Tag Archives: birthday

Maybe it’s time

In a few days I will have another birthday. I will take one step further into middle age. I will leave the year of 40 and enter the year of 41.

Birthdays aren’t really that big of deal any more, although I confess at one time they were. You reach a certain point where it all just seems silly, and big celebrations become needless. As long as I get my black forest cake from my favorite baker, I’m good.

But last year felt like a big deal. Turning 40 felt like a really big deal. So I decided to celebrate it, rather than dread it. Entering both my 20’s and my 30’s had seen big celebrations and major bucket-list items were checked-off with each. Forty was to be the same. I made a list of 40 things I wanted to accomplish. I even gave myself an additional four months, starting the list in January last year instead of on my actual birthday. But the truth is many of those items, maybe even the majority, went unchecked.

They are still on that list, staring me in the face, as I reconcile the fact that I will not be able to visit 10 more states, hike 25 more miles, squeeze in 30 more dates with my husband, or lose 40 pounds in the next four days.

It’s hard not to feel a sense of disappointment, like I let myself down. Forty was going to be a year of celebration and also a year of self-care. Care that I have woefully neglected for way too long. But it wasn’t.

I didn’t start that exercise routine, I didn’t run those 40 miles. I didn’t do those push-ups and I didn’t lose a single pound (in fact, I went in the opposite direction). I also didn’t go to bed earlier, cut back on TV and social media, or finish that writing project that’s been in my head for over a year.

I could tell you that I have some really good excuses for not accomplishing these things. And maybe I do. My husband had a stroke a few days after I turned 40. My son was diagnosed with two mental illnesses 3 months later. My grandmother moved to my town so I could help care for her 6 months after that, and a lot of other stuff happened in between.

My year of 40 became a year of caring for others, of which I don’t regret or wish away one single moment. I felt, and still do, privileged to be able to do the things that I have for the people I love. But somewhere along the way, despite a few positive starts (like finally getting that check-up and blood work done), I decided I had to trade my self care for the care of others. Self care for me became sleeping in on a Saturday because I was so exhausted from the week, and binge-watching The Crown and Outlander until 2 a.m. because once the house was quiet and no one needed me, I needed to escape to another world for a while. But it felt less like self-care and more like survival mode for much of the time.

So here I sit. The list still staring me in the face. And I have to make a choice: Do I wallow in the failure, the let-downs, the “should haves” and “could haves”? Do I only focus on the things I did accomplish (and there were quite a few of those) and say “to hell with the rest”? Or do I dare try to be brave enough to say, “This year! Forty-one is the year. I will get this self-care thing right,” and try again?

Honestly, I don’t know what to choose. But I think maybe I don’t have to pick just one. Maybe I can say “Good job on these 12 things you did do, Jelise. Cross them off the list and celebrate. But don’t give up on the things you haven’t finished yet. They’re still important. And you can learn from your mistakes and do better.”

That’s what I would say to one of my kids, isn’t it?

Maybe 41 is the year of self-grace and shortening the “to-do” list instead of adding to it. Maybe 41 is the year to say “less is more”. Maybe my 40’s are the time for slowing down and savoring what I already have; what’s already been accomplished. Maybe this decade doesn’t start with giant celebrations and major bucket-list items but ends with peace and contentment, knowing that each day was celebrated for the gift it is, and that I tried to love well. And maybe this season is when I finally choose self-care — not just once or in some big, bold way — but every day in small, meaningful ways that strengthen my body and nourish my soul.

Maybe it’s time.

I finally choose self-care. Not just once or in some big, bold way, but every day in small, meaningful ways that strengthen my body and nourish my soul.

The soundtrack

Forgive me for this slightly nostalgic and self-indulgent post. But it is my birthday. And my blog.

Earlier this year I wrote about 2017 being The Year of Living 40 and included a list of 40 things I planned to accomplish or do this year in honor of turning 40. I’ve been trying to keep myself accountable…I’ve even got a spreadsheet! (thankfully ridding myself of my A-type personality was not on this year’s list)

One of the items on my list was to make a playlist of my favorite 40 songs and listen to it often. Seemed easy enough, right? Until I tried to narrow it down to just 40 songs. I actually started with 130-something. After a lot of editing, I finally got it down to 75 and that’s as far as I can go. Because it turns out that music is innately tied to memories and there are some songs that are so visual in my mind’s eye that I cannot leave them off the list. Yes, as it turns out, my life has a soundtrack.

