Posts tagged ‘Grace’

October 19, 2011

Parenting Means Not Giving Up

The other day, despite his protests, I knew Jacob needed a nap. He probably knew it too, but just didn’t want to believe it. I understand how he feels—I don’t really like napping either, unless I’m exhausted. There are too many fun things to do in a day. And especially if you’ve just learned a new trick like walking, lying down and resting seems, at first glance, like a waste of time.

But prudent mama that I am, I know that often when the morning nap goes out the window, the rest of the day goes with it. Somehow I possessed a strange calm, one I’m only beginning to get used to, one that I think might come from confidence in my role as a mother. Though Jacob was crying and rustling around in my arms, that calm allowed me to keep a just-firm-enough hold on him, rock him, and sing to him, as per our routine.

After four rounds of all five verses (that I know, at least) of “Amazing Grace,” he was asleep. I managed to put him down and he got a full nap in. A few weeks earlier, I might not have had the persistence to sing the whole song four times. A few months earlier, I know I wouldn’t have. I would have been frustrated that what I was doing wasn’t working and would have simply put him down, hoping he’d cry for just a few minutes and manage to get to sleep by himself.

It’s probably mostly a result of my getting more sleep now than I did in the earlier months with Jacob, but I am finding that I have more trust in myself these days. I know Jacob pretty well, and generally have a good sense of what he needs and how to offer it to him, even if he doesn’t think he agrees.

In the first half of his life, I took a lot of cues from the little guy. I figured he knew what he needed better than I did. And at that point, I’d never cared for a newborn before, and he was functioning on needs, not wants. Now, as the wants are filtering in amongst the needs, I have a different job as his mother. I need to use my judgment to determine what’s best for him, still incorporating whatever he can communicate to me, when it’s appropriate.

Sometimes that means doing what he doesn’t want to do. Sometimes that means I’m not going to be his favorite person on the planet. Sometimes I’m going to have to stand my ground. Sometimes it’s going to be sheer willpower concealing doubt that I’m totally botching something.

But that’s okay. Because, as my friend Cristina would say, I am the mother. God gave me to him and him to me for a reason. If my heart is always in the right place—and with God’s grace and Mary’s intercession it will be—I have hope that these moments will always end, as they did the other day, with a happy, healthy, and holy little boy resting peacefully in my arms.

P.S. Can someone please volunteer to read this post back to me when Jacob’s about fifteen?

August 30, 2011

Dear Jacob X

Dear Jacob,

As your first birthday approaches, we are looking out for the precious moments when you take your first steps and say your first word.

 

 

You have been crawling, cruising, and walking while holding onto our hands for months.  When people see you doing these things—more and more steadily every day—they say you’ll be running all over the place any day now.  I guess that’s true, but even if it’s a few more weeks, or even months before you walk on your own, it’s fine by me.  Besides, you already dance like a pro, so who needs walking?

 

 

You make a bunch of sounds now.  You use different syllables, intonations, and exclamations to express yourself.  We think you’ve said “da-da” for Daddy and “ma-ma” for me (and even “daaa” for the dog you visited last week), but your language isn’t super consistent yet, and we’re not really sure if these things “count” as your first words.

As sentimental as I can be sometimes, and as much I want to keep track of these milestones, I feel like God has given me the grace to just be grateful with where you are, who you are, right now, today.  I think some people—myself included—may have expected advanced milestones from you because your daddy and I went to good schools, but while you have a lot of teeth, you are simply on par with where you should be.  You’re neither racing ahead, nor giving us any cause to worry.

 

 

Little Jacob, I loved you as a newborn, when you stayed where I put you and made the most adorable little sighs and coos as you fell asleep.  I love you now as a baby, when you laugh more than you talk and you get around your world as a four-legged (or two-kneed) creature.  I love you as you grow into a little boy, learning to feed yourself, following instructions, and continuing to bring your daddy and me more joy than we could have imagined.

 

 

I love you for who you were yesterday, who you are right now, and who you will be tomorrow.  This is as true now as it ever will be, and I hope you always know that.  You are my precious little man, and I love you with all my heart.

Love, love, love,
Mom

August 23, 2011

A Temporary Full-Time Job

Last week I had an unexpected but super fun work engagement change our schedule, big time.  What I thought might be a morning and maybe an afternoon away from home turned into three full days and two evenings.  Which meant that three days of business as usual with the little man turned into half a week with him in New Jersey, living the life of a “real” working mom for the first time.

 

I don’t know that I would have proposed the arrangement on such short notice, but with a fantastic grandma, who happens to be a teacher—and thus has summers off—it seemed like a good deal for everyone.  Jacob and his grandparents got some great bonding time, and I got a taste of what it’s like to be away from my baby all day.

 

Though I spent time with the Peanut in the mornings and the evenings, getting him ready for the day or for bed, and playing some too, it was nowhere near as much time as we normally have together. Thankfully our workspace was close to my parents’ house and I was able to nurse Jacob once each day, when he needed it (the bottle was a no-go).  Still, I’d never before experienced that seeing-him-again-at-the-end-of-the-day thing, and while it’s sad to be away, that moment when we were together again was awesome.  The kid has a killer smile.

 

Because Jacob is eleven months old, nursing less and napping more regularly, and because there was family around to care for him, I avoided the stress I imagine other working moms encounter when choosing childcare for their little ones, post-maternity leave. Knowing how I tend to over-think things, and considering how stressed I am about Jacob’s allergies and what to feed him both now and when he weans, I would guess I would have slept close to never throughout the childcare-choosing process, if John and I had decided to go that route.  Kudos to those who do it with such grace and trust!

 

I know and respect moms who work in a more traditional environment than I do, and I’m grateful to have a glimpse into what their days are like.  To some extent, I think I’ve always understood why some mothers go back to work, when it’s not about money. Before we were married, John and I knew our plan was for me to stay home when children came along, and try my hand at freelance work.  But when the time came to make the transition, I really struggled with it.  I legitimately had my dream job.  But I knew that what God had given, God could take away, and this was a time I could exercise my trust in Him in a real and tangible way.  I also knew that if I didn’t trust in Him, if I went back on what I’d promised my family, we’d all lose in the end.

 

Having eight hours a day to concentrate on something with only minor interruptions and to dig into a project I believe in and see my contribution make progress was great.  I see how valuable that time can be in maintaining psychological balance in one’s life.  I’m still working on work/home priorities and balance, and while I am grateful that I am blessed with the work I have, it’s tough to fit it all in sometimes.  Having a chance to really do one thing at a time was kind of refreshing.

 

Still, it’s not what’s right for me full-time right now. I know that at some point all our kids (God willing!) will be in school, and if I choose to go back to an office environment, hopefully what I’ve been doing in the meantime—both my freelance work and raising kids/managing a household—will help make that a possibility.

 

I’ve been singing “Amazing Grace” to Jacob a lot lately, and these verses sum up my experience pretty well:

 

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

 

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

 

Amen!

 

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