I haven't posted anything in a few weeks. I can list a dozen or so reasons why... sick, busy, husband traveling, social engagements, more sick, more busy.
But I think, if I'm being honest, I've simply been a little too focused on myself, becoming overwhelmed by issues that are, truly, only as big as I allow them to be.
The series of bugs we caught...
The husband traveling way more than we'd like and are used to.
I've even allowed the "good" stress to overwhelm me. We have some great opportunities opening up before us, yet I have focused only on the uncertainty of it all.
More than ever we have been surrounded by wonderful people... Yet I began to feel weighed down by my own perceived expectations of those around us, rather than remember what a blessing each person is to our family.
So, two nights ago I lay awake in bed and found myself asking God to please help me find some level of peace in all of this. I asked God for grace. I asked that God provide for me a better perspective... Because Lord knows none of these "problems" we are facing warranted how burdened I felt.
Then, in my narrow-mindedness I proceeded to become even more frustrated that I did not immediately feel relieved in any way. As if my merely acknowledging what I thought I needed should have been enough to attain it. Silly me.
Yesterday was a busy day. Orders to make, ship and deliver, people to visit, phone calls, errands to run, a house to clean, laundry to do, an active toddler, pavers starting to work on the back yard.
ALL positive things... but all I saw were the tasks.
At different points throughout the day, I was most certainly blessed with some very wonderful and very real moments of God's grace.
A sincere barista at Starbucks that seemed to truly hope I had a "wonderful day." Random strangers smiling kindly.
Some wonderfully appropriate and uplifting messages and songs on the radio.
A sweet and funny lady who helped to calm my child when he decided unexpectedly to freak out... in the middle of a packed and hot elevator.
But none of this registered. Finally, an incredibly kind older cashier at the grocery store brought the message home.
Grocery shopping yesterday was like something out of a comedy. Frazzled mom, dropping things and running into people while toddler-who-has-found-his-voice has emphatic, high-pitched conversations with himself and attempts to eat the cart.
In line, the cashier asks if I need any ice or stamps. "OH!! Yes! Stamps!" Something I've been forgetting for every grocery trip for the last month and need so that I can send out the Thank You notes from Sam's Birthday party. (I swear to all those applicable, we are eternally grateful! Especially since you all put up with my less than timely expressions of gratitude!)
I turned to Sam and, as if I expected him to respond, say "Mommy has been forgetting stamps forever!"
This cashier... This wonderful stranger who I will now never forget, stops what he's doing, smiles at my child and says, with full sincerity, "That's because, I'd be willing to bet, Mommy's got a lot on her plate. And I'm sure she is doing the absolute best she can."
Yet so unbelievably and incredibly wonderful... supportive, compassionate, encouraging. It probably didn't hurt that the guy sounded kinda like Morgan Freeman, but ya know... It's just that, in that moment, I realized that God had been blessing me with little bits of grace all day long... As he always does if I am able to get outside of my own concerns long enough to see them.
Okay, there's the grace part. So, what about perspective? This is what I found on my Timehop app this morning.
I did most definitely laugh about this. But not for the reasons I had expected four years ago. I didn't laugh because I found eating chicken nuggets after midnight at an old folding table funny or pathetic (as I saw it at the time). In fact, that memory now seems absolutely sweet and wonderful to me.
I laughed because even then, when I had a fantastic partner in life sitting across a table from me in the middle of the night, a job to come home from, a phone to play scrabble on, the ability to obtain food that wouldn't make me sick... all I saw was what I didn't have.
I had some grand idea of how flawless my life would "someday" be... without realizing that the flaws were what made my life perfect and beautiful.
This... this is my perspective... and one that I want to make sure I learn better for Sam. There will always be things I think we need... that truly do not matter.
There are things we have now that I will surely take for granted and look back on fondly down the road.
Life will always have an element of uncertainty. It's all part of the adventure.
Grace and perspective are already given to us, it's up to us to see them for what they are.
There is one sentence I have said more frequently than any other in parenting conversations. Whether we're talking about my kid or somebody else's kid.
It's something I have to remind myself of and be reminded of by friends and family when I find my own child's inconsistency frustrating.
It rings particularly true in those "it's not you, it's me" parenting moments... It's not your inconsistency that's frustrating me, rather my own lack of realistic expectations.
