8 Things I’ve “Counted” Towards Earning the Mother of the Year Award

Count everything!

I recently shared how I became Mother of the Year, which basically consisted of me giving myself the award every day for any reason possible.  And it got such great response, I thought I’d expand on my first idea of how to get started – which is, COUNT EVERYTHING!

It all began one day when Josie ate more ketchup in one sitting than I thought humanly possible.  At first I thought, “I am the worst.”  Then, in my desperate brain, I made the connection that ketchup is made from tomatoes, tomatoes are technically a fruit, so Josie just ate lots and lots (and lots) of fruit.  And then I sarcastically called myself Mother of the Year!

But something happened in that moment where I decided that I needed to call myself that every day so I don’t get bogged down with the meltdowns and the poopy diapers and the sleepless nights.  So I started counting everything.  This is good practice, so take note.

What Counts on the Road to Winning Mother of the Year? 

Everything.  Like these 8 things.

  1. The Generous Food Pyramid: Anything that is derived from fruits or vegetables counts in this category. Pickles are cucumbers.  Ketchup is tomatoes.  French fries are potatoes.  Peanut butter and jelly is the perfect combination of whole grain, protein, and fruit.
  2. Peanut Butter and Jelly: Here’s where it gets fun. Anytime I give Josie a PBJ I give myself Mother of the Year because of what I mentioned above.  Anytime she gets something other than PBJ for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I also award myself the honor.  Seriously, guys, are you getting this?  Being extremely, overly generous to yourself is what it is all about.
  3. The Donut Ninja: One time I promised Josie a donut on the road to see Grandpa and Grandma. The gas station we stopped at only had Donettes, so I bought the big bag (obviously), and passed her a couple.  Then, because I’m human and was pregnant at the time, I couldn’t stop at just 2, so I secretly reopened the bag without raising suspicion, and shoveled in one tiny piece of heaven at a time until my pregnant self was full of sugar and regret.  It was amazing.  I held conversation with her, and even reclosed the bag.  If you’ve ever tried to sneak ANYTHING (but usually food) past your toddler, you know what a victory this was for me.  It felt good.
  4. Reverse Psychology: Enough said, probably. But here’s what’s working for me now.  Josie’s potty-trained and very adamant that she is only going to use the bathroom when she absolutely has to.  But before bed, I really need her to go to avoid any nighttime wakings or catastrophes.  So most nights my line is, “You know what, Josie?  I bet if you sat on that toilet nothing would even come out.”  And like magic, she’s up there tinkling.  I act all surprised and impressed and she loves it.  The downside is, she will no longer just go to the bathroom without me making this big fuss.  But mission accomplished either way.
  5. Formula Win: Cal is on formula, which is another story for another time. But dang, that stuff is expensive.  And he has expensive taste which is even more expensive.  And as we were figuring out which formula to give him, lots of moms suggested this super ridiculously expensive can of formula that was $40.  $40!!!!  For less than a week’s supply.  And he hated it.  So I called the company and asked for a refund.  Turns out they can’t give me my money but they can send me 2 cans of what he uses now.    And just for fun I called the store to see if I could get a refund on opened formula.  Yes I can.  Boom.  Got $40 back in my pocket and 2 full cans of the good stuff for my little man.  Life lesson: It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  6. The Belle Dress: This one is actually legit.  Josie was going to her first theatre experience to see the musical Beauty and the Beast.  And I really wanted to get her a Belle dress.  $22 at Target, ugh!   I hardly spend that much money on any clothing items for myself.  But I just couldn’t pass it up.  I was like a kid on Christmas Morning, bursting with anticipation and excitement at the thought of giving this gift to her and then watching her wear it to the show.  (Spiritual side note: this must be a glimpse into how excited and delighted God gets when He gives us all the great gifts in our lives!) It was worth every stinking penny.
  7. Laughter is the Best Medicine: Punishing your kid is hard sometimes. But when I put soap in Josie’s mouth for talking back, I just can’t help it.  I grab the first towel/burp cloth/sweater I see, bury my face, and giggle.  And she doesn’t see me do this, so that’s why I earn the award.
  8. Leaving Cal with a Stranger: Josie really really wanted to ride the escalator at the mall. You can’t bring strollers on those things, so I had a dilemma and it must’ve shown on my face, because the Guest Relations lady left her nearby kiosk and offered to keep Cal company while I took Josie for a ride.  And I said SURE!  I left my child with a stranger to watch my other child hop on the escalator like Buddy the Elf.  It was awesome.

