Thursday, October 18, 2012


I think many people who sorta kinda know me are under the mistaken impression that I have it all figured out. To you I say, "Na na na na naaaa na! Fooled ya!"

There was only one time in my life when I thought I had it all figured out. I was 5, and I just knew I was going to play Division I basketball, be an Olympian, be the first girl to play in the NBA (there was no WNBA back then, kids, I'm that old), and then settle down into a nice college coaching job. It seemed easy enough, and by my senior year of high school, those things all seemed within reach. I had signed to play at a Division I program in Buffalo, and the WNBA had been established (I'd settle for that).

Yet here I am, age 30, writing about babies, poop, and spit up. A good night's sleep and finding time to shower each day are the dream.

I always knew I wanted a family. Ever since high school I knew I wanted four children. But never, in all the scenarios I'd run through my mind, was I without a career. Never, in a million years would I have planned to be a stay at home mom. I considered myself a strong, career-minded woman, and though I was a hopeless romantic, I could be fiercely independent. This is not to say that stay-at-home moms are not strong by any means, but I think you understand what I'm saying...hopefully. :) Anyway, if the WNBA didn't work out, my only back up plan was to be a writer, which was why I ultimately chose English as my college major.

My basketball career ended early due to injury, and after that, I had no desire to continue my education beyond my bachelor's. Fun fact: not much on this earth you can do with a bachelor's in English, my friends. Not long after graduating, I found myself working customer service at an airport in Charlotte. I met a former NBA player while working there who was willing to help get me back in shape if I still wanted to pursue basketball. Jelani was a supportive husband, so I began trying different physical therapy techniques for my ankle, and tried to make a go of it. In order to fully pursue this I switched to part-time at the airport which left a gap in my insurance coverage until I could be put on Jelani's. Because we had just married that summer, and I was never added to his insurance because I had my own, we now had to wait until the 1st of the year. Once I ran out of birth control, I sort of struck a deal with God. That's a strange sentence, but stay with me. My ankle wasn't getting much better. Maybe I was just too impatient, or maybe I had an itch God was trying to help me with, but with one month left before I would be on Jelani's insurance, I prayed, "God, if you want me to pursue basketball, please heal my ankle, but if you don't, send me a clear sign letting me know I need to move on with my life...get me pregnant." I was half kidding. I sort of expected that things would go on as usual, with me trying to nurse a pained ankle, still uncertain of why I was doing it or if anything would ever come of my efforts, but less than a month later, I became pregnant with Elijah. That was pretty clear.

In the course of five years I had transitioned from a tough-as-nails athlete to a thick skinned customer service employee to a loving wife to a nurturing mother. And from the outside looking in, all of these transitions may have seemed seamless. Trust me, they were not.

I continued to fight for dead dreams. Dreams are good, but I learned that my dreams were not always a part of God's plan for my life. Still, I fought. I had no contacts within college coaching and my injury had left me sidelined for the last two years of my career. By the time I graduated, most peolple didn't even recognize me as one of the basketball players. Still, after graduating, I applied to college coaching jobs all over the country. I didn't hear back from any of them. While working at the airport in Charlotte, I once ran into the UNC Charlotte women's basketball team, and tried to make contacts with them to no avail. Then there was the former NBA player who tried to train me, up until I became pregnant.

Life was moving in a completely different direction than I had planned. I was putting my trust in God in ways I never had before. I'd never been faced with so much uncertainty. Like I said, I had it all figured out when I was five years old. I worked hard for those dreams, so it never occurred to me that life wouldn't end up as I had planned it.

