Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Today was hard.  Brutal.  Sometimes being a mom is super hard.  Sometimes life in general is hard.  It doesn't mean that I'm failing as a mother or that I'm doing life wrong.  It is just hard, because it is.  As one of my favorite author's, Glennon Melton, says, "Life is brutiful."  So even though today there were tears and moments of panic where I thought I might literally lose all my hair because I will pull it out (and if there were any left, it would all be gray), there were also those moments through the day where Jesus whispered to me, "I didn't forget you.  I am right here with you.  I care about the little things that are on your heart."  And I am also fairly certain that he reminded me to take a lot of deep breaths.

On a day where I was pretty sure everything that could have gone wrong did, he reminded me of his love in the little things like my oldest son asking if he was being a good helper to me.  Or my middle son demonstrating his truly loving heart (in between temper tantrums).  Or my toddler who I am pretty sure is trying to break me, showing me pure joy and giving me kisses that he is usually very stingy with after we had been apart a few [much needed] hours.  Or hearing my baby's beautiful heartbeat.  Or having my husband tell me to turn on a movie for the big kids and go take a nap.  (He is worth his weight in gold.)  Or maybe it's by showing me that the friends I am blessed with and sometimes feel distant from because we are all living this hard life really are right there when you need them the most.  Or maybe it's the friend who lets you cry like the crazy hormonal lady you are, but still makes you feel like your reasons are completely valid.  Or maybe it's the fact that I did hear Jesus when he told me to take those breaths.  Or getting to sit and watch my kid do his best or even struggle in something that he loves.  Those things, those are the way Jesus shows his love to me on these hard days.  So, who needs a burning bush?  The only fires I like include s'mores anyway.

As for tomorrow, I have hope.  It's going to be a great day.  Or maybe it'll be hard and brutal and crazy, but at least I know that even if it is, there will be beautiful miracle moments in there somewhere.  But maybe, just maybe if it is like today, I'll dig through the hard stuff and breathe in one of my miracle moments, small as it may seem.  I hope.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Back to a New Way

I've spent the last six months applying for teaching jobs in Missouri.  I've taught for a total of six years in Missouri and Kansas, and never in my wildest imagination would I have thought that it would be so unbelievably hard to get hired.  I love, love, love being a stay-at-home-mom, but my husband and I knew that this would only be a one year thing, and now it's time to go back to work.  I have wanted to move home to Springfield for 4 years now, and finally, Ryan was ready to go too.  (I guess having three kids makes it easier when you think that you might have family close who want to help out some.)  So, I got to work applying and e-mailing and even visiting schools and principals with resumes.  I probably applied for at least 60 positions in the Springfield/Branson area.  It was ridiculous.  I would completely obsess over looking for new openings that had posted.  I had two, count them TWO interviews before this week.  So, things have changed....

Up to this point, I had refused to put in any applications in Kansas, because I felt like that would be giving up on moving.  Since nothing had been happening at all (and to appease my father-in-law), I decided to apply for a position in Independence for a kindergarten Title teacher.  I went to that interview on Monday, and the whole way there (in the pouring rain and hail), I had a conversation with myself and God about how I didn't want this job, I was just going because it would be good interview practice. 

On Tuesday, I went to an interview in Hollister, Missouri (by Branson).  Now, this isn't where I would have chosen to be, but I figured even 45 minutes from my parents was better than two hours.  It was for a fifth grade position, and I felt it went well.  After this interview I was very torn.  I talked with my friends and family, I cried, I prayed, I stressed over the waiting for answers.  The answer came quickly....

On Tuesday evening, I got a job offer from Hollister.  I asked if I could please have the evening to talk with my husband.  As soon as I hung up the phone, I told my mom, "I really want that job in Independence."  It was as clear to me as if it was written in the sky.  So, I talked with my friends and family, I cried, I prayed, and I stressed over the waiting for answers, and then I slept.  A good, restful, peaceful night's sleep like I haven't had in months. 

On Wednesday morning, I was on the phone praying with my friend, Christy, when I got the call from Independence.  I was asked, "Well, would you still like to be a part of our school?" and I said, "YES!"  I could not stop smiling.  God had changed my heart.  I never in a million years would have thought that I could want to stay in Coffeyville for another year, but I am so happy!  Even more than that, before I felt like we were forcing the move home, and now I have an absolute peace that we will be there, just not now.  When we do go, it will be on our terms, and not in two weeks before school starts as I frantically search for preschool and childcare (which I already have set up here). 

