Why Being a Stepmom is Hard

Today I was cleaning up my daughters’ room when I came across something I didn’t quite know how to take. My four year old, biological daughter and my eleven year old stepdaughter share a room. It’s probably not the best set-up for either one of them, but when confronted with a small space what must be done, must be done. And they love each other, which helps.

I had just cleaned the room the week before and was honestly astounded at how those two could destroy something so totally when they put their minds to it. It was a disaster in there! While I was surprised at the amount of disarray it was another finding that really took me off guard.

Hidden in the sheets I found small, symmetrical squares of torn paper. It was apparent that a paper had been folded many times, and then ripped, but as I looked at the handwriting I realized it was familiar. It was my own.

I always leave my husband a love note when I leave for work, and one morning many months ago I decided to leave one for my stepdaughter as well. In the note I told her how much I loved her, and this was the note I found ripped among the sheets. The precision of the destruction was beyond what a four year old could manage, and it became apparent to me at that moment that my stepdaughter had torn the note. What I couldn’t comprehend was why.

Being a stepmom is hard. I’m torn between wanting her to call me mom, but feeling as if I might overstep my boundaries if I do. Her mom is a wonderful person, and I wouldn’t wish to try and take her place. Not that I could.

Years ago we decided that she would call me by my first name, but sometimes I wonder if that was a mistake. My preschooler noticed, and asked me why, and all I could answer was, “I’m not her mom.” But I always second guess myself, and I fear this distinction makes my stepchild feel like an outsider in her other home, our home, and guilt stabs me.

Being a stepmother is hard because I’m always fearing that I’m doing it wrong. Loving comes easy, but as a stepmom that doesn’t always seem to be enough. I realize my stepdaughter sees how I look at my children, and how they look at me, and I sometimes catch a strange look in her eyes when she watches us together.

I always am aware that she needs to be shown that I care for her, and being at a difficult age I think she can’t help but compare herself to her siblings. I know she weighs my affections for her beside those I give to her sisters, and I know she does the same with her father.

Being a stepmom is hard because I feel sometimes like I must do more for her to show her I care, and even then I feel like it’s not enough.

I find myself being introspective and questioning my actions to ensure they are fair, but even then it doesn’t seem like enough.

Sometimes I feel like her friend, and sometimes her mother. Other times I feel like I fail miserably at either role I try to carry. And I worry that I’m wounding her as a consequence of those failures.

I know that on one hand I’m constantly going the extra mile to make her feel special, but I also realize that I too often miss the mark. I have to work at loving her harder when it just comes natural loving my own daughters, and I feel guilty even though I realize it’s not intentional.

We only get my stepdaughter every other weekend, and this makes it exceptionally difficult. By the time she becomes accustomed to the way we do things as a family it’s time for her to leave. I wonder if we all might not do better at it if we had more time to practice being a family. My four year old always cries after she leaves, asking when her sister will come back.

After I found the ripped letter my feelings were hurt, and I searched myself for something, anything I might have done to anger her. But I came up blank. I had worked the entire weekend, and realized I had actually seen very little of her at all. Perhaps a cumulative two hours, and even that was a stretch.

There had been no argument, no reason for her to be angry. I thought of myself at eight years old when my mother had remarried. I imagined my (adopted) father’s confusion when he found I had poured an entire bottle of glue in his backpack. He had been perplexed as to why I would destroy something of his. Didn’t I love him?!

He didn’t know that I did it because I loved him. He didn’t know that I ruined his backpack so he couldn’t put his things in it and leave me.

I often look at my stepdaughter and I see myself, and at that moment I hoped the fragments of paper somehow meant she loved me too.

I pray about it often, and I say, “God, this is hard.”

The only answer He gave me back today was one word. Love.

Being a stepmom is hard because even when you know you love someone they need to be shown this exponentially. You have to love them, and love them, and love them. Then you have to love them a little bit more.

I know I can work more at this. Being a stepmom is hard, but I’m determined for her to know I love her. Every morning I pray, “God, let her know we love her.” And then I try to walk in that. Even when it’s not always easy.

Love is always the answer, and that’s where I’ll start.

A Letter to the Single Ladies Looking for Love

Dear Single Ladies Looking for Love,

First off I want to apologize. I’m pretty sure you’re sick and tired of unsolicited love advice, but rest assured that’s not what I want to do. I don’t want to tell you what you should do, or even what you shouldn’t. Rather I want to warn you to be careful what you wish for.

If you’re content with your life as a single lady then stop reading now. This letter is not for you. No, this note is for the women who find themselves longing for a mate. This is for the ladies searching for their very own Prince Charming.

I have some news for you. I truly believe God has someone for you. I believe your prince will come. But I must tell you this. Once you find your prince, well, then the fairy tale is over!

You have no doubt heard the advice to find a man who looks beyond outward appearances, and to marry the man who looks at your heart. You know you are supposed to find that fella who loves you for you.

Well, here’s the thing they don’t tell you. While it might take a while, and it will definitely take a lot of prayerful consideration, patience, and selective reasoning, you will eventually find a man who loves you for your heart rather than your pants size. But then life will happen.

