embrace the everyday
i have so many things running through my head lately. it has been a challenging week. david worked a half day last saturday which cut into our weekend family time. he is working a full day today, saturday again. when david works saturdays it messes with my head. i can't figure out the days of the week because saturday doesn't feel like saturday without him. and i just miss him. we all miss him. work has been harder than usual this last week which affects his mood, which affects mine. i am looking forward to date night tonight. we were originally supposed to go to a church small group get together but decided the babysitter would be better utilized for a date night just him and i.
i have had a couple conversations lately where i feel like god is speaking through me because the words coming out of my mouth are better than i could have come up with on my own. ha. and those words are preaching to me as they flow out to encourage another. in a conversation i had a week ago i put something together. it was the two week mark post partum with bina that i crashed and burned into the depths of post partum depression. and it was the two week mark post partum with juniper that i was able to stand my ground. in a conversation that would have devastated me at the same time post partum with bina, i not only did not crumble but was able to think accurately, defend my position, and communicate my needs. how i had grown! i look back on that conversation as evidence that all the work i put in to invest in my mental and emotional health over the last year has paid off. and my good and gracious father god allowed me the time to do that by not giving me what i wanted when i wanted it. i am so very grateful.
lately i am feeling more secure in my identity in christ alone. i am made in the image of god, along with every other human that has ever and will ever exist on this earth. as such i have value, worth. i was made for his glory and his alone. as i continually challenge myself to stop looking to others for validation and seek fulfillment only in god, i am able to rest in him and grow into the fullness of what he has for me and my life. now, this is a daily struggle for me. i'm constantly finding myself sliding back into looking to others for validation and i'm constantly reminding myself that the only validation i need is that which comes from god. as i seek god's grace throughout my day and acknowledge him in the mundane of my everyday life, i see him at work in and through me. and it's really kind of cool.
i'm currently reading own your everyday by jordan lee dooley. last night as i was sitting in the teal wingback chair at the end of bina's bed waiting for her to fall asleep and reading by the light of david's book light, a few quotes jumped out at me. of god, dooley says:
"...He dares us to spend less time trying to figure out what we're doing and more time having faith in what He's doing. Perhaps the broken pieces that come with disappointment, frustration, and failure prepare us for a purpose we couldn't have dreamed up on our own. Maybe they're the very things we need."
a few pages later she's talking about FOMO (fear of missing out) and says "There is no room for FOMO because the fear of missing out is just a perception, not a reality. If your plans didn't work out, there is a reason. You've just got to keep your eyes open wide enough to see that something new is being worked out in your life."
this all just resonates with me after the journey of the past three years. well, the past 11 of my marriage really. ok maybe all 33 years of my life. dreams and plans i thought were to be that were not to be, maybe some of those just not yet. constantly surrendering what i thought would be to what is. and what is, is better than what i thought would be. watching those around me take off living the dreams i had dreamt for myself and i was left waiting. and waiting. and waiting. wondering what i'm doing wrong. what is wrong with me. what is god doing. hindsight truly is 20/20.
my enneathought for the day on thursday was "today, embrace the holy idea of type one -- holy perfection. only in presence can we perceive the unity, goodness, and perfection of this moment, of right now."
i have started leaving my phone charging on the kitchen counter at night instead of bringing it up to my bedroom with me when i go to bed. a book i just finished, the self-driven child, challenged me to make that change. it has been wonderful, really. i was about to bring my phone up with me to put juniper down around 6:15 the other night and felt god prompt me saying "i have something for you if you'll just leave your phone downstairs." i paused, thought about ignoring that prompting, but then decided to set down my phone. and i didn't get some audible message from god. no. what he had for me was presence with my littlest before i laid her in her crib for the night.
