October 22, 2016

Losing the Baby Weight

I love my babies.
When my kiddo is soundly sleeping in my arms, I feel like the best mom ever. Baby snuggles are the best. And those first smiles - most precious moments in the world!
Babies are pretty amazing.

You know what's not amazing?
Rather, the pregnancy weight.

Those of you who know me in real life would probably roll your eyes at me with the amount of weight I gained in my fourth pregnancy. I know, I know, I was lucky to only gain 25 pounds the fourth time. I've been lucky enough to gain less weight with each successive pregnancy; usually women gain more weight each time. Please don't assume that I'm bragging about the poundage. I've been on the opposite end of the spectrum as well. I gained 50 pounds in my first pregnancy, more than any of the other first-time mommies in my social circle. I didn't lose that weight through breastfeeding either. It was a long nine months before I finally lost the baby weight.

When it comes to baby weight, most medical professionals would agree that it's important to lose some (if not all) of the extra weight. Obesity is a growing challenge in America. However, medical professionals disagree on how quickly those pounds need to come off. Some recommend losing the weight within a few months through diet and exercise. Some suggest taking an entire year to slowly lose the weight. Oftentimes the mantra is, "It took nine months to gain the weight, it'll take nine months to lose the weight."

Jaime Arruda, MD wisely states, "Probably the most important thing to remember about this is that everyone gains their weight and loses their weight differently in pregnancy, and that it’s not a competition as to how quickly you can lose your postpartum weight."

As a counselor, a friend, and a mom, I see women struggle with things other than the number on the scale. Self-esteem. Self-confidence. Self-image. Most women just want to feel good about their bodies after childbirth. Moms not only sacrifice their time and emotions to raise children, they sacrifice their very bodies. Our skin bears stretch marks, our abdominal muscles flab, our chests never look the same again. Even our feet can permanently change! The number on the scale may get down to your wedding day weight, but your wedding dress may still not fit because your rib-cage expanded during pregnancy.

Pregnancy affects all women differently, and so does postpartum weight loss.
Don't fight to look like a supermodel.
Fight to simply feel good in the skin you have left, scars and all.

I'll say that again:
Fight to feel good in your new skin.

How do you win the battle of new mom self-confidence?
Answer these questions:
What makes you feel beautiful?
What makes you feel strong and capable?
Over the last few weeks, when did you feel the most confident in yourself?
And on that occasion, what were you doing, wearing, and thinking?
Think about the last time that you felt "like your old self" again.
In that moment, what were you doing, wearing, thinking?
How will you know when you have reached the moment where you accept yourself?
What will you say to yourself when you are good with yourself?

Ponder over your answers.
And tell those kind words to yourself now. Smile at yourself now.

Allow yourself to be human and imperfect. Be patient with yourself while making a game plan to get feeling good again. If that means losing some baby weight, then make a plan towards that goal. (Check with your doctor if you have medical concerns.) If feeling good means updating your wardrobe, then get to it. Feeling good about your body can also involve daily positive affirmations, volunteer service, or frequent self-care time where you relax from stress. When I see counseling clients struggling with self-image, their weight is usually connected to anxious eating habits. Under-eating and overeating are common stress relievers, and neither are healthy habits. Every mom experiences stress. Analyze within yourself if you are coping with stress in a healthy way. Are other stressors affecting your ability to love yourself?

Sometimes, even as you fight to feel good, your results will not be "perfect." I know amazing moms who can't seem to lose every pound of baby weight despite their conscious eating and exercising. Sometimes abdominal muscles stay separated. Sometimes chest sizes shrink even more. Sometimes scar lines don't fade but remain bright purple. We cannot control the unexpected, but we can control whether or not we try to reach our goals. If you have tried honestly and sincerely, than you have not failed. Don't withhold kindness from yourself. Don't withhold smiles from yourself. Do your best, and love your effort.

No matter the number on the scale, fight to feel good.
No matter your deflated bra size, fight to feel good.
Remind yourself about your inner strength and beauty. Tell yourself compliments. Work on your goals for physical and mental wellness. Kick those nay-saying, negative thoughts to the curb.
Eat healthy. Run around after your kids for exercise. Breathe fresh air. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Express gratitude to your loved ones often and to your God for the blessings of family. 

