I mow the lawn.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. If I were honest I’d tell you I fell prey to the dark voices of motherhood that tell me I’m not enough to do anything other than mom. But that’s probably too much honesty.

In the last year I’ve found myself getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of opportunities I have as a stay at home mom to show my sons that women “can”. Being from the south there are a lot of voices telling women they can’t. Being in a predominately conservative state not only politically but also within religion women are often times boxed in and told what they can and can’t do. 

So I started mowing the lawn.

I came to the realization that I can tell my sons stories of strong women throughout history like Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Sacajawea and Malala Yousafzai etc.I can read them books where the main character is a strong female defying odds like our personal favorite The Sense Pass King. I can force them to watch Moana on repeat and then have a college style lecture to dissect how important it is that she not only saved her people but she didn’t have to get married in the end to make it relevant. But there is something about weaving in flesh examples into their days so that they know they aren’t just stories from history or from books. 

I’m sure mowing the lawn sounds trivial to some but in a culture where typically the outside chores of the home are left to the males, I figured it was a good place to start. 

So I mow the lawn. I read books in front of them and explain that mommy likes to learn. I discuss politics, economics and theology in their presence so they know I can voice my opinion. I go to the gym and lift heavy things so they can see I can be strong. So when my oldest flexes his muscles and shout’s “Mom! I’m strong like you!!” I know that they are watching and I know that it’s working. 

The best part is. Those things also make me a better mom because I’m pouring into myself just as much as I am pouring into their views of women. 

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Excuses.

Recently a loving friend of mine let me lovingly know I am really good at excuses. Of course it stung because well she’s right. Part of redefining motherhood and finding me again is ditching the unnecessary excuses. So, I’ve been trying to be more intentional. The last few weeks I’ve been focusing on putting my phone down and picking up a book, pen, or my camera anytime I get a free minute. The other night it was my camera that I chose to pick up. I decided not to cook or clean the house that afternoon. The boys and I took to the backyard for an adventure. It’s moments like that where I glimpse pieces of myself again. Where I fall back in love with something that used to bring so much joy. I’m thinking about taking on a few shoots soon, but for now pictures of my boys will do…

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Motherhood.

 Motherhood,

I have a confession, I never really dreamt of you. I knew I wanted kids of course. But I never thought about my relationship with you. I never thought about how hard you would be or how there would be days you would overwhelm me to the point of depression. There are days that I think you have legitimately given me a mental illness. Similar to being bipolar you give me manic episodes of depression and happiness. No one ever told me the downsides to starting a relationship with you. No one warned me how extremely lonely and isolating you would be; how cold you can be. I didn’t know you would take over so much of my life that when I try to look at it objectively I only see you. I can’t remember my days before you came along.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. You have given me the two biggest joys of my life. Just yesterday I had the privilege of teaching our youngest how to say “I love you” and it’s easily the cutest thing that is happening on this earth right now. Don’t get me started on our oldest. I wish I could live in his mind for a day and see how he sees things. The questions he asks shows his old soul that longs for wisdom and understanding. These two boys have taught me more about life and love than anyone else. My hang up is not with my children…it’s with you.

To be fair I think I have let other people define you for me. I think throughout my life I have let people’s opinions on gender roles define the relationship you and I have. I remember when I was carrying our oldest, people would ask me if I would go back to work once he was born. I’ll never forget the huge sigh of relief they would let out when I responded that I would be staying home. It was as if their world would have shattered if I said I was going to go back to work. But what if the best version of us is me working? I once went to a church that handed me a book on how to be a Proverbs 31 wife and mother, teaching me how to have joy while washing the dishes. I don’t think that is fair to you. To boil the magnitude of what you are to chores and butt wiping. And I certainly don’t think that kind of life is fair to me, I think I’ve been created for far more than dirty dishes and snotty noses. 

So I think it’s time we find a balance. One where I can shine too. One where I feel as though it’s okay to take care of myself while also attending to you. For my mental health, I’ve got to redefine you. We have to find a way to live together to where I can be the best me so I can be the best for you. To hell with the expectations of what you should be from others. This is about us, and what is best for our relationship. Let’s get back to the puppy love days where we would dream together and hold hands in a way that we were separate but equal. I do love you motherhood, I love that you are a part of me. But I can’t let you be the definition of who I am anymore. So let’s fall in love again, one day at a time.
-Tommie 

dear lady.

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Dear lady in the coffee aisle,

If this little letter ever finds you I hope it finds you well. I wanted to say thank you for what you did for me today. When you approached me in the coffee aisle you had no idea that I’m one of those mother hens who think it’s inappropriate for strangers to touch my babies. You saw me struggling with my littlest son who was well past his nap time and you came up to me with open arms towards him, ready for him to come to you so you could help me. He quickly put his shy little head on my shoulder. You then did something that typically makes me cringe, your perfectly aged hands delicately reached for my little guys face and you stroked his cheek with a tenderness that only a grandmother could have. Instantly he calmed, his moans of frustration ceased and he started to smile. We stood there for a moment, you stroking my sons cheek and me in awe of how you could so impulsively show love to a stranger and his mom.

