Everything Smells Like Pee

A few months ago I spent an entire day scrubbing baseboards, cleaning walls, floors and bathrooms. One of our family favorite dinners was roasting in the oven I even had left a Kitchen Spice Yankee Candle burning out the counter, all before my husband walked through the door at 5pm. It was a glorious day as conquering dirt demons brings me deep pleasure and abundant joy. But when my husband came through the door, casually and unassumingly he commented, does it smell like urine in here?

And more recently I had one of those days when I walked around my house tidying as usual. Specifically paying attention to the bathrooms as I like to do on the day the garbage makes the journey from the backyard down to the street and then across town to the dump.

But I only became increasingly more frustrated as I tidied. All four of my bathrooms had just been comet-cleaned by my husband just four days before my quick garbage night swoop through them but yet the smell of pee was everywhere. Pee left in the basement toilet (for seriously a disgusting amount of time) from non-flushers, pee on the carpet from our joyful new four-legged friend, pee around the back of the toilets on the floor from bad aiming soldiers and pee in the laundry from tiny accidents from a girl I know.

And as I became more annoyed with the overwhelming pungent smell of urine surrounding my semi-put together home I decided: everything smells like pee and I quit. I quit, quit, quit.

I truly thought potty training four kids would rid our house of the smell of pee pee. But as I walk in a new season of six people toileting in my home, I’m thinking the smell of pee pee is here to stay, at least until my little soldiers move on to the next chapter in their lives.

I could scrub everyday and try to return my bathrooms to the sparkling clean they once were in a world before four kids and a dog.

Or I could breathe (not through the nostrils and not too deeply or course) and accept, everything smells like pee. And that brings to freedom to stop. To quit. To try to enjoy this new season of six people sharing bathrooms.

I quit trying to restore life to what it once was before kids. I quit over working myself to bring the porcelain in my home to pristine perfection. I can accept us, our family, as we are, living life together making pungent messes and I can confidently walk in a season of life with four kids, a dog, and pee-pee crusted toilets.

This is where we are. There will be pee. And yes husband, our house does smell like urine.

I hope if you get to come over you will accept us too. Because everything here smells like pee and I just quit fighting the battles I can’t win.

passionate. not terrible. passionate.

She sits there in her room, tiny plastic pieces of treasures, books, pink feather pens surround her, a crooked tiara on her head and streaks of orange marker are drawn on her leg from her kneecap to her hot pink painted toenails.

She is forty pounds and forty some inches tall. She is three and she is the fiercest tiny human I have ever known.

I can’t remember whether we were discussing which pajamas she should wear for the night or who should put them on her. But I remember her being assertive with me. She was fierce when she looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, No mommy. I will do it myself. Humpf.

After having three boys in three years when I discovered I was pregnant for the fourth time I was certain it would be another boy. Boys were what I knew. Surely God was not going to challenge me with the newness of raising a daughter. 

Oh but God has a funny way about things and He did in fact turn my world upside-down and gave us that daughter. We have loved more than we thought we could love and I personally have been challenged more than I thought I would be raising something supposedly filled with sugar and spice and everything nice.

We are so grateful. I am so grateful for her. Our little girl, the last of four children in four years and the only girl, she is precious to all of us.

But she is so fierce. Frustratingly fierce. Passionate. Wanting to go about things her own way. Princess dresses, painted-toes, Batman masks and Boba Fett blasters.

She regularly will grab her brothers and scratch them so close to their eyeballs, leaving Harry Potter-like scratch marks on their foreheads.

She pushes smaller children at play dates. Moments worthy of making me want to crawl into the playhouse and hide or maybe cry.

She was the first of my four children to try out a passion-filled shut up to my face while I was correcting her.

And a few weeks ago while we were visiting my grandmother and grandfather in New York my grandmother had asked one of her kind friends if she would watch our four kids for us while my husband and I attended a grown-ups only event. When we returned there was my girl asleep on the floor. She had protested with my grandmother’s friend all night long. My grandmother’s friend reported to me that the boys were great and she couldn’t understand much of what my girl said all night except when she looked her in her eyes and clear as day said to her, “YOU are NOT welcome here.” 

She just straight-up tells selfless, helpful friends of her great-grandmother they are not welcome. sigh.

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My sweet forty pound daughter. The girl with the big bows in her whispy brown hair and bangles all the way up her arm can be quite challenging. And yesterday as she was being assertive with me I felt the words creeping into my head. Terrible Twos. Even though she is not two anymore. Those words terrible and twos were lurking in the back of my head.

