How Sadler Got Her Groove Back (And, Her Name)

Sometimes, parenting is really hard. Sometimes, it’s like looking in the mirror at our selves. Tonight offered one of those nights and I’d be remiss if I didn’t document the memory.

Sadler (my 6 1/2 year old daughter) is very sensitive. It doesn’t take much for her to cry, and it can come on quickly. Ask her to please move over and share the sink space with her sister while brushing her teeth, she may cry. Ask her not to fuss at her sister for taking a snack she had her eyes set on, she may cry. Tell her she has to go to the dentist for a teeth cleaning, she WILL cry. Ask her to give back a toy that she took from her sister, she may cry.

All of the above happened today alone.

After the dentist and before the chiropractor, we had an hour or so to spare, so I took the girls to my office so that I could get some work done. It’s times like that when having 2 cell phones with You Tube Kids is something I actually appreciate, and a giant white board with lots of fun colored dry erase markers for drawing and practicing Eureka math comes in handy. They were content for a little over an hour and it was quite nice if I am being honest; I was able to get a good bit done. But toward the end of the hour, I turned and looked behind me and noticed something Sadler had written on the white board.

“I am sad and want sum won to macke me happy so I won’t be sad.” She had even taken it an extra step and drawn a perfectly shaped broken heart under these words. Alas, in black marker.

In that moment, I tickled her, asked her why she was sad and she was cheered up in no time it seemed. But flash forward to bath time a few hours later when she cried for being asked to give her sister back the toy, and I may have overreacted.

“Sadler, you seem to be sad an awful lot lately and cry for no good reason.
You’re using a whole lot of good energy and wasting tears. Why are you so sad?”

I brought up the note she wrote on the white board earlier in the day and told her that people don’t “make us sad”. That we have a choice to be sad or to be happy and that sometimes (or a lot of the time), our feelings can trick us into going to a place in our minds that we shouldn’t go. I told her that while it’s okay to feel sad or to feel mad or to feel embarrassed, we shouldn’t build a house there — we can’t stay sad or mad or embarrassed forever.

Fast forward to bedtime. Tonight’s books chosen to read: On the Night You Were Born and Where Ever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman. (Side note: I am beyond grateful that when our family hosted a beautiful baby shower for us before Sadler was born, they requested guests to bring a signed book rather than a card. Oh, the book collection we started before this child was even born! And a shout-out to my dear friends Melissa and Nicole for gifting us those 2 precious books – xoxo)

As we were reading On The Night You Were Born, after I read the words “You are a miracle…” she said, “Hey Mommy, what’s a miracle?”
“A miracle is something that happens that you thought never would. Something that only God knows how and why it happened. And you’re MY miracle.”
She furrowed her brow.
“Mommy’s doctor told her once that my body wasn’t working like it should and I would never be able to have my own kids.”
Her eyes lit up.
“Well, that sounds like a pretty silly doctor. And that’s pretty cool. My friend Miracle has the same name as a miracle,just like my name means that I’m sad.”

I may have stopped breathing for a second. Or maybe my heart stopped beating for just a tiny bit. I don’t know. But I knew I had to stop reading to straighten up a few things for her. My spirit was crushed that my little girl had taken her name and labeled herself as sad, and I was crushed to think that she actually believed it.

“Sadler, has Mommy ever told you where your name came from?”
Grins. “No. But tell me.”
“When Mommy got pregnant with you and found out you would be a girl, I asked GaGa what her Mommy’s name was. And her name was Cecilia Sadler. The moment I heard it, I knew that would be your first name. And my Mama Dot’s name was Dorothy Mae, so that’s how you became Sadler Mae Terrell.”

She smiled, a big smile. And then she wanted to know how her sister got her name. I told her that I had a friend in college who named her daughter Everly and I just loved the name, but that Everly’s middle name (Jean) came from Great Granny Betty (Betty Jean), GaGa (Debra Jean), my aunt Linda Jean who lives in heaven and Ga Ga’s daddy (Gene) who also lives in heaven.

