Thursday, November 29, 2018

On Vacations

I don't pretend to understand life. I like to think I have good intentions and pure motives, but the truth is I muddle things up on the best of days and it irritates me.

Last week was thanksgiving vacation. We had a grand time. We watched Star Trek, went to the park a lot, ate copious amounts of apple pie, and had marital arguments. Oh, those vacation arguments when you and your spouse are closeted in the same space with small children and no eight hour work day to separate your focus. One of our arguments was over a pan. Yes, a pan. I won't elaborate, except to say that I am a fool and my husband is equally as foolish.

It seems on vacation we have to learn how to coexist together all over again. Our routine is thrown out the window as daddy stays home. I want to rest but still have two small children whose very job, it seems, is to toss kinks into my well-oiled cog of a family machine. Husband is off work and also wants to rest on vacation. The only problem is that adult naps, with children, needs to be scheduled and bargained for.


I will say that we both did achieve a measure of peace. I have a loving husband who makes great sacrifices for me. I hope he would say the same of myself, but given the condition of my patience meter his report might be opposite. I napped, I knitted, I showered alone with hot water and read a few books. It was not a bad vacation. I just stress over the tension, the balance and the time. Vacation, like decadent chocolate, slips too easily through my fingers.

I wish I could curb my own vacation expectations as well. We both became annoyed multiple times during our week of freedom. It seems marriage has taught us how to uniquely exasperate each other without much effort. Reuben also has a masters degree in achieving epic tantrums at the most opportunistic moments. That last sentence was heaped in sarcasm. Nothing like two angry, non-communicative married adults struggling to understand one another over the sound of a toddlers full-blown screams.


Well, I have learned many things in six years of marriage. That is the main thought foremost in my mind as our week together came to a close. Time has taught me that my husband likes to go-go-go on vacation while I desire to stay home. So this year I rested at home for four full days before Thanksgiving so I would feel more inclined to adventure. Husband also compromised by taking Reuben out and leaving me home with Becky. I've learned a bit about give and take, even if I have a long way to go. Six years of marriage teaches me remotely, as time passes, even if I try to pay attention.

God is good. Our vacation was good. I still have a lot to learn.

And I need more pie.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Discipline for toddlers

When I first started parenting I was baffled by discipline. I remember acutely the loss of control and the inflammatory anger I felt at my son's tantrums. His whining and disobedience threw me into total confusion. I simply had no idea how to redirect him and facilitate order and correct his wrong behavior.

Now I am a seasoned mother of two. I still am learning, of course, and hardly an expect. But time and prayer have turned my feelings of helplessness into a semblance of order. Over the years God has taught my willful, sinful heart a lot about raising my own willful, sin-filled children.

This is a blog post about how I discipline. 


Before setting down my points, I want to make the reader aware that discipline (to me at least) is situational. My son may jump on the couch one day and receive one type of punishment, but jumping on the couch the next day may warrant a completely different type of correction. That is because discipline is mainly about the heart. It is not about behavior. Understanding this is of utmost importance because it sets the foundation on how I approach my son with loving correction. So, before I discipline I must attempt to know the intent behind the actions. Only then can I guide my child.

I employ five types of discipline in my parenting. I will call them the five Rs: Redirection, Removal, Recitation, Rest and Redemption. I use one or more of the five Rs each time I discipline and disciple my children. For the rest of this post I will seek to explain each R and give an example of using it in daily life.

You have probably heard of redirection. Many parents confuse redirection with distraction. I do not like distraction as a principle of discipline. Distraction is all very well when your child is 8 months old and wants something they can't have, but a strong-willed three year old can not be distracted from the object of their focus. They will just scream louder. Even if you have the most complicit sanguine toddler on the planet, I still think they ought not be distracted. Their emotions and the intent behind them matter and need to be addressed. Children need to learn how to grapple with wanting something they can't have, and not just by moving their focus to the next thing.


