You got this, mama.

This afternoon, JUST as I got the little to drift off to dreamland in her carrier, big woke up from her nap…almost an hour earlier than usual. Like L-I-T-E-R-A-L-L-Y as I was snapping this photo and about to IG-brag about getting both girls to sleep at the same time, the first “Moooommy!” rang out. With daddy gone and only AM childcare today, I just had to make it work.


Did that mean answering e-mails from my phone while I fed the baby? Yep. Did that mean more Paw Patrol than I’d like to admit so I could get #justonemorething done? You bet. Did it look like the perfect work / life balance? NOPE. Because honestly, what does that even mean??

It was a hard day. It was a looong day. Like, a mama needs an iced latte and a little This Is Us on Hulu kind of day. My job sacrificed for my girls. My girls sacrificed for my job. And I sacrificed for both. But…we made it. And tomorrow is a new day. A new day with 8 hours of childcare — Can I get a AMEN?!

Mamas, this is hard stuff. It’s a hard season. We know it. We feel it. Babies and toddlers are H.A.R.D. Whether you’re a WAHM, a SAHM, a WOTHM (is that even a real acronym?), a bio mom, a foster mom, an [insert anything here] mom — IF YOU ARE A MOM IT.IS.HARD. But you got this, mama. WE’VE got this. If you had a hard day today, remember tomorrow is a new one. And you were made for this.

Bearing our Blessings

  • something that is carried; a load
  • a duty or responsibility
  • something oppressive or worrisome
  • that which is borne with difficulty
  • an obligation

These are all definitions of the word burden. And today, I felt each one of them in one way or another. Today, I allowed myself to become burdened. By nothing in particular, but everything in general.

This narrative is not a novel one: that we should reframe our burdens as blessings. And for good reason. Because while there are certainly burdens in life that are so heavy it’s hard to see the good…most generally in our first-world culture, burdens are the product of abundance.

Nonetheless, today I felt it all. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Crushed under the weigh of expectations (albeit mostly my own). I was just…burdened. So for myself (and for you) I thought I would unpack and try to appreciate these burdens for what they truly are.

Burden: I had a work call that didn’t come in when I thought it was going to and then ran way later than expected. // Blessing: I have a job that is flexible and allows me the freedom to work from home. And I have bosses who love my kids and wanted to say hi when they heard them in the background.

Burden: I had to dig out our checkbook to pay our water bill because the rural water district doesn’t do auto-drafts or online payments. // Blessing: I have clean, potable, running water in my house. In. My. House. I have lived in places that do not have this, and trust me…it is a blessing.

Burden: I was tripping over the open suitcases on the floor of our mudroom, still laying around unpacked from a trip we got home from three days ago. // Blessing: We have the means to travel to see family and friends who live over 500 miles away.

Burden: Lexi informed me that she got blood from a scratch on her sheets during nap. Her white sheets. That I washed less than a week ago. // Blessing: My daughter has her own bed in her own room where she gets to lay her head down at night in a warm house. And she can sleep just as soundly in sheets that are dirty as she does in sheets that are clean.

Burden: I did three loads of laundry today only to have the basket piled full with dirties again because of multiple outfit changes by my toddler and husband. // Blessing: We all have plenty of clothes to wear and machines that wash and dry those clothes easily and efficiently.

Burden: Because my work call went late, I needed to feed the baby as soon as I hung up. So my husband offered to cook, which left the kitchen looking like a war zone. // Blessing: Multiple. We have food in our fridge. And our pantry. I have a husband who cooks. And…cleans up.

Burden: All. Of. The. Pine. Needles. On. The. Floor. // Blessing: We have a beautiful Christmas tree that we decorated as a family, making the sweetest memories and the beginnings of family traditions.

Burden: There are a hundred things on the “to do” list that seems to just keep growing. Every day, it feels like I take one step forward and then fall on my face. It can often feel like there is not enough of me to go around. // Blessing: I have job where my work is valued. I have a family that needs and wants me. I have a beautiful house, a running car and more love in my life than I know what to do with.