I'm so thankful that I was offered both jobs, so that staying here was my choice and not just because I wasn't offered a job in Missouri.  I am so excited for the opportunity that I am going to have in this new teaching position.  I am looking forward to having a drive with my Brennon every day as he will be going to school with me.  I'm thankful that God saw us through the entire process even when things seemed horrible.  It was in that darkness that I could hear him speak to me the loudest.  This time he said, "Erin, I know that your heart's desire is to be back home, but for right now, I have something even better planned for you." 

I know it seems crazy and unexpected.  It's totally different than what I thought would make me so happy, but please be happy with us.  Don't get me wrong, there's a part of me that's sad that my trips home will be on weekends still, and I want to be closer to my parents and family and friends here, but while we're here, we are not going to spend the next year wishing our time away.  We've been so blessed with great jobs, good friends, a wonderful church, and so many other things.  That remains true no matter where we are.  And for now, Go Bulldogs!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Perfect* Son

Tonight I went and laid next to my oldest son while he slept.  I snuggled up next to him and listened to him breathe.  Were there times I was short with him today?  Maybe...but he knows I love him and I always matter what.  This time though, was completely perfect.  Rain falling outside, I let my breathing get in sync with his.  I pretended this means our hearts are beating in sync too, which means he will always be my baby, and I will always be his momma.  I love him more with each new thing I learn about him or watch him learn about the world.  I had to capture this moment of mommy elation, because Lord knows when I step on a Lego tomorrow, I'm going to need it.  But for now I'm off to bed, thankful for my perfect [while he is sleeping] angel.  XO, BC.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Darkness Before the Light

Almost exactly a year ago, I remember sitting with a dear friend at the park and confiding in her something that I was really afraid to verbalize up until then.  While watching the kids play and sipping on our chocolate shakes, I said, "I'm afraid that I will never have a strong connection with Gavin." 

There were several reasons for me to say this.  He always had gravitated toward Ryan, we are so much alike that we often butt heads, but mostly I was afraid that I had lost that critical bonding time with him when he was so small.  I went into a deep, dark postpartum depression that scared me to the core.  The truth of the matter is, I don't remember a lot of those earlier days with Gavin.  I think the memories are fuzzy as a way of protecting me, because as most of my friends and family know, my memory is like a steel trap (except for things I need at the store or errands I should run).  I remember the first few weeks when my mom stayed with us, but after that it kind of becomes a haze of colicky nights and mastering the art of avoiding other people.  There were also a lot of other stressful things happening in our lives at that time with my work, family health, etc...that certainly didn't add to the situation.  I have a few memories that were bright moments of perfection that pierced the darkness that surrounded my soul.  I remember things like going to the kiddie park, trips to Kansas City and visiting family, but the day-to-day stuff, the place where life really happens, is kind of a blur.   Not everything was bad, I mean, how can it be with a baby as precious as Gavin (once the colicky part was done).  There were days that were better than others, I have pictures where I can see real and genuine smiles, but there's a lot where you can also see a smile that isn't really there. 
Gavin's first laugh.  This I remember.

Thank God I was with it enough to plan this.  I mean, how cute are they?

Gavin's first Christmas.  More real smiles from both of us.

This picture made me sad.  This is an example of the blur of this time.  I cannot remember Brennon's room ever being arranged this way.  I just kept staring at it and wondering if I had a hand in it. 
I have started praying in the last year or so that God would give me back the memories without showing me the darkness that I was living in during that time.  It's the kind of darkness that if light was shined on it, the light wouldn't make the darkness disappear, it would just illuminate all of the ugliness that the darkness had caused.  Thank God that I had a friend who cared about me enough to resist the way I was pushing her [everyone] away, and suggest that I consider my options as far as medication*.  I couldn't go back though, and by the time that cracks of light began to shine through, I had missed a lot.  I pray that I am a natural enough mother that I was as good to him during that time as I should have been. 

