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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.

*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!

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

As much as I wish I was talking about these beautiful flowers, I’m not. I’m actually referring to my to-do list…

I suppose it would help if I could keep the days of the week straight.  I don’t know if it’s pregnancy-brain or just working-from-home-fog, but today (Wednesday) is the first day this week that I have remembered correctly.  (Wednesday)  And that’s only because I keep reminding myself!  (Wednesday)

It started on Monday, which you’d think I’d recognize, since it comes right after Sunday, which was Easter, and we went to church and there was an awesome special service, AND it’s the first day after the weekend that Hubby goes to work.  I mean, hello?

Well, our small group meets on Monday nights.  So, Hubby came home from work, and after dinner we sat on the couch, where Hubby took a quick nap and I watched TV.  At about 6:55 pm (our group meets at 7:00 pm), he woke up and mumbled “Hey, what time are we leaving?”

I actually cocked my head to one side and squinted (because that always helps me think more clearly) and mouthed the word “leaving…” before I jumped up exclaiming, “Oh crap, it’s Monday!”  Hubby had a good laugh and said, “Well, what day did you think it was?”  I really didn’t have a  good explanation for that one, except that in whatever time zone my brain was in, it wasn’t going to be Monday until tomorrow, somehow…  Yikes!

So then, the next day, I still couldn’t get it together.  I got the mail from the mailbox and put in a book that I needed to send out for my online book swapping club (Paperbackswap.com – it’s awesome.  You should check it out.  Tell them I sent you. :)).  When Hubby got home, I asked him, “Did you check the mail?”  He gave me a funny look and said, “Um, no…the flag’s up.  Doesn’t that mean you put something out there already?”

And somehow my brain had migrated back to La-la-land Time Zone, because my response was as follows: “Oh, I wasn’t sure if I had picked up the mail from yesterday, but that wouldn’t make sense, because yesterday was Sunday!”  Oh.  Wow.  Really?  Hubby used that tone of voice that’s saved for people who wake up with amnesia, “No…honey…today…is…Tuesday…”

I was SO embarrassed!  But!  I DO know that today is Wednesday!  So I’m giving myself a point for that one.  Mostly I keep reminding myself (Wednesday) because last week I forgot what day Thursday was, which happens to be garbage day, which turned out to be the smelliest mistake I think I’ve ever made. 😦  Eww…

So, since today is Wednesday, that means I can put that stinky bin out at the curb (and AWAY from the house) as early as this afternoon, since the garbage heros come at the crack of dawn tomorrow.  Which is Thursday.  See?  I’m getting the hang of this! 🙂 

*Update:  After the garbage truck came and took away the stinky garbage, Hubby came home and hosed out the bin with soapy bleach water.  He’s my Superman. 🙂 

So, there’s this blog called The Daybook that does a feature called “Awkward and Awesome Thursdays.”  Several other people have joined in the fun, and I find their posts quite entertaining!  I’m gonna give it a shot, but I’m just going to sum up the month of April so far (events will be listed in the order I remember them, not chronologically…let’s not put too much pressure on a brain that I have to share with a growing baby).  For the record, today is Thursday. 🙂

Awkward

– Filing taxes on your own, well technically with the Hubby, during the tax year when all the experts are saying this was the most confusing year for tax laws.  (For the record, interpreting your real estate documents to figure out what you owe on your tax credit will probably make you want to shoot someone/something.  Just sayin’…)

– Sweating in April.  Southerners call 82 degrees “a nice Spring day,” but the land I hail from just got 3 inches of snow, and despite complaints of annoyance, nobody there thought that was strange.  So yes, sweating in April is awkward for me.

– Planning a trip to visit said home state in a few weeks and realizing that most of the clothes that fit my growing frame are summer clothes…hmm…

– Even though I am the one that is pregnant, due to circumstances beyond our control (like tendonitis and allergies), Hubby has had more doctors appointments than I have! 

– Not being able to open any windows because of Hubby’s allergies to all things Nature.

