Seasons of motherhood and remembering yourself

Children, Encouraging, Mental health, Motherhood, Parenting

 With motherhood comes growth

Being a mother, you find yourself in different seasons within your life.
Sometimes those seasons can be smooth and some seasons will pull at your
heart. No matter the season, do not allow it to pass you by
without learning a lesson, that you can share with other mothers
along the way.

Unexpected changes

I walked into a season of my life, years ago, where I met a handsome little six-
year boy whose mother had died when he was just a baby. I stepped in and become his mother at 23 years old. Not having gone through the nine months of carrying him and preparing for him as a newborn, I had to dive in deep. There was such joy within his eyes to see that God had given him a second chance by giving him another mother that would love him and accept him. 

Stretching myself thin

I was married at 23 years old and become an instant mother. No
longer was I responsible for myself alone. I had to be responsible for two
more people that I would have to pour into. My husband and I became pregnant with our firstborn son right after getting married and then his brother came along the next year. The heat was turned up with me having a newborn, a toddler, and an eight-year-old. My plate was getting full.

Glass half empty

I poured my all into my family and forgot about myself. It felt like I had no time to take care of me. I was too busy giving to everyone around me. My cup was running dry, and I didn’t
realize it until my body started to break down. That was the beginning
of my new season, a wake-up call saying it was time to pour into myself
as well.

Take care of you

Mothers, you are valuable. If you are not here on this earth for your kids, they would have missing pieces of a puzzle they can’t solve without you. As a mother, you
must allow yourself to stay physically, mentally, emotionally spiritually
hydrated so you can pour from a full and alive cup of life.

Isaiah 43:4 “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you,”

I believe in miracles

Encouraging, Faith, Motherhood

Bad things happen to us sometimes

Life has a way of throwing things at you when you least expect it. While good things happening are always welcomed, the thought of anything negative happening to us can be paralyzing. I’ve had my share of disastrous experiences but nothing could have prepared me for the challenge I’d face after surviving a horrific car accident. 

January 27, 2020, is a day I’ll never forget. For some reason that entire day I felt like listening to worship music and thanking God for all he’d done for me at that point. After leaving work with my twin sister and three young children, my sister and I kept talking about how blessed and grateful we were. We headed to the grocery stores to pick up some much-needed groceries. I got some stuff for my friend who had pneumonia and I also saw a jobless single mom that I’d helped from time to time and bought her a few things as well. I was happy to be in a position to give than a position of need. 

We can be in need within the blink of an eye

On the way to deliver the things I had gotten for my friend, once again my sister and I thanked God for everything and I do mean everything. We thanked him for our family, the food we had just bought, for the car I was driving, for the ability to give to others as much as we could. The entire drive was filled with praise. There was a level of peace that we felt. 

 

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About nineteen minutes into our drive, police cars went blazing down the street. We were in the right lane about two minutes away from our turn. A van that was all the way on the left lane slowly came over, slowed down, then stopped in front of us. We sat there for a couple of seconds before we heard what sounded like an explosion. At first, I felt disoriented. Everything looked hazy and I could see white and red around us. A few seconds later, another explosion. I had come to the realization that we were rear-ended and the impact caused us to then hit the van in front of us. My sister went into a panic and after I hopped out of the car and couldn’t get my kids’ doors open, I started screaming and calling on God. I thought to myself that there was no way God could allow us to be seriously hurt or worse, not after how much we were thanking him for everything, including life. 

Fear began to creep in

I knew at least one of my kids was hurt because she was bleeding. She was behind me on the drivers side. When we were hit she flew foward hitting her face against the back of my seat. I rushed to remove my four-year-old from her car seat. As I did this, a man tried to open the back passenger door to free my one-year-old son. I saw his attempt fail, then he frantically tried to break the glass, which he also wasn’t able to do. Another man came to the passenger side and waited for me to pass him my oldest. My three-year-old daughter, who was in the center of the backseat was next to get handed off to a complete stranger. My son was the last one to be freed from his car seat and once I got him out I ran around the front of the car into a ditch next to the crash. 

