Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seasons of Life

We each have our own seasons-a time to be a student, time to be a new bride, a time to be a mother, a time to have a career and/or a time to share the accumulation of our life's knowledge with others. 

 With these seasons, we are also given choices to make.  We can fully embrace each season for what it offers us, enjoying each moment so that when the season passes we have no regrets.  Or we can try to overlap each season, trying to appreciate all these joys at once, only to find we can't adequately keep up with any of them, and greatly increasing our stress in the process.

If you are in the seasons that calls you to motherhood, focus on that season.  Embrace all that your child is, and all that God is calling you to be as a mother. 

By surrendering to God and your motherhood, you will call into play all the gifts, intelligence, and creativity with which God has blessed you.  By savoring this season, you will find peace, a joy and a level of self-discovery that simply cannot be found in the workaday world.

-Lisa Popcak-

Monday, September 29, 2014


I picked up my old worn out copy of Mitten Strings for God yesterday-I know I've said it before several times, but there is no other book I have loved more as a mother than this one.  Just reading this book calms my soul and reminds me of the kind of home I want to create and the kind of mother I want to be.  There is SO much wisdom in this book.

"I used to feel guilty about idle moments.  Time spent splayed out in the lawn chair, staring at the sky, was time "wasted".  A walk in the woods with a friend and her dog, meant that I wouldn't get my aerobic workout for the day.  When Henry, at three, wanted to hear the same story every day for a month, and have the same conversation about it every time, I could not help thinking about the stack of unread library books that was gathering dust in the meantime.  But I have come to believe that all of these activities are essential.  They are what is meant by "nurturing".  As the writer Julia Cameron reminds us, "So much of what we need, so much of what we want, is to be savored, cherished, cared for and cared about.  So much of what is missing is tenderness."  Our children do not need any more possessions to be happy; they need only to feel sure that they possess our hearts, our attention, our acceptance of who they are." -Katrina Kenison

Friday, September 26, 2014

Presence and Joy

 Slow down and take care of the little ones and big ones with presence and joy. 
That is what they will remember! 
That is what they need.
(a quote from my mom)

Thursday, September 18, 2014


I don't know why it's so hard for me to remember this, but a walk, no matter how short or long, clears my head more than anything else can.  By "clears my head" I mean washes away worries, doldrums, ruts, crabbies, just about everything.  No matter what the weather, it's always good to get out and breathe some fresh air, I think our bodies and minds need nature.  Now I sound like my mom! (Thanks mom for the best advice always!)

Yesterday I noticed how beautiful some of my favorite houses and their front doors looked and took some photos. I love the beginning of autumn in my little town-it feels old-fashioned and cozy and pretty. (Which has much to do with the weather.)

This house is always always perfect.

I have been inside this house for an open house years and years ago and it has tons of neat nooks and crannies and built-ins.

 You can't tell from this photo but the landscaping around this home is gorgeous.

This house is very simple-I think someone elderly lives here, I never see anyone out and it's not all "fussy", which makes me love it even more.

And how we roll:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Denise's Story

All I ever wanted was to be a wife and a mother. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I wanted a million other things too, but this far and away led the list. It was so much a part of who I was, even at a young age, that a dear friend actually gave me a subscription to Brides Magazine for my sixteenth birthday (true story). Let me tell you that seeing that magazine in my dorm room (yes, I continued the subscription until the day I was married) scared quite a few young men along the way!  And let’s not even mention the notebook of every changing baby names that I kept for years!

I grew up as the youngest of three, and when I was eight years old, my mom started an in-home day care business called Dot’s Tots. Without realizing it then, Dot’s Tots definitely helped shape my hopes and dreams.  I would get home from school every day, and my mom was there to talk with me and to hear about my day, but there were lots of little people there as well. I always had a baby to hold or a toddler to play with. I watched these children grow up in my home. As I got older, I got more involved with the children. These were the kids I’d babysit for on the weekend, and during the summer I would serve as lifeguard by the pool, and even started the famous “Dot’s Tots Summer Olympics.” Babies were in my blood. Trust me, there were days I would have loved to come home to an empty house or a house with just my mom in it, but most days I loved walking through the door to see all of those little faces.

