She Runs A Good Race

mothering is a marathon

Jen Hatmaker Is My New Imaginary Friend

I have a crush on Jen Hatmaker.

She is a new discovery to me.  Writer, blogger, speaker, mother to 5 (she wins!), including two she adopted from Africa, and wife to Brandon Hatmaker.  She lives in a city I would love to live in, Austin, Texas.

Anyway, after reading her blog post that went completely and insanely viral, “The Worst End of School Year Mom Ever,” I was hooked.

Because she’s my kind of girl.  With her unbridled and unfiltered way of writing, she engages you quickly.  She is hysterical on top of that.  She says how she thinks and feels.  REALLY thinks and feels, not what she wants you to think of her.  She’s not trying to win our approval or favor.  Yet, she is not abrasive.  Some people find sarcasm abrasive; I do not.

She’s not writing to make herself sound like The Perfect Mom, The Organized Mom, or The I Have It All Together All The Time Mom.

She’s honest.  And imperfect.  Honest about her imperfections.  So you relate to her, like her, love her, want to high-five her and buy her a drink.  (I actually tweeted that to her, but I’m so tech-challenged, it probably did not reach her.)

If you’ve followed my blog or me around long enough, you know I don’t mince words.  I’m painfully honest about life as both a mother and special needs mother, and totally full of a zillion imperfections.  I am not afraid to admit Major Mommy Failures.

Jen Hatmaker, if I had my wish, would be my next door neighbor.  And running partner.  (I don’t know if she runs.)  And prayer partner.  Oh, and of course, my writing coach.  I imagine us throwing back a glass of wine and sharing war stories and encouraging each other forward.  My stomach muscles would ache from all the laughter.  Did I already say she is hilarious?    She’s the type who would never judge me for pulling one of my kid’s hair (once!)   She would remind me to have new mercies each day for my kids and remind me how deep breaths and Twizzlers help when you are pushed to the brink in Mommy Land.  She would pray for me, in a caring humble way, not in a “Lawd, HELP HER!!” way.

My other pretend next-door neighbor would be Glennon Doyle Melton.  Because I know that if she heard me raise my voice at my kids, she would probably knock on my door, and give me a wink and a hug.  And again, not judge me, but say, “Carry on warrior mama.  You can do hard.”

Glennon, creator of Momastery.com, writer, speaker, blogger, is another new fave.  She is so gutfully honest about her own struggles, and is passionate about “making the unknown known.”  Her heart and vision is to help others unmask and take off their superhero capes they hide behind.  To help others be vulnerable and truthful about who they are.  She is so snarky and smoke-and-joke in her writing that I feel she gets me and the snarky way I sometimes feel.  Yet she is so sensitive and deeply profound, and writes provocative posts.  She was born an old soul.

One more shout out I must must give is to Rebekah Lyons, author of Freefall to Fly—A Breathtaking Journey Toward  A Life Of Meaning.  (I have actually met Rebekah in person and she is lovely, I might add.) She writes like Jen and Glennon, from her heart.  She writes her own story, authentically and transparently.  She blows open the topic of depression and anxiety women face.  She bares it all and in the meantime blesses us to our souls and we are changed for the better.

What all three women offer to us in their writing is validation, encouragement, wisdom and feeling completely understood.  They offer themselves.  And if we lived next door to them, I’m sure it would come out of their pores and smiles.

What is speaking to me these days in my life as a mother, is—IT IS HARD TO BE A MOTHER.  A GOOD ONE, that is.  It’s definitely easier to be unintentional, lazy, emotionally-reactive, and neglectful.  I don’t want to be that.  God, no.

It’s HARD to do it all, wear 17 hats, and keep the Pottery Barn plates spinning and do it gracefully without ever becoming frustrated, tired, or just unglued.  NOBODY CAN, I remind myself, but not enough.  As my friend Kristin says, “NO ONE lives the Pottery barn life, and its time we all started talking about it!”

If “they” say they do, and, with a smile on their face, then they are inauthentic. And I cannot be friends with them.

–I love being a mother and then I don’t.

–I try and I fail.

–I do good and I do bad.

–I hug and I holler.

–I cuddle and I cuss (not in front of them).

–I love-on my littles, and then I’m a total lame-ass.

–I’m emotionally present, and then I’m aloof.

–I’m all fun-goofy-and-dance-party mom, then I’m somber and

preoccupied.

–Like Katy Perry sings, I’m hot and I’m cold.

–I embrace the chaos and clutter and a minute later I curse it.

–I question whether I should have become a mother—and then I have THE BEST MOMMY MOMENT EVER, and I recoil at the thought.

