The Hidden Pain Behind Mother’s Day

The Hidden Pain Behind Mother’s Day

I wrote this post a few years ago on my old blog, but I felt led to share it again.

This was written because I’ve met many other women who were raised in abusive homes struggle with Mother’s Day. There’s so many inspirational posts for new moms, great moms, those who’ve lost their moms, but not so many for those whose mom’s were harmful.

I submitted this post to a well known mom website who wouldn’t publish it because it didn’t fit with the cheerful vibe they wanted to present…. As a mom who has struggles in motherhood because of my lack of a mom that stung.

What about us, then?

Where are the encouraging posts to cheer us in despite our struggles working through trauma?

So I wrote what I couldn’t find. If you struggle with Mother’s Day because of an unsafe mom I hope this speaks to your heart.

Mother’s Day When Your Mom Wasn’t Safe

Around April, beginning of May, you start to see the mom posts. You know the ones – maybe your stomach sinks a bit when you read the titles…

The viral blogs about all the heroic, unseen tasks moms have taken on through the years, for those who can fondly celebrate their mothers.

People share the sweet photos of their moms gardening, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, smiles on graduation. It’s beautiful!

On the other side of that we see the bittersweet articles, the tender memories of those who’ve lost their mothers. We hurt for them as they share their photos in remembrance.

These friends share their favorite moments as they work through a holiday that won’t be celebrated quite the same ever again.

There’s another child who sees Mother’s Day approaching, however.

This one grew up with a mom they can’t, or don’t want to, celebrate on this holiday. Maybe they don’t even speak anymore.

I’ve noticed while there are many of us, there aren’t many blogs or support posts for those who endured abusive, unhealthy, negligent, toxic, manipulative, or addicted mothers on Mother’s Day.

Understandably, it’s a difficult topic to write on. There is a huge spectrum of people in different stages of healing from their trauma.

You seek support from friends or other family, but truthfully- they’ve not experienced it and cannot understand it at your level; and they don’t always know what to say.

They don’t know how hard this day is for you.

I have an amazing mother-in-law. Seriously! A phenomenal mother-in-love who is THE. BEST. NANA. to my girls and crazy loving towards me.

I am grateful for her every single day. And I am consistently reminded by people that while my mom isn’t in my life, I sure do have a great MIL!

Listen, I know! Trust me. I love her so stinking much.

But that’s incredibly invalidating and disheartening to hear – because its apples and oranges.

My mother in law has an awesome mother in law too! But she cannot replace her mother who lives states away, you know?

A square peg, while still a good sturdy peg, does not fit in a round hole. The round hole was made for a round peg that got broken.

I’m thankful for this family that I have through my husband… but they are who they are, and cannot quite replace that ache for what should have been.

I see my husband and his siblings and all the memories they share with their mom and my heart aches for all the memories and laughter I don’t get to have, because my memories aren’t pleasant.

My memories are screaming, threatening, name calling, emotional abuse and gaslighting; mine are my mom taking me on shopping sprees when she was in an up mood, because our house was hell when she was in a down mood.

Threatening to call the police on the family that took me in when she kicked me out. Speaking so cruelly to me that I struggled with horrific self harm and continue to fight anxiety.

Forbidding me to leave the house or have human contact, which drove me insane and led to three suicide attempts. Those are the memories that come to mind for me on Mother’s Day.

To all you who may be reading this with that strange knot in your chest on Mother’s Day. I see you.

You are not alone in that hard space, feeling sadness or envy for what you don’t have, and still feeling all the emotions towards that person who stole a healthy mom experience from you.

What a day, for the kids like us.

The ones who wept everyday, who wanted to die to be free, who were never enough, who hid, who served and gave more than we should, who lost our childhood.

What a day for women who’ve had to learn to mother their own children with no positive, healthy tools in their parenting tool belt, but plenty of fear of turning into her.

What a day for the father who wants to celebrate the mother of his own children and mourns the mother he should have had.

What a day for the people who chose not to have kids because their childhood was so traumatic.

What a day for those whose unhealthy mothers are still a part of their life, those who can’t buy a sentimental Hallmark card for the woman who hurt them, that must sit at dinner on Sunday and grit their teeth while honoring that person on “their” day

What a day for those who are still working towards their healing, plateaued in their healing, afraid of healing.

What a day for those who have moved on and found freedom and strive to do better than what was done to them.

What a day for the survivors.

Oh yes, I said it. You survived.

Its a word that makes some people pretty uncomfortable – it makes them reevaluate what unhealthy really is, what abuse really is, and its unfortunate impact.

I wasn’t beaten but my mind was beaten into submission with so much fear and hateful talk that I would rather end my life than try to leave… I’d say I survived. I know you did too.

You survived. You made it through what tried to break you, and you are on the other side!

You survived the negativity, the lies, the venom – you’re fighting back.

You survived the hitting, the punching, the slamming – they won’t touch you like that again. You are a whole human, even if you still sometimes feel like a bunch of shattered pieces.

I asked some friends to weigh in on Mother’s Day on the other side of a difficult childhood, and I’m sharing their quotes below.

“I choose not to celebrate, but when I did, when I felt forced to, I had the hardest time finding a card with a blank inside. I could never find it in me to profess all the fluffy feel goods that has been Hallmarked for this occasion.


The abuse I’ve been subjected to as a child did not stop at adulthood. Even though it was always denied. That changed on August 4th of last year. My relationship with her has always been on again off again. But on this day, she claimed to be remembering things. She then shared with me one of many memories that I’ve completely blacked out.


