I’ll Love You For Five Years & Always

I’ll love you for forever.

It’s what we vowed, to choose each other, always.

The hardest part of this process is realizing that our always only lasted five years. For five years, you were the only person I ever wanted. All of my best memories, all of my plans were wrapped up in you.

Five years worth of forever.

I’m still not sure how to wrap my head or my heart around this ending. I am able to let go, knowing that even if others will disagree with me, I have done absolutely everything I could to fight for us — to fight for you. There’s a part of me that’s bitter, broken. Desperately wanting to know what I could have done differently. There will be your list of things of course, things that you’ll say pushed you over the edge. I get that. I know I caused you hurt and I know there were issues with how I handled things. After all, I’m only human.

I’m realizing how much we love differently when we believe it’s forever. I’m realizing how much I enabled and excused the things that happened in our home, holding to my mantra: this is just a season.

It took me a very long time, but I finally realized that circumstances are a season. Choices are not.

I know I’m going to cry every time I hear Ed Sheeran. It’ll take me a while to be able to eat at Cactus again. Starbucks BOGO days will never feel the same. I’ll watch our favorite movies and hear your commentary every time. I know my heart will break fresh every time something new comes up to remind me.

You’ll exist in most of the corners of my life, for five years we did it together.

So I’ll keep loving you, baby, even as I let you go.

I’ll love you for five years & always.

xoxo, B

Dear Stay-At-Home-Mom (who didn’t choose this)

Dear mama,

I see you there, sitting on your couch with your head in your hands. Your toddler is screaming in her room, boycotting her nap for the third day in a row, and you’ve already gone in there five times, ten minutes each, to no avail. Isn’t that what the sleep doctor said to do? Or was it the sleep whisperer? You can’t even remember because your coffee has gone cold on the counter where you set it hours ago. You’re so tired. You’re so overwhelmed. All you can think is: god why? I didn’t choose this! Instantly you feel guilty. You know you should feel blessed – hundreds of women would trade you instantly, your husband sacrifices so much to provide, you live comfortably on his single salary, and you’ve been able to witness every milestone that bright, sticky, loud bundle of joy has met.

You’re ashamed for not loving this. You miss nylons and heels. You miss having a reason to do your hair and makeup in the morning. You miss fresh, hot coffee from Starbucks. You miss having something to show for your accomplishments. You miss the feeling of spending the money that you made instead of feeling guilty for getting lunch out with your joint account. You miss drives listening to NPR instead of Disney Pandora. You miss the relief of coming home after a long day and you can’t even remember what a weekend means.

People, planning, numbers, schedules – those things came easily to you. This, this monotonous, unpredictable, never-ending job, does not. Your house is always, always messy. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times you pick up or make plans to overhaul it, it reverts back to post-Katrina mode. You try to meal plan healthy, balanced meals, but 9/10 times you’re too tired to even chop a carrot by 1 pm, so you order pizza for dinner instead.

Why don’t you do it this way? Your mom asks.

Try this, a neighbor suggests.

It will come, your husband assures.

Maybe childcare was too expensive for your salary. Maybe you didn’t qualify for FMLA and your job didn’t provide maternity leave. Maybe the schedule was too erratic. Maybe you felt pressured to stay at home until your child was in school. Maybe you thought at first that you would love it.

Whatever the reason, here you are, on the verge of a breakdown, feeling inadequate as a mother, a wife, and as a woman.

I’ve been there too. I felt all of these things and I wondered over and over, why me? I love my daughter to pieces, but I was great at my job and I struggle every day as a fulltime homemaker. Many of the things that fall under that umbrella I do enjoy but I enjoyed them much more when they existed as hobbies rather than as a job description. It took me months of struggling with depression over my circumstances before I realized something had to change.

