Hey all. I just wanted to clarify something I wrote in the original version of The World Starts at Home (I have since updated it with a rewording). I referred to myself as being a “relatively rich suburban housewife” within an explanation of how I feel a burden to make the most of my blessings.
The more I thought about it the more I feel like that may have come across in a way I didn’t intend.
The only reason I even brought up our financial and my career status is because it is often the butt of good-natured jokes among our friends. We’re the “rich Carmel couple.” “The uppity northsiders.”
It’s all in good fun and we aren’t offended at all. But it does sometimes seem like it’s a big part of what people see when they look at us: A doctor and his wife who doesn’t have to work, living in a nice house in an affluent part of town.
And while we make no apologies for the things we have and the way we live, a lot of hard work and sacrifice preceded all of it, it’s not how we want to be remembered.
We are aware we live a comfortable existence. And I don’t mean that we are special in any way, most of America lives a comfortable existence compared to other parts of the world. But the point is we know we are fortunate, and we aren’t content to relax in it. To lock our doors, close the blinds, and turn a blind eye to the needs of our neighbors. Be they down the street, in the next county, or across an ocean.
We want to always give generously out of what God has provided, but we want to do it in a way that honors Him the most. And that means not just checking boxes: giving or serving just so we can say we did. It means praying for guidance and following His lead. That may look different for us than it does for others and it should, because the needs of the world are vast and if we all spent our time and money on the same things there would be huge pockets of hurt going unnoticed.
With TV and social media pleas at every turn, it is easy for me to overcommit and become consumed with all the ways I want to help others. I feel like God is telling me that for the time being, I need to spend less time preoccupied with those things. Not shut them out altogether, but be more intentional with what I take on. Cognizant of how it affects this precious, fleeting time I have with my baby.
Every January I choose a word to guide the year. Something I feel God has put on my heart to help reshape my life for the better. For 2017 my word is Decrease.
Lately I have felt a strong urge to put my life through a sifter. Allowing what is heavy, distracting, or unnecessary, to fall away. So there might be space on my plate. So I might be able to see and hear more clearly what God is trying to say.
And I’m on board with that, until I’m not. Until the whisper to drop it involves commitments I consider invaluable. Surely God doesn’t want me to let go of that. Right? It’s a good thing. It’s not like it’s a vice or a sin.
I’m learning though, that it doesn’t have to be “bad” to trip you up or muffle God’s voice. Too much of a good thing is a real thing. You could put all the best musicians in the world in one room but if they aren’t on the same page, they’ll only make a bunch of noise.
Still, making cuts…as many as God seems to want me to make…stings. I have spent the last 3 months questioning Him. Positive that I was just interpreting Him wrong. Maybe the intense need to dial it down was actually new mom anxiety. Some sort of mental disorder I needed to medicate.
But the harder I tried to hold on, the more roadblocks I encountered. I felt like I was banging my head against a wall an AWFUL LOT. Over multiple things. So recently in prayer time I asked God to make His will abundantly clear to me. Sorry Lord, I simply cannot move forward without a map. I’m too afraid of getting it wrong and making a mess.
And immediately, two words crossed my mind: Season and Family. I pondered them for a bit and felt reasonably sure I knew what He meant. But still, STILL, doubt lingered. Until I opened my Instagram app and the first post was this:
It was like a gigantic interstate sign reading THIS WAY.
I carry a weighty burden on my heart to make the most of my blessings. I don’t want to sit back in a comfortable existence, biding my time until I get to heaven. Therefore my first instinct is to give give give. Yes I’ll donate. Yes I’ll be there. YES. Whatever you are asking for, you can have it. My time. My energy. My resources.
If I’m going to be a Christian I better darn well BE A CHRISTIAN. My walk needs to match my talk. My son needs to see me setting the absolute BEST example.
It has lead to so much stress and inner turmoil. I’m never doing it right, I’m never doing enough. Until God finally sat me down and said Are you done? I don’t give rewards for the most checked boxes. I give favor to those who listen and then follow through. LISTEN to what I’m telling you. In this season of your life, what is little is big. I gave you a baby and I will give you more. And though raising them may seem insignificant in terms of missions…it’s not. To you the world is huge and full of need, but to them the world is you. There will be a time to look out and give, but for now, Eyes In.
Eyes In. It’s not about making my baby an idol. Allowing him to grow up thinking he is the center of the universe. (Trust and believe, that will not happen.) It’s about being what he needs, and right now his needs are MANY. He may be little but being his parent is big.
So I’ll be reigning it in. Hitting pause on the yes train and handing out more Not right now’s. I hope I’m met with grace and understanding. And I hope if you’re an overburdened (that looks different for each individual) mama, or father, you’ll join me. There’s a season for everything and when it comes to parenting fresh faced babes, it’s not time to be everything to everyone. It’s time to be everything to your little ones. <3
Stats: 16 lbs, 13 oz (40%), 26.25 inches (48%), 43cm head circumference (27%)
Sleep: Confetti! Fireworks! Dancing Girl Emoji!