I don’t remember thinking about whether or not I’d be a stay at home mom when I was young. My picture definitely had a husband and kids in it, but I was raised to believe that I could do or be anything that I wanted in life. Neither of my parents went to college, and I was the only one in my family to finish. My parents truly made me feel like anything I strived for was possible. I guess I believed I could “have it all” even though I didn’t really know what that looked like, or even meant.
Fast forward to a few years after college… I married Michael, my college sweetheart. This was, far and away, the best decision of my entire life.  I moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania and began a career in Pharmaceutical Sales. I loved it and I was very good at it. I was at the top of my class in sales school, and won the Fast Start Award my first year out. I had aspirations of working in sales training, but hadn’t quite figured out how that would work since my company’s home office was in Kansas City, and Michael’s career and our whole life was on the east coast. I remember briefly feeling like it wasn’t fair that his career (much more established than mine at that point) took priority. Shouldn’t I get the chance to go to Kansas City and see what I could do?  Boy, I really didn’t worry about this for long. Instead, I got the baby bug.

Michael and I bought our first home at Christmastime, about a year and half after we were married. I remember wanting to get pregnant so badly around that time. I think Michael would have preferred to wait a bit longer, save a bit more money, etc. We had many teary (on my part) conversations that involved him saying that we weren’t in a position for me to be home full-time, and my swearing that I had no problem going back to work full-time if we could just have a baby (I thought I meant it). I was pregnant by June.

I loved being pregnant. I loved everything about it. I couldn’t wait until I could wear maternity clothes, and in hindsight, I really jumped the gun on that one. But I wanted EVERYONE to know I was pregnant. My career flourished. My sales territory was the amazing neighborhoods in and around South Philly, a predominantly Italian area of Philadelphia. Here I was, this young woman with a very Italian last name and clearly not a drop of Italian blood in her. I had established great relationships in my doctors’ offices, but the pregnancy took things to a whole new level. I spent months being turned around to decide if my nose had spread more than my backside, and sat still while having my wedding ring spun on a string over my giant belly – all this to decide if I was having a boy or a girl…South Philly style. The prevailing wisdom said girl…and they were right.

Five days after my due date, in the early morning hours, my beautiful Katie arrived – and I was never, ever the same. In those very first moments I knew with a certainty unlike anything I had ever experienced before, that my life’s work had just begun. I was a mom.

But remember those teary promises about going back to work full-time if I could just have a baby? …well, it had to happen. The mortgage loomed. Twelve weeks later, I returned to work. And so began a whole new series of teary conversations about how and when I could stop working. We got so lucky, because I know this isn’t the case for so many families. Six months after I returned to work, I was able to transition to a two day per week schedule in my sales job.

This two day per week schedule continued for the next few years, and worked out well for us. I still wanted to be home full-time, and we were getting close. We welcomed Cole, our beautiful boy, two years later, and in the fall of 1999, we embarked on the adventure of a lifetime and moved our family to Denmark. 

