Keep Growing, Little One

Now that I’ve entered into the age where many of my friends have babies, it’s pretty often that I see parents post cute photos of their little ones captioned, “Please stop growing!” I also often get comments from grandma to tell my little one to stop growing and stay little forever. I totally understand the sentiment. Babies are only babies for such a short time, and from what I’m told by strangers constantly, kids are only kids for such a short time. I definitely already look back at pictures of my 16 month old from a year ago and reminisce about how precious and adorable he was. I definitely miss how much easier it was to run errands with him and I would take back the amount of time he used to sleep in a heartbeat (he dropped to one hour long nap a day at only 12 months).

However, I will never hope that my son stops growing. I would never want him to stay little forever. Growing older is a gift and getting to see him grow older is a gift doubled. While I definitely enjoy how adorable his baby babble is now, I also so look forward to the day when he can ask me why the sky is blue and we can talk about dinosaurs and fairies and whatever the kids will be into at that time. While I love how much he loves me and wants me to pay attention to him right now, I so look forward to the day when he wants to play alone in his room so I can get a break in the day. While I love his insatiable curiosity right now, I also look forward to the day when that curiosity means wanting to climb a mountain instead of picking up a discarded cigarette and trying to put it in his mouth.

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I’m excited to have conversations with him about the world, I’m excited to see what kinds of things he’ll be interested in, I’m excited to take him on trips that he’ll remember, I’m excited to see who he’ll be friends with, I’m excited to see what his favorite subject is in school, I’m excited to get to watch this little boy grow into the kind, loving man that I hope he will be. I know these years will go by quickly, so I just try to do my best to enjoy each moment and each age while we’re in it. But I don’t want time to stop for him and I don’t want him to stop growing because life is such a gift and each day we’re given is a true privilege.

So baby boy, please keep growing. Keep learning, keep exploring, keep changing, keep becoming the person you are meant to me. I’ll be right here alongside you the whole time encouraging you, teaching you, loving you, and praising God that you get another day, another week, another year on this earth with me.

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What to Do When Your Husband Gets Laid Off

Yell “oh fuck.”

Cry.

Call your mom.

Discuss voodoo priest options with mom (who lives in New Orleans and could actually visit one).

Joke about vandalizing the company. Fantasize about vandalizing the company. Don’t actually vandalize the company.

Go to the park and eat several donuts with your husband. Relish in the fact that your son is too young to know what’s happening and is as happy as can be.

Have a small panic attack.

Cry some more.

Throw a literal pity party with fellow friends who were also laid off. Feel thankful for those friendships.

Eat cookies.

Trust that you’re in God’s hands, as you always have been, but feel extra in His hands now. Also feel mad at God. Feel mad at everything.

Think about buying a lottery ticket, just in case.

Trust your husband when he says you’re going to get through this. Take a picture to show yourselves in a year that you did get through this.

Cry some more.

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Please Don’t Call My Toddler a “Heartbreaker”

Please don’t call my toddler son a heartbreaker.

Or a ladies man.

Or a lady killer.

Or say “watch out girls!”

Or make comments about him flirting with you, when he’s just smiling.

Or make any other comments about his future sexuality that is far, far from being developed.

I know you mean well. I know you’re trying to make a comment on him being handsome, and I appreciate that. And I agree – he’s beautiful! His eyes are like blue gems and he’s got his dad’s perfect nose, he’s got full lips, and I’m starting to see a hint of dimples in his chubby baby cheeks.

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But that’s the thing, he’s a baby. Please just let him be a baby. Comments like the above are not only gross, but entirely sexist. I don’t want my son growing up with the idea that being a ladies man, or a lady killer, or a heartbreaker is a good thing. Because it’s not. I want him to treat the girls and women in his life with respect and kindness. I don’t want him to see them as things to be conquered, used, and thrown away. I want him to see them as friends, allies, and equal human beings. And while those these comments may seem harmless, the words we say are indicative of the greater beliefs that we as a society uphold. And with movements like #MeToo still fresh on our minds, with women coming forward everyday to talk about the abuse they suffered at the hands of men more powerful than them, and with my own past experiences of being treated in ways that made me feel like I was an object, I REFUSE to allow that mindset to seep into my son’s life. Because people like Harvey Weinstein weren’t born wanting to abuse others, but instead, were raised in a society that allowed them to feel like they could get away with abusing women, and it starts when they’re young and told that they’re going to be a ladies man as if that’s a good thing.

