Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Parenting: The Ultimate Power Trip

If I were a power monger, I would want to be a parent.

Isn't parenting the ultimate power trip? I mean really--there's this tiny little person (or people) who can't quite talk yet, can't dress themselves, can't feed themselves any more than some crackers from the low shelf in the pantry. They can't drive themselves anywhere, they can't dial a phone number. They have to listen to you, and you technically can {try} to make them do so.

Parenting is the ultimate power trip. Can you imagine if I, or any parent, capitalized (in a bad way) on this place of power? If I allowed the fragrance of complete and total authority to get to my head? What if I chose to rule and reign in my household, and whip these little ones into shape?

I'm telling you--not a pretty picture.

My job as a parent is to shape and correct my child, of course. Out of love, and in love, I am to "pull weeds" and strive to mold my child into the person God has created him or her to be. Most days I don't know what I'm doing. I've read some books, sought some counsel, but in the heat of the moment, I'm often slack jawed and grasping at straws. What DO you DO when a two year old throws books down the stairs, burst into tears, and blabbers something unintelligibly ending in ".... mine, Daddy!" while you're glued to the couch, nursing the one month old who chooses that moment to projectile spit milky goo everywhere, and then bless you with a cross-eyed grin?

Jeremiah 10:24 "Correct me, O Lord, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing."

As Joshua travels through the so called "terrible twos" (I strongly dislike that label), I am challenged every day to correct in justice, but not in anger. To follow God's example and administer justice because it's the right thing to do; not because it feeds my power trip and fuels my anger. I could so easily "bring him to nothing"--which is a terrifying reality as a parent. I am physically huge relative to my little boy (which won't last long I know!), and relationally in charge. How easy it would be to misstep and reduce my son to nothing. Shame him, ignore him, look past him, yell at him ... way to easy. I know myself, and not only can I snap once I've reached a certain point, but I also easily (and often gladly) carry a grudge.

Again, I have to keep Christ in mind, and when my little boy quickly flips the switch and moves on from his tantrum to sunshine, butterflies, and toddler love, which he can do astoundingly quickly, I must move on too. Holding a grudge against a two year old is, well, stupid. Just about as stupid as if God held grudges against us trantrum-y human beings.

So here's to a day without anger, but full of justice. Justice carried out in love with the end in mind. Because my son is practically asking me to correct him in justice, but not in anger--because I truly could reduce him to nothing. Instead, I'd like to think that every minute of every hour I'm with him, I am pouring into him, building him up, pulling out weeds, tilling the soil of his heart so that 20 years from now I can say to myself and Erik, "Job well done."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Guitar Picks & Bobby Pins

Everywhere I go in this house, I find guitar picks

On the kitchen table, kitchen counters, kitchen floors.

In Joshua's toy bins, between the couch cushions, on the piano bench.

On the dryer, in the lint trap, on the basement floor.

Guitar picks are everywhere. 

This used to irritate me. I'd think, Why can't he just keep them all in one place? When is he going to be more responsible with his picks? {frustrated sigh} {musicians}

Then one day I noticed something ...

Everywhere I go in this house, I find bobby pins

Wedged in the carpet, caught under pillows, slipped under shelves.

On the counters, in the car cup holders, on the end table. 

On the dryer, in the lint trap, on the basement floor.

Bobby pins are everywhere. 

This has never irritated me. Why? 

Because the bobby pins are mine.

The guitar picks are his.

Why is it that we (and by "we" I mean wives) see only the things our husbands do and not the things that we do? (by "things" I mean potentially irritating things).

I'm not better than he; and he is no better than I. We each have our oddities; we each have our strengths. We choose to do this life together and therefore ...

Guitar picks and bobby pins are everywhere. 
And always will be.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Totally Worth It

I remember early in my pregnancy with Rebecca, I messaged some friends on Facebook:

Okay, ladies, did you ever have thoughts like this?
"Why in the world am I messing with what I have right now by adding another child??"

