Category Archives: Mommyhood

Nine In, Nine Out


Dear Miss Wren,
You’re 9 months and one week because your mom got busy old.

One morning you woke up and started nursing, as you do, and you unlatched and just started looking at the milk-producing boob. Then you started flicking me. There was this curiosity in your eyes, like, “How does this thing work?”

And that’s* how I know your dad is Mark Christopher of the House of Oates. I like the House of Last Name joke a leetle too much.

*There’s also the whole monogamous relationship thing, but you get my point. You’re a lot like your dad.

You also started doing this thing where you’d unlatch and almost pounce back onto the boob. Like you were a little kitten playing with a dead mouse.

It’s adorable.

You have no problem letting the world know what’s up, especially when you’re mad. You can’t stomp your feet (yet), but you do this thing that’s totally in the spirit of stomping your feet. You put your head down and slam both hands down on an imaginary table like some kind of Jersey princess.


This is also adorable. Notsomuch in 2 years, but I don’t really care right now.

I am obsessed with your furrowed brow game. You give absolutely no fudgsicles…


And you are still absolutely smitten by the Big Kahuna.


Me, you, and O-man are the 3 Musketeers.  My heart is so full when we’re all together. You hate getting left behind, and you will straight up giggle when we are laughing just to join the party.

Thank you so much for bringing your ferocious-yet-subtle spirit into this crazy world called the Oates Family House of Oates.


Slay-t Months Old

Dear Wren Bird,

Eight months.

You got your flu shot this month. You’ve gotten enough shots now that you know what’s coming. We laid you on the table and you looked at us like the evil people we surely are. You were pricked, you cried, and in the mere seconds it took to sit you back up you were silent and staring. You weren’t wasting the time on self pity. You locked eyes with the nurse and the doctor and I knew. I knew you had just mentally put them on your list, Arya Stark style.

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You understand “no.” It started with a defiant “pfft” anytime your Lola told you no. Now you shake your head and smile as you reach for whatever we’ve told you not to touch. I can already see the twinkle in your eye. You’re definitely going to be an ‘ask for forgiveness, not permission’ kind of gal.

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You went Trick or Treating. Like a boss, you had a Halloween wardrobe change.

“Fun” story: On Halloween we attempted to take you and your brother out around the neighborhood, but your brother threw a fit as he does. In the midst of all of Big Brother’s carrying on an old, gay, black man in a long leather coat appeared out of what seemed like no where with treats in hand.

“Here. You need to cut it out,” he said looking directly at Otis as he handed him a Pinterest-esque bag of treats. He handed you your very own bag and said, “And this sister of yours is beautiful.” Before we could ask the Halloween angel neighborhood Super Nanny to raise our children, he disappeared.

Yes. This was the extent of your trick-or-treating. A neighbor coming out to give us candy to stop the yelling.

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You climb up the stairs every chance you get. Standing without assistance is coming sooner rather than later. You look at baby food like I’m trying to feed you dog food. You love California rolls, the cats, and a toy alligator.

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You slay in every possible way. I love you.

Mama Bird

On This Day

Yesterday this picture came up in my FB memories…

Oh, y’all. My little monkey boy!

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I got all weepy because I truly feel like I don’t remember any of this well enough. I don’t remember the giggles well enough. The sweet cheeks well enough (that are totally still around, but aren’t those sweet 18 month old cheeks). The little armed hugs well enough. I feel like I’m waking up from the best dream in the entire world, and I’m desperately sad that I only seem to have a foggy recollection of this time.

And so I’m watching Wren knowing that all of these sweet moments are not going to survive in my brain and I get so weepy WHILE PLAYING WITH HER because I know that one day in the future I will watch a video of her giggling or crawling and I’m going to say something like “I DON’T REMEMBER HER BEING SO LITTLE!”

Mark got one of those virtual reality things the other day for SUPER cheap and it’s insanely cool. While I was exploring snow covered mountains it hit me that our kids will probably have virtual reality videos(?) of their kids. They will probably put on their VR goggles and get to relive their kids learning to crawl or walk or eat rice cereal for the first time. And I’m just like

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But I also know this. When they put their VR goggles on and watch my virtual reality grandbaby crawl around it’s not going to be enough. It still won’t be the same. They’ll be the same level of sad as I am today, and still cry out “I DON’T REMEMBER ANY OF THIS!”

