Give It Back

Santa is my favorite.I loved Santa as a kid, and I probably love Santa even more now as a parent. The twinkle in Otis’s eyes when we talk about what toys the elves are making or practice what he’ll say when we visit him at the mall is basically my heroin.

That said, I’m also pretty dedicated to the reason why we as the Church celebrate this Season.

I believe God sent His son down in the form of  a little baby to a virgin named Mary and her fiancee, Joseph. And for a long time that’s about all I celebrated. I mean, it’s a pretty amazing miracle. God of the universe steps down from his heavenly throne to take on the form of the weakest human on earth via a woman who hasn’t done it, yet. It’s an awe-inspiring miracle for sure.

But there are so many awe-inspiring miracles in the Bible. There’s seas that part and set slaves free. There are donkeys that talk. There are women who should be in retirement homes giving birth to entire nations. There is walking on water and turning water into wine and making a little boy’s lunch into a feast for thousands (with leftovers!).

Why does this miracle deserve a celebration? Why does this miracle matter so much?

***
A few months ago I was driving to work thinking about all the blessings in my life, thinking about how God has redeemed so many things. I thought about how I can look at the story of my little family starting with the end of another family. How it’s possible that this beautiful marriage I have is a result of Mark holding up the ashes of his first marriage and begging and believing God could make something good out of it. And He did.

“That’s because Satan doesn’t get to keep what he steals,” I heard the Holy Spirit whisper as I praised God for my family.

A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I came to give life—life that is full and good. John 10:10

Satan doesn’t get to keep what he steals. It has been my prayer in so many areas. Areas that I believed with my entire human heart were dead I started holding up the ashes and begging God to redeem them, begging Him to come back and with His power get back what Satan has stolen.

And it worked. He worked. He is working and rescuing and redeeming and I’m feeling a little like someone standing in front of a parted sea or talking to a donkey or eating the leftovers of a little boy’s lunch.

***

So this season. God coming to earth in the form of a little baby via a teenager who hasn’t had sex. It’s a miracle, yes. But it’s really THE miracle.

It’s the miracle that starts His final rescue plan. Satan stole us in the Garden. He convinced us that maybe we didn’t need a God that loved us, that we’d be fine on our own. And by doing that Satan stole our identity as children of God. He stole peace and love and generosity and hope. He stole our connection to an all-powerful God that created us in His image, that delights in us.

And that little baby in the manger is THE miracle of God saying, “I want them back.”

Because Satan doesn’t get to keep what he steals.

HAPPY Holidays: Free Christmas Printables:

Moms + Music #wearehadleypark

Mark and I are watching tv when this CMA awards commercial comes on (go ahead and watch it)…

Me: I’m not sure that’s a smart move on the CMA’s part.
Mark: What?
Me: Reminding us how good country music used to be…

I’m the last thing from a country music aficionado. I was not raised on Willie Nelson or Johnny and June you mean Joaquin and Reese?. But as someone who has lived in Nashville her entire life AND has the deepest respect for a well told story, I have always held a special place in my heart for country music that could make you feel a decades worth of feeling in 3 minutes. It’s an underappreciated art, y’all.

And, like lots of people, I’ve grown bored with most popular country music in a lot of ways because they quit telling those beautiful stories and started just describing things around them that sounded ‘country’  (“her cut off jeans” “climbed into his pickup truck” “drive down dirt roads” “please use this pitchfork to stab me in the eyeballs”).

Then last week I get an email from Morgan of Hadley Park. You’ve never heard of them? Of course you haven’t because it’s my job to introduce you.

I get a decent amount of email asking me to review things or share things with my readers (hi, Mom!), and that’s what Morgan was emailing me about. She wanted to know if I would tell you about their debut EP “Retrospect” (it will be released on Friday, November 11th, but you can pre-order it on iTunes here).

She sent me a link to the album so I could hear what they were doing. I’m a curious chick so I thought, “Sure, why not?”

