Friday, July 8, 2016

How I'm Different

Just boarded an airplane with tears in my eyes. Even as I soaked up the peace and the swift pace of my travel through airport security and boarding , I cried because I wanted to shout to every person I passed, every one that didn't notice me, "I have a baby! I'm a mom and my kid should be here, driving me (and many of you) completely crazy."

It was the first time I realized how differently people treat you, for better or worse, when you move through life with a baby. At the store, at a party, in the airport.

When he is with me, I seem to only notice the judgmental stares and frustrated sighs from people around me. I imagine their inner dialogues of disdain for my parenting and my child's behavior. I have a motherly, apologetic, you-know-how-it-is look in my back pocket to pull out for such occasions.

But now that I'm without him, I am realizing just how many smiles, laughs, hellos and compliments I am used to getting when I'm with him. My extroverted toddler performer says hi to everyone we see, dances with abandon and endears himself to many. He's much more likable than I am (at least when he's not throwing a tantrum in a loud and confined space). In the brief time we have been privileged to parent him, I have assigned myself with his likability and friendliness and thus, feel a part of me is missing (in many ways, it is) when I don't have him with me.

Having a baby changed me dramatically, but it also changed the way other people see and engage with me. With a kid, I am never invisible. Either smiled at and doted on or subject to annoying sighs and glances, everywhere we go together, people notice. When I'm alone, I am invisible. Or at least, I am an equal face in the masses.

Time away from him is a really good and healthy thing for me. (That's what I'm telling myself.) E is coming up on 22 months, and the longest I've spent apart from him up until now is 24 hours.

This time it is not by choice though. No, the night before our long-awaited family reunion trip to Chicago, a fever appeared and then the tell-tale bumps on his face, fingers and feet. It was bound to happen - half of his daycare class came down with the virus in the past week - but the timing was cruel. No chance he will recover in time to enjoy any of the trip and no telling how bad it will get before it gets better.

So now I am flying solo and trying to spend these four hours and next four days figuring out my identity as a person and a woman and a wife without my husband and a mother without my child (thankful to have one with me that can't escape!). You know, first day stuff. Wish me luck.

Bless you, Southwest Airlines for your no fee system and incredible customer service. I'm always disappointed when I fly with anyone else.

The baby behind me is screaming. I think I owe it to her mom to provide an unhelpful, but friendly smile and nod. I-know-how-it-is, comrade. I know. That's what being in the 'mom club' is all about, right?

P.S. I have a book. I read >1 page. What is life?!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

And just like that...

he is one.

How to put into words the ways I have changed, grown, been stretched, been heartbroken, been anxious, been unsure, been positive I was messing up not just my life but another human's.

The heartbreak of parenting is that from the moment they are conceived, they need you just a little less every day. This gradual, but consistent tiny bit of independence has been breaking my heart just a little every day.

It's a good reminder that being a parent is truly being a temporary steward. It has been the biggest privilege and most intimidating responsibility.

You are our sweet prince. You are our joy. You are a gift. We love you.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Feeling at home in an "unfinished" space

Since we bought a house ONE YEAR ago (!) and shared a generous photo of the front door, our friends, family, acquaintances and fellow bloggers have asked to see pictures of the space and I've categorically avoided it. When people come over to our house, I'm often apologizing for the lack of furniture, excusing our hand-me-down couch, and generally making people feel uncomfortable with how much I appear to hate how things are set up and plan to change everything when we have the time/money/ability.

Recently, I started to hear these excuses come out of my mouth as my guests did. And I looked around and started, just a little, to see our house not just as potential, but as our haven, here and now.

I even cleaned off my church pew bench for the picture!

Unintentionally-styled mantle featuring our name in wooden letter blacked out, pine cones
leftover from Christmas and commentaries, of course! and no furniture :'D
 I don't want to make excuses and spend time wishing it looked prettier and better and that I had better and more consistent taste. (On different occasions my style can be described as eclectic, vintage, industrial, rustic, craftsman, mid-century, blah, blah, blah. Don't fit me into a box! and all that).

And I don't want to spend any more time wishing we had the money for stuff to hang on my wall and white ceramic animals (kidding!) and giant potted plants and to remodel the bathrooms and landscape the back yard and make a dreamy outdoor dining space with market lights, and, and, and...I hope someday we do have money and time and that I can make a decision on some of those items. But I also want to enjoy our house NOW.

I embrace that we have ratty, hand-me-down furniture, because we have a baby who is messy and climbing and slobbering and will eventually be jumping and catapulting and spilling and generally destroying all the nice things I have and would like to have. and we'll probably have another one or two of those destructive, imaginative fun-making creatures and they'll ruin even more of my prized belongings.

Speaking of my baby, his room is my favorite.

My baby model slacking on the job.
I hope E and any future babies will be able to have fun piling cushions on the ground and jumping off of them, and making forts with my throw pillows and hand-knit afghans and that they won't remember their mama yelling at them to "don't touch that" and "be careful with that" and "If you do that again, you'll..."

And for that, I will sacrifice having instagram-worthy photos of my home. At least for 20 years or so.

This post might make my husband crazy, because he has been telling me all of the above, in not so many words, for the past 10 months, but hey - that would have been too easy, right?

a pastor works here. and a kid makes huge messes here.

(this is the ikea bekvam kitchen cart that I stained and painted)

That oven is original to the house and it works! My favorite thing in the kitchen.

please note my prize, giant zucchini on the counter.
The butler's pantry is awesome for storage but separates the kitchen from the rest of the house.
Master bedroom

How do you make your space a home, even if it's not magazine worthy?

