No, Mommy isn’t always okay…

Motherhood

As a mom who has battled anxiety and depression for almost twelve years, it’s easy for me to think that everyone around me, including my children don’t notice when I’m having an anxiety attack. I have lived with it for so long that there are days I don’t even realize I’m struggling. The weight on my chest feels like it does most any other day, as I’ve become so accustomed to what it feels like. Yet, for my children—especially my oldest son, the anxiety I try hard to mask isn’t always hidden from his curious little eyes.

“Mom? Are you okay?” 

I was standing at my kitchen sink, hot tears streaming down my face, elbow deep in dish soap and dirty plates. I had had enough. Anxiety had taken it’s grip on me and I was overwhelmed.The house was a mess. My boys wouldn’t stop fighting. My husband was running late. Dinner wasn’t ready. The baby was screaming. My Bible lay open on the kitchen table, untouched yet again. My coffee mug sat on the counter to my right, still full and ice cold. I felt frumpy as I was still sporting the pajama pants I’d slept in the night before—at 3:00 pm. 

No. I was not okay. My mom anxiety was at a high. I wanted to scream it as loud as I could. I wanted to throw the plate that I was holding on the floor and pitch an all out fit. I was tired—scratch that, exhausted from the weight of all of it: mothering, wife-ing, the parenting, cleaning, folding, diaper changing, baby rocking, constant cuddling, consoling, refereeing and bandaging. I was done. I had spent, at this point, eleven years of my life focusing entirely on someone else. It was always someone else. And that day? Enough was enough. 

Perhaps the hardest thing about becoming a mother lies not in the job of actually taking on the new role you are tasked with or in taking care of the new human in your life, but in the learning to lessen yourself. I fully expected becoming a mom to change me when I had my first child, but I never expected it to diminish me. I’d always heard stories of moms who claimed to “lose themselves” when they had kids. I could not even begin to grasp how someone could do that. Then, I was thrown into the world of unending diaper changes and nonstop crying. By days end, I was so tired from all of the noise and fussing and whining that I didn’t have time for me and eventually, I didn’t even know who “me” was anymore. 

Perhaps the hardest thing about becoming a mother lies in the learning to lessen yourself.

On this particular day when my almost eleven year old asked me if I was okay, the weight of it had just become too much to carry. Rather than telling him that I was fine when he could clearly see the mascara running down my face and could see the trembling of my shoulders as I silently released my stress and anxiety at the kitchen sink, I chose to be honest with him. 

“No, son. Mom is not okay.”

I wanted him to see that his mom was a real person, with real stressors and real feelings. That, despite the attempts that I made to keep it all together for him and his younger siblings, there were days when I just wasn’t okay. When I just couldn’t keep it together anymore. Days where, despite how much I loved him and his siblings, being a mom just wasn’t fun for me. It wasn’t easy for me. It wasn’t even enjoyable for me. That even though I loved my children more than life itself and even though I would willingly lay down my own life for any one of them without hesitation…some days, I just wasn’t happy. 

And that was okay. 

When I willingly opened up, spoke truth and allowed my sweet oldest baby to see that his mom was struggling and that she was hurting, I gave him a chance to practice all of the things that I had been so desperately trying to teach him: empathy, kindness and the willingness to lend a hand when someone needs it. He wrapped his tiny little boy arms around me and gave me a hug. He laid his head on my shoulder, because he’s almost as tall as I am now, and told him that it was all going to be alright and that he loved me.

Then, he scooped up his almost-two-year-old sister, who had been screaming at my feet for more minutes than I could recall, and carried her into the living room and started to play with her so I could finish my dishes. 

I didn’t get any “me time” that afternoon, or any afternoon that week. I didn’t run away from my stress the second that my husband came home. I didn’t even get the rest of the house clean that day. But, I did see that the countless hours that I spent tirelessly and endlessly caring for everyone under my roof were not in vain. I also realized that “losing myself” in the role of motherhood is not only normal, but it is good, holy work. Losing ourselves is never a negative connotation the way that the world seems to portray it. Losing myself, losing my pride, losing my sense of “all about me” makes me more like Jesus. 

Jesus tells us plainly throughout scripture that we are called to deny ourselves and follow Him. Maybe some of us can deny ourselves on our own; learn how to let go of our own selfish ambition without needing someone to force us to do it. Yet, for me, I am not disciplined enough or selfless enough on my own to deny myself of the dreams, goals and ambitions that I have. So, God gave me children. Those children have forced me to become less of who I am for the sake of becoming more like the one who created me.

As far as I am concerned, that too is okay. 


