Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

My 9-year-old son slept poorly seven nights ago. He awoke the next morning with tears in his eyes.

I sent him to bed with bad news ringing in his ears. He will not be returning to school in the 2019-2020 school year. He will not be participating in baseball this summer. We will not be attending the birthday party scheduled for next weekend. He will not see his teacher again. He will not say goodbye to his friends. What else did I expect?

RELATED: Dear Teacher, Why Didn’t We Get To Say Goodbye?

We have begun our new normal, which doesn’t feel at all normal to my two children, or to me.

I am their teacher now. Funny, I actually was their real classroom teacher, one year each, early on in their academic careers (I was an elementary school teacher in the very small town in which we reside). This experience is not the same. There are no other children to act as buffers, no fat binders full of prescribed curriculum, no breaks from me to visit the music teacher or art instructor.

Just them and me.

RELATED: I’ve Never Been Tired Like This Before

What is occurring in our home doesn’t really look like school, and it shouldn’t. To all of those well-meaning parents setting up classrooms in the basement, streaming endless virtual experiences, and ordering protractors online—don’t worry about it so much. That is not what our children need right now. We cover our bases with a walk to the creek, notebooks for writing and drawing and a board game in the evening.

Like every other part of the day, our lunch hour is spent together. The sunlight streams in from the bay windows surrounding our dining table. One boy eats a turkey sandwich, while the other nibbles on peanut butter and honey. I am grateful for the continued income from my job, enabling me to prepare the sandwiches at home, rather than pick up a sack lunch from a local church or community center, something that has become so essential for many of our friends and neighbors. They quietly munch, as I sit in a wing chair in the corner of the room and read to them. Sometimes classics from my childhood (Ramona Quimby is still my hero) and sometimes books of their choosing.

During the lunch period following the poor night of sleep, I was reading aloud from a fiction book about a parrot who teaches children to act politely.

“I wish I had a bird.” my nine year old said, wistfully.

Though I am usually one to deliberate heavily on such matters, there was not one single reason I could think of in that moment as to why we shouldn’t have a bird. Or two. One for his brother, as well.

RELATED: Dear Child, I Know This Is Hard On You Too

This was before our “lockdown” directive. I was still able to sneak off to the pet store using social distancing practices. From six feet away, I selected two parakeets. A blue one, Wally. A green one, Buddy.

They are our focus now. Two living, breathing, growing, beautiful creatures, blissfully unaware of the chaotic and stressed-out world around them. They have given the same gift to my children.

The boys spring from bed in the morning and open the tiny, birdcage door, allowing the parakeets to gracelessly flop out of the cage and onto some body part. It was easier to acclimate the birds to two rambunctious boys than I thought it would be. The sit contentedly on shoulders, hands, and the tops of heads. They even purr when they are happy, like cats. I think I hear the boys purr sometimes, too.

The birds are the sole component of my current “science curriculum.” We’ve learned many parakeet facts. Their beaks never stop growing, they enjoy water activities, and they have a lengthy life span, 10- 20 years.

This means that Wally and Buddy will be around long after the crisis has passed, likely many years—though I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to associate them with anything else.

Even now, the very sight of the birds stirs conflicting feelings of sadness and joy within me. I think it is how we will all feel when we reflect back on this time one day. The sadness in the situation is easy to recognize. But the joy is there, too. The joy of slow days. The joy of understanding what is truly important. The joy of having time to watch two boys play with two birds for hours on end, with nowhere in particular to go. The joy is there. We will see it when we look back. I can’t wait to look back.

For now, I am thankful for our parakeets. They have helped us to remember that life is still good.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Jackie Hostetler

Jackie Hostetler is a wife and mother, a writer and teacher -in that order. She has worked in the field of education for 18 years, earning a Bachelor’s degree in elementary and early childhood education, as well as a Master’s Degree in education. She is a freelance writer and has contributed to numerous education, early childhood, and family-centered blogs. Her passions include early childhood education and her two young boys, who slip farther away from early childhood each day.

Dear Child, You Are Not Responsible for How Anyone Else Feels about You

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen girl looking in the mirror putting on earrings

Dear kiddo, I have so many dreams for you. A million hopes and desires run through my mind every day on a never-ending loop, along with worries and fears, and so, so much prayer. Sometimes, it feels like my happiness is tied with ropes of steel to yours. And yet, the truth is, there are times you disappoint me. You will continue to disappoint me as you grow and make your own choices and take different paths than the ones I have imagined for you. But I’m going to tell you a secret (although I suspect you already know): My...

