2015 in a make believe interview

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
I became a mother of two. I lived in a house I own with my husband instead of an apartment we rented. I accepted a little job designing our church newsletter. I potty trained a child successfully. I traveled to Pennsylvania with my family to meet my grandfather-in-law. I hired a babysitter in Michigan for a date night (repeatedly!). I baked hundreds of Christmas cookies for friends and family and neighbors.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My goal for 2015 was to keep two little people alive without losing my mind. I was very pleasantly surprised that the transition from one kid to two kids was easier for me than the transition from zero kids to one kid had been. Orders of magnitude easier. My kids are fantastic little humans and I’m lucky to spend my days with them. Matt and I have made some family resolutions for 2016 in the areas of fitness, finances, house care and social life and I love that we’re on the same page with our goals.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Besides me? My friend Jenna had her Theo soon after Daniel was born and they are now baby besties. My cousin Christina gave birth to her son, Elijah.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, but we continued to mourn the loss of Matt’s grandfather at every holiday and family gathering.

5. What countries did you visit?
I glimpsed Canada across the river…

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you didn’t have in 2015?
Cardiovascular fitness

7. What dates from 2015 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
January 12, Daniel’s birth. July 4, Mary’s godmother’s wedding.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
Making it into the car to go to the hospital to give birth to Daniel. At the time, it felt absolutely impossible to me.

I also made progress in turning to God for help instead of trying to do it all on my own.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I complained more than I gave thanks.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major, but goodness, I wish moms got sick days.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Mumford and sons tickets.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Mary’s, when she learned to sleep in a big girl bed and use the potty. Matt’s, when he saved the day at work and at home over and over again. Daniel’s, when he learned to sleep through the night.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump. All the people who say they will vote for Donald Trump.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The kids and the house. The little money grabbers.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I was really, really, really excited when I realized I was enjoying Daniel’s newborn months. PPD never came knocking this time and I was so grateful.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
Maybe “Believe” by Mumford and Sons or “At 63” by Vered.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
A) Happier. Certainly less anxious. It’s nice being safely on the other side of major life changes. B) Thinner. This time last year I was nine months pregnant. C) Richer. Thanks for making those dolla bills, honey!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Praying. Spending time outside with the kids. Exercising. Reading books instead of watching TV and playing Two Dots. Reading books of substance and beauty instead of fluff.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Wasting time on social media.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
In Georgia with our families. Christmas Eve at Matt’s grandma’s, Christmas morning with Matt’s immediate family, Christmas afternoon and dinner with mine. Crazy, but we are so blessed with families that love us.

21. Did you fall in love?
Yes, with my son 🙂

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Gotham, Blacklist and Elementary are our go-tos.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. I try very hard not to hate anyone.

24. What was the best book you read?
According to my goodreads ratings, Go Set A Watchman. I also really loved All the Light We Cannot See. I’m super original.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Okee Dokee Brothers.

26. What did you want and get?
So many things. Untold heaps of blessings.

27. What did you want and not get?
Sometimes a break from the neediness of my children. But I’m trying to learn to lean in to the crazy moments instead of wishing for escape. I’m more patient when I focus on their emotions instead of mine.

28. What was your favorite film of 2015?
I watched so few movies in 2015. I saw Star Wars this week and it was fine for what it was. It can’t hold a candle to the originals, but I didn’t expect it to. I’m not sure I saw any other movies in theaters, to be honest.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
The usual mom thing. My sweetheart made me my favorite chocolate cake. I was 27.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Mary realizing it’s pointless to argue with me or talk back to me. Sigh. Threenagers, man.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2015?
I’m slowly embracing the drapey tunic top. I’m even considering buying skinny jeans. I’m a slow mover when it comes to fashion.

32. What kept you sane?
My husband. Totally and absolutely my husband. The guy deserves knighthood.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
Local refusal to admit refugees. Gun control. There is absolutely zero reason why a civilian should have access to an assault rifle.

34. Who did you miss?
All of my people scattered over the world. Especially my parents and brother at Thanksgiving and our visiting friends after they had to go back home.

35. Who was the best new person you met?
Daniel, of course.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Praise goes further than scolding. Showing affection, even when I’m frustrated, can be very powerful.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Oh, how grand it will be
On Saturdays
At 63.

