The Expectations in Motherhood

I’m battling a cold.  Pregnancy.  They never tell you that pregnancy makes you more susceptible to viruses.  People feel inclined to touch you.  (I was guilty of this until I became pregnant and apologized profusely to my friends.)  The horrors of pregnancy aren’t given.  Now granted, not every woman struggles with pregnancy.  Labor, on the other hand, is portrayed as painful and urgent.  Let me shed some light on what I’ve experienced.

The lies:

1.)  The second trimester is the best.

Nope.  Wrong.  While this pregnancy was easier in the second than my pregnancy with Willow in the 2nd trimester, it wasn’t the best or easiest.  Now mind you, I don’t like any trimester.  My best time is usually week 26-week 28, yup just two weeks.  However, I can’t recall not being sick for most of my pregnancy.  I take my prenatals, I increase my Vit.D and C, I take Elderberry.  Without fail, I always wind up with head colds, sinus infections, or bronchitis when pregnant.  My immune system was crappy to begin with and it is just worse in pregnancy.

2.) It is so much fun when they kick.

Um, sure bruised ribs and the constant urge to pee is paradise.  Some people enjoy the kicking because it makes them realize something is inside of them.  For me, while the weirdness of the movement is definitely fun to watch, it isn’t fun and is highly uncomfortable.  I don’t like it.  I’m pretty sure every pregnant woman will now scorn me.

3.) Stretch marks are awful.

I actually haven’t minded the stretch marks.  The stretch marks are a reminder of the life I tarried for, the 9 long months of stress my body endured to grow these children.  It is just skin and in fact, I think that reminder is somewhat beautiful.  To me, it is somewhat empowering.  I’m daily reminded about my body stretching to accommodate this being.

4.)  Morning Sickness

The very name is a misnomer.  Nausea can happen at all times of day at any stage of pregnancy.  Nausea is miserable and I’m pretty sure I’ve had it all day and want to cry.

5.)  You positively glow.

If by glowing we mean that perspiration glistens in the sun.  Have I mentioned I’m pregnant? In summer? In NJ?  Yeah, I dislike heat to begin with and I’m having this baby in August.  My behavior isn’t pleasant either.  I’m cranky, irritable, and downright frustrated most of the time.  I can’t sleep because I can’t get comfortable.  I feel bloated and huge.  Which reminds me, everyone else likes to remind me how huge I’m getting too—“baby is getting big, you’re almost at the end.”; “you might need a new shirt/lab coat” (at work…when my belly is completely covered.  gah!);  “you aren’t fat, you are beautiful”-my husband trying to be helpful, but sadly in this instance, unlike every other time, he fails.  (This means that about 95% of the time he is helpful and I am always grateful for him.)

 

Labor is extremely painful.

Actually, yes.  It was, but it was manageable.  I changed positions.  I walked.  It lasted about 13 hours.  (For some women it is faster and for others it is slower.)  I don’t know how long this one will last.  I didn’t require an epidural.  (Women should not be faulted for choosing this if they have been properly educated about the risks involved.  Sadly, many are not and are simply told how inadequate we as women are to handle this pain.  It isn’t outright said necessarily, but implied through the use of particular words and insinuations.

Pregnancy and Labor aren’t what I expected.  They certainly weren’t what the media portrays or what my sphere of influence discussed.

Motherhood isn’t what I expected it to be either.  I laugh at myself for the “promises” I made to myself about how I would parent.

Things I swore:  I would not co-sleep, I would solely use cloth diapers when we had a washer and dryer of our own, I wouldn’t even think of using formula, I would limit TV time, and I would never have a picky eater.

Then I became a parent and all my theories were damned.

The first night we brought Willow home, she wouldn’t sleep.  In a sleep deprived desperation, I brought her into bed with us.  Frank became a peaceful non-violent sleeper.  Remind me why I didn’t try putting people in our bed to prevent his flailing beforehand?

I do use cloth diapers, just not nearly as much as I anticipated.  However, I also use disposable.  We have a washer and dryer. Frank is away 1 weekend a month.  My sitters request disposable.  Willow sleeps like crap at night (sleeping through the night is another issue in itself and I’ve blogged about this in other threads) and sleeps better (i.e. wakes less frequently) in a disposable diaper at night.

Breastfeeding was/is hard.  I haven’t used formula, but I have definitely thought about it.  When Willow was first born, she was so little that she didn’t latch initially.  I would express milk and give it to her via syringe.  In those first  couple of weeks, I wanted to give her formula so badly.  Since I am stubborn, I pushed past without it, but it definitely weighed heavily on my mind.  Then I got pregnant when Willow was around 9 months old.  I was/am exhausted.  I seriously contemplated formula.  I managed to get by with a friend’s milk donation.  I am deeply indebted to her.

