Who am I?

I have been wrestling a lot lately with this very simple question: “Who am I?” 

For the past year and a half with newborn/baby triplets, I have been a survivor and just making it to the next day with healthy, happy babies. Staying sane was my goal and sometimes seemed like an unattainable goal. Now that Shepherd, Lucy, and Oliver are toddlers and especially now that they go to 3 half days of pre-school each week, I have time to really figure out my goals and identity beyond just survival. Do I want to be a teacher again? Do I want to solely focus on being a great stay at home mom? Do I want to be a writer? Do I want to run a marathon? Do I want to focus on ministry and missions? Who am I? 

Everyday recently I get asked 2 questions by friends, family, and strangers. I’m not talking once or twice… I have been asked these at least once a day for 5 weeks.

  1. Are you supermom taking care of triplets!?
  2. What are you doing with all of your free time now that the babies go to school?

For some reason, both of these questions make me feel super defensive. I have laid awake in the middle of the night several times over the last few weeks trying to come up with good answers to these questions. First of all, let’s clear the air, I am NOT a supermom. I am a very tired mom. I struggle with anxiety. I struggle with patience. I struggle with balance and often feel like a failure. All of us are just doing our best one day at a time. If you had triplets, you would figure it out one day at a time too. If you have one baby, and it’s crazy hard, it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t handle 3 babies, it would just be different. I do this whole motherhood of triplets thing with a WHOLE lot of help and a WHOLE lot of mistakes. But as soon as I can explain that I’m a mess and not a superhero, I get that 2nd question… “So, what are you doing with all of your free time now that the babies go to school?”

I’ve been on a journey since May to learn how to take care of myself and to find peace and presence in the chaos. Part of that journey was creating space and time in my life to practice self-care. I’m learning how to say no and how to be still. Those 12 hours each week with the kids at pre-school allow me to eat. They allow me to sit and think and breathe. They allow me to do laundry and go to the grocery store. They allow me space to deal with all the hiccups that come with having three toddlers like going to the doctor, cleaning up our dog peeing everywhere, or just organizing the house. They allow me time to not just survive. I feel so much guilt and so much shame in the fact that this time is free time. I can choose what I do with it, and I feel like I need to itemize every single minute of it to anyone that asks. I go into detail of how I tutor at night and that time allows me to prep for tutoring. It allows me to prep for dinner and to create an online class. I feel this deep need to make sure that people know I’m using my time wisely. I might need to go apologize to some strangers that were just trying to politely make small talk in asking me this question, and I instead went into this monologue about every detail of my Monday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. I feel like if I’ve been given this gift of time, but I have sadly attached strings to that time. Since I do not work a full time job, and since I pay money for my kids to go to pre-school, I better be able prove that I’m using my time wisely. Prove that it’s worth it. Prove that I’m worth it. 

So I am simultaneously trying to convince people that I am far from perfect, but using my time perfectly all at the same time. I’m emotionally exhausted. 

When you meet someone for the first time, one of the first questions they ask is “What do you do?” “Tell me about yourself.” My answer has always been, “I’m a teacher!” For the past year and a half, that answer has been, “I have triplets!” But now I have time to be more than just a mom of triplets. I have time to do things and find myself again. So back to the question…who am I? Who do I want to be?

My revelation is slowly coming from 2 places – first from my husband Derek (the birthplace of most of my revelations) and also from Lauren Daigle. 

First, Derek preached a sermon at our church a few weeks ago about the Holy Spirit and led everyone in an exercise of breath prayer. Click here to check it out.

At the end of the exercise you are standing with Jesus and he is looking you in the eyes and calmly and gently asks, What can I do for you? And I immediately wanted to yell – WHO AM I? Who am I, Jesus? What am I supposed to do with my life? I knew the answer was that I am His. I knew that. But even then I didn’t feel like it was enough. I didn’t feel like I was enough. I felt like well sure, of course I’m yours, but I still need to earn your love and Derek’s love and my kids’ love and my friends’ and parents’ love. I know I’m yours, but what do I need to DO?? Who am I was so intimately tied to what I do. It has always been tied to my grades, my thoughtfulness, my church attendance, my athletic ability, my relationship status, the size of my ministry, the way I care for others…

Then, a couple weeks Lauren Daigle released a new album called “Look Up Child.” The entire album has been on repeat at my house but one song in particular has been really speaking truth over me. In it, she asks the same question: “Remind me who I am!?” And the answer has nothing to do with WHAT she does but WHOSE she is. “You say I am loved…You say I am strong…You say I am held…You say that I am Yours.” That has to be enough. And all I need to do is believe.

