This week You Know You’re a Mom features Lindsey Evans, SAHM of the playful Sarah, age two, and the chilled-out Andrew, eight months. Lindsey is a generous, buoyant soul with a heap of toddler-mothering experience. And she has the privilege of staying with her children all day to watch them play, grow and learn. 

The adorable duo in a classic black and white. Love this.

Lindsey is not your average mother. Her story is one of incredible pain and grief, but is marked not by bitterness and stunting but by a rebounding spirit who, along with her family, is making great good from a great sorrow.

Lindsey and I met when her husband, Ryan, and mine were in a Bible study together. There were several of us newlyweds around at the time and we formed a dinner party group, meeting once or twice a month to enjoy some delightful girl talk while the guys scraped their plates loudly and talked “man” in the next room. Dinner was often held in Lindsey’s living room, with her two cocker spaniels toddling about to join in the fun. We both were attempting parenthood at the time, although not successfully yet, and there was much to share along these lines as well.

But one of the most important things I learned about Lindsey during our dinner conversations was her incredible resiliency after an earth-shattering family tragedy. In 2007, her younger sister, Kelsey Smith, was abducted from a Target parking lot in broad daylight, and murdered.

Lindsey with Kelsey in the middle, at her high school graduation

Due to legal limitations on cell phones at the time, the family was not able to “ping” her phone and find Kelsey’s location. This caused many problems and lengthened the search process for Kelsey. The killer was found and prosecuted, thank God, but the devastation lingered. Of course. Monumental family events like Lindsey’s wedding and the birth of her children were marked with the tangible ache of Kelsey’s absence.

The Smith family did not simply grieve and move on with life, however. Lindsey’s father, Greg Smith, a former police officer, used all his connections and training to begin Kelsey’s Army through The Kelsey Smith Foundation. Greg is now able to provide safety seminars to local schools and businesses to promote safety and personal awareness through The Foundation.  And to ensure that other families in their situation were not delayed in a search for their loved ones, The Foundation worked tirelessly and effectively passed the Kelsey Smith Act, which allows law enforcement to determine that a person is in danger and their phone’s location can be accessed. This was a huge victory for the family.

The Foundation is a powerful instrument of good in the wake of such evil and pain. I admire each of the Smith’s for rallying together and becoming a force to be reckoned with, rather than simply folding and calling it quits on life. Which I think would just be so tempting to do. I’m just so proud of them for taking their great sadness and turning it into these effective bursts of energy that leave a legacy. Amazing resilience, isn’t it?

The Foundation raises money through an annual golf tournament at the Falcon Ridge Course in Lenexa, part of the greater Kansas City area, held this year on July 16th. To view a video news feature from a past event, click here. You can also visit the website to register or be a sponsor.

Despite the heartache of this loss, Lindsey and Ryan have two very beautiful reasons to laugh and enjoy their lives: Sarah and Andrew. Sarah arrived several months before our John, and then Andrew rushed in only 18 months later. So obviously, Lindsey’s clocked far more parenting hours than I have, even though we started close to the same time. Over the past two years, I’ve relied on Lindsey for a variety of pregnancy and parenting tips, and she’s always been available and ready to pass them on. Which I love. It was Lindsey’s cautionary tale of diaper-blowout-at-the-mall woe with her firstborn that informed me to stash a change of clothes and a ziplock bag for every trip, just in case. Now, as she raises a girl and a boy, this mama gets a daily dose of strong laughter and a workout to boot.

So now that I’ve shared a little of Lindsey’s story with you, I’d like her to share about some of the joys, setbacks and head-banging moments she encounters in life as a mom. But first, some up close and personal family photos:

The Evans four: with Papa Ryan, the littles and happy mama Lindsey

The adorable boy child, Andrew.

The huge-smiling pretty princess, Sarah.

And now without any further ado, Installment #9 of You Know You’re a Mom Monday. By Lindsey Evans.

You know you’re a mom when:
  • You watch what you say not because it’s inappropriate, but because you don’t want your two year old to use it against you. Case in point, I apparently tell Sarah (the two year) “just a minute” frequently. The other day I asked her to come here and she told me “just a minute Mommy, I pwaying”. I try to use different phrasing now.
  • You never go anywhere without at least 3 diapers per kid, a change of clothes for each, and a set of pj’s for each. And that’s just the bare minimum. Most of the time I try to leave the house with kids, I feel like I’m packing for a week-long stay somewhere. But it turns out that I use nearly everything I pack.
  • A good afternoon nap isn’t complete unless a tiny body is curled up next to you. Better if it’s two of them.
  • Going to the grocery store sans the littles makes you feel like you’re on vacation. Let’s be real, I love my kids, but sometimes having them in tow makes getting things done (like grocery shopping) nearly impossible.  
The graham cracker picnic in yellow.
  • You love watching your kids interact, especially when it’s in a language that is all their own. Oftentimes my kiddos like to yell (happily) at each other and see who can get the loudest. Andrew (the eight month old) absolutely loves yelling, screeching, and clicking his tongue at anyone who will do it back. 
  • Your relationship with food totally changes. While pregnant with my first EVERYTHING made me nauseous. While pregnant with my second I was STARVING all the time. And now that I have a picky toddler and a chunky baby, food is always on my mind. I have to make sure the toddler eats more than just a few pieces of something here and there and believe me she’d rather be playing. And I have to convince the baby that yes, one jar of baby food is all you get right now, and no you won’t die of starvation if you don’t nurse every hour on the hour.
  • You have a camera ready (even if it’s on your phone) at all times just in case one of the kids breaks out a killer smile, does something totally cute, or does something that merits photographic proof for when you’re telling the story of it later.
  • You hear and or say the phrase, “two more minutes”, multiple times a day.
  • But mostly you know you’re a mom when you realize how much you’ve grown as a person since God blessed you with the little ones you have. My patience has improved, my capacity to love has multiplied, and my ability to understand toddler speak has increased exponentialy. That’s not saying there aren’t times when I want to pull my hair out or times that I lose my cool. But this whole motherhood experience has stretched my being and redefined me into something that my pre-baby self would barely recognize!
Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Lindsey. Those kids you’ve got there are mighty adorable. It was fun to hear from you.

You can read all about Lindsey’s moments of knowing for sure that she’s a mom every single day on her personal blog, Beyond Motherhood. And please stop by Kelsey’s Army to learn more about the Foundation, the Golf Classic and all the progress they’re making toward justice and safety in our world. Or shoot them a quick message and say thank you for the important work they’re doing.

Have a wonderful week. Thanks for stopping by.

[PS: We’re going to take a break from You Know You’re a Mom Monday, but I have another idea up my sleeve. And I will need your help. Stay tuned.]