I’m Tired: A Mommy Monologue

I’m laying in the bath, candle lit, writing this with tears in my eyes. Nothing “big” or “bad” happened today. It was a normal day of waking up early, diaper changes, bottle feedings, two baths, exploration of new foods, messy high chairs, laundry, toys scattered everywhere, new discoveries, chasing a hyper boy around, teething, falling down, laundry, cooking, cleaning… the list goes on and on.

That’s what a usual day looks like here at the Richards’ house but today I am just…. tired. I feel at my end and my limit. I feel like I have said nothing else today but “No no John,” “Don’t do that, John” “Come here baby” “Please don’t hit” “Don’t throw your food” “Don’tdrink the bath water”. So many NOs and not a lot of YAYs. As I got him ready for bed I just was so ready for him to be asleep so I can enjoy a minute of quiet.

And then overwhelming guilt hits me like a punch in the gut because I realized all day I haven’t got to enjoy John because I feel like I have had to discipline and parent. Instead of giggles and cuddles, today was a bunch of pitching fits and yelling. It doesn’t help that I was reminiscing all of his newborn pictures and videos last night either; making me miss those days of hectic quiet, coos, and soft cuddles.

Parenting is not easy. It is a never ending battle of wanting to slow time down and soak in every moment to please let this day hurry so I can enjoy some peace and quiet.

Time has moved so quickly lately. John is almost 10 months old and my heart is breaking. There really isn’t a point to my post except just to share what I’m feeling, which is raw feelings of sadness, exhaustion, immense love and joy, all at the same time.

But I think that’s what motherhood is; high elation and low valleys. Tears and laughs, smiles and frowns, yelling and praising. I know there will be more days like today; where I feel more like the principle from Matilda (bun included) than the teacher who comes in and saves the day with sunshine and giggles.

But that’s okay, because I wanted this and I love this. And its also okay to be exhausted and tired and frustrated in the midst of all that you wanted. Sometimes we feel so pressured to not seem “ungrateful” that we go along steaming up inside until we boil over.

You’re allowed to feel emotions, you’re allowed to miss the times when it was just you and you could do whatever you wanted, you’re allowed to crave solitude and maybe even a vacation where it’s just you, a beach, and a bible. When we strive to fit this perfect “mom” picture, the instagram mom, who always seems to have it together and enjoy every second of motherhood, then we find ourselves trying to fit a triangle into an oval; it’s impossible (yes, even my analogies now involve baby toys).

So, I just wanted to share with you mamas (and daddys) out there that, I am so tired. And I feel like poo for yelling today a lot. And I’m crying in the bath tub, simultaneously enjoying my quiet and fighting the urge to go wake the baby up for cuddles and kisses.

And I want to encourage you in this season, that you’re not alone. And God sees what you do for your family every day. And God sees your grateful heart thats just a little weary at the moment. And God wants to take away the shame that’s trying to tell you you’re not good enough for your family. And God wants to wrap you in His arms and tell you everything is alright and a new day starts tomorrow. And God wants to let you know He can carry you through the tough days as much as He’s present in the beautiful days. I want to encourage you to take a breath, start again, and truly try and savor these moments.

Parenting is hard. Motherhood is hard. Humaning is hard. But life is beautiful, messy, and amazing. So if you are like me, in the tub exhausted, tired, crying, and guilty. Stop it. Breath in. Pray for strength. And smile at this crazy, silly, beautiful life God has picked for us to live. Love you guys. Happy homemaking!

Postpartum Body: Does it get Easier?

I promised I would be vulnerable on here and I just want to talk about something I am struggling with pretty bad. My postpartum body. It’s been almost 9 months since I gave birth to John, and I still haven’t “bounced back”. As I watch so many friends who gave birth around the same time as me post their pictures and somehow look like that lost weight being pregnant, I can’t help but feel so discouraged.

