Showing posts with label motherhood unplugged. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motherhood unplugged. Show all posts

Monday, May 2, 2016

Getting to Know My Mother

In honor of Mother's Day, I dedicated my post for this month on Her View From Home to my own Mama.  Perhaps you can relate to the story I tell?  The older I get the more precious my relationship with her has become.  
"Knowing my mother more deeply also has meant finding myself. She is the vase of flowers I carefully arranged on a shelf vignette. She is my decision to leave the house with less makeup because she showed me by example that less is more and beauty is within. She is in the courage I use to chase my dreams, with the wings she bestowed and still bolsters. She is the voice in my head telling me to turn to God, to let my faith carry me on this journey of life and to find what makes me feel fully alive." 

I'd be so touched if you'd like to read the whole story here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Letter to My Birthday Boy

Apologies for the radio silence this week; there is a birthday to plan and trips to pack for and an oh-so-pregnant belly that seems to dip me into exhaustion a bit more than usual these days. 

We had a hint of spring this past weekend sandwiched in-between the typical cold and snow of a Canadian winter.  And while I’m doing  my best to appreciate what this season has to offer, I am more than excited to escape back to North Carolina next week and feel some southern temperatures.  

I fear that I may not have the time to sit down and write a birthday letter to James Robert next week amid all of the celebrating and visiting we will be doing.  And this afternoon, as I reviewed some pictures I took of him recently, I was struck with a strong feeling of motherhood nostalgia.  My sweet boy turns 3 in about a week and it couldn’t feel more surreal. So I hope you don’t mind me sharing a letter to him here, for posterity sake.  

To my dearest James Robert,  this portrait captures your spirit.  You’re wide-eyed, you’re delighted and delightful and you’re ever the source of light and love in our lives.  Three years is but a small way of marking time in the grand scheme of the impact you’ve made.  Your life has magnified the beauty in mine.  I still marvel that I get to be your mother and what a perfect gift God bestowed when he allowed me to take on that charge. 

The days are few when you do not give affection willfully and freely to those around you.  Friends, neighbors, even the bus driver to whom you wave frantically to are all glad recipients of your charms.  But to me and your Father, you provide the most endearing and unending level of affection. You are sensitive to other’s feelings; you’re compassionate and thoughtful.  You ask questions that speak to your intuitive and caring nature.  I have yet to put you to bed at night without countless kisses and one more “I love you’s” being whispered as I creep the door shut. 

Your Father and I relish these days.  To watch you blossom at school and make friends at church while learning to be more independent is a joy.  You are very much part of our dinner conversations, not so much because you’re the topic of conversation, but because you tend to guide them; you are loquacious beyond your years. To see your pride in mastering new tasks and the happiness you exude while “performing” with your instruments are the memories we’ll return to for years to come. 

Trucks, trains and sticks remain at the top of your favorite things.  But you also love to read books with us and have become more and more curious about the characters. You’ve inherited a 4th generation sweet tooth and you are most delighted when allowed to eat dessert- there are no words to describe the smile you displayed when we made banana pudding a few weeks ago.  This year, your relationship with Major has become even more tender;  he is your best buddy and playmate (until you don’t want him to lick you anymore). 

Your new playmate, coming in June, will love you tremendously too.  You talk to your baby brother in my belly so much these days and ask me endlessly to recount all the things that you “get” to teach him.  It will be joyful beyond measure to see you fulfill the role of big brother. 
As you turn three, I want to remember you as this picture captures.  An absolute twinkle in your eye, a wonder for the world and zest for capturing all that life has to offer, be that a snow flake on your tongue or all that comes after.  You are such a blessing, my son.  Thank you for being you. 

All of my love,


Monday, January 25, 2016

Baby Blue

It’s a boy!  And I still feel surprised by the news!

Mat is more shocked than I am- he was convinced that this baby was a girl. But I have easily slipped into the happy reality of adding another little boy to our mix. 

My Gram was the mother to three boys.  She often used to joke with me that one day I would end up with a house full of boys too. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Motherhood Unplugged: Love Sick

Phew!  I'm back.  I didn't mean to take a week hiatus from blogging, but my computer died and life got in the way. Meanwhile, this little baby is growing exponentially and James Robert is loving on us both.  He talks to my belly constantly.  This picture captures one of my favourite moments to date.  "I love you baby, can you hear me?" he asked.