Boys will not be boys, they will be kind humans and the best way to ensure a better future for the women of tomorrow is to start with raising kinder, more caring little boys today.

So it is my hope that my son will not break hearts, but mend them. That he’ll only be a ladies man in the sense that women feel comfortable around him and can trust him. And that he’ll treat his future partner (whether it be a woman or a man) with the respect, love, and dignity they deserve.

Word of the Year – Renew

ZCyTRvWySzivik56YOhZagHave you heard of picking a word for the year? It’s sort of like making a New Year’s resolution, but because it can be a bit more broad than losing weight or starting a new hobby, it allows you to instead take on a more wholistic approach to self improvement. Your one word shapes every action and decision for the year ahead, allowing you to be more purposeful and productive in your desire for growth and betterment. It is essentially setting the tone for the year ahead.

For me 2017 was a complete and total upheaval of my life. I did not pick a word for 2017 because I started the year out with a 2 month old and could barely even think to make myself breakfast. This year was full of a lot of growing pains and difficult personal decisions. Not only did I experience my first full year of motherhood, but I also attempted to navigate going to work after having a baby, and ultimately chose to quit my job – a decision that was both extremely difficult and absolutely the best choice I could’ve made for myself. I struggled with my identity because when your main priority is taking care of a helpless baby, it’s very easy to lose yourself a little. Everything about you changes, and it’s not a bad thing, but it’s a very confusing place to be in. I didn’t even recognize or feel comfortable in my body, as I am still hanging on to an extra 20lbs from having said baby. This year, I also had to avoid most news stories because, wow what a freaking dumpster fire this year has been. It was also a year of struggling with my faith – not from a personal point of view, but from the way my faith connects with the greater Christian community (blog on this coming soon!). On top of all of that, at the end of 2017, I entered into my last year of my 20s, which is always great for spurring on a bit of an existential crises. If I looked back on the year, the most fitting word for it would likely just be a bunch of question marks.

However, I feel like I’ve finally come out of the haze and a little bit, and I have been trying very hard to be more purposeful and aware of how I am living my one wild and precious life. I have gone through the wringer of personal change but I am coming out on the other side more clear eyed than before, so the word that seems most fitting for the year 2018 is “renew” – to make like new; restore to freshness and vigor.

In 2018, I hope to have:

Renewal of how I identify myself as wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend.

Renewal of how I spend my days as a no longer employed but most definitely still working SAHM.

Renewal of the goals and dreams I have for myself.

Renewal of my body and my relationship with it.

Renewal of my priorities and how I spend my time.

Renewal of how I view and love and exist in this ugly beautiful world.

Renewal of the way I love Jesus and the way His love for me guides and shapes my life.

2017 happened to me, but I will choose to happen in 2018 with intentionality on my heart and a spirit that has been wholly and completely renewed.

 

 

The Dishes Can Wait

Now that my son is a year old, checking my TimeHop app brings such sweet memories. Today, a picture popped up of the first bath we ever gave him. He’s in a tiny pink bucket that we stole from the hospital, which is small enough to fit into our sink. His forehead is wrinkled and his arms are skinny and shake with those newborn jitters. Looking at the photo, it’s so strange to think that my crazy, wild, always busy 1-year-old was not so long ago such a small and feeble thing.

IMG_4121.jpgSince becoming a mother, I often hear the phrase “the days are long, but the years are short.” This phrase feels both so totally true – a child goes from a baby to a toddler in the blink of an eye, and yet there are often many days that feel like they will never end and we’ll be stuck in a fussy, sleepless stage forever. Overall, this year felt long, with me often daydreaming about when Ezra would meet his next stage of development. I constantly looked forward to his next milestone: when he would smile, be able to hold his head on his own, say “mama” for the first time, and start walking. I think that maybe, I’m just not much of a baby person, and instead prefer the stages of childhood that allow for interaction, exploration, and communication. So, during this time at least, the days feel long and the year feels long.

With that said, I tried to remember this oft repeated phrase, “the days are long, but the years are short,” and use the phrase to guide my daily thinking, so that I can appreciate where we are in life, knowing each phase will be over soon. With this mindset, I was able to appreciate the hour it used to take to rock him to sleep every night, knowing that he would not always need it. Though I often thought, “Please just fall asleep so I can finally relax and eat some dinner,” I was also able to realize that once that phase passed, it would be over forever and I’d never be able to get it back. This thinking allowed me to find joy in the midst of my fatigue and gave me the gift of soaking up the moment while I could. Now that he can fall asleep on his own, I don’t look back on those nights and miss them, because I know I appreciated them fully while I had them.