“Mommy, Everly and me are SO LUCKY.”

“You sure are, my sweet girl.”

That moment will be one I never forget for as long as I live.
The joy I saw in her eyes as she listened attentively to her namesake was precious in every way. And the realization that she’d never have to identify herself as “sad Sadler” ever again, for now she knew the truth about how she came to be Sadler Mae.

We talked about how she could respond if someone made fun of her name and called her “Sad” — and boy is she ready! She repeated back to me (almost verbatim) what I told her, and even remembered that a “silly doctor told Mommy that her body was broken and she couldn’t have a baby, but she did.”

What a miracle you are, Sadler Mae.
What a blessing you are to your Daddy and I.
What an incredible big sister you are to Everly Jean.
What a gigantic heart you have.

You think you’re lucky. You have no idea how lucky I feel that God chose me to be your mama.

And as I tucked the girls in and we said our prayers, I asked her what she wanted to pray for:
“For Daddy to get home safely tonight and not to have mud on his shoes.
For me to never have to eat mushrooms again because I don’t like them.
And for God to give me a brother or a sister.”

Oh, dear.

Happy Mother’s Day

Life is profound. I’ve found myself using the word profound a lot lately. It perfectly describes too many situations for us these days.

Like the other night when Reid and I were fighting and everything around the room felt tense and impossible, my Amazon radio station that randomly shuffles over 200 songs, played 7 songs in a row that happen to be my favorite worship songs. They’re my favorites because for they’ve each spoken to my heart one or more times and I’m moved even still when I hear them. There are no coincidences in this life. God had my back (and my heart) in those moments.

Like the profound difference in my day I’ve noticed if I start it early. And in a place of praise and prayer. If I spend a few minutes outside inhaling Spring and watching the sun peek over the tops of the trees. If I read my Bible. If I journal. If I meditate. If I’m still. Those days — those days are different. Those days pay off for me and have a profound effect on what happens as the day goes on. On mornings when I rush through and get too wrapped up in my self, I lose my footing. I raise my voice. I cry.

When I started to see my prayers be answered, I had a profound sense of trust in God envelop me. When I hear the Holy Spirit tell me how to specifically pray for challenges I may be facing, I obey. I’ve seen a profound difference in my ratio of answered prayers to unanswered prayers from speaking my prayers out loud. Every morning in the shower, I talk to God. I thank him for giving me another morning. For the breath I just took and for the opportunity to be alive another day. I pray fervently for my husband. For my children. For the people in my life who I know are hurting. For healing. For comfort. For discernment. For wisdom. For strength. For JOY to fill my cup.

I’ve prayed for brokenhearted friends. I’ve prayed for strangers. I’ve prayed for broken marriages. I’ve prayed against generational curses and decades of sin and shame and unforgiveness that so many of us are suffering through. I’ve prayed for God to show me my spiritual gifts and how to use them. And I’ve prayed for those who need salvation to hear the gospel before this all ends.

I’ve prayed that I can see others as God sees them, and to just love no matter what. I’ve prayed that those around me could do the same.

God’s been doing profound work in our lives.

But yesterday, I had a moment with Everly that may take the cake. Reid and Sadler were out shopping for Mother’s Day gifts, and we were in Everly’s room putting away laundry. She was playing with her doll and spinning around and singing. And all of a sudden she stopped and asked me to open her PlayDo. And as I watched her from the rocking chair, it hit me. The profound realization that my baby was no longer a baby. But bigger than that, we were done having babies.

I’d rocked my last to sleep.

No more Onesies. Or diapers.

No more breastfeeding…

After 29 months, she finally weaned. We were finished nursing. The “boombas” have been given back to mommy.

