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I’ve been toying with this post in my head for a while now. Today, July 17th 2017, marks 11 years since we were told that my wonderful mom was not going to make it. Eleven years ago tomorrow, we said goodbye to my mom. July of 2006, I must say, was the worst month of my life so far.
So a few months ago, I heard this song on the radio called “Dear Younger Me” by MercyMe. In the song, the singer is writing a letter to his younger self. In this letter, he’s torn because he loves his life how it is now, but wishes that things could’ve gone smoother to get him to where he is today.
So I started thinking. If I, at my age right now, could write a letter to my 18, almost 19 year old self, during this anniversary of my mom’s death, what would I say to me? What advice would I give the devastated girl who was just told that her mom wasn’t really there anymore? The girl that would end up on the brink of depression and end up being a hypochondriac for years? So that’s what I’m going to do with this post today. I’m going to write 18 year old Rachel a letter. So…here goes nothing.
Dear Rachel (age 18),
I know exactly what you are going through at this moment. You don’t know what to think or do and believe me, this is going to go down as one of the worst days of your life. And tomorrow won’t be any better. In fact, it will be worse. Because tomorrow, you are saying goodbye to the woman that not only gave birth to you, but has been your biggest fan since day one. Tomorrow, you will say goodbye to mom. I know, because I’ve been there. You see, I’m you…just 11 years in the future. And yes, that means that you do survive this, somehow.
A piece of you died the second you heard that your mom wasn’t going to make it, I know that. And guess what, that hole will always linger. Even now, there are days when you can’t stop thinking about her and how unfair it is that she is gone. She was only 63, way too young to die. She had so much life ahead of her, and you have so many things in your life to look forward to, that she is going to miss. There will be nights you will just bawl because something big is happening and all you want is to have her here to share the experience with. You’re going to be angry at times, wondering why she had to go.
I know you’re hurting. Even this far removed, the emotions of July 17th, 2006 are very fresh in my memory. It’s frustrating because a part of you wanted to stay optimistic and hope that she could pull through, but the realist part of you knew it was going to be a long shot. Especially when she started having set backs. Plus, you’re so young, you didn’t want to even imagine this as a possibility. I know. I get it. And when they call the house tomorrow to let you, Matt, Mike and Amber know that she has passed, you’ll be inconsolable. Thankfully Matt is next to you to answer the phone and to give you a hug to try to comfort you.
And you have some amazing friends that are willing to drop everything they are doing to come and console you too. Even though most of them will drift apart from you in the years to come, they were exactly who you needed near you at this moment in time. Lean on them. They love you and some of them are pretty upset about mom dying too. Give an extra hug to Ryan. He will need it and you in the years ahead.
I know that it may sound easy for me to tell you all this. And honestly, 11 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to hear any of this. But I wanted to write you to give you some hope, and advice, for this now uncertain future.
- Lean on God and his word. Pray. Pray hard. Your faith is going to help you way more than you realize. Remember that God knows what He’s doing, whether we understand it or not. And we probably won’t know why He takes mom on this side of Heaven. But also remember that your mom knew where she was heading after she died. She’s going to be up in Heaven, greeted by all the ones who have gone before, and she’ll be watching you. I have no doubt in my mind that mom watches out for all of us. She has the best seat in the house, after all.
- Lean on your family. They know better than anyone else what you are going through, because they’re going through it with you. Some of you will handle this better than others and that’s why you have to all stick together. Be there when someone wants to talk. Spend more time together. You will never regret it. And guess what. You and dad are going to become much closer, and you will love that. He needs you guys now more than ever.
- Lean on your friends. Yes, I know I said some of them won’t end up sticking around for the long haul, but some of the do. And even the ones that don’t, love you very much in this current season of your lives. It doesn’t matter that some of them won’t be close with you in the future. What matters is the here and now. You have amazing friends right now and they will take care of you.
- Know that this first year is going to be hard. Every first holiday without her is going to suck. There’s no other way to put it. All the memories and traditions she would partake in, they won’t be the same. It’s hard. But with every new holiday, a new normal sets in. Every holiday will get easier as times goes on, but the void will always be there. But the holidays won’t always be bittersweet. They will become happier again, I promise.
