just the way i am.

Let me tell you about the first time I was humbled by my child.

Everyone kept telling me that I’d know I was about to go into labor once I started getting the urge to nest. I found that to be quite strange, as I’ve never had the urge to decorate much of anything in my life. Take my childhood bedroom, for example. Once I discovered that my favorite color was aquamarine, I decided to paint my room that color. It was a bit jarring when compared against the rest of our muted home, but I didn’t care. It was my favorite color and I was going to rock it. Then, on top of the wall, I plastered a bunch of posters of my favorite bands. I guess that makes sense when you’re twelve years old — like I was at the time — but I left my room exactly that way until I left for college. My poor mother was burdened with the task of bringing that room back to a state of decorated normalcy.

Despite my self-proclaimed “creative” disposition, I just. Don’t. Decorate. Period. (And Lord help me if I ever have to show up some place and look presentable. My fashion sense is almost as bad.)

But because every other mother on the face of the planet (read: planet = Pinterest) seemed to me to welcome their bouncing baby with a perfectly decorated nursery, complete with unique BUT SENSIBLE color palettes and adorable and probably handmade adornments, I figured I’d probably be no different, despite the glaring fact that that isn’t me.

When the 38th week of my pregnancy rolled around, I started to panic. That “nesting” urge had yet to kick in and our nursery was just an over glorified closet with a crib in it — boxes and bags of baby shower stuff that’d been thrown in there, piles of clothes that had yet to be washed or sorted, you name it. Babies R Us threw up in my kid’s room and, two weeks out from my due date, I’d had yet to do anything about it.

So I figured that if the urge to nest wasn’t going to organically appear, I had to force it. I started making lists. I color-coded those lists. I confided in other moms to make sure my lists made some semblance of sense. Then, I took my lists and used them to create a “Nesting Calendar” on Google. I shared that Nesting Calendar with my husband and declared quite boldly, “Dan! We’re going to NEST! We’re going to NEST because Google says so!”

The way my calendar worked out was that Monday, we’d do one project. Tuesday we’d do another, then one on Wednesday, and so forth, until Friday. At the end of that week, we’d have a nursery put together. Seems legit, right?

When the labor pains set in on Wednesday, I knew I was in trouble. Baby Dax showed up an entire week early, not even taking my Nesting Calendar into consideration. When we came home from the hospital on Saturday afternoon, I looked dejectedly in the still-closet-like nursery and sighed. I was already failing at being a mom.

Fast forward to today. Dax is nine and a half weeks old and the nursery STILL looks like a Babies R Us mine field. I’d take a picture but seriously you guys it’s so embarrassing. In order to get to the changing table, you’ve got to tip-toe around piles of new clothes, bags of breast milk storage, and towers of receiving blankets.

However…

I’m writing this on my husband’s desktop in our bedroom. I can hear that Dax is starting to stir from his morning nap. The sound isn’t coming through a baby monitor; it’s in this room, right behind me. My sweet baby boy, the little child I was so worried about nesting for, refuses to sleep anywhere except our bed.

Not his crib. Not his not-yet-nested nursery.

It’s almost as if, from the womb, he could sense that I was doing preposterous things like making lists and Google calendars and decided he’d make a beeline out of my uterus that week to put a stop to it.

“Mommy,” I can almost hear him saying. “You’re not acting like my mom. You’re not acting like the woman to who was called to raise me. You’re acting like someone else. Please, just let the nursery be a mess. I won’t use it anyway. Can’t wait to meet you, Mommy, just the way you are.”

introducing: friday favorites!

Can I speak off the cuff for a second? (Psh. Why am I even asking? This is my blog, you guys. I do what I want.)

I’ve been pretty aware of all the ways I suck lately. Mostly, over the past week. I guess that makes sense, what with me going back to work and wrestling with what that means as far as my contribution to my home and family. It stands to reason, I suppose, that in this time of transition I might find myself struggling to focus on what is praiseworthy about myself. (Philippians 4:8.)

