Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Grey Sky Storm Clouds
When I was a teenager – and I mean teenager in all of its eye-rolling, heavy sighing, sarcastic glory – my grandparents moved from Michigan, where my family had always lived, to Florida. This move meant the end of Christmas dinners together and the beginning of weekly Sunday morning phone calls (mind you, when we lived in the same state, the phone calls were far less frequent). During these phone calls, one topic dominated the conversation – the weather. I still remember having conversations with my grandfather that went like this.

“The Weather Channel says it’s snowing there.”

“Um, it’s not.”

“The Weather Channel says it is.”

“Well I’m looking out the window and it’s not.”

And so on.

When my husband calls his parents each Sunday (again with the Sunday phone calls), the conversation very quickly turns in a familiar direction – the weather. Temperature, the presence or absence of precipitation and what form it took, wind, the amount of sunshine, all are covered in great detail.

I tell you all of this to set the stage for my realization of the week – motherhood has a lot in common with the weather. The unpredictability, the occasional volatility, the rapid swings from cold to hot and back again. Motherhood is chock full of such moments. And many times, I feel as unable to control the weather patterns sweeping through my home as I do what mother nature herself is visiting upon the outside of my home.

But this week brought a combination of outside and inside weather that led me to a subtle shift in thinking. It is my hope that this subtle shift helps me become a more effective manager of my children's - and my own - weather patterns. J

The weather in North Carolina is prone to change quickly. As I mentioned, I spent the majority of my life in Michigan so this is not a new concept. But this week we have experienced some extremes. Sunday was purely and simply North Carolina at its best. It was warm and a little breezy with skies the perfect shade of Carolina blue – an intense, almost unreal blue that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

Then came Monday and Tuesday. Raw, rainy, miserable. The sky was low and dark gray. I don’t believe so much as a single ray of sunshine made it through the clouds either day.

Extremes of weather outside were matched inside. We had moments, hours even, of delightfulness with children getting along and playing well and even – gasp – listening the first time. Then there were the other times – arguments, yelling, and fits being thrown over minor, and often imaginary, wrongs. Those moments – like the dreary weather outside – made it more difficult for me to find the beauty.
And I think that’s okay. Not every moment – or even every day – of motherhood is going to be filled with peacefulness and obvious joy. Sometimes the days are gray and difficult to get through. But just like the sun came out today – making the memory of the past two rain-soaked, ugly days fade quickly – so, too does a smile, a cute giggle, a snuggle at just the right time work to erase the memories of those challenging moments.

And just like the rainy days serve a purpose – making us truly appreciate those cloudless, sun-filled days, the stormy moments of motherhood can do the same. So the next time I’m in the midst of a moment that threatens to make me hide in the pantry and pull out my hair, I hope I can remember that soon – probably very soon – I’ll be presented with another moment that will bring me to tears of gratitude that these three beans – these beautiful babies of mine – were given to me to love and care for.

In the meantime, I’ll make sure to always have an umbrella and an extra jacket handy – just in case.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Like all six-year-old boys, Professor Bean likes superheroes. He likes to talk about them, pretend to be them, engage in long debates about which superhero’s power is cooler or more powerful than another. Where I have always been partial to Superman (I like my superheroes – and husbands - smart and bespectacled), the Professor’s loyalties rotate between Green Lantern, Batman and Ironman.

I have to admit that I’ve given some thought to what superpowers I’d most like to have. Invisible Woman sounds good for those times I don’t get a chance to take a shower before morning carpool. And a superhero with an extra set of hands is the dream of any mom who has tried to make dinner while soothing a fussy baby, or fold laundry while helping a small child wrestle an impossibly small dress onto a Polly Pocket doll.

I think superheroes and moms have a lot in common. I don’t mean in that “supermom” way that seems to indicate that whichever mom has the most hectic schedule or the longest to-do list but still manages to have well-manicured nails wins. Rather, I maintain every mom is a supermom.

In some of my conversations with Professor Bean about whether Superman can really leap tall buildings in a single bound (apparently he can) and just how Spiderman can swing from building to building (using webs he weaves himself –hmmm), I started thinking about the various superpowers we possess as mothers. The power to heal boo boos with a kiss and a snuggle, the ability to know something is wrong even when a child claims all is well, and the sixth sense that tells you when the silence upstairs makes the subtle shift from peaceful to suspicious.

Each supermom, like each superhero, has her areas of specialty. Some of us are great cooks, some are creative and crafty, others have enviable stores of patience and/or humor. I know – and have great admiration for – many such moms. I have my own areas of power that are well-balanced by those areas where I am less than powerful (I will never achieve a level of true organization and crafts make me break out in nervous sweats - every time). I believe that we are designed as mothers to have the superpowers most needed to be the “supermoms” our own little people need.

There is one superpower – more powerful than all the rest – all of us supermoms possess in abundance. The power to love our children in a way that no one else can love them. The ability to see the unique beauty of our children and – with God’s grace – to help them see that beauty.

I am a supermom. And so are you!

I’d love to hear some bragging right here on my blog – about yourself or another mom. Leave a comment and share with all of us.

