Why I Want A Girl

I was sure the baby was a girl. 95% sure.

Her name was Elizabeth. She had giant blue eyes and porcelain skin like her brother, with dark hair. She was a firecracker, stood her ground, knew she was loved. We were both a little stubborn so sometimes we argued. I was a little intimidated by her quiet strength, the kind she got from her father.

But I couldn’t wait to talk about real beauty and host tea parties and give makeup tutorials and go shopping, but then scrap all that and let her trash her tutu in the backyard if she wanted.

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I couldn’t wait to see the light in Josh’s eyes when he picked up his baby girl, held her tight, rocked her to sleep, fought for her in prayer and waited up for her to get home.

I always wanted someone to fight for me like that. Oh, the redemption. 

So it was no surprise at all when I went in for my ultrasound and the wand glided over my tummy, “Oh, there we go. Looks like we are having a girl,” announced the technician. I grinned over at Josh as she typed Baby Girl onto the screen.

We toured the rest of the baby body, spine, heart cavities, all growing right on schedule. Beautiful. Healthy.

And then we came back to that little baby bottom. But this time, something was different. “Oh, I was wrong. That is definitely a boy,” the ultrasound technician corrected herself. Baby Girl erased, letter by letter, off the screen. She returned again for another view. “Definitely a boy,” as she typed Baby Boy across the top.

I lay there, staring in disbelief at the unmistakable evidence. A boy? But what about Elizabeth? What about her room, the champagne pink and antiqued white furniture? What about the tutu I bought and the baby booties with the tiny pink flower my dear friend knitted for her? Where did she go? She was just here.

Gratitude. Thankful. I tried to put the thoughts back together. You have a baby. You wanted to be pregnant. You wanted more children. Your baby is healthy. You should be thankful. Don’t let the baby feel your sadness. 

The guilt and grief mixed together in the shock. I called my friend to tell her. “A boy!” “What?” She couldn’t believe it either. We were sure. Almost everyone was.

I didn’t know what to do now. I didn’t have dreams for a boy. We barely had a name we agreed on, and I didn’t even like it.

I came home and cried for two days. Cried in front of my friends at our small group. Cried to friends who had fertility issues and miscarriages. I felt extraordinarily selfish. Guilty. I should be happy. I had a healthy baby. What could I complain about?

It took me until the next day to realize why I really wanted a girl. I wanted to learn how to be a girl myself. I wanted permission to explore and enjoy beauty, to stop feeling like being a boy would be easier, if not better. The world has a clear way of stating this message, and as annoying as it is to keep bringing this up, it’s still true.

I never really knew what femininity was for. I grew up fighting it. I hated weakness and vulnerability because they made it unsafe to be me. So I used beauty as leverage. It was a mess.

Being a girl felt difficult to redeem and impossible to love. I wanted to watch someone, my daughter, love her girlhood because I thought maybe then I could love mine.

I cried to God. “Who is going to teach me how to be a girl? You can’t. You’re a dude.” Then more tears.

I sat down to write it all out, and I found a new desire inside me.

I wanted to redeem more than just my own femininity. I wanted girls everywhere to feel wanted. My heart broke all over again for girls in the world who were aborted or sold into slavery or prostitution or forced to marry at a young age. No voice. No choice. Just a girl.

But not to me. That day I wrote in my journal:

“Give me a girl. You can’t celebrate her, but I can. You can’t enjoy her delicacy and her strength. You can’t comprehend how someone can be gentle and fierce, but I can.

Give me your girls. I want one of those unwanted ones.”

Since then, God has been showing me about the value of my love for these orphaned daughters, how he shares this love with me. And he’s been gently teaching me about being a girl. I don’t really know how he’s doing that, but he is, correcting some of my misguided thinking and helping me know what the beauty and grace and even the vulnerability is for.

And I know some day I’ll get my girls, by birth or adoption. But they are coming.

I’m planning to write about my new understandings about femininity as soon as I have clarity. I don’t want to put it out too soon, when I only know so little, but I want to share what I’m learning too. And I want to hear from you.

