Apparently, I took the summer off from my blog. There are several reasons: a part-time job that took up all my baby nap time; post-partum depression and anxiety rearing its ugly head, sucking all the fun out of those things I enjoy; and just figuring out what to do with an increasingly active baby.
But now that those things are done, receding into the background — well, not the active baby part, I’m ready to focus again. And the baby now has an attention span long enough to wave a wooden spoon around for 10 minutes while mommy writes.
I will now focus the precious baby nap time on this blog and writing in general. I want to attempt a series of blog posts about Sabbath living to fit in with my year of stillness. I want to write several times every week, not just the occasional binge of posts every few months.
I’ll write about baby stuff because, come on, that is my life right now, but I’ll also write about theology and books and random thoughts. And the State Fair. The State Fair is a month a way people! Ted and I are very excited to take our little guy to the fair for the first time. We hope he likes it as much as we do!
So there you have it. Just wanted to let you know. I’m back.
A few nights ago, during the crazy hail storm, our electricity went out and it was out all night. After the rain stopped, everyone came out of their homes to survey the damage and to be in the light and not the dark of our homes. There were more people outside on our street than I’ve ever seen. People talking to each other, making sure everyone was ok, gawking at the steam rising from the massive amounts of hail on the ground.
Night began to fall, candles were lit and flashlights beamed out of houses. Ted and I don’t watch much TV, so we were just content to read, but rarely do I ever have the house in absolute silence. I usually have on music, or at night a fan to sleep by. I couldn’t even hear Henry snoring (yes, he snores) in the next room because we couldn’t turn on the monitor.
At first this silence was uncomfortable, and I itched for the low hum of my fan, the whir of the air conditioning. Then, gradually, as I read my book, the silence and the darkness became one and filled me with quiet, with peace. A feeling that all was right with the world or would be one day.
I know many people’s homes and cars were damaged that day, especially in our old neighborhood where most houses do not have garages (so thankful that ours does!) But I also see the beauty in the storm, with everyone being forced out of their homes to commiserate with his neighbor. With everyone being forced into silent, dark stillness. Perhaps a night without electricity isn’t so bad, and might even do us some good.
Before we started sleep training, I was spending most of my day with a sweet baby in my arms, nursing him to sleep. Some days I was fine that this was what I was doing with my time. Other days, this would drive me mad because the kitchen needed to be clean, the laundry needed to be done, and I just plain needed some time to myself.
But then I am reminded that my word for the year is stillness. Henry, in all his glorious babyness, was forcing me to slow down, to be still.
For a while, I was filling the stillness of nursing and napping with Facebook, blogs, and books (boy do I love my Kindle). Then I realized that I was filling this stillness with all the wrong things. I decided that if I was forced to be still, I should be using that time for prayer, which is exactly what I needed. Henry forced me to think about God, about others, and my part in the world.
Now that Henry takes his naps without me, I am not forced to be still, but I still must force myself to stillness, remembering that the day will be better if I stop, think of God, think of others, and how I can bring the two together.
As a new mother, this is the question I’m asked most often. And I find it a little annoying. I know that sleep deprivation can be one of the most challenging parts of new parenthood, but this question bothers me because it implies that this is the part of parenthood we most focus on — how this little creature is wreaking havoc on our lives. I wish I were asked, “What was your favorite thing Henry did today?” or “Where do you find the most joy in your new role of mother?”
Of course, these are not small talk questions. They require real answers and real conversations.
But still, I wish people would quit asking me “the question,” mostly because I get angry glares from other parents.
I have a confession to make: my child sleeps through the night (at least 6 hours) and has done since he was 5 weeks old. He started sleeping 8 to 9 hours a night at 10 weeks old.
I am so thankful that he is a good sleeper. I don’t do well with sleep deprivation (it is migraine-inducing for me), so I am blessed to have this sleepy boy. And I’m going to quit feeling bad about answering that both Ted and I get a full night’s sleep. I do have other parenting challenges, but sleep just doesn’t happen to be one of them.
Parenting is hard, so maybe “the question” is meant to stand in for commiserating with each other. But I would rather focus on the joy.
So, here are the answers to the questions I wish people would ask me.
1. Henry stopped nursing just to smile and giggle at me before he continued to eat.
2. I find the most joy in the quiet, still moments, snuggling with my boy, imagining who he will be, but also taking in this moment, this day (even if that day is rough) because there will never be another like it.
It has taken me a while (a month into this year) to figure out what I want this year to be about. At first, I thought about words like “flexibility” or “change” since I will have to be more open to change with the arrival of my son. Then I thought about a word like “explore,” being open to all the new possibilities being a stay-at-home mom would bring. But after spending the past three weeks with Henry, I know exactly what word I need to keep in my thoughts: stillness.
I like being a productive person. I find great satisfaction from making a list and crossing items off that list. I will often even write down something I finished, just so I can cross it off. A good day for me has always been one where I achieved a lot, at work and at home. Well apparently, babies throw a wrench into the idea of having productive days. A productive day for me lately has been getting Henry adequately fed and comforted and then attempting to get myself adequately fed and clothed.
I was pretty upset one day when I didn’t get a shower, a change of clothes, lunch, or ANYTHING else done other than holding my son all day. And that’s when I realized that I was already missing it — missing the idea that time with my son is enough. Time holding Henry, stroking his hair, kissing his baby acne cheeks, filing his nails, and laughing at his ridiculously pouty face is the most productive thing I can do. It doesn’t matter that the laundry doesn’t get done, that I don’t get out of the house for a week, that the kitchen dishes pile up. All that matters is being still, really being still and not worrying about all the other things I could be doing.
This year I will follow stillness, and sit with my son in our ancient blue recliner, reading to him from his Bible story book or whatever book I’m reading and think: “this is enough.”