At this point in our lives, restarting my career was not an option, so I had to do some praying before I knew what changes I could realistically make to rework my thinking and to find joy in the daily. I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but I want to share a list of ten things that have changed my heart as a resentful stay-at-home-mom:

  1. It is necessary to step back from the mom role and remember who you are as a person. Pick back up a favorite hobby (for me: writing) or start a new one and dedicate at least one hour a day to accomplish it. I find that as I do the things I enjoy, I remember what I love about being a mom and start to feel like a whole person again.
  2. If you’re like me and enjoy making extra cash, start a shop on Etsy, list some old clothes on Poshmark, pull your college textbooks out of storage and list them on amazon. You might not get rich, but at least you can justify that quad peppermint white mocha!
  3. Remember that your child(ren) can help you. Instead of getting frustrated with my daughter for playing with the dishes in the dishwasher, I let her help me put the (safe) ones away. This makes the chores feel more like a game.
  4. Exercise! I cannot stress this one enough. Go for a walk or to the park and just chase your little one. The endorphins will help your energy levels and will boost your mood. There are also many home workout programs both free online and on DVD that can bring the gym to you.
  5. Eat well! This goes with exercise and it’s just as, if not more, important. What you put into your body is going to affect your entire wellbeing and it’s just not enough to survive off of three mugs of coffee, a banana, and that piece of chocolate cake. Take the time to prepare full servings of good food for yourself, even if it means putting your kiddo in front of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood for an hour.
  6. Go out all by yourself for something other than grocery shopping – I promise, your husband has it handled. Take a book and read at your favorite coffee shop, grab your iPod and go for a run, meet a girlfriend for dessert, go see a movie with your mom. Whatever it is, be present in that moment and trust that your child is in good hands. After all, you married the guy!
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m lucky enough to have my sister living with me and she is great about watching my daughter while I get something done or run a quick errand. Ask a friend from church, ask another mom, ask your aunt, and let them know what you need. They will be more than happy to support you.
  8. Take all advice with a grain of salt. Personally, this is a struggle, but allowing other people to comment on my life overtook my strength and caused me to doubt every decision I made. Be humble (if your house is a mess, no need to get defensive) but be honest about how much you can take. If you start to doubt your worth because of someone else’s opinion, let them know and then turn to the word. You are a beautiful work in progress!
  9. Memberships to places like the children’s museum are lifesavers. If you can’t afford the membership, ask for it as a gift, or look up free admission days and events. I know that our local museum has free admission mornings and our local zoo has free admission on father’s and mother’s days. This is a great way to go on an outing with your little where they can have safe, free play, and it can be a great opportunity to meet some other moms.
  10. This is the big one: you may not have chosen this, but god chose you for this. If you are walking with him and you are seeking his will in your life, you will not be alone and you will not be working in vain. Mommyhood is truly the costliest and yet most rewarding position to ever exist, and while being a stay-at-home-mom may be undervalued and looked down upon, while it may never feel as important or recognized as your career, remember to bloom where you are planted. Satisfaction is a mindset. These are days you will never get back, so make the best of them!

So, dear mama, you are not alone. You are not unseen. You are not worthless. You are not useless. You are doing such an amazing job and someday, your child(ren) will thank you for it. He may not say much or anything at all, but your husband does notice and he is thankful. I hope that you go forward encouraged!

With much love,

BC

xoxo, B

Muffins & Musings

Last night, I decided to try a new muffin recipe {thanks Pinterest!} As a quick and healthy breakfast for my on-the-go toddler. I have always loved baking and fall brings out my inner Betty Crocker. Our house nearly always smells like something cinnamon-y in the oven or something savory in the crockpot from September – Christmas {my favorite season}. I love the staple muffin recipes from my childhood {tiny does too} but recently it’s been a struggle to find a muffin that has enough substance to curb Tiny’s hunger. This girl can eat her way through a cupboard in a day. We’ve tried a variety of veggie and fruit muffins and though they have all been well received, none of them have seemed to hold their own, and usually end up being consumed with some cottage cheese, fruit, and the kitchen sink.

So, you can imagine how delighted I was when I found this recipe for “peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins”. I was promised a sweet, healthy, filling muffin, and boy did these deliver. Not only were all three of Tiny’s food groups in one mini muffin {I don’t joke, this girl could live off of pb, bananas, and cinnamon oatmeal}, but she was full after two and an egg. Don’t get me wrong — if she wants to eat the kitchen sink I will feed it to her! But mornings are tough on me lately and it was a godsend to have these fresh on the counter, ready to go.