So there ya have it.  Mother of the Year.  You guys, we’re doing it.  We’re awesome.  And I’m pretty sure this list proves that.  What crazy ways are you earning Mother of the Year status?

How I Became “Mother of the Year”

As soon as Cal was born, and life got even more nuts than I thought possible, it was hard some days to think that I was doing a good job as a mother.  Self-doubt, you are relentless.

Then, I decided that that is nonsense and the way to fix it was to think about the good things.  This led to me giving myself an award every day.  This award is similar to Michael Scott giving me a Dundie in that it’s pretty easy to earn most days.  (If you don’t know what a Dundie is: A. We can’t be friends, and B. It’s a reference from one of my favorite TV shows on the planet, The Office).  My award is called Mother of the Year.  And like I said, I try to give it to myself every day because chances are, I’ve either done at least one thing that ACTUALLY earns me Mother of the Year, or I facetiously award it to myself on a day where we all barely survived by the skin of our teeth.

Mother of the Year

So how can you become Mother of the Year too?

  1. Count EVERYTHING: This is the first thing I started doing to get in the habit. Follow me on this one.  Ketchup is made from tomatoes.  Tomatoes are a fruit.  Josie ate 7 gallons of ketchup with a spoon for dinner.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  2. Kids to bed early: Two wins here. Your kid wins with lots of great sleep.  Josie is almost 3 and still goes to bed at 7pm, and sleeps until 7am.  Girl goes hard during the day and needs her rest.  (She also still naps, FYI).  Cal is on the same schedule.  Both kids are growing and restoring their bodies for 12 hours each night.  And guess what mom is doing?  Hopefully not growing, but definitely restoring my mind and body.  When the kids go to bed, magic and miracles abound.  Even if that means I’m folding laundry on the couch while watching Netflix.  I’m winning.  Kids are winning.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  3. Keep the schedule: I’m a BIG schedule person.  A planner.  A Babywise Mom if you’re in the mom circles.  That means I wake Cal up every morning at 7 for his first feeding so we can keep on schedule and know what to expect from our day…well, as much as you can know what to expect with a newborn and a toddler.  And I make plans around the schedule, for my sanity.  And keeping my sanity means…you guessed it!  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  4. Break the schedule: Well now that’s just confusing. But seriously.  Breaking the schedule for GREAT reasons is the reason you have a schedule in the first place.  A few weeks ago Josie stayed up until midnight.    But it was so she could go to her first theatre experience, Beauty and the Beast.  It was worth EVERY MINUTE!  To see her enthralled in the music and story was a gift to me.  And a gift I had to keep reopening as the next day and for a few days after the sleeplessness got to her and she lost her ever-loving mind on several occasions.  Making memories.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  5. Self-Care: Guys, obviously I preach this, and try to practice this as well. But any time during the day that I do something for myself – even something as necessary and elusive as taking a shower – I call it self-care.  And I call it a win.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  6. Adios Mom Guilt: This is a topic I want to tread very lightly into, because it is such a real thing for most moms.  But not for me.  I decided a long time ago that I had too many other things that demand my emotional and intellectual capacity that I would not subscribe to Mom Guilt.  And I haven’t.  If a guilty thought comes my way, I dismiss it immediately.  I’m a great mom.  I’m doing my best.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  7. Invest in relationships: Although lately these have been few and far between, Ryan and I still do date nights.  Our goal is to sit in the same room, relatively undistracted, with each other one night a week.  Sometimes we talk and plan and dream.  Sometimes we watch Netflix and he falls asleep.  And then when we can, we go out on real dates.  And those are solid gold.  And marriage isn’t the only relationship I’m investing in.  Obviously we love spending time with our families, and I also still keep my standing Monday night with my Monday Night Girls to watch The Bachelor(ette).  And I schedule play dates and coffee dates and girls’ weekends with Mom friends.  I’ve got a wide circle of people who continue to know me and love me.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  8. Hone your Mom hands: Oh my gosh, this is my new favorite skill. I think the instant you become a mother, out of instinct or necessity you are able to see a glass fall a split second before it slips out of your kid’s hand and catch it.  I seriously can’t count the times that I’ve saved the day with my Mom hands.  Plus, I’ve also mastered several other skills while only using one hand – like making a PBJ sandwich while holding a baby.  One-handed people.  I dare you.   Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  9. Use the TV: For the first couple years of Josie’s life I was very adamant about NO TV. I’ve read lots of studies about limiting it for kids of all ages, but especially for kids under 2.  So I did.  But now, partly for my sanity and partly because it’s awesome, Daniel Tiger is teaching my kid things I wouldn’t have thought to teach….and teaching it in song.  Brilliant!  He’s got a song about everything from potty-training to sharing to saying goodbye to mom and dad at school.  My personal favorite, which DOES NOT work in the heat of the toddler meltdown, is singing, “Mad, mad, mad.  It helps to say I’m mad.”  Boom.  Mother of the Year.
  10. Stop over-thinking: Classic woman problem. Classic mom problem.  But we were given women’s intuition for this very reason.  Problem with your kid?  You probably already know the right answer.  Check your gut, and move forward.  And if that turns out not to be the fix, cool, try something else.  But to stand paralyzed (usually in front of the computer pouring over mommy forums) thinking through every single possible solution is exhausting and debilitating.  I’m trying to do this less.  Boom.  Mother of the Year.