The truth is, self-love isn’t something you just achieve one day and then bam, you’re all better. I really wish it were that simple, but the reality is that loving yourself in a society that does its damnedest to point out everything that’s wrong with you takes daily discipline. It takes the strength to wake up every single day and look yourself in the mirror and say, “Hey, Self, you’re all right.”

Unfortunately, with everything that’s been going on in my life as of late (you know, having a kid and all) I haven’t really taken care of myself in that respect. Sure, I make sure I eat every day and try to squeeze a shower in here and there (I washed my hair last night, y’all!) but as far as putting forth the effort it takes to truly, honestly, take care of my self-esteem and consequential mental health, I’m falling behind. And it’s starting to wear on me.

An old issue I’ve struggled with in the past has reared its ugly head recently. The issue? Allowing myself to be loved without doing anything. 

I’d thought I’d beat it. I thought that, with the help of this blog and the people with whom I surround myself, I’d finally let that little part of me die. But, since stepping away from all the things I “do” for people in order to focus on my son and my family, I’ve started to feel as though I’m being replaced. Forgotten. Unloved.

While I know that isn’t the case, right now it’s hard to believe it. So, I’ve decided to go ahead and use this blog for what it was originally intended — a tool with which I can learn to love myself daily. I’m going to dust off the old “self-love” warrior training boxing gloves and start a new weekly post series on my blog. I’d like to introduce to you,

lindsay’s friday favorites!

On Fridays, as a discipline, I’m going to post a blog highlighting one thing about myself that I like, that is my “favorite trait” of the week. One thing, I might add, is just ME. Not something I DO. Just something I AM. It may be physical, or not. It may be an item of clothing I bought or a way I did my hair. It might be a book I started reading and the thoughts it provoked within me. I’m not sure yet. But all I know is that I’m going to commit to doing this every Friday to remind myself that I’m valuable just because I am.

I’d like to challenge you, my readers, to do it, too. On my Friday Favorites posts, I want you to comment the things you love about yourself that week. Nothing would make me happier than knowing that my struggles, and the disciplined nature through which I will try to overcome them, might actually be a positive influence in your lives as well.

And so. Starting next Friday, we’re going to do this. We’re going to start to love ourselves, one little blog post at a time.

my “normal”.

My baby boy is eight weeks old today. I know it’s cliche and all, but seriously — time flies when it comes to kids. These eight weeks have zoomed by me in a sleep-deprived blur. I feel like it was just yesterday we were being admitted into the delivery room and seeing this face for the first time.

But no. That was eight weeks ago. Those images, compared to the face I saw when I woke up this morning…

 

…blow my mind. He’s already grown and changed so much.

As you’ve noticed, the blog has been quiet these last two weeks. That’s been both unintentional (Dax has had reflux and colic going on which makes for one tired and busy momma) and intentional. I’ve been savoring these precious last weeks as a stay-at-home mommy. When I found that I had some time, I could either snuggle my boy or put him down and blog. Naturally, I chose the former.

A couple weeks ago, I went to a bible study at my church that is comprised of all moms. The newest mom there, I felt a bit awkward and out of place at first. I was the least experienced mother in the circle — still in the throes of nightfeeds and blowout diapers, and nowhere near potty training or choosing a preschool — and felt like I had nothing to offer. Despite my extremely outgoing nature, I spent the better part of the “socializing time” just sitting on the couch, staring at my feet, wondering if I could contribute anything worthwhile to the conversation. I decided that, nope, I couldn’t. Those moms had all been-there-done-that. It’s been quite some time since I’ve felt that strange about being around other people. (That also may have had something to do with my severe lack of personal hygiene but hey, showers are hard to come by these days.)

As we settled in to the devotion, I started to feel a bit more comfortable. A bit more like I belonged. I eased into the discussion and back into my normal skin as I listened to Margo, a good friend and the group leader, read that week’s lesson. It was called, Waiting for Normal.

