once upon a time at burger king and the out-takes.

43chambers14So, if you’ve ever wondered…occasionally, yes occasionally, we have bad days. Usually, they come on the heels of a great day.

4 kids dressed in somewhat decent only borderline homeless looking (or hipster looking)clothing. check.

4 kids with food crammed in their bellies and no one complaining of being hungry. check.

4 kids with socks and shoes or sandals or socks with sandals (Reminder: we are in the Pacific Northwest). check.

4 kids loaded in our new 1987 creeper van (yes, we call it this). check.Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 2.45.32 PM Then we proceed to the dentist.

We all walk in, check in, sit down. And, we still haven’t had a temper tantrum, a whiny child or a canation (whatever this is–I’m not sure. I just know that it can be good or bad and I’m living in a toddler world, we speak on their terms).

The boys come back completely cavity free–hallelujah.

All 4 kids in the van. Celebration!

Don’t squeal too loud people will stare.

Me to them, “Oh my gosh you guys, you did it. We all did it. We were on our best behavior and we had such a great morning! Let’s go to Burger King for lunch and to play on the indoor toys since its such a hot day”. Squeals of delight.

And then we arrived, Burger King the holy grail of all things for my kiddos.

This is where it all starts to go downhill.

We unload and go potty. All of us.

We play for 20 or so minutes, eat lunch. And know what happens? My youngest pees his pants in the tunnel at the top of the playground. #facepalm

I’m outnumbered. simply outnumbered.

So, the extra pants were left in the creeper, the pee is still at the top of the tubes (and I have a very natural fear of heights), and I can’t leave 4 kids alone in Burger King  or the real creepers will creep. Hear what I’m saying?

We’ve been here for 45 min. Plenty long. It’s officially nap-time. Brilliant idea: let’s go home. 2chambers14

We proceed with fully fit throwing planking toddlers. They have figured out that if they all do it at the same time, I do not have enough arms or gusto to carry them all. But, we manage to get to the front door.

Oren looks at me and with sheer dread as he looks at the expanse of parking lot like its a giant lake of alligators, shrugs his shoulders and says, “Mom, I’m just a kid. I’m not sure how we’re going to get across this thing with them”.

Me, “Me either, buddy, me either”.

But, we buckle down. We half drag-half demand some level of cooperation and reach our vehicle.

They plank again. on.the.ground. between me and the car next to me.

As I’m unlocking my car and opening the door, some lady in her cute little car either doesn’t care or doesn’t notice the kids on the ground next to her vehicle and begins backing up. Like, going to run over my kids, backing up. I’m waving my hands trying to get her attention, while at the same time moving 3 little plankers to the front of my vehicle and literally holding them in an upright position.

She drives away.

No one is injured, and I return to opening the door and attempting to get planking children into the car.

They bolt. Yes, two of my children bolt around the front of the car. Oren chases them. I finish pushing the one child in my arms into the car and head around the back.

23chambers14My 2 runners, a chasing Oren, and a box truck are about the meet up in the middle and I’m too far away to do anything.

Picture this: A fiery 3 yr old redhead screaming in the creeper van screaming bloody murder for Burger King toys.

And me a fiery much older redhead screaming outside the creeper van, “STOP STOP STOP, EVERYBODY STOP!”

The box truck barrels through. And, I can no longer see my kids. They’ve disappeared.

I’m running towards where they should be. A woman who may have only seen the last 2 min (not the full 20 min of attempting to “control” my kids) yells from the door of Burger King in a very judgey tone, “You need to watch your kids better.” ….if looks could kill……..but, I have 3 missing kids and ain’t nobody got time for that…..

I walk around a large car to see 2 kids on the ground with an older brother on top, fighting to keep them there, he says, “Mom, I saw the truck and I had to save them. I tackled them for you”.

I’ve never been so proud, scared, frantic, and angry all at once. I wrangle, wrestle, and bribe them to the van.

I’m now sobbing in my front seat, “I’m never doing this again, I’m never doing this again. I hate burger king”.

Why am I sharing this? This is my confession to the world: my life is far from perfect, these moments are the norm. I am not capable to be the BEST mom all the time. I don’t have it figured out. I am so far removed from the term perfect. Life is sometimes just chaos. And, yet in the midst of all the chaos, I have an anchor, a calming overpowering awareness that Jesus was orchestrating all of it. That my kids ended up safe.41chambers14

And why after days like these, I am fully aware of my need for him. If it were up to me, I’d be done, thrown in the towel, and having already been crazy.

