I’ve done and seen quite a bit in my life. Nothing excessively crazy, but still more than I ever thought I would. I’ve climbed the Stairway to Heaven, jumped off La'ie Point, swam near enormous sea turtles. I’ve hugged Ben Gibbard and met Jesse Lacey (music lovers of the late 00‘s will appreciate that). I’ve installed, sanded and stained hardwood floors. I drove a scooter as my mode of transportation in the snowy Utah winter. I sat and marveled in the greatness of the Parthenon. I hitchhiked across Greece to get to Athens (and ended up in a VW van with two chaps from London who were 65, unhitched, and just traveling from country to country, living in their van....Sorry, Dad!). I slept on cardboard outside the Milan train station and had to yank my cardboard away from a homeless guy trying to steal it from us (again, sorry, Dad!). I’ve witnessed streets full of angry protesters in Belgium going on strike (we stayed home that day). I’ve ordered an eclair in French to a Frenchman. I rode on a Vespa through Tuscany. I drove through Cinque Terre. I sat on the black rocked beaches of Nice. I watched the fountain show in Barcelona (set to the song “Barcelona” by Queen). I slept on couches, floors, and rooms of people I’d met only via couchsurfing (I love you guys!). I somberly walked the straight rows between the barracks in Auschwitz and stood in the gas chambers. I walked through Anne Frank’s secret room and saw one of her diaries in person. I reveled inside the great history that lies in the Colosseum. I met and fell in love with a family in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy who we’ve dubbed as our surrogate Italian family (they made Lance and me an amazing farewell dinner...which included pig hooves). I’ve walked through ruins of a Roman Bathhouse (which apparently are a dime a dozen in Europe so touching and walking through them are not a big deal) and touched the mosaics of their floors . I climbed the full 607 steps to the highest point tourists are allowed to go on the Eiffel Tower and soaked in the incredible beauty, landscape and architecture the layout of Paris offered. I’ve sat on the beaches of France, Italy, Sardinia, Spain, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. I backpacked through Europe for almost a month and wore the same 3 shirts and 1 pair of pants and only washed them once (in someone’s shower, mind you), and did so on a budget of $400. I clicked my heels like Julie Andrews/Maria did on the street in front of Captain Von Trapp’s house in Salzburg and ate a crisp apple strudel (if you watch that youtube clip, don't mind the Family Guy reference. It was the only clip I could find of the original song!). I walked through Mars Hill where Paul the Apostle walked. I had to take a friend to the hospital in the Netherlands and neither of us spoke Dutch. I smelled French milled soap and fresh-picked lavender at an open-air market in France. I broke into an abandoned waterfront Hotel in Belgium who’s glory days were in the 1940’s (and took home old rusted room keys I found). I’ve seen Gaudi’s incredible architecture in person. My running route for three months took me past the EU and Jubelpark. I’ve eaten many-a gaufre and frites in the Grand Place in Brussels. I conceptualized and executed the life of a successful European restaurant and have never compromised my morals or values to have that. I earned my degree in English Literature with a minor in creative writing from Utah Valley University.
I think I could write pages and pages of interesting and cool things I’ve seen and done, so I will stop there.
One might read even a few of those things and think that I’ve lived a full life so far, or that I should feel accomplished and fulfilled. The truth is that all of these things were cool, things I could cross off my bucket list, some things were things I’d dreamt my whole life of seeing (Rome, the Parthenon, Auschwitz) - but these things were never something that made me feel real joy or happiness.
I didn’t know what real joy was until I was blessed to be a mother.
Baby Scout grew in my belly and I continued to do the things I loved, mostly running my little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, around the clock. She grew quietly and easily for 34 weeks. One sleepy Monday morning when I was lying in bed, chatting with Lance (husband) about the day’s to-dos, my water broke and we rushed to the hospital. Baby girl was two days shy of 34 weeks, so the hospital put me on bed rest and strapped me to what felt like 20 different monitors. Two days later, my perfect 4 lbs angel was born and rushed to the ICU after 30 seconds of holding her. My amazing and wonderful parents rushed through the night to get to Utah from Texas, and my equally wonderful in-laws ran around getting last-minute things together for me and baby. I had sweet visitors drop in and my siblings came by to give me support. For almost three whole weeks I made the (incredible) American Fork NICU my home and made friends with my wonderful NICU nurses (if anyone is seeking an amazing hospital to go to for your pregnancy/pediatrician, I highly suggest using the American Fork hospital and the lovely Dr. Weipert). I literally slept in the hospital lounge and only left to shower. I wasn’t really allowed to hold Scout while she was in the NICU. Only every few hours to attempt nursing, which usually only lasted about 25 minutes and then I had to surrender her to her holding station. Most of the time I sat in a rocker and would just watch her breathe. Luckily, the biggest reason she was in the NICU was because she wouldn’t eat on her own. It was torture seeing this tiny body, smaller than my forearm, with a feeding tube in her nose, strapped to machines, never moving. All I wanted to do was to take her home and hold her, snuggle her, smell her. Finally, after three tiring weeks, Scout was discharged and we took her home. I’ve never felt so much relief and bliss in my entire life.
