Tuesday, July 10, 2018

trying something different

The past four weeks I have began trying something different. I don't know if it was a conscious choice or a gradual change, but now that I look back I can clearly see how it has both improved my life and given it a purpose.

The first thing I did was stop focusing on the following things:
  • my phone
  • facebook
  • tasks that need done
  • to-do lists
  • past hurts
  • future milestones
  • my own feelings
  • expecting a break when my husband comes home 

I struggle with creating boundaries with social media. The difficulty arises when I am stressed; I end up spending a lot of time on my phone or on Facebook when I need to zone out or calm down. I have known about this issue for awhile, and tried several different things. I desperately want to nix my phone addiction and replace it with a positive: read my bible, listen to a sermon, read books to the toddler, turn on some music or actually confront the stress-issue head on. I don't like the easy cop out of resorting to starting at my phone.

My husband has also mentioned I am on my phone a lot in the evenings (the highest time for tension in our home) and that it makes me feel unapproachable to him.

From now on I hope I keep firm boundaries in place with both my phone and Facebook. Do I still use it? Yeah, but only once a day instead of multiple times throughout the day. Will I need reminders? Yes, of course. Am I 100% healed and no longer feel the longing to pick up my phone and zone out? No, but it's been gloriously restful to have some space from social media. It's helped the dynamic of my family and my focus. I created boundaries by plugging my phone in across the room from where I nurse, turning off notifications, and generally trying to forget it exists. So far, so good.

When I finally created some space from my phone, I realized that tasks and to-do lists are a main point of stress in my life. These things (or thinking of them and how much I had/hadn't completed) are a driving force behind the mood of my day. Did I get a lot accomplished? I must be a good mom. Is the house a mess and the baby crying? I am a failure. Under the urge "to do" I would crab at my toddler, crab at my husband and be a ball of anxiety and stress.

So I decided to stop thinking of days in terms of how much I got done or didn't get done. I decided to spend all that time I had spent looking at my phone or feeling depressed about how much I wasn't doing/how little energy I had doing what I could when I could. This may seem laughingly simple; but it has revolutionized my life. As time progressed I began to see that organizing my house, doing the dishes, cleaning and making dinner are not weights to be carried or burdens that are crushing me. They are the ways I worship God. They are the ways I glorify him. These things don't oppress me: instead they show love, honor and respect to not only God, but also to my husband. I think back on the last five years and how much housework felt "unjust" to me, and I laugh. I mean, I don't always enjoy it, but now I see how it all fits into God's plan and purpose and I have peace.

I've struggled with my husband working late since we had Reuben. I mean, every time he works late it forces me to work late. I've tried expecting him to come home late, but this mindset didn't help. I am usually frustrated, overwhelmed and touched out when he arrives.

I realized once again that it's my expectations that cause me to feel this way. I expect to get a break when he gets home. However, this rarely happens. This is why I get moody and irritable and go sit and nurse and stare at my phone. Everyone needs a break; but with two kids I definitely have to plan and openly communicate my need for some space. Instead, I expect my husband to come home and start helping. And he usually comes home stressed and ready for a break himself! He wants to eat dinner, relax and use the bathroom in peace and not be greeted by stressed to the max grumpy wife. I don't know why it's taken me almost three years to realize this, but such is life.

Thus instead of expecting a break for myself when he gets home, I expect to give him a break. And that was the change I needed to make! Sometimes I get a break, but often I don't. Resetting my mindset to his needs and making an effort to communicate my needs has revolutionized the family evening time together. I've since come the realization that I don't "deserve" a break. I am doing my job. I deserve nothing. Now when I do get a break I am able to enjoy it fully with  peace and grace and thankfulness in my heart. Before I thought of it as a "right" for my hard work.

The second thing I did was choose a ministry.

A lot of my issues and moods come from focusing too much on myself. I realized I need to focus on others. I realized I needed a ministry, a way to give back. I used to volunteer a ton before I had kids. Unfortunately, I have limited time and energy. But I knew right away what I wanted to do. I want to bring meals to tired moms. I love cooking--and I already cook for myself, so it wouldn't take too much extra time from my day! Yet it is SO needed.

I have made it a priority to bring at least one family a meal a week. It's been four weeks, and often I have made more than one meal each week. I have a meal already scheduled to make tomorrow for a lady who just had a new baby. I'm not doing it to feel good--but honestly because I know it's needed. Those meals I received after I gave birth to Reuben and Rebekah were so necessary to my healing and rest. And looking outside of myself and filling a need in my community has helped me emotionally and spiritually.