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Helping Your Children Understand your Anxiety by Courtney Kirkland

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Motherhood Isn’t Enough

Motherhood

Growing up whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be, there were always three things I would say: a wife, a mama and an writer. As I got older, I realized that there was a difference between being a “writer” and being an actual published “author” who makes money from their writing. I have been a writer for as long as I can remember, but do actually get paid to share my words and my heart with people would be something totally different. For now, I just share what God gives me on my tiny little stage that is this blog and Instagram in hopes that one day, I may accomplish the thing I have always dreamed of doing.

God was gracious enough to grant me two of the positions I hoped and prayed for for so long by making me a wife to my husband of almost 12 years and a mama for almost 11. Both of which are roles that I don’t take lightly and that I appreciate more than I could ever put into words.

But.

Being a wife and a mother isn’t enough for me.

It has taken me a very long time to reach the point where I can admit that. The idea that as a Christian woman I should find my contentment, fulfillment and joy in being a wife, mother and homemaker is a stereotype that I have often felt ashamed of not fitting. I used to wonder if there was something wrong with me because, as much as I love my family and my roles within our home, they have never served to fulfill the empty space in my life.

After seeking God with much anxiety and worry that I was disappointing Him, He finally showed me that my role within my home was never meant to be my only role. He revealed to my heart that He is the writer of all of our stories and that He alone fashioned me together and compiled my being long before I was ever thought of. He knows that these roles that I am in right now don’t even begin to completely scratch the surface of what I dream of doing or being or accomplishing. Admitting that I am not fulfilled by these positions in my life is absolutely okay.

God knew before I came along that I would have the heart of a creative visionary. He gifted that to me and fashioned in me the desire to accomplish, do and be more than a mom and wife. He gave me passions that are rooted way deep down within my being that won’t go away (believe me, I’ve even tried to pray them away). Not all of us are wired the same. Not all of our lives are meant to look identical. What looks right for you doesn’t have to look right for me. While I take my role within our home very seriously and believe it to be the most important thing I will ever do, I don’t find my fulfillment there.

And that is okay.

If you’re a mom and a wife and you’re reading this, wondering why you still feel like there’s more for you; why you’re not as over-the-moon-content with your role as a wife and mother; Whether there is something wrong with you because you don’t get that feeling of worth that you once did in your regular job…Let me be the first to reassure you that you are not alone.

Those feelings that you should be doing something more? They’re totally normal. That empty void that once was filled with work or business or your hobbies? It’s okay to miss those things and want to pursue those things. Wanting to be away from your children for a few hours a day to do things that give you energy and make you feel refreshed—whether it’s working out, painting or doing yoga—doesn’t make you a bad mother.

It makes you a beautifully talented and gifted Child of God who was created with multiple passions and means of displaying His glory.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24

Wherever God has placed you, whatever He has called you to, work at it with all that you are. If you feel like you’ve been called to a wife and a mother, go give 100% of yourself to your position within your home. If you’re a wife and a mother, but feel God wants you to do more, then you give 100% to the things that God has placed on your heart. We were made…created…to give Him all of you because that’s what He deserves.

It isn’t wrong to want something more than changing diapers and folding laundry. You aren’t failing because you aren’t completely fulfilled by being at home with your children all day. You aren’t a bad mom because you chose public school over homeschooling so that you could pursue your other passions during the school hours. Let’s stop putting motherhood into a box and making everyone who doesn’t do it the same way feel less than. We’re all doing the best we can…and that’s enough.


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Motherhood Isn't Enough by Courtney Kirkland

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Raising Arrows

Faithful Living

My husband and I haven’t always been tens when it comes to parenting our children.

We, like most people, have days where we are on point with our parenting skills. We do things well; we work together (as mom and dad) well, our kids get along and everyone is happy. We hit the mark on those days as your predictable storybook family.

Those days are rare.

More often than not, we are doing the best we can to get by. Getting the oldest to school on time, working with the middle one to prepare him for Kindergarten next year and feeding a newborn every 4-5 hours feels like a nonstop, full time job for me. Throw in the fact that we make sure that we take them to church every week, keep them involved in an extracurricular activity (i.e. ONE activity not twenty), do the homework, make sure they don’t live off of potato chips and soda and work diligently to teach them and show them Jesus in their day to day life.

Parenting is not for the weak. My husband and I work pretty steadily on our own marriage and we know all too well which weapons the enemy uses to attack our marriage. I can generally spot those marital landmines a mile away and do well to ward them off and counteract them with scripture and prayer, but the ones that sneak up on me as a mama? Those are a whole other battlefield.