I had to remind myself.

Challenging, yes. 

Terrible, no. 

Fierce, tenacious, passionate. Yes.

Terrible, no.

Assertive, opinionated, strong-willed. Yes.

Terrible. No.

In the moments when the anger starts to bubble beneath the surface and my vat of patience is running low I find myself grabbing on the posh words of parenting which often flash in my face on the Facebook Newsfeed. Terrible Twos, threenager. This is how the world sees her.

And honestly. I have written about this before and finding myself needing to write about this again. These posh sayings are not helpful to me as a parent at all. Parenting is difficult enough. And when you are drowning the last thing you need is the world chanting bitter snarky sayings to you from the top deck. Oh you’re drowning, yeah that’s terrible. It will be a year of terrible, terrible drowning. And then the next year of it will be even worse, but good luck with that.

What I need when I feel the hard prongs of raising up children is someone to throw me a life preserver and hop in the water with me.

And when I breathe deeply, I remember God is with me in the difficult waters. Not shouting unhelpful sayings from the boat but right in the difficult waters.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.

Isaiah 43:2

I can chose to breathe deeply, step out of my frustration, my impatience and on Sundays the crazy eyes produced by my aching pride when she is tenacious in front of a crowd in the front row at church.

I can pray for more peace. More patience. More self-control.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled.

John 14:27

I can breathe deeply and see the child standing in front of me, in the middle of the tiny plastic pieces treasures, books, and feather pens; with the crooked tiara and the orange marker drawn on her leg.

I can breathe and I can see her as God sees her. Precious. Uniquely knit together. Wonderfully made. A passionate girl in a crooked tiara trying to sort out this thing called life the same way I am.

And then I can be moved to compassion for her. I can remember that sometimes feeling great passion for things produces great emotion. And while I am a grown up and do not experience great passion about pajamas, my sweet girl has only been picking out and putting on her own clothes for a few months now and she does indeed experience great passion about pajamas.

And in my compassion I can correct her outside of my anger and impatience. I can help teach her proper words and tones for communicating independence because while I can be gracious and identify with big emotions and tenacity I will not tolerate sass or disrespect. Girl may be fierce but girl must be respectful to her momma.

And I can remember she is in the waters too. That God is with her. The rivers of passion and difficulty will not consume her either.

That in these challenging passionate days in the middle of tiny plastic pieces of treasures, books, pink feather pens, crooked tiaras and streaks of orange marker down her legs, the Lord is near and He is working on both of our hearts.

We are on a journey. It feels terrible but we will get through it. And God promises the waves of difficulty will not overcome either of us.

The Last Load of Laundry

There used to be a time when I had my family’s laundry situation under control. I was able to follow the schedule, put the clothes away and keep the bins from overflowing in a manner that felt natural and protected me from feeling bitterness over the bountiful bins of what seems to be a never ending battleground of washing clothes and undergarments.

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But now here in this present time, I can’t seem to keep up with our laundry situation any longer. My bountiful bins are more often dirty than clean and our sock situation has my children buying into the idea that everyday is “silly sock day” at school.

Even this weekend as my husband and I have rallied; I have been faithful to get the clothes in the wash and into the dryer methodically while he has been the precise and ever important folder swooping in to complete the job. Our new weekend rule is if my husband wants to watch a game of some kind on television he must be folding and watching.

Even with our go get ’em efforts and even as we see the end of the dirty laundry coming into view, I realize it will only be moments before another article of clothing will be dirtied and the cycle and balance of the bountiful bins will begin once again.

And again and again and again.

Until (what feels like) Jesus comes back and there will no longer be laundry.

As my heart became discouraged thinking about the eternal cycle and endless bountiful bins, I took a deep breath, a step back and I remembered that every discouraging phase I find myself in as a mom has always simply been a phase.

A moment. A blink. A millisecond.

Just a millisecond ago I was washing 0-3 month baby clothes in Dreft Detergent.

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And a millisecond from now my children can start folding their own laundry while they watch Saturday sports with their dad.

And a millisecond from then I will be back to folding laundry for a party of two once again. Because in a millisecond these precious kids, whom I only have for such a short while will be grown and gone.

So as I anticipated the last load of laundry, after taking a breath and a step back, I found a moment to be thankful for the bountiful bins, mismatched socks and moments of feeling like I am in an endless cycle of wash, spin, dry, fold.

This quote is borrowed from something I saw on Etsy from a Laundry Room sign I want to hang up in my home as an everyday reminder to be thankful for this phase in motherhood of bountiful laundry bins and what seems to be endless cycles.