Thus instead of distracting Reuben with a flashy new toy or diverting his attention to a new game or activity, I redirect my son emotionally. Emotions are the reason behind his behavior, bubbling up from the fount of his heart. I can change the behavior all I want with distraction, but only redirection can approach the wrong lodged in his sinful heart. Redirection seeks to help him understand the emotion he is having and channel it appropriately.

Now don't read more into what I say than what I have said. I don't belittle his emotions. I don't ignore them. I don't make fun of him. I simply redirect his anger or his confusion or frustration in a multitude of ways. One way I might do this is by fixing the source of his frustration.

Example: Reuben (3.5) and Rebekah (10m) are playing on the floor in the living room. Rebekah suddenly wants to explore the duplo blocks Reuben is playing with, causing Reuben to start screaming hysterically. “She's breaking it! She's touching it! No Becky, no no no!!” Now, instead of distracting Becky with a new toy, or moving Reuben's attention to another toy, (which would fix the screaming) I instead redirect his emotions.

“Remember the rules, Reuben. If Becky is touching a toy you are playing with, you can go to your room and close the door or take it to the kitchen table. Becky is little and does not understand she can't touch what you are playing with.”

This acknowledges his feelings of frustration over Becky and gives him a safe place to play without her. It says “you are frustrated, lets do something about your frustration”.

Another example is needed to help illustrate. Reuben and Rebekah are once again playing on the floor, but this time Reuben wants whatever toy Becky has.

“It's mine! I need it. I want it!”

Now again I could distract Reuben and/or Rebekah with a new toy, but that method would do nothing to solve the heart problem behind Reuben's tantrum. While it may temporarily solve the issue, age and sin will only exasperate it.

“Reuben, you know you can't snatch what your sister is playing with. That isn't fair or nice. You don't like it when she snatches toys from you! You can find something else to play with or wait until she is done.”


When I say this he either (1) cries louder, (2) snatches the toy, or does what I suggest and finds something else to play with. If he does 1 or 2, I move on to removal and rest, usually with recitation added in there to beggar my point.

Redirection funnels his emotions into their proper place and supplies him with practical steps to to deal with the problem himself by reminding him of boundaries or rules. These boundaries and rules either are ones I have set in place (play at the table or your room) or God-ordained (it's wrong to covet your sister's toys). My job isn't to placate him or make him stop crying—it is to teach him to control himself and submit to God.

The second tool in my arsenal that I use when disciplining my son is removal. A lot of people will remove their kids from the situation, placing the kid in time out or sending him out of the room to his or her own bedroom. I don't do this, simply because it does not work. Every kid is different, and secluding your child to his/her room might work for you, but not for us. I have found removal best works when I remove the object that is causing my son stress. This works for my 10 month old daughter as well!

Removing is plain to explain. I give my son one warning. “I see you swinging your pocket watch over your head. We can't do that near Rebekah because you tend to let go and it flies across the room and might hit her. You need to go swing your pocket watch in your room (redirect).”

//Reuben continues to swing his pocket watch in the living room near his sister.

“I see you are not obeying. Sadly, your pocket watch needs to go into time out for 10/20 minutes (or however long) because you are not listening to your mother and obeying the rules. You are putting your sister in danger and I can't allow that. ”

//I take the watch and place it up high where he can see it.


Often he understands, but sometimes he will start crying, screaming, and demanding the toy that I have jailed. At this point I move on to Recitation or Rest. Recitation means making him think about what he has done that was wrong, and reciting to me in his own words what that is. It also involves apologizing to the person or persons he has wronged. I will make him sit down on the couch or the floor next to me (rest) or recline in my arms. I will rock him and talk to him as he calms down and then I will ask him to explain what he did and tell me why he got into trouble. If he does not know, I will repeat it until he understands and can say it back to me, and then I will make him apologize to his sister, to me, and even to God.

With the apology he has to say what he did wrong. He can't just say “I'm sorry,” he must say “I am sorry I threw the ball at your face, mommy. That was wrong and I hurt you.” I think it's very important that he both apologize and frankly state his sin and acknowledge the fault.

I could give a lot of examples, but this post is long enough already and I still have one more point to make!