Don’t be surprised when he starts coming after your kids. And don’t think it’s all because they’re being headstrong or peer dependent or careless or lazy. Satan knows the parts of their character-both their strengths and their weaknesses-where he can worm in and try stunting their growth, their potential, and their confidence.

This is an area of life that my husband and I are currently struggling with. I have a whole section in my prayer journal devoted to specifically praying for my children because of the attack that I feel like is being waged against them. We all think our kids are great and every mama I know loves to brag about her babies; I am no different. My kids are legitimately good kids who get good grades, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ about 90% of the time, and are overall nice humans.

Are they perfect? Not hardly. We still have outbursts and tantrums and yelling and crying more often than I personally care for, but they are human and they are sin ridden just like the rest of us. However, since I formed our Prayer Warriors Facebook group, I have noticed a dramatic increase in the negative emotions and reactions around our house by my children. My two boys, who have always gotten along very well, are constantly at each others throats and fighting. My oldest son is growing increasingly frustrated and agitated by things that used not to bother him.

My youngest son is more anxiety ridden and worried about things than he has ever been. A few weeks ago, he refused to go out in the backyard and play with his brother (something that he typically enjoys). When I questioned him as to why, he told me that he couldn’t because he was scared. After further probing and questioning, he finally revealed to me that he was afraid that the man from his dream was going to get him. Never one to have had nightmares before, I was dumbfounded to hear that he had been having them. That night, at bedtime, he was afraid to go to sleep because he didn’t want to see the nightmare man again.

I talked to him about prayer and how he could ask God to take that nightmare away so he could sleep without being afraid. Sure enough, we prayed together, with him asking God to take away the “scary dreams,” and he went to bed. The next morning, he woke up rested and hasn’t mentioned nightmares since.

Coincidence? Not hardly.

You see, when we-as parents and mothers-do kingdom work, the enemy gets antsy. Our ministry, whether in our home or outside of it, tends to pour out on our children. With that kind of outpouring comes little disciples being made right under the enemy’s nose. He can’t have that, can he? Our weapon against him is prayer.

I don’t know about you, but I can go into full on “Mama Bear” mode really quick over my kids. Best believe that seeing the enemy at work within my home and against my children has me on attack mode nonstop. Mess with me and I’ll defend myself but you mess with my kids? Be ready for a full on counter attack and assault.

Only now-under the authority given to me in Christ-I am guaranteed victory.


FOR DISCUSSION

(feel free to answer in the comments or privately on your own)

  • Can you spot the areas of attack against your children?
  • What methods does the enemy use against them (self-doubt, anger, rebellion, etc)?
  • What tactics can you use to counter those attacks?
  • Have your children ever unknowingly noticed those attacks against them (similar to my son and his nightmares)?
FOCUS VERSE

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear my children walking in truth.”

3 John 4

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What your Newborn Mama Friends Want you to know (but don’t think they can tell you…)

Motherhood

If I am being really, really honest…I never expected to find myself back in the throes of the newborn phase at 30 years old. When we had our youngest son in 2012, I really thought that was it. We’d have two kids-two brothers at that-and our family would be complete. We wouldn’t be outnumbered and we wouldn’t have to stress the idea of one child getting more attention than the other. Not to mention, it took us a little over 18 months to get pregnant with him and that time period of waiting took its toll on me. So when our Jonah man arrived and we thought our family was complete, I threw aside all notions of doing the newborn thing again. We got Jonah sleep trained and I got back to sleeping eight or more hours a night and he’s starting Kindergarten next year. I’d have time during the day to do things around the house, finish my degree or expand my business or whatever God called me to do.

Then, Jonah turned four. He started to grow up a little quicker than I wanted and my husband and I realized that just maybe we weren’t quite ready to call it quits on the baby front. Maybe we should try for one more and see what happened. Six months later, the strip turned pink and baby number three was on the way. Fast forward to October and our sweet Sarah Elizabeth was born.

Now, here I am at 30 with a nine-year-old, a five-year-old and a newborn…and let me tell you #HotMess doesn’t even do justice to what I’ve got going on.

Parenting a newborn is hard.

You’d think I would know that since I’ve done it twice already. Since Sarah came along I am reminded once again that most people don’t understand what life with a newborn is like. Even if they have kids, they tend to forget. I have put together a list. Call it advice from a newborn mama.

What your Newborn Mama Friends want you to know
(but don’t think they can tell you…)

We are tired. 