- Every new milestone is going to hurt more and more. Especially since you’re the youngest in the family. It will hurt when you graduate college (and thanks to dad, you will graduate college). It will hurt when you get your first teaching job. It will definitely hurt when you get married and even more so when you have your first baby. You will feel like you’ve been cheated. Even today, I feel that way. Sadly, life isn’t always fair. You’re allowed to be angry and you’re allowed to be upset and to feel cheated. Eighteen years isn’t nearly enough time with mom. But try your best to stay strong. Your family needs you to stay strong too.
- Know that your life is turning out really great. As I get ready to turn 30 in just over three weeks, I can safely say that things in our life haven’t always turned out the way I expected them to. But I do believe that things in our life have turned out the way they were supposed to. And just know, you are so happy with your life. At almost 30, you have a wonderful husband, and a beautiful 17 month old girl (named after mom and your husband’s mom, who also passed away). You and our siblings are still extremely close and you and dad are partners in crime. Your best friends are beyond amazing and love you like crazy. And even though mom isn’t here to witness all the amazing times, I do believe that she is watching you. She’ll see all the crazy stuff you do and she’ll probably get a kick out of it. You will always have the memories of mom and a lot of great stories to remember her by. And guess what, she wouldn’t want you upset all the time. You will fight this a little bit, almost being diagnosed with depression. As sad as tomorrow will be for you, you have such an amazing future ahead. And guess what? Mom is going to be watching from the best seat in the house.
Keep your head up. Know that mom loves you so much. And live a life to make her proud. Stay strong in your faith and know that tomorrow isn’t “good-bye” forever. It’s just a really long “see you later”.
You’re stronger than you realize. And you will get through this.
Rachel (age 29)
I know I’ve been very MIA lately. Life got in the way. We got through all my dad’s appointments and procedures, and then Maddie got a virus, and then we had to get ready for our annual July 4th grill out. So life has been fairly hectic lately. But I promise, this is going to become a lot more regular these next few weeks for sure.
How can I promise that? Well, I have a few things coming up that I’m definitely wanting to document my journey. The first thing is, starting Monday, Kenneth and I are going to start up the 21 Day Fix again. I know, I’ve said it before. Thankfully a weight loss journey is just that, a journey. Journeys are filled with ups and downs, and there are times when life gets you down and you can’t get the motivation. That’s usually what happens to me. But I’m the heaviest weight I’ve ever been (aside from when I was pregnant with Maddie) and I know I hate it. I have clothes in my closet that I absolutely love, but can’t fit into. And if that’s not motivation enough, we are right around the anniversary of my mom passing away. And now that we have Maddie, I relate my experience to my current life. I HAVE to be here for Maddie. I don’t want to leave her behind early like my mom did to us. I know my mom didn’t WANT to leave, but her health was poor and she couldn’t fight it off. I don’t want to be like that with Maddie, or any other child God may eventually bless us with. Anytime I think about that, I bawl my eyes out. It seriously gives me anxiety to think about it. So the only thing I can do to help prevent it, is to better myself and get healthy FOR Maddie. My goal is to lose at least 10-15 pounds before August 9th.
Why August 9th??? Well, you see…that HAPPENS to be my birthday. And this year is a big year. I’ll be turning the big 3-0. Now, before you all think that my age really bothers me, it really doesn’t. I don’t know if it’s because my parents were older when they had me, but I have no problem getting older. I know other women specifically that won’t even admit their age. I’m totally okay with telling people that I’m going to be 30 here soon. Nothing for me to be ashamed of!
So I want to be healthier by my 30th birthday. I’ll be documenting my entire journey on here. Starting on July 10th, that will be 30 days before I turn 30. And that’s what my posts will be about. I’ll be showing you what I’ve been eating and what I’ve been doing workout-wise. I’m also challenging myself to do something new every day for 30 days. One thing at least a day that is new and out of my comfort zone. I’m excited to start this next level of my life and want to end my 20’s with a bang.
I’ll be doing several different 30 day challenges (for example: I found one to help declutter your home in 30 days). And I’ll document all of this for all of you. I am so excited and looking forward to doing this! Again, this is going to start on July 10th, which is Monday!
The next few days leading up to this, I’ll post a few blogs dealing with things that have been on my mind here lately. Mostly parent stuff, but a few personal posts as well. So make sure you check back here every day and see what I’ve got going on!
This is going to be a very busy week for me and my family! Ken’s birthday on Friday kicks off what is going to be an action packed weekend, which will culminate with one of my older brothers graduating college. So again, very busy for us!
