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To Fathers: From Your Wives

mattMothers tend to get the credit for everything related to child rearing, don’t they dads? But I want you to know, that I, as a mother, and also as a wife, see the work that you do, and we, as your wives, appreciate you.

At the end of a particularly challenging day, when the children have tested our patience, we may be frazzled and overwhelmed. The moment we see you, we may not be grateful for your presence, but grateful for the relief of having another adult in the house, another person we can interact with who won’t immediately have a tantrum or throw their cup of juice at us (please don’t). But in this moment of relief for us, you may have a different impression of our reaction, and for that, we sincerely apologize. You may view our edgy nature, our testy words and our actions as an indication that you an are irritant too, and you may retreat, assuming that in leaving us alone, in giving us space, we will be in a better mood.

This is not the case. We look to you, our husbands, for comfort. Before you were a father, you were our boyfriend, our husband, and our partner in navigating the world. Once we became parents, you became our sidekick, our re-inforcer, the guardian of the snuggles and the protector of our children. Though we may not show you in the right way, we need you always. We are thankful for you, for the stability you provide, and we love you.

For the fathers who offer to put the children to sleep, who discipline when we are weary, who settle fights and assemble toys, we adore you. Certainly, these are things we could accomplish on our own, but when you take over, allowing your wife even a momentary break, you give her the ability to re-energize, to be a better wife to herself and mother to the children. We may be mothers, but we are women too, who need to relax occasionally, and when you see this, and give us the ability to sit and watch even one episode of our favorite show uninterrupted, we sing your praises.

Husbands, it is not in the tangible things you do for us that we appreciate you. Of course, receiving flowers, a card not for a particular occasion but because you wanted too, or a spur of the moment dinner are all gestures that we are thankful for, but what we most appreciate about you is this.

It is the way that you love us.

You love us when we are tired and grumpy because we were up late with the children, sacrificing our sleep for theirs. You love us when we have not showered, sometimes in days. You love us in those first few hours, days and months as a new parent, when we are not only completely lost but covered in food and bodily fluids not our own. You love us at our worst, and you still tell us we are beautiful, even when we know we are not, when we have seen ourselves in the mirror and convinced ourselves we are not good enough. You reassure us always, and even though you are a father to our children, you encourage us too, to follow our dreams, to be our best selves.

So dear husbands, this is for you. From one wife, to many husbands, I just want to remind you. We see all the hard work you put in, and we are so happy to call you ours.

I promise.

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The Warrior

warShe is a warrior, her battlefield is the breakfast table. She fights cries of dissatisfaction at breakfasts that are incorrect, too little syrup poured on pancakes, the wrong item given to the picky child. She fills and refills spilled cups of juice and milk, wipes away crumbs with her weapon of choice, the sponge, and brings her two smallest soldiers to the finish line of the war, bellies full and hearts content.

She is a fighter, her enemy the drop off line. She waits impatiently as the vehicles slow to a crawl, dispensing little bodies from car seats and “big kid” seats, setting forth these adventurers in to their classrooms. She unhooks seat straps, gently guides her child from her vehicle to the sidewalk in one swift movement, and readjusts back pack straps, hats and coat zippers.  She walks her child to the front door, the drop off point, navigating through other parents and clusters of children chattering, fighting the clock, a victor against time as her child enters the building mere moments before classes commence for the day.

She is a protector, her watchful eye scanning the playground for any potential objects that could cause harm. She inspects the slides, the stairs of the playground equipment. She glances over the other children on the playground, the manner in which they interact with others, judging how they may interact with hers. She waits patiently, as her children play, following their paths with her eyes, ready to assist at a moment’s notice.

She is a teacher, her nights spent next to her child at the dinner table, reviewing homework assignments and reading passages from books, quizzing her child on subject content. She is the dispenser of numbers and correct word pronunciation, of meanings of words and colors of objects. Her lessons extend beyond the classroom, beyond the homework. She teaches her children to be kind, to love with grace. She teaches them to apologize when necessary, when feelings are hurt or body parts are scraped accidentally.  She teaches them to be grateful, to appreciate everything they are given, and to realize others are not as fortunate. She teaches them strength, and instills in her children courage.

