Tag Archive | patience

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 what.the.heck.is.wrong. 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. 🙂


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!


Blogging is like laundry. The longer you wait to do it, the more overwhelming it is. I’m sure all of you have been hanging on by a thread wondering what I’ve been doing since eating popsicles in the last post. Well, I can tell you. Eating popsicles. Or toaster struedels, or Halloween candy, or bagel bites, or whatever else is not delicious and still left in my house from first trimester. Blech. I will be so excited when these things are gone and don’t tempt me. Whatever possessed me to buy three boxes of Bagel Bites I don’t know. Anyway, here are a few things that I’ve learned since our last post.
– Sam has asthma. And Mom has anxiety. Okay, we all knew that. Three times in the 24 hour dr/hospital stay, someone told me they were more worried about me than Sam. And keep in mind several of these times Sam was receiving oxygen. I should be insulted, I know.
– Ambulance rides are not covered by insurance. I will spare you the gory details except by saying if you can put the bill in terms of what fraction of your YEARLY – yes YEARLY income is, it’s scary.
– Normal days are beautiful. My friend Lauren posted a very long time ago a poem called “Normal Day.” Lauren if you’re reading can you find that? That really came to life in the hospital and doctors’ offices. If you are having a day where you are worried about the dryer that doesn’t dry clothes in one cycle, or how your husband is late, or that your kid spilled powdered sugar on the floor after you just mopped it, or how a nap was too short – CONSIDER YOURSELF BLESSED. Normal is beautiful. I promised myself if Sam and I were home sweet home and better, I would never again complain. about anything. This sort of helped regarding the next point:
– Potty training has a bad rap. As long as you are prepared to not leave your house for three weeks (this is literal. I think we got the mail finally on day 3), as long as you realize there will be pee on every square inch of your living room carpet, that you will not be able to stop eating Dora treats even though you feel horrible afterwards, that just when you think you are getting somewhere you’ll have a day like today with three accidents and three complete outfits to wash, and that you may have to endure Thomas videos every half hour on the hour to keep the bladder moving – as long as you can do that, it’s fine. Sam is a good learner, honestly. It could be way worse.
– Church gets progressively more unfun as your child gets older. In the old days of church, I cuddled my Starbucks taking notes with a swirly pen in a spiraled journal while listening to the sermon. Afterwards I went out to lunch and then took a nap. These days, I feel like I’ve won (or lost) a bull fight by the time we get home. A literal bull. Oh wise muse of the blogs, how – oh how – do you make it through the child-rearing decade teaching your children what worshipping God looks like, while somehow absorbing any part a the sermon, all the while refraining from teary breakdowns in public?? How?? I feel the answer probably has to do with Cheerios. But that’s all I’ve got.
– When people reference “the terrible twos,” it’s possible they actually refer to the the 17 1/2 month mark. I just want to give everyone a heads up, in case you are wired like me. When your child acquires a will, it often looks like an impending headcold, a bizarre side effect of a medicine, a serious internal organ problem, or a dark emotional trauma. What I mean is, it’s hard to believe your child could be THAT bad without help. But it is possible. Reference below a conversation that occured between my mom and me.
Me: Mom, there’s something wrong with Sam. He hasn’t been himself all day, and now he’s crying, hysterically, in his crib. Something is wrong. I think it’s the medicine.
Mom: No, I don’t think that’s it. I think he’s fine. I think he doesn’t want to go to sleep.
Me: That’s not possible. If you could hear him crying, it’s awful. something is really wrong.
Mom: Put the phone up to the door.
(pause – I obey.)
Mom: He’s fine. He’s forcing himself to cry.
Me: (crying) Are you sure.
Mom: Yes.
Me: (still crying) Well listen. If you are absolutely positively sure that I don’t need to take him out of the crib and to the doctors right now, then I will trust you. But if he dies or something goes horribly wrong, it’s on your head.
Mom: (laughing) I am sure.
Folks, unfortunately, I did not embellish this conversation. Sure enough, Sam woke up happy, ate a popsicle, played in the sandbox and…threw a similar tantrum when he couldn’t watch Thomas. It’s a relief, but, man, things sure get interesting past the nursing, Boppy, mashed up babyfood stage. They really do:)

Encouragement for stressed moms: Mommy Advice Contest Winners!

