Unbreakable Christmas

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and this is what I’m typically like this time of year:

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But this year, I’m already so tired of Christmas. Wait. Let me clarify. I’m so tired of “Christmas”. I’m over the fake. The look-at-me-ness of it all. It just feels so empty. 

Maybe it’s because I started listening to Christmas music too early. Maybe it’s because I walked into Target and it was NUTS. I mean, they have WAY TOO MANY DISPLAYS IN THE AISLES. I feel like they are shoving “gifts”, also known as garbage, down my throat. No. I do not want 12 bath bombs. SHUT IT DOWN TARGET.

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Notice all the open space in this aisle. At least 4 people walking comfortably. Now replace 2-3 of those people with a GIANT GIFT DISPLAY. #shutitdown

Maybe it’s because it doesn’t feel like winter yet. But I don’t think that’s really it. Those all seem more like symptoms of some bigger issue. But I wasn’t able to put my finger on it, so I kept moving myself towards the holiday, feeling more like this:

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In the midst of all these feels, my Christmas decorating came with some new rules this year.

  1. No mess – I have outlawed all glitter and evergreen shrubbery
  2. Unbreakable – I’ve stocked up on paper, felt, and plastic ornaments.

Basically I don’t want to have to vacuum everyday. I want to decorate it, and not have to worry about it. As I was telling a friend about my decorating goals, it hit me. The feeling of a hollow holiday and wanting something unbreakable go hand in hand.

Things in our world have been so heartbreaking lately. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of people using the ideas/words/imagery of my faith, of my Jesus, for their own personal gain. And it honestly makes me sick. Nothing seems real, or genuine. Even “Christmas” seems like junky garbage. It seems shallow. Fragile. Breakable.

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But the truth of Christmas is not shallow or fragile. Our God is unshakable. 

Hebrews 12:25-29 The Message (MSG)

25-27 So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.

28-29 Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

This is my prayer for the Advent season. To hold tight to what is unshakable. To let God shake the junk out of my heart, leaving only room for Him. To worship Him as the “historical and religious junk” comes burning to the ground. The beauty of Christmas is that God Himself came to us, to do the work we are not able to do. He has shaken our way of life, so that we can move into His unshakable eternity!

 

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#NohospitalNovember

Max is 2. He has been hospitalized twice for respiratory issues. Both times in November. The week of Thanksgiving. All of these pictures have been coming up on my Timehop over the past week.

This year we were ready. Earlier this year we saw a pulmonary specialist and got an asthma diagnosis. We’ve been working out inhaler meds basically all year. When the weather started changing here (the random cold snap we always get in September before the temperature returns to 90 degrees until Christmas) we had a practice run. We figured out the inhalers. Got some steroids. No hospital!

Then November comes. Along with all the memories of crying in the hospital. Of feeding tubes in his sweet little 3 week old nose. Of having to leave one baby to care for the other. November is a season of heartbreak and my anxiety FLARED.UP. Like “cry at a friend’s 2 year old birthday party because I was scared to let Max play outside” flared up.

But this year we made it! I realize as I am typing this that it is still November. But I’m taking the win and you can’t stop me! But I am also sitting still, basking in the Lord’s goodness this year. I know it wasn’t the hand sanitizer baths I gave my kids (no I didn’t…calm down). It wasn’t the deep cleaning I did after any sort of illness came in our door. I was reminded literally all week, along with those sad hospital pictures, of Psalm 71:20. First of all, if you don’t follow Sara Hagerty on Instagram, stop reading my silliness and hit that follow button. She fills up my timeline with scripture and adoration and it constantly speaks to my soul right when I need it.  She has posted this scripture on November 29, 2015 and November 27, 2017.

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In 2015 I was clinging to this truth for dear life. Today. Today I see it. I see the revival. Not just Max’s physical healing and growth. In this season of heartbreak, my heart has been revived to see, and cling to, His goodness and not just power through to the next season.

