The Sound Of My Voice

Have you ever barked orders repeated things to your kids so many times that you swear if you say it one more time you’ll snap? I mean, they’ve heard you say it as many times as you have so you’d think they’d be willing to just do as they’re told so they don’t have to hear it again. I’m so over my own voice.

“Don’t touch that”
“Don’t lick that”
“Don’t put that in your mouth”
“Be nice”
“Clean up your toys”
“Get off your brother”
“Go play”
“Stop playing” 

I mean, really. Wouldn’t it be easier on everyone if we stopped demanding things of our children and just let them be for once? Just hear me out. I’m not suggesting we let our kids raise themselves and I’m definitely not saying that the things we repeat to our kids don’t need to be said. I’m simply saying that maybe there’s a better way.

There have been times when I started to reprimand one of my kids and then stop myself midway through because it just wasn’t worth it. I know we all want our children to grow up to be great people but nagging them all day won’t teach them that. Do you know what will? Loving them, showing them forgiveness, showing them grace, helping them pull up their socks when you know perfectly well they can do it on their own but they are having a rough morning and just want you to do it or else they’ll melt down and start screaming and crying because they haven’t learned to control their emotions. Talking to your kids like they matter with respect and in full adult sentences will give them a sense of pride and it will teach them how to speak to others.

I’ve had my fair share of outbursts, I’ve probably even had your fair share too, but then sometimes I’ll catch a glimpse of that ugliness in the way my kids talk to each other and it stings. I’m embarrassed and ashamed when I tell my kids not to speak in that tone of voice and I used it on them just yesterday or, even worse, I’m using that tone while telling them not to use that tone! Hi, I’m a mess. And my kids aren’t stupid, they’re well adjusted little people, they see the hypocrisy but ultimately they will learn by example, not because I’m yelling at them to do or not to do something.

I’m encouraging you to let go. Let them learn and be curious, let them be free and get a little dirty, let them figure stuff out on their own and make mistakes. If they’re not in any immediate danger then just let go.

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Why I don’t Play with My Kids

I know what you’re thinking. I’m so mean. But it’s true, I don’t play with my kids and I’ll tell you why, it’s simple really. I want my kids to develop creativity and use their imagination. I want them to run around and chase each other, I want them to call each other “mom” and “dad” when they play “going to school” or “going to the store”. I want them to crave being alone and make up games where one queen (Olivia) tells the other queen (Eva) what to do.

My kids watch me all day long. They copy my mannerisms and the words I say and I don’t want them to copy the way let off steam because I think that kids really develop their sense of self in the way they play. Every child plays differently the same way every adult releases stress differently. For me its going to the gym every day, for some it means reading a book, or scrolling through Facebook, for others maybe its cooking. Some kids like to play with others, some kids like to play alone. Some kids like to get dirty and some like to stay clean. This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy participating in their games from time to time and I’m never too far away to miss out on their fun. But I don’t like to interfere and possibly influence the way the play.

It would be easy for some to say “just play whatever they want, just do what they tell you”. Yes, and no. If your kids are anything like mine then they’ll tell you that you’re doing it wrong 10 times before running away crying because I ruined their game. Or I’ll start getting upset because they want to play games where they periodically say things like poop and booger. I can’t stand it when my kids say those words but they’re kids so they’re going to say them because they think its hilarious. Once you’re a mom you’re always going to be a mom and correcting your children kind of comes with the territory. They already have to remember to use their manners, to watch what they say, to be thoughtful of others, to be a helper, the evil of sharing, to answer with yes ma’m and no ma’m. They deserve some time to play and be kids and let their hair down.

Yes, kids need to let their hair down. Mom are so quick to say they need breaks (BECAUSE WE DO) and that we need to get away (BECAUSE WE DO) and that we need a drink (BECAUSE WE DO) but all that means is that we need some time to separate ourselves from the everyday to recharge and come back to our tasks with a renewed sense of purpose. Kids need this too. They don’t have to worry about feeding others and cleaning the house and budgeting and keeping the dog alive (yes, my dog is still alive) but maybe we expect too much from them. Maybe we don’t give them enough freedom to learn to be themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say give them all the freedom. I said enough freedom. It’s still our job to make sure they grow up to be decent human beings, but just because we’re all human doesn’t mean we’re all the same.

