Listen To Your Mother

A couple of weeks ago, my blogger friend/college classmate/Twitter pal Marisa retweeted a call for submissions for the OKC casting of the Listen To Your Mother Show. Her tweet piqued my interest so I clicked on the link to find out about what this show was all about as I had never heard of it. Basically, it’s a community-sponsored event where real women tell their authentic stories of motherhood – in all its “complexity, diversity and humor,” as their website says.

Since I have challenged myself to step outside of my comfort zone with writing this year, I thought, why not submit something? And so I did, not expecting much to come of it but rather in an earnest pursuit of growth in my craft.

Welp. I got notified to audition. And lest you think I’ve been holding back on you on some kind of theatrical talent, let me clarify: the audition involved simply reading my piece. So, I drove the 2+ hours down to OKC on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning a few weeks ago to read through my 5-minute work on motherhood.

I think you can probably see where this is going. I got cast in the show!

Listen to your mother

I’m thrilled, delighted and overwhelmed to be a part of it. I’ve watched some of the videos from the past years’ shows, and the ladies with whom I’ll be sharing a stage are skillful writers and compelling storytellers.

You can find out all about the show and meet the rest of the cast over on the show’s website: http://listentoyourmothershow.com/oklahomacity/

Also, if you’re local to Oklahoma, won’t you consider joining us on April 30th for this unique event that gives a voice to motherhood? Tickets are available here: http://www.ticketstorm.com/event/listentoyourmothershow2017/oklahomacityzooeducationcenter/oklahomacity/19019/

I’m anxious with excitement to hear my fellow cast members’ motherhood stories and to share my own as well. Come be a part of it and join us in OKC in April for the Listen To Your Mother Show!

Bedlam Basketball and A Birth Story


Our firstborn turns FOUR today. I can’t believe it. She’ll be starting school this fall, and pre-K enrollment is two weeks away. Cue all the feels. Since I’ve never shared it publicly before, and in honor of her birthday, I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you about her birth story.

Anxiously Awaiting

Let me begin by saying I had a fairly ordinary pregnancy, physically speaking. Though our personal lives were in an uproar at the time, my overall physical condition was good. So, as my due date approached, I felt very anxious not knowing what to expect. I hadn’t experienced any Braxton Hicks, so I didn’t even know what a contraction might feel like. People said things to me like, “oh when you’re in labor, you’ll know.” But I remember thinking, yeah but how will I know? 

Though I do struggle with some anxiety, it’s not significant most of the time. However, my pregnancy hormones left me feeling apprehensive about giving birth. On top of that, the episode of Downton Abbey where Sybil gives birth aired during my last few weeks of pregnancy. I was a royal sobbing mess as I watched it. Then, because I’m a crazy person, I decided to catch some episodes of TLC’s A Baby Story. So what I’m trying to tell you is that my frame of reference for giving birth was entirely shaped by television. My state of mind wasn’t exactly in a good place.


Since this was my first baby, I didn’t expect her to come by her due date. I’d heard countless stories of first pregnancies going long, so that was my expectation as well. I hadn’t shown any signs of labor coming soon in my weekly prenatal checks. My 39-week appointment was just 2 days before my due date, and I had barely dilated and had very little effacement. By all appearances, she was going to stick it out for a little while longer.

Is this a bad backache, or…..?

So when my back was aching at around 4 AM the morning of my due date, I didn’t think much of it. As most of you moms know, back pain during pregnancy isn’t exactly unusual, and especially so for me because I had serious sciatic nerve issues with my first pregnancy. I just thought my back was hurting from sleeping in an awkward position or something.

By about 4:30, I realized that the back pain was a little unusual because it kept coming and going. It was a rhythmic pain. Cue alarms and signals firing in my brain. I began to suspect I might be experiencing labor pains, but I thought it was likely false labor. Again, I fully expected to carry her for at least a few more days. So, around 5 am, thinking I was likely experiencing false labor, I decided to go take a shower. I’d heard or read, I can’t remember, that I should take a shower if I thought I might be having contractions, and if they persisted afterward it was a good sign I was in real labor.


