It Doesn’t Get Easier

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I was around 8 months pregnant when I first started saying, “it will get easier when…” It will get easier when I’m not throwing up all of the time or when I can find a comfortable position to sleep in. I was so over being pregnant and thought things would just be easier when that phase was over.

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Then it was over and I wasn’t throwing up all of the time, but I also wasn’t sleeping. And I was sore from delivery and sore from nursing. It would get easier when…

Milo figured out nursing and started sleeping through the night, which definitely brought relief. But as he got bigger, my arms and back would get so tired from carrying him around all day. It was exhausting lifting him up and down repeatedly, and carrying him around on my hip while I did housework. It would get easier when he could move around a bit on his own.

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Then he started sitting up, rolling over, and eventually crawling. My weary arms would have a break. Except then he also started pulling himself up. I had to move everything from my coffee table, be more careful where I left my drink, and start baby-proofing the house. Gone were the days of being able to put Milo in one place and expect him to stay there. While he was moving around, he still wasn’t very quick. It would get easier when he could walk.

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He did start walking and I almost feel more tired now than I have in a long time. I’m constantly chasing him down. Not only does he walk, he runs to where he wants to go. He’s opening cabinets and pulling open drawers. He doesn’t want to be carried, he wants his independence.

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My latest “it will get easier when…” thought revolves around talking. So often I find myself in situations where I don’t understand what he wants, like what he wants to eat or what he wants to do. I think how much easier it will be when he can just tell me. Except with talking comes talking back and I’m not really ready for that.

When I look back over the last year and a half, I realize that things never got easier. Every time I thought they would, a new series of challenges would be waiting for me. Things don’t actually get easier; they just get different. Every stage with Milo has had its blessings as well as its challenges.

Not only am I tired of expecting the next phase to be better or easier; I’m tired of wishing Milo’s life away. I don’t want him to grow up any faster than he has to. I want to cherish these moments. So while it’s a struggle and I don’t understand why he loves bananas one day and won’t eat them the next, I’m resisting the temptation to add another day, week, or month to his life. We’ll get there eventually, but at this moment I’ll live in the better days. The days I have now.

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4 Things I’ve Learned from Being Married 2 Years

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Monday will mark 2 years since I married Nick. Things haven’t been perfect, but they have been great. I still can’t believe this is real life. And while I’m not an expert on marriage by any means, I have learned a few things over these last 2 years.

Sometime I need to go to bed angry.
Read any list of tips for a happy, healthy marriage and they almost always say don’t go to bed angry. But the truth is, that doesn’t always work for me. I’m not a night person at all. So if Nick and I find ourselves in an argument at the end of the day, I just can’t resolve it right then. At that point, I’m tired, overwhelmed, and irrational. When Nick tries to engage a conversation, I find myself even more angry, defensive, and just plain hurtful. But given the opportunity to sleep on it, I’m much more able to put into words what I’m feeling, I can hear Nick better, and can actually come to a resolution. Of course Nick would prefer we didn’t go to bed angry and it’s not that I enjoy it either, but in the long run it usually works out for the best.

God doesn’t have a plan for me.
He has a plan for us. After moving to Bartonville, I felt like a tag along. Nick’s doing amazing work in the church and has developed a lot of relationships. It was very obvious that God had called him here, but it felt like God had forgotten a calling for me. I was lonely and felt like I had no purpose. But God has called us together as a couple, which means our purpose is intertwined as well. Not that God has the same plan for both of us, but we are both part of one larger plan. I believe that God has placed us here because it the best place for both of us; I just haven’t discovered my part of plan yet.

The work isn’t split 50-50.
There are days I feel like I do everything here. I do the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, etc. I mow the yard, rake the leaves, and shovel the snow. At times, I convince myself Nick has it made. He doesn’t have to do anything. Except, you know, his 40+ hour job each week. Without the work he does, we wouldn’t have the money for the things I do. His job at the church is just as much a part of the housework as what I do. Besides, I get to spend all day in sweatpants and I love mowing the yard. Some would say that I have it made, and they’d be right.

Some things just take time.
My experience with Nick has been like we’re living in fast forward. We were dating for 2 months and then got engaged, 4 months later we were married, and 2 months later I was pregnant. In such a short time, I already can’t remember what life was like before Nick. But we’ve only been married for 2 years, and that’s really not long. Our marriage is still in the infancy stage and will take time to mature. There’s no shortcut or 10 best practices, just plain ole time will bring us closer and make things better.

So this is what I’ve learned and am learning about marriage. Like I said, I’m definitely not an expert. These aren’t tried and true tips for everyone, but just a reflection on my 2 years of marriage. I hope it encourages others to reflect on their marriages and the things that make them strong.

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A Step Back to Move Forward

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The marathon has always been my race. From the moment I decided to start competing, I was focused on it. I wanted to not only finish, but immediately had the goal of qualifying for Boston.

The marathon has been good to me. I did qualify for Boston the first time I ran a marathon. I continued getting faster, winning for my age group, and requalifying for Boston. I love being a marathoner and it loves me.

But after this year, I found myself questioning the marathon and whether it really was the distance I should be running right now.