I really thought this was going to be a pivotal day in my life. I would imagine the ways the acknowledgment would change my life. How it would set me free.


It was a big deal and I know how much courage it took for her to admit to it.


I felt lighter.


I was so excited to share with a couple people who had the tiniest glimpse into my past.


I felt lighter until exactly two days later when the abuse continued.
I permanently broke those chains my own self and the weight of her lifelong mistreatment ended there.

So I see you. I hear you. I understand your pain and the confusion of such celebrated days for us children who were born to women who couldn’t mother.


I appreciate the glimpse of your family life now and if I can offer any suggestion, it is to celebrate the mother you’ve become despite the place you were raised.”

Staci

“There’s so much conditioned guilt and shame if you choose not to have a relationship with your mother because she is abusive.

Mother’s Day is hard for me. I LOVE being a mom to my kids and motherhood has been so healing for me in many ways, but I also long for that healthy mother/daughter relationship that I know I’ll never get. I feel a lot of grief on Mother’s Day. It’s always bothered me the lack of cards in the store for situations like this. There’s so much pressure to fake it and have relationships with people that are toxic for you, under the guise of “that’s your mother”, as if we should be grateful for years of abuse.”

Julie

“This is a wrestle point for me this year as well. One of my core beliefs/practices is honor. How can I honor someone who isn’t there? What does it look like to love well when you can not directly love that person? Here’s two things I landed on: 1) I will not let someone’s bad decision steal my joy of celebrating or being celebrated in motherhood. I’m a powerful person because I choose to keep my joy. Toxic relationships steal enough, don’t give it your power too! 2) There are multiple ways to be a mom to someone. Yes, there is a woman who you were “fearfully and wonderfully made” inside of, but there are friends, sisters, cousins, aunts, in-laws, church moms, breastfeeding moms, etc who have poured love, knowledge, wisdom, understanding into my life. It’s ok to have more than one mom. It’s also 100% ok to be in a space to grieve these things not coming from a birth mom. There aren’t words that can fix that reality, but there is healing. Be encouraged, you can celebrate this holiday and be in the tension of grief at the same time.”

Shannon

If you take away anything from this, let it be that last sentence…

Be encouraged, you can celebrate this holiday and be in the tension of grief at the same time.

Our sweet, well-meaning friends, we love them.

Their words may help or they may sting, but we can’t judge them for what they don’t know – that tension, the dichotomy, the salty and the sweet.

The joy and the pain of loss all rolled into your heart as you take on the day. The gratitude for what you have now and the grief for what you went through, and wish you had instead.

Take heart, dear friend reading this, you are not alone here. However you feel about the day, celebrating or not, your feelings are valid.

My advice this Mother’s Day?

  • Hold strong to whatever boundaries you have, and if you haven’t set boundaries it is absolutely time to guard and protect yourself.If your friends or loved ones invalidate you in anyway as you process your grief/anger/emotions on this day, don’t react – choose to respond. And maybe gently enlighten them so they can understand and be more empathetic in the future.
  • Be kind to yourself. Don’t run from the memories – face them, acknowledge them, feel them, then let them free. Process in a healthy way.
  • If you’ve chosen to cut off contact with your mom as your boundary, that is okay. If you feel the need to continue contact and work towards healing your relationship, that’s okay too. Wherever you are in your journey with the woman who raised or birthed you, I stand here with you in a quiet sea of men and women who’ve endured too.

There is community.

There is hope.

There is restoration.

There is wholeness.

There is a healing.

Prisms and Purpose

Prisms and Purpose

I’ve got this prism that is eternally smudged.

I ordered it in hopes that it would somehow elevate our cluttered mess of a dining room into one of those Waldorf forest homeschools where kids keep all their Montessori materials sorted in rainbow colored sets and listen attentively to poetry as they finish watercoloring their nature journals.

Alas, it sits covered in sticky fingerprints on a dust covered windowsill next to an abandoned Captain American LEGO project that is missing a foot. Cap has been sidelined for the foreseeable future just like my dreams of a whimsical home in which to educate my children. 

The truth is that the prism brought us a lot of joy at the outset of the year, but has been shuffled aside under math workbooks and the flotsam and jetsam of four kids learning at home full time for the first time. The prism somehow got shifted aside as an afterthought because, if I’m honest, I’m not fully sure what I’m doing, I’m constantly doubting myself, and I never followed through on that light unit like I thought I would.

The prism hasn’t been shattered by my raging and screaming yet, so that’s a mercy. Turns out we’re not the quiet woodland family I had hoped we might be.

This morning as I lamented the wads of hair and dust that somehow always live on my stairs, and the shoddy job my children do of sweeping them, and the shoddy job I am clearly doing as a parent, I was struck by the prism. Its once pristine glass was noticeably clouded and foggy and I’m pretty sure it was handled by someone who had recently been eating cheese puffs.

But my breath caught as I watched a rainbow pour out of the dim prism onto the hair covered hardwood below.

None of this looks like I thought it would.

I haven’t managed to create a space that “measures up,” whatever that means. I live in a sea of uncertainty and often wonder what use my gifts actually are to the world.

It’s easy for me to dismiss my days as less than, to chalk them up to unfinished projects and problems unsolved. But when I consider the prism, I see more.

When I consider the miracle that a rainbow is at hand, that it dares to shine in the presence of my mess, that it is bold enough to shine onto my doubt and my fury and my fear, I am forced to stop. When I step back to take that in, I’m reminded that all is grace. All is gift. 