So, I swung my legs over the side of the bed, planted my feet on the carpet, and stood to head for the shower. That’s when it happened. My water broke.  I won’t go into the gory details, but let me tell you it was something straight out of the movies. And after my water broke, that casual back pain turned full throttle and it was on.

Eastbound, loaded up and birthin’

Ryan was awake because I had told him I thought I might be feeling contractions and I was heading to take a shower. So after I stood and the floodgates released, I said, “uh Ryan…..my water just broke.” He bolted upright and I think he said something to the effect of “seriously? are you sure?” I can’t remember now. Nevertheless, he quickly got out of bed, and we both started getting ready to head to the hospital. We woke his parents (we lived with them at the time, long story), gathered our things, and loaded up into the car.

In hindsight, we should have grabbed trashbags or something to cover my car seat. I think we grabbed towels, but they were practically useless. Since my water broke, every contraction released a fresh gush of fluid and we lived over an hour from our hospital.

Ryan and his offspring are all members of the Cherokee tribe, so my prenatal care was managed by them and our children were born at the tribal hospital in Tahlequah. I had to ride in that car for over an hour, having contractions every few minutes. I truly thought we weren’t going to make it. I learned later after we arrived that I really hadn’t dilated all that much. Ha! It felt otherwise.


We arrived at the hospital and checked in. By the time we got there, filled out the paperwork, and I got hooked up to all the monitors and machines, it was approaching 7 am. Of course, they immediately asked if I wanted an epidural, and at this point, the labor was painful but not unbearable. I decided to pass on the epidural for now.

Bedlam Basketball and a Birth Story

A few hours go by. My midwife comes in to check on things, and I thought for sure I’d be getting close to time to push. My contractions were strong, coming closely together, and I’d been laboring for about 6 hours. I was certain it was time to get this show on the road. Imagine my disappointment when she told me I’d only dilated to a 6 (you need to be at a 10 to start pushing, in case you didn’t know).

Since little missy was apparently going to take her sweet time, I told them to go ahead and load me up with the drugs. Regardless of your position on epidurals vs. natural birth, let me just tell you this: getting an epidural is a scary experience. As the anesthesiologist instructed me to hold very still while he inserted the needle, I thought (and may have even said aloud), um are you kidding me a tiny human is taking a jackhammer to my pelvis and you expect me NOT TO MOVE!? 

Anyway, so I got the epidural. Labor was pretty smooth sailing from then on. I texted and checked Facebook to bide the time. I remember one friend texting back, “you’re texting in labor?!?!” Listen, y’all….those epidurals don’t play. I didn’t get one with my second (that’s a whole ‘nother story), and regret it in hindsight.

I labored for another few hours. I tried to get some sleep, but that didn’t happen. Finally, the Bedlam basketball game came on TV so I had something interesting to watch. Then, around 2pm, my midwife came in to do another cervical check. It was time!

So, while the Sooners went on to the lose to the Cowboys in overtime, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl.

Altogether, my labor was about 10 hours. It would likely have been shorter without the epidural, but I don’t regret getting it. It’s interesting the things I remember about the experience now, four years later, and the things I don’t. They say you forget the labor pains, and I guess I have to an extent (I still remember every bit of them from my second child, though). I remember watching the Sooners. I remember the look on Ryan’s face at the sight of his newborn daughter. I remember the love in his eyes as he watched me labor and give birth. I remember the sensation of her leaving my body, the feel of her tiny body on my chest, the flood of relief that washed over me at the sight of her.

I know this post is too long, but I didn’t want to split it into two parts. This story is just the beginning of our adventures with Sweet Baby Ray. She has changed our lives in innumerable ways. I’m thankful for four years of being her mom and the many adventures we have ahead of us. Happy birthday, Sweet Baby Ray!


