Sunday, November 15, 2009

dear barrel:

I have reached the bottom of you.

Humans are fearfully and wonderfully made. Designed in God's image. And although I'm sure that He can hang in there longer and much more gracefully than I can... He designed me to need rest. To desire rest. To respect and cherish sweet, fulfilling, life-giving rest.


Someday I will ask Him. I will ask why He made sweet newborn babies with stomachs the size of walnuts. Why breastmilk, the perfect food for my new baby, couldn't also have been designed to induce deep sleep between 8pm and 6am. Why toddlers are wired to detest sleep, and avoid rest at all costs.

Why, dear Lord, did You give me a need for rest - and then give me two beautiful girls who believe that their life-purpose is to deprive me of it?

I could blame last night's poor sleep on my 3-month-old - who has slept 5-6 straight hours only a handful of times in her young life - and last night was not one of those times.

But the true culprit is Hazel - my darling firstborn who has been anti-sleep-at-night since she learned to roll over at 4 months old. Downhill ever since, folks.

And I've hit it. The bottom of the barrel. I have no more tricks. No new ideas. No sneaky rabbit to pull out of a hat in a puff of smoke. I have no earthly idea how to help this child sleep soundly and regularly. I've tried everything (everything that falls within the realms of acceptable parenting). At least I *think* I have - and since I haven't come across a new and profound sleep-help idea in a long time, I think I'm right...

People tell me it is a phase, she will outgrow it. So far - the "phase" has been any string of more than 2 days when she actually sleeps and naps well. The "norm" is disrupted, disjointed, difficult sleep littered with tears.

And since the barrel is empty - and God has a sense of humor about all this - I've decided there is nothing more to do but try to laugh about it. If I'm going to look back and laugh someday - why not start right now?

I will try to laugh as I pick up my yoke of loving God and loving my daughters - and to set aside my tired body and mind. I will try to laugh as I look into their sweet faces as we go about our day today. I will try to laugh as I wonder if maybe, just maybe... there is another barrel out there, and I might get to sleep again someday.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The world according to the Nut

My daughter chats up a storm these days. Here's a little insight into our world:

"Ahm-plimp" means armpit - and that she's headed to the master bathroom to find Mama's deodorant and try to apply it to her own underarms. Over her shirt. I think 21 months is a wee bit too young to be worried about B.O., but there you have it. If you see my daughter walking around with white deodorant stains on her shirt - that's why.

"Put down Maisy" This one is obvious. It's not malicious or angry... just a simple request that I put Meriel down and re-focus my attention where it clearly belongs. On Hazel.

"Nudie Tootie" Thanks to Mike and Kristen for this one... their little guys used to run around, buck nekkid and crying "Nudie tootie, nudie tootie!" Now Haze does it.

"Getta pinky" Pinky is her blanket. This usually precedes her climbing the stairs to retrieve Pinky from her crib.

"Show Mama" basically is "look at me!!" It gets repeated until I comply.

"Lanka you" is Thank you... and she says it situations where I would usually say it to her (she brings me something and says Lanka you)

She has most of her books memorized now, and will fill in the blanks if you leave holes in the story. She even does a dramatic reenactment once in awhile.

"Hi" and "Hallo" are heard a lot as well. So are "Tocolatey Mik" and "Tocolate tips." Go figure.

Meriel loves to smile, squeal, babble and drool. She's an incredibly sweet girl, mostly very laid back and happy. I can't wait to hear what she'll be saying this time next year.

my list

The list.

Everyone has one - although most of us haven't necessarily written it down anywhere.

Besides - virtually every one of us wouldn't write down the true list... it would be a modified, more acceptable version. Just in case anyone ever found it.

And so, the unwritten list exists in my head. It directs my whole day - my attitude, my actions and my thoughts.

The List of My Priorities.

I'd love to tell you the list looks like this:

1. The Lord my God
2. My husband and daughters
3. Everyone else
4. Me

But I'd be lying. I don't even like to think about, or admit to myself, that in the morning, every morning, until I deliberately reset myself... my list ACTUALLY goes more like this:

1. Me
2. My husband and daughters
3. Other people - but probably only those I know well and/or like
4. The Lord my God, if I have time...

Ugh. I am so tempted to go back, delete those words, and post something shiny and happy that makes sure you all know what a wonderful woman, wife and mama I am.

But I sat here this morning, feeling alone and misunderstood and martyred for no particularly good reason... and I realized that I needed to reset my focus.

Maybe I really am a little lonely. And maybe there are people in my day-to-day interactions who do not understand. And maybe I do spend most of my day working to serve some very small, very needy people who really don't say thanks.

But what good does it do me to dwell on that? It does none. In fact, I am quite certain it hurts me. It leaves me focusing on myself, worrying about my own feelings and ignoring my gifts and opportunities.

For me, the first step in tackling my SELF is admitting that I'm wrong. If I write it down, say it out loud, tell someone else... I know that they know that I KNOW I'm selfish. (a big gold star to anyone who is still with me). It puts it out in the open, ugly and exposed - and gets it out of me.

So there you have it. Today, I would like my actual list and my "wish" list to match. I will take my burdens to the Lord first. I will turn a smile on husband and daughters, and rain a little love down on my house. I will turn my energy to those around me, and offer whatever I might have that is of value to them. And if I still have any time or energy... I'll go back and see if those things that were so burdensome to me before even still register on my list.

We all have a list.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

position or person?

In the past few weeks, I've witnessed something that has left me feeling a little disheartened. And like I'm walking up a pretty steep hill as a parent. (The details aren't important, and it has nothing to do with either of my children directly - just culture and society).

An honest mistake was made, noticed and an apology quickly offered. And rather than seeing grace extended - I saw judgment meted out, defenses raised, and conclusions jumped to with alarming speed. It went on for d-a-y-s. All this in a community of adults. I stayed out of the discussion entirely... which may have been wise and prudent or it may have been a bit cowardly. I'm not sure... but I'm not going to spend any time dwelling on that.

I am more struck by what this dynamic says about our culture.

We are quick to protect ourselves. We are smart - and so others should hear what we have to say, and respect us for it. We deserve to have a space to air our concerns - and while we are allowed (and even compelled) to share our opinion... we are only required to appreciate those who back up our beliefs. ANYthing we offer beyond that should be praised as exemplary.

It's sad to realize how often I am quicker to protect my position than a person. I wasn't a party in this particular conflict - but I am by no means innocent of this behavior. How often do I love MY judgment, MY position, MY convictions... more than I love a person? Why does it seem preferable to be "true to myself" rather than to be true to God?

I want to teach my children to love people more than principles - and love God above all. How often am I moved to tears, brought to my knees - by the unending grace of my Father? And how often do I extend that same grace to others? The inequity there is really shameful.

The best way to teach my daughters is to live it myself... and so, yet again - the reflecting pool of parenthood moves me to take a closer look at myself. And I shake my head, turn away, and pray that the next glimpse I get looks a little less like me and a little more like Him.