When Gavin was 10 months old, I was rocking him and I remember I started singing to him.  It was such a breakthrough and I was crying because I felt like I really wanted to sing.  It wasn't a halfhearted rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle anymore.  I wanted to sing to my boy in a way that he would know that his momma loved him.  We picked up from there.  I couldn't think about everything I had missed. 

My husband was amazing with Gavin.  He must have just known exactly what he needed and gave it to him.  They were a natural fit.  My little boy who shared my looks had a heart that belonged to his one and only, his daddy.  I am so glad they have that bond, and it's hardly fair for me to be jealous of it, because the connection I have always had with Brennon (Ryan's mini-me) has been strong.  At this time, Ryan was also staying home with the boys during the day while I worked.  (And then he worked at night....go, husband!  I mean, I can't imagine working and then working some more.  He's a champion!)  So it seemed natural that Gavin would be close with him, but it still hurt my feelings that every time he got hurt or scared, he never wanted me.  He wanted his daddy.  But that day in the park, I said what I was really afraid of, and it just made me more scared.

Although I'm going to stop here, please don't be sad for me.  I want you to understand my story, my journey, where and how far I've come.  Because the story is far from over, and I think you needed to see this part, because this part has shaped me, so that when I talk to you about what happens next, you will smile along with me too.

*I am in no way suggesting that medication is the necessary treatment for everyone who experiences postpartum depression.  I am simply stating that it is a very real medical condition and ignoring it or pretending it is not there will not make it go away. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Fight that Gets Us Fired Up, Conclusion

It's been three weeks since I told you to come back tomorrow.  For three weeks I've been sitting on that lovely stump called writer's block, but the truth of the matter is that sometimes the best way to get past it is just to write anyway.  It's not always pretty and polished, and sometimes it's just downright ugly, but I have to forge ahead.  (Also, I'm going on nine months without a good night's sleep, so if you think it's terrible, I'll allow you to say, "Bless her heart, she must be tired.")  When I started the series about stay-at-home vs. working moms, I had a million thoughts swimming through my brain, but I just can't quite seem to really get a grip on a single one.  So, I'm going to be a truth-teller, and I can't worry any more about who I'm going to offend or who is going to look at me differently.  For me, it all boils down to this....I'm scared.

I did them both, and I did the best I could at it.  Well, most of the time I did.  For me, the choice is clear that I would love to be at home for as long as I could, but the fact of the matter is that it's just not feasible for our family.  I wish it was, but it's not.  I'm not resentful of the fact that I'll be going back to work, but that doesn't mean that I won't cry sometimes.  I know that so much is going to change as I do return to the world of working moms.  I'd like to say that I will cherish each moment with them and make every moment count, but I won't.  I'll do my best, but sometimes I'll be tired.  Sometimes the best that I'll be able to do is sit on the couch at the end of the day and watch four episodes of Peppa Pig.  I don't judge other moms for doing it, so I'll try to forgive myself as well.  I'll look for those Kairos moments when time stands still and things are perfect, and I will cherish that moment and hold it in my heart with a death grip while I go through my work days until the next time one presents itself.

More than anything I am scared because I don't want my friendships to change.  I have been on the mountains and in the trenches of stay-at-home mommyhood this year, and I know that sometimes moms need an outlet, and soon I'll have work for that while my friends who stay-at-home will be desperately seeking time with other adults and conversations that do not include words like potty or boo-boo.  And although I love teaching and I'm thankful for my career, my heart will ache to be at home, so I'm afraid.  I'm afraid, because I know that sometimes I hear SAHMS complaining about how they feel like they are going to go crazy being home.  Believe me, I've had my days, but I try so hard to keep my complaints to those few friends who have seen me at my best and worst, because I know that broadcasting my "poor me, I have to spend all my time with my children" rants on the Internet is only going to twist the knife of jealousy into the wound of those who desire with everything in them to be at home.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not going to try to make my life seem's not.  Being a mom is HARD, and being a wife is HARD, and sometimes being a friend is HARD, but pretending to be a perfect mom, wife, or friend is harder.   And the hard work of being any and all of those is what makes life so beautiful.  So, whether you love it or hate it, remember that your words effect those in your circle.  Don't judge others for whatever motherhood choices they are making, because you never know their reasons, their stories, or their journeys unless you're willing to really listen.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Fight That Gets Us Fired Up, Part Two

This is the second part in a three part series about working moms vs. stay-at-home moms.  To be clear, I do not think that one is better than the other, I think that it is a personal choice that every mom must make, taking into account every aspect of their family life.  This is just my thoughts on the positive and negatives that I experienced into my foray into both sides of motherhood.  To get caught up, go back one post and read part one, because you'll be really lost and won't understand a thing if you don't.  No, I'm kidding.  But, here we are now in 2008, and after a year of being home with my firstborn son, I was about to enter the world of the working mom.

