I’d like some pictures of the boys and me, I say. Because I think it might be nice for there to be a few pictures that actually have the mother in them rather than shooting them.

Mostly, I have pictures of the boys, or the boys and their friends, or the boys and their dad. Or the goats. This is the extent of our family album. Or it would be, if I actually made a family album.

How about, this is the extent of the muddle of photos on my computer?

Anyway, it’s Sunday morning (Mother’s Day) and the sun is shining and the potluck lunch is ready and the kids are ready and no one has a black eye and we have some time before church so I make my suggestion, and I herd them outside and over to the fence.

Make that, I wait at the fence while one boy wanders out in sock feet, another in bare feet, and another spies a chicken on the loose and races off to snag and bag it.

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Meanwhile, the dad decides he has time to do major repair work to his truck (or maybe he was checking the oil?) while the rest of us cheer on the boy who is madly chasing the chicken all over the yard.

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Successful in his capture, we wait for him to return the chicken to the pen while Dad finishes overhauling the engine (or maybe he was adding window wash fluid?) and I decide the old shop might be a nicer background for our photo shoot.

I hand my husband my “camera” and the boys and I line up. Carter is grumbling because the sun is bright and he’s the only one without sunglasses and who cares about taking stupid pictures and we’re ruining his life.

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We jostle and shuffle and finally Tyson leans over and kisses my cheek and miraculously, my husband catches it.

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And then I get a kiss from him.

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And then I get a kiss from him.

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And then the whole thing goes to pot…

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… but I manage to snag my husband and he grabs his gun (?) and my oldest son says smile and I get a kiss from him, too. That’s a lot of kissing for this family.

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So I only raised my voice a couple of times, and I might have said something in the middle of it all like all I want are some nice freaking pictures of us that show how much we love each other!! … and wouldn’t you know it, I got some.

My men and me.

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We are one of those families who like to fling words around like bullets. Honestly, at the end of a meal together, I can be exhausted from the conversational olympics that have taken place. Mostly, I’m happy about that. Mostly, it’s fun.

We like to talk. We like to discuss stuff and share stuff and argue about stuff.

It can get out of hand, though, as you might imagine.

The other day, in the midst of a discussion about something, my son said some words that hurt my feelings. I got up from the table and walked away, and I was angry and sad and moped around about it for a while.

Later, as we passed each other in the kitchen, I said, You hurt my feelings today.

And he said, I didn’t mean to.

We’re good, now.

On the Friday before Mother’s Day, might we sweeten our conversations with the grace of apology.

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You know what? There is no mom-mold. Or mould, if you’re picky about spelling things the way a Canadian should spell things.

There is no hard, unyielding frame into which you are supposed to be poured. You are not supposed to be exactly like everyone else.

There is no one right way to be or look or act or mother.

Even if you identify with a “tribe” – be it attached mom or healthy mom or christian mom – even then, you get to be your own, unique kind of person.

I never want to hear you say, I don’t think I fit the mold, again.

There is no mold.

On the Thursday before Mother’s Day, be you.

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A lot of people save their posts and pictures for holidays. Or special occasions. I might not see anything from some of you until you take a trip. (And that’s okay; I totally love the trip pictures.)

You know who doesn’t do that, though?

Moms.

Moms photograph and post everything from dirty-faced children in a puddle to the new bedspread they found on sale to what they made for supper.

Some have said this is because moms are looking for validation, or they are trying to portray a life they aren’t really leading, or they are caught in the measuring-up-to-the-joneses trap.

Maybe that’s true for some, but for a lot of moms I think it’s simply because fabulous trips are a thing of the past or the distant future. They will likely be few and far between, anyway, while the children are small.

The farthest some moms will go is between home and the grocery store, and even that trip will require packing a suitcase and planning ahead.

It’s hard sometimes, when you’d love to go and do things. Especially when others are going and doing things.

But staying and doing things can be fabulous, too. So photograph away, mom friends, and I’ll happily view and comment and honestly gush over the things that are happening in your space, right now.

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Recently, mom friends of mine have photographed: crocuses blooming, babies laughing, kids biking, birthday cake candle blowing, dance recital costumes, and baby toe sucking. I am thankful moms have the technology today to take and document these moments. Thanks for sharing them, friends.

On the Wednesday before Mother’s Day, be blessed and happy!

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There are times when it seems I’m taking my family for a walk on the edge of a cliff, and I wonder if we might all be about to fall and fall and fall at my misstep, plunging into crashing ocean or onto crushing rock.

Nice thoughts on the Tuesday before Mother’s Day, eh?

I wonder at moms packing babies into covered wagons, pots dangling from pegs and uncertainty ahead, and I think they must have hardly been able to stand it some times. I wonder what was stronger in them, adventure or duty? Following men and making homes out of next to nothing and some of them thriving and some of them going plumb crazy, I imagine.