Redemption is my last R. Redemption is the means behind discipline. The redemptive blood of Christ covers his sheep. Doing the will of God and giving him glory is the reason for our existence. Pointing my children to Christ and reminding them of God is the goal of parenting. Therefore I try to make God the foundation of my discipline. Everything rests on the redemptive, saving blood of Jesus and thus every moment I disciple my children should point to God. It's not about my rules. It's not about changing or modifying their behavior. Discipline is about shaping and pulling little hearts to God and teaching and modeling God's ways.

I teach my kids about God by reading my own bible in their presence, discussing God, listening to sermons with them, singing hymns, praying with them, admitting my own need for Christ and in many, many other ways. Thus as I discipline, I hope my children come to revere and love God and need him as much as I do.

Monday, November 19, 2018

How I Came to Love Motherhood

“Mommy” My three year old said, as I was washing the dishes, “Can you clean my toes?”

“Sure.” I replied. I picked up a wet towel and turned around, not imagining in the slightest the sight that would great my eyes.

Pumpkin pie. Everywhere.

Trying to control my voice I asked, “What did you do?!”

My son grinned at me. “I stuck my toes in my pie! Pie everywhere! Pie explosion!” Reuben made to fling his feet back on the table. “Mommy, can I paint with pie?”

“Um. No...” I said as I set to work cleaning the table, the floor, the boy. As I wiped pumpkin pie off my sons toes I belatedly noticed his sister under the table. Crawling around eating pumpkin pie crumbs. From the floor.

Great. 10 month old already eating sugary pie. Oh, well.

I cleaned my son and had a conversation I'd never fathomed. We don't put our toes in pumpkin pie. Or food. We eat food. With our hands. Or that fork I gave you. Then I cleaned the floor, changed Reuben's clothes. Changed Rebekah, who had pie on her as well from crawling in it.

Just another day of motherhood.

But there are worse things than pumpkin pie explosions that muddle up motherhood. Little boys who try to change their own poopy diapers. Heaters that break, husbands that come home late. Sickness that spreads through the whole family, while an exhausted mom takes care of runny noses when she just wants to sleep. Meals to make, laundry to wash, and a never-ending list of emotions and mental stresses to deal with.


Tragedy. Loneliness. Even death. We mothers have wounds so great hidden in our hearts it is sometimes amazing that we function. Betrayal after betrayal comes our way from many different sources and yet still we must go on, mending clothes and wiping bottoms. A mother's job never ends.

So what, do we throw in the towel? Is it all for naught? No, dear mother. Even in the midst of the storm God is there, walking with us, holding us and holding our children.

So, I'll be honest. Becoming a mother broke me. My son didn't sleep. He cried all the time. My life was a mess. I was a mess. An alone, miserable mess.

But that changed. I have bad days now, but I no longer live in that place of anger anymore. And now I have two! Two children that have violently (yet beautifully) sprung from my womb in what can surely only be an act of God. And we are thinking of more. Will there be three? Egad. Someone lock me up, before we start imagining a forth!


What changed is my heart. That first year of motherhood I tried to do it all on my own. I was angry a lot. Angry at my baby for not sleeping. Angry at my husband for not helping, for not seeing that I desperately needed assistance. Angry at my body for holding onto my pregnancy pudginess. Angry, angry, angry.

I felt like I had no time for myself, no time for my friends. My existence had shrunk to “smelly milk supplier” and I resented the title change that had come without fair warning.

I would like to describe the change. Because I am no longer angry. I am no longer resentful.

I have learned that Motherhood is a beautiful thing, not a burden. Yes it has its sorrows. Yes it is exhausting and irritating at times. But God gave me two kids to mother. He didn't give me two babies to stifle me creatively or destroy the intimacy of my marriage. He didn't give me two wonderful lives because he wanted to ruin my life and ensure I stayed fat forever. He gave me two babies because it was his will that I become a mother and glorify him by raising those he saw fit to bestow. Somehow, impossibly—I am a mother for His Glory.