I actually liked it. I forwarded a song to Mark. “Am I crazy or is this actually really good?”

“Yeah,” he messaged back. “They are really good. Why are they emailing you?”

Thanks, buddy.

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I fell in love, y’all. Country music that sounds like, well, country! They are it! And they were telling stories and making me feel feelings and I was seriously just swooning 1.5 minutes into listening to their album.

Then I went back and finished reading their email. And my girl crush? It grew three times.

Hadley Park is made up of Morgan and Courtney. Morgan and Courtney met on a songwriting blind date (you meet up with a stranger to sit down and write a song), and they hit it off so they kept writing together. Then they got pregnant (different dads… they write country songs, they don’t live them). They had their little girls within four days of each other and like every new modern mom they looked in the mirror and asked, “How do I meld the old me with this new mom version?”

Their answer? Let’s keep writing together! And every week after the babies were born they made time for their passion for music and storytelling. And the seeds from their songwriting kept growing until they created their newest baby: country music duo, Hadley Park  (fun fact: Hadley and Parker are their daughters’ names!).

Retrospect, Hadley Park

I genuinely love their album. I’m going to buy the hard copy because I drive a 2002 Honda Accord and have no clue how to listen to music with bluetooth or off of an iPod or however people born after 1998 consume music.  “I need a cd to put in the cd player,” said the old person. But I digress.

I love their music, and have listened to “My Love, My Friend” not enough times one too many times. “Things I’ve Learned” gets. me. in. the. gut. “More That That” makes my marriage coach heart soar. My only complaint? There aren’t more songs to fall in love with.

I also love that they’re catching fireflies and I cannot help but cheer on a couple of firefly catchers, especially two storytellers who chose to be inspired by their roles as mothers to chase down their dreams instead of packing them up and putting them away. I hope that they inspire more of us moms to do something similar and run towards those dreams, big and small, knowing that sometimes living out our callings is exactly what our kids need to see their mama bears do.

Fall Y’all Traditions

It’s that time of the year again!

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It’s Fall Y’all!

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Fine. I’m late to the party. But that’s kind of the point.

I have illusions of grandeur like every mom. I’m gonna make O’s costume hahahahahahahahaha. We’re gonna carve pumpkins we got at the pumpkin farm that everyone goes to because Kroger pumpkins are for losers. I’ll bake the pumpkin seeds and then ask Mark why on earth white people eat these. Y’all do eat them, right? We will put out some spooky decorations and tell ghost stories around the fire pit that I keep saying I’ll buy in May when they are on sale but never buy because  it’s May  and, seriously, who wants a fire pit in May?

But every year none of that happens, which technically makes it a tradition, so… #MomFailsTurnedMomWins

Just to recap this is our Fall Y’all Tradition: Dreaming big dreams and then procrastinating until the weekend before Halloween and trying to cram all that fall awesome in on one day because OTIS WON’T HAVE ANY MEMORIES IF WE DON’T DO ALL THE THINGS BUT WHY DO ALL THE THINGS HAVE TO BE SO CROWDED AND TIME CONSUMING AND DID I REALLY EAT ALL OF THE HALLOWEEN CANDY ALREADY? Crap.

If you’re like me and this is where you’ve found yourself for the 6th Halloween in a row, can I invite you to Haywood Hills Baptist Church’s Harvest Fest and Trunk or Treat?

We’re a small congregation right off of I-24 with lots of love to give. And by ‘love’ I mean candy, cookies, and chili #FallFoodTrifecta.

Let’s be real. Are there going to be a billion Nashville churches hosting fall festivals that weekend? Yes.

But will some of those billion churches be just as crowded as Gentry Farm on the second weekend in October? Yes.

Will Haywood Hills be crowded? No, probably not. Which means there will be fewer people to see you angry whisper at your preschooler having a meltdown because “THE CHOCOLATE I’VE BEEN HOLDING IN MY CLOSED FIST FOR THE LAST HOUR IS MELTING!!!”