I don’t remember the specifics of the story, but I do know that it was about a mom who compared her family life — her husband working long hours, never home for dinner, the kids on a weird schedule — with that of her neighbor’s — dinner on the table at the same time every night, the family always together, etc. Sadly, she deduced that her neighbor’s life was “normal” and hers was not. Therefore, she saw no point in trying to maintain a “normal” schedule until her husband stopped working such bizarre hours. She ordered pizza every night instead of cooking. She didn’t enforce a bedtime routine. She said she was just “waiting for normal” in order for life to be worth it.

That devotion was really convicting to me.

You see, when Dan and I first got married, we made an agreement to not have kids until we were in a financial position where I could stop working and stay home with them. Well, as you know, Dax came before we were anywhere near that position. The entirety of my pregnancy and the majority of the first weeks of motherhood, I’ve been fretting over our lack of “normal”. As each day would pass, my maternity leave running out like grains of sand in an hour glass, I would get more and more anxious about the fact that I have to return to work soon because that’s not “normal”. What’s “normal” is what Dan and I agreed on when we got married.

I felt like I was being held at gunpoint and forced to make a choice between my baby and my job. If I chose my baby, everything would be ruined. We wouldn’t be able to afford our apartment, our cars, food, or healthcare. But if I chose my job over my babyeverything would be okay.

Everything, that is, except for the fact that it’s not “normal” and my baby would suffer because of it.

Naturally, the end of the devotion came with the woman realizing that just because her “normal” was different from her neighbor’s didn’t mean it wasn’t “normal”. It was just a different “normal”.

Monday morning, I’ll walk back into my office after having eight wonderful weeks with my boy. The transition will be hard, of course, but the thing I have to remember is that this is my “normal”. I’m not choosing my job over my baby. I’m just choosing my baby in a different way. By going back to work, I’m choosing for him to have health insurance and clothes and diapers and every other baby amenity out there. Just because this isn’t the “normal” I envisioned for myself, it is our “normal”.

And it’s perfect.

 

why pinterest is both great and awful.

The cool (terrible?) thing about being pregnant (and I mean super pregnant) is that there is never a dull day because your mind takes you on such wonderful adventures! You get to go round and round in circles until you end up at the same destination at which you arrived the last time you let your mind wander — the notion that you’re going to be the worst mom on the planet. 

In today’s edition of Reasons I’m About to Fail at Motherhood, we explore Pinterest, an online pin board designed to inspire and motivate you to do things you never thought possible. (Or help you plan a wedding when you’re not even in a relationship. That, too.)

To watch me flail around desperately in a sea of DIY crafts I’ll never have the time or energy or creativity for, follow me on Pinterest here.

I love Pinterest. But I also hate it.

I love it because it is literally a bottomless gorge of creativity. Novice photography? There’s a pin for that. DIY crafts? There are only about a thousand boards to follow. Recipes? Oh man, don’t even get me started. (A couple weeks ago I made Nutella cookies from a recipe I found on Pinterest. Because I don’t have a hand mixer  — and why WOULD I? Anyone who knows me knows I don’t cook/bake/do anything a real wife and mom should do — the texture was a bit off. But they tasted like little chunks of Nutella and my husband was popping them like pills so I guess I succeeded.)

At its core, Pinterest is super helpful! Also, this is exactly what happens to everyone who signs up for Pinterest:

But. As a new (and undeniably uncrafty) mom, Pinterest scares the hell out of me. Just by existing, Pinterest takes everything I’m insecure about and just flaunts it in my face, like a big ol’ bully wielding recipes I’ll never have the skill to perfect and projects I’ll never have time to complete.

And so. I hate it. I hate it so much.

Here’s the deal — I follow a lot of my crafty friends, both moms and otherwise, on Pinterest. They pin the darnedest things, you know. Make your own X for baby! Create your own Y for the nursery! Do it yourself Z for the home! Etc. Etc. Etc.