Sleep Training FOR THE WIN.
After waking up every. single. hour. one night, I finally had enough and let Enzo cry it out the next night. He cried for 30 minutes (no puking or anything crazy) and that was it. Now he only wakes up once to eat (sometimes twice if he has a really wet diaper) and he sleeps 11-12 hours a night. I’m working on weaning him off that one bottle so hopefully it won’t be long before he doesn’t need to eat at night. He has already had one 8 hour and one 9 hour stretch, both which were all sorts of glorious.
I expect some setbacks going forward, I know kid sleep is a fluid, not fixed thing, but this is a total 180 from the mombie life I was living a couple weeks ago.
Sleep training has become controversial in mom circles, particularly cry it out. I’ve read articles and statuses where moms act like letting their baby protest until they fall asleep/learn to self soothe is the WORST thing in the world. As in, how dare any mother neglect their baby like that? How cruel and selfish can you be? Did you not know what you signed up for? No sleep is just part of the package, woman up and deal with it.
My favorite comment I’ve seen was She’s probably the type who also didn’t want to breastfeed. 😑
Sleep training is hard, for sure. I hated listening to Enzo cry. But I personally believe it’s crucial he learn how to sleep, sooner than later. Not just for my sanity, but for his brain. Quality sleep is critical when it comes to neurological development, so if I have to show some tough love to help him to a place where he is getting the sleep he needs? Sign me up. It might be the first time I ignore his protests, but it won’t be the last. I’m sure he will fight me on many things that are good for him over the years.
I am not worried one bit about attachment or abandonment issues. He gets ALL the love and attention during the day. And now we all get decent sleep at night. No regrets. No shame. Sleep training may not work for every family, I totally respect that. But it has made a huge difference for us and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Now NAPS, on the other hand. Those we’re still figuring out, in terms of consistency in length and time of day. I don’t expect rigid consistency but a loose routine would be nice and we aren’t really there yet. More on that next month if we don’t have a better handle by then.
We’ve decided to go withThe Urban Chalkboardfor weekly music classes. They provide all the education and fun without the LOUD colors and sounds of other places we tried. Supposedly screaming color and noise is good for baby brains, or so I’m told. I personally feel like a lot of what is directed at kids is total sensory overload. But that’s probably me projecting my own sensory issues haha.
Also with The Urban Chalkboard there are no mandatory monthly or startup fees. I can pay a drop-in price and just show up when I want, or sign up for 12 sessions for a discount. It is the cheapest and most flexible of all the places we considered. I’m excited to make it part of our routine! I’ll attempt to get some pictures at the end of class for the next blog. Meanwhile here’s one from our last visit, outside the classroom. It’s also a cafe and play area for children. Super cool concept, and I suspect they will eventually move into a larger space or open more locations.
Trying to crawl. I don’t know why the quality stinks with these Youtube uploads, but this is a video of Enzo making his way to a book. With many breaks. He gets there eventually haha.
And then doing his double knee hop, which is pretty cute. I might have several recordings of him doing this.
Baths. This kid looooves him some water. We’re considering baby swim lessons. We have heard great things about starting them this young, before they develop any fears, but I have concerns about ear infections if we don’t get all the water out of his ears afterward.
His activity center
Pout Pout Fish. He has a favorite book, and it’s Sweet Dreams Pout Pout Fish. (As seen in the Hop clip above.) He sits still, smiles, and studies that book as I read it, more than any of the others. I ordered more pout pout fish books and he loves them too. Maybe he’ll be into saltwater fish tanks like his Uncle Mark. (And Uncle Todd, there for awhile.)
As I was looking up images of the Pout Pout Fish to share here, I came across a birthday cake. Which CRACKED ME UP, because our photographer will need a theme for his one year cake smash session, and pout pout fish would be perfect. Not just because he loves the books, but because he had the POUTIEST faces during his 6 month session. (You can see our favorites here.) And during his newborn, for that matter. If a newborn can have a pouty face. It was more serious than pouty but the point is we don’t have many professional photos of Enzo smiling so it would be appropriate that his one year shoot be pout pout themed.
Peek-a-Boo + Where’s Enzo. I’m working on videos of this, but it really needs to be a two-person event. Someone holding the camera off to the side and the other person playing the games. Ron discovered Where’s Enzo. If we put something over his face and say “Where’s Enzo?” he will crane his neck up above whatever is covering his face. It’s the CUTEST.
First Fruits and Veggies
So far he has loved apples and tolerated bananas on the first try. He learned to like green beans and carrots (albeit grumbling the whole time with the carrots. So maybe more of a tolerate than like with those). Peas have been a total strike out. We’ll try again after we get through tasting the rest of his little spoonies sampler kit from Cafe Baby. I liked using the delivery service and if we have a really busy week and I’m unprepared I’ll use them again. But a friend recommended the book Real Baby Food by Jenna Helwig and I love it.