Write love letters to yourself. Praise your efforts to be healthy for your family. Accept compliments from others with a "thank you" instead of "oh, thanks, but I still (insert self-degrading comment.)" Replace negative self-talk with a loop of received compliments. Whatever stage you are in, whether gaining baby weight or losing baby weight, simply love yourself and fight to feel good.

October 18, 2016

Introducing Little Mary

Our sweet new baby is already two months old, so it's time to post her birth story and newborn photos.

I really wanted Mary to be born on a Monday. My mom's schedule, Simon's upcoming school schedule, my husband's work schedule, everything would be easiest if she would come that day. My doctor knew this, so at my last Monday prenatal appointment, she stripped my membranes to entice little miss Mary to come. (Stripping my membranes worked with our other daughters; they came within 12 hours.) All day Monday I hoped and prayed for labor to start, and finally about 6:00pm, I thought I felt a contraction.

I typically don't feel any contractions until labor starts. No Braxton Hicks, no pain, nothing. So, once the flutters started, we called our parents and told them to be prepared. An hour later I called my best friend to come hang out with our kids. I started packing a bag, and I did my hair and makeup. My friend Julie snapped this picture - and yes, I was in labor. In between contractions I was smiley and fine. But the contractions hurt when they came. We got kids ready for bed and left for the hospital.

Although the contractions were painful, I was completely normal in between. Johnny was worried that the hospital wouldn't admit us because I wasn't doubled over with pain. (This was our fourth kid, so he'd seen me in pain before.) I told him to take a detour to Kohl's so we could walk around for awhile. We ran into another friend at Kohl's and told her we were stalling before going to the hospital. She couldn't believe I was in labor since I was smiling and talking like normal. Johnny and I puttered around Kohl's for about 20 minutes, and then I told Johnny we definitely had to get to the hospital. Five minutes later we checked into the ER, and soon after we walked into the maternity ward. 

I was surprised when they placed us in a side room, since we went straight to a delivery room with all our other kids. I asked the nurse about an epidural, and she said that would be an option if they decided to admit us. "We're not admitted yes?" I asked in disbelief. Johnny joked that I should act like I was in more pain. The nurse seemed to imply I was too happy looking as well. After the nurse hooked me up to the monitor, I pointed out that my contractions were off the chart when they hit. Literally. The other moms on the monitor screen had typical ups and downs. Mine disappeared off the top of the screen and then came back down. I told the nurse that my babies come quick.

After 20 minutes the doctor came in for a check-up. I was sad that my own doctor wasn't at the hospital. The other reason we stripped my membranes that day was to make it possible for her to deliver the baby, but the baby was coming now, so I met the on-call doctor. Everyone was moving slow and calm-like until he checked me. I was dilated to a 7. That kicked everyone into high gear because they finally understood that this kid was coming out!

We hurried into a delivery room, and they called my own doctor to see if she could make the delivery. My blood work was taken; the epidural was ordered. I rationalized that twenty minutes of relief was twenty minutes of relief, because Mary was almost here. The anesthesiologist rushed in and administered the epidural. He walked out the door as my own doctor walked in. I was so excited see her and honored that she drove in for us! She checked me and said it was time to push. I joked that she should wait a few minutes for the epidural to actually kick in. "Nope, this baby's coming," she said. I pushed twice and out she came. Dumb epidural. It was only in for about five minutes. That's an expensive five minutes!

Mary's total labor was maybe four hours. I spent just over an hour at the hospital before she popped out. My doctor was shocked we stopped at Kohl's on the way there. The nurses were shocked that I looked so normal since I was basically in transition checking into the hospital. But out our baby came, beautiful and perfect. The quick labor popped some blood vessels in her eye, but that healed within a couple weeks.

It's amazing how quickly these little ones grab our hearts. Suddenly it's as if she was always part of our family.

The kids were so excited to meet and hold little Mary. They are so enthralled with her that there hasn't been any sibling rivalry. Mary is their favorite person.

