Motherhood – my look back

Today I’ve been reflecting on the last 15 years of motherhood…imperfect motherhood. 

I remember in the beginning, I was an unwed, terrified 19 year old.  I remember praying to God that he would show me the way and give direction to my life as a mom. 

Lesson:  Guess what…he did.  God came through, he’s cool like that.  He waiting patiently  for me, guiding me gently.   

I remember wanting to prove to everyone that I was a good mom, a capable mom… and frankly, that helped me make better decisions.  I didn’t want to fail my babies, myself, God, my husband. 

Lesson:  Whatever your reason, just do the right thing…then do the next right thing, and repeat.   Point your moral compass North, and walk that direction. 

I remember it was so hard to find a balance, find a place for Jeremy.  In the dawn of our life together,  we had 3 babies so close together and priorities got skewed and clouded.   The distance between him and I seemed so far apart, even sleeping next to him in the same bed.   Resentment and anger from unmet expectations filled the gap.  This wasn’t easy…marriage wasn’t easy…

Lesson:  Your husband chose YOU, out of 7 billion humans on this earth…he chose you to spend his life with, and care for him and his needs.  What an honor!  Take that job seriously, love him intentionally and  love him hard.  Tolerate his socks on the floor and his untouched honey-do list.  Make time for him.  Make time even when you would rather be curled up under the covers binge-watching Netflix.  ūüôā   

I remember calling on my friends…A LOT.  I vented.  I complained.  I cried.  I laughed.  I asked for so much advice. 

LESSON: Choose your tribe carefully.  Choose friends that truly see the big picture and want what’s best for you AND your marriage and family.  I am so fortunate to have the best friends and sisters-in-love that I do.  They encourage and bless me continually. 

My life today seems so far from what it was then.  There is so much growing up to do in your 20’s, and even faster if you’re a mother.  The kids don’t wait…they don’t wait until you have you life “together”, until your marriage is better, until you’re done “sowing your wild oats”.  They are there, every moment, seeking your love, your attention, your time, your best.

What a blessing it is to get to the other side of the hard.  I’m so thankful God saw us through the beginning and carried me when the weight was too heavy to bare.  Our life is not without trials,  however, it gets a whole lot easier when I give it up to God, and let him steer the ship instead of trying to make my own way while fighting the current.  He hasn’t failed me yet. ‚̧

2016 Howard Family Recap

I’m always reminiscent this day of the year.¬† I think of the last year, highlighting the good and the bad that stick out in my mind and¬†touch my heart.¬† 2016 has challenged me in new ways that I wouldn’t, and frankly couldn’t, have ever expected.¬† It has been a year… a year of revelations, and scares, and learning to trust in God in big and small ways.
I joke that I have my family tight in a “happy-safe-family-bubble” wrapping my momma bear arms around them to protect them from the outside world, the sometimes scary and harmful world.¬† I do, and I have for many, many years.¬†¬†2016 provided¬†us, me with many opportunities to grow and learn¬†to let go.¬† To loosen my tight grip on my family…to learn that nothing is really in my control at all.¬† To¬†literally feel¬†my heart stop from fear and anxiety of the unknown.¬† To pray more than I’ve ever prayed in all¬†of the years of¬†my life, collectively.¬†¬†This year was definitely not¬†ALL scary and hard lessons.¬† It was wonderful and busy and challenging.¬† Here’s a recap:

Kennedy:¬† became a high schooler,¬† made the cheerleading squad,¬†wore a boot on a foot for¬†6 weeks, got her school permit (it’s all fun and games¬†until you’re sitting in the passenger seat with your teen driving! ūüôā¬†), felt the heartache¬†of her first major crush/best guy friend¬†move¬†800 miles away, learned to kayak, volunteered at church,¬†swam in a mountain stream,¬†¬† became the city’s most coveted¬†babysitter,¬† first overnight in the hospital, went to her first high school dance,¬†survived her first real “finals week”,¬†¬†cried a¬†lot, laughed more, ¬†had¬†a tonsillectomy-which resulted in a¬†very hard recovery and some time in the ICU, and a revelation of a¬†serious¬†health problem not known of before (We’ve been referred to Children’s hospital for¬†tests so we will know more regarding this chronic problem soon.), spent 3 weeks healing and laying around, spent countless hours on Netflix, spent her year loving on her baby sisters and being Momma’s best assistant.

