I am a Christian, a wife, a stay at home mommy, an online shop owner and a ...blogger (that still sounds strange to me...). My days are filled with juggling the needs of my family, crafting, blogging, taking care of our home and most importantly soaking up every little moment with my children.
I often remind myself "they are only little once." I tend to find the funny in any situation and I thrive in chaos. I have always dreamed of a house FULL of littles. I love the Lord and glorify Him through the good times and the not so good times. I love organization and am completely OCD.
When do you feel like you're doing your best job as a mom?
I feel that I am doing my best as a mom when I see Cliff and Harper smile. When our house is filled with laughter they are telling me "We are happy. You are doing a good job as a mommy!" We laugh a lot in our house and we tend to focus on the positive aspects of life.
When we turn off the TV, shut down the computer and "accidentally" leave our phones in the car. When we unplug from the crazy hustle and bustle of our everyday lives and just be with each other. When I am prepared for the day.
You knew this one was coming... when do you feel like you're doing your worst job?
When I am tired and exhaustion takes over. When I lack the patience required to teach Cliff and Harper right from wrong. When I say "yes" to too many things and then get stretched too thin. When I spend too much time answering emails and feel that I have wasted an entire day not being fully present with my littles. Those days I go to bed thinking "what am I doing?" Those days I get upset with myself. Those days I feel like the worst mama ever. But I always remind myself that tomorrow is a new day. A chance to do better.
What surprised you the most about motherhood?
The love you can feel for someone in an instant. The passion your little ones bring out of you. The patience that is required to be a good parent. The fact that someone who weighs only a few pounds can teach you so much. The trust children have in you. The fear that can so easily take over you. The unknown. The mystery.
Cliff, our first, was born 10 weeks premature. I fought labor for 5 weeks, but could no longer fight it. When he was born, he was not breathing. He was purple. He was fighting for his life. With the help of God and the amazing NICU team, Cliff survived. We are so blessed. Cliff has Cerebral Palsy as a result of his early entrance into this world. Being a "special needs mama" has changed me - for the better.
Cliff taught me to SLOW DOWN - literally. He uses a walker and so it takes us a little longer to get from point a to point b. You know what? Now I am perfectly ok with that. We take our time. We get there when we get there. Cliff shows me what "hard work" REALLY looks like. Everyday, Cliff struggles to complete everyday tasks. Although he is struggling, there is still a huge smile on his face. He is determined. He is strong. He is amazing. Most of all becoming a mother gave me the gift of being able to trust God, REALLY trust God. Becoming a mother has strengthened my relationship with the Lord.
What is your go-to activity when a meltdown is on its way?
Singing. Music is something that is always on in our house. We dance through our days. Even putting up laundry becomes a fun "dance" that we do together. No matter where we are, as soon as I sense a meltdown coming, I bust out a tune complete with silly dance moves. What once was the beginning of a meltdown turns into smiles, claps and giggles. Yes, when this happens on aisle 3 of Publix, people tend to shoot me strange looks, but little do they know that hearing my horrible, off-key version of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" complete with slightly over dramatic dance moves is soooo much better than the screeching cries that would otherwise radiate throughout the grocery store. Music is like magic. It works!
What have your children taught you?
Patience. To put others first - most of the time ;). Being a parent requires discipline. It's ok not to be your children's friend all the time. Children need structure and freedom. Parenting is a balancing act. Be an example of the adult you want your littles to become one day.
The fact that no parenting book or parenting expert knows my child as well as I do. When it comes to my littles, I am the expert. I go with my gut instinct, even if it is against all of the advice of others who have "been there, done that." Each child is different and requires different parenting.
Take Harper for instance. She slept in the bed with Ross and I for 14 months... AND she nursed all night long. Yep. I was her pacifier. Does that make me a horrible mama? NO. It's just what worked for us. Now I look back on those nights and smile, wishing we were still in that moment if only for one minute.
Now Cliff, on the other hand, needed his space. He needed to be in his own room. And although he was a preemie and we were told he HAD to be fed every 2 hours for the first 6 months of his life, he did not like for us to wake him up in the middle of the night for feedings. So after the first month he was home, we didn't. He needed sleep and peace so that's what he got.
What will you miss the most about these years with young children?
My children have taught me to be present. I am constantly soaking every moment in. Etching the little moments that I will want to remember one day in my mind. And when times get tough, I remind myself that "these are the days. " One day I will look back and wish that I could be where I am right now if only for a moment. I will miss the chaos, the crazy mornings, the laughter and even the mess. I will look back on these days and remember their smiles, the cute things they say, the happiness, the joy, the way it felt when their tiny hands were wrapped around my finger.
Nothing is more important than raising our children. Be with them. Soak them in. Be present.
I will miss every little moment with my children. And by every little moment I mean EVERY moment. The good and the bad. I will miss the sleepless nights, the craziness of just getting through each day. The mess. I will miss their innocence. Their curiosity. I will miss the laughter and loudness that reverberates through our house. I will even miss the fussiness and the endless loads of laundry. I will miss holding my babies. Rocking them to sleep. The way they smell. Their fat chubby feet. I will miss when they look at me and say "Hold you!" I will miss the feeling that I have when I am the only one who makes their tummy feel better. No medicine is as good as mama. I will miss being needed. Most of all, I will miss having them be with me all the time. They are my little sidekicks. I need them.
You can follow Natalie on her blog: Johnny in a Dress