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And no one is going to judge you. Sweet older church ladies are going to walk right by smiling while saying sweet prayers for your sanity and praising Jesus that they are done with that tantrum nonsense.

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So if you’re a loser mom, like me, and your kid is dangerously close to having no Fall Y’all memories, then come join us for:

  • Trunk or Treat (no razor blades in our candy!) (but still check it because you’re a #GoodMom)
  • Crafts because you’re in the South
  • Pumpkin decoration because it’s Fall Y’all!
  • A photo booth so you can get sweet pictures of your kid in that homemade store-bought costume (you could even be IN THE PICTURE this time!) (Remember, if you can’t Instagram it then it didn’t happen)
  • Games and activities for the little loves
  • Chili (there’s a cookoff for this so if you’re about that chili-making life submit yours!)
  • Cake walks (I’m not all the way sure what this is but there’s cake so it’s obvs a can’t miss event)
  • Costume contest because some people actually try at life

If you’re in the neighborhood and want to have a good time with sweet people and go to bed knowing that you succeeded at parenting then come join us at our Harvest Fest & Trunk or Treat!

(Say you’re going here on Facebook so that they can remind you of all the promises you made that seemed like a good idea at the time…)

The Story of Our Rehoboth

I love reading Rabbi Sacks and I’m currently in the middle of reading (for the billionth time) the Genesis/Exodus section of the Bible (the billionth reading is what happens when you keep starting a “Read the Entire Bible in a Year” plan and don’t finish it and then start it again and don’t finish it and #rinserepeat). This means I’m currently flooded with Jewish stories about how God shows Himself to His people.

Rabbi Sacks recently wrote about how part of Judaism is remembering your history. God commanded that whenever they brought their first fruits they would make a declaration of, essentially, their history:

 “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great, powerful and populous nation.  The Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labour. Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our suffering, our harsh labour and our distress. The Lord then brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with great fearsomeness and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey. I am now bringing the first-fruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” (Deut. 26:5-10)

He didn’t want future generations to forget how He had worked on their behalf so He told them to keep telling His story.

Like I said a couple of weeks ago, I have felt really compelled to look around and really see the life that our faith in a loving God is building, and I keep getting drawn to how I literally cannot think about our home without praising Him. And I think about how if I don’t tell the story about how God moved so many pieces mountains on our behalf we will forget and Otis may never know and so…

I remember sitting in church and listening to an excellent sermon about Isaac and Rehoboth. Basically, Isaac kept trying to settle in places and built wells, but people were like, “Yeah, you can’t settle here. Move along.” He built 2 wells and, finally, with the third well he was left alone. He named it Rehoboth which  means “open space” and said, “”At last the LORD has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

The sermon landed on my heart. I knew it would take a minute, but we would find a home. I had faith God would provide our Rehoboth.

I heard this sermon while pregnant and living with my in-laws. Mark’s biggest apprehension about moving out was that we couldn’t afford to buy a place which meant we’d have to rent which made his skin crawl because of ‘throwing away money’ and all of that. We decided to look for a house we could afford, and worked with the Mr. Magoo of realtors (meaning he had no clue what he was doing). Amazingly, we found a house! In our budget! Close to our families!

The house had plenty of work that needed to be done, but it really was perfect. Mark’s only big remodel dream was to tear out one of the walls in the upstairs bedroom so that it could look into the downstairs. Basically, make it a loft. True story? I thought it was a dumb idea and figured it could be one of those projects that hung out at the bottom of the to-do list. Forever.

Well, Mr. Magoo was an adorable cartoon, but a horrible realtor. The whole thing fell through and we were 1 month away from a baby. Time was running out.

Lots of arguments conversations later and Mark found us a decently sized apartment within our budget. We moved in and a week later my water broke. Otis was on his way.

We spent a lovely and hard year in that apartment. Mark did the stay-at-home-dad thing and, like most sahp, he felt lonely and an apartment that never felt homey didn’t help that feeling.