In that moment you connected with my little guy and became part of my tribe, you were added to the list of people I need. Just last night my husband and I were talking about how far our culture has strayed from true community and how the recent political climate has done nothing but drive more wedges between people. I have to admit my reaction to things lately has been to remove myself further from my community. It’s not that I don’t love my people, it’s just my sense of independence mixed with not wanting to hurt others or be hurt by others has made my typical reclusiveness more intense resulting in me being dubbed the grinch of the family this year.

Your kindness changed that for me today. The love you showed my little boy gave me hope. For our culture, for my community, for my soul to see more good than bad.

A friend of mine says that God doesn’t speak in a big booming voice, he speaks through people. Today you did that. I don’t know what prompted you, but I’m thankful for whatever it was. I hope somehow you find this and if you don’t I hope that I find you again so I can personally thank you for how you changed me today.

With gratitude,

a tired mother hen

turnaround.

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Lately I have found myself caught up in the mundane of motherhood, again. I have struggled with what my worth is as a stay at home mom and it has made me quick to yell and be frustrated with the boys. Motherhood is hard. Being a human is hard.

Yesterday I shared an article on Facebook, and the conversation quickly turned into a debate on the most recent shooting of Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed black man from Tulsa. It remained fairly civil, but something that was said wouldn’t leave my mind.

“God help your children’s generation when you and your generation destroy the order in our country”

My immediate reaction was annoyance and a bit of anger. It seems as though every generation has had a cause to fight for but it doesn’t seem that my generation is allowed to have a cause and fight for the fair treatment of all humans. Generations in the past have spoken out against the unfair treatment of people groups or broken systems and change has happened so why can’t my generation speak out as well?

But what happened after I thought some more was pivotal. I laid in bed holding my boys and I thought about my job as a stay at home mom. It hit me how important raising my boys to be counter cultural truly is. Teaching them the importance of consent, of grace, of treating others well and speaking out against wrong doings in a respectful way. I’m thankful for the way I was raised; raised to look at the life of Jesus and do the best to follow that example as best as possible. Even when it makes me uncomfortable, even when it makes me question what is safe and right since those two things aren’t always the same.

I held my boys tighter and I moved from the bitterness of thinking the mundane daily tasks that come with being a mom seem meaningless, to overwhelmed with the reality that how Jason and I raise these boys will not only shape them as humans but how it will affect our culture. I woke up this morning with a sense of pride for what I do, the anger I have felt for the last few weeks melted away and I felt joy that I get to be the mom to two amazing boys.

I know there will still be moments where I question my worth, where I feel as though what I’m doing isn’t making a difference but I hope that in those moments I will think back on last night and it will help me change my tune once again.

grace.

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“I thought grace was in the clouds amongst the heavenly but now it’s staring me right in the eyes”

 

There’s a natural tension in the air right now. I felt it when I walked outside this morning to check to see if the ladies had laid any eggs. I opened the door and the cool breeze on my cheek reminded me that fall is coming but the humidity that soon followed reminded me summers in Oklahoma don’t give up that easy.

I feel the same tension in my mind sometimes. I have this really bad habit of trying to figure life out. Lately I’ve been trying to figure out grace. Not just what it means in a religious setting but what does the practice of grace look like in the day-to-day. What would the world look like if everyone just had a little more grace for one another? Or am I confusing grace with mercy? Does grace just apply to the religious definition.

As a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt and just a human, I know I need grace. There are days where I’m not so deserving of the grace I’m shown. I seem to notice people who want grace for themselves often have a hard time having grace for others. We talk constantly about how people’s experiences shape them, yet we don’t have grace for them and what that shaping looks like.

One of the women I admire most said, “Stories change us, shape us, and save us.” I think about those words often, I think of the stories that I have that have shaped me and the ones that have saved me. Oh how vital grace was in those stories. Whether it was grace shown to me or me finding a way to have grace for someone who needed it. I know to some it may seem a bit heretical but I just can’t help but think everyone needs to practice having grace for one another. Taking into consideration their stories, what has shaped them, what has saved them and then filtering our responses and actions through that so that we are better able to understand and then have grace in return.

I probably should surrender to the fact that grace may be something I never understand. But I think I’ll hold on to trying to master having grace for my fellow humans.

max.

 

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pre pre-k

 

Tuesday was Max’s first day in Pre-K. Everyday when I pick him up I ask him how his day was, and in true Max fashion he always has a story for me or something funny to say. He’s the best story teller I know. He’s always so detailed. I truly have never met a kid quite like Max, and I don’t just say that because he’s mine.

Wednesday I picked him up and asked the usual, “How was your day Max?” He went on to tell me a story.

“We got to play on the playground today. It was so cool. I was playing with Maggie. We wanted to get on the big toy but there was a mean girl who wouldn’t let us up there. I don’t know why she was being mean. So, I went and found a secret blue ladder and snuck up the blue ladder. When I got up there, well I just had to fight her so Maggie could get up on the big toy. I just had to fight her.”