In situations like this, I’m more aware of my selfishness, my need for control and my desire to do things on my terms and how Jesus requires me to be present away from my needs, give up all control and do things on his terms. I see myself as these rowdy toddlers throwing full on planking fits, and I’m so thankful for the Father’s patience with me. Sometimes, the out-takes in our life reveals our very need for reliance on Him.

Letter to a Real Superhero

I recently shared these words with my friend, a new mom. And, I gave her a supermom “cape”

Dear Friend,

Words do not begin to express the joy I feel to know that you are becoming a mommy. I am so excited to be on this journey with you. There are some things that I think you should know—sort of an initiation into mommyhood.

In the next phase of life, it’s about to get REAL crazy, a good crazy, BUT crazy none-the-less. Your world, no matter how little or huge you feel like your world may be changing it’s about to be flipped upside down and inside out! It’s supposed to happen that way. There’s something uniquely mysterious and beautiful when a woman shares and pours her blood, sweat, tears and heart into a little baby. But, your life will never ever be the same as it was. REJOICE though: It will be better, but it will be harder.

Moms often get fearful to let others know that we’re struggling. There are moments when you too might feel lonely, and inadequate like you didn’t receive any training despite the hours of babysitting and classes you may have taken.

Look around at the moms around you, REALLY look for a minute AND know this: You are a blessed woman. I know that you know that, but I hope you really let it sink in today. These women around you are all women who deeply care for you, love you, and truly will jump in the trenches for you. Most of us have gone through this transition. We have all felt overwhelmed and underpaid. And we’ve all compared ourselves to another mom or woman who seemed to have it “all together”.

Know that we don’t have it all together. We have all been there crying out of pure exhaustion—wishing for more normalcy. But, know also the things you are facing are not yours they are ours– being alone only makes it worse—so reach out when those moments come. Let these women encourage and strengthen you. Let these women challenge you and most importantly let these women HELP you. If it feels like your day to day life would burden someone or is “your problem” and burdensome for others (which is normal) know that it’s not.

You have continuously served and been there for me, I am certain all of these women, and in this short phase we all get to be here for you. Let us BLESS you in that way! Don’t be afraid to ask! Ask for anything: Five minutes for a shower, 20 minutes for a nap, a trip to the grocery store. Don’t feel like you have to be a hostess or be worried about your home, you don’t need to. We all know and understand the challenges we face. So invite these women to face them with you.

Also, Know this: YOU are capable, able, and were made to be a superhero mom. You have prepared well for this! While at times, it may seem like you are failing, you aren’t. Your kids will not hate you and most likely they will not remember this time of transition, because they are resilient. Do the best that you can, and just keep going You’ll figure it out quickly! Tomorrow is a NEW day, so no matter how hard or how bad today felt, there’s a fresh start tomorrow!

Also, know this: keep your expectations of your spouse and of your house and of your life low during this time. The higher the expectations the less of a sense of accomplishment happens over achieving the little things (which all accumulate to become mastery of big things). Allow little victories to come daily and celebrate them!

Also, know this—this is ironic, since I am giving you a lot of advice, but this may just be the most important. Just go with your gut. There is a ton and a ton of differing advice columns, parenting methods, childrearing ways, but just do what you do best. Focus on what feels right for you and your spouse and for the little baby you have. The people who write those or who will give their unwanted advice aren’t you or him or have your kids. Listen, but feel free to use or not to use at YOUR own will!

Lastly, I’ll say this: Remember to keep God as a primary source of your strength. Not only will he give you supernatural abilities (especially when your sleep deprived), but He will be a source of joy and peace in the midst of your chaos. It’s about to get harder to find time to meet with Him, but in the craziness of your life find 5 min here or there. I’ve always been a big time Bible reader, and in my phase right now, I’m fairly limited in that portion of my faith walk, but I’ve gotten really good at praying. I pray while I do chores, and while I cook dinner. Different phases of life develop different faith practices–so don’t be discouraged.

On days when you feel up to your elbows in poop (literally you may feel this way) and babies are crying and you are so exhausted that you are sitting up drinking coffee and falling asleep know that you have a tool—feel free to use it often. You can make it a daily aspect of your wardrobe—you will deserve it within the first 24 hours.

Love ya, and I’m praying for you daily (minute by minute, hour by hour, because I know the crazy mom world), Ash