Willow watches far more TV than I would like.  She is watched by my in-laws and a friend from church.  Both of these families watch a significant amount of TV.  (I don’t recall going over when the TV wasn’t on.)  Willow even watches TV at home.  I got pregnant and then I continuously get sick.  Some days, all I have energy for is to turn on the TV and let it entertain me and occasionally her (she doesn’t focus on it a lot, but her attentiveness to it is increasing, especially if it has a dog, to my chagrin).

Thankfully, I don’t currently have a picky eater.  At least I have one win, right?  However, she will get older and the comments of others and what I choose to feed her will influence her.  She’ll also decide she wants more control and food is a good venue for that choice.  I’m sure there will be a day when I will just celebrate that she ate a bagel, despite its minimal caloric and nutritional value.  She already gets way more sugar than I ever wanted.  Her sitters give her carbs, A LOT.  I used to care, but then figured that she isn’t dying and so I can relax.

If your kid lives to see another day, you’ve done a decent job.*  I’m learning to give myself, and subsequently others, more grace when it comes to parenting.  You can have all the theories you want, but the only thing that works is prayer and a lot of “fly by the seat of your pants” type decision making.  Give yourself room to make mistakes, to learn, and to laugh.  I’m slowly learning this too and hope you’ll grant me the same grace.

 

*Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, accidents happen and you find yourself sobbing as you mourn the loss of a child.  I’m not a counselor.  I do know that we are too hard on ourselves.  If you earnestly love/loved your kid, you are doing/did well.  Only God knows the days appointed to us.  We are merely entrusted with his gifts until he calls them home.  If you have lost a child, my heart is deeply grieved for your loss and I pray you will see God’s great love and provision amidst the struggle, sorrow, and mourning.

TWLOHA

This is my story.  This is my song.

As a little girl I always wanted to hold her attention, but it seemed for naught.  Daddy worked long hours too, and ventured frequently on business trips.  Mommy was doting on the more demanding of her two children and so I slid to the shadows.  The babysitter told me I was too old for a comfort item and sent me to a corner.  My feeling of isolation increased.  In defense, I became addicted to approval, doing anything to appease my peers, my mentors.

Approval addiction took and takes its toll through the years.  I compromised/compromise convictions just so others would/will like me.  It was and is weary.  In the past, I dealt with feeling inadequate in the lens of another that I began to deprive myself.  I would binge and purge, all as a way to gain the control I felt I had lost along the way.  Still sensing insufficiency and the hot, searing pain of peer sneers, I took blades to my flesh that I might physically feel the mockery I sensed.  I kept imprisoning myself as I ventured further into this dungeon.  I neglected my voice, amplified the opinions of others, lost myself, and in that loneliness, emptied my bowels and tried to carve out the person seemingly disliked.  In order to indulge this control, I waxed on smiles and peels of laughter.  Few knew or know the disparaging history.

I hated my body, my thoughts, my existence.

It seems trite, but then I found God.

I didn’t have to perform.  I didn’t have to fix myself pretty.  He welcomed my mess, to lay down my burdens and take up his yoke.  I delved into belief.  Now ten years a Christian, I find myself slowly surrendering.  I realized that I gained true control when I relented it to a bigger Lord than this world.  I emptied myself, but not physically anymore, that I might be filled with the Spirit, to guide me in truth and in love.

Even in church I practiced/practice appeasement.  Then in the weariness I bowed/continue to bow once again at the cross.  I remembered/remember he gave up his life so I could lose mine in his and truly find breath to keep pressing on.  Ever so slowly I’m finding my voice.  I’m tuning out the judgements of others, recognizing my limitations to their expectations, and choosing to beat the drum God has meant me and only me to play.  I’ll let others down, but it won’t be the end.  No, I’m finding myself in letting go of my reins.  I’m seeking to serve a gracious Savior, out of gratitude rather than serving man and inept qualifications for a loving demand.

I’m breaking free of the labels, understanding that navigation is futile if not done by the direction of a still small voice.  That whisper inclines me to pursue the passions he placed in me.

As long as I’m seeking his honor rather than self-aggrandizement,  I’ll live out this call, this path, unapologetically.

*Watch To Write Love on Her Arms.  I watched it this weekend with a friend.  I’d heard the story before.  I’d researched the organization.  I have a heart and TWLOHA tattooed on me.

Raise awareness.  You are not alone in your fight.  Keep pressing on and find that you have beautiful contributions to the world, even when you forget that you do.  I’ll be here to remind you of your importance.  Please do the same for me.  May we speak out against the darkness and find light in confession, admittance, and most importantly community.