“Today I will be thankful for all the little socks, the grass stained jeans and the endless piles of laundry. For there will come a day when the laundry basket is empty and these days will be profoundly missed.”

Thinking about a day when the baskets will be empty makes me feel thankful for the bountiful bins today because there will be a day when that last load of laundry will bring grief and sadness instead of relief.

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If you loved this post or connected to my words in anyway would you mind sharing this with a friend or commenting below? Thank you for stopping by.

Rachel

For The Love

A few years ago I had my very first school Valentine’s Day experience as a parent. I took my then one-year-old, two-year-old and four-year-old boys to Target the week before V-Day and bought some valentines in the seasonal section. I believe that was the year we picked some kind of Transformer cards. I signed their names for them and sent their valentines to school in a ziploc as requested by the teacher.

It was easy, the boys had fun picking out a manly valentine and I felt really good about what we had accomplished.

Until days later.

I had been out of town the day of the parties and I remember coming home to neatly stacked papers from school and both of the boys’ Valentine’s Day bags sitting on the counter.

As I opened their bags, I was expecting tiny store bought cards just like ours but I soon realized I was actually looking at tiny works of art, hand-crafted by two and four year olds. It then occurred to me that preschool valentines weren’t exactly as I remembered them.

My store bought Transformer cards brought me shame as I pieced through the Pinterest inspired mountain of love and friendship in front of my eyes.

So the following year I gave into my shame. The haunting shame shaped how I felt about my parenting. I caved into hurtful phrases like “What kind of mother sends their children to school with store bought Valentines?”

This may seem laughable to you but at my very core this is truly what happened to me. I let something as simple as measuring up my preschooler’s valentine to someone else’s shape the way I saw myself as a mom.

I found my worth and value in a piece of paper passed out at school, instead of the deep ultimate satisfaction that can be found in my identity in Christ alone.

I let comparison steal my joy. And that stolen joy and the shame that went with it had me living to be someone who God just hadn’t made me to be.

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I felt pressure to do Valentine’s Day like everyone else instead of being secure in who God made me to be, a store bought valentine kinda mom.

Year two I stressed about valentines. I researched Pinterest a month before Valentine’s Day. I selected a homemade craft valentine which included one hot wheel car per classmate. I was even impressing myself with my new found craftiness and I felt the ugliness and pride of a stroked ego when I thought about how other families may be impressed with my accomplishments as well.

There was no joy in making valentines with my kids that year. I trudged through the process. I was stressed and I was irritable over the valentines being perfect. There were even tears and some yelling at the boys because it all had to be just right.

Even when their bags came home and their valentines really had been some of the cutest, I still felt shame. The high I had felt from my impressive valentine was over before it even began. There was no lasting joy or pleasure. I had pressed on towards the goal of bringing praise to myself instead of bringing glory to a great God.

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I became angry about how I let comparison steal my joy and how the valentines I made with my boys weren’t a reflection of sending out love and kindness to friends at all because our valentines were actually made as a byproduct of a month of stress with the intention to impress a crowd.

I took a step back and in the quietness of my heart I was convicted when I asked myself, “Who were those Valentines for?”

Even after ten years of walking with Christ it seems to me that I still find myself slipping in to old patterns. It is still so easy to find myself standing on the shaky, insecure ground of wanting to impress others and stroking my ugly ego instead of standing firm on the secure foundation of living for the glory of God alone.

I felt sick when I realized what I had done in year two.

Year three I found myself back in the seasonal section at Target with my kindergartener and my two preschoolers. I thought I had learned my lesson but just recently I found myself, here in year four, perusing Pinterest. I am thankful for my failure in year two because I now know for the love of bringing glory to God I have to ask, “Who are you doing this for?”

For the love of your reputation as a mom? Or for the love of doing something uniquely you and spreading love and kindness the store bought way with your kids.

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Truth is, I am the kind of mother who buys store bought valentines and sends them to school for my kids to pass out at their class parties. It doesn’t make me worse or better. But it makes me uniquely me. And being uniquely me is enough for my kids, they told me they actually prefer buying their valentines from the store.

As I fight the valentine battle this year in my own heart I am hoping to find beauty in being ordinary and remembering that I am enough as a mom with my store bought cards. God says I am enough just as I am and that is the truth I am clinging to this February season.

I am enough with my store bought cards.

