A Year is Not a Moment

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I found out on Christmas Day I wasn’t pregnant. It felt cruel to receive that kind of blow on Christmas. A day earlier or a day later would have hurt, but not like that. Not the way it feels to have your heart broken on “the most wonderful day of the year.”

I felt the initial wave of grief for another failed month. But that grief became compounded when I realized here we were in the last week of 2015. The year had come and gone, but there was no child and no hope for one in the near future.

My year suddenly had a shadow cast over it. I felt the loss of the child that was never mine and the time that had gone by too quickly. In that moment, all I could see was what I didn’t have. And I allowed that to define my year and, to an extent, me. 

I sat in this grief for several days. We were with family, but I cried every stolen moment to myself. I felt so empty and overwhelmed with disappointment. But after a while, I felt desperate to feel better. The crying, the pity party, the agony wasn’t working for me. I knew I was only visiting this pain, but I didn’t know how to move on.

And then God spoke and the word He gave me was: stability. I reflected on my year in the lense of stability and realized what a gift God had given me. In 2015, we didn’t move or change jobs. There were no life altering events. Day after day, we settled into what life-as-usual looks like for our family. 

I needed that. I needed for things to stop moving so quickly. In less than 3 years time, I had gone from single to dating to married. From newlywed to new mom. From the place I had called home my entire adult life to a new, small town. From traditional work to stay-at-home-mom. These were huge transitions, and they made it hard for me to navigate at times.

Having another child is the deepest desire of my heart, but I think God knew better. I think He knew I needed a break from the big changes of life. I needed to find a comfortable place to plant my feet before the ground shook again. 

When I take off the despair, and the grief, and look at my year through the lense of stability, it was an amazing year. 

For the first time, I felt confident as a mom and especially as a stay-at-home-mom.

  
I developed such an incredible bond with Milo. He’s just so much fun; I feel lucky to spend my days with him. 

  
I’ve adjusted to being a pastor’s wife. I didn’t feel the same resentment when things like hospital visits and funerals popped up. 

I had an uninterrupted year of running. And it paid off…big. I came within seconds of beating several PRs and placed at every race I entered.

  
I learned to garden. And learned that I loved to garden. That was a big deal to me. I had never kept so much as a houseplant alive. But my garden thrived and I was so proud of being able to feed my family from it. 

   
 And there were so many more moments. Weddings, vacations, projects that added value to my year. I almost dismissed them all because I allowed my grief to cloud my judgment. My year was good. My life is good. 

  
Here’s to all the moments 2016 has to offer. 

Waiting

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I’ve started and restarted this post 3 times and still can’t find the right words. I know what I want to say, but it just doesn’t come out right. So I’m just going to say it. 


We have been trying to have another child for almost 10 months with no success. 

I’m worried that something is wrong and that I’ll never be able to have another child. 

I’m terrified that it will actually work and I’ll have to be pregnant.

Yes, you read that correctly. I am both scared that I can’t get pregnant and terrified that I will. 

For 10 months, I woke up afraid that it would be another day I would end up in the ER getting fluids. At night, I would lie awake in bed feeling whatever was left in my stomach creeping up my throat, ready to pour out if I so much as turned to the other side. 

Pregnancy did not agree with me and I’d be perfectly happy going on with my life never repeating it. But I have a little boy and I long for him to have a sibling. 

I have 2 sisters and they play such important roles in my life. The same goes for Nick and his 3 siblings. We both put such a high value on those relationships; I just want the same for my son. 

I want to try grocery shopping with 2 cranky kids. 

I want to referee their bickering. 

I want to feel suffocated as we all snuggle on the couch. 

I want to have children

I just don’t want to be pregnant. And I’m afraid God is listening to that fear more than anything else. 

And so I struggle between my desire for Milo to have a sibling and my yearnings to keep my body to myself. At the end of the day, Milo always wins. No reason can trump a sibling for him, so we keep trying. But every month I face the brutal truth that it’s just not working. 

And it’s hard. I wonder what’s wrong with me. I wonder why it was so easy the first time and seemingly impossible now. And every so often I sigh with relief, only because it softens the blow. 

Why was it so important to say all of this? Why invite you into this knowledge? Because I’m not alone. There are others out there struggling with the same fears, doubting if pregnancy is right for them, or unable to conceive. And while your story may be worse, countless miscarriages and years of trying, I think we can still grieve together. Because this is a vulnerable issue and it hurts at every level. 