Josh plays by himself, he communicates, we have a great family routine ... why in the world am I having another kid??
I just need to know that these thoughts are normal ... and I don't feel like blogging about it right now. :)

They provided me with realistic encouragement, comments about the journeys they've been on, and ultimately helped me realize that I wasn't a bad mom for experiencing some anxiety.

And now, here I am--with one baby eating applesauce, string cheese and milk while watching Curious George, and another baby swaddled up tight to my chest, desperately trying to fall asleep.

Two kids. I have two kids. How crazy is that?

A few lessons I've learned so far in this little-over-three-week journey:

  • Mamas weren't lying when they told me to use the Moby wrap. While I still can't stand putting the thing on every time, it sure does help for those late afternoon snoozes Becca needs. 

  • A shower really is more compelling than a little more sleep. I never believed my friend Becky when she'd tell me this, but the other morning I chose to shower while Becca and Joshua continued to sleep, even though former-me would have chosen sleep over ANYthing. 

  • I'm more able than I realized. Not completely able, not able entirely on my own, but more able than I expected. 

  • Second babies really are easier--not because they themselves necessarily are, but because I am less freaked, less anxious, less .... everything. If she sleeps longer than I expected? Great! If she has trouble falling asleep? Great! (Well, not really great at 11:30pm when we've been rocking, bouncing, nursing, swaddling and singing for 90 minutes). But Great! as in, it's okay! Tonight will pass, and tomorrow will come. We'll get through. :) 

  • A second child is TOTALLY worth it. It's worth it to see Joshua express affection. It's worth it to see Erik's heart melt at her first coos. It's worth it to feel my naturally selfish heart being chipped away at just a little bit more. It's totally worth it. Totally. 

  • Guess what? I do have time for quiet time with God. When Joshua first arrived in my life, I convinced myself that I didn't and that it was okay for the season. It really wasn't. I need that time with God, in His word. Now, am I getting to it every day? No. Is it deep and long and super spiritual feeling? No. Not usually. It's usually to the tune of Sesame Street, interrupted by coos, cries, "please mamas", and diaper changes--size newborn and size 5. But cracking open that Bible, whether on my phone or at my kitchen table amidst the toys, dishes and paperwork, is a crucial step to making it through this stage. And of course, any stage of life. No excuses this time around--God and His word are key in my life, and I will fit it in--it just looks different than before two kids, and before that, one kid. This is my new normal. 

As Becca Boo slumbers and makes me uncomfortably hot, and Joshua buddy excitedly narrates Curious George to me for the 19th time, I am content. I am a mother times two, and wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks to my friends who encouraged me--you were right on. This is TOTALLY worth it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Awesome Son

I just can't get over how awesome my son is.

He plays like Andy from Toy Story, complete with Mr. Potato Head and a semi scary dinosaur.

He tries to hike the basketball at the park-and somehow looks awesome doing it.

He gives me a workout by being a little too crazy at tumbling class.

He transitioned to a toddler bed with absolutely no fight no trouble no nothing.

He loves his baby sister so much and is working on how to best share his mama.

He's just so gosh darn cute, so irresistibly huggable, so knee slapping hilarious that I just can't imagine life without him!

God, thank you for the gift of Joshua Nelson "Din-deeen!!"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Never Woulda Thought

When I woke up on September 21, 2012, I never woulda thought so much would happen in a matter of hours. My life took a major twist. And though we've ended up miraculously straightened back out, my heart will never be the same.

I never woulda thought that I was strangely and strongly led to schedule an induction--even though I'd never considered it before--because of what I now believe was an absolute need to get Rebecca out and into this world by 9:42pm on September 21. Only God knows why, but I am convinced that she needed to be out by that moment so that she could live.

I never woulda thought that my relatively easy,  normal, basically perfect pregnancy would end with such a bang ... and that Rebecca's life would begin with such panic.

I never woulda thought, as we toured the hospital in early August, that I'd know every crack in the floor, every turn in the hall from the parking garage to the NICU.

I never woulda thought that I'd be the one noticing lost, confused people in the hallways of the hospital and stopping to give them directions.

I never woulda thought that I wouldn't get the joy of wheeling through the halls with my brand new baby girl, showing her off to everyone in sight.

