As I was telling someone this week, my spiritual gift is pessimism. I have a beautiful knack for seeing the tunnel and not the light, the cloud and not the lining. My friends and family are blessed. I feel badly that it’s probably filtered over the blog, so today instead of analyzing or complaining, it is sunshiney optimism day! I LOVE the four-month age. I have to admit, when I posted a poll about the funnest age and “birth to age 1” won, I was a little skeptical and, well, terrified. If THIS is the best, then what the HECK is coming next. But I think I get it…Things are getting fun 🙂 Now at four months, Sam laughs with recognition at the bath, Bjourn, and bottle, enjoys tickle fests, and LOVES the Johnny Jumpup, which right now is the highlight of my life. In case you are unaware of the Johnny Jumpup, it’s a baby-bungee-jumping contraption that looks like it was created in the back of a garage by two dads. Obama will probably outlaw it next, but until then, what fun!! Also exciting this age is the sleep schedule. Most days – the mind reels – I turn Sam on his side, turn on the mobile, and voila – he falls asleep. It’s like your wedding; you never thought the day would come. But the days that doesn’t work, then…we dance. If you know my dancing you’re laughing, but it’s a beautiful thing. We start with Miley Cirus and by 30 seconds into “Whatever It Is” by Zac Brown he’s out. (If he’s still awake by BarlowGirl, by the way, it was merely mom and not Sam who was tired. Oops.) Anyway, these moments are just precious. I am enjoying them while they last!
In my family, cleanliness is next to godliness, and I often feel like the black sheep. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t want to be orderly, vacuumed, and disinfected. I think I’m ADD. I start scrubbing the toilet and remember to pay a bill. Then the rice boils over and it’s all downhill. I say all this as a preface, in hopes that you will take the following post with a rather LARGE grain of salt. This is the blind leading the blind here. But I THINK I’ve stumbled on a lifesaver. Basically, it’s called “the cleaning plan.” Previous to this plan, I had a very effective system for cleaning. Basically, I didn’t – until something annoyed me so badly I knew it was time to clean it. Now, I don’t have to wonder when the guest toilet will be cleaned. I know – Friday. Anyway, here are the steps:
Make a list of every job in your house, specifying which are daily, weekly, or monthly. (You can add “yearly,” but I didn’t want to be over-ambitious.)
Make a rough schedule of your week.
Assign a specific time in the day to do the “daily” tasks. Seems obvious, but it’s been a big help because now I ALWAYS take my shower during Sam’s first nap, and start dinner during the second…
Divide up the weekly tasks amongst the days. I always do laundry on Monday and Friday, plan my menu on Thursday, and pay bills on Tuesday.
Assign a day to do each monthly task. (I have jobs for each Saturday of the month.)
If you want to include yearly tasks, a good variation I saw had a list of, for example, jobs that needed to be completed in February, like cleaning blinds and organizing the pantry.
This little system, while completely simple, has totally transformed my life for the last 16 days – because without a vision, the people perish, especially when the people take care of a four-month-old. It has accomplished two miracles: 1. For once in my life I have gotten everything done. 2. For once in my life I don’t feel guilt/annoyance when I see dried frozen peas on the kitchen floor. I know they will be gone by Wednesday.