So what about you?  I’m sure you would be Mother of the Year too if you even thought to give yourself this award!  And if I earn it 3 days a week for counting ketchup as a serving of fruits and vegetables, then I just know you deserve it too.  You’re doing great.  And keep telling yourself that.

Why I’ve Been Hiding From My Own Blog

I started this blog because I really enjoy writing as an outlet for creativity and storytelling.  My highest goal is to share my story in order to create a community of women who may need to hear that someone else’s toddler picks up dead worms on the sidewalk in an effort to clean, kisses fish straight outta the pond, and throws fits at all the most opportune times.  That although I don’t sprinkle when I tinkle, I’ve lost bladder control far more than I’d like to admit during this pregnancy.  That most days I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing in motherhood, but I’m doing the best I can.

Aaaaaaand, I’ve only written about sprinkling whilst tinkling in the past month because we’ve just been going through it!  And what I actually feel and have thought that I should write about is a little scary… and not what you would expect from someone almost ready to pop out a kid.  But here goes…

Confession time:

  • I’m pretty terrified to have this baby: They say women forget the pain of childbirth because of the sheer joy of having brought a child into this world. It’s even in the Bible somewhere.  It is False. I remember every pain, every moment of chaos, every second of losing my mind to the point of spitting and yelling and ripping off my clothes (another post for another time, my friends).  So to know that at any moment this can and will happen to me again…you can see why I’m a little anxious.  (Million Dollar Idea: epidurals delivered to your house so your first bad contraction can be the last one you feel!)
  • I hate the baby stage: To be clear, I already love my baby.  And hate may be too strong of a word, but the baby stage is my least favorite.  Babies don’t do anything.  They aren’t interactive, aside from their smiles that come to save the day at 6-8 weeks old.  They can’t give you any indication of what’s wrong with them.  And the worst part is that you’re living with this tiny helpless human while you’re losing your mind with hormone shifts, night sweats, and no sleep.  Ummm, no thanks.  I’m not looking forward to this.
  • Josie’s longest phase yet about killed me: She’s just over 2 ½ and discovered that she has fears.  Specifically, wind and ants.  Seriously?!  And those fears have led to this stupid separation anxiety or something that made her scream as soon as we left her room at bedtime.  It was heartbreaking.  And although I can tell myself that THIS TOO SHALL PASS, not knowing when it would pass or how best to help her had me all worked up.  Seriously beside myself.  All day anticipating the screaming that would happen that night.  Sobbing as she was crying in her bed.  Mess.  And every night closer to bringing home a little baby.  (Update: as of writing time, we are 4 nights into peaceful bedtimes.  Thank you, Jesus!)

The combo of these three things, in addition to regular old life (full-time job, part-time job, wife, home remodel, a teeny tiny social life)…I was feeling really overwhelmed.  Emotional control has not been my companion during these last several months of pregnancy and change.  And while that’s fun for my This Week in Lisa’s Pregnancy segments on Radio Theology, it doesn’t make me feel “ready” in any way to have a baby.

Be it painful or smooth-sailing, It'll become part of my story.