And I don’t just mean we are sleepy or sleep deprived after being up with a newborn the night before. I mean we are physically, mentally, emotionally and likely spiritually exhausted. The sleep deprivation is one thing. Most of us expect to be sleepy and walking around in that zombie-like trance those first few months. We expect to live off of coffee and whatever caffeine we can get our hands on. What we do not always expect is the toll that having a newborn takes on every other aspect of our lives. Physically, our bodies are still in “hey, you just had a baby!” mode (despite what well-meaning doctors say). A lot of us still hurt from pregnancy or delivery. For those of us who are breastfeeding, the physical toll of nursing every one-two hours or pumping milk for our little one is demanding and draining. The mental stress of not only caring for someone so tiny but operating under those sleep-deprived conditions wear on a person.  Throw in the fact that there are likely other children to tend to, homework to get done, sibling squabbles to break up, laundry to do, take out to order food to cook and a home to keep livable clean. So, when your wife, sister, daughter, bestie who just had a baby says, “I’m Tired…” she isn’t saying she’s sleepy. She means that she’s stretched as thin as she possibly can be and is running on fumes…help a sister out. 

[bctt tweet=”No matter how good we may be doing, every mama is terrified that she isn’t doing enough.” username=”@CourtneyKirklnd”]

We are hungry.

Y’all. I remember now why I lost pregnancy weight as quickly as I did when I was nursing Jonah. Aside from the fact that breastfeeding burns an additional 500-600 calories a day, most of us tend to forget that food is a vital part of existence. If you were to ask me what I have had for breakfast and lunch the last two weeks (excluding weekends), I can honestly tell you that I have had at least two cups of coffee (possibly three if it’s a Monday) by 11:00 and if I’m lucky, what is left of Jonah’s pancakes. Most days by the time dinner rolls around, I’ve survived off of my cups of coffee and whatever bit of food I can scarf down in between feeding Sarah and getting things done. And that “bit of food” is typically nothing more than a handful of almonds or a granola bar. When a newborn mama says she’s hungry…she likely hasn’t eaten anything more than a few leftover bites of pancake or some stale cheerios. Feel free to buy her lunch. 

We’re afraid we are failing. 

I have a very dear, sweet friend who has four children. She homeschools. She keeps a pretty clean house. She does all the crafty things. She is a remarkable friend and listener. She is a stellar cook. And she is one of the sweetest and most compassionate people you will ever meet. She is ROCKING the mom thing, y’all. She is also one of the most humble people I’ve ever known and if she reads this, on Sunday I will hear all about how she’s not really doing as wonderful I think she is. Despite all that she does and how kick-butt I think she is, she doesn’t agree. She sees her failures and not the other areas in which she is thriving. Me? I sit back and I consider my day a win if my kids all get a bath and we eat dinner. Bonus points if we do our family devotional time before someone gets too cranky or too tired. So far we haven’t run out of clean underwear and we haven’t missed dinner. Everything above and beyond that is a bonus. No matter how good we may be doing, every mama is terrified that she isn’t doing enough. Next time you see your mama friend, tell her how awesome she’s doing. I promise she will love you for it.

We don’t really want your advice.

This one is a person by person type thing, but most of us do not really want your advice. We appreciate your intention, but sometimes that’s unsolicited advice seem condescending and leave us worrying that we aren’t not doing it the right way. I’ve had two newborns before Sarah came along. We know how we feel about vaccinations. We know what we want to do in terms of sleeping arrangements. We’ve made all of the decisions about how we are going to feed our daughter. Thank you for your concern but unless we are specifically asking you, we likely aren’t looking for additional input.

We would endure every bit of this again. 

Hence why we have three little ones now instead of two. Despite all of the exhaustion and hunger and worry that comes with parenting…I would do it all again in a heartbeat for any one of my babies. The frustration is worth it. The physical pain is worth it. The sleep deprivation eventually goes away and I’ll get around to eating again like a normal person. But, until that time comes, I’m going to enjoy my babies and remind myself that these days are fleeting and that I would absolutely do it all over again (except I don’t want to do it again…baby factory is closed).


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Diagnoses Day

Motherhood

I know this post has been a long time coming.

I think that a big, BIG part of me was is scared to really talk about this. Because even the people in my life that I thought I could trust to be supportive and encouraging during this have let me down and begun the “process” of either criticizing our family and the way we parent and/or handle things or just choosing NOT to try to understand what’s going on.

After multiple visits with both the pediatrician and the child Psychologist, we’ve reached a starting point with getting Noah some help.

First things first, as of right NOW the psychologist does not want to diagnose him with Asperger’s.