What does femininity mean to you? What qualities do you believe are inherently feminine or strong in women? Please share in the comments. 

PS: I am really getting excited about this boy. We have a name for him we’re not quite ready to announce yet, but my head is clearing. I’m not sad I’m having a boy – I just wanted a girl. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but it does to me. I know I will be in love with this one just like his brother. I am so very blessed.

Live big and brave with me. Subscribe to the blog for free updates and the first copies of my book, Dream or Die, at its release early next year. And stay connected on Facebook or Twitter.

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When It Seems Like God Can’t Be Trusted

It’s already been three weeks since I announced my pregnancy with our second baby. I’ve been thrilled about the news and the process – pregnancy is such a crazy mystery to me. But this has also been one of the most difficult seasons of my life. I’ve had to fight so many times to believe everything would be okay.

It started with the strange circumstances around the pregnancy. I shouldn’t have been able to get pregnant when I did. I didn’t expect to be pregnant when I took the test. It seemed like a fluke, or just a giant gift from God. And I’ve spent the last two months since I learned the news trying to decide which one it was.

I remember trying to guess how far along I was, and I had no idea. Since I work in a hospital, one of my co-workers offered me an ultrasound. I took her up on it. But as I laid down on the bed, I prepared myself for a blank screen. Sad news.

Instead, this is what I saw.

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Relief washed from head to toe. The size of a blueberry, or some tiny fruit, the ultrasound said baby was about seven weeks along. Close to my estimations.

Two weeks later, we visited the doctor for our first official ultrasound. We brought John along to see the baby. Again, fear rushed into my mind. What if the baby’s gone? What if there’s no heartbeat? I wouldn’t even have symptoms.

The wand glided over my belly, and we saw a tiny body, with the teeniest arm and leg buds, swimming, spinning, moving so fast. I couldn’t believe it. Still there.

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Then the bleeding came. It wasn’t much according to medical terms, but it felt like my insides were going to fall out. Stunned, I sat in the bathroom and envisioned how I would announce our loss to our excited friends and family, how they would be disappointed, and we would want to be left alone. How I would finally understand grief in a new way.

Isn’t miscarriage a rite of passage, I thought? Don’t I have to go through this somehow? It’s happened to your friends – what makes you think you’re exempt?

I sent a text to a few friends for prayer, but my heart was pounding. It was hard to breathe. I crawled in bed, a less than subtle act of surrender.

And then something happened. I decided to fight. I had to fight the anxiety, but more than that, I had to fight for the baby. I had to change my inner monologue.

NO. I prayed for this baby. I prayed for over a year. I held up my seedling of faith and the answer came at an unlikely time. This is not some fluke. This is my baby. This is a gift. And I’m not just going to let him or her go that easily.

I whispered all the protection prayers I knew, and over the phone, I let my mom and one of my best friends breathe them over me with power. Prayers like life flooded in through text as I tried to ignore the cramps.

Breathe.

But in the back of my head, I always know God’s not obligated to give me what I want, that Yes and Amen to my every wish aren’t always the best way to tell my story.

When it seems like my dreams might delayed or dissolve completely, I’ve learned to tell myself the deepest truths. I remind myself so gently of the three essentials to my existence, and that no matter what I give up or who I lose or the ache in my heart, these three things will always be true. So when the doubt crept in and the prayers lost hold, I said to myself:

1. Sarah, if we lose the baby, you will be okay. You will survive. You will not die.

2. No matter what, you will never be alone. That’s a promise. You can lean on it.

3. God is good, even if the baby dies. Or even if there’s a problem. Or something goes terribly wrong. God is good. He will always be good.

These little phrases floated up from the summer of 2009. That’s when I read The Shack and found myself arguing with God. I can’t trust you unless you protect me from pain. I don’t want life to hurt. Tell me it won’t hurt, and I will let go.

But he reminded me he didn’t even protect his son from pain. He never promised a life free of pain. He just promised he will never leave me.

So these three reminders, that I will survive, that I will never be alone, and that God is good, these come from the reality that life is pain at times, but it is also beautiful.

And it is safe to trust in God and life because of these things. These are what I hold onto, even when everything I know fails to stand.

So here are pictures from this week – the story and the baby are still being told. The amazing thing is, my fear didn’t ruin anything. I had another ultrasound at work this week. And this tiny, lovely body is what I saw, curled up inside me although I rarely feel it.

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I absolutely love this picture. It looks like the baby is rolled over, away from me, like s/he’s saying, “Five more minutes, Mom.” All the detail here with the little arm, leg and ear and the spine are so wonderful.
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A slightly less clear profile shot, but quite clearly a baby. Such a good, good thing.

It matters what we tell ourselves when things are going badly. What do you tell yourself when the world feels like it’s caving in?

 

 

 

 

How to know your child’s ruined

Becoming a mom almost three years ago transformed me into one of the most neurotic, nail-biting versions of myself. Because children are seen as a reflection of their parents, naturally I want my son to be well-behaved, brilliant, articulate and most of all, potty-trained. Like me.

My greatest fear is that I will ruin him, somehow, some way. Or worse, that my parenting skills just can’t hack it, and I don’t have what it takes to raise a functional, healthy member of society. I use a selection of arbitrary variables to judge my progress, such as number of times per day the child ate junk cereal, ratio of vegetables to cookies, hours spent in yard playing to hours spent watching TV. And to seal the fear paralysis, I also include things out of my control, such as: frequency of sickness, units of bodily fluid emitted in inappropriate places, and propensity to consume or contact gross things.

I need a new system.

The following list is compiled from moments in my day, or week, when I know for sure he’s ruined. Because I ruined him. My ignorance or inadequacy finally manifested. The secret is out: I have no idea what I’m doing. Even if just a few minutes ago, he was counting and playing so nicely, and I was a perfect parent from the magazines. Maybe you can relate.

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I’m sure my kid is ruined when:
1. The first thing he says when he wakes up in the morning is “cookie?”
2. He watched three hours of public television on the iPad because I was too pregnant to live.
3. We put him to bed at 9, but he plays in the pitch black, yells “help” under the door, and doesn’t fall asleep until 11.
4. There are bite marks in all his foam building blocks.
5. He slurps his filthy bath water when we’re not looking and takes sips from the dog pool too.
6. When we use a public restroom, he makes sure to touch everything, including the toilet and the floor.
7. Some nights he will only eat his dinner with dessert bribes.
8. When he’s watching TV, his ears stop working. We have to clap, dance and shout to get his attention.
9. When it comes to dining, he turns into a shark, always moving. He stands, sits, lays down in his chair, runs off with his food and must be cajoled or carried back.
10. I think he might be better friends with Curious George and Daniel Tiger than he is with real human children.
11. Potty training in a weekend turned into potty training some time before high school.

The truth is I don’t think I will ruin him. But sometimes I’m still afraid his antics will prove to everyone can see I’m such a rookie at this mom gig. But because he’s so awesome and resilient and bright, he will be okay in spite of me. Someone once told me, and I think it’s true, “You’re probably not a bad parent if you’re worried about being a bad parent because bad parents don’t feel bad about their parenting.” Right.

So as long as we are trying out here, as long as we care, grow, evolve as moms and dads alongside our kids, I think we are going to be alright. Don’t you?

When are you worried you’ve ruined your kids? Share in the comments below.

How to speak Toddler: A cross-cultural education

Cross-cultural studies are regular academic fare at our house. So much so, we consider ourselves multi-cultural. That is, if you consider a toddler living with two adults culture blending. Which we do. Our home is a case study in a family made of people from the same ethnicity, yet somehow, different cultures.

Any time you’re doing any kind of anthropological research, or just trying to connect with “the locals”, the first thing to know is the language. If you come to our house, you might discover some of the tribe is less than hospitable, so it sure helps to know the lingo to improve communication and ease frustration.

Amazingly, some of the language is a true cognate, like “Mom” in English and “Mom” in Toddler. However, you might not guess that in Toddler, “Raisin” is pronounced “Fruhfen”. If you were asked to retrieve “Fruhfens” from the cabinet, you would be confused. Until now.

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While quite charming and endearing….
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They find themselves in some odd predicaments…
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at which point, they often shout for “HELP”. Or in Toddler, “Hep!”

Below is a helpful translation tool to assist you in speaking Toddler wherever you go. This dictionary is by no means comprehensive, but it will certainly get you started. [Please note: Toddler comes in varying dialects. You may need to relearn the new dialect any time you are introduced to a new person of the small variety. Sorry.]

Important people:

Mom           Mom

Dad            Dad or Josh (interchangeable)

Grandma    Nanna

Grandpa     Papa

John           John (although until a few nights ago, he called himself “Non”. The day he learned his name was priceless.)

Luke           Kook

Lily            Wiwee

Zane         Sane

Friend        Fen

Curious George     Gerge

Food:

Water        Wahwah

Milk           Mup

Hot dog     Hot gog

Bath         Bath

Raisin       Fruhfen

Cracker    Cacko

Cookie      Keekee

Apple        Appoh

Banana     Nana

Ice cream  I-keem

Candy       Kee

Places and things:

Plane        Pane

Train        Choo choo chain

Truck       Kuck

Car          Kuck

Van         Kuck

Horse      Hose

Cow        Cow

Dog         Gog

Bathroom Bath

Bath        Bath

Bedroom Woom

Fast         Fass

iPad        iPad

Phone     Phone

Playdough Doh

Plate       Peet

Bowl       Boo

Cup        Cup

Stars      Stows

Home      Home

TV show   Show

Shirt        Shote

Jeans      Jeans

Body Parts

Eyes       Eyes

Nose       Nose

Arms       Owms

Elbow      Ehbow

Knee       Knee

Toe         Toe

Hair         Ha-oh

Ears        Eewws

Mouth      Moup

Exclamations, requests and states of being:

Cute       Cute

Look       Look

Stuck      Guck

Help        Hep

Please     Peese

Thank you Tatoo

Love you  Wuv woo

Prayer:

Jees, Wuv woo. Amen.

What are you favorite words in Toddler? Share them with me below. I love to laugh. 🙂 

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No more cookies. No, really. Okay, fine.

If you are a parent, or you have ever been around a toddler, you know they have these obsessions. Compulsions. These “I can’t help myself” moments. While endearing the first six times they pose a nonsensical request, in only a matter of seconds the charm wears thin and suddenly, I’m shouting, “NO!” with all my might. Or I’m trying not to, per my 365 day commitment. Gulp.

We parents and caregivers say “No”, but what does that really matter to a toddler? They know the real trick is not the answer you give, but the ability to wear. you. down.  One whine at a time.

It works, doesn’t it?

Watch this hilarious short of two adult men reenacting an actual conversation one of the men had with his two-year-old daughter. (Apparently it’s a universal trait, the impulsive sweet tooth and very little access to the logic-brain.) This particular episode is about cookies. One of my son’s favorite words. Around our house, they’re called “keekees”, which is super adorable until he’s eaten 38 of them.

There are 8 episodes all together, so you know, if you have some time, you should watch them. Feel the empathy. It’ll be a relief.

I am the opposite of me

I am a paradox. And so are you.

We are clean and shiny in some areas of ourselves, yet disheveled disasters in others. The real estate of our souls and our yards is impeccable from one angle, and painfully unkempt from another.

How is it that we can live with coexisting brilliance and ignorance, with generous nobility and glaring narcissism?

Sometimes, I feel I’m an imposter, like the real me is the messy version, and the times I act right are just glitches, some kind of cosmic error where the light fell just right, and now the world thinks good of me.

But it feels like a balancing act, until I wreck it again.

So who am I? Can I be the bad and the good, at the same time?

Am I summed up in my moments of fear, panic and rejection or in my faith and courage?

Am I a scared, helpless child, wordless with shame, or a ferociously brave teacher who lives to inspire?

Am I all the times I hate to be alone, or the times I am frantic to get away?

Am I the girl who can’t find her keys or the idea-generating leader bent on improving her environment?

Am I the friend you can count on for everything, or the friend who will let you down?

Am I the blessings and encouragement I bestow, or the curses I hiss beneath my breath?

Am I the rage and anger I release on my very last nerve with my child, or am I the patient nurturer, singing this same child to sleep?

Am I the forgiveness I extend or the grudges I feed?

Am I all the times I disappoint or the times I keep my word?

Am I the girl who finds showers annoying or the girl who can’t stand dirty feet?

Am I everything I do right or everything I do wrong?

Am I the desperate woman wanting children I don’t have yet or the grateful mother to the one I do have?

It doesn’t seem possible, but I am all these things. It’s the conundrum of me. I can stop covering it up now, stop holding my breath so people will think of me as cleaned up and together.

The truth is, I am holy and I am full of sin. I am a work in progress. But at this exact moment, I am the good and the bad. 

I am all the things I’ve screwed up irreparably, the words I want back, and the genius and generosity in between. I am everywhere I’ve been and everywhere I’m going. I am my failure and my success. I am what I know and what I don’t know. It’s part of me. 

I just need to hit “Accept” on all this stuff, on the easy to love and the impossible to love parts of me. Cause it’s all me, and I’m not going anywhere.

Anger management: how it’s going out here

Two weeks ago, I took a crazy challenge. But it was about time.

Inspired by the brave mom at The Orange Rhino, I committed not to yell at my son for 365 days. With certain caveats, like safety and distance, of course. That was 14 days ago.

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So now it’s confession time, right? How have I actually been doing? Well, let’s just say I’m only 10 days in to this thing. May I defend myself? Well, I’m going to.

On Saturday, July 6th, we were visiting my family. My son, in true toddler form, turned into quite a mess from an afternoon of play. So into the tub he went. Being an opportunist, I decided to also wash my hair under the faucet while he took his bath. And what do you think I saw floating toward me as I rinsed my hair? Poo. That’s right. A small, but definitely-there piece of poo. In the bathtub. Where you’re supposed to get clean!

I was upset, disgruntled, flustered, not quite yelling, but I was close. Out went the toddler and down went the water. My hair was now sopping wet so I sat the tot down on the potty so he could finish his business and tried to complete my hair washing, this time in the sink, which is a less likely place to find poo. I peered around the corner to check on him, and at just that moment, he plunged his foot into the toilet. Just to spite me, I’m sure of it.

And then I lost it. I yelled. It was a violent act of regression, and I knew I was going to have to come out here and tell you I did it. But I did.

So the next day I started over. There have been two poo-in-tub incidents since that day, which makes three since I’m counting, but guess what? I’ve responded well to both, no yelling, just redirecting. And whining. Because eewwwww, gross.

I hope you don’t leave my alone on my commitment, but I also promise to keep you updated every couple week so you know I’m not faking it over here. I’m a mom who needs help, but I’m sure trying.

Here’s to more days and years of self-control! And kids who don’t poop in tubs.

Anger Management for Moms: the 365 Day Challenge

I can relate.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about anger. My anger. The kind that fills me up with sadness and regret. The kind I dive into in the moment and feel I’m drowning in the next.

Since I wrote about it, read about anger from other moms and started paying attention to my volume and emotion, I’ve been doing better.

It’s amazing what a little awareness can do.

About a year and a half ago, a mom blogger at Orange Rhino got caught yelling at her kids. (I can’t remember when but I feel like I’ve been there. It’s not pretty.) She decided enough was enough, and committed not to tell at her kids for a year. If she yelled, the 365 days started over.

That’s quite a challenge. And a brave woman.

She outlines the varying levels of volume in our voice as we move from a whisper to a raging scream. Her cut-off is level 4, the “oopsie snap”, the moment when “your blood pressure is building” and maybe you’re overreacting a little. That’s nice. She gives herself some grace.

