I Made a Mistake…

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This photo was taken in a tiny spare room, with a bedsheet hung over a curtain rod.

I made a mistake, truly.

I waited for almost ten years from the first time I bought my own camera to start pursuing my passion without abandon.
Don’t get me wrong, I pursued it at first – a bit naively – but when I hit my first few obstacles I gave up.

I let people tell me that I wasn’t talented enough, didn’t do it correctly, didn’t have the right equipment.
But everyone who told me that left off the most important word.

Yet.

I didn’t have all of the skills, talent, and equipment YET.
And foolishly I let the idea that a someday studio, a someday fancy camera – a someday everything – stop me from continuing.

I let what I had, or rather what I thought I lacked, stop me from chasing my dream.

This new headshot for my website was taken in a small spare room, with the equipment I have, and a bedsheet hung on a curtain rod, ya’ll! (pictured below). It was edited on an Acer laptop that is slooooow some days. I didn’t go to photography school, I don’t have a studio, and I’m learning new things on the DAILY. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I’ll never get there if I’m too embarrassed or scared to start with what I have.

You cannot wait until you have everything you want to start chasing everything you want!

When I picked up my camera again 6 months ago, I determined to change that way of thinking.

I have learned more in the last six months, and gone further towards my dream because I stopped letting my circumstances dictate my ability.

What is your dream?

Do you want to be a marathon runner? Stop waiting for the expensive Nikes and the lululemon leggings, and start with what you have. A strong, capable body.

Do you want to be a YouTube Makeup Artist? Stop waiting for the fancy ring light and buckets of Sephora and start with what you have, even if that’s just an Ipsy bag and an iPhone.

Do you want to own a bakery? Stop waiting for an upgraded kitchen and that $600 standing mixer and start with what you have. If you have an oven and some mixing bowls, you’ve got this!

Do you want to be a photographer? Stop waiting on the perfect studio and the Mac book Pro. Use the equipment you have, be creative and make it happen.

One of the most important things you could ever know about chasing your dreams is this:

It’s not about what you have.

It’s about what you do with what you have.

So stop waiting, use whatever you have, and get out there and do it.

 

 

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The fancy studio that made this image possible.
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Straight out of camera
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Final Image

This is to the Perfect Mothers

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This is to the mothers who judge me.

The mothers who – after a long day of being perfect – settle down into their unstained couch and pick up their phone and turn to Facebook for their allotted 15 minutes of screen time.

The mothers who briefly stop gazing at the crisp vacuum lines in their carpet, just long enough to be horrified by another post where I share my reality.

The mothers who fight back the urge to act on their righteous indignation and comment on how awful it is that my child has recently consumed a piece of cheese that may or may not have been on the floor for an unknown length of time.

This is to you.

I see you. And if ever there is a Mrs. Mom of the Universe contest, I’ll be sure to promptly phone the government to personally nominate you as the winner.

Until then, let’s just assume that title belongs to Mary (Mother of Jesus) and continue on.

As you sit there, reading this post – likely dusting off your typing fingers to work up a response or sending up a quick prayer for my children – I need you to know a few things.

First and foremost, I am a good mother. I’ve come to the conclusion that bad mothers and wives aren’t really worried about whether or not they’re bad. They don’t struggle through some parts of motherhood, because they aren’t there being mothers.

I worry about my child, I pray for him every single day, I take him to church on Sundays, and I love the stuffin’ out of him. I spend hours on the floor playing with toys and mooing like a cow. I’ve read the same books probably seventy-four times a piece by now. I also sometimes let my kid cry when I’m busy and can’t let the chicken burn just because he wants to be held, I have been known to let him watch baby shark so I can take a shower without playing peek-a-boo and getting the floor soaking wet, and I’ll fess up to immediately saying “Your turn” when my husband gets home. I may not be perfect like you, but I am a good mother.

Second point that I hope you can understand: you aren’t required by law to love every second of motherhood. I know you’re gasping in disbelief right now, and it hurts your sensibilities as the perfect mother that you are – bear with me for a moment. I absolutely adore my child. I was blessed with a beautiful, miraculous gift from God. I enjoy my time with him. He is smart and clever and wildly entertaining.

