Sunday, October 28, 2012

Best Mom Contest

I have been very careful to not say, "When I'm a Mom, I will always..." or "When I'm a Mom, I will never..." because I had enough sense to know that huge generalizations don't have a great success rate. For example, I really wanted to have a natural, drug-free labor and childbirth. Until, of course, I was actually in labor. To be fair, I was induced with Pitocin and made it until about two hours before delivering, before my husband (who I had thrown up on and told pretty intensely that 'we are not talking during contractions anymore') and the nursing staff convinced me to get the epidural when I was vomiting in pain and my BP reached 180/110. I knew another person who said she was "devastated" that she couldn't deliver drug-free. I, on the other hand, had the nursing staff cracking up when I said, "What is this crap about the joy of natural childbirth? I'm getting one of these EVERY time I have a baby!" But nagging at the back of my head was the thought that maybe I could have made it without the drugs. That maybe I would have been a better mom if I would have.

And let's just be honest fellow Moms - we don't exactly make it easy on each other. For example, my daughter wears cloth diapers, so I am by default a better mom than anyone whose child is in disposables. ;-) I'm totally joking, but isn't that what it feels like sometimes? One mom says, "I breastfed my child for a year" and another mom chimes in and says, "Oh, that's nice... I did two years... like the World Health Organization recommends." And then another mom is like, "Oh, you might have seen me on the cover of Time magazine breastfeeding my kid before his little league game." It makes sense then why everything seems like a contest.

My mom was a young mom, and I know she felt a ton of the pressures of being a good mom and doing things just so. One of her best friends was an older Mom, though her daughter was the same age as MacKenzie - her name is Paula, and she is seriously one of the coolest people ever. Paula and my mom led MacKenzie and Kate's Girl Scout troop, and when my mom would fret over this or that, Paula would smile and say, "Our only job in raising kids is to make well-adjusted adults." Paula always encouraged Kate to dream big. Kate was always incredibly creative, sometimes not fully dressed when it might have been appropriate, and told people in Kindergarten that when she grew up, her goal was to "be Chinese." Everyone laughed, but now Kate is studying Asian Studies in college and has done semesters abroad in Asia and Europe. She's a pretty darn well-adjusted adult! I try to remember Paula's mantra and take being a Mom both terribly seriously and not seriously at all... at the same time. In the Best Mom Contest... let's all help each other win.

At the end of the day, it's all pretty petty. I read this awesome, awesome blog awhile back about how moms should stop nit-picking each other over silly personal choices and look out for children who ACTUALLY do not have loving and caring parents in their lives. It was beautifully written and a great reminder that cloth-diapered, disposable-diapered, breastfed, formula-fed, epidural, natural labor... we're all doing the best we can, and at the end of the day all we can do is try our best and be a Godly example for our children.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Raising the Stakes

It's probably a fundamental flaw in my personality, but I can make a bet or a contest out of just about anything. So can my dad. So unfortunately, most of our lovely family outings turn into some kind of blood sport. Mom's idea to pick apples and stroll through the orchard became "Race you to the end of this row of apple trees," and Monopoly became... well, let's just say that we don't play Monopoly anymore. And my husband and mother will drive us crazy to no end when they won't buy into our contests/competitions/bets. It's not always a bad thing, though, to be a person who shines when the stakes are raised.

I feel like, aside from God's calling, our decision to help plant the church in Normal has been a "raising of the stakes," of sorts. I'm not comparing it to one of my goofy bets or made up competitions, but it is an opportunity to do more... to give more, to serve more... to invest so much that we just can't afford to fail. And that's a scary feeling. Usually when you push your chips to the center and say, "I'm all in," it's a matter of a few agonizing seconds to find out the result, but it in this case, it will be over a year... and then years after that!

And even though I love the pressure, I've had my moments. When after our initial investment in the project, I sat at the computer, agonizing over financials and Nate said, "Are you worried?" and I hissed in response, "I just wrote a check that depletes a huge chunk of our savings to a church that only exists in our imagination! And I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm about five months pregnant. We should all be a little worried!" - Not my best moment.

But I can tell you, God has provided through and through. Unlike a game of poker, when you're "all in" for God, you are assured in your bet. I can't explain it to you, because it doesn't make sense. You can't understand it... you just have to live it. So, go all in for God. Give more, serve more, invest everything you have in God's call for your life. When you raise the stakes for God, He will honor that... and you'll work harder on your end to accomplish the vision. :-)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

On-the-job Training

Every time I've started a new job, I've really wanted to dive right in. It's just part of my personality. I don't want to sit and watch 500 tutorials... I just want to dig in and get things done. Never has this passion for on-the-job training served me better than on my recent journey into parenthood.

Blakely Grace Morrison entered the world at 3:50 pm on September 20. When they put her on my chest... the moment that I had dreamed and fantasized about for nine months (and really, even before that)... I panicked. I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't even admit that. I should say that it was love at first sight and I cried delicate tears of joy (that's what my husband did), but that's not what happened. They put her on me, and she was like a perfect, tiny little stranger laying there... a tiny little stranger whose college will easily cost me six figures in 18 years. But while I don't know if I could call that moment love at first sight, I did feel an incredibly strong urge and dedication to care for her in the very best way possible. When Nate asked if he should stay with me or follow Blakely to the nursery, I urged him to follow Blakely and not let her out of his sight.

Over the past two weeks, my love for her has grown every single day, and my days have been full of on-the-job training. The first night we were home from the hospital, she woke up every 15 mins. Literally. And if SHE didn't wake up, my husband would jolt up with this crazy Vietnam flashback PTSD-type reaction to imagined crying. Within a few days, we had given up on the recommended bassinet, opting to let her sleep in her little glider, and Nate could swaddle her so tight that Houdini couldn't get out of that receiving blanket. I've done some bizarre things, and most of my daily tasks, while using my electric breast pump - chatted on Facebook, eaten a grilled cheese sandwich, talked on the phone... And I've been topless in several places that I would never have imagined myself topless, outside of a couple of weird pregnancy dreams (What? You know you had them too if you've been pregnant), including church and the back of our car. I've had every type of bodily fluid on me, probably at the same time, and been strangely okay with it. I've already moved from the differentiation between burp rags, washcloths, clothes, blankets, and wipes to "does this wipe stuff off?" If yes, proceed. I went from being certain that I wouldn't leave the house with Blakely until her first round of vaccinations at two months, to taking her to church at three days old. That, folks, is called on-the-job training.

Even though I read books, watched videos, and took Lamaze class... nothing can really prepare you for the experience of parenthood. I'm just starting... but I already love the on-the-job training. :-)