Thursday, August 3, 2017

THAT mom is usually related to THOSE children

I am in the middle about writing a very introspective, thoughtful post about everything I am learning from this summer that proved way more difficult than I expected. (See my plans for the best summer eva here.) But I am taking a minute to jot down something that I noticed today and didn't want to forget.

This is what my kids do at the pool. 


It's no secret that earlier in the year I discovered a love for podcasts. Podcasts by women for women about regular life are my jam. And if you can throw in some spirituality and a lesson from God while still making me laugh, well then I am your #1 fan.

Earlier in the summer I was listening to such a podcast (I can't remember exactly which one because I binge them all... If it comes to me I will most definitely come back and site the reference.) (This is possibly why I received a failing grade for almost every research paper I wrote in college.) Anyway, the ladies on the podcast were discussing some of the most annoying things of summer and mentioned those obnoxious kids who glob on to your family at the pool. They were speaking specifically about those who just show up for snack time, but I was thinking "YES. I don't like those kids that just pick a family to hang out with and never go back to their mom. And their mom is super relieved to get a break never seems to try to find them. Ugh.... how annoying are they?!?!?" (said in the most holier than thou voice.)

Maybe you see where this is going.

Well today while watching my kids play at the pool while sitting under the umbrella and listening to (you guessed it) a podcast, I realized something. Louisa is one of those obnoxious kids. She is totally happy putting around the pool and going up to kids who have a doting parent or grandparent with them and just strikes up a conversation. Clearly she got this skill from her father. As I mentioned, my preferred posture at the pool is sunglasses on, hat down, ear buds in, and a sign that says "don't even think of coming to talk to me". Well, just kidding about the sign... maybe.

I watcher her today go up to several families (like usual) and show them all of her swimming tricks like blowing bubbles, putting her face in the water, and super splashy kicks, but then I noticed this one grandfather move to the deep end of the pool with his kids.

"Huh? that's weird" I thought. But maybe he is wanting to work on their swimming technique and needed more room. Then, as Louisa started putting that direction to chat, I noticed he quickly moved his crew to the opposite side of the pool. He was clearly trying to get way from her.  She was one of those kids to him.

Ooops. I didn't see that coming. I thought those children were the one with dead beat, neglectful parents. Wait. Am I a dead beat mom. Is it true? Am I okay with it? So many questions for an afternoon at the pool.


/ / / / /


Several weeks ago I was sitting at the pool watching the kids swim and noticed another mom swimming with her kids. She and her 2 preschool age kids were playing right in front of me where Louisa was just doing her thing. This young mother was very hands-on. And super encouraging... no really, like seriously encouraging. "You are so great at kicking in the water!" "Way to blow bubbles!" "You are so brave!" "I love spending time at the pool with you guys!"

I immediately felt the mom guilt well up inside me. "I should be playing with my kids. She's a better mom than I am because she actually enjoys splashing with her 3 year old. Why can't I find so much joy in watching my toddler blow bubbles in the water?" 

About that time I noticed Louisa joining in this family's love fest. She is never one to turn down some good old fashion praise and adoration, even from complete strangers.

"Look at how high I can splash when I kick!" "I can put my whole face in the water! Watch me!" The Super Mom looked up at me and then looked back at Lou and said "YOU ARE amazing! Thats the best splash I have ever seen! Look boys, isn't she great at splashing!" And then looked back at me with as if to say... "I guess I will just show your kid the affection she needs since you obviously can't be bothered to mother well." (To be fair. She didn't say these things out loud. But I can totally read minds and well... I'm 99% sure that is what she was thinking.)

She was mom-shaming me right there in the shallow end of the pool.

I couldn't believe it. I wanted to jump in and defend myself and tell her how even when I am in the pool Lou swims up to strangers to show off and how I am a super mom. That I limit screen time (well unless it's summer. or unless Sesame Street is on, because it's educational. or unless I'm trying to cook dinner and... well never mind) and that limit sweets and make homemade dinners and read bedtime stories and....

Instead, I sat there looked her in the eyes and tipped my visor to her. I will not be shamed into mommy competition. I will never win at that game. The truth is... by her standards I am a dead beat. And I think I'm totally cool with that. My kids are happy and safe and have learned to play by themselves (most of the time). Even my mom, the Mother Theresa of moms, didn't chase us around the country club pool cheering on our doggy paddling skills. I never once felt neglected.