But sometimes being a mom is not fun. Not even “not fun,” sometimes it downright sucks. Sometimes it’s four in the morning and I just desperately want to sleep, and he believes that it would be the perfect time to figure out how much force it takes to pry open my eyelids with one finger. Sometimes he gets sick and messes his britches fifteen times in one day, and I don’t have the wherewithal to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” while plugging my nose. Some days, many days, the joy that is Post-partum anxiety plops down on my couch and just won’t move. It’s not always rainbows and bacon. That is okay. It is so okay, it shouldn’t even have to be said. It should just be universally acknowledged that it’s OKAY.

It feels like with that admission, people react as though you said you begin every day by telling your toddler that he has about 6,000 days before he needs to put in an application at the local McDonalds and get the heck out. I am desperate for these days to last forever. I wouldn’t trade my crazy life for anything, but I can love motherhood without loving every second of it.

Lastly, and most importantly, my motherhood is not dependent on your approval. My children are clean, happy, and healthy. They are well-fed, with the exception of possibly some less than stellar cheese. My title doesn’t get stripped just because you believe you could do it better.

Feel how you want to feel about my choices, continue to judge me, talk about how you “would never” and “how could she” to your hearts content. Whisper, gossip, and voice your concern. But know this:

If all you get out of my openness is a concern for whether I co-sleep or don’t, vaccinate or don’t, plan to homeschool or not, feed my kid processed or organic, breastfeed or bottle-feed, enforce no screen time or have a baby-shark marathon, or any endless number of variables in the way I choose to mother my children – I’m not for you. But if you hung in this long and you still want to judge me. Don’t judge, sis. Just pray. And when you’re done praying, go read 1 Thessalonians 4:11. It’s a good one.

I don’t like the idea of being judged, it’s hard to stomach. But I put myself out there anyway because I feel called to be open with who I am. I don’t always do it prettily, or perfectly. Maybe I don’t always say the right things in the right way, but I put it out there anyway.

I do it because I feel like I need to be here for the mothers who need companionship not criticism.

The mothers who need to know that they aren’t terrible for sometimes thinking their kid is annoying. The mothers who feel inadequate because all they have to compare their motherhood to is a photoshopped picture in Parenthood magazine. The mothers who think that real life – real, raw, not always pretty life – means that they are failing.

You are not a failure. You are a mother who is doing a great job of giving it her best.

God knew what he was doing when he gave you your children.

He assigned you this laundry mountain to show other mothers that it can be moved.

So go move it.

Later, though.

It can wait until after you catch up on the Bachelor.

This is Motherhood.

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This is motherhood.

Real, naked, undone, unmade – Motherhood.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to be vulnerable. Not just that fake “this is my life, but I secretly filtered and zhuzhed it up a little” stuff, but really, truly vulnerable. If I’m honest, I originally wanted a super precious photo of us together that I could put a sweet quote with about how perfect being a mom is. But that’s not what I got, and if I’m honest, that’s not what’s real. If I only shared the best parts of my life, who would that serve?

I have no doubt that if you looked closely at my life, you’d find an ample amount of flaws to judge or criticize.

Tired eyes, messy hair, imperfect skin. Postpartum anxiety. A body that didn’t go directly back to pre-pregnancy status. The crying toddler that clearly wants no part of this photo.

This is my tiny human that is no longer mine, but his own – two feet tall with a six-foot attitude. This is a person that I have recently asked to stop eating a loofah.

Sometimes it’s amazing and I feel like a supermom.
Sometimes I just feel like a zookeeper herding around a tiny animal, trying desperately to anticipate whatever wild thing he’s going to do next.

I’m learning each day how to care for my people without sacrificing caring for myself. Each day my patience is tested, my faith is required, and my heart is filled.

Even though this thing is literally (literally) the best thing I’ve ever done – it’s also the hardest.

Motherhood isn’t just the state of being a mother – it’s a group that we all belong to. It is the relationship, the encouragement, the advice, the love that we should be giving to each other as fellow moms. It should mean that we come together in solidarity and community instead of tearing each other apart for our differences.