i carried juniper upstairs in my arms and walked into her nursery. i opened her footed pj drawer and selected one. i laid her on the changing table, pulled off her clothes, changed her diaper, and put on her pjs. then i picked her up, laid her on top of her meadow green ollie swaddle blanket which was lying open in the crib, and wrapped her with one arm out because she loves to suck her thumb. also, she's rolling a bit so this is the safe way to swaddle at this point in her development. i lifted her all swaddled and snug in her swaddle blanket. my little baby bundle. i breathed in her sweet baby scent. then i closed her blinds, pulled her blackout curtains closed, and turned on her noisemaker. i sat in the glider, laid her on her side in my lap, and pulled her close to nurse. i studied her as she did so. her warm little body next to mine. her sweet little mouth finding nourishment from my body as she sucked and swallowed rhythmically. she's a quick nurser, this one. efficient. when she's done she starts popping off the boob. sometimes talking. sometimes smiling. sometimes eyelids heavy with sleep. i lifted her to my shoulder and pat her back to elicit a burp and then walked over to her crib to pat her back some more before laying her down. when she is neither over nor under tired she goes down without a peep. that night was one of those. i paused to take one last look at my sweet littlest before tip toeing out of her room and carefully pulling the door shut behind me. oh my good, good father god. thank you for this sweet bundle. thank you for the gift of presence. teach me to be more present each moment of each day so that i can fully appreciate the good gifts you have given me. these two little girls in my care. this wonderful husband of mine. this beautiful little life of ours. what a gift.
of course last night as i was reading dooley's book waiting for bina to finally fall asleep, i wasn't feeling as if this was such a gift. i just wanted bina to go to sleep so i could spend a few moments with david before he fell asleep and then had to work today. a couple times i felt resentment rising. why can't you just go to sleep, child?! if i had gotten up and left her room, she would have climed out of bed, laid in front of her door, and wailed for mama. possibly waking up the baby. daddy had been sitting with her a bit before he tagged out and tagged me in and this scenario played out just so, but without the baby waking. when i felt resentment rising, i told myself that getting frustrated with bina wasn't going to change anything. it is what it is. this child is who she is. i could resist it or i could embrace it. but resisting it wasn't going to change it. snapping at her would not make her fall asleep more quickly. so i chose again and again to embrace it. i released my resentment and read my book, telling myself not every night is like tonight. and maybe i wouldn't get but a few minutes with david after she finally fell asleep, but i knew i would have date night with him the next night. patience, dear brittain. embrace this moment. it is alright. and it was.
i was able to lay in bed with david and talk to him for a few minutes before he drifted off to sleep. i was disappointed because i wanted more time with him. i could have been resentful all over again. but i chose to embrace that moment too. i fell asleep myself, only to be awakened by bina crying out for mama at 2am. i grabbed the baby's monitor from my nightstand and made my way to her room. climbed into her twin bed, plugged in the monitor, and laid next to her. she wanted to nurse. she wanted to snuggle. i wanted to sleep. the compromise was snuggle and sleep. what seemed like moments later i heard the baby on the monitor. bina had just been wiggling and i thought she was awake. oh god help me. i need her to sleep. i laid still for a moment then sat up and, by the grace of god, bina stayed put. which meant she must be sleeping. i grabbed the monitor and turned it off, stealthily crept out of bina's bed and room, gently closing the door behind me. i noticed the light on in the master bedroom. oh good. at least it wasn't before 5am. i set the monitor on the post of the railing at the top of the stairs and went into the baby's room. turned off her noisemaker, opened her curtains and blinds. this didn't make much difference as it was still quite dark outside. could it be before 5am? juniper had wiggled her one swaddled arm out of her swaddle and was gabbing away by herself in her crib. oh my darling. i unvelcroed her swaddle blanket and lifted out my happy little babe. i sat down in the glider to nurse her. when i finished and took her into the hallway to head downstairs, i noticed the bedroom light was off. i crept downstairs and into the kitchen, searching for the time. 5:15am. oh my early riser.
the baby only lasts 60-90 minutes after her first wake up before needing her first nap. i enjoyed some solo time with her as i ate a peanut butter perfect bar and then laid on the floor with her to play. i cannot believe how big she is already. four and a half months old. in no time she will be six months, half a year. where did my tiny baby go? i want to soak up these moments with her. embrace this season fully and in doing so, enjoy it fully. i don't know if this baby is my last or if our family will continue to grow. all i have for sure is this present moment. 6:15am rolls around and juniper is ready for her nap. i climb the stairs with her in my arms and prepare to lay her in her crib. she goes down without a peep. i sneak out of her room and into my own. lay on my bed for a moment. think about writing a blog post. text david to see if he can bring up the laptop. and a moment later i hear bina cry out for mama. damn. sigh. i get up out of my comfortable bed, walk quickly to her room, open her door, tell her to get out of bed and grab her glasses, and then walk back to my room and climb back into bed. i hear her leave her room and open the stair gate to go downstairs. she descends the stairs and finds daddy. a few minutes later they climb the stairs together, david with the laptop as i requested. he hands me the laptop and bina climbs into bed with me. lays on my left side and asks to nurse. i begin typing. she keeps asking to nurse. eventually i give in and allow her my left side. oh this girl.