So yeah... I am THAT mom and Louisa is one of THOSE kids. And neither of us are looking to change. I'm not sure we could even if we tried. But look at this face. Don't you want to see her stick her whole face in the water? It really is a fantastic skill.




FACEBOOK FROM THE PAST
June 2014
I did not enjoy the snarky tone the Wii Fit took with me as it informed me I was overweight and my "wii fit age" is actually 64. What?!? Shut up you stupid Nintendo.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

There is a Reason Why Lice was One of the 10 Plagues

So apparently Summer 2017 will be the summer of creepy crawly bugs sent by God to humble me.

It has taken me a few days to write about this, because 1) I'm a little superstitious and worried I could jinx myself talking about it in past tense. And 2) It is just so stinking embarrassing and humbling and those things are hard to put down on paper... or computer screen.

A month ago I wrote a post about my extreme over reaction about a tick I found on my son. I did not handle that event well. Thankfully, I had a support group (aka MOM) to get me through that difficult parenting moment. I spent a lot of time discussing how God was allowing me to grow and face my fears because of the tick.

"Thanks God for giving me a small 1 hr trial so I can learn to trust you! You're the best, God!"

Well that was just the warm up. Maybe it's just a coincidence or maybe God just thought.... I know how I can bring her to her knees.... Bugs. Yes, that will work every time. I'm really hoping this is not God's new plan to meet me at my low point.

"Really God, there are lots of other sad and ridiculous areas in my life you can use. I mean, You know. There's no need to list them all here. You are tracking with me in Your perfect omniscient-ness. Please and Thank You. Amen."

So here we go. The humbling story about bugs 2.0. My palms are starting to sweat while I type.

Lice. We had lice. (Mic drop)

Is anyone still there? You know you can't catch it from the computer, right? But go ahead and wash your hands and scratch your head because I know it immediately started itching.

The thing is, I've been so scared of lice since I was a kid, that I am usually pretty diligent about checking my family's heads and enforcing the rules about no hat sharing or brush sharing or whatever. But apparently not diligent enough.

So last week was VBS week. Busy and fun and one of our highlights of summer. We made it to Wednesday with minimal drama until I saw a picture of Walt with a unrecognizable hat on his head. I knew that Walt had not worn a hat to VBS so this was SOMEONE ELSE'S HAT! I assumed that the owner of this hat had lice and therefore had given it to my poor unsuspecting son. So I checked his head already knowing what I would fine.

Screams of horror. (And you know I'm not exaggerating.)

It was bad. Really bad. So bad that I knew immediately that this was not the result of today's hat sharing, but rather my sweet son was patient zero and had most likely spread it to multiple kids at VBS. So many thoughts and emotions flooded me in that moment. Panic. Fear. Embarrassment. Anger. Disgust. Shame. I got a little dizzy trying to figure out what to do first. I know now that my first response should have been to comfort my son and tell him it would be okay and we would figure it out. But if you read the last post, you already know that was not how I handled this scenario.

I made all 3 of my kids sit on the floor in the kitchen (because I assumed everything covered in fabric was now crawling with bugs) while I started calling people.

First was Steve. I'm not going to tell you all the things I said, because he has forgiven me and that's what matters. The gist of the conversation was GET HOME NOW. FINDING ALL THE BUGS IN OUR HOME IS YOUR JOB AND YOU HAVE FAILED ME.

Then my sister-in-law the teacher. Surely you have some advice.

Then my mom. Who was sweet and comforting, but wisely kept her distance this time. (Can't say that I blame her.)

Then my sweet friend Ali. She has been through this and I knew she would know what to do. But I never dreamed she would load up her children and drive to my house and face this madness.

"I'll be right there." 

I was speechless. What?!? You are coming here?!? Why? How? Did you not hear that we are the house of the plague? She showed up at my door in 10 minutes with a bag of treatment shampoo and home spray pesticides and another bag of chocolate and Coke (because she gets me). She preceded to look through the girls' hair because I was too scared and flustered to do so.

Then she said "Ok. Sit down and let me check your head."

I broke down right there in my kitchen. I don't ugly cry in front of many people (I save that joy for my close family), but this was no time for pride. This servant of a friend willingly searched my head for lice. I sat there feeling like a baby monkey and thinking I had never been in such a humbling position.