Because, at our core, we are all the same:

Stay-at-home, go-to-work, organic, processed, vaccinated, unvaccinated, vaginal birth, cesarean, birth mother, adopted mother, home-school, public school, breastfed, bottle-fed, cloth diapered, pampered – IT DOES NOT MATTER.

No matter who you are, or how you raise your children, motherhood is the same for all of us in so many ways.

It is imperfect, and sometimes ugly, it’s hard, and complicated, and fun, and beautiful, and we’re all just trying to figure out how to raise strong, healthy, confident children, and do it without making too much of a mess of it.

This is motherhood and we are mothers.

Things That Weren’t in the Baby Books

When I found out I was having a child, I headed straight to the library and checked out every book related to birth and child rearing. Since having a child, I have discovered that there is almost no practical information in any of those books. Here are some of the things I wish those books had told me about.

The Registry

Diapers and wipes, folks. Diapers and wipes. Maybe cash (can you register for cash without being tacky?). That Baby-nator 3000 you have on your registry will probably be used twice before he decides he hates it and it will be banished to the spare room to collect dust.

The iCloud Update

Before baby, my phone had about 400 photos on it. 9 Months post-baby it has 7,430. Back those photos up! Enough said.

The Gravitational Pull of Poo

Basically, everything on earth is gravitationally pulled downward, except for baby poop. Baby poop is attracted to the gravitational pull of the moon and always immediately shoots up the baby’s back towards the nape of the neck. Nothing can be done about this. Don’t buy white onesies

The Agility Skill-point Boost

Whether or not you hone your agility skills prior to having a child, you’ll soon be the Steph Curry of Sneaking – the Tiger Woods of Tiptoeing – the Gordon Ramsey of Getting the heck out of the room your kid is sleeping in without making a single peep.

The Dominant Bicep

If you’re right handed and pregnant, get to a gym stat and do some left-arm curls. Everything you do from here on out will involve one arm and one hand. The left one will be busy holding a 90 pound, untamed octopus disguised as a child.

The Catchphrases

As a parent, you’ll have a few key phrases that slip off the tongue without so much as a thought.

You might as well scrap that cute name you’ve been doodling in all your notebooks and legally make your kids name Babyno. “Baby, no.” is one of the top phrases you’ll use once that kid finds his wheels.

I hope you’re a fan of hellos, because the amount of time you’ll spend smiling and saying “Hhiiii” in an odd, high-pitched lilt is unquantifiable.

Some of your new phrases might also include, “Wanna bite?”, “Give Kisses!“, and “Please tell me you made coffee.”

The Back Seat Reach Maneuver

Everyone, do this exercise with me.

Put your arm straight out to the side, now, pivoting at the shoulder, bend it as far back behind you as you can. Curve your arm into an s-shape. Now rotate your hand at the wrist all the way to the left. This is the position in which you will hold a pacifier or toy in your kids face for the duration of many car rides.

Murphy’s Law for Infants

Never. Ever. Use “the baby is fussy” as a fake excuse to cancel plans. Dark clouds roll in, thunder rumbles, and darkness covers the horizon. A wolf howls in the distance. Your child is now in the foulest mood of his life, thus self fulfilling prophecy.

The Unexpected Embarrassment –

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING can prepare you for the moment that your child rips a giant, behemoth of a fart in public and everyone around you assumes it must have been you.

The Unexpected Pain

Do you remember when you would eat laffy taffy as a kid, and how you would bite in and pull back so you could stretch that taffy as thin as possible?

Imagine a kid doing that, except to your nipples . This is breast-feeding when your baby has teeth.

Someone needs to make a Lamaze class specifically geared towards enduring all the bites, slaps, punches, pinches, and hair pulls you’re going to experience over the next few years. There is nothing sweeter than feeding your child, and looking into their big, adorable eyes as they twist the hairs at the nape of your neck and try to violently rip them out.

The Panic

Remember Pac-Man? A ghost, chasing a Pac-Man, who is running around eating dots at a freaky fast pace.