Monday, February 11, 2013


No girl dreams about being compared to this:

I have been blissfully married to someone who is truly the perfect husband for me for going on eight years. In that time, we’ve moved three times and had three babies. We’ve had some challenges and many successes. He’s the calming force to my not-so-terribly-calm nature. He steadies me when I need it and reassures me that everything will be fine. He makes me laugh. And he’s annoying right most of the time J

My husband is a planner. He’s wildly logical and analytical. His education and professional background started in the world of engineering and then moved into financial analysis. To say he’s left brained is a wee bit of an understatement.  Becoming a father has brought out a different side – a fun-loving, game playing, happy to play make-believe with little people side that I love to see.

He is not, however, prone to flowery or overly romantic speeches. He lets me know daily through word and deed how he loves and appreciates me. That works for us. The reason it works for us now is because I understand his language and can translate for myself. This was not always the case.

When we had been dating for a few weeks and were happily in that early infatuation stage (there are days I miss that phase), he went away for the weekend with some friends. He called me one night from his hotel and we talked and talked for a long time. About what I don’t know. Except for one thing – one thing that has stuck with me for more than nine years.

At one point in the conversation, he said something like, “You know what I really like about you?” I readied myself for some dreamy compliment about my ravishing beauty or sparkling personality. You know, the kind of things you want a new boyfriend to spend his time thinking about you.
That’s not what he said.

“You’re not a show horse. You’re a plow horse.”

Um, what?

He went on to say that I wasn’t flashy, I was solid. Dependable.


When the conversation ended, I immediately called a close friend of mine. A male friend because I really needed a guy to translate. This friend dated A LOT. He happened to be unnaturally good-looking and therefore rather experienced with women.

When I told him what my new boyfriend said, he acted like it was a good thing. A romantic thing. I admitted that I was going to need a translation. My friend said it meant that I was more than a pretty face. That I had depth and substance. Staying power. Now that all sounded good, but I was still a little unconvinced. I mean really, what girl dreams of a guy calling her a plow horse? (Refer to picture above. Not flattering, is it?)

But when that new boyfriend came back from the weekend and showed up at my door with a dreamy smile on his face and an armful of flowers, I started to understand. I was going to have to alter my idea of what he should say and how he should say it. This was someone who had his own ideas of what he wanted in a relationship. He wanted someone to walk by his side, not to just hang off his arm. A partner, not a trophy.

There are times when my husband speaks my language. When he says exactly the right thing. Like on our wedding day, when I got to the altar, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said just one word. “Wow.” Well done, darling husband, well done.

So I’m proud to be a plow horse. Proud to be someone who is capable of doing the work, of carrying the load when needed. But I also like the wows when they come my way. I think I speak for all of us women when I say we all do.

Do you find yourself having to translate in your marriage or relationship? I’d love to hear about it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


“You work so hard and it shows.”

These seven simple words were spoken to me nearly four weeks ago. Yet I recall them daily – sometimes as reinforcement and sometimes almost as a prayer in hopes that they are true.

The person who said these wonderful words to me is a woman I have seen at church nearly every week for a number of years. She is a grandmother several times over. She’s someone you see and immediately are drawn to. Her goodness shines through as brightly as the humor in her eyes. She’s a dear soul. There’s no other way to explain it. I’ve jokingly told my husband that I want her to adopt me – to be my grandma. I haven’t had one in nearly 20 years and I miss it. That this woman, this experienced mother and grandmother, took the time to tell me so sincerely that she sees my efforts meant the world to me. She probably doesn’t remember the remark or, if she does, she surely doesn’t know how very much it meant to me.

As moms, we work all day every day with our kids and for our kids. There’s what I call the custodial care which starts with an intense focus on eating, sleeping and changing diapers and morphs into still more eating and a never ending battle with crumbs and dirty socks. And then there’s the rest. Teaching manners, respect, independence. Teaching about sharing and kindness and what it means to be a good friend, a good sibling, a good person. There’s reading and writing and coloring, building with blocks and playing make-believe.

Some of it is fun and surely some of it isn’t, but it’s all part of the work that is motherhood. And while there is immense joy to be found in at least one – and hopefully many – moment each day, I think it’s okay to admit that being a mom is hard. Physically, mentally and emotionally hard. And certainly there are moments and even days when it feels like all that hard work isn’t getting the results you are hoping for. An inconveniently timed tantrum, uneaten – yet carefully prepared – food, ears that seem to have lost the ability to listen.   

In those moments, it can be easy to start to doubt. Doubt that I'm doing it right enough or as well as someone else. Validation can be hard to come by. And yet, one Sunday morning a dear woman took my hand in both of hers and said those words. “You work so hard and it shows.”

Although my experience as a mother pales in comparison to this wonderful woman’s, I’ve given a lot of thought to the impact of her words on me. And even more thought to how my words could have an impact on other moms. Taking the time to pay a sincere compliment – not about a child’s physical appearance (being cute is nothing more than lucky genes after all) - but about a child’s behavior or character, his or her kindness or good manners. Something that reflects all of the hard work that mom has put in.

I know my husband appreciates me – he tells me often (especially on Sunday evenings after spending the weekend in the trenches alongside me). My kids appreciate me and happily are getting old enough to tell me. That feels wonderful and fills a need. But validation from another mom – someone with firsthand knowledge of how I'm putting all I’ve got into these small people – means a great deal as well. And fills a different need.

So one of my resolutions is going to be to look for more opportunities to provide that validation to other moms. To notice and to acknowledge. I hope some of you will join me.