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May 2016

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I drove past some roadkill the past 2 mornings. The smell wafted through my car and penetrated my very congested sinuses. Skunk. That unmistakeable stench. I felt like I could smell it for a mile afterward. Imagine if you were a resident of that area. I’m sure everyone has encountered this at some point. That dead skunk is the perfect metaphor for a bad attitude. Just stinky and horrible to be around, negatively impacting those around them. I’ve struggled lately with my attitude. That skunk was an eye-opener. I don’t want to make a negative impact on people in my life. Time to change. Don’t be the skunk.

My mom wanted to make a special trip for the boys’ 4th birthday. What originally started out as a 2 week stay turned into a 25 day stay. Mom extended her trip upon my request to help me while David went to a conference out of town. Many people have asked what my mom does all day while we are at work & school. Well, if you saw my house, you’d answer that question for yourself. Her mornings are spent helping me get everyone dressed & out the door. Her days are spent picking up toys, doing laundry, vacuuming, doing dishes, making beds, mopping floors & general tidying up. Her evenings are spent chasing the children, helping me prepare meals & sometimes coloring & cutting my hair. When the children are in bed, we binge an episode or four of HGTV’s Fixer Upper via Netflix (Chip & Joanna Gaines crack…

As kids, my sister and I would sing the Paul Young classic, Every Time You Go Away. Only we changed the words: Every time you go away You take a piece of MEAT with you My husband has to do some travel once in a while for his job. NBD. Except I miss him. It’s pretty bad. Before we had kids, I would just fill up my social calendar and let my extroverted ways run wild. Not that I didn’t miss him, but I just made the most of it. I did things like eat food he wouldn’t – such as but not limited to seafood, thai food, and anything white. Now we have a family. It has changed everything – including how I feel when David is gone. I truly feel incomplete. Worse than that. It’s like losing your umbrella and you’re trying to use your jacket to shield…

There’s all kinds of moms. Stay at home moms aka SAHM. Working moms aka WM. Natural birth moms. Water birth moms. Gimme-the-epidural moms. C-section moms. Skinny moms. Fat moms. Bald moms. Pretty moms. Frumpy moms. TATTOOED MOMS. Funny moms. Sad moms. Angry moms. Happy moms. Annoying moms. Young moms. Old moms. Single moms. Married moms. Dating moms. Divorced moms. Birth moms. Adoptive moms. Surrogates. Foster moms. Step-moms. Yoga moms. Soccer moms. Jogger moms. Couch moms. Clean house neat freak moms. Messy house and t-shirt stained moms. Organized moms. Hot mess moms. Overly-perky-happy moms. Depressed moms. Wino moms. Fearless-adventurer-hiking-outdoor moms. Stage moms. Put-a-movie-on-I’m-exhausted moms. Moms who don’t have any children but are a mom to many. Moms who outlived their children. Grandmas, aunts, cousins or siblings who were “mom”. See the common thread? We’re moms. That’s pretty special. None of us is better than the other. We’re all merely doing the best we can…

It was the Thursday before Mother’s Day just 2 years ago that we brought Levi & Wyatt home. So, today is an anniversary of a fulfilled longing. I still catch myself looking at them in wonder. I cannot believe they’re mine. My children. I HAVE CHILDREN. I don’t think that will ever go away. Poor Levi is just like me, and Wyatt could not be more like his daddy if he tried. Textbook extrovert and introvert. Both tender-hearted, funny, kind and too smart for their own good. I pray every day that I will be the mom they deserve with the realization that my gain was someone else’s loss, my joy is someone else’s pain, and this bond may be something not everyone will get to experience.

A few years ago, my husband was running an internship program at the church and kept going on and on about this sharp young couple named Taylor and AJ Adams. I met them and fell in love with their family. Especially Taylor. Shortly after I had barely been introduced to her, we happened to be at a prayer night at church. Unfortunately, I had a complete meltdown. It was the first time I had ever publicly asked for prayer regarding my infertility. Taylor was sweet, sincere & prayed for me. However, I was a hot mess – & it probably left her feeling like maybe her prayer didn’t help. But truth is, she did help. And she has helped me ever since. Taylor has overcome so much in her 25 years on the planet. She is not defined by her past but rather has DEFIED her past. She continues to…

One day, Captain America and Wolverine were playing hard and needed a break. Cap went to the bathroom while Wolverine got a cookie. Wolverine walked down the short hallway to the bathroom while eating his cookie and peered in at Cap. “Even though you’re pooping, I still like you.”, he said to Cap. “Can you close the door? I need privacy.”, kindly replied the patriotic hero through his mask. This is such a beautiful snapshot of my life, but also a great example of how we need to love each other. Take a moment today to stop and express your love for someone – even amidst the stench of life and circumstances. We are called to love. Even though you’re pooping, I still like you.

I was visiting with a close friend who was recently with a family struck by loss. We spoke candidly, as we often do, and I asked her what in the world you should bring people during a time that is devastating and life altering. Frankly, I feel clueless in this area. Here are some ideas & suggestions that I hope you’ll find helpful – though I wish no one ever had to go through it. RESPECT If the family has asked for privacy and no visitors, honor them. If they want you – they’ll ask. Sometimes we want to rally and support because we too feel helpless. It’s hard to not make their grief about us sometimes. So, make yourself available, but do not intrude. ABOUT FOOD First, if you’re thinking of bringing food, know the dietary needs of the family you’re trying to bless. These days there are so…

Folks, it’s been a long day for the Conlee fam. Many people are not aware that we have an open adoption. It was not what we planned in the beginning but our birth mom changed her mind from wanting it to be closed to an open adoption and we weren’t willing to risk losing the boys. It wasn’t a deal breaker for us. So, we’ve tried to incorporate her into our family for her quarterly visits. We care about her as we know our gain is her loss. But I’m exhausted. And watching them with her, I felt my insecurity creep in. That voice of doom that says they might love her more & that I’m just a second hand mom. Why does THIS have to be part of MY story? Why couldn’t I just have kids like a normal person? The same reason you have things in YOUR story…