Keep Reading

Being a Hands-on Dad Matters

In: Kids, Living
Dad playing with little girl on floor

I am a hands-on dad. I take pride in spending time with my kids. Last week I took my toddler to the park. He’s two and has recently outgrown peek-a-boo, but nothing gets him laughing like him seeing me pop into the slide to scare him as he goes down. He grew to like this so much that he actually would not go down the slide unless he saw me in his range of vision going down. When it’s time to walk in the parking lot he knows to hold my hand, and he grabs my hand instinctively when he needs help...

Keep Reading

5 Kids in the Bible Who Will Inspire Yours

In: Faith, Kids
Little girl reading from Bible

Gathering my kids for morning Bible study has become our family’s cornerstone, a time not just for spiritual growth but for real, hearty conversations about life, courage, and making a difference. It’s not perfect, but it’s ours. My oldest, who’s 11, is at that age where he’s just beginning to understand the weight of his actions and decisions. He’s eager, yet unsure, about his ability to influence his world. It’s a big deal for him, and frankly, for me too. I want him to know, deeply know, that his choices matter, that he can be a force for good, just...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love is the Best Medicine

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child lying on couch under blankets, color photo

When my kids are sick, I watch them sleep and see every age they have ever been at once. The sleepless nights with a fussy toddler, the too-hot cheeks of a baby against my own skin, the clean-up duty with my husband at 3 a.m., every restless moment floods my thoughts. I can almost feel the rocking—so much rocking—and hear myself singing the same lullaby until my voice became nothing but a whisper. I can still smell the pink antibiotics in a tiny syringe. Although my babies are now six and nine years old, the minute that fever spikes, they...

Keep Reading

Right Now I’m a Mom Who’s Not Ready to Let Go

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hugging, color photo

We’re doing it. We’re applying, touring, and submitting pre-school applications. It feels a lot like my college application days, and there’s this image in my mind of how fast that day will come with my sweet girl once she enters the school doors. It’s a bizarre place to be because if I’m honest, I know it’s time to let her go, but my heart is screaming, “I’m not ready yet!” She’s four now though. Four years have flown by, and I don’t know how it happened. She can put her own clothes on and take herself to the bathroom. She...

Keep Reading

Each Child You Raise is Unique

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three little boys under a blanket, black-and-white photo

The hardest part about raising children? Well, there’s a lot, but to me, one major thing is that they are all completely different than one another. Nothing is the same. Like anything. Ever. Your first comes and you basically grow up with them, you learn through your mistakes as well as your triumphs. They go to all the parties with you, restaurants, sporting events, traveling—they just fit into your life. You learn the dos and don’ts, but your life doesn’t change as much as you thought. You start to think Wow! This was easy, let’s have another. RELATED: Isn’t Parenting...

Keep Reading

Our Kids Need Us as Much as We Need Them

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sitting on bench with dog nearby, color photo

During a moment of sadness last week, my lively and joyful toddler voluntarily sat with me on the couch, holding hands and snuggling for a good hour. This brought comfort and happiness to the situation. At that moment, I realized sometimes our kids need us, sometimes we need them, and sometimes we need each other at the same time. Kids need us. From the moment they enter the world, infants express their needs through tiny (or loud) cries. Toddlers need lots of cuddling as their brains try to comprehend black, white, and all the colors of the expanding world around...

Keep Reading

Your Kids Don’t Need More Things, They Need More You

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young girl smiling together at home

He reached for my hand and then looked up. His sweet smile and lingering gaze flooded my weary heart with much-needed peace. “Thank you for taking me to the library, Mommy! It’s like we’re on a date! I like it when it’s just the two of us.” We entered the library, hand in hand, and headed toward the LEGO table. As I began gathering books nearby, I was surprised to feel my son’s arms around me. He gave me a quick squeeze and a kiss with an “I love you, Mommy” before returning to his LEGO—three separate times. My typically...

Keep Reading

This Time In the Passenger Seat is Precious

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen
Teen driver with parent in passenger seat

When you’re parenting preteens and teens, it sometimes feels like you are an unpaid Uber driver. It can be a thankless job. During busy seasons, I spend 80 percent of my evenings driving, parking, dropping off, picking up, sitting in traffic, running errands, waiting in drive-thru lines. I say things like buckle your seat belt, turn that music down a little bit, take your trash inside, stop yelling—we are in the car, keep your hands to yourself, don’t make me turn this car around, get your feet off the back of the seat, this car is not a trash can,...

Keep Reading

So God Made My Daughter a Wrestler

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young female wrestler wearing mouth guard and wrestling singlet

God made my girl a wrestler. Gosh, those are words I would never have thought I would say or be so insanely proud to share with you. But I am. I know with 100 percent certainty and overwhelming pride that God made my girl a wrestler. But it’s been a journey. Probably one that started in the spring of 2010 when I was pregnant with my first baby and having the 20-week anatomy ultrasound. I remember hearing the word “girl” and squealing. I was over the moon excited—all I could think about were hair bows and cute outfits. And so...

Keep Reading