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I just enjoy your company...

I could be having a baby any day now.

I am a ticking time bomb.  And I feel it.  (I kind of look like it, too, but let's not go there.)   I'm sitting at my house day after day.  My husband is stationed at our kitchen table with his Blackberry and laptop, grounded and unable to travel since I'm about to pop.

And every time I get some random twinge or slight tightening, my eyes fly to the clock.  What time is it?  Will that feeling return?  Is this labor?  So far it hasn't been.  Obviously.  Since I am still here and trying to find words to describe the now instead of just posting pictures of my cute new son and letting his freshness speak.  Words fail when you're in the presence of brand new, just hit the earth, life.

Oh, and my toddler is randomly beating me with a crocodile puzzle piece as I try to be all poetic and writer-y.  And you wonder why I don't post regularly.

Life is chugging along, just the way life does.  We put an offer in on a house and it was accepted!  Now we're just waiting for some minor kinks to be de-kinked and we'll be on our way to a whole new world.  A hundred thousand things to see.  A fantastic point of view.

Yes.  I just quoted Aladdin.  You'll have that.

Lately I've been having a lot of conversations about boundaries and all of our stupid insecurities as friends, wives, mothers.  You name it, we want to be it.  There's been a lot of blogs lately all about the striving to do it all and to be perfectly pressed and an enviable clothing size (which is dumb and pointless since clothing sizes don't mean jack-sprat anymore.)  And it's so sad and frustrating to me!  Not only because sometimes I get all tangled up in the barbed wire of perfectionism and glossy goodness, but because then my focus is all about what I'm doing and not at all what God has done in my life or what He is doing through me.  It's just about how busy I am and how good I can look while doing it all.  And hopefully making someone envious and causing them to think I am THE friend, wife, mother to be modeled.

The truth?

The truth is that I am nearing 38 weeks in my second pregnancy.  My body is progressing to the point that there is very little possibility I will be making it anywhere near my May 8th due date.  For that matter, I wasn't real sure I'd make it through this past week.  I wear comfy clothes all day long.  The other day I unloaded the dishwasher and loaded it back up and that was all I had "scheduled" for myself today.  I didn't even set out the meat to thaw for dinner (Hamburger Helper, baby!) until after 3 p.m. and that's only because I realized the day was dwindling and my husband would probably like something to eat other than a bowl of Honey Comb or an Eggo waffle.  My toddler has been eating Froot Loops and watching Toy Story.

And I could feel guilty about all of that. I could make apologies or excuses.  I could simply not tell you any of that and instead give the impression that I don't waddle everywhere I go or that my workout for the day is more than simply crawling around on the floor after my boy goes to bed and I'm picking up whichever toys are closest to the baskets (the ones that are not in reaching distances are left for Daddy.)  But this is real life for me.  Maybe it's not your life and that's perfectly fine.  Maybe you don't feed your kid sugary cereals for snacks.  And that's okay.

I think there are times when we need to get off our high horses.  And honestly? I think we're riding around that way because we're so scared.  We're so afraid to find someone who is doing it better or different and then what if they make us feel like we're doing it all wrong?  I've had that.  I've had people in my life actually drop out of my life because they couldn't stand that I would do things differently or less organically than they would.  I mean, really?  Are we honestly going to end friendships because one person births in a pool at home and one person goes to the hospital?  Have we always been this scared to just be who God created us to be and to be the best mothers we can be to the children God gives - however He gives them, however they are birthed - epidural or no?

When Joel was only a few months old, I was feeling so pressured to have him on a sleep schedule. I felt like I was screwing him up and I needed to let him cry but I didn't think I could stand it.  My husband was away on a business trip and in tears, I told him on the phone, "I don't think I can do it!"  And he said, simply, "Then don't.  Laura, you're his MOTHER.  If you don't want to do something or think it's not the right thing for right now, then DON'T."

P.S. ~ I love my husband.

He also told me during those first few months of being a first time Mom that women would be so much better off if we'd stop asking for advice (ie: justification for what we choose to do), stop reading books, stop Googling and stop asking for sympathy and elaborate pity parties via Facebook.  I think he's 100% right.  We expose so much of our personal life and why?  What are we trying to prove?  Who are we trying to top?  Why are we so scared to follow our instincts and to do what is best for our family regardless of what someone else is choosing to do?

There are a million things we do as mothers.  A million and five.  And we worry so much that we're not doing enough or not doing it right and that's because we love these little people so gosh darn much.  They are important.  They are part of us.  The other night I was wide awake and had some crazy thought of being at the park with Joel and looking at the new baby and glancing up to see that Joel had been abducted.  And even though we were all safe in our house, he was snug in his bed, I nearly hyperventaliated.  If you have ever felt like your heart could literally throw up all over itself, that's how it feels.  I even had a dream once where I had been kidnapped and Joel had been snatched away from me and I couldn't find him, didn't know where he had been taken, and once I was discovered all I kept saying was, "I can't breathe!  I can't breathe!"  I woke up and I literally could not breathe.  I can still recall the terror of that nightmare and it actually makes my eyes burn with tears.  I have never ever known love as deep and complicated and hard and all-consuming as motherhood.

And we make it so much tougher on ourselves and on each other by being insecure.  It's like we're fifteen all over again and we're all wigged out because so and so has permed hair and suddenly we feel like we need permed hair, too.  Or she's wearing make-up and looks so pretty and now you feel like you belong in a trash compactor because you only wear Cherry Chapstick.

