Ordinary Does Not Equal Meaningless

Today was a great day! Though to be quite honest, it didn’t start out all that great. I now have a 4 day old baby girl that I love so much it often overwhelms me. Well, apparently this little girl loves me just as much because last night she did not want to sleep unless she was being held. Come 2 a.m., I gave in and just got her out of her bassinet. My master plan was to use my boba wrap to strap her to me so I could fall asleep holding her without dropping her and FINALLY get some much needed rest. After spending a good 15-20 minutes trying to figure out how to put the stupid thing on, Navy (my baby girl) decided she was ravenous and had to eat NOW. I finally had the boba wrap on and there was no way I was taking it off and starting on square one so I just left it on and worked my way around it to feed her. In the process of changing her diaper afterwards, my night took a definite unwanted and unexpected turn for the worst. At this point it was 3 a.m. and I made three very big mistakes. One, I changed her on my chair with no changing pad, two I was sitting on the footrest right in the potential line of fire and three, I didn’t put a fresh diaper on her IMMEDIATELY after removing the soiled one. I’m a mother of two now, I should know better. After removing the soiled diaper I turned to grab a fresh diaper and I heard a toot. I only had the hallway light on so it was fairly dark so I leaned in close, praying it was just a fart. At about the same moment I sighed in relief, straight liquid came shooting projectile out of my sweet baby girl. It shot out at least a foot and I was right in the line of fire. It got in my hair, all over my chest, and was quite literally dripping down my arm and my leg. Momma reflexes kicked in (2 seconds later than I would’ve hoped) and I grabbed the clean diaper and kind of just shoved it over the firing hole as my own personal shield. Needless to say, poop was everywhere. All over me, all over my chair, all over Navy, and worst of all, all over my one and only hope of getting any sleep that night. . .My boba wrap. As I went over to grab the diaper wipes, a quote by Marjorie Hinkley popped into my head: “You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.” So, much to my surprise, I laughed. I really wanted to cry but I laughed instead.

As I was in the shower, literally scrubbing my daughters feces out of my hair, I was racking my brain trying to figure out what has made the biggest difference in my ability laugh instead of cry. I REALLY felt like crying! I had every reason in the world to cry and break down. But I chose to laugh. I wasn’t happy by any means, don’t get me wrong. I don’t need anyone to think I enjoyed that experience. But it didn’t break me. It didn’t ruin the whole rest of my day.

Not too long ago, I read a book by Brene Brown titled “The Gifts of Imperfection”. In it she says, “We seem to measure the value of peoples contributions (and sometimes their entire lives) by their level of public recognition. In other words, worth is measured by fame and fortune. Our culture is quick to dismiss quite, ordinary, hardworking men and women. In many instances, we equate ordinary with boring or, even more dangerous, ordinary has become synonymous with meaningless.” This really struck home for me. It helped me make sense of my “fear” of being just a stay at home mom. I didn’t want my life to be meaningless and unimportant so I felt like I had to reach outside of the home and do something more! We all know there is little to no public recognition, fame or fortune in being a stay at home mom. In fact, I feel like being a stay at home mom is the perfect description of “quite, ordinary, hardworking”. And that was always scary to me. It was scary to me because I had accepted that an ordinary life was a meaningless one as truth. But that is so far from the truth. Ordinary DOES NOT equal meaningless. Say it with me now: ORDINARY DOES NOT EQUAL MEANINGLESS. Being a mother is chuck full of incredibly ordinary moments! And that’s what I used to find so discouraging. Every day was just like the last. But once I was able to change my definition of ordinary, that all changed. I started to look at the “ordinary” moments differently. Brown says, “I think I learned the most about the value of ordinary from interviewing men and women who have experienced tremendous loss such as the loss of a child, violence, genocide, and trauma. The memories that they held most sacred were the ordinary, everyday moments. It was clear that their most precious memories were forged from a collection of ordinary moments, and their hope for others is that they would stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring.” And that’s exactly what I’ve done and the results have been amazing and so I want to invite you to do the same. “Stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring.” Doing this alone has helped me immensely in finding more joy in every ordinary day as a mother. It’s a big part of why I was able to stay calm and not lose it at 4 this morning despite being covered in a little persons feces and not having had any sleep yet that night.