I listened closely to what he said. I was worried and proud all at the same time. Did Max really get in a fight? There was no note so I’m assuming it was nothing major. I have to say though, I’m proud of Max for sticking up for his friend. But the story just gets better.

Thursday I picked him up and asked the same “How was your day Max?” His response caught me completely off guard.

“The mean girl became my friend today! My bully is now my friend!”

He didn’t say anything else. Didn’t say how they became friends and to be honest that didn’t matter much to me. I was just proud of him. Not only did he stick up for his friend this week, but he made friends with the person who wasn’t nice to him.

It was one of those moments where I felt like Jason and I must be doing something right.

 

crystal.

“I’m not superstitious but I am a little stitous” -Michael Scott

 

The belief that human and animal behavior changes surrounding a full moon is a fairly common one.

Last night we had a full moon and this week has been a little more crazy than normal.

Tuesday the boys woke up early like normal, this week was our final week of summer before Max starts pre-k. I decided that donuts and coffee were a must. So we hopped in the car and went on our way. It was like most times we go to our favorite local coffee shop, we ran into my dad grabbing his cold brew and chatted a bit after grabbing our coffee. Everything was normal.

We went down the road to get some donuts only to find that the shop in Mustang was closed. The boys were enjoying a drive with the windows down so we decided to go into Tuttle to get donuts. We get to the donut shop, I order we pay I go to put the car in drive and it will not shift into gear. Foot on the brake, everything normal, it still will not budge. People are pulling in wanting donuts at the peak of donut time and here I am, with my two boys just holding up the line. The owner was having to run back and forth to fill orders. I call Jason, just to tell him what was going on knowing that there’s no way he can help me. Then I call my dad and he say’s he’ll come give it a look. Meanwhile after a morning rush, the owner of the donut shop was being awesome and giving the boys more donut holes while also trying to help me figure out what in the world is wrong with my car.

Thank God for YouTube. The owner found some video that showed him how to work some major magic and after nearly 30 minutes my car was suddenly in drive. My brake lights were out, but I could make it home. I thanked him, dad gave it a once over, and we were on our way.

Over an hour later I get a call from my mom. She is laughing, I can hear it in her voice that she is just in a full on Patty cackle fit. Watching or even hearing my mother laugh, a real true belly laugh is one of the best things in the whole world. The pure joy that radiates out of anyone when they think something is really funny is contagious, but my mom’s is better than that. She can barely get the words out, “Tommie. The donut guy dropped his keys in your car. *cackle* You’re on facebook. *cackle* They think your name is Crystal!!”

Really. I had just gotten Fox down for a nap so of course it’s my luck that the guy would accidentally drop his keys somewhere in my car and I would need to take them back. My mother is still laughing on the phone going on, telling me not only did someone get on facebook in search of the girl whose car broke down in the Tuttle donut shop line but that they included pictures. I asked if it was at least a good picture…she laughed even harder, “Oh No, honey! It looks like you’re wanted for robbery!” I got on facebook and sure enough there I was. Being shared all over the interwebs in my pajamas. My mom’s words “At least you have shoes on.” She knows me well.

Everything worked out, my mom took the keys for me so I didn’t have to get the car back out. After the dust had settled, I just sat and laughed.

I’m learning to not let the things I can’t control have such an affect on me. This was definitely one of those times where I had no control over anything, and all I could do was laugh. I’m sure it was a coincidence but I’m going to blame it on the full moon.

At least I got a new nickname out of it.

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because pictures make everything better.

 

 

 

me.

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The ebb and flow of life is something I don’t know if I will ever get used to. The way the seasons seem to always be an extreme high or low tend to leave me feeling overwhelmed and ill prepared.

This whole season of being a stay at home mom has been the hardest longest most joyous season I’ve ever been in, and it’s not over. The lack of time I get to myself leaves my introvert heart dry and begging for rain. But I do that to myself, I am hard on myself and my lack of self care is very apparent.

I’ve talked to other moms about this season, about how easy it is to lose yourself in the day to day of being a mom. Blog moms who deal with the same thing write about how this is all normal. But what I can’t seem to figure out is how to move past it, how to thrive as a woman and feel worth outside of just the mundane motherhood chores I seem to be so wrapped up in.

I think it also goes beyond motherhood. Sometimes I sit and get glimpses of who I wish to be, of the woman I think my boys deserve and who my husband would be proud of. My anxiety tells me a lot of things, and lately its just there telling me that I’m just not enough. It’s been so loud lately that it drowns out everything else.

So this week i’ll try something new.

I’m going to leave the house more, even though that is not comfortable for me. I’m going to paint. I’m going to write more here and in a place that’s just for me. I’m going to take the time that my husband offers me and be alone to recharge a bit.

I don’t write these things to fish for compliments and sympathy, I write because I want to take back those parts of me that are weary and breathe life back into them.