Archive for July, 2011

July 29, 2011

What I’ll Miss About This Apartment

On Monday, we will move to our third apartment in just under two years of marriage.  Needless to say, moving this often was not in our plan.  But who said our plan was the one that counts, right?

 

Last year’s move was a stressful one:  I was (very) pregnant, we were moving to a new borough, and we were searching for somewhere to make home for a lifestyle we hadn’t yet experienced.  Thankfully, we ended up in a great apartment, in a wonderful neighborhood, and made some very special friends to boot.

 

Our new apartment is only a short walk from where we are now, so there isn’t a whole new neighborhood to learn this time around.  It will be more of a recalibration of points we already know and love.  The layout of the new place is different than what we have now, but it’s a very open plan, and one I think will cater well to the way we live our lives day to day.

 

That said, there are some things I’m going to miss about this apartment.  The first of these is the mirrors.

 

See how it looks like our dining area goes on forever? Thanks, mirrors!

There are floor-to-ceiling mirrors in every room of our current apartment.  In each of the bedrooms, two four-foot-wide mirrors function as the sliding doors to the (ginormous) closets—which, come to think of it, I will also miss!  Even in the living/dining room, one wall is entirely composed of mirrors.  Before we moved in, John joked that with all the mirrors and the hardwood floors, it looked like a dance studio.  I joked about the wonders it would do for my downward-facing dog.  And while there was some yoga done here—and there was certainly dancing done, too—I think Jacob loved the mirrors the most.

 

Everywhere you turn in this place, you see your own image looking back at you.  This was helpful in Jacob’s newborn days, when we would check to see if his eyes were closed without shifting him on our shoulders.  It was also a good distraction in the evenings of those first months, when I would count the minutes until John came home, all the time bouncing Jacob in front of a mirror and watching him smile with delight when “the little boy in the mirror,” as I creepily refer to Jacob’s reflection, did just the same things he did.  “That little boy comes everywhere with us!” I’ve told Jacob countless times.

 

One of the selling points for me when we first looked at this apartment was the built-in bookshelves.  I loved that all the books I was hoarding under my desk at work could finally come home and have somewhere to breathe.  I love having books on display—I think it says something important about our family, our values, and who we are.  What I love about these bookshelves is that they were low enough to use as storage for some of Jacob’s toys—and books!  Once he could crawl around, I really enjoyed giving him a few shelves of his own, where he could grab the books he wanted (to chew on) when he liked.  We still haven’t gotten to the point of putting books back on shelves, but all in good time.

And finally, what I’ll miss most about this apartment is that it’s where we brought Jacob home.

As we’ve been packing up our things, especially when the artwork (and more mirrors, if you can believe it) came off the walls, I realized that the items that identify our home are coming with us, and we can just as well settle into the new place and make it home.  But still, there will be a time when John and I think back to our first year with Jacob—our first year with a child—and I know we’ll remember the floor plan differently.  I’ll think one room was bigger than it really was, or that we had the couch in some physically impossible orientation.  I know some parts of the memory will fade, but I also know that those aren’t the important parts.

 

The important part is that my home is with John and Jacob.  It is in Brooklyn now, and will still be in Brooklyn next week.  But in a few years, it will probably be in New Jersey somewhere.  The things we hang on the walls will come and go, pictures in frames will be updated over time, and we ourselves will change as well.  But those are all good things.  They mean we are growing, that we are getting closer to where God needs us to be.

Then again, perhaps we’re already there.

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July 28, 2011

Words to Care for a Mama’s Soul

A few weeks after Jacob was born, a mommy friend shared a very special publication with me.  It’s something one of her friends—and friends of that friend—put together as a way to encourage and strengthen Catholic mothers.  What started as a blog became a quarterly publication, and one that I read cover to cover during the many nursing sessions in Jacob’s newborn days.

The journal is aptly named Soul Gardening.  In their own words, this is what it’s all about:

Soul Gardening is a journal designed to offer encouragement to Catholic mothers as we respond to the call to grow in holiness and simplicity.  Our purpose is to help women recognize the beauty of this vocation, the Heaven to be found in even the diapers and the dishes, and the power in making our days a living prayer.