For some reason that realization set me free. I am doing Gods will as I mother and raise my babies. I am fulfilling the great plan of God as I spoon prunes into my daughter's mouth. My role in Christ is being realized as I rock my 10 month old Rebekah at 1 am, my eyelids drooping and my limbs limp with exhaustion.

God made me a mother. It isn't a derogatory role. It isn't an inconvenience or an annoyance. It is the very will of God!

With that in mind I began to pour myself out to God daily, seeking his guidance and his will in my role of mother. My anger is gone. Instead, awe resides in its place. I take up my bible as my guidebook, making sure to read it daily. I surround myself with godly women who mentor me. And little by little the joy unfathomable has opened to me, until I am drenched in the very essence of God. Not my will, but His. Not my dreams, not my aspirations. All cast before Him.

It is scary, but nothing has ever felt more right.

This is how I have learned to love being a mother. Well, most of the time. When my son isn't sticking his toes in his dessert.

Don't get me wrong, I am still a sinner saved by grace. I still have a long way to go. But I am seeing myself more through the eyes of God instead of the eyes of the world or the eyes of another. God's will, God's purpose will be my vision—not greed, not some idea of raising well-behaved children, not any ideals of a perfect body, a perfect home. I'll keep my eyes above and take up my cross and follow Him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Dear Single Mom

Dear Single Mothers,

I'll start first with my mother. You see, I was raised by a single mother. I could call her many things: strong, persistent, kind, loving and honorable. I can see her in my minds eye as she traversed the many roles of life, from mother to teacher to friend. But most of all I remember her love. Her love that filled my life with light, her love that gave me a happy childhood. It's because of my mother's sacrificial love that I am half the woman I am today.

me and my mom

I am sure I know less than half of the sacrifices she has made. I was a child, and children take things for granted. But with adult eyes I can look back and see how she pinched and saved so we could go on vacation and have fun at the beach. I see how she never bought new clothes for herself, but made sure we had what we needed for school. I see her cooking, cleaning, reading books to me and my sister and gently putting us to bed. She fiercely defended me when I needed it most. She never judged me when I made mistakes as a teen (and there were many) but instead offered advice without ire.

I am probably making her sound like the perfect mother. Of course she had her faults, as all mothers do. But in all of my 31 years I have never doubted her love for me or her devotion to our family. I thank her for her sacrifices, those made and those yet to come—because she still is an ever present light within my life.

But she was a single mother.

I have learned the hard way that single mothers carry a heavy stigma. Growing up in church and throughout school I was ostracized for it, made fun of. And God only knows what my mother suffered. She does not speak of it much, but I know she was repeatedly shamed. In church. By friends. In her workplace.

By Christians. I have learned in my few years that Christians are the most judgmental when it comes to
the plight of a single mother. They should be the most loving, the most kind, the most understanding, the most helpful—yet they are not.

Why is that? Jesus died for the single mother just as much as any other mother. God loves and blesses the single mother just like any other mother. Children also are a blessing from the lord.

But no one has to walk around in shame and in “sin” like we Christians perceive the single mother does.

Let me explain it this way. My husband and I recently had a fight. I bought a toddler mattress without consulting him, and we are supposed to agree on large purchases. It was sinful of me to go behind his back like this and buy the mattress without a solid yes on his part (we had talked about it a few times but had not come to a decision). The mattress came while he was at home, and he was understandably upset about it. We argued; apologized. We both spent time in prayer, and tried to communicate amiably.

He apologized for being always busy and never having time to talk about buying the mattress. He said he was sorry for not understanding that I really needed it so we could begin transitioning our three year old out of our bed and into his own. I was so fed up with sleeping with both my daughter and my son—one of them had to go, and the toddler was the best bet as my daughter was still breastfeeding at eight months. I had asked him three or four times to consider buying a mattress for our toddler bed, but each time he had been too busy to consider it.

I apologized for buying it without consulting him one last time and asking for a verdict. I should have communicated better how desperately I needed some space at night. And I should not have purchased something that expensive without a definite yes from him.