But also because I’m selfish. I need support. Because one of these days I’ll get the news that it’s positive and the joy will soon give way to fear. And I don’t want to be scared. So maybe if we can be collectively happy when it happens, I’ll forget about the fears lurking in the shadows of my mind. 

Enjoying the Change

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I’ve gone through one complete training cycle since deciding to not run marathons for the near future. I’ll admit I was anxious, and a bit skeptical, about the change. But with a few months under my belt, I’m a believer and am actually enjoying myself. I wanted to transition away from marathons in order to get faster and be able to spend more time with my family. So far, I’m accomplishing both.

For one thing, this spring has been crazy for us. Milo had 3 double ear infections in a row, which resulted in him needing surgery to have tubes put in. In just 1 week, Nick had 4 funerals. 4 funerals in just 7 days! It was madness. I don’t know how we kept our heads above water, much less if I had needed to go out for a 20 mile run. I definitely felt like I had better home/running balance only training for a half marathon.

But I say only training for a half marathon as if it were easy. Joe kept my workouts challenging and sometimes exhausting. What I had been running in high mileage, Joe was making up for with high intensity. The result: I’ve had 3 really great races so far this year. I’ve been really proud of all 3 races (a 5k, 10k, and half marathon) and not just because I showed up, but because I was fast. Like who-I-used-to-be fast. I feel like I’ve made more progress in the first couple months of this year than I did of all last year.

  
And I still have plenty of time to be wife and mom to my family. I’m not spending as much time running, and I also don’t feel as spent from running. My recovery each day has been better than that of my previous marathons. Which means I still have plenty of energy to chase my son around the yard all day, which is important because he wants to be chased all day.

I’m also finding my mentality is changing. I used to run so aggressively every time I laced up my shoes; there was always an expectation or pace to meet. (It’s important to say that these expectations were false notions in my head, Joe has been trying to reign me in for a long time.) I’m finally slowing down and enjoying my recovery runs. I have days each week where I get to run for running’s sake and not to beat the clock. For the first time, I put together my jogging stroller and took Milo out running. We loved it! It was a moment of motherhood I finally got to see realized. And Milo loves any excuse to be outside. I would strap him into his seat and give him one of his balls (we don’t go anywhere without a ball), then I’d take off. The only peeps he’d make were to talk to the dogs barking at us. He never whined, never cried, never implied we needed to go home.

  
I feel like for the first time in years, I’m getting to have my cake and eat it too. There’s balance and recovery built into each week, but also progress. So I’m going to stay in the half marathon camp a little longer, but I’ll be ready when it’s time to step back into the marathon

Can I Get a Do-Over?

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Last week completely spiraled out of control. I can’t even believe that it was only a week; it felt more like a lifetime. By the time Saturday rolled around, I was crying out to God “I hurt.” Two simple words because I couldn’t make sense of everything else going on inside of my head.

It started when Nick’s younger brother asked if we could watch our 2-year-old nephew for a few days. They’re moving back to California and were having a hard time packing with a 2-year-old and newborn. Now let me just say, we gladly agreed to having our nephew over. First of all, it means a lot when someone trusts you with their child. Second of all, I wanted some quality time with my nephew before they moved. And lastly, I’m committed to our family and helping in time of need.

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But a 1- and 2-year-old can be quite exhausting! Especially when one of them is in an unfamiliar place with somewhat unfamiliar people. It took a lot of energy to keep them both happy…and fed.

While our nephew was still with us, we got word that my mom had flown out to Maryland to be with her mom in what we thought might be her final days. Fortunately the doctors are a little more optimistic about her outcome, but it stirred up a lot of emotions for me. The last time someone in my family died, I was in the 4th grade. It’s been almost 20 years since I went through the grief of losing a relative. To be honest, I was terrified that I didn’t know how to grieve. That when my grandma died, I wouldn’t know how to process it. That’s a lot to handle when you’ve already got your hands full with 2 boys!

Our nephew went home, but the next day Milo was diagnosed with an ear infection. That night felt like the longest of my life. I’ve grown accustomed to Milo sleeping through the night; now there was nothing I could do to get him to sleep. At the same time, Nick came down with a cold. For the next few days, Nick and Milo got worse and my patience dwindled.