It’d be great if that’s where it stopped. If everyone else was a “theoretical pinner” like me (that is, someone who pins things on their boards with no real intention of ever attempting the projects for a number of reasons) I wouldn’t be so bloody insecure. But that’s not the case. Oh no — when I visit these crafty friends of mine, I find that Pinterest is not only bookmarked on their laptops but has also clearly been inside their homes and left its mark via super adorable DIY things.

Because they’re all better crafters than me and, therefore, are better women/wives/moms/people than me.

You see, my house? Uh. Well. Last week we went to Wal-Mart and bought an already-painted canvas with already-printed-on sayings and nailed it to the wall in our dining room. Does that count? I mean I bet I could pin something that looks like that and just pretend I did it myself. Would anyone notice?

As I try to “nest” I’ve been scouring Pinterest for crafty DIY ideas on how to make the nursery look great and “nesty”. Because success at Pinterest = success as a mom.

Well, good news, readers! I’ve found something on Pinterest I’m going to DO MYSELF! I’ve resolved to buy some canvases and some pretty fabric and staple said pretty fabric to the canvases and then hang them on the wall. DIY wall art, you guys! Sounds super easy, right? (Here’s a link to the pin I, uh, pinned: DIY wall art.)

Seems easy enough, right? How hard could it be? I’ve done the research. I know where to buy the canvases and fabric and I know that I should probably get a staple gun to wield for this project. Looking at it, it seems like a piece of cake. That’s why it’s on Pinterest, right? Because every DIY project on Pinterest is easy, right? I have two hands and eyeballs and all the time and energy and creativity in the world. If I can’t make this work then…

Oh goodness. I don’t even want to think about what it means if I can’t do this.

Because if I fail at it, then I fail at being a good mom.

Well. I’m glad I consulted you, blog, before I attempted this most likely disastrous and self-esteem-crushing project. I just saved myself a lot of grief.

So. Let’s just stick to the already-printed stuff at Wal-Mart and call it a day so I don’t have to cry myself to sleep tonight thinking about all the money I’ll have to shell out for Dax’s therapy later on in life for being born unto such an uncrafty, unconventional, horrible mother.

While I’m at it, I should probably buy stock in Hot Pocket, Kraft, and Great Value brand hot dogs.

things i love thursday! (may 10, 2012)

Happy Thursday! And, because I haven’t said it yet, happy May! I hope you’ve all had a great week. Mine has been filled with blessings. So let’s get right to it!

THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:

  • Not one, but TWO baby showers! If the amount of loot we procured is any indication, our little Dax is already so loved (and spoiled rotten)!
  • Seeing a bunch of friends and family from out of town who drove 4 hours for my shower. Wow. So awesome!
  • TINY BABY THINGS. Especially things with ears and/or pointy heads, footies, and embroidered things sewn on the butts.
  • Getting a sneak peek at some of my friends’ wishes for Dax: I wish you would learn how to ride a bike before your dad. I hope you always laugh at your dad. I hope you have big ears like your dad. (Notice a trend?)
  • FINDING A NEW PLACE TO LIVE! And it’s so cute. I can’t wait to take pictures and show you. We move in this weekend!
  • Having sweet friends come over and help us pack all of our “berks.”
  • Writing in coffee shops, especially coffee shops at which my friends are employed.
  • A “medium” mocha frappe actually being a large. (Friends in high places, I tell you.)
  • Derpy Hooves. Every. Time.
  • Pizza.
  • The Avengers. Holy crap, you guys. I can’t imagine how good it must have been for the people who actually give a darn about the comic books because I LOVED IT.
  • “Hulk Smash Durrenberger.”
  • Robert Downey Jr. I mean, seriously.
  • Cinco de Mayo bible study and party.
  • Virgin margaritas that actually tasted good.
  • Queso.
  • You know, food in general.
  • Being asked to write not one, but two guest posts. (Next one is coming Wednesday… stay tuned!)
  • Reading on the porch.
  • CATS. Especially mine and tiny ones with sorta-broken tails.
  • “Tiiiines, tiiiiiiiiines, tiiiiines.”
  • Actually using Pinterest for wedding planning.
  • Going to church with Mom.
  • Dinner with friends.
  • Deep thoughts and conversations with friends via email.
  • Getting much wanted and needed birth/child rearing advice from good, wise momma friends.
  • Sleepy and snuggly baby Isaiah.
  • “Hey Lindsay… Isn’t cool how I knew it was you without looking?” – Levi is the best.