While you experience the joys of childbirth and first time home ownership, you will also experience late mortgage payments and sick kids. You’ll get the flu, and hate the way your husband leaves his dirty clothes thrown all over the house. Your parents will grow ill, and they will one day die. Hormones will shift, and toothpaste remnants left in the sink will make you want to slit throats.

Your spouse will love you for you, but one day you will be completely unlovable. You’ll mess up, say things you don’t really mean, and be so angry that you might not even care.

Those cute, little idiosyncrasies that seemed so harmless while you dated will be magnified in the face of lost jobs and a house-full overcome by the stomach virus. The fun of making up after a vehement fight won’t be a passionate experience anymore. It will just seem like a hassle when kids have homework and your alarm is set for 4am.

When it gets real, and you are confronted with the mess that life can be when two separate individuals attempt living as one, then you will understand that no one human being can ever really and truly love you for you! They cannot because you’re an awful mess. Heck, we all are. And when your Prince Charming sees the real, unlovable side to you the birds will stop singing, and the storybook happily ever after will be put to the test.

No one can love you for you, and if that’s what you’re looking for then your story might not have a good ending. So what ever can you do?

You could start by looking for a man who loves Jesus, a man who serves The Lord. The only one you will find who loves you for you, like honestly loves you for you is Christ. Find a man who can love his wife like Christ loves the church, and then you can think about a marriage that stands the test of time.

You will never find the perfect husband. I hate to say this, but it’s true. You will never locate a man who can overlook the ugly things about you, because sometimes often times things get pretty ugly in the real world of a committed relationship. But you can find a man who loves Jesus, and that’s a heck of a start.

Job security is lovely, and a mature, commitment to bettering oneself is wonderful, but unless he can put himself, and even you second then it doesn’t much matter. When a man can search his heart seeking God’s will for your lives then a happily ever after is definitely in the cards. In fact it’s promised in eternity.

A marriage covenant is not easy, and committing to stand beside another imperfect person is more than you could ever imagine. Even unconditional love is tested on the turbulent seas of adversity born of strife.

Also important is this. When you get hit in the face with the reality of it all, and the loving is not always easy, remember what brought you together. Don’t give the little things precedence, but rather focus on the positive attributes of your mate. In other words, forget the smelly socks, and thank God for his work ethic.

In the beginning I told you this was a warning, and in a way it is. Maybe it’s a bit of advice thrown in too. Now you have been warned that dreams can come true, but they’re not always easily achieved. But also remember that the greatest dreams are worth fighting for.

You can find your prince, and though it will be far from a fairy tale, you can find your happily ever after. Especially if you base your story on a firm foundation that no man can put asunder.


A Joyful Wife

The Crazy Lady in the Drive-Thru, That’s Me.

I remember as a young lady seeing women that I really wondered about; like I questioned their sanity. They would be the women I glimpsed talking to themselves (this was before cell phones), or red in the face after a minor inconvenience. They would be the ones who stormed away from the check-out counter mumbling to themselves about something incomprehensible. Looney.

I would pause in my perfectly pressed attire, with nary a stray hair in sight, and I would chuckle light-heartedly to myself. Adults are so weird! I would marvel, and then I’d stop to grab a cupcake or something from the bakery because my adolescent metabolism allowed such things.

Indeed thoughts about my weight were not an issue, unless you counted ones like, Oh my gosh Brie. You’re going to be in a size five if you don’t slow down. I could just thump my teenage self on the earlobe!

Aside from the ignorance of postpartum weight gain, I also couldn’t understand why women seemed so rushed. Like, hello? Just leave earlier! Then I’d flip my hair, and laugh lightly before sauntering off casually to watch a movie or read a novel. In one sitting.

But yesterday it all became clear.

Yesterday I went to pay some bills. I loaded up children in puffy coats and squeezed them into car seats, all the while questioning if they were properly strapped in according to the latest safety guidelines. Especially after reading horrible blogs about children flying free from their securements.

After removing winter garb, tightening straps, and putting in a movie little minds could agree upon, I exited my driveway reminiscing about the joys of adult music on the radio. I thought I remembered what it was like.

Through the soundtrack of a Pixar film I hurriedly, yet safely traveled to my destinations to pay bills by the due date stated. Naturally the due date was that day since last minute was the new on-time.

As I pulled into a drive-thru, and thanked God for such a blessed invention I realized I had yet to prepare my check. I could have done it during the 38 second timeframe that my children were preoccupied beyond my immediate attention, but had selfishly chosen that segment in time to scarf down a string cheese. I recalled reading the nutritional facts while I chewed, which was kind of like reading a novel. Sort of.

While the children screamed jubilantly for much anticipated suckers I considered stopping prior to the bank window to fill in my check, but kept going when I saw a large truck advancing in my rear view.

Grrrrr. I felt my blood boil at the injustice of it all, and I drove straight through the drive-in window perhaps a bit too fast. I stopped suddenly at the exit of the bank’s parking lot, noting a secondary exit to my left, and I began quickly filling in numbers in blanks. I almost wept silently at the large amount that would swiftly leave my account.

Suddenly a horn blared at me from behind, and with still a signature and account number to complete I looked behind me at the large, red truck eager to conclude his business.