I never thought I would have an enemy. This enemy seems to be everywhere, all the time. It’s a reminder of the things I hate about myself and I can’t stand to look in it. This enemy: the mirror. Y’all I absolutely hate getting undressed in front of the mirror. I hate seeing those stretch marks, the jiggly belly, the extra pudge. I pull the fat around my face back to remember thinner days. I turn sideways and see what looks like a 2 month pregnant belly. I turn around and look at the rolls on my back forming as I turn. I feel utter disgust. Humiliation at my husband seeing me. Tears welling up in my eyes.

Last night my husband weighed the baby by first standing on the scale and then holding John and standing on the scale. I glanced at the weight of them two together and felt a punch to the gut: they weigh less together than I do at the moment. Not by much, but still. The thought that two people weigh less than I do together made me want to throw up. And then yesterday we picked up my wedding set that was resized because I was tired of not wearing my rings. When I went to put them on, they fit, but they still were tight. It felt like punch after punch. I felt sadness and depression looming nearby.

That night after the baby went to sleep, I wanted to relax in the bath. As Tyler got ready for bed he happened to be in there as I undressed. Complete shame filled me and I just wanted to hide. I got in the tub hoping he would just hurry and leave the room. He came by and kneeled by the tub to kiss me goodnight and as our eyes met he asked those words, “What’s wrong?”

Now if you know me, I can hold my tears back as long as you don’t acknowledge me. But as soon as you ask me to talk about what’s wrong, they will flow like Niagara Falls! I start bawling and say something along the lines of, “I hate myself. I hate my body.” Knowing he needed to get up in about 5 hours for work, he still sat down by the tub and held my head in his arms. He kissed my head, my arm, my tear rolling down my cheek, and said, “I love every part of you.” “But I don’t, I hate every part of myself.” “He prayed over me and told me I needed to get alone with God and listen.

As he went to bed, I sat in the tub and decided to listen. “God, I don’t like feeling like this… I’m so tired of hating myself.” “Your worth is much more than what is physical. There are some who would trade a “perfect body” for your stretch marks and weight gain. Those who want a baby so bad, they would immediately take a body they do not “love”. Be grateful for the scars, the jiggly bits, and your womb.”

This hit me hard. It’s not fair to whine about my body. Yes, I have a thyroid problem that makes losing weight extremely hard (if not impossible). Yes, I don’t like my reflection and it feels like whatever I do doesn’t work or help. But, I hold a baby boy everyday who is healthy and happy. This is the body that carried him. This is the body that my husband loves. This is the body that carries me throughout this life, making memories and taking me on adventures. I am so tired of being my own worst enemy. I am so tired of being mean and hateful to the person that God loves. I would never in my life allow someone to talk like this about themselves, but I allow the abuse to myself.

Ladies, I still struggle with my body. But I am choosing to work hard in the ways I can by being healthy, and letting God do the rest. I am choosing to learn to love myself in this season without hating my reflection or pictures of myself. I am so tired of seeing my husband’s smile go away when he shows me a picture he took of me and the baby and all I can do is criticize my image. He saw a memory, the woman he loves and the baby we made, and all I saw was myself.

Hating yourself is selfishness. It’s always thinking about yourself and not of others. It’s okay to work on yourself and be healthy, but when it surrounds your life in a way that your self takes priority over other’s, it’s not godly nor healthy. So if you had a baby and your body bounced right back, I am thankful for you! I am so glad that your body is healthy and you now have a healthy body. If you are struggling with your postpartum body like me, I am with you, but let’s be thankful for the gift of life and the amazing work God created our bodies to do. And if you’re struggling to even have that precious baby you dream of, I am sorry if I have ever hurt you with my criticism and thoughtlessness. I am praying for you and that God would answer every desire of your heart.

Let’s stop letting the enemy win. Let’s stop allowing him to steal the joy of this season. Let’s stop allowing him to take away the praise we should be giving, and replacing it with complaining. Speak well about yourself, for you are a daughter of the Most High! He doesn’t like you talking so badly about the one He loves. Your spouse doesn’t like hearing you talk about the one he loves so much. Your child doesn’t need to hear you talk about their mama, teaching them it’s okay to talk so badly about yourself.

