Archive | April 2011

No shortcuts

I don’t really think of myself as a cheater, or lazy. And truth be told, those aren’t my weaknesses really. I have plenty, don’t worry, but they’re more of the controlling, not-trusting, thinking-only-of-me type-flaws. But I realized recently that I have uncharacteristically been taking (or trying to take, anyway) the easy way out this go-round.

I have been investing (squandering? wasting?) nearly all of my time recently trying
to figure out with Ty. There has to be something. Acid? Allergy? Intestional blockage? Heartburn? Sleep disorder? Truly, the amount of time and money, spent in our household to determine a cure for a yet-to-be-determined illness is nearly embarassing.

Now it’s important to note that I’m not saying he isn’t truly suffering from something with a name. I have my theories, personally. But here’s the thing. Despite any existing, or not existing, problems, there is no easy way out. Parenting a newborn (apparently) absolutely and inescapably requires THE WORKS. I realized that I have been trying to avoid, through diagnosis, THE WORKS. You know. The rocking until they’re dead asleep. The moving too soon, failing three times, feeding again, swaddling again, changing diaper again, rocking again, etc. The shushing. The singing of John Jacob Jinglehymerschmidt (sp? 🙂 The bouncing on the yoga ball. The patting on the bottom. The replacing of the pacifier. The dancing. The exhaustion, the frustration, and the crying (his, and yours. Oh, and the other kid’s). The thing is, IT IS JUST HARD. I think I am finally at peace with the universe’s cruel truth that no medicine, diet, or carrier makes parenting a baby any less than sheer, exhausting, LABOR.

I think deep down I thought I was exempt from all this in round two. After all, I had a (relatively) hard baby. I learned my lessons. And I have a toddler now. I mean come on, I’m not trying to watch Oprah here and eat Cheetos with all my free time. All I want is twenty minutes of an uninterrupted nap so I can take Sam to the bathroom, call the pediatrician, put in my other contact, shove a bowl of rice in my face, and change the laundry. Is that too much to ask?

Apparently, Madame Universe does not make exceptions for the noble, the veterans, or the already-busy. Babies are hard work. Period.

But I am happy that with this lesson, I learned another. Mom reminded me that, yes, it is hard work, and yes, way to go on coming to terms with that. But it is not meaningless work. “Don’t let anything take away your joy of this. It is the most wonderful job in the world, nurturing this little life. There is nothing better.”

I feel better. Granted, I am still typing this while bouncing on a yoga ball with a sleeping baby strapped to my chest because tries #1-14 to lay him down failed. But, yes, I do feel better. 🙂


I am no Corrie ten Boom…

…And I have a broken cell phone to prove it. I will explain that in a minute. But first, it is ridiculous how much I think about Corrie ten boom, a dead someone I’ve never met from another century. Seriously. I think about her book The Hiding Place literally every day.

And it’s not what you think. Sure, she forgives Nazis and saves Jews and all that stff. But it’s not these inspirational acts I think about when I’m shushing babies and chopping carrots. It’s other random things.

Like the first three chapters, which have little to do with Jew-saving or Nazi forgiveness. She starts out telling random, unconnected stories from her childhood. Some are so silly: conversations with her dad, a first crush, things like that. But at the end of each story she will give a one-sentence “moral” so to speak of what that incident taught her. And you realize that things like getting dumped, having ugly clothes, and seeing a dead body for the first time have all prepared her, somehow, for the amazing future she eventually accomplishes.

I can’t tell you why in the world this is the biggest help to me, but it is. It is a “fun” little game I play. I will be in the middle of some difficult, annoying moment (like cleaning up thrown-up grapes and applesauce from the car seat) and I will wonder, what purpose is this serving? What is this teaching me how to do? It’s surprising fun for a pessimist, because sometimes I do end up imagining some horrific application (like battling cancer, say) with the same current lesson (patience under suffering or whatever). But strangly, it comforts me. It reminds me that every small struggle has a purpose in my life, or the lives of those I’m helping. Life feels bigger, and more meaningful.

