I remember wondering if my parents were brave or just crazy when they told us we would be going on a two week vacation in an RV rental. I was 15 at the time, a bossy mother hen to 4 younger siblings.

We weren’t always friends, the five of us. The two youngest, Chase and Randi fought every single day. They seemed to love it, doing things to irk one another, picking fights for no apparent reason. Clint was quick to choose a side and join in the commotion. The fights always ended in yelling, or tears. I was bossy perhaps, but didn’t like to fight. Dad’s temper was enough incentive for me on that subject, but somehow not enough for them. So I adopted the roll of peacemaker (more like enforcer of the peace with threats to get dad if it didn’t stop).

Try as I might to be the peacemaker, I could never seem to fully avoid fighting with my 11 year old sister, Whitney. She was so very different from me – dramatic, whiny and picky. And yet she was also so similar – thoughtful, tenacious and stubborn. In a battle of wills over, oh who knows what now, neither of us would back down. And so we usually ended up in a scuffle, scratched and covered in slap marks, crying. I truly hate that I fought physically with my sister.

Knowing all of this, you can now understand my surprise that my parents wanted us to drive and live in a 200 square foot RV for 2 whole weeks. I certainly didn’t want to be in such close quarters with my bickering family for that long. Why on earth would they want that?

They sat us down one evening and discussed the itinerary. We would drive Northeast into Wyoming, visiting Devils Tower. Then we would make our way into South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore. Then we would travel west into the three corners area of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to visit Yellowstone National Park and from there back home. Those were the major stops, part of a neat little loop they had planned. They had charted out all the KOA’s we would camp at along the way.

The close quarters RV issue began to take a backseat to the exciting sights and KOA swimming pools. Maybe I would even meet a cute boy or two at one of the campgrounds.

The day of our departure arrived. We left, much later than scheduled of course, dad threatening to leave us all behind if we didn’t hurry out the door. Our first adventure came just seconds into the trip when dad started to back the RV out. That RV was the longest vehicle my dad had ever driven, and a full 5 minutes were spent backing up, turning the wheels slightly, pulling forward, backing up, repeat, so as not to plow over the sidewalk and into the neighbors garden across the street. After a few choice words from dad, and Clint whining that the trip was already ruined, we were off.

We saw what we set out to see, though not without incident of course. There was plenty of bickering and many more choice words and threats of turning around from dad, but more than that, I remember realizing we all had at least one thing in common. We all appreciated the magnificence of the earth and the beauties thereon. We each stared in awe at Old Faithful, belching and spewing hot liquid into the air. We gasped at the size of the Buffalo we saw grazing near the country road and speculated on what they must be thinking as they saw our giant noise making machine go by. We marveled at the naturally made tunnels we drove through in the South Dakota mountains. We walked the trail around Devil’s Tower, amazed and curious about how such a formation came to be, especially in the middle of that flat area.

I will never forget the sights we saw, but more importantly, I will never forget how I felt knowing that in spite of our differences, my family understood and shared my joy and awe.
Crayon in hand, Caleb fidgets in his chair, trying to pay attention to the workbook in front of him. He knows what mommy wants him to do, he really does want to listen, but it’s just so hard being four.

“Which of these pictures, is diff-er-ent?” I ask him, pointing to the row of cars

He looks at me, obviously confused. I try a different approach

“What color is this one?”

“WED!” he shouts

“And this one?”


“And this one?”


“So this one is different, right?”

“I circa it mommy?”

I sigh and nod.

We try again with the next row. This time it’s turtles.

“What turtle is different from the others?” I ask hopefully

For a moment he looks confused, then I can see him working it out. Yes, he’s getting it! He opens his mouth wide.

“Deezus!!” he announces proudly

I roll my eyes and chuckle softly. So, it has come to this again. The answer he gives to every question he doesn’t know the answer too. The one he learned in Sunday school.

“Jesus is the answer to everything isn't it?” I say to Caleb

I suppose he's right.
I hope I’m not the only mother out there who has those days. Days where the fighting and the whining and the yelling between sibliings all culminate in mom joining the turmoil and everyone ending up in tears. I had one of those days yesterday.

It happened to be in the car. A spat over sharing chicken nuggets and french fries ended up with our car in the nearest parking lot, mom yelling, food confiscated and everyone crying. I shakily picked up the cell phone and called my husband.

“I can’t do this anymore!” I sobbed into the phone. “Sometimes it’s so hard to be a mom!”

I explained the situation and other frustrations that had been building and he calmed me down. He listened and empathized with me and I was soon composed enough to finish running errands.