The three years we spent as guests in this beautiful country, were three of the best years of my life. We welcomed Abbey seven months after arriving, and I settled in so fantastically to my role as full-time stay at home mom.  Being home to kiss every boo-boo, snuggling up to watch The Lion King for the billionth time, seeing the wonder on those beautiful little faces as they discovered new things – I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.
I’ve been blessed over the years to have several part-time jobs that fell in my lap just at the right time, but that left just as gracefully when they were no longer needed. Some were short-term projects with old colleagues involving really exciting stuff that let me feel useful and smart in a different way when maybe I was doubting myself or my value (Wow! That was a whopper of a run-on sentence!). Others let me make a difference in the lives of children when my three were happy and busy at school, yet let me be home before the first feet stepped off the school bus at the end of the day. I know I’ve been very lucky -- lucky to be at home all of these years, lucky to have a husband that bent over backwards to make it possible and mostly lucky to have chosen the absolute right dad for my kids, and most amazing husband for me.
As I’m writing my story, I realize that I want you all to know every detail, but unless you have nothing else to do today but read this (ha, you’re most likely moms, which means you have a million other things to do today), all I really need to share is that I loved it. I loved all of it. Not every minute of every day of course, because it’s really, really hard work some times. But in true Denise form, my rose-colored glasses are firmly in place while I write this, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
To help fill my need for grown-up interaction and activity and to be as involved with my kids as possible, I was homeroom mom more times than I can count, I attended every Halloween, Holiday and End of the Year party that I could, went on the field trips, etc. As the kids grew and I had more available time, I took on bigger roles in their schools. I ran the book fair for several years, then switched gears and handled all of the tickets for the amazing high school theatre program.  My latest endeavor is handling all of the refreshments for the middle school musical. I love being able to use my time and talents to support my kids in the things they love and also support their amazing teachers and schools. 
I laugh when I think about my eventual return to the work force, and how I’ll use my communication skills to convince my future employer that my volunteer jobs and mom skills garnered over the last twenty years make me a valuable employee. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, but for now I’m going to savor every minute of my last few years at home.
My baby turned 14 yesterday, and this fall I will have two kids in college. I kiss fewer boo-boos these days, but I’m still lucky enough to snuggle up for a movie (or an episode of Say Yes to the Dress – our guilty pleasure).  Some days I feel like my role is simply that of chief cook and housekeeper. But just when I’m feeling like I’m not as needed as I used to be, someone needs to talk, or vent, or work through a problem, and I’m there to listen, or give advice (gingerly), or just give them a hug.
I struggle with my new place in the world.  I sometimes question who I’ll be or what I’ll do when they are all off being their amazing selves and making their own mark on the world. But really, I do know who I’ll be. I’ll be their mom, forever and always, and I can’t think of anything better I could have done.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kelly's Story

It’s Tuesday morning, and Ainsley rolls out of bed with both eyes crusted shut and a voice that is a cross between an eighty-five-year-old life-long smoker and Kim Carnes singing Betty Davis Eyes. Gravelly, throaty, Darth Vaderesque.

Clearly she’s encountered some pesky virus.

Here’s a confession I’ve made many times: I’m happy when my kids get sick. Not happy for their suffering, of course, but inwardly glad because I know that I’ll simply stop.

Some other Mommy-blogger once coined the term Hard Stops. Hard Stops are those moments sprinkled throughout our day or week that lead us to declare a halt to the frenzy of demands that assail mothers – the laundry, the unsigned permission slip, the missing soccer cleat, the prescription that needs to be picked up, the next meal.

Hard Stops help us set aside what seems urgent to focus on what’s far more important.

In my house that means being fully present to my children, being with them rather than doing things for them, setting aside my To Do List to simply be. When I have a sick child, I stop. That child gets one hundred percent of me. Or maybe 90%. But significantly more, I’m sad to say, than on an ordinary day. We may pick up pizza. We may eat frozen waffles. Housework and cooking, blogging and bill paying  – these get shuttled to the margins, and my sick child comes front and center.

Hard Stop.

Sometimes Hard Stops are not quite so hard as a fever, as colorful as a rash, as dramatic as a sudden bout of vomiting. That still, small voice called mother’s intuition tells me that all is not well with my twelve-year-old.  I notice that my typically amenable five-year-old seems to be nothing but obstreperous. These symptoms call for a Hard Stop but the call comes as a whisper, a Holy Spirit-nudge. I take the tween out for a milk-shake or invite the five-year-old to the library with no one else in tow.

Kind of a Soft Hard Stop.

A Hard Stop may involve Mom.  One recent seven day period began with a weekend visit to Disney World and then moved on  to a science fair  project, packing Daddy off for two weeks in Alaska, making sandwiches for the bereavement committee at church, supervising an in depth geometry project, multiple doctor’s appointments. And at the end of it, I collapsed.

Hard Stop.
Hard, Hard Stop.