Suddenly an unexpected rage rose from within me, and it broke free with the worst language I could manage as a mother of two, young girls, “You big crapper!!” I yelled. “There’s another exit!!”

I threw my minivan into gear, and while peeling rubber I regretted both my angry exit and use of strong language. After all, I needed neither bald tires nor a toddler running around saying “crapper.”

Still uncertain where that word had come from, or from where such unnecessary rage had erupted I pulled to a stop on the side of the road to finish filling in the darn check. As I wrote numbers on a line I felt ridiculous. And crazy. And like a non-recipient for Mother of the Year.

I considered apologizing to my kids for my outburst, but noticed their attention seemed focused on the climax of the previously mentioned PG film. I sighed, gathered my check, along with my trampled pride, and circled back around to the entrance of the bank’s drive-thru.

As I calmly triggered my blinker in preparation of my turn, a woman pulled out in front of me, using my traffic pause to her full advantage.

In the driver’s seat of the turning car was a woman much like myself. Her appearance didn’t escape me, and I looked familiarly at her sloppy, thrown-into-a-ponytail do. Her eyes looked a tad bit wild, and I noticed she was talking to herself animatedly. I thought I lipread the word “crapper,” but I couldn’t say for sure.

I looked in the backseat, for I knew it would be there, and I wasn’t surprised when a baby in a car seat stared back at me.

Poor dear. I remembered when I was like that. Three minutes earlier. And in that moment our kinship was forged.

No longer did I roll my eyes at crazy women overreacting about nothing at all; for I knew that we were not strangers, but sisters in this quest to conquer the mundane, day-to-day business of life.

We rose to the challenge of puking preschoolers, and laughed in the face of tantrums and scraped knees. But when confronted with simple errands we were overcome by angry hormones, falling victim to potty-mouth outbursts, and abuse against innocent vehicles. Sigh.

I was no longer an outsider looking in. I realized that I was that crazy woman in the drive-thru, and she was me. And aside from feeling like I owed my Mother an apology, I was fine with it. After all, you do get suckers in the drive-thru.

The Thirty Year Old Apology

There are some memories that stay with you always. Some are tiny fragments, like a spliced together reel of happy moments from the past, while other wonderful times you never want to forget are crystal clear. But sometimes you remember something because of regret. It’s like the ugliness of the moment can’t help but stick to the stubborn banks of your memory. You can’t forget because you know you were wrong, and you’re ashamed.

It was ones of those “not so pretty,” past moments that filtered to the tip of my brain the other day while puttering around on social media. I witnessed the blatantly cruel words of another person directed at a stranger, and in my disgust I remembered a playground thirty years ago.

I was always an unusual child in my own admission, and it didn’t help matters much that I was an only child in my younger years, or that I was much too frequently the “new kid.”

Indeed, by the time I started second grade I had been enrolled in five different schools, and that’s a lot of change for a seven year old.

It probably didn’t help my case that I had an abnormally short haircut for a girl at the beginning of the school year, and although I imagined myself as a blond Pat Benatar, I look back now and cringe. Bless it.

I was the new kid, and had always been the new kid. I was mentally prepared to be an outcast in my new school. But then something unexpected occurred.

You see, there already was a misfit. There was a young girl who everyone was picking on when we went outside to play. Her clothes must have not been that nice, and even though I can’t recall what she was wearing exactly, I do recall the other children laughing and calling her names. They pointed at her clothes and her hair. They hurled childlike, playground insults. And then they pulled out the big guns. They determined she had the “cooties!”

All the children began to run away faking fear, and calling out, “run, before you catch her cooties!”

I saw my chance, and I took it. I ran away too, but that wasn’t all. Being a medical professional at heart even then I developed a vaccine. I got a pen and made a mark on my inner wrist, and then I showed my handiwork to the others. I proudly administered injections of ink to all the children to help prevent acquiring cooties, and I was surprised to discover the misfit girl at the end of my vaccine line.

She wanted a shot too, and as she stepped forward I made a decision. I said, “Get away! This won’t work on you!” Then I screamed dramatically, and ran away, the other children following suit.

I mulled over my past transgressions as I sat stunned over present words being flung haphazardly on my Facebook newsfeed. And I wondered why we do that. Why do we say the things we do about people we don’t even know?

Then I thought of my husband. I just love that man. He has faults like anyone, but I can honestly say that everyday he manages to make me a better person. His kind heart and gentle spirit cause me to see things in a different light. I’ll give you an example. It’s the one that came to mind while memories of an elementary school play-yard drifted into the recesses on my regrets.

A few years ago I was introduced to the infamous “People of Walmart.” You know, the hilarious compilations of unflattering photos of real-life people shopping the store in pajamas and too-tight, tube tops.

I was laughing my head off and decided to share the joke with my spouse. He cracked a small smile, but then he surprised me. Often times his words from that day still pop into my head.

As he looked at the pictures he said, “Those are real people they’re making fun of. What’s so funny about that? Making fun of people?”

So while his comments may seem kind of overboard, his point was spot-on. Since when is it funny to laugh at someone who’s not trying to amuse you?

Why is it entertaining to make fun of people who dress different, talk different, or are just plain different? I wonder how I would feel if on my worst possible day someone grabbed a picture of me and flashed it across the internet? I’d be a virtual, viral laughing stock. Ouch.