I couldn’t believe what was happening

There were so many people there helping us, giving us blankets, praying for us. The driver that we hit after being rear-ended was an EMT in training and he came over and checked all of my children. The cops and ambulance were there in no time. Part of me thinks that they might have been some of the crew that was already on their way to another emergency.

While being rushed to the ambulance, I saw the back of my car and thought, Thank you, God!  The trunk was gone and the backseat was so close to the front seat. I later found out that the backseat was pushed at least eight inches forward. The EMTs were shocked that we were alive, even conscious.

At the hospital, my three kids and I were all in a room together. My sister was rushed to the adult side of the hospital in an entirely separate building. Our bosses were at her side in less than thirty minutes. My coworker and friend, who we were taking food to, drove her beat-up car that hardly ever worked to the hospital to see us. She was there in about fifteen minutes. She looked weak from fighting off pneumonia but hey, she was in the right place if she thought she’d pass out. 

I believe in miracles

Going through something like that, you’d think it would be discouraging but it wasn’t. I believed, through faith, that we were going to be okay both physically and mentally. Almost instantly we were seeing blessings come. My boss bought us some groceries the day after the crash. Thirty minutes later my friend, who lived near us, brought us a care basket, and later that night we got food from the outreach center my sister volunteers at. We never lacked a ride to get important things done because someone was always offering to take us wherever we needed to go. My cousin even lent me her second car. We were never in true need. 

I feel that every bad thing can be turned into a blessing. We got to see how valued we were by the people around us and by strangers. One of the men that helped us even said he thought about not stopping, which people around here normally never stop to help victims of an accident. I believe the prayers of my sister who had jumped out of the car and dropped onto the grass to pray redirected him. I don’t think I’d be able to process the trauma of the accident, the loss of my vehicle, or the realness of mortality if not for my faith.

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In every situation, I pray and believe that all things are working out for my good. I don’t worry or let fear affect my beliefs. Faith has really been my coping mechanism and the only way I stay so optimistic even when things seem impossible. I can look back on my life and see how believing in good outcomes instead of being fearful has helped me to truly overcome all the negative experiences I’ve had. It’s not easy sometimes but I stand on a firm foundation of believing that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. If I have nothing else, my faith will be enough to carry me through anything. I believe in miracles and the goodness of God.

My confidence is sure

Whenever I feel mentally exhausted, because that does happen, I put on worship music and dance around with my kids and sister. I create joy in situations where there is none because weeping may last the night but joy comes in the morning(Psalm 30:5). I grip on to that hope. I’ve learned that even if I can’t control the chaos around me, I can control how I react to it.

The same way grapes are crushed for wine or olives are crushed for olive oil, I believe the moments where we are crushed is not the end but the beginning of a new and beautiful us. I’ve learned to find strength in times where I’m expected to be weak and frail. Giving up or caving into the pain of this world is not an option for me. Not because I think I’m undeserving of going through it but because I know that I’m not the first or the last and I’m going to make it out. 

There’s a certain level of confidence I have because of my faith. It’s not arrogance or a sense of entitlement. I genuinely believe in either a reason for things happening or a miraculous outcome from such events. It’s not easy to always see the bright sides of things but it is possible to. Everyone faces challenges and hardships in their lives, some more than others. Having a positive and optimistic outlook on life through faith is my driving force.

People always ask me how I manage to keep going and I simply say, “God.” Even the people that believe in God wonder, “That‘s it? There has to be something more.” With all the things I’ve been through it seems unfathomable to some that faith is the only thing I rely on to fight depression, anxiety, insecurities, and even hurt. Believe me, it’s a mental battle as much as it is a spiritual one.