So, I encourage you to take some time to be friends with yourself. Give your worries, pains, and shame to God and enjoy every moment of this time of your life. Happy homemaking and good luck!

5 Things I Wish I did not Buy for my New Baby

Having a new baby is such an amazing time of preparation! A time full of excitement, anxiousness, and pure joy! It can also be a time full of lots of questions, especially if it’s your first baby or your first baby in a while! What do I need? What does baby need? What is worth spending my money on?

Having a new baby is an easy time to spend a lot of money on things that may not be necessary. I made a list of The Top 5 Things I Loved for my New Baby and many found it helpful! I thought, you know what, I’ll share the 5 things I wish I hadn’t of spent money on too! Maybe that will help as well! So in case you’re wondering what I personally found not necessary to purchase, then hopefully this helps you!

As with my top 5 list of things I loved, this is very personal! So if you have a different opinion, that’s totally fine! Not to mention, each baby is different in what they like! So it’s possible for one baby to not need something and another baby to need it!

1. Baby Shoes under 12 months

Okay, I know this one is hard because baby shoes are the sweetest thing that have ever been invented! HOWEVER. In total honesty, I cannot even tell you one time that John has successfully worn a pair of shoes since he has been born. When he was little he wore some booties (made of fabric) but when it comes to actual shoes – yeah that didn’t work.

So many people would pay tons of money on name brand shoes for a baby who will outgrow them in literally 2 weeks. And if you have a baby with a massive monster foot like my baby… all the shoes you have will be too small before you even have a chance to put them on him! So, when next baby comes around, one thing I will not buy will be shoes.

Now when walking begins and shoes are a little more sturdy, then I will purchase shoes for John. But until then, just don’t do it. Unless you want to spend 10 minutes re-putting shoes on your baby who continuously kicks them off.

2. Receiving Blankets

Okay so this one may be controversial BUT this is just my experience! Let me tell you why it isn’t necessary to purchase lots of receiving blankets. I have about 10 blankets neatly rolled up in the top drawer of his changing table and I can count on 3 fingers how many times I have used one.

John wasn’t into being swaddled so I didn’t need them for that. He was gifted SO many blankets at his baby shower that I had tons of comfy ones he preferred. Honestly, receiving blankets are way too expensive for the little amount of use that they actually get. Now, many of you will still get some at your baby shower! So if you don’t feel like returning them you can always keep them in your baby bag and use them for public restrooms! I just never really used them so I wish I wouldn’t have spent money on them.

Also the hospital gave us the classic white receiving blanket with the pink and blue stripe, so we kept that for memories!

3. Newborn-Sized Clothes

Now this is for those who have bigger babies in their families. Luckily, I didn’t spend a dime on newborn clothes but was handed down a whole bag full! John was over 8 pounds when he was born and 21.5 inches long, so he really could only wear newborn clothes for maybe a week or two? Had I spent a ton of money on newborn clothes, I would have been very upset! Now if you have preemie babies or small babies run in your family, then it may be worth the money! But I definitely recommend finding cheaper, already used clothes for your baby because they grow out of the sizes so quickly!

Definitely do not spend tons of money on clothes for your new baby! Go by what season your baby will be born and buy maybe 3-5 onesies, cotton pants, zip-up pajamas, and maybe one or two fancy outfits. That’s really all you need!

4. Bumbo Baby Seat

So, many of you who have babies probably loved your bumbo seat! That’s fine! With John, I never really used it at all. His legs were chunky from day 1 and this chair always squeezed him too tightly. It also runs brand new at about 60 bucks, so to pay that for about 5 uses just wasn’t worth it for me.

I definitely won’t use in the future for any more babies because we have chunky, big babies. But you may like it! This is just one of those purchases that wasn’t worth the money for us!

5. Loud Expensive Toys

You’ve probably heard this one before but I will reiterate it! DO NOT buy all kinds of noisy, room-taking-up toys for your new baby. When they start playing around and crawling, they are much more interested in random objects in your house rather than toys.