I am so grateful that my good friend Judy took the remaining photos for us. If you live in the Austin area, visit her on Facebook. She's been photographing our family for years now.

Oh how I love this man. He is a wonderful Daddy!

We were excited to finally take our little girl home.

Being a mom is awesome! Yes, there are tired moments - I should say exhausting moments. And tears sometimes. And stress sometimes. But there are so many more sweet moments! Cuddling a baby that knows your voice and immediately calms down at your momma touch. Getting a squishy hug from your toddler. Hearing your kindergartner say, "I love you Mom." Receiving a dandelion plucked from the yard as a gift. Late night cuddles and smiles. The feeling that you are raising the next generation. Focusing on those happy moments makes motherhood a wonderful blessing.

Allow me to post two more pictures of our sweetie at home:


October 8, 2016

Overcoming Selfishness

Realizing that you are selfish is hard to swallow.
It hurts. And you feel crummy. And you want to run away from the guilt by placing the blame on someone else. At least, that’s what I was doing.

Yesterday I had a phone conversation with my Mom. She was catching me up on the happenings of my hometown when she said something that bugged me. I felt like people were taking advantage of her kindness. In my na├»ve wisdom, I told my Mom that she didn’t have to be so generous all the time. Her response was wise: “But it’s the right thing to do.”

The conversation continued, but something was stirred up inside of me. I felt bad. Minutes after our phone conversation ended, I called my Mom back up and apologized to her. I said I was sorry I hadn’t been kind spirited about the situation back home. I told her I would try to be more kind.
But even then, I still felt uneasy. Literally, for hours, I was bugged. When something is on my mind, I talk about it with my amazing husband because he is an excellent listener, and after seven years of being married to a counselor, he’s learned many of my therapy techniques. I told him about the situation in my hometown. I complained about patterns from the past. I expressed how I felt unappreciated, how I felt ignored, or how I was the victim at different points in time. I squarely placed the blame on this other person, who was innocent of any intended pain.

I was blaming the other person, all the while acknowledging that I should be nicer – but it’s not my fault. I was rationalizing how I should be more generous (like my amazing Mom) but it’s the other person’s fault. Can you see the error in my thinking?

I was leading myself down a path of justification that wasn’t making me feel better, and finally, about 9:30pm, I understood. The blame lay with me, inside me. The conversation with my Mom had made me aware of a weakness of mine – selfishness. And instead of facing the ugly truth, which was that I had a selfish thought, I swept my shame under the rug of blame. By blaming someone else, I could unconsciously get off scott-free. (Except my counseling training has made me acutely aware of those destructive patterns.)

I was upset with myself, because I want to be a better person. I should be a better person.
Carl Jung describes this phenomenon as a psychological “shadow.” Traits like we dislike about ourselves are easily found in other people. We pinpoint their weaknesses in order to hide our own similar weakness. I battle against selfishness. I know I’ve made progress, but I obviously still have some work to do, as I learned yesterday. I also realize that as I strive to overcome my weakness, I have to be careful that I don’t judge others too quickly or harshly. As I am acutely aware of selfishness in my life, I am also quicker to recognize it in others. Because I am trying so hard to not be selfish, it really bothers me when other people act selfishly.

Love conquers our human weakness.

Serving other people, instead of blaming them for the discomfort caused by becoming aware of weakness, provides healing. Not lip service; not saying “I should be nicer.” But actually being nicer. Actually serving the people that I need to love better. The thorn in my side of a selfish tendency will only diminish as I really try to love other people. Jesus Christ was on to something when he taught to bless your enemies and pray for those who use you. Serving them will foster a feeling of love. Love is powerful enough to overcome selfishness.

I am a work in progress. I will keep trying to do better.
You are also a work in progress, and you can be a little bit better each day.

Be patient with the people in your life who are trying to overcome their weaknesses. Love them.

October 7, 2016

8 Years of Halloween Couples Costumes

I love dressing up for Halloween!
Isn't it fun to wear something totally random for a day? 
During high school and graduate school I even got to wear a Halloween costume at my waitress jobs. I loved it. Dressing up can be fun for adults too!

