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Poop Particles

Now serving poop particles with a side of guilt at the Ramos house. That's right I said it. Poop particles. If you know me, you know I'm a bit of a clean freak and a bigger bit of a germaphobe. And I have four young children. The poop particles were bound to find me.

Possible poop particle spreader. Suspect #4

I'm pretty sure I inherited the neat and clean freak part of me from my mother. Maybe both of my parents, actually. My dad is a business owner and has plenty of important things to do, and yet he took it upon himself to break out a label maker and label every shelf in the communal office kitchen. For some of us, if our surroundings are a jumbled mess, our brain is a jumbled mess. I workout in our playroom and put stuff away while holding my plank or doing high knees around the house. I can't focus until (almost) everything is in its place.

I've taught my girls from a young age to clean up after themselves. My oldest is just like me and often ends up cleaning up after her sisters or friends because she can't play in a mess. One of her first words was actually "away" and she'd go around putting her toys "away, away, away." She'd also go behind Papá closing cabinets and drawers he'd leave open and correcting him if he misplaced a toy or kitchen utensil. He couldn't believe he had to deal with two of me. Now actually there are three of me. My two-year-old won't get out of the shower until each toy is in its correct place. She'll be shivering because I shut the water off to get her out, but she won't stop til every last toy plate and foamie letter is in its rightful place. "Away, away, away..." Apparently neat-freakness is innate.

My two “away, away, away” girls with my energy

The germ freak in me came about when my first two kids were always sick. I don't mean a cold they play through, I mean on round five of antibiotics in 6 months for sinusitis in a two year old and RSV that hospitalized my 2 month old baby. It's never "just a cold" in this house. It's double ear infections, full on netty pot water in one nostril and out the other 3x day for my poor second grader, cold and allergy induced asthma in my kindergartner, and cough spasms in a toddler that make her vomit and have us sitting in a steamy bathroom at 4am. So yeah, if watching my girls suffer makes me a germaphobe, I'm a germaphobe. Don't worry they're not missing out on being kids. They're just washing their hands more than you. I let them play in a giant pile of leaves at the playground, didn't I? It's all fun and games until I have to clean crumbled leaves out of a toddlers sweaty little diaper crack cause she keeps reaching in there.

So it's a big step for me to put my two-year-old in pre-school, and I seriously debated taking her out after she brought RSV home to the baby and stayed up night after night cough-gagging, sitting with me at 4am on the steamy bathroom floor. I know, I know, they have to build up their immunity with illness. I'd just like them to build it up when they're a little older and can tell me the vomit is coming.

So when I found out the other week my supposed return of gastritis was actually a very cool sounding, but disgusting, astrovirus infection I felt nauseated all over again. Obviously I googled the thing as soon as I left the doctor and the "astro" part is because it looks like a star under a microscope. Ok, that's kinda cool. And then I got to the tramsmissiom part, "fecal-oral." 😳🤢🤮. Poop particles 💩. In. My. Mouth. A germaphobes worst nightmare.

I felt myself going down the Friday after Thanksgiving when I couldn't get through a light strength workout because I was exhausted and my head was pounding. In the evening I had to wear my oh so attractive fluffy mumu from when I was very pregnant on top of my fleece pjs and I still felt cold and dead inside. Then the nausea and fatigue kicked in and I was not myself. I slept a ton, barely ate, and had zero energy to do life. My friends instantly knew something was wrong the second they saw me at pick up or at one of my girl's activities. When I'm ill (which is probably once a year, or when I'm pregnant), I'm a shell of a person. At my normal I'm a multi-tasker who works out 6x week and has boundless energy until I finally sit down after 8p when I collapse on the couch. So when I'm sick and can barely manage to get out of bed, I quickly sink into a deep depression. I'm dripping with guilt because I feel like I'm abandoning my children. I cannot muster the energy to make them breakfast or even just sit and play.

Moms never get to be sick. The kids still have to eat. They still have to get to and from school and some activities. My family and my husband's family are a long plane flight away, but we do have full-time help. Full disclosure- I can only be me and have four kids ages 7 and under with full time help! My husband often travels for weeks at a time and I simply could not do what I do well without someone helping me run this house. I have absolutely no shame in saying that. I often get asked, "How do you do it all with four?" I very clearly tell them, "I don't! I don't know how the other mothers of multiples do it, but I certainly struggled and was not my best self, or the best mom, before I had help." Once you get into multiples something has got to give whether it be your gourmet cooking, the cleanliness of your home, or those cute packed lunches.

However, no one can take care of the kids like mom and no one can substitute for mom. I smother my kids so when I back off they go into withdrawals. It's my own fault. It's why my three Mexican born, half Mexican children prefer English and aren't fluent in Spanish. They were just always with me. So even though my husband or hired help can take care of their basic needs, the girls will still sneak into my room and wake me up just to say hi or bring me cards.

Elena, the sweet, quiet child who must have come from Papá

I HATE being sick. I hate not feeling like myself. I hate not having my energy or being able to take care of my kids. It's my job right now as a stay at home mom in this season and I put all of my being into it. I screw up hourly, but I ask for forgiveness and I'm constantly seeking God to be a better mother and wife, even a better human. Still, I fall back into my old ways of yelling and condescending my own children or husband. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but yes, I can say awful mean things to those I love most. When I'm a bad example, I see that they mimic my awful behavior towards each other. They raise their voices, they use harsh tones, and they react in anger. Just. Like. Me. I am a constant work in progress. We all get tired and slip up, and we forget to go back to our source of strength.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11: 28-30

Even when we can't rest in the typical sense of the word. Even when we have to power through illness. Even when we feel like we just can't do life today. There is rest for the weary. There is a source of strength when you're on empty. We were not meant to do this life alone. God places friends and family in our lives so we can help each other through the worst and cheer each other on at our best.

After a particularly awful day in a funk that I could not drag myself out of, a close friend called me literally as I was texting her my troubles. Real friends still make phone calls! And she reminded me that I'm in a rough season with the ages of my girls and to pray through it all. She validated my feelings, talked me off the ledge, and offered me practical advice and genuine help to lighten my everyday load. God places people in our lives at the perfect place and time. After our conversation she sent me this verse from 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

My weakest hour is a chance for God to shine. It's certainly easier to give up and give in, but by whispering a simple, "God I need you. Help me please. Give me strength." I allow His strength to pick me up and push me through the darkness. Something I could never do in my own strength. For when I am weak, I am made strong by calling on God for His supernatural strength to pull me through.

My friend calling was not by chance. God orchestrated it and used her to tell me exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right moment. I was mid text spilling out my heart to her when her name popped up on the screen as an incoming call. I all but laughed out loud at the timing and fully recognized He was providing me the support I needed in that moment.

First and foremost though I need to go to God in prayer to release my worries and burdens, to get perspective, and to let go of the things I cannot control. This is a daily prayer, a daily struggle and not a one and done kind of thing. No one changes overnight. I have to choose to be my best self every day. We all get lost every now and then, but it's how you make your comeback that really speaks of your character. I'm coming back with long, lingering hugs and quality time baking with my girls, because that's their absolute favorite thing to do with me. What's your comeback?

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