We need to take care of the person who is taking care of everyone else.

What does any of this have to do with being a stay at home Mom? Being home with my children helps me to listen to these Hard Stops. Life with four children is intense.  I am an intense person. Gosh, how there are times I wish I could wiggle my nose and be a different version of me – more mellow, more go-with-the-flow, chilled, ya know?

That calm version of me might turn up yet, might just blow in with an East wind like Mary Poppins. But until the day that epochal transformation occurs, it would behoove me to build margins into my life, to erect boundaries that help me put first things first, to add space and time into my life so that I can better hear and heed the voice that says:

Slow Down
Let It Go
Cuddle on the Couch
Build the Fort
Read the Story
Oohhh and Aahhh over that Lego creation
Listen to the Twelve-Year-Old

My decision to stay home helps --  it helps quite a lot.
So this morning I looked at my red-eyed cherub and gave her four options: painting, reading, having a little tea party, playing doll house with Mama. And we sat down with our water colors and got to work.

Seventeen years ago, I looked down at the second blue line that told me I was a mother.  At the time, I was working two jobs – I was a high school English teacher and a weekend warrior with the US Army. I loved both jobs but knew I’d leave them when Tim arrived. My husband, thankfully, has always seen the value of having Mom at home.

Truthfully, I’ve viewed this as more of a privilege than a sacrifice. I’ve cried with close friend s as they’ve prepared to send tiny babies to daycare when they would have gladly stayed home had that been an option.

“You’re going to work,” I told one friend, “so that your son can go to the doctor.”

Her husband was self-employed with no insurance, so my friend had found a job with benefits. It was no small sacrifice.

Certainly many people view full-time homemaking as a waste of an education, but, good gravy, I was once a logistics manager for Procter and Gamble and, believe me, the demands of that job don’t compare to the challenges of ordering the lives and living space of six people. Especially now, having a preschooler and a teenager and two others in between, this life I lead demands all my energy, all my creativity, all my organizational skills , more patience than I possess – in short, it takes virtue, brawn, and brains.

On my bad days – and I have plenty of them – I am grateful that I married relatively late (at 32) and became a mother well past the average age (at 33). I went into this SAHM gig with plenty of real world experience. I had held a variety of jobs and had travelled widely before turning in my power suit, my grade book, my Army fatigues for a life of babies and car pools, Legos and play dates. While some mothers might indulge in wistful thoughts about the working world, might think the grass is greener on the other side, I’ve seen the grass and, though it’s different, it’s not necessarily greener. The clothes are nicer, the pay is better, but it comes with its own set of stresses that I know only too well.

When a mother discerns how best to live out her vocation, here is a pearl of wisdom I have found most helpful: Know thyself. I have friends who beautifully balance motherhood and outside employment. As for me, I think of the words of Jesus: You cannot serve two masters. As an intense, competitive person, were I to invest in a career right now, it would be at the expense of my family. I’m afraid I’d leave them all in the dust. Home is the best place for me for now, and I am so very grateful that it’s a viable option for our family.

No one expresses the value of motherhood more eloquently than G.K. Chesterton who once wrote:

How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. 

Being everything to these small someone?.
It is gigantic indeed.

Kelly blogs here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lori's Story


Growing up, I was one of those kids who absolutely loved going to school.  While I was in college it felt natural for me to major in education, my passion.  I was going to be an elementary school teacher and I prayed that, God willing, I’d also find a husband.  Those were my big plans, but I’ll be honest I was a little worried about the husband part back then. 

When I was just 16 years old, I learned that I’d never be able to have children.  It was very difficult news for me because I loved children and not only dreamed of becoming a teacher, but I also wanted to be a wife and mother one day too.  While the news of my infertility was life changing, through time and much prayer, I found acceptance and healing and my faith in God’s plan for my life was strengthened even more than I could have ever imagined. 

I met my now husband our freshman year of college.  We were the best of friends and he couldn’t have been more supportive and loving about my infertility.  When we began to discuss marriage and future babies, he didn’t even hesitate about what we would do.  Adoption would be how we’d build our family. 
 We were married the summer after graduation in 2004. 

