Letting Go of My Girl to Fully Embrace Boy Motherhood.

My 10 year-old boy yesterday handed me a water bottle from his backpack, leftover from several days ago. I’m sure in all the excitement of summer vacation he neglected to think about emptying his belongings. At least until he was packing for a sleepover (a bit heavy a half-full water bottle is you know). His simple, “Here mom” as he handed it to me sparked a rare moment in my heart where I melted into myself.

Usually the words would have passed right through me as I continued to think about my grocery list, check my latest e-mail, or curse out the thunderstorms that are wreaking havoc on my newly planted flowers. But I happened upon a moment in which I was fully present, and was able to accept this simple exchange from him, feeling so full and grateful in my heart.

“Here mom.”

So brief and yet so profound. How many women are just aching inside to be blessed with those few simple words, and yet through every effort imaginable cannot concieve a baby of their own? How many have held their children so briefly, without opportunity to hear their voice at all? Even still, those grief stricken mothers who will never hear it from their children’s precious lips again?

How easy it is to take for granted those everyday moments.

Working as a labor nurse is an open invitation to bear witness and experience with other families great joy…and great pain…when it comes to bringing their own children into this world. It’s like looking at a photo; a snapshot moment of someone’s life. I am allowed to be in that labor room as their little miracle arrives, sometimes even when her own mother is not. I am there too as she delivers her child by c-section when things don’t go quite right, wiping some tears of dashed expectations away, helping them focus on the joy of their birth despite the unexpected route.

And I am there with them when we cannot find the heartbeat. When they hear instead their newborn baby will not breathe with the life of this world. I witness the visceral screaming of a mother’s heart torn to shreds. I hold their hands, watching as the child is placed into their arms, looking heartbreakingly perfect…except for the missing rise and fall of the little round belly.

I have three boys.

Occasionally I will be asked if I will try “one more time” for a girl. Or someone will look at me with pity, that my third was not the girl I had presumably hoped for. My middle son even asked me one day if I was ever sad that he wasn’t a girl.

I will never deny that I had visions of fairy princess parties, giggly girl sleepovers and wedding dress shopping with my unborn daughter. I learned to french braid my own hair in the seventh grade, a skill that has yet to be proven valuable. I torture my young niece to come sit next to me so I can run my hands through her long locks, satisfying a small piece of a deeply rooted craving for that mother-daughter connection.

But I have three boys. I will tell you with my entire being I was nothing but thrilled when my husband announced as such to me at their births (all three were surprises, the one really good surprise I feel is left in this life to choose).

They are energetic. They wrestle, love trains, cars, video games, and football. I can barely keep up with their energy, constantly telling them to “quiet down” or “take it outside”. I cannot keep a single pair of jeans without a tear in the knee for more than a few weeks at a time (even the good brands). There are no barbies. No quiet moments of coloring. No frilly tu-tus or ballet lessons in this house.

And I love every moment of it.

I was pregnant once between my second and third son. It took my husband and I a long time to reconcile to the idea of a third child. I was ready, he was done. We talked. We fought. I cried and he resisted. We had finally chosen, together, to try and bring one more child to this world. I was thrilled to have it finally come to fuition. It was a dream come true.

Seven days later she was gone. I know in my heart it was my daughter that had rested so briefly in my womb. As devestated as I was, I will forever be grateful for the short time we had together that summer. She taught me so much. She taught our family so much. One of the most feared but valuable lessons in life is one of great loss and grief.

Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash

The day she left me I had been helping other women become mothers. I watched my own child’s life drift out through my blood, and yet there was no choice but to contiune on through my day. I will never forget the moment I returned home, knelt to the floor and held my entire family with all the stregnth I had left. My two beautiful boys and my husband encirlced around me as we all cried helplessly together for this lost piece of us.

When I realize I have allowed the moment of being called “mom” to be taken for granted, I do not chastise myself. It is such a normal part of my day there is no reason to believe it is anything but an ordinary moment. Instead I find gratefulness for that glimpse of bliss being present afforded me. I relished in the sound of my son’s voice calling me the most beautiful word I am privledged to be known as.

When I scrub the mold off my next forgotten water bottle, or pick up the dirty gym socks off the floor, I hope a fragment of that gratitude will return to me. As fiercely as I wanted a little girl to care for, the universe gave me the boys I really needed. My baby girl was with us as long as we needed her to be. To show us the healing power of release and comfort found amongst those you love in times of great sadness and loss.

For those of us who desire to, are fortunate enough to now be, or have ever been known as “mom”, there is not a more powerful, more beautifully spoken word. It is the challenge of us as mothers to see the greatness of what we have through the the pain of what is lost, or what might have been. But the journey of becoming mom is where the love is let into your heart.

Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

It is only in the act of releasing through our grief that we are able to see life’s greatest gifts. For me, the blessing of my boys will never be lost in the shuffle of everyday life, even if I hold that in my heart without much conscious thought.

And when my son asks me if I am ever sad I got a boy instead, I can vehnemently and honestly reply,

“Never”.

Mommy Mishaps. Secrets Revealed.

Admit it. There is not a single one of you out there that has not had a mommy mishap you didn’t wish you could take back. We’ve all succumbed to our ego as mothers…it is I believe the very nature of motherhood to grow us spiritually. My kids have taught me more than anyone how to live in the moment, love unconditionally, and forgive myself completely. For my mistakes will only teach me if I choose to learn from them.

Photo by Luma Pimentel on Unsplash

Don’t Shake the Baby

As a nurse, this is a no-brainer. Actually as a human being. Shaking an infantout of frustration when you simply don’t know how to calm them down is dangerous…even fatal. This is why I believe it is so important to share my story, and the truth about what I have experienced as a young mother.