She loved me and my kids even in our most vulnerable state. She calmly told my kids that they would be fine and this could not hurt them and that they didn't do anything wrong to get this. (You know, all the comforting things their mom should have said to them, but she couldn't because she will having a come apart.)

Her kindness gave me the strength to move forward to cleaning up the mess, both in our home and in our community. I texted all the VBS workers and told them the shameful news. Outing our problems to all of my friends and knowing that I was possibly making their lives harder really digs into my main insecurities. I worried about the extra work this would cause the VBS directors and the questions they might receive from angry parents. The stress eating had begun and I have never been more thankful for chocolate and caffeine.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with treating and combing everyone's hair and washing and bagging up every piece of fabric in our house. After about 20 minutes of cleaning Walt's hair Steve and I decided that we needed to just shave his head. As I was mourning the loss of my precious boy's frat do, I got a call from another friend who offered come with her husband to give him a buzz cut.

Even hairless and covered in smelly shampoo, they are the cutest.
Also, yes, I know, lice shampoo is toxic and some of you are horrified
I would use it, but to that I say
"YOU WEREN'T THERE! YOU DIDN'T KNOW!"

20 minutes later Justin was shaving my son's hair and Julie and Tiffany were vacuuming my house and folding the mounds of laundry I had done that afternoon. I couldn't believe this love that was being poured out on our family. And it just kept coming. Another friend brought pizza and more chocolate for lunch the next day. She knew we were homebound and up to our eye brows in laundry and pesticides and just wanted to help out.

I was overwhelmed at this type of friendship. I've heard women speak of a "tribe" or a group that they can call on during the really yucky times. I always thought how great that sounded, but I knew that I would never feel comfortable enough to ask for that kind help. This was the type of thing that was so embarrassing and dirty that I wanted to just hide and deal with it on my own (after the initial melt down of course). These thoughts were running through my head when I said to Julie (as she and Tiffany folded underwear in my messy bedroom) "You guys have done more than enough here. I can't ask you to do this! I will be fine." That's we she blew my mind with the words...

"You didn't ask. This is just what friends do."

I cried myself to sleep that night. Partially due to exhaustion, but mostly due to brokenness. My house had been turned upside down and I expected to feel angry, ashamed, frustrated, overwhelmed, and anxious at the end of the day. Instead I was on my knees weeping because all I could feel was really really.....blessed.

God had shown me what it meant to love your neighbor and He was telling me not to feel guilty for being a burden or for not being the same kind of friend. He just told me...Now that you have seen this... Go and do the same!

"Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hand of the robbers (or in this case Lice)?" And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same!" Luke 10:37 (paraphrase mine)

"The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31


Thank you God for trials that teach us about Grace and Mercy. But please, Lord, can we be done with the bugs? 
At least for 2017. 



FACEBOOK FROM THE PAST
July 2016
We are very good at expressing our feelings and airing our grievances in this family. It happens a lot and very loudly around here. But yelling at each other because your brother's Wii character is bothering your Wii character has to be a new low. Right? #summer


Friday, June 9, 2017

Face your fears or drive them to Mississippi

It was tick. It was so small, but it took me down.

Do you guys have irrational fears? Sure you do. Everyone has them. I guess the bigger question is Can you push through your fear when you need to? Yesterday I had a humbling experienced that proved to me that I. Can. Not.

I don't do bugs. Let me clarify that. I don't do gross bugs. This is an important distinction.
I am not afraid of wasps or bees or spiders. I can kill those without thinking. But the sight of a roach will take me all the way down to the fetal position. A few friends have seen this happen, because sadly I have seen my fair share of roaches in my home. Did you know that roaches love pine trees? Did you also know that I live on a street called Pine Valley. So I guess it's my fault. I chose to move into their sanctuary, but whatever, they all deserve to die. (I digress) (Also, I feel like I need to go take a shower with all this roach talk.)

So anyway, yesterday I discovered that I feel the same way about ticks that I do about roaches. (ok that's the last time I'm typing the R-word.)

I'm not an out-doors girl. I don't care to get dirty and therefore haven't had to deal with many (or any) ticks. Until yesterday.