As I said, before, I was not happy, but I was doing what I knew I needed to do for our family.  I went into a new district with a nontraditional, high stress classroom setting, and that did not help matters.  The first few weeks, I would cry every time I would think about my son, Brennon, being away from me for so long, but once school actually started, I didn't have time for that.  What I know is this:  I.  Was.  Tired.  Sure, I was pregnant and had a 14 month old, but really I felt stretched thin.  Maybe all working moms don't feel that, but I did.  Thankfully, I had a job that I liked to go to, but I would often think of all those moms that didn't enjoy their jobs.  Moms who were working one and sometimes two jobs out of necessity.  Moms who would spend their time away from their children unhappy.  Moms who (like most working moms) end up spending a lot of their paycheck on childcare.  I realized how precious my time when I was not at work was, and I felt bad.  My poor one friend that I talked about in the last post.  She had been working full-time the whole time and never once complained when I asked her to take time on one of her sacred days off to take care of my child so that I could have a break.  Staying at home, most mothers feel like they need a break like an occasional night out with friends, but as a working mom, my only break was work.  I made a few more friends now that I was outside of the house more, and sometimes they would ask me to go do something with them on a weekend, and I would think, "I already spend so much time away from my kid, why would I want to take even more time away from him?"  It was a completely different dynamic.
New curriculum = More boxes = More forts!  Score one for the working mom!

I worked for four years before taking another year off.  The first year was an adjustment, the second year was my first year working while having two kids.  That year, I was in a dark place.  It wasn't just because I was working.  I struggled with a major bout of postpartum depression.  I had the hardest class of my career.  I wanted to move back home to Springfield.  My husband's career took unexpected turns.  It was a tough year.  This is a time that I feel deserves its own blog post, but frankly, I'm not ready to be as honest about it as I feel I need to be.  The time will come, but not now.  The deal was, I think that it was working at that time that saved me.  I would cry and cry about how much I wanted to be at home with my kids, but sometimes God has you somewhere because he knows what's best for you better than you do.  The routine of having to get up and look decent, going to work, teaching a class, seeing other adults, and trying to make the most of my time with my kids was ultimately a large part of me getting through that time.  I won't ever try to make a working mom feel like I judge her for being away from her kids, because sometimes that's the thing that saves her.

After the darkness was gone, I worked for two more years in a wonderful setting.  It was pretty ideal as far as teaching goes...good school, wonderful team, kids were in good childcare, and we didn't have a lot of unnecessary after-school activities that kept me from going home to my children.  I was good at my job and I loved the children I taught, but because of who I am (not anybody else, just me), my heart still ached to be at home with my kids.  I wouldn't stay after school late to get work done and I wouldn't do any work at home until my kids were in bed asleep.  Because of this, I had a hard time finding balance.  I'm sure that there are working women who rock at this, but it wasn't me.  If you need to grade papers from the time the kids go to sleep until 10:30, you aren't paying much attention to your husband either.  When you have to spend one of your precious weekend days cleaning your house, because the laundry can't do itself during the day, it can be frustrating.  If you come home from work and want to play on the kitchen floor, but have to go make dinner, it can be frustrating, but as a working mom, you make it work.  As a mom who worked, I was always a better manager of my time, because it was such a precious commodity. 

To me, balance was the struggle of the working mother more than anything else.  For this reason, I try my best as a stay at home to honor those women who are trying to do it all, because in my world, it made me weary.  Maybe it's because I live in a real world, where working to me wasn't about trying to show my boys that women can work and be mom, working for me was about trying to contribute to our family financially, and I am thankful that I could do it with a job that I was good at and that I enjoyed.    Thankfully, I feel like I'm a little bit of a natural teacher, because if my job was something that I wasn't too great at on my own, I probably would've cried some more.  My experience as a working mom taught me that your circle of people are there for a reason.  So, if all of your friends are stay at home moms or all of your friends are working moms, why not cross the fence and realize that we all bring something amazing to the table.  We are all moms, and that is magical.