So tonight I’m going to write on a more fun topic. Tonight, I’m going to let you all get to know me a little bit better. Now, some of my readers know me very well, but I’m sure there are a few that hardly know me at all. So for those readers, here are ten things you may not know about me.
- My first go-to fact anytime I’m asked to give a fact about myself is that I’m the youngest child of six. Now, that’s not horribly impressive or interesting by itself. But I’m the youngest of six kids, spanning three decades. My oldest sibling was born in 1960 and I was born in 1987. Three of my siblings were born in the sixties, one was born in 1979 and then two of us were born in the eighties. The next question I get asked is usually, “You guys have the same parents?” and the answer to that question is, yes. We have the same parents. We are biological siblings. The last question I get asked usually is, “What’s it like to have siblings old enough to be your parent?” and I say, “I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
- I was an aunt at the age of 3. My oldest brother and his wife had my first niece, Amber, about two weeks before I turned 4. We were pretty much raised together, with my mom babysitting her, and if you ask either of us, we will introduce each other to people as “my sister”. I don’t know how many times we’ve had to explain to people that we are not actually sisters.
- As I was filling out applications for college, I honestly had no clue what I wanted to go to school for. Filling out my application for Wilmington College, my alma mater, I asked my mom, “Do you think I could be a teacher?” and she said yes. So that is what I went for. I have my BA in Early Childhood Education, all because my mom said I could probably do it. That degree got me a job at a daycare for three years and a few subbing jobs…and a bunch of debt that I’m still paying off.
- I was born, raised, and currently still live in the same county. I was born in Wilmington, Ohio. I was raised and currently live in Blanchester, Ohio. I have never lived outside of Clinton County. I don’t ever see myself living outside of this county, but who knows what God has in store.
- Some of my friends are the reason Ken and I even started talking in the first place. I knew who he was because we were in the same Sunday School class at church, but hadn’t really talked to him much. We went to an outing as a class to a Cincinnati Reds game and one of my friends mentioned that he and I should talk. She told me that we had a lot in common, namely the fact that he had lost his mom as well. As soon as she told me that, I told her that I would probably end up marrying him then. Sure enough, I did. We started dating that July, got engaged in November and were married in December of the following year.
- I am huge music lover. I played flute from middle school through college, learned alto saxophone for jazz band my senior year of high school, and sang in the choir in high school, and now at church. I’ve also been to more concerts than I can count. Some of those acts include: Billy Ray Cyrus, Backstreet Boys (at least 6 times), Aaron Carter, Hawk Nelson, Rascal Flatts, Jonas Brothers, Fall Out Boy, Plain White T’s, Taylor Swift, Emerson Drive, Hanson, The Band Perry, Casting Crowns, NKOTBSB, Chris Tomlin, Mandisa, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Lady Antebellum.
- I’m also an avid WWE fan. I watched it growing up with my brothers and even went to a live show back when I was younger. Since then, I’ve been to one live show and to a pay-per-view event. My favorite wrestler of all time is probably The Undertaker, followed by Shawn Michaels.
- I’m a huge dog lover. My big dream is to eventually open up a shelter for stray dogs in the area. I especially love my Labrador Retriever mix named Lexie and my Golden Retriever named Sophie.
- From the moment I found out that I was pregnant with Maddie, I had a feeling that she was going to be a girl. I had a few dreams where the baby was a girl and several old-wives tales pointed in that direction. The second I found out she was going to be a girl, I was ecstatic. And we knew what we were going to name her right away. Madeline was Ken’s mom’s middle name (Valma Madeline Fountain) and Jeanne was my mom’s middle name (Carole Jeanne Sexton). Madeline Jeanne just worked so well and we got to honor our moms.
- As you have probably noticed if you’ve read my blog posts, I’m a huge Disney World geek. We went there for the first time for our honeymoon and we were completely hooked. Since then, we went for our three year anniversary, again when Ken wanted to run his full marathon there this past January, and we will be going again for our six year anniversary this fall. If you ask Ken, there’s not many other places he would want to go on vacation. Disney has ruined us for anywhere else, and we’re okay with that!
So here is my fun post for the week. Like I said, people that know me won’t be too surprised by any of this information. But this post is mostly for those that don’t know me as well. I’m not horribly interesting. I’m just your average stay-at-home mom and wife. But I love to write and love writing on this blog.