The profound realization that I had seen the last of mothering a baby. I began to weep. I immediately grabbed her, picked her up and held her tight. I sat in the rocker as she fought me to get down. I asked her to please let me hold her, for just one minute as we rocked. She reached up and grabbed my face and said, “Mommy, are you OK?”

I lost it. My baby just asked me a question in a complete sentence. I sobbed and sobbed and kissed her and it seemed that every blinking moment with my babies that I have ever had passed through my lens. I saw all the good moments, all the challenging moments, all the times when I thought parenting couldn’t be any harder. All the times when I felt less engaged that I could have been, or the times I was frustrated and wished myself anywhere but in that given moment.

I didn’t want to put her down. What was only about 5 minutes seemed as long as two nap times. I imagined every afternoon I had in that rocking chair with her, burying my face in her neck as she drifted off to sleep. I remembered the evening standing in the laundry room, when I was about 6 months pregnant with her, that I told Reid we had made a mistake bringing another child into the world. That our marriage wasn’t strong enough and that it would be unfair for her to come into the world.

Little did I know that giving birth to her would be the start of a journey I’d been viewing from the sidelines. I didn’t get in the game with my spirituality until she was born. That in her two short years here, our marriage would crumble and then strengthen. God has had his hand on our marriage. Realizing and seeing and trusting that has been profound.

Motherhood started for me with a scapula and lots of tugging and pulling. That was how Sadler came along Earth side. With Everly, it was different. She blessed me with the ultimate gift of motherhood being born vaginally. She opened something spiritual within me and awakened my soul. And what a profound blessing from God she is.

These girls are amazing wonders to me. I look at them in deep, profound wonder on most days. But it will never be enough. Parenting is hard, and it’s easy to think you aren’t doing it good enough when there is a giant comparison trap in society. I’d rather they have good hearts than snobby attitudes. I’d rather they be giving than selfish, and I’d rather they be kind than cruel. I pray they always see the good in people and that they will find their passions and what calls them. I pray they will live. I pray they will love. I pray that Reid and I can speak life into them every day that they are breathing, and I pray that they will grow up to be the best of friends.

I’ve got a profound gratitude for all of the mothers out there. Mothers make new mothers, and even if it’s the hardest job we’ll ever love, motherhood should be cherished. When the days seem harder than they should, and nothing goes the way we’d planned, may we all just surrender and thank God he gave us the chance to be a mother in the first place.

309 Days

Do you know what the word epiphany means? Lots of us have heard it. Used it. But do you r e a l l y know? It’s an experience of sudden and striking realization. When you figure something out, almost always out of thin air, and the thought comes to you that allows you to finally piece together the puzzle.

Was the cup half full? Or was it half empty?

It doesn’t really matter, because the cup was refillable…

It had been 309 days. That’s how long I lasted as a stay-at-home-Mom.

I started this post on December 5th and it hasn’t been touched since then. I started writing it the night before I went back to work as I laid in bed. I fell asleep without finishing it. Since then, I’ve often thought about what I would write when I picked it back up again.

And in my mind, I honestly didn’t have a strong pull for what direction this post should even go next. Should I write about how incredible my new job is? How it was the first job posting I read on that cold Sunday November afternoon (just days after deciding to go back to work) and when I read through the job description, I felt deep in my bones that it was meant for me? And how I got so excited about getting called for an interview, that I took my kids for ice cream before dinner?

Or should I write about the guilt part? The part about feeling invisible on many of my days as a SAHM, or the part about feeling guilty for feeling like I need to be seen in the first place?

The reason why I was hung up on finishing this blog post was because the part I was meant to tell in this story hadn’t happened yet…

As I rocked Everly to sleep tonight, in our favorite spot in the house, I started to cry. I could hear her tiny snore and closed my eyes as I rested my lips on the top of her head. The smell of her fresh bath, the limp weight of her sleeping body against my chest. I didn’t want to put her down.

It was tonight that I became overwhelmed with gratitude for the days I had with her. For all the afternoons we had together as we walked to school to pick up Sadler from Kindergarten.

