Has it already been 6 months?!

I look at my son bouncing and playing in his exersaucer and am simply amazed. Just 6 months old…half way to a year!

A year ago, I had just found out I was pregnant with him. It felt like today was forever away, but it came as soon as I blinked. I still look at him and think, “Are you really here? Am I really a mom?” At the same time, it seems like he’s always been here, like I can’t remember when he wasn’t a part of our lives.

Sometimes when I hold him, I can’t help but cover him in kisses or squeeze him close. I love to cuddle him and pat or rub his back and feel him lean on my shoulder and sigh contentedly. I could just stay that way for-ev-er!

His smiles light up my whole day! He doesn’t even have to be doing anything special for me to want to hug him. He’s just naturally squeezable! :)

And this makes me wonder if God ever feels that way about us. Is this an aspect of His love that He could only reveal to me through parenthood? I’d like to think that this new kind of love that I’m experiencing is a reflection of God’s love for me. That my experiences as a mom is an echo of God’s relationship with me as my Heavenly Father.

Can you picture God looking into your face and bursting out, “Ooooohhh, I just love you SO MUCH!!!!” Can you imagine God wanting to scoop you up in His arms and give you a big squeeze and a kiss in the middle of your day? What if your smile fills His heart with joy?

Try and visualize that next time you look at your child. :)

I wonder if other moms compare themselves like I do. I compare myself to other moms, but even more harshly, I compare current self to my pre-baby self.

I forget more things now. Before I had a baby, I was a fantastic multitasker…I could answer phones, send emails, file paperwork, and mail merge labels all at the same time. Now, I can soothe a crying baby, get him buckled in his car seat, and…realize that I forgot my purse in the house.

I don’t accomplish as much as I used to. I used to write out my lists – things to do, what I need at which stores – and cross them all out. Now, I start cooking dinner…and ask Hubby to take over so I can feed the baby. I start folding laundry…and then I leave it piled on the couch because the baby needs to be changed.

I also get distracted more easily. I start getting dressed in the morning, then remember I have to pack my lunch, then I have to get the baby dressed… By time I’m ready to leave the house, I realize I’m still in my pajama pants or forgot to put on deodorant.

And of course, I feel as though I’m the only one going through this. I’m the only one who’s trying to balance being a mom and a wife, who’s trying to work and take care of the house, whose hair hasn’t been washed in days, or who feels like everyone else is doing this better than me.

Thankfully, I have friends who are moms and are not afraid of being real and honest about life. Talking about and doing life with them has taught me two things:

  1. I can’t expect my life to be the same as it was before Baby Boy was born. Things have changed. Forever. That’s just life, and it’s ok.
  2. All that stuff I’ve been venting about? Welcome to motherhood. It’s tough and it’s messy and it requires grace.

So, I want to officially put this out there for those of you who are living in the mindset that everyone else has it all together: they don’t!

You are not the only one hiding baskets of laundry behind the closed door of the guest room. You are not the only one desperately vacuuming five minutes before company is due at your house. You are not the only one with piles of mail and papers that you don’t have time or energy to go through. You are not the only one whose bathroom faucet is splattered with toothpaste or floor is covered in your hair (especially if you’re experiencing postpartum shedding).

You’re not the only one.

I’m not saying this is a free pass to give up. I just want to encourage you, as you fight for breaths in between nap times, to not give up. If you’re doing the best you can, no one can ask any more of you than that.

So cut yourself a big slice of slack and top it with a heaping scoop of grace – it goes well with coffee.

This week has been physically and emotionally draining. Baby Boy is teething, which means we are both covered in drool, neither of us are sleeping well, and at least one of us is usually cranky. Then on Wednesday, I was spared from witnessing a young woman take her own life by just minutes.

At 12:55 pm, my co-workers and I were getting ready to take the children we work with for a walk, and right before we left, a 25 year old woman threw herself off a balcony of the 28th floor of the building next door, landing just feet away from our entrance. Inside our building, we just reached the lobby when someone stopped us, and we could see police lights flashing outside the glass doors.

When I heard that the person was a woman so close to my age, it struck something inside of me. A summary of my life flashed through my head, and I couldn’t imagine ending it so soon. Who was she? What was she like? What was troubling her? Did she know that there was a church right next door, where she could’ve talked to someone instead of doing this?

These are the thoughts that ran through my head when I saw the white tarp covering the spot where she still laid, surrounded by flashing lights, people in uniforms, and yellow tape.