In the coming weeks, I’ll probably be doing some more posts on Disney World as our dining reservation date is approaching!
I noticed it one day.
My husband and I were in our bathroom brushing our teeth. Maddie was watching us. No big deal, right? Well, she found her toothbrush and started imitating us. She saw he doing it and did exactly what we did. And she had just turned a year old.
In that moment, I realized that everything I do, she’s watching. Every move I make, every step I take, she sees all of it. She sees how I react to things, what I eat, what I drink. She is literally with me 24/7. I’m the one she looks to when she is trying to figure out how to respond. No pressure, right?
As thrilled as I am that she likes to brush her teeth like us, there are other aspects of my life that I need her to see, and see me at my best.
- I need her to see me pray. I’ll admit, I don’t pray as much as I should and I typically don’t pray out loud. But it’s so important for her to see that I pray to God and that praying is part of that relationship with God. I also want her to know that I believe prayer can change things, and if she doesn’t see me pray, it’ll be hard for me to get her to understand the importance.
- I need her to see me reading my Bible. Again, something I don’t do nearly enough. But I want her to know that the Bible is what God gave us as a type of instruction manual to get us through life here on earth. Answers to questions she may have in life, she can find in God’s word. I want her to see me read my Bible. I want her to find it normal to just pick up her Bible and read it whenever she wants, like any other book.
- I need her to see me be a Godly wife to her father. A lot of the way I act as a wife and mother, I got from my mom. I saw how she treated my dad and how she was with us kids and that’s how I act. I need her to see me respect her father and to even show affection to her father. She doesn’t need to see me be petty or irrational toward him, which I know I am prone to doing. We need to show her how we pray as a family, how we respect each other, and how we love each other.
- I need her to see me be brave. I’m a wimp. I’ll be the first to admit that. I’m terrfied of heights, spiders, thunderstorms and clowns to name just a few. But if she sees me scared, she’ll be scared too. Even if I have to put on an Emmy award winning performance, I need her to see me as brave and confident. That was, she is more brave and if she is afraid of something, she knows that she can come to me and I will take care of it.
- I need her to see me work on myself. I’ve never been comfortable with my body and there are more times than not that I’m downing myself one way or another. But because of that, I need to try to better myself every day and let her see that. I don’t want her to have an out of shape mom. I want to be healthy for her and I want her to see me do it. I need to eat healthier, let her try what I eat. I don’t want her to be afraid to try new foods. That goes back to the last point.
- I need her to see me be me. No apologies, no excuses. I want her to know that God made her the way she is and that other people and their opinions of her don’t matter. I fought this my whole life, always worried about what people thought about me and how I looked. As you get older, you realize that those same people had a rough way to go and decided to pick on someone else because of their own unhappiness. I don’t want her to even apologize for being Maddie. She is beautiful, funny, sensitive, sweet and smart as can be. I hope she always knows that. I hope I can always show her that.
- I need her to see me strive to be like Jesus Christ. Big shoes to fill, right? And I will continue to fall short, but I can try my hardest to treat people like Jesus would. Bring the phrase “what would Jesus do” to life.
These past few weeks have been hard. Maddie caught a nasty cold one week, and then I ended up with my sinus infection, and it took a while to recover from all of that. I’m still trying to catch up on sleep!
And some prayer requests for anyone who reads this! Tomorrow, Ken’s 91 year old grandma is having a surgery done to help her swallow better without sucking it down her windpipe. AND my wonderful brother John, who is fighting cancer, has been in the hospital for about a week, just got release today, with an infection that they have him on IV antibiotics for.
A lot has been taking my attention, and I apologize. I’m working on catching up.
As for my post for tonight. There are a lot of times, especially being a first time mom, that I feel like a complete and utter failure. I don’t know what I’m doing half of the time, mostly going with my gut instinct. I second guess myself daily and more times than not, I just pray that I’m not screwing my daughter up.
But a moment happened the other night that has me thinking that even though I feel like a failure, that I must be doing something right.
I was getting Maddie ready for bed and I was just emotional that evening. I was sad because even though she spends the most time with me, she doesn’t call me by a name yet. She’ll say “dada” right at Ken and I feel like she means it. With me, she doesn’t say anything most of the time. As I was changing her diaper, I got emotional and started crying.
