(from personal observation)
This is a long-winded one, but if you stick with me and see it through, I hope it will be a thought-provoking journey, at least.
Our world seems to enjoy boxing people into roles, stereotypes, labels, etc. American culture, specifically what I’ve seen in rural American culture, sticks to these kinds of guidelines a bit too stringently for my liking. The church really, really loves doing this kind of thing–and I’m SICK of that, I might add. Sometimes, these snap judgements seem like they could be really useful tools–they keep things simple for your brain, so you’re able to just quickly write something off. Less pain for your brain, easily sorting everything into tidy little spots in society, but not necessarily the truth. They make everything seem very black and white, strictly speaking, and “just the facts, ma’am.” But if you look at yourself, if you look deeply, and if you also look at your life, maybe things shouldn’t be quite so stuck. That maybe, that’s not how the world really turns.
And by stuck, I mean that these guidelines are not be doing us any favors from where I stand. Cookie cutter molds from which to build our peripheral ideas and hopes about other people, other women and men, are not helping but in fact are hurting us at our very core. From looking around me, from looking at the relationships I have and the friendships I’ve built, I think that the gender roles rules need to be kicked to the curb: once and for all. Hello, I am that woman who will not force pink and purple flowered skirts on my daughter if that isn’t her liking, and Oh, hi there–I’m the feminist chick who will truly squeal with delight when my son creates his first dinnertime meal and serves it with pride. And I will never, never ever, give him “boy toys” like hammers and building sets, without giving him a kitchen to play with or something more neutral such as blocks and stuffed animals. And if he wants to carry a baby around and take care of it, my mothering soul will be proud that I have set such a wonderful, nurturing example for him.
Anyhow. The big kicker here is this: How you raise your sweet baby girl or sweet baby boy, is the expectation they will have of the world–FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE. The actions, the roles, the responsibilities that your little sponge is soaking up will resonate within them as the truth. The toys that they are given, shows that they watch, the music they hear, the way you self-love or self-hate.. they will have a perfect blue-print of what they think they’re supposed to emulate. Translation: If you’re a momma, and you do all the laundry, cooking, and cleaning, or if you’re a poppa, and you do all long hours of working, all the physically demanding labor, and have never lifted a finger to team up with your wife in a messful of kitchen, then your child will likely follow suit and demand the world to do so as well. When other people, specifically in this case probably your child’s future spouse, do not fit so tidily within these walls of examples, all hell breaks loose. It does not have to be like that.
These people (and I am one of them) who are not stuck in any one mold very tightly (I tend to have a personality that exhibits many male-typical traits & am a born leader in my own opinion, and I am a lot less domestic in many ways than some women are raised to be) a problem will certainly arise. There will be a clash, a contradiction between two worlds, and it will take a very long, long time for both people to reconcile. My husband and I were raised very differently. He was raised in a home where gender roles were very, very strictly followed. My home was a lot more egalitarian, though I do still believe I missed out on many important life skills I would like to learn now (read: changing a tire, or being able to sew), and I am not blaming my parents for these things. They did a great job. My hubby’s parents did a good job too–we just came from entirely different worlds, with entirely different priorities. Needless to say, there were many hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and painful fights in our first year of marriage because of gender roles gone awry. I hope that through our parenting and our observation of God’s design, we can nip that in the bud for our son.
I understand where tradition lies on the spectrum of very important pieces of personal history–traditions are what often make life special, give it meaning, make us feel connected to our past. At least, traditions in my understanding, through my life lens. However, I do not adhere to tradition for its own sake–I will forsake the “same old way” for a “new and more effective, efficient way,” in a heartbeat if I have made the analysis that a change will be positive and helpful. I do a lot of reading and investigating to glean out what the best way may be. The same is true for gender roles–I have looked, inspected, introspected, outwardly glanced, picked up the scriptures, discussed with many people… I just cannot grasp how some people will raise their children without a thought about how gender roles impact them. The world bombards men and women every day, mostly through advertising, and tells them what they will do, what they will say, and how to behave. Women are driven to see themselves as a sex object, when it boils down. Men are pushed to be fearless and impermeable, insusceptible to emotions and hurt. These things rob us of the people God designed us to be, and leave us yearning for more with a deeply buried insecurity that we carry like a huge weight slung over our shoulder. Perhaps not nearly realizing how much it impacts us–so many people carry this with them wherever they go, but it needn’t be so. You can awaken. You can understand that you are not your sex, you are not your gender. You are a child of God with uniquely given gifts and abilities–you do not have to buy, sell, trade, train, or squish yourself into a mold based on the image you see all around you of what the “Woman” or “Man” must do. These roles are irrelevant in many cases. Though they are mostly stereotypes and expectations of society, I will also say that women are often born mothers, wheras men seem to be learned fathers, or nurturers. Many men think that it’s “only a woman’s thing,” or that he isn’t expected to learn to nurture. Not the case, in my eyes. I think many men were never shown by their father-figure exactly what it means to be a nurturing man. Therefore, they always thought that would come from their mother. My husband is one of the most nurturing people I know, but he had to get past his early suppositions in order to embrace that. I had to realize that I am a self-starter when it comes to negotiating with people in a business-environment, and also trying to haggle with some of our utilities providers on the phone, and I am a leader in this way. If I had kept expecting my husband (who knows why? I guess I perceived it as a guy’s thing to do? ) to do these things, we’d both be going crazy, forced into roles which we did not fit.