My life hasn’t been the same since.
I’ve been peed on, spit up on, pooped on, cried on. I’ve not slept a full night in almost a year (and naps? Forget it). I was one of those people who if they didn’t have 8 full hours of sleep they cant fully function. That literally immediately changed about me and I was happy (?!) to do it. I discovered motherhood wasn’t all lullabies and sweet snuggles. It was, in fact, quite the opposite. It was challenging and difficult. There was a time where Scout was acting like she had colic for about 2 months and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She wasn’t having regular bowel movements due to her premature body and I had to figure out how to solve that properly. I was tired and felt overweight because my body had stretched out so much during my pregnancy - but I was too tired to even look at the jogging stroller. Going places was a journey and had to be planned out carefully...which I found out the hard way once. I left her bottle AND wipes AND change of clothes at home. I went to Salt Lake City to run an errand and she was starving WHILE having an enormous blowout. I don’t recall how I managed to solve this disaster but I do remember feeling that the two of us were a little traumatized by the experience.
All of that being said, when I think of Scout, I don’t think of how hard it is. I don’t think about how I’m sleep deprived and overweight and don’t do the things I used to love. I really don’t. I think about my heart and how full it is. I never ever thought I’d love anything or anyone THIS MUCH. I feel like it is near impossible to describe how much I love this tiny being. It’s a kind of love I’ve never experienced. It’s so full and all encompassing.
Scout has brought so much in my life. I remember one time when she was about a month and a half, I was holding her and just watching her look around. Her eyes focused in the direction of the ceiling and she reached her hand up and giggled! Her first giggle! And I luckily happened to catch the moment on camera. I am convinced she could see her future siblings and guardian angels in this moment. I remember tearing up and laughing at the same time because it was so sweet and tender and heavenly all at once.
Scout has always been so sweet since even in my belly. She was calm and peaceful and she’s still that way. She’s literally a piece of Heaven living and breathing in my home and in my life. How did I get this lucky? How was I blessed with something so pure and so innocent and so rewarding? Scout brings daily happiness to me. When I’ve had a difficult day at work, she’s the only thing that can turn things completely around. Anyone who’s met Scout knows that she’s got a funny little personality and is living up to her namesake. She’s spunky and sassy and sweet and intense. To me, Scout is a living DREAM baby who only cries when she needs something and is only a little fussy when she’s teething or sick, and laughs and smiles all the time.
Even though I’ve literally traveled the world, met interesting people, have been on TV, and own a successful business, I can say all of those put together pale in comparison to what being a mother has done for me, how it’s changed me. During my travels and adventures, I’ve learned how to be scrappy, professional, savvy, (more) independent, and how to be respected in a Man’s World - but none of that means anything for me long-term or eternally. Being a mother has made me softer, more capable of love, more Christlike. I’ve learned the lesson of how to be 100% selfless. I’ve learned to understand what real JOY feels and looks like. I would literally give my life up for Scout with out hesitation if the time came. To me, that’s what life is about.
I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood and what it means for me, for my future, aside from being blessed and trusted with raising this perfect little human. Usually I am at a loss for words on how to describe how it’s changed me, but I continue to come back to the word JOY. Thinking of my future, I can think with assurance that I get to live that joy every day - no matter how difficult or tiring it may be. Knowing this joy ignights creativity and ambition in me. It encourages a level of compassion I’ve never known or experienced before (I tear up at huggies commercials...). My entire life I’ve dedicated most of what I’ve done/did to being a better person and finding ways to do that. As a 12 year old I studied Chicken Soup for the Soul, my scriptures, uplifting thoughts, and would write fervently about my thoughts on other people’s thoughts and experiences and how I could apply those lessons to me, and I continued on that search the rest of my adolescent life and early 20’s. I have over a dozen thick journals with only quotes and thoughts that I’ve collected over the years. My wonderful and incredibly insightful uncle frequently sends me “thought of the day” emails and I’ve always devoured them like I was starving. It was only recently that I realized I WAS, in fact, starving for finding that real joy and fulfillment. It’s only within this last 11 months of my life that I’ve felt fulfilled and satisfied, and it’s all come from the calling of motherhood.
Thank you for reading my novel about motherhood (that will never do justice how I feel about the topic). I’d love to hear your thoughts. I have many wonderful, amazing moms who are contributing to the prompt “What Motherhood Means To You”, which I will be posting throughout the rest of April. If your submission is chosen to be posted on the blog, I’m giving out $15 gift cards to The Awful Waffle - A small token of my appreciation to all moms and the goodness they’re doing in the world. Send your entry to theawfulwaffleshop @ gmail . com
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I shamelessly over-gram my love, Baby Scout.
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