Showing posts with label Motherhood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Motherhood. Show all posts

Saturday, February 28, 2015

9 Lessons From My 90-Day-Old Daughter


On the kitchen table before me rest: a crock pot, a computer (obviously), a baby monitor and a Madela pump. Needless to say, I have crossed over into the realm of parenthood. I still have much to discover, because It was only three months ago when I entered this new land.

These are nine lessons I have learned from my 90-day-old daughter:
1. Parenting is not a competitive sport, it’s a relationship.  Our high amounts of parenting books and blogs (ranging from all sorts of philosophies), have occasionally left me out-of-breath in my attempts to raise the smartest, best-fed, well-rested child. This is not healthy for my personality type. The pre-existing pressure I put on myself far surpasses that of the world’s. A healthier route I have found is to view this life-changing endeavor as a beautiful relationship.  From this angle, there are: preferences, personalities, and inside jokes. There are: compromises, boundaries and mistakes. Here, there is a fluid flow to each day and a forever amount of grace.  From this perspective of parenting, the mutual love of all parties involved quiets down the annoying voice within that whispers, “You are not doing it right.”
2. Be aware of the “black & white” rules, but trust your intuition in the "grey" areas. My husband and I have nervously Googled all of the black& white rules of having a newborn. How many ounces she should drink in a 24-hour period? 24. Prescribed room temperature to decrease the chance of SIDS? 68-72.  Are two examples enough? Yes. Subjective rules such as these are best when whole-heartedly followed. However, some grey areas have arisen. Here, my personal readings of Henley have led to a different/better solution than that of my parenting books. I am learning to trust myself in my love-filled knowledge of my daughter. 
3. Domestic tasks can become sacred. This lesson I am borrowing from the wise ole’ French monk, Brother Lawrence. In the book, “Practicing the Presence of God”, he writes of disciplining himself to experience simple chores around the monastery as worship. I was surprised at how quickly my sometimes emotionally unavailable, task-oriented self found nursing as a form of worship. I would play my favorite Bebo Norman tracks and rock away to the highest heavens. Not only nursing, but also hand-washing onsies and lugging around the heaviest of carriers -all have become very holy to me. I realize this euphoric state is possibly fleeting, but for now I relish in the joy of the mundane.
4. Celebrate the different seasons of Life. As a mother who works outside of the home, I quickly noticed that I have yet to feel completely back at work. I am there physically, but the innovative mindset I usually work out of has yet to return. I am rolling by in maintenance mode. My wonderful supervisor informed me that the majority of the ecclesial year is set in what is known as “ordinary time”.  High and holy days (holidays) exist, but not always. My creative passion will return to work at some point, but in this season of life it is totally permissible to be utterly obsessed with my newborn daughter-as long as I don’t drop the ball too much at work.
5. Life Callings can coexist. I have been so very blessed. I have flexible work hours and my new office-mate is my three-month-old. Thanks to a magnificent team, my husband’s work schedule, and an experimental mindset this set up has far surpassed my expectations. During the first portion of my maternity leave, I was over-dramatically hesitant to return to work. I was then saved by the modest revelation (once I was back for three weeks) that every child in our programs was either A) someone else’s Henley or B) Needed someone to love him/her the way I love Henley. In the United Methodist Church, we talk about ‘callings’. One can be called by the Holy Spirit into a relationship or into a certain vocation. I feel God has called me into the ministries of: marriage, motherhood, and serving the children of our community through the local church.
6. Happiness is not always the aim. We Christians, especially those of us who serve in the local church, are often guilty of what I call ‘Ned-Flanders-Syndrome’. As you may know, he is an overly positive, Holy Roller on The Simpsons. He would aim to deny all feelings that were opposite of happiness. He acted in a way that anger and sadness would make him less faithful. This is clearly not true or healthy. My three month old has confirmed an alternative option. Our Parents as First Teachers coach informed us that an infant’s only way to release emotionally after a long day of mental stimulation is to cry. She advised that we allow this to occur (In fact, she encouraged it!). She guided us to swaddle tightly and invite her to "let-it-go" within the tension of the Halo. This would be very cathartic for her. Angrily grunting, sadly crying, and joyfully laughing are all recommended for one’s development.
7. Trust your spouse’s gifts and honor his/her limits.   While our parenting philosophies are 99% the same, we are good at different parts of parenting. I’d say we are both equally skilled at reading her, consoling her and purely enjoying the heck out of being with her. My husband takes home the gold in any and all of the logistical details of parenting. Being able to jump into action at the drop of a hat and manage many parental tasks at once- now that’s my forte. It would not benefit our family in any way if I were to alter my wiring and live out of his areas of giftedness and vice versa. Furthermore, it is helpful to no one for me to hover while Garrett is with her and passively correct him.
8.There is a difference between “being responsible for” and “being in control of”. Due to our broken world and free-will, I cannot control all that Henley’s life will entail (#heartache). I cannot control how others will treat her or her choices. This worries me, because like all parents I want her to be as happy and as safe as possible. I have no real control over her, yet her father and I are 100% responsible for her (at this phase any way). All that I can control are my reactions to what life throws at me and I pray I can pass this realization on to Henley. I find comfort in this lack of control through faith. I know before Henley June was mine, she was God’s. I know that although her father and I love her with an unsurpassable love, God’s love surpasses ours. I know that God is at work for the good in her life regardless of her future choices, regardless of the broken world in which she lives. As one with “helicopter mom” tendencies, I am still grappling with this lesson. The good news is that since I have no real control over her choices, I can’t be blamed when she TPs her principle’s house in high school-right?!