The competing is beyond ridiculous and we see it with teenagers, but women really never grow out of this.  And we desperately, desperately need to.  We need to possess enough boundaries to know what works for us and our family and what doesn't.  We need to own a decision for ourselves without expecting everyone else to live or parent exactly as we do.  What does it really say about my parenting if I can't do it without having everyone agree with me or to do as I do?  Who am I really striving to parent and educate well?  My child... or everyone else?

Yesterday my son stood on a toy drum and blew spit until it dribbled down his chin and hit the floor.  And we laughed.  Delighted about the things that kids inherently figure out.  He's squealed and rolled all over the kitchen today and under the dining room table, landing at my feet and saying, "Stuck!" as he grins and wiggles his eyebrows at me.  He played with fuzzy pom-pom balls and organized them into a muffin tin by color and I felt so proud.  He excitedly said, "Please please please please!" as he pointed to the Sesame Street stickers I had picked up for him yesterday.

We have fun.  I've looked carefully into his little face, at the way his eyelashes are ridiculously long and how handsome and beautiful his profile is.  How that little gap between his teeth makes my heart tip over.  And sometimes I don't know how we got from where I am now - pregnant - to having a two year old.  Time goes.  And I don't always know how we got here and I know I haven't always done it right and I know I've had very little patience on days when I actually needed to have a lot and it all fell apart.

I have to give myself some grace, because I've never done this before.  And for everyone else, there was a first time for everything, too.  No one started out motherhood perfectly or ended it perfectly.  We're human and we're sinful and we desire the best and often choose a step or two below.  We deal with normal physical, human reactions and emotions.  Just because you become a mother doesn't mean you stop being a person.  You don't give birth to a squirmy newborn and wake up 100% selfless and focused and ready to teach colors and shapes and self-control and how to be kind.  You don't suddenly possess magical powers to bite your tongue, live with not even near enough sleep, or all the knowledge to properly feed, nurture, instruct and train your child.

What you do wake up with on that first day is love.  And a fierce desire to do your best.  And that's why we try so hard and why we hate it when we fail so hard.  We hold them in our arms and they can't tell us how they feel or if they hurt or if they're hungry or if they just want to sleep some more and so we guess and we bounce and we try this and try that to console, to calm, to quiet.  We start out just plain trying.  I think we keep moving forward just plain trying, too.

And just as I had never had a newborn until that March day two years ago, I've never had a two year old going on three, either.  So I'm new all over again.  And I've never been a mother of two children.  I've never potty trained anyone in my life.  Today I was adding games to a wish list for the boys and it was crazy to think that someday (soon) they will be big enough to play Checkers and Don't Break the Ice and Go Fish!.  And sometimes motherhood can look like this big, terrifying, you-have-one-chance-so-don't-screw-it-up balance beam.  And it can make you want to just either dry heave or sit in a corner and suck your thumb.  But then I think of times when I've said to friends, "What did our mothers do?  What did their mothers do?"

We make things so much more difficult than they need to be - and so much more overwhelming than necessary - because we compare and we judge and we feel everything has to fit just so or else.  It's so silly.  And it's kind of liberating to say it's silly.  Do I know that my own mother loved me and my sister so much that she did the best she knew how to do?  Yes.  Did she make sacrifices and decisions for our upbringing that sometimes got people speculating that she maybe didn't quite know what she was doing?  Yes.  Did she sometimes mean well and misfire?  Yes.  But was I damaged for life because my Mom just plain loved me so much?  No.  Certainly we had our misunderstandings as I grew up and morphed from child to teenager to adult... that's natural.  And I'll have struggles with my kids, I know.

The more I mother (and it hasn't been that long, I realize) the more I realize that that's what it's about: knowing my child.  It's not about a checklist or a bunch of bragging rights about what my kid can do at what age.  Motherhood is not about me.  I'm not a mother because we got pregnant.  I'm a mother because I have a child who is my responsibility.  It's not a sport, it's not a hobby, it's not something I do to fill my time because I'd rather not have a "real" job.

I love Joel and I'm going to love his little brother and love any other littles we are blessed with in the years to come... and I will do the best I can, knowing that all I'm doing is falling over and over again.  But love will propel me farther and higher and at least, hopefully the majority of the time, I'll be falling forward.  It's so calming to know and to remember that no matter what - never mind the times he wants more Cheddar Pringles and I relent - that where my own humanity fails, the days when I lack consistency or willpower or energy - that love fills the gap.

There's a lot I don't know about mothering, a lot left to discover, a lot more to learn... but if all I can do is love, well... then I guess we'll be just fine in the end.



"Comparison is the 
thief of  joy."
~  T h e o d  o r e    R o o s e v e l t




Comments

  1. <3 This! It's funny, when I'm out running and alone with my thoughts, I often wonder why I struggle so much with being myself, that I need to change and try be someone that people will like me more or whatever. But lately, in the past year or so, I have finally come to accept who I am and it's mostly because of my boys. They love me so much; even when I bake a cake that I can't get out of the pan in one piece. My little one often says, "I love you too much, mom." I think he means "so much".

    Sorry for the book here, but I think you've written something that many moms should read. We are so quick to compare and doubt ourselves and even, be on our high horses to insist that our way is the only way, when really we should be supporting each other.

    I've said it once and I've say it again...you my friend are wise beyond your years : )

    ReplyDelete
  2. i love this. all of it! you are so wise : )

    -Jodi

    ReplyDelete

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