I began teaching 2nd grade that September and absolutely loved it.  Three years later and a move to a new city, I landed a position at my absolute dream school, just around the corner from our first home.  My husband and I were happy with our jobs, our new house, and things couldn’t have been going better, but our hearts were yearning for a child.  We hoped more than anything in the world to become parents.

The years of waiting were some of the most difficult of my life.  About two years into our wait, we suffered an unbelievably heartbreaking failed adoption.  I quit my teaching job at my dream school to care for our new baby.  We were so in love with our little bundle of joy and I couldn’t imagine being away from him.  It was as simple as that.  Deep down I always knew I wanted to stay home with my children, but I finally realized the importance of the decision.  We spent 4 months loving and caring for this sweet little boy and I never regretted leaving my job to give him the best start in life possible.  Even though this adoption didn’t turn out as we had hoped, through it all, our faith remained strong. We grieved our loss and our hearts were broken, but we just knew God had a baby in mind for us. 
On a beautiful fall day in 2009, all of our dreams came true.  Words cannot even express the complete and total joy we felt.  We were given our 2 week old baby boy’s picture and tears streamed down my cheeks each time I looked at his sweet little face.  Two days later we were holding the little baby we hoped, prayed, and waited all those years for.  No job satisfaction, paycheck, vacation, or material thing could ever replace the time I now spend with him each and every day.  Being a mom has been a dream come true.

My husband and I have always hoped for a large family and we’ve been blessed beyond belief to have adopted two more children, another boy and a sweet little baby girl.  Just as I had poured my heart into teaching, I have poured my heart into my vocation as a wife and mother.  My babies and I have so much fun together singing, playing, dancing around, doing arts and crafts, and just enjoying each other’s company every day.  Yes, there are crazy moments and seasons of extra challenges that only life with little ones can bring, but truly, it’s the most rewarding job in the world.
Being a stay-at-home mom is a sacrifice for sure (we are a young family with student loans that we are still paying off…not to mention saving for adoption expenses), but through careful budgeting, miraculously things have fallen into place.  We live a modest, happy life and it’s all worth it.  If I had continued teaching I know life would be a little easier financially for a young family like us, but I’d much rather see my babies’ smiling faces each morning, feel their chubby little arms around my neck, and hear their giggles throughout the day than anything money could ever buy.
Each night when we tuck our babies into their beds, I thank God for the tremendous gift of motherhood and our three precious children that He has entrusted to our care.  They are our greatest gifts and I am so thankful that I get to spend my days with them. 

I have this little prayer hanging in our kitchen that I read often:

A Mother’s Prayer

Dear Lord, it’s such a hectic day
With little time to stop and pray
For life’s been anything but calm
Since You called me to be a mom
Running errands, matching socks
Building dreams with building blocks
Cooking, cleaning, and finding shoes
And other stuff that children lose
Fitting lids on bottled bugs
Wiping tears and giving hugs
A stack of last week’s mail to read
So where’s the quiet time I need?
Yet when I steal a minute, Lord
Just at the sink or ironing board
To ask the blessings of Your grace
I see then, in my small one’s face
That You have blessed me
All the while and I stop to kiss

That precious smile.  Amen.

Lori blogs here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pam's Story

(introduction to series here)


When Steve and I were dating,
I told him I wanted to be 
a stay at home mom.
I never finished college..
instead I bounced around
from place to place,
job to job
until it was time for me
to settle down,
get married and have children.

20 years
11 moves
4 kids later
our life has been
so far,
a great adventure.

My kids were all born in different places..
Stephen in Ft. Rucker, Alabama
Hannah in Germany
Will in Delaware
Griffin in Massachusetts.
(I admit I'm a little sad we won't have
a baby born here in Paris :)
It seemed with almost every move..
a new baby was in tow.