It is church camp week for us. Amelia and Walt left for camp on Monday. The younger kids (Walt's age group) only camp for 2 days as a way to sort of ease them into the whole "Sleep Away Camp" thing. So he returned after 2 glorious days in the great outdoors and can't wait to do it again. I'm glad he loved it. I hope he will still love it after all of this.

Camping in the south means checking for ticks is regularly. For reasons already stated, checking for these pests is Steve's job. I'm just going to let that hang out there for a bit. I'm not blaming anyone...I am not petty or bitter.... I'm just stating the facts.

I sat on the couch yesterday morning reading my Bible listening to the kids play when I heard "Ew Gross!!! There is a bug on me that won't come off!!!" Awesome.  I know what that means and my fight or flight instinct immediately kicks in. Spoiler Alert: My body always chooses flight. Always.

Then it hits me. I am the only responsible adult in the house. I have to deal with it. This is so not ideal.

I went to work and tried all the "home remedies" that I could find online.
Burn it with a match.
Smother it in Peppermint oil.
Pour Hand Sanitizer on it.
Cover it with clear finger nail polish.

Nothing worked. I texted at least 8 people asking for help. All of them said the only solution was to pull it out with tweezers. I wish I could say that I pulled myself together for the sake of my son and handled it all with grace and dignity. Um... That is not exactly how it went down. Let's just say, my son will probably be permanently scarred from this event and will always know that his mom could not get over her fear to help him in his time of need.

So I cried. He cried. It was a whole dumb tearful scene. Over a bug.

My friends were cheering me on texting things like "You can do this!" "We've all done it countless times." "It's no big deal." But it was a big deal to me. That's the thing about irrational fears. They are completely...well... irrational. I've been on the other side of this, telling a friend who is afraid of heights to "Just don't look down" or a friend afraid of being on stage to "Just picture them in their underwear." But clearly, logic doesn't doesn't work.

/ /

I have been thinking about this constantly and just feeling very weak and convicted on one hand and weak and closer to God on the other.

On the one, I hate that my child saw me in this light. I felt like such a failure as a parent. Completely helpless. My brain knew that this was not a big deal and all I had to do was suck it up and grab the tweezers, but my heart (and more importantly my body) failed me. The voices in my head were really letting me have it.

How many times have you encouraged your children to face their fears and be brave? 

And now you are gonna just stand there looking like the biggest hypocrite? 

Your kids will never trust you again, because you can't even touch a bug for them.

Just go ahead an buy yourself that t-shirt that says "Worst Mom Ever."

I mean, it's actually a pretty cute shirt.

But on the other hand, feeling so completely helpless as a parent brought a nice helping of much needed humility. I have to let my children see that sometimes even parents are scared. That we are powerless to our fears without God. Sure, I would rather my kids think I can do anything, but maybe it is better for them to see that I can't. Only God is THAT good.

All I have been able to think about since this "event" is how we are in such a similarly helpless parenting place with Walt at bedtime.

In the last few months he has been dealing with a ton of anxiety and fear about falling asleep at night. We pray about it, we talk about it, we sing about it, and we negotiate the heck out of it, but nothing seems to work. He will say..."I don't know why I'm scared, Mom. But I just can't stop worrying that I won't fall asleep." My husband and I just get angry and bothered by such a weird (and irrational...yep there it is) problem.

Is the nasty tick God's way of helping me extend grace to my worried little boy? 

Did I need to be reminded of my own fear and weakness in order to be patient with his?

I know God works in mysterious ways, but really, God? This is not just mysterious, it's gross. Thanks for meeting me right where I am. Curled up on the floor in the fetal position crying about a bug.

/ /

I wish I could say that the end of the story was me conquering my fear and pulling that thing out like a boss. That would make for a good story. But actually, I stuck a band-aid on that thing and drove to my mom for help.

Yep, I loaded my kids in the van and drove 50 miles to Mississippi to someone I knew, without a doubt, was not afraid of silly little tick. Because my mom CAN do just about anything. Plus she grew up in the country and has seen her share of ticks. I can't help it if I'm a city girl who knows the beauty of delegation. Find an expert and out source the problem. There's a lesson in there too.

At the end of the day, the tick "event" was not my proudest parenting moment, but I learned a great lesson in humility and vulnerability. Hopefully my children learned something too, and not just that they can't trust their mom with their life. I would like to think if it were a life or death emergency, I could summon the courage. Let's just hope that isn't anytime soon.