People of Walmart aside, we still do this. We do it to people walking by us at the restaurant. “Do you see what she’s wearing?! OMG!”

We do this on the internet and on social media. We cowardly insult someone we think we will never have to face in person, or someone we think will never see our hurtful words.

Maybe you do this about me, and while what people think doesn’t make or break me, I’ll be honest and admit it hurts.

So why do we do it? Because they don’t talk like we do, or dress like we do? Maybe they aren’t as intelligent, or as financially stable. Maybe they were raised in a different socio-economical background. Shoot, maybe they’re just asking for it.

I see things people say, and I wonder if they would say the same thing if the shoe was on the other foot. What if that was your sister, or your brother, or your child? Would “Momma Bear” let someone hurl such an insensitive insult at their seemingly perfect child? Likely not.

Back at the playground, when I was seven I acted like I did to make myself look better. It’s awful, but honestly I was tired of being the outcast. I saw the opportunity to make myself feel better, and look better to others, and I took it! Thirty years later, and it’s an apology too late. I don’t even know her name, and I left schools again before I even knew if my actions had a negative impact over all. All I know is I was wrong, and if you’re reading this now, I’m sorry.

But doing this as an adult is even worse. You might be insulting others to make yourself look better much as my seven year old self did long ago, but today’s playground is different. To me you don’t look cool. You just look cruel.

And if you say you don’t insult people to elevate yourself then you just have to admit that you’re plain mean. Talking down about another person, especially to someone else is just despicable and sad.

I won’t go so far as to say you’re not a Christian if you do this. After all, I’m not God, and I know plenty of people who know Jesus but talk mean. But I will say this. If the object of your insult is searching for salvation they’ll be hard-pressed to find the key in your hastily formed words. Love leads people to Jesus, not judgement.

With that in mind perhaps we all could be a little kinder on this playground called life. We all could take a moment to think before we speak, and consider our actions before we proceed. A certain man from Nazareth 2000 years ago was also an outcast, but He certainly didn’t have cooties.

Maybe this is the kind of message that needs to spread, especially this time of year. Before you say something unkind about a stranger, or before you laugh at another’s misfortune think about my thirty year old apology. Because perhaps it’s never too late to say you’re sorry and change the way you treat others.

Five Ways to Enjoy Sex as a Christian

*This post is written from a wife’s point of view, to other wives, as that is what I am. But some men might find useful information here as well.

You don’t usually see those two words together, do you? Sex and Christian. Sex isn’t typically a topic that is readily discussed in circles amongst Christians unless it is to instruct on the don’ts of sex. What I mean is unless someone is instructing you on what not to do regarding sex as a Christian then you usually won’t hear much else. This is because the subject of enjoying sex is pretty taboo. But my question is why exactly?

I believe sex to be a gift from God, and when performed within the guidelines set forth in scripture I think you can enjoy it. A lot!

You don’t have to see sex as taboo, but rather as a beautiful act to be enjoyed. Even as a Christian.

1. Realize that sex is not perverted. Let’s start with the basics. To enjoy sex you need to know that it’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.

I do believe in the Biblical instructions regarding it. I believe sex is a gift for a husband and wife to enjoy in their marriage. While the act of procreation is wonderful in growing a family there is also a lot of enjoyment to be had. But first you need to remember that sex isn’t taboo. It’s beautiful.

The world has perverted sex, but sex in itself is not perverted. God created sex. The physical act brings enjoyment and pleasure due to not just emotional well-being, but also due to physiological stimulation. To put it simply, God made our bodies to feel the pleasure of sex. But sometimes a mindset that sex is taboo or perverted can prevent you from truly enjoying the act physically.

Just remember that God gave man and woman the gift of sexual intimacy. He ordained it from the beginning. A husband and wife become one flesh through this beautiful covenant.

2. Understand that sex is not a chore. What’s the key to enjoying sex with your spouse? Wanting to enjoy it.

Sex between a married couple is a way to spend time alone, intimately connecting with the person you love. It’s an act of becoming one, where your soul binds with another. And it’s fun too.

While it’s not a chore, it’s also not a weapon. Keep this is mind.

1 Corinthians 7:5

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Woman have many tasks to perform in the home. Do yourself a favor, and don’t view sex with your husband as just another chore. While your duty is to your spouse, guess what? His duty is also to you.

No man really wants their wife to just be there, enduring sex because they must. Men want you to enjoy it too. Stop faking your orgasm, and start becoming determined to have one for real.

Which leads me to three.

3. Let go, focus, and enjoy yourself! Be honest women. How many times, well after the honeymoon is over, have you been in bed with your spouse in body, but your mind is elsewhere? It’s like you’re laying there thinking about all those things you have left on your to-do list.

Do you know what your husband is thinking about? Sex. Your husband is thinking about sex. How unfair that you’re left thinking, did the trash get taken to the road? Well, stop it!

You not only owe it to your spouse, but you owe it to yourself to let it go. Let go of every thought other than the moment at hand. Not only will your spouse enjoy it more if you’re present in body and mind, but so will you.