You know the feeling you get when you realize, wow, they DO make chocolate covered rice crispy treats, or dental floss on a pick??? Those wonderful I-found-it feelings are sort of to how I feel getting all this good advice. It’s like my new Bible verses to memorize, only not quite. I think I will probably print off a few I love to put in the places I see most often, like Sam’s forehead and the refrigerator. I hope that you read and enjoy all of these as much as I do. They’re gems. But first, the winner. I knew the winner the minute I read it, and days after. It did everything good writing should – it made me cry, it made me grateful (to be a mom) and it made me inspired (to be a better one). Congratulations, Kelly. You are a wonderful mom. Maybe you should revive “Baby in Mars” to share more of your wisdom 🙂
“Jessie….After much thought I’ve come up with an answer to your blog question: PHOTOS: Sounds simple…. But taking pictures of Josephine has been a big part of what keeps me going. Photos help me in the moment ( while I’m taking them ) and also later on when I look back at her as she has grown. Still to this day I can’t look at the picture of me with tears in my eyes and my 1 minute old baby on my chest without getting choked up. I don’t consider myself an overly emotional person. But looking at that picture brings me back to that moment….the happiest and proudest moment of my life. It makes me appreciate the fact that God has blessed me with an amazing gift to take care of here on earth. How lucky I am to have that beautiful healthy baby. Taking pictures helped me when at 2 weeks postpartum, Nick was going back to work and Mom was leaving….it was just me…and her. All day, all night. I think the minute Mom walked out the door I just grabbed my camera and started taking pictures of Josephine to keep myself from losing it. Distraction works. Taking pictures distracted me from the fact that I had a baby who didn’t sleep more then 5 hours in a row until she was 5 months old. It gave me something fun to do and when I was frustrated and tired and didn’t know why she was still crying. Looking at those pictures helped me. It made me happy. As she got older looking back at her pictures made me want to live in, and really appreciate the here and now with her. Because in a couple days, a week, or a month or so….she would be totally different. Josephine will never be a newborn again. She will never be 1 month, or 6 months again. Pictures make me sit down and say to myself….enjoy that little girl because soon you will be picking out her outfit for the first day of school. So on good and bad days, since she was born and up until this point….pictures have helped me immensely. I never thought I’d say that the one baby item I couldn’t live without would be my camera….But turns out it is. Love, Kelly.”
Here are more responses. I was very tempted to pick a 2nd and 3rd place, but then there were a few more that were so good, and a few more worth reading…I couldn’t choose! Hope you think so, too.
From Sylvia: “Hi Jessica, here is the best advice I have EVER received—Do the next thing. For example, on the mornings that by breakfast I am overwhelmed thinking about getting to morning nap as well as lunch, afternoon nap, the rest of the week, 3 months from now, and when my youngest leaves for college, I try to refocus and DO and THINK about the next thing—getting the cheerios off the floor before Annabelle drops them all down the air vent. By the time I finish with that task Marcus has brought me a book—I try to DO and THINK about reading to him. I sometimes say out loud, “What is the next thing?”. You see what I am saying? Nothing super spiritual. However, Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow and my tomorrow is often 10 minutes from now. Now, can I say that I have completely achieved this doing the next thing–no, because my children are 3 and 1, I am 7 months pregnant and hormonal, and I am a sinner. I am trying my best to allow the Holy Spirit to retrain my thinking to be more focused on doing well what is at hand. I think there should have been a comma somewhere is that sentence but I am not sure where. I have really poor grammar skills. I hope that you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!”
From Emily: “3 things: 1. Do what is best for you/your child. This may go against all logic, all experts, all your friends, your mom, your MIL, the books, etc. I was a basket case in the early days because (among other things), I felt pressure to conform to what worked for everyone else. And I failed. Babies/kids are weird and we had to figure it out OUR way. And I reckon it will be this way for as long as we’re parents – trying to figure something out. We’ll want to see input from others, but ultimately, we need to be confident about the way we raise our kids. 2. Antidepressants are sometimes necessary. 3. Develop special rules with your spouse when it comes to communicating during stressful baby/child situations. I could strangle Ben when he did something as innocent as ask “where are the keys” during A’s screaming fits. The rule now: don’t try to talk over screaming. WAIT.”
From Tabitha: To me raising children is kind of like labor. During and after labor all you can think about is how much pain you were in, how difficult it was, the sleeplessness, the pushing, not eating, the baby not cooperating…all of these things are so important at that very moment, but with each passing day they become more and more insignificant. Until eventually one day you wake up and think, that wasn’t so bad, I could do it again! The daily trials of mommyhood are the very same. The sleepless nights, teething, the tantrums, picky eaters, the potty training, the near death experiences:) All of it seems so important at the moment, but with each passing day I think more and more… that wasn’t so bad! Motherhood is a process to me, and it gets better every day. My sister-in-law told me something when Coen was three months old when I was really emotional about him getting older too fast that has really stuck with me. She said she used to get that way too (she had two at the time, now 3), but each age brings new adventure, and there’s something to love about your kids at every age. So i try to think of it this way- In the midst of all the chaos that my days are often filled with, there are lots of giggles, hugs, and kisses in the in between that make me grateful. Because when I’m old and gray, and my kids have grown up and are living their lives, I’ll have the giggles, hugs, and kisses, and everything else won’t seem that bad!
From Tina: On days when Dani (2)is in overdrive, Collin (1)is teething, Collin’s little brother (due in September)is in there partying like its New Years Eve, Brian is out of town working, the house is a mess, the laundry isn’t done, the dogs won’t stop barking, and every other one of Murphy’s Laws is in full affect I stop and remember that out of every mother that has ever lived and will ever live God decided that little old me is the mother He custom designed for my family. Realizing that He believes in me like that helps me to believe in myself.