He’s given us a new set of paperwork and forms to fill out and more information to gather. While it’s not exactly what we were anticipating, we are simultaneously very pleased with the fact that they aren’t looking to slap a label on him immediately. He does continue to tell us that Noah has a lot of “spectrum” qualities, but because he is still so young and Asperger’s is usually not diagnosed until around age 10, that he wants to continue doing some testing for now.

What we do know…

Noah has moderate/severe ADHD, which we (meaning both Josh and I and the doctors) think could be a lot of the cause behind his trouble with phonics & reading. That being said, if we are dealing with Asperger’s then we will have a better idea of why he struggles and how to handle it. For now, we are exploring options for different low-dosage medication to help with his ability to focus and attention span.

Noah also has a learning disability when it comes to reading comprehension. We don’t know if that is because of the ADHD (see above) or if he just doesn’t grasp the comprehension aspect. He can memorize things all day long, but short term his memory is terrible and none of us know right now if he is actually learning anything or if he is just memorizing everything for test-taking purposes.

He also has severe childhood anxiety and borderline childhood depression. The psychologist best guess as to why is because of the constant moving we have done in his short little life and his daddy being gone for extended periods of time for work and/or school. While this isn’t necessarily a major problem, it doesn’t present concerns long term as it is something that automatically puts him in a higher suicide risk group as a teenager.

He has severe low frustration tolerance (generally a common thing with ADHD children and/or Asperger’s children). This is, right now, the biggest worry and concern that we have. He has already started to display some issues with his self-esteem and self-worth and has made multiple comments both to Josh and I and his teachers that “he just isn’t smart/good enough” to do his school work or that he isn’t as good as the other kids. Which, for me as a mama, is absolutely heartbreaking. There are no words for how hard it is for your child at such a young age to feel unworthy.

diagnoses DayHis outbursts and tantrums (or meltdowns) are difficult to control and very hard to regulate. At the same time, they also bring me on the defensive for my son. Because I know what people think when he has one of these moments. I see the stares, the looks, the condescension from people who just assume that our son is a brat. And quite frankly, it pisses me off. And I’m choosing to just wash my hands of it.

Even if our son doesn’t have autism, he very much has a moderate/severe mental illness.

One that we will live with-that he will live with-from now on. One that I will have to advocate for and stand my ground against people who don’t know what they are talking about. One that I’m sure that I will lose friends over when they make ill informed comments about and jump to ignorant decisions about.

Regardless, I am learning a lot about our boy through this…and about myself.

More than anything, I’m learning that he is passionate, he is caring and he loves no one as much as he does his family. We are his team…his advocates…his support. The ones who encourage him no matter what he is facing.

And we always will be.

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The Best I Can

Random Things

I’m tired of having to defend my decisions. Or my beliefs. Or my choices.

I brought two little boys into the world and my sole purpose in this life is to raise them to be strong men. Good men who love Jesus and love people. Men who make mistakes, but who own those mistakes and do what it takes to fix them. Men who think of themselves last and put others first. Men who love their families, whatever that may look like in the future.

We live in a world that attacks women, most specifically mothers, for their choices on how they raise their children.

Quite frankly, I’m a little sick of it.

Vaccinate, don’t vaccinate. Breastfeed, bottle feed. Organic, non organic. Homemade baby food, story bought baby food. Public school, private school, homeschool. Co-sleep or crib sleep. Handmade or store bought. Pacifier, no pacifier. Adoption or no adoption. Cloth diaper or store bought diapers.

Aren’t we all just trying to do the best that we can?

Trying to love our husbands and our children and give as much of ourselves as we can?

Since when did we turn against one another rather than supporting and encouraging one another?

I’m a mom of all kinds of choices. Both of my babies were vaccinated; and baby number three will be, too. Despite the fact that we are facing an Asperger’s diagnoses with our oldest, that doesn’t change my belief on vaccinating.

I bottle-fed our oldest and nursed my youngest for 15 months. I buy some organic goods but otherwise, I buy whatever is on sale. I use Pampers Diapers and find cloth diapering to be cute, but inconvenient. We’ve done both Public and Private school and find that we prefer the Public School system over Private. We been to non-denominational churches and Baptist Churches; and for our family find that “church” in the sense of religion just doesn’t work for us. We prefer fellowship and discipleship.

We’re adopting baby number three rather than pursuing having another biological child…and have no preference on whether this baby is a boy or a girl; white black or green. Despite the various people who think that we should have a girl because, clearly our family can’t be complete with a girl since we have two boys. And, you know, having a child that isn’t caucasian is taboo.

We have weapons in our home. I carry a concealed weapon and so does my husband. We have pistols put up and away where our boys can’t reach them, but we stress the importance of our second amendment right and the right to bear arms and protect our families. And that’s our decision

There’s a million, billion choices that we make for our families every day and we all do (for the most part) what we think is best for our families.