I wish that was the end of it. I wish I knew that an episode like that wouldn’t happen again, but it always does. And when it does I feel like giving up or like I’m a crummy mother. But motherhood doesn’t come with the option to quit, so I go on. Sometimes strong and purposefully. Sometimes staggering, blinded by tears.

I love my kids. But like all kids they often do things that frustrate or anger me. Ethan is one sharp little five year old and he has always called me out on everything I do. For him there is a question behind everything I ask of him, and a reprimand for everything I do that I’ve told him not to do.

Then there is Caleb. One of the most loving little boys on the earth. He still snuggles with mom and is always willing to give lots of hugs and kisses. But he is also extremely frustrating at times, in an entirely different way. Caleb has been in speech therapy for over a year now. We still don’t very often understand anything he says beyond a three or four word sentence. His mentality is also not up to par with your average 4 year old. There are certain concepts he simply does not get. Patience and Time for one. He doesn’t understand the concept of later or wait. If you tell him he can have something later he thinks that is a “No” and ends up communicating his disappointment in the best way he knows, crying or whimpering. And when I say crying I mean bawling and throwing himself on the floor and being so loud the neighbors down the hall can hear him. It’s been so difficult for both he and us as parents not being able to understand each other. Our speech therapist actually recommended we take him to a neuropsychologist to get him evaluated for something more serious than a speech delay. And of course that has opened up a whole new realm of worry for me.
I suppose compounding the latest meltdown, was the fact that we have all been sick with nasty coughs and colds. *sigh*

I love my children deeply and I love being able to stay at home with them and be their teacher. But it’s not all roses all the time ya know?
I am driving the car. The flood water is rising. How will I make it through? The rain pounding on the windshield is blinding. Suddenly, a break in the rain brings to view a car, hood smashed right in front of me. I swerve to avoid it. People are surrounding the crash, trying to help the victims get to higher ground. The water is still rising. I’m going to drown.

My eyes spring open, my body jolts upright.

Just a dream. A flurry of dreams. The last one actually better than some of the first. Then I notice it, that tingly warm feeling pulsing through my arms and down into my hands. The muscles in my legs start to spasm very slightly. A feeling of dread and despair begins to seep in.

No, no no no no no no no no no no no NO!!!!!!

I am angry and terrified at the same time. How long has it been? When did the last one come? Why now?
It isn’t fair!! Sleep is suppose to be my one safe haven, a place where my thoughts and body are at peace.

The panic washes over me in waves. One moment I feel calm, the next, my muscles are spasming as I cling desperately to happy thoughts.

Happy ones aren’t working. Must empty my mind completely.

I wake my husband and ask him to please hold me while I fight it. He does. Just his presence is comforting. But it won’t always be there when this happens. I must remember how to get through it on my own. I focus on my breathing. Breathe slowly, calmly.

What if this feeling lasts forever?
Muscles spasm harder.

No, no, it won’t, it will fade. I am fine. I am fine. Everything is okay.

What if it’s not okay? What if I have to increase my medication?
Warmth pulses into my hands. It’s like little jolts of electricity zinging from my brain down to my finger tips.
Every negative thought feeds it.

I am calm, calm, calm, calm, calm. Must be calm. It will fade.

Breathe in……..

Breathe out.

Afraid to sleep again. Don’t want to wake up like this again.

So tired, tired of fighting this thing. But grandma did it. She’s done it her entire life. I will make it through like she has.

Gradually, fear subsides, body relaxes, sleep comes.

When daylight hits, it is only a memory.

I will face it again, and will get through it again with that memory, knowing that I did it before. These attacks may never completely go away, but I will be strong.
I’m speaking Ewokese, I think I’m speaking Ewokese, I really think so

Ah, boys and Star Wars and toy light sabers. I think I’ve finally had enough of ‘em around here. In case you didn’t know, my boys love Star Wars. And they don’t just watch Star Wars anymore. They’ve discovered the joy of pausing their favorite action sequences over and over and over. They’ve discovered the joy of acting out certain movie scenes as they play. Light sabers in hand Ethan and Caleb act out every little detail.

Today, during a scene with the Emperor in Star Wars VI, Caleb mercilessly struck Ethan with imaginary lightning bolts. Ethan spasmed and twitched on the floor.

“Caleb, stop using the force on your brother, he’s gonna hurt himself!” I said.

Anyway, another fun feature they’ve discovered while playing their favorite movies is the subtitle and languages button. I have now heard parts of Star Wars in French, German and Spanish, in addition to seeing subtitles in those same languages. Today they were watching it in English with English subtitles and I happened to turn my head to see my favorite little Ewok, Wicket (played by the talented Warwick Davis, who also stars in another movie I like, Willow). As he said something to a fellow Ewok, a subtitle appeared at the bottom of the screen that read Speaking Ewokese.