Why do these things happen?

I couldn’t get my head around it.

While driving home from work, I pass by another church that has a bell and steeple. My mind was still buzzing, trying to process everything.

Traffic slowed down on the road in front of this church and I could hear its bell begin to toll the hour. Soon, the noise of traffic picked up, and cars slowly started rolling forward. Yet, I could still pick out the sound of that sweet bell above the roar of motors and the shrill honking. I counted its chimes for the hour and felt a sense of calm.

It was like God’s “still, small voice” piercing the clamor of the day, reminding me that even more faithfully than that bell announces the hours, God is always…always…good. Even when I don’t understand what is happening or why, I can always rest in Him. He is bigger, stronger, greater than any situation – beyond my own sight or understanding.

I still don’t know anything more about the young woman who died, but I think about her when I drive past her spot on my way home, and I pray. I pray for the family and friends she left behind. And I pray for myself, that I will never forget to cling to the hope that Jesus has given me. No matter what is going on around me or in me, I need to listen for that voice to guide me, to speak truth into my soul.

What reminds you of His voice? What or who is He speaking through to you?

*Ah-choo*

Please excuse me a moment while I dust off these keys…

So, apparently having a baby is everything everyone ever told me it would be: time-consuming, stressful, sleep-depriving, busy, really busy, scary, confusing, messy…

And absolutely wonderful!

In the past five months, my whole world has been turned upside down, shaken senseless, and re-prioritized. Some parts have been downright painful (like labor, delivery, nursing, and hormonally-driven emotional surges), but there are other parts that have been just…amazing. Completely, breathtakingly amazing.

Before the birth of my son, nothing and no one would make me understand what it’s like to be the mother a chubby, toothless wonder that has stolen your heart away by doing nothing else but simply existing. Or that I’ll actually be OK with being pooped on, peed on, vomited on, drooled on, chewed on, and bit by him, because he’s got the most beautiful toothless smile you’ve ever seen. I’ve heard at least two people describe motherhood as “watching your heart walk around outside your body,” which I have personally found to be true.

Of course, it’s not all lollipops and rainbows over at my house – don’t get me wrong. My laundry has piled up, the floors need to be scrubbed, my bed hasn’t been made since…yeah, let’s not go there, and you probably shouldn’t turn on the light if you want to use my bathroom. My husband and I haven’t fought this much in a five-month time span since we were engaged while living 1,300 miles apart. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in my life, and don’t get me started on the list of things that nobody tells you about when you’re pregnant.

But, I am surviving and, dare I say, thriving by the grace of God. His grace keeps me going. It allows me to soothe the crying baby when all I want is for someone to hold me so I can have my own good cry. It helps me get dinner on the table when I want to just crawl under the covers and hope my messy house will just go away. It shows me how to love and respect my husband when we’re both sleep-deprived and cranky. It lets me be OK with the fact that there is no manual for being a parent.

I have a feeling I’m going to be spending a lot of space on this blog processing what I’m going through and learning, now that I’m a mother. Some people may find it to be just another mom blog, but I hope that for some it will be an encouragement. Maybe you’ll relate, maybe you’ll get some insight, maybe you’ll even have some advice for me. However it happens, my life is forever changed because five months ago my son was born, and there’s no going back. So here I go…

I’m not very good at keeping a journal.  Or a diary.  I never have been.  But I do keep certain things – important, impactful things – written down somewhere, so I remember them.  And these comparatively few things are usually the things that I will remember, because I wrote them down.

Yesterday, I was talking to God after a really rough afternoon, and I remembered a post from my old blog:

Psalm 23 (my notes in italics):

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. I will trust You unconditionally and unquestioningly to take care of me.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, I will trust You to bring me good things, to cause me to flourish and be refreshed.
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. I will trust You to take care of my safety and well-being.
4 Even though I walk through the the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Even when I go through the scariest times in my life, I will trust You to always take care of me. And I will find reassurance in Your authority and support.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. I will trust You to protect me and bring me honor in spite of those who may try to harm me or bring me down.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. I will trust in You and Your promises!

I want to make a better habit of writing things down – both the good and the bad – because it is good to remember the things God has done.  The saying, “time heals all wounds,” can be so true.  After so much time has passed, I sometimes find it hard to remember how difficult my previous trials were, and I face my current trials with despair, because I can’t see past them.  But looking back can give me the encouragement I need to look ahead, because now I remember feeling this sad/overwhelmed/angry before, but I also see how God was faithful, and He is always faithful, and He will get me through, just as He did before!