I like to think of this like it’s filling my “mommy tank”. You guys have heard of Steven Coveys emotional bank account, yes? Or some people know it as keeping the love tank full. Same idea. You are constantly making deposits (good/positive emotions) and withdrawals (bad/negative emotions). If you’re making more withdrawals than deposits then you will have more negative experiences and vice versa. As I go throughout my beautiful, ordinary days I am constantly on the look out for ordinary moments that bring joy to add to my mommy tank. For example, last night I was gently putting my sweet 4 day old baby in her bassinet and after doing so, I gently slipped her beanie on her tiny little head and just stared at her in wonder. As I did this, I made a conscious effort to stop and be grateful and soak up the joy of that ordinary moment. I let my heart soar over that one simple thing! It was not extraordinary by anyone’s definition but it doesn’t have to to be extraordinary to be meaningful. I am constantly making deposits (finding joy in ordinary moments) so that when a withdrawal happens (temper tantrum, blowout, etc), my mommy tank doesn’t go into overdraft mode and I lose it. As I do this throughout my day, my “mommy tank” stays full and it makes the unavoidable hard parts or withdrawals of being a mom doable. They don’t turn your world upside down anymore or completely unravel you because when the hard parts come up, you’re mommy tank is already overflowing with all of the wonderful moments you’ve captured throughout the day. You’re mommy tank can afford to make a “withdrawal” when your kids are less than perfect. But you have to make a conscious effort to keep filling it! It’s not going to fill on it’s own. You have to be on the lookout and when you do recognize those moments, let your heart overflow with gratitude and joy.

So, here’s your opportunity assignment: Find gratitude and joy in at least 5 ordinary moments everyday for the next week! This should be easy because remember, our days are chuck full of ordinary 🙂 You’ll be surprised at how quickly things begin to change if you’re diligent with this! Please feel free share your experiences, I’d love to hear how this works out for you and what you guys think! 🙂

Finding Joy in Motherhood

It has always been my dream to be a stay at home mom and from the day my first was born I was blessed enough to do just that. I’ve now been a stay at home mom for just over two years and I love it! People always say being a parent is the hardest and most rewarding thing you will ever do and they’re absolutely right. What I’ve never heard anyone admit to (and I know I can’t be the only one) is that it can also be the most mundane, nothing to look forward to on a day to day basis, thankless thing you will ever do. It gets hard to look forward to each new day when every day feels just like the last, minus a blow out or two. And it’s hard! It’s really hard to feel enthusiastic and excited about the next twenty years when you already know exactly what they look like: feed, clean, feed, clean, bathe, feed, clean, put in bed, put back in bed, put back in bed, put back in bed. I’ve only been doing this for two years and there are a lot of days I feel burnt out by 10 am and am literally counting down the hours till nap time, today being one of them. It’s incredibly discouraging! I want SO badly to love every second of being a stay at home mom, heck even every other second would be great! But I don’t. Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, I found myself not feeling super fulfilled with mom life. Anyone else been here? I felt like what I was doing wasn’t enough. I wasn’t contributing enough to society, I wasn’t contributing enough to my family. Yes, the laundry was getting done and the fridge was stocked with food but there was more I could be giving! But what?? There had to be more. Please oh please, there had to be more. I started exploring the other hobbies I could try out on the side, and heck, extra bonus if I could even make a little money doing it. All from home of course, because I didn’t want it to take away from my time as a stay at home mom. . .Logic my friends! Let’s see. . I could do photography. . .except I’m terrible at it. What about crafting? I enjoy that. A distributor of sorts, maybe? So, I started on this journey. Let’s call it my “I’m a stay at home mom and a _________” journey. My new goal was to fill in that blank! This journey took place over a period of about six months and it was incredibly discouraging. I was so sure there was something else I was supposed to be doing to contribute to the world but I couldn’t find my niche. Nothing was coming. After months of searching, pondering and praying I was given my answer through two incredibly simple questions: Why do I feel like I’m not enough as “just” a stay at home mom? Why does there have to be more? These questions made me, for the first time in months, turn my intense search from looking for something bigger and better out there to looking for something bigger and better in myself. I hadn’t even realized it but these little minions, these negative voices in my head had me convinced that being a stay at home mom wasn’t good enough. The adversary had me convinced that motherhood wasn’t worthy of me. That motherhood wasn’t worth dumping all of my heart, all of my soul and all of my efforts into. I have taught and I honestly and truly believe that the work you do within the walls of your own home is the most important work you will ever do. I know this, I’ve always known this. It’s just so freaking hard to remember when you’re picking squished grapes out of your carpet for the third time that day and watching Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas for the 20th time. Literally. So even after having this wonderful ah ha moment, there still begged the question: how do I find love being a mother as much as I want to then? How do I find more joy in motherhood? I want to wake up excited about each new day even if it is does look exactly the same as yesterday and the next 7,300 days. I want to love everyone of them. So my new journey began, my journey to find as much joy in motherhood as I could. I’ve learned a lot already and I want to share with you what I’m learning as I’m learning it. The simple changes I’ve made in just the last few months have made a huge difference already and I’m excited to share with you and I hope they can help you as much as they’ve helped me. Thanks for reading and be sure to check in next Wednesday for my first tip in how to find more joy in motherhood! Love you all and here’s to empowering mothers everywhere!!