I never woulda thought that we would welcome no one but immediate family to meet Rebecca at the hospital, and that we wouldn't even be able to hold her until day four of her life.

I never woulda thought that I'd learn the lingo of the NICU, and be able to converse with other moms with the same experiences.

I remember the moment. The moment I knew something was wrong. She'd come super fast, and I was still reeling with the realization that my delivery was over. The doc pushed her onto my chest, but because she was so limp, her body kinda flopped. That's when I knew--I knew when I couldn't get a grasp of her, I knew when I didn't hear her cry. I knew when I asked, "Why isn't she crying?" and the nurse quickly whisked her away. I knew something was wrong.

And yet, I still can't figure out why I wasn't more upset. I wasn't more concerned. My sister jokes with me now about how I was asking if I could eat something--while my baby girl was barely breathing on her own in the other room. Why wasn't I bawling? Why wasn't I screaming for  her and begging her to be okay? Was I in denial? I know I was being shielded by my husband who didn't want me to know, by my sister who wasn't sure what to say, and by the doctor's who were busy just trying to figure out what went wrong.

I do remember shaking--violently shaking anytime I'd allow my thoughts to drift to her. So I think I just didn't--I just didn't think. I asked for crackers, I talked to the doctor, and did everything I could to just get through.

I don't remember feeling anything when I realized NICU had been called in. I DO remember feeling something when they stopped long enough to let me see her. Her little eyes blinked so slowly, and she took the most labored raspy breath ever. Her head was a funny shape, her color still a little off. Her cheeks were out of this world, and she had the same swatch of dark hair her brother had.

She was alive.

I knew in that moment, when my eyes locked with her, that everything was going to be all right. Even an hour later, when the neonatologist used the words "brain damage" and explained the cooling therapy and the drugs and the risks ... even when my thoughts, my horrible dark selfish thoughts were, "I can't do this. She'll mess up our life. How will her disabilities affect Joshua? And our family? I want to start over!", a sense of peace settled over me. In that moment, I knew--and I never woulda thought--that no matter what, Rebecca Elizabeth, developmental delays, possible brain damage and all, would be and already was a member of this family. No matter what, this little girl would change our lives for the better. No matter what, Joshua would be shaped by his experience as big brother to this little angel. No matter what, Erik would be affected by her sweet presence and her smile. No matter what, this mama's heart would expand to include a little girl, who by no fault of her own, entered this world with a little unnecessary drama.

I never woulda thought we'd walk out of the NICU with a pink bundle of perfection with a clean bill of health.

I never woulda thought that we'd be one of those families with a story of how prayer works, God heals, and Facebook spreads the word. :)

I never woulda thought that I'd be sitting here, 13 days after her birth, and only 3 days after her arrival home, blogging about an experience that I never expected to have, with a tiny little lady with sparkly blue eyes, her brother's nose, her daddy's lips and the worst case of hiccups ever sitting in the bouncer next to me.

My God healed my baby girl. I believe that He knew something would go wrong in the birth canal. He knew that my daughter would not be breathing. He knew her brain would have "unhappy neurons" (I love how the NICU neurologists helps us understand things) and that evidence of seizures would display. He knew that Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 and 3:40, my little girl would stop breathing and need nurses to help her through it.

And oh mind you--I am human. I have yelled a little bit, and asked Him, "If you knew a bad thing was going to happen in there, why didn't you stop it? Why not heal it before the bad thing happened instead of allowing the bad thing to happen? Why allow my baby to come into the world this way? To go through this pain? Why would you have us walk this road?"

But even as I asked, I knew. Because He knew his people would rally to pray. He knew His name would be glorified, and that is why we exist here on earth--to bring glory to His name. And while I wonder why I needed to be the mama who went through this to bring Him glory, I know I am stronger because of it. Not stronger in myself, but stronger in Him. Never before have I been the recipient of such miracles.

I never woulda thought that this would be Rebecca's story. But truly, I can truly say: I'm grateful that it is.

My little miracle baby who didn't cry at birth is starting to cry now--apparently she's hungry again. :) Oh how I love that cry.