Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Being a Mom Means Learning to Let Go

When things don't always go the way you want...
They still seem to work out in the end.


I spent every single day for nine months freaking out about daycare. Then all the worrying became a reality once Jackson was born. I spent three whole months hoping and wishing I’d find a way to spend every single day with Jackson once my maternity leave ran out. But every morning I inched just a little closer to the inevitable.
I was going back to work.
I remember telling my husband Karl I was totally OK if we lived in a cardboard box as long as I could be with Jackson all day.
*Please. Please.*
In all reality, one of us couldn’t stay home as hard as we tired. With him in school and only a resident and me the one bringing home the bacon, it didn’t make sense.
I wish I didn’t have to dwell on going back to work during my time off, but I did. I tried to stay positive. The whole three months I walked around in my sleepless coma I thought something miraculous would happen where I wouldn’t have to go back to work. Maybe this is why I needed to be tired, so I wouldn't have to focus on going back to work SO much. In my mind, I had us winning the lottery. Someone would offer me a book deal. I’d be able to work from home full time. Bottom line was, I never gave up hope. Something incredible was going to work out for us.
I mean, how could I give my baby to someone other than me and expect them to do my job and love my baby as much as me? Could it be possible??? I tried not to let it get the best of me, but it was hard.
Jackson getting his morning hug from Eleanor, Jenna's youngest.
I am here to tell you that it is possible to find great care for your baby – OTHER THAN YOU. There are some really great people out there in this world.
Jackson Happy at Daycare
This is ME saying this. The one who witnessed something bad. The unthinkable happened three years ago to my best friend. Just two days after going back to work, her homecare provider shook her six-month-old son unconscious.
Did you feel like someone just punched you in the stomach and throat when you read that? Because that’s what I felt when her husband called me at work to tell me the news. And I feel that EVERY TIME I start to think about it. My heart breaks. I don’t know exactly how many times I threw up during the six in a half hour drive down to Milwaukee, but it wasn’t a pleasant trip. I thought I caught the flu. I couldn’t stop shaking. Between sobbing my eyes out and getting sick, it was like driving closer and closer to the worst NIGHTMARE of my life and this wasn’t even my baby. Imagine how SHE felt!!!!!!!!
How was this even happening!??!?! This is stuff that’s on 48 Hours or Nightline - NOT something that should EVER happen to my best friend.
And all those emotions and feelings became VERY REAL after I had Jackson because I could begin to relate (just a little bit) to what my BFF must have felt. Once you become a mother, this crazy new deep unexplainable love is born. Nobody can mess with your baby. Nobody.
In my eyes, my BFF is one of the strongest people I know. How does one make it through something like that? I do not know.  But she did. And I feel like I don’t tell her how amazing she is enough just because the whole thing is not fun to think about and how does one approach such a subject in an everyday conversation?
Thankfully with a whole lot of prayer and today’s technology, her son is a happy, amazing miracle and is now three and a half years old!!! I thank God every day for helping them through this horrible tragedy.
But that horrid incident left a HUGE mark on me. It opened my eyes to the fact that there are bad people out there in this world, who do really ugly things. And as much as I’d like, I can’t hide or protect Jackson from all of them, or forever. UGH! And I can’t pretend they don’t exist. Double UGH! This is the part that scares me the most. With good, comes bad. And at some point Jackson will have to face some hard times and come across these people. All I can do is pray that God guides me in the right direction to give him the right tools and helps keep us safe. 
Speaking of God…I’ve always been involved in my church since moving to Minnesota and it truly has helped me through my darkest moments and even my happiest days (mission trips, giving of myself more, making new friends, opening up to others, our wedding, bridal and baby showers). So it was no surprise I met Jenna when I decided to join this young(er) adult bible/book group at our church. God is good like that. He has a way of planting people in our lives when we need them the most (when we don’t think we need them either). He really does know us the best. And the thing with us is… sometimes we try to hide. Why? I don’t know. If I had to guess, I think it’s because we like to keep to ourselves. Maybe we don't feel like people will accept us for who we really are. We don't want to be a burden. Or we pretend that everything is perfect (Newsflash: everyone is broken in some way.) Or we like to prove to ourselves we can do it all. We like to stay in. We like to keep up with our routine and stay away from change. I know I do. Yet, it’s always the times I put myself out there and venture out when the best moments in my life happen. When I feel like I did something really amazing. I GROW.
With that said. I had never seen Jenna at our church before but I liked her immediately and wanted to get to know her. I get that way with some people. Some people creep me out. Some I want to avoid all together. And some I’m totally drawn to. Jenna was one of the people I HAD to know. Later, we connected via Facebook and soon I was writing on her wall (jokingly) asking if she’d want to watch our baby when I went back to work. Why I felt the need to write that? I do not know. God, anyone?
I never expected her to write back saying she was interested.
We met for coffee and I let it all out – my fears, my BBF’s horrible story, EVERYTHING. Jenna never judged. She listened, offered support and let me know she was there for me NO MATTER WHAT. I felt like I had known her for years. Plus, she had her youngest baby on her hip the whole time and I saw her in action! She shared her own story and spoke about her kids a lot. I loved the way she talked about them. As weird as it sounds, she reminds me of my own mom even though Jenna and I are very close in age. I could tell she was a GREAT mom. She made sure I left knowing there was no pressure to go with her, but she would be there for us, especially when I went back to work. This was always in the back of my mind. I felt good after I left. That SHE WAS IT. I felt it in my bones and that's what I wanted - what I needed to feel in order to trust someone other than me. I needed to get that feeling. But there were still all these fears… Maybe a center would be better? She has three of her own kids. How would she give her kids attention and our little Jackson too?  Was there enough of her to go around? I could barely figure out how to care for Jackson myself and he was ONE baby. Or what if she got sick? What if her kids got sick? How would I balance it all? Would I find coverage in time?
Jackson with the crew (i.e. Jenna's sweet kids) at Daycare. Loving his new friends.
Karl and I visited a center – the only center I was comfortable with. It was a wonderful place. But the cost didn’t work into our budget. There was no way around it. What to do?