Instead of sharing a motherhood related story with you here today, I'd love for you to visit Her View From Home.  It's a wonderful collection of inspiration from moms for moms.  I'm thrilled to have my story shared amongst such good company.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Surprised by Joy

Are you familiar with the concept of choosing a word-of-the-year?  The idea is to pick a word to focus on, mediate on and reflect on in daily life throughout the year. Almost a year ago, last January I chose the word joy. 

On the verge of moving to a new country and in the midst of countless life changes, joy was perhaps the word I was most seeking.   I’ve held tight to that word all year.  When I’ve doubted my husband’s and my decision to move to Canada with our two- year old son and leave friends and family back home in Charlotte, NC, I’ve clung to the joy of taking a break from corporate America and focusing on motherhood.  I’ve sought joy in the little moments of life.  This word-of-the-year practice has provided reflection on joy in a different way, but for eight months, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something more to it.

Indeed there is.  In late August, we stumbled upon the oldest church in Toronto while ambling around the city on a mini-exploration.  The bells of St. James chimed on that Saturday afternoon and my son took delight.  I was pulled-in by the open doors.

With towering, ornate gothic ceilings and plentiful stained glass depicting scenes from the Bible, St. James is beautiful.  As my son took it all in- a smile spread over his face; I saw the awe in his eyes.  His joy of travel, exploration, and adventure was incredible to witness.  That is all that I ever hoped I could give him from this experience of moving to Canada. And right in the middle of that church, on a random Saturday, more than half way through the year, it hit me like a ton of bricks- JOY.  The force of it took me by surprise.

This word-of-the-year journey was not intended as an exercise in faith, just as our decision to move away from “home” wasn’t intended to be an exercise in faith. But God has a beautiful way of sending you a message when he really wants you to hear it.  I got the message loud and clear.  
The next day at church, wouldn’t you know it, joy was the topic of the sermon.  And as Hymn 474 was sung, it was as if the words were written on my heart.  A joyful surprise in the best way:
“The joy of God comes close. 
Where faith encounters fears,
 where heights and depths of life are found through smiles and tears. The joy of God is here to stay, embracing those who walk the Way; the joy of God is here to stay.”

Months have passed. Life goes up and down; there are challenging days and long weeks parenting a toddler. Yet, gratitude multiplies when looked at through this lens. 

To share one of those moments, my son had been asking me to say the “Our Father” for months during nightly prayers.  On this particular night, instead of silently listening, he recited the prayer along with me.  Tears welled in my eyes when I told him how proud I was of him. And he said something I’ll never forget: “My heart feels so happy, I love it when Mommy teaches me things.” 

Again, joy, pure and simple, surprised me with its impact.   I then clearly recognized that the challenges of parenting a toddler are also an exercise in faith.  And my greatest endeavor, as a parent, will be to allow him to feel that joy too.

As we close the chapter on 2015, the feeling of gratitude is overwhelming.  I type these words with a quickly bourgeoning belly and a full heart.  Growing our family has been also been a journey of faith.  The blessing of becoming a mother for a second time sometime next summer has already provided abundant joy.

Looking back, this word-of-the-year challenge was a parallel journey of deepening of my faith.  As I look into the year ahead, with what I’m sure will have many new adventures, I will keep these lessons with me. I better appreciate that at the intersection of some of life’s biggest challenges, there are moments of joy unparalleled.  I can’t wait for the next surprise. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Motherhood Unplugged: Calm in the Chaos

Around 7:30PM, I reach some type of internal threshold of mommy patience.  I’m weary of requests, over the tantrums and some nights downright exhausted. 

One particularly trying night, after a particularly chaotic day, we were completing James Robert's bedtime routine and I felt myself dreading, what I was sure to be, a struggle to put him to bed.  We read books, drank our water and turned off the lights. 

In the face of my expectations, what he did next seemed like the ultimate gift.  His energy shifted. His little arms threaded around my neck in a firm grasp and he proceeded to layer my face with acoustic kisses. Surprisingly, he then lay his head down on the pillow next to mine and asked me to stay for one more minute.  We had arrived at a moment of peace and calm in the otherwise crazy storm of toddler parenting.