My husband has always traveled
in his career. 
As a helicopter pilot
in the Army he went to Bosnia for 6 months 
and spent weeks in the field.
(nothing, compared to military wives these days
whose husbands are deployed for much longer
and much more dangerous missions
than I ever had to endure).
When we left the military in 2001 and he started
a different career,
his business travel continued.

I have been the one constant
in my children's lives.
And I simply cannot imagine it any other way.

In the early years of
our marriage and motherhood,
we had NO money.
Steve was just out of the military
and we bought our first house.
We turned a walk in closet into
a bedroom for Stephen
and Hannah shared our bedroom.
I was pregnant with Will and 
friends would ask..
"how do you all fit in that house?"
I look back on those years and smile.
We worked so hard
Building this family of ours.
With no help.
No cleaning ladies
No babysitters
construction workers.
Not even help from our own
families as we were 
always miles away from them.
We did everything ourselves.
And it was hard!

But so very worth it.

as my children get older..
and begin to start lives of their own,
I hope we've taught them 
just that.

I have never felt 
like I've sacrificed.
Sure, there were times when I would
have loved a girls weekend away
or a date night with my husband
or even a few hours to get my hair done
but a nursing baby would not allow it.
And now that I have no more 
nursing babies in my future
(believe me, I have grieved!)
I know deep in my heart that
for me
it was more important to always
be there
for my children.

Pam blogs here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lauren's Story


“Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs…since the payment is pure love.” 
– Mildred B. Vermont

I grew up the daughter of a successful corporate executive and a loving, devoted mother.  I always felt fortunate to have my dad’s ambition and intelligence in addition to my mom’s nurturing nature.  There was never any doubt that I would someday be a mother but I was very open to being a working mother.  My plan was always to have it all.

After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, I found a good job at a respected company and began my ascent up the corporate ladder.  While working full-time, I attended night classes for 3 grueling years to complete my Master’s.  Everything was going as planned; I even had an engagement ring on my finger when I crossed the stage to receive my diploma and the love of my life in the audience cheering me on.  We were married a few months later.  As I blew out my 28th birthday candles, I wished to soon start a family of our own.  Our beloved son was born 9 months later.
What I hadn’t entirely planned for was the overwhelming, all-encompassing love I felt for my baby.  While my head was telling me to go back to work and put my expensive degrees to good use, my heart broke every time I thought about doing so.  I did end up returning to work after 6 months of maternity leave because I figured I would give it a try and could always quit if it didn’t work out.  It wasn’t easy to leave my baby but everything sort of fell into place, most notably that a coworker transferred out of state and their beloved nanny suddenly became available.  I felt okay about being the working mom of a single child, knowing that he was being loved and doted on by a wonderful, experienced mother while I was working at a company that valued and encouraged work-life balance.  I was (just barely) keeping my head above water, doing all the things I wanted to do and being the kind of mom I wanted to be.  But a voice in my head was growing, saying that I couldn’t spread myself any thinner and that this simply wouldn’t work when we had another baby.

