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Settling Into Holidays As A Young Family

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Settling Into Holidays As A Young Family

This Christmas will be mine and my husbands third married Christmas together. Looking back, our Christmases couldn’t be more different. We had our first married Christmas. A year later, we had our first Christmas with a baby all the while closing on and renovating our first house. This year we are settled in our home, most of the big renovations are finished and we have a busy one-year-old roaming around.

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STAGES – I Thought I Loved You Then

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Here is the latest installment in the STAGES series. I know you’ll enjoy this one by Tori Ten Hagen who is an EPFH contributor. Get to know a little about Tori here. You can find more of her stories over at her personal blog.

Multiple times since Owen was born I’ve gone back and looked at all of the pictures from his birthday. Walking laps at the hospital, laboring in the labor and delivery room, seeing his face for the first time. So many memories. One of the first pictures taken on that day was this one.


Every time I look back at that picture I think, “I just thought it hurt then…”

I thought those contractions that started at 4 in the morning hurt. Then when they got worse at 8am and we went to the hospital, I thought they were bad. Then at 11am as I walked the halls trying to progress labor further along I thought they couldn’t get worse. You get the point. The contractions didn’t get easier. They only got worse. 4am Tori, had no idea what was really coming.

Then, we got to bring our bundle of joy home. In pain, exhausted and without the rule book on what to do next everything seemed monumental and overwhelming. Post-partum hormones had me an emotional mess.  We had a newborn and sleep was no longer happening in 8-hour stretches. I was nursing every 2-3 hours around the clock. I couldn’t just get up and go shop around Target whenever I wanted. I was embarrassed to admit it, and still kind of am, but I struggled with feeling a complete loss of freedom. Life had to be planned around nursing and naps. I couldn’t just think about myself anymore. I had another precious life to take care of. “Me” was no longer the most important thing. I cried to my husband and mom multiple times in those first few months…this is hard.


Now I look back at all of that and see my zombie hormone-crazy self and think, “I just thought it was hard then…”

See, being a mommy hasn’t gotten any easier. The post-partum hormones have packed their bags [thank goodness!] and I’ve found my mommy routine a little easier, but this mom gig is hard. The hard things about being a mommy have changed, even over 9 months. Some things have gotten much easier and some aren’t even struggles anymore. But as those melt away new struggles and new mommy learning curves appear right on cue.

Now, before you go thinking I’m a terrible, pessimistic, cranky mom let me explain…

I also look back at the first day I held Owen in my arms. I look back at those pictures and remember the feelings I felt on that day. It was love so deep and so strong that I didn’t think more love for my son was possible. The first night we had Owen I honestly slept about 30 minutes, and not because Owen wasn’t sleeping. I sat in our hospital room and held my sleeping son and I just couldn’t make myself sleep. I didn’t want to put him down. I tried laying him down once or twice but it lasted all of a few minutes before I picked him up again. I didn’t want to stop staring at him. I couldn’t have been more in love with my son.

IMG_4408 But now after almost 9 months of getting to be Owen’s mom I look back at that night and I think, “I just thought I couldn’t love you anymore…”

I have woken up each morning since Owen’s birthday and I have gone to sleep each night and somehow managed to love my boy more. Don’t ask me how it is possible but it is. Somehow I think even after he’s off at college and one-day married and having his own kids, I’ll still be loving him more and more.

Being a mom has been and will continue to be one of the hardest things I will do. Being a mom takes up most, if not all, of my brain power on most days. When I took on the role of mommy a lot of hard and a lot of hurt came with it. And now as an adult looking back at my childhood and the things my parents put up with and went through for us kids, I know that the hard times and the hurt of parenting doesn’t really go away. Parenting is filled with hard life stuff. It is filled with snotty noses, poopy diapers and spilled milk. It is filled with toddler tantrums and teenage hormones. It involves kissing scraped knees and helping heal broken hearts. Being a mom isn’t easy and I don’t think it’s getting any easier.

But that is okay… because I love my boy more than that stuff. I will wipe snotty noses. [Seriously, I’m writing this after a day and a half with no shower and my son’s snot on my t-shirt] I will prepare myself for the tantrums to come and the teenage meltdowns in my future. I will do all of the hard stuff that comes with being Owen’s mom because I love him too much not to. When I get in bed at night exhausted beyond belief and look over at the baby monitor and see my boy sleeping I don’t remember the hard of that day. My heart aches with love for my son. Some nights I feel like that same Tori sitting in the hospital room holding her son for the first time, and all I want to do is go get him from his crib and rock him while he sleeps.

The hurt is real. The hard stuff is real. But gosh the love…the love is so real. The love doesn’t make the hard go away but it makes it worth it. The love doesn’t make the pains of being a parent hurt less but it makes them worth it.

When Owen is grown and has kids of his own I’ll look back at these years of raising my boy and I’m pretty sure the love will outweigh all the hard. I’m sure I’ll willingly tell him about all of the times he was a toot of a toddler and a punk of a teenager. I’ll tell him about all of the times he made me want to pull my hair out and nearly gave me a heart attack. But after all of that I’ll tell him I love him and I always will…


Other posts in the Stages series:
Stages – Introduction

Grace and Social Media

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Tori OwenI know I’m not thirty years into the mom thing. I’m new at it and some of you may read this and think I’m naive and dumb but I’m writing it nonetheless. It’s too heavy on my heart not to write. Maybe this is harder to put into practice than I am making it out to be and I guess if I’m totally off-base you can come back later and say I told you so…

The last few days in social media have left me with a heavy heart. If you haven’t seen all of news articles, Facebook posts, and tweets about the Duggar family and their oldest son yet, I’m impressed you’ve made it this long. Congratulations on staying out of the social media craziness…I wish I had missed this one.