For all the musical story times in the park we got to attend with Mr. Pete, and for all the fun Costco trips, eating samples and smiling at strangers.

It was tonight that I realized how much more engaged I’ve felt with my girls since I went back to work. I felt it the very first night; I remember that first night vividly. I couldn’t stop smiling. I remember noticing that I looked more at the details of their faces.

It was tonight that I recalled the moment I had my epiphany, and how I’d come to realize that my time home with my girls gave them more quantity time with me, but certainly not more quality time. I had allowed myself to become a martyr to my home, my chores, my expectations as a wife, my role as a mother. I wasn’t happy, and I was in denial about it.

It was tonight that I realized how grateful I am for every experience I had last year. For every bit of perspective that was gained. For every book that was read. For every new person that I met. For every old friend that I reconnected with, and for every (sometimes) long winded phone conversation. For e v e r y s i n g l e minute I shared with my children. For every essential oil class I taught. For MOPS. For it all –I am, and will forever be grateful.

It was tonight that I smiled when I thought to myself, “I love my new job.” I am grateful for the wonderful people I work with and for the deep level of engagement each of my co-workers pours into in their roles. I love the energy in our office and that everyone has a good sense of humor. I love that I’m connected again with my property management family, and that I’ve met so many kind people on our site teams and in our corporate office. And although its been less than sixty days, I feel like I’ve worked there for months.

It was tonight that I acknowledged the rhythm that my husband and I seem to have found. The parenting balance that seems to feel a little gentler, a little more predictable, a little more whole.

It was tonight that I acknowledged never to take another day for granted, and that something as simple as a lunch break with adults five days a week can make you feel like a real human again.

There really is so much I could say about this new chapter in my story, and how the pages even turned to this point in the first place. If you had told me a mere season ago that I’d be back at work by year end, I would have probably rolled my eyes, and maybe even debated with you.

I will forever remember 2017 as the year I “woke up”. The year I grew closer to God and slowed down. The year I deepened in spirit and the veil was lifted. The year that I came alive to the awareness of what it means to truly be in your life path and followed my spiritual GPS. The year I gained wisdom of the power of the spoken word, learned the critical importance of gratitude, meditation, and how to better take care of my body.

And, most importantly, it was the year I had the privilege of being at home with my children. To be a Mama. To be a part of their every day, from start to finish. Every good day, every bad day. Every new experience, every memory, every adventure. We had an incredible year together and it’s one I will remember for the rest of my life.

My heart is full tonight.

I’ve got all the feels.

I chose joy then, and there isn’t a doubt I still do. Every day.

24 Mondays

That’s how many I’ve had to rock you before nap. That’s how many I’ve had to hold you in the heirloom rocking chair in your bedroom, the place we’ve both come to know and love with such intimacy and sacred appreciation.

It’s how many Mondays I’ve had to notice that you like to grab hold of the sides of the rocking chair, one arm at a time, nice long stretches, while your head stays rested on my chest. How you love to hold onto my shoulder with only one arm, like a baby sloth, and you sleep with your mouth open and have a tiny growl of a snore.

It’s how many Mondays I’ve had to feel an inching wonder that you may never stop breastfeeding, and while I appreciate the bond and beauty and all that breastfeeding does for our soul and the souls of mamas and babies all over the world…believe me, I’m so grateful. But I’m ready for it to end.

But then…I can’t help but think that in 24 Mondays from now, you probably won’t want to nurse anymore. You may not even want me to rock you, and who knows if you will even want to be held at all. How many words will you say then? You’ll have a new thing that you do, and a new preference about you. Will you still call it “bbubbbbll” and like to be patted on the butt to be soothed? Will you want to play with your sister, or find solitary adventure without her?

All these things that I think won’t ever stop, they will. That’s just the thing.

And I will miss them.