Believe that I am loved. Believe that I don’t have to earn love. Believe that my goals and my identity and the answer to the question about my “free” time and all of the million things that need to get done everyday…they aren’t what makes me, ME. I still need to dream big dreams and create and aspire to do and listen to what God calls me, BUT that has nothing to do with who I am. I was so convinced that those things were all tied together. If all I get done in the 4 hours that the kids are at school is to refocus my brain and remind myself that I am loved, it was a successful morning. I don’t have to prove myself. I am enough.

Let me just leave these song lyrics with you and the link to the youtube video:

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough

Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up

Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?

Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing

You say I am strong when I think I am weak

You say I am held when I am falling short

When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours

And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)

What You say of me (I)

I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me

In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity.

You are not the sum of what you DO. You are loved. You are strong. You are a child of the King. You are enough.

El Roi – The God who sees me

I’ve said it before, but I will say it again – Derek Wilson is amazing. I am sitting alone at starbucks on a Saturday morning getting ready for a women’s conference at church while he takes the kids most of the weekend. AND for my birthday, I’m getting another Saturday off duty too!!! He sure loves me and loves our kids. Last night at the conference the question that kept hitting me in the face is “What is your biggest fear?” And the answer that kept running around in my head was “Am I seen? Am I known?” Which seems silly considering most days all SLO want to see is me. They want to see me and touch me and tug on me and have me hold them and yell at me and laugh at me.

All.

Day.

Long.

It’s cute and sweet and they love me so much, but man I am touched out. Beyond that though is this fear that the “me” that I used to be has been forgotten and buried beneath a heavy layer of spit up, then another layer of poop, and then some snot and baby food piled on top. I feel like I may never be “me” again. Or is this the new me? If it is, I’m actually pretty good at it with the help of our amazing village. In fact Derek and I have been compiling a list of weird skills that we have acquired as a triplet parent:
I can pour off exactly 10ml of a bottle every time.

I know exactly how much is left in a bottle in the dark.

I can pull up exactly the right dose of medicine (1.6ml zantac, 1.875ml of motrin, and 3.75ml of tylenol, 5ml of amoxicillin) in one quick pull without looking.

I can remove 3 babies from any room in one try. Let me tell you that this is much harder than it sounds. You have to take the first baby fairly far away and put them in a safe place. Then the second baby can’t go as far because baby #1 will be crawling back to said room and will make it if you take baby #2 to where you left baby #1. Then you have to sprint back and place baby #3 just right outside the door and quickly pull it closed. I have this down to a science.

I know how to ultra baby proof a house and can tell you exactly what SLO will get into upon entering any house that is not ours.

During nap time I can hear the first faint cry and know who it is and if I should go get them or let them figure it out.

I can hold baby #1 while changing a dirty diaper on baby #2 with baby #3 pulling my hair.

I can rock one baby to sleep while feeding 2 others a snack.

I can bottle feed 3 babies at one time.

I can make dinner with 3 babies screaming and pulling on me.

I can change a diaper in the dark at lightning speed.

I can change crib sheets and one baby’s pajamas in the dark without waking up the other 2 babies.

I can split a banana into thirds without a knife. It’s actually pretty amazing and totally not messy.

I can open a door and pull a triplet stroller through it. (Automatic doors should be a thing. Everywhere. Or at least at the doctor’s office.)

I have so many schedules and numbers memorized in my head to keep up with who is taking what and eating what and doing what at any given time.

I can mediate a fight between 3 babies that don’t know how to communicate yet.

I can get 3 babies dressed – 3 shirts, 3 pairs of pants, 6 socks, 6 shoes, 3 coats and load them all in the car in record timing all by myself.

The list goes on…

Being a mom in general requires skills. I mean mad skills. Being a triplet mom well it’s taken a lot of me. And I like this version of me. I really do. I adore my kids, and I love my life. I love that I get to stay at home (see last post). I love that I’m not just surviving but really living and enjoying life even though it’s crazy. BUT I miss me. I will forever wear the badge of Shepherd, Lucy, and Oliver’s mom with pride. I will shout from a mountain top that I go with them because I am so stinking honored and proud and excited to be their mom. But is that me now? Is that all that I am? When I was teaching, day in and day out, a lot of people saw me. In a lot of ways I got immediate appreciation. I of course had some haters, but overall I felt very validated as a teacher.  Now here I am in motherhood, one of the most under-appreciated jobs. My kids do not tell me how great of a job I did changing that 8th dirty diaper of the day. I don’t get told how impressive it was that I only lost my cool once today while three 1 year olds screamed hysterically for hours on end. Sometimes they really do appreciate me with the cutest smiles and hugs – it’s the best. BUT that is rare.