P.S. I take responsibility for my actions.  My parents are loving and did/are doing the best they know how with their worldviews and tools.  The sitter had her own history that influenced damaging decisions.  Peers had/have their own insecurities.  Each of us is just trying to sigh, to breathe the best we are able to in the thick clouds of past mistakes, impressions, and genetics.  I, in no way, blame them (my parents, sitter, peers) for choices I made/am making.  I could have chosen/choose other options.  Thankfully, I have a God who continued/continues to pursue me in spite of my rebellion.  He loved/loves me too much to let me go.  (The same goes for you, if only you are open and listen.)

Homeward-bound? A Birth Decision

I’ve been so torn lately.  The decision for a home-birth has been weighing heavily on my mind.  If I do it, what am I trying to prove?  If I don’t, will I feel like I’ve let myself down.  I’ve been weighing pros and cons.

Hospital

Meals are prepared

Someone else does the cleaning

There is help if you need it (breastfeeding)

If any complications arise, emergency services are readily available

Insurance typically covers more cost in a hospital setting and so overall, can be cheaper

 

Home

Finding a sitter would be easier

Willow will see her sibling shortly after the baby is born

Unless an emergency arises, a drive to the hospital isn’t necessary (which is beautiful news to not have to drive (even as a passenger) during transition like I did with Willow.

Fewer staff members are consistently checking on you so you get more overall rest

You aren’t required to meet time tables for labor as in the hospital (See the grievous standard by which many women are held to in the hospital:  the Friedman’s curve.  http://evidencebasedbirth.com/friedmans-curve-and-failure-to-progress-a-leading-cause-of-unplanned-c-sections/)

You are allowed to drink and eat as you feel inclined

You aren’t hooked up to a monitor, IV, etc.

You can move about more freely

You aren’t required to sign papers while laboring

You will be questioned about jeopardizing your health and your baby’s in today’s culture.  You will be called negligent.

 

Ok….so clearly when I’ve actually taken the time to write out pros and cons, it seems Home wins out.  Why didn’t I do this before? Yes, cost is a major decision point, but the benefits of home seem to outweigh a financial decision.  (At least they should and sadly, don’t in America, even in my household.)

You have to be considered an ideal candidate for home birth.  This means that if any tests reveal the incorrect placement of the placenta, diabetes, baby positioned in a breach or transverse position, 37-42 weeks gestation (anything less or more is not allowed), usually only one baby,  will disqualify you for home birth.   You have to be having a healthy pregnancy with low risk in order to be considered for home birth.  Most pregnancies are normal.  OB-GYNs are trained in emergency protocols and only know oddities.  Midwives are trained in normal birth.  This means, that if there is something abnormal, they will likely recognize the risks and potential problems.  Yes, something can always go wrong, but it is highly unlikely.  There is so much fear surrounding birth.

Our culture in America has bred fear in response to birth.  Birth is an occurrence that happens every day, but is treated as an irregular, irresponsible event (much like sex is in this culture, but that’s an issue for another musing).  Women are told that their bodies weren’t meant for this pain (which if you are strapped to a bed with IVs in your arm and a monitor continuously attached to your belly, labor pain is worse).  It seems that even in pregnancy and labor women are being told their bodies are insufficient, that they need intervention to operate optimally.  Gah, the deception is irritating.

I am a short woman.  I had a vaginal birth with Willow.  I labored for about 13 hours and pushed for 2.5 hours.  At the end, I started to get tired.  In order to assist in pushing, I was given a couple drops of Pitocin.  Now, I am frustrated with myself for getting the Pitocin, but understanding hospital protocols after a documentary I watched last night, I understand they might have needed the room.  After being administered the Pitocin, I spent the next 10-15 minutes pushing and Willow was out.  I did need it because I was getting tired and pushing is strenuous work.  However, I also understand it might have been more of hospital policy than my fatigue.  I can also see that if administered too early (i.e. at 1 week past due rather than 2), contractions are harder to keep up with and a woman can’t handle the pain.  The contractions were more intense with the medication.  Also, when you aren’t allowed to move to get comfortable then the pain does become unbearable.

Trends reveal that when Pitocin is administered a woman’s contractions are more intense and she has a harder time keeping up with them (pain management and breathing).  As such, many women will request an epidural.  Pitocin speeds up the baby’s heartbeat.  An epidural is a sedative to alleviate pain.  This slows labor (essentially counter-acting the pitocin).  Sometimes the baby’s heartbeat will slow as a result of the epidural.  This speeding and slowing is observed as an erratic heartbeat.  If a woman “fails to progress” (stays at 4-6 cm for longer than a couple of hours by hospital standards (see Friedman’s curve listed previously in this thread) she will be recommended or forced to have a C-section.