You’re the ghost, your child is Pac-Man. The dots are literally anything he shouldn’t be putting in his mouth. Best of luck.

The Partnership

My husband and I are now involved in a never ending game of hot potato and the baby is the potato.

Having kids can truly make or break a relationship. If you think having a baby will make your relationship instantly stronger, think again.

Sex? Almost completely off the table.

Conversations? All about the baby.

Date Night? You have to schedule them now.

In all seriousness, set aside some time to go out, talk about adult stuffs, and find someone you love to snuggle the baby so you can snuggle each other for a while!

The strength isn’t created by the baby, strength is built because of the joint effort it takes to keep the baby alive and happy.

The Catchy Songs

I say I hate Baby Shark. Honestly, I just say it to fit in. I love Baby Shark. God bless the soul who created it and shared it with the universe. It soothes my baby’s soul and brings peace to my home.

Every generation has and will have their own version of Baby Shark. I’m just glad mine didn’t get stuck with Johnny, Johnny, Yes, Papa.

The Emotions

Am I crying because I haven’t had decent sleep in two years, because I’m emotionally overloaded, or because this babies chubby, wubby adorable face is so stinking perfect?! Your guess is as good as mine.

How not overrated it is

Before having kids, I’d see videos of kids doing cute stuff and “awh,” like, keep scrolling.

But now, baby videos are so much cuter because I can imagine how I’d feel if my kid did those cute things.

And when it IS my kid doing cute things? Can anyone say “face with heart shaped eyes??” 😍😍😍

Watching your baby do seemingly simple things is literally so fulfilling.

I’m convinced that the maternal instinct includes an innate need to constantly say “look at my baybay!”

Also, if that doesn’t convince you that having a kid is awesome, you basically have a free pass to watch Disney movies in theaters without looking like a creep. Sign me up!

The Love

Dude. This kid. Wow. When he was born I felt like the Grinch on Christmas. My heart grew three sizes that day and almost exploded. This tiny meatball that I grew myself is now an almost walking kind of talking human and I kind of can’t handle it! I can’t even keep a fern alive, and here is my kid – crawling, laughing, literally being the worlds cutest baby – and I’m doing this!

Nothing could have ever prepared me for the amount of adoration I have for this tiny monster. The cuteness is soul crushing.

All of the books I read, the videos I watched, the classes I took – none of them mattered in the grand scheme of things. When it comes down to it, we all have it within us to be a kick-butt mom.

All it takes is one look at your very own little human, and suddenly you’re equipped with every skill necessary to do the job and do it well. And even if you feel like you’re failing, I can guarantee you one thing. To your baby, you’re the most kick-butt mom in the world.

(Bonus, sneak peek of my little dude’s 9 month photos!)

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I am NOT a Proverbs 31 Wife

Who here knows that every time women are mentioned in a biblical context – women’s conferences, mother’s days, weddings, oh my! – the “go-to passage” is Proverbs 31?  And when it does get recited, who here has shrunk a little lower into their seat?

I am absolutely raising my hand right now.

Every time this passage is quoted, my inner monologue gets louder with each line. The tiny, harsh, yet truthful, voice in my head interjects at each pause with a comment on my shortcomings.

“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.”

Not your husband, that’s who.

“Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”

Okay, but just yesterday you said that if he didn’t come inside and entertain the baby while you made dinner, you were gonna square up.

“She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.”

The only flax you’ve ever spun is flax seed… into your oatmeal… like three times in your entire life. How’s that diet going, by the way?

“She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.”

Yasss, girl. You’ve totally got this one, just yesterday you drove 30 minutes for takeout just so you didn’t have to cook.

“She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.”

Before dawn? Ha! You literally hand your 8-month-old puffs and corner him into the bed with pillows so you can sleep in for five more minutes.

“She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.

Energetic? Yes (thank you, Folgers). Strong? Debatable, you’re still tossing around the ten pound dumbbells. A hard worker? Totally – but let’s be real, the only reason your lamp burns late into the night is because you’re scared of the dark.

“Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. She makes her own bedspreads.”

Dude. She makes her own bedspreads. Most of the time you don’t even make your own bed.

“She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.”