If you focus your thoughts on making love to your spouse you will be amazed how much more enjoyable the act can be. You may find satisfaction that you didn’t think was possible anymore, or never knew existed.

4. Be sexy. I’m not just talking about going out and buying lingerie. This is not just a physical transformation, but it’s also a mental one. And it’s for your spouse too.

I want you to take the time, find the time to make yourself feel attractive. I have small children, but I still shave every day. I wear nice clothes and make-up for my husband. I do this even if I’m not leaving the house.

Do I do this for him? Well, kind of, but it’s also for me. I know my husband wouldn’t care if I was still in my pajamas. He loves me regardless. But two things happen when I take the time to cultivate my appearance. One, I feel pretty. Two, even if he doesn’t say a word, he notices. He notices I take the time to be pretty for him.

He then realizes I do this because I still want to put forth the effort to be sexy for him. He deserves that. Subsequently, I feel lovely to myself also.

But being sexy goes beyond the outer appearance. I want you to focus on feeling sexy. A woman’s aging body after childbirth may not be the world’s standard of sexy, but that shouldn’t distort your marriage bed.

Pray about this. Focus on feeling sexy when having sex. Your spouse finds you sexy. That’s one of the reasons they desire you sexually. Believe that you are. A confident woman is a sexy woman.

Also, be proactive in finding your spouse to be sexy. A man changes over the years also, but we as women change with them. Our ideals mature. Don’t let your man think you don’t find him attractive. Compliment him. You’ll find that this is a reciprocal relationship of finding one another sexy.

5. Pray about sex. A lot of you will find this odd, or you may find it uncomfortable to pray about sex. Gasp!

Remember, sex is beautiful. It’s not perverted. It’s a gift. Don’t you think God wants you to enjoy the gift of sex He has given you and your spouse?

If you are having trouble enjoying sex, focusing on the act of love-making in the midst of it, or having a disconnect with your spouse sexually then I want you to pray about it. Heck, you can even pray when you start.

Ask God to help you focus on your husband, to enjoy this intimacy with him. Ask God to help heighten your enjoyment of the act. Ask Him to help clear your mind of any outside influences from the devil that wish to take your mind off the enjoyment of sex with your spouse. Yes, the devil wishes to destroy your marital bed. Don’t let him. Pray against it.

This might sound crazy, but I want you to try it. I really think you’ll notice a difference almost immediately.

The most important thing is to remember that sex is enjoyable, and it’s supposed to be. Your body belongs to your husband, and his body belongs to you. Share this gift with one another. And the more the better!

Song of Solomon 7:6-12

6 How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights!
7 Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters.
8 I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples,
9 and your mouth like the best wine.
It goes down smoothly for my beloved, gliding over lips and teeth.
10 I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.
11 Come, my beloved, let us go out into the fields and lodge in the villages;
12 let us go out early to the vineyards and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love.

(In this post I am excluding any physical problems that prevent sexual enjoyment. Please feel comfortable to discuss these issues with your doctor).

Oh God, I Hope I’m Doing This Right!

On the Eve of my baby girl’s birthday I held her in my lap rocking back and forth at bedtime as we usually do. And even though she was soon to turn two, for the time being I wasn’t ready to let go of our nightly ritual in the rocking chair.

As she breathed heavily, already asleep, I continued to rock. I looked at her sleeping face, and I knew I couldn’t put her down just yet. I looked at her, and I felt my heart do that thing where I think it might explode. It’s as if my emotions become so overwhelmed that they threaten to revolt due to sensory overload.

I looked at my dreaming daughter, and I cried out to to The Lord, Oh God, I hope I’m doing this right!

And again with my chest. It felt like my heart was being squeezed, and my throat threatened to close before it was rushed with the rising emotion that had to escape my chest. I said it again, a deep, yearning prayer, Oh God, I really hope I’m doing this right, that I’m doing right by you. For her.

When I looked at my sleeping child, my precious gift from above, I was reminded of the weight of the responsibility I had taken. He had given this child to me to watch for Him here on earth, and though, thank God, I wasn’t ever alone in my duties, I desired to do my part. I wanted, I needed to do my best.

As I gazed at my little angel, lips parted, and pale, soft skin I wondered so many things. I questioned myself as I continued the comforting, rocking motion for us both.

I didn’t condemn my capabilities, mind you. I simply searched my soul honestly. For though nothing on this earth ranked greater than my personal relationship with The Lord, my relationship with the children in which He entrusted to me was a direct representation of His Holy Spirit.

How I chose to walk with them through this tumultuous world could be a beacon of God’s love, or it could be an affront to everything He called me to be. Indeed, by being a good parent I was showing my children and the world the Father Heart of God.

When she sees me does she see you, Lord? Do my actions and my words glorify The Lord, and do my children never doubt the depth of my relationship with Jesus?

Am I patient enough, attentive enough, and a pleasing mother in your sight?

Oh Lord, I pray I’m doing this right.

And I continued to rock. And I continued to gaze at such beauty laying in my lap. Had I ever even imagined it could be this wonderful, this full, this perfect? I didn’t think so.

On the Eve of my baby girl’s second birthday I prayed, and I was determined to be ever grateful for the gift of my children. I was determined to do my best in the eyes of Him, and to show my children His glory in all I did for them. As unto Him.