Today I am a stay at home mom with three children. I've managed a budget with little to no income for over two years. I'm now a homeschool teacher for my son. I make and sell crocheted items and other crafts (crochet? never would have dreamed that up in a million years). Some days I don't have time for a shower. Many days, I wear nothing but gym clothes (well, I guess that's never really changed). We've moved 7 times in 7 years. We've dealt with job loss and mounting debt. And while I love my life, my family, my friends; I would be lying if I said each change, each transition was seamless. Each one came with new challenges. I have struggled with feeling irrelevant and unimportant, having nothing to offer society. I have repeatedly dealt with uncertainty, questioning God's calling on my life, or if I even had one. I've had days when I wanted to lock myself in my room with a pile of books and a pile of movies. I have been all over the grid, trying my hand at multiple business ideas, attempting to contribute to this world and my family's income. Earlier, in the beginning of my stay-at-home mom life, I actually took scissors to my own hair, crazy whack-job style in the middle of a sleepless night. I was practically laughed out of the salon the next day.

The truth is, it has been difficult for me not to feel like a failure, having left my hometown 11 years ago, with such ambition and determination. The transitions haven't always been easy, and they're certainly not seamless, but I have learned something about myself with each one, growing within each seam. Sometimes I have to tear it out and try again. Sometimes I have to learn how to let go and scrap a project. So I find comfort in those seams. It is in those seams I know God has taken care of me. It's in those seams I've had to relinquish control and allow God to guide the needle and thread. 

Some people fulfill dreams even they themselves couldn't have imagined, and become great, worldly successes. Others are called to great ministries, leading thousands, maybe millions where they better countless lives. My life is not always (it's never) glamorous. When I look back on all of my seams, the obvious ones, and the ones which only I can see, they become a road map of where I've been, who I am, and what God calls me to each day. The thing is, I don't have it all figured out. He does, and He has made me a wife, a mommy, a teacher, a chef, occasional seamstress. So if His calling for me never leaves my living room, wherever that may be, I am finally ok with that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Bobble Head Effect

An age old rule with babies is to be careful with their heads. For centuries women have been passing their babies to be held saying, "Watch his head!"

This rule makes sense, but I have to admit, I have become less and less careful with each child. Not negligent or dangerous, mind you, but I have learned that they are much tougher than anyone has ever given them credit for.

With my first, I tread lightly. I treated his head as if the self destruct button was right there in plain sight. For the first weeks of his life, I was very gentle dressing him. Anything that needed to be pulled over his head was done so delicately, and it terrified me to pick him up from under his arms, as though his head might just flop right off if I didn't get a hand or arm behind it immediately.

Now that I have had my third baby, I've come to realize that the reason people so carefully say, "Watch the head!" is not because their heads are so delicate, but rather because they can be used as a serious weapon of destruction. The issue is not in the head so much as it is the neck. The neck is weak and wobbly, creating a bobble head effect in which the head is like a bowling ball. This becomes dangerous mainly while they are upright and burping, because with each pat on the back the head wobbles every which way until finally connecting with some part of your face. If you are lucky they get a fleshy part, such as your cheek, but often times I have been left with a bruised jaw, throbbing ear, or (the worst), tear inducing hit to the nose. I once had a sore nose for a year after Elijah (one year at the time) jumped into me just as I was crouching down. I'm pretty sure he gave me a minor fracture, and while I was left with those embarrassing uncontrollable tears, he ran off, unaware of any damage. Like I said, much tougher than we give them credit for.

As a general rule, the worse the gas, the worse the wobble. I've always thought that the burp clothes were a joke. My babies couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with their spit up. I've always had to use receiving blankets as burp clothes, and I could be wearing a turtle neck, and they'd somehow still find my skin.

The other night, I was certain Isaac had made my chest his target. He was wobbling harder than ever, squirming all over my chest. I couldn't seem to get him to burp, but he was determined to get something out. He was fussing, climbing up my chest with his knees, and blatantly pulling the blanket away from my chest, seemingly aiming straight for the cleavage. Just as I thought he had calmed down, his head slammed into my jaw causing me to turn away from the sting, and in that same moment the burp was well as the spit up. Target acquired, little fella. Target acquired.

He instantly went to sleep, while I was sopping up the mess with the completely dry blanket he had so conveniently missed.

So...all you mommies out the heads. They are dangerous and sometimes explosive weapons.