From dating through marriage, we have worn a different couples costume every year for the last eight years. I really enjoyed looking back through these pictures to show all our outfits. Growing up, both my husband and I had to use the "family costume box." I remember being some form of a gypsy and clown multiple times. When we did get new costumes, they were precious! I am so grateful that we have been able to splurge on new costumes these last eight years, and we will have tons of options someday when try to reuse costumes. 

They are mostly homemade costumes (if using Goodwill clothing counts as homemade) with some occasionally sewing work by me. Each costume idea also has the ability to morph into a family costume too! Once we started having babies, we included our kids in our matching Halloween costume fun.

We had been dating for two weeks when we appeared as Hans and Leia for our first couples Halloween party. The Nerf guns were my favorite part of the costume.

Classic nerd costume. We were newlywed nerds in love.

I bought my first pantsuit for this costume - Presidential bank robbers. While spray painting the toy guns, I got some black specks on my wedding ring that have never fully scrubbed off. Oops.

I was so excited to be a Victorian era ghost that year! I found my dress at Goodwill and tried to dye it grey, but it stayed kinda pinkish. Our baby boy was a ghost-buster; his costume was just a simple onesie with an iron on. My hair wasn't so simple though. It took forever!

This time I was pregnant with our daughter, Grace. I wanted a unique maternity costume, so I came up with the idea to be the money bag in another robber ensemble. Read more about this costume and see the family version here.

Apparently we didn't take a couples costume photo this year, so you get the whole family! Fred and Daphne can be their own couples costume, but since our son loved Scooby Doo we added the whole family to the mix as Velma and Shaggy. This was also the year that I made our famous pumpkin pie pooper for the annual Halloween party. That has remained Johnny's favorite Halloween food item over all the years.

One year later. . . 
another baby and another costume!
Again we failed to snap a couples picture of our Egyptian costumes. And I admit, I spent lots more time making the kids' costumes than on our couples costumes, but in my defense the baby was only a week old! Our three little mummies were so cute though. I created our adult Egyptian headbands and cuffs the day of Halloween. Read more about these costumes here.

And finally we are up to date! Here's 2015 celebrating Halloween as a mermaid and a pirate. I loved creating this costume. It tested my sewing skills, but it turned out great. Read more about making a mermaid costume and see how the entire family joined the costume fun.

What's in store for 2016?
Wait and see!

Happy Halloween y'all

September 28, 2016

Choose to Love

(I felt like writing an encouraging letter for love today. Today is an anniversary of sorts, so as I plug nostalgically along, I hope the message hits home for whoever needs to hear these words.)

The world has written countless novels, plays, and histories based on love. Love truly has changed the courses of people, families, and even nations! An affection for Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships into war. A desire for Anne Boleyn set in motion the English protestant reformation. Romeo and Juliet. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. People have yearned for millennia to find one whom their heart desires.

I don’t believe in soul mates, because the idea that only one person in the world can satisfy your heart is a bit heart-breaking. Instead, I think that love is a choice; a choice born out of swooning emotion, rational logic, heart flutters, and peaceful comfort all swirled together. 

Love is a journey, a beautiful process that develops over time. It is only natural that marriage vows eventually follow true love to contain its wonderful promises of joy, trust, and contentment.

Eight years ago today, I started that journey. 
Eight years ago I stopped being afraid of falling in love and took that leap. 

For years, I had been afraid to fall in love. I don’t know why. That problem was compounded by the fact that every guy I dated lost his charm after a couple weeks; I just got bored and stopped being interested. My roommates in college could predict this, and they knew if I ever went on a walk with someone around Porter Park it was over. They nicknamed my breakup talk "the walk of shame." I had championed the line of "it's not you, it's me" because I said it so many times. Luckily, I wasn’t doomed to always be running away.