Ten Things Nurses Can’t Even

There are a lot of things in my day-to-day activities as a RN that let me know I chose the right career field. Smiles from a sweet, elderly woman or an unexpected thank you. When I see a patient bounce back from the brink of death, and later go home better than they arrived, I feel accomplished. It makes my heart feel good to see folks get well. In fact it makes all the not-so-great stuff seem less.

But still. Despite the many rewards that outweigh the frustrating moments there are still some things that really grate on my nerves. These things make me grit my teeth and want to scream. They are the things that I can’t even deal with. Or at least I wish I didn’t have to deal with them.

I’m sure I could make a completely different list depending on the given day, but here’s ten things that today I just can’t even.

1. Computer problems. Come on man! I am already eight hours behind on charting after coding that STEMI from the ER, and I’m still trying to recover mentally from the past two hours of my shift. The last thing I need is a computer that refuses to come on when I sit down to chart.

Same thing goes for a slow computer. If you can’t keep up with the speed of my tapping fingers then you need to step it up Mr. Program. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Just like I don’t have time to figure out why the correct medication refuses to scan.

I am not an IT expert. I know how to turn off the power to restart, but that’s about it. Beyond that, I can’t even.

2. Condescending professionals. Hi. Aside from being your beck and call girl, I am also a nurse. I am a professional, and I certainly deserve to be treated as one.

I cannot stand being talked down to like I am a child or an imbecile, especially if I am in the right. But even if I am wrong I don’t deserve verbal abuse. It’s not professional, and I can’t even.

3. Patient’s family drama I can’t stand drama in my own family, so I especially can’t deal with it in people I don’t know.

Yes, I think family dynamics is important to the long-term health of my patient, but right now in the critical care unit it is simply a distraction and impediment to my patient’s well-being. It’s selfish to bring outside issues into a patient’s place of tranquil healing.

Take it to the waiting room. I can’t even.

4. Double charting. Hey, let’s go paperless! I mean, except for this. Oh yeah, and this. Let’s do some on paper, and some in the computer. And in the mass confusion feel free to double chart until this issue is resolved some time in 2017.

5. People who can’t comprehend Hippa. I am really sorry I cannot release personal information to you about my patient over the phone. Really, truly I am.

That’s why when you tell me you go to church with my patient’s cousin, went to high school together, or live down the road from them I explain gently and in layman terms about Hippa, privacy laws, and why it is illegal for me to disclose personal health information without patient consent.

The thing is I don’t mind explaining it at all. Not at all. But when you then yell at me anyway it’s frustrating to me. This is not my decision, and I’m not being mean. It’s the law. I understand she’s on your prayer list, but I can’t even.

6. When I can’t. Can’t what you ask. Well, basically anything. I am my own worst critic, and when I can’t do something to the degree that I consider worthy then I get upset.

If I cannot get that difficult IV started I’m livid with myself. If I can’t remember how to do a skill I haven’t done for a while or the normal range for a certain lab then you would think my world has ended. While they’re not big deals, in my perfectionist mind it’s just awful. I can’t, so I can’t even.

7. Made-up medical terminology. You are the reason they make those lists of abbreviations we cannot use. Your determination to make up your own abbreviations adds to the already confusing world of healthcare, and the possibility of error while receiving orders.

No one knows what kind of dressing you’re talking about or what exactly that word you just used is supposed to mean. It only means something to you! And the fact that you get angry when I ask for clarification makes it even worse.

No, they didn’t teach that in nursing school. Because you’re the only person on the planet who uses that term. I. Can’t. Even.

8. 15 minute mandatory meetings. These really only bother me when they’re on my day off. It just so happens, though, that they are always held on my day off.

It’s fifteen minutes. Yet it’s mandatory information. It is information that is so detrimental that it must be mandatory to attend, yet it is so simple that it can be explained in fifteen minutes.

I’m so confused. Can’t we bunch some of these together and just make a day out of it? After getting gas and a baby sitter, I can’t even.

9. The consigning of medication administration. Now just hear me out. I totally get that certain meds are high risk, and it’s more appropriate and safe to have the dosage checked by a second RN. I get it.

What I cannot understand is how this is determined. I mean what decides which ones are really dangerous? Aren’t they all? I know that data studies and cases of medication error across the country drive the decision, but it still seems kind of hokey, like maybe somebody is just making this up as they go.

How else can you explain why I require a co-signature to administer 2 units of insulin, but I am allowed all the freedom in the world to titrate as I please the dosage of dangerous, cardiac medications administered through a central venous catheter? Think about it. I can’t even.

10. The little things. Yep. After all that other stuff it’s the little things that make me want to jump out the window. It’s like after ten hours of co-signatures, double charting, and condescending doctors I can’t even. At all.

The build-up of not being able to pee or not having the supplies I need drives me bonkers. When eleven blood sugar checks are due at 11:30 and the machine needs to have controls done, I can’t even.

When I don’t have a scheduled med available, and it’s been ordered for three days now, I can’t even.

Little things like forgetting my password (because I’ve had to reset it 1,627 times since 2004), or the inability of my fingerprint to scan, these things make me mildly irate. No, just irate. And I can’t even.

