Tag Archives: motherhood

A Letter to the Mamas,

I’m writing this to you because I think you need to hear it, but I’m also writing it to me so I don’t forget.

Hey, you. Yeah, I know you don’t have time for this. You need to get out the door and nobody has their coats or shoes on, and Baby has decided to take his pants off and run around the room. You’re going to be late to the kids’ doctor’s appointment and if it’s by more than 15 minutes they’ll make you reschedule. You’d think a pediatrician’s office would be more FLEXIBLE since, I don’t know, their dealing with CHILDREN WHO CAN’T DO ONE BLESSED THING FOR THEMSELVES SO HOW ON EARTH ARE YOU EXPECTED TO BE ON TIME? Anyway, by now you’ve gotten their coats and shoes on and Baby has on hand-me-down jeans from who knows where and you’re getting them in the car. Now one of them is crying because somebody hit her and Baby is whining and arching his back making it nearly impossible to buckle him into his car seat. As you use your best stern Mom voice to tell them “hands are not for hitting,” you notice you forgot to wipe of Baby’s face from breakfast and he has sticky syrup on his cheeks that has attracted every dirt particle from your home. He basically looks like a homeless baby. So you grab a wet wipe from the diaper bag and wipe his face off which makes him scream and you try to comfort him but you’re late so you figure he’ll get over it and jump into your seat. As you turn on your kids’ music or show, you find yourself starting to zone out.

This is where you need to listen, Moms.

As you begin to tune out all the car chatter, the voices in your head may take you down those old familiar roads. They are like a corn maze you can’t get out of. On your first turn, you head down the “What am I doing with my life?” path, then you take a right onto “Is this what motherhood is supposed to look like?” then hang a left on “Endless fighting and whining is not what I signed up for,” then merge onto “Am I even doing a good job?,” then you make a hard right onto “I suck at being a mom.” Then you’re basically there.

“Where?” you ask.

Right in the place the devil wants you. A place of vulnerability. A place where you’re so unsure of who you are and what your purpose is you are desperate for someone to tell you. So he does. He whispers things like, “No, you’re not really a good mom because what good mom yells at her kids/lets them watch THAT much TV/loses her temper/can’t get her kids to eat healthy foods/can’t get her kids to behave in public/doesn’t want to spend every second having “intentional” time with her kids/scrolls through her phone THAT many times a day/(fill in the blank with anything else that makes you feel like a crappy mom)…

And then the devil takes his toxic shame coat and drapes it over your shoulders and that’s how you live. Covered in shame.

This is where you need to listen, ladies.

Don’t let shame make you forget who you are.

Don’t forget that you are the woman that fed your kids today, you helped them get dressed, you held them when they cried, you listened when they told you about their day, you gave them encouragement when they doubted themselves, you washed their clothes, you picked them up when they needed to be held, you laid with them so they could fall asleep, you read them books, you helped with homework, you got them new jeans because theirs were getting a bit too short, you signed them up for camps, you made doctors’ appointments for them, you put money on their lunch card, you prayed for them, you prayed with them, you told her that she most certainly could not wear shorts that short, you said no to the party that was sketchy on the details, you called them out when they were being less than kind, you pointed them to Jesus with loving words, you corrected them and loved them, YOU DID SO MANY IMPORTANT THINGS.

Don’t forget that the God who made ALL the people gave you a few of His own to raise; because He knew you’d be the perfect fit for them. He chose YOU. He knew you would need help and He knew you would screw it up and He was ok with that.

See, the thing is, as much as we forget who we are sometimes, God doesn’t. If we have been saved through faith in Jesus, the Word says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)

I believe being a mom is good work. It can be exhausting and wonderful and mundane and sweet and aggravating and beautiful and just plain hard. Lots of times being a mom doesn’t feel good. When we feel like all we do is discipline and say no, it doesn’t really feel that awesome to be a mom. But my feelings are all over the place sometimes so it helps to go back to the Truth. “for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Prv. 3:12)

Aaaaahhhhh. Nice to know that all our reproving means that we actually LOVE our kids…contrary to what our kids may say. We’re just trying to point them to Jesus and keep them out of juvie, am I right?

All that to say… Moms, you’re doing a good job. What you’re doing matters. I see you and you are good enough. Actually, scratch that. You are excellent. Now go forth into battle and don’t forget to put snacks in your purse.