I have mentioned this a billion times, but I read the entire Bible last year, and I think it changed my brain. This is a thought that just seems to sit with me all of the time now: Life is so fragile. It is so fleeting. And the more we try to capture it and panic about missing out the more we actually do miss out.
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Every single day on this beautiful mess of a planet is a gift. This sounds morbid, but lately when I watch my kids sleep I think, “I honestly have absolutely no clue if I’m going to wake up. If y’all are going to wake up. But oh, God, thank You so much for this life, for this home, these babies, this breath…”

So far I’ve woken up. And they’ve woken up. Thank, God.

The truth is I am never going to be satisfied looking back, trying to relive these precious moments. My appetite to feel as loved and needed as I am right now will be insatiable one day when my house is clean and no one is begging to “show you cool*.” Knowing this means I have only one choice: Be here.

Be in the moments because we’re never getting them back again. Sit with the fear and insecurity on the bad days. Celebrate with the laughter and joy on the good days. Take everything very seriously AND not at all seriously. Breathe it all in because all of it, the good, the bad, and the boring, it’s all going to be gone before I know it.

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*”Show you cool” is how Otis introduces something that brings him joy. And the idea that there will be a day when I am not the first person Otis thinks of when he wants to “show you cool” is making me a mess.

Let’s Explore

Dear Wren,

Seven months. Rolling towards the big Uno Yearo.

You’re crawling and pulling yourself up and at this rate you’ll probably win a Nobel Peace Prize before you hit puberty. Even at 7 months old, I would say that you aren’t one for wasting time. You don’t have words, but if you did you wouldn’t mince them. You get straight to the point with your grunts and stares and, well, it’s impressive.

Little Bird, you’re truly Wonder Woman in my book.

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(You also love pigs, hence Miss Piggy)

A while ago there was a viral ‘thing’ about this couple taking pics like this together as they traveled the world:

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That’s how I feel about you. You’re always out in front. Exploring. Looking for the next thing to experience, put in your mouth, learn, squeal over. And I’m standing behind you, watching you take this beautiful mess of a world in.

I want so badly to capture your spirit in a bottle so that I can remind you of your fearlessness, your power, your ability to do hard things (the coordination required for crawling is no small feat, my dear!) when you forget one day in the future. You’re a special little girl, Wren, and I’ve known it since before you were even born.

Love you and thank you so much for taking me on this adventure with you!
Mama Bird

Always There

All of the friends and family had left the hospital room, and it was just me, Mark, and Wren.

My cell phone buzzed. It was Otis and my mom requesting to Facetime with us. We chatted for a little while and hung up.

“Otis looks sad,” I said.

“He does. Do you think I should go home and get him?”

“Yes. Now. Go.”

“Are you sure?”

Yes. I hated the thought of Otis thinking we’d abandoned him for the shiny, new baby. I had done this mom thing before, and there were all kinds of professional people fully prepared to make sure Wren and I survived the first 24 hours. Yes, Otis needed Mark way more than Wren and I did.

Mark left, and within 30 minutes I realized something…

It had been six years since I had done this baby thing. I had no clue what I was doing. Why was she crying? How hard am I supposed to burp her? I have only co-slept with babies, and that’s not legal in the hospital so how the heck am I going to sleep? Just put her down in this bassinet thing and leave her to die let her sleep?

So there I was. Alone in a hospital room with the sweetest, most innocent baby on the planet feeling so sad and scared and all I wanted was-

Knock, knock, knock


After Mark picked up Otis from my mom she knew.

She knew I was going to need her because, well, she’s my mom. She had my dad drive her to Vanderbilt at 10 at night which was a great plan except they had already closed the hospital to visitors and my dad had already driven off by the time she realized this and she didn’t have a cell phone so she was just stranded outside all alone until she saw a new dad trying to sneak in with some fast food so she just kind of followed him around like a puppy until they figured it out and then she busted into my room like the guardian angel she is.

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I don’t think I cried when it happened, but I get weepy every time I think about it. You held Wren so that I could sleep even though neither of us slept because look at her! She’s perfect! You prayed with me. You reminded me to eat and to sleep and to burp the baby. You were my rock that night.

I get weepy because her very first night in this strange, sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly world starts with a testimony to a God that provides when we’re scared and positive we are alone. He sends angels (aka Moms) to comfort and care for us, even if it’s just through the night.

