The real superhero’s…

Until I became a mom, I did not appreciate my mom enough. I took for granted the years of packed lunches waiting on the kitchen counter every morning; the clean laundry that automatically appeared in my dressers each week; the never empty bottle of shampoo in the shower; the warm dinners served before a million evening activities; the papers that were always filled out when the school needed them; the doctor’s appointments that were somehow made without me worrying about it; and so many more things that I never gave a thought!

And then I became a mom… and realized that it was now my job to juggle three kids, 1 husband (who is usually just a fourth kid), laundry, meals, housework, shopping, activities, bills, paperwork, appointments, birthdays, holidays, and everything else that falls on us mom’s. And I admit, I wasn’t always the best juggler… I was always dropping one ball or another. My mom always made it look so easy. How did she do it?

My mom was truly Wonder Woman. I just never noticed her cape until I was older. She was, and still is, such a strong woman who always seemed to be able to do anything and everything. I have memories of her planting and picking fresh veggies from her own garden. I couldn’t even always manage to buy and microwave a bag of frozen greens for my kids.

I can still see her standing at the ironing board after school, ironing our clothes as the aroma of fresh cookies filled the house. What? I threw our clothes into the dryer until the wrinkles were a little less and the smell of pre packaged Oreos did not fill the air.

As a kid, I would climb into sheets that smelled like fresh air from being hung outside on the wash line. Meanwhile there were times I told my kids to just sleep on top of their comforters because I didn’t feel like putting their sheets back on the bed after running them around all day and night.

I would always have a balanced lunch packed and ready as I rushed out the door to the bus. If I threw a Fruit Rollup, a cheese stick and a bag of chips in my kids lunchboxes, I figured that was hitting at least some of the food pyramid. Good enough!

She could even serve a meal that was on the table all at once and still warm! Now that is mind blowing because I am always still microwaving something as we pray for our meal.

My mom was a caregiver. She took care of all of us. Even when she had breast cancer, when I was 14, she would get up after her treatments to ask how our days were. Exhausted from chemo, she wanted to know how school went that day. She was selfless. She loved with endless love. She was brave. She was the epitome of strength. She was/is my hero!

Today it’s Mother’s Day and we take time to honor our mom’s! I am thankful to not only have my mom, but to have a mom-in-law (Donna) who has always treated me like her own daughter. She accepted me into her family immediately and loved me unconditionally since day #1. She also taught me how to be a mother-in-law. It’s not always easy to merge families but I am grateful that she made me feel so welcome in my new family 29 years ago. But even more, she was my example on how to love my kids-in-law as my own! (And I do love you unconditionally Katie, Mandi and Jaiden!)

Today finds Donna in a hospital room in the Intensive Care Unit with a machine breathing for her. She has been there for 12 days unable to breathe like you and I are so naturally doing. Starting with pneumonia, damage was done to her lungs and she needs an intubation tube and sedation so she can rest her weak and tired lungs while she sleeps. Before she was intubated, she wrote my father-in-law (Norm) a detailed list of tasks to do since she usually takes care of the many details in their lives. Cancel dental appointments, do the laundry, run the dishwasher, don’t forget anyone’s birthdays. We, as women, even sick, think about all of those little things which keep our families on track. If my mom is Wonder Woman, my mother-in-law is Super Woman! These two ladies both have capes and super powers. And like Clark Kent, they are often unrecognized for their strength, courage and devotion.

I was able to visit my mom yesterday for Mother’s Day. My mom has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She is doing great compared to how she was before her diagnosis. But watching these mom’s get older and experience some physical trials, it makes me see what is important and what is not. Gifts, cards, and flowers are a great way to show appreciation but time together is what is valuable. Just time to talk and laugh and share and encourage. That is a gift. Irreplaceable. Priceless.

Today I just want to thank these two super hero mom’s who taught me how to be a mother! You both encouraged me, loved me, listened to me and supported me. You’ve prayed for me, cried for me and guided me. You love my children as deeply as I do. And you both would do anything, and I mean anything, for my family. On my many hospital stays, I was comforted knowing one of you was at home caring for my children in my absence.

I cannot begin to thank you… there simply are not words to express my gratitude to you two amazing women who I have the HONOR to call Mom! I think the best tribute to my mom’s was to raise my kids to embrace all of those super hero characteristics that you both encompass. Here are a few traits that I got from my mom and mom-in-law that I tried to instill in my own children.

