To The Middle Season Mamma in May

middle season mama

To The Middle Season Mamma in May,

Happy Mother’s Day!

Do you want to laugh out loud at that sentiment?  Do you kind of want to puke?  What a joke that Mother’s Day is in May!  MAY!  The month that breaks mothers and then sort of backhandedly celebrates us.  At least me and my fellow “Middle Season Mammas.”

To you precious “New Season Mammas” this isn’t for you.  Turn your sweet, sleep deprived eyes away.  I don’t want to spoil anything for you.  I refuse to be the bitter, middle-aged person at your wedding rolling their eyes and saying “just wait…”  Go nurse the baby, sit on the floor with your toddler, cut up some hot dogs, worry about the baby weight, and tell yourself this is the hard part.  We’ll let you.  It’s our Mother’s Day gift to you.

If you have more than 2 children in more than 2 stages… I’m talking to you.  I see you with your toddler having a melt down at the late Jr. High baseball game.  I see you missing the elementary Easter party on “accident” because it’s kid #4 and you literally CAN. NOT. WITH. ANOTHER. EGG HUNT.  I see you trying to figure out after-school schedules like some sort of military commander.  I see you wistfully wave to your friends in the car-pool line knowing it will be a solid month before you catch up.

Happy Mother’s Day.

My 4th baby was born the year my 1st baby started Kindergarten.  Next year I will have 1 in high school, 1 in middle school, and 2 in elementary.  I can’t do the math after that because it is May and my brain is tired.  I can’t do one more fraction, decimal, long division, place value, math fact, or algebra problem.  I also can’t with The Iliad, The Odyssey, any creative writing prompts, egg drops, robotics reports, blank maps, president projects, mock debates, family trees, or “all about me’s”  Nope.  Can’t.

It’s May.

We only thought we were tired when they were babies, right?  We only thought it was exhausting to get up with them in the middle of the night just to hold and rock them.  Ha!

Now, some of them are up at 5:30am for cross-country/basketball/football/2-a-days, and some are still out at 11pm for rehearsals/games/dates/movies. I literally can not stay up later than my kids do.  But when I turn out the light and get under the covers, at least partially at peace with whatever the plan is for the rest of the night, they don’t even notice.  They will walk into my room and talk to me like I am sitting at the breakfast table in the middle of the day.  “Mom, can I borrow your charger?”  “Mom, where’s my baseball stuff?” “Mom, I need money for tomorrow.”  “Mom, did you email Mr. ______ ?”  “Mom, what are we doing next weekend?”


May started early this year for us Middle Season Mammas- on April 26th to be exact- when TSwift and The Avengers plotted to keep us up all night!  Half of us were waiting in line to see a 3 hour movie and half of us were watching the countdown on Instagram where the snake turned into a butterfly and we all know who really saves the world (“MEEEEE”)!

(If you don’t understand, it’s ok.  Go enjoy some Mac and Cheese, Paw Patrol, and simplicity.  I told you to turn away.)

Sorry.  I’m sorry.  It’s May and I’m tired.  You New Season Mammas are killing it with your gorgeous Instagram feeds and your advice on date night and self- care.  You’re adorable.

And the whole world is for you.  There are sweet old ladies waiting to hold your babies at church, and college friends flying in for your showers.  Your parents can still handle your life when you need to get away, and it doesn’t take a 20 page spread-sheet to make it through the weekend.  You have things like MOPS, and “Mommy and Me” classes, and Library Story Time, and Play Dates… and your kids take a nap.

Sometimes I want to have another baby just so someone will see me.

Maybe it’s the loneliness of the Middle Season that is the hardest of all.

See, us Middle Season Mammas live in our car.  We eat a lot of fast food and haven’t sat around a table since Christmas.  We live and die by email and GroupMe and literally have 0 control of our own schedules because a teacher/coach/director can change our family’s day/night/weekend in less than 200 characters.  We can make a plan, but chances are good that something will come up and it will change.  We may not need a babysitter anymore to grab drinks with friends or a date with the hubs but we are so tired we’d rather stay home.

See, we’ve aged out of all the cute “Mom” clubs.  We’re on our own.  No one is gushing over our teenagers.  We’re all so busy with our own lives all we can do is send a fist-bump emoji to our friends in solidarity.  We haven’t had a conversation with our husbands in 6 months that doesn’t sound like a board meeting or attack plan for the week.

The only thing we feed on more than Chick-fil-a and coffee is Mom-guilt and worry.  Because unlike our New Season kids, our Middle Season kids remember the fails.  The stakes are high and the expectations are huge.  I used to worry about SIDS.  Now I worry about suicide rates, SAT’s scores,  school shootings, and sexting.

Are we doing enough?  Are we doing too much?  Are they too sheltered?  Too exposed?  Is she mean?  Is he smart?  Will they make it?  Will they ever like each other?  Will they ever like me again?  What are they listening to?  What are they watching?  What are they talking about?