So I was sitting at this conference pondering how I can be seen and known again, and it hit me!!! God sees me. He always sees me. And He KNOWS me. There is a story in Genesis 16 about a woman named Hagar. She was an Egyptian slave of Abram and Sarai (before they were Abraham and Sarah). God had promised Abram that he would be the father of many nations, but Sarai couldn’t get pregnant. She was struggling with infertility (I feel you girl.) So they both decided to take matters into their own hands and use their slave, Hagar, to start this massive new generation. This sounds weird but it wasn’t that weird back in the day. Picture a creepier, more awkward version of fertility clinics. So faithful Hagar does as she is told and gets pregnant with Ishmael. But of course Sarai gets jealous and sends her away and Abram mistreats her and flat out forgets about her especially after Isaac is born. Hagar is forgotten. She was faithful and then just thrown out with the trash. She is a mother that no one saw and no one knew. So one day she is praying to God (verse 13) and He answers. He heard her and knew her. This is the only place in the Bible where God is called El Roi (the God who sees me). Hagar said,  “You are the God who sees me, I have now seen the One who sees me.” God is El Roi. He sees me. This is huge!! God sees me. Even on the days when I feel most alone and most overwhelmed, God sees me. On the days when all I want to do is walk to the mailbox, God sees me. On the days where my body physically aches from holding babies and cleaning. God sees me. On the days when life is just hard, God sees me.

I have always struggled with an approval addiction. I desperately want people to like me. Here is the thing though, If I truly believe that God is who He says He is, then why am I spending all of this time wondering if people see me, when I should be spending time helping others see and know HIM! This has to be a daily, no hourly, prayer. So today, this morning, I pray, God, El Roi, the God who sees me, be the breathe in my lungs. Use me to make your name known.

Thoughts on being a stay at home mom

I have never had just one baby so I don’t know what it’s like to be a stay at home mom with just one child but life with 3 babies is very busy yet monotonous at the same time. I absolutely love that I am able to stay home this year and know 100% that this was the right decision for our family. I love that I get to see the their firsts (roll, crawl, walk, etc.),  and I love that I get so many sweet snuggles and get to know these little ones so well. I know what makes them smile and which toy is their favorite today (it changes everyday). I know the last time they pooped which is sometimes a rarity in our house. I know which foods they are currently liking, and I know exactly how much of their bottles (or lack of bottle as we transition to sippy cups) they take at each feed. I know their schedule so well that I could do it in my sleep, and some days I do. I love that I get to see their different little personalities come alive during the day. I know that Oliver will smile for pretty much anything and wants to be around people. I know that Shepherd may be the smartest because he is usually the first to learn every new thing, but he is also the most sensitive and needs to be held and calmed down the most. I know exactly how to calm each baby down. I know that Lucy is so independent but also needs special attention. She is so calm and quiet that she is often last and could be easily looked over if I give the boys all the attention that they demand each day so I have to be super intentional to give Lucy cuddles and kisses just because. If I wait till she asks for them, she may never get them but she secretly longs for them. I know that I have to watch out for the boys because Lucy will tackle them out of love, but sometimes it really hurts them. So I have to make sure the boys are safe and that Lucy knows it’s ok to play but not to push. I know each of their cries and usually what the cries mean. I know Oliver’s bored cry, Shepherd’s scared cry, and Lucy’s fix this cry. I know all of their hungry cries and their sleepy cries. I know things about them that Derek doesn’t simply because I spend so much more time with them. I know that if I had one baby then it would be easier to see the details in the shorter spans of time with just 1, but with 3, I love that in my full days with them I get to take my time learning about each one individually. If I had 1 baby, then those different cries and personality traits could be heard/seen in the evenings or mornings or weekends, but with 3 babies, that’s at least 9 different cries! I love that I know these details. I love that they sleep and eat amazingly well in a large part because I am at home with them and keep them on this super specific schedule that day care may not be able to do since keeping 3 kids on the exact same schedule is tricky. Feeding 3 babies at once is not usually on a day care workers resume. haha I know which order they need to eat and be put to sleep to make sure that the schedule is smooth and easy for the day. I love that they haven’t been sick much in this first year (knock on wood) because they aren’t exposed to as many germs. The list goes on…