I first read about all of this yesterday and didn’t think much of it at the time because the news articles were so new and not from sources I trusted. As the day went on more and more was posted and the day ended with my laying in bed reading about it all. The more I read, the heavier my heart grew.

I’m not writing this post to tell you my thoughts on the Duggar news. I’m not writing this post to judge them or tell you what I think they should or shouldn’t have done. I don’t know their full story and I won’t pretend to.

I’m writing this post because as I laid in bed last night all I could think about was how I wanted to protect my son from all of this.

As I read the back and forth on multiple social media fronts last night I couldn’t get past how many people were being so judgmental. How in the world could we really be so quick to judge when we don’t even know the truth from the lies? We are trusting fickle and biased Facebook and Twitter to tell us what someone did over a decade ago and in turn feel it is our right to pass judgement.

I can’t be okay with that. And I don’t want

my child to be okay with that either.

I want to teach my son to love others. I want to teach him to err on the side of grace. It saddens me to realize how much more prevalent all of this will probably be as Owen grows up. We have a front row seat to every single misstep and conflict in our society today and I can only imagine that none of that will change as the years go on. When Owen is faced with all of that and has to make a decision to pass judgment or extend grace I pray that he chooses the latter.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that I must teach Owen to know right from wrong, and to protect himself from the evil of our world. However, I want him to know the balance. I’m not asking him to be best friends with people that will lead him in the wrong direction. Exactly the opposite. I will always try to steer him away from those people and situations that could land him in a dangerous situation. But, how many times did Jesus extend love and offer kindness to the sinners he encountered? Over and over and over. He loved people that I would have had a hard time not judging. He sat and talked and had dinner with people that I would not have wanted to have been in the same room with. He loved people that were uncomfortable to love.

Our world is full of darkness and sin but Jesus came and died on the cross so that all of this would be redeemed one day. Until that day, I pray that my husband, my son, and myself choose to remember that by offering grace and love.

Plain and simple. I’m a sinner, you’re a sinner, the Duggars are sinners and Jesus came to save us all. I am called to love you, Jesus will handle the judgment part. I am so thankful for that.


(Tori is a regular contributor to this blog. Find out more about her here.)

The Brave Mom – By Tori Ten Hagen

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This amazing wife, mom and writer happens to be my daughter. I just had to brag. It’s what a mama does. She originally posted this on her blog but gave me permission to share here as well.

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Running On Empty

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8:20am and I’m sitting in bed barely able to keep my eyes open as I feed my kiddo. See…we’ve hit a 4 month sleep regression wall BIG time, at least that’s what Google tells me. Call it what you may but we’re not getting much sleep around here and this momma is fighting to climb over the wall. Tears, tossing and turning and waking every few minutes have been my life the last two weeks and last night I decided it was time to put on my gear and conquer this. I rocked little man back to sleep a million times, each time laying him back down in his bed knowing he’d be up again in a few minutes to an hour. Spent all night reading up and racking my brain for every way possible to help my baby sleep.

Talk about running on empty…

But I did it and I’ll do it again and again, because MY sleep is no longer the most important thing to me. My baby’s sleep and his ability to be a good sleeper as he grows up has trumped every bit of rest I may get for who knows how long.

Little man is almost 5 months old and in that 5 months I have spent more time “tired and empty” in a physical sense than ever before. Lack of sleep. Constant worry and guilt that I’m screwing this whole thing up. A nagging fear just wanting to make sure that my kid is safe and healthy and that I’m doing everything right to protect him.

But here’s the thing…these days empty for me means my baby is full and taken care of. My husband and I…we’re parenting and not giving up on the hard stuff. We’re loving our kid even when sometimes that means tough love. We have years and years ahead of us of hard parenting decisions and tough stuff but we will do it because we love our kid more than “easy”. And even though that drains me, it fills me. I’m emptying myself to invest in and fill my son’s. That’s worth it.

I feel exhausted and can’t think straight a lot these days – “empty”. But my kid is safe. Somewhere deep down (some days much deeper than others) I know I’m not totally screwing this up. My kid is happy and he couldn’t care one lick about the mom guilt I feel. He’s got a big beautiful smile to prove it. My kid is thriving and we’re raising him to be a good, godly, balanced young man, even at 5 months old…or at least trying to.


Today I will roll my tired, running on empty self out of bed. Pour myself a HUGE cup of coffee (that I will have to heat up 12 times before its gone) and invest everything I have into my kid’s life. Before I know it he’ll be doing the same for his kids and I’ll be getting all the sleep I want. I want to know I gave him everything I could of me while he was still little.

I’m empty in the best of ways these days and seeing my son grow before my eyes is more than enough to show me I’m investing into one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given. And honestly, that is one of the most fulfilling things I get to do.

Keep it up tired mommas. We’re doing just fine.


“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” Proverbs 29:17

…see even the bible says we will get sleep again eventually.