9. Remain in the miracle mentality. As stated in my very first blog, I am a carrier of trisomy 13. With this said, Henley June is a reality that I was uncertain would ever exist. My situation is not unique really; for all babies are miracles. During my pregnancy, it was so easy for me to daily be in awe of the miracle that my husband and I were co-creating with God. This was probably the rush of hormones, but none-the-less, each day I lived out of a miracle mentality. These past three months I momentarily take one step further down the mountain, and I become a little less in awe of the entire experience of birthing and raising a miracle. My goal is to look at Henley the same when she is eighteen as I did when I first saw her waving to me on that ultra-sound monitor. I want to eternally see her as a miracle-a miracle that I am so honored to raise.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Toast To Motherhood

(This toast was given at an awesome SNL-themed baby shower my dear friends threw for me back on November 1, 2014.)


Here ye, Here Ye-I would like to make a toast. Utter honor and excitement has filled my being since hearing word of this shower. I have felt a bit unworthy for such an unconventionally AMAZING shower. As I began to ponder ways to express my appreciation, hostess thank you gifts would just not do, so I thought, “Hmm, I shall write a speech; for nothing keeps a late-night party going like a powerful moment of prose!” As all of you know, I am a talker. I feel and share love the most through words, so in advance-you are welcome.

My heart overflows with gratitude towards the hostesses, to all of you, and the resiliently dynamic woman whom I call, “mom”.

To our fantastic hostesses, I proclaim, “THANK YOU!” These decorations, grub, games, invites and the numerous mind-blowingly creative brainstorming sessions led to a top notch night with friends that will be forever treasured.

ABBIE: To the band-nerd, Jesus-freak that lived across my hall freshman year, I say thank you. Your level of humility is a mismatch for the high level of wit and intellect that you possess. Your level of selfless compassion is second to none. I respect how emotionally invested you are in every conversation. Many times, I am not aware of my own feelings towards matters, until I notice you tearing up about them as I share. I pray to be half the helpful giver that you are.

Lindsay: My first real friend, my college roommate, and the one that truly deserves a party tonight for putting with me for four years.  You have always had the uncanny ability to beautifully balance rest, work, and play while encouraging others to make a positive difference in their community. I have been learning from you for years. You create an adventure wherever you go. Thank you for always allowing me to tag along for the ride.

Lauren: The professional harda#$ with a heart-of-gold. Lauren. Gets. Stuff. Done. I admire the heck out of someone who can be such an intimidating, efficient presence in a business meeting one minute then giggling on the back of a crashing tube the next. I am so thankful for the similarities in our stories. To share the same “3/achiever” lens with you benefits me in my attempt to process my world. Thank you. Your skills in business/marketing are like magic tricks that will forever leve me stumped and in awe from the audience below.

Leah: Who knew two gals who labeled each other as “fake” nine year ago would grow such a life-giving professional and personal relationship. I am daily blessed by your boldness and lovingly prophetic voice. We are wired very differently. This makes for some complimentary dynamics at meetings. Thank you for reading my facial expressions so well, even when I think I am hiding my true opinion-you get me. You keep me humble while also empowering me to be me. 


Now onto the rest of the guest –JUST KIDDING! I know we want to get back to the fun, so in closing, allow me to make seven more points.

I am so grateful that this is the time that God is blessing me with Henley June. I honestly feel all of our paths were meant to cross BEFORE I became a mother. In so many unique ways, you all have showered my life with wisdom, joy, and peace. It is this mighty community of women that I discovered my identity. You have each taught me to feel, to forgive, and to love. I hold a much more celebratory view of life because of the kindred spirits in this space. Thank you.

Your friendship has been one of God’s greatest gifts to me and I should have been paying you because it healed me more than therapy and self-help books. That’s right, I said it- this attempt at a whole person (plus 1) that stands before you tonight is mostly due to your healing friendship. Henley will have a much healthier and happier mother because of you. Thank you for allowing Christ to work through you in such a transformative way.

As the wise nun, who never had children, Joan Chitistter wrote, “Mothering has many aspects but two are central: birthing the child physically and caring for their needs once they’re born. But only one of these can be done by one woman. The rest can be shared by many and must be if we are all to be fully developed human beings. So within this village, child-raising is a creative endeavor; it is an art of many, it is an art rather than a science.”


Thus, let us raise our glasses to the babies of our wombs and the babies of our world. We toast tonight to all those who mothered us and the many ways we are privileged to mother others. CHEERS!