    Love of God
    Love of Family
    Faith
    Truth
    Prayer
    Forgiveness
    Joy
    Understanding
    Kindness
    Compassion
    Listening
    Serving
    Humor
    Patience
    Determination
    Empathy

So while a simple thank you cannot express the gratitude and love I feel, it’s all I can think to say. Thank you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the superheroes who silently serve without always getting the recognition or appreciation you deserve! Know that this 24/7 job is the both the best and hardest job you will ever have and the rewards far outweigh the challenges.

Donna… please get well soon! We all need you and want you around for many more years! You are one of the strongest and quietly serving women I know. You love others deeply without looking for attention or acknowledgement. For now rest peacefully and let God heal your body.

Mom… thanks for always taking care of all of us so well! Even when you are weary, you selflessly give of yourself. You always have a listening ear and a kind word whenever I need it. I wish we lived closer but each moment I get with you, I treasure!

Surprising my mom for Mother’s Day with all of her kids.

My mother-in-law with some of her girls.

And to my favorites who made me both a mom & mother-in-law.

In everything…

Several weeks ago we turned the clocks back an hour. Now it is dark before dinner. I love the cozy moments of late fall/winter. Blankets, reading a good book, watching a movie on the couch, Christmas lights, holiday activities and falling snow are some great moments of the cold season in Pennsylvania.

But with those moments also comes seasonal depression. Not getting out of the house as often, lack of sunshine because of the many gray days, bitter cold temperatures that seep into your bones, snow that is counted in feet rather than inches… seasonal depression is a real thing for me. Sometimes the snow keeps me stuck in the house for days because I cannot maneuver my chair through the drifts. That leads to loneliness and too much time alone. And as a people person and extrovert, loneliness is not my friend.

A few years ago I was so tired of having the winter blahs that I was getting on my own nerves. I was feeling so down in the dumps that I couldn’t even stand my own company. I was sad, lonely, bored, cranky, frustrated and restless. One morning I read my daily verse and it said,

“Rejoice Always, Pray without ceasing, In EVERYTHING, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The words IN EVERYTHING jumped out at me. I am called to give thanks when my car is broken (which was my situation most of this month); or when my wheelchair stops running (which is frequent); or when my health is bad; or when I am upset about a situation or circumstance; or even when I am just lonely and bored. I need to give thanks all of the time, not just when things are good but in everything. That’s not always easy for me. Sometimes I just want to sit alone, having a pity party and whine, pout and mope.

After reading that verse, I pulled out a notebook and decided to write down things I was thankful for because I wanted to focus on the blessings in my life. I started writing a list down every day and I found myself coming out of my funk. Amazingly when you start consciously looking for things you are grateful for, your head and your heart start to change. It isn’t as easy to be self focused when you intentionally become thankful.

With Thanksgiving being this week, we are often asked “What are you thankful for this year?” At this time of year we are quicker to share the things that make us thankful. While this is a great yearly practice, I think we need to make gratitude a constant state of mind.

We can’t always change our circumstances (I will most likely not wake up tomorrow able to walk), but we can begin to look for things in our circumstances that are good.

Depression is a very real thing and I do not want anyone to think I am saying that it isn’t. I take (and need to take) daily anti depressants to help me with my mental health. But I have found that intentionally looking for gratitude, especially in my moments of anxiety, depression and frustration really helps me refocus my mind which then transforms my heart.

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope you take time to give thanks but also that you begin to daily become thankful in everything. Begin a gratitude journal and write down at least 5 things daily and watch it transform your attitude.

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A few excerpts from my journal:

I am thankful for:

Clean sheets that smell fresh like Tide

Laughing with friends until it hurts

Life chats with my sons, Zach & Alex

Worshipping God freely without fear

Target trips with my daughter, Morgan

Christmas lights that brighten up the darkness

Long phone conversations with my Mom or Jen

Craft times with my nieces

FaceTime chats with Camryn, my 4 year old niece

Homemade applesauce & the smell of apples and cinnamon

Getting my van back after weeks of it not working (thanks Steve for finding the magic place)

A power wheelchair that drives fast and doesn’t kill my arms

Sunday afternoon naps

My paralysis giving me opportunities to meet new people

Ordering pizza and not cooking dinner

Memories of Thanksgiving around my Grandma’s table

Wednesday night youth group with amazing kids & awesome teaching by Jaiden

Getting so involved in a good book that I lose track of time

It’s not always big things but little moments of thankfulness. Adopt an attitude of gratitude!

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy time with your family and friends sharing a yummy meal around the table! And wear your fat pants so you aren’t uncomfortable when you go for seconds! Stretchy pants should definitely make the thankful list!

Six of my biggest reasons to be thankful! ❤️