I’m no saint. Sometimes I don’t play with them because I just don’t want to. We get dragged down by the day’s work of cooking, cleaning, working, commuting, cooking again and cleaning again. Almost everything we do is for our kids already wether you work out of the house or you stay home with them, it’s okay to say no to your kids from time to time. Parents make the ultimate sacrifice of giving most of themselves over to their kids, it’s beautiful really, but it’s hard and you shouldn’t be judged because you need a break from your kid and what a better time to take a break then when they’re off trying to recharge, too. You go your separate ways, so to speak, and come back together when you’ve each had time to yourselves.

So, that’s basically it. I don’t play with my kids because I want them to learn how to let off steam and come into their own personality through play. I want them to be able to problem solve and make mistakes, I want them to love being alone when it’s important. I want them to stop sharing and start taking turns. And sometimes because I don’t feel like it… but mostly the other things.

Helicoptor Mom

That’s me. Yes, I admit it. I smother my children in attention, I follow them around to make sure they don’t trip and fall, and heaven forbid, get an ouchy. I need to have my kids in my field of vision at all times and I want to know what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling and if they need a drink of water. I’m overprotective, I care what their hair looks like and if it’s falling in their eyes and I get a weird feeling if my kids have a meal and I’m not there. How do I know what give them for their next meal if I don’t know exactly what went into their bodies at the last meal because proper nutrition is IMPORTANT. The first few weeks of Eva going to school I had a strange feeling too because I didn’t know what she had done all day. Who she talked to and did she raise her hand when she had the answer? Did she listen to her teacher when there was an order given? I am a basket case.

This isn’t a new revelation. I’m fully aware of my crazy and, for the most part, I’m okay with it. But it became almost painfully obvious this past weekend when I took Eva to a friend’s birthday party, her first birthday party that was for a child in her class, first party that wasn’t for family. FIRST FIRST FIRST. Is she overwhelmed, is she going to have questions, will she be polite? You guys, I’m crazy.


Anyway, we went to the birthday party, just her and I because it was during nap time for the rest of the kids. I had to interact with actual adults (without using my husband as a buffer) and I kind of cared a little about what they thought since a lot of other kids from her class were going to be there. It was a little awkward in the beginning as some introductions go but then I started hitting it off with some parents and I didn’t want to pull away from our conversations so I let Eva go play on the playground with her friends. And I didn’t follow her.


That’s when it hit me harder than it ever has before. I felt this pull, a need almost, to go out to where she was on the playground and watch her, make sure she didn’t hurt herself and minded her manners. The playground wasn’t in plain view so for the most part I only got glimpses of her every 5 minutes or so weaving in and out near the slides and swings. The longest 5 minute intervals of all time. I just kept telling myself to stay put, it’s part of  being a kid to have fun on the playground without your parent hovering. I think back to my own times on the playground as a kid alone with my friends while my mom watched my brother’s baseball games. Did she have the same feelings? My siblings and I used to walk 4 blocks to school in South Philly without my parents all the time, we played outside in the street, and later when we moved to suburban New Jersey, roam the neighborhood until the sun set. My parents cared but they didn’t hover.


When I became a mother a sense of empowerment and responsibility really overtook my life. I was pretty much in charge of everything that happened or didn’t happen to my little girl. I determined the clothes she wore and the music she listened to, the food she ate and the toys she played with. I really have no idea how to detach myself from her without causing us both serious damage. It’s what I’ve been training for these past 4 years, I guess. Each day they grow up a little bit more and each day they try something new. They learn to live their own lives, they learn there is more to life beyond mom and dad. In the end absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that couldn’t be more true in mine and Eva’s relationship. After a morning at school we can’t wait to embrace and tell each other about the day we had, what silly thing Esme did and what masterpiece she’s working on in art class.


