Monday, August 26, 2013

They're Not Excuses, They're Explanations

Here are my explanations for reduced productivity today:

  • I didn't change the sheets because now they smell like me, which helps Little Debbie sleep better when I get out of bed.
  • I didn't take a nap, because I was afraid Little Debbie would wake up immediately after I fell asleep. And I got a second wind anyway.
  • I was tired and grumpy because Little Debbie didn't sleep well last night and I didn't get a nap.
  • I didn't return all of todays emails and messages because I was using my iPhone's white noise app to help Little Debbie sleep.
  • I didn't get the floors all clean because Little Debbie needed to be held all day, and wasn't truly content unless I was gazing into her eyes lovingly.

So basically, it was a typical day. I just have new explanations for not getting stuff done.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

4 Days Old

Little Debbie is a whole entire 4 days old! 
Here are a few things I've learned about her in 4 days:

  • She likes to sleep on her side.
  • She has had a wickedly strong sucking reflex from birth.
  • She is a fantastic eater. 
  • She has very strong lungs, and the voice of a much larger child.
  • She looks a little like both of her sisters, but fully like neither.
  • She is an amazing little bundle of snuggles, and molds to my body perfectly.
  • I could spend all day holding her. But alas, I have 2 other children, a husband, and 2 dogs. They like attention, too.
  • She has angry hands. Those little paws get to flailing, and all heck breaks loose.
  • She has a very serious look about her.
  • She occasionally shows off one very cute dimple.
  • She does NOT like diaper changes. 
  • She requires a lot of diaper changes. 
  • She likes it when her sisters sing to her.
  • She likes white noise.
  • I am absolutely infatuated with this child.
  • BestestHusband would be wise to use this infatuation to his benefit if he wants to convince me to have a 4th child.

I give thanks for her every day.

PS. I promise not to update every 4 days.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Today's been a perfect day. 
Little Debbie and I watched the sun rise. We spent most of the day together. I know that days like this will be rare. Real life will not allow me to snuggle my sweet baby for hours on end. So I savored it. 

Little Debbie is perfection. She has tiny little ears. She has a sweet dimple in her right cheek. She has a soft fuzzy head. And perfect little lips. 

The enormity of it all finally hit me this afternoon. I had another healthy pregnancy. I had another uncomplicated birth. I have another healthy baby girl. And she's perfection. 

The tears started to flow. I am so blessed. Just so blessed. How often do we get to experience perfection? I just experienced it for a third time. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Calm Before the Storm

Little Debbie is now 17 hours old. It's the calm before the storm. We're recovering nicely from her delivery. I'm up, mobile, sleep-deprived, but feeling OK. She's a strong eater, and a strong crier. And a strong spitter with a belly full of vigorous feeding sessions and birth gunk. She's in the nursery. Where someone else is cleaning her spit. And changing her spitty clothes. And doing her spitty laundry. 

I'm in my hospital room. Eating food someone else is cooking. Soiling laundry someone else is washing. Watching cable that we don't have at home. Catching naps between feeding myself and Little Debbie, visits from nurses, and visits from family. 

This is not real life. This is the calm before the storm. I think this might be the daily life of the rich and famous, a life with a personal chef and paid staff. This is not my life. 

My life now has 3 children in it. Holy cow, I'm a mother of 3. The reality will sink in on Friday, when Little Debbie and I join the rest of our family at home. Until then, I plan to live it up. I will eat carrot cake made by someone else. I will drink milkshakes made by someone else. I will catch catnaps whenever I can. I will enjoy the calm before the storm. 

*Little Debbie gets this nickname from the pregnancy cravings she caused. Oh, Swiss Cake rolls, how I do love thee...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Vanity. And Patience.

Vanity and patience - these are two words you don't hear together very often. One is definitely less-desirable than the other. But both have been on my mind this week. 

Vanity has been lurking under the surface for a few weeks now. I've noticed that, even before the presence of a newborn in the house (any day now, baby, we're happy to have you any day now!), I'm looking older. I've noticed more age spots, more fine lines, more "imperfections" in my skin. I suppose this isn't really that surprising. I AM getting older, and I've been outside more this summer. These things do happen. They should be expected, even. But now I'm obsessing about skincare products and makeup.

My last day of work for a while was yesterday. I went a day longer than my co-workers expected before I declared myself "all done." I really am uncomfortable and All Done. When I do eventually go back to work, it will be only a few short evenings a week, and a few weekend days a month. Even my per-diem pay can't cover 3 kids. So I'm transitioning even more to being a stay-at-home mom. This identity shift has been a gradual one over the last few years, and not always a smooth one. But one that is shifting again. 

So the vanity kicks in. I enjoy dressing up for work. I enjoy looking put-together. I know that a SAHM lifestyle is not always a given for looking put-together. Nor does the lifestyle finance a fun, put-together wardrobe. But I think that one of my top resistances to the change is actually a fear of becoming frumpy. Ok, I'm nowhere near a fashionista now. But I do have standards. I try not to look 5 years older than I do. I try not to dress 10 pounds heavier than I am. I try to look like I've shopped for new clothes in the past decade. I try to look like I at least TRY. I can't make any claims as to whether or not I succeed...

So then I start to feel guilty for my vanity. Really, does it matter what I look like? Aren't my actions more important than my appearance? Isn't my health more important than my looks? This is what I hope to teach the girls. A beautiful body is an healthy body, not a thin one. God gave us miraculous bodies to do His work here on Earth, not to adorn and flaunt them. What we know, feel, and do is far more illustrative of who we are than what we wear. Our appearance should not be our priority.