I stand firm like a stubborn child who refuses to drink out of the wrong colored cup because I know sitting and wallowing in pain and sadness is the wrong cup to drink out of. Instead, I choose to be happy despite my circumstances. I choose to celebrate all the good I’ve been blessed with and overlook the bad. Sure, I have to fight the thoughts that say I shouldn’t be happy right now, that I shouldn’t rejoice. But I rebuke those thoughts and smile anyway; I press on. I have gained immense strength from a faith that says I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me(Philippians 4:13). That is all I need to know that I can and will make it through every difficult situation. 

As always, Hugs and Love!

 

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Mothers need support not judgement

Children, Motherhood, Parenting, Unity

 

Before we had kids, many of us had all these ideas in our heads of what motherhood would be like. We imagined our children and created their personalities in our minds. Truth is, there’s no build a child workshop. As much as our actions and teachings mold our kids, they come with their own personalities. 

Being a mom is hard. Sometimes I can’t help but feel bad when my kids are acting up and I pass another mom whose kids are calm and behaving. I want to whisper, “What’s your secret?” Honestly, there is no secret. Kids have good days and bad days. They have times where life seems to be a ray of sunshine and moments where they are completely overwhelmed. Throw in a missed nap and who knows how rough a quick trip to the grocery store might turn out. 

A while back, I had to pick up a few things from the store. My twin sister decided to stay with my kids while I shopped, lucky me. I shopped, as usual, enjoying a peaceful trip. No one to tell me they want some nasty cereal because their favorite character was on the box. No complaints about being touched by a sibling while they’re all in the cart because they get a little too friendly with strangers. 

After getting everything I needed, I headed for the self-checkout. In the distance, I could hear blood-curdling screams. I thought for a moment about the poor mom that had to be so stressed. I knew the feeling of trying to hurry up because my kids are crying at the top of their lungs. 

Even after I was done I could still hear crying. I saw some older ladies roll their eyes in disgust as I could only assume in the direction of the mother and child. As I headed to the exit, I glanced over to this family only to recognize them. It was a child from the daycare I worked at, a former student of mine. I thought about going on and minding my business but something in my heart wouldn’t let me. 

I went over to them. The mother was renting exercise equipment, an older brother around seven stood next to her, and the crying toddler sat in the front of the cart. I called the child’s name then greeted the mother. This two-year-old was not having it. He couldn’t have cared less about my existence at that moment. I thought to pick him up and maybe he’d calm down from being held but he used all his weight against me and even began to cry more. I felt defeated. I had no intention to make things worse. 

I wanted to leave right then but as I peered around at all the bad looks this mother was getting, I thought maybe I can’t make this little boy feel better but I can be some support for her. I started a conversation with this incredibly calm woman. She told me that he seemed to be getting sick. I suggested that maybe he was cranky because it was the time he’d be sleeping at daycare. She nodded and said that he recently got up from a nap but wasn’t sleeping well at home. It was amazing how I couldn’t hear his screaming anymore as I rubbed his back and talked with his mother. He hadn’t stopped crying, though it seemed that way. 

His mother added that his dad was away for football training and wouldn’t be back for a few months. Her mother concluded it had to be separation anxiety, that’s why being in a cart and not in his mother’s arms was so hard for him. It made me realize that there were probably so many similar stories or rational reasons for the seemingly obnoxious tantrums that kids throw. 

We said our goodbyes once she had the items she was renting. She left with a smile on her face. I saw her. Not as a mom with a screaming toddler but as my sister. I saw her as myself, a woman who was going through a tough time, and my kid was the external reaction to my internal feelings.

Sometimes we need to take a moment to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. No judgments or harsh criticisms. Be there for the mommies in our circle or complete strangers who might be way too overwhelmed to force a smile on their face. Whenever we can, we need to let other moms know that we see them and that we get it. Being a mom is tough but we can all do this tough job with support from each other. 

Hey, mama.

Motherhood, Parenting

To the tired mom…You look great!
To the overwhelmed mom…You got this.
To the stressed mom…It’s going to be ok.
To the sad mom…Never stop smiling.

There are days when as a mother, I feel like I’ve lost total control. Truth is, I was trying to control things that couldn’t be controlled and forgetting to put energy into the things that could.