oh this life. right now bina is standing at the window in my bedroom hidden by the curtains. they are moving and light is seeping through and dancing on the walls and ceilings of the room as her body moves. what do you see? i ask her. "i see shiny fings" she replies. twice. what shiny things? i ask. she doesn't reply. i ask again. what shiny things, bina? "all the shiny fings. you see all the shiny fings out dere? dere's a wot of shiny fings." i climb out of bed and pull back one curtain and bend down to her height so i can look out the window and see what she sees. "all da shiny fings on da grass and in da neighborhood" she says. "why's it doin' dat?" why is it shiny, she means. because of the way the light is hitting it, i tell her. the sun kissing blades of grass, the shingles on our roof, the finish of the van across the street, the green maple leaves on the trees. golden light in the early morning. all da shiny fings. all the mundane made beautiful by the light of the sun through the eyes of a early rising four year old who wouldn't fall asleep when i wanted her to last night. god has something for me here. in this mundane early morning moment with my four year old. david has left for work. juniper is fast asleep. and i am here with my curious smiling firstborn. the girl who broke me to pieces, the girl who remade me.
i don't know what this day holds. i'm sure at some point i will be apologizing for not handling my emotions in a godly way. for losing patience. for speaking harsh words. for rushing. or maybe not. a friend is coming over with her daughter. the sun is out. it is to be a beautiful day. i am asking god for his grace for today, for each moment of today. grace to be the woman and wife and mother he wants me to be. i will fail, i am human afterall. he sent his son jesus to die for me to cover all my failings. i am covered by his grace. oh thank god. may his grace cover this day. may he continue to teach me to embrace my everyday. own my everday, as dooley encourages in her book. this day is perfectly imperfect. this life is perfectly imperfect. and i wouldn't have it any other way.
bina has left the bedroom and gone downstairs. from my room i could hear her pull out her mega bloks from one of her toy bins. she dumped them out onto the floor and began building. i could hear whatever it was she was working on fall over. a frustrated sound left her lips and carried up the stairs into my bedroom to my ears. i heard her try again and again with the same result, her creation falling down. "mama, can you help me?" she calls with a note of desperation in her voice. sigh. i grab the laptop and descend the stairs to find her on the floor in the living room, the play room, with her blocks. a tower with half a base that keeps falling over every time she lets go of it to let it stand on its own. i pick it up, take a look, and realize the problem. i find a block that will support the other half, press it into her tower base, and set it on the rug. it stands. how often is this how i come to my father god. god, this wont work! i keep trying and trying and failing and failing. i cannot see how to make it work. help me! and he looks at me with kind eyes and smiles slightly. gently takes whatever it is from my hands, examines it, adds something to stabilize it, stabilize me, and returns it to me. he looks at me with love and pride because i have come to him and asked him for help. this is what he wants. he delights in giving good things to his children as i delight in giving good things to mine. only he does it perfectly while i stumble and bumble my way through motherhood, salvaged by his grace.
bina moves on to her "baby flashlight" and turns it on. "mama, watch dis. it can bake shadows. in da dark. you see it? you want to do it? i can do it right here and you can bake a shadow." oh my darling girl. she lifts her hand to the light and her hand appears in a large gray shadow on the wall and ceiling. she plays with the flashlight some more as i continue to type and then comes to me with something in her hand. "wook, i found it!" bina declares. i pause and take a look at the object in her hand. the orange rectangular wooden block to the hape puzzle that has been missing for months. "was hidin' in dere" she says, referring to the mega bloks bag. i've been searching for that piece knowing it HAS to be somewhere. and she found it. while playing with a bag of blocks we don't often play with, just doing her thing. she found the missing piece. i think back to god saying "i have something for you if you'll just set down your phone." maybe it's time for me to get off this laptop and begin my day engaged with the little people in my care. how much i have learned from them by just being present. moment by moment.
bina moves on to her melissa and doug mini puzzles, removing one set of pieces from the wooden box. she sits on the green monochromatic foam mat from ikea with her puzzle and carefully assembles the pieces that connect to form a picture of a yellow digger. when she finishes, she breaks apart the pieces and carefully returns them to their spot in the box before taking out another set of pieces. oh this girl. oh this life. own your everyday, says dooley. embrace your everyday, brittain. there's something here for you, if only you will open your eyes wide enough to see.