(Also, serious question, how do you decide what to put on your walls? I am seriously gun-shy about committing to decor.)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Send hugs and coffee

I was very easy on myself in the first month after E was born. I kept my commitments to a minimum, I didn't get out of bed for a week after I had him. I prepared myself for sleepless nights, napped when I could, asked for help when I needed it (a lot) and generally, I took gentle care of myself.

I looked at my post-partum body in the mirror and I said, it's okay, body. It's only been a few weeks since you birthed a baby human. Just wait until you can start working out again and you'll get there.

I looked at my bloodshot eyes and I said, it's okay self. You'll get sleep soon. He's doing better already, and it will only go up from here. In the meantime, coffee.

I looked at my husband and we said, this is temporary. We'll have time and energy to talk and reconnect again soon. Look at this beautiful creature we made. Look how much we've figured out already!

And things got better. Week by week, they got a little easier. When I got ready to return to work, I was excited. It felt doable, I felt competent. I was nervous, but I was prepared.

Spoiler alert: I was NOT prepared.

After four months of successful breastfeeding, I've struggled with my milk supply when pumping at work. I started taking supplements and am on a rigorous feeding/pumping schedule every two hours to keep up with the demand, but it still wasn't enough and we have to start supplementing with formula.

I gained weight this month trying to eat enough calories to make milk. I stopped my workout routine, because I was tired and would rather cuddle with my baby after work than be at the gym. My closet selection is waning.

The four-month sleep regression hit and for the past six weeks, we have been waking up every 1.5-3 hours all night. Then I got pneumonia (yes, seriously). I am a walking, coughing zombie.

I'd be lying if I didn't say it has been hard.

This last month has rocked my world. E was such an easy newborn that I started to think life would always be easy. I started to envision parenting as a series of milestone-reaching moments and achievements. Because sleep, weight loss, breastfeeding, our ability to recognize E's needs and respond - didn't we have that all figured out? I did not think I would get worse at these things! but I did. (Go ahead and laugh—you pro parents—at my foolishness.)

I did not know that the regressions and steps backwards and steps sideways are all a part of the process.

What wonderfully transformative time this is. Learning to sacrifice not just my time and my body and my emotions, but also my expectations and my pride. Realizing that this baby is learning new things and growing and changing every day. Thanking God for grace that covers over all of our missteps and middle-of-the-night murmuring. Loving on this sweet bundle who makes our life so much fuller and better.

The process might be painful and the learning curve is huge, but our little boy has made life so sweet. (and he gets cuter every day! We definitely got the best part of the deal.)


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

For Unto Us a Child is Born

In this season, we are thankful for Jesus, the greatest gift of all 
for the glimpse into our Father's love for us with the gift of our own dear son.

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

all photos by our favorite: Photographs by Anjuli

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's making sense. [state of motherhood, three months in]

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post wondering how I would know if I was ready for motherhood. I had truly hoped that my hesitancy about parenthood would change with that positive pregnancy test, but it didn't. Less than a month after I wrote that post I was crying (NOT happy tears) at the two pink lines staring determinately up at me and really feeling like life was over. I battled fears, anxiety and honestly, regret for much of the next 36 weeks.

As it turned out, I was right. My life was over.

But it was replaced with a life that is fuller, deeper, and so much bigger than it was before. Every experience is magnified and intensified. I don't think Eric and I lacked or were at a loss before we had E, but our lives are different and truly better with him.

Lately, I have been asked variations on the same question,

"So, is motherhood what you expected?"

I have a hard time knowing how to answer that, because I don't want to gloat or sound insincere. I know for a lot of moms, it is harder, more overwhelming and more exhausting than they imagined.
But when I say that being is a mom is SO SO SO much better than I imagined, it is just scratching the surface.
All of the bad things I dreaded either aren't as bad as expected or have become totally irrelevant. A lot of the things I was worried about not being able to do, we can totally do (this is coming off of a four-hour plane ride with a three-month-old after five days of family chaos, which we all survived really well). We can still travel, go out with friends, and have fun. And what we can't do right now, I hardly miss. I know we'll do those things again!

Before E arrived, I just knew that I was going to hate parenting an infant. The poop and the crying and the blobby-ness and not knowing what I'm doing. And then that infant that I had wrestled with for months and shared my body with and wished away more than a few times, was placed on my chest, I was just in complete wonderment. I was in love. Suddenly it didn't matter that I don't like infants in general, we had OUR OWN BABY HUMAN. Who needs me and knows me. That first wave of realization that I was it - the mama, the nurturer, was a game-changer. It still is.

I love being a mom.

And E. My sweet baby son. I could write pages and pages about the way he intertwines his little fingers and unfolds them again so that he always looks like he's cooking up a devious plan or really worried. The way he burrows his head in the crook of my arm and rubs his face until it's red trying to get just the right kind of comfortable for a nap. The desperately excited look on his face when he is trying to talk in response to Eric or I.

The love I feel for this kid is limitless and overwhelming. It's more immense and joy-filled than anything I could have expected. I have no idea what I'm doing. And at the same time, it makes perfect sense.

This is the kind of crazy talk I would roll my eyes at before I became a mom, so if you need to gag, I GET IT.

Motherhood just has a way of changing you...



Latte Love All rights reserved © 2008-2011 | I am a HowJoyful Design by Joy Kelley