She is a warrior, her life an every day battle. She fights exhaustion, and at times frustration, carrying forward always, the protector, all things to others. Her little army counts on her, and so she fights, to provide her children with the best possible childhood she can.

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I notice you

Friend, I see you. I see you and I understand you. Because I am you. You may not hear it as often as you so desperately need it, the affirmation that your self doubt and questioning of your parenting skills is not in vain. You wish to hear it from your husband, but he probably doesn’t mention it as often as he should..and that’s perfectly okay. He has worries too..things to focus on during his day, and even though he means well, he may forget.

But I don’t. I see you, and I want to acknowledge you. You may not bring home a paycheck, there may be no official title to your name. But the ones who call  you Mommy see you as their boss, their life, their world. They notice you, and I promise, that even during the melt down, end of the world tantrums at the worst of times, they love you. They appreciate you and the long nights you have spent wide awake, nursing their tired, sick, wound up bodies to sleep, a concept fleeting to you. Even with your hair in a ponytail on a daily basis, wearing a day old outfit, often containing a stain of a questionable nature, they see you, someone they can be comfortable with, their best friend. They test you, they drive you crazy, because they love you. They recognize the hard work you are putting in, your payment not in dollars but in hugs and admiration.

Your husband sees you too. I promise, to him you are more than the dinner you set on the table, ready to eat as soon as he arrives home from work so that he has one less thing to worry about during his day. To him, you are more than laundry, more than a tidy house, more than happy children, though I promise, that matters to him too. You are his wife, the woman he fell in love with, the woman who bore those children you now take care of. Even on your worst days, those days when you haven’t showered, or you are at your wits end, questioning your beauty, your purpose, your sanity, he notices you. He may not say it every day, every month or even for a few months at a time, but I promise, he notices you too.

And on those days when you are so tired that you can barely move, yet you forge on, I see you too friend. I see those hours you’ve put in, the melt downs you’ve handled, the moments you’ve created for your children as you have taken another step forward in to shaping them as adults, and I applaud you. You are amazing. You are a wife, a mother, and your work is being noticed. You matter. boys.jpg

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Life on the Other Side

Chemical. Such an abrasive word, it immediately evokes the thought of harsh things, like cleaners for the bathroom or toxins meant to inflict harm; not a word used to describe the experience of carrying a life in your body. And yet, this was the word used to describe each of my failed pregnancies, a label placed on an event that was intended to bring my family joy, and caused immeasurable pain in it’s place.

I was a mother first. I sensed, almost immediately, no matter how ridiculous it may have sounded, that I was expecting our third child. Before I ever had a reason to take a pregnancy test, I noticed the subtle changes in my body. The way in which my pants were a bit more snug, how I tired more easily and how my stomach churned at the slightest whiff of an uninviting scent. I didn’t share my suspicions with my husband at that point. After all, in previous months, I had exhibited each of the same symptoms and was not pregnant. To suspect I may have been at this particular time may have been foolish on my part, but nevertheless, I purchased a test, prepared to finally confirm or deny the reality of the situation.

Determined, I strode past each aisle within the grocery store, bypassing sales for toilet paper, cereal and other commonly used items, to the aisle housing feminine products, including body washes, scented deodorants and razors for shaving in a variety of hues, ranging from pastel to neon pink. Amidst a sea of strawberry scented shampoo was a very discreet display housing brands of cardboards boxes, containing plastic sticks that would predict the outcome of my future, and the future of my family.

I stood in the same spot, rooted to the tile floor for what felt like eons but was likely only a matter of moments, before quickly retrieving two brands, a digital and a lined test version, and placing each in to my cart, disguising the boxes underneath other items. I was certainly of an age in which it was appropriate for me to be purchasing these, and yet I found that I felt a sense of shame, hiding a secret and a moment that I should be sharing with my husband. I wanted to surprise him with the news however, if we were in fact expecting, and that is why I choose to make my way toward the self checkout with my boxes stowed safely within my cart, scanning each barcode quickly and placing them in the plastic shopping bag, eager to go home and read the results.