I’m going to try to make my own…when Enzo’s in a deep sleep or far from the kitchen. He HATES the sound of the blender. It makes him cry.
Playing with Facebook video when dad had a break at work, haha.
I slept on the floor in Enzo’s room when we moved him to his crib, before we got a monitor. (Don’t judge me.) I kind of miss waking up to his happy smiles peeking out through the crib bars.
My handsome blue-eyed boys.
Kid LOVES to LOUNGE.
But does NOT love to watch me run. Stares at me with this scared look on his face the whole time.
Pout. Pout. Fish.
THERE’S the smile we had been looking for a few hours earlier.
“No matter how much you have desired to be a mom, it will grate against your independence and your pride. You will at some point feel like a failure. You will at some point long to have something in your life that you feel like you are good at or an expert on.
A friend shared the article above a month or so ago and that paragraph has been ringing in my head ever since. These first 6 months of motherhood have been, in a word, humbling. I thought because I had experienced loss, I was somehow better prepared to handle this new role. I mean, it’s a role I desperately wanted. One I got on my knees and petitioned God for, everyday, for a year. So there was nothing that could come my way that would make me complain. Because this child? A MIRACLE. My ability to stay home with him? A blessing. Not everyone who hopes for a baby and/or a chance to be a domestic boss receives it. Therefore gratitude. I should be fueled by it, swimming in it. So outside of my mind with appreciation for these gifts that the lack of sleep, the unexplained shrieks, the anxiety caused by a love so big it wants to build a shelter to keep this evil world from stealing my baby’s innocence….none of it can phase me.
And yet here I am. PHASED. Knocked not just on my booty but FLAT on my BACK. Staring up at heaven whispering guilty prayers because I can’t bring myself to speak them in full voice.
I’m sorry Lord. I’m so sorry I felt resentment toward my beautiful child when he woke up for the 6th time last night/refused to nap/refused to be consoled during a fit and instead flailed all over me, tiny fists hitting my chest and face…no doubt ticked that I don’t know how to help him. I’m sorry I don’t know how to help him.
Forgive me Father, for ever thinking other parents were being just a tad dramatic about how hard this is. Forgive my arrogance, in believing staying home meant my husband would always open the door to a clean house, warm dinner, well-rested baby and smiling-dressed-make-uped wife. It happens. But it’s a far, far cry from always.
Help me accept help, God. I know you see me, in all my incompetent glory, unable to trust anyone else with my child. Down here coaching even his father on what he might want or need while I’m gone on a run. Or just taking a shower. Oh, mercy. I know You never intended for me to do it all on my own. Help me LET GO.
And on and on. The prayers are as relentless as the work.
That’s what makes it so difficult for me, I think. The relentlessness. Parenthood is a job that never ends. I know moms who work outside the home have their own unique struggles, but I can only speak for myself. And for me, staying home has been a jarring transition away from a decade of childless career work. Gone is the structure of a 9-5. Gone is getting a break from one role to step into another. Gone are lunch hours to workout or take care of errands or think without interruption or eat with two hands. Gone are so many freedoms I didn’t even realize I had. In their place are days (months) that fly by in a blur of diapers, bottles, books, baths, naps, playtime, cries, workouts, visitors, chores etc. etc. Keeping a baby alive and well and developmentally on track while maintaining a household 24/7 is exhausting beyond what I thought possible. I often feel like I’m running full speed trying to hang onto the back of a getaway wagon. Because the primary part of my work – Enzo – is forever evolving. Just when I think I’ve got him somewhat figured out, he throws me for another loop.
It’s probably just me though. Struggling to find my footing and regain some semblance of control. I’m sure there are plenty of stay-at-home newbies who handle the transition like flawless goddesses flying around on unicorns. But not I. No sir. My crossover was more like being awkwardly dragged by a donkey.
And it had to be that way, I think. I, with my unrealistic expectations and oversized pride, needed to get a mouthful of humble dirt pie. I needed to be reminded that God doesn’t give us the desires of our hearts so we’ll get off His back. He’s not like Okay okay OKAY. HERE. HAVE IT. Whatever gets you to stop NAGGING. He wants to make us happy, sure. But he’s more interested in making us holy.
2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
I thought being a somewhat older first time mom, who has experienced loss and lived enough to dare I say mature, a little, meant I would rock it like nobody’s business, straight out the gate. Instead I’m like, knees down hands up God give me all the grace.
6 months in and my main takeaway is SAHM life is no. joke. At the same time, it’s seriously the greatest gift God has given me thus far, aside from Ron (No Ron, no baby). It constantly forces me to slow down and reevaluate what’s most important. Revising my expectations and beating down my pride, again and again and again…until I am walking in line with His plan for our family. It’s WORK, but it’s beautiful, fulfilling, meaningful work that I wouldn’t trade for the world.