And maybe, just maybe, I will one day thank God for that nasty blood sucking bug and for using it to teach me to be a more understanding mother. But let's be honest, that definitely won't be anytime soon.


FACEBOOK FROM THE PAST
June 2013
My mom is letting the kids win in a game of chutes and ladders. Further proof that she is a nicer person than I am. 



Friday, June 2, 2017

The Summer we have been waiting for

It's June 2nd which means I missed May completely.

It's fine. Whatever. We don't have to talk about it. Everyone has already said it. May is crazy. May is busy. There are birthdays and Mother's Day and field trips and field days and graduations and we got it May, just stop already.

And then there is the light at the end of the tunnel. It is called Memorial Day and suddenly the pools open and school is out and all is right with the world!



Summer is here and we have started it off with a bang. At this moment I am lying in my bed looking at the suitcases that need to be unpacked from our big Summy family vacation. We left the day before Memorial Day and headed to Chattanooga and then on to Gatlinburg to meet up with the rest of the Summys. We had a blast hiking and picnicking and site seeing and Dollywooding. It was one of those wonderfully fun and exhausting trips that leave you needing another vacation to recover from your vacation.

As we were driving home today I was thinking how "easy" it is to travel now. I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but it just struck me, this trip was relatively painless and (dare I say) fun for all of us.

All moms of young children know what I am talking about, I have always loved the thought of vacation, but sometimes over the years I have wondered if it was really worth it. All the whining and planning and stopping and feeding and changing and crying.... and that's just the first 5 minutes of any trip. It's exhausting and it sucks the fun out of any occasion.

But this time was different. I think we have reached a sweet spot. Everyone is potty trained. Everyone is fairly easily entertained with books and movies. Everyone can dress themselves and sleep through the night. Eating is pretty drama free with minimal spillage. Everyone plays well together. (well for the most part. We still argue over which movie to watch and which game to play and what snack to eat.)  It's brand new parenting territory and I can't believe I have finally made it!

I've been parenting for 11 years and I've heard this day would come. I've dreamed about it. I've seen glimpses of it over the years, but now I believe we have officially arrived. This is the pay off to all the hard work. This is the plus side to them losing their precious baby fat. They become completely delightful human beings who (if you brainwashed appropriately) have the same taste in entertainment and food as you do.

Y'all, Im giddy. It's not just great for travel, this will affect our whole life. Here it is June 2nd, the beginning of the summer, and I can't wait to enjoy the next 2 months. I realized the other day that my husband and I can go on walks alone and the kids are able to stay in the house... by themselves... for 30min....(Freedom!!!) and then I thought.... I may actually be able to sit in a chair and relax at the pool this summer and just watch my kids swim. Just the way God intended!

A whole new world has opened up for me and I just want to encourage all of my mom friends who are coming up a few years behind me. Your day is coming. I know you can't believe it now, but it will be here before you know it. Just about the time you are crying about that preschool graduation, you will realize that your precious little one isn't the only one who moving on to bigger and better things. You too have graduated, my friend! You survived the toddler years! Congrats! Hats off to us all!!

Here's to Summer 2017! It's going to be Epic!


FACEBOOK FROM THE PAST
May 2013
Just saw a list that someone posted about "Things that make you a good mom." I think I would rather read a list titled "Things that make you a bad mom" and just avoid those things.... it sounds much less intimidating. Hmmm... do you think my bar is set a little too low?


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

That Time I Wrote a Post and Forgot to Actually Post It... Which Sums Up Me as a Person

It's Sunday night and I'm just sitting here recapping my weekend and Im pretty content.

We had a full weekend, but not so full that I feel overly tired from it. I realize that makes me sound like a 90 year old women, rating my weekend based on how tired I feel. But it is what it is and let's not forget I'll be 39 this year which is basically 90 anyway.

The weekend began with the Mother/Son Olympics Friday afternoon immediately after school. Ahhh, Elementary School Olympics, doesn't that just sound right up my alley? No, no it does not. I am not the least bit athletic, and between you and me, neither are the rest of my family. (Sorry guys. Mommy loves you!) Anyway, my son was SUPER pumped about this event, and being the loving and doting mom that I am (I just laughed at myself) I signed us up and we were given our spot on the purple team.