Immediately that song by The Vapors popped into my head, “I’m turning Japanese,” changed of course in thought to, “I’m Speaking Ewokese”.

Of course it’s true, I do speak Ewokese. This is evident by my children’s failure to listen to anything I say. They must not understand me. I must be an Ewok, cute and a little bossy, but not a real threat. Oh ho ho, that must change. Hmmm, now there’s the question of how to do it without going over to the dark side of the force…
If you’re a mom, you have more than likely heard the title statement.  And as a mom you’ve made a choice, to either breastfeed/ebf or formula feed. Now granted, I believe breastmilk is the best food for baby. It’s how God engineered feeding to be. He created boobs, not formula, BUT I don’t believe this makes formula a wrong choice.

I entered the mothering world thinking that there was a right choice and a wrong choice in feeding. But that’s just not how it is. Formula may not be quite as nutritionally complete as breastmilk, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad for baby.

When pregnant with my first child I decided I was going to breastfeed. Not because the idea was particularly enticing or that I thought I had too if I wanted a healthy baby. The more compelling reason for me, was that I wanted to fit in. The majority of mothers in my church breastfed their babies, and I had seen just a few give condescending stares to those who did not.

Shortly after my son was born I took him to my breast. The pain that came with his latching on took my breath away. I winced while he fed. Every feeding of that first day was the same. By nightfall I was blistered and too tender to even wear my hospital gown over my chest. A lactation consultant checked his latch and said it was fine. She made sure I wasn’t dealing with inverted nipples. She told me nothing should be causing such blistering and such pain. So I kept going.

I kept going, through 4 bouts of mastitis. I kept going even when thrush came and the sucking was so excruciating I wept for the duration of each feeding. I kept going with blisters on my nipples that wouldn’t heal, even with the help of medicated gel pads.

I felt so confused. Women had told me that breastfeeding done right shouldn’t hurt. Now they were telling me that it hurts for a few weeks but then goes away. So I waited for the pain to end. It never did. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t this working? I felt ragged, physically and emotionally. Just the thought of putting my son to my breast made me cry. Six weeks of breastfeeding and it had only gotten worse. So I quit.

At first I was overwhelmed with guilt, wondering how my baby would turn out on formula. Wondering which of my acquaintances might lose interest in being my friend now that I wasn’t doing the “right” thing.
But the guilt began to subside as I realized I was now enjoying feeding my son. I was bonding with him during bottle feedings better than I ever had simply gritting and crying through the pain of breastfeeding. I realized I wasn’t so irritable anymore, I didn’t cry every single day anymore and I actually felt so much happier.

Seventeen months later our second child came into the world. We were happy to have him of course, but we had conceived him a little earlier than we had anticipated. I was nowhere near ready to give breastfeeding another try so I hand pumped for a week (not as painful) to give new baby some colostrum and then stopped when my milk came in. I might have tried just pumping him milk after that had we been able to afford something other than a cheap hand pump.

Now, even though my first experience with breastfeeding was so painful and I had realized that formula was not a “bad” thing, I still dreamt of being able to successfully breastfeed a child.

My daughter was born a little over 3 months ago. She arrived almost 4 years after my second and I had decided I wanted to do everything I could to make breastfeeding work. This time we were able to afford some additional supplies so I equipped myself.  I bought an electric pump, a boppy, lansinoh, gel pads, nipple shields, anything I thought might give me more of a chance.

The first day she fed, echoed the day of my first child’s birth. Once again the Lactation Consultant couldn’t understand the blistering and pain with such a perfect latch. I guess I just have ultra sensitive skin. She recommended I mostly pump with one or two nursing sessions a day and perhaps I could gradually work my way into full nursing.

It was still excruciating for 4 weeks as I pumped and breastfed. But I think that the pumping and gradually working my way into nursing, was key. By the end of week 4 she was on the breast alone and amazingly by the end of week 5 I was only grimacing slightly at each feeding. Now I wonder that it ever hurt me so bad. I absolutely love nursing! It’s easier than mixing and heating a bottle and it’s free! But I love it most because it’s a miracle. I marvel at this body God has created and that it alone can sustain this precious little life for so many months. If you have the chance to experience the wonder of it, I would encourage it! But don’t burden yourself with guilt if you can’t or if you choose not too. Our personal decisions are just that – personal. We have no idea what motivations are behind others decisions and we should not assume we do. There is no, “one size fits all” standard for motherhood. And we as mothers, most of all, should understand this and treat with kindness and understanding other mothers we meet along the way.