Home Sweet Home

img_5118It’s 16 degrees outside. I’m sitting in the Honda in a Biggby parking lot using their internet because we don’t yet have wifi at home. The baby is asleep in his car seat and the oldest is happily watching Finding Nemo. Hey…gotta seize the moments whenever and wherever you can!

We’ve been back in the Mitten now for four weeks and it has not gone as we’d expected. I could go into a lot of detail but instead I’m gonna just hit the highlights. Four hours before the moving truck arrived from Florida, our plans for where we would live for the next seven months or so fell through. It involved a dog and a lot of hives on Phineas. Plenty of people pitched in, helping us return the moving truck, store our things, putting us up, and generally being selfless, but we were solidly nomads for a couple of weeks and candidly, not in a place financially to really do anything about it. But then…community.

One of the big reasons we returned to Michigan was our people. Having lived here pretty much forever, we had relationships deep and wide. We were in crisis. Unbeknownst to us, our friends stepped up and in the span of just a couple of days they located an apartment for us and gathered funds together to cover our security deposit as well as rent for the next seven months.

Guys. My eyes flooded with tears when I was surprised with this news. I was such a mess Chad assumed something horrible had happened, but it wasn’t too long before he was ugly crying right alongside me. So here we are, not squatting in somebody else’s house but with our own space, right where we’d hoped to land. God’s plan is so. much. better.

This is why we are designed and intended to live in community. We are supposed to take care of one another. We are supposed to love one another. This life is not meant to be lived in utter independence and isolation. So now we sit in our cute little apartment just soaking in the physical manifestation of the love our community has for us. It’s almost overwhelming and it’s a feeling I’d like to hold onto forever.

The BS of Parenting

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Somewhere in the middle of the night, my dear husband tried to hand off our five month old. His efforts to settle our sweet offspring had failed. Being the loving wife I am, I growled, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” Then I got out of bed, went to the bathroom, and came out saying, “You’re poo pooing all of my plans!” What plans? Probably the plans to solve all the world’s problems. Thanks to Chad’s poo poo we’ll never know.

Naturally I have no recollection of this exchange.

You see, it’s been over six months since I last had a night of uninterrupted sleep. Solly may only be five months old but you know I wasn’t sleeping those last weeks of pregnancy. I was waking overnight to pee, blow my perpetually congested nose, attempt to find a comfortable position, get a snack, or simply sit owl-like on the couch, awake for no good reason. Third trimester glory right there.

Here’s the truth: the first twelve months of parenting are about survival. It’s a swirling vortex of sleeplessness, teething, diaper changes, laundry, growth spurts, developmental leaps, feedings, mood swings (both baby’s and parents’), and drool (hopefully just baby’s). You tackle one day at a time, doing whatever gets you to bedtime…or just the next chunk of sleep you can manage to snatch. It’s nothing but BS.

What? I meant Basic Survival. Natch.

36-funniest-and-hilarious-parenting-memes-4We’re in the trenches with Solly. It is no joke. He is adorable, sweet, and lovable. He is also challenging. This being our second, we were surprised how much of the BS stuff we forgot. It happens pretty quickly once the infant stage ends. This is a necessary phenomenon; if it all remained crystal clear, parents may not sign up to repeat it. While only children are totally fine, if every family just had one kid eventually the human race would die off.

There’s a bit of a problem with that forgetfulness, though. We can lose the grace new parents so desperately need. Luke 23:34 ought to be the theme verse for the BS of parenting. “Forgive them, for they (have a helpless infant at home and therefore are so exhausted they) know not what they do.” (That’s from the AAT, Amanda’s Amplified Translation.) It’s for this reason my husband and I have committed to the following maxim: for the first year of a baby’s life, parents get a free pass. Cranky? It’s probably just BS. Inflexible? BS. Irrational? Snippy? Fallen off the face of the earth? You got it…BS.

Admittedly my timing is little self-serving since we’re not quite halfway through the Solly year of BS. Partly I want to plead for understanding and empathy in case my hubby or I do or have done something that offends or makes no sense to you. I also write now because it’s fresh and real and for our future selves, I want to set a reminder to extend that same grace to future new parents, no matter how their particular brand of BS manifests.

Every kid is different so the BS of parenting may be unique for each family, but if we can all agree to assume the best of one another – especially new parents – it’ll make all shades of BS a lot easier to handle. Then all of humanity, new parents, veteran parents, and non-parents alike, can raise their voices together in a grateful chorus celebrating babies, parents, the continued existence of humanity, and the varied BS skills we employ!

Birthday

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I don’t blog here much anymore. I’m too busy keeping up Phin’s private blog, documenting all the fun happenings of his young life. Besides, sometimes my deepest contemplations these days involve poop. Or the little one’s drive to dive head first off of beds and couches. Or how, when my son is the one with the runny nose, I am the one covered in snot.

You don’t want to hear that stuff.

