when weakness becomes strength


kiss wesley

wesley farm

wes on train

train farm

sawyer kissingFor those who asked, my jacket can be found here. And the Hunter boots, here.

mom and boys

hand holding

feeding buffalo wyoming

feeding bison


bison wyoming

buffalo train tracks

buffalo at sunset


Yes friends, that is a jackalope. I can cross that off my bucket list.

cowboy sawyer
We had one non-sick day while we were in Wyoming.  So we made the most of it by giving the boys an authentic WY experience. We headed out to Terry Bison Ranch where we visited farm animals and took a quick train ride out to see a couple dozen buffalo.  Well, they called it a train but it was more of a bungalow on wheels that jarringly drove us out to the middle of a field filled with bison (which apparently is another word for buffalo–Wyomingites know these things).  We were able to open our windows and feed them from our hands.  I must admit, it was a pretty neat experience. The scenery was stunning and the size and beauty of the buffalo was truly majestic. It was just the distraction we needed.

Last week was certainly a trial of patience for Ben and me–with an ultra sick 1 year old and a 4 year old who wasn’t understanding why a majority of the attention had been diverted to his little brother. In addition, when Sawyer is upset, Wesley falls apart.  He becomes overwhelmed with anxiety any time Sawyer is melancholy.

Take, for example, our trip to see Santa today.  Blood curdling screams could be heard throughout the entire shopping center the moment I set Sawyer on Santa’s lap.  He wasn’t having it. Within seconds, Wesley had backed himself into the corner and I could see the frustration mounting.  Before I could stop him, he had pushed over a miniature Christmas tree and was crying for us to leave.  Sweating, I drug both screaming boys out of Santa’s cottage, one under each arm, without a photo to prove our 2013 visit to good ol’ St. Nick.

I have a favorite scripture that talks about how our Heavenly Father gives us weaknesses on purpose. And how it is our job in this life to learn how to turn those weaknesses into strengths.  I love this idea. And I believe it.

Parenting, especially, has given me faith in this truth. As a mother, I know it will be my job to see the strengths in what the world perceives to be my children’s weaknesses. I feel like it has become taboo this day and age to admit that our children are anything short of perfect.  And while I certainly do not feel that we should give our children a self fulfilling prophecy of mediocrity or break down their self esteem, I also believe that we are giving them little room to grow if we convince them that they’re already flawless–that they have no journey of progress to embark on.  Weaknesses are opportunities. Weaknesses teach us compassion.  And compassion is how we connect with one another.  Weaknesses can only hold us back only if we let them.

I digress on this tangent because today’s Santa-meltdown reminded me of how important it is that I handle these outbursts with patience and grace.  It reminded me that while managing his expectations and emotions can be taxing, it has also proven to be the most rewarding part of my parenting journey.  Wesley’s extreme expression of emotion is both the greatest trial and greatest blessing to our family. We never have to guess how he is feeling. Because he always shows us, immediately–as he is feeling the emotion.

When Wes is frustrated or tired or disappointed or not feeling well, he doesn’t sit well with these negative emotions–he expresses them, immediately.  Sometimes that comes in the form of a meltdown, sometimes he becomes physical, sometimes he cries and cries, shutting out any outside input. These are the moments in motherhood when I feel the most tested. When I must exercise the most patience. And I don’t always succeed. Just as he is learning to control his emotions, I am learning to respond to his outbursts with the same sense of “calm” I hope for him to emulate.

When Wes is feeling happy, grateful, loved and excited, he doesn’t sit with these emotions either–he expresses them, immediately.   This means that we can be in the middle of a game of Candy Land and out of nowhere he will set down his blue gingerbread game piece, walk over to me, put his hands on my cheeks and with his nose only inches from mine he’ll look into my eyes and say,

Wes: I love you Mommy.
Me: I love you too Wes.
Wes: I know. And you’re my best friend.
Me: Well, you’re my best friend too. Forever and ever.

And then he gives me a big kiss right on the lips before returning to our  board game as if such an outward display of love and admiration hadn’t just taken place.

Or sometimes it happens when we’re at the park.  Everything is normal. He swings in the swings. Plays in the sandbox. Runs through the grass. Goes down the slide.  But then, again out of nowhere his face becomes overwhelmed with his dimpled smile.  He runs over to a toddling Sawyer, pulls him in for a hug and kisses him on the head. In the next moment his arms are wrapped around my waist and and he’s looking up at me with that same dimpled smile.

Wes: I’m happy Momma.
Me: I’m happy too babe. YOU make me happy.
Wes: I know.

He does know.
And that’s my greatest reward.

I’ll take a tantrum any day, so long as this boy keeps feeling love with his whole heart.
That right there…evidence of weakness becoming strength–for both momma and son.

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  • Reply
    Katie Schuchter
    December 5, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    I am from Cheyenne and we took my boys there this summer. We had a blast. Our train driver let us know to not let the kids fall out of the train car half-way through the bag of treats. I unfortunately forgot my camera.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    This is why I follow your blog this is written so perfectly. Children are our greatest of blessings and at the same time being a mother is one of the toughest jobs we’ll ever have. We are so critical of ourselves. I’m sure that when you went to see Santa and it did not go as planned it must have very frustrating for all of you. You could have came home and wrote a vented post about what a hard time it was trying to do something that’s such a tradition for most, but you didn’t. Instead you wrote these beautiful words- which will be amazing for your boys to come back to some day showing them why you’re such an amazing and inspirational mommy. Thank you for reminding me why we as mothers have to always be patient, understanding, and calm- I really needed to read this this morning. You go mama!!