By December of 2011 I knew God was telling me that we were going to buy a home. It didn’t make any sense to me because I was making $13.28 an hour. Picture or it didn’t happen?

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And you don’t exactly have a down payment sized savings when you’re living on less than what Bernie thinks is acceptable.

But I emailed our amazing realtor, Tim, anyways because faith and that whole story about turning fish and loaves into plenty.

With our mortgage lady’s help we found a mortgage for poor people that was like, “If you have a great rental history then we can give you a mortgage with some insanely low amount as a down payment.” Ah! Look at that! We had great rental history BECAUSE WE LEFT MARK’S PARENTS’ HOUSE ONE YEAR AGO! I like to thank my stubborn nagging for that assist.

We were now given the fun assignment of finding a house that cost less than $115,000, was close to our parents, and wouldn’t need too many repairs because nobody wanted to lend us money for a fixer upper because they’d seen our finances… we had no money for a fixer upper.

We put an offer on a house that was beyond perfect. Huge with a fenced in yard and in my in-law’s neighborhood. I loved it so much. I still get sad thinking about it. It was a weird property with a weird bidding thing, and we didn’t get it.

We put another offer in a few weeks later. Another weird bank-owned property. It was a cute house in a cute neighborhood. I believed so much that this was our house that my mom, Otis, and I drove out there after we put the offer in so I could show her our new place. I drove there one morning before I went to work so that I could get an idea of what the commute would be like. The bank ended up not accepting the offer because it was tied to some other properties and they wanted to sell them all together or something like that. We didn’t get it.

Things were not looking good again. We would need to make decisions about re-signing leases soon or move back in with his parents because rent increases were probably going to bust our budget. But then God said, “Go back to that house.”

That house was one we had seen a month before. It was a bank owned property that was listed at $115,000. I had loved it (but let’s be real, at this point I kind of loved every house that seemed like it could be The One). I remember standing inside while Mark and Tim looked around outside. I was standing on the brick in front of the fireplace and looking out the big window into the front yard.

My heart whispered, “This is our home.

The fireplace where I knew God said this was our home.

And then Mark and Tim walked back in.

“Yeah, this has got all kinds of water damage in the siding. Not gonna happen.”

Oh. Ok.

But here I was, a month later, hearing God say to go back to that house. What was really weird was that it had been taken off the market since we’d seen it (I had every house listed under $115,000 in the Southeast Nashville area memorized) so I wasn’t really sure where this would lead.

We drove to that house and saw a man standing in the front yard writing on a clipboard. Mark parked and got out to talk to him. He came back to tell me about the conversation.

“So that’s the new realtor. It is about to be relisted for $105,000. He says that the siding isn’t that bad and that his only concern with a mortgage like ours would be some laminate coming up in the kitchen. I think we should call Tim.”

Tim got the ball rolling and we put in an offer for $95,000 because why not? To our surprise, they accepted!

We did appraisals and home inspections and no one ever talked about the siding which Mark and his dad ended up fixing the next summer. The closing took forever because banks are slow. We ended up spending a lovely 2 months with my in-laws while we waited to close on our new home.

My favorite part of the story is that the house we bought has the exact same layout as the one we wanted right before I had Otis, the one with the Mr. Magoo realtor. The exact same floor plan, except there’s one difference: The bedroom that Mark wanted to turn into a loft in the first house was already a loft in that house. In our house. I like to think of that loft room as a little wink from God.

So yes, Otis, the house you grew up in was given to us by God. He moved us to buy a house even though we were making $13/hour with no savings. And we built a lot of wells trying to find a place to call home, but then He called us back to that house at the exact same time that the new realtor was there so that we’d be the very first offer. And He’d guided us to rent even though it made no sense so that we could have a rental history to get the mortgage. And He gave us the house we had wanted from day one except better and completely perfect (at least in your dad’s eyes #ha). He gave us our Rehoboth, an open space for you and us to prosper.

