on the phone for a few weeks before our first date (which I fearfully canceled a few times). The conversations were so great I worried it would end up like all my other recent first dates….in disappointment. However, I had a small amount of hope that maybe this time would be different. I was caught in the middle of hopeless romantic and negative Nancy. After my second cancelation I’ll never forget him saying over the phone, ‘Renee, we are going on this date.’ We rescheduled for the final time and I went on my last first date.

It still feels like yesterday. I remember impatiently waiting for him. He hit traffic and texted me he was running a little late. I was nervous, excited, scared and filled with so many emotions and then he walked in. We were already Facebook friends so I knew what he looked like. He smiled and walked towards me and I melted. I knew this was it. I’m marrying this man. Sounds silly, cheesy and totally cliche but it’s true. He smiled and I fell in love.

We didn’t even order dinner yet and he was already asking to see me the next day. We spent the next two weeks together and by my birthday (August 20th) he told me he was falling in love with me. He was it. He was the one. He’s still the one.

Now, we are married (celebrating five years at the end of the month) with a toddler and a little baby boy (!) on the way. Our journey isn’t always a fairytale and we definitely have our moments but oh do I love this man. Even when he drives me crazy I still just love him so much. I love him not only because I chose him but HE CHOSE ME. He didn’t have to marry me. He could have married anyone, but he picked me. He fell in love with me. I am far from perfect but he never tells me that. He only builds me up. He reminds me what a great job I’m doing and how proud he is of me. He tells me he loves me and he shows me. He makes me better.

Isn’t that the hopes for one another as spouses? To make each other better? To want to be better? To give the love we want to receive. To do things because we care without the expectation of something in return? Marriage isn’t easy…then throw kids in the mix….WHOA….marriage just became a whole new ball game…but sometimes it’s nice to go back and remember the reasons you fell in love. Remember why you both say YES!

I would never want to experience this life with anyone other than him. The good times, the bad times and everything in between…he is ALWAYS there for me. Seven years ago today he stole my heart, and I’m so lucky he’s never let it go. I love you MPD. Here’s to us….

Why I’m a Damn Good Mom

We_Can_Do_It!.jpgAs a mom, how many times a day do you question what you’re doing? Ten? Fifteen? A million?

I feel like I question everything. I am constantly wondering, worrying and driving myself crazy with concern over my parenting skills. And why wouldn’t I? I’m molding a child that I hope and pray will one day grow up to be a good human being. And it’s hard to be good these days. It really is. 

I mean who can our kids look up to anymore? Miley Cyrus? The Kardashians? Pathetic. No thank you. Well, I guess that leaves us as parents so I pretty much need to have my shit together 24/7, which I don’t. And that’s the thing about being a role model, no one is perfect, however these people we call ‘celebrities’ are so insecure they’re actually vain and completely devoid of being anything real so I’ll gladly step up to the plate. At least I can always teach my child what not to be. Sorry if I sound judgy, it’s just hard for me to take people like that serious.

So back to why I’m a damn good mom. Well, most of the time I feel like I’m not. I don’t know what I’m doing. Heck, I’ve never done this before! There is no manual. There is no barometer or scale to rate me. The only way I’ll know is once my child or God willing, children, are grown up. I’ll know then by the person they turn out to be. So for the next 30 years I get to worry about that!

But seriously, moms don’t give themselves enough credit. We think we aren’t doing enough when we are. We are because we care. We care so much that we would literally do anything for our children and that’s what makes us damn good moms. You read and hear about story after story of child abuse and neglect and just downright bad parenting and it’s a reality check that hey, guess what, you’re an awesome mom! Sadly it shouldn’t be that way, but unfortunately that’s how the world works. Do you know that every 10 seconds a child is abused or raped (and that’s only reported incidents)? Think about that. It’s hard to, I know. It disgusts me. Mostly, it makes me cry so I honestly try not to think about it. There are parents in the world who having a dying child and would do anything to save him/her and we have this shit going on in the world.