We decided to go with Jenna.

The week before I went back to work, I really started to panic. I’d cry cooking dinner, showering, on our walks. I knew my day’s home with Jackson were ending and I’d have to go back to a place that would not compare to the awesomeness of being with him. And I knew I’d miss Jackson like crazy. Life did not seem fair one bit.
I continued to pray and pray and pray. And still nothing. What was God up to? Wasn’t he listening?? I brought Jackson over to Jenna’s for a second time (she met him a few short weeks after he was born too) because I wanted to see how things went with her kids. They went so well and I left knowing I was making the best decision I could for all of us.
Flirting with Jenna

My parents watched Jackson the first two days back. Yes, I cried. OK, I bawled. My parents watching him did help, but once Monday came, I would be facing the TRUE test. I bawled again that morning but when I dropped him off at Jenna’s, I felt at peace. I only had two hours of sleep in me but I knew in my heart, EVERYTHING would be OK. She made me feel like I was still a GOOD mom. I didn’t leave feeling like I had failed, but that I was doing something right.
I love Jenna! She is so good to me!
And with everything life altering, I reminded myself I had to give time time. I wanted to fast forward to the day I’d finally feel OK leaving Jackson, but I knew that would probably be when he was 70. And think of all the stuff I’d miss out on in-between…
Jenna is SOOO funny!
I allowed myself two weeks to feel anger. Resentment. To feel sad. Even jealousy toward whomever I wanted. Karl. All the mothers who got to stay at home. Myself. The lady in size zero pants, driving a BMW SUV with three kids. I let myself FEEL whatever I needed to feel to get through it. Who cares if I sounded crazy. I needed to FEEL.
Say what? Mom's gone working? Didn't even notice! Having too much fun here!
If I was still upset and feeling bad, I’d re-evaluate in two weeks. I shocked myself by being OK where things were even before the two weeks were up. I never thought I’d get there, but I did.

From that point on, I knew I could do it. For now. I never said forever. For now. "Day-by-day" is STILL my motto.
I get daily emails and reports from Jenna. And sometimes pictures. My heart MELTS when I see the pictures and see how HAPPY Jackson is. He's learning how to be around siblings and getting practice for when he actually gets a brother or sister! I like that a lot.
A coworker told me that as soon as we have our kids, we have to start to let go a little bit at a time. As crazy as it sounded at the time, he was right. The only time I had Jackson to myself was when he was growing inside me. It makes me wish I treasured being pregnant more. Every push during delivery was me letting Jackson go and I never realized the connection.
That’s what makes parenthood SO hard. We want the next stage to come. We have a hard time living in the moment and cherishing each milestone because we think tomorrow will be even better, we're exhausted, time goes SO FAST. And that LETTING GO stuff. HARD. This is what I’m talking about when I say THIS IS HARD. We fall head over heels in love and spend every second of our days as a parent trying to make the best decisions, the best choices, the BEST for our little ones. Sometimes that means lying awake at all hours of the night or giving up some of our hobbies and sacrificing friendships and big parts of our old lives. Realizing we can’t protect our little ones from everything. We push ourselves - mentally, physically, emotionally -  like we have never been pushed before. And the thing is – no shocker here - not everything works out the way we want them to. We’ve been dealt this hard lesson before, but this time we’re dealing with another life. A human being. The most precious thing in our life. Something we breathed life into. Someone we care more about than anything in the entire world. So when we can’t give them the world or if bad happens, life just seems a bit unfair and complicated… and we automatically blame ourselves. We have failed. And that is a hard pill to swallow and a lot to deal with. 
So what do we do when we things don’t always work out the way we had hoped or wanted?
Hope. Pray. Let go. Let God.
That hope that I hung on to brought me to Jenna. The next best thing in my eyes besides Karl or myself caring for Jackson. Because of her, we have a wonderful system down now where Karl’s parents watch Jackson on Tuesdays. They couldn’t be happier. We couldn't be happier. Jackson gets time with his grandparents and they get special time with him every week. My parents will come up every 4-6 weeks and watch Jackson for a few days too, so they get their special time in as well. There's a really good balance going on.
This didn’t come easy by any means - I had to coach myself to remain open to change and let go. And because of that, lots of joy has been spread to many people. And I think that’s truly what God wants from us. To spread his light so it shines so bright there is no room for darkness.