How do we demonstrate our priorities? Time and money are pretty good indicators. So if we spend money on our appearance, we are demonstrating our prioritization of it. So if, while only one parent is bringing home a regular paycheck, I prioritize spending some of that paycheck on skincare products and clothes, then I'm making a statement about my priorities. While working, this doesn't make me feel so guilty. One must keep up standards of appearance for professional purposes. Appearance DOES matter in the workplace. Investing in an appropriate work wardrobe IS an appropriate thing to do for one's career. And besides, I can spend some of MY paycheck to do it.

But what about when your career is being a SAHM? "Honey, can I have some of the money you earned to spend on makeup and clothes?" This just feels so... 1950's. Ok, so no, I don't have to ask BestestHusband's permission to spend money on things. But I do need to be able to justify them. And I realize that justifying them to myself is actually a bigger threshold than justifying them to him. But hey, that's a healthy thing, right? (Right honey?) But what is justifiable and what is just vanity?

What is vanity, anyway? I've been thinking of it lately as taking pride in one's appearance. But Sunday's Bible readings at church made me reframe the concept of "vanity". There is a long discourse on the topic of vanity in Ecclesiastes chapters 1 and 2. It discusses vanity as taking pride in accomplishments, not in appearance. I think most of us suffer from this version of vanity more often. We've worked hard for what we have:  our educations, our jobs, our comfy homes in expensive real estate markets, our 401Ks. They're OURS. We earned them. We're proud of them. They're part of who we are. But are they? 

Our homes will likely still stand when we die. Our diplomas will crumble and fade over the years. The money will get passed on to someone else. They are just things. Things that will go on without us. To take pride in possessions, to take pride in what we've done is true vanity. Our brains, our parents who made us go to school and get diplomas, our health to let us keep working, they're all from God. They were given to us, and they will eventually be taken away. This is the point of the Parable of the Rich Fool. To think that we deserve them is a conceit far greater than worrying about our gray hair and crows feet. This is the real vanity that many of us should strive to avoid. 

So I'm grappling with multiple versions of vanity now. I need to find a fine balance between maintaining my appearance and maintaining my perspective. It's not inherently sinful to want to look good. I certainly appreciate BestestHusband taking the time to keep up his appearance. I certainly owe him the same level of effort. I wouldn't want to be an embarrassment, and I don't want him to have to work too hard to find me attractive. But I do need to keep in mind that, like the grasses and lilies, my life will eventually fade and end. No amount of expensive potions will change that. This is the will of God. And likewise, my education and career, as well as my vocation as a mother, are gifts that I will use differently at different times of my life. And this, too, is the will of God. To cling too strongly to any of these is vanity. 

Well, one thing that I certainly can't be vain about is my patience. Because I don't have much of it. I know local moms whose mantra is "I'm an endless well of patience." They're proud of how patient they can be with their kids, and what good parents it makes them. I'm thankful I can't be vain in this arena. Because every day, I pray for enough strength and patience to make it through the day. And I keep getting it. Just barely enough of it. I know it's not because I have an endless well of it. I don't. 

My Mum likes to say it's never wise to pray for more patience, because it can backfire. It's our trials and tribulations in life that help us grow into more patient people. To pray for patience is to ask for more hardship. So I'm content just to have it doled out in barely-enough daily doses. I'm too much of a wuss to ask for the hard work to make me more patient. And God will always provide what we need. And having to turn to Him for our daily needs seems to be a good antidote to vanity. 

So after all of this, I still plan on celebrating my first day of not-working tomorrow by getting a hair cut and a pedicure, and shopping for new skincare and makeup products. Let's face it. I'll need all the help I can get after the baby's born, and we already paid for preschool for the girls. And I really can't reach my toes. It's my best chance to get these things done. But I'll keep in mind that this version of vanity is really the least of my worries. I'll need to continually battle the rest of it.

What vanities do you battle? 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Bathtime Conversation

We had a really fun day today. Today was BestestHusband's company's annual summer party. "Today was the best day ever!" according to HeyMama. 

The water slide. The girls and BestestHusband spent a lot of time on it.

The slide with the lake/beach in the background, and the huge grassy play area in the foreground. This place is heavenly for families.

MeToo rolling a hula hoop. This kept her entertained for quite a while.

HeyMama trying to actually use a hula hoop. This also entertained her for quite a while. So did the bouncy houses. Yes, there were 2 of them!

It was pretty fun. But I hit my wall around 1:30pm. And we didn't get home until around 5:30pm. I'm kinda toast right now. I'm sitting upstairs, waiting for the bathroom downstairs to be vacated so I can take a shower in peace, and go to bed before the sun does. I'm so ready.

And then BestestHusband calls upstairs to ask me a question:
"Is it ok for the girls to say dang? I told them no."
HeyMama:  "Should I say 'crap' instead?"
Me:  "What about 'darn'?"
MeToo:  "Dahn!" (in a full-on Boston accent)
HeyMama:  "Darn. I left the brush in the car. Can you go get it?"
BestestHusband:  "Perhaps 'shoot' would be better?"

It's a toss-up. Do you let your child use a word of frustration that makes her sound like a townie? Or one that is also a word for violence? Or one that is a synonym for excrement?

There are no good options here.