Kidding. Kind of. 😉

brighter day

Santorini, Easter 2009

After I posted my little rant yesterday, the following wonderful things happened:

  1. Matt called all the pediatricians, talked some sense into the receptionists and got us the information we needed. He’s a rock star like that.
  2. My mom called to make sure I wasn’t going to implode.
  3. We went to visit our top two choices for child care again before making our final decision. We are very blessed to have access to a network of accredited home-based care providers through the university. We got to decide between two places that would both take excellent care of our little girl in the fall.
  4. We went to our childbirth/ childcare class and learned about starting breastfeeding. I left amazed at how perfectly God has designed the female body to support life. And a little more confident that we will be able to do this.
  5. A good friend called to check in. Her life is incredibly busy right now, between her only sibling getting married last weekend and impending final exams, but she still made the time to reach out to me.
  6. Matt and I knocked a few more important things off the to do list. He had had a full day at work, had gone to visit two childcare places with me and had gone to our childbirth class, but he still somehow found the energy to do boring and tedious financial things with me at midnight. Because he loves me and our little girl very much.

In short,  the blessings far outweigh the frustrations. To say that life is busy right now is a massive understatement, but I am so well taken care of and provided for. The blessings just pour down on us.

spinning my wheels

I’m not getting anywhere today. I have spent several hours trying to figure out the pediatrician situation for Mary, and no matter how many phone calls I make, I just get more and more contradictory information and no one who can say: “Here. This is how things work.” On top of that, I just got a phone call saying I owe $15  from a therapist appointment in November 2010. I know, it’s fifteen bucks, but COME ON. Can’t catch a break today. On deck for the rest of the day: complicated decisions about childcare providers and the birth plan. Guys, having a baby is hard work… and the labor part hasn’t even started yet.

17 days to go

May 10 is so close. So, so close. Mary would be full term if she was born today. I am done with school for the semester and crossing things off the to-do list like a madwoman, but there is still so much to do. As long as Mary stays put until her due date, I think we will have enough time to be physically ready. Her stuff will be purchased and washed and organized and ready for use. We will have a birth plan. I will have waded through at least some of the books and resources I have accumulated about how to birth a child and be a good mom. God willing, she will have a pediatrician and a child care provider (for the fall). (If anyone knows a good pediatrician in the Detroit/ Ann Arbor area, send their contact info my way, please!) These things will all get done somehow.

But Heaven knows if we will be emotionally ready. CAN you be emotionally ready for a new baby? I don’t know. I know that Matt and I take turns saying things like “I hope I’m a good parent” and “How do we know if we’re ready?” and “I’m scared.” People ask often if I am ready to not be pregnant anymore. I am ready to be done with the physical symptoms of being pregnant. I am ENORMOUS, my back aches all day and wakes me up at night, this kid is very good at kicking my ribs and lungs, and I can’t really wear shoes anymore. I mean, I wear shoes anyway, but it sucks. But every time I feel a twinge of pain anywhere in my abdomen, my immediate thought is Please God, I can’t be in labor yet, I’m not ready. I think maybe I’m just too Type A to be comfortable with this situation. Everything about birthing and mothering is a big huge unknown to me and very much out of my control.

Most of my prayers these days are petitions for calm. In my mind, I know that God loves Mary and us and we will all be ok. I know that I would be better off (and maybe even able to enjoy this time) if I could just lean back and trust God to carry us through. I can’t seem to convince my heart of all that, though. Anxiety pops up all the time and manifests itself in sudden tears, fits of irritation, and dramatic 1 AM chore sessions because I just can’t let it go for the night until it’s done. Deep breaths; more prayers for peace of mind.

Complicating everything is the fact that I have tapered off my antidepressant medications so that Mary will not have to go through withdrawal after she’s born. I’m hopeful that we’re off meds for good. I’ve been medicated for something like six years, so adjusting has been interesting. Most of the time I’m fine, but the sudden bursts of emotion and the lack of control over crying are a lot to handle. It’s manageable for now, but the jury is out over whether I can cope long-term.