I write this sitting in a messy living room, in front of a tacky but unbreakable Christmas tree (more on that later), after giving Max his 2 inhalers for the second time today. And I am overcome with a sense of peace. Jesus has got this y’all.

What Not to Say to a SAHM

Before Lucy was born I was a teacher. I think that much of my identity was wrapped up in what and who I was teaching. Since having Lucy and deciding to stay home I’ve gone through a bit of an identity crisis (which I’ve heard is completely normal…at least I tell myself it is). I no longer had the typical 9-5 (or 7-6) job. I no longer dictated my own schedule. I couldn’t hang out with my friends the way I used to. I was lonely, tired, angry, bored, hormonal, borderline crazy. There were many times I wondered if I made the right decision to stay home…or even have a baby.

Over the last year, I have discovered a few questions/phrases/etc. that I HATE to hear.

1. What are you up to now? Oh you know…not much. Just raising a human.

2. You have plenty of time to ____________________. Yes. I have plenty of time to feed, change, feed, clothe, and entertain a 1 year old with an attention span of 20 seconds. Not to mention changing, feeding, clothing and entertaining a 29 year old husband with an attention span of just over 20 seconds 😉 On top of all of the “homemaking” crap I am expected to do (sweeping, mopping, meal planning, exercising, taking care of the dog, cooking, dishes, vacuuming, crafting, making baby food…I’m sure I’m missing something because I’m not so good at this part).

3. So what did you do all day? No comment.

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4. Oh, you’re not wearing yoga pants today. Oh…you’re being an ass-hat today.*

5. When do you think you will go back to work? When I friggin’ feel like it…ass-hat.*

I’m sure there are more…but my “mommy brain” can’t think of them. You know, since I haven’t been stimulating my brain for the last year. *

*Apologies for the snarkiness #sorrynotsorry

How to Talk to Little Girls

I have the best husband. He has a pretty good blog. Not as good as mine, but still pretty good 🙂 This one made me tear up a bit.

I am always finding these letters that parents “write” to their kids to teach them how to live their lives, and how to see themselves. One of my favorites is Tina Fey’s letter in her book Bossy Pants. I would love to see what my husband’s letter would say to Lucy.

Eric in ATL

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My daughter is the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. I understand that I have a certain fatherly bias, but it’s true. Wherever we go, strangers approach and comment on how cute Lucy is, what pretty eyes she has, and how big her cheeks are. Women pinch her cheeks in public and tell us how lucky we are to have such a beautiful baby. This terrifies me, not because they are strangers, but because of how it will share the way Lucy thinks about herself.
Every woman I know struggles with self-image. Every one. 
 
Self-image dictates so many aspects of the lives of the women closest to me. Health, exercise, intimacy, self-esteem, self-confidence, clothing, work, entertainment. How women spend money, allocate time, build relationships, and value themselves ties directly to their perception beauty. (Not to mention its impact on men. A topic for another day.) Lucy is only about a…

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Feeding Frustrations

Today for lunch I made Lucy some chicken sausage, sweet potatoes, and cheese toast. I had leftover chicken and spaghetti squash. She decided she only wanted MY food. All other food ended up on the floor.

So I heated up some more chicken for her. She wouldn’t eat it unless it came out of my bowl. Eventually that didn’t even work! I’m just assuming she isn’t hungry, and her bottle at nap time will be enough nutrition for her.

Ugh.

Lucy’s Top 5 Toys

#5: Books

Lucy just loves to read! She loves all books, but her favorite is Goodnight Gorilla. I have to hide it in her room because if she sees it, she points to it and has to have it. What can I say? She is a little genius!
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#4: Grocery Bags

Lucy loves to help me put the groceries away!

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#3: Balloons

She really didn’t know what to do with it…but isn’t she cute?

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#2: Beer Growlers

They roll, they make a pretty sweet noise on the tile floor, and only a little left over beer spills out!

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AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

#1: Backyard Inflatable Pool

Obviously, Lucy loves it!