As a side note, bedlam basketball still falls on the Saturday around Ray’s birthday, so Boomer Sooner! 

 

Unpopular Parenting Opinions

Unpopular Parenting Opinions

 

When you become a mom, you learn that everyone around you has strong feelings about every fine detail of your decision-making as a parent. It’s like once the test strip turns pink, friends and family suddenly feel the freedom to throw their two cents into about all sorts of things related to rearing a child, from feeding to discipline to proper medical care. Sometimes, these opinions are welcomed and advice is much needed. However, sometimes the opinions are just that – and should be treated as such.

Since becoming a mom over four years ago, I’ve developed some parenting opinions as well – and some of them could be controversial. Here are some of my unpopular parenting opinions:

  1. Kids are unlikeable human beings sometimes. Listen, I will always love my children, feed them, clothe them, wipe their stinky bottoms, tuck them into bed at night and smother them with kisses in the process. But sometimes, they’re rotten and bratty and I don’t like them – and I don’t apologize for feeling that way or admitting it, because guess what? Most humans can be pretty annoying at times, and my kids are no exception. If you’ve ever lived with a spouse, significant other, or roommate then you know this to be true.
  2. Over-the-top first birthday parties are excessive and unnecessary. Save that money and put it into a college fund. I may get some heat for this one, but that’s okay because if you have more than enough money to throw it down the drain on a hot air balloon photobooth setup for a one-year-old’s party – then we’re probably not friends and you’re not reading this opinion, anyway.
  3. Sleep training can be a sanity-saver. Our first slept like a champ upon leaving the womb, but our second really struggled. It wasn’t until we sleep trained him that any of us got any consistent rest throughout the night, and I couldn’t believe how long we waited to do it.
  4. One and done is a perfectly legitimate child-bearing decision. Though we have two children, I remember the pressure others put on us to have a second kid. Any time I expressed that I might be done at one child, I was met with looks of shock and dismay, “the horror!” I’m glad we have two now, but I have good friends who struggle justifying their one-and-done decision every day, as if they’re being mean to their kid for depriving them of a sibling. Pretty sure my oldest would say I’m the mean one for giving her a brother – sometimes.
  5. Watching TV is fine. I could guilt myself about this one, but that seems like a lot of emotional effort and since I carry enough baggage with me each day – why add to it? We do this together as a family most of the time, we still have dinners around the table and we turn off the screens to read and sing together each night, so I’m okay with our TV time. And you know what? Thanks to Little Einsteins, my kids know the meaning of fancy musical terms like adagio, allegro, presto and moderato but can’t wipe their own bottoms, so clearly my parenting opinions might need to be taken with a grain of salt. Or a few grains and a shot of tequila.

Ahem. Anyway.

As a mom with a penchant for sarcasm, it’s easy for me to develop strong feelings about myriad parenting things – these are just a few. What are some of your unpopular parenting opinions?

To the working mom at church

to the working mom at church

Dear Working Mom,

I see you waking in the early fringe hours of the morning for self care – claiming a few precious moments of solitude for bible study and prayer, or for exercising and meditation. I know how tired you feel throughout the day because of the lack of sleep, but those wee hours of the morning are the only time you feel you can spend on just you.

I see you swallow back tears when your toddler looks in your eyes over breakfast and says, “But mama, I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay home with you.” I know how hard it is to hear those words, to try to make your little one understand how you wish you could stay home with her too and why you have to work.

I see you running errands on your lunch break, so as not to consume precious evening time. I see you grabbing a quick bite to eat in your car in the midst of grocery shopping or paying bills, or munching on a snack at your desk because you used your lunch hour to get a haircut or go to the doctor.

I see you missing group bible studies and/or moms groups, because they’re all in the mornings and you have to work. Or, when there is an evening option, the guilt you feel from sacrificing more time with your kids prohibits you from feeling the freedom to join. I know you wish there was another way, because you miss the fellowship with other women, and you know you need it.