The toys that have been worth the purchase are just basic toys like balls, blocks, and stuffed animals. Things that John can bite on and easily put in his mouth and hold in his little hands. He may hit a noisy toy once and then moves on to something else. Luckily, we were gifted and passed down toys so I didn’t spend too much, but had I spent a ton of money on these toys I would have been sad!

So that’s my short list of things I wish I would not have bought for a new baby. There’s many other little things but these were the 5 that I mostly think would be helpful! I hope this helps in your journey for answers! Happy homemaking!

#Momfail: Sleep Training is Hard

So yeah. I just need to talk and vent about my frustrations lately. Baby John is about 8 and a half months old. He is what I call a “random sleeper”. He sleeps through the night for a little bit just to get my hopes up, and then he wakes up 3 times in one night, just to throw me off his scent.

Lately I have been doing the thing all of us mom’s are vulnerable to… comparison. I saw a friend post about her 3 month old baby “sleeping through the night” and I just got frustrated. I was tempted with the usual thoughts: “Am I doing something wrong?” “She’s a better mom than I am.” “What if something is wrong with John?” And you get it. All of the usual thoughts.

So I went to researching all of the sleep training methods. Ferber method, cry-it-out method, and the chair method. I rock John to sleep for his naps and bedtime and I enjoy it very much. But I don’t enjoy it in the middle of the night so much. So last night I decided to start sleep training. I chose the chair method which is essentially sitting next to the crib as baby learns to fall asleep on his own and then gradually moving the chair further and further away each night.

So I fed him, got him drowsy, and laid him in his crib, thinking he would go to sleep and everything would be awesome. However, he instead goes from almost asleep to full out crack addict kicking his legs, squeeling, crawling to his mobile, standing up and “talking”. So, as the directions stated, I laid him back down and said, “It’s time for bed. Shhhh.” And sat back down. He then continues to act like I gave him an entire can of coke prior to bed. I tried and tried again and completely failed. Didn’t even get close.

I sat back in the rocker frustrated and he went to sleep. This post is not about sleep training (maybe I will learn something and be successful and I will share it later). What it is about is the comparison trap I fell into. Part of me wasn’t even ready yet to stop rocking John to sleep because I love that moment at night when his eyes are drifting and he curls my hair around his finger or touches my face gently with his hand. But because of comparison I tried to force him and myself into something we weren’t ready for.

So we will try again when we are ready. And I will enjoy the season I am in now to the best of my ability. Because one day he will be too big to rock to sleep. His legs will hang down to my knees and he will want to stretch out in his bed alone. One day he will want to sleepover at his cousins and I will be at home missing him. One day his bedroom will be empty as he is away at college or married and moved out.

Sleep will come again. A clean floor will be in the future. But all I have is now with my baby. So I’m going to enjoy rocking him to sleep and cuddling him in the night. I’m going to cherish my messy floor and sticky table. And I’m going to hug a little harder and be still a little longer.

So if you are being tempted to compare yourself with other mamas or daddys, just stop. Breathe. And remember what you have and be thankful. Happy homemaking!

The Never-Ending Cycle of Cycles: What to do when Baby goes through a New Cycle

If you have had a little one for any amount of time, you know what I am talking about. Cycles. They go from cluster feeding all night long, to sleeping a little longer. Right when you get used to that they start teething and sleep regressions. When you finally start sleeping again, separation anxiety starts. When they finally sleep again, teething happens, AGAIN.

It feels like a never ending cycle of well… cycles. Little man is going through two cycles right now… separation anxiety and teething. Right when I had him sleeping through the night and I thought I was getting my sanity back, hour wake ups, tears, and out right screaming begin again. It can really get exhausting!

What we are facing right now is mainly separation anxiety. It feels like I can’t leave the room to even pee sometimes and he’s crying. We attempted Santa pictures last night and well…. just see for yourself.

Sometimes it is precious to know that someone loves you so much and needs you as a comforter… sometimes it is smothering and you just crave a moment of silence, fresh air, a HOT cup of coffee, and uninterrupted bathroom breaks. I’m just being real.