Eva is special in many ways and one of those is that she is, after all, the firstborn. She’s the guinea pig. Trial and error until we get it right. She’s patient with me and shows me grace and forgiveness every day and for that I am forever grateful. The others are still small and need a little extra hovering every now and then. But now when the times comes to let go as the littlest ones get older, it’ll still be painful, but at least I’ll know I’ve done it before and it only make my bond with my children stronger.

Photo An Hour

A few of my favorite bloggers have done this in the past and I really liked the idea. Here’s what a photo an hour looks like for me. This particular day was a regular Monday school day for us.

SIX.

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Wake up! We live on the 18th hole of a golf course and the sunrise is breathtaking every single morning.

SEVEN.

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COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE. I get Eva ready for school and bring her down for breakfast.. and did I mention COFFEE?

EIGHT.

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While I take Eva to school my mother-in-law watches the littles as they eat breakfast.

NINE.

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WORKOUT. I’ve been wanting to get up earlier to workout but for now this is the magic hour. I love a good high intensity workout, the flavor of the week is Insanity Max:30

TEN.

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Finally breakfast! 3 egg whites with veggies and toast with almond butter and more COFFEE.

ELEVEN.

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Lunch for the littles!

TWELVE.

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Finally all together again!

ONE.

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The three littlest are down for naps and Eva has a snack while I eat lunch and we spend a little time together before she goes down for a nap.

TWO.

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I literally stare at the twins in disbelief while they blow my mind with their shenanigans. No doubt that gate isn’t in their room anymore.

THREE.

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Twins are finally asleep so it’s time for a snack, Pinterest and Netflix.

FOUR.

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Everyone is up from their naps and its snack time. This day I made banana oat cookies. With chocolate chips, as shown by Pierre’s face.

FIVE.

Dinner! Somehow I didn’t get a photo this day.

SIX.

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Baths. My back hurts just looking at this photos, but they sure are cute. I’ll miss the day I can throw them all in together.

SEVEN.

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I nurse Esme before bed and the oldest watch Netflix or play on phones and iPads. DON’T JUDGE ME. I’m tired, okay?

EIGHT.

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Kids in bed and it’s time for a snack. I LOVE these cookies.

NINE.

DECOMPRESS. Netflix, painting my nails, folding laundry, reading, and, my personal favorite, FaceTime with my husband.

TEN.

Bedtime! Some days it’s a little later but I’m working on it.

Let Go 

I’ve been doing this mothering thing for 4 1/2 years. You’d think I would some sort of clue as to what to expect. NEW FLASH: I don’t. I remember when I was a little girl and all I wanted was to grow up, get married and have babies. I didn’t dream of making it as an actress or singer, I didn’t want to be a teacher or a scientist. I wanted to be a mom and it didn’t occur to me that I might want more to my life. I know, that’s a recipe for disaster.


I believe there’s a lot of fulfillment in being a mother and it’s changed me in a way that I never expected. The love I feel for my family is so intense that it hurts sometimes. I know that I have the love of an incredible man and 4 beautiful children because God chose me to give them to. There’s noting I could have done to deserve this life. And yet I haven’t given it my full attention. I fall short in more ways then one when it comes to my wife and mom role. I have so much more to give and I don’t know how.


Pierre traveled this past weekend to our old stomping grounds (do people still say that?) in Maryland for a friend’s wedding. We lived there just before we moved to Michigan, I found out I was pregnant with Eva the week before we moved away. I cannot tell you how much I wish I was there. For the wedding, of course, but I also wanted to see my old friends and travel familiar streets. I wanted to connect with people I haven’t spoken to (in person) in years and feel like the Jamily from so long ago. Everything changed when we left. We became parents and somewhere in between the long nights and diaper changes, my priorities changed and I changed.


Little by little, I stopped taking care of myself and began taking care of my family. The change was so slow and gradual that I didn’t see it happening.  Then the real curve balls started to fly. Pregnancies, job changes, moves, babies and more babies. I’ve been so busy being a mom and wife that I forgot what it’s like being me. You know, there’s still times I stop before I answer when someone asks me my age. Sometimes I almost say 23, that’s the first number that comes to my mind. For a while I didn’t know why but I had a revelation. That’s the age I was when I left Maryland. The age I was before becoming a mom. Five years of hanging on to the past.


