Archive | April 2010

Mommy Advice Contest!

I have LOVED the first year of Sam’s life. I was warned, and they were right. You start looking at your twenty-five pound (yes!) “baby” and yearn for the firsts again. You get the itch. But I have to admit, while thoughts of another little Smartt excite me, I also get very, very. . . tired. Literally, I want to take a nap just thinking about those long nights again – WITH ANOTHER CHILD to boot. There is no question in my mind that whoever said “mothering is the hardest job in the world” was something near to prophet. Sure, there are other workers on call twenty-four hours. But how many of them need the skills (thirty seconds from waking up) to promptly recall the words to “This Little Light of Mine” and sing it in a tone so soothing, confident, and loving that a screaming newborn is induced from hysteria to calm, contented sleep? Not many. And I’m not bragging. If I could be fired, I probably should have a few times. It’s just tough.
And then I think of others – you know who you are – who do this thing called “mothering” against harrowing, dangerous, and indomitable odds. Some of you carry, rock, and nurse a newborn with one, two, or (gasp) more running around. Some of you have endured sleep deprivation at levels resembling military torture techniques. Some of you do it alone – no mom around, husband busy, little fellowship. Others are exhausted, hormonal, and overwhelmed but always seem to care more how I’m doing. Others have more reasons to worry than I’ll ever have – but don’t.
I have always respected good moms; today, they are my heroes. I think of my own (four under the age of four!) and my grandmother, who raised seven (wonderful) kids with virtually no money, no help, and no fellowship. She is amazing.
It becomes evident that this thing – this mothering thing – it is an art. I submit that contrary to Parenting Magazine and Redbook you can get it wrong. I want to be somebody’s hero. I have so far to go, but I’m open to learn. I know there’s no vitamin combo, no secret mantra, no deep breathing exercise that manufactures naps or patience or the ability to go to the bathroom when you’re rocking a baby. I get that. But my question is this. When you are exhausted, overwhelmed, and out of strength – what helps you keep serving? Maybe “serving” is too ambitious. Surviving, even? In those difficult moments – the days that start unexpectedly at 5:13 with a gassy, teething, or energetic baby, those days where naps are miracles, where dinner hasn’t even been imagined by 6:30, when your husband is late and your patience is thin and your arms are tired – what helps? Please don’t ignore that silly little thing you do/think/say because you assume we all do it. Perhaps what is instinctive to you is brilliance to another. Share the wisdom! No minimum length – new or veteran moms encouraged! I’ll be posting as many responses as I can in the next few weeks. AND, (because rewards are nice), it’s a contest. The most helpful/insightful response will be awarded with a small gift (I said SMALL, people), lots of fame and honor, and, probably, because you’re such a wonderful person, jewels on your crown in heaven. (I’m just guessing here.) Thanks in advance for the help and can’t wait to hear!
*You can post your response as a comment or email to jessicasmartt@gmail.com.

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i heart quotes

Today I got the privilege of observing my friend Rachel in her A.P. Literature class. My grad class requires these observations every now and then. I do enjoy the chance to get out and use my thinking mind more than my dish-washing hands or very-big-baby-holding arms. However, I do not enjoy leaving Sam for the day and MAN is it exhausting to be up and out the door with two of us ready for the day so early! Yuck! On the bright side, Rachel’s room was pleasantly full of insightful quotes. I copied a few down that I liked to share with you.
– “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self. So you have to begin there, not outside, not on other people. That comes afterwards, when you have worked on your own corner.” ~Aldous Huxley
– “Wash what is dirty. Water what is dry. Heal what is wounded. Warm what is cold. Guide what goes off the road. Love those who are least lovable, because they need it most.” ~I forgot to copy down who wrote this
– “Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
🙂

things I want to write down or else I’ll forget

1. You have the fattest, most beautiful little bouncy tippy-toe legs and toes I’ve ever seen.
2. Your first words, in order: Mom. Jack. Dog. Dad. and “oval.” I’m pretty sure, oval.
3. The word you say the most, although we have no clue to what it refers: “Dadda-do. Dadda-do.” Door? Daddy? Uh-oh? Who knows. We’re pretty sure it means something to you.
4. You took your first steps last Saturday. Walked straight to Dad – we didn’t even try to make you – you just went!
5. The way you jump up and down, laughing and squealing when I come in to get you in the morning.
6. You got your first big bruise when you tried to hug Jack and he moved. Poor little forehead hit straight on the hardwood floor.
7. You love hearing the phonetic alphabet or numbers to ten. I’m pretty sure you’re a baby genius.
Your favorite things, in the order we experience them daily:
– SamMule.
– Hugging SamMule.
– Bouncing down the stairs in the morning for the first time.
– Cheerios – more the anticipation than the eating. You get VERY excited to see them, eat about five, and throw the rest on the floor to enjoy later.
– The bottle, of course. Even the word gets a giddy laugh.
– seeing Jack.
– “doggies.” the word, a picture, the plastic one with a red string, mean-looking unfriendly ones on a walk, tiny little ones that look like wet cats – they are all beautiful and hilarious to you.
– the song “Baby Beluga.” It is the weirdest song but apparently Raffi knew what he was doing, because it, to you, is wonderful.
– crackers and Popsicles, your junk food.
– seeing your Daddy walk through the door. Hands down, the best moment of the day.
8. “Hug” was the first word you understood. Since about month five, you slowly and affectionately lower your nose into, and wrap your arms around, the nearest object or person when you hear the word.
9. Everyday we fight sin and temptation in the form of the lemon tree, the cabinet with the spaghetti sauce, computer keys, berries on the holly bush, the cords on the VCR, and the china cabinet with the bowl of fake pears. Need to move that thing. Seriously.
10. Your first tricks were: “clap, clap, clap”, “How Big Is Sam?”, high five, pointing at Mommy in pictures (and Daddy, although sometimes Daddy is other random males in pictures, much to the concern of the aforementioned), and waving (which currently signifies not only bye-bye but also “I want that,” “Move Me” “I am Angry,” and “Thanks, this is delicious.”)
11. You hate getting your diaper changed, nose wiped, face cleaned, or leaving the bathtub.
12. You are happy, passionate, curious, determined, and make our lives so much better! We love you 🙂