–I make special dates with my kids, and then I dream about special dates for me, all alone, in a beautiful hotel by the beach.  Alone.

I’m human.

I’m embracing my humanity, my feelings, my thoughts, my strengths, my weaknesses, my sins, and my angst.  I am trying to let go of the guilt I feel all of the time about the mistakes I make 23 times a day.  This is a real challenge…the mommy guilt.

I lay it all out for you to read and peer into.

And I do sometimes wonder what my mom or mother-in-law would say if they were alive and reading my blog.  Would they applaud me or be horrified at what I spill out?

It’s cathartic for me, and by the lovely and kind responses I’ve received, it’s cathartic for you.

The angst I feel in motherhood fuels my writing.  Maybe that is why God has not healed me or released me from it, nor has He slapped me up side the head with a new perspective. (Not that He, in His goodness and mercy, would actually do that.)

So, I embrace you, Mothers of All Littles out there.  I embrace your gifts and talents and courage as a mom.  Whether you are a SAHM, or a working mom, both lifestyles are taxing and wonderful.  I embrace your failures, your fears, and your anger, that you never even knew you had, till you had children.

I do not and will not judge you.  I wont judge you if you “have it all together” or if you pretend to, or if you can never, ever, ever seem to get out the door on time.  I won’t judge you if you pull up to school in a sippy-cup-laden, messy minivan, or a pristine Prius.  We all try so very HARD to get it right.  As my friend, Kristin says, “NO ONE has a Pottery Barn life, and its time we all started talking about it!”

I just lied. 

I would be a little bummed about your pretending (or just jealous of your incredible organizational skills!).  Actually really bummed.  I understand the appropriate game face at certain times and situations.  I took Social Skills 101 and 102.  But a lifestyle of pretending, denying, and hiding does not equal joy or growth. Does not.

My new mantra is:

 HONESTY+VULNERABILITY+TRANSPARENCY= TRANSFORMATION

I want to grow.  Desperately.  And I want you to grow, too.  Into the most beautiful, loving, giving, compassionate person you can be.  As mothers, as wives, as daughters, sisters, and girlfriends.  All these parts of us are gifted and to be shared.  For the good and blessing of the world.

Even though Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Doyle Melton are just my pretend BFFs, I am thankful I DO have women in my life (you know who you are dear girlfreinds) who accept me, who inspire me, and who push me (and sometimes) drag me towards a transformed life.

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For Their Father

IMG_9072I hear some women snippily say, “My husband is not MY father, why do I need to celebrate him?”  And despite that I can be selfish and snarky (once a year), I wholeheartedly DISAGREE with women who say this.  

Chris is the father of my children, our children.  Therefore I will celebrate him today for being the amazing father that he is to Luke, Ryan, and Kate. And if this post today is just too sappy and sweet for you, you can wait for my next one.  I’m sure the humor and edge will creep back in.   Besides this one is for CHRIS, who truly blesses our family with his love, dedication, and uber-patience.

Here are some of the many reasons I am extremely thankful that my kids have their dad:

  • He loves being a dad.
  • He prays for our family.
  • He works hard and exemplifies a strong work ethic.
  • He has a rich faith and shares it with our kids.
  • He makes regular one-on-one special dates with them.
  • He sets up backyard camping.
  • He sets up treasure hunts.
  • He reads parenting books.
  • He is cool, but not TOO cool that he can’t go to amusement parks with our kids (even without me).
  • He ensures we make it to Family Camp at Forest Home each year.
  • He is affectionate and playful.
  • He is hands-on and involved despite his stress and his demanding profession.
  • He loves me and tells me in front of the kids.
  • He found Ryan’s diagnosis of Prader-Willi syndrome online and pressed for testing.
  • He has attended all of Ryan’s IEP’s, critical meetings & doctor appointments.
  • He doles out praise and compliments.
  • He is not lazy.
  • He is not a chauvenist.
  • Even at bedtime-ish hours he is game for lighting up the fire-pit and making smores (I, on the other hand, not so much…).
  • He is the FUN ONE and makes memories happen.
  • He is the reason my kids see the snow and know how to ski.
  • He takes daddy-breaks (probably not enough).
  • He is not perfect, even though this post makes him sound so perfect, and he admits mistakes to the kids and me.

Happy Father’s Day, Chris!!  I am blessed beyond measure to have YOU be the dad to our children.  I love you and am eternally grateful for your support and partnership in this joyful and maddening journey of parenthood.

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The All-Together-ness of Summer

I survived the first week of summer break with a smile. Barely.  Only 10 more weeks, but no one else in the Patay household is counting.  But me, I admit.  Deep breaths.