You see, the truth reflected in the prism is that the miracle cannot be stopped. The rainbow is somehow not dimmed by smudges or filthy fingerprints.

However manhandled and bunged up it may be, the prism still exists to turn light into rainbows. The purpose of the prism is to reveal invisible, but ever-present colors so that they may be seen by the naked eye.

The miracle cannot be stopped because the prism cannot deny its purpose.

As a woman I am uniquely called to die to myself that I might nurture and grow the souls of others. As a woman I am designed to gently steward the souls entrusted to my care.

As a woman I am specially created to hold all that in my heart, to birth beauty out of struggle, to give life out of groaning. 

We’ve all been manhandled and bunged up. None of us is the flawless crystal we might wish that we are.

Things don’t turn out like we plan or expect. People fail us, boundaries are crossed, our hearts are wounded in broad and intimate ways every day. Yet we are all capable of casting great beauty into the neglected corners of our world.

The miracle cannot be stopped because this is what we were created to do.

The only thing that can stop the miracle is if the prism is moved out of the light. If I shove my prism in a drawer, there’s no way for the light to touch it.

The same is true of our hearts, of course. If our hearts are hidden away, shoved in closets, shut down and shamed, it’s true that we won’t reflect much light. You can’t shine a rainbow from a shadow, it’s true.

And if I’m honest, seeking the light sometimes seems futile and foolish. It’s honestly kind of silly that I’ve kept my filthy prism on the windowsill through the gloom and clouds of the Cleveland winter.

To an outsider it seems like an exercise in futility but I believe the miracle. Even when there are days on end that I don’t catch a glimpse of rainbow, I have faith that the sun will come through the clouds and the cheese puff smudges.

I’ve seen it happen before and I have faith it will happen again. I’ve seen the rainbow on the stairs with my own eyes. I have witnessed the miracle. 

And I realize the same must be done for my heart. I think a lot about how the Psalmist reminds us not to harden our hearts. He may as well be saying, “Don’t retreat. Don’t build up walls and separate yourself from the light.”

And I know in order for me to achieve my purpose, like the prism, I must remain in the light. 

Every day I must claim the miracle. Every day I must accept my purpose as undeniable. Every day I must place myself in the light, smears and smudges fully exposed so that the miraculous love of the Father can penetrate my heart and cast His love onto the world through me.

It won’t work if I’m not in the light. It won’t work if I’m not reading scripture and attending Mass, receiving the Sacraments, praying with my friends. It won’t work if I believe the lies that I’m fed by the world, if I deny my belovedness, compare myself to others, or allow my heart to become hard. 

To be in the light, we must be in the truth. If we are women who claim resurrection, the truth that should spur us on is that nothing is irredeemable.

If we are women who claim the risen Christ, it is our duty to claim Him, to claim the miracle of resurrection in all we do. Our work is to set our hearts on the miracle, to seek it out, to draw our families and communities along with us as we encounter it.

Our calling is to claim the truth of the risen Jesus in ourselves, to speak it over our hurts and our pains, to repeat that truth to ourselves when we are at our weakest and to speak it over our sisters:

“You are redeemed. You are chosen. You are safe. You are loved.”

St. Josemaria Escriva said, “He did not say you would not be troubled, you would not be tempted, you would not be distressed, but He did say you would not be overcome.” 

My place here in my family is not to curate a perfect home or achieve some other lofty goal. My purpose is not to fit any sort of mold of womanhood that’s been manufactured by the world or the church or anyone in between.

My purpose is to shed light, to cast rainbows into darkened corners, to show up and love despite my dinginess and my bruises.

The rainbow is no less beautiful because my prism is smudged. My gifts are no less beautiful because they come from an imperfect source.

If each day is an offering to Christ, I am receiving His light. If each day is a claiming of truth, I am receiving Him.

And if I am receiving the light of Christ, just like the prism on my dusty windowsill, I can be nothing but a channel through which that light enters the world. 

Mary Susan is so dear to my heart! She creates a beautiful space of vulnerability, humor, and encouragement. She can be found at https://oh-bless-your-heart.com/ and here on Instagram.

Ten Years

Ten Years

While I was born in Ohio, I grew up in North Carolina. It will always be home to me, the place I spent my childhood and “grew up” and fell in love with Jesus.

I learned to drive there, I made lifelong friends, I experienced heartache and grief and joy and growth.

Ten years ago I celebrated my first birthday back in Ohio! A decade now of birthdays and life after coming back “home” to where I was born and growing up for real.

Celebrating my first birthday back in Ohio, learning “The Art of Being Happy.”

I’m turning 29! The last year of my twenties. I know that’s still really young to all the people who’ve lived a lot more of life than me, but the Lord has taught me a lot in these few years I have (and I know He has so much more to share).

In honor of my tenth Ohio birthday, I wanted to share ten lessons I’ve learned in my time here.

1. Crazy Faith Looks Like Crazy Obedience

I remember attending a youth conference when I first moved. During this season Crazy Love by Francis Chan was super popular, as well as the song Crazy Love by Hawk Nelson.

If you’ve ever attended a Christian conference you might know the “conference high” after you get refreshed and hyped for Jesus again.

We attend conferences and get amped up, on fire again after a stagnant season. We go home encouraged, ready to take on the world, spread the good news. Right?

But eventually that amped feeling fades. Because the conference high isn’t sustainable. What keeps the fire alive is intimate relationship with your Savior, not any certain speaker or worship singer.

Then, when God asks Crazy Love level stuff, we hesitate. We fear what people might think. We worry about the financial aspect. The “how.” Sometimes we don’t obey.