In Defense of Calvinism

I have a pair of roller blades in the back of my car. I think the last time I used them, George W was in his first term. Also, there’s some knitting needles in a bag in my closet. I can’t bear to part with them, or the beautiful half-completed “scarf” from senior year. And that reminds me. I’m writing a book. At least I was in seventh grade. We’ll see what happens.
In the whole scheme of things, I really don’t consider myself a fickle person. I mean, I definitely wasn’t the girl who had a new boyfriend, hairstyle, or group of friends every other week. I’d say I’m fairly stable, pretty solid considering the mass of humanity. But then again, I was thinking the other day that for a fairly predictable person, I make an awful lot of “I’m going tos” that, well…fizzle.
I’m going to run everyday. I’m going to scrub the floors on Thursday. I’m going to use my special moisturizer every night. I’m going to take B-12. I’m going to stop gossiping. I’m going to carry a planner, and keep in touch with my grandparents. I’m going to turn off the lights when I leave a room. I’m going to keep my toenails painted and my car cleaned. I’m going to save receipts, workout my abs and take more pictures. I’m going to study Greek. to recycle. to start a book club. to start a prayer plan and a cleaning plan and a learning plan.
Honestly, sometimes I get exhausted and a little discouraged with me and my lack of follow through.
If I could just stick with something.
It’s then that I marvel. As I look back on my life, there is ONE thing I’ve managed to do, that hasn’t fizzled or been given to Goodwill or left underneath the bed forgotten. There is ONE constant. It’s him. it’s God. How thankful I am that I am not holding on to him, but He is holding on to me. If things were reversed, who knows how long ago my faith would have been forgotten and maybe remembered again, or stopped and perhaps restarted. I found this theology from the Westminster Confession of Faith. It’s old wordy language, but what a wonderful thought!
Perseverance of the saints: “They whom God hath accepted . . . can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”

Ava and suffering

Most of you in my world have probably heard by now about Ava, a four-year-old little girl who has been diagnosed with an inoperable, aggressive brain tumor. I don’t know Ava – I don’t even know her parents – but the sheer horror of the story has captured my thoughts over the last few days. A week ago, they were a normal family. Now, they have little more than hope and prayers to cling to. Not that I underestimate the prayers…if there’s one thing I’ve learned from re-reading the Old Testament, God Is Powerful. He is certainly able.
But as a parent, I find myself mulling over their tragedy for more reasons than one. And I’m not alone, I don’t think. Of course, your heart breaks for this family. But also, when I pray for Ava, I pray for Sam. for other kids I love. and others I want to love someday. The thought HAS to come… if God could allow this to this beautiful good happy family…then who is safe? No one, of course. So somehow I am glued to this story. I want to know Ava will make it, that she will grow up and be happy and safe. But I want more than that. In my heart of hearts, I want God to save this little girl to prove to me and everyone that He will save every little girl. I want to know that no one will suffer that horror – not them, not me.
Of course, we have no such promise.
But I did have a thought…some song lyrics that returned at the right time. It’s the kind of song where I remember the tree I was driving by when I heard it, and even now have to stop what I’m doing to listen when it comes on. The part that makes me cry goes like this:

You see the question isn’t
Are you going to suffer anymore
But what will it have meant when you are through?
The question isn’t are you going to die,
you’re going to die
But will you be done living when you do?

I cry because it’s true. Sadly, death is real. Pain is real. But there is meaning. I trust in the God who makes it mean something.
By the way, the next set of words is good, too.

So run till you cannot take a single step in strength
Then crawl on your hands and knees,
till your hands and knees they ache
And when you cannot crawl
It will be me you call to carry you back home again.

Justin McRoberts, Done Living.

Life hurts, but I’m going to keep loving, keep hoping, and keep working. There is an end, a beautiful end.