Lol you dressed in something you grabbed out of the laundry pile that you fully intended to fold and hang up, but you haven’t gotten to it yet. Also, those new KanCan jeans you wore to church today totally still have the size 11 tag hanging off the back pocket.

“Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

Not you. You have anxiety attacks when you think about the future. Laughing hysterically though, that you can do.

“When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.”

Ouch.  You were totally not kind when telling your husband to ‘please, for Pete’s sake, hold this kid for a minute so I can get something done.’

“She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.”

You are, most definitely, NOT this woman.

Ya’ll.

How am I ever going to be a Proverbs 31 wife? I’m not just struggling to be a Proverbs 31 wife, some days I struggle NOT to be a Proverbs 21:9 wife. My husband can surely attest to the fact that there have been days he would have rather hung out on the roof than hang out with me and my six-foot-seven, outlaw attitude.

Now, if you’re the woman who has had vacuum lines in her carpet since 1992, supper is on the table two seconds before your husbands stomach growls, and you’ve literally never stared out the window thinking fondly on the days when your children had not yet discovered their vocal chords – this post probably isn’t for you. You are definitely more precious than rubies, and just as rare.

For those of you that are in the same boat as me – the boat that keeps filling with water, and you keep grabbing every bucket in sight to shovel it back out – you are not alone.

For every dirty shirt that gets tossed in the washer, a dish ends up in the sink.

For every speck of dirt that gets swept up, a puff gets ground into the carpet.

For every moment of peace, there is a moment of chaos to follow.

(As I was writing that last sentence, my speedy little almost-toddler crawled into the bathroom and started licking a bottle of conditioner.)

Life has a way of making me feel like a hamster on a wheel – running to exhaustion, but seemingly never accomplishing anything.

And at the end of the day, when I’m finally getting to bed at eleven or later, I lay down and compare myself to the awesome mamas on my phone. The Pinterest mama, who has a photographable life and seemingly perfect children; the Facebook mama who defeats insurmountable odds every day and has the posts to prove it; the Instagram mama whose kids kiss her for photos when mine just pulls my hair. I lay down and compare myself to all of those women and, I absolutely guarantee you, I compare myself to you.

Me, with my one child and struggling.  You, managing all of your tiny beautiful children with grace.

Me, with my husband (who I’m so blessed to have home more days than he’s out working). You, a single mother doing it all by herself and rocking it.

Me, throwing on layers of clothing hoping it hides the fact that I’m so uncomfortable with this post-baby body. You, always flawless, literally gracing my timeline with your beauty.

And then God reminded me.

It says “Who can find a virtuous woman? She is more precious than rubies!”

I don’t know about you, but I have a limited selection of jewelry. Some of which would probably turn green, if I ever wore it. I am not, nor do I know anybody who is bathing in precious gems.

There is a reason that this woman is more precious than rubies, and it is for the same reason that rubies are precious. She is RARE.

She’s not that girl you follow on Instagram, she’s not all the pins you save on Pinterest, she’s not the lady you kind-of-sort-of know on Facebook. She is an ideal that God laid out for us to follow and He knows that none of us will ever be her without fail every day of our lives.

In a rare, quiet moment, God led me to a couple of verses that I am currently printing off and posting on my fridge.

Philippians 3:12-14 (CEV)

“I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. My friends, I don’t feel I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.”

So, no, I am not a Proverbs 31 woman. I am still a frizzy hamster on a wheel, running a race. That is perfectly alright.

All my hamster-on-a-wheeling, my running in circles, this is the race I am running!

I will inevitably struggle. Sometimes the laundry wont get done. Sometimes I will let my anxiety get the best of me before I remember to trust in God. Sometimes I will make my husband want to go hang out on the metaphorical roof.

But this I can do: I will do my best every day to forget my short-comings of yesterday and keep struggling for what is ahead.

This is my calling. Not to have a super cute, Pinterest worthy kitchen. Not to fit into that size seven my unforgiving hips won’t let me pull on. Not to never fail.

My calling is to keep letting God mold me into a better wife, mother, and woman than I was yesterday.

Everything else I accomplish is the grace of God.