These things are the things I have changed and they have made me a better mother and wife, and a better steward of my time. I'll write another post of what I have added to my day that further facilitates peace and calm in our family home. As much as the above toxicity needed to go--more needed to come in. I'm learning and growing and have never been more excited about the future of myself and my family.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

sometimes I think women have it rough

Lately, God has been teaching me a lot about patience and submission. Patience with His will for my life, and Submission to that will.

Life after Becky's birth has been very difficult. I have been dealing with feelings of anger and helplessness. Postpartum is hard. Most of managing a baby falls on the woman, and I am a woman who has two kids under three.

Some of it is my choice: I breastfeed, so I am my nurslings only food source right now. And it's wonderful that I can breastfeed. So many want to and can't. I see the grace in it; how I save so much money (formula is expensive) and I love the fact that I am able to soothe Rebekah with just a lift of my shirt. Yet it also does not allow me space from my child. Sometimes all I feel like is a milk machine. Sometimes all I do is hold a baby. Sometimes this makes me very weary and vexed with life. I am more than a mother; but I am a mother. These two things must exist together, but often I feel at war with myself.

Recently I have been struck at how much my body has changed after giving birth to my two wonderful blessings. There are rolls. There is sagging. There are times I look in the mirror and don't recognize myself. I mourn my prebaby body still, and probably always will. I think this is unique to women--my husband, although a loving and Godly man who I greatly esteem--cannot quite understand. His body is unchanging, his sex drive unaffected by small humans, engorged breasts and sleepless nights. He goes to the bathroom by himself, showers by himself, mostly unaware of my lonely days of parenting while he is at work.

That reminds me of a funny story. I was in the shower, and my husband decided to get in the shower too. I had asked him to watch the kids, but two minutes into my shower he decided he also needed to be clean, and I heard him start doing just that in the other shower downstairs. And of course that was when Becky started crying, and I could hear her. I thought he would get her, (because I specifically asked him to watch the kids) but he continued showering. So I got out.

That was when the fight started. I just wanted to shower alone, I said. Can't you just watch the kids for 10 minutes so I can enjoy some hot water? He looked baffled. You always take a quick shower, he said. He assumed I'd be right out. Yes, I explained. I usually take a quick shower. But this time I specifically asked you to watch them so I could enjoy a shower by myself for quite a while longer than I usually do. You could have taken Becky with you, I said. You could take her in the bathroom and put her in her chair. I do it all the time.

He looked so confused. Take her with me? I remember him saying that was impossible, how could he shower and watch a baby. That was too many things at once.

And that was when I realized he had no idea that I have to take one of the kids with me when I use the bathroom. Every time. Whenever I am alone. It dawned on me, as I stood there dripping wet in my towel and trying not to cry in frustration, that when he is home we are together. I've never left him with both kids. He has never parented them alone yet. He has no idea.

I told him I always have to take one kid with me when I shower or when I use the bathroom. Every time when he isn't there. His eyes got wide, he'd never thought of it before.

How else would I shower? I asked. I mean, the two year old will sit on his sister. That can't happen, so one of them must come with me.

Our conversation eventually ended, but I'm still thinking about it. And laughing.

I was upset that day, but now I chuckle. Communication really is key in marriage! I need to communicate my needs more for sure.

It's been almost six months since Becky was born, and I have left him with both kids for a few times when I've run out now--but never long. The breastfeeding--you know, you need breasts for that. And it happens frequently. More frequently than I would like sometimes. Hah.

Anyway, women that choose to have children--its a burden I think we alone carry, like the weight of the baby in our bellies--for awhile, postpartum. So many intricate things I do at home for my husband that he never even hears about! I am glad God made women strong to carry this burden.

I was struck by that today.

I am trying to look at my body with pride now, not with disdain. A body that carried two babies and lost four. A body that allows me to do the things I love and be the person I want to be. A gift from God, not a tragedy. It's hard. I feel ruined sometimes. I look at my husband (who recently lost 50 pounds) and how pregnancy and childbirth has unaffected him physically and I am envious. Then I look at myself, and all I can see is the effects of my pregnancy on me and how it has changed me. I carry these marks and these afflictions upon my body and I, only I, know that weight of that. It's strange sometimes.

But God is good. And he will give me what I need to carry me through these two pregnancies, and any others He sees fit to bless me with.

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