We are all screwing up. Every single one of us. Even the moms on Instagram with five kids in fashionably coordinated outfits with a million+ followers who make homemade granola and have succulent wall gardens… More
Nine years and four days ago I was unpacking plaid boxers and folding them neatly into an empty dresser. This empty dresser was situated in an empty apartment, with empty kitchen cabinets, bare floors, and blank walls. Hector and I were slowly starting to move things into our first place together and I was giddy with excitement. He was about to become my husband and for some crazy reason being allowed to fold and put away his underwear thrilled me. Probably for two reasons 1) We had never lived together before thus leading into 2) We had never slept together. In honest truth we hadn’t even seen each other naked.
I know. I know. CrAZy. INSANE. Unbelievable.
But alas, there I was folding the plaids, the stripes, and the ones with tiny little men lifting weights feeling a bit high. It wasn’t even about the sex (although of course that was on my mind–I am human), but it was really more about the togetherness. The not having to say goodbye at night and getting to place our toothbrushes in the same cabinet togetherness. The sleeping in the same bed, sharing the same laundry basket, and buying groceries together. I was completely and utterly enthralled by the sheer thought that I would get to wake up and he’d just be there. Sleeping right next to me.
It was one of those moments that I’ll never forget–a picture imprinted in my memory–my surroundings, the smells, the light streaming in from the bedroom window. It was when I became fully aware of the life-altering role I was embarking upon–becoming his wife.
Fast forward nine years and I’m still folding his boxers. Thankfully most of those have found their way into the trash, but I did keep those ones with the tiny little weight lifters. I wear them to bed every so often. They help remind me: about that moment, our innocence, and the joy we felt about getting married. They are, oddly enough, a very powerful pair of underwear. Continue reading “Broken Together”
I’ve had the opportunity of spending more time than usual with my sister-in-law this past week/weekend and it was a good reminder of those early mom days. The ones where you are constantly analyzing everything, googling everything, researching everything, questioning everything. The stress-of-experiencing-motherhood-for-the-first-time-everything.
And as I watched her and talked with her and sort of mulled through a lot of this “everything” with her again, I’m reminded of how much easier it is for me now. Even with two under my roof and a third to arrive in six weeks. I wouldn’t go back to those first days. Ever.
I could see the fear and anxiety in her eyes and the pressure she feels to do everything as best as possible. To breastfeed as long as possible. To hold him as much as possible (even when you don’t want to). To lose all the weight as quickly as possible. To get to that point where life was before–carefree, enjoyable, easy. And she’s at that stage, that raw vulnerability, where there is nothing I can say to calm her fears. She has to experience it all on her own. She has to ride the waves and face the storm so that when it finally does go away she will believe in herself. Believe in the process. And believe that yes it does in fact get better … over time.
The only thing I can do is hold her baby when she’s tired. Listen to her. Hug her. And love her. Encourage her through it all and remind her that she is doing a wonderful job. That feeling completely outside yourself is normal. That exhaustion can make you think and feel horrible things to the most adorable, sweet smelling, cuddly human on the planet. It can also make you feel like stabbing your husband when he’s snoring at 3am and you’ve been up five times in the last hour.
And I feel like seasoned mothers should be more supportive. We should be chanting… “You are normal. This is normal. It’s going to be ok. Maybe not today. Or tomorrow, but eventually.” There is no magical fairy dust to make you love every minute of your life when you are embarking on one of the most challenging jobs in the history of ever. Every day will bring something new. And every day you will find yourself questioning, wondering, and stressing. No mother is spared these experiences. No mother has it easier than another. We all have it. It’s just packaged differently.
I do not expect people to feel sorry for me because I must trapeze the world with my children in tow. I do not get huffy when a mother of one tells me how tired she is. I do not respond to that mother with any comments similar to, “HA! You should try having two and being pregnant.” That is not what she needs to hear. This isn’t a game of checks and balances. We are not trying to one up the other so that we may have more to complain about. All of my children have been a choice. A willing choice. And a blessing to boot. I do not feel a sense of martyrdom because of this choice. Especially when so many women spend their nights crying over what they will never have–a child of their own.