I was talking to a girlfriend on New Years Eve about being a good parent and how do I know and she said to me, “You know what? When you go first take your child to Kindergarten or Preschool or any sort of school and you see other moms who don’t care, I mean literally do not give a shit about their kids, you know you’re a good mom and you’re doing a damn good job. And that’s sad to say to make such a comparison but it really opens your eyes to how much you do. ” And she wasn’t saying this to boast about what a great mom she is or how other moms aren’t as great, but went to say that the fact I care and worry so much about being a good mom means I am a good one.

I never knew what a tough job this would be. What a selfless, all-giving, all encompassing job I would be taking on, but you know what, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There is nothing in this world that you could offer me to replace my daughter. There is no greater joy. This is it. This honestly is the most joy I’ve ever had because despite all my days of doubt and fear and stress and anxiety, I get this little bundle of joy. I get her. I get to watch her grow and learn and change and become independent and confident and remarkable! I get to do that! You get to do that! I will quote my favorite book I read to my daughter almost every day:

So whenever you doubt just how special you are
and you wonder who loves you, how much and how far,
listen for the geese honking high in the sky.
(They’re singing a song to remember you by.)

Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo.
(It’s because they’ve been dancing all night for you!)

Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind.
(Listen closely… it’s whispering your name again!)

If the moon stays up until morning one day,
or a ladybug lands and decides to stay,
or a little bird sits at your window awhile,
it’s because they’re all hoping to see you smile…

For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
has the world ever known a you, my friend,
and it never will, not ever again…

Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn
on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.

~Nancy Tillman, On The Night You Were Born

This is what we feel for our children. This is what love is. And this is why you are a damn good mom.

 

It’s Just Not the Same…

cartoon-wedding-couple-doodle-card_23-2147493884I vividly remember the day I got married. I can close my eyes and relive all the moments that I cherished from that incredible day. I see myself walking towards my husband-to-be with tears in his eyes, jumping up and down in church when I reached him because I was so excited, being introduced into our reception as we danced to Coldplay and all the little intimate moments that we shared which makes it STILL the best day in my life (followed closely by the birth of our daughter and the day he proposed).

Now…it’s just not the same. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just different. Our marriage, our lives…everything. I’ll be honest in saying I have moments of sadness. I don’t feel like we still look at each other the way we once did. The love isn’t gone, but maybe some of the passion is. We’re busy, we’re older, we’re tired, we’re stressed and we have a baby that consumes every ounce of us!

We lost the right to be selfish because we decided to have a family and maybe we lost a little bit of ourselves. We disagree at times about our daughter, not the way we want to raise her but how each of us does it. We shouldn’t, but we do. I’m quite controlling and particular so I know that isn’t easy for him. However, he’s more laid back and that isn’t always easy for me. We’ve adjusted to being a family, but I think sometimes we forget how to be a ‘couple’.

I wouldn’t say we’ve changed because we haven’t. Things just aren’t the same and there isn’t any other way I can put it. The other night as we went up to bed we kissed goodnight then turned to opposing sides and both went to our phones. And it’s not that we don’t communicate anymore, it just made me sad to think about it. And there’s nothing wrong with what we were doing, it’s just that some days we’re so busy we don’t always take time for ‘us’. Technology has changed our world and a lot of times I don’t think for the better. Sure, we have our nights of cuddling on the couch and watching our shows or a movie but it’s not with the ease and energy we once had.

It’s not the same for a lot of reasons and selfishly, sometimes I want it to be. Sometimes I want to have it all. I want the way we were and I want Emma but I realize that’s not possible…it’s just not. For so long I wanted to get married, I wanted to find that perfect person for me. It was in God’s hands to meet my husband when I did and I couldn’t be happier, I really couldn’t. I knew I wanted a family but I was okay on waiting for that. I wanted time with my husband. I wanted to be selfish because I knew once that baby was there, it would no longer ever be about me. But there is a part of me, a small part, that will yearn for the days when it was easier. And I’m not trying to say that life before Emma was easy and now it’s not. There are always challenges and struggles when it comes to marriage, but choosing to start a family is a true commitment and adjustment to everything you do. Your life will never be the same and for so many reasons that’s a good thing. However, there are those moments back in the beginning when we first started our relationship that I miss…

I read something great the other day that I want to share here: “The easiest part of marriage is falling in love and walking down the aisle. The most difficult part of marriage is 10 years later when the problems have ensued and issues have come about and you still find love. Marriage is not about the beginning, marriage is about the process and still being able to love through all things.”