I had a moment last night. Sam had gas, hunger, stuffy nose, and then playtime – two hours total. The moment was when, rocking him and letting him hold one of my hands for comfort, I thought, “Where else would I really rather be?” And I meant it. This is a big deal, because honestly, this mothering thing has not been easy. It’s a very, very hard job. But not “hard” like you think. Actually anyone could do the work, which is why you can pay $10 an hour to most any teenager to do the job for a few hours. In fact, it’s largely mundane, repetitive, menial tasks, if we’re being honest. Mostly, I wash dishes, read kiddie books and change diapers. Not Einstein. No, the “hardness” of mothering, I realized, comes not in the quality but the quantity. It never, never stops. From the moment they set your precious little bundle on your chest, every, single minute will be different. Sure, you still enjoy a nap, cup of coffee, conversation with your husband, REM cycle of sleep every once in a while, but each is enjoyed tentatively, with the knowledge that at any moment you could and probably will be called out of yourself for another job. I find myself holding my breath a lot. But I don’t just mean in a bad way, of course. For the whole time your heart is also bigger, filled with more love, worry, and depth than it ever has been. But it is constant. I’m not good at that kind of love. I’m more used to the love that shows up during a pre-planned week of June in Peru, from the hours of 8-3 in a classroom, or momentarily after a convicting quiet time. This every minute kind of love I can’t do. C.S. Lewis has a quote about rats in the cellar that keeps coming to mind…When you turn on a light, that’s when you see how many rats are there, just like sudden disruptions reveal our character. Hopeful thinking, maybe, but I’m wondering after last night if some of my rats are disappearing….Is it possible the cute little guy in farm animal pajamas is chasing them away? 🙂
This post started out (in my head) as some helpful advice to you single and childless people. It was titled “To My Single Friends” and it was filled with little tidbits of advice, straight from me to you. Things like, go out and enjoy a jog. Treasure your full night of sleep. Realize as busy as you think you are now, it’s nothing. Relish in the freedom of a lazy afternoon, etc. etc. It would have been good, but it backfired. As I thought about it, I remembered that I ALWAYS look back on each stage of life I pass and berate myself for not enjoying/treasuring the unique blessings of that stage. (Except for high school. I really think I enjoyed high school as much as one could possibly enjoy high school. Which, let’s be honest, is not too much.) Anyway, it hit me. Is it possible I will look back on THIS stage – with its exhaustion and feeling cluelessly over my head – and feel I missed something? The answer comes as soon as the question is finished. “This stage goes so fast,” Mom says. It’s cliche, I’ve heard it again and again, but somehow today it clicked. I looked at Sam in his Bumbo seat with his burped on bib and little sweatpants and…Enjoy this. I was SO sure that teaching and coaching was the hardest my life would ever get. Ha. There seems more at stake here. I’m choosing to listen to the warning now and not feel the guilt later. Tonight’s 3 am feeding will be treasured!
Today was Sam’s evaluation with the publicly-funded early development screening board. Basically, three people came to our house to watch Sam play. Although the actual “recommendations” won’t come until later, their feedback was AMAZINGLY positive. Really, they didn’t say anything negative. They were impressed that Sam smiled and “talked” with them, grabbed for toys, liked being on his belly, rolled over, was aware of his surroundings, etc. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on the lady’s face as she got up to leave. “You have a beautiful little baby.” Honestly, there wasn’t nearly as much weighing on this meeting as I three weeks ago would have thought there would be. But while I wasn’t surprised, I don’t think the joy will ever go away…every time I get a smile, a laugh, a look of recognition, I thank God for his gracious and abundant joy. He gives us so much more than we deserve. I realize it’s been WAY too long since I’ve posted pictures…especially since the little guy is changing so much! He wakes up cuter (and fatter) every day, and does so many wonderful things. STAY TUNED for some pictures. 🙂
Got milk? Don’t be mislead by the upbeat title. I’m overwhelmed. The dilemma is complex and probably boring to anyone who hasn’t breastfed a baby. Oh, how crucial all the boring facts have become. So Sam is allergic to milk. That leaves three options. Soy formula, nutremagin (rice-based formula, which contains MSG!), or me resuming breastfeeding and omitting dairy from my diet. Two weeks ago, when the question was presented, I chose the soy formula. Today, I considered titling this post “Soy Formula Is the Devil.” Maybe I should have. Don’t get me wrong, aside from some VERY painful BMs, Sam is doing great. Here’s the problem. After reading this, go google “soy formula.” Just do it. Read all of the horrifying, back-woods, unfounded but terrifying blogs, forums, and chatroom hysterics about the dangers of soy in babies. Boy babies in particular. Here’s your science lesson for the day: soy produces estrogen. (Who knew?) I’ve read about 8 times that a baby eating only soy formula consumes FIVE BIRTH CONTROL PILLS A DAY????!?!? What??? True or not, I’m done with it. The issue would be over except for one, measly, annoying problem. Have you ever heard the word “relactation”? Me neither, but apparently it refers to the ability of a mom to resume breastfeeding, and apparently, it is about as possible as getting rid of wrinkles: once in a blue moon, it might happen. Nurse or pump 23 hours a day for 3 weeks and, who knows, you might get some milk. So here is my task, the one I have chosen to accept. 1. Say farewell to pizza, cheese, yogurt and ice cream indefinitely, and hope that all the small amounts of dairy in everything else won’t bother Sam. 2. Spend most of the next few weeks trying to “relactate.” (Isn’t the term already getting on your nerves?) 3. Do this all while continuing to be energetic, attentive, and focused on improving little Sam. The funny thing is, even though in my head, I feel as if I just finished a marathon and someone said, “Great, now turn around and do it again,” in my HEART, I am not worried. God has already given so much, and shown us so much. I know he will provide. It just may be interesting in the meantime…