The moment I arrived in the door of our home, I set my belongings down; my purse, lunch pail from work and navy wool coat discarded haphazardly in a heap in our entryway. I retrieved each box from the shopping bag, tossing the flimsy material aside, and made a bee-line for our bathroom, ripping the top of each test box as I walked. I followed the test instructions, and waited for the three agonizing minutes to pass, repeatedly refreshing the home screen of my smartphone, ensuring that it had in fact been only three minutes and that I had not miscalculated my wait. Finally, I dared to look at each test, each displaying the same result. PREGNANT appeared in the oval window of the digital test and two, albeit faint, pink lines graced the screen of the lined test. I drew in my breath, at once overjoyed and overwhelmed. I was the mother of two children and felt as if I were just beginning to be able to handle the demands of raising multiple children. How was I going to be a mother to a third child? What if I were doing a disservice to my youngest child, who was still such a baby himself? What about my oldest son…would he feel as if he were ignored between his brother, a middle child, and an infant? These thoughts raced through my head, quickly dampening the momentary joy I had allowed myself to experience. I worried about how my husband would react as well. Certainly, we weren’t trying to expand our family at that point..what if he were less than thrilled with the prospect of our family becoming larger, and a third child requiring more of our time?  Hours separated ourselves from when he would be home, and I wasn’t certain I could wait to see him in person. Frantic, I called, knowing he would likely be occupied with a task at work, and shared with him our news. We were going to be parents yet again.

The following day, in hindsight, I should have suspected that something was wrong. Prior to that point, nausea had plagued me on a regular basis, creeping in at inopportune times during the day. On that morning, I recall feeling the best I had to that moment. I was not nauseated, nor tired, and my pants once again felt as they had before..not snug, and rather comfortable.  I awoke that morning following my regular routine. Filling the diaper bag for my youngest child to take with him to my mother, our child care provider’s house, a bottle in each pocket, diapers and wipes, reviewing my eldest son’s backpack to make sure his lunchbox and homework folder were securely inside. I retrieved my name badge to clock in to work and my keychain, crossed off my mental checklist once more, and we departed, each headed to our separate locations for the day.

I was at work when it happened. As I sat at my desk, in the midst of a phone call, I felt a wave of nausea strike with a force so sudden that I was taken aback. Dizziness overwhelmed my body, and after the caller and I disconnected, I immediately blocked my line so that I could stop myself from receiving further calls. I stood on uneven legs and moved quickly through the aisles and rows of cubicles toward the nearest office restroom, frantic.

When attempting to prevent pregnancy, the sight of blood is a welcome one. When pregnant, blood of any kind is the absolute last thing you want to see. Though I had never experienced a miscarriage before this instance, the moment I saw the stain of blood lining my pants, I knew that something was absolutely, terrifyingly amiss. I moved through the next few moments as if on autopilot, washing my hands and returning to my work area, seeking my manager to inform him of what was happening. The moment he saw me, my face tightened in pain, he instructed me to go home. I grabbed my belongings from my work station and made my way down our flight of stairs towards the main lobby and out of the building, where I waited for my husband to come. The chill of the February air danced under the folds of my coat, threatening to bring a chill to my entire body, and yet I felt nothing. Finally he arrived, and we departed, spending the short length of our drive to my doctor’s office in complete silence, the gravity of the moments unfolding before us filling the space and stealing our words. I unbuckled my seat belt as he pulled in to our parking space, removing myself from the car and leaving him behind. I walked through the double doors of the doctor’s office and headed towards the receptionist, my words tumbling in a waterfall of emotion. “I’m not sure, yes, each test was positive, no, my symptoms seem to be fading.” My blood was drawn and I was asked to leave a urine sample. I was informed that I would receive a call shortly, and was sent home to wait.