In today’s society, due in part to the fear promotion surrounding birth, having a birth at home is seen as irresponsible.  You are told that you are putting your baby at risk of death.  However, women have been giving birth outside of hospitals for hundreds of years.  The human race has progressed without frequent medical interventions.  Hospitals are advertised as being sterile, cleaner facilities than a home setting.  There is a 3% infection rate in a hospital that isn’t seen at home though.  Cord prolapse has about a 0.3% rate in a home setting.  Yes, there are risks with every situation, but home birth is not the danger it has been marketed to be.  Hospitals are a business.  They need profits to keep going.  Look at when C-sections are happening (rarely around a holiday and typically M-F between 9 am-5 pm).  With this timing, does it seem like C-sections are being used as the emergency procedure they were meant to be?  No.  Yes, there is a time and place for a C-section but it is rare!  It is major abdominal surgery and doctors have done a good job as making it seem less risky than something the female body has been doing for centuries, centuries even before the C-section came into play!

Now, this is not meant to shame a woman for the choices she makes.  It is meant to scold the doctors who are misinforming their patients.  It is important to be educated about your health and choices.  If you are educated in these issues and you still decide on medications, that is your choice.  However, it was YOUR choice, not a doctor who chose to leave you in the dark about the risks of medications and procedures or even educating you about hospital protocols.  Be informed.  The most important thing you can do is learn about these issues and become your own advocate.

Through my midwifery birth experience, I’ve become extremely passionate about women’s health.  For years I wasn’t listened to in regards to health concerns.  I had an abnormal period.  I was saddened.  Nobody listened to me.  Through the midwives, even though they might not have had a causation for my cycle, they listened to me and comforted me.  When I had my miscarriage, they called me to check on my emotional status.  My midwives sat with me for an hour as I cried about the pain I was experiencing.  I don’t know any doctor, other than a friend, who would have done this.

Now for my decision, I felt moved and motivated towards making the decision for home birth.  I was leaning towards hospital, but after the documentary last night, I feel confident that home birth is a good decision and is a great choice for me and my family.  Now, things can always change and it is important to remember to be flexible about your birth and labor.  Labor and delivery aren’t static.  They change with each pregnancy and each birth.  We just have to be informed, make choices we think are best for our current situations, and be flexible with whatever happens.

Since my parents don’t really read my blog, I feel fine admitting this publicly (or slightly less publicly than Facebook, where my mother follows me).  FYI, they are strong opponents of home birth.  (My mom had two C-sections because she was told she had big babies and wouldn’t be able to push us naturally.  Now, I was 9 lbs. 6 oz. and my sister was about the same weight, but you don’t actually know whether or not you’ll be able to push out a baby until you do so (they did exams and told her that her pelvis was too small, but your pelvis is very elastic during labor…the preparation is seen as pregnant women waddle).)  My parents don’t often question doctors but take them at their word.  I question my health care providers more often than not.

I’m glad the midwives listened and have educated me.  I’m glad that they empower me to make choices for myself rather than spoon-feeding me information.  (They tell you about risks and benefits of different decisions.)  They helped me find my voice and I hope that you will find yours.  It is time we take back female healthcare and put it in the hands of fellow sisters, women who understand our bodies, not in a male surgeon’s hands. Go forth and make YOUR choices ladies.

(Oh and good resources:  Documentaries:  The Business of Being Born and Why Not Home;  evidencebasedbirth.com)

A license to disagree?

So often I find that I’m an oxymoron.

I believe in conviction.  I believe in absolute truth.  I believe in judgement and sin.

However, I also believe in patient endurance.  I believe in Love.  I believe in reconciliation.  I believe in mercy, grace, and salvation.

We live in a culture where disagreeing is seen as hate.  We have to approve of people’s choices in order to be seen as tolerant.  People think that if you disapprove of their decisions than you disapprove of them.  I felt this at times when my parents didn’t or don’t like a choice I was/am making.  [Now that I mention it, I feel like I have to rebel against my parents’ advice and succeed to say, “I can do it differently than you!” or I feel like their advice is a criticism on who I am as a mother and their daughter.  I’m realizing, in this statement, that their opinions on my choices do not measure their affection towards me as a person, a daughter they do love, even if I sometimes feel they don’t do the best job at showing it.  Lord knows Willow will feel the same way probably.  She’ll stand around a kitchen venting to her friends about me.  Ah, the cycle.]

There is so much controversy regarding the H2B law in North Carolina.