Today is Phin’s first birthday which of course means I’m all nostalgic. This morning I pulled up the pregnancy journal I kept where I wrote notes to him while he was “baking” and recorded his birth story. That was a tough couple of days’ labor working to get him here. Shoot, it was a tough week when we had to leave him in the NICU and then I wound up with a spinal headache and couldn’t hold myself upright unmedicated. Despite all that, we made it, thanks in no small part to the grace of God and the amazing team of people who surround us. We have a cheerful, friendly, healthy son who spreads joy everywhere he goes. Sweet Phineas is one year old. He’s not the only one celebrating a birthday, though. Continue reading

I Was Wrong

Are you familiar with TED talks? If not, I encourage you to explore them. Each is a brief, under twenty minute presentation of an idea. They come on subjects of all kinds. They can be surprising, educational, entertaining, challenging, humorous – there’s a flavor in there for all of us. In recent years I’ve watched a few really great ones shared by my Facebook friends (like this one and this one and this one) and they’ve moved and inspired me. This summer I’ve watched them far more frequently because TED talks are now on Netflix, neatly grouped by subject. Tada!

Every now and then I find one that really sticks with me. Such is the case with this one:

Continue reading

Questions You Should Never Ask, Part Three

So far, we’ve explored the inappropriateness of certain questions related to marital status and children. This series could probably go on for weeks addressing other specific questions that should never be asked, but I’m gonna just jump to some alternatives that will hopefully work both for issues raised in this miniseries as well as those unaddressed Questions You Should Never Ask.

Part Three: The Thoughtful Alternative (variations include The Golden Rule and “You mean everyone’s journey isn’t just like mine?”)

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In a comment on Part One (and also on his wife Alana’s excellent blog), Josh Mokma shared a piece of his brother’s wisdom:

“As far as people talking, people talk. Most don’t really know what to ask so they ask the most obvious question. We live in a comparative society: I am married why aren’t you, we have kids why don’t you?”

Let’s begin here. Each of us has a story. Some stories are linear while others have a lot of twists and turns. Some have just a few defining moments and others are littered with life-changing events. We do not all have the same benchmarks and even when we share one or two, we don’t usually reach them at the same point in time: just like no two people are alike, no two stories are alike. When engaging with others, it’s important to have an appreciation for their stories and realize that it’s okay if they don’t look similar to ours. Those differences are what make learning about other people exciting! Stop comparing and start exploring! Continue reading

Questions You Should Never Ask, Part Two

Last time, we explored the reasons why questioning people’s singleness can be inappropriate and hurtful. In Part Two we’ll learn how questions about future children can be equally insensitive. Then…hold on to your britches, ’cause in Part Three of this blog miniseries I’ll share some alternatives so that you never find yourself unwittingly picking at your neighbor’s wounds.

Part Two: “When are you gonna have kids?” (variations include: “Are you pregnant [yet]?” and “Don’t you want a family of your own?”)

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courtesy Benjamin David Photography

Before our wedding, my husband and I had the birth control discussion. We needed to work out what, if anything, we were going to do. We considered lots of things as we weighed our options. I didn’t want anything that involved hormones because I dealt with some unenjoyable imbalances in the past. Plus, it took my parents nine years before they got pregnant with me – what if we experienced that kind of delay? We knew we wanted kids and we were both in our 30s; we didn’t want to wait too long. In the end, we decided to not do any birth control and see what happened.

What happened is I got pregnant the first week we were married. Surprise!

We were very excited, but we wanted to keep it to ourselves for a while. Being newlyweds it was a little bit challenging because as soon as you get married, people start asking about kids. Often, that wasn’t a problem because they’d just ask if we wanted to have them. That’s a normal question to ask of newly married couples and quite simple to answer honestly, even in my situation. What was challenging were the people who’d outright ask if I was pregnant yet, forcing me to lie to their face in order to protect our secret. Folks, I am a horrible liar. Continue reading

Questions You Should Never Ask, Part One

This three-part blog miniseries has been rolling around in my head for a few months now. I should state up front that I realize people who ask these questions are rarely asking maliciously. My intention is not to condemn or complain; I simply hope to shed some light into murky corners. Consider this a dual-purposed public service announcement. Should any of my dear readers ever find themselves tempted to ask one of these likely well-intentioned yet inappropriate questions (Part One and Part Two), I hope they’ll remember that there’s a much better choice (Part Three). For those who’ve found themselves on the receiving end of such questioning, may you suddenly feel a little less alone.

Part One: “When are you going to get married?” (variations include “Why are you still single?” and “How come nobody’s snatched you up yet?”)

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courtesy Benjamin David Photography

When I used to get asked this question I wished for a very snappy reply. The best I could come up with was “I don’t know.”

Not very snappy.

Being married was my number one goal in life, the first thing I always asked God for, and remaining single into my thirties was never my plan. This question, though, makes it sound as though getting married is one hundred percent within a person’s control…like deciding when to get the oil changed in the car or when to pick up fresh eggs at the store. There is no Spouse Store, Amazon does not stock husbands and wives in their massive warehouses, and although one can probably be ordered from somewhere online the idea seems sketchy at best. Every time that question was posed to me it was like rubbing salt in an open wound because it reminded me of a yet unanswered – and very dear to my heart – prayer and how it was completely outside my ability to make it happen. Continue reading