Otis, when you wonder if you should follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings please remember where you grew up. Remember that God, not us, provided a home for you, and that He’s been your shelter from the very beginning. Please remember that when life is chaotic to get as quiet as you possibly can and listen for His still, small voice.

Dear People with No Kids

Any time I find out that someone has decided to not have kids my heart sinks just a little bit because I know what they’re going to miss out on…

You probably won’t experience looking at pictures from just 2 years ago and weeping because, “I was so pretty! AND SKINNY!”

Or remember that night that you had to take care of your sloppy drunk best friend that says she hates being the center of attention but totally loves being the center of attention? And she really needed to end the partying, but she was begging you to go to just one more bar and you were like, “Fine, I guess…” And then she puked on your shoes?

That’s one distant, almost funny in hindsight, memory for a childless person. That’s every night for 3 years for a parent.

You know how you’re pretty irritated with everyone’s opinion about this decision you’ve made about your own body that has no consequences for anyone else but you and yours? Imagine those opinions and resulting irritation spreading to every decision you make for the next 18 years. That’s modern day parenting.

But all of that’s just me being silly. I think all of us parents know what you’re missing out on.

A love that gives meaning to life.

A realization that, “Hey, this world is effed up, but this gift lets me know that everything is going to be ok.”

A relationship that you couldn’t even imagine, even while pregnant, that now? Now you know you couldn’t live without this special miracle by your side.

That’s right.

Wipes.

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Childless People of America, do you know about the baby wipe? Do you know the awesomeness of carrying large amounts of said baby wipes with you at all times? Do you know how many disasters can be avoided because of a baby wipe? DO YOU KNOW HOW CLEAN YOUR CAR’S DASHBOARD CAN GET WITH A BABY WIPE?

Otis is going to grow up one day and leave and life is going to go on. And sure that love is awesome, but the baby wipe? The baby wipe opened my eyes to a whole new, perfect amount of moisture, world. Say I won’t always have a case of baby wipes on hand for the rest of my life.

Because I will.

 

Nesting or Adulting?

Our kitchen is a disaster. There’s empty cartons here, spilled something there. Every appliance we own is on the limited counter space. We have two pieces of tupperware not being used for leftovers no one will eat, the little one for dipping sauce (?) and the gigantic one for marinating small turkeys. The dishes are clean. I think. Maybe? It doesn’t really matter because we’re getting take out.

I know I bragged on our daddy-stays-home situation, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own set of issues. The kitchen is Mark’s domain. And part of my sanity rests in letting it be as clean or as messy as he wants it to be because mama doesn’t have time, energy, or mental resources to harass him about keeping his workstation clean. And that’s precisely how Mark’s kitchen looks, like a dude’s work bench in the garage. All the tools out, projects half done, and an empty pizza box.

True story? If it doesn’t bother him, it doesn’t bother me. If it were my kitchen, my workplace, it would probably be a leetle bit more organized, but not much. Our messiness threshold is pretty similar. And, one more time for those in the back of the room, not my kitchen, not my problem.

And then I got pregnant.

The other day I sat at work all day antsy to get home. Every fiber in my body needed to get home to clean that kitchen.

Mark: Are you mad?

Me: Nope, just looking around…

Mark: Are you sure?

Me: I’m positive. I’m about to clean this kitchen. And it isn’t a passive message to you. It’s just every cell in my body needs these crumbs from Christmas 2013 off my floor.

Mark: Ooooookaaaayyyyy…..

I do all the normal things that normal people do to make a kitchen look normal. This wasn’t like some deep cleaning where I’m cleaning the inside of cupboards or moving cereal from its perfectly good box into clear glass containers labeled “morning nibbles” or something. I just wiped down counters, threw away leftovers, hid appliances that we never used (I’m looking at you, Toaster), and swept the floor (see ya later, Christmas Crumbs of 2013).

Mark: So…. is this nesting?

Me: I’m not sure.

Mark: Did you nest with Otis?

Me: Yes. I made you find us an apartment so we could move out. Tweet, tweet.