The time to train. It’s not that I don’t have the time; it’s whether it’s worth it. Marathon training requires 3-4 months of work, with long runs that last hours. At the peak of my training, I would lose half a day to the long run and then recovery. That never phased me before, but I didn’t have a husband and child to consider. We make it work and it’s totally worth it when you have a good race, but it’s a huge gamble. I spent hours training last spring, only to get sick the week of the marathon. My fall training went off without a hitch, and we had 20 mph winds the day of the race. I’m struggling to justify all that time training when it can fall apart at the last minute.

I have nothing to prove. I can run a marathon. I have run 12 of them. I ran Chicago in 2007, which was the year we had record heat and they had to close the race down early for some runners. I was able to finish and, even with the extreme temperature, I qualified for Boston. I got a stomach bug the night before I ran Boston in 2009 and still ran the race the next morning. Even with stopping to vomit, I finished in qualifying time. I ran the Quad Cities and finished first for my age group and in the Top Ten women two years in a row. At this point, if I’m going to run a marathon, it won’t be for the accomplishment. I want to run for time, to be the fastest I can.

Can I get faster at the marathon by running marathons? Some people can. With more experience they just get faster, but my body isn’t responding that way. I got really fast for a time, I was average for even longer, and then I slowed way down. It doesn’t seem like I can just keep doing what I’ve been doing and expect to actually get better.

I took these concerns to my coach, Joe. Of course he wasn’t surprised: he’s had the same concerns for a long time. When I first started working with Joe, I had run four marathons but not a single 5k. The first thing he said was that I needed to incorporate shorter distances into my racing, and I was compliant.

But after several years of working with him, Joe started suggesting I take a break from marathons. He said I should give my body and mind a break and a chance to heal from all of the miles. I wouldn’t have it. I’m a marathoner. If I’m not running marathons, who am I? I’ve wrestled with that for a while now, but I think I’m finding peace with it.

I’m not a marathoner, I’m a runner. I don’t need a distance to define me. By allowing myself to be a runner, I don’t lose my identity just because I’m not running marathons. I am who I am at 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons just as much as I am at marathons.

I’m allowing myself to explore my potential. It’s still something I struggle with, but what if I’m actually better at a 10k than I am the marathon? What if all this time I’ve been so fixated on a distance that I’m good at, while there is another one I excel at? While it’s my marathon times I’m the most proud of, I also have impressive PRs for the 5k and half marathon. I need to give myself a chance to try new things and see what’s really the best fit for me.

So I’m not running any marathons in 2015. It will be at least 3 years before I race another marathon, although that’s not to say I won’t run one in that time. My goal is to develop speed and sharpen my mental endurance. I’m going to train harder and shorter. My goal is also to find peace with being a runner. My ultimate goal is to return to the marathon stronger than I’ve ever been. But if I can’t, my goal is to be okay with that too.

So right now I’m training for a half marathon in May. I’ve run numerous half marathons, but always in preparation for a marathon. This is my first time training specifically to race this event. That’s exciting and scary at the same time since I hate change. But it’s all still running and I’m grateful that doesn’t change.

Silence is Golden

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I broke the Golden Rule of blogging: blog. I started out December incredibly strong with I Hope He Thinks We’re Poor. Apparently that post struck a familiar chord with a lot of people because, within days of that blog post, it had 500 views. That’s a lot more traffic than I’m used to. Most people probably would have advised that I ride that train, keeping churning out blogs, in hopes of capturing many of those readers. But I just couldn’t.

It wasn’t that I choked. I didn’t get too busy to write. And it certainly wasn’t that I was void of material. I just didn’t have anything to say that was more valuable than not saying anything at all.

My silence was the sound of me basking in the Christmas Season. For the first time in years, I felt like I was really aware of the Christmas. I felt it’s joy, it’s peace. My fear was if I tried to put it all into words, I would forever lose the moment. So I remained silent and soaked in the holidays.

There was nothing special about it and yet everything was special. We had a simple Christmas dinner of venison, bread, and cheese. But it was amazing because we spent it at home, just our small family of 3.

Milo is too small to understand Christmas, so there was no delight in watching him open his presents. But he was still lavished upon by family and church members, so it served as a reminder of how loved we are.

And we’re not in a position to buy expensive gifts. In fact, we’re not in a position to buy much in the way of gifts at all. As our siblings continue to marry and have children, we now have 22 immediate family members. So this year I crocheted 14 scarves and am finishing an afghan blanket. It wasn’t much and I’m sure half of them will go unworn. But I tried to make up for what we couldn’t spend in money, with what I could give of my time and love.

I didn’t watch a single Christmas movie and I don’t think I even listened to a complete Christmas album. But every morning I did enjoy a cup of coffee in the simple light of my tree.

Even now, as I write this, I find it absurd just how wonderful my Christmas was. Which is exactly why I didn’t write about it sooner. Upon observation the whole thing would have been lost.

I hope that you can forgive my absence and that I didn’t lose too many of you. And forgive me for not caring if you are gone; you just weren’t quite worth my Christmas. But I’m back now, and I’m looking forward to seeing how 2015 unfolds–one step at a time.