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(This pic was taken many years ago but it reminds me that winter with littles is HARD.)

-Courtney

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A note to my younger self about parenting books

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Dear 29-year-old self,

We need to have a little chat. You are so well intentioned with all those parenting books, really, you are but you’ve got to remember these are people’s opinions, not Gospel truth. Many of them have wonderfully helpful information on parenting so don’t completely disregard, but there’s something you need to know when it comes to raising kids: A plus B does not always equal C. Just because you do everything these books say doesn’t mean you will raise the perfect child or be the perfect mom. Because lesbihonest, you think that children are a direct reflection of how they’re raised. Bless. You have so much to learn, dear one. You will meet so many parents you admire whose kids are screwing it up and you don’t think this makes them a bad parent. It means that you can try your darndest to control them, but kids will eventually make their own decisions.

It’s noble that you want to get this mothering thing right the first time but for goodness sake, quit beating yourself up about it. You’re going to learn that loving your kids well has a lot more to do with how you communicate with them and a lot less to do with providing a perfect environment for them to grow, impeccable Sunday School attendance, how many sports they’re involved in, and how many social engagements they have. And rather than trying to do everything by the book, spend time in the Word. Pray for your kids. Talk to the God that made them, He knows far more about your kids than any other person who wrote a book on parenting. I wish you would do this more. I wish you were on your knees praying for God’s edification in your life because it will bleed into how you mother those little ones.

The books are great but just keep in mind that you don’t have control over how your kids turn out. Your jobs are to be faithful to what God has called you to and teach your kids about Jesus. This is what you do, no matter the outcome. God is writing their story, Precious, not you. God has hard lessons for them to learn so let them learn. Don’t shield them from everything or they will never learn how to be brave and fight for themselves. Give them a safe place to land, not a bubble to live inside. This will be hard; especially living in the community you live in where all the kids have all the things (clothes, technology, money, status, etc.) It’s a fight against defining happiness with the amount of stuff you have. Teach them that stuff doesn’t bring eternal joy. In a world that is full of bullying and greed, teach them to be kind to others and generous with what they have. This is the better way.

And remember, when your kids make decisions that break your heart, you haven’t failed as a parent. God isn’t done. Don’t lose hope. Continue to be faithful to what He has called you to.

Remember those marriage books you read while you were engaged? And remember how you laughed and laughed when you found out nothing could’ve prepared you for what marriage would be like? (Apparently no one thought it especially important to write a book about getting married 2 months after you graduate college, then getting pregnant 3 weeks after the wedding. Weird that no one thought that book would fly off the shelves.) Many of the marriage and parenting books have great information but marriage and parenting aren’t formulaic. Everyone’s different and that’s ok. You are 36 and still flying by the seat of your pants most every day. You do not have it figured out and, unlike when you were young, you don’t care who knows it. Cut yourself some slack, the kids are amazing.

Love,

Your Older, Wiser Self

P.S. The other day you got a flat tire with your kids and groceries in the car and you figured out what to do ALL BY YOURSELF! Then the next day, your debit card was stolen and you took care of it ALL BY YOURSELF! You are so tired of wearing your big girl panties but YOU DID IT! You slayed adulthood this week! You are such a grown up and you hope it never happens again because you’re exhausted.

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Saturday’s Note to Self

Much to my surprise the “Note to Self” post last week was a hit! I had no idea it would strike a chord in so many of you. So I’ve decided maybe a weekly or every other week “Note to Self” is in order. I can’t thank you enough for those of you who sent me texts, emails, messages, etc. telling me how much that post resonated with you. And it never ceases to humble/amaze me when you share my posts to your Facebook pages. You don’t even know. That’s so kind and generous of you. Thank you.

Now, a note to self…

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I mean, this face. Precious. Note the most annoying toy ever created right behind him. Chicken Dance Elmo. It still makes me twitch just thinking about it.