I get weepy because on I was given a real life picture of the kind of mother I always want to be to Otis and Wren. A mother that obeys the nudges of the Lord. A mother who will do scary things to make sure her babies are ok. A mother who will be there, without answers or advice or judgement, just there to sit with you and let you know it’s all going to be ok.

I get weepy because Wren’s entire story, from the very beginning, has pointed me to God and His provision. When my mom knocked on the hospital room door in the middle of the night I imagine I felt the way Abraham did when the ram showed up for sacrifice instead of his son, Isaac. The relief. The joy. The faith.

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A Total Eclipse of My Heart

My Sweetness,

You’re six months old.

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My running joke while pregnant with you was that you were inside making me be the person I wish I could be. I showed up on time. I ate vegetables. I read the Bible every morning.

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Well, your magic hasn’t stopped. I bought your Halloween costume. In August. It’s in my possession. You, Wren, will dress up as a member of the bird family because I can’t let this joke die.


Sidenote: I considered getting you a Dalmatian costume since your brother will probably* be a firefighter, but your dad vetoed that idea because “Wren isn’t a prop.” I guess we know who the real feminist in the family is…

*”Probably” because I still haven’t bought his costume because you two obviously have different mothers.

You continue to dominate in all areas. You sleep beautifully. You do this scrunch nose laugh thing that turns me into a puddle. You’re army crawling with finesse. You get into everything. You chase the cats like a regular Pepe le Pew. In related news, the cats kind of hate you.


You’ve started eating solids. Your Lola is a little terrified of you choking which means she waters the rice cereal down to near breastmilk consistency. Well, Wrenny don’t play that, and you looked at your Lola like…

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She added a bit more powder, and once your order was correct you went to town.


In a nutshell, you’re the very best thing to happen in 2017. I love you more than a total eclipse in the backyard.



Mother of Stuffed Giraffes

Hi Wrenny Girl,
You are 5 months old.


This whole thing is flying by, and it’s making me weepy. Sorry. I swear I will stop crying one day…


You’re rolling over and trying desperately to crawl. You actually get around pretty well despite not having any ‘forward gears,’ as your dad has pointed out. We have got to say that your homeschool grade for Grit is probably going to be an ‘A.’

(Just kidding. We don’t believe in grades.)

The other day we were driving to Panera, and I heard Otis sing from the backseat, “I got your giraffe, Wrenny! I got your giraffe!”

And then I heard you, Wren Faith of the House of Oates, Mother of Dragons Stuffed Giraffe.


You started crying. It wasn’t the hungry cry. Or the tired cry. It was the “Fool, you best give me back my things before I hit you up side your head” cry.

And I was in the front seat like:


Because seriously, dude. Who steals toys from babies?!?!

Anyways, you’re 5 months old and I’m beyond proud of the baby-sized woman you are.

Love you forever, Little One!

Next time won’t you sing with me…


You are four months old.

You started rolling over on to your belly this month. Most any time you are put down (which isn’t often) you make your way to your belly. And then you cry. Our best guess is that you’re frustrated that you aren’t crawling yet.

I know I’m not supposed to talk about how beautiful you are, but my goodness.

I also don’t want to always talk about your brother, but we’re 4 months into this sibling thing and my mind is blown. See, you love it when your brother talks to you. Like, you straight up squeal with delight when he pays you any attention whatsoever:

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(Sidenote: I love that I gave birth to two squeal-with-delighters. I’m probably going to put it on my resume. If I had a resume.)

And now that you’re interested in him, he’s interested in you. And this is where things get crazy. The other day I asked him to sing you a song and figured I’d get an Otis standard, like a lazy version of The Wheels on the Bus.

But for you? For you he busted out the entire Alphabet Song. Correctly.

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We’ve had this child in our home for 6 years. Two thousand one hundred and ninety days. And he has never, not once, ever sang the entire Alphabet Song correctly. You show up and do what we COULD NEVER DO in, like, 100 days.

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One day you’ll find out I’m prone to exaggeration, especially when I need blog material. But I mean this from the bottom of my mushy heart:

You make us better. Thank you, Wrenny Fire.



Open Letter to That Mom

To that Mom at Lowes…

I see you.