Just when I think I can’t even any longer I am confronted with the reality that my shift is almost over. So even though I will probably receive a new admission twenty minutes prior to shift change I am reminded that I will eventually leave.

I know I’ll be back, and by then I’ll be more mentally prepared, and even looking forward to practicing my skill in the field I love. But until then, I can’t even.

What I Was Dying to Tell My Baby’s Daddy

Yesterday morning when I woke I went straight to the bathroom, and while there I heard my toddler daughter crying out from her room. She was repeating the same word over and over, and over.

“Dad? Daddy? Dad? Dad?” She cried out urgently, begging for his assistance. But he wasn’t there. It was just me.

I remember as a young girl waking in the night after a terrible nightmare and calling out much the same. The difference, though, between my girl and myself was that I didn’t call out Dad. Instead I cried, “Momma? Mom? Mommy?!”

Even at the young age of four I knew that my father would not hear my cries. I knew that he was gone. And although I spent many waking hours hoping that my dad would come back, for the most part I understood that he would not. It was just me and mom.

Even though years later I would be gifted with a Daddy through my Mom’s remarriage and my subsequent adoption, the past pain of an absent father left it’s mark on me, one that is present even now. And that’s what I thought of when I heard my daughter cry out.

Aside from memories of my childhood, you might think I felt something akin to jealousy over not hearing my baby cry for me instead, but nothing like that ever entered my mind. Rather I felt a measure of joy inside me, and I felt a sense of gratitude rising to the surface.

I was proud for my baby girl. I was proud that she could call for his name, and even though he wasn’t there at the moment, the fact remained that he would be. Her Daddy would be coming back home.

In that small moment of time I also felt pride for my husband, and I was dying to talk to my baby’s daddy. I wanted to hold him close, and say, “thank you. Thank you that we’re in this together!”

I knew in my heart that he was more than just my baby’s daddy, more than just the biological father of my offspring. He was my partner in parenthood. He was my helper, my rock, and we could call out to him at all times. I knew these things, and I felt grateful.

My Mother did well with what she had, and despite an absent father during my younger years, she always made me feel loved. I know there are amazing woman everywhere that perform the task of parenthood alone, and they do a tremendous job, but in that moment as my daughter called for her dear old dad, I was glad that I didn’t have to do it alone.

Parenthood is tough. It’s an often frustrating and seemingly thankless job, but it is made monumentally easier with the father of my children there with me each step of the way.

The fact that my children know this, that they know they can call out for their Daddy, it blesses my soul. And I know their future relationships and endeavors will be positively impacted by his continual presence.

While I’m stronger than I probably think I am, and could likely do this crazy parenthood journey alone, I’m so thankful that I don’t have to do it by myself. I’m thankful my baby’s daddy is also my best friend.

Although I probably overuse the phrase, “I’m gonna call your Daddy,” I’m really glad that if I need to, I can.

I’m grateful that on the days when everything just seems like too much that I can call their Daddy, and he will listen to my complaints. He can’t always fix it, but he lets me know I’m not alone. And that seems to be the most important thing.

After the moment passed I went to collect my daughter from her bed. As she looked at me expectantly I replied, “Daddy’s not here. He’s at work, but he’ll be home soon.”

And I knew then that I was oh so grateful for us both that what I said was true.

When Did This Happen?

I wonder how often beauty sits waiting, a miracle in our midst, so precious, yet so easily overlooked?

I pondered this thought in the early morning hours, driving to work, and still half asleep. Yet even in my grogginess I had spotted the canvas of sky painted pink, and dotted with whispy, differing splotches of white. I marveled at the sunrise stretching across the sky, and somehow my day seemed better because of it. 

The day before I had found it while sifting through my daughter’s closet; fallen in the floor it had been forgotten. Pushed between the wall and the accordion door rested a newborn sleeper in baby pink, and I held it in my hands. So soft, so small, with lavender angel wings stitched on the back. On the front in purple, cursive stitch it read, “Mommy’s Little Angel.”

Had my big girl worn this once upon a time? Mommy’s little angel.

As I sat in the floor perplexed by the tiny article of baby clothing, and wondering where the past two years had gone, I heard my name being called from the kitchen. 

“Momma? Me. Open.” Her musical voice carried across the house. 

“Momma’s coming.” I called, and I stood quickly, but not before folding the little, pink sleeper, and slipping it into my robe pocket. 

How had a newborn baby suddenly learned to talk? I wondered, and as I rounded the corner her smile and wide eyes greeted me. 

When did my chubby infant learn to walk, much less climb? I asked internally, but the only answer I could see was a gap-toothed grin with fine, white hair covering a large, hazel eye. 

My daughter sat in her chair smiling, holding a package of fruity snacks. “Momma. Me. Open.” She called between giggles. 

I stood in awe and wonder. How did my baby get up in that chair all by herself? Wasn’t she afraid?

I was. And my hand slid involuntarily into my robe pocket, clutching for the sleeper like I might find the answers there. Like within that small section of soft, pink fabric I might locate the answer to why babies grow up so quickly. I was afraid it might keep charging swiftly, my enemy time, and I tried to hold him captive as I stood staring at my almost two year old girl. 

When did this happen?