So if you’re going through a new cycle, I am sorry and hang in there! I’ve heard it gets better! But last night, after FOUR times of trying to get John to sleep (me and the hubby took turns in between games of Farkle), I finally amidst the frustration thought about cycles. What was going through little man’s mind? What was he feeling to make him need some hugs? Was it because he was emotionally scarred from seeing Santa???!? (okay this one really did go through my mind).

Finally, I reached down and grabbed a small fuzzy rabbit and let him hug around it as I rocked him to sleep. And he took the ear and began rubbing it against his face as his eyes finally bounced, FINALLY drifting to sleep. I rocked him a little longer, and laid him down. He slept through the night, after about two weeks of waking up multiple times, he finally slept through the night.

Now I’m not going to say that a rabbit will fix every problem. But sometimes as mamas and daddy’s we get so fixated on sleep that we don’t really think about the Why’s behind the cycles. Maybe baby’s teeth are hurting bad, maybe they’re afraid when they wake up and find themselves alone because they’re still learning object permanence, maybe their tummy feels crampy because they tried a new food today that didn’t sit right. Babies are not just little dolls that go to sleep, they are humans with emotions and brains learning lots of new things. Baby John just needed some extra comfort, and to feel as though he was not alone.

Maybe if we remembered a time we felt anxious, we could extend a little grace and hug them a little longer. Maybe if we remembered how bad a tooth ache hurts or how bad it aches to grow wisdom teeth, we can cuddle them a little longer and give them some help with the pain. Maybe we can empathize with our little ones, when they wake because their tummies hurt by remembering that one time after a Mexican restaurant (we’ve all been there).

I say all of this because last night, I had to remind myself some things.

1. Babies are human; and that little human depends on me. So be there for them, and let the frustration go. I signed up for this.

2. It’s scary to grow and learn; there are new things every day that are broadening their minds. So empathize with them, and reassure them that you’re not leaving and you will be there as they explore new things.

3. We truly only have such a short time with them as little ones. Time goes by so fast. So let’s stop thinking about sleep and think about those precious times when baby can still curl up on your chest and you can still fit them in your arms.

So, if you’re going through a new cycle with baby, grab you another cup of coffee, suit up with your mom bun, and love that baby with everything in you. We are their safety nets, so let’s catch them, cradle them, and set them free. I want to start now as he is still little, letting him know it’s okay to ask for extra cuddles when insecure, to come to me and his daddy for comfort when he’s hurting, and that we will both be there for him, even if we lose sleep.

Love y’all and happy homemaking!

The Anxiety Train and How to be Free

Picture yourself, standing at a train station. It’s crowded, loud, busy, and yet it’s a lonely place. Although many are surrounding you, loneliness still encapsulates you. The train stops and it looks familiar. Although you have taken this train too many times, and dread the course, you still get on, because it’s familiar territory. On the train you go, taking your same old seat, next to the same old people. One’s name is Fear, the other Worry. Across the aisle from you is Doubt, and Doubt’s friend Defeat. You lift your chin to see who is in front of you, and once again Anxiety is dressed in the brightest, most deafening of attire. Depression sits next to him, sulking in the shadows. You turn and look out the window, ready for the trip. Knowing it leads into a darkening spiral that seems to never end. During your trip, your fellow passengers ask you the same questions, “How can you go on living like this,” “Who do you think you are,” and the all covering question, “What if…..”.

 Fear asks you, “What if you die from this? What if you will never be free of this trip?” He looks at Worry who asks, “What if you cannot afford your bills when you get off? I have heard you aren’t quite making enough these days. Not to mention, what if you never lose the baby weight? Surely you are worried if your husband will still find you attractive?” Doubt walks over, interested in the conversation, and asks, “Yeah, what if God never answers your prayer for healing, and what if God does not even hear your prayers? Surely if He heard your prayers you would be off of this ride. What if God does not even love you?” You take a deep breath, ready because Anxiety and Depression walk up. Anxiety says, “What if you always take this trip? What if you never get off this ride? What if you never achieve anything in life?” And Depression adds in, “What if life is not worth the hassle? What if you never find hope for joy again? What if… what if… what if…. “