– Feeling pregnant without looking very pregnant.  I can’t keep more than one thought straight in my head, and I get tired a heck of a lot quicker than I used to, but unless I pointed out the ultrasound picture on our refrigerator, you’d probably just think I had too much to eat for lunch.  Which I probably did.  But whatever…

– Trying to compensate my forgetful, pregnancy-hormone-filled brain by putting reminders in the calendar on my phone…but forgetting to set the alarms so that I would actually be reminded…doh!

– Having the neighbor who never speaks to anyone shouting and banging on your door at 7:00 a.m. to ask you for a jump or jumper cables because she left her headlights on all night and her battery died.

– Continuing to be ignored by the neighbor whose car you jumped at 7:00 a.m.

– The overflowing baskets of clean laundry that I have yet to fold.  No really, that’s clean…it’s just…a little wrinkley…  I am so in trouble when this baby comes…

Awesome

– Despite the frustrations with taxes themselves, TurboTax is pretty awesome.  I would recommend them.

– Being surprised by Hubby with a trip to home state to visit my family.  I heart him!  A lot! 😉

– Getting a part-time, at-home job that allows me freedom to run errands, clean house and cook dinner during the day, leaving my evenings free to hang out with Hubby.

– Making new friends through our new small group from church.  We all seem to like each other, which is awesome.

– Having a neighbor (different than the awkward one) who refers to me as “Little Mama” and habitually brings us desserts. 🙂  Miss Pruney is awesome.

– My new-found LOVE for raw fruits and veggies.  So far, this baby has pretty good taste in cravings (no pun intended).

– Getting ready to plant a veggie garden next week! 🙂

– Getting our second dog spayed, which means I will only have to change one little being’s diapers from now on, and it will be a human being.  (Seriously, dogs in heat are awk. ward.)

– Exercising my dogs by blowing bubbles for them in the backyard.  They do all the running, I do all the laughing.  Totally.  Awesome. 🙂

– Looking forward to the 5 year anniversary with Hubby.  Again, I heart him.  He’s my best friend, my hero, and my dearest love.  And he’s planning a big surprise for that day.  Surprises are awesome. 🙂

– Also looking forward to finding out whether this baby is gonna be a boy or a girl.  No, I don’t have any instinct about it.  I just want him/her to be healthy!  Again, surprises are awesome. 🙂

There you have it – my awkward and awesome life so far this month!  Good stuff. 🙂

Don’t forget, this post is brought to you by The Daybook.

So, it’s been some of those days…  Not just one of those days, but two, actually.  Yesterday, I had my first ultrasound appointment, so Hubby came with me to see the baby.  This should be a happy day, right?

I picked him up from work, and he was already having a rough day.  He was a little grumpy about having to leave work early and said he’d have to go back in the evening to finish some things up.  My hormones took the opportunity to take personal offense at the situation, which was a great start.

We got about 5 minutes down the freeway when we realized that I forgot to grab the CD and DVD that we wanted to bring with, just in case they’d burn us some extra pictures and/or a video of the ultrasound!  Dangit.  So, we checked the GPS for the nearest office supply store.  There was one 2.3 miles from where we were, sort of still on the way to the hospital.  But it turned out to be all back roads and school zones.  Great.  It would’ve been faster to turn around and go home.

At the store, Hubby ran in and got a DVD, and we got back on the road.  By this time, we were seriously pushing the 20 minute window of grace for the appointment.  Hubby dropped me off at the door of the hospital, and I booked it up to the 9th floor to check in – 17 minutes late (but still within the 20 minute window!).  We were then told that they had to do a “procedure” and all the ultrasound rooms were full, so we had to wait 30 minutes.  Also, they won’t burn a CD or DVD for patient privacy reasons.  Super.  I cried a little, or maybe the hormones did.

We got to see our baby on the ultrasound screen, which was really great.  S/he loves the camera!  As soon as that thing touched my stomach, it was showtime – commence wiggling, head-bobbing, kicking, and showing off your good side, baby!  I think the ultrasound technician said “That’s a NICE shot!” about 3 times. 🙂  At least that went well.  And my nurse said everything looks great, so that was good to hear.

But then tried to leave.  We got to elevators when Hubby realized he forgot where he parked the car (he was running to meet me in the waiting room, after all).  We searched 3 or 4 levels of the parking garage before we finally found it.  By this time, we were obviously on cloud 9 and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company.  (Please tell me you’re picking up on the sarcasm here.) 

