Posts tagged ‘Inspiration’

September 23, 2011

Been There, Done That

Like most things in life, the weaning process has not turned out to be as easy as it seemed at first glance.  Frustrated with a very clingy child, and concerned that I wasn’t making the right decisions, I did what I always do when I need a practical answer to a question:  I went online.


We’re all very aware that the Internet can be either a very helpful or a very dangerous place.  Anyone can post information online, and while it’s great that such a variety of perspectives is available at the click of a mouse, it can be tough to pick through and find the good stuff.


The thing about parenting is that in most cases there aren’t “right” answers that unequivocally apply to everyone.  Nursing and weaning are certainly not in the cut-and-dry category.  And yet, I turned to what I knew to be a pro-breastfeeding website to get what I hoped would be some perspective.


I did get some perspective.  Unfortunately, not one that jives with my own.  The good thing is that I recognized the weaning process was maybe going a little too quickly for Jacob.  His clinginess might have been because he was used to a little more physical contact in his day.  That was useful.  What was not useful was the veiled message that really, the only good way to go about weaning a child was to let him/her do it him/herself, even if it takes until the child is two or three (or seven) years old.  This works for some people, but not for us.  John and I both feel that in our family, as far as nursing goes, once you can ask for it, you’re done.  Again, that’s just us.


Essentially, I had to decide what answer I wanted, and then I could find someone to validate it for me. In the great search for an answer, it was discouraging to be met with such a one-sided view—even if I did unintentionally seek it. On the other hand, I could have sought a site with a perspective on the other side of the spectrum, and ended up in the same place. The whole point was I wasn’t sure what I wanted to hear.


So then I did what I should have done in the first place:  I turned to a couple of women who have kids about Jacob’s age or older, whose perspectives on marriage, parenting, and family life I appreciate, and some of whose stories of weaning I was already somewhat familiar with.  By the next morning, I had a couple of emails in my inbox that gave me the encouragement I needed.


They reminded me that, as parents, John and I need to make the best decisions we can for our family and stick by them even when it gets tough.  The offered some practical tips from their experiences as well, but mostly, they let me know that I was doing an okay job.  That if I knew the path we were on was right for us, then we needed to stay on it.


For the record, Jacob threw up/spit up—I’m not sure which—the next morning, and then was back to his old self.  Still a little clingy, but nothing I can’t handle.  All of that and the problem effectively handled itself.


Maybe this parenting stuff isn’t so hard after all.

August 17, 2011

Dear Jacob IX

Dear Jacob,

It’s been a while since I wrote one of these to you.  Things are happening at a different pace in this second half of your first year. I am less anxious about being a mom, and at the same time, you are transforming from a baby baby into a little boy. You need fewer nursing sessions and fewer diaper changes (although you positively howl when we do change you), and you’re on a much more consistent nap/sleep schedule than you were in your early months. I’m learning how to use our time as best we can, and it feels like we have more freedom to go where we like, as long as we’re home for naptime.



It’s not that there aren’t still milestones to keep track of—recently you learned to eat from a snack cup, you momentarily stood on your own, and of course, you learned to dance.  You’ve also started to understand and respond to instructions I give you, which I think is awesome.  It totally changes the way a day feels to me to have you stop when I say “no” (you shake your head first, because you know that goes with the words “no,” “stop,” or “you may not”).  You can also find your sippy cup or your snack cup and use them when I say and sign that to you.  Pretty cool stuff, little man.


One of my favorite new developments is that you’ve learned to hug.  Often it’s in the morning or after a nap when I pick you up.  You turn your head and rest it on my shoulder, nestling into the hollow of my collarbone, and I stand there and hold you, trying not to move for fear of disturbing you and thanking God for this precious little boy He sent me.  You are perfect in every way, little man, and I love you so much.



You’ve also learned to give kisses.  Kind of.  I think.  Probably because we so often kiss the top of your head, you seem to think that ramming your head into us equals a kiss.  I guess it does, if you want it to.  Sometimes in the middle of the day, if I’m on the floor playing with you, you’ll crawl right into me.  It’s like a game of Chicken you’re determined to win.  But then you’ll pull/crawl up me to stand and go in for a real hug, which your dad and I agree is officially the new greatest thing on the planet.


Your birthday is coming up soon, my dear.  Kind of.  It’s still more than a month away, but I just can’t wait to celebrate this wonderful year we’ve had with you!  I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of cake I’ll make you for a couple of weeks already.  All this allergy stuff makes it a little more challenging, but we’ll do our best.  (And for those family members reading this who are celebrating with us, don’t worry; I’m making a real cake for you.)


Oh, Jacob, Jacob, Jacob. I don’t know if it’s because we spend so much time together or just because you’re my son, but you’ve been doing some of my favorite things lately.  Because you can choose where you go and what you do, to an extent, it’s really cool for me to see you do things like sit and read board books for a good ten minutes at a time.  Eighty-five percent of the time, the book is upside-down, but you’re really just in it for the fuzzy animals and the pages that turn at this point, so that’s fine.



You snuggle a whole lot, too, and I find myself calling you Snuggles or Snuggle Bear more than anything else these days.

Your best friend, the lady who sits behind us at church, told me a few weeks ago that you haven’t really been sick or anything because you are so strong and so happy.  I think she’s right.  You have such joy, such an impenetrable and infectious happiness.  Even though you make faces and cry like the world is ending when I take away something you’re not allowed to play with, you bounce back quickly, and before I know it you’re giggling again.  I almost think that, if it were possible, you’d never speak; you’d just spend your whole life laughing.  You’re cute enough that I think it might just work, too.


Little man, I have no intention of comparing your life to the divinity of Christ, but as I consider all the little stories I could put in this letter, I am reminded of the last verse of the Gospel of John.  It says, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).  Likewise, every day with you is another miracle, and there is simply too much for me to capture here.

I am tempted to say I am amazed by all that’s happened over the last year, but I think a more accurate word is “humbled”.  I am humbled by how much you’ve grown, all you’ve learned, and the happy, beautiful boy you are and always will be.  I am humbled by the work God has done in me through you, teaching me to give more, to love more, to be more than I otherwise would have, could have been.  I believe true love is something that brings out the best in people; its beauty is that makes the one who loves a better person.  And that, my dear, is exactly what you have done for me.

Let’s start counting down to your birthday now, so I have an excuse to celebrate you as much as you deserve.  Only thirty-five more days . . .

With a vegan, nut-free, wheat-free cupcake, and always all my heart,

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:  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.

%d bloggers like this: