Musings on Motherhood

imageIt has been some time since I have blogged – the advent of a tiny human tends to hamper ones abilities to do almost anything. So I find myself with a couple of hours to myself, sitting outside at a cafe on a blissfully sunny day, finally with thoughts semi-coherent enough to write. Since my days of late have been nothing but kiddos, poopy nappies and endless renditions of ‘watch this trick mum’ (followed by a suitably unimpressive trick), it is fitting that motherhood should be the topic of this missive. So please find below an absolutely random collections of my musings of late (as befits the state of my addled mind):

Life with a newborn can be terribly isolating. I have to get up multiple times in the dark night while the rest of my family sleeps. My ability to do everyday tasks that used to be simple is greatly hampered; meaning that I can’t get out of the house with ease, and even when I do get to catch up with people, my mind is distracted by lack of sleep, a threenager, or giant froggy-eyes begging me for feedies and more feedies. Additionally, the breastfeeding culture here strikes me as a little less free and easy than it is at home, and even though I use a hooter-hider, I have been in the middle of conversations and had people leave when Mason gets hungry. I get that it can make people uncomfortable, it just adds to the feeling of isolation.

I am nothing without my yoga pants.

People that bring food and coffee are the very best kind of people.

I am struck by the fact that Mason in all his tiny newborn vulnerability and immaturity will never be more or less loved by God than he is right now. It is such a lovely reminder to me that I am wholly loved by Jesus just because I am Deb and not because of anything I do.

Wine.

My theological books can take a backseat for now. In attempt to feel somewhat productive I pulled out one of the more weighty tomes on my shelf and wasted some of my precious downtime trying to read the first three sentences. There will once again come a time when I can put my mind to the advancement of my understanding, but that time can wait until my brain less resembles a pudding.

No-one tells you that the contents of your three year old’s potty can rival that of a middle-aged man the morning after Christmas Day. Then you have to congratulate him whilst trying not to vomit.

It is so easy to allow dissension to enter the marital ranks in the midst of the parenting chaos. I have had to be really careful to stop and put myself in Caleb’s shoes. I have found myself getting jealous that he is allowed to sleep through the night and then leave the house to go to work. In these moments I try to imagine going to work and coming home without having the space to unwind; it helps me to remember that we’re on the same team. We each face different challenges in this season, and it’s essential to the health of our marriage that I do all I can to guard against the seeds of bitterness.

I really need to have a ‘no Face-Booking after 10pm’ rule. I go to bed, my mind starts whirring and I have these ‘epiphanies’ that must be shared with the world – only to wake and discover I’ve posted the half-mad ramblings of a very tired person.

Gin and tonic.

I get perverse enjoyment out of witnessing other people’s kids acting out. It makes me feel better about my son’s behaviour.

Having a newborn is extraordinarily hard on my desire to be in control of life.

Coffee.

Love you friends, so nice to blog again! Hopefully I’ll be able to post a wee bit more now that the fog is slowly lifting.

Deb xx

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Thanksgiving

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With the occasion of Thanksgiving I had planned to pen a cute and peppy wee list detailing the things for which I am grateful. However, as I pondered this list, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Not because I am not grateful for a million things; I absolutely am. All the usuals; Jesus, family, friends, a lovely home, food on the table, clothes on my back, health etc. But somehow as I considered my list, there was no energy behind it. It would be rote and from my head. Because my heart these days is suffering from what I can only describe as ‘ennui’. (Gilmore Girls super-fans, you’re welcome).

My health turned a corner at about 21 weeks pregnant, and I only face migraines roughly once a fortnight, as opposed to the daily battle that was occurring prior to now. So I’m not as sick as I was. But I’m tired. So tired. I sleep about 10 hours every night and then nap for at least an hour during the day. Doing almost anything requires what feels like a superhuman effort. To add to this, the weather has turned. It is on the verge of snowing on a regular basis, the sky is icy and unfriendly, and my 3 year old has just discovered for the first time that he really doesn’t like going for walks in the cold anymore. I feel housebound, deflated, purposeless and there’s a newborn on the way. Help me Rhonda.

Whilst out for a wee walk (waddle) the other day I was pondering the things for which I am thankful. The train of thought followed something like what I have detailed above; I have a list in my head, but it feels devoid of warmth, so what then do I really feel grateful for in my heart at this moment? And the answer? Redemption.