…if you and your two mullet-sporting friends go to Walmart just to gather in awe around the shopping cart escalator.

True story.

Let me explain…

I was at Walmart yesterday, and although it’s a well-known fact that Walmart is like the mother-ship for all things redneck, I’ve never witnessed anything like this!

My friendly neighborhood Walmart has lower-level parking, so there are escalators for customers’ easy car-to-store access.  There are also escalators for the shopping carts (or “buggies,” as they are called in the South) that run parallel to the people-escalators, so you can still take your cart with you and roll right up to your car on the lower parking deck.

As I was leaving the store and pushing my cart full of freshly-purchased groceries to the escalators, I see that it’s blocked by three middle-aged men with mullets and shirts with the sleeves cut off.  They were all crouched with their hands resting on their knees, except for one who was on crutches but was doing his best to duck his head, staring down the length of the escalator.  I thought maybe it was broken (it occasionally goes out of service).  But then one of them noticed me standing behind them and in a perfect Jeff-Foxworthy-redneck-accent exclaimed, “Oh! Fellers, git out the way fer this lady.  I’m sorry ma’am, we’re just amazed at the technology, here!”

I did my best to smile without laughing too much, and as I pushed my cart onto the cart-escalator and then stepped onto the people-escalator next to it, I heard him tell his friends, “Ok, now watch this!  She puts the cart on this here thing, and it rides all the way down…by itself!”  Followed by his buddies exclaiming, “Oh, man!”  “I’ll be darned!”

Another lady had just reached the bottom level with her cart, and it must have been her escalator-riding skills the guys were admiring when I approached them.  She glanced up, and we exchanged smiles, but only for a second, so as not to burst out laughing.

All I could think was…”Where is Jeff Foxworthy when you need him???” :)

Since we first found out that I am pregnant, Hubby and I have agreed to when and how the two extra bedrooms in our house need to be re-arranged.  Currently, we have a guest room and an office/man-cave/extra guest room (it’s basically where the office “stuff”, Hubby’s man “stuff” and the futon are kept).  So, The Plan has always been as follows:

I, as Project Manager, will take on, as a summer project, the re-arrangement of the Guest Room and Office/Man-Cave/Extra Guest Room in order to create a New Guest Room and Baby Room by executing the following tasks:

  • Complete all backed-up filing that has accumulated since we sold our house (before we moved here…in November).
  • Purge all office “stuff” and divide into categories of “trash”, “sell”, “keep”, and “storage”.
  • Sell all office furniture.
  • Separate baby “stuff” from guest room “stuff”
  • Notify Hubby when he is to move all guest room furniture into now-empty office/man-cave.
  • Arrange and organize new guest room.
  • Clean now-empty old guest room and set up/organize baby “stuff”.

It sounded like a pretty clear-cut plan when we verbalized it 6 months ago…but now, I’m looking at these rooms…

Man Cave/Office/Extra Guest Room to be emptied.

Guest Room, full of baby "stuff"

Ummmm….GULP!  (The office/man cave picture doesn’t do it complete justice – there is an entire bookshelf, a wall and a half of pictures/decor, and a full-to-the-brim closet that are not shown here.)  So…if you don’t hear from me for a few days, you might want to send a search party, because I’ll probably be buried somewhere under a landslide in one of these two rooms!  Maybe I should tie a safety rope around my waist before I start…then again, it’s probably somewhere in the office/man cave…

I don’t know if anyone else ever goes through that period of “What the hell am I doing here?!” right after they make or experience major change…but that’s how I’ve been feeling lately.  To sum it up, the past 14 months have lead to job changes for both me and Hubby, the sale of our house, a move to another state where we don’t know anyone (putting us further away from family and friends than ever before), and me being pregnant with our first child.  And it’s taking its toll…at one of my last doctor’s appointments, I cried uncontrollably the entire time, just because I felt so overwhelmed with all the changes (especially the pregnancy) and had no support outside of my husband, who needed his own.  The nurse handled it ok, but the doctor asked if I wanted antidepressants.  No!  I just want a friend!  Why did I have to get pregnant AFTER we left all our friends?

So, I decided to take a break from my pity party to do some actual reflection.  I came across two songs that said it all (don’t you love when that happens?).  The first is Painting Pictures of Egypt by Sara Groves, which draws a great parallel between how I’ve been feeling and how the Israelites felt when they were going through the desert in their escape from Egypt.