The call came shortly after. The test had come back positive, but the line was faint. I was to have my blood drawn in two days, to determine if my HCG levels, the hormones which detected pregnancy, had risen. As the day would fall on a weekend, I would have to wait until the following Monday, 72 hours in total. The next 96 hours were torture. I continued, for the remainder of that evening, and the following several days to experience bleeding, increasing in volume as the days passed. On the Monday when I was instructed to have my blood drawn, I rushed through my shower, tying my hair back quickly, wishing to not have to delay the procedure any further. I knew that the likelihood was slim that I was still pregnant, and yet I hoped that I was wrong, that, like the nurse whom I had seen several days before had warned, it was a side effect of a pregnancy after a c-section. Plenty of women experience bleeding in subsequent pregnancy she had stated, and I was hoping that I was one of the few who, in spite of this issue, would continue with a healthy, viable pregnancy. As my blood was drawn, the nurse performing the draw struggled to engage me in small talk, asking how I was. Nauseated, I stated. “Are you pregnant?,” she asked, a question I’m certain she meant to be kind hearted, but one I regarded with anger. Am I, I thought? Was I still? I went home that day discouraged, my heart feeling as cold as the wind chill which permeated the Colorado air.

I went back to work the next day, the day immediately following my blood draw, and received the call shortly before my lunch hour. The nurse informed me that I had lost the pregnancy, and asked if I had any questions. Certainly I did. Why had this happened to my child, my family? But I lied, telling her no, and I disconnected the call. As tears cascaded down my flushed cheeks, burning the skin of my face and arms, I walked back to my desk, gathered my purse and signed off for the day. Surely I couldn’t function for others when I could barely function myself. I cried on the drive home, and for the following few days. Pain struck my heart so profoundly that I had what I honestly believed to be a mental breakdown. I became jaded, angered at the world, for a wrong I felt had been done to me. What I had done to deserve this, the loss of a child? It didn’t feel fair, and while I knew in reality that life is not, in fact fair, I felt like I had done nothing to hurt so much.  Finally, I began to accept the loss, realizing that, for reasons unknown to me, the pregnancy was not meant to last. Several months had elapsed at this point, and we discovered we were expecting again. This would be our fourth pregnancy in total, but our third child. Hope had allowed itself to flourish again, and I was ecstatic, though hesitant. Life after loss has a way of being diminished in a sense, so that even when we should feel joy, the threat of sadness has way of creeping in, reminding us of the past. I waited to tell my family, allowing a week to elapse between my positive test and our reveal. We were overjoyed, discussing possibilities. Maybe this time things would work out. Maybe this baby would be a girl. The maybes stacked up. We went home that evening on air, our plans for the future bright and our happiness untainted.

I awoke the next morning. It was happening again. The tightening of my abdomen, the unmistakable pain and the sight no one wants to see. February was repeating itself over again, and the heart that was tentatively healing was shattered yet again. Anger returned, and I was on edge daily, wrapped up in the devastation of the year that I did not allow myself to feel joy.

I sit on the other side of sadness now, finally allowing myself to feel joy again, to truly appreciate my living children and the true blessings that two successful pregnancies were. Even though it has been several months since my most recent loss, and I am finally finding happiness in the uncertainty that is life, I will never forget how these pregnancies, though both very short in length, changed me as a person. This will be my first Christmas since each loss, and at this Christmas tree this year, there should have been a third person opening presents. For as long as I live, I will remember due dates that were not celebrated, birthdays that never happened, names that we never got to choose. While the pain will also remain with me, my heart is slowly healing. I am thankful to be a mom, thankful for God’s grace, and thankful for His presence. I know that even though my children are not with me on Earth, God had a bigger plan for both myself and them, one that is coming to fruition every day.

For anyone who has ever struggled with loss, whether it be the loss of a child or the loss of a loved one who was able to join you on Earth, I want to promise you this simple truth.

There is life on the other side of pain. test

 

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On Writing

I’ll be honest..when I considered beginning this blog, the thought was intimidating..daunting in fact. What would I write about? What if the posts I chose to share with everyone were disliked, possibly even hated? To this point, the only writing I had shared with a public audience were the articles I wrote in high school, but those entries were written in a completely different context, formatted and set to a specific subject matter. I have never been completely open and raw with my emotions, and it was a scary idea, but I decided to go forward, venturing in to the new world of blogging.

I’m so glad that I, with the support and encouragement of my husband began writing, and have remained active with this page. Sharing my thoughts with everyone has been such a rewarding experience, and I hope to make this page larger, and more interactive. If you follow this page, please read through the current posts. Share your thoughts with me below! I would love to be able to speak to an even larger audience, writing about not only my life, but about what you would like to see as well.