On the flip side, there are times we hear the call for crazy faith and we do step out. And “the world” doesn’t get it.

Nominal Christianity won’t get “it” either because it doesn’t make sense to human logic.

A friend once shared with our young adults group the time the Lord called her and her husband to tithe their entire paycheck.

If memory serves me correctly, they were paycheck to paycheck and in between jobs at the moment.

That sounds ludicrous and makes zero sense to the average human brain, right?

Yet they obeyed.

And God honored their faith and blessed their finances several times over that week; rent was paid for, her husband got a job, and they were blessed with an advanced check.

God asks some wild things of us sometimes… Give up an ivy league for the mission field. Donate your bonus to a homeless shelter.

My husband and I eloped at 20 + 19 years old and everyone thought we were nuts. Horrible things were said to us, I was almost pressured into signing an annulment by family, and it was a really rough beginning because of the opposition we faced.

Many people thought we made a really stupid decision, but we felt God led us to do so.

Was it always easy? No. But following God and obeying isn’t always easy. It’s often wild, crazy, and takes a lot of courage and hard work.

If we hadn’t stepped out in crazy faith we wouldn’t have the life we have now or be in the season we are now and I can’t even fathom it!

There’s been several crazy faith moments in my life but this one gave me everything I am so grateful for. Definitely worth it.

2. Romance Looks Different From What “They” Tell You

When Justin was pursuing me he took me to church, brought me medicine when I was sick, and made me laugh so much.

We had weekly date nights, went to the movies and geocaching, dinner out, all that good stuff.

But ten years in romance Looks different than the early puppy love. It looks like a husband that listens. It looks like learning what an anxiety attack and helping me through it with patience.

Romance is emergency take out dinners when he’s heard I’ve had a bad day, surprising me with my favorite pop, learning with me how to parent our kids well.

It’s brewing my coffee for me in the morning when the baby nursed all night. Setting firm boundaries to protect me. Hanging twinkle lights without complaint when I can’t reach.

Romance in the movies looks attractive (and sometimes unrealistic, honestly) and then marriages are so often portrayed as dry, loveless, and lacking.

With intentionality, purpose, and thorough communication romance doesn’t have to die off. It can shift and look different, but it gets better and better!

Love can age well.

Every year has been filled with more fun, more passion, more laughter, and more tenderness.

I still love surprise flowers and dinner dates. But I so love the quiet ways we get to love each other too.

Helping me through labor with our third 🧡

3. Boundaries Are Vital

I majorly struggle with people pleasing. I have had a hard time saying no to things, to people, because I don’t want people to dislike me.

In the past few years I’ve learned how unhealthy that is. My mental health is important because it directly impacts my life and family, and taking on too much affects it.

The health and well-being of my spouse and kids is top tier, and we can’t say yes to it all, or they suffer.

This can be anything from jobs, ministry, school opportunities, family, friends… You name it. Sometimes we have to say no. I can’t. We aren’t able to take that on.

Without excuses, without over explaining or justifying. If something isn’t serving you and your family, you don’t need permission or some grand circumstance to turn it down or say “this isn’t okay.”

You can’t speak to me like that. We can’t do that. No.

This isn’t always easy (what in life is). You will inevitably receive backlash, anger, and plenty of upset when you or every aspect of your family/time/finances etc aren’t readily accessible.

It’s always worth it to protect your family, your marriage, your mental health, your home, your budget, and your time.

4. I’m Worthy Of Good Things

I grew up thinking I was an inconvenience. It felt like I was a problem that ruined my mom’s life, that stole her freedom, and I wasn’t worth it (whatever “it” was in my little mind).

The burden sat heavily on my shoulders for far too long. It’s an inner voice I still have to ignore and fight off sometimes (aka way too often).

“The way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice” hits me hard. Because it’s so true.

But I’m not an inconvenience. I was designed by a Creator who fashioned me carefully, every detail for a reason. I was created with purpose for a purpose.

I’m not useless, I’m not an imbecile, I’m not worthless. These are not my identity.

My identity is beloved. Daughter. Redeemed. Worth dying for. Treasured, adored, fiery, lovely.

His voice is louder than all the rest, when I remember to listen.

I’m worthy of good things. I’m worthy of joy, love, laughter, and friendship.

I deserve people in my life who love me well, respect me, and don’t mistreat me. I don’t need to accept treatment that doesn’t align with that.

5. Feelings Aren’t Facts

I used to think if I felt something, it was true. This was before I learned that anxiety is a liar, that my inner dialogue can be abusive talk still ingrained in me, and that the heart can be deceptive.

We need to keep our thought life in check. We can hold space for hard feelings but we can’t keep holding on to them, lest they become bitterness taking root in our hearts.

I might feel ______ but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s truth. I might entertain ______ for so long and it’s fine, but then it spirals me into a bad place for my heart.

The what-if’s and the but if I‘s aren’t helpful. Intrusive thoughts aren’t reality. And assuming the worst doesn’t actually prepare me for anything.

I could feel like my husband is mad at me because his tone was off, assume the worst, and act out of that assumption and let it affect my mood and behavior towards him…

Or I can assume the best and turn those thoughts around, maybe he’s having a hard day, maybe he needed to burp and it came out funny (I speak from experience).

I can communicate with him and ask instead of assuming the worst.

Learning about feelings and the power of my thought life has been a game changer for me and my freedom and emotional regulation.

6. It’s Okay To Have Bad Days

I used to think if I had a bad day, and wasn’t cheerful all the time, or made a mistake/lost my temper/had an attitude that I was a bad Christian.