The bit about recognizing “the beauty of this vocation” rang especially true for me in those first weeks, and I am grateful that this little journal found its way into my hands.  To expand a bit on the purpose statement above, SG is a collection of reflections, recipes, illustrations, quotes, humor, riddles for kids, and other odds and ends that are of interest to contemporary mothers who are working to make their homes havens of faith-filled living.  Each entry isn’t more than two or three pages, which means you can read a bit here or there and gain something worthwhile to think about until you have another minute to read some more (whenever that might be).

This week, the Summer 2011 issue arrived, and I couldn’t wait to dig in.  After dinner the day it came, John and I both ended up on the couch, totally absorbed in one of the funnier pieces.  Although the journal is targeted at Catholic mothers, a lot of it is relevant to Christian parents in general.

 

 

But there was another reason I was so excited to receive this latest issue.  Once I devoured the first issue, I wanted to get involved.  At the urging of the friend who offered me a copy in the first place, I submitted a piece of my own writing to the lovely ladies that make SG happen.  They kindly printed a short reflection on my first night with Jacob in the hospital, titled “You Are So Very Loved.”

 

 

I’ve gained a good deal of wisdom from reading stories about these women, who seem to have at least three children each, and I was grateful for the opportunity to take them and their readers back to a time when a mother has just one child in her care—her first, her only.   Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

It’s two a.m.  I am alone in a hospital room with my hours-old firstborn son, trying to figure out how to feed him.  I have never held a baby so small before.  I don’t really know what I’m doing.  The shock of having my own child in my arms hasn’t worn off yet, and won’t for another couple of weeks.

He’s crying.  I’m lost for what to do or say, so I tell him the only thing I know for sure:

“You are so loved.

“God loves you.  Jesus loves you.  Mother Mary loves you. I love you.  Your daddy loves you.  Your grandparents, aunts, and uncles, friends you haven’t met yet—they all love you so very much.”

In speaking these words to my little one, I find strength.  I don’t know what I personally have to offer this brand new person yet, but I know that the love that already exists for him is true and pure.  He has done nothing to deserve it; he is loved simply because he exists.

You can learn more about Soul Gardening—and even subscribe to it—here: http://www.soulgardeningjournal.com/.  This really is a wonderful publication.  It’s something that’s done a lot of good for me (and my soul), and the kind of writing I wish our world had more of.

July 27, 2011

This Time of Life

Welcoming a baby into a family opens the floodgates of change. The first few months with a newborn are a whirlwind of transitions, even from one day to the next.  There is less sleep than you thought you could handle, more diaper changes than you thought possible, and a different perspective on just about everything to adjust to. Life with a baby is exciting, challenging, and exhausting, but altogether joyful.  At least in my experience.

 

This week, though, we’re confronted with a new kind of change—one I’d seen coming for a while, but I can’t believe is upon us already.

 

We are blessed with a small group of families that lives nearby and all met one through the other at our church.  We started to meet these families before we even moved to Brooklyn, and we’d been introduced to them all by the time we were settled in and Jacob was born.  At that point, there was only one other baby born in the group, but another was on the way, and a few months later we learned the fourth was on her way, too. Over this past year in Brooklyn, most of our Sunday mornings have been shared with these wonderful folks at Mass and either brunch or a trip to the bagel shop afterward.

 

But all good things must come to an end.  We recently learned that one of these friends landed a job he was really hoping for.  It’s a great fit for him, and we’re really excited.  Except that it starts in just a few weeks.  And it’s in a different state.

 

The news is as bittersweet for us as it is for them.  Experiencing something as life-altering as pregnancy, childbirth, and the first year of your children’s lives together creates a unique bond of friendship, and one I know will always have a special place in my heart.  I don’t think I’ve let myself really think about it yet, but it will be incredibly hard to say good-bye (or at least “see you later”) to a couple that has shared so much with us over the last eleven months.

 

I know that the period of life with just first children is a limited time offer, and that when more children come along for our friends—and for us—we will slowly find our ways to the homes we intend to settle into for the long term.  Most of these will likely be outside of Brooklyn.

 

I discussed this great change with two of the ladies on a playground yesterday afternoon, and I was grateful for their trust in God’s plan.  We expressed how much we’d miss one another, but there wasn’t a word of complaint among them.  “God always provides,” one remarked.  I couldn’t help but think, I wish he would provide a little longer!  But I know there is a plan at work, one that is greater than what we could have conjured on our own.  This time of life is full of change, hopefully all for the better.

 

No matter what comes next, I am beyond grateful that my journey into motherhood began with such faithful women by my side.

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