From Lauren: “Well I’m not a veteran mom or anything, and most of my advice has to do with caring for multiples (if you need to know how to nurse 2 babies at once, I’m your girl!)BUT I would say that when things get hairy, Jeff & I constantly say to each other “you gotta laugh or you’ll cry!” A sense of humor has really helped us – and just having the right attitude. I can choose to have a quiet time before I start my day with my boys, and I can choose to stay calm and laugh or freak out and cry. Sometimes that’s HARD to do but I’m learning every day… and every day we enjoy our twins more & more! Putting things in perspective helps too – I know there are those who can’t have children who would kill to have a crazy day with 2 babies… and watching a good TV show about triplets, quads, or quints always makes my life seem blissful. ha!”
From Jenny: “My mommy advice is whenever i am getting frustrated with jack or im tired or cranky i just tickle him- as silly as it sounds you can not stay stressed mad tired cranky or whatever with your little boy giggling :)”

From Julie: “First, thank the Lord that 99.5% of the time, Owen is such an easy baby. 🙂 Seriously though, I just remind myself that whatever I’m going through – no matter how scary, stressful, exhausting – will only happen once. Good or bad – I don’t get to re-live any of these moments (sometimes hours…) with Owen. I try to just enjoy what I’m going through as much as I possible can. According to Sheila, Uncle Jerry used to say, “These are the longest days and shortest years of your life”. Yes! So why not enjoy them?” ~ Julie Chittock
From Aunt Rebecca: When I think back on those seemingly never ending, exauhasting days of child rearing , priorotizing if I recall, was one of my most helpful coping mechanisms. As an “empty-nester” let me remind you how short life is and how very quickly your children grow up. Choose wisely what you do with your time and consider the effects it will have on you and your family. For example: Which is more important a homecooked meal or a clean kitchen?
I can tell you from my experience that they don’t usually happen on the same day, so opt for the homecooked meal. The dishes can wait your families health can not! Oh, and by the way, no matter what you’ve previously been told, “Hamburger Helper”, is not a homecooked meal. Ok, let’s look at another common scenario and see what kind of choice we should make here. Things have been crazy. You and your children are feeling frazzled. Do I, A: Give the children a bath tonight? or B: Simply wipe their faces, put on some clean pajamas and spend a little extra time reading their favorite books? Well let me answer this with a story about my own mothers’ childhood. Mom was a farm girl, from the little town of Arapaho Nebraska. The whole family worked long hard hours on the farm and , I am assuming, got pretty dirty. They took a bath once a week and all seven siblings shared the same bath water! Everyone survived. So,…. back to your dilemma. I say, get a nice warm face cloth, gently wipe their sweet little faces, put on clean pajamas, (if there are any), and spend that extra time reading. Now some of you may be murmuring under your breath, “Really ,Rebecca, might this just be a clever way of justifying your constant struggle with procrastination?” Well, umm……yes, I suppose you could say,….. alright, alright, often times that was my reasoning. However I have no regrets about the times when I should have been wiping, washing, sweeping dusting, fussing, fumming, and running here and there, and chose to take a walk with my children instead.