But if I have that in common with Corrie, I have little else. Honestly. These people, Corrie and her family, are a different animal species entirely from me, who, yes, slammed my perfectly good cell phone into the kitchen cabinet in a fit of rage against life, particularly because I couldn’t stop two babies from crying, take a shower and eat my breakfast when I wanted to. Again, I don’t know whether to blame America, pop culture, my genes or what, but I am half the person these women are. I will tell you this one story to demonstrate.

Corrie’s mom had a stroke when she was 40-something. Her abilities became limited to saying three words: yes, no, and Corrie. Couldn’t move, dress herself, etc. Now mind you, this is all explained in about half a sentence in the book. No pity-parties there. Anyway, Corrie explained that, despite this embarassing demotion of life, Corrie’s mom continued, with the same dedication as prior, to LOVE PEOPLE. She would look out the window, and love people. She had a little system of saying, “Corrie,” when she wanted something. Then Corrie would somehow figure out it was someone’s birthday whom her mother had sighted out the window. Corrie would guess and guess until she figured out who, and then Corrie’s mom would scrawl a signature on a card. Happily. This was how she lived her life.

I don’t need to draw any conclusions for you, I’m sure. I envy, marvel, and yet cringe at this type of character. I want it and I don’t. I’d like to add on a sentence saying maybe one day I’ll be like her, but honestly, I think that is wishful thinking. I think I’ll be happy if the Holy Spirit helps me keep my cell phones in one piece when I’m frustrated. Maybe someday.

help wanted :-)

First of all, a few notes.

One. I am now completely, utterly confident that people who bring meals to families with new babies get a special jewel on their crowns in heaven. If you are one of those people, be assured that your labor is not in vain.

Two. I am equally certain that whatever money I am saving a month on formula by breastfeeding I am spending almost that in coconut milk ice cream. It is deplorable. And also necessary.

Anyways. There were a lot of surprises for me being a mom, which I am reminded of again in round 2. Some are silly. Hearkening back to the aforementioned, I had no idea that the caloric intake of a breastfeeding mom is equal to that of a linebacker. And who knew you changed 12+ diapers a day for a month, or that babies were born with blue eyes, or that the belly button stump turns black (ick), or that “tummy time” is as necessary as it is hated.

On a larger scale though, if I am being perfectly frank with you, the biggest surprise is simply this: that the human race keeps on existing. I mean this in two ways. First, it’s amazing to me that at least half of the human race isn’t cut short before their first birthdays due to idiotic and careless parenting skills. Which goes to prove that my husband is right (again?): that babies ARE more rubber than glass.

But also, I am genuinely surprised that despite horrible, trying, unmeasurably difficult circumstances, people continue to carry, bear, and raise little babies.

Even choosing, against all rationality, to have another or – gasp – three or four more after that.

Because the truth is, being a mom of a baby is – to me anyway – shockingly, impossibly, painfully difficult.

I’m embarassed to admit that. God sanctifies some people through trials of illness, loneliness, prison, torture, and the like. For me, all it takes is an eight-pound baby with a potential case of acid reflux. And, voilĂ , I am undone.

Honestly, I still can’t figure out if I am just that pathetic of a person, or parenting really is that difficult. I waffle between silently accusing dismissive older parents of lying or forgetfulness, or wondering if it’s just me. Maybe it’s because I’m a first-born, an American, or just plain spoiled.

But parenting asks too much of me.

It demands biceps and back muscles and mental multitasking and the remembering of a hymnal of kiddie songs and the ability to immediately conjur up sufficient distractions to ward off an impending tantrum, along with the wisdom to know which act of defiance to ignore and which to punish.

It asks me to remain patient when my baby wakes up (again), to trust when I don’t know why he cries, to sacrifice sleep and cheese and coffee and long showers and me-time all in the name of love.

I am embarrassed to admit that being a mom demands more from me than I can give.

In some ways, though, there is not a better place to be. God has reminded me constantly that, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” There is something a little comforting in finally saying, God, I can’t do this without you. Please help. I know that he hears those prayers!