We both made up and the issue was never mentioned again. No one outside of our marriage (well, until now) knows about this fight. I can go to church and to the supermarket and a stranger who looks at me can not tell that there is anything amiss in my marriage. No one from the outside can see that my husband and I fought or see that we sin. 

It is not so with single mothers. They walk around with their perceived “sin” for all to see, on display at all times. And people judge.

God payed the price for my sin. He payed the price for the way I treated my husband that day I bought that mattress. He paid the price for my sin of having sex outside of marriage, for I dated many men before I met Christ and my husband. Christ paid the price for all my sins, I am clean before God because he looks at me and sees only his son's sacrifice.

So why don't we look at single mothers as being without sin, pure before God? Why don't we treat them that way?

Many single mothers became single mothers through no fault and no sin of their own. But even when there is sin: let us be over and done with it! There is no sin that needs to be revisited in guilt over and over again, no sin that the barer needs to be consistently barraged with, and no sin that is not covered by the loving sacrifice of Jesus on the cross; so why do we torment single mothers with daily reminders of their perceived “wrong”?

What if I had to wear a shirt that said “sinner” in red letters, and written on the back of my shirt was a list of my sins? Fornicator. Lier. Thief. Slanderer. All my sins for everyone to see and stare at.

That's kind of what it is like to be a single mother. The children of a single mother are without a father, for all to see, and all to judge the mother for it.

I once invited a single mother to my church. She had been looking for a good church, and I was sure mine would be a wonderful fit.

I was wrong.

She came to a woman's bible study. A place full of married, stay at home mothers with husbands, two car garages and gluten free pantries.

The first question she was asked what what her husband did for work. I was standing next to her, and blushed a little. For some reason this awkward line of questioning had not occurred to me.

“I'm a single mom.” She said. I relaxed. Surely things would pick up. Surely these women who had been so open and loving with me would accept my friend, single mom or no.

“Oh.” The other lady said. And I don't know what thoughts were going through her head; but the next question she asked was: “How do you make money?”

Shock ran though my body. In all my years of attending this church I had never been asked how I made money. And I knew these women intimately, and yet they had never asked me. This friend of mine—this was her first time attending. Who asks someone how they make money upon meeting them for the first time?

“My mother supports me right now.” My friend answered.

“That must be hard.” Church Lady responded.

No one (but me) talked to my single mother friend for the rest of the morning. She never came back to my church.

After the woman's meeting was over I apologized to my friend. I told her I was sorry people were rude, and that she had been asked rude questions.

“I'm used to it” She said. “At the last church I attended the Sunday School teacher asked me 'where is your kids father, do they even have one?' (in that tone of voice too) right as I was dropping my son off for Sunday school. Right in front of my kids.”

I had no comment. 

“I had only met Sunday School Teacher one other time. I wasn't even on a first name basis with her yet.” My single mom friend continued while I gaped.

“Wow.” I finally said.

“The church before that—I attended with my husband before he left.” She continued, like she was telling a story about a lost puppy or a misplaced wallet, and not the most tragic tale of her life. “I asked the pastor for some help when my husband just abandoned us. He told me to get a job.”

“Wait. What?” I said. “He said the church couldn't help you financially? He told you to get a job?”

“Yes.” She said. “And of course I want to get a job. But it happened so fast, we were still reeling from Ned's* departure. I hadn't had time to look for work. And you know we struggled a lot even when Ned was contributing. But it was always my dream to stay home with my children.” *name changed

“So your pastor didn't try to talk to Ned, or tell him he needed to support you as your husband? He couldn't supply any funds to help out, even for a month while you searched for a job?”

“No.” My friend said. “We had to go on food stamps and move into government housing the very next week.”

Ned, by the way, used to beat my friend. The night he left he had beat her so much so that she was afraid for her life. So she called the police who, I might add, acted like they were bothered by her call and were nasty to her. Her husband left that night and never returned. Two years passed, and that was the year I invited her to my church. It's been another three since that date and Ned has never contacted her again, never given her or her kids money, and never seen his son or daughter since the day he left. He abandoned his family. And yet she bares the burden, the stigma, the “shame” of being a single mother. The questions. The unsolicited advice. The animosity.

