Monday, August 26, 2013

A bud in its infancy

This blog is a place of learning for me. I like to write about things when I feel like I have spent a lot of time exploring and thinking about different ideas. This can be misleading, since the things that are recorded here are developed thoughts. So I'm not writing after I just yelled at one of my kids. Or when I'm in a bad mood. Or when I feel like I can't take it anymore.

Today was one such day. At its close I look back and cringe, knowing this was not one of my best days as a mother.

I do want my children to see our life, to see how I've grown as a mother. And as they start their own families, I want them to see that it is a learning process that takes time. And unfortunately learning has a lot of ugly sides, where you reacted poorly first. But I don't think they need it recorded what I say when I'm angry, or how I snap when I'm exhausted. Besides, although those posts would be "real" and "true" for me in the moment, I know they do not actually contain Truth. For with those moments I am ashamed of, I know the beauty of repentance is real and I can ask for forgiveness and be wiped clean, never to have them weighing me down again.

I do mention hard times in passing, or glimpses into bad reactions, but it is hard to capture those raw emotions that make us human. I instead record what I learned from the experience, usually several days, weeks, or months after I've struggled with, reacted poorly to, or spent time moping about it. I guess what I am trying to say with this post is, I hope that my children will know what growth and change looks like. Life is long. I don't always react how I want to, there are plenty of days or hours I regret. Make that a lot of days, a lot of hours. But I'm hoping to overcome this "infancy" stage. Change doesn't look pretty. But as we reach upward, our petals extend in the full light that is Jesus Christ. And I am ever-reaching.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Moving up

Our favorite upstairs renters recently bought a house. With our third child on his way, we decided it was time to move upstairs.

We bought our lovely old duplex in July of 2011. I fell in love with the big kitchen, the fireplace, the original hardwood floor and windows, and its unique charm and history. But we really couldn't justify all the space with just one 9 month old daughter.

Ben suggested we live in the basement, which I laughed at. It definitely had "student status." It was dinky and dark, suffocating to my free spirit. I wouldn't have chosen to live there myself. But we knew it would be the best financial decision, so I agreed. Truth be told, it probably caused us to save somewhere close to $5000 over the course of two years, so it was well worth the sacrifice.

And really, we could have fit three kids down there, but I would be lying if I didn't admit that it was starting to effect my emotional health.

But I will never forget what I learned down there. Lessons about how much happier you can be with less stuff, about how America thinks space is a necessity, even if it goes unused, lessons about beauty, about the importance of going outside, and many more things.

On Saturday night I sat on the couch in our upstairs living room and looked around me. I thought about two years ago when I sat on that living room floor, harried from a rushed move, wondering if we had just bought a dump heap.

Now my attitude has changed. I was filled with rich gratitude. Now I have been deeply colored by my experience of living in the basement. I saw bounty all around me.  Too many cupboards to fill, space going unused, natural light no longer at a premium. It was almost a sacred experience, as tears came to my eyes. I felt unworthy for such a blessing, such a place to call "home."

Ben does not quite understand. But other stay-at-home moms will. Your home is so much more than a place to eat and sleep. It is your universe.

And my universe is filled with light. May I ever be grateful.

And the basement, before me moved:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Masters Degree, from my perspective

Five years ago I met a boy who had just started his masters degree.

He was also working part time at a start-up company, living in a three-to-a-room bedroom in an apartment complex, and contemplating if he would be single for the rest of his life (he was 26).

No one in his family had ever gotten a masters degree. He was in uncharted territory. It took all that he had. He wondered if he had made the wrong choice, if he should drop out.

About 9 months later, I married this man. We were both in school and working, it worked out great. Then I got pregnant and was terribly sick. I lived for the days when he had class, when I knew I would see him at 3pm instead of 6. He would come home to a sink full of dishes and his wife sick in bed, trying to sleep off the nausea. I was less than available, and he had to play a lot of roles. It was a dark time in our memories.