No matter what craziness happens to us, around us, in us or through us, Jesus is in the most hope-inducing business of making the broken whole, beautiful, purposeful, radiant. I know this to be true, not just because the biblical narrative is predominantly a redemption story, but also because my own life narrative has already taken some stunningly redemptive turns. When I look at the state of my inner and outer world over time, I see formerly painful and dark areas I had just accepted as normal, now peaceful, flourishing and light-filled. This has been purely the result of Jesus’ redeeming work in my world. This gives me such hope.

The thing that fills my heart with joy, is that this journey from death to life is not just for my world, but for the people around me, our societies, cultures, and ultimately for the earth itself. Outside a school down the road, I was struck several months ago at a little plant root that had grown up through the asphalt. Even despite the best efforts of a bunch of hot bitumen, this tiny wee plant had raised its tiny head and cracked through to find the light. And so shall my heart. And yours. Maybe not today, maybe not in the near future, but barring all else, most definitely in eternity. Although, can I just say hurrah and thanks be that Jesus does give us great hope, and often beautiful resolution in the here and now!?

So as I go about the days ahead, as grey and murky as they feel right now, I will continue to look for the small glimmers of redemption that are popping their heads above the clouds. And I will remember that those glimmers represent a tiny portion of what will one day be full restoration. Amen.

Love you,
Deb xx

Row, Row, Row your Boat

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Some of our very favourite people were in town recently for a conference. They popped in for lunch, and over tomato soup and toasties, we caught up and discussed some of what they had heard at the conference. One of the speakers had just shared a message about seasons of obscurity, which struck a chord for our friends, but also for me. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It feels like there’s nothing quite so obscure as being a stay-at-home-mum. I don’t get paid. My kid pretty much only says ‘thanks’ because we’re trying teaching him to not be a snotty brat, and he knows he doesn’t get what he wants unless he uses his manners. When I clean the house it takes all of 36.5 seconds for it to get undone again. Nobody gives me high fives for creatively arranging the afternoon-tea plate.

I have to stop myself from longing for the day when my as-yet-unborn son is old enough for kindy and I can get on with some ‘real’ work. Work where I get remunerated for my time, where I get to be part of a team building something valuable, where my ideas count for something and I receive recognition for my efforts.

In a bible study this week, I learned that the Greek translation for the word Paul uses as ‘servant’ in 2 Timothy alludes to the rower of a big ship. You know those big old ships that had a whole heap of slaves at the very bottom of the boat? Now surely THAT is the very picture of obscurity! Stuck in the bowels of a filthy great ship, no windows, no idea which direction you’re going, and breathing the meaty sweat of a shipload of smelly dudes. So unappealing, yet this is the kind of servanthood we’re called to. One in which the work we do is not for our own glory and gratification, but for that of our Captain Jesus. Now mercifully, God does so often give us tasks and work that ARE enjoyable and fulfilling. But we need to be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of using our gifts, abilities and daily tasks to meet inner needs for significance and love.

I quickly learned in church life that if I could be ‘good’ at doing Christian stuff, I would get plenty of encouragement and admiration. I felt significant if ‘important’ people recognised my hard work, so I got real good at doing what it took to gain that affirmation. When people were falling off the bible-in-a-year bandwagon left, right and centre, there I was still going strong four years in. I was the moral police amongst my group of friends at school, correcting a swear word there, casting disapproving looks at anything that, in my holier-than-thou opinion, may tarnish the good name of the Gospel. In fact, looking back now, the true miracle is that I had any friends at all! (I’ve since thanked some of my old friends for putting up with me. For real.)

This way of looking at the world was unfortunately encouraged by many a sermon and youth conference; where the altar call was all too often given only for those felt called to ‘full time ministry’, or to be a businessperson for the Kingdom, and occasionally, if you were lucky, a full time missionary. There was never a mention of the person who wanted to be a P.E. teacher, chef, artist, builder, bus driver, stay-at-home parent, shopkeeper or accountant. The clear preference of the cultural climate was that one should aspire to something with social prominence. Or in other words, minor Christian celebrity. The upshot of which meant you had people auditioning for the worship team who couldn’t sing to save themselves, and a dearth of volunteers willing to help with the kiddos.

What I’m slowly learning over this season of my life, is that it will never get more significant than a moment spent singing a song to Jesus on my back porch, just the two of us. Or making a meal for a family in need. Or sitting with my son while he takes an inordinately long time to squeeze out a wee treasure on the potty. ‘Cause the thing is, Jesus is the prize. He is it. And we get Him whether we’re manning the oars or captaining the ship. We are significant because He loves us, not because of what we do. And that, my friends, is true joy!!