We got back on the freeway, and then Hubby couldn’t find his sunglasses (and by sunglasses, I mean freaking-expensive sunglasses).  So we had another breakdown.  I tried to call the doctor’s office to see if anyone found them there, but they had closed by then.  Awesome!  By the grace of God, we actually found them, slipped into the crack of the seat, where the bottom meets the back (so at least I wasn’t sitting directly on them).  It was like a silver speck in our cloud.

At home, I managed to make homemade pizzas for dinner without breaking or burning down anything (I was pretty impressed with myself).  AND the pizzas came out of the oven right when Hubby walked in the door.  Although I forgot to add diced tomatoes to the toppings, we decided we’d live without them and settled down to an evening of watching American Pickers before hitting the hay early.

This morning, I woke up early to throw a few pieces of laundry in the dryer because I was pretty sure Hubby was out of socks.  I gave myself points for starting the day off with a solution instead of a problem (how self-help of me, right?).  Then I thought, hey, as long as I’m up, I might as well make Hubby some breakfast.

But the road to 2 cups of spilled oatmeal on the floor and sauteed burned apples was paved with good intentions.  Also, Hubby didn’t need the socks – he had one clean pair left.  Thankfully, he gave me a huge hug before I had the chance to cry about anything, thanked me for everything and told me he loves me.  He also ate the oatmeal that made it into the pot and got cooked, along with the apples, and declared it was the best breakfast he’d had in a long time.  I don’t know if it was totally true, but it made me feel a whole lot better.

I’m still apprehensive about leaving the house today.  I think I’ll just stay right here on my couch.  The garbage truck came, so our bin needs to be pulled back up to the house, but I think it can wait until Hubby gets home from work.  And I’m thinking leftover pizza for dinner.  Just in case.

I once read a post on a friend’s blog – My Interior By Design – that went like this:

1. Healthy things grow.

2. Growing things change.

3. Changing things challenge us.

4. Challenge forces us to trust.

5. Trust leads to obedience.

6. Obedience makes us healthy.

7. Healthy things grow.

Change.  It can be so difficult.  It can be so good.  It can be a pain in the butt!  Changes have really hit me as I adjust to life in a new state (and yes, sometimes I walk around during my day with the David Bowie song, “Changes”, stuck in my head).  For example, in the state of Georgia, you get your driver’s license from the Department of Driver Services (or DDS), but then you go across town to a totally different office run by the county to get your car’s plates.  Never had to do that before, and the idea sounded awful – two different offices to complete a task that I used to be able to take care at one?! Come. On.  Well, it turned out to be a rather painless and efficient system, because it took all of 20 minutes for both my husband and I to get our car tags, so…yay! 🙂

Another thing I’ve been adjusting to is not knowing anyone around here.  Well, I’ve got my neighbor, who’s been really nice, but she’s much older than me, so we probably would run out of things to talk about if we ever found a place we both wanted to hang out.  I really drive myself crazy at church or Starbucks, which are both places I used to go and see friendly faces.  Oh, well, the faces are friendly enough around here, too, but none of them are familiar.  That doesn’t stop my from scanning every face, trying to find someone familiar!  Still haven’t found one.  😦

It’s hard to think back and remember that only 5 years ago, I was in the same situation in Virginia.  I had just moved from the Midwest, where I was born and raised.  Friendly strangers, low humidity, and cold weather were all I had known!  Needless to say, moving to the East Coast/South, living 20 minutes from the ocean was quite a culture shock!  I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have a job, and I didn’t have a clue where to start!  Fast forward half a decade, and as we packed up all our earthly belongings (besides the ones that are still being stored in my parent’s basement), we said several teary goodbyes to people who had become close friends.  People who I had never known existed a few years before are now some of the dearest people to me. 

And now, I look forward to living that all over again, even though I have no idea what the process will look like, and it probably won’t be all that fun sometimes, but one day, I will be able to look at my life and smile at all the wonderful people who have come into it at different times, in different places, and made it so much more special.

So here’s to growth, change, challenge, trust, and obedience!