I made some big kid size too, which were a hit with my husband {forget the kitchen sink, he eats the whole room} on his midnight break. I also had one with my morning cup of French press and um, yum. I make my coffee properly {read: very, very strong}, so this muffin was an excellent companion. The fact that they aren’t made with any oil also helped me justify the heavy lather of butter I added!

A couple personal notes on the recipe:

The recipe says it makes 12 large muffins. It made 12 regular size and 18 mini size.

I strongly suggest using muffin cups for these. Usually I just grease up a pan with coconut oil, which I did use for my mini pan, and I’m good to go. These muffins are so moist and sticky that they are hard to remove and keep intact when removed from a greased pan.

The recipe calls for overripe bananas, but if you’re like me and can’t wait, semi-ripe bananas work just as well. The muffin was very sweet so I can only imagine how much sweeter it would be with mushy bananas. If you do decide to use overripe, I would recommend cutting the brown sugar down to a half cup.

I substituted whole wheat flour over white for some extra protein.

This recipe is beautifully versatile. It provides a great base for a filling muffin and could be made into really anything. I’m planning to try these again with some applesauce and apple chunks, and maybe even try it with some mini chocolate chips…

I highly recommend you try this recipe! I’m always interested in hearing what you think, so if you try them please let me know.

And now to part two.

One of the beautiful things about making food {in my opinion} is the time you have to just think. I love this line from Julie and Julia:

“You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.”

There’s a certainty to what you’re doing that allows your mind to wander — and for me, to relax. So, last night, as I mixed all those ingredients, I was also thinking about my home and what it means to be a homemaker.

Recently I’ve been told that I have made my life look too rosy on social media. To be honest, I’m not even quite sure what that means, but let me assure you: my life is nowhere near perfect. But it is beautiful. My life is beautiful, not because I always know how to make it so and definitely not because it is easy, but because god created it and he has taught me to look for the beauty in all things. Recently, life has been tough. Our “brand new” hybrid needs a new battery which will cost us close to three thousand dollars. Every penny of our savings for Christmas and part of our credit card will have to be used to replace it. To say that was a devastating blow is an understatement. This comes after a long string of financial burdens, many inconclusive doctors’ appointments, my husband getting a second job, family turmoil, and a messy, messy house that never seems to get organized. So no, my life is not perfect. But — I am being perfected. Is it easy to make light of things and mislead people when we share the highlights of our lives on social media? Absolutely. We see it all the time with celebrities. But there has to be an understanding that it is important to share the highlights of our lives with people. The truth is, I share the best parts of my life to celebrate them. I share them to show god’s grace and healing in my life. I share them to show my story as it moves forward. I share them because the other things can get too big and overtake my heart if I talk about them.

I’m not sharing to compare my life to anyone else. The only person whose life I want to compare mine to is Jesus and I’m nowhere near being on par with him. So please know as I’m writing this, I have piles of laundry on both couches. Two suitcases that need to be unpacked. I have makeup all over my bathroom sink. My living room rug has goldfish crumbs from yesterday’s lunch and it’s covered in pieces of puzzles from my happy, busy toddler {who just passed out for her nap after pushing boundaries all morning}.

Only by grace does my life stay held together. Recently, my husband has started praying over me while I’m still half asleep before he goes to work. I can’t even begin to describe the difference it has made in my life. After years of muddling through my days and clinging to every positive second, I suddenly have energy and joy. I keep my temper in check, I gladly clean my house, and rejoice in the sticky hands grasped around my neck and the slobbery kisses planted on my cheeks. It is not because of me, let me tell you. My attitude can put Veruka Salt to shame some days. It’s only by the grace that AJ asks into our home that gets me through the day. It’s only through unconditional love that I stay sane. And it’s because of this that I choose to share my story.

So be blessed today, reader. May you feel god’s never ending grace and peace in your life as he shows you the highlights he has placed in your life. And I hope you love these muffins.

xoxo, B