Archive for November, 2010

November 30, 2010

In Need of Discipline

You might think that the infrequency of late in my blogging is a result of my intense novel writing.  Unfortunately you’d be wrong.


As of this writing, I have achieved half of the NaNoWriMo goal, that is, a 50,000-word novel written solely during the month of November. You’ll note that today is November 30, the last day of the month.  Boo, me.


Although it was certainly possible, deep down I knew it was unlikely that I would accomplish my NaNoWriMo goal.  Day one was great, but I fell behind at day two, and never recovered.  I’ve tried to justify this for myself the past few days:  I have a baby at home; my schedule is so different every day.  Maybe this wasn’t really the project for me.  Thirty thousand words is good, too, right?  (No, I’m not even at 30,000 yet.)  While these things are all true, they are simply excuses for not achieving a goal I set for myself, in a word, for failing.


The truth is, once I sit down and get writing, I am enjoying this project.  I like that it’s going places I didn’t expect.  I like that I’m getting to know my characters more and more with each page.  I like that there’s so much I could work with in a rewrite.  What I don’t like is that I didn’t finish.


However, whenever we try new things, sometimes we’ll succeed and sometimes we’ll fail.  I’ve failed the major goal, but achieved some other things besides.


I have learned a good deal about writing, simply by doing it.  I’ve learned to let go and just write, and I’m getting more confident that with something down on paper, a good edit could lead to something worthwhile.  The party’s not over yet; I still think I may have something valuable to share.


I’ve also learned (yet again) that I severely lack discipline, especially in those things that mean the most to me.  Why is it that the things I want to do the most—read, write, pray—are so often put on the back burner?


Since leaving my job and deciding to stay at home with the little man, I have been trying to make an effort to simplify my life.  There are so many little distractions I create for myself every day.  The past few days, the biggest distraction and the greatest hindrance from moving forward has been the impending sense of failure—something I might have avoided if I just sat down and started typing.


Oh, me of little faith.


In a section aptly subtitled “The Cure for Anxiety” in the New American Standard Bible, Matthew writes, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt 6:27).   By worrying, I certainly didn’t add anything to my word count!


There still is hope for this novel, and there still is hope for me as a writer.  The best thing I can do now is get up and try again.  And again and again, with God’s grace, I will.

November 24, 2010

Hitting My Stride

About two months into life with little Jacob out and about in the world, I finally feel like I’m hitting my stride.  It still hasn’t been so long in the grand scheme of things, but for Jacob, this is his whole life.  And for me, as quickly as days can go in retrospect, when you’re in them and you’re getting to know a new little person, they can seem longer than they used to be.


There are a lot of things that people tell you will happen after you have a baby, both to you and to the baby.  I thought most of these would kick in before they did.  I know “normal” can consist of a great range, but still I often need to remind myself that my schedule does not necessarily dictate—scratch that, how about “rarely, if ever, dictates”—how things will play out.


The thing is, when you anticipate something will happen before it does, you quickly start to wonder if it will ever come to pass.  Like fitting into your old jeans, for instance, or figuring out your little one’s cries.  We are getting there on both counts, and while progress often seems slow, it is certainly steady.


There are new achievements for Jacob and me each week, and it is a great blessing to recognize and appreciate their timing, which is so often beyond my control.  Raising a baby is the most powerful test of trust in God I have yet experienced.  As sporadic as my prayer seems these past few weeks, I am experiencing grace quieter and more profound than I’d imagined.  And as I realize how tremendously Jacob is loved—both by John and me and by all his family and friends—I find myself blessed with greater perspective on how God loves us, just for being, not for doing anything at all.


A lot of what we do to try to interpret what Jacob needs or wants is still trial and error, but I’m starting to feel like we have some handle on it.  Generally, we can tell now if he’s hungry, needs to be changed, is tired, or is too hot, without trying to fix all of the above.  Perhaps those who have been around babies a lot can do this more easily; maybe the signs for these things are common among lots of babies and it will be simpler with baby number two.  But on the other hand, Jacob is a unique person, and has his own ways about him.


At this point I take great joy in knowing that I know this little baby better than just about anyone in the world. What a strange and precious job to have, learning who this person is more and more each day, figuring it out as he figures it out for himself.  I think about my relationship with my mom, how she knows me better than just about anyone else does, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be that for someone else.


They say this parenthood thing is the best thing ever.  And while it took a while for the shock to wear off, today I can confirm that they’re absolutely right.

November 23, 2010

Dear Jacob II

Dear Jacob,


You are two months old now, and the time has started to fly, just as everyone says it will.  You are starting to grow out of some of your clothes; I hope your Jets onesies make it to the end of the season!  We’ll need them to cheer during playoffs.


Every week brings something new—a change in your eating or sleeping schedule, dry skin from the cold weather, more alertness in your eyes.  You are smiling more, and your smile is beautiful.  In the morning, you smile at me when I go to change you, and I have such fun playing with you on the changing table.


It seems like you are starting to consider putting things in your mouth, but haven’t figured out that you have control of your hands yet.  You’re still working on getting that thumb in your mouth, too, and I’m certain some day soon you’ll make it happen.


You hadn’t rolled over for a while, but then you did twice on your baptismal day, when you were playing with a couple of my friends (and yours, now!).  And oh, your baptism!  What a blessed and joyful day.  You were so calm during the ceremony, sleeping some, but awake for other parts.  You only cried for a nanosecond when the priest handed you to me (that got a laugh; thanks, little buddy).  All your grandparents were there and helped to bless you, and your great-grandma, did, too.  She was so happy to be a part of it.  There were prayers for you, for us as your parents, for your godparents, and for your grandparents and great-grandma.  We are going to do the best we can by you, and we know that with God’s grace, and with the help of everyone else who was there or wanted to be there to share in the day, you will have all you need to become the person God needs you to be.

After you were baptized, we took a bunch of pictures, and then went downstairs in the church to have a party and celebrate you!  I think just about every person in the room, about fifty people, all held you, and you didn’t cry for a second.  You even kept your white clothes clean!  (I can’t say the same for myself, but baked ziti is tricky to eat sometimes.)


You’ve met almost all of your family now, and they are all in love with you.  You are still a wonderfully peaceful baby, and you bring everyone around you—from your aunts and uncles to the ladies behind the counter at the supermarket—such joy.  We are in the week of Thanksgiving now, and you are what your daddy and I are most thankful for.


It will be great fun to share this holiday season with you.  Although we’ll have to wait until next year to introduce you to stuffing and pumpkin pie—the eighth and ninth wonders of the world—this year we’ll get to show you a Christmas tree, and we think you’ll really like looking at the lights in the city.


These last nine weeks with you outside of my belly have been at times joyful, peaceful, challenging, exhausting, exhilarating, scary, and just plain fun.  I expect more of the same in the weeks ahead, though I am trying very hard not to wish the time away, as I am so excited to continue watching you grow.  It is a pleasure getting to know you, my little son, and I love you so very much.


With all my heart,


P.S. It still feels strange to write “Mom”!

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