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I ended up running only 3 times that week. No cross training, strength training, or making any attempts to get extra movement in my day. Everything inside me said to conserve my energy. I was running on empty and couldn’t afford to waste what little I had left.

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By the time this week rolled around, not only was I tired, but I had done a really good job of beating myself up. In an attempt to comfort Milo, I had allowed him to start nursing during the day again. It felt like a slap in the face, a huge step back. My heart rate monitor reminded me everyday that I was not moving enough and I was afraid I was sabotaging my training. And my husband was sick, but I did nothing to help him. It felt like every man for himself, survival of the fittest. But if the tables had been turned and I was the one sick, I would have never let him neglect me.

Fortunately it’s a new week. Nick is on the mend. Milo is on new medicine and is sleeping regularly again. I’m 100% for my runs so far this week. My grandma is still alive and recovering. Having a couple of days to catch my breath, get some sleep, and feel a little more human, I’ve started to reflect on last week and my shortcomings.

If the worst thing I do for my son is breastfeed him, I’m ok with that.

I trust my husband that he wouldn’t let me neglect him in time of need. I also trust that I acted upon every request he did make, so I did my best in the circumstances.

I believe I am better off for having taking a couple of days off of running than if I had tried to push through. Training on empty leaves you at higher risk for injury as well as illness. I may have missed a run or two, but if I had gotten sick it would have been worse.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. When the time comes that I lose a family member, I will experience grief in my own ways. But I don’t need to worry over that right now. Lastly, I am only human and I’m doing the best that I can.

Thank God that week is over.

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.

Raising an Independent Son

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I have been looking forward to this day for months. I thought that I would be over the moon; maybe even throw a small celebration in my honor. I thought I would feel liberated, like a new woman. And yet, I find myself in a state that seems like grief. I’m mourning a loss, the passing of a time. Suddenly I find myself wishing for “back then.” Back when Milo needed me more. Back when he wasn’t quite so independent.

We’ve started the weaning process. To be honest, I’m a person of routine. So I just kept nursing Milo every 3 hrs because that’s what we did. I didn’t give much thought to weaning because it meant a change. But then he turned 1 and I realized he was still nursing for my sake more than his own. Within the matter of a week, we went from every 3 hrs to first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

I did hold a brief celebration. I wore a turtleneck sweater dress because I could. I went on a date with my husband and didn’t need to worrying about having milk for the sitter. I felt like Mel Gibson on top of my horse yelling “FREEDOM!!!”

That’s when the grief began to set in. I realized that, in the most basic sense, I was no different to Milo than anyone else. What made me unique, what only I could provide, was null and void. He doesn’t need me for sustenance; he could just eat a banana. I can be gone for days and he’ll miss me, but he’ll be fine without me.

I wanted to go back to the way things were; back to when I was necessary. And then I realized, to give in to that temptation was to raise a dependent son. A Momma’s boy. A man who still lived at home and had his mom doing his laundry when he’s 40. That’s not what I want for Milo at all (or for myself for that matter).

These are the first steps toward independence. And it’s so hard but I’m coming to terms with the fact that as Milo’s mom it’s my job to make sure he keeps taking these steps. I have 18 years to prepare him for a lifetime on his own. I know it might sound like I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill; that he’s only 1 which still makes him a baby, a toddler at most and all we’re talking about is nursing. But it is a big deal because it’s a turning point for me as a parent.

How can I embrace this change? How can I celebrate the fact that my son is an individual and that I am a participant in his life, not the keeper of his life? How can I provide an environment that encourages him to learn and grow, while also maintaining boundaries. How can I stand out of his way so he can mature into a functioning adult?

But there is always a silver lining. The other day I got to walk hand in hand through a store with my independent little guy. And while he may not need me, I know he chooses me every time he wraps his arms around my neck. And pretty soon I’ll get to hear the words I’ve felt in my heart, “Mommy, I love you.” These are my rewards to letting go of my baby embracing his independence.

I Hope He Thinks We’re Poor

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I’ve had many conversations with my dad over a wide variety of topics, but I can’t remember a time in which we ever discussed his salary. I have no idea how much money my dad made each year, but I put together plenty of clues. Based on the evidence, I put together that my dad didn’t make very much money. We were poor.