Whether you have one, two, or ten it’s all hard. It’s all a crazy system of chaos according to what you are used to handling. And it’s all important. We are optimistic that we will want four, but we take each child at a time. We adjust. We reassess. And we decide what’s best for us according to our life at that time. I wish moms would think about this before they respond with the, “Just wait…” comments. Or before they analyze an exhausted mom of a newborn and counter with how much more exhausted they will be with a toddler. Or question the choice behind having only one when they have five. Or are living in trench full of teenagers and want to discredit the hard work of changing diapers.
We are not cave men. We do not need to grunt and pound our chests over how much we’ve accomplished. We are women. Powerful and graceful. Fierce and kind. Protective and loving. Whether we know each other personally or not we are all a part of the same village. Whether we’ve birthed our children or adopted them it doesn’t change our hearts ownership of them. We are all mothers.
Not Judgers. Not Haters. Not enemies. Mothers.
Always remember that we are on the same team. No matter what colors we wear. And that no one is doing it perfectly. But we are all doing it right when love is involved.
I know my situation makes me aware of these things more than normal and I know the natural curiosity of people is to ask what our third is, but the point wasn’t the commonality (although it made us strangers feel connected in a unique way) the point was the encouragement.
In all these occurrences not one single person complained, passed down the double-edged warnings, or gave me a congratulatory eye-roll. You know the one that says–I’m smiling for you, but laughing internally once they all start their periods.
And I’m not saying girls are harder than boys. Or less valued or wanted. I don’t believe in any of those statements. I have no opinion on the difficulty of raising boys and I may never have one. I’m saying there is something unique about a family that is all one either way. There is an obvious concentration of maleness and femaleness that intrinsically sets a different mood for that household. Not that we don’t have toy cars, watch ninja turtles, or enjoy wrestling over here, because we totally do. But even putting that aside, if my husband and I only get the opportunity of raising girls it will mold and shape who we are and what we do for the next 25 years in a special way.
The beauty of all these run-ins though was the comments and feedback and support I got from them. The one today particularly struck a cord with me. He was a father of about 60-70 years and was watching me grab coffee while I waited for an oil change. Roma sat on my left hip, her hair a wild array of curls, and her face covered in a chalky white substance from the candy necklace that the teller at the bank gave her twenty minutes before. She looked like an adorable hot mess. And she was handing out giant, gap-toothed smiles to anyone who was breathing. I’m so proud of that kid and she’s not even two.
Continue reading “An abundance of daughters”
I love choosing names almost as much as I love telling people how we chose the name. I told my husband that I think I jinxed us into having all girls because every time we get pregnant and start discussing names I immediately fall in love with a girls name. And I’m always a bit meh on our boy choices. They never really excite me.
So we named our first daughter Eliana Reese and our second daughter Roma Eve. Oddly enough, when I wrote Eliana’s backstory on how we named her I guess I couldn’t remember (after just having her) how we found her name. Now that I look back maybe I was too embarrassed to admit it, but I can distinctly remember googling names of Latin supermodels. Yeah, yeah, yeah it’s not sentimental or emotional or related to our traveling journeys, but it worked. And I still love it.
With baby #3 I felt stumped. Roma’s name would be hard to beat. It’s meaning and just the uniqueness of it was pretty spectacular. I couldn’t drop the ball and name this child anything. It had to fit with her siblings names, end in an “a”, and yet somehow carry it’s own sense of significance.
When we first discussed girl names we were considering Isla (eye-lah), Ophelia, Estella, Olivia, and Cora. We ruled out Cora and Olivia based on popularity (we don’t really like doing names in the top 100). But we both loved Liv as a nickname. And Olivia is popular for a reason: it’s gorgeous! Cora blew up from Downton Abbey and it’s spelling was too similar to Roma. Same thing with Ophelia. We couldn’t have a Ro and an O in the house. That’s just maddening. Estella we considered for a long time (also a family name). But, once again, we were contending with the ever popular nickname Stella (which many use as a first name) and also the similarity in spelling to Eliana. Too many E, L, A’s to consider. It just wouldn’t work for us. So we went back to Isla.
The problem with Isla was the language confusion. In Scottish it’s pronounced eye-lah and in Spanish it actually translates as island and is pronounced eees-lah. We liked the Scottish pronunciation most, but that just wasn’t going to fly in our Mexican-American household. And I didn’t want to change the spelling. It looks pretty as Isla. We eventually considered naming her Isla in Spanish and her nickname would be Izzy. But then we felt like we opened up a Spanish dictionary and just pointed. “Hey, kid. We named you Island because why not!”