First, I think it is wrong to allow children to carry pepper spray.  I don’t let my child play with cleaning chemicals from under the sink for fear she’ll use it improperly.  Now, I understand that I have a toddler and she is years from using a public restroom at school (if we aren’t able to home-school), but why would I arm my prepubescent teen with a dangerous weapon.  Yes, pepper spray is a weapon.  A knife and a gun are weapons too.  Ii know I can train my child to use it properly, but I want years of supervising and instruction before I let my child handle weapons herself.  (I’m not sure if this will be a point of contention between hubby and me.  I know he’s all about education on these items like I am, but I don’t know how long he’ll allot before giving her free reign of using these items herself.)

I also don’t feel that my child will be any more threatened by allowing transgender individuals into “her” restroom.  I’ve already done a lengthy post on this however, so I’ll spare you.

There is also the on-going battle of homosexual marriage.  A law was recently passed to allow homosexual couples to marry.  Cool, whatever.  You want to have your relationship recognized legally so you get all the same benefits?  Great.  I’m fine with this.

However, just because I’m fine with a civil recognition of a homosexual marriage and I’m fine with transgenders using the bathroom of their choosing, does not mean I agree with their lifestyle choices.  I think you can be pre-disposed towards preferences at birth.  Yet, even though genetics can predispose you to certain behaviors, it does not mean we are to act on them.  Murder is still wrong even though individuals can have genetics or life circumstances that incline them to be at a greater risk of murdering someone.  Now I know that sexual attraction and gender identity are an entirely different sphere. I’ll probably get static for making a seemingly absurd comparison, but we are commanded to be self-controlled in Scripture.  Self-control means that there are real desires and inclinations that my flesh wants to act on, but that I must yield to the Spirit.

I believe that sin really does exist.  Sin is an uncomfortable topic in today’s society.  If you dismiss it, you are licentious.  If you admit it exists, you will likely be seen as judgmenta and intolerant.

Now, I understand that the church talks about abortion and homosexuality a lot.  These are hot button issues that are polarizing our pews and dividing congregations.  There is so much sin that isn’t being discussed in church, sin that is probably far more prevalent.  We veil gossip as a prayer request often.  Yes, there are things the church needs to work on.  I belong to the church and so by extension, there are several things I need to work on.

Yet, you can believe something and still treat people nicely.  One sad deception that is permeating culture today is that if you think a behavior is wrong, you don’t value the individual.  If you voice a disagreement, you are told that you are a bigot, you don’t want people to be happy.  (My sister told me I didn’t want her to be happy when I said I would rather she not marry a person in jail.  *sigh, that’s a lot more drama and life than is meant for here*)

I disagree with people A LOT!  My husband can vouch for that.

Love doesn’t mean I agree with you.  Love doesn’t mean I am blind towards sin or mistakes.

Love is admitting that I don’t have it all together myself.  Love is caring for my neighbor, even if they feel offended or insulted by my opinion.  Love is treating other people with decency even when we disagree or argue.  Love doesn’t mean I dismiss my convictions because they confront your personal decisions.  Love means that I will have compassion for you.  Love is being messy together.  Love isn’t discarding what I see as years of church historical doctrine and truth.  Love isn’t being silent about repentance.  (I will agree that repentance should be discussed in regards to so many other sins that aren’t being addressed and need to be.)

Christ wasn’t quiet about people’s need to refrain from sin and pursue righteousness.  However, there is a way to tactfully address sin, repentance, and judgement.  Love covers a multitude of sins.  Love does not mean I spare people from Hell by condemning them.  I’m not to judge, God is.  I don’t know the motives in people’s hearts.  Love is me sharing the good news of the gospel, the whole gospel.  I need to tell people about our rebellion against God and how our stains made it impossible to win his favor, but when we trust in Jesus as the atonement for our wrongdoings, we are reconciled to God.  Out of gratitude, I refrain from selfish pursuits and choose to honor God, even if my flesh wars with his desires.

I can disagree with people.  I am not permitted to think myself superior.  Jesus was furious with the religious elite.  I am not to be pious.  If anything, I am to be like Paul and seeing myself as the worst of sinners.  Yet, like Paul, I can raise controversial issues, state my opinion, and do so with love.  I can disagree.  Love and tolerance do not demand the abandonment of conviction, convictions I’ve gained through years of prayer and study.  However, love and tolerance do demand that  I treat people with respect.  I am not to insult or harm them, at least not intentionally.  (Some might think you are insulting and harming them because you are disagreeing…see earlier in this thread.)

This long rant can be summarized in that love isn’t merely a feeling of butterflies and gumdrops.  Love is messy.  Love disagrees.  Love can argue.  Love does, however, do the disagreeing tactfully, seeing the humanity in another individual.  Love is being willing to stand alongside someone and hold their hand even when they are frustrating you.

I can vehemently oppose a position you hold but still admire you as an individual.  I can disagree, but see a friend and someone worthy of respect.