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**Disclaimer: I do not actually let my child play with plastic bags or drink beer. The pictures are meant to be funny, and were taken while I was learning what to baby-proof now that Lucy is crawling. Please do not leave hateful comments.**

**This is a No Judgement Mommy Blog!**

Shattered Phones, Zoloft, and the Grinch

So I’ve been MIA for a while…sorry. We have had a bunch of family in town, and honestly I was struggling with what to share. I knew I wanted to get a little open and honest and wasn’t sure how to go about it. So I’m just going to rip the band-aid off. Here we go!

I think I’ve mentioned before that my husband Eric travels for work. In fact, he was gone almost every week of our first year of marriage. When it was just two of us, it was hard, but since I’ve always been a little introverted, it was manageable.

As Eric and I started talking about having kids, he was worried about the traveling and missing out. Honestly, the thought of him not being around hadn’t even crossed my mind. I knew he would be a great dad. As a result, he requested a local project  to guarantee he would be home, at least right after Lucy was born. Well…that lasted about 1 month.

On top of postpartum hormones, single parenting was, and is, pretty awful. I really don’t know how people do it. At first, it wasn’t so bad. But it seemed like with every trip, things got a little worse. Right around 3 months, Lucy decided to stop napping. In order to get her to sleep, I would literally have to rock her for hours. As soon as I would lay her down she would start screaming. The sound would ring in my ears and was actually PAINFUL. I got to the point where I would cry almost every night (followed by drinking a beer).

Don't be fooled...she was screaming like a banshee before and after this picture.

Don’t be fooled…she was screaming like a banshee before and after this picture.

Things really got real a few months ago. Lucy started screaming around 10pm and kept going until 2am. No fever, not hungry, clean diaper. Just screaming. Eventually, so was I. I was screaming, bawling, praying, cussing…you name it. Then I lost my mind. I threw my phone against the wall and shattered it. Luckily I was able to call Eric on my iPad and he calmed me down. I was too scared to go back into Lucy’s room after that. I was so…angry. At her for screaming. At myself for not knowing how to make her stop. At Eric for not being there. Then the shame set in. I felt like such a failure. People take care of screaming babies all the time. Why couldn’t I handle it? I self-diagnosed myself with postpartum depression, and decided that I needed some help.

After seeing a women’s psychologist, I was not technically diagnosed with postpartum depression…just my own deeply seeded issues coming to the surface. Perfect timing, right? Now I’m seeing a therapist and taking Zoloft. I can’t tell you how much better I have been feeling. Eric has been home more, Lucy has been sleeping like a champ, and I feel more in control of myself. I still have my moments, but I’m learning how to control my emotions.

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Me and Lucy at the therapist 🙂

As I’ve gone through all this, and continue going through it all, I found other moms who have gone through similar things and I have learned a few nuggets of truth.

  1. Being a mom is excruciatingly lonely and isolating.  I have to be intentional about getting out of the house and having adult interactions.
  2. A screaming baby is NOT a sign of failure.
  3. Other moms are willing to help a sister out. They get it.
  4. Our children learn how to control their emotions from us. So I need to take care of myself to be the best mom to Lucy.
  5. It OK to let Lucy cry, so that I can breathe.

I know this is not the end of this part of my journey. Eric has started traveling again. Lucy is going to grow and her needs will change. It will not get easier…just different. But I love that girl with all my heart. When I think of her, I feel like the Grinch when his heart grows three sizes, and I’m not sure it will fit inside my chest any more. I need to take care of me so that I can take care of her.

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I’ve learned a few things over the past few weeks:

1. Pierced-belly-button-scar-from-college post pregnancy = gross

2. Pierced-belly-button-scar-from-college post pregnancy AND squeezed in to pre-pregnancy jeans = REALLY gross

3. Lucy’s tummy doesn’t like eggs.

4. I can only wear my grey skinny pants for so long. As a result, I unbuttoned them while at the Braves game last night. (no one noticed, so that makes it OK)