It doesn't happen like this every night (we're talking about a toddler after all).  But there are so many nights that I reach the end of my rope, only to be utterly surprised and humbled by the act of putting my son to sleep and the reprieve of our one more minute.

So, I indulge this nighttime request.  In fact, I live for the "one more minute" when he lovingly asks.  I live for those 60 seconds of the day that last longer than all the rest.  No matter how many other things went wrong outside of that room, when my son wants to share his pillow and I can listen to his breathing slow, the day feels successful. 

This ritual is mutually beneficial. I know that when his younger sibling arrives, our nightly routine may be interrupted.  So for now, I soak in our minutes of sleepy revelry.  I bask in the toddler thoughts that are shared moments before slumber.  I very much relish the physical closeness of my child who still wants to be held by his mama. At the end of our minute, he is refreshed and subdued and ready for bed. At the end of our minute, I am refreshed, grateful and excited to tackle another day.

Especially at this time of year, I crave the stillness and peace of these moments. With toddler-hood has come a burgeoning and beautiful energy that leaves much less time for intimate connection than the baby stage.  Some days I adore how much we are able to do together now that he has more abilities and energy.  But some days, I terribly miss the less tantrum-y, less messy, less chaotic times.

For each stage of motherhood, I know there will be new challenges.  The only constant being change.  But I do also know, that those moments of tender calmness, so often right before bed, are the moments that we need to grasp and hold tight to.  Our children need it- and so do we.

This week, as we prepare our hearts and homes to celebrate Christmas, I look forward to holding those moments a little tighter.  This time of year can feel so much like the end-of-the-evening threshold of putting a toddler to sleep.  Perhaps you feel your limit being reached too?  The wonderful but frenetic energy of this holiday time can be beautiful and exhausting.  We stare down the barrel of a new year, rushing to get everything done and cross things off our list.

Whatever your family traditions are, whatever you celebrate, I hope that this season is punctuated by moments of quiet and calm.  Some may fly in the face of your expectations—I hope you preserve them with the gift of presence. 

I know this week can feel like the 7:30PM threshold. Perhaps the lesson my toddler is teaching me is that there can be calm in the chaos--sometimes we all just need one more minute.  We all need 60 seconds of quiet, to reflect and find peace and calm in this busy season.  Perhaps the lesson to my toddler is teaching me is that the opportunities to do so may be fleeting, but if cherished, they can provide the most lasting impact. 

To the mamas reading this, my Christmas wish for you is to take "one more minute", whatever that looks like for you.  I hope it leaves you feeling refreshed, grateful and excited to tackle another day. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

10,000 Small Acts of Kindness

Untitled I caught myself dreading the park last week.  Just how much swinging, climbing, and pretend-dinner-out-of-woodchips-games does my toddler think I can take. Not to mention the inevitable resistance to leaving. Maybe we had gone to the park one too many times this summer.  Maybe I was burnt out. Maybe I selfishly wished I could fill the next hour with an activity that required less engagement from me.

But James Robert loves it.  So we went anyway.

The late-summer sun, still filled with warmth but reminding us that seasons change, peeked through the trees.  A stream of light illuminated his head into golden curls each time the swing came gliding back in my direction.  I must have pushed him in a swing more than 10,000 times this summer.  But this image of his golden curls flying about and his beaming smile in the park swing is the one that will stay with me.

He was literally gulping in the simple pleasures that this time of year brings. 

The little moments of motherhood that sneak up on you are the sweetest.  In the face of my resistance, I was met with a reminder that doing small things with great kindness, often over and over (and over!) again, is the greatest gift we can give our children--and perhaps, ultimately, ourselves.

Relishing the season past yet hopeful for all that autumn holds, I find late summer has a perpetual feeling of sweetness.  Routine and structure will be welcomed into our lives, but I am already nostalgic for this summer and the countless simple moments we shared at the park.

“Mama, did you see that leaf falling through the sky?”, James Robert brought me out of my peaceful reflection.

He is likely to ask me that question 10,000 more times in this season to come.   And I’m going to do my best to enjoy the sentiment each time. Because if falling leaves are anything like park swings, I’m sure to catch a golden glimpse of childhood if I look closely.