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Beautifully said. As a mom I need to remind myself of patience. Before Sophie, I was probably one of the most patience people in the world. Ok, maybe not the world, but you know what I mean. I find myself getting frustrated a lot and I feel bad for her because all I’m trying to do is get things done around the house and all she wants is for me to sit and spend time with her. All that being said, I wouldn’t trade motherhood for anything. It’s those little moments that make being a mother the greatest gift in the world.

  • Reply
    Rachel Hall
    December 5, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    I’m fairly new to your blog, but thanks so much for sharing this! I totally needed this today, as I happen to have an 18 month old that is just like this. Very extreme with his emotions since day one, and it is difficult to take him to places like story time at the library without him having a complete meltdown in the beginning. Thank you for reminding me that these weaknesses can become strengths, and that it’s my job to set the example of patience and reacting calmly in these situations. I absolutely love your blog!

  • Reply
    Katie Van Brunt
    December 5, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Beautifully said! I, too, experience these highs and lows of emotional moments in motherhood. Just last night, Emmalyn (now 3) threw a huge 20+ minute tantrum over pulling up her own underwear. I could have easily pulled them up for her and silenced the tantrum, but in my opinion, my role as a mother is to help my child grow and encourage them to push through tribulations. My patience paid off because she (and I) made it through. Then there are the magical times where she crawls onto my lap, gives me a kiss out of nowhere and says, “I’ll take care of you mommy. I love you.” What tantrum, right?!

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Ashley, Wesley sounds so much like my 4-year old Emma. She can be so sweet one moment and then have a total outburst the next… She’s very loud and dramatic, but so tender-hearted. Sometimes I feel like I’m to blame for her reactions, but she’s just an open book and not afraid to show her emotions. @joyprouty posted this reminder on IG the other day that really hit home for me: Hope you have a blessed week!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 1:38 am

    I also believe that we are giving them little room to grow if we convince them that they’re already flawless–that they have no journey of progress to embark on. Weaknesses are opportunities. Weaknesses teach us compassion. And compassion is how we connect with one another. Weaknesses can only hold us back only if we let them

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 2:49 am

    You made me cry! I love that Wes boy

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 5:12 am

    beautiful. i’m a new momma and have so much to learn. i honestly believe reading your sweet, inspirational posts like this will help me on my momma way 🙂 thank you. xo.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 5:12 am

    What verse is that ? 🙂

    • Reply
      amy @amy+mayd
      December 6, 2013 at 5:56 am

      I’d love to know the reference too if you have a chance Ashley…. thanks for the beautiful post. Love the reminders, my oldest is an open book also. Love the reminder of perspective. thank you.

    • Reply
      December 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      I would love to know the verse reference too. This post is so beautifully written.

    • Reply
      December 8, 2013 at 1:59 am

      I know that verse, it’s my favorite. It’s Ether 12:27 in the Book of Mormon:

      “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

    • Reply
      December 8, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Ironically… just came across these in my devotion today:

      2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT “I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses.”

      2 Corinthians 12:7 The Message “So I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations.”

      2 Corinthians 12:10 LB “I am quite happy about [my weakness]… for when I am weak, then I am strong – the less I have, the more I depend on him.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Another beautifully expressed post, Ashley.
    But seriously…. the bucket list jackalope?! I literally snorted with laughter. Loved it! 🙂

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 6:17 am

    You have the most beautiful sons. I remember when my children thew a fit I just looked the other way and went about what I was doing, telling them I love them but I am unhappy with what they are doing and when they can act better we will (dance, have a snack, play a game) what ever caused the problem. This seemed to work for me.

    I so enjoy reading your blog and keeping up with the going ons with boys. You are a very good writer and I enjoy reading things that you do and how you do it.

    God bless you and we will keep you in our prayers.

  • Reply
    December 9, 2013 at 6:16 am

    Beautiful 🙂 X Paula

  • Reply
    Haleigh Barrett
    December 10, 2013 at 5:33 am

    Once again, you speak the things that are in my heart. Which is great because I struggle with putting my thoughts and feelings into words, but you do it for me!

    And by the way, you are beyond gorgeous. How the heck can you look so dang good in a pony and a baseball hat?! You are such a pretty momma and have such a pretty family. How blessed you are!

  • Reply
    Stephanie W
    December 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Thank you for this. It was just what I needed to read tonight.

  • Reply
    Jenny B
    January 1, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Any mother who hasn’t been in your situation with a screaming melt down has a robot for a child.

    I get so tired of moms judging one another. We’ve all been there, yet when the poop hits the fan you can feel the judgement radiating off people. It sucks. Women need to work together to stop being so hateful toward one another.

    You and your children are beautiful and I really enjoy reading about you all. 🙂

  • Reply
    nicolette @ momnivore's dilemma
    January 4, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    I’d love to know what scripture you refer to!

    Well, put Ash. One of your best posts to date.

  • Reply
    January 5, 2014 at 9:10 am

    I too would love to know what the scripture you refer to is.

    I’m new here and have enjoyed looking around.

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