I wonder at moms raising children in war, and how do you do that? Or moms with sick or starving or buried kids, or moms with stolen kids. Stolen kids, three hundred missing Nigerian girls, and I know I have no clue.

There are moms – today, this very minute – all over the place, all over this round world, raising babies up and away, and some of them thriving and some of them, yes, going crazy. (It takes a lot of comma pauses to make a thought so big.) In a few days, some will open a card or eat toast offered on a plate in a bed or go for lunch. Some will get phone calls and some will get flowers and some will get hugs. Some won’t, and this is the dilemma of celebrating days, because some can’t celebrate and the special of the day makes it hard.

My boys will do something if their dad remembers to remind them. If he remembers he’ll pick up some flowers or some chocolate or if the weather is nice we might go for a country drive and I’ll be sweetly reminded of when they were little and they brought me dandelion bouquets or sometimes just grass. So pretty, mommy.

I’ll wonder at the time passing and whether I did it good enough and I’ll know I mostly did and sometimes didn’t. I’ll wonder at the way I’m doing it now, with extra souls in our home and how these days, these needy ones are pushing us a bit, out to the edge of the cliff and I’m praying the cliff-walking is making us all stronger and more capable and ready for whatever might be up ahead, whatever the twists and turns.

I’m praying this walk I’m taking my family on, these life choices and this way of living, all of it, is growing up kids who will thrive, and not just driving them crazy.

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There’s a popular video out now. I watched it this morning, adding my view to the more than twelve million views it’s received so far. A dozen or more of my friends have shared it on Facebook.

It’s a spoken word piece reminding us to put down our phones (or close our laptops or iPads) and to engage.

It’s a warning. It’s telling us we will miss out on some amazing things if we don’t “look up.”

(You can watch the video here.)

This is a powerful message, ironically virally shared on the media the video is speaking against.

I get the guy’s message. I agree with him, mostly. We do spend too much time on our phones. People must matter more than media. And social media is a challenging arena in which to navigate relationships and manage time. It’s an easy space to get lost in.

What is interesting to me, though, is who this video is really impacting, because of all the sharers of this video on my Facebook, all but one of them were moms.

We easily accept guilt, don’t we moms.

I raised my babies before Facebook, and I need to tell you, the media was different but the message was the same mixed bag of contradiction. Put down the book, read more books, shut off the movie, quit cleaning, let the kids play more, organize their time better, quit organizing their time so much, feed them better, stop this do that.

There were (and are) as many different messages as there are moms. It was (and is) a failure breeding ground, because we care so much and we will never be perfect.

Here’s my mom message on the Monday before Mother’s Day.

Let’s let go of guilt.

Let’s put boundaries around the distractions (like social media) but let’s cut ourselves some slack, too. We can’t stare into our babies’ faces all the time. We can’t look up all the time. We can’t live life with Damocles swords of you might miss something hanging over our heads.

Truth. We will miss things. We will forget things. We will not get out of the mom years unscathed. We will look back and think we wasted some of it. We will tell new moms how fast it goes. We will wish some things had been different.

For today, though, let’s just do our best.

Let’s be mostly responsible and a little bit irresponsible. Let’s have fun. Let’s gaze in wonder on our beautiful children. Let’s spend some time looking up. Let’s spend some time looking down. Let’s spend some time looking around.

And let’s make our peace with imperfection.

Sunday was The Day, I know. But really, around here, it wasn’t a big deal. Mother’s Day, schmothers day.

I left my sick husband at home and the three boys and I went to church. Just me on the back row and the boys scattered throughout the room and I really just wanted to be done with it and go home, to tell you the truth. Not feeling so joyful and lovely that Mother’s Day, to tell you the truth.

So I sit and stand and sing and pray when I’m told to, and I close my eyes and drift a little, there on the back row with everyone in front of me.

And then the older kids’ class is called to the front, two of my boys with them, and they stand in a line to share a Mother’s Day poem with us. Carter had been practicing his lines that morning, and he’d debated with himself over changing a word or two to make it a little less mushy. Whatever you want, I’d said, and when it was his turn to speak he included his revisions. That’s how he rolls.

Then it was Colton’s turn, tall boy up there at the front, and he didn’t say anything but only looked up from his paper and his eyes glanced around the room.

He’s nervous? He’s lost his place in the poem? He’s holding the wrong paper?

My thoughts immediately went to what’s wrong and oh no and I fretted for him.

But then his eyes found mine, and he spoke his lines deliberately, one by one, straight across the room past all the other people and directly into my mother heart.

And love found me, there on the back row, on Mother’s Day.

my Colton on a spring morning

my Colton on a spring morning