I’m not proud of this but, on occasion, I find myself looking back to the times before I had kids and wishing I was back there. A time when I knew what I was doing, a time when there wasn’t so much depending on me, a time when I didn’t have these little people to let down (over and over), a time when I knew who I was. The crazy thing about it is that even if I could go back to those times nothing would be the same. I’m not the same person I was 5 years ago and I can’t go back. I’ve lived, I’ve changed, I’ve hurt. It doesn’t mean that those times weren’t special because they were. They shaped me and I met people I look up to and admire to this day. People who showed me kindness and friendship and leant an ear.


I can’t offer my husband and kids my best present if I hang on to my past. I can’t continue to wish I was somewhere else when I’m needed here and now. This is scary for me to write, to be so open and honest and vulnerable. But I wholeheartedly believe that I’m not the only one. Are you hanging on to something that won’t let you move forward? It can come in so many different forms, for me it’s motherhood but for you it could be a relationship or a career. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting. When we let go we let the memories fade into our minds, we stop longing for a different time and we can enjoy where we are now. Be proud of the person you’ve become and if you’re not then change it. God’s love and mercy is new every day (Lamentation 3:22-23). We can start with a clean slate, make new memories and chose to live in the present and let go. 

Our Last Baby

My littlest baby turned one last week. ONE.

I know this is just another milestone in the sea of changes that come along with being a mother. But, wow, I didn’t expect to feel like this. The sadness I’m feeling has been hard to ignore. When we found out we were pregnant with Esme we immediately knew that this would be our last child. We took matters into our own hands and took that painful, yet necessary step that ensured us we wouldn’t have any more children*. In that moment I knew it was right. We both knew. We had a very feisty almost three year old and twin 9 month olds that were making me pull my hair out (little did I know it would only get crazier with those two). How was I going to manage another little baby?

We lived in Michigan at the time and had zero family nearby and our few friends were busy with their own babies. Asking for help has never been my strong suit. I was already doing everything in my power to keep the four of us alive and happy with Pierre’s work travels. I was terrified.

Apparently not a fan of candles..

But now? I have an ache in my heart knowing that time is passing and Esme will only be this little for a short while longer. I’ve been so busy living in the “keeping us alive and happy” moments that I’ve missed some of the “enjoy this last ______” moments. The thought of not having a baby to carry or rock or nurse anymore is harder than I thought it would be. And I knew this feeling would come, I just didn’t expect it’s intensity. A new phase in my life where I can move on from pregnancy and nursing, that I found tedious and some days, I’m ashamed to say, a little inconvenient.

A lot has already changed since Esme was born, and in the 9 months previous. The major changes included moving from Michigan to Florida so we could be close to family and job changes for Pierre which meant more travel for him. I left the dear friends I made in Michigan, I had to swallow my pride and ask for help (I’m still learning how to do this) from my family. I had to overcome my insecurities and accept that my family was proud of me as a mother and my choice to raise my children differently than any of the women in my family had was a strength, not a weakness they looked down on. The twins had to grow up just a little bit faster, Eva too. I’ve dealt with guilt from knowing I haven’t given a particular child enough attention. I’ve had to make hard decisions.

Not a fan of cake. WHO IS THIS CHILD? 

So here we are, on the other side. The side where we move forward and can’t go back no matter how badly we want to. We look to the future with zero cribs and no more diapers. We look to walking and no longer crawling. We look forward to a time when I don’t have to cut food into little pieces. A time when no one needs me to wash their hair or lace their shoes. A time when I won’t hear “mommy” or “mama”, only “mom”. I challenge myself to look on to the future with a joyous heart. Because just like this unexpected heartache, I don’t know what the future holds, I can only prepare my heart and hold strong to God’s promise.

um. we may have put her in a build-a-bear outfit. SHE’S TINY

 

*Look, I know everyone has their own views when it comes to having children and how many and how. I respect that everyone makes this decision with their own beliefs at heart and I do not judge you for your decisions. You know what’s right for YOUR family and I know what’s right for MY family. So, no hate mail, K?