I see you talking with other moms before and after service on Sunday, feeling out of place as they talk about homeschool curriculum or play dates. I know you feel like it’s hard for you to have friends. Most of the other church women are SAHMs, which is fine but you live in an opposite world. I know it’s lonely there.

I see you downcast during Mother’s Day sermons, when your well-meaning pastor extols the virtuous wife and mother who keeps the tidy home, raises the well-mannered children and serves her family joyfully. I know you feel less than. I know you feel like your brothers and sisters around you turn their nose up at you because you choose to work, as if your decision was made without regard for your children’s well-being or the good of your marriage.

I see all of these things because I’m a working mom, too. I know how hard it is to find a kindred spirit, to feel out of place among the family of God, to wish there were more bible studies or blogs written from the working mom’s perspective or to us.

I pray you can find friendships with fellow Christian sisters who encourage you, edify you, and empower you.

I pray you can find church family who support you and love you.

I pray your husband appreciates you and strengthens you.

I pray you know that your sacrifice is not in vain. I pray that you can have confidence that, though you work outside the home, you are motivated by what’s best for your children and family at this time.

I pray you can find rest for your weariness in Jesus. I pray you can believe him when he says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

I pray you know that, no matter who cares for your child during the day, there is no replacement or substitute for you. There is no one like you in your child’s life.

I know you’re lonely, but you’re not alone. I know you’re weary, and though you can’t see it, I know you’re strong, because Jesus has you. Jesus is with you. He is with your children when you can’t be with them.

With you in Him,

Rachel

Behind the Scenes

behind the scenes

Have you ever watched behind the scenes footage of a movie or tv show? It always fascinates me to see the actors candidly, to hear their raw voice. To observe the setting around the staged scene, all of the crew members and production staff that make it happen. To see real life.

It is easier to be impressive to strangers than it is to be consistently kind behind the scenes.

Shauna Niequist

As I scrolled through my Instagram feed this morning, I came upon this quote shared by Crystal Paine/The Money Saving Mom. Though I’ve never read any of Shauna Niequist’s works personally, I was struck by the truth declared in these few words. We live in a social media world – I don’t think it was unintentional that Crystal shared this on a social media feed – and so much of our lives on social media is packaged. Like a movie set, our social media lives are posed, styled, edited and filtered. Our feeds are meant to highlight the best moments of each day – those that make the final cut.

Our real lives aren’t styled, though. We’re not posed and edited. Life is raw, unfiltered, often messy and frequently mundane. And though our instastories might be eye-catching and attractive, who we are behind the scenes is who we really are. Though current politics might try to declare otherwise, who you are when nobody’s watching (or recording) is your true character. As Dwight L. Moody put it, “Character is who you are in the dark.”

My kids and I were watching Finding Dory last night, and we were on the scene when Hank gets frustrated with Dory and yells at her. My girl said, “Mama, he’s being mean! He’s not nice!” To which I replied, “Well, he’s frustrated and angry with Dory. That happens, sometimes.”

And my daughter responded, “yeah….like you get.”

I was shaken to my core. In her fairly benign response, my little 3-year-old revealed what you won’t see in my Instagram feed: my quick temper, the moments where I speak out in frenzied frustration instead of pressing in with calm control. It was an opportunity to offer repentance and ask forgiveness from her, and a necessary reminder that the number of likes on our family photos is not the measure of my motherhood.

It’s easy for me to make the world think I’m a good mom. I post the pictures of my cute kids in their perfect poses, and it looks like all is well. But would my kids say I’m consistently kind? Would my husband? Outside of the 4×4 frame, am I revealing Jesus to them? Am I loving them well? Are there areas I can improve?

I love to look through my social media feeds and admire the beautiful homes and the breathtaking views. But, I think it’s better to see life behind the scenes, because that’s where the real living is.