Just because what you do looks different than what I do doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

Choose not to breastfeed? Okay! Wanna go with cloth diapers? Hooray! Those are really super cute…and I’d love to see Pampers take some lessons on design from some of the Etsy shops I’ve seen. Dig the idea of church in your Pajama’s? Awesome! I love the more casual atmosphere of the church we are attending right now, so church in your pj’s sounds fabulous!

It all boils down to this…

We are all different. We all have different upbringings and beliefs and religions. But in the end, none of that is going to matter.

None of our differences are going to make, well, a difference.

We’re all doing the best we can for our children.

The Best I Can via @CourtneyKirklnd

 

 

Why can’t that just be enough?

So despite the negativity, I choose to focus on the good in the world. The good in people. The support from those who know our family, love our family, and support our family. The world is a negative place, so any further negativity isn’t welcome here.

But as for you? I’ll support you in your choices, no matter if they are different from mine or not. Because I know that, deep down, we’re all just doing the best we can do for those we love the most.

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It’s Time to Talk About It

Random Things

I’ve debated for a while now on whether to talk about this on my blog just yet.

I reached out to a few friends and opened up about it, told family, entrusted those who I thought would be supportive of us no matter what. And, since my Instagram and Facebook posts have kind of come across as a bit down-trodden the last few days, I thought maybe it was time to talk about what’s going on.

Our pediatrician and child psychologist believe that Noah may have Aspergers.

For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a form of high-functioning Autism.

I hesitated to share this because we still don’t have an official diagnoses. But, because a) this is my blog and I can say what I want to; and b) some of the people that I thought would be in our corner and supportive as we walk this unknown road have proven us wrong; I needed to get a lot of this off of my chest.

And putting it out here for all of you to read, is a relief all on its own.

So…here’s what we do know:

  • Noah has severe anxiety.
  • Noah has moderate to severe sensory processing issues/disorder.
  • While he gets along with other children, he prefers to be around adults and for the last several years has latched onto one specific classmate and rarely associates with any other children.
  • He is obsessive about three things: sharks, dinosaurs and football.KirklandFamilyPortraits2015-10-99
  • He can catch a football and hit a baseball, but he can’t ride a bike or a scooter and he can’t dribble a basketball.
  • Reading is very, very difficult for him. Tears are shed almost daily over reading homework because he doesn’t “get” it.
  • Likewise he excels at math because he says numbers are easy.
  • Noah was very delayed in walking, talking and potty training.
  • While he can speak fluently now, his enunciation is still not where it should be for a seven year old child.
  • He throws tantrums. And please don’t tell me that “he’s a child and all children throw tantrums” because I know that. These aren’t typical childhood tantrums. These are hold him down because he tries to hurt himself tantrums. Tantrums that have in the last several weeks brought about strep throat thanks to the screaming, broken glasses when he threw things. In the past he actually busted the door frame at the dentist office when he couldn’t figure out how to open the door. These are not typical 6/7 year old child tantrums.
  • I vaccinated my children. And so help me God if one more person shows me an article on autism being caused by vaccines or asks me if that’s what might have caused it, I can’t promise how I will react. Keep your opinion about that to yourself. Because I will block you/unfollow you on Facebook. No matter who you are.

    And just a note for those of you who believe that, that’s fine well and good. We all have opinions. But, before you go sharing articles that slam parents who choose to vaccinate their kids and blaming them for their child’s condition, take a moment to consider how a mom who has an autistic child and DID vaccinate may feel reading that.

  • My child is not stupid. Or incapable. Or slow. Or whatever stigma you place on children with difficulties.
  • Likewise, your child isn’t better than mine because he/she is excelling at something. And rubbing that success in? It’s kind of rude.
  • We have received more support from public school teachers and staff since we learned of this possible diagnoses than we ever did at Private School last year. Please don’t tell me that he wouldn’t be having trouble if he were in a private school setting. Because, well, that’s kind of stupid.

Much of my stress has come from the tantrums that we have been dealing with the last three months. Many people, family included, had just deemed Noah as a “difficult” child or a “strong willed” child. That’s not what is going on. It took forever to get the support and the backing of a pediatrician because all we heard, like many who I have talked to, was that “he would grow out of it.”

There are things that make Noah seem like any other child. But what you see in public and what goes on at home are very difficult. You don’t see the slamming of his fists and kicking of his feet when he doesn’t understand something. Or when the wrong kind of hot dog is purchased. Or when his lunch box falls over and spills the contents on the floorboard of the backseat.