We have to be the salt of the earth! I have to be a witness. I need to be the light in the darkness and if I appear to be a human with emotions outside of joy ever than no one will want to know Jesus.

This is not healthy. God gave us emotions, and we can use them as tools to understand what’s going on in and around us.

Losing my temper with my kids after an exhausting day doesn’t make me a bad mom.

Sometimes I’m snarky because I haven’t eaten and my blood sugar is dropping! (Hello, fellow hangry people.)

It’s okay to have a day where things go wrong, or dinner gets burnt, or I yell or spill coffee.

A bad day doesn’t mean a bad life.

A bad day doesn’t mean I’m a failure. And it doesn’t mean I’m a bad Christian. I’m just a human with humanness, who happens to also live Jesus.

7. My Too-Muchness Isn’t For Everyone

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard “you’re too much.”

It’s been said in jest, in anger, in exasperation. It used to hurt a lot.

I don’t wear it as a wound anymore though. It’s a unique badge of honor that I wear proudly (sometimes… Haha).

See, I am a lot. I’m loud, all the time. I am loud in every color and emotion! I am passionate about many things.

There’s some weird stuff too, like sensory overload, stuttering, major fantasy adventure nerdom, ADHD behavior (I could write a whole novel on that topic alone)…

The whole package of *waves at all this* can be a lot for some people. And this really bothered me (recovering people pleaser that I am) for a very long time. I had to prove myself to them, and I was crushed when my Too-Muchness wasn’t their cup of tea.

Some people think I’m weird (I am, but they do in the “that’s a bad thing” way). Some people think I’m too loud. They don’t get it about how I am.

That’s okay. I don’t need to be everyone’s friend.

There are people that love all my Too-Muchness and adore it. My volume, my Lord of the Rings quotes, my passion about whatever soapbox I happen to be on. And I treasure them.

And I try not to hold it against the people who don’t like my Muchness haha.

8. I Am Resilient

My anxiety might like to lie and tell me otherwise, but dare I say – I am resilient. I’m going to toot my own horn here. (My husband inspired me to write this one so I have permission, I won’t be cocky I promise!)

I can do hard things. I have been through the RINGER and back, okay? It’s too much to even sum up in here.

As I mused what I should include here, my husband brought this up to me. That even in darkness and “the depths of despair” (if you’re my level of nerd you’ll get the quote) I don’t give up.

My faith has been through the ringer too, but it just goes deeper.

This lesson is 1000% God, not me. His grace alone has gotten me through suicidal seasons, miscarriages, backstabbing and so much more.

I am resilient because I cling hard to the hem of His garment. Sometimes I’m holding on by a thread, or the skin of my teeth! But guys, I’ve tasted and seen His goodness. It’s all that matters. It’s what’s kept me alive.

This one could take an entire series, a few paragraphs here won’t do it justice. It’s coffee date level. Jesus has brought me through it all, His strength is what makes me resilient.

9. Gratitude Is The Key

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:17‭-‬18

It’s easy to complain. It’s so easy to focus on the bad and not see the good. I got so stuck in that cycle, viewing life through the negativity lens.

It’s where my Finding Daily Delight project came from. I wanted to rewire myself to look for the little things to take delight in again and practice gratitude.

I could list countless scriptures about thankfulness and gratitude! It’s repeated so many times.

Think about it, if you are focusing on the negative only, it will affect your attitude. (Remember earlier when I mentioned thought life? Mindset matters!)

This isn’t about toxic positivity. This is about operating from a grateful heart space. Holding space for the both//and, where you can have both hard moments and joy, and not settling into despair.

Paul was able to worship and praise from a prison cell. David wrote Psalms crying out “where are you God?!” in one breath and worshipping Him in the next breath.

We can too. Both//and. Gratitude unlocks next-level joy and peace.

10. I Like Who I Am

It’s okay to be different and weird and like strange things. I used to despise that about myself.

Surely, I thought, if I just dress more normal or liked this type of music or hopped on that diet wagon or this fad I would come across as more normal and then people would like me.

This was before I discovered my Too-Muchness. Striving to be what people wanted me to be so I’d have their approval led to a lot of unhappiness on my end.

I’m loud, I am neurodiverse, my playlists on Spotify range from anthem worship to punk rock to folk and bluegrass.

I like who I am. I like the things I like because those things make my soul come alive.

Lake Erie might be a smelly mess to some people but it’s where I feel Jesus next to me in the car. I love that I love Lake Erie, I love that Jesus meets me there.

I like that I cry during Hallmark Christmas movies. I’m “sensitive” and feel all the things and Hallmark movies are a safe, cathartic release.

There is not box for me to fit into, my design is unique just as yours is. Quirks, dislikes, the things that make us laugh… Trying to change or fit into someone else’s peg is pointless.

I enjoy who I am growing into. I’m excited to see who I am in ten more years!

29th birthday selfie – 10 years after that Barnes and Noble date night

Here’s the thing about all of these lessons: I don’t have one of them mastered. God still works on these same lessons with me.

Even my birthday today. 90% of this post was already written. My morning was splendid, but by afternoon some stuff hit the fan. My birthday wasn’t sunshine and rainbows.

It could have ruined the rest of my night. I had to fight off those thoughts that I was a failure again. But as my oldest says, we had a restart! The rest of my birthday evening was redemptive and sweet.