That’s it for me. What do you love this week?

the middle.

A group of my girlfriends and I just went through a book called Still by Lauren Winner. This is the first I’ve heard of her and, consequently, the first book of hers I’ve read, but this is not Winner’s first book; she’s written before, chronicling her journey from being raised in a Jewish household to finding Christ to teaching at Duke Divinity School. She’s an interesting woman, no doubt, and her writing style is captivating.

Still is a memoir about a time in Winner’s life she describes as a “mid-faith crisis”. She had just gone through a divorce and a God who was once closer to her than her own skin seemed absent and cold. In Still, she describes this time in her life as “the middle” — a time where she did not see the connection between where she’d been and where she may have been going, wherever that was, and so she went through the motions (going to church, prayer, etc.) just to feel a sense of normalcy rather than to actually connect with her Creator, an impossible feat at the time.

I suppose a lot of us go through times like this — “middles”, if you will — and I think I’m going through one of them right now.

Back in September, if you would have told me that in the summer of 2012 I’d be about to give birth to my first child and signing a lease to renew my residence in Tallahassee for another year, I would have laughed in your face. After our yearly trip to Chicago that month, Dan and I agreed that we felt God calling us to a major metropolitan area, probably Chicago but maybe somewhere else, to do full-time ministry together. And so, we had a plan. And we thought God backed that plan. And we set out to start seeing that plan come to fruition.

But, as you can see, none of that panned out like we’d thought.

Living in a college town, a city comprised mostly of transients, there are a couple times of the year when we experience a mass exodus — the end of spring and the end of fall. Of course, we signed the lease to our new place here in Tallahassee during one of those times, which emphasizes the stagnation of our lives even more. As droves of our friends pack up, move away, possibly forever, to bigger and better things, we’ve signed on to one more year of this.

At least one more year of the middle.

I’ve been poring over these feelings over the past week as we’ve been packing up our house. Feelings of sadness, but also fondness. We spent the first three years of our lives together in that house. We learned about promotions and life-changes in that house. We’ve held bible studies in that house. We’ve had unexpected visitors in that house. We’ve adopted cats in that house. We took a positive pregnancy test in that house. I could go on…

So much has happened there, and this past September, a mere nine months ago, we thought that we’d only pack that house up in order to move somewhere outside of Tallahassee to follow a huge and exciting calling. But now, we’re packing boxes to the brim just to haul them across town in what seems like, at best, a lateral move and, at worst, a step backward.

I can’t speak for Dan, who is arguably more relaxed over this whole thing than I clearly am, blogging about it and such, but I know that as far as I’m concerned, in prayer, I find myself barking questions and orders into a void: Why is this happening? Why isn’t it what we discussed earlier? It wasn’t supposed to happen this way — are you even listening? Are you even here? And I’m waiting for the right response, wrestling with the middle, only to be answered with a peaceful silence.

And so. I pray. I go to church. I trust that what is happening is right. But I don’t know why. And I don’t know when it ends or changes.

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet.
It’s only in your head, you feel left out or looked down on.
Just do your best, do everything you can.
And don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say.

It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine.
Everything, everything will be alright, alright.

— Jimmy Eat World, The Middle

embracing discomfort.

Do you know anyone who is always legitimately cheerful in the face of adversity and/or pain? The type of person who has been known to utter something along the lines of:

How am I? Oh, I’m just great! So blessed! The other day my mother died and then I ran over my childhood pet by accident, breaking both of his legs and leaving him irreparably deformed, oh, and then I failed college. Like. The whole thing. Just failed it. But my life is great, and I am blessed, and I have no reason to be unhappy because God’s in control!