It is my first baby, my beautiful lovely boy, that has always tested me the most. On some level I believe he is my greatest teacher, as he brings out the worst of my ego and forces me to face in myself what I am least willing to see.

As an infant, my husband and I walked, rocked, sang, patted, danced, and sleep-walked him every night for what felt like years. Nothing we did seemed to help, as I implemented everything I could think of or read about to stop his tears.

Gas drops, evening baths, car-rides…nothing seemed to help.

My darkest moment was when for a split second I lost my mind. I looked directly into his eyes and out of pure distraught and frustration I shook him. Horrified, I cradled him to my shoulder, sure I had damaged him for life in that single most shameful moment.

Fortunately I had not. But my story does not end there.

My second son brought me very similar frustration when he was only months old. Unbelievably, it happened again. I never thought I would hurt my child but in an instant of insanity, I had allowed my ego to overcome my sense of love and empathy for this pure and innocent being. I’ll never forget his squeal of fear and I was sure I would never gain his trust again.

It is only I believe by the grace of God that neither of my children were injured, or even more incredibly, they maintained their pure love and trust in me as their mother. It has taken me years to forgive myself for something they never judged me on for a moment. Despite their young age, or maybe because of it, they reached out to me with pure unconditional love with their instantaneous forgiveness.

I teach all my new mothers that shaken baby syndrome is a real thing. That they MUST put their baby down in a safe place and WALK AWAY until they themselves are calm. Most look at me like I’m out of my mind…but I will never quit saying it. I would never have believed it would happen to me, so I KNOW it could happen to ANYONE.

Lock the Door

Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash

I never would have thought frustration would drive me to completely insane measures to get what I wanted.

My second son was about two at the time. He was always one that would climb into his crib to nap, not one to follow his brother’s footsteps of bedtime resistance.

But there was something about this particular day with him, as he fought me tooth and nail about everything. I could not wait for him to take his afternoon nap, so I could get just an hour of peace before I had to pick up his brother from preschool. I was counting the minutes.

I took him upstairs as was our routine, ready for our nap-time story and eventual bliss of silence. But he was not having it. He ran from my lap with tears streaming down his face. Kicking, punching and fighting with his entire body against what I knew would make us both feel better. Just a few moments of sleep would fix it all.

After fighting with him for forever I snapped. I placed him in our room and locked the door. Not caring how long he was going to wail knowing it would eventually stop as he succumbed to sleep.

Satisfied with my disciplinary action, I started down the stairs. But something stopped me completely cold with only a few steps of my descent.

I could not open that door from the outside.

Oh. My. God. What had I done???? My TWO year old was locked in my bedroom and I could not get to him! What kind of mother am I? He’s not even my first…I totally knew better and allowed what I wanted to influence my choices, putting him in danger. This was completely unforgivable and I was instantly racked with shame and fear. What in God’s name was I supposed to do???

After calming myself and talking to him through the door in what I hoped were soothing tones, I remembered there might be a way. We had only been in the house for a little over a year, but I remembered seeing on top of the door jamb a little bronze piece about 3 inches long. I never figured out what it was for but I now hoped beyond measure it was the key I needed to rescue my son.

Who’s kidding who here? I needed it to rescue myself.

Within moments I had the door open, and as I embraced my sobbing, snotty-nosed baby, I vehemently promised us both it would never happen again.

Truth be told he’s locked himself in that room more than once, but now I know how to get to him.

Stand Up Already, Will You???

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

Boy number two had a rough second year of life…I must admit.

I was getting him dressed for the evening, trying to put on his pajamas. He was having another one of his too-tired-to-cope meltdowns, and absolutely would not stand up for me.

Again, (recognizing a theme here?) out of pure frustration I took his arm and pulled directly up on it, trying to get him upright to complete the ensemble.

Immediately his cries took on an urgency I had yet to hear from him. His arm hung limply on his side and I stared at him hoping to hell I hadn’t just injured him.

Except, I knew that I had.

My husband ran upstairs to see what was the matter, trying to convince me the child was simply tired and needed to be put to bed. My nurse-momma gut knew better, as I stared at the way he was holding his arm to his side. I slowly tried to lift it up to check the damage, and his wails grew more intense, but he was not able to resist the movement at all.

I scooped him up, now fully dressed in his jammies, and rushed him to the closest children’s hospital. I was so ashamed of what I had done and scared to death they would take him away from me. I was sure they would think he was in an abusive environment and I would be left to defend something undefendable.

To my great relief there was absolutely no judgement from my fellow healthcare workers. In fact, there was an attitude of immense empathy, as this lovely pediatrician explained that nursemaid’s elbowwas in-fact very common among kiddos his age. Typically a result of an afternoon walk gone awry, as the caregiver simply lifted the child’s arm in attempt to save them from falling to the street after a sidewalk stumble.

I watched with great relief and surprise as this wonderful person gently put the bones in my baby’s arm back in their place. After a brief moment of discomfort, he was again able to move his arm normally and for the first time since it happened, smiled up at me.

We left moments later with a sticker for him, and a great sense of relief and gratitude for me.

Forgiveness…Unconditionally

Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

As I write these words I am contemplating the driving force prompting me to share my weakest mommy moments with the world.

As with everything I write, it is with the hope that you may find some truth in what I say, and comfort knowing you are not alone. While the rest of the world is pretending they are perfect parents, you and I know we are still learning how to be human beings.

It is our children and the lessons parenthood present that bring to light our faults and opportunity to grow. I know for sure it is through these experiences that I have grown the most, learning that unconditional love and forgiveness are the true path to a greater life. Especially when you extend that love and forgiveness to yourself.

Please feel free to share your own mommy-mishaps. Human nature locked inside with guilt and shame only imprison your soul. Human nature shared is so freeing, bringing peace and love to your heart.