Happy ten birthday, Ohio. I’m so glad to be home. When I celebrated my first birthday here I never imagined in a decade I’d be watching my daughters run around our front yard from my porch. This is what dreams are made of 🧡

A Day in the Life of Homeschooling: Tuesday & Wednesday

A Day in the Life of Homeschooling: Tuesday & Wednesday

I’m including two days in this post, simply because our days were easy enough that they didn’t need their own separate posts!

Tuesday

Our Tuesday started off on a great foot! As it was the first day of Fall we made some apple cinnamon oatmeal and pumpkin spice coffee.

Tuesdays are our Tea Time Tuesday, so I set up our tea on the front porch to enjoy the cool morning.

We donned our sweaters and wrapped up the baby in her bouncey and head out for school outside.

B read us a book, I led our devotions, and we did some more lessons while we snacked and sipped and listened to classical music.

We eventually came in and I helped E with her kinder math nursing a baby haha. See? No formal desk, we school where we’re comfortable and can focus.

Tuesday was a really great day this week! Everyone stayed in really good moods, worked well, and had helpful attitudes.

Because we got an earlier start in the day, we got done with all our school work fairly early. Some friends were getting outside to hike and get wiggles out and we joined them!

We went for a decently long walk in the woods, about a mile! I’m surprised the 5 year old made it haha.

We had a nature scavenger hunt, thanks to one of our friends, and stick sword fights, and identified poison ivy!

All in all, a really lovely Fall day. Simple and sweet.

Wednesday

Wednesday is our co-op day! This week was our first official meet, so we mostly let the kids get to know each other and play.

We met at nine am and were home by lunch time. E was super into her lessons so we worked until she was done, and we got ahead of “schedule.”

(Homeschooling can be working at your own pace, but our books do have a general schedule of which lessons per week to work with if you’d like.)

This day was a schoolwork at the dining room table day. When the girls are having a hard time focusing it seems like sitting at the table helps us all hone in a little better.

We did all of our lessons and got done for the day by 3 in the afternoon. A later day, but expected due to our meet in the morning.

Perks of Homeschooling

As you can see so far, our days are not always the same. We have a general-ish schedule, but the flexibility is such a perk.

Each family that chooses to homeschool has their own reasons, but one of mine is the time I get with my family.

Spending 8 hours away, homework, dinner, and bed 5 days a week leaves the short weekend and breaks to fit the rest of your life into.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to homeschool my girls, to pour into them and guide them, and enjoy our days together.

Of course there are hard moments, days even, but it’s so worth it to me. To work at their place, to apologize if I’m harsh, to see them light up with pride when they learn something new…

The joy and the good outweighs the hard. Like anything in life, it’s worth working through the growing pains to reap the benefit!

Stay tuned for the next installment!

A Day in the Life of Homeschooling: Monday

A Day in the Life of Homeschooling: Monday

Homeschooling looks different for every family.

In sharing a “behind the scenes” of our week, my hope is to show that homeschooling can work for a variety of people and lifestyles!

I know people who homeschool while working full-time, people who homeschool 6 kids, and people who homeschool on the road. You make homeschooling work for you. Just like we make it work for us!

Our Homeschool Schedule

A few weeks before we started officially for the year, we got into a routine with the baby. I was so excited to start daily lessons knowing when the baby would need to nap or eat!

Instead, our luck was that the week we started, the baby went through a sleep regression and when she did sleep her loud sisters woke her up.

Because of this, the idea of a schedule went out the window. We have a routine we try to go by, but it slides along whatever time frame we have based on the baby’s sleep the night before.

If she’s been up in the early morning hours, than Mommy will be sleeping later and we aren’t starting school at 8am haha.

Homeschooling is flexible to your family’s needs, and I’m very grateful I don’t have to get little people out the door obscenely early every morning!

Monday – Starting Our Week

Today got started a little later than I would have liked. Nevertheless, after breakfast and cartoons so mom could coffee (yes – it’s a verb), we got started with our school day.

Morning Basket

We went over our characteristic for this week, B drew the patience card! (Something we all need to work on haha).

B (my oldest) did her More Than Words Bible curriculum with me while E played, she wasn’t interested and I wasn’t going to waste the time picking that battle with her attention span.

We don’t do subjects in a particular order.

B picks each subject she wants to start with, and since E has less work as a kindergartner she gets her turn in between Bree’s lessons.

We started off with history/social studies. Part of the lesson was writing a sentence about your favorite landmark in your city or state, so we watched some tourism videos for our incredible city and talked about some of the places that stuck out to us.

B finished up, and we moved on to math (for her), nursing the baby (for me), and Lego building (for E’s busy brain).

One thing I need to share here that I think is super important for kids – we don’t sit down at the table and work for hours. We take “five minute breaks” that can really be anywhere from 2 minutes to 15 minutes in between bookwork.

This helps the kids get their wiggles out, move their body and stretch, and get a change of scenery. Sometimes its a snack break too! I don’t think it’s realistic, or even healthy, to keep kids in a seat all day long.

We also don’t do our schoolwork in the same location every day, or even every subject!

Sometimes we sit down at the dining room table, other times we’re on the couches so I can nurse the baby or hold her for a nap if she’s having a rough day. There are times we go out and enjoy our books on the front porch too! Again – so much flexibility.

By the time we were done with math, because we had a later start to our day, Daddy was taking his lunch break (he’s currently working from home due to Covid) so we paused to take lunch too.

After lunch and some hoverboard action, it was E’s turn! Our little kindergartener was having a tough day so we did bare minimum in her book and just practiced some letter recognition, drawing some shapes to build a house, and practiced writing some letters.