Purple. The color of fierce competitors.

We dominated at things like tug of war (thanks stubborn holiday weight) and the 3 legged race, but things got ugly when we made it to the dreaded hippity hop race. No mother of 3 has any business being on a hippity hop. That is the moral of this story. My husband videoed me at this, my lowest point in months, and for this reason he is currently dead to me.

Even though it took 3 ibuprofen to get over the experience, my son's smile and complete happiness was kind of worth it. So I'm gonna chalk that up to a Mom win.

Y'all. I just noticed that my team sticker was upside
down the whole time.Gah. That is classic.

Team Summy ready to kick tail in the 3 legged race

Saturday morning started early with Amelia's Association Bible Drill. I was not a bible driller and so I am super impressed, by these kids and their ability to memorize scripture, and in the King James Version, no less. Amazing. She passed and will be heading to the State Drill so pretty soon she will be the considered the most spiritually educated member of our family.

After a quick lunch out (thanks to another Lent Loophole gift card) we headed to Amelia's violin recital. It was pretty much the day for Amelia spread joy with all of her talents and our family's version of T-ball games and Soccer tournaments.



We came home after the recital feeling accomplished and enjoying a breather before hanging out and having dinner with our small group when I decided to check out what was going on in Instagram world. That's when I saw that several people were posting pics of this awesome birthday party. And by several people, pretty much everyone we know. And then I remembered why we had a few minutes to chill between activities.... we were supposed to be at that birthday party. Classic. Just when I think I'm juggling everything pretty well... a forgotten party, a forgotten field trip form, a forgotten child (just kidding. I almost never forget my children.)

Today was great. A wonderful Palm Sunday with our church family made complete thanks to Louisa shouting "Hosanna!" repeatedly all the way home. It was a beautiful day and we did what we do best which was be lazy. The kids played in the yard and I watched Netflix.

I ventured out only to shop for an Easter dress which was a dismal experience at best. I tried on 25 dresses and walked away with pants and a shirt that I am certain my grandmother would wear. But like I said, I am turning 39 this year so I guess that's to be expected.


FACEBOOK FROM THE PAST
April 2014
I seriously just picked up my plate and licked it. I really hope my kids didn't see that.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

When Searching for More Makes You Satisfied with Less

Last year I decided to do something that scared me and submit and essay to a magazine. It was sort of a bucket list item of mine and there happened to be a contest in one of my favorite publications so I figured, why not?!?

My entry was not selected, but I am still pretty proud of myself for trying and putting myself out there to be judged. It is so unlike me to do so.

So here it is, my story of how a small decision changed my life dramatically.




When Searching for More Makes You Satisfied with Less
By Annah Mary Summy

Sometimes the most dramatic change in your life doesn’t feel like the most dramatic at the time. It can take years before you can see its effect and how that road led you in such a different trajectory than you had planned. 

I grew up as the oldest child of a typical middle class family. My mom worked outside of the home for most of my life. I watched my mom through the years and it was clear that she never loved her job. No, she didn’t openly dislike what she did every day, and I am sure she always had a smile on her face around her coworkers. But when she came home at night she was always tired and defeated and I believe she wished she could just be at home doing the things that made her happy. Seeing her struggle with this made a significant impression on me. I decided, early in life, that I would do whatever it would take to find a job I loved, be successful, and enjoy going to work every day. That was the plan. Everything else would be gravy.

Luckily, while in college I met a man who completely supported my plan. He loved me and my big ideas for the future. I thought of myself a feminist back then, although this was based on nothing more than a desire to work out side the home, achieve my career goals, and earn as much respect (if not money) as my husband. Part of that deal meant sharing the household workload 50/50, which seemed to be a solid home economics plan. We split the laundry down the middle and took turns making dinner. But everything in your first year of marriage was more fun and romantic when you did it together, even the household chores. So we did it all together. We cooked together, exercised together, grocery shopped together, did laundry together, and dreamed big dreams together.  It was a simple way to approach marriage and it worked beautifully.

After grad school we moved to Memphis eager to begin our lives as official grown ups. Steve began his work in the medical device industry, while I began making my mark in the advertising community. I job-hopped for a few years before finally landing as an in-house designer in the corporate world of finance. I loved the unusual combo of creative design plus the corporate perks of a nice salary, decent benefits, and a fancy cubicle I pretended was “my office”.  My career was on track, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting more.