This ride seems to take a lifetime, and your reserves are emptying. Exhaustion, weakness, loneliness, isolation, hopelessness, darkness. You feel as though there is no end in sight, yet at the same time the end is all you hope for. I have been in that place. I have taken that train ride way too many times. The train stops, and relieved, you get off, hoping to be delivered from the heavy presence of Fear, Worry, Doubt, Anxiety, and Depression. You take a step off the train watching your feet so that you do not stumble and look up. It is the same station you left from. Busy, crowded, lonely. The train leaves and you walk around seeing steps ahead that you aren’t sure where they lead. Behind you arrives the next train, that takes the same route, to the same destination. Will you get on again?

Above is an excerpt from a book I am writing. You see fear and anxiety controlled my life for a very long time. I had automatic returns to fear. When something happened, fear was my companion. When there was unknown, anxiety was my answer. I was so smothered with the never-ending cycle. Until I became free.

You see I read all kinds of stories about people dealing with fear and anxiety. And my heart breaks because there never seems to be any hope present in them. When I was going through it, I couldn’t find anyone to tell me, “I made it through.” And that is what I craved!

I promised that when I made it through, I would tell the world so that they could have hope! It was a slow process, but God freed me from fear and anxiety. It took everyday renewal of my mind; every day taking captive every single thought that came against the knowledge of Christ. Every day making sure I didn’t let a single negative thought go through my mind without telling it to go away and answering it with the truth.

It was a lot of hard work. I wish there had been an easy way out. But it took understanding the roots of my fears, the fruits of my fears, and the answer to my fears. There are 3 things I would tell you to do today if you want to begin freedom towards peace.

1. Understand the Roots

Fear and anxiety are not overnight processes, they are thought patterns and behaviors that take years to form! So it won’t be an overnight process to be free from that way of thinking either. Anxiety is not a character trait; it is a thought process.

So first you have to understand what it is that is causing you anxiety. At first I believed there wasn’t a clear reason, I just felt anxious. But as I continuously listened to triggering thoughts I realized my root of fear was a wrong view of God; I was so afraid to fail Him and that He would punish me if I messed up, that I was afraid to take any steps in life. It wasn’t until I understood this root, that I was able to start my healing process.

2. Understand the Fruits

Roots always grow fruit. Anxiety, depression, and fear are all fruits of something. Whether it’s wrong thinking, believing, trauma, you name it, there is something that has led to your mind believing that anxiety, fear, and depression are it’s answer.

I was in my undergraduate studies, studying abnormal psychology at the height of my anxiety. I was so terrified I was mentally unstable; that because I was dealing with anxiety I was somehow a bad Christian and something was wrong with me. I thought I was broken.

I was not broken but my thinking was broken. Joyce Meyer calls it “Stinking Thinking”. Our brains filter our experiences; what we think, we do and feel. Understanding that my anxiety was a fruit of wrong thinking helped me to know how to fix it.

3. Know the Truth, and You Can be Free

John 8:31-32 says, “If you abide in my Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Even though I have my degree in psychology and counseling, I actually didn’t go to one counseling session during this time. Not that it is wrong to, it just wasn’t on my path to freedom.

I truly became free through the Word of God. Even when physically looking at the Word gave me fear and anxiety, I still read it. Because I knew that it held Truth and that Truth was my answer.

The day it all clicked was the day I read 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgement] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].”

You see, my fear came from expecting punishment from God and not being perfected in His love. When I realized how much He loved me, that He had good plans for me and not plans of destruction, I realized there was nothing to fear. Sounds real easy right? I still battled anxiety after initially reading this scripture, but it gave me my answer. I sought God’s love and Truth, and renewed my mind daily.

If What if showed up with a negative present, I answered it with a positive what if. What if you never get married, it said. I answered with, What if my husband is waiting on me tomorrow. What if you are never free of anxiety? What if my God delivers me and uses my story to heal others!

Your mind is a battlefield so don’t allow it to flippantly think and feel whatever without realizing that it is going to affect you.

So I hope that this testimony brings you hope. That it lets you know freedom is available to you!