Love is speaking truth enshroud with mercy and grace, because you deserve Christ’s mercy and grace too.  He didn’t just die for me.  He died for anyone who would put their trust in him.

My opinion could be wrong and I’ll get to see all my misconceptions one day.  Until then, I’ll treat you as I would want to be treated; every human is entitled to the common decency of being heard, cared for, and helped.

Please let me love you earnestly and do me the kind act of loving me in this fashion.

Golly, I hope I am coherent and don’t ramble/repeat myself too much.

Sleep is prescribed…but I’m pretty sure I’ll be saying that until I die now.  Here’s a revelation:  Maybe we’d find more common ground and not bicker like toddlers if we all tried to find more time to sleep.  Lots of arguments can be resolved more quickly/civilly with sleep and food.  Regardless, treat people well because love calls us to do that much, even if you don’t agree on other issues.

Daddy Bloggers

I follow parenting blogs.  It is just the nature of a blogger, a parent blogger myself.  Through one of the most popular blogs- ScaryMommy.com- I have discovered a few guest dad bloggers.  I’ve only found a couple so far, but the ones I have found I’ve enjoyed immensely.

Dad bloggers seem to take parenthood with a grain of salt.  I don’t mean this in a condescending manner.  Moms just seem to have this wonderful sisterhood that is wrought with competition.  We are always trying to prove we are better moms, better wives, better people.  I guess this is one of the reasons why I gravitate towards hanging with men and now their blogs.  Guys laugh at stupid stuff, things women find immature.  Most guys I know, at least fathers, look to their fellow dad audience with confused glances and shrugged shoulders.  They understand each is trying to do their best.  These men aren’t afraid of admitting how they are disappointing their wives and messing up parenthood.  They take it in good natured stride.

I know I can learn a few lessons from these dudes.  I wonder if other women want to as well.

My husband is an incredible father.  He notices the silly things our daughter does and snaps photos like I do.  She is his little darling.  He adores her.  There are fewer precious moments than watching a father and daughter bond.  Each parent-child bond is unique and special.  They are fun to watch.  Each has its valleys and mountains.

In all of the parenting navigation, highs and lows, my husband is laid-back.  He seems to be doing better at this parenting thing because he doesn’t let as much bother him.  He doesn’t fret the way I do.  Maybe I can chuck it up to mother’s intuition and I’ll know my daughters cries more specifically, but he seems more relaxed than I do.  (Frank does help out, FYI.)  He is normally more chill than I am, but gah, he seems to have mastered this wonderful art of relaxing even when it is chaotic.  (Is my self-deprecation harming matters…am I laughing at myself or just heaping more guilt on myself?  I need to learn to laugh at myself without being too serious.)

I’ve noticed a similar trend of stress-free, but admittedly frustrated, parenting threads in dad blogging.  These dads aren’t afraid to confess that this parenting thing is hard.  They are doing their best and laughing along the way.  Laughter is the best medicine.

I want to admit my failures, laugh at my bloopers, and encourage my sisters in this messy parenting adventure.  Perhaps we would do well to take note from dads and dad bloggers.  Yes, some guys are dead beats, but not all are.  Most dudes are just dumbfounded why we women get so worked up.  I know my husband is.  My husband is a great dad and husband.  He is just horribly confused when I let the petty, minor things worry me.  Perhaps if we are more willing to laugh at ourselves rather than sludge through the guilt of mistakes (once we confess they are mistakes) then mommy wars will lessen.  We can be the sisterhood we claim to promote.  I want to strive for this.  Will you help me?

Dad bloggers, I’m taking notes.  Thanks for your refreshing, humorous, and insightful perspectives on parenting.

If you care to be amused, enlightened, and have anecdotal reading for your day, check out

Dadandburied.com and http://www.byclintedwards.com

Hopefully you’ll enjoy these musings as much as I do.

 

A mother’s pleaful prayer

Willow,

Yesterday we celebrated a Hallmark rendition of womanhood, specifically motherhood.  One day out of the year, we tell women they can relax and dads and kids can step it up.  I have a tendency to think this perpetuates male laziness and child entitlement in our culture.  Also, having gone through years of infertility, I know how difficult the day can be.  I definitely think we should acknowledge the hard work of motherhood and the joy it brings, but I wonder why we’ve separated a single day for it.  We should tell women daily that they are a positive attribute to society.  Mothers should be united and stand together in this sisterhood at all times.

Now, I don’t mean to be negative about the day.  I understand its notion.  It is meant to celebrate the positive realizations of being a mother.  I’m grateful that after four years, God has blessed me with the friendliest, easy-going kid I know.  I’m extremely blessed to be your mother.  I’m grateful to receive cards and focus the day on our family.  I guess it is just a difficult day for me.