Love you,
Deb xx

Oh Baby! (Part II)

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You may or may not have noticed that it’s been some time since I last blogged; the reason being, I have been feeling really unwell. I’ve had a spate of migraines varying from foggy soreness to hold-my-head-howl-at-the-moon-and-spew ones. My head has been feeling like it’s not attached to my body. I’m feeling nauseous. And exhausted. Just bottomed out. But, yes Sherlock, as you’ve probably suspected by this point, I’m pregnant!!

The blog I posted a few months ago (https://adventuresoftheordinaryblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/oh-baby/) outlined the unexpected fertility journey we found ourselves on. Shortly after I wrote that blog, we headed away on a trip to California for our fifth wedding anniversary. We had been planning to go somewhere amazing in the Dominican Republic, but then we bought a house, so ended up heading to Bethel Church to spend time with Jesus instead. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

We stayed at a guest house run by a couple that are involved with prayer ministry at Bethel. The moment we arrived, they asked us why we were there, and we briefly told them about the issues my body was facing. We told them that we where heading to the Healing Rooms the next morning to receive prayer. Naturally, they prayed for me then and there. Rick is one of those dudes that seems to have a direct line to God – he just prayed for like two seconds, then his face split into the most infectious grin, and he goes, “It’s time!! Ha ha, it’s time!!”

The next morning we attended the Healing Rooms, where they prayed for me again, then we had the funnest day eating out and napping, going to the movies, drinking coffee and all the fun stuff that’s not relaxing with a toddler. The next morning at church a man next to me interrupted me in the middle of worship, saying, “Excuse me, but are you wanting children?” So he prayed for me. Then we had breakkie with a Kiwi buddy before we left on the long trek home, and I told her about Rick saying, “It’s time.” To that she replied, “That’s exactly what popped into my head the very first moment I saw you.”

I won’t go into gory details, but let’s just say that all the cramping and issues I’d been experiencing stopped from that weekend on, and now I’m almost 11 weeks preggo! I had an early scan at seven weeks and got to see our little sesame seed and hear its wee rapid heartbeat.

I was SO excited to finally have a new little Schnoops onboard! And I am still so grateful, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s been TOUGH!! I really don’t recommend being a sicky preggy with a toddler, if it can at all be avoided. I don’t know who I feel most sorry for; me, Caleb or Judah. It’s been a family affair, this trimester. Grumpy mum has made too many appearances. Judah, sensing the changes afoot has been acting out and pushing my buttons with the skill of a neurosurgeon. Caleb has been picking up the extra slack along with starting a new business. (But since I’m voting for two, my ballot box wins).

One thing I’ve been learning throughout this journey is that God doesn’t do things my way. Or in my time. Or to my specifications. And that there are moments when life seems unbearably hard, and it’s difficult to understand why He doesn’t appear to intervene. However He is always there. The very worst migraine I had was last week. I was wracked with pain, couldn’t stop vomiting, and just so over being sick. And as I sat there in the dark room, there He was. His love was all around me. He just loved me. And it was so sweet.

So! New Hargrove on the scene Feb 2017!! Eeek!! (That was the sound of excitement/nervousness – not, as Caleb would say, the squeak of ‘Preggy Piggy’ approaching a Big Mac. Although, let’s be honest, it’s that too). I’ll blog when I feel up to it, otherwise, love you friends, I hope you are well!!

Deb xx

Mama Mia

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I guess it was inevitable that I would post a parenting blog sooner or later. I kind of didn’t want to because there are so many. But there is a reason there are so many. Parenting is so full on. You go from pretty much being the master of your own destiny one minute, to having a tiny sweet petulant dictator calling the shots the next. It’s a massive culture shift.

Before having Judah I was never much of an angry person. A bit grumpy sometimes, yes, but not angry. However a pattern has been developing over the past wee while with me and my Mr 2.5. It usually starts at morning nappy/clothes change. More often than not little dude is squatting and grunting somewhere down by his Duplos, and then I have to try and coax him to get his nappy changed. It is SO beyond me why continuing to play with a giant turd squashed into his bottom is even an option! Then once he’s finally made it to his change mat, he lies on his tummy with his butt in the air. Then I have to try and get him to roll over onto his back. And then to not touch the poo. And then to unclench his wee cheeks so I can wipe properly. Then stop kicking and stay still while I put his pants on. Then not run away before I can get his T-Shirt on. This is a horrible way to start the day. As if getting up at the crack of dawn wasn’t enough. Needless to say, a number of buttons are pushed. All before 7.30am.

