My son Hudson is OBSESSED with Blippi. Can all the Mamas & Papas raise your hand if you have a toddler who is requesting to watch Blippi AD NAUSEAM?! (Send wine and headphones.)
My only appropriate response to this is to draw him in his glory wearing Blippi’s garb. Even when he asks for his children’s vitamin (which are Frozen-shaped because he has a very opinionated older sister), he pulls out ANY shape and yells, “BLIPPI ONE!”
Gosh, I love 2-year-olds.
Side note…. I wonder if Blippi has any kids books out there and needs an illustrator…..
Sometimes being an artist for a living and a hobby can get tough. I often struggle to get out what’s in my head, and I am usually (always) super critical of myself and my work. I don’t often feel like what was in my head was successfully transmitted to the screen or paper… but I’m learning to be easier and more encouraging towards myself! Perfectionism is a tough & bumpy road.
When I have a big deadline looming ahead (as I do now), I feel frozen and overwhelmed. I start to doubt myself and feel creatively stuck. When this happens, I tell myself (usually Tams will tell me!) to take a break and go write. It helps to clear my head and be creative in a way that flows much easier for me.
Here’s something I wrote about parenting two years ago, and this morning while on a much-needed break, I edited it. (I’m also trying not to judge or assess it!) Hope some other parents out there can see themselves in the words. ❤
it’s a small warm hand on your neck
it’s sticky items in your pocket
it’s moments of no patience, then immediate unbridled love
it’s wiping big tears away, then chasing joy around the corner
it’s overwhelming doubts if you can do this
it’s big eyes staring silently at you to love them
it’s no answers, yet all the questions you never thought of
it’s sitting down to eat, and never getting to eat
it’s deep breaths & pep talks & breakdowns
it’s playing dress-up & funny dances & being silly because that’s all there is
it’s a little hand reaching up for help, knowing you’ll grab it
it’s a tiny toddler plopping themselves in your lap
it’s no personal space, fingerprints on your glasses & stains on your clothes
it’s a rollercoaster of emotions, then a gentle gliding of a canoe
it’s never feeling ready, yet somehow you already are
it’s rediscovering soft sheep’s wool, the joy of a puppy playing & the crunch of leaves
it’s letting your soul be fueled by the small voice calling “Mommy?”
it’s holding tight onto the big hugs until they let go
it’s learning to let go and see how much they teach you
it’s that feeling that you are a little being’s everything
it’s unbelievably hard
it’s so beautiful you ache
it’s all so worth it
…………….. it’s being a parent
Stacey Chomiak © 2020
Back in September, my wife Tams was out with our kids on a couple different occasions, and total strangers made very angry & unkind comments. One was from a lady angry she would bring a stroller into a store, and the second was after Hudson made an excited scream in a coffee shop. (Also, he’s not two yet, and very excited about life.)
I was frustrated these happened, within a week of each other, as this has been a totally exhausting and lonely stage of parenting – especially for Tams, when I am away working. So I wrote this post below as a response, on social media. It got picked up by the local news, which I will link at the bottom. (If you read the comments, many people missed the point of why I wrote this… but I guess it’s not for them, then.)
There are no perfect kids, there are no perfect parents and there are no perfect people. But there is always room to exercise empathy and be a bit more kind with each other. Let’s try.
Mr. Rogers said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
I’m wondering today, can we do one better? Instead of just looking for the helpers, can we BE THE HELPERS?
Most of you read about @tamschomiak recent run-in with the random people in the local coffee shop, asking why she would bring our (loud) kids in there. It was really upsetting.
Today she was in a thrift shop with the kids and another random lady said “Why the hell would you come in here with that g*d awful stroller and two kids?” & gave Tams the most angry look. Sigh.
Friends, we can do better. We are all a little (lot) tired and sad and maybe just plain angry with the state of the world right now.
BUT WE CAN DO BETTER.
My warrior of a wife just wanted to take our kids on an outing, which in itself is NO SMALL FEAT just to get out the door, let me tell you. Like SO MANY parents out there, she’s constantly exhausted, she’s emotionally depleted, she’s feeling weary in the thick fog of parenting two young, bright, healthy, loud, enthusiastic, boisterous toddlers. She often has to manage things on her own, so I can focus on the projects I’m juggling, and she flipping rocks that job better than any Mama I know. But frankly, this has been a really tough season of life for us both.
Comments like these, they are so discouraging. Sometimes it only takes a mildly annoyed comment to plummet someone into depression, or just plain ruin the rest of their day. Don’t be the straw that breaks someone’s back. I refuse to be.
Waiting for your coffee, passing people on the street, around your co-workers… just do better. Smile more. Encourage people. Say thank you & mean it. Ask people how they are. Be gentler with each other, you don’t know what hurt may be hiding beneath the surface. Decide to care, just a little, about people your energy interacts with from day to day. Every interaction, big or small, makes a difference. EVERY ONE.