I’ve always desired to be classified as one of those people. As a Christ-follower, I feel like that’s supposed to be part of my DNA: unshakable optimism.

Unfortunately, whether it be due to irreversible exposure to the darkness and cynicism of the world or just a developmental defect, I am not one of those people. In fact, I’m usually quite the opposite.

I’ll never forget the day my husband said something to me that shattered my soul so finely that it’ll never be the same.

As soon as I opened the door after work, I threw down my purse and started up my daily ritual of pissing and moaning about my what happened at my job — I don’t even remember what I was so upset about, ironically, but this was evidently the umpteenth day in a row I was firing off complaints like missiles toward my undoubtedly exhausted husband, expecting him to take every shot lying down. After what seemed to me like minutes, to him like hours, of me complaining, he fired back.

“You’re a really negative person.”

He didn’t even address the things I was complaining about. He just got right to the point — the point being, maybe it wasn’t my job that was so awful. Maybe it was me.

I’m sure that’s something that Dan wishes I’d forget (it was, after all, a comment he made in the first, and arguably most arduous, year of our marriage) but I never will. Not because I think it was mean and awful and I want to yank it out and use it as arsenal anytime we get in an argument. But because it challenged me. It convicted me.

It changed me.

Since then, I’ve never complained about my day to Dan unless he asks, “So, what happened at work today? Anything bad?” Because, honestly, what’s the point? What good does complaining do? Sure, it’s nice to vent, but I’ve found that after doing so, I only feel worse, not better. I only feel as though I’ve taken my can of worms and not only opened it, but spilled it all over the floor of my home and tackled my husband to the ground and forced him to roll around in it with me.

Sick.

This morning, I came across an article entitled, Why You Should Embrace Discomfort, and everything inside of me fought against clicking on it. I figured that reading that article would probably reinforce the accusation my husband made all those years ago. (It didn’t help that it was originally posted by my church’s Spiritual Transformation Pastor — that is, The Pastor Who Knows Everything About God and Life and Everything and Probably Intimidates You Because of It.) And I was right.

As I sit here, breathing in strange intervals while my son uses my lungs and ribs as his own personal punching bags and thinking about how I need to stop by my house later to visit the cats and pick up a few things before heading out to our friends’ to sleep, I am becoming increasingly aware of the amount of discomfort I’m currently experiencing, both physical and emotional. And I can honestly say that, even before reading that article, I was and am doing everything in my power to embrace it.

  • Instead of complaining about our current “homeless” state, I’m embracing the help of generous friends (who are truly like more like family) that allow us to not just stay with them, but live (eat, sleep, breathe, fellowship, laugh, cry) with them until we find a new place.
  • Instead of shutting people out, insisting we rebuild and replace our things on our own, we’ve allowed people to give to us. At this moment, we have just about enough money to replace everything — everything — that was stolen from us. I am speechless. So humbled.
  • Instead of focusing on the real darkness of the situation, we’re focusing on the true light — the real God moments — that have taken shape over the past week. There have been several.
  • Instead of mourning the loss of things, we are rejoicing in the abundance of love — for and within each other and those around us.

I know it sounds cliche and strange, but when you ask me how I am today, I can absolutely say, without a doubt, something along the lines of:

Oh me? I’m great. Really great. I am blessed, and loved, and humbled. I have such a supportive and loving family, one I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I am incredibly healthy. I am taking part in one of God’s greatest miracles by growing a tiny life inside me, one that has been entrusted to my husband and me to care for as long as we live. I am free to laugh and to cry without judgement or question and I know a Man who died to save me from what I deserve on the days I’m not perfect. Even though I am experiencing some real discomfort right now, I am embracing it, because I know that not only will it pass, but it will further mold and shape me into the woman God has called me to be.

I am great. Thanks for asking.