So, as homage to my first 40 years, here is the soundtrack of my life…in a somewhat chronological order of the memory the song is tied to, not necessarily the order of when the songs themselves were released.

  1. Country Roads – John Denver (1977 – born in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, this song has obvious meaning and connection. I also remember hearing this song playing on the radio in my dad’s old red Datsun 280z.)
  2. Superstar – The Carpenters (1979 – OK so maybe I don’t remember the exact moment I first heard this song, but I grew up on the Carpenters and to this day I have to belt this song whenever it comes on)
  3. Rainbow Connection – Kermit the Frog (Because I grew up on the Muppets.)
  4. Longer – Dan Folgerberg
  5. Beautiful – Carol King (Another one I grew up on. Still one of my all-time favorite girl-anthems)
  6. Imagine – John Lennon
  7. Yesterday – The Beatles
  8. Let it Be – The Beatles (I’m lumping together my favorite Beatles songs here. I honestly can’t remember the first time I heard them. Being born in the late-70’s it felt like the Beatle’s music was just always there and always special)
  9. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
  10. Piano Man – Billy Joel
  11. Eternal Flame – The Bangles
  12. One Moment in Time – Whitney Houston (My first cassette tape every was Whitney)
  13. Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
  14. In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel (Because the movie “Say Anything” came out and every girl wanted John Cusack to stand outside her window with a giant boom-box playing this song)
    1988
  15. Angel Eyes – Jeff Healey Band (1989 – I was in the 6th grade and had my first slow dance with a boy at the middle school Valentine’s Day dance. His name was Jeff Brown and I’d had a crush on him since the 4th grade. His mom picked me up and drove us to the dance and he brought me a heart-shaped cake…because cake is way better than flowers! I can’t hear this song and not think of that.)
  16. Faith – George Michael
  17. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
  18. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ – Righteous Brothers (1990 – The movie “Top Gun” had just come out and I had one of the best weeks of my childhood at my favorite summer camp and we sang this song all. week. long. As a result, the following year I went to my first concert with my BFF from summer camp – The Righteous Brothers at Wolf Trap.)
    1990
  19. Place in This World – Michael W. Smith (December 1990 – I received my first Michael W. Smith cassette tape, “Go West Young Man” and that was all she wrote.)
  20. Beautiful In My Eyes – Joshua Kadison (Must have played this CD 100 million times)
  21. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel (1990’s – Even though I know I had heard their music earlier in life, it wasn’t until sometime in high school that I really discovered Simon & Garfunkel and I was completely changed forever)
  22. Hotel California – The Eagles (1994 – I was in the Color Guard all through highschool and for some reason every time we traveled to an away game somebody played this song on the bus.)
  23. Time in a Bottle – Jim Croce
  24. You Got It – Bonnie Raitt
  25. We Shall Be Free – Garth Brooks
  26. Somebody to Love – Queen
  27. I Still Believe – Miss Saigon Soundtrack (1993 – My Aunt Peggy took me to see Miss Saigon at the Kennedy Center and I bawled my eyes out for most of the show. This started my love-affair with Broadway musicals)
  28. This is the Time – Billy Joel (1995 – This was the theme song for our senior prom)
  29. It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday – Boyz 2 Men (1995 – High School graduation)
  30. Friends – Michael W. Smith (1995 – more High School graduation)