Dear 24 yr old self,

Look, I know you don’t want to but you really need to make some mom friends. Your 1 yr old can’t be the only person you talk to during the day besides your mom. Kyle travels all the time and your friends, well, they work “outside the home.” They do important things and talk to adults. You, on the other hand, feel like you’re becoming more socially awkward by the day. You have no idea what’s going on in the world outside of Sesame Street and Baby Einstein. (By the way, they proved later that Baby Einstein doesn’t in fact make your kid a genius. How many hours of our life was wasted watching a red ball roll across a black screen? Sigh.) Anyway, you need to know that what you’re doing matters. You are taking care of a little person. You keep him alive all day. It’s exhausting keeping someone alive. You feel completely unproductive because at the end of the day all you can check off your list is changing diapers, feeding the baby, and trying to make dinner. Other than that, you don’t know what you do all day. You don’t feel like you can talk about it with your friends that work and don’t have kids. They would think you’re lame and lazy.

Playdates make you cringe in all of your insides. Sitting around with moms you don’t know comparing everyone’s babies, or worse, comparing yourself to the other moms and feeling inadequate because you don’t breastfeed or make your own baby food. No thanks. I know they aren’t your thing but who says you have to play the comparison game? You could be the one to change the subject and talk about something else. Or better yet, you could be honest about how lonely you are. You could tell the other moms you feel like you’re on an island. With a baby. And no search party is looking for you. You could do this and maybe you would find out someone else feels this way too. By going first, you could give another mom the opportunity to say “Me too.” Isn’t that what you want? A “me too” lets you know you’re not alone on the island. A “me too” is hope. Allow someone the privilege to be honest.

Your 35 year old self is learning for the first time that being vulnerable is a gift you give someone else. It seems backwards but being vulnerable is quite powerful. It gives others courage to do the same. You won’t always feel like you’re on an island; it will get better with time and more children. I promise it doesn’t turn into a Lord of the Flies situation. Your life will be so much fuller when you realize honesty about where you’re at is better than being “strong” and silent. Being strong is only hiding who you are. You have wings that you don’t even know about and one day you’re going to fly.

Now go take care of that baby. Walk him in the stroller and tell him about your day. Make funny faces at him and talk in the funny voice he likes. He thinks you’re a riot. It sort of makes all the crying and spit up and dirty diapers worth it.

Love,

Your 35 yr old self

P.S. That little 1 yr old is now 11 and wears the same size shoe as you do. He’s got a thing for video games and knows everything, EVERYTHING, about sports. It’s like living with a Sportcenter commentator. He’s pretty great and still the sweetest boy you know.

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Note to My Younger Self…

What if we could tell our younger self things? Wouldn’t this be sort of amazing? I wrote my younger self a letter and wanted to share it with you guys because I think some other moms of littles might need to hear these things too.

unnamed Can we talk about this picture for a minute? I mean how haggard do Kyle and I look? Pay no attention to the barf on my husband’s t-shirt. Why do my kids have their hands in their mouths? Don’t be fooled, I’m sure my pullover is only to cover up the fact that I’m still in my pajamas. And my hair? If I recall correctly, it looked like this from 2004-2009. These were hard times.

Dear 26 year old Self,

I can’t believe you have 2 kids. How are you doing this?! You’re practically a baby. I know you think you’re failing at a lot of things like organizing your house, and dressing your kids in season appropriate clothing, and well, personal hygiene. I’m here to tell you it’s ok. I’m here to tell you you’re 35 now and you are still failing at those things. Hygiene has definitely moved up on the list so go ahead and count that as a win for everyone. But here’s the thing about your 35 year old self, she’s more ok with not having it together. Aren’t you relieved? You’re evolving and it’s good.

Can I tell you something? You ARE doing a good job. Your kids know you love them and they love you too. You are so much stronger and braver than you know. You have it inside of you. You will not always feel weary and ragged. You won’t live each day merely surviving. I know you doubt a lot of things. You doubt yourself in almost every area of your life. Asking endless questions like, “Am I a good mom? Am I a good wife? Will my kids remember how much I yelled at them? Am I a good nurse? Am I supposed to be a nurse? What am I doing? Will they ever stop needing my help? Am I teaching them about Jesus enough? Am I instilling values in these little people? Will they always want snacks every minute of every day? Do I feed them too much junk? Do they watch too much TV? Will they ever not want dinner?” And on and on it goes. These questions plague you. Every. Single. Day.

Take a breath. I know you’re in the weeds now but it won’t always be this way. When Kyle asks if you need to go out and have some time alone, say yes. Every time, say yes. If he doesn’t ask, then tell him you need some time alone. He knows you are an introvert by nature and need time away so take it. Communicate. Let people help you. Quit trying to act like you have it all together. And for the love, go to counseling already. You need it. I promise it will change your life and your marriage. Yes, you’re going to cry the ugly cry while you’re there but do it anyway. You will grow and it will be hard. It will also be empowering. Do it.