I had grand intentions of taking the girls on a field trip downtown to look at some of the landmarks we had watched on youtube, but unfortunately, that didn’t pan out.

We were done for the day sometime around 3, and I still needed to shower and then start dinner prep. Ordinarily, we are done with all schoolwork much earlier in the day, but this Monday needed the grace of going slow and taking our time.

I just realized I only had one cup of coffee today… maybe that’s why I’m running so slow!

Extra Learning Opportunities

When I first began researching how to homeschool my children (I am a former homeschooled kid from another state with different laws) I came across something that kind of blew my mind.

We are not replicating public/private school at home. We are learning at home. And learning never stops. We can learn math in a textbook, and we can learn it over the stove trying a new recipe with mom too.

We can have discussions after watching a film or reading a story. We can pair education with life skills. We can Google a question and watch a video to learn that frogs can’t throw up, that’s some science at bedtime!

Just tonight my girls came across a video of two men creating houses and swimming pools from just the dirt in the ground, water, grass, and some primitive tools. We had a really good discussion about it! This is learning at home.

The world at large has sort of made parents feel dumb and incapable of teaching their own children. Not knocking teachers at all, they are necessary and incredible. Kids who go to brick and mortar schools deserve amazing teachers! They really are superheros.

But most parents, if they have the availability to and want to, can teach their children. You’ve taught your children to eat, to speak, to walk, you can teach them how to read or how to tie a shoelace too.

I was terrified to teach my oldest to read, but we did it! She is an amazing reader, she even has incredible inflection when she reads aloud.

If there’s something you don’t understand or feel adequate teaching, that’s what textbooks and community support is for! (Or Dad, call in your back up haha.)

This Monday is in the books!

A Day in the Life: Homeschooling Edition

A Day in the Life: Homeschooling Edition

Coming soon, I am launching a series on what our homeschool routines kind of look like!

I use the words “kind of” because the beauty of homeschooling is grace and flexibility. Sometimes our plans change, other times we may have a hard day and need to shift gears, and so on.

But we do have a loose schedule we try to work around, and after some interest in what that looks like for us I thought I could take you along for the ride!

My plan is to document this week day by day and release it over the course of the next week. I mean truthfully, we’ll see haha.

Before I post our day-by-day, here’s a look at our general schedule for the week!

Daily themes.

Now, this is what we aim for. Like I said earlier, we always remain flexible. A few weeks ago our tea time Tuesday was actually tea time Wednesday haha. Tuesday just didn’t work that week.

These are also just a theme for our days, alongside regular subjects.

For my second grader she has math, language arts, and history/social studies daily.

My kindergartner has a K workbook and K math she does daily. For her age though, there is so much grace and wiggle room.

Her curriculum is simple; letter recognition, poems, colors, weather, patterns, shapes and the like. Some days we do more than others.

I keep her at a pace where school is enjoyable and not a chore. Kindergarten should be simple and fun!

We do science together four days a week, and also have a daily “morning basket” we do with both girls in the morning.

This consists of our Bible curriculum, our godly character cards (we focus on one characteristic a week), and another book to read together if time allows.

Realistically, our days don’t always look the same. We have a baby in the house, and her naps pretty much rule the day.

We have awesome days where things go mostly according to plan, and everyone is in good spirits!

We also have plenty of days where the baby might be overtired, there’s a grumpy sibling, or mom is sleep deprived and moving slowly.

This might sound like a lot, but honestly it’s very doable for our family. As we look at each day at a time, you can see how it fits and frees up the rest of our day! (Baby permitting haha.)

Our previous curriculum was more time consuming. Our current curriculum is much more gentle and time friendly for this season!

This allows for the extras I want to include, like personal character and tea time.

I’m excited to share a little glimpse of what homeschooling looks like for our family, especially as an encouragement to postpartum moms.

What ever season you’re in, however, even if it’s just exploring what homeschooling can look like, I hope you come along for the ride!

Realistic Homeschooling

Realistic Homeschooling

When you start homeschooling and follow these fun, amazing accounts on Instagram and mommy blogs, it’s so easy to get swept up into comparison.

I know I did! Big school rooms, gorgeous posters covering the walls, big whiteboards, desks, cubbies upon cubbies for organizing, and every educational toy or manipulative you could think of.

It was overwhelming to me and made me feel so inadequate because I couldn’t give that to my kids in my “small” house.

But here’s the deal. You don’t have to have a designated school room to homeschool your kids. If you do, that’s so awesome! You are blessed by that space you get to utilize! One of the beautiful aspects of homeschooling for me, though, is doing it wherever you feel comfortable.

We mostly do our schoolwork in the dining room. Sometimes we do our reading on the porch, our math on the couch, and on one rainy day we even did school from my cozy king-sized bed with cocoa to sip.

Homeschooling gives you the versatility to make it what it needs to be for your kids.

If you’re concerned about homeschooling taking up space in here to show you it doesn’t have to! Here’s my homeschooling space…

This bookshelf and craft cart hold everything we use for our school! I’ve even reorganized these shelves since starting this post.

I have a shelf for –

  1. My grown-up books about homeschooling and parenting.
  2. A shelf for Bible/devotions and read aloud books.
  3. A shelf for my oldest’s curriculum.
  4. A shelf for my middle’s curriculum.
  5. And a resource book shelf for miscellaneous things like topical books and dictionaries.

That’s it!

If you take a step back you can see that our homeschooling supplies only take up one small corner of our dining room!

I have room on the walls to hang some things and actually started putting up our chore chart from The Peaceful Press on the big mirror we have. Take advantage whatever space you have!