And that's when I have to realize the truth of my own repeated words... Every single day is DIFFERENT. Different from yesterday, different from last week, different from what tomorrow will bring.
I, as an adult, as a supposed "creature of habit," would never attempt to sleep from exactly 10pm to 5am every singe night, without any room for natural variation in my body's schedule.
If I wasn't asleep by 10:30, I wouldn't begin to think that something was wrong with me or my sleeping arrangement. I wouldn't take drastic steps the next night to be sure that the blip in perfect scheduling didn't happen again.
If I normally eat dinner at 6, but felt hungry around 5... I'd probably just eat at 5! Because my body knows what it needs.
This kind of thing sounds so obvious when we put it in a context of our adult bodies. Why, then, are we so mistrustful and controlling over the bodies of our babies? Why are we so thrown off by natural variations in their schedules?
Schedules can be really good tools, don't get me wrong. Rhythm is good. Predictability is good. Stability and consistency are GOOD. But being realistic is... healthy. And having realistic expectations about how much is actually within our ability to control with our infants and toddlers... and how much is even healthy for us to try to control.. would save us all a lot of frustration and worry.
Cause sometimes your kid is going to refuse to take a nap all day... and other times he'll manage to pass out on top of the kitchen counter in the time it takes you to fill the sink with water for a quick bath. Expect each day to be different, and suddenly flexibility becomes a part of the routine.
Sam understood me today... In the last few days I thought he might be picking up more of what I say. He seemed to respond more quickly and appropriately to simple things like "look," hug," "wait," "come here," etc.
He even spent half an hour last night searching the house for Daddy, who wasn't home at the usual time because of some work stuff.
He responded appropriately when I asked what he was looking for... "Dada." And when I told him Dada wasn't in whatever area of the house he was indicating/searching, he'd nod or babble in affirmation and look somewhere else. Pretty freakin' adorable!
But today... He most definitely completely understood what I was telling him. I was working on a bib order and he wanted to see the sewing machine. So I put him on my lap and said "You can look, but don't touch." So of course he immediately reached out and tried to touch it. "No, Sam, don't touch." I moved his hand away. He arched his back and started throwing a little stink-fit. I plopped him back down on the floor and said "If you're going to be nasty, you can do it on your own."
He stopped crying instantly (wait, what?!) He got back up and wanted to see the machine again so I set him in my lap... Repeat trying to touch & "don't touch" a few times.... But this time with only mild frustration on his part.
Finally, I said "Okay Sam, this is a needle (pointing to needle)... It can hurt you (signing "hurt"). You can't touch it, but you can stay in my lap if you just watch."
He put his hands in his lap and sat quietly watching the sewing machine for a good five minutes before climbing back down to go do his own thing. I know it won't always be that easy... but that was definitely among some of the cooler parenting moments so far!
I talk about being in the moment a lot. I think that's because it's probably the thing I struggle with the most.
One part of "being in the moment" has to do with letting yourself off the hook, right? Realizing that you only have so much to give to any one glimpse of your day... and that has to be good enough... for you and for those around you.
Today has been kinda rough.
My 13-month old is cluster feeding -- meaning nursing almost every hour -- because his mouth hurts and he's trying to find comfort. That's fine, except that he also won't sleep on his own today, so I found myself spending 3 solid hours holding and rocking him while he slept/fussed/nursed in rotation.
But then I really needed food... I could feel my blood sugar tanking. I hadn't eaten in close to 5 hours and had meanwhile been burning a ton of extra calories nursing Sam.
So... I tried setting him down, even though I knew it would wake him up and that he really could have used more sleep. He was awake the second I stood up with him... and man just SO uncomfortable.
I probably could have gone back to rocking and gotten him back to sleep. But I knew in that moment that I needed to be able to help sustain him and in order to do that, I had to make sure my own body had its basic needs met.
So the result was booster seat, The Prince of Egypt on Netflix (which is a phenomenal movie, by the way), and a paci he hardly even takes anymore strapped on with a fuzzy pink paci clip I had in my stash of things to sell...
Anyway, this allowed me to cook up some food. Both of us got a nice big meal and he seems to be feeling a bit better... playing quietly on his own with toys.