Ben started working full time, which I didn't realize would make him a "non-traditional" master's student. Most thesis students get paid to research their thesis (albeit a student's salary, of course). Cheyenne was born. Ben finished his very last class. Now he can focus on his thesis, we thought. We told ourselves he could write and finish his thesis in four months, April 2011. Make that six, August.

We bought a duplex. Ben became an official handyman. I was pregnant again, this time with Delaney.

How about this April? I could really use some help when the baby was born. At this point any spare time we had was dedicated to the thesis. Every Saturday, weeknight, weekend. Let's go to the park as a family! No, Ben should spend time on his thesis. Let's catch a movie tonight. No I really should be working on my thesis. How about a relaxing evening with nothing planned? I shouldn't. Even if we did do these things occasionally, the thesis was always hanging over our heads. Anytime I asked him for help, needed a break, or had a job for him to do, I knew I was only prolonging this misery of the thesis. We were always contemplating how much of life we should live, and how much we should give up until this was over.

Delaney came, the thesis did not. Writing was excruciating for Ben. I married an engineer, not a writer, and he had to fight for every sentence.

By now we were pushing for April 2013. We pushed, but we didn't make it. I cried. I knew now that the thesis would never be over. I was pregnant again.

There were a lot of dark, dark days. Ben would come home at 6 and only stay long enough to eat dinner. Saturdays were just like any other day of the week. There was no weekend. I had a hard time remembering what day it was.

Sometimes Ben would come into bed at night and I would cry. "I am alone," I would tell him. "I am alone. It's just me." I would sob into his back. His heaving breathing would tell me that his exhaustion had already put him to sleep.

It wasn't all bad of course. Children can infuse joy into any dark moment. Sundays were a healing balm for us. I got better at coping. And we have always been dreamers.

A ray of hope came in May. We might just finish this thing! I was cautiously optimistic. Dates were scheduled. The defense was set. But would it? My heart was twisted in a permanent knot until the middle of June.

Alas, it did all end on June 17, 2013. Ben defended his thesis and we were officially done. Nearly four years to the day that we got married. Two and half kids later.

And now in August he donned his cap and gown and walked across the stage. The rough parts of those four years seem like a dream, really. Even now I have a hard time recalling the raw emotions and the inner turmoil I felt during many different points of it.

And Ben, what a real man he is. He contemplated quitting as a single person, but once he had a family he saw only one plan of action. He is committed. Ben is not a student, in the traditional sense. Although he loves learning, reading is not his pastime and writing is not his forte. If you would have told me my husband was going to write a thesis over 100 pages long, I would have laughed at you. But he has persevered. He gave up countless hours of down time, "me" time, and "stree free" time only to pick up where I was lacking and then continue to work on his thesis. He IS love. Commitment, perseverance,  love, these are the words that are brought to mind when I think of our thesis experience.

Oh yeah, and finished.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

To Learn

taken Fall 2009 along the river trail

If I could pick the one thing I took away from my college education as a teacher, it would be the importance of reflecting.

"Reflecting," my professor told me, "is what makes a great teacher. These are the ones that grow with the years."

Reflection is often called pondering in our church. I have pondered much and often on this blog.

Oh what an incredible learning experience it has been! What I have recorded in this space has changed my life.

My thoughts are more concrete. I've always known that writing is a way to solidify what you already know, sort out and organize ideas into recognizable patterns. Ideas in your head are often mixed in with cultural fluff, prejudices, or half-truths. This space has allowed me to strip those down into what I really know. What is opinion and what is fact. This is no stream of consciousness, this has been boiled down into ideas that are usable and quite real to me.

My life is more congruent. Recording things in this space has allowed me to live what I know. Before I wrote things down in this format, they would often be forgotten, written in the margin of a book somewhere or scrawled in a journal to review when "I had time." Now that these ideas are recorded out in the open, in short, manageable snippets, I come back to them often. I read them again and again. I feel responsible for them. I think about these ideas constantly, always refreshing, always pondering.