Crazy, wild-eyed yelling is out. No matter how tired she is. No matter how bad the kids are.

It’s parental self-control at its finest. I love this commitment, and I am going to make it as well.

365 sounds like a long time, but when do I want to start yelling at my kids again? I don’t. Ever. So setting the deadline far away improves my chances of forming new habits. I will either sail through the year with perfect performance, which means the light has come on, or I will be required to start over by bad behavior. Either way, I win because I am forced to learn alternate ways to deal with anger.

So here is my commitment. 365 of no yelling, no nasty snaps or raging screams. I think I know what these are, but I may have to define them more as I go. Orange Rhino’s rule of thumb: If you think you yelled, you did.

So what do I want from parenting? I want relationship. Not zombie, docile, obedient children…

Why yelling or not yelling really matters? Two big reasons:

1. Because proving parents can control themselves as a higher priority over controlling their kids is something we must demonstrate to our children. I must not try to control them or they will learn that people can be controlled. It’s only a matter of figuring out how to do it. I want my children to demonstrate self-control, not others-control.

2. Protecting my children from my sinful responses is essential if I want to guard their hearts. I want to keep the relationship open between us and “not provoke them to anger”, as Paul challenges fathers, and I believe all parents, to avoid doing. I provoke anger when I am angry and out of control. I am powerful enough to mold a tender heart into an angry, defensive heart with my words and expectations. I have to use my power to build and not destroy.

So what do I want from parenting? I want relationship. Not zombie, docile, obedient children without opinions who only want to please me to avoid my rage. Or the opposite, raging hearts who only have their parents to model the handling of their emotions, children without self-control who feel rejected and unsure of their boundaries.

Dear God, help me avoid that fate. It’s painful even to imagine what my children could grow to be if I don’t truly learn this.

I will continue to discuss these emotions and handling them better as I discover new ways, or as I run into challenges. I know now I will need to outline specific ways of dealing with anger so I can be prepared, not surprised.

Until then, here are a few excellent posts on doing motherhood well from some of my favorite bloggers:
Sarah Bessey
Ann Voskamp
Lisa Jo Baker

May you respond with love and self-control, and may you live without regret every day of your life.

Do you have skills or suggestions on how to manage mommy madness? Please share them below. I would love to learn. Thank you.

How to feel like a good mom when you tuck yourself in

Motherhood is teaching me a lot about my human-hood. And it hurts.

I face off against the frayed and tasseled ends of my patience and goodness every time my voice shouts too loud, or when my son’s unexplainable need to fish in the toilet stirs up my ugly, unreasonable side.

I don’t like that girl I hear yelling at the barely three foot, tiny, blond with giant Precious Moment eyes. Who is that crazy, angry lady, and why does she yell at children? She sounds like someone I never wanted to be.

It’s so counter-intuitive because I work in social work, and as a result, my biggest mom fear is that I will put my son in therapy. But what is really crazy is that it is precisely my unfettered, out-of-control fear that causes my strongest, scariest reactions. The kind that could land him on the psychologists couch. If they still used them.

Sometimes my son’s childish ignorance or disrespect on repeat just push a button and suddenly, I’m terrified. Or furious. And there he is, my little baby who still wets his Pull-ups, taking 31+ years of anxiety and anger.

I feel so crappy that I am trying out my uneducated mothering on him. Surely all the rest of my kids, whenever they get here, will get a wiser version of me. But he gets this tired, cranky, impatient lady who forgets who she’s dealing with.

It’s not fair, to him or to me. And my heart can’t take many more nights of the ache and regret. As I tuck him in under his glow-in-the-dark stars, I’m desperate to make the most of those last moments of the day. Trying to make good memories for him so maybe he won’t remember me only with angry eyes.

It’s just that Mom Guilt, and the general sense that I suck at this mom gig, haunting me all the time. So when I came across Sarah Bessey’s practices of mothering the other day, it was like a life jolt. I realized I could intentionally parent, with help, and I could not only stop sucking at parenthood, I could actually enjoy it.