From Melissa: ” I have no clue what I do in those stressful times 🙂 It is challenging for me at times as I am often trying to cook dinner while my toddler is going through cabinets and wanting to eat too or wanting to be held. One day it took me a span of 2.5 hours to cook a meal thar should have taken 30 minutes. Somehow I just kept going. I stopped when I had to to feed M and bathe her and get to bed and then finished. How I didn’t give up and throw something I am not sure. Then I decided not to even cook dinner until after M was in bed. So sometimes I eat late. Then some days my dogs are really bad on top of all of this. What do I do to keep going strong? I wish I knew. It is all worth it. I get the sweetest hugs and smiles. If M wants to read 15 books, I do it. We talk and sing a lot. That’s the good stuff. I’m fortunate that M has been a happy baby that likes her sleep. I do make sure to have “me” time every night. Mostly its just watching a show and too often eating icecream. But I feel guilty I’m not cleaning or something else. So, I have no answers. Maybe I do but just don’t know how to articulate it. But Id like to hear advice because I think I will need clear tips if we are blessed with another little one because that will take everything to a whole new level!”

From Lesli: The thing that has kept me sane through the 4 years so far of motherhood has been my “playgroup moms.” There are 4 of us total, and we became friends when our oldests were all in the 3-6 month range and now have 9(soon to be 10) children between us. In the early days, it was our weekly time to talk while the babies laid on the floor. Now that theSee More actual playgroup is slightly controlled chaos, we meet for “dinner” about every 3 weeks. We go out after the kids are down and have stayed at the restaurant as late as 3 am before. It is time for us just to sit, talk, and have ADULT interaction. We’ve discussed everything from potty training to weaning, to when to have another baby, etc. I honestly don’t think I could do this without knowing they are there!!
From Sheila: What gets me though are the moments before and in-between the exhaustion… the arms wrapped around my neck when I pick him up in the morning all the way down the stairs…the sloppy kisses and belly laughs and games of hide and seek… When I’m in the moment of ‘tired suck’ there is no magic thing that helps… but thinking of the good stuff keeps me slightly sane:)
From Megan: For me, my sanity rests primarily in knowing that God is in control, that he loves my son more than I can (so I can relax) and that he loves ME more than I know! I try to keep verses that remind me of this not only on my mirror, but in the places Caspian frustrates me the most- Above his changing table, on his high chair and on the bookcase (which is OFF LIMITS!).
Also…I really like to know in those moments that I’m working toward something specific with my son. I thought this might answer a question you had a while back too, about what activities you can do with your kids. My sister did a blog post (theblessedcountrymom.blogspot.com) about what she did with her son this week. She is putting him through ‘tot school’. Its a blog site where moms with different aged children post what they’re doing with their kids. This really helps me, who can be creative but not for long~! LOL. It’s nice to see what other moms are doing for their kids and use their ideas. Check it out!

It’s hard work!

I remember hearing the name “M.O.P.S” in my childhood, and two things always struck me. First, what a dumb name. Could a group of adults not invent an acronym more appropriate than probably the grossest household device there is? (besides the plunger obviously.) Secondly, I thought, what’s the point? What in the world do these moms find do talk about?
Well I still think the name is dumb. But I have to admit I’ve been tempted to google it more than once in the last few weeks…and, heck, give it a try.
Lately motherhood has been overwhelming. The house is a wreck. There is homemade baby food stuck to the cabinets. And the floor. And my slippers. There are Cheerios, wet ones, lodged in the most minuscule crevices of the high chair and smushed inside baby toys. And really, I must ask, is there a more revolting smell than wet Cheerios? I submit that there is not. The naps have been short, the worries have been big, the cries seem louder, the laughs briefer…Two things have encouraged me.
1. From my mom: “Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or with Sam. Mothering is hard, hard work.”
2. From God: “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Help Wanted

I heard recently that tanning beds rival cigarettes in the cancer-causing category. Darn it. Especially for me and others who suffer from S. A. D. (“seasonal affective disorder” = bad mood when it’s winter), this is a true loss. And I must admit, this whole January invades October thing is starting to wear on me. Winter stinks, but especially when it stomps out fall and immediately proceeds August.
So Sam and I will spend the next 4+ months cozy, indoors, and homebound, avoiding the flu and all you germy people. Here’s my question. What creative INDOOR winter activities are there for a mom and her baby? I’m running out of ideas!! Here are a few I have thought of, just so you know convention and dignity are out the window.
1. Dance to country music with SamMule for a show. (Sure the neighbors enjoyed that one.)
2. Fill the sink with water and let Sam splash.
3. Have Sam play the piano with his feet.
4. Okay, last resort in moments of desperation, usually used around 6:45 p.m. if Daddy is still not home: Cuddle up and watch SportsCenter.
I’d LOVE to hear your ideas! PLEASE! You can comment or email jessicasmartt@gmail. Thanks so much!

My Rats Are Disappearing

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? 🙂