Our daughter was born two years after our son.  Even though I knew in my heart that I couldn’t continue working, making the decision to resign from a job I loved, that I had worked so hard for, was still difficult.  I knew my family supported my stepping out of the workforce but my conversations with my professional mentors completely caught me off guard.  Across the board, they not only supported my decision to be home with my kids, they applauded it.  Several successful women who I admired confessed to me, some with tears in their eyes, that they wish they had been so wise when their children were young.  They deeply regretted missing so much of the precious years with their little ones, years they can never get back.  I realized then that “having it all” was no longer what I wanted for myself or my family.  I don’t believe that raising babies and pursuing a demanding career are complementary undertakings.  I think if we’re honest with ourselves, everyone knows deep down that babies need to be home with their mothers, cared for and taught by the people who know them best and love them most.  And quite frankly, I believe that mothers need it just as much, if not more.  And so I never returned to work from my second maternity leave – it felt so good to finally have my head on board with my heart
My husband would have supported my decision either way but he agreed that my staying home was best for our family.  Even though we were living within our means, we met with our financial planner to understand how our short- and long-term finances would be impacted by this decision.  I highly recommend doing this; our planner essentially gave us financial permission to make this huge change.  The loss of a six figure salary didn’t go unnoticed initially, but now, nearly 2 years later, we don’t feel much of a difference because of some changes we made.  We refinanced our home at a lower rate.  We sold a rental property whose cash flow didn’t make sense.  I insourced many of the things I once outsourced – I now clean my own house, wash my own car, paint my own nails.  We obviously cut the expense of our nanny, and luxuries like international travel and fine dining are not particularly conducive to families with young kids anyway; the kids helped us cut our budget in that regard!   
While I missed out on a fair share of tender baby moments with my son, the silver lining is that I have the perspective of a working mother.  I made an informed decision and never have to wonder if the grass is greener on the other side.  I know firsthand that working moms love their kids every bit as much as stay-at-home moms do, but being with my children all day, every day has strengthened a bond that I didn’t realize could get any stronger.
An unforeseen benefit of my being home every day is that my mothering intuition has become so clear – it is rare that I don’t know what my children need.  This intuition has given me the confidence to make decisions based on what I know is best for our family.  It used to be difficult for me to say no to a world full of pressures to go here, do this, or buy that.  But now I do not hesitate to say no, no, no to the chaos of the outside world and focus on the things that truly enrich our lives – time with our extended family, true friends, and most of all each other.

I have also realized that, for me, being a deliberate mother is a full time job.  The busier I get, the less intentional my parenting becomes; I go from proactive to reactive and my family deserves better from me.  I have found that the more intention I put into motherhood, the more rewarding of a vocation it becomes.  I love having the luxury to slow down and savor the simple things in life with my sweet kids.  I enjoy preparing meals with love that nourish both my family’s bodies and their souls.  I share in my kids’ exuberance when they master a new skill or do something to make someone else happy.  My kids are happier and get along better when I am fully present and they have my undivided attention.  None of these things would be as possible or as enjoyable if my family had to share me with a career outside of our home.

I honestly don’t feel like I’ve given up any of the dreams I once had.  Instead, becoming a mother has provided further clarity about what a full life looks like for me.  My career ambitions may return when my children are older, but for now, “having it all” means:

·        Days filled from sunup to sundown with kisses and cuddles, games and giggles.
·        Being able to say yes to my kids when they ask for French toast on a Tuesday morning.
·        Driving to the coast on a clear, uncrowded October day to pick the perfect pumpkins for Halloween.
·        Spending rainy days in bedsheet forts with giggling kids, glow sticks and every stuffed animal in our house.
·        And above all else, looking at my children curled up in my husband’s lap for our weekly popcorn movie night and knowing that I didn’t miss one single moment of their innocence, learning or joy.

My heart is so full of love, gratitude and contentment and I know I’m exactly where I should be.  How could I possibly want anything more? 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Encouraging Words For Mothers

We would like to pay homage to all brave mothers 
who dedicate themselves to their own family without reserve, 
who suffer in giving birth to their children 
and who are ready to make any effort, 
to face any sacrifice, in order to pass on to them the best of themselves…  
How hard they have to fight against difficulties and dangers!  
How frequently they are called to face genuine “wolves” 
determined to snatch and scatter the flock!  
And these heroic mothers do not always find support in their surroundings.  
On the contrary, the cultural models frequently promoted 
and broadcast by the media do not encourage motherhood. 
In the name of progress and modernity, the values of fidelity, chastity, sacrifice, 
in which a host of Christian wives and mothers have distinguished 
and continue to distinguish themselves, are presented as obsolete. 
As a result, a woman who is determined to be consistent 
with her principles often feels deeply alone, 
alone in her love which she cannot betray, and to which she must remain faithful. 
Her guiding principle is Christ who has revealed the love which the Father bestows on us.  
A woman who believes in Christ finds a powerful support 
precisely in this love that bears everything. 
It is a love that enables her to believe that all she does for a child conceived, 
born, adolescent or adult, she does at the same time for a child of God. 

St. Pope John Paul II