Anyhow, this led me to google searching islands. No lie. And in the end we actually are naming her after an island that absolutely holds no significance to us. It’s just pretty. And that’s the awesomeness of being her mom. Or being a parent in general for that matter: we can name our kids whatever we want because they are our kids. Although, I will say I did research the meaning of the name and the history behind it and how to pronounce it in all possible languages and after that the husband and I were both 100% still in love.
Now that I’ve written a mini-novel all about two simple words. I’d like to introduce you to our third baby girl:
So, yeah, we named her Lucia as in the Island of St. Lucia. Not to be confused with the Spanish form of the name Loo-see-uh or the Italian form of the name Loo-chee-uh. This is pronounced Loo-sha. It’s the English form of the name. Now we have a daughter with a Spanish name, an Italian name, and an English name. But, somehow, in all of that craziness it totally works.
Her middle name is a family name. We took it from my husband’s paternal grandmother’s maiden name. His maternal grandmother passed away at a very young age. When my mother in law was only 18 actually (and she was the oldest of four girls–women run in the family). And so his dad’s mother was very involved in my husband’s life as a child and although I never got to meet her a very revered woman. She had 15 children of which my father in law was the youngest and my husband her “baby’s” first baby. People talk about her with such love and admiration I couldn’t imagine not passing a part of her legacy onto my daughter. And I know she would’ve loved to meet all of her great granddaughters. When Eliana was born we counted her to be somewhere around the 47th grand-great grand baby. Lucia is now closer to #51 or #52. Pretty darn amazing.
In about 19 more weeks we will get to meet her.
Our little Lulu.
Life couldn’t be anymore spectacular.❤❤❤
I’ve always written from a perspective of truth and naked honesty. I don’t try and sugar coat things or only present the side of our reality that looks like rainbows and unicorns. I hope this allows you to find my life relatable and to give you hope that whatever you’re going through you are never alone. Because really we never are even when we feel absolutely and positively abandoned.
We are two weeks away from finding out the gender of our third child and I feel the need to prepare you and us about what may or may not unfold. You see, we have two girls. Two human beings who are sunshine from head to toe, who make us smile even when they make us angry, and who we could never ever part with. They both intrinsically add an important element to the dynamics of our family and we wouldn’t change anything about them. Nothing. Even when they are at their worst we still want them.
My husband and I have spent countless hours mulling over the different possibilities and what it means if it’s a girl and what it means if it’s a boy. The emotional response to both and the constant nagging that we shouldn’t even be discussing this because we should just be happy we can have kids. And we should just want them to be healthy. And, yes, all of that is true. But, most people have preferences one way or another. And the honest truth is that yes, we are hopeful for a boy. My husband more so than me, but I’d be absolutely selfish to be praying that I wouldn’t want that for him. The possibility of raising a son and all of the joy that would entail. And I want it too. To see my husband in mini form and to see how our daughters respond to having a brother.
But, I feel the need to make something very clear. As much as we would love a son, having a girl doesn’t mean we have failed. Having a third girl will be no less joyous for us than the addition of our first son. And yet this heaviness remains between us that people will be sad for us. That having three girls isn’t something people would wish on another human being. I get jokes about buying tampons in bulk and surviving the teenagers years etc. And I laugh and I smile because I don’t want to make the truthful comments inside my heart that will offend them or make them feel awkward.
Our value isn’t found in our gender. Our value is found in simply being human–a creation of God. Which means that a family comprised of all sons or all daughters is not more or less valued than one who has both and vice versa.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27
I don’t want to get into a war over gender or our different roles or equality or religion for that matter. I simply want you (our family and friends and loved ones across the world) to be onboard with us. To celebrate with us in the addition of this life. Regardless of the child’s gender, this life is wanted. This life is valued. And this life will be loved with every square inch of our hearts. Whether male or female this child will serve an important role in our family and the world.
Yes, we will experience a loss of sorts from not having a boy. My husband maybe more than me. And I accept those emotions. I think they are natural and a distinct part of being a human. It’s okay for us to want a boy. But it will not lessen our love or our happiness from our third daughter. If we didn’t want a third girl, guess what–we wouldn’t have gotten pregnant. It’s that simple.