Unraveled Motherhood

Hello. I am glad you are here. I’d like to forward this post with the obvious message that I am not at all a baseball player and I know very little about the game. I am simply a fan of baseball but other than that I am very unclear about how this post began to lend itself to baseball analogies. I don’t even think I played t-ball as a child. Maybe it’s living most of my life in the two greatest baseball cities, Cincinnati and St. Louis. Or maybe it’s all these sons I have starting to love the great game.

If you aren’t into baseball analogies I write other things too.  Please stop by my about page, check out some of the most shared posts on marriage, parenting or faith and connect with me via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or by entering your email in the box to the right. 

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I had the best intentions when I started out on this journey called motherhood seven years ago. Really, my intentions for my own personal journey of motherhood were good and perfect from that first moment when I recognized that relentless first trimester fatigue that sent me into a drooling 5:30pm nap was actually a baby and not in fact narcolepsy.

In those early days of hopeful motherhood I was pregnant with a child but also pregnant with expectations. My husband was finishing up seminary and I was a first grade teacher. As parents we would be a teacher and pastor combo with a double dose of extroversion. If I was the order and schedule, he was the life-giving fun and kindness. I believed we had this thing totally in the bag – like motherhood for me was going to be a walk off homer in the bottom of the ninth; an easy swing that may even leave the crowd cheering, impressed and talked about for days on the highlights reel.

I really had the best intentions of knocking this thing called motherhood right out of the park. But on the journey of motherhood I have learned that my eyes for the fence and my longing to impress the crowd with the appearance of good intentions really were keeping me from what I had coming right down the middle and in front of my eyes.

My swings became misses and not anything to talk about the next day or even something that was tweet worthy. I had eyes for that walk-off-homer when I should have just been focusing on making positive contact with the ball I had right in front of me; focusing on making a small advance in the right direction to first base. I had big expectations clouding the clarity of the simplicity of one day at a time.

My big rookie dreams of swinging for the fence were well intended but I had forgotten about the simple basics of the game.

Motherhood is HARD. <In all caps> H-A-R-D.

No matter who I thought I was, what kind of swing I thought I had, or even if I happened to have had good coaches and models; motherhood has brought more curveballs and wild pitches than I ever could have dreamed of. And with eyes for the fence and a heart to please the crowd I have found myself constantly striking out.

I’ve had to unravel my expectations for what kind of mother I had built myself up to be in my head and focus on the mother I really am and the children I actually have in my lap.

I’ve had to say to myself, “Rach, you may not knock it out of the park today but you can breathe, make contact and take today as it comes. Watch for the curve and adjust your swing.”

I’ve had to remind myself that being ready for the curveballs and wild pitches has little to do with your aptitude, post-grad degrees or upbringing and actually has more to do with how well you can deal with what is coming at you under pressure, how well you can focus on what is being thrown at you and how much better you can forget what you thought you were suppose to do, change your stance and hit the pitch you have been thrown the best you can.

To stop aiming for the fences and take this thing one base at a time. Sure it is exciting to see a walk off homer every once in a while but the game is really advanced one base at a time.

I am educated, my husband is educated, we love our kids with a crazy email writing to the teachers level of love.

But when I (I really don’t want to speak for the hubs) rely on my know-how, the how-to books and the expectations I have for our four children the curveballs frustrate me.

When I have eyes for the fence in motherhood I notice I am more irritable, more frustrated and less satisfied in the things God has placed in my lap and declared so beautiful and so wonderfully made. 

So I fight to forget about that fence.

To forget about who I think I am trying to please.

I remember I am a rookie.

I remember I have an amazing team on the field with me. My husband, some bloodline family, some “adopted” family from my community in my church and a God who promises to be at work in me, who pursues me when I wander back to my lofty expectations and who has been faithful to remind me when I focus on what is right in front of me, that is enough.

I remember to give myself grace and I watch for the curve.

I remember making contact is enough.

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It’s really the focus and consistency no matter what is coming at them that make a true player great.

I am learning, seven and a half years after feeling that relentless 5:30pm fatigue that motherhood is not at all about what kind of mother I thought I’d be.

I have had to unravel those aiming for the fence expectations I had for myself and rest in simply making one step at a time contact.

I am just like everyone else. Watching for the curveballs and hoping to get on first on a good day.

Unraveled motherhood for me is letting those big expectation threads I had for myself fall away and realize who God made me to be and is making me to be is enough for the journey.

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And, thank you for making it to the end of this post. We have been crazy here in this house living life with four kids under six. My goal is to be a blogger in process and not leave things all pretty and finished and solved.

If you liked this at all it would be a great encouragement to me if you’d positively feedback by way of sharing on Facebook, Twitter or commenting below. Cheers and Thanks.