Konnor:  new school, became a 7th grader, played on the school football team, became a teenager, filled our freezer with deer meat, grew out of every piece of clothing he owned, did 1.3 million bottle flips, tried new sports, made new friends, made lots of jokes, pranked us more times than I can count, got his first social media account, began volunteering at church doing sounds and lights for church service, spent countless hours in the field with his dad and Uncle Brandon hunting, hiked up a mountain, swam down a mountain fall, got glasses, won the Gold in 4h shooting sports, officially outgrew Halloween, effectively dodged 95% of all my photos.

Karson:¬†¬†said goodbye to¬†Morton school, started new school,¬† made Sing-Around-Nebraska,¬†caught more fish than any other Howard, dabbed¬†daily,¬†campaigned for student council, won spirit day at his new school, made¬†new friends, played basketball, won $200 for his salesmanship in a school fundraiser,¬†lost a lot of teeth,¬† made a lot of Musicallys, made the¬†quiz bowl team,¬†started a postcard collection, didn’t break any of his electronics!,¬†bought his first rifle,¬†played Joseph in the Christmas musical at church, charmed every adult he knows with his infamous hugs and contagious smile.

Kollyns:¬† started her last year of preschool at a new school,¬†cut (and donated) 10″ off of her hair, confirmed that she is, in fact, part mermaid at the waterpark, ate mustard nearly every day, fell in love with bacon,¬†went to the ball with her Daddy, colored 1000 pictures, convinced Daddy to keep¬†his beard, learned to read,¬† effectively climbed every door jam in our home, dressed in “gyn-nastics”¬†leotards¬†every day, refused any hairstyle but a ponytail, fell in love with lipstick, learned to speak in a British¬†accent, colored herself blue with a marker, shot a BB gun for the first time,¬†went hiking and kayaking for the first time,¬† cracked a lot of jokes,¬†became cousin Amber-obsessed,¬†giggled for days.

 

Khloe:¬† potty-trained,¬†gave up¬†her binky,¬†cut 6 inches off of her hair, started preschool, graduated out of the nursery at church, clung to¬†her Mommy 80% of¬†the 24 hours a day, consumed ranch with every meal-every day,¬†fell madly in love with Peppa Pig and all of her family and friends, learned the lyrics to the entire Trolls Movie soundtrack in 3 days flat, danced, and sang, and¬†demanded everyone’s attention while she did so,¬†gave so many hugs and kisses, had her first school picture day, threw her first throw-herself-down-screaming-fit in public,¬† consumed more popsicles than humanly possible,¬†finally started to grow and get taller!,¬†got¬†a best friend (besides her sister)¬†– Harper

Jeremy:  worked his tail off at work, did a little fishing, a lot of hunting, outfitted our family with kayaks, took us on a great vacation in South Dakota, tried to undo the years of damage to his back and spent a lot of time at the doctor this year for pain management for lower lumbar disc issues, grew a legit beard, taught our oldest to drive, taught Karson to shoot, smoked a lot of meat, spoiled me daily with little reminders of his love for me, poured a lot of beers, kissed a lot of babies, was diagnosed with a serious heath problem, saw more doctors this year than in the last decade combined, advocated for gun rights, watched a lot of football, cheered on his kiddos at their sporting and music events, encouraged me, ran his business successfully.

Me:  started back to college after 15 years, snuggled Khloe to sleep every single night, drove 500 miles to be with my best friend as they laid her brother to rest,  spent a lot of time with power tools and paint, took care of a lot of sick kiddos, studied countless hours, officially coined myself a professional Barbie hair braider, started a blog, taught my first official door hanger party, co-coordinator for MOPS, applied to nursing school, judged a beauty pageant, taught Sunday school at church, made new friends, loved on old friends, took a lot of pictures, sent my last baby off to preschool, cried a lot, smiled more, spent a lot of quiet time with the Lord, learned to say NO, learned to accept the chaos of such a large family, learned so much about the healthcare system and how to advocate for my family, paid a lot of bills, got a Suburban, met Glennon Doyle Melton, hiked up a mountain with a toddler on my back, accepted broken relationships, chauffeured kids to many events, walked in a mountain stream, swam in a hot spring, learned to step outside of my comfort zone, fell back in love with Gilmore Girls.

While we live a pretty charmed life, 2016 certainly wasn’t without its hard times.¬†¬† Here’s to carrying the perspective gained and lessons learned into this new year.¬†¬†May I always have eyes to see the love and blessings surrounding me.¬† I’m so thankful for all of the gifts in my life.¬† May this year find you renewed and refreshed. ‚̧¬† Thank you for your love and support this year.