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BUT man I miss working. I miss adult interaction. I miss using my math brain and teacher skills. I miss how every day is so different in teaching and every class is different. I miss the immediate gratification of knowing I just taught a really good lesson. I miss getting to eat lunch with my teacher friends, or really just getting to eat lunch. I miss teaching with Derek. I miss the retreat and school trips. I miss stretching my brain and writing a really good test ( I know…nerd alert). I miss being asked for advice and getting to know my students beyond just how they are at math. I miss talking to them about Jesus and life. I have wanted to be a mom since I was little, but I have also wanted to be a math teacher since 8th grade. I never changed my major or changed my mind. I have seriously always wanted to teach high school math. Teaching to me was a passion and calling and something that brings me a lot of purpose. Being a mom also gives me purpose and joy, but I feel like I had one of my arms cut off. Or maybe part of my brain. I know a lot of it is the lack of sleep talking, and I know that I do still have opportunities to stretch my brain. With three babies though, I am very busy all day moving them from one thing to the next. We rotate like stations to different areas of the house about every 15-30 minutes. We read books in the chair, play with dolls by the rocking chair, race cars around the kitchen island, look out the doggy door, play by the wagon and front window, play in their pretend kitchen, play in the cage with blocks, play with magnets on the fridge, etc. Then about every couple hours we go to the high chairs to eat. And now just once a day they go to their cribs for naps. I am constantly making sure that when they all 3 crawl (or walk) in different directions that they don’t hurt themselves. haha It is a wonderful circus, and I really do enjoy it. It’s not that its hard. In fact, it’s really not bad which people find hard to believe. The hardest part is that I literally do the same thing over and over again and the monotony makes my brain feel like its rotting away some days. I do things to help myself like listening to the news and reading intellectual books. I make Derek have discussions with me at night about anything we can thing of. I text and call former students and love that I still have a ministry with them and get to stay really connected with their lives. But I usually get to do these things in quick 5 minute bursts in between wiping spit up and changing a poopy diaper.

Maybe it’s the lack of nap time lately speaking. I had to wake up at 5am to write this, because in the last few days once they get up I’m on duty until Derek gets home from work. Nonstop. I’m lucky if I get to pee kind of nonstop. Staying at home is hard. It’s a sacrifice, and I am so thankful that I can financially do this. I really am incredibly blessed to watch my babies grow. After infertility we didn’t know if we would ever have babies in our house and we probably won’t ever have them in our house again. So I am soaking up the baby stage but staying at home all day everyday is really harder than I thought it would be. I really do miss my classroom, ministry, math, the creativity of teaching, and good deep intellectually stimulating conversations.

That said, its also really hard on Derek to not be at home. He is constantly sad about missing something and just misses the kids. He asks for videos and pictures all day because he leaves right as they are waking up and comes home right as they are winding down for the night and not near as happy and playful. He misses a lot. Just like I feel as though I am missing an arm because I am not teaching, Derek feels like he is constantly missing an arm because he isn’t with the kids all day. I know that if I was teaching right now that I would feel the same way. Having multiple passions and loving your job makes this whole parenting thing even more tricky. It’s hard to want to be in 2 places at the same time. It brings up a lot of feelings of guilt and makes it hard to be present. I feel guilty that I don’t find all of my fulfillment in this wonderful world of babies that I have longed for and fought for over the past few years. Derek feels guilty that he is missing so many things with the kids. And if we switched rolls we would still feel guilty.

Learning to deal with the guilt and pressure to make the most out of this season that I find myself in is hard, but rewarding. I’m finding peace in things like my morning cup of tea before the babies get up and our evenings together just me and Derek when the kids go to sleep. I find rest in the short breaks in the day when no one is crying and one or all 3 of the babies come and crawl into my lap for a snuggle. I find joy in watching all 3 learn to play together and interact with me. I find comfort in how well adjusted they have become and the way they love me and others. I find intellectual stimulation in this blog and in talking to former students and friends. Thank you for reading this and for being a support to me this year. This blog has provided a wonderful outlet for me to process my emotions but also to just use my brain. I’m grateful when readers ask me questions or further the discussion because it really does bring some adult intellectual interaction to my day that I so desperately need.

So, today on Ash Wednesday, as I look into this season of Lent and what it means to sacrifice and to be left wanting and waiting for more to come. I am reminded that life and motherhood and staying at home and going to work and just the sacrifices that life demands, well they are all worth it. But it takes intentionality to really believe that truth. It takes discipline and more sacrifice to find the time to sit with Jesus and be still so that He can lavish His truth over you. I invite you to walk through this season of Lent with me. Maybe it’s time to give up a luxury to find time to process guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Maybe it’s time to find fulfillment and purpose in something bigger than even family and work. I know this is true for me. Every morning this week I have written out this phrase: “I am safe. I am loved. May your presence go with me and give me rest.” I pray the same over you today. May you find safety and love not in the fulfillment of work or family but in knowing that Jesus will give you rest.