Don’t get me wrong.  I welcome the respite from homework, projects, meetings, volunteering, packing lunches, and staying on top of endless papers that come home.  My in-basket is sooo happy to be less full.

I have loved a week free of nagging, pleading or threatening to get out the door on time.  Three kids in three schools.  Sounds worse than it is, but sheesh.  I am happy not to think about that right now.  The end of the school year trauma for moms (or dads) was captured hysterically and so-right-on by Jen Hatmaker’s article, “Worst End of School Year Mom Ever.”  A must must must read.  You will love her honesty and humor.  You will feel incredibly validated.

We did have a highlight moment I must say.  The first Sunday after summer break invaded my life and personal space…oh, I mean joyfully began…we, as a whole family created our “Summer Bucket List.”  This is year two of this tradition.  I am not your fun-summer-mama-full-of-arts-and-crafts-and-amazing-outings, but this bucket list makes my kids think I am.  Heck, it makes me believe I am.  It helps me to be intentional and look forward to many special events and memories to be made.  And my kids loooove the Bucket List.  They will lock this in as a childhood AHHH.  (And hopefully forgive and forget some of the ways I have blown it.)  Our Bucket List is on a huge colorful poster board in our dining room. I see it every day and it helps remind me that I won’t completely suffocate over summer.

Yes, I used the word suffocate. Because, we are All. Together. All. The . Time.  And the three little darlings are around EACH OTHER all the time.  They bug each other and stare at each other and touch each other and copy each other and it escalates and then they are at war with each other.

Every day its “What fun activity are we doing today?” And after we get home from said fun activity, “Now what, Mom?”  “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Moooooommeeee.”

It seems the SoCal June Gloom hit RIGHT as the clock turned 12:46 pm on the last day of school.  This does not help me at all.  We had positively gorgeous sunshine day after day.  Until we didn’t.  And still do not, (mostly).  Which means we have not been swimming, beach-ing, or park-hopping.  Lots of being at home.  All of us.

There are many ways for moms to cope with this.  I found myself hiding in my closet the other day, “cleaning it out,” with the iPad in tow, watching an episode of Breaking Bad.  Yes, I was hiding away. Proud Mommy Moment #2089.

Another coping mechanism is to drown out the noise (I must be getting old) and other unpleasantries, with music.  PANDORA is on 24/7 in my house and I’ve also been carrying around my iPhone with various tunes shuffling through.  Music is my happy place (one of many) and it lifts me up and fills my soul.  No, I’m not

checking out here, friends.  Don’t judge me.  Prayer, exercise and mommy-breaks are also utilized as coping skills.  Jen Hatmaker, my new pretend BFF, also has a piece called “Survivng Summer,” which is chock full of ideas.  Wish I lived next door to her.

As I was writing this, and sharing my theme with my husband, he started with, “Not another…” I stopped him right there where he would possibly say “another venting piece.” I’m guessing, because I did not let him go on, and further justified my venting because of how HARD it is for me. Maybe not for him.  He is more tolerant and patient.  And he is not here all day either.

The all-together-ness that leads to fighting, to loudness, to constant questions, to the never-ending, “Now what, Mom?” makes me want to pull my hair out.  Or theirs, but I DO refrain.  Kate asked me why I had to go to the gym again this morning, and I said, “Because you know those times I get grumpy and lose my cool?  That would happen A LOT more if I did not exercise.” She does not get it, but when she is a mommy she will.

I am one who needs a little alone time, a little space, a little time to myself.  To think, to write, to exercise, to work.

I need space just to keep up on the household to-do lists.  I NEED them to be in school, and I could never homeschool, because of the all-together-ness factor.  I have projects that awaited me till now like two boxes of filing that are so over-full.  My house is photo-shopped all neat and tidy, but don’t dare look inside my closets and drawers.  I’m in desperate need of deep organization.

I am really not a Negative Nellie or a Sourpuss Sylvia.  Ok maybe today. And then the pity party will be over.

I do LOVE summer, the theme, the feel, the weather, the tanks and flips, the sun and trips, the grilling, and the endless memories made.  Even in this week of I have had belly-laughing moments, doubled over in the kitchen, when I thought my bladder would give out.  Yes. That kind of fun and humor and goodness.  Its possible in the Patay House, despite my ranting and raving.

Long mornings of pajamas and tv time, or hanging out and playing with no where we HAVE TO BE is bliss.  Truly.  Lets all have a collective sigh. Once the June Gloom subsides and real sunshine takes over, our souls will open up a bit.  Our Summer Bucket List of FUN awaits us.  And maybe you could join us, too.

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