We have magazine holders to separate some binders for art and projects, and I love using baskets and trays to organize. I have one I keep on the top shelf for scissors and glue, and another for smaller items like flash cards, Play-Doh, and the like.

Simple and easy. If you have a smaller home, an apartment, or even just don’t too much space to give up – you can still homeschool.

Now that I’ve created a space for me and my kids that suits us, I can appreciate my favorite Instagram homeschool mamas even more. I might not have the space they do BUT they still offer incredible advice and perspectives. And I even snag some of their ideas too!

If you are new to homeschooling, I know it can be a lot. But you’ve got this! You know your kids better than anyone else in the whole world. Cut down to basics and find a place that will make this the best experience it can be for you and yours. 🧡

And stay tuned, coming soon I have some cool tips and products to share from a momma whose designed some really helpful printables and bundles for distance learning and homeschooling families alike!

To follow along my homeschooling mama journey, let’s connect on Instagram!

New to homeschooling? Check out my free homeschooling starter kit!

Let’s Do Life Together

Let’s Do Life Together

Have you heard the phrase “do life?” Like “I love doing life with you?” I like it… It makes life an action, a verb, which it kinda is, right?

This post today was inspired because I saw a meme about homeschooling, something akin to “homeschooling isn’t about lesson planning, it’s about doing life with your kids.” It got me thinking.

I often see posts from people in regards to a spouse or friend, that they love doing life with them. So what is “doing life”?

It’s the nitty gritty. The everyday. The mundane. People present for the real stuff, the good and the bad. Who you choose to do life with, your people, are your village. A little like family, blood or not.

Part of doing life with someone, inevitably, is conflict. Conflict is an opportunity; you can push through the uncomfortable, grow from it, and experience increased intimacy in a relationship, or the hardship can be avoided and the pain cause withdrawal or separation of relationship.

Here’s the thing about conflict. It is yucky and weird and hard, but it is normal. When you’ve grown up in an unhealthy or toxic environment, conflict is scary. Conflict often means trouble, even hatred. When you’ve grown up in trauma or dysfunction conflict isn’t a gateway to grow, it can mean someone leaving or someone hurting you. Once you’ve “grown up” its really hard to shift that mindset!

For the longest time I was terrified of conflict, because for my family it meant someone didn’t speak to the other for a few years, or punishment, or the silent treatment. (Research has shown that the act of ignoring or excluding activates the same area of the brain that is activated by physical pain. Read more about that here. Or just Google, theres a lot to read on the topic.)

I thought if I wasn’t perfect or had a disagreement or did something wrong my friends would hate me, forget me, my husband would leave me… the list goes on and on. But as I have been working towards healing my trauma brain can I share something with you?

I have learned, through some deep intimate friendships, that true love doesn’t walk away because of conflict. True love isn’t specifically romantic, though it can be. True love is agape – the steady intention of the will to another’s highest good. Love that goes beyond feelings, but is a choice. The people that have chosen me over and over since I became an adult have shown me what this looks like. People can disagree with you and still love you.

My husband and his family were my first experience in this. Like I said before, my family didn’t have the best track record in conflict. I married into a family that loves HARD. They can fight but they forgive easily. I’ve seen my husband and his siblings fight and then a few minutes later they’re hugging it out and forgiving – and they let go and move on. We’ve been through our own conflict with them when we eloped at 18 & 19 years old and it wasn’t received well. Still they loved; they pushed through the awkward and hard to restore connection. It was mind blowing to me, I felt so emotionally stunted because I couldn’t grasp their love for each other. And so began my journey, I am learning to love through conflict rather than allow it to destroy. (There are times obviously where forgiveness is necessary but restoration is not, there is a difference between healthy people and conflict with toxic people.)

We live in a world that fights hard to show we can stand on our own two feet! We hustle and slay and can make it without any help! Yet we were designed for connection, we were designed to do life with others. Humans need each other, and its okay to need help and support along the way.

Another aspect of “doing life” is discipleship. If you’re a believer we are called to disciple others. When I was younger that seemed impossible and a bit above my level, like only super wise people who had it all together could disciple others. But when I heard Annie F. Downs speak at IF Gathering a few years ago she totally changed my perspective. We don’t need to make discipleship something harder than it is, we just need to come alongside people and love them well.

Discipleship, loving and teaching someone, can happen as you do dishes and someone dries them. It can be over coffee, or while your toddlers play, or after school. In that day to day life, connecting, showing up and letting Jesus shine through. You don’t have to be 60 with your life all tied up neatly in perfect little bows to help someone on their journey. Discipleship doesn’t only happen on a scheduled hour in a cafe. You can have your own mess and still meet someone in theirs.

Doing life with someone is a sweet space. It’s tender and vulnerable. It’s your friend helping you grocery shop because you’re pregnant and herding two kids. It can look like your friend coming over to clean out your fridge and stock it when you’re a week postpartum. It’s taking you out to dinner to have a hard conversation. Loving someone else’s kids as much as your own, helping you paint, offering your couch to sleep on, running an errand, calling you out (lovingly) on your stuff. Bringing cheesecake over and playing board games because doing life also means having fun! Getting through it all together. The glorious and the disastrous.

So let’s do this life thing together, let’s share our mistakes and experiences and help each other grow. I invite you to find those people you can do life with and show up, be kind, and love well. You aren’t meant to go it alone.

And just in case you didn’t know, you are worthy of love, you deserve good people in your life who show up for you, no matter your mess. Cause we all got some mess!