If you’re feeling burdened today too, know that it’s ok. It’s ok to feel those hard feelings. It’s ok to acknowledge that some days are just too much. But as you sit in those hard moments, remember that you are most likely bearing your blessings.

Dear Lakyn Lee…

I don’t know how, but today marked three months since you came into our lives.

Three. Months.

I remember certain moments and particular details of the last few months so distinctly, it’s like I’m still living in them. But when I think about the past 13 weeks as a whole, it feels like a blur. Like one night I laid you down, both of us in a sleepy haze, and when I opened my eyes you were a smiling, cooing, full-of-life tiny human.

Thank the good Lord I had the foresight to get newborn photos booked before you made your (fashionably late) appearance into the world. And although we didn’t actually get these taken until a month after you were born (because what a month that was) I am eternally grateful for the incredibly talented Bethany Meysenburg who captured the true essence of this new phase of our lives.

AND, because two more months have passed by and I have yet to share these images, I am going to do so now – in celebration of your 1/4-of-a-year birthday.

 

Even in the blur that is early motherhood, I pray that I never forget the details of YOU. Your soulful eyes that make my heart skip a beat. Your bright smile that lights up your whole face. Your long little toes that are just waiting to go places. The way you unlatch and nuzzle against me when your belly is full. The way your free hand reaches up to grasp the collar of my shirt, just to make sure I’m not going anywhere. Our early mornings together before the rest of the world washes over us, and late nights alone when the rest of the house is quite.

No matter how many days or months or years pass by…no matter how many babies fill the walls of this home…there will only be one you. And even though life often demands that my attention be divided, I assure you that my heart is not.

Love you big, sweet babe – Your Mama.

The bigger postpartum picture…

Mamas, I want to take a minute to talk about all of the things postpartum. Well maybe not all of the things, but at least some of them…

There is SO.MUCH.PRESSURE. to “bounce back” quickly after giving birth… physically, mentally, emotionally. In some ways, it feels like we are expected to be back to “normal” as soon as we walk out of the hospital doors. And if we aren’t, we are weak. Or needy. Or a burden to those around us.

Not only are these [unrealistic] expectations placed on us [both implicitly and explicitly] but people also tend to assess how we are “doing” based on our physical appearance alone. Why? Because that’s the most obvious and visible way to measure people up, and looking more than skin deep tends to make people uncomfortable.

I have always been a “skinnier” person, and after both of my pregnancies I regained my figure in a fairly short amount of time. But I am so, SO tired of hearing “WOW, you look great!” Not because I don’t appreciate the compliment, but because it just feels a bit canned to me. It feels like it’s the safe thing to say. It feels inadequate…incomplete.

Today I had my 6-week postpartum appointment. I got the “all clear” from my doctor, who said everything looked great and I have healed up really well.

Almost everyone I see comments on my physical appearance…how it doesn’t look like I just had a baby.


But the thing is, I DID. And when I look in the mirror, what I see is a mama still struggling through this phase of postpartum. I can obviously see it physically — in my squishy, saggy middle, in my my weary eyes and unwashed hair. Clothes and concealer may cover those things on the outside, but I know what’s underneath.

I can also feel what’s underneath. It’s in my heart that is both overflowing with love and aching from the weight of my new responsibilities. It’s in my soul that is always slightly unsettled and often anxious. The exhaustion runs deep in my bones as I single-handedly sustain another human being with my own body. I feel the changes in my relationships…with my husband, my family, my friends. I feel overjoyed but overwhelmed. I feel blessed but burdened. Do you feel it, too?

That’s why it doesn’t necessarily feel good when someone says you “look” good. Because how we look on the outside…that’s only the frame that holds the bigger picture. It is dependent on superficial factors like how longs it’s been since we last took a shower, if there was time to put on a coat of mascara between changing diapers / feeding / folding the hundredth load of laundry for the week, and if there happens to be spit-up on the front of our shirt. I don’t want to be seen for these things or for the fact that I do or don’t fit back in my “pre-pregnancy” pants. I want to be seen for the whole picture. And sometimes…that picture is not pretty.

This phase is no doubt magical, but it can also be mundane. It is exhilarating, but also exhausting. And even when it is happy, it is so dang hard.