There is a lot less grace passed out to us Middle Season Moms.  I miss the whole, “all you have to do is keep them alive till Daddy gets home” season.  Now it is “all you have to do is make sure they excel in every class, activity, and relationship, monitor every online activity, read every text, be intentional about their mental, spiritual, and physical health, and be available for every call, conversation, and late-night ask” season.

Maybe there is less grace because we are actually invisible.  The moment our kids step out into the world we start fading away; merely the master of the calendar and driver of the car.  But no one really sees us.  We’re like the electricity that keeps it all running.  Invisible.  No one notices until it goes out.

It’s May and I’m about to go out.

So imagine our confusion when one random Sunday amid the deluge of activities and invisibility, there is a holiday dedicated to us.  The teenagers grant us their first smile in months.  The kids slow down for a second and direct a kind word our way.  Long past are the sloppy breakfasts in bed and glittery excitement of crafts celebrating Mommy.  We stumble through the expectations of this day… all of us.  Where do I want to go?  Want to eat?  Want to do? Wait, you can see me?  I am disoriented with the deference.  Mother’s Day in May… how ironic.

What I want for Mother’s Day in the Middle Season is to be sent on a silent retreat because life is incredibly loud and fast.  But I’m lonely so I want my friends to come with me.  And I want there to be mimosas.  (And that cute little bistro set at Target for the courtyard, K Babe?).

Next month I will feel bad for what I said when it was May.  Baseball and ballet will wrap up.  The showcases will stop.  The parties and programs will be over.  The finals will finally end.  Next month I will sit by the pool with my friends.  I will read a bedtime story to my littlest.  I will consume real food and good books.  I will emerge a human and I will Embrace Summer.  I will really celebrate Mother’s Day.  I will remember that the Middle Season is good too.

Hold on Sister.  Remember that they love you though they side-eye and sigh at everything you say.  Remember that you are more than the keeper of the planner and the driver of the car.  Remember that there are thousands of us sitting in the stands, running to the thing, revising the paper at midnight, COUNTING DOWN.

Remember that it is the electricity that warms a family and lights a home.

A fist-bump of solidarity to you all.  See you on the flip side.



Mothering Screens Rather than Monitoring them

mothering screens

I was recently over at iMOM with a guest post on my heart for my children when it comes to “Screens.” We are the first generation of mothers who must brave this new territory and it can certainly be overwhelming but I believe we can honor their childhoods when we choose to “mother” rather than merely “monitor” this aspect of their lives. I am by no means an expert, but if you’d like to read my “6 Solutions to Screen Problems” and then tell me a few of yours, I’d love to enter this discussion with you!

Proactive Happy

We hustle for a lot of things. We hustle for success and fitness. We hustle at our jobs, we hustle at home.  We hustle at our kid’s schedules and for our families’ best.  And let me be really honest, right now, at the peak of Spring activities, the hustle has left me out of breath.  I feel the grind winning.  Trying to “just keep up” has me feeling left behind… behind on my spring cleaning, racing the weeds in the garden, a slave to my planner and the ever-changing “GroupMe” conversations revolving around baseball practices, rehearsal schedules, and “end of the year” teacher gift ideas. 

Spring brings with her an urgency, like an enthusiastic friend who won’t take, “Just a sec…” for an answer.

The numbness that comes from being some kind of hustle robot is counterintuitive to the season.  I realized that though it is Spring all around me here on the Ranchito, it has not been Spring in my spirit.  And then one afternoon, on a mindless Pinterest scroll, I came across her and it broke my heart:  

It broke my heart because the answer is barely.  I barely remember her-carefree, crazy, wild, really, really joyful…. She is the exact opposite of “hustle robot.”

And then just yesterday this scene played out in front of my partly horrified, partly snickering eyes:  Our property shares one fence line with an elementary school’s playground and our unconventional schedule leaves my kids home while most are in class.  So yesterday afternoon, after their work was finished and they were released into the great outdoors, I caught my boys racing their go-kart along that fence line WAVING (y’all!!!) to the hundred or so children on the other side.  All that separated the freedom of my boys to the confinement of the other kids was a pipe fence and a wistful stare.  I recognized the look.

“Why is everyone else having all the fun?  Why am I stuck behind this fence?  Must be nice.”

But do you see what the second half of that “Meme Mantra” says?  She is still there… inside you… waiting.  LET’S GO GET HER!  Let’s go get her… Yeah, let’s!

Let me propose to you as I propose to myself that happiness is okay.  Maybe even important.  It just might be okay to pursue a little happiness in our lives.  Happiness, fun, delight, just a good ‘ole fashioned good time does not stand in opposition to godly joy or discipline. God is the creator of all good things, right?  Like laughter and silliness and fun and whatever it is in little boys that makes them want to take a victory lap waving to the kids stuck behind the fence (ok, maybe not that).