Ken came in Maddie’s room as I was getting her pajamas on and even asked me why I was crying. I told him honestly that I felt like Maddie never said my name and it hurt that she calls him “dada” and me nothing.
As the tears fell down my cheeks, I stood Maddie up. I was going to let her play for a few minutes before starting our goodnight routine. Instead of walking around the room to find a toy, she looked at me, came close to me, and put her arms around my neck in a hug. A legitimate hug. I’ve given her so many hugs, but had never received one in return. But there I was, sitting on her bedroom floor, tears rolling down my face, and she hugged me. She knew that I was sad and knew that when she is sad, I give her hugs. So when she saw me sad, she knew what to do.
Was it a coincidence? Perhaps.
All I know is my baby girl, at just over a year old, has a very caring heart.
I may fail at a lot of Mom moments, but this one was a win.
If I teach her nothing else, I hope she learns from me to love and to care with all of her heart. To be there for someone when they are sad and to help cheer them up. And sometimes, people just need a hug. She knows that. And she made me feel better with that little gesture.
Even on the worst day, after so many rough weeks with her cold and my sinus issues, she knows when her mommy needs a hug.
I guess I am doing something right after all.
Dear Mom inside of Kohl’s,
I’ve been where you are. Sadly, I didn’t have any excuse when it happened to me. But I know your pain.
I heard your little girl say those words, the kind that will break your self-esteem and make you feel like you’re failing somewhere.
I heard her say, “You look like you are having a baby now”.
I cringed internally when I heard those words come out of her mouth. Part of me wished that I hadn’t even been present for it. Having people around to witness something like that often makes you feel a thousand times worse about how you look.
It’s hard to hear anyone say something like that, but kids just have no filter and don’t understand what is appropriate and what’s not. I heard you reprimand her, which I would have too. You told her “You don’t say things like that!”
But when she asked why, and when her sister questioned what she said wrong, you just told them to be quiet.
As embarrassing as it is to be a little heavier, nothing will be fixed if you don’t explain what they did wrong and why it hurt. Kids don’t know any better until we teach them. You missed a very pivotal teachable moment, because you were embarrassed.
Go easy on yourself, mom. None of us are perfect. There are times when I’ve cried because I hate the way my body looks post-baby. I’ve never been skinny but I used to have a little bit of self-esteem. After having Maddie, and even before she was born, I was struggling with it. Seeing all my stretchmarks on my stomach, it broke my heart.
But you know what? Your body is freaking awesome!! Your body created those precious, and brutally honest, girls. And guess what? Those girls love you, just like Maddie loves me. She doesn’t care if mommy has a little extra weight on her. And it’s possible that some day, I’ll go through the exact same scenario that you went through. It’s rough, I know. But try to remember how much your body went through. And be proud that your body was strong enough to birth those two girls. And forget about all those little “imperfections” that I’m sure you see every time you look in the mirror. I do it too.
I wish I could say I would have reacted better than I saw you react, but I can’t promise that. In the heat of the moment, I probably would have got upset and not explained why. If, or when it happens again, sit them down and explain to them that it’s not nice to say that you looked pregnant (which you didn’t, by the way) and that it hurt your feelings when they said that. They probably would have felt bad and apologized. Don’t matter how old they are, most kids don’t want to make people sad.
And again, go easy on yourself, mom. Life gets busy and time flies by. Just take a deep breath and move on. And know that you are awesome and doing a great job! And go easy on your kids. They’re learning to be little people and look to you to help them.
Dear First Time Momma,
I love using this picture.
We were only home about a week when I took this picture of myself and Maddie. In looking at it, I can tell now how rough I felt. I probably really liked the picture of me initially. But looking at it now, I look exhausted, pale, and probably in pain. I was anemic, and definitely was running on very little sleep.
I can imagine that is how you’re feeling too, no matter how old your baby is now. And odds are, your baby isn’t sleeping through the night yet. Maddie didn’t start doing that until she was a year old.
Maddie turned a year old on February 18th, 2017. So I know how over a year of sleep deprivation feels like.
Because I know. I know that even before your little one was born, you had trouble sleeping. I know I did. The further along I got in my pregnancy, the harder it was to get comfortable. And if, by some odd chance, I got comfortable, it would end quickly when I would have to go to the bathroom five times a night (that’s actually pretty accurate).
Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts, advice and stories of our first year. Maybe it will encourage you. Maybe it will make you feel a little less like a newbie. But hopefully this will make you feel better as a mom.
You’re going to make mistakes. I know I’ve made my fair share of them in the last year. Don’t dwell on these mistakes. They are few and far between and you’re doing the best you can. You’re learning how to take care of a very needy infant and they are learning how to live. There may even be times when you feel like your baby deserves a better mommy than you. Guess what? God gave you to that baby. God gave you this huge blessing. God doesn’t make mistakes. He gave you that baby because He knew that baby needed you as their mommy. Go easy on yourself and accept that you’re going to mess up.
You’re going to cry…a lot. If not from hormone changes, you’ll cry from sleep deprivation. You’ll cry because you feel like a failure. You’ll cry because the first year really does go by so fast, just as the ones to follow will too. I cried quite often, for all these reasons and so many more. The first time Maddie got a boo boo, I cried because I felt like it was my fault and I should have protected her better. I mean, I even did that this past weekend when she busted her lip and bled for the first time. Bawled like a baby myself. But guess what, Maddie cried for a few minutes, and even with blood in her mouth, she moved on. I need to learn a little bit from her.
Always go with your gut, especially when it comes to an illness. In the first few weeks of Maddie’s life, I had to take her to the doctor. I actually took her because I thought she was breathing funny and it was scaring me to death. Doctor checked her out and her lungs were perfect…but she did have an eye infection that needed eye drops. And honestly, I’ve taken her more times than necessary to the doctor, but I would rather be safe than sorry.
Formula feeding? Great!! Breastfeeding? Great!! A fed baby is better than arguing over which method is better. Some moms can’t breastfeed and that’s okay. Moms shouldn’t put down other moms just because of the way they feed their baby.
And breastfeeding is hard. I was able to feed her for a year, but there were times when I swore she wasn’t getting enough milk from me and felt like a failure. Again, go easy on yourself. It can be extremely difficult and very tiring. Especially during growth spurts when they decide to cluster feed (those were my worst nights). There will be times when you’ll wonder if you should switch to formula. I know I had nights like that. Thoughts about how much easier it would be. How I wouldn’t have to go in my dad’s bedroom to feed Maddie when we went to visit. But I’m very grateful that I was able to go a whole year. That was my personal goal. And there are many ways to help your milk supply. Pinterest was my best friend and it still is. Anytime I have a question, that is typically where I go.
And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Taking care of a newborn is hard work. I absolutely love my daughter, but it was always nice when my husband could take her for a half hour or so while I took a shower. And it’s nice when I go visit my dad, or watch WWE pay-per-views with my brothers, I have other people that can help entertain her. I always have someone I can lean on. Find people you can lean on.
And my last thought is this…enjoy every minute. Yes, even the moments that you are bawling your eyes out because you feel like a failure. Even the moments when you’re so sleep deprived that you almost put tea in your cereal instead of milk (yes, that almost happened). The housework may not get done. Dinner might be take-out more often than not. But you know what? They aren’t gonna be little forever. Eventually, they aren’t going to need you all the time. Eventually, they will be able to feed themselves and will be able to occupy themselves while you get chores done. They’ll (hopefully) start napping better and sleeping through the night. But for now, that little infant needs you. As tired as I would get, I always loved holding my baby girl and playing with her. Because time, and life, is too short. And if you plan on having more babies, this is the only one that will get your undivided attention. Enjoy it. Treasure this time. Because it goes by way too fast.
I’m praying for you, first time momma. You’ve got this!
What would you tell your first time mom self?? Any advice you would give to a first time mom? Comment and let me know!!
Three times now.
Three separate occasions, I’ve had this happen to me. And I can only describe it as a “God Thing”.
Three times now, inexplicably, I’ve happened to be in the right place at the right time to be there for someone that really needed me. And the circumstances are odd.
The first time was back in 2005. My maternal grandmother had just move in with us the previous month. I was in my freshman year is college and this particular morning, my first class ended very early. Being a commuter, I decided to just drive home for a few hours before my next class. Normally, I would be on campus until at least 2pm on that day without going home. But this day, I got home right before 9:30. My mom informed me as I came in that my grandma was still asleep but that she was going to wake her up here shortly. I went in my room and got on my computer, and it wasn’t five minutes later that I heard my mom crying to my dad. She had gone in to wake up my grandma and my grandma had passed away overnight. Again, any normal day, I would have still been on campus. But because my one class ended early, I made the choice to go home, without knowing how much my mom would need me there to help comfort her. I always thought that was just a coincidence.