Of late I have found my self getting more and more irritated. It used to creep into my voice after a string of infractions, but increasingly it just seems to jump straight there. My patience has been getting whittled and the buffer is wearing thin. I have become more aware that I don’t like this person I’m becoming. While it’s not the best way to communicate with Judah, I’m not overly worried about him – he’s the one of the hardiest little souls I’ve ever met. The most angry I ever got with him was when I was walking him to sleep in the pram and he was just being a little snot. I had been walking for an hour and was exhausted. Him not sleeping triggers the anxiety from the sleepless sick baby times. Finally, I ripped the sunshade off the pram and literally hissed, “Go. Toooo. Sllleeeppp.” Hissing is not good. It’s the out-in-public version of screaming. Barely controlled rage. Judah just looked at me with wide eyes, blinked, then cracked up laughing.

The thing that gets me is that I know that anger, impatience and irritation are not Kingdom ways to be. I really want to model my life off Jesus, and I just don’t ever imagine him speaking to anyone that way. I’m not beating myself up here. I realise that it’s extraordinarily trying having a giant limpet attached to your feet while you’re trying to do your workout. I am just aware that I’m on a character development crash course and I would like to pass. So for the past few days I’ve adopted a new method. I tell him in my normal voice that he can chose to do what I’m asking, or chose to have a timeout. And you know what? Most of the time he makes a good choice. And when he doesn’t it’s a no fanfare timeout. I realised that I had gotten to the point that I couldn’t be bothered carting him to the timeout chair, so I was trying to use my voice/mood to control his behaviour. It wasn’t a helpful way to get through the the day.

We got to go away a couple of weekends ago for our anniversary while kiddo stayed with the Granddies. It. Was. Amazing. To be honest, I wasn’t quite ready to come home, and I spent a portion of the day on Monday trying to ward off feeling overwhelmed by the relentlessness of parenthood. And it really is. I remember a friend telling us when we got pregnant that having children makes the highs higher and the lows lower. So true. It’s full on. But also the best. I genuinely haven’t laughed so much or so hard in my whole life. The other day I found Judah with poo on his hand and on the carpet, and as I was taking him to get cleaned up he said, “It’s not sour cream Mama.” No son, it is not.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that often the very hardest things are the most beautiful opportunities to become more Christlike. What feels so unyielding can actually be the kindest. Sometimes situations like parenthood gently, or not so gently, lead us to a place of surrender. Because the fight to keep self is too hard. So if we allow it to happen, Christ will take the grumpy, angry, irritable person and replace it with a better version of self. A restored one. One that he intended when he created us. Over time even a gentle stream of water will erode the hardest rock.

So will I smile serenely next time I’m presented with a basil pesto looking nappy? One that smells like the world’s smelliest poos decided to vacation together in that one diaper? Probably not. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll remember that in each and every small act of service to my little kiddo, I’m adding to a big Kingdom through a million tiny mundane acts.

Deb xx

Oh Baby!

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Over the past five to six months Caleb and I have been on an unexpected journey; a fertility one. Since we got pregnant immediately, like instantaneously, with Judah, we always joked about having to be careful sneezing around each other in case I got pregnant. It would seem that for now the sneeze-conception danger is low.

I hesitated a wee bit to write about this, mainly because we’re not out of the woods yet, and it appears that most people tend to communicate their struggles in this area after there is a resolution. I totally get that. It’s a private thing, and can be so fraught with emotion, that the thought of more than a handful of people knowing could be really overwhelming. However, I’ve always been a heart-on-sleeve kind of person. And I really am doing okay. If I wasn’t, I don’t think I’d be able to share all this. So here’s the story so far…

We weren’t totally off-base in our high opinion of just how fertile we are; it would appear that the actual making of the babies isn’t a problem. It’s just that my uterus is not being very hospitable right now. It appears that we’ve managed to make at least three teeny-tiny babies that haven’t been able to find a place to rest. So I recently visited an OBGYN. I say that because it’s so much more palatable than the alternative; gyna******st is like Voldemort (he who must not be named). It makes my inner-teenager want to gallop towards the hills with my legs crossed! Anyway, it’s not yet totally clear what’s going on, but we have a plan in place, and there is plenty of hope.