I probably should be trying to make some sense of my currently chaotic house... or doing the dishes... or folding the three loads of clean laundry sitting in a giant pile on our bed.
Somebody from the outside might wonder why I'm wasting time sitting here writing something that probably only a handful of people will read... and even fewer will find worthwhile.
But sometimes, finding for yourself a moment of normal... whether that's reading, writing, chatting with a friend, pointlessly organizing some area of your house, or taking five minutes to sip on your coffee that you've been reheating for the last 3 hours... finding your normal in the midst of chaos is just as important as the items of productivity that are more easily measured.
Sometimes being in the moment means knowing that whatever you give is good enough. Sometimes it means prioritizing basic needs of yourself and others. And sometimes it means simply doing things that help you feel normal.
On Saturday I'd made a list of things I wanted to write about this week.
I had expected to share with you all the details of Sam's 1st Birthday party... the recipe for the cake I made him, his outfit, the decor... but none of those details seem important enough to write about anymore.
The morning after Sam's party we woke to the news that a beloved uncle on my husband's side of the family had passed suddenly of a heart attack.
His is not my story to tell, nor would I do it justice if I tried. But I can tell you that he was a wonderful father, husband, son, uncle, brother, friend... who is utterly irreplaceable and will be greatly missed by so many.
I did want to share a few thoughts, a few things this last week has taught me.
It is unnerving how quickly life shifts...
One afternoon the family is celebrating a first birthday, the next morning we are grieving a terrible loss. All the more reason to truly cherish the moments we have on this earth together.
Big families can be a blessing.
My husband's family is huge... the sheer amount of people around to help and take pieces of this burden from those who are grieving the most is impressive. And each of these people has something unique to offer.
There's a sort of tier structure when it comes to loss within a family...
There are those at the center of the crisis, that cling to one another and are supported from all around. Then those in that second ring of support are also being held by a third tier, etc.
Then there are the many countless neighbors, acquaintances, friends-of-friends... people offering up prayers and positive thoughts.
It's a tragically beautiful ripple effect that both spreads the memory of the one who has been lost, and creates a safety net for those left behind to mourn his death and celebrate his life.
Everybody handles grief differently, everybody has a role to play in the process of navigating out of it.
After the last few days I believe more than ever that God gives us the kind of people we need in the moments we need them.
Some people are good leaders, some are organizers, some people clean, some people feed, some cry with us, some hold us up, and still some are just so wonderfully skilled at finding joy and peace in the midst of mourning.
Grief comes in waves.
It is exhausting, but sleep is elusive. Nothing can fix it, nor make it go away... though food and family seem to help.
Babies make it better, if only for a few seconds...
Something about their innocence seems to lighten the burden and bring smiles to faces.
Grief has a way of showing us what truly matters in our lives, and what's just noise.
I don’t typically sleep well. Never really have, not even as a little kid. I’ve spent way too many countless hours at night thinking/worrying/planning the next day. I make notes in my phone, use the “Tasks” and “Checklist” features, send emails to myself… But, guess what?
Nothing I ever plan ends up the way I plan it… No matter how much I think about the plan, Worry about the plan, Plan about the plan… I’ve never been able to check off that whole To-Do list, or follow the “realistic” schedule I spend an hour setting for myself. My son on the other hand…
As long as he’s fed and comfy, he’s out cold in minutes. Then every morning he wakes up with a giant grin on his face, ready for whatever might await him that day.
He starts with a clean slate. Endless possibilities. And he accomplishes more in one day than I do for sure. So today I'm going to try to simplify a bit. I'm going to be more present... more purposeful... and look for small opportunities for productivity in each moment.
And tonight, no matter what I do or do not accomplish during the day, I'm going to snuggle up with my boys and just let it all go... Because life is too precious... and too short... to waste so much time worrying about how I can manage to do it all.
I will never do it all. But I can do whatever I am able... here. Now. In this moment.
Vanquisher of Yucky-nessOur big go-to for teething is extra nursing and snuggle time... And Mickey... Lots of Mickey.But sometimes that doesn't cut it... and for other mamas, some babies aren't nursing, or even if they typically do, will nurse less when teething. We've found a few really helpful non-nursing goodies for teething, so I figured I'd share them with you all!