A guy named Johnny popped into my life. Like so many guys before him, I was super interested. I day dreamed about him. I flirted and tried to catch his eye. There was something special about him though - he didn’t pick up on my hints! He wasn’t pushing me away; he was legitimately unaware of the flirting. For me, that made the chase even more fun, and eventually he flirted back. My interest in him made it past the two week mark, and he asked me on our first date. Three days after our first date, I knew that I would marry him!

Any thought about marriage in the past would have freaked me out and made me run away, but not this time. Knowing that I would marry him three days after the first date left me feeling so peaceful. I don’t know exactly how to describe the feeling, but I knew. For so long I had prayed about my future and marriage, and this peaceful confident feeling came as a result of prayer. It was a tender mercy to me from my Father in Heaven.

Eight years ago I wrote in my journal:
“I know it – I’m going to marry Johnny. . . this morning before church I felt the inspiration, I knew, that if he chose it, we would fall in love and marry. . . Now granted we’re not even dating yet, and nothing has really happened yet apart from hanging out and flirty text messages, but I know that if we both let faith overturn our fear, it’ll be amazing.”

And amazing it has been! Shortly after this journal entry, we had our second date. Six days later we held hands for the first time. After holding hands I journaled, “He’s so awesome, and I can’t wait to watch us fall in love.” One week after knowing that he was the one I would marry, he asked me to be his girlfriend officially. The rest is history.

I chose to love. Johnny chose to love.

When you meet someone that meets all your expectations, makes your heart pound, and has the ability to sweep all your fears away, pay attention. When you meet someone that balances your imperfections and praises your strengths, pay attention. Love refines us to be more selfless, more kind, more giving, and more honest. Love is amazing. Love truly alters the course of our lives!

Obviously both people need to choose love. Both people need to nurture the relationship. But if you have found someone to love and the relationship is healthy, uplifting, honest, and easy, then hold on tight. Don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith towards marriage. If your stars have aligned and everything’s right, then enjoy your blessing from heaven. Marriage is awesome too!

September 26, 2016

Blog Vacation

You may have noticed that my posts have been few and far in between lately.
Our sweet little newborn, my procrastination, and new school schedules are to blame.
I promise I have tons of ideas floating around in my brain to write about.
Those articles will come eventually; I just need more than 20 minutes in between newborn naps to write everything down. So, be patient. I'll be back blogging again soon!
In the meantime, I'm good at Instagram and Facebook updates. So check those out!

September 17, 2016

A Day in the Life of Your Kids Photobook

A long time ago, I saw a cute idea on Pinterest about photo-journaling a day in the life of your kids. Over the summer, I decided that I would make a book for Simon before he started Kindergarten. I wanted to give him a way to remember himself at this fun age. At the time I was pregnant, so I wanted to celebrate the "day of Simon" before the baby was born. A few weeks ago, I committed to spending the whole day snapping photos of every Simon. Teeth brushing, scavenger hunts, naps, paddle boarding - I got it all.

I hope he enjoys this small book dedicated to his five year old self when he grows up. He's such a sweet, smart boy who loves his family. I hope he always keeps his curious spirit, and that he continues to love his sisters. Below are some of pictures of my photo book created through Shutterfly. I love Shutterfly! Their website makes designing photo gifts and prints easy. I've used Shutterfly for years.

On the website, you upload the photos you'd like in the book. You can use pre-designed formats or create your own designs. You can add pictures, text, stickers, and change the colors for the backgrounds.

Make your own photo book at Shutterfly, and preserve those family memories. Click the link below to get started, and possibly earn yourself a free photo book by sharing the link with your friends!

Note: I am an affiliate for Shutterfly, so I may receive some compensation if you make a purchase through my link.

September 13, 2016

Step Away from the Grievance Industry

Complaints and whining

Disgruntleness. Anger. Offense Taken.

And I'm not talking about raising toddlers - I'm talking about adults.
Adults who are sucked into the "grievance industry" as my husband calls it.

It doesn't matter how benign or small or ridiculous the issue, people will rally around a cause and waste their emotion getting worked up in the grievance industry. Fires of ill-content spread through social media, inciting anger that benefits nothing. In my opinion, there are many worthwhile causes to engage your time and emotion, such as world hunger, addiction recovery, and ending human trafficking. Compared to those heartbreaking causes, the following exhibits seem trite and superficial.