So while it’s just not the same, I don’t think it was ever meant to be. We will love and grow old and do our best to keep at this thing called marriage. Our lives will only continue to become more busy and our ability to keep up might be overwhelming at times (that’s pretty much how I feel daily!), but at the end of the day, it’s us. It’s him and me. We haven’t changed. And while we may have taken each other for granted, frustrated one another and argued until we were blue in the face, we still have love. We have our love…and that’s the one thing that will always stay the same :).

The Minute My Heart Stopped…

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It was a beautiful August day in Michigan. There was a slight breeze as the sun warmed the air. It wasn’t humid or too hot…the weather was just right. We have family in town so it was decided to go to the Troy Aquatic Center for the kiddos. Emma loves the water and I was excited to take her.

We got there and she was pretty fussy and unwilling to leave my arms. After a while she got more comfortable and soon she was splashing by the fountain pads and laughing. I took her into the water with me and we played. She takes swim classes and loves being in the water so there wasn’t much concern for me there. However, there were a lot of kids swimming and splashing around so I decided to take her out, maybe grab a snack and just sit for a bit.

I placed her on one of the lounge chairs as her uncle and cousin were saying hello and engaging with her. Here’s where the mistakes start…

I didn’t ask them to watch her for a second. I didn’t even see if they were completely interacting with her. I didn’t take her down so she wouldn’t fall. I turned away. I TURNED AWAY! I hear a scream and see her face down on the cement. My heart stopped. I literally felt like I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to cry, scream, throw up and pass out all at once. I grabbed her. She was hysterical. I was hysterical. The blood wouldn’t stop coming from her mouth. I was a wreck, I still am.

Per our pediatrician, we took her to the ER. She was admitted, examined and released within one hour (great job Royal Oak, Beaumont!). No stitches, no CT scan. She is okay. That’s what my husband had to keep reminding me, “She is okay.” Her lips is pretty cut up and swollen and her chin is scratched up but other than that, she is okay. Thank you God, she is okay. I know it could have been worse. I know. But I can’t help myself. I can’t help but blame my stupid self for turning away. Why did I think that would be okay? What is wrong with me?!

I know she’s going to get injured. I know this won’t be the last time, but I could have prevented it and I can’t help but feel like the worst mom in the world. I close my eyes and see that image of her laying there. I cringe. My heart breaks. It makes me sick to my stomach. I want to permanently erase it from my mind.

While I realize it was an accident, I can’t help but feel angry at myself. It seems like she is continuously having these issues too. Her tooth incident at my mom’s house when she was only 8 months old, her chipping her front tooth with me in the bathtub (a week ago) and now this (by the way, her front teeth are a complete, chippy mess)! I wish I could just fix it all. I could just take a magic wand and eliminate the pain and the scars (these poor teeth!). But I can’t. This is a part of life. And as her mother, it’s important for me to stay strong which so far I have not been able to do…

The love of a parent is so amazing. It’s like my heart just jumps out of my chest for her. She has truly completed my life and if I never have another I will be okay because I have her. And that’s why I think it’s so hard for us as parents. We have this love that cannot be described until you actually experience it. And with that love comes this innate responsibility to protect. This responsibility is so strong that we would become superhuman if needed, we would do anything to protect them from all harm…but we can’t. It’s just not possible. Even if I bubble wrapped my child (I definitely considered it after yesterday), she would still get hurt. There comes a point when you need to have faith it will all be okay…whatever your faith may be. This is where I must learn to ‘let go and let God’.

Emma is okay. She’s alive and healthy with a few cuts and some chippy teeth (luckily these ones fall out!). I am very lucky it wasn’t any worse. It can always be worse…

So while I work on trying not to lose my mind when she gets injured, I think about how blessed I am that she’s okay. My advice for anyone going through something similar is this: Keep calm and ‘mom’ on 🙂 You’re a great parent. Be thankful for the blessings you have and continue to pray for all those suffering, it could always be worse!