How to Balance the New and Exciting with the Holy Crap and the Anxiety:

  • Tell someone: This week, as I felt like I was emerging from the (emotional) woods (mostly thanks to Josie’s tear-free bedtimes), I did an experiment. I told a guy I just met that I didn’t like the baby stage.  And you know what happened?  I got a high five and an “I can’t wait to go home and tell my wife.”  And we chatted about how the fun we have with our slightly older kiddies feels like the sweet spot.
  • Make peace: I’m about to pop. I can’t even change positions on the couch without sweating.  And there is a day coming in my near future where I’ll face all of the unknowns, probably at the same time.  This too shall pass, and be it painful or smooth-sailing, I will welcome it into my story.  And I’ll have a beautiful baby boy who we’ll raise into a wonderful man, and a big sister who will take this world by storm.
  • Take care: Through the roller coaster of emotions the past few weeks, I’ve practiced self-care by giving myself lots of grace in moments of chaos. I’ve gotten extra hours of much-needed sleep.  I’ve spent great time with friends and family while enjoying the break that extra helping hands provide.  I’ve pretended to nest (because the real pregnancy nesting thing must’ve skipped me).  And I’ve found a song that I sing out loud when I can believe the words and listen to when I can’t.

it is well with my soul

So friend, here I go, off into my last 4 ½ weeks of pregnancy (or less).  And I already feel better than I did when I sat down to write.  Sharing your story is a powerful way to fend off isolation.  So if you can see yourself in any part of my story, I hope you feel encouraged and loved and inspired to hold your own confession time with a friend.  And if you can’t, share it with someone who may need some hope!

sharing your story is a powerful way to fend off isolation

If You Sprinkle When You Tinkle…

Today, I bring before you a PSA for decency.  An attempt to tackle a growing epidemic among women. I’m mostly embarrassed to post this, as it’s been a while since I’ve been inspired to write a blog, and THIS is the topic I choose after weeks of silence.  But it is an important one.  It bothers me weekly.  So, ladies, listen up! 

if you sprinkle

This clever little poem hung (and may possibly still be hanging) in the bathroom stalls at my Grandma’s church.  It was burned into my brain as a child.  As a little girl, I thought to myself, “How strange that we need a sign to tell women to clean up after themselves.”

And now, as an adult, I realize that absolutely we need a sign!  Ladies, if you’ve ever experienced the ridiculousness that is the public bathroom, you know this to be true.

Here’s the problem: Women are grossed out by sitting on the toilet seat in public.  It’s cool.  I get it.  Doesn’t personally bother me, but to each her own.  But, instead of putting down toilet paper or using the paper cover (sometimes) provided, ladies now squat over the toilet seat and attempt to aim.

Newsflash! Women can’t aim.  And from the looks of it, most can’t even hold a squat properly.  I mean, seriously.  Holding that low of a squat for any extended period of time is hard — even for those who are in shape.  And believe me, I’ve cheated at squats before, and slowly stood up to relieve the shaking in my thighs.  But NEVER over the toilet!  (Always in my basement, in shame, with the judging eyes of Jillian Michaels staring me down through my TV.)

And I’ll tell you, 4 out of 5 times I enter a stall, there’s pee (or worse) on the seat.  Are we stuck with the uncertainty of the horror that may await us as we push open the stall door?  I say, no!  Ladies, YOU can be part of the solution (you know who you are!).

be-the-change-in-the-bathroom-e1491410840324.png

 

What’s a girl to do? 

  1. Chill the heck out. Stop the squatting, and have a seat.  Put 14 layers of toilet paper down if it makes you feel better.  But also, when’s the last time you heard of someone catching some deadly disease on the john?  Scientifically speaking, whatever germs you may sit on can only enter your body through a mucous membrane, which you don’t have on your derriere.  Plus, with regular showering and hand washing, you’ll survive, I promise.
  2. If you must squat, at least pair your squatting efforts with common courtesy. As the wise poem says above, wipe the seat!  And if you’re not in the habit of turning around to glance at the toilet after your use (which, you probably should be if you are in the habit of flushing), change your ways.  Take a glance and see if you’d appreciate walking into the stall you’re leaving.

In following these two simple steps, I believe that we can change the world…or at least change the way we feel when we walk into a public bathroom and look at the toilet seat – which, for me (a pregnant woman who pees at least twice during a half hour trip to Target) might actually be the world.