Mark: Hahahahaha. Oh. Wait. You’re not joking. Well, I like it. You should nest more often. Well, I mean not more nesting. Nesting twice is enough. We’re done after this, right?

My face: 

Me: A ‘thanks’ is a perfectly acceptable response to this pregnancy-induced awesomeness.

Mark: Thank you for cleaning. And your hair looks really pretty.

Tomorrow I’ll do the laundry AND fold it. Maybe.

Look Around

When life gets hard or messy I do this thing where I look backwards. I look into my past for all of the moments that God showed up, big and small, and I remind myself that He is here. He is always here.

Mark toyed with this idea of having a display in our home where we’d add pieces of stone or tile every time God worked, a memorial inspired by those in the Old Testament. God asks us to build memorials because He knows we’re not good at remembering, that sometimes He leads us out of slavery only to have us complain about the menu.

This is one of those seasons. I’m in a valley that I argue I shouldn’t be in because “Hey! I am following You! This shouldn’t happen to me!” and God argues back, “Yes, you’re following Me, and this valley is precisely the time to keep doing so.”

We don’t have that tile display in our home because, well, we’re lazy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t see memorials that our faith has built everywhere I look.

I see our home. We moved out of Mark’s parents’ house when I was 8 months pregnant with Otis. It was terrifying. Mark hated it, but I insisted. We moved into a small apartment with no real plans on how we’d ever own a home, or what our next step would be. A few months before our lease was up I called our realtor. I was sure that once I told the mortgage lady how much money we made they’d refer us to a homeless shelter, but Someone said to buy a house so I called. Between a recovering housing market and excellent rental history, we found a home. A home that has us paying way less than half of what it would cost to rent something similar.

I see our marriage. I obviously wasn’t around when Mark got divorced, but I do believe that our marriage is a blessing for how Mark handled it when his world fell apart. I believe Mark walked through an ugly season and had an incredible amount of faith that God would redeem the destruction. And He did. On anniversaries where every normal couple tries to out romance each other, we look at each other over a plate full of McDonald’s french fries and are awestruck by the peace in ourselves, in our marriage, in our home.

I see big debts that work themselves out. I see dreams of schools fighting to become real. I see jobs morph into callings. I see illnesses healed. I see ultrasounds of babies long prayed for.

There are so many times when I am tempted to look at all the ways it hasn’t gone the way I wanted it to and I have wanted to pitch a fit. Throw myself on the ground and demand an different easier path, preferably something that Instagrams well.

The more times I see God in the details of my life, not just the retreats or amazing sermons or tearful praise songs, the more confident I am when I remind myself of His promises.

He promises His provision.
He promises His comfort.
He promises His shelter.
He promises His redemption.
He promises His healing.
He promises His protection.
He promises His guidance.
He promises His joy.

Like so many of you I’m in a season where I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know how this thing will grow and morph. I don’t know if I’ll like God’s answer. I don’t know how God will show up. But I do know that He will because that’s who He is.

Dear Church, let’s remember who He is not just because it’s what we heard about Him in Sunday School. Let’s remember because we have been given the awesome gift of looking around and, not just experiencing the miracles, but EXPECTING them.

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On Stay At Home Dads and Working Moms

Deciding to do the the stay-at-home-dad and sole-breadwinner-mom thing was hard. It is hard to not conform to society’s gender roles. It is hard to think you’re not being who you are ‘supposed’ to be. And, yes, gender roles exist. And I’d say Mark has suffered far more than I have.

Because no one straight up asks a sole-breadwinner-dad, “So… she’s just not going to work?” or “Yeah, but…what’s she going to do to make money?” or “You should tell him to get a job.”

Neighbors don’t openly laugh at a stay-at-home-mom and talk about how ‘lucky’ she is because wow, that’s the life, right?

Nope we don’t talk to breadwinning-dads and stay-at-home-moms this way because it’s incredibly rude to voice the idea that the person making sure the littlest person in your home is alive and taken care of is “doing nothing.” It’s ugly to hint at the idea that the SAHM is in some way ‘taking advantage’ of a working dad.