More was on the way. Less than 9 months later, our first daughter was born. And just like that, I was a mom. She was beautiful and healthy and I was terrified of her. How was I going to be a mother and manage everything else? After spending a life altering six weeks on maternity leave, I returned to work a sleep deprived, weepy mess. My new reality of juggling work and motherhood was the hardest thing I had ever done. 

Work became my personal oasis. It was a welcomed break from the constant crying, the spit up, and the dirty diapers. I felt guilty being away from her; but worse, I felt guilty for enjoying being away from her. I eventually got over the guilt and savored being back in a quiet office, wearing “real” clothes (albeit covered in spit up), and engaging in adult conversations, while Amelia spent her days with more qualified caregivers.

We found the holy grail of daycare centers. It was close to home and the hours were wonderful. The fact that they adored my chubby faced angel was just icing on the cake. People say that parenting “takes a village” and my village was First Baptist Day School. By the time she was 6 months old, we had settled comfortably into our new life. Our daily schedule began to run like a well-oiled machine again.

I have since learned that parents should never get too comfortable, because that is the moment things start unraveling. The next year was filled with ear infections, stomach viruses, and random childhood illnesses like Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. (Not to be confused with Hoof and Mouth disease. I learned that one the hard way.) I was quickly introduced to the daycare’s “24 hour fever free rule” that states “A child must be fever for 24 hours before returning to school.” While I appreciated the need for this rule, I also found it terribly inconvenient.

Amelia had close to ten ear infections during her first 2 years and ran significant fever with each one. As you can imagine, my sick/personal day bank was depleted very quickly. We were constantly shuffling around trying to find people to watch her until she passed the fever free test. Our well-oiled machine was breaking down and that’s when some serious discussions started taking place in the Summy household.

Our tidy arrangement was being challenged. He talked about his expectations for our family, and I realized they were completely different than my own. He liked the idea of our children growing up with their mom always around. I desperately wanted to do the work I loved AND be a mother. We had reached our first major marital roadblock. It was clear that compromises needed to be made; yet neither party was willing to sacrifice. After many loud debates, we finally agreed that I would continue to work; however, the responsibility of finding childcare would fall completely on me. He was washing his hands of this particular task, and  it was a trade-off I was willing to accept in order to succeed in my career. 

But something had started to change. There was a shift that had taken place in my head and, more importantly, my heart. Suddenly, I was less fulfilled by the daily grind. The view from my cubicle wasn’t quite as picturesque and I had trouble staying focused in meetings. The recognition from by boss that I once so desperately craved was no longer as meaningful. I still enjoyed the creative outlet, but I quickly became resentful of the time it took away from my family. I knew I was not excelling at either job and something had to be done.  

It took me a while to admit my feelings to Steve (or even to myself). When I finally let him in on my struggle, we spent the next several months praying and exhaustively pro/conning all of the options. Being married to an engineer means no significant decision in our life is resolved in less than six months. During this time of limbo, I was impossible to be around. My feelings were worn externally like accessories that could be seen from miles away. I agonized over giving up the career that I had chased since I was a teenager. I was mourning the loss of the “Me” I was striving to be. 

“What if I was bored by being mommy all day? 
“What if I resented my child for this sacrifice?”
“What if I lost my identity?” 
These shame filled questions became my private conversations with God. I had no other option but to pray over and over for God to bless this decision.

In January 2009, with much trepidation, I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom. I took a leap of faith having no idea what this new reality would look. I definitely didn’t expect it to dramatically change the way I viewed the world.

The days were hard at first. I had no schedule and no way to measure my progress. My boss was a 3 year old and she rarely gave me useful feedback. I ran test studies on how many days in a row I could wear an outfit before someone noticed. I began watching the Food Network religiously, until I was as confident a cook as Ina and Giada. Life soon became a fast paced whirlwind of babies and toddlers, preschool and carpool, and (for the love) potty training. Without realizing it, I developed a spirit of contentment in those everyday tasks of cooking, cleaning, nurturing, and encouraging my family. As a mother of three now, I can’t remember ever taking time to lament over the loss of my career. (Although I do miss the lunches and quiet time at my desk.) Slowly, my priorities and life goals changed. 