You don’t see the tears when he comes home from school upset and heartbroken because the children at school picked on him because he couldn’t figure out how to cross the monkey bars. You don’t see the heartbreak when a little girl tells him that he needs to apologize for being ugly because he doesn’t understand that sometimes everything that he thinks is fun and interesting isn’t interesting to someone else, and he gets upset.

My husband and I have read books upon books and done plenty of studying. We are in the “testing” phase…where we are waiting for all of the appointments to finish lining up to get the “official” diagnoses.

Our main focus right now is getting answers. No matter what those answers are.

KirklandFamilyPortraits2015-10-15

We know that we can handle whatever situation comes our way. I have more faith than I ever have because I have had to. The days are very, very difficult. The emotional toil of watching your child struggle and not being able to help him wears me out. The physical aspects of having to hold him and cradle him to soothe him, are draining. Listening to the screaming and the shouting and the crying is nerve wracking.

So some days, like these last few days, it gets to be a bit much and I cry. And I drink more coffee than I should. And I have to take an extra pill or two for my anxiety (don’t worry I’m allowed).

And I figured with all the other that was going and everything that this week has brought in terms of emotional havoc, that it was time to talk about.

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I Was Pregnant Before I got Married

Personal

I’m going to get on my soapbox and stir the pot a little bit today. I’m pretty good at that and I really try hard to be as unbiased and non-judgmental as possible. But, hot topics and debates leave me thinking…and pondering…and itching to share my opinion. Because we are all entitled to one of those, and I personally and wholeheartedly love a good debate with people who don’t always see things the same way that I do. We live in a free country and good, healthy, NON-ILLEGAL and riotous debate is good for the soul. And it leaves people with new positions and opinions to think about.

Right now, I want to talk about Bristol Palin.

I’m  not going to get started on whether I am for or against abstinence or anyone’s decision to embrace or encourage abstinence. The fact of the matter is, my testimony is out there for anyone to read; I’m not ashamed of it. Nor am I ashamed to admit that I was pregnant with our oldest son before I got married.

There. I said it.

Anyone who can do math would have known that, but let me just throw it out there in case it’s one of those things someone thinks they need to ridicule me for. The fact of the matter is our oldest son was a blessing. He still is a blessing. My husband and I, given the chance, would never go back and change the fact that we had him a mere six months into our marriage.

Do we wish we’d had more time to get to be just husband and wife? To get to know each others habits (both good and bad), enjoy that “honeymoon phase” people talk about? Sure.

But, does that mean that I’d give up being a mom to our son for a few more years of eating at restaurants that didn’t give out kids placemats with every meal? Not at all.

What caught my attention about this news article about Bristol Palin was this part:

I know this has been, and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you. (via)

I read this, and my heart broke for her. Because of the fact that this poor girl (and I mean “poor” in the non-monetary sense, of course), felt that she was a disappointment…to her friends, to her own family and to hundreds of thousands (if not more) people that she’s never met in her life.

gracesaysimcherished

A baby, no matter the circumstances under which he/she is conceived is a blessing. Period. That in itself should be enough for people. It is for me.

But, even more so than the given fact that there’s going to be a new baby…a tiny little perfect miracle, created by the Almighty God…is the fact that this girl is stepping up.

She’s not running to an abortion clinic to “solve a problem” or get rid of this child. She’s not placing blame on anyone or anything…she’s not making excuses.

She’s owning up to the mistake that she made and taking responsibility for it. Which is, unfortunately, more than many adults in this society can say.

I remember the “shame” that she feels. Knowing that people ‘know’ what you were doing before you were married. And in the deep south, getting pregnant before you were married was a No-No. There were special names reserved for girls who did that, no matter their age.

I remember hanging my head in shame for a bit after the news came out that I was pregnant, a mere two weeks after Josh and I said “I Do.” I knew that people were whispering. That people assumed automatically that we only got married because we were going to have a baby. Most everyone assumed that we’d be divorced by now or that Josh would end up running off or having an affair (which brings me to a whole ‘nother stereotype with how people view the military that I won’t touch today).

And it was heartbreaking.

Because I knew what was happening. God had chosen ME out of the million upon millions of women in the world to carry THIS baby. This beautiful, perfect, not even fully formed baby that kicked and wiggled and squirmed inside me.

And that’s when I realized that I didn’t care. That I just frankly didn’t give a damn what anyone thought. Because we were having a baby. Period. That’s just all there was to it.

Sure, it was hard. Sure there were days that I cried and pleaded for God to make my child stop screaming or crying or puking or whatever he was doing. There were more days than I can count in which I was absolutely, utterly and completely exhausted.