And the worst part? None of this came from conservative men who thought women needed to be barefoot and in the kitchen. They all came from women who love them some feminism…

It’s hard being a stay-at-home-dad. It’s hard not to ‘provide’ for your family the way a ‘real man’ should. It’s hard to have almost no one to relate to. It’s hard to wonder what everyone thinks about your role, to wonder if there is any way your dad and son could possibly be proud of the man you are.

It’s hard being a working mom. It’s hard wondering if every way your kid isn’t excelling is because you aren’t around enough, that you aren’t “mom” enough. It’s hard feeling guilty about all the things, all the time.

The thing is… Mark is my biggest cheerleader. I would have been happy to giggle away every insane idea I’ve ever had, but Mark has always been behind me whispering, “Take yourself seriously.” Every single time I wanted to make myself small and sneak away from the conversation, Mark said, “No. Take your seat at the table.”

It has been easy to become a working mom chasing down insane ideas because the man standing beside me refused to let me believe the lie that my voice didn’t deserve to be heard. He refused to believe that my calling wasn’t worth action. I would not be the woman I am today without him.

And in the same way he watched me chase dreams, I watched him protect and provide for us.

I watched him learn to use cloth diapers and figure out formula. I watched him pack diaper bags with detail. I watched him learn Otis so well that getting him ready for a day out almost always went smoothly (for him). I watched him make peanut butter and honey sandwiches so perfectly that I don’t even bother trying because they are sure to get sent back to the kitchen. I watched him make sure sunscreen and bug spray is always applied. I have absolutely no clue what it’s like to worry if Mark can handle being a parent to Otis. I watched him put me and our little bear first in every conceivable way over and over and over again.

The reason I went to work and he stayed home? Because it’s the kind of life we wanted for us and Otis, and I’m not sure I could have chased my dreams if I didn’t know that my little bear wasn’t completely loved and taken care of at home. Simple.

Mark apologizes to me often. Sorry that he gets to be home. Sorry that I have to work. Sorry that he doesn’t make money.

I won’t listen to any of it.

I have no illusions about who got the good end of the deal. I have a beautiful family and we have a beautiful home. We have food and bills get paid and I fill up my gas tank every time I need to. My husband loves me and my little boy makes me laugh. I have written books and created programs and built a neat little web presence in my “spare time.” I go to a job that I love, and am regularly told that I’m doing good work. My ideas are listened to and taken seriously by men that hired me to answer phones 10 years ago.

He’s the behind the scenes guy. The wind beneath my proverbial wings. He’s the one making sure all the bases are covered at home without little to any recognition for a good day’s work. He’s got the hard job, not me.

To say that we aren’t both holding our breath a little bit as we prepare for Margaret is a lie. Today our roles feel right and comfortable in a way they didn’t 5 years ago. Time does that. But that doesn’t mean we have forgotten how hard the whole role swap thing is. That doesn’t mean we aren’t a little bit terrified.

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It’s An Emergency

Otis loves him some community helpers. Police. Firefighters. EMTs. These men and women are gods in his mind.

We regularly watch firefighter videos and EMT rap videos (yes, that’s a thing). We dress up as firemen and police officers. I get arrested and put in jail on the regular.

Well, yesterday Otis was finally able to come to the rescue in a real-life emergency.

We were playing outside and I scratched my leg because mosquitoes hate me… or love me? When I scratched my leg I must have opened up a small scab and started bleeding quite a bit.

Me: Otis, look. I’m bleeding!

Otis: Oh no!! You ok?

Me: No, I need a napkin. Can you go get me one from inside?

Otis is eager to complete his first emergency assignment. He hops up and starts walking inside. Halfway to the house he turns around and say, “Mom, I’m the doctor. It will be ok.”

I stay seated and listen as he bangs on the front door.

