Archive for November, 2011

November 23, 2011


I did the math, and 21.3% of my posts are labeled with the “Gratitude” tag. Honestly, I’m a little surprised at how low that number is. My goal with this blog is to express the reality of being a mother with an emphasis on the positive aspects, and when that’s tough, to learn something positive from what’s challenging me. I’m grateful for everything the journey has brought me thus far and for all that I know is still in store.


Clearly, though, I haven’t been explicitly grateful enough, so in light of this season of thankfulness, here’s what I’m grateful for this week:


  1. My family: John, Jacob, our parents, brothers and sisters, my grandma, our aunts and uncles and cousins
  2. My friends, especially those—both new and old—with whom I’ve been able to share Jacob and this new chapter of my life
  3. My faith. I don’t know how I, personally, could have gotten this far into motherhood without a belief in something larger than myself at work. Blessed Mary’s example as a perfect mother also continues to be an incredible comfort. (Do you ever wonder if Jesus had food allergies? Now I do.)
  4. My blog readers, who have offered me lots of encouragement and love this past year
  5. Stuffing and pumpkin pie, which are, to my mind, a complete Thanksgiving meal
  6. The fact that Jacob can eat stuffing this year and I can share my passion with him
  7. The fact that Jacob can not eat pumpkin pie this year and I will have to eat his slice, with whipped cream on top, if he’s asleep already
  8. Jacob’s belly
  9. Jacob’s dancing
  10. Jacob’s smile
  11. Jacob’s snuggles
  12. Jacob’s tantrums. Wait. No. Okay, yes: Jacob’s tantrums. I’m grateful that he’s growing up and I get to have an influential role in how he learns to handle the mystery of human emotion. Even if it does give me a headache.
  13. Advent starting on Sunday, which justifies watching Elf this weekend!


I could go on, but everything else I thought of involves pumpkin pie, so I’ll stop here.


What are YOU thankful for?

November 22, 2011

Dear Jacob XV

Dear Jacob,

Shortly after you were born, I started to get nervous about the fact that I was embarking on a year (at least!) of living with a person who was not able to talk to me. That sort of silence is frightening. How was I going to know what you needed? How was I going to entertain you? How was I going to stand having no one to really talk to? Was I going to lose my mind?


Fourteen months later, every single one of those fears has been put to rest. You don’t use verbal words that often, and even your signing has become rather one-dimensional lately, but I think we’ve come to a pretty good understanding of one another, even without those.



I’ve learned that “maternal instinct” can be, in fact, a learned behavior. The tasks it took to care for you as a newborn were things that anyone would have been capable of doing. But because I did them, I came to know you better than probably anyone else in the world (though your dad is a really close second). With the help of your cues, a closer relationship with the clock, and that “maternal instinct”, I’d say I do a pretty okay job of keeping you happy each day.


I love that you’re starting to respond more when I talk to you. You can follow directions like “put the ball in the car” or “find your water cup.” You know that “bath” means it’s time to go into the bathroom (hooray!) and that “outside” means go to the door and get your shoes. You don’t always do these things, of course, and I’m also starting to see that you can hear selectively when you want to. We’re going to work on that.


I don’t always get things right, either. Sometimes it takes me a few tries to figure out what you want. I think it might take you a few times to figure out what you want, too. But when I ask if you’re hungry, and you giggle and run to the kitchen, I thank God that this year—or more—of virtual silence isn’t so silent at all.

You are such a fun little boy, Jacob, and such a good eater, if that’s what we’re talking about. I love you so much, and you are at the top of my list of things I’m grateful for this year and always.


Oh, and just so you know, I’m probably going to ask for a few hugs today. You’ll know what to do.


November 21, 2011

Time to Celebrate!

Yesterday was Jacob’s Baptismal day. I didn’t grow up celebrating Baptismal days, and I didn’t know that anyone did. John’s family introduced me to this tradition, and if only for the fact that it doubles the amount of cake you can justify each year (eight birthdays + eight Baptismal days = cake! cake! cake!), I found it to be a really great thing to commemorate.

John’s family, and I’m sure others too, mark the day not only with special dessert after dinner, but also with a chance to “honor” the person being celebrated. Even when I was John’s girlfriend, I loved being part of this tradition. In whatever order people feel comfortable, everyone around the table shares something he admires or appreciates about the honoree. Sometimes it’s a recent act that displayed joy, faith, or integrity. Sometimes it’s something the honoree did to motivate the honor-er to think more about his or her own faith or character. Other times, it’s more simply the characteristics of the honoree that inspire honor-ers to be better, stronger, happier people.

Whether the honoree was John, one of his parents, or one of his siblings, I enjoyed offering my own thoughts as much as hearing everyone else’s. How often does a family take the time to consider the beauty, the individuality,  and the promise of each of its members? This sort of encouragement is something I hope John and I can foster in our own family, and that starts today.

In the midst of all this honoring, there was always one comment that, frankly, baffled me. Whoever could get to it first would honor the baptismal day boy/girl for being a “son or daughter of God.” For a long time, I didn’t understand this. Weren’t we remarking on things the person had chosen to do? Characteristics that, even if they came naturally, the person allowed to shine even in tough situations? How could we honor someone for something over which he or she had absolutely no control?

Being Jacob’s mother, I’ve come to understand this in a very humbling way this year. Every day I learn something new about Jacob’s character, his temperament, and the choices he’s likely to make. Yet even before these things began to surface, I loved him simply because he was a little boy, my little boy, made in the image and likeness of God. I love him simply because he exists. And that is how God loves us—simply because we exist.

So today—or yesterday, really—I honor Jacob for being a son of God. And for teaching me what that means.

Happy Baptismal day, Jacob!

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