There is something about winter that puts us in a receiving posture.  The weather on the earth is limiting and inviting us to rest, to soak it in, to reflect.  But spring is proactive!  We plant, we clean out, we go after things in a different way.  Just like we have to hustle for an organized home, a conquered schedule, a fruitful garden, or success in anything, we have to hustle for happiness!  We have to plan for it and then go for it!  We have to be proactively happy!  Nothing worth having simply falls into our laps.  Let’s go get it!  Let’s go get her!

We have been trained well to name our blessings.  We have gratitude journals, and One Thousand Gifts,  and have been taught to focus on what we have rather than what we want.  It’s the winter’s savoring, reflecting mentality, and it is vital for our spiritual health.  We are told in scripture over and over and over (and 10 more “over’s”) to remember and recount the blessings of the Lord.  Yes and Amen!

But I am proposing a little something different this Spring.  What if we had a “Proactive Happy Challenge?”  What if we made a “Hustle for Happiness” list?  Do you want out from behind the fence too?  Is the grind grinding out your joy?  Have you become a hustle robot like me?  Y’all, what if we really go get her together?

In the hustle, God has been whispering this to me again and again; “In the midst.”   Because that is where life is lived- in the midst.  That is where we will find joy- in the midst.  That is where community is built and children are raised and marriages are fought for.  And listen, that is where God is always found- in the midst.  He promises us in Hebrew 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

As much as I would like for my hustle for happiness to include Pina Coladas on a tropical beach, a fancy book contract, or my West Texas vegetable garden to miraculously become an English rose garden… I have to be proactively happy in the midst, with today’s limitations and responsibilities accounted for.

(Confession: I am currently failing at this)

So let’s get proactive!  Here’s what I am doing and what I am inviting this community into (it would make me really HAPPY for you to join)!!!  I have made a master, ever-evolving, “Proactive Happy” list.  I have simply written down things I can do to bring real joy, delight, and happiness into my days- in the midst.  They are little and big.  Some are dreamy, and some are super cheesy.  But each of them, when plugged into my day, will bring me a step closer to that crazy girl standing in the sprinkler!

That’s Step One: Make a Master Proactive Happy List of your own.

*Make it possible in the midst (but throw a couple of dreams in there too!  “With God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26).

*Make it personal.  There is no shame in what puts a smile on your face and what doesn’t (within reason… y’all know what I mean).  Happiness isn’t one size fits all.  Last week one of my besties told me she was “so excited” about being a chaperone on our kids’ 4 day “6th Grade Tour of Texas”  trip. So excited?  I felt guilty for about 1.7 seconds because all I could think about was putting my son on that bus and saying, “bu-bye.”  Nope.  I won’t do it.  That hustle is not for me!  Not on my list.

*Make it make it something you can do, a place you can go, something you get to eat or drink, a song you can listen to.  Make it a verb!  “My kids,” or “Jesus,” belong in your gratitude journal.  “Watching a movie with my kids,” or “taking a walk with Jesus,” is proactive.

*Lastly, this is not the place for, “having a clean house will make me happy so I’ll write vacuum on the list,” or “I want to lose some weight so this grueling work out that I hate will go on the list.”  Those things are disciplines- doing something for a future payoff.  And they are important!  Do them!  But the things on the Master List will be their own payoff!!

Step Two:  Plan one Proactive Happy activity a day!  Like write it on your planner, put it in your phone, on your to-do list, or wherever you keep up with your schedule.  Maybe even text a friend to keep you accountable (Proactive Happy accountability parterres?!?!  Fun!!!)  Remember, it’ll be a hustle.  There are plenty of things we have to do every day that keeps us on the other side of that fence.  Make sure you plan one thing a day, in the midst, that takes you closer to that girl up there!!

Step Three:  Enjoy it in the midst!  When you have made space for a little happiness hustle, don’t forget to fully delight in it while you’re there!  If it is as simple at 10 minutes on the porch, or a shower in a quiet house (mine yesterday)!, or turning on your favorite song and rolling the windows down, don’t let it pass you by without staking your claim in that feeling it brings! Remember, these activities are there own pay-off!  Be intentional in letting yourself engage right then!  For just a moment, put the rest of the world, all the responsibilities, all the hard, all the disappointments or stresses over that fence and jump in the go-kart!

Step Four:  Share your Proactive Happy and Celebrate Others!  Ok, so for the next 10 days I’m going to share my Proactive Happy activity in the midst on my Instagram and Facebook page using the #proactivehappy!  Come on over and see what I’m up to, and then, more importantly, share your #proactivehappy every day too!  Invite your tribe in!  Get inspiration from each other!   Jump in the go-kart together and go get her!  And let’s celebrate one another’s hustle!  Remember, if a friend is having that Pina colada on that tropical beach and you’re drinking cheap sangria from your bubble bath- her happy can’t steal yours. unless you let it!  Comparison may be the highest fence of all.

So who is on board for this Spring hustle?  Remember (1) make your list, (2) make your plan-everyday, (3) enjoy it in the midst, and (4) share and celebrate your #proactivehappy !  She is still there… inside you…waiting.  LET’S GO GET HER!