See, I often feel forced to speak kindness towards my mother.  I know that parenthood is difficult.  My mother did the best she could with the resources she had.  Every woman is just trying to do what she thinks is best for her kids.  Your grandmother tried to do that.  However, I feel she thinks that she cares more about you than I do.  I feel that she thinks me an inconvenience, a mistaken blot on her mapped out life.  I feel she thinks me a painful endeavor, who only brings her grief through lecture and spite.  It isn’t true, but it is often what depression causes one to feel.  She loves you and I know she means well.  Your grandmother doesn’t think me a failure that I’m aware of, even when she disagrees with how I should raise you.  I’ll discipline you and annoy you (as she has done to me), but know that aside from God, no one will love you more than your father or I do.  (Unless of course you choose to get married and then your spouse should love you more than we do.)

I will mess up horribly.  I am a fallen individual.  I sin, daily.  Please forgive me.  My own past has left me checkered with anxiety and depression.  I pray that this will not affect you.  I ask God to intercede and grant me self-control, trust, and peace.  There is habitual sin in our family, as in all families.  I’m praying that this generational envy and anger will cease with our family.  I want us to get along, at least for the most part.  (I pray we keep peace in so far as it depends upon us.)  I want us to laugh together.  I want us to cry together.  I want you to know that I will be your biggest cheerleader, wanting what is best for you, even if that makes you angry.  May you always desire truth, love, and God more than worldly happiness.

I love you my sweet girl.  I don’t want to pit you against your siblings.  Pray that I won’t enable any of you.  Pray that I will be as fair as I can be.  Pray that I would rely more on God daily than I do myself.  I need him to guide me so that I might parent you well, not putting you on a pedestal or belittling you.  May you hold the proper place in my heart.  I love you.  I don’t want to idolize you.  I don’t want to think your successes are mine and your failures a result of my shortcomings.  You are a gift God has entrusted to me.  Pray that I might care properly for the treasure he’s blessed me with.

In regards to your grandmother, I pray that I might appreciate the ways in which she tries to help.  I pray that I won’t grow agitated at unwarranted advice, but that I’ll bring it all before God, using discernment to sort through truth versus opinion.  I pray that I might encourage her, rather than lecture her (because sometimes I feel she acts like a teenager, but then I’m being disrespectful to a mother I’m supposed to honor).  I pray that I might know how to communicate with her, forgiving her for ways in which I feel she has offended me.  Her past was difficult and abusive.  I pray that she would break free from the bonds that continue to hold her captive and that I would love her in spite of them.  Please pray that I would do this wholeheartedly.

I pray for my sister.  I pray she would be stabilized and that bi-polar disorder would not plague her daily life.  I pray that I would know how to communicate with her as well, understanding that she is extremely sensitive.  I pray that I won’t be a doormat and let myself be taken advantage of, but that I’d also be willing to forgive when she wants to reconcile.  Help me not to drudge up the past.

Willow dear, please pray that I’d forgive quickly.  When we forgive as Christ has forgiven us, we can boldly approach the throne of grace.  When we harbor resentment or anger towards others then our relationship with God will be askew.  Pray that I would always be kind, not arrogant or boastful.  Pray that I would forgive and walk in righteousness.  I’ll pray the same for you.

Forgive me for not being the mother you expect, but know that I am doing the best I can.  I’m trying to press closer into God and have him equip me to raise you in Christ-like love.  Forgive your father for not being the man you expect him to be.  He’s doing the best he knows how to as well.  We are trying to navigate parenthood with Christ as our leader.  Pray we would seek God’s counsel everyday and we’d love you from the strength and passion only he can provide.

I also pray that all mothers would forgive each other.  Everyone has an opinion on the right way to address issues.  The reality is that no one has a clue.  We are all using the tools we’ve been given, utilizing knowledge from our past and present.  Mothers (and Fathers) are making decisions in the moment.  Some pray beforehand and find it more peaceful, but this isn’t always the case.  Sometimes prayers are answered in ways we’d least expect them, or want them to turn out.  I pray unity among mothers.  May we encourage each other to press deeper into the well of strength, truth, and knowledge, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  I pray that we would encourage one another towards righteousness, not tear each other down out of our opinion that worked (probably once) for our particular child’s mannerisms.

God has entrusted you to me sweet girl.  I am grateful to be your mother and I hope you’ll be grateful to have me as your mother.  I’m praying to be the best mom I can be, with God’s help.  I need you praying for me to draw nearer to God too in order to be half the mom I want to be and even a sliver of the mom you need me to be.  I love you sweet girl.