This thinking has also helped me to prioritize what’s important to me – most notably, not worrying about keeping the house clean. In the weeks following Ezra’s birth, our house definitely accumulated some dust and clutter. It was never disgusting, but certainly not up to par with how clean it had been prior. However, with the understanding that my time was precious now, especially after going back to work for a short period, I just found it really hard to care. Babies leave very little free time, and I didn’t want to waste the moments I had worrying about water spots on the bathroom mirror or dishes in the sink. Those things get tended to eventually, but caring for my child, my marriage, and myself takes priority. I think being a woman, and especially being a SAHM, there’s an expectation that if we’re home all day, then our house should be spotless. And maybe that’s the case for some moms. But for me, if the years are short, I want to be doing more with them than making sure the rug is always vacuumed. I want to be going to the park to play with my son. During his nap time, I want to be working on a craft project or reading a new book. When he goes to bed, I want to be talking to my husband about his day. There is plenty of time in this life for doing the chores and worrying about responsibilities. But there is not always plenty of time to be fully present in our relationships with others and with ourselves.

So instead of immediately putting laundry away after getting it out of the dryer, instead of always picking up the toys that will inevitably make it out again, instead of polishing silverware, I’ll sit. I’ll sit on the floor with my son and love him, I’ll sit on the couch with my husband and love him, and I’ll sit at the kitchen table with a book and a cup of coffee and love myself.

5 Things I’ve Learned in My 1st Year of Motherhood

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Ever since I was a child myself, I knew I wanted to be a mother. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, a mother was the only true answer I ever had. So when I became pregnant early last year, I was ecstatic. I was finally getting what I had always wanted, but it definitely didn’t come easy and this first year of motherhood has been HARD. But I survived it and I came out better on the other side. Here’s a few things I’ve learned.

Don’t Try and Plan for Anything

When I was pregnant, I decided that I wanted to do an all natural birth at a birth center rather than going to the hospital. I loved my midwives and was so confident in myself about being able to get through labor unmedicated. The idea of the empowerment that would come from having the strength to get through labor was so enticing, plus I absolutely did NOT want to have a c-section.

However, at about 35 weeks, we discovered that my baby was frank breech – meaning that rather than having his head at the birth canal, his fat little butt was there. And breech almost always means having to have, you guessed it, a c- section. I was devastated and even asked my midwife if it was possible to deliver him vaginally anyway. She strongly advised against it and those next few weeks I tried everything to get him to turn around – laying upside down, doing handstands in the pool, and even an external version – but he was not budging. So we scheduled my c-section and I had my baby on Election Day. And guess what? He’s just as wonderful of a baby as he would have been if he had been born any other way. Plus it turned out that he had a 99th percentile head, so my vagina thanked me for not having to go through that.

Be Ok With Changing Your Mind

Another thing I really had my heart set on was breastfeeding. I had read all the articles about it’s benefits, taken the classes, and was convinced it was the best thing for me and my baby. However, though breastfeeding got off to a great start with Ezra latching perfectly right away, it wasn’t long before things went downhill. The second day in the hospital, my husband noticed that Ezra was super jittery, so the nurse took his blood and we discovered he had really low blood sugar. Apparently my milk had not come in yet and my poor baby was starving. Because it was days later until it did come it, we had to start him out on formula to keep him stable. My heart broke for my little guy and suddenly formula was no longer the bad guy, but the thing that was keeping my baby alive and healthy.

Once my milk did come in, I tried to reestablish breastfeeding, only to discover that I absolutely hated it. I dreaded it each time and would get so frustrated with how Ezra would fall asleep after about 2 minutes on the breast, because I knew he’d wake up 30 minutes later and want to eat again. And that pattern would just repeat and repeat all day. It felt so never ending and I was so tired and I just felt so depressed over it. I remember crying in bed feeling like a terrible mom because I just didn’t want to breastfeed anymore. I tried switching to pumping instead, but that didn’t last long either (pumping is the worst). So Ezra got two months of breastmilk and then we switched to formula and I am honestly so glad we made that decision. Switching to formula made me a happier person, which in turn made me a better mom. So while I’ll continue to praise the benefits of breast milk, I’ll even more so praise doing what’s best for yourself and your child. (P.S. Ezra is not obese, is right on track with his development, and didn’t have a single ear infection in his first year of life, so he’s doing just fine.)