The only way this world will get better is if WE DECIDE TO BE BETTER.
And if you think of it, send a thumbs up to my wife to remind her she’s a freaking rockstar. ❤️
— with Tammy Chomiak.
It took me into November – BUT I DID THEM ALL YOU GUYS! With two kids and lotsa work, this was a flippin’ feat.
All sketches done on a Moleskine sketchbook, using a mix of pentel brush pen, pigma liners, colerase pencils, pencil crayons and markers. Click to enlarge any of them to see larger.
Thanks for following along! 🙂
Instructions for a life:
I grew up in a large Pentecostal church, baptized days after being born. God and Jesus were always a huge part of my life.
My youth was full of Christian conventions, church summer camps and Friday night youth groups. I always believed the church was my family, and they would love me no matter what, because that’s what I was taught. I loved every aspect of growing up in the church…
Until I realized in my late teens that I may be gay.
From the age of 17 to 29, I encountered hurt, neglect, shame, loneliness and guilt from my church family. Sadly not an uncommon story, what had been my refuge since birth, became a dark place that made me question everything.
I began to hate myself and my futile prayers. Without ever having to say it, they made me believe I had to choose: embrace God, or be damned, and embrace this capital Sin.
I clearly remember sitting in my room at 18 years old, writing in my prayer journal and sobbing. After dodging this struggle as long as I could, I finally turned my head to look it square in the face.
Everyone was right. I was the worst of sinners. And no amount of prayer was changing that.
How could I be attracted to women? I grew up around all the right people, in the perfect Christian environment, with a loving mother and father to guide me. I was so involved at church and I loved it. I loved Jesus genuinely, and my family fiercely – and now I felt as though they couldn’t love me if I embraced being gay.
Hope began to dwindle.
Hope continued to dwindle for 13 years, where I had some of the most severe lows, and intoxicating highs, as I trudged along the messy path of my faith and sexuality. My faith was truly tested in every possible way. I was forced to ask myself – and God – questions that I never would have, if I was straight.
What a gift, actually, that turned out to be.
My relationships with family and friends went through some extreme ups and downs, and I made some bad choices motivated by hurt and loneliness.
Yet through it all, I felt God softly standing beside me, gently pursuing me, and not allowing despair to take a full hold. Deep down I always knew He created me for more than this chaos I was feeling.
A few weeks before my 30th birthday, I was coming very close to the end of my rope, and I knew I had to make a choice.
I had been dating this amazing woman named Tammy for seven years, yet so much of my life was in the closet, and up in the air. I lived with constant chaos rolling around in my soul, and I didn’t see how I could ever be okay with being both gay and a Christian — never mind be gay-married. It wasn’t fair to her any longer, and I had to make a decision to either end things or move forward.
A friend asked me to housesit, and I knew this was my chance to spend a week alone with God.
As I peeled back the layers of hurt, chaos and confusion of the last 13 years, I wept, and I asked God the impossible one last time.
Can You truly still love me if I love the gay part of myself?
Will you turn Your back, or will You be in the middle of our relationship, if I take the hand of the one I love, and walk forward in this life with her?
Will I ever possibly feel peace?
The answers were not was I was expecting — and they were not what everyone was telling me they would be. It was in that moment that I realized something vital. I had been listening to God’s people for 13 years – but what did God Himself have to say to me?
I waited, and I listened… and I sat there in the stillness.
I felt inside my soul, bubbling to the surface, a deep, resounding YES.
YES, I LOVE ALL THAT I MADE YOU TO BE.
YES, a thousand times over, YES.
And more than that – none of your struggle will be wasted.
A peace that began to wash over me like waves, consuming the shores of chaos and washing them away, layer by layer.
I didn’t get written answers, or theological clarity — but I got peace. A peace that has not wavered since that day.
One year later, Tams and I got married. Our wedding day was not at all as I imagined it as a young girl. For one, I wasn’t marrying a shaggy-haired youth pastor, I was marrying a woman.
Secondly – my parents chose not to be there. I never thought I could look back on my wedding day with the profound void of my parents absence, and be truly happy.
But let me tell you my friends, God was there. And He filled that void so completely. I remember turning the corner to walk down the aisle, and I saw Tams waiting there for me – my heart burst, because I truly felt God saying to me – this is who I have made for you. I never believed that could have been possible. I am astonished. When I think back on that day, I just feel love.
I stand before you now, seven years later, at 37 years old, married to my beautiful Tams since 2011. We have a 19 month old daughter named Robson, who is our consistent beam of light, and we are pregnant with our second – a boy, due in just a few short days.
Profound gratefulness fuels my life.
I can say today that I am wholly myself, in true contentment, and embracing this life God has given me.
It hasn’t been easy since that peace flooded my soul – but it is a continual well in which I draw from, to make it through the tough times.