Broken down and tired, I decided not to obsess over the negative but rather focus on all the good.

I’m too tired to cook= Takeout it is.

My kids have been wild all day= If you can’t beat them join them. I’ll put on some music and we can all jump around.

I feel like a mess = Look, my kids are so happy.

I don’t feel like myself = *Thinks back to all the times my kids said I was the best mommy ever.*

Things can really get tough raising tiny humans but don’t give yourself a hard time over it. There’s no right answer on how to deal with motherhood and it’s ups and downs. You’re doing the best you can do and I bet your children are so greatful to have you. So, chin up and enjoy the chaos that will one day be just memories.

 

Giving birth made me look at my body differently… but in a good way.

Body Image, Encouraging, Motherhood, Parenting, Uncategorized

From as way back as I can remember, I always had an obsession with my image. Being the daughter of a black woman and a Puerto Rican father, who looked like a Taino Indian, there was a “look” I was suppose to have. Of course, I didn’t create that idea, instead it was implanted in me by my elementary school classmates and random people I met growing up.

I remember being told, quite often, that I couldn’t be hispanic because I wasn’t light skinned. They expected me to be Selena Gomez’s when, mind you, my mother’s skin color is comparable to Denzel Washington’s and my father was darker than her! Sadly, it didn’t stop there. You see, my father had long, straight, black hair and I don’t. So, it became “you can’t be hispanic because your hair is too nappy.” As a seven-year-old, those words knocked bits of my self esteem away.

Fast forward three years later when puberty started. When I was younger, I expected to look a certain way physique-wise. I had been surrounded by voluptuous women my entire life and when little lumps appeared on my chest, I thought I’d be a D cup the very next day. Okay, maybe not the next day but when an entire year had passed and I resorted to stuffing my bra with toilet paper, I knew something was up.

A lot of the other girls in class seemed fully developed and I felt like nothing had changed for me. I’d overhear them talking about how annoying bras were while my bra was really just for show, a placeholder for what could be. I couldn’t understand how I had started puberty earlier than most of my classmates and was now the hare losing the race. The body I dreamed of was just that— a dream.

My teen years weren’t any better. The taller I got the more my weight evened out around my body. Being tall plus having a fast metabolism equaled out to be for one very skinny me. I was embarrassed. How in the world was I still looking like a little girl when I was supposed to be blooming into womanhood? I was pissed off and I was jealous, jealous of every girl that didn’t have my struggle.

I would see other females and pick out the parts of their bodies that I liked and imagined how I’d look with them. I was creating a Dena-Stein monster in my head. Even at seventeen I was sure that I’d still have a chance of looking like everyone else. But puberty was done. My body had missed the train to Voluptuous Vile and I was stuck in a body I did not want.

I was able to give myself some reassurance that my body wasn’t all bad. I had a thing for how I looked in lingerie and by gully I bought so many pairs of matching sexy underwear that I own less actual articles of clothing. But I didn’t care. You could’ve told me to wear bikinis everywhere I went and I would’ve gladly done it. My past boyfriends always complimented me on my pretty underwear and it felt amazing. Really, I should have known it wasn’t the underwear they were excited about.

I was searching for any reason to simply like my body. I was tall and thin and though I started getting praise for it by older women and mothers who just couldn’t lose their baby weight, I hated my body. I didn’t want it. I wanted the body I was so sure I would get once puberty hit. I didn’t get that and I resented every bit of the body I felt I was punished with. I was desperate to feel proud of it but I couldn’t help but loathe it.

I was like a spoiled child not getting what they wanted from the store when there was no promise of getting anything to begin with. I’d throw tantrums in the bathroom when the jeans I had just bought didn’t fit right or my bra didn’t quite hug my barely there girls. As dramatic as I acted, no one truly knew how I felt about my body and I tried really hard not to roll my eyes at comments like, “You’re so lucky! You can eat whatever you want and not gain a pound.” I didn’t feel lucky, I felt plagued.