So, my question to you is this…
Will you celebrate with us?
Will you partake in the joy of this life regardless of their gender?
Will you accept that we haven’t failed if we get three girls?
Because we are. We are ready to celebrate. We are ready to partake in the joy of this life. And we adamantly profess that we haven’t failed. We’ve merely perfected the art of making girls.
Be joyful with us!
I’m going to keep this simple and straight to the point. While using the cinnamon roll dough for my upper and lower crust was a complete random use of my imagination, I’d like to give credit to the original recipe for the pie filling. I found it on allrecipes.com and you can watch a video on the link for more specific directions. Otherwise a shortened version is included below for your use.
6-8 apples cored and peeled (I used honeycrisp and it was mind blowing)
2 tubes of Cinnabon cinnamon rolls (8 count) with cream cheese frosting
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tbs flour
1/2 cup of unsalted sweet cream butter
9 inch pie pan Continue reading “Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie”
My husband turned 32 yesterday. One of those years that slips by like so many others. He celebrated alone, in a foreign country, surrounded by people who don’t speak English. Not one for the books, but one I’m sure he will remember to some degree. The girls’ and I sang him happy birthday over the phone and even had him blow out a candle, but there was no cake to share, no presents exchanged, no balloons or party. It was just another 24 hours marking him a year older.
I asked him several weeks ago what he wanted or if there was anything we could go and do. His reply was quiet and a bit melancholy. “No, not really. I think I’m good.”
Neither one of us are real huge birthday people. We expect each other to acknowledge it in some form and we do celebrate the important decades with more gusto, but generally we go out to dinner and exchange a gift. Nothing too crazy. We like being with our kids and we like enjoying life for its every day value. Holidays are fun, but they don’t fuel us.
Even with that being said I’ve felt strongly for awhile now about wanting to share some words with him. For me, words are one of life’s greatest gifts. If people give me a gift I’m generally most excited about what’s in the card. What they want to share with me. Tell me. Explain to me. A card with nothing but a signature is the ugliest waste of paper. It hurts to see it.
So, I’ve been mulling over so many words this last week. Words of truth. Words of love. Words of pain. All important and necessary and meaningful. I wondered how much I should share and how much I should keep to myself and to what degree my husband would feel comfortable with me sharing this all with you. And you. And you and you. And you. All of you.
So here we go.
This is what I said…
I don’t know what I expected marriage to be when growing up, but this was not it. You were not it. In the beginning–dating, our wedding, the earlier years–everything was perfect. So simple. Flawless even. I thought we were untouchable. When people complained about their husbands I commiserated with the lack of cleaning, the dirty laundry, and the dishes. We all dealt with that. But, when the stories got dark, when things got painful, I was often left feeling lost. I didn’t understand how women could be so angry or how a marriage could already be failing before it even started. Continue reading “Collapse”
Here we go. The best cake you’ll ever make. Especially for those of you who hate cake. I promise anyone who has tastebuds will enjoy eating this deliciousness. So sit-up. Pay attention. And grab a spoon!
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with an Almond Glaze
What you’ll need:
1. Box of yellow cake mix or vanilla. Your preference. If you have something against boxed mix then here is how to make it from scratch: 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt,
2. 3 eggs (4 eggs if you’re making your own cake mix from scratch)
3. 2-3 lemons (organic preferred because you use all of the zest)
4. 1/2 -3/4 cup sugar (depends on how sweet you like it)
5. 3/4 cup coconut oil
6. 3/4 cup almond milk
7. 1 tsp vanilla extract
1. 2 -3 cups powdered sugar
2. almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degree.
Mix together the box, the eggs, sugar, coconut oil, almond milk and vanilla extract until well blended. Then add in the juice and zest of one lemon. When you pull the zest make sure you chop it up into tiny pieces before adding it to the cake. Give it a taste test to see how “lemony” it is. If you can taste the lemon than you’re good. If you can’t, add in the zest of another lemon and 1/2 the juice. Keep adding more lemon juice and zest until you are happy with the flavor of the batter. It’s really a personal call. Then add in 1/3 cup poppy seeds. If you can’t see the poppy seeds well enough, add more. I kept adding until I got a good enough visual of poppy seeds in the batter. Continue reading “Lemon Poppy Seed Cake”
My grandmother has buried two children. The first, my Uncle Ricky, when he was just a baby passed away from SIDS. No rhyme or reason. The second, my Aunt Tammy, passed away on Mother’s Day which was also her fiftieth birthday from an autoimmune disease. I’ve never asked my Grandma which was more painful. I’d venture to say there was an equal form of hell present in each situation. And where having children causes your heart to multiply in size, the loss of a child causes permanent removal. A hole in your heart–bloody, gaping, seeping, never healing.