“Dad! Dad! Open up! MOM BROKE HER KNEE! OPEN THIS DOOR NOW! BROKEN KNEE!!!”

I’m dying.

Mark probably thinks this is Otis being weird and is ignoring him or maybe just can’t hear him. I don’t know. Either way, Otis’s life saving skills are not working, and just like his mom, he gives up pretty quickly and I hear him say to himself as he stands at the door, “Oh well.”

He walks back to me and shrugs his shoulders. “No napkin, Mommy. Sorry.”

I remind him that there’s a first aid kit in my car.

He races to get it out and gets to work on my wound. We’ve got q-tips and tongue depressors out because #newdoctor, and finally we get to dealing with my wound. He has me open the band-aid and he winces as he delicately places it over the scratch.

“Mom, you better?”

I grimace. “No, it still hurts. I can’t walk.”

“Mom. YOU. ARE. BETTER.”

He helps me up and asks me to practice walking on it. I insist I need crutches, but he firmly insists that I am fine.

His bedside manner needs some work, but overall I am thankful that all those hours of YouTube EMT videos paid off in my hour of need.

#TBT That Fight We Had

I’m looking through drafts of blog posts because I’m trying to find a link to an article I read once, and I was sure it would be in here, but it isn’t BUT I did find this gem from way back in the day. I don’t remember this ‘fight,’ but I made myself laugh all over again which is all that matters.

***
It was one of those days when I had decided that I was done with McDonald’s. Done, I tell you. No more of that filth would be entering the temple I call my body.

By 10pm that same day I was hungry. Hungry for a Big Mac. However, even I have limits no I don’t on what hours I will go out to fill a McD’s craving. I was planning to just sleep through the urge.

Mark: I’m hungry.

Me:  Me too. But I’m not in the mood to get up. We’re starving tonight, buddy.

Mark: Ok.

(a few minutes later)

Mark: I think Kevin went to McDonald’s…

Me: Call him! Call him and tell him to get us food!

In counseling, I like for couples to repeat back what they hear each other say.

Readers, what did you hear me say in that last sentence?

“Call him! Call him and tell him to get US food!”

Thank you.

Mark: Ok. (calls Kevin) Hey, man, are you still at McDonald’s? Great, can you get me a #1?

Me: Yeah, I want a #1, too!

This is where it gets bad.

Mark: (covers the phone) I only have a few dollars-

My eyes got bigger and I gasped. Then his eyes got big and then he gasped.

I was just denied a Big Mac. By my husband. The man who vowed to protect AND FEED ME til death do we part.

The betrayal. The heartache. The tears. THE EMPTY STOMACH.

Me: (chilly silence)

Mark: (to Kevin) Ok, man, I’ll see ya in a little bit. (to me) I’m so sorry! You can have it when he gets here. I just didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay him back… Marie? Please talk to me.

What I said
Me: No, it’s fine. I decided not to eat McDonald’s anymore anyways. This was just God intervening. No, seriously, I’m fine. You can have it.

What I meant
Me: You loser. I can’t believe you chose YOURSELF over your HUNGRY WIFE! How can I ever trust you again? How do I know you’ll make sure that my special sauce intake stays regular, huh? HUH?

Mark: Ok. I really am sorry.

At this point I really was fine. Sure, I was a little hungry and was imagining the smell of warm french fries, but fine nonetheless.

Then the food got there, and a mixture of hunger and anger consumed me once more.

Me: I just… I just… How am I supposed to know that you’re looking out for me? For my well-being?

Mark: Seriously, you can have the hamburger.

Me: No, this isn’t about OMG that Big Mac sure does look tasty a burger. This is a matter of principle. Of knowing that you are going to put me first. That you’re going to take care of me. If I can’t even get first dibs on a burger then how do I know what you’d do if there was just one life jacket on The Titanic?

Mark: We aren’t on the Titanic-

Me: IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TITANIC!

Mark: Oh, I thought that was where you were going…

Me: Just eat your stupid burger.