  31. Wide Open Spaces – Dixie Chicks
  32. Change The World – Eric Clapton (Summer of 1996 – met this boy named David on my first summer home from college. We only got to date for about 6 weeks before I had to head back to North Carolina, but those 6 weeks were the start of something big)
  33. Head Over Feet – Alanis Morissette
  34. Power of Two – Indigo Girls
  35. Least Complicated – Indigo Girls (1996 – I was introduced to the Indigo Girls by my old friend and college roommate, Mary, coincidentally the same girl who introduced me to Michael W. Smith back in 1990. I owe her a lot! The first — and only — time I camped out overnight for concert tickets was when Indigo Girls came to Boone)
    1997
  36. Drift Off to Dream in My Arms – Travis Tritt
  37. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor (Our go-to karaoke song when I was in college and went out with my girlfriends)
    1999-2
  38. Haven’t Seen For a While – Pat McGee Band (1997, I think. David and I accidentally discover Pat McGee Band when they open for John Secada (who remembers him?) This became one of “our songs” because long distance relationships are hard)
  39. Wonder – Natalie Merchant
  40. Come Some Rainy Day – Wynona
  41. Strawberry Wine – Deana Carter
  42. Straight To the Heart – Michael W. Smith
  43. Meet in the Middle – Diamond Rio (1998 – My friend Jamie and I got to co-host the country radio show, “Kickin’ Country”, on our college campus radio station Thursday nights. Most of the time it was an alternative rock station, so the only people that tuned in to hear the country show were our friends, but we had so much fun! This was one of the songs we played a lot)
    1998
  44. Pray for Me – Michael W. Smith (1999 – College graduation)
  45. Carolina on My Mind – Jame Taylor (1999 – long time fan of James Taylor, this song took on a whole new meaning after living in North Carolina for four years. Truly some of the best memories of my life)
    1999.jpg
  46. Open Arms – Journey
  47. Dog & Butterfly – Heart
  48. Beautiful – Christina Aguilera
  49. Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
  50. The Other Side of Me – Michael W. Smith
  51. Love of My Life – Michael W. Smith (May 20, 2000 – marry the love of my life)
    2000
  52. I Can Only Imagine – Mercy Me
  53. Seasons of Love – Rent Soundtrack
  54. Your Song – Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman (from Moulin Rouge soundtrack)
  55. Danny’s Song – Kenny Loggins (August 2002 – find out I’m pregnant with Hannah)
  56. Life Is Beautiful – Keb Mo
  57. Angel From Montgomery – Susan Tedeschi
  58. In My Daughter’s Eyes – Martina McBride (March 26, 2003 – Hannah is born)
    2003
  59. I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders
  60. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
  61. Hope for Me Yet – Marc Broussard
  62. One Boy, One Girl – Colin Raye (October 20, 2005 – Daniel and Olivia are born)
    2005
  63. Real Live Woman – Trisha Yearwood
  64. Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw
  65. Stars Align – Jamie Prosser (My best friend writes this song and later records it on her first full-length CD)
  66. 100 Years – Five for Fighting
  67. Defying Gravity – Wicked Soundtrack
  68. For Good – Wicked Soundtrack (2010 – See “Wicked” on Broadway for the first time)
  69. Broken Together – Casting Crowns
  70. Blessings – Laura Story
  71. You Won’t Let Go – Michael W. Smith (2014 – Started my blog…and unbeknownst to me, the early seeds of ministry)
  72. Still the One – Orleans (May 2015 – David and I celebrate 15 years of marriage)
  73. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) – Chris Tomlin
  74. Fight Song – Rachel Platten
  75. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
    family