Give Grace Over Judgement

Before becoming a mom, there were many times I judged moms for their parenting. Whether it was judging them for feeding their kid McDonald’s, judging them for their screaming child in the store, or judging them for yelling at their kids in public, I did a whole lot of judging. And I was so so wrong for that. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, it’s so much easier now to see there’s a whole story to every mom I encounter in public and rather than judging, I can now only offer a kind smile, hopefully a little help, and some words of encouragement. No mom has the ability to be the perfect mom always and also kids are totally insane. As long as you’re loving your child the best that you can, you’re doing it right.

Marriage is Hard Work

Over and over again in pre marriage counseling, I heard that marriage is hard work and that the first year is often the worst. My husband and I are both fairly easy going people and our first year of marriage was absolutely amazing and then so was our second, so I kind of just figured our marriage was a little easier than most marriages. Gosh I can be naive. Our third year of marriage was our first year of being parents and man this last year has really been tough. We are both tired, we are both being stretched in new ways as parents, we are both readjusting to a different lifestyle, and it has resulted in us not always being as kind or as thoughtful to each other. I often felt like with juggling work and motherhood, that my marriage was the last thing I was tending to. We’ve had a lot of hard conversations and have actually had to work at making sure we connect with each other, but we’ve made it through this first year and we are stronger for it. I love my husband more and in new ways and I could not be more grateful for him, but ya, marriage is hard work!

It’s 100% Absolutely Worth It

Motherhood is everything I could never have imagined but could have always wanted. My son thinks I’m his whole world and I get to create his. I get to be the reason for his smiles, the comforter to his hurts, and the shaper of his life. Hearing his squeals of laughter, rocking him to sleep at night, holding his hand while he explores, and so many other moments I have with him are the greatest, purest gifts from God. I am so lucky that I get to be his mama and I can’t wait to see how motherhood continues to grow and shape me.

The 10 Month Sleep Regression From Hell

Before having a baby, I always had heard how little sleep you get once you become a parent, and that knowledge still could never have prepared me for just how hard and sleepless the newborn stage is. That so tired that you can’t put sentences together or even walk straight feeling was rough and once my little man finally started sleeping for longer stretches it felt like a damn miracle. That first night where he slept for a 5 hour stretch felt equivalent to a spa weekend in how revitalized I felt. And at 5 months, when he began sleeping 12 hours stretches at night, I thought my sleepless nights were at long last over.

That is, until I found out about sleep regressions.

The 4 month sleep regression only lasted for about a week, so it wasn’t too bad. However, the 8-9-10 sleep regression became my living nightmare. Around 10 months old, Ezra started waking up every night, often more than once a night, and this went on for TWO MONTHS. And while I wasn’t as zombie like as I was during the newborn stage, I also didn’t have the luxury of only having to take care of a potato like creature that slept the majority of the day. Nope, now I had to combine sleepless nights with long days of taking care of a very on the move almost toddler. It was exhausting enough on its own, and also happened to coincide with my husband being out of town for almost 3 weeks, leaving me with no real breaks. I had many 8pm bedtimes and lots of glasses of wine.

During the middle of my husband being out of town, I had just HAD IT with getting up in night and I was so tired that when Ezra awoke once again at 1am, I lost it. I yelled at him and picked him up a little more roughly than was necessary. The next morning I felt absolutely awful and totally ashamed that I had responded to him in that way. That’s when I realized that while he was not going to be out of this phase anytime soon, I could control myself and the way I reacted to this stage.

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Realizing that he wasn’t purposefully trying to keep me up and understanding that he was going through some crazy developmental changes really helped me to alter my perspective on the regression, and in doing so, bettered my response to his nighttime wakings. I had to realize that what he needed most during this difficult time was love and comfort from his mama – it’s hard to learn how to walk for the first time, which is what this whole regression led to!

And just like that, my attitude about my lack of sleep completely changed. Telling myself, “You will be getting up during the night and it’s fine,” instead of saying, “I hope he sleeps through the night tonight,” completely shifted how I approached those late night cries. And though I was still having to get up in the night, I was no longer as upset about it, making getting through that rough period a whole lot easier. Also coffee. Always coffee.