To the good, I have felt showered by support lately. Our friends from Ford threw us a delightful baby shower, and it was so touching how many people came to celebrate with us. A few people I know through school and church have reached out to me in the last week and asked to hang out. I have gotten several sweet emails and phone calls from out-of-town friends. All of it combines to make me feel loved and wanted and appreciated. I need that so much right now.

Matt continues to be the most loving and supportive husband ever. Words cannot express how much I appreciate him.

The burden is heavy right now, but I’ve been given the help I need to carry it. Praise God.

A Beginning

Today I am starting a new blog. I have watched others start new blogs when they enter new stages of their lives and I have always thought to myself, How silly. You are still the same person. Don’t throw out your old writing and dismiss your old life. But now I understand. I am the same person, but I am writing from a different place, and this new place needs a new space that has never borne my words before.

Blank pages by RoccoMathijn

Blank notebooks are one of my favorite things. They contain so much possibility. I buy them and wonder if this time I will fill it with deep reflections and thoughts.

But a journal is not the right home for the words I need to say, no more than my old blog is right. Sharing is not enough to fill me- I am strong enough to admit I need listeners.

The main trouble, as I see it, is this: Comparison is the thief of joy.

My old blog was too much about comparison- that is why I must leave it behind. I displayed pictures of the places I had seen and wrote stories of my adventures- partly to record them, yes, and hold on to bits of them, but also to show them off to the world. Do you see me? I am worthwhile because of all I have done and seen and been.

The messiness that we all hold inside came through in snatches and fragments, but was always excused away the next morning. I’m fine, not to worry…

I’m not fine. None of us are. We are all trying to do this difficult and beautiful thing called life, but we only have a vague idea of how to do it, so we bumble along trying our very hardest to look like we’ve got it all together, but it’s a facade. We all have cracks and stains and parts that don’t fit together quite right. We’re all human.

So I’m stepping away from all of the comparison. From chipper facebook statuses, from carefully posed pictures, from carefully edited narratives. Instead, I choose honesty. That means writing about joy when I feel joyful, but also writing about isolation when I feel alone, or sadness when I am depressed. It means being my true self. It means facing down vulnerability and admitting I need love.

This morning, as I perused facebook before heading out for my morning commute, something snapped. All of the comparison overwhelmed me. The photos of smiling friends, the posts between friends, the tagging and the “like” counts all contributed to my irrational conclusion: I am not as loved as any of these people. I am alone. No one wants to share in my life. It was the specter of my fourth-grade fear, come to haunt me again: You will never be popular no matter how hard you try.

So I drove to school and I sobbed. I know it’s dangerous to sob while driving, but I’m still pretty amazed at myself for making it out of the house at all. While I sobbed, a part of my mind noted that fact. I’m going to class anyway. Twenty year old Laura would have gone back to bed. That little realization was enough to remind me of the progress I have made. I held a little therapy session in my head.

Why are you so upset?

Because I’m all alone in Michigan and my friends are having fun without me
and no one cares that I’m not there.

How does that make you feel?

Worthless. Unwanted. Broken.

None of that is true. It feels true right now, but it’s not. At the very least, God loves you.

And I prayed. God, it hurts. God, I’m lonely. God, please take some of this pain away. A miraculous thing happened: the crushing weight in my chest lifted. I was able to breathe. In and out, in and out. The need to sob receded. I pulled into the parking lot, turned off the car, and sat still for a moment. Then I texted my husband, mother, and two best friends: I’m struggling hard with feeling lonely and isolated this morning. I think I’ve got it under control now, but prayers would be appreciated. I miss you. I grabbed my bag, locked the car, and boarded the bus.

It was not a perfect or whole recovery. I still feel the shadows at the edges of my thoughts. But I fed myself comfort food for lunch and set myself to reading empowering instead of comparing things, like the writings of Glennon, Heather, and Kristen. Their collective courage, honesty, and vulnerability led me to ponder and then write this. Later today I will bake scones for my husband, feed us a nourishing pasta meal, and contribute to a group project for school. I might talk to my mother, who is understandably worried about me after my SOS text this morning. I will definitely snuggle against my husband and tell him I love him. And when I pull the covers up to my chin tonight, I hope I will remember to say a little prayer of thanks that today was not nearly as bad as it could have been. In fact, it was a good day, because now I have a new place to be my true self.