The grass wasn’t green on my side, in fact it was brown! Sure, I got into a relationship with a guy that loved all of me but he was over 300 lbs and hated his own body. We were an insecure mess but I loved him just as he was and he loved me the same. It’s a strange thing to come across someone the complete opposite as you but they have the same body image crisis. It’s like the universe brought us together to learn from each other or as a joke.

About three years after we got together, I became pregnant with our daughter. After feelings of fright and excitement came thoughts of my perfect body. “All pregnant people gained a ton of weight”, I thought. Finally, I was going to gain weight! I was actually looking forward to that. Imagine my surprise when I found out that’s not how pregnancy worked and even with a bun in the oven, every body is not created equally.

Normally, I weighed 141 pounds the highest my weight got, while pregnant, was 156 pounds. The crazy thing is, I gained 15 pounds but my pants were falling off of me and shirts that were tight around my arms were now loose fitted. No doubt about it, I was upset. The one sure way for me to get child bearing hips didn’t work! My body had the audacity to betray me?! I felt defeated.

After my nine month pity party, labor and delivery went easy enough. It’s funny how at no point during my thirteen hour ordeal did I think about how my body looked. Not when the EMTs wheeled me into the hospital and told me how “lucky” I was to look four months pregnant instead of 39 weeks. Nor was I thinking about my physical appearance when my stomach felt like it was getting ripped apart or when I was in my birthday suit with strangers huddled around me screaming “PUSH.” Oh, no. I just hoped that my body wouldn’t fail me— that it would dig strength from the depths of my soul to help me bring my baby into the world.

As I laid with a tiny person on my chest, I couldn’t help but look at my sagging stomach with no regrets. And when a TV commercial came on for wounded soldiers and then for breast cancer survivors, I couldn’t help but weep. I was holding a life that the body I rejected created. How could I have been so ungrateful? I hadn’t gone through war that left me disabled or gone through a life threatening disease but somehow I had less of an appreciation for my body than the people who did. They were happy that their bodies survived— that they survived. Their bodies mustered up the strength to keep going. I cried and I cried.

When you look at life through insecure glasses, you tend to find every pathetic flaw within yourself. You build this idea that first and foremost you must be good enough for everyone else. You create the assumption that somehow what others think of you is more important than what you think of yourself. From an early age, lies about who I was suppose to be trickled into my mind and created a flood of unnecessary and preventable insecurities. Even on the days that I felt beautiful, I worried about whether or not others would think the same thing.

It took giving birth and being in such an open and exposed state for me to fall so madly in love with every part of me. It didn’t come from a family member, or friend, or even from a significant other. It came from the very body that was no good to me for years. There’s a certain kind of freedom that comes from being released mentally from something that weighed you done all your life. My body impressed me more in those thirteen hours than it did for twenty four years.

I’m not saying that if I woke up with junk in the trunk I wouldn’t be excited. What I am saying is that I love the body I have for what it is now. However it changes, I’ll love it then, too. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to tweak your body here and there: Get some abs, tone up, get a bigger butt(wink wink). I’ve just learned that I have to want it for myself and make sure it’s not some idea someone else tried shoving down my throat because they think God created me jacked up.

I’m unapologetically showing off my thin frame with pride, with the knowledge that it kicks ass. Yes, I am “lucky” to have my body but not because I’m skinny. I’m lucky because it hasn’t failed me— because after all those years of completely hating what I considered a corpse, I realized how valuable it is. I look back now and pity myself. I spent so much of my life incredibly insecure for no reason.

Now, I go out of my way to tell women how beautiful they are. It doesn’t matter if I know them or not. I struggled in silence pretending to have all the confidence in the world and if I had genuine compliments instead of sugar coated insults, growing up would have been a lot easier. The truth is, there’s no such thing as the perfect body. As cheesy as it may sound, we are different and that should be celebrated not judged. Heck, if you’re the only one celebrating your body that’s really all that matters. I learned that what I think of myself is far more important than what others think of me. Others might come to that conclusion in some other way but as long as they do, it’s a major win!