7 months pregnant and wandering the aisles of Lowe’s happily with your little boy. I see that smile on your face. You’re killing this mom thing. Your kid? He’s amazing. Your ability to make him feel safe and loved? No one can compare.

I’ve actually been stalking you all day. This morning at the park? The loving way you figured out how to avert the tantrum over how the cookie crumbled when you opened the package? My goodness, Woman. You amaze us all.

He just noticed the Paw Patrol Night Light display. Your boy sure does love to shop. Add your guilt about being a working mom and it’s the perfect recipe for having a house full of crap, but I digress…

Oh look, he wants a Paw Patrol Night Light. OF COURSE! He’s been amazing, and your face lights up at the chance to give him a little something that he thinks is the coolest thing ever invented only to toss into the abyss known as the toy corner.

Again. I digress.

Wait. What did he just say? Did he just say that he wanted all of them? All of the night lights? You don’t even have that many outlets in your 1,400 sf home…

Hold up. Did I just hear you say “no”? On purpose?

Bravo, young lady. Bra. Vo.

Oh, wait. He’s screaming.

I see the panic on your face.

What’s going on here? Where’s the off switch? Can you just walk away? No, not you. You’re an awesome mother. You’re going to get on eye level and talk to him. Calm him down with the super powers you read about in that gentle parenting article on Facebook.

Did he just tell you to shut up? IN PUBLIC?

Nope, nope, nope/.,,l;

I see you. You want to give in. Make all the noise stop. Maybe he’s right? Maybe you do need a Paw Patrol light in every outlet…but there’s one problem. You looked up and made eye contact with that other mom who was mouth open, staring at your child’s… performance art.

You can’t let him win. Not with an audience.

You walk away. Well, waddle. You’re seven months pregnant after all…

The 5 year old love of your life is chasing you screaming, “WHY ARE YOU LEAVING ME?”

Victim blaming. Ain’t that some $#*+…

You keep walking. He runs faster. Tears streaming down his face. The cries getting less demanding and more pleading. You look like a real douche, Amazing Mom. But you can’t stop. You know what happens if you stop…

You’re about to cross the parking lot. A tantrum parade if there ever was one. You give secret nervous glances behind you to make sure he’s ok because he’s never crossed the street alone when he does it…


Oh, dear God, Woman. How did it get this out of control so fast? You can’t just leave him there! Turn around! Turn around!

I see you go back. Your pregnant self grabs one leg and one arm and DRAGS his butt across the parking lot.

I see you, Pregnant Lady. Dragging your child across a parking lot with every single pair of eyes looking at you eager to get a FB status up about how they’d never let a scene like that play out on their watch while sharing a viral video from that mom that insists parents shouldn’t be friends with their kids.

I see the fear that you can’t do this. That the one you have is more than enough. That you’re not mom enough. Maybe you should just go back to the life you were good at: keeping up with celebrity gossip and french fries.

I see you sit down with a scared, panicking little boy who has no clue why he’s even upset anymore, but he’s determined to feel in control of something, even if it’s you.

I see you. I am you.

No, seriously. It’s me. You’re talking to yourself again. Finish brushing your teeth, and get out the door, Marie. You’re gonna be late for work.

Fire it Up

Dear Wren,
You’re 3 months old today! The weirdest part about that is that it feels like you’ve always been here, always been a part of us.

I tell everyone you are the perfect baby, and that this amazing-ness is sure to be repaid during your teen years…
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But seriously, you are delightful. You wake up smiling every single day. And you’re just so chill. The world will literally be crashing down around us with wailing and gnashing of teeth from one of our  team members #nonames, and you’re just relaxing like the gangster that you are.
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You’ve got some pretty insane neck control, and can hoist that 90th percentile noggin like the pro that you are.

Here’s one thing that I see you doing that I hope you do for the rest of your life. From day one you would nurse and then get off the boob and just start shaking your head like
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I would try to force you back on but you wouldn’t have any of it. I would burp you figuring you were done, and as soon as you burped you’d start crying so I’d put you back on the boob where you’d happily finish your meal.

From day one, sweet girl, you have known what you needed and you haven’t been afraid to demand it. You’re going to get confused and people are going to share their opinions about what you need in your life. Don’t be afraid to trust your gut, Wrenny Fire*. You’ve got this. I promise.

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All the love my heart can hold,

*Your brother has nicknamed you Wrenny Fire, and I kind of love that he already recognizes your fierceness.