Exhibit A:

Apparently pockets on pants are sexist. Did you know that? Do the past years of your life suddenly make sense knowing pockets are a slap in the face to women by powerful men in fashion? Guys can fit their keys, wallet, and phone in a pocket, but "a woman . . . has to either carry those items in her hand, or bring a whole purse with her—a definitive, silent sign that she is a woman." How is looking like a woman a bad thing? Besides, every girl I know carries more than just a wallet, keys, and phone! Lipstick, a brush, extra makeup, a hair tie, gum - not to mention the mom essentials of diapers and wipes. Small pant pockets should be the least of a girl's concern, and blaming the fashion industry for their apparent sexism that keeps women in shackles seems an overreach. To complain about designers focusing on how clothing drapes the body, rather than on function, is like blaming cake for having calories. Instead of raving for #pocketequality, buy some different pants. Or a sewing machine to make your own pants. Or just happily carry a purse. Just get over the illusion that the world is out to secretly destroy your happiness by denying you huge pockets.

Exhibit B:

Victoria's Secret came out with a new bra with no padding. Now people are huffing that they are "establishing a cultural beauty standard that is deeply exclusionary." Supposedly not everybody looks great in that bra type. But why should every body wear the same bra? Aren't a variety of options a good thing? Just because someone's body size or curve measurements mean they can wear a non-padded bra does not mean your body type is less desirable. Stop being angry, and just wear the bra that you feel good wearing. A bra is supposed to be under your clothes anyways, so why is this mainstream news? Please put this exaggerated outrage under wraps too.


This is how the the grievance industry grows. Somewhere, someone will find something to be upset about, and social media helps them fuel the fire. I'm sure I could continue pointing out examples of ridiculous and unnecessary outrage, but this blog is meant to help people find joy in life, and I don't want to feel frustrated by society's awkward love of being offended any more today.
So, I'll leave you with my advice: To find joy in life, let go of ridiculous outrage. Leave the grievance society, and spend your energy forming a grateful and service oriented heart. Count your blessings, not your grievances. Show caring actions to the people around you. Stop complaining on Twitter and Tumblr, and start helping organizations improve people's lives (find a place to volunteer at JustServe.org.) You and the world will be better off.

September 1, 2016

Ready for a Crafty Weekend Project

I'm in the mood for a weekend project!
Settling into a routine with our newborn has freed up some spare time, and I'm not completely exhausted every afternoon since the baby has a (slightly) better sleep schedule at nighttime. So, I'm ready to put all my nursing session Pinterest finds to good use! Outside our front door we have a large brick wall that's begging for some decor. We don't really have a front porch that I can decorate; our entrance is an odd shape. I think I can use that brick wall's space to hang seasonal decorations. I'd like to make a simple wooden plaque and attach some cute knobs. Something like the picture below but with cute Hobby Lobby knobs.
Then I plan on adding cute seasonal signs or wreaths or flower baskets or banners or whatever I create. I like the flexibility to change it as often as I like, plus it won't be hidden behind our screen door. I love decorating holiday wreaths for the front door, but as soon as the screen door closes the wreath is hidden. But, we love our screen door, so I can't really remove it just to showcase a wreath. . . 

Another bonus to hooks outside? I'm running out of space inside! With little children who would quickly grab and destroy any decorations within their reach, my decorating wall space is limited. Someday I'll be able to decorate tables and stack cute things on the floor, but it'll be a few more years.

Once I make my wooden plaque, I can start on my Pinterest list, starting with Fall decor of course!

What should I make first? Here are my ideas; tell me what you vote for in the comments.





Hopefully my creative energy continues through the weekend!

August 22, 2016

Our First Day of Kindergarten

I woke up this morning with so many thoughts going through my mind.
It's the first day of school - for our oldest kid. The exciting and scary first day of kindergarten.

What do I pack him for lunch?
Do I let him pick out his own clothes to make sure he matches?
How long will it take to drop him off at school on the first day?
Do I get dressed now or feed the baby first? 