Thank you so much for following me on this journey so far!typewriter

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Dear Husband: A Letter

We have known each other for years and yet to me you are still a mystery. You reveal to me new facets of your personality in the way that you respond to situations, the compassion you show our children, and the drive you possess, setting your mind to large goals and accomplishing them with ease.

Your voice is deep, but you are quiet in the way that you love, the manner in which you show your appreciation. You have never felt comfortable with outward displays of affection and I have embraced that you don’t speak your love with your words, but with your actions. You are a constant source of strength for your family, including me. You provide encouragement when I am questioning myself as a wife, mother and person. You are a shoulder to lean on when life has wearied me to the point of utter exhaustion. You are firm, and yet gentle with our children, shaping our two boys in to the men that they will one day become, men I hope are exactly like you. You support us, allowing us to pursue our dreams, and you sacrifice for us, your time and your energy, because you love us so much.

You have taught me about wisdom, and how to view the positive in every situation. When I want to be angry with the world, you remind me that everything happens for a reason, and that every circumstance is shaping me in to the person I am supposed to be. You have carried me through the most difficult year of my life, quietly waiting, knowing when I needed you and when I wanted to be alone, allowing me to recover on my timetable. You have loved me at my absolute worst, and you have never given up on me.

I know I am difficult, and cannot be easy to love. You accepted me when I was flawed, jaded by past experiences that taught me to question the meaning of the word forever and a person’s true intentions. You taught me to trust, and helped me to learn to love again. You have supported me as a wife and a mother, praising me always.

You are my best friend and for you I am grateful.  At this stage, w12219377_496187047226534_2520361866600854778_ne are passing each other in the early hours of morning and late hours of night, raising our children and often not focusing on ourselves, but we still love each other as deeply as we did in our life before children. Soon, these moments will pass, and we will be in a new season of our lives. I am glad that I get to spend the rest of my life with you, my dear husband.

Sincerely,

Your Wife

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A Mother’s Worth

She is flawed, stitched together in the fabric of expectation and reality. She is expected to be a mother always with answers, comforting words and the missing sock. In reality, she is a mess herself, always feeling one step behind, always racing ahead of herself so that she is passing herself in the door of her life, counting down the moments instead of living them. She wants to perfect, the best wife, mother, sister, friend and daughter she can be. She gives everything of herself but feels as though no one gets anything, because she is stretched too thin. She thinks of herself as a failure of a mother sometimes. She feels guilty when she gets upset and raises her voice, knowing these are perfectly natural responses and she’s allowed to get upset, but feeling bad nevertheless. She realizes that even her bar is too high, that even she is human.

She doesn’t bring home a traditional paycheck. Her hours are not 9-5, her lunches not scheduled, her breaks rare. She is occupied every moment of the day, preparing meals, sorting and folding laundry, walking and feeding the dogs, tending to all of the small details of a house that make it a home. She fixes crayon marks on walls and bumps on bodies. She spends her hours repairing broken toys, and broken emotions. Countless nights have been spent laying on floors, of bedrooms and living rooms, tending to sick, aching bodies as they starve for rest, content on whatever surface will bring them even momentary comfort. She shares her food, her body, her soul with her children. Each moment she holds on to them a little tighter, while also letting them go, in the painful and rewarding realization that with each milestone they reach, they are one step closer to becoming independent adults. Motherhood has brought her the greatest joy and immeasurable sadness. The words, “I hate you,” have pierced her heart, said out of anger for a request that was not met with an immediate yes, and her heart has soared with each, “Mommy, I love you.”

Some may say that she is a just a housewife, and may question her skills, or what she will do with herself once her children are grown, no longer needing her constant supervision. She is aware that she will not be needed forever, but in this moment, she chooses to be her children’s source of comfort, their companion, and who they look to for encouragement. She will hold hands, mend hearts, and catch whiffs of their ever fading baby smell, knowing that these requests for cuddles will decrease. She will hold a little longer, love deeper, and hang on for as long as she can, because the days may seem to last forever, but the years are short.

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