I’ve spent everyday of the last seven years trying to find my way as a mom. It has been a difficult and exciting journey. I don’t have the personality to successfully pull off the working mom’s life. Those mothers have such a special, God given gift to perform on a very high level every day. That is not my gift, and I know that now. I also know that this job that I so adamantly opposed is so much more than carpool and feeding hungry mouths. It is an opportunity to be the most prominent voice in my children’s heads. I get to fill them with all my best words, guide them with love, and then sit back and watch them grow. 


This is the “more” for which I had been searching. The decision to walk away from my dream to be at home has affected the way I approach every day of my life. I have found my niche in serving others through serving my kids and telling my story along the way. I get to live the mom life my mother wanted, and I am so proud to honor her in that way.  




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Motherhood: The years are short, but the days are long (unless you are having fun).

These days and and weeks go by fast when life is going good. Do you guys feel that too?

It's spring and the weather is beautiful and all the fabulous blooms are on the trees. The days are longer but seem to go by faster because we can get out and enjoy it.

I find it funny that time passes so quickly when we are happy and practically stands still during the difficult times.

Steve was out of town last weekend. While I couldn't really call it a dark and difficult time in my life as compared to all of the sadness and hurting that many of my friends are experiencing, it was a little bit harder than my usual. And those 3 days felt like a month.

Time just seems to crawl along when you are being stretched. Keeping 3 kids (and myself) alive and fed and chauffeured to all of the places was a stretch for me. I usually have a partner that I can tag when I need a break and that partner was on the beach with his buddies... I'm promise I'm not bitter. Anymore.

So this week has been all about playing catch up. Catching up on the things that I pushed aside during the craziness of last week.

Here is a random fact about me...I live my life with a to do list in my head that never gets smaller. It is always growing and so I never finish it. I am always feeling guilty about what I should be doing at the moment and always always feel behind. It is an exhausting way to live and I need to stop. It goes something like this.

Today I should be outside enjoying the beautiful day. 

I should be exercising. 

I should be mopping the kids bathroom floor because it is sticky and that makes me afraid to go in there without wearing shoes.

I should be folding laundry.

I should be catching up on reading for one of the 4 bible studies in which I am currently a taking part. Why have I committed to 4 bible studies at the same time? Did I subconsciously think that would make me more holy? I don't know why I do these things. 

I should be deleting unread emails because I have such a gigantic amount that it makes some of my friends angry when they see the notifications on my phone. 

I should be returning impulse buys to target and overdue library books. 

Those are the things on my imaginary to do list.

What I actually did today was go to a parent/teacher conference for my 4 year old. It was nice to hear lots of positive feed back and now I feel a little more like a capable parent.

I took that positive thinking and I went to Whole Foods to replace a bottle of eucalyptus oil that I threw away in a one of my random cleaning fits. (Yes my cleaning comes in spastic fits.)

I also bought some of my favorite chicken salad and just ate it on crackers without so much as a plate or napkin. Like a cave person. It was so still delicious. (I know what you are thinking. What about Lent? Well this is a Lent loop hole since technically the rule is no eating at a restaurant, but since WF is a grocery store I think it is legal.)

(Yes I now realize I need to be in serious prayer about the fact that I am searching for "Lent Loopholes". Y'all Lent is long. And thanks to the stretching I mentioned earlier, it seems even longer. Like I feel certain we are on day 81.)



For my next procrastination project I decided to tackle the pile of paper/mail/junk on my kitchen counter. Do you guys have one of these piles? If you don't, I don't know how are you living your life so well, and I need you to come and mentor me....ASAP. The kitchen pile is a thorn in my flesh. It haunts me daily and I can't seem to get rid of it.



Every now and then I go through it and throw away things that have expired or no longer make sense to keep. But just like my email inbox, 20 more will be dropped in their place before the day is over. There has to be some metaphor about my life here, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

I think I will spend the rest of my kid free hours looking up Kids' Summer Camp information and trying to play calendar Tetris to make it work with everyone's schedules. That should take up the last hour before I begin the afternoon carpool shenanigans.

Or maybe I will just sit down and read a book.


FACEBOOK FROM THE PAST
March 2012
Quote from our dinner table discussion: "Walt, you smell like 2000 skunk trash"
The ultimate 6 year old insult.