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a year of life as a SAHM

we arrived in michigan in the wee hours of the morning on mother's day last year. i've looked back on all our photos since then and i cannot believe how much bina has grown in that time. and i as well! how far i have come from the insecure mess of anxiety i was in my first months as a stay at home mom. once the chaos of moving was over, my goal was to settle into a new routine. but i had no idea how to do that routine. i reached out to my mama friends from austin and our seminary days, asking how to do this stay at home thing. what do your routines look like? is there any one year old curriculum i should be doing? (me now rolls my eyes at me a year ago).

a year at home with my little adventurer has taught me so much.

first of all, i thought all my life that i was an introvert. being a stay at home mama has shown me that i am most definitely an extrovert and need to be in community to feel alive. i'm so thankful that god has provided that community through new relationships, re-connecting with friends from my past, and maintaining relationships from our adventures across the country in our first eight years of marriage. living in community with others is what makes life so fun. sharing struggles, bearing each other's burdens, laughing at all the chaos, celebrating the joys. i love play dates with my mama friends when we can chat as the littles play together. or beside each other and occasionally steal each other's toys. ya know. toddlers. at any rate, having other people to live life with makes it so much richer. god was onto something with that whole trinity thing. turns out.

second, i am a "good enough" mama. this has been my biggest lesson. i was so afraid when i first became a mom. i still have moments of great fear and anxiety, but they are so much less. i will continue to have a lifelong struggle with perfectionism. i'm terrified of failing and would rather not try than try and fail. which is a horrible way to live! having bina has taught me so much about the value of being "good enough." especially in the midst of battles with insomnia, anxiety, and depression. i've learned that all i can give is my broken best. and i trust god that he is working through my weakness. he is showing up when i cannot. he is most glorified in my weakness. and so i can let go. i don't have to be perfect. i just have to be genuinely good enough. and most of the time my "good enough" is pretty darn good, if i do say so myself.

third, everything is always changing. always. ALWAYS. in bina's first two weeks of life i was convinced i was going to live by the contented little baby book and all the strict routines. i preached sleep training before i had a child (again, me now rolls my eyes at me back then). bina was on the schedule perfectly for two days and then got off and i lost my mind. threw that book out the window. i will do things so differently if god entrusts us with a second babe. and of course each babe is different. but i've learned with bina that littles actually can work themselves into a routine without you making them. i talked with mama friends and learned about their routines and typical sleep schedules for a child of bina's age when we moved here. and we adapted to what worked for her, what worked for us. when bina started boycotting one of her two naps a day, we cut down to one and migrated the time until it was just right for her. and that changes periodically. when bedtime at seven became a struggle, we pushed it back to eight. surprise. no more 45 minutes of screaming. so much better for all of us. teething is always a nightmare, that much i know. but thankfully they don't get all their teeth at once. there are little intermissions. i've learned bina's typical pattern is to have a night of three hours awake every time she cuts a tooth. i used to FLIP OUT every time this happened. now i just roll with it. it's not the end of the world. and it will pass. like everything that causes me stress regarding bina and her development. most things just need a bit of time.

fourth, motherhood is the most sanctifying job ever. i have never been so humbled as i have been since becoming a mother. from c-section recovery and needing a nurse to help me even go to the bathroom to realizing just how powerless i can be to calm the insanity of an emotionally volatile almost-two-year-old. grace upon grace. that's what i need. because i can't do this in my own strength. more than anything i want to be the best mom i can be for bina and any future littles god entrusts to me and david. i want to love with the love that god loves me. but i constantly fail at that. one thing is for sure, only god loves perfectly. i love imperfectly. i give my broken best. but i'm pushing into jesus through it all. because as he gets more of me, i am able to humble myself more and more. i am slower to get angry. i can find the joy in suffering. i see that god is working all things together for our good - the good, the bad, and the ugly. it's all a beautiful journey. and i am so thankful that my sweet girl, my bina the explorer, is mine. how much gratitude i feel that god designed that i would be her mama. she brings me so much joy. so much laughter. so much pride. also so much pain and suffering, but nothing worth doing is easy, right? the love of a mother for her child is something unique. unlike any other love. and if i love her like this, its only a fragment of the love god has for me. and that keeps me going. keeps me pressing on to do this motherhood thing well. to model for my girl what god's love looks like. just a glimpse. because i can't even touch it. but i will try my hardest!

fourth, cherish the sweet moments. there are a lot of trying moments with littles. we are entering the drama of toddlerhood. lots of screaming and frustration. learning to become more and more independent each day, while still remaining dependent in so many ways. developing so fast and yet not fast enough. the missteps can be either terribly obnoxious or wonderfully adorable. bina is so much fun right now. such a pain in the butt too, but so much fun. her vocabulary is growing. she's super active and i'm pretty sure her little mind runs at 100 mph. as she has from birth, she LOVES being outdoors. she also loves her dogs. and the boob. since these two year molars started cutting through, she's been wanting to nurse more. "nuh! nuh!" she demands, as she slides sideways into my lap. one of her favorite words right now is "up!" useful for demanding to be picked up, placed on a high platform on a play structure, etc. "bewwa!" was one of her first words. a recent addition is "geh-gee" for jakey. bina loves to exclaim "SOCKS!" anytime we put on socks. glasses are "sasses." another new favorite is "shish" for fish. when we were driving the other day we were at a stoplight next to a fish restaurant and she called out from her carseat "shish!" when she saw the sign with a fish on it. and we beamed with pride, of course. the joys of parenthood. i've learned to laugh more. which, admittedly, was already a lot. i've learned to let go of at least some things that used to make me angry and find joy in the messiness of toddlers and food and dirt and whatever else they manage to get all over themselves and the floor and everyone's clothing and the dogs. it's childhood. they won't eat like animals forever. will they? at any rate. that's what washers and dryers are for. oxyclean's stain stick is my best friend. lives up to its promises. and the dogs clean the floor. winning.

here's to a year of sweet moments as a SAHM with my little, from mother's day 2016 to mother's day 2017. my first year as a stay at home mom. with thanks to my rock of a husband david who made this role possible for me by being willing to leave his phd program and hike it up to michigan with our motley crew so he could work at the family packaging business. we make beautiful things, my love. as i've always said, bina is the perfect terrifying blend of me and david. my emotional intensity and his energy. and we wouldn't have her any other way. i am filled with joy and anticipation (and a little trepidation) when i think of my next year of life as a stay at home mama to our boisterous two-year-old. one thing is sure. it's always an adventure.

our first morning in michigan, mother's day 2016.

outside guernsey farms dairy end of may 2016

bina's first birthday party, june 2016

on the back porch, mid june 2016

late june 2016

this is the way we vacuum with mad littles

after nap snuggles, early july 2016

on walloon lake, early august 2016

smoothie with mama, mid august 2016

goofy play food eater, early october 2016

our little squirrel on halloween 2016

presidential election voting, november 2016

winter can't keep this girl inside, early february 2017

funny faces on grandma and grandpa's lanai in florida, mid february 2017

return to austin, late march 2017

kangaroos at the detroit zoo, late march 2017

hello there.

brittain here. just sharing my journey day to day with lots of laughs along the way.

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