Soon after I got dressed, I hear Simon's alarm ringing, and my husband reminding him that the glorious first day of school has finally arrived. Simon has been excited for weeks about kindergarten! Simon's first comment of the day, "But it's still dark outside." Poor kid. I hope he still enjoys school once the reality of a full day at kindergarten sets in.

Simon did get out of bed happily though. He started eating breakfast while I fed the baby. The other two girls woke up before Johnny left for work. No tears, no crying - so far a good morning - and we still had tons of time left before I had to drive Simon to school. "I got this!" I thought to myself.

Our sweet neighbor came over around 7:00 to watch the girls while I drove Simon to school. I was grateful to have the first day of school with just him in the car. We snapped his grade picture, we laughed at his ginormous backpack full of school supplies, and we took seven pictures together to finally have one that wasn't photobombed by his siblings.

He couldn't wait to get out the door!

During our short drive to the school, I felt the need to remind him of all the life lessons we've tried to cram into his mind the last week. Simon has never been in preschool; he's always been home with me. The great, big world seemed scarier to Johnny and I than it did to him. Luckily, five year olds don't watch the news.

"What do you do if a stranger asks you to get into their car?" I asked.
"Say no, and tell my teacher," he dutifully responded.

"What if this. . . and that. . . and this. . .and that. . . " I asked him.
He calmly answered every question. 

It was an awkward interview about strangers, underwear, body parts, friends, kindness, following the teacher's directions, and lunchtime. Even though I know he'll love school, and I know he'll make friends, and I know he'll be the sweet kid that charms people, I still worry. That's what parents do, right? Did we teach him enough at home? Will he make good choices? Will he be happy? Please don't be the kid that whines or sets a bad example.

We walked together down his kindergarten hallway. Simon ran into his classroom before me - he was not nervous at all. We found the hanger for his backpack and dropped off his school supplies. After a conversation explaining that he can't play with the Legos yet because he needs to sit in his assigned chair, Simon was all set. Luckily, one of his friends from church was assigned the seat next to him, and we swapped parent photos. This was their first kindergarten drop off too, and I was happy to see them. By now, Simon was already coloring away, and I wasn't sure what to do. Do I just leave? Do I hug him again?

The teacher's aide was ushering parents out of the classroom with reassuring tones of "They'll be fine." As I walked away, Simon didn't miss me. He was fine.

Surprisingly, I was totally fine. As I walked away with our friends I asked out loud, "Am I a bad mom if I'm not crying?" I've dreaded the kindergarten drop off for months now, but this morning I was fine. Will I suddenly burst into tears this afternoon when I pick him up from school, and he tells me that he loved it? Hopefully he doesn't have a bad day, then I'll bawl for sure.

I called my husband on the way to the car. "He's officially dropped off," I announced, "and I'm not crying. Is that normal?" My husband reassured me that I'm fine because Simon is fine. If he had been crying or nervous or scared, it would be harder to leave him. Since he ran into the classroom happy as ever, it was easier to let him go.

Something definitely felt different leaving him in the giant elementary school. Being home without him has been strange too. It's just me and the girls now - who are dressed in princess dresses while they play with Simon's car and plane Legos. 

But I still wonder . . . 
Did I spend enough time with him before he started school?
Did he get the one-on-one time he needed?
(The last couple weeks I tried to give him more time while the girls napped, but I usually took a nap too instead of playing with him. Newborns and tiredness go hand-in-hand.)

Did we baby him too much? Will he be tough enough for school?
What crazy things will be come home saying or doing?
He's out of our protective bubble and out in the real world! Gasp.

Yet, I also know that everything is fine. I feel peaceful. I am excited for him to love school and make new friends and continue growing into an awesome little guy.

I have pizza and a cookie cake ready for dinner tonight. We'll have treats when he comes home from school, and I'll try to give him as much one-on-one time as I can to talk with him about his first day. With three other siblings to care for, I know I won't be perfect. Luckily, Simon won't expect me to be the perfect Pinterest mom. Luckily for him, I'll keep trying to be the best mom I can.

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