Come back for part three tomorrow....what I've learned now that I've been both.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Fight That Gets Us Fired Up, Part One.

Working mom vs. Stay-at-home mom.  I don't understand why we need to fight about it.  I really don't.  I think that our world works better with both of us in it, and we should be discussing instead of talking at each other.  Here's the deal, I've done them both.  Mommy guilt is a part of both, and maybe that's what motivates moms to bash the other side, to help them feel better about their own decisions.  I don't know, but I have some thoughts about both that I believe are worth sharing, so that's what I'm here to do.  This post is part one, the stay at home mom of one.

When I was pregnant with Brennon, the hubs and I made plans to move to Kansas.  I'm not going to go into all the details, but the fact was the reason that we were moving was to better our family financially and to make it possible for me to be home with our child(ren in the future).  I was willing to give up my highly desired teaching position at a prominent district in order to be home with my baby.  It was in my heart to do it.  Did I work hard to start my career?  Absolutely.  Did I love teaching?  Of course.  Did I feel like I was taking one in the gut for feminists everywhere?  Um, no.  I also didn't feel like I was persuaded by some secret army of housewives to become one of them.  It was a decision that Ryan and I made together.  It was personal.  I wanted to take the time to savor each and every moment with my son for whom we had waited and waited and waited. 
So, with a three and half week old baby, we moved and got settled and I enjoyed my time at home.  I spent time having fun with my boy.  I didn't make mommy friends, I wasn't as productive as I should have been, and I didn't really think about how my staying at home effected anyone else inside or outside my circle.  I had a much harder time being away from my family than I ever thought I would.  I would second guess my decisions sometimes and wonder if I was doing things wrong.  I probably watched much more television than I should have.  I would ask my one friend to watch him sometimes on the weekend for a few hours, because he was easy and I wanted to have time to just be a couple.  She was great and told me she didn't care, because she had a son who loved Brennon.  I was not a perfect mom at all, but I know I was a good mom, and I loved my boy more than life itself. 
I remember so much about that year with my Brennon.  I remember rocking him, singing to him, watching Baby Einstein and talking about what was on the screen, reading, reading, reading, and more reading.  I remember details about that year, because I'm that crazy lady who feels like I cannot forget anything, because life just won't be as important if there aren't 15,000 pictures to document each year (I'm still working on this!)  I did things like take him to the pumpkin patch and the Christmas parade, because he was sure to remember it all, right?  It wasn't perfect, and I remember thinking that life with a baby was really hard sometimes, but it was my life and I didn't want to change it.  B was such a good baby, and at some point during that year, I remember Ryan's uncle saying, "Oh, he's an easy baby.  She's going to want another one soon." 
See, I told you he'd remember it....and he looks thrilled, right?  His friend, Drake, is the son of my one and only friend that I mentioned.  They are still good friends to this day!
I didn't want to go back to work, but I knew I had to for the financial well-being of our family.  I was sad.  Really, really sad.  I cried a lot.  I cried some more and told that one friend that I was going to miss everything.  I found a great sitter, and I felt a little better.  I told myself it would be okay, because I had the perfect schedule if I did have to work, and then a few days before I went back to work, I found out we were pregnant again.  So, I cried some more.  Not about having another baby.  I wanted that (as predicted by Uncle Right-on-the-Nose).  But I cried because I was hormonal and leaving my baby and probably also because of things like the cankles were coming back or worrying about if my new teacher friends would like me or my hair looked funny today or that pizza didn't have enough sauce.  All valid concerns during pregnancy, but still, what kind of mom would I be leaving my son everyday? 

Now, I'm not judging, remember this was called part one.  Guess what?  There's more.  In fact, there are two more parts to this.  That may seem like too much, but I am certain that every mom out there has either felt or fought from feeling many of the emotions that I will address, and in the next one, it gets real.  I'm going to be completely honest about more than what I'm comfortable with, but what I know needs to be put out there.  Stay tuned...