I can see real growth. Life can be overwhelming sometimes. I have spent plenty of the years of my life feeling like I was not progressing, discouraged by my set backs and thinking that I would always be the same. Although it is quite subtle, this blog has allowed me to see that I am making changes to become better, however small they may be. I may not have nipped the behavior but my thoughts are changing. I may not be perfect but I can see the pattern to get there.

An unintended bonus has been the way I now see others. Because of the nature of blogs, other people read my thoughts. I have come to realize that part of being a whole person, congruent in thought and act, means not being ashamed of what you believe, who you truly are. What I didn't expect is that people would treat me better. They are kinder, think me spiritual, and assume the best. They associate me with my highest thoughts. It has made me realize that we all should be treated this way. Doubt the bad, assume the good. See people at their best, and they will act their best.

God is so merciful! What started out, for me, as a silly little place to record pictures, has instead become a place to record my life blood. To learn, to grow, and to live as I always wanted to.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pregnancy Glow

In our modern world, we are programmed to look for the negatives in pregnancy. I know because of I have participated in it. I have encouraged it. I have done my fair share of complaining.

In the short 4 years we've been married, I have already been pregnant about 2 years of it. And I imagine I will be pregnant a few more years of my life before it is all said and done.

I want to find things to be grateful for. I want to find peace in my life. True happiness. Joy, as our Father originally planned.

God has revealed to me, that in my specific circumstance, I need to look in the places I think most unlikely. House work, childcare, pregnancy. Things that appear meaningless or hard to the untrained eye (and interestingly, happen to be the majority of my daily tasks).

I want to record one gift God has given me during pregnancy. I have thought about it before, but only in the context of, "Well that's nice, but I also have this, this, and this to worry about." Hopefully by recording it here I can start to change my own attitudes towards this blessing of pregnancy.

When I am pregnant, I have what is called "the pregnancy glow." I first noticed it when I was pregnant with Cheyenne. My skin clears up a little bit and has a natural glow. My hair grows thick and dark from my head. My skin begins to tighten around my growing belly. My natural beauty is at its peak. Not all women have this phenomenon. But I know with God's help, each woman could find something God has blessed them with during pregnancy. For Job did not have a twin sister, you know.

I don't want my children to dwell on the tired momma or the messy house from the pregnancies of their siblings. I want them to remember Mom at her finest. And with two kids under the age of remembering from conscious memory, I have a special job to fill in that space.

"That was my mom when she was young."

"That was my mom when she carried my little brother."

"What was it like, Momma? Will I carry babies too?"

"What was it like? Will it hurt?"

No, it won't hurt when love grows in you. You will be blessed more than you can imagine.

Monday, August 12, 2013

My baby

Delaney, You are growing up so fast. Part of me is saying hurry. Hurry, get all the independence you can, your brother is coming soon! But then the other part of me says, She's only a year old! She's just a baby! This part of me mourns the loss of the baby in you. My baby. Your nickname used to be "Tiny" but you really aren't tiny anymore. I watch you struggle to do things by yourself, to try and be "big" like your sister. You know how to be "big" now and are just disappointed by your limitations. Those little legs just can't quite get you up on the couch sometimes. You stare intently at me while I talk to you, the power of language just out of reach.

Although your babyhood will be cut short in just a few months, I have loved our time together. I feel like babyhood is a sacred time in one's life, where the connection between you, Heaven, and your earthly mother is all very close. I have loved having you so connected to me. I am confident that this bond we have formed will allow you to go on to do great things. I will always be your mother. And now I must make way to form another connection, to again be the world for one person.

I know I am the lucky one. I am the one that gets the chance to be so close to Heaven again. I am the one that gets to spend hours soaking in those tiny little toes, to bask in the miracle of a tiny body being formed in me and then see its fruition into a beautiful, god-like form.

Though you may not remember our time together, Delaney, know that it was a special time we shared. I basked in your light just as I will your brother's. We had plenty of time where I appreciated your baby-ness, I felt our hearts beat in rhythm and snuggled your little body next to mine. Motherly love is a gift from God to babies. My gift from God is you.


Your Mother