When did my baby stop looking like a baby? When did she outgrow that sleeper, and when did she start sleeping the whole night through? It seemed like a long time ago, and I watched as she spoon-fed herself the breakfast cereal I had fixed, not even spilling a drop of milk. 

The moment passed like they seem to do, like quickly moving sunrises and sunsets, each day just as precious, but different nonetheless. 

And later that night as I sat beside my husband, trying to put off going to bed, I watched my daughters playing together. As I took my spouse’s hand I watched the culmination of our love spinning in circles together upon the rug, giggling loudly, and dancing like their life depended on it. Jolly music played, they laughed, and they moved to the beat without a care in the world. 

At the sight of little miracles dancing right there in my midst, spinning across my living room floor, I felt my life was full. I knew I couldn’t stop babies from getting big, but I could notice each time they danced. I could capture their childlike waltz on the pages of my heart, and press it there for safe keeping always. 

I couldn’t make small, pink sleepers fit again, but I could marvel at my growing girls. I could notice each day like the priceless miracle it was, and hold it so tightly, as long as it would allow. 

That work morning as I drove past the expanse of ever-changing horizon I smiled at God’s miracles displayed before me every day. And I thought what a shame when we miss them, when we miss the precious beauty that is right there all along. I drove past with new resolve to always keep my eyes open wide. For sunrises, sunsets, and dancing, growing girls.

Do You Suffer From This Disease?

Have you ever noticed how anger is like a disease? When you catch the illness of being frustrated it burns at you like a slow-growing fever. It rises within you until it starts to burn you up. It grows, grabbing hold of other minor inconveniences in your life, and it magnifies those instances making them multiply in your already stressed mind.

It consumes, and it bubbles up, festering until it pops. And you blow your top.

I have no clear understanding why some things make me upset, and other things, not so much. But for some reason it happens that way. Sometimes I handle a situation so beautifully that I’m certain if my arm were longer I would definitely be patting myself on the back. Then I bring myself back to earth by completely overreacting to some minuscule occurrence.

Today I experienced dealing with a company that charged me incorrectly for a service. I was right, and they were wrong. Dead wrong. In fact their error could have really caused me a problem if my checking had held less funds like it typically did, and that’s what I thought of while I sat on hold for thirty minutes. Yes, thirty minutes.

I thought, their mistake could have made me overdraw on my checking account!!

For some reason I realized, as I sat listening to the catchy, seasonal music for half an hour, that nothing did happen. I didn’t overdraw, and I had seen the mistake immediately. Despite my frustration for some reason I decided to relax. I made the conscious decision to not allow my anger to get the best of me.

Later in the day, after dealing with one cranky toddler, and one sleepy preschooler, I tried to fit in a few chores, but nothing was going like it should. The dogs were being bothersome, and felt like four more children I had to care for today.

The house was more of a wreck than usual, and wet leaves tracked across the doorway as I came back in from feeding dogs that never got full. The rooms seemed smaller than usual, and the chaos of a day’s worth of overflowing dishes and discarded trash pressed in upon me from every direction as I swept hurriedly during the children’s nap time.

I gathered up dirty clothes thrown upon the floor, and my four year old woke crying, “I’m thirsty.”

I had hoped she mind nap a little longer, and I knew she wanted to be held. And I wanted to hold her too. But I also wanted to be mad. It had been building from the moment I got mud on my pants, and it grew as I struggled to pull out chairs to sweep under in a kitchen that felt like a shoebox. A tiny, dirty shoebox.

I grumbled to myself, audibly it seems. Something about dirty clothes, and small kitchens. I might have used the words “I can’t even!” But I can’t say for sure.

My daughter chimed from the living room, “Remember Mom? You said we wouldn’t get frustrated over little stuff?”

And indeed I had made a deal with my four year old just a week before. While watching her yell and fuss over something inconsequential I had realized she came by it naturally, and was only mocking the inappropriate frustration of her dear old mom. I had made a pact with her that we would be “slow to anger” together.

I had managed to keep my cool on the phone with customer service, and had managed to get my custom made Christmas cards free without even asking for any compensation whatsoever.

Yet when faced with the mundane inconvenience of crumbs and crowded rooms I had felt ready to explode. When my daughter spoke her tiny words of wisdom soothed me immediately, and I felt my frustrations dissipate until it was like they had never been there at all.

I am reminded that whether big or small that problems, inconveniences, and frustrations will assault my day. That is a given. But how I respond is completely up to me. How I decide to let an issue take residence and grow in my mind is in my hands.

Anger is like a disease. It festers and it grows. It consumes and infects, stealing healthy joy. My being mad doesn’t change anything in a positive way. It doesn’t make rooms grow or messes lessen. It does affect my mood and my children in a negative way, and that’s the worse part of it.

Frustration is in essence a lack of trust. You become overwhelmed at circumstances beyond your control, and you allow the weight of it to press too heavily on your spirit. I forget that God’s hand is on all of my life; even the mess. Trusting in the truth of His direction and will can make one relax, and soothe me as sufficiently as my daughter’s words earlier today.

It will come, frustration and anger, but it will not overcome me. Honestly, some days it does. More than I’d like to admit. But thankfully there’s tomorrow, and I’ll start again there.