Double Standards & The Terrible Twos

The only thing worse than raising a toddler during the “terrible twos” stage is raising two toddlers during the “terrible twos” stage. And I actually thought I got a pass with Eva because it didn’t actually hit with her until she was 3, a stage I called “threenager”, it was just awful. Let me tell you what my little darling twins are up in this stage of life.

As I type this after 8P, I’m watching the twins on the video monitor run around their room pulling sheets and pillows off of their beds. They like to remove the pillow cases and fill them with their blankets and lovies (Pierre has a stuffed bear he sleeps with and Olivia a baby doll). Sometimes they stuff their blankets under their mattress, which of course, involves them MOVING the mattress and lifting it. I honestly don’t know how they haven’t been seriously injured by now. Thank God they’ve never hurt themselves too badly. They move the beds around, they jump from one bed to the other, they crawl under the bed, they physically try to climb the walls.

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On the day the photo above was taken they had removed one of the mattresses (seen in the photo upside down and turned 90 degrees), they ripped the plastic liner on the other mattress and the Star Wars pillow on the left of the photo had been torn open and the fuzz was everywhere. You couldn’t see it in the photo because it was taken with the video monitor and the infrared didn’t catch it. Oh man, was I fuming. Mostly what runs through my head in these moments is “WHY?” What possesses them to do these things? What makes them think it’s a good idea? It’s so frustrating.

You guys, this is just two days worth of “bad” stuff they do when I’m not in the room. When I am around they talk back, they say “NO“, they scream at me when they don’t get their way, they do not listen when I call for them or ask them to complete a simple task like put a toy away because it’s bedtime or put your trash in the garbage can. They throw tantrums over not getting the cup they wanted at dinner time or if a sibling looks at them funny. This is basic stuff, people. Yet they have to resist my every call and request. Here’s where my theory comes in.

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I have a different perspective when I’m dealing with Esme. She’s about to turn one in a few weeks and is really starting to show her personality. If she throws a tantrum because a sibling took a toy it’s cute because she can finally stand up for herself. If she squeals back at me after I give her a firm NO it’s adorable. If she wants to put her dinner on her head it’s hilarious, better get the camera ready. When she hits me or one of her sisters it’s okay because she’s still learning and we take it as an opportunity to teach her how to be gentle. Are you guys catching on to the double standard? Now, I know that developmentally an almost one year old and a two and a half year old are miles apart. But here’s what I take from it. For a while we think everything they do is adorable and we enjoy watching them grow into their own little person who has individual likes and dislikes. But when they start to really branch out and test their limits we bring down the hammer. They go from having what seems like the whole world to explore to having rules to follow.

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It’s kind of understandable that they act out and want to show a little resistance and individuality. And don’t get me wrong. I am not telling you to let your toddler do whatever they want or to let them walk all over you. NO. You stand firm and show your child that you are in control. But in a gentle manner that says, “Hey, it’s okay. We’re trying to navigate this stage of life together”. A new stage in their life means a new stage in ours as parents, too.  Because it isn’t just about us as parents. It’s not just our lives that are being interrupted, it’s their life too. Just because it’s a small life doesn’t mean it’s insignificant.

So I want to challenge anyone who needs to take a deep breath and start over with their little darling in the “terrible twos” or “threenager” stage. Try and look at the situation from their point of view. Have an open dialogue with your child when you feel you’re losing your patience. Mutual respect goes a long way even with a small child. Look, I’m not perfect and I lose my patience too many times a day to count. But I recognize that there’s a double standard in my own home and there is something I can do about that. I believe God can reveal things that we need to work on and maybe this is His way of showing me where I fall short. And that’s okay because recognizing that there’s something I need to work on will draw me closer to God as I ask Him to lead the way. At the end of the day I want my kids to see His light and joy through me.