I am angry for my friend. I am angry for the way people treat single mothers. I am angry that we judge single moms for being on food stamps but refuse to help them ourselves. I am angry for every story every single mom has told me: from lost friends to lost churches, to having to explain themselves to strangers while they struggle to make ends meet. It is wrong, it is evil, and it must end.

Being a single mother is not a sin. Jesus loves single moms just as much as any other woman or man! He died for them and for their children! Do you hear that, single mother? God loves you. Jesus loves you. You are valued among women, you have worth and a purpose and a reason to hold your head up just like any other person.

I'll go further. The fact that I have a husband, that my kids have a loving father does not make me a better person than any other mom. It does not place me on a pedestal, it does not give me the right to judge or admonish or reprimand any mom, single or no! There is no mom hierarchy and there should not be. I am not any less, or any more of a sinner.

You, dear single mom, are washed free from your sins if you have accepted Christ as your savior. We are all sinners. And as I said above, being a single mom might have nothing to do with sin! It could be a product of circumstance. Rape. Widowhood. Abuse. Abandonment. The stories of single mothers are as varied as the stories of life itself.

Even if it does have to do with sin, yours or another person's sin: God does not want you to live under the yoke of that sin. You do not need to be reminded of it daily. You don't have to wear it like a shroud. It is over and done with and paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ and you are set free. Free to have a unburdened and joyful heart, free to raise your family without stigma or shame, free to worship Christ with your soul prostrated before the alter of our one true God as any other humble follower does.

God is good and has enough grace and mercy for all. Go forth and love your children and do the work of God our Father, who is in heaven. Yes, you, even you, single mom—God has a plan for you. Go and find it, and don't let anyone get in your way.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Cloth Diaper Pants

I don't know what it is about pants for little girls, but most of them don't fit over cloth diapers. I buy pants at thrift stores or online or receive them for free, but I can't get them to fit over my daughter's fluff butt. I don't get it.


After months of frustration, I dug out my sewing machine from the depths of the storage closet and decided to try to make them fit. By sewing panels into the bottom. This was my first attempt, and while it does work, it's not the best. I didn't measure and just winged it, causing it to be a little lopsided. As you can see, I took a purple onesie, cut out a portion of it, and sewed a half circle into the top of the pants to accommodate her cloth diaper.


I love that she can wear these flower leggings now with her cloth! These cute leggings I got at a baby thrift store called Once Upon a Child for only 1.99. I love them!

This is what the front of Becky was doing while I was surreptitiously taking pictures of her derrière. 


Monday, November 5, 2018

Disappointments

This morning I wanted to take a shower. A hot shower. Alone. Blissfully alone, for 10 or so minutes. Just me and the water and the warmth.

Alas, it was not to be. The moment I climbed in the three-year-old suddenly realized I was gone. I'd expect Becky to whine for me, but Reuben? Really?

He made his way into the bathroom. “Mommy. I want Mommy.” He said, and demanded to get into the shower with me. I told him I'd be right out and to please go wait downstairs with daddy. I tried to tell him daddy needed a hug, daddy needed help making his breakfast, Becky missed him, his toys needed him, mommy wanted to be alone, please just wait a few minutes...

He started to whine and after a few seconds his whine turned into a full blown crying tantrum for mommy.

My relaxing shower was not only accosted by a toddler—it was a sobbing, wretched toddler who demanded he needed mommy that interrupted my hair washing and toe cleaning.

I finally got him to go downstairs where he was apparently so upset to be without mommy for two more minutes he threw up. When I dressed 3 minutes later, Becky was crying in the play house where she had been put to keep away from Reuben's mess, and Reuben was still sobbing for me.


Needless to say, I started the day heavy with disappointment. I tried to do what I knew was right. I scooped up Becky, attached her to my boob and let Reuben sit next to me and tried to calm him by reading books. Eventually he was calm, Becky was calm, Husband had cleaned Reuben's breakfast off the floor and left for work, but I was still grumpy.