Because let’s be honest: it’s hard to enjoy something you’re bad at.

For the record, my like or dislike of parenting was never, ever about not liking my son. I’m wild about him. I just was not at all wild about my skills. It just felt like hopeless most days.

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My personal parenting goal is: to enjoy motherhood and say with confidence, “I am a good mom”.

But I needed hope. And some structure.

And thanks to two of my favorite bloggers, Sarah Bessey, and Lisa Jo Baker, I have some of both.

Tonight I am sharing Sarah Bessey’s practices of mothering, which I plan to intentionally fold into my living as a parent to my son. I will share some awesome insight from Lisa Jo about not yelling anymore, which I am so very excited to stop doing. That will come in a few days. (And if you can’t wait, you can visit her site and find the article early, if you must. But I will get to it. Promise.)

Here are Sarah’s mothering practices, which I love-love-love, and I think they will enlighten any parent, mom or dad. I have three here, and then I will redirect you to her site to read them all. So good.

The practice of speaking life.

I can’t get away from the truth that is this: Words Matter. The words that we speak about ourselves, about our children, about our life matter.

The practice of attachment.

Here’s why it helps me love mothering: attachment parenting works. … See, I want their hearts. I want their hearts so connected to mine and to my husband’s that the love between us will be stronger than any thing else that comes along. So, I do these “things” not because they make me a good mother but because they help me to capture their hearts. And once I have their hearts – and I do – I can lead and direct and train them with their full trust and confidence.

The practice of routine.

Sure, a routine makes sure that I can get done what I need to get done for myself and for my family, but it also helps me find room for those things that are truly life-giving like prayer, meditation, reading, being outside, writing, reaching out to friends and neighbours, helping others, advocating for others, being present in our community and so on. By establishing a loose routine, I enjoy motherhood more because it feels intentional and restful, simplified and life-giving for all of us.

Read the rest of Sarah’s inspired practices of mothering here.

9 reasons I like being a mom

There are many days where I feel like a strange version of a woman. Being a working mom will do that to you. It can be confusing.

Mix in the fact that my son does not go to childcare but stays home with his dad, which is great and I am thankful, but this complicates things a bit since Josh is the primary caregiver.

Sometimes Josh is more nurturing and intuitive to John’s needs. And then I feel like some mutant mother who apparently is lacking oxytocin or maternal instinct, and I think maybe I should just stop having kids now before I mess up more people.

But there are many things I like about motherhood. Most of them aren’t really about me at all, but about this little person I am loving, training and enjoying. But then, motherhood isn’t about me ever. And I think that is what is most liberating about it: finally being able to really love someone more than myself.

So without anymore ado, here are a few reasons I like being a mother:

1. I like my son. I like him more than all the other kids in the world, even though there are some great kids out there. I also love him, which does not go without saying. I love him a lot.

2. I like seeing my husband be a father.

3. I like the unconditional love my son shows me. We are both punks, but he is more forgiving and resilient than me. I learn a lot from him.

4. I like knowing that my life extends beyond me, not just in time but in impact. Everything I give him and teach him lives in him. That is just so cool.

5. I liked pregnancy and the crazy mystery of human inside a human. I will never get over that.

6. I like all the hilarious stuff my son does. He is a genuinely amusing person with an engaging personality. He is a little bit me, a little bit Josh, but all his own person too.

7. I like watching him learn, knowing I taught him something.

8. I like the fact that no matter John’s life span, or mine, being a mother is something no one can take from me. I may not always be a writer or a social worker or even a wife. But somehow being a mother once means I am always a mother. It’s some kind of indelible branding that’s never lost, even if a mother outlives the child.

9. I like the fact there is an entire future inside of him: calling, destiny, talents, vision, proclivities, idiosyncrasies, a certain way of speaking, a unique charisma. There will be things I can teach him, and as he assimilates all he learns, I will be so proud. I will be amazed. “I can’t believe this is my son.”