 

Three things that having twins taught me about motherhood

See those two cuties above? Today is their 11th birthday. Eleven years ago today my husband and I went from being the parents of one sweet little girl to….

…being outnumbered.

Everything changed that day. And I wasn’t the least bit prepared for most of it.

It’s true, I cried when the OB/GYN told me I was pregnant with twins. And they weren’t tears of joy. It’s also true that their first year of life is a bit of a blur. We were in survival mode, living through what felt like one, veeeeerrrrrryyyyy long sleepless night. I nursed the twins for all of three months before I felt like Elsie the cow and started to realize I was never going to get to leave my house again.

In the early days I wore the title “mom of twins” like some kind of badge of courage or Purple Heart because parenting didn’t just seem twice as hard, or like it was twice as much work, it felt 1,000 times more difficult than life had been with just one. (and this is where I pause and tell all you moms with triplets or more that you are freakin’ rock stars).

But now, eleven years later, it’s hard to even imagine a life without our three kids. And somehow over the years I transitioned from being the “mom of twins” to just simply being Daniel and Olivia’s mom. (And, of course, also Hannah’s mom, but she’s now a teenager so that’s a whole new badge of courage I’m sporting these days.)

Most importantly, though, I realize that having twins made me a better mom. It forced me to let go of a lot of things (showering daily is overrated) and focus on what was really important (getting two babies to sleep at the same time for more than 4 hours). It allowed me to discover the kind of mom I really wanted to be, and I’m so grateful for that.

So, here it is, three things (because ain’t nobody got time for anything longer than that) having twins taught me about motherhood.

  1. How your child acts in public is not always a direct reflection of your parenting. Oh, the ignorant blissful days of having just one child. One easy, slept through the night, smiled at everyone, loved school, easy child. Or maybe more accurately titled, my Judgy McJudgerson days. My first daughter was a breeze and, for the most part, very well behaved in public. Of course it helped that there were two of us to take turns holding her hand, entertaining her, watching her, re-directing her, etc. So it was easy for me to wonder what the other parents were doing wrong. The parents of the little boy putting mulch down his pants at the playground who told his pre-school teacher he hated her; or the parents of the little girl whose head was spinning around Exorcist-style as she screamed at the top of her lungs because her mother told her “no” to the baby she wanted at Target. Clearly those children behaved that way because their parents hadn’t taught them any better.Wrong.

    Those are all real-life examples of things my precious little cherubs did when they were toddlers ( I won’t even go into stories of things they’ve done as they’ve gotten older). All things that mortified and humbled me as a parent. But in a good way. And I think every parent who has ever looked down their nose at another should be blessed with at least one temper-tantrum throwing, mis-behaving, inappropriate word saying, call-from-the-principal kind of kid. Just to remind us that, hey — they’re kids! We can teach them right from wrong, manners, respect and kindness, but at the end of the day they are little human beings who make mistakes and will try to push the boundaries. (And just to set the record straight, my “perfect” first-born has had more than her share of cringe-worthy and embarrassing moments to last a life-time).

2. Being a “perfect mom” is highly overrated.

With my first daughter I tried to get it all right. I really did. We introduced veggies before fruits. We played classical music and read to her all the time. We loved tummy time and all the made-in-America-old-school-Melissa-and-Doug toys we could find. I went overboard with the perfectly planned, everything-is-part-of-the theme birthday parties. School snacks were home-made and holiday outfits were coordinated and chosen with care. And this was all before Pinterest was a thing!

There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, except that trying to keep up with it, times three, was exhausting and overwhelming. And worst of all, if I didn’t keep up with it, then I felt like I was failing at this mom gig. That is, until I finally realized that being a stressed-out, tired, “super-mom” actually made me a pretty crummy mommy. So I stopped. I threw in the towel on most of it. And surprise, surprise, my kids don’t even notice. I’m more relaxed and happier, which makes me more patient and fun to be around. And last time I checked no one has given me a citation for being the mom who phones it in on the school snacks.

3. Every child is different and needs to be parented differently.

OK, so you don’t have to have twins to learn this…anyone with 2 or more kids can probably tell you this. But the lesson was certainly magnified for me when we went from 1 to 3 kids overnight. Add to that the fact that two of them were in utero at the same time, shared clothes, toys, and a room for the first five years of life, and yet could NOT be more different if they came from separate families…who lived in separate countries and spoke different languages and grew up in different decades.

What worked with our first born generally does not work with the other two. And what works for one twin does not work for the other. And so on, and so forth. I call this out not because it’s earth-shattering news, but because once I embraced this knowledge it made a world of difference in my tolerance, patience, and flexibility as a mom.

While they’ve taught me so much more about motherhood, life, and the kind of person I want to be, those are the three that really stand-out at this moment. I’m sure in another few years I’ll have some new lessons — after all, I will have three teenagers in my house in just two years!

But for today, I just want to say: thank you, God for this double blessing. For using my fear and weakness, and two little babies, to push and stretch me beyond what was comfortable and easy, so that I could become a better mother, and a better person.

Happy birthday Daniel and Olivia. You are my sunshine.