There are still people close to me, including my parents, who do not agree, and that is hard… but it is okay. We can disagree. I know some people see my gift of peace as the moment when I gave into my sin. But this moment when people believe I walked away from God, is in fact the moment that I ran towards Him.
This is God’s story, and I am just trying to live it out. I believe that He will redeem it all one day; and I just need to leave that up to Him.
This poem by Mary Oliver resonates deeply as I reflect on my life journey so far.
Pay attention. Because of the turmoil that God has brought me through, I am forced to pay attention to the gifts in my life that I will no longer take for granted. My daughter’s embrace is that much sweeter. Holding my wife’s hand in public is that much more profound.
Be astonished. When I have tough encounters with the ones I love, and they do not cheer my relationship or family on – I am grieved. But God gives me such a quiet and beautiful peace to be still, and trust Him. My heart remains soft. And that makes me truly astonished.
Tell someone. When God gave me this peace, I promised Him I would share His story. That is why I embrace it proudly. I believe I have been called to share my truth, to live authentically – and to leave the rest to Him.
What a true gift it is to be heard.
Thank you for listening.
Since I have been home taking care of Robson the last few months, AND trying to keep up with my full-time gig – doing any additional sketching seems like a pipe dream! BUT… once in a while, I am able to carve out a precious hour or two to do some art for myself.
Here are a few I have done so far:
Robson in the Woods admiring the trees as she does on our daily walks. 🙂 [digital]
Robson running around with multiple sweaters all day. Sometimes she wears 3 at a time. 🙂 [digital]
Robson and I go to the same park almost every day near our house. I love looking at this massive tree that reminds me of a mysterious cave. I finally drew it from memory. 🙂 [digital]
Hello my little one…. it’s me.
[We will teach you about Adele when you grow up a bit!]
I can’t even believe you are already 28 weeks along, and growing so strong inside of Mama’s belly. Wow, you are doing so great little bean!
First let me thank you for a precious gift you have already given me. [Truthfully I think you and God were in on it together.] A few weeks ago, your Mama and I were putting the Christmas tree up, and decorating it with all of our ornaments. Your Mama said she felt you moving around inside, and to come and see if I could feel anything on the outside. I hadn’t yet. I put my hand on her belly, and we waited there for a minute, in the silence of the twinkling lights from the Christmas tree.
All of a sudden we both felt a huge BOOM from inside – a direct hit to the palm of my hand, and my heart skipped a beat! I heard you, little one! Blinking back tears, I realized how real this journey is. This is happening – you are coming into our lives, a kicking, screaming, laughing, thoughtful little being. You, my little girl, are my miracle. I already thank God daily for your existence; for being allowed to witness this sort of love in my life. I am in awe.
Now, little bean, I have been thinking about something else I wanted to share with you.
As you will learn, there are many different types of families. Some families just have a Mommy. Some families just have a Daddy. Some have two Mommies or two Daddies. Some are raised by a grandparent or an aunt. Some – maybe most – will have a Mommy and a Daddy. The love is still the same, my sweet one.
I grew up with a Mommy and a Daddy. I was very lucky that they were [and are] both around for my whole life, spoiling me and loving me as I grew up. And if I am being honest, I was definitely a Daddy’s girl. My Daddy is very generous, very funny, and one of the true heroes in my life. I know I can always count on him to be there, fix anything, or make me laugh. I have always thought, even as I am now a grown-up, that I have the best Dad. (He will be the best Grandpa to you, I know it. 🙂
And as you get bigger and bigger in Mama’s belly, I realize that you will never say those words: I love you, Daddy.
My Evangelical Christian upbringing wants me to feel guilty about that. I want to say that I am sorry that I have chosen a “lifestyle” that omits a Daddy from your life. And I admit that it was one of the fears I had when I was struggling with becoming a Mama myself. How can I withhold anything from an innocent child?
But, my Sweetheart, I won’t apologize. Because I have chosen love, and love is something we never apologize for. My heart is too full of peace and gratefulness to be sorry, little one. No, you won’t have a Daddy in the traditional sense. You will have two Mommies instead. Two Mommies that already love you so entirely, it is hard to properly put it into words. So we will show you. We will show you with every hug, with every tear we wipe away, with every cuddle, with every crust we cut off your bread, and with every moment of sleep we lose when you cry or are sick. You will be so absolutely loved.
I believe to the depths of my soul, that this is the path God has chosen that has led you into this world. I believe that God knows what He is doing, and He isn’t scared that you will be coming into a family “without a Daddy” – but that was His plan. God does not make mistakes – He makes miracles.
So maybe one day you will be with your friends and they will be talking about their Daddies, and it will hit you: I don’t have one. And maybe you will wonder why. And I hope you will come to us with all of these questions, and more. And above all, I hope that your heart and soul is just so surrounded with love that you won’t feel like you are missing anything – but have everything you need. That is my prayer for you, little one.
We are counting down the days until we can stare into your beautiful little face. 🙂