I want to be alone for just a minute. I am tired of everyone needing me. This is exhausting.

All true statements. All valid feelings. But I didn't want our emotionally charged morning to ruin the rest of my day.

I did yoga.

Becky cried halfway; so I was jangling toys in her face while forward-folding and singing jingles to her from downward dog. She made it through my 20 minutes of morning exercise, and I made it too. Reuben, I might add, was right next to me either trying to play with his sister or imitate my poses. Sometime I should film him during my yoga, but honestly I just want to do yoga and not think about anything else, so I doubt that will ever happen. It would be funny, tho.

Afterwards I felt a semblance of peace. God loves me in spite of my whining ways and cranky heart, so I can love my toddler through his tantrums. I'm learning more and more that while I can't control my kids or have lonely-shower expectations or plan (more or less) how the day will go in the emotional sense, I can control myself. I don't have to yell at him. I don't have to let moody children control my day. My duty as parent lies in helping my children navigate their own emotions—and that starts first with my example. How often I fail at this only they will know, but I will say I fail often. It is a fault I am sure many parents contend with in themselves.

To all of you parents wrestling with the daily tasks of raising young humans, I salute you. It is no easy feat, especially when you aren't even sleeping through the night.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Refrigerators and the Return of God

My heart leaped with joy.

This all has to do with a refrigerator, but we will get to that part later.

Last week, all in a row, I had a horrible few days. Becky wasn't sleeping. She, for some reason, was cutting four teeth at once. All on the top. All next to ear other. My husband's anxiety was sky high, he was working late again, and I was exhausted. My toddler also seemed cranky and was waking more at night, making my days a blur and my nights one long bleary-eyed baby and toddler rocking adventure.

We are also desperately attempting potty training. Reuben is 4 months and 3 years old. Old enough to do his business on the white throne, I think. But he thinks different. We started potty training at 2 and he took to it quickly. He was pooping and peeing on the potty without me reminding him and requesting to go as his body prompted him. I was thrilled. Finally, something with him was going easy!

But then the train wreck that is pregnancy nausea hit me and I couldn't get off the recliner. I couldn't help him sit on the potty. I couldn't wipe him. Him asking to use the potty was an impossible, unattainable dream. So he asked for a few days but quit when I would blink nauseated at him from my curled up position on the furniture. I'll do it later, I thought. After this baby comes. It's not like he'll forget. It'll be okay.

So. We started potty training again when Becky was born and Reuben was almost 3. He wanted nothing to do with it. We backed off. I decided to wait until he was three—the golden age for potty training a boy at least according to the stories I hear first hand from local friends.

Well, 3 has come and gone and he does not want to use the potty. I have failed as a mother and he will be in diapers until he's 16, I am sure.

Anyway, this last week was bad. We had potty training woes, tantrums from everyone, anxiety with the husband, no sleep and lonely nights.


But one morning I heard these bells. It is strange, I didn't really know what to think. I heard them and my heart leaped within me. Jesus is coming back! I thought, and yes I really thought that, and I remember trembling in excitement for a full 10 seconds. The tinkling sound was light, ethereal, and unlike anything I'd ever heard before. I looked up and out, drawn to the noise.

It was at that point I realized the “ringing bell” sound I was hearing was just a glass plate vibrating against a bowl on top of my refrigerator. They were ever so lightly rubbing together creating the trilling bell sound that had captured my attention. My refrigerator had somehow become slightly off kilter causing it to shake slightly as it ran, vibrating the things I'd placed on top of it.

Jesus was not coming back. My refrigerator was playing tricks on me. I would have laughed at myself if I could have, but at the time I was too mortified to laugh. How awkward.

However, my bad day turned from worse to best. There is nothing like mistaking the return of Jesus to put ones own woes in perspective.

Now if only I could get my son to use the toilet, my life would be just perfect. At this point I think Becky will be potty trained before Reuben.
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