The other song is If You Want Me To by Ginny Owens.  I’ve stopped feeling sorry for myself and accepted that God knows things that I have no way of understanding.  There’s a reason for everything.

I also remembered that I went through a similar phase when I moved to our previous state.  I left everything I knew and was in a place where I didn’t know anyone.  I spent 2 or 3 years openly expressing how much I didn’t like it there and my home state was so much better.  But eventually, I found a purpose, along with many great friends, and now I really miss that place.  God was faithful, and He will be again now and forever.

Isaiah 49:1-13

In anticipation of our firstborn’s arrival, I have grown to appreciate the experience that Hubby and I have had in raising two wonderful pets.  Really, they’re like our first “kids” – the sort-of-practice-run for things like keeping another living being alive, establishing routines (sort of), and learning that training and disciplining doesn’t mean creating perfect little soldiers/robots.

Also, if you need to practice patience and grace, offer to dog-sit a puppy that’s in the middle of potty training (I wouldn’t recommend diving right into ownership unless you’re really committed).  You’ll also learn humility, because there’s nothing like cleaning up someone else’s…um, mess…especially when they can’t do it themselves and haven’t really gotten the hang of what else to do about the situation.  All good things to practice for having children…or so I’m told. :)

But seriously, we love our doggies!  And I think I should brag on them a little.  Our “oldest” is Baily – she’s a gangly dog with funny-looking ears that flop up and to the side, rather than straight down.  As far as we can tell, she’s a Labrador-Whippet mix…she came from a “whoops” litter and the mama’s owners had no idea where their dog had been before she came home knocked up.

We got Baily when she was only about 6 weeks old and could practically fit in my hand.  Actually, Hubby was the one who went to pick her out before he picked me up from work.  He said there were only two puppies left – one that liked to snuggle and sleep a lot, and one that liked to run and pounce and play.  I like to joke that he picked “the crazy sister.”

Baily can run and jump like nobody’s business (she once cleared a 6-foot privacy fence), loves to wrestle with Hubby, and absolutely ADORES kids and babies.  She turns into a totally docile dog when there’s a baby in the room.  Melts my heart.  In fact, I’m betting that our baby will have her wrapped around his tiny little pinky finger as soon as he comes home from the hospital.  :)

Baily

Our second dog is Molly.  We adopted her from another family a year and half ago, and she is exactly one year younger than Baily.  She’s a Maltipoo and weighs about 10 pounds right after a good meal.

We never thought of ourselves as small-dog-people.  In fact, we were hoping Baily would be as big as a Lab when we adopted her, and were planning to get something like a Retriever or German Shepherd for our second dog.  However, it turns out that Baily only seems to find puppies and small dogs agreeable.  She’s gotten much better at tolerating other dogs that are her size and bigger, but overall, she’s a small-dog-dog.

Enter Molly!  It was actually love at first sight for these two.  The previous owner brought Molly over to meet Baily, to make sure we were all a good match for each other, and they instantly sniffed nose to nose and took off running circles around the yard together!  They pretty much haven’t stopped, either.  They’re completely inseparable – they freak out if only one of them gets taken somewhere and the other has to stay.  Sometimes they even share Baily’s bed.  Anything Baily does, Molly has to do it too!

Molly is an expert snuggler and is not afraid to play with the big dogs (in fact, we’re pretty sure she thinks she’s huge).  She is also good with children, and is a real trooper when they try to pick her up and carry her, which really turns into putting her in a half-Nelson and dragging her around.  She’s got a go-with-the-flow personality…either that, or she really doesn’t know what’s going on…we can’t tell, but either way, she’s a sweetie! :)

Molly

Oh!  And I just realized I never officially announced it, but we are having a baby BOY!  We’re all very excited (of course, we would’ve been excited either way – we’re just happy to know more about him)! :)  And it’ll be good for Hubby, too, because with all these girls in the house, he’s been pretty outnumbered for the past few years… :)

I came up with this little ditty after my first incident with someone making a comment about how much bigger I’m looking now that I’m pregnant.

Dear God, please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to not slap people who feel they have the right to openly comment on my pregnant physical appearance.  Amen.

And for the record, it is never ok to refer to another woman’s stomach as a “pooch” – whether or not she’s pregnant!  Just thought I’d throw that one out there, since it’s apparently not common knowledge.  Geez, people…

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