I’ve come to realize that you’re likely the last one, Everly Jean. The last baby to be birthed and rocked and swaddled and breastfed. The last one. They saved the best for last with you. You’re good, you. Mama loves you, more than you may ever truly know.

I’ve watched you change other people, too. Strangers sometimes. Often times. They connect eyes with you and you give them that toothy smile and your eyes light up like Mama Dot. They see you like I see you.

Life is teaching me that finding gratitude for what shows up in my path, that’s true beauty. That my purpose right now is to be a mother, and to be there for you and your sister when you need me. To teach you to appreciate what you’ve got in life, to be kind to every single person you meet, and to love with all that you’re made of.

Raising and growing you into the lady version of yourself so that you, too can be a mama and a light for your own girls some day.

Knowing that a day will come when you won’t need me at all anymore and I will be lucky if you call me before bedtime each night when you’re all grown up.

All the growth and digging deep in self-discovery over the last year of my life seems to run parallel to your existence. You are wondrous to me, and I may never be able to find the right words to tell you exactly what you are to me. My hope is, that you’ll just see and know like the world sees you.

Perfect wonder, you are, Everly Jean.


I look forward to 24 more Mondays with you, that lead to Fridays and weekends where Sunday seems to drag out forever. Those are our favorite days.

I’ll try to stop rushing you to grow up now. Sleep well, our princess. Mama loves you.

 


 

In Case You’ve Wondered What It’s Like

Guilt. There’s been a lot of that.

Because I underestimated what it would be like to be at home. There have been fewer showers, less projects and more chores. There have been days when I feel like I’m on top of the world, and days when I cry for hours and wonder when I will get a break and feel sane again.

I sometimes eat dinner in the bathroom while watching my kids play in the bath tub, and my house isn’t nearly as clean as I thought it would be.

I completely took for granted the 40-hour break I got from being a mom each week. Not that my  mom-worries and responsibilities stopped when I went to work, but shifting my responsibility to something else for eight hours a day was a break. And I didn’t ever think so at the time.

I underestimated the value of a lot of the relationships I had with my co-workers, and I’ve realized that I wasn’t a very good boss or friend at work. I couldn’t have been. I was trying to do it all by myself, and had lost faith in God and I too often let my stress get to me. I always seemed annoyed and no one ever seemed to need me at a time that was convenient for me. I was so buried in tasks and the desire to perform. I cared deeply about always doing the right thing and being good for everyone, but I wasn’t good for myself. I am thankful for this awareness now and look forward to continuing to nurture the relationships I had through work that I know were real.

I miss interacting with adults all day and I miss taking a lunch break. I miss holding team meetings and watching my maintenance guys roll their eyes because I asked them to hang a sign.

There are days when my mind surges with ideas for my new business and all I want is eight hours to sit at a desk and my laptop and colorful pens and planners and a good playlist. I’d even take four hours. I just miss the grind of getting stuff done. Having a perpetual to-do list that carries over from one day to the next makes you feel like you’re digging holes on the beach. The wave comes, and fills up your hole and you have to dig again. And then more waves.

So, I savor nap time and all that I’m able to accomplish (like this blog post), but I feel guilty for telling Sadler she can watch TV while I work.

I’ve moved on to living life in my favorite robe and yoga pants, spending most of my day in the kitchen and building a rock star essential  oil business. I’ve gotten to spend more time with my Granny over the last three months than I’ve spent with her in the last 10 years. I’ve cancelled cable, sold my dream car, paid off debt, started this blog, read at least a dozen books and made lasting new friendships.

I’m grateful for all the naps I’ve been able to rock Everly before, and all the times I’ve been able to say Hi to the mailman.

I know that being needed all of the time may seem heavy and hard, because it is. But I’m thankful for the time I’ve learned to make for myself and appreciate each minute more than ever before. I’m learning to let the guilt of it all go, because I feel in my bones that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. And doing it with dirty hair and yoga pants makes it just that much more fun.

I know how the lotus flower grows…