The focus of my blog this week though, is not the nitty gritty of fertility land. It’s the emotional landscape I wish to explore. When I say I’m okay, this of course doesn’t mean that there haven’t been rough days. I had just found out about the latest early miscarriage and I was sitting on the floor admiring Judah’s Duplo tower-truck. And then he just smashed it over my face. So I cried and went back to bed for three hours. Naturally there are going to be days like that. And the days of fevered pregnancy testing, the hope of early positives, the disappointment of ensuing negatives, and the anxious googling to see if it’s possible to get a positive – negative – positive test.

So yes, there have been those days. But the place I stand right now is one of such hope. And genuine joy. I feel like the journey I’ve been on over the last several years, but particularly in the past year, has been one that has solidified my trust in the kindness of Jesus. I read a book for my counselling degree some time ago that has impacted me greatly. The author talks about the many things in life that clamber for the Number One spot in our affections and attentions. Many of which are good and valid things; family, relationships, health, finance, church, kids, work. However, when anything other than the pursuit of Christ takes top spot, things get out of sync with the way God designed life to work.

Through his comforting kindness, I am beginning to see this journey from a more eternal perspective. I was out walking by the canal the other day, and I felt like God spoke to my heart and said, “Deb, I really wanted those babies with me. Thank you for taking care of them.” That may sound a little harsh to some, but it really did change the way I viewed this season. I don’t know about you, but I look at my little Judah, and although he’s definitely my son, he is just so much more God’s son. Our kids are humans that God has placed with us to love and guide and take care of. But they are ultimately his. So are my little babies that we didn’t get to meet. And they are in SUCH a good place!

I’ve also come to realise nothing other than Jesus will provide the satisfaction that my soul longs for. That includes another baby. I really want another child. But I want Christ more. I really do. Because I know he has my best interests at heart. As a result of his overwhelming kindness, I am able to say, for now, that he is at Number One. The cool thing is that he’s promised us another kiddo through a myriad of cool ways. So we really look forward to that. And in the meantime I will continue trying to trust my lovely Saviour, resting in his open hands, and keeping my gaze in his general direction.

Bless you friends,
Deb x

Are you my Mother?

imageI was chatting with someone about their job the other day. Then they asked me what I do. I told them that I was a professional counsellor, but that at the moment “I look after a two year old.” Which at best sounds like I’m a nanny, and worst that I’ve stolen a small child off the street. After that conversation I realised that I have the most massive aversion to the moniker ‘stay-at-home-mum’. It actually makes me recoil on the inside. My repulsion forces me to give people the two stage answer to the question of vocation. The second part of which comes out in a way so confusing that no-one is really sure what’s going on. I always mention my ‘proper’ profession first, because it sounds really important. And staying home with a kid is so commonplace.

It’s not my intention to cast any aspersions on women who delight in staying home with their kids; I often wish that my own dreams aligned more with my current reality. I actually somewhat envy the beautiful mums that cherish the days of babies and toddlers. But I just was never that person that longed for children. I always knew that I wanted my own family, but it wasn’t like this empty space in me waiting to be filled. I had to trust when I was pregnant that I would somehow love my tiny human – which thankfully I did. I’ve never been a baby-grabber (in the friendly or criminal sense), and I still actually find it awkward having other people’s kids over; it’s like there’s these tiny strangers in my house and I’m not quite sure how to relate to them.

One of the best people I’ve ever met once said, “We all have the fundamental questions of, ‘Am I loved?’ and ‘Am I important?'” I have grown used to answering the latter by being good at doing stuff; by excelling at work and study, by contributing to a common goal, to being a productive person, and a creator of ideas. I thrive on feedback. I love it when people appreciate what I’ve done. It fills my soul to feel like I’ve accomplished something concrete and vital. Pretending to be a dinosaur just doesn’t quite meet those criteria. And I’m actually really crap at making dinosaur noises (however I do a very believable rooster).

I know everyone’s journey is so different, but for me, I feel like God’s asked me to be at home with Judah. I tried not to actually. I had planned to start part time work when he was smaller, but he was such a sick screamy refluxy bubba, that I had no choice but to stay home. Then I investigated further avenues of work and applied for jobs. No dice. I feel like God’s kind of got me pinned under his gracious thumb. Because although it feels unfulfilling to the part of me that wants to be ‘important’, being Mum-mum to my little Schnoops is teaching me that what’s important is doing what God wants me to. And right now that involves being a munted dinosaur. And what could be more important than that?

So, hi everyone. My name’s Deb and I’m a stay-at-home mum. And I think I’m beginning to actually really enjoy it.

“Rrrraaahhhh”.

T-Rex (Deb) xx