Hang in there, mama. There is someone out there who sees you…all of you.

give a little grace…

Grace upon grace. That is what I needed this morning. Because before then sun hit the horizon, it was all aboard the hot.mess.express at the Hummel household…

Daddy was out of town for work, so Murphy’s Law y’all.  Before we dive into the good stuff, here’s a little rundown of the first four hours of our day…

Little woke up like clockwork for her 5:30 AM feeding. She typically ALWAYS goes back to sleep for a couple of hours after this feed. So this mama was planning to have a solid hour of independence before big sister’s 7 AM wake-up call – which meant big plans for real clothes, fixed hair and at least one cup of coffee circulating through my system. N-O-P-E. Lakyn Lee had no interest in going back to sleep today.

The rock-n-play pacified her for a moment – almost long enough for me to wash my face. Which, thanks to @msrachelhollis, we all know is important right?!

Then it all broke loose. Baby wailing from the living room. Big sister calling out for “MAAAAMAAAA…” from bed because baby was being “too noisy” for her.  I glanced at the clock…6:30 AM. I didn’t even get to brush my teeth in peace.

Very, very contrary to my belief system surrounding screen time and meal time, I appeased said toddler at the kitchen counter with a bowl of cereal and PawPatrol on the iPad. Desperate times, friends.

Much to big sister’s dismay (because it was clearly a distraction from the adventures of Alex and Chase) I let the little continue to cry just long enough to pull on yesterday’s stretchy pants and a sweatshirt. So much for making myself semi-presentable for school drop-off…

Got baby changed and dressed and put in the carrier. Screaming continued.

Argued with toddler about her clothes (see picture below). Argued with toddler about her hair (see picture below). Argued with toddler about watching another PawPatrol (Ummm…that’s a no). 

Lopsided pigtails. High-water overalls. But she looked exactly like she wanted, and to a three-year-old that’s all that matters.

Meanwhile…baby still screaming.

Got everyone out the door and realized it was 35 degrees and no one had a coat. Opened the car door for toddler to get herself loaded into her carseat and buckled the baby into hers before heading back in for coats…and more coffee.

Got halfway down the driveway and realized I had not a) taken toddler to the bathroom or b) bushed her teeth. Kept driving because…baby still screaming. And there was a potty and a toothbrush at school…she could make it 30 miles.

Pulled out onto the highway. Toddler yells, “Mommy, LOOK!” While she had done the top clip of her seatbelt as she always does, I had neglected to buckle the bottom part. Probably my biggest #momfail of the morning. Pulled over. Got her buckled.

Got to school. Baby asleep!! All the praise hands. Unloaded everyone and got to the classroom. Toddler had a meltdown. Ran out the door and wrapped herself around my legs screaming. Teacher pried her off and I walked out the door with her yelling for her mommy. The definition of pure torture.

Got the baby in the car. Got myself in the car. I started crying. Then baby started crying. Every Hummel girl at that moment was crying.

Drove to Target. What else was there to do?

Baby cried all the way back to the nursing room, but after her mid-morning snack, all was right in her world again. Mama got herself a latte and headed to amble aimlessly through the throw pillows, blankets and candles…because can you really have too many?? For a brief moment, all was well…

Mama’s happy place.

The tranquility was short lived. One of us was crying again. Surprisingly, it wan’t me. Defeated, I walked toward the exit. But on my way out, a chance encounter completely changed my attitude and outlook for the day. A friend was walking in with her now 8-month-old daughter. She took one look at me and my screaming babe, wrapped her arms around me and said, “You’re doing great mama.”

It took everything I had to hold myself together. Four little words brought such reprieve and solidarity with another human. Another mama. Another warrior. She didn’t just say it, she meant it. 

The details of my day are really irrelevant. The point is, one kind gesture…one moment of grace…completely turned my day around. The rest of the day wasn’t easy. But the five minutes I spent with that friend reminded me that even in the moments I feel like we’re all falling apart…I’m still doing great at this mama gig. 

So give a little grace. To yourself, and to others. Because a little grace goes a long way.