Thank you Jesus for blessing me with the role of mother, allowing me to parent this precious girl Willow, and letting me instruct this child alongside my best-friend and dearest companion, Frank.  Without him, and your guiding hand God, I would inevitably fail miserably at this insurmountable task you’ve placed before me.  I know that with your grace, mercy, and comrades you’ve surrounded me with, I just might be able to handle motherhood.

Pray for me, your mother, dear child.  Lord knows I need all the prayer I can get.

I love you.

 

Oh and if you could like sleep just a little more, I might function better.  I’d write more coherently and be less inclined to outbursts of frustration.  I’d be a better mom.  Sleep is a precious commodity that will make all of us more stable.  I feel sleep makes me able to follow God better too. (Some people, I find, would tell me that true strength, alertness, and energy isn’t found through sleep, but by pressing into God.  This is true, in part, and I know Paul was able to live out deep faith on little sleep in prison, but I just operate better and find I can attain the fruits of the Spirit faster and more readily when I’m well rested.)  So, for the love of all things holy, good, and righteous, please learn to enjoy sleep, at least a little more.

The Chamber’s Capsule

Some today shall paint their faces green, white, red

parading in the streets

to celebrate a freedom.

Others don the mourning attire.

Years ago ink blots splattered history, people.

Drained bodies lay splintered in the fields.

Their arms were scarred with permanent ink.

Mine are too. Eight, currently, marking chosen devotion or memory recall.

Theirs a tag, a tally.

Clothed, a six star patch, fades golden, woven on their sleeve.

Then garments shredded,

Nakedly they queue, heads stripped too.

A silent march to gasping agony,

even children choke for air.

Gas fills their nostrils and forces eternal sleep

and scorched flesh fuels the pyre

of future inhalations.

In ashes they spiral down,

Voices quieted and prayers merely resonating.

Incline your ear our dear Creator.

Were we made for such a place as this?

Hopefully, in steady faith, bodies descend while

spirits draw ever upwards,

soaring into your care.

Etch the moment into history.

Let it be remembered.

They were engraved.

May this tragedy remain ingrained in the hearts and minds of generations following.

In remembrance, preserve integrity, honesty, justice, and faith

that this assault dare not repeat.

 

*Flow lost a bit at the end.  If you have suggestions for improvement,  criticisms that will aid not just mindless jabs, then please comment.

 

 

 

Let the Children Come to Him

http://www.ourgreat8.com/2016/04/28/why-you-should-not-adopt/

A friend recently posted the above article.  You should definitely read it.

I’ve always felt an inclination to adopt.  I have so much love to give and I see hurting, aching children everywhere.  I see children wanting the loving embrace of a mother, a father.  It didn’t matter to me where I should adopt, just that I wanted to.

Then I started watching documentaries.

It’s a Girl is a documentary about the injustice women are facing in India and China.  Little girls go unwanted.  Boys are preferred.  Perhaps it is one of the reasons I’m against abortion.  In fact, it is illegal to do an ultrasound in these countries to determine gender. [Unlike America which feels a need to “plan” the lives of its children even before birth.  There girls are lucky to even have a life.]  Gender reveal ultrasounds are illegal because they are often used as a means to determine whether or not the couple wants the baby.  If it is a girl, families will opt for abortion.  It is genocide in its rawest form.  Eugenics.  However, with a shortage of girls, families soon realize that in order to continue procreating their sons need wives.  Kidnapping is high as parents without girls will steal little women to be their son’s future bride.  It is appalling.  It made me want to adopt specifically from India or China.  Perhaps I could rescue even one little girl from this life of rejection.

After It’s A Girl, I watched the documentary STUCK.  This documentary discusses the length and cost of the adoption process.  I was mortified.  Why is it so expensive to adopt and why does it take so long?  There are millions of couples who want to adopt, either to add to existing children or because they can’t have children themselves.  We state the errors of the foster care system and yet it takes years for a kid to be removed from the system since adoption processes are so long and the cost so high.

At this stage, we can’t afford to adopt, to my chagrin.  We could foster children which might result in adoption and that is the cost-free option.  Although I know myself.  If I had a child in my care, that I considered my child, I would be devastated when he or she is potentially removed from my home.  I would like to consider foster care, but I don’t know if I’m strong enough for such an undertaking.  If we don’t foster, adoption is too expensive for us right now.

Why is it so costly?

Loving a child is costly enough, why must we put such a high price on giving the familial bond?  I know we have to be careful to not place a child too quickly, lest they are met with greater harm. How might we expedite the process to get children into the arms of the parents who have prayed for them and want them so desperately?  I wish I had the answers.  I wish I studied this more.

In God I’ll trust and wish no more. Wishes don’t make dreams come true. Wishes can’t protect a generation wanting affection.  God can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.  Let the children come to him and hopefully, one day, at least one, wherever in the world, into our little community, our budding family.