I’m going to wrap up because somewhere there is a child who needs you to feed him or wipe his bottom. It’s ok. It won’t be this way forever. At 35, they won’t even tell you when they go poop, they just go. I know, your brain just exploded. So don’t lose heart sweet, young self. Relax. And try not to curse the old ladies at Target that tell you to “cherish every moment” or “it’s over in the blink of an eye.” Just bless their hearts and move on because you’ve still got more errands to run. You are running a good race, sweet girl. Keep going.

Love,

Your 35 year old Self

P.S. You color your hair now and wear a lot of cardigans. Just thought you should know.

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The Dreaded Question…

What is it that I do?

It’s a simple enough question, right. On the surface it seems harmless. “What do you do?” People ask this question all the time especially when meeting someone new. This question fills me with anxiety because I’m not sure how to answer. For me, when I’m not sure about something it leads to insecurity. Even more so when I feel like it’s something that, at 35, I should have figured out by now.

When I graduated college and passed the boards it was easy, I was a nurse. When I had my babies it was easy, I was a stay at home mom that worked as a nurse occasionally. Now that my kids have gone to school, it’s left me with a bit of a question mark. I usually say, “I’m a nurse” because that’s the safest response. Do we typically classify something we do once a week or less as our “job?” No, but it takes the least explanation on my part. If I told you I was a writer, let’s be honest, that sounds fake. The fake job that makes no money. If I told you I was a stay-at-home mom, well, then you’d ask how old my kids are and I’d tell you their ages and you’d deduce that they, in fact, are in school every day. Then I would get the same question with a side of passive aggressive judgment, “So what do you DO all day while they’re at school?” It’s subtle but it’s there. Or at least I think it’s there. It’s actually probably not there but I’m insecure so I misinterpret things all the time to be a dig at me.

So, what do I do?

The world places a lot of value on what we do. It’s how we identify people and put them into categories. Some jobs are important, others less so. We’ve made up things like “status” to go along with jobs. This way we can value/devalue each other depending on the importance of our jobs. We can puff up with pride when the world recognizes our job as important. Or we can cower in insecurity when it’s not, or at least we don’t think it is. Or we defend our jobs to the death so people will know how vital our jobs are to humanity.

I’ve believed the lie again. I was praying about this very thing the other day. Trying to get some kind of affirmation and clarity from God on what’s my purpose and what am I supposed to be doing with my life. You know, just a regular Tuesday for the introvert. And somewhere during the prayer, it happened. If I’m at home by myself I tend to pray aloud because it helps me work out my thoughts. It also helps me not fall asleep. So while I’m working out my request to God (because it’s all about me) He revealed something to me that I had never really considered before.

He calls me by name.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Is. 43:1

“To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:3

“And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Ex. 33:17

“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life.” Rev. 3:5 (Emphasis is mine)

He calls me by name. He doesn’t call me by what I do. He doesn’t call me Nurse, or Mom, or Writer (because that sounds fake). When He thinks of me, He doesn’t associate me with my job, I’m just Courtney to Him. I also love in that last verse, that it’s only my name in the Book of Life, not my accomplishments or transgressions, just my name. My name gives me value, not my job. Though I don’t always think it’s in the form of a “job” for everyone, I do believe God has work for us to do here on earth. It says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” My mind tries to play tricks on me and tell me that it’s only “good work” if it has an important title. If I volunteer all my free time at a nonprofit, then it’s good work. If I support every cause for needy children, then it’s good work. If it gets recognition, if it helps a lot of people, if it requires a lot of money, THEN it will be good work.

I’m slowly figuring out that in the end, God is the only one I need to care about knowing my name. I’m here to make His name great, not mine. And “good work” may look like taking my kids to practice, or cooking dinner, or having a good attitude when I’m at my nursing job. Good work can look like watching someone’s kids while they go to an appointment. It can look like taking someone a meal. It can look like being a prayer warrior for someone during a hard time. These things don’t get a lot of recognition but they do matter.

So for those of you needing a reminder (me), God cares more about your name than your title. Maybe writing it down this time will help me remember.

Does anyone else struggle with this “what do you do?” question. I’d love to know!

-Courtney

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