Of course, this is all speculation being that I haven’t ever lost a child of my own. And I don’t plan on it. That’s the sick concept of losing a child. Death is certain. For all of us. No matter how much money you have or how healthy you live we will all die. There’s no argument. But, logically, death comes with an order of expectations. Children should and are expected to outlive their parents. Unfortunately, we live in a world of infinite possibilities–not for just riches and fame and decadence, but for pain, anger, and brokeness. This is reality.
I hosted a baby shower a few months ago for a close girlfriend of mine and during an intimate portion of the festivities we all shared little bits of advice and or encouragement for her. When it got to me I felt compelled to be honest. Honesty veiled with a bit of morbid truth. And this is what I said:
There will be moments where you will regret your decision to have children. Moments where you will question your sanity in the chaos. Moments where you will say, “WHY THE %^&(! DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?” But the beauty of motherhood is that these are moments. Some moments may last a few seconds, others a few days, and if you’re unfortunate enough to experience postpartum depression, then potentially months of moments. But, like all moments, they fade and as your children grow your love for them does as well. And when you are in the heat of these moments, when you find yourself awake every hour with a puking child, or in a bathroom of steam trying to heal croup or up at 3am with a teething, crying, fussy, inconsolable mess–I want you to stop. I want you to stop stressing, stop the anger, stop the fear, and the frustration of not sleeping and remember this:
Your child is alive. Breathing. Beating. Screaming. Alive. And even though it’s hard, even though it’s exhausting, even though you want to throw in the towel and quit–they will live to see another day and so will you.
There are no guarantees in life. No matter your status or position we have no guarantee that we will get another moment. Another hug. Kiss. Smile. Or its opposite. Another chance to calm a screaming child. Soothe a teething baby. Reason with an emotional teenager.
It’s all a gamble.
And yet we allow ourselves to be burdened, torn down, and emotionally overwhelmed with the moments. The moments that are out of our control and can only be resolved with the quiet allowance and assurance that time will pass. That you will get from one moment to the next and hope that so many of the moments will be filled with love, peace, joy, grace, and freedom. Freedom from the overwhelming sense of all these burdens that encompass life in general.
But I want you to think about the parents who have had the insurmountable task of burying a child. Think about that hole in their heart. The bloody, gaping, seeping, never healing wound that they will now have to accept and ask yourself which you would prefer: The moments or the hole?
Find joy, my friends. Even when it seems lost, continue searching. And to everyone who has lost a child, my heart goes out to you. You will carry a burden far greater than I could ever imagine. A burden only God Himself could understand.
I’m well on my way to finishing Dismantled Sun, the second and final book in the Cardboard Hearts duet. The first, Seeds of Hate, was published last July 15th, 2013.
Instead of doing a blurb for the book, I’ve chosen to share a short, unedited excerpt instead:
“Selah, please. Please let me make love to you. It’s our wedding night.”
I sit at the foot of the bed—our bed—my cream wedding dress draping over the edge like a waterfall made of snow.
“I can’t. I need more time. I need forever.”
My husband kneels at my feet and nuzzles his face into my lap, drawing his arms around me, he holds me.
“I have given you forever. The only forever I have.”
I blanch at his words. It’s truth weighing me down. My body slides alongside the foot of the bed and puddles onto the floor. My husband follows, shifting so that he now holds me instead of I, him.
“But, but what if—I can’t finish that if. I won’t.”
He lifts my chin and holds my eyes. I blink at the certainty I see in his, not mirroring the fear I know lives in my own.
“You are not going to kill me, Sey. I promise.”
His fingers clench the edge of my jaw— not painful, but no longer delicate.
“How can you be so certain?”
“Because. Because I was already dead before you found me.”
The cover for Dismantled Sun was designed by Cover It Designs.