The second instance was in 2012. My husband and I decided to go bowling one evening. We had already played three games and Kenneth asked me if we could play one more. I was getting frustrated because I wasn’t bowling well, so I told him that I wanted to go home. We had just pulled onto our road when my dad called me. He wanted me to drive him to the hospital because he was having tightness in his chest that wouldn’t go away. I live five minutes away from my dad. So we got my car and raced to my dad’s, where I would end up calling an ambulance, suggested by my dad, and he would find out on the way to the hospital that he was having a heart attack. Normally, my brothers would have been home with dad, but one of them was working and the other was at a sports meeting. I could have easily told Ken we could play one more game of bowling, but I didn’t. I chose to go back home and we made it just in time for dad to call me to help him. Again, a little odd.
(my dad and i at my wedding, 2011)
The last instance happened this morning, actually. Maddie has recently just started sleeping in her crib, but is known to still wake up a few times throughout the night. I woke up this morning around 3:15, and checked the video monitor. I expected Maddie to be awake, but she was actually still fast asleep. I looked at the time and decided to use the bathroom before I went back to sleep. As I got back into bed, I checked my phone one more time to see that I had received three texts from my niece Amber. Amber is only 4 years younger than me and we are like sisters. So I read my texts. Her grandpa on her mom’s side of the family passed away at 3:03 this morning. His health had been poor for a while. He had been in hospice care at his home for a little while now. It wasn’t unexpected, but I knew my niece was devastated. Maddie didn’t wake me up at 3:15. I woke up for no real reason. But I was awake when Amber needed me. She needed her “sister” to know what happened and to be there to comfort her. Again, very random moment.
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m about certain that all three of these moments are what I call a “God Thing”. Nothing can explain any of these experiences. What were the odds that I would happen to be available for all three occasions? I can’t explain it. I don’t even want to try. I just know that God is always there for me and He is always there for His children. The people involved in all of these situations needed me and somehow I was there to be there for them. When I think about this, it’s enough to give me chills.
Can anyone else relate?? I would love to hear some similar stories!!
This past Saturday, my baby girl turned one year old. It’s hard for me to even fathom that 366 days had gone by and that we were leaving the infant part of her life behind, marching straight into the toddler years. Maddie had a wonderful birthday party with her favorite people and it definitely showed how loved she really is.
As her momma, this birthday hit me about as hard as I thought it would. As tough as she could be at times, it was still hard for me to think about her getting older. I cannot stress enough how fast this first year went. People will tell you that all the time, usually when your tired and sleep deprived and you don’t want to hear it, but it’s so true.
So, as we close this chapter of my girl’s life, I have a few reflections about everything.
- Motherhood came very easy for me, thank God. But as easy as it was at times, there were other times where I would just bawl because I felt like I was screwing everything up. My husband had to constantly remind me of how wonderful of a job I was doing. And even that didn’t make me feel better. Motherhood is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had, but it has also been one of the most rewarding.
- Nothing compares to seeing your baby smile or laugh for the first time. I’m fairly certain it can cure just about anything.
- Nothing is as cool as seeing your baby understand something that you’ve taught them. Maddie knows what a dog is and points them out when she sees one. Just tonight, I asked where her belly was, and she pointed to it. Maddie is wicked smart.
- Breastfeeding is hard. I commend anyone that can do it. I also praise mommas that have to use formula. I made it breastfeeding for 12 months and there were times when I was sure I would have to stop, but I made it. It wasn’t easy and I cried a lot. But I’m glad I was able to do it. And when I have another kid, I plan to do it again.
- Being a stay-at-home mom is hard too, especially with a baby. My house went to crap, my dogs didn’t get a lot of attention, everything kind of suffered. But I would rather have a messy home and be able to cuddle my baby whenever I want. I definitely respect my mom even more for being a SAHM. Your job is never done, and you don’t get paid for it. It was always my dream to be able to stay home with my babies and I’m very blessed that God decided I could do that.
- Maddie, even when she throws her little tantrums, is still my favorite thing in the entire world and I thank God every day for blessing me with the privilege of being her mama. It’s a privilege that I don’t take lightly. And I cannot wait to see what God has in store for her life.