But those days passed. And we came out on the other side just like I knew we would. And I sat back at night and watched my sweet baby boy sleep, and thanked God for the blessings in my life. We may have been broke and driving a two door car, relying on WIC to get us through on formula (hey, non-rate military pay is very, very minimal in case you were wondering…and I wasn’t working at that time)…but we did what we had to do. And we were a family.

So, to have to apologize for making a mistake…
To have to apologize for being pregnant-regardless of the circumstances…
Is just pitiful.

Shame on us, America for making this poor girl feel like she’s less than the rest because she made a mistake.

Shame on us for making ANY girl whose respectable enough to not only admit to her mistakes, but deal with them and embrace them, feel like they are a disappointment.

I don’t know her personally. And I probably never will.

But I do know what it feels like to feel like you’ve disappointed the people that you care about. And it sucks. It’s a horrible feeling to look into the eyes of someone who you know loves you and see the disappointment on their face.

Because we all make mistakes. Big, huge, gigantic ones.

But that doesn’t change Grace. Or the fact that God is still God and he still loves us the same. He knew that baby’s name long before his or her mommy was even thought of. And that sweet baby, whoever he or she may turn out to be, was part of a divine plan that we don’t even understand yet.

So, Bristol Palin…you are not a disappointment.

The people who judge you? Who criticize you? They are the disappointment.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:1-5)


 

What about you?
Have you been on the receiving end of someone’s judgment?
How often have you given judgment yourself?
What can WE do, to do better?

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Once upon a time…

Motherhood

I used to write. In fact, I used to do a lot of things.

I used to take pictures of my boys with my “big” camera instead of just with my iPhone. I used to read books that weren’t text books…for fun. I used to drink a cup of coffee in one sitting without having to reheat it-three times.

Anyone who ever, ever tells you that you can still do all of the same things you did before you had kids, is lying. You most certainly can still do things…but not in the same way that you once did.

I can still take pictures of my boys with my big camera…but it has to be a carefully and strategically planned event or either on a day in which I have nothing else planned.

I can still read books that aren’t text books…but it will be in car line (if the youngest isn’t screaming because the car is sitting still) or in very quick spurts. Think sentences at a time…rather than pages or chapters. Oh! And let’s not forget that it will take probably six months to read an average book. Just FYI.

And I won’t even get started on the coffee. Let’s just say that I’m learning to like mine iced. Or either just cooled off…extremely.

This has been a rough season for me, personally. Which explains the lack of writing. And sharing. And posting that I’ve done on this site. I find myself in the midst of an emotional breakdown. And identity crisis of sorts. Sitting back and just taking in all of the things that make up my life right now. And asking myself, how in the world did I get here?

My boys are six and two.  Going on seven and three at the end of the year. I’m approaching 30 years old (yes, most of you will say that I’m still a baby…I get it). And I look back at the life that I have lived so far-places I’ve been, things I’ve done, where I’m going, who I’ve met-and wonder how I got here. Birth gives us our “point A” in life…and while I’m not at “point Z” yet, I find myself stuck somewhere in the middle. And I’m not quite sure where to go from this point. Can’t go backward obviously. But what’s in the places ahead? Where does the journey in front of me lead?

I never knew that having children would change me as much as it has.

But it has.

Would I undo having my boys? Absolutely not.

Would I trade their existence for a solid 8 hours of sleep and a hot cup of coffee every day? Not a chance.

They’ve made me better. A bit more neurotic I’m afraid, but better.

They’ve also taught me that while we all love the “once upon a time” stories with the happy endings, it’s the middle part of the story…the meat as my english teacher would have called it…that make the story good.

And just like the conflict and resolution of any story makes it better, the conflict and resolution that fill our lives make us better.

Did you hear that? It makes us better. It makes us stronger. It teaches us all about what really and truly matters.

And it keeps us pointed at THE ONE who truly matters.

So while my bank account wishes I wish that I could keep a cup of coffee hot for myself at home, I’ll run to Starbucks where they make it extra hot and put it in nice insulated cups so that I can drink it slowly and savor it. While I may not get a lot of extra reading in, I’m reading the most important of books anyway. And my big camera? She’s fun to use when I have the chance, but I refuse to not take the day to day photos of my kids, just because I can’t use my Canon.

Life is short. It’s precious. It’s fleeting.

So I’ll take the once upon a time, anticipate the ending, but cherish the middle.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. [James 1:2-4]

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© 2019 • Courtney Kirkland • Writer, Designer, Creative

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courtney kirkland

live life known.