My parents had a very humble beginning to their marriage. Their wedding was simple, the took only a weekend honeymoon, and they moved in with my dad’s oldest brother. I can imagine my dad in his young 20s rubbing two nickels together in attempt to provide for him and his young bride.

They put themselves through college and started a family while my dad was working on his master’s and PhD. Times were tough and money was tight.

These were the details my dad did talk about. But from there he was silent on the issue of money and all I had was my experience as his daughter.

We took a vacation every summer, but we always drove and we always stayed with family.

My sisters and I each were given $100
at the beginning of the school year to get the necessary supplies and new clothes. It seems like a lot, but it doesn’t go far when you’re trying to buy new Nikes for gym class and enough clothes so you don’t have to repeat an outfit during the week.

Eating out was reserved for special occasions. When we did eat out, my dad would usually make my sisters and I split a meal. He said he was not going to waste money and food if we weren’t going to eat it all.

When my older sister turned 16, my parents bought a new car for my mom and handed down her old car (a Chevy Cavalier) to us kids. We had 1 car to
share along with 1 cellphone. The cellphone stayed with the car and was for emergencies only.

We also had to get a part time job when we turned 16. I really didn’t take issue with this; I babysat full time during the summer for 3 kids when I was 13. When I turned 14, I babysat during the summer and also worked at the Dairy Queen in town. I’ve always enjoyed working. But my dad was strict about our paychecks. We had to tithe and we had to put money into savings from every check we earned.

I was horrible at sharing the car, so when it came time for my younger sister to drive my dad told me to share or buy my own car. He co-signed my loan, but provided no money for it. He told me the first time I missed a payment and he had to cover for me, he would take my car and sell it.

When my older sister got engaged, my dad gave her a lump sum of money for her wedding. We were told we’d each receive this amount for our weddings. We got to keep any of it we didn’t spend, but if we went over we had to pay from our own pockets. Now it was a generous amount, I’ve never been given anywhere close to this amount of money before. But when it comes to a wedding these days, what my dad gave us wouldn’t go far. My sister and I both opted for low key weddings rather than investing our own money into the event.

All of these experiences painted a picture of poverty in my mind. I had friends who were always flying to this place and that with their families. Friends who would only wear the latest, trendiest (expensive) clothes. They had their own cars and cellphones. I made the assumption that that was the kind of life my dad wished I could have, but our lack of money wouldn’t allow it.

Yet this picture of poverty has some flaws. My parents paid for all our college tuition. During that time, they also paid for our housing and groceries. I graduated college without a cent of debt to my name.

Nick and I had only been dating for two months when we got engaged. I figured with how quickly it happened that my dad wouldn’t have the money readily available. Without hesitation my dad wrote me a check. He didn’t have to put the wedding expenses on a credit card or ask for time to get the money to me. He had the money and could give it to me without liquidating any assets first.

 

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In my house, I have a coffee table, 2 bedside tables, a bookcase, a queen sized bed frame, a full sized dresser and chest of drawers, a crib, and a changing table. All made by my dad. All solid oak. And I’ve never paid a dime for it. All I had to do was ask.

 

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When I was pregnant and had to make several trips to the ER, my parents gave us money to help with the medical bills.

My parents wrote us a rather large check to help pay off our car loans. More recently, the wrote us another check to help buy a new, larger vehicle. All without batting an eye.

Where did this money come from? How did my parents go from being so poor, to being so loaded?

I’ve embarrassed to say I never made the connection until this past weekend. I have finally matured enough to see the kind of man my father is and to realize that he always wanted more for me than a stupid pair of designer jeans. I thought we were poor because I was living in the moment; aware only of the possessions I wanted, but could never have.

 

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But my dad has always had the future in mind. The money I thought we didn’t have was actually in the bank the entire time. My dad knew that there would be tuition to be paid, weddings to fund, and family emergencies.

 

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I’m grateful for the furniture and the money; I can’t pretend as if those things aren’t valuable to me. But more importantly, I’m grateful that my dad taught me the value of working hard and living beneath your means. These are lessons I want Milo to learn. I want Milo to think we’re poor. I want him to assume that his mom makes the laundry detergent and toothpaste because we can’t afford the store bought stuff. I want him to assume that we almost never eat out and buy second hand couches because we have no money. And then someday I want to lavishly give him the gifts he needs because all the time we were living poor we were actually storing up.

 

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