So what does this all mean for our children? I would like to suggest a wild and crazy notion of forsaking traditional ways, forsaking what your television is telling you, forsaking the industries who are trying to sell you things (ahem… all of those toys and all of the crap you don’t need, which vividly supports gender roles: Dora, Bob the builder (ugh!), Barbie, and action figures like Spiderman…) are not trying to help your child or love them. They are trying to make $$. That is their bottom line–yeah, yeah, yeah, we can all argue about how our kids need action heros and adventure, okay I get that ( I like spiderman) but really… they want to make a quick buck. The more your child wants to be like superman or barbie, the more your child watches and consumes their products, the more money they make. And the less satisfied your child is going to be with who they are–as a woman or a man. I would like to suggest a crazy turnaround of allowing the “world” to suggest for us what our children should be like, and instead do a more inquiry-based playtime with our kids, where they are encouraged to explore all kinds of textures, shapes, experiences… without putting gender as their top priority. The world is made up of so many more things, and creativity blossoms without so many boundaries. Give your child the options. Also, inquiry-based with a dose of real world would also be a step towards better things: allowing your child to cook beside you. Lifting up the hood of your car and showing your kid all of the parts of the engine, etc. Boy & girl. NOT just boys. NOT just girls. We shouldn’t be stealing tools and resources that our children need to have in real life, so that they can come to expect another person to meet those needs for them. That is a huge, HEAVY load. ALL of our kids should be capable in as many areas of living as possible. Not just what our social circles say is acceptable for their gender.
Here is a bit of what I hope to do to help my child thrive in his God-given talents and personality, as a sweet little boy:
1) We have been very, very adamant about NO television for August. I don’t think it’s evil, I think advertising is evil–and there is a huge difference. Point blank. We watch PBS in our home (newly) and listen to NPR. We also listen to a wide array of music. He does not need television to stimulate his brain even more, and all the research shows that he does not need it or learn from it until after age 2. He does not need advertising to tell him what he doesn’t have and needs to have to be happy. He does not need to see the guy with massive muscles that he “should” look like. He will not suffer in the least without these things.
2) I always want him to have a choice in things, if he is able to make those choices. I don’t want him to feel like we are forcing things on him, especially gender-stereotyped things. Activities will not be optional once he gets to a certain age, because we want him to socialize and discover the things that he excels in, but he will choose if its basket weaving or soccer. I will support him in either.
3) As much as we are able, hubby & try to share the load across genders. He does the laundry when he is able and often on weekends, we both clean the house (I do more of this right now, because I am home almost full time with August) but Troy is really much more thorough with cleaning than I could ever hope to be! We must fully own that we are August’s biggest example, and so we have to get out of our comfort zones. I will mow the lawn, and I will learn how to check the oil in our van. I will do things that I am physically able to do. And Troy will carry him around on his back in a springy green Ergo even though it doesn’t make him feel “manly.” He will cook dinner for our family and be proud of it, because a guy can rock at cooking, too. And.. Because we share the load as parents, not as unequal partners.
4) I will encourage my child to see role models in both genders. I’ve had an old-man crush on John Miur for a very long time, probably my early years of highschool, and I respected him for the peaceful protester he is. I hope he will be fascinated with Madame Curie or Condi when he is in his formative years.
5) I will hunt for biblical truth, and not accept mainstream ideas that many churches seem to be having about roles within the church. They are not biblical, and they are not fair to women in who they are in Christ. I feel so strongly about this that I do not attend my old church anymore. I liked many things about it, but their ideas about gender was not one of them.
I feel that the roles we are expected to fill, the shoes we are expected to walk in, can be touchy touchy topics. It hits people deep down, and they get offended. I realize that. But I also realize that it can be lifechanging to realize that these are not very valid reasons to live the way we do. If you realized that your wife was better at something than you, but you always forced yourself to do it anyhow, it sounds like the recipe for disaster to me. The same goes for any woman who would choose, every night, to make dinner (even if she’s really bad at it) even though her husband really loves it deep down, and can produce top-notch dinners. And at the end of the day, I think we should all be sufficient. Sad as I am to think about it, someday I may not have my husband. I don’t want to be totally inapable of filling all of the roles he used to fill around our home. I want us each to be confident and have the life skills we need–gender roles trap us into thinking we need someone else to provide many things for us.
One last thought on this topic, speaking spiritually. I can give you a million ways that Jesus countered his very male-dominant culture. I think a lot of people are very set in their ways on this polarizing issue, but during my last year at Greenville College, I had to do a very in-depth investigation about this topic and what Jesus really exhibited through his actions. Through my studies with my fellow students, I uncovered what I believe very adamantly to be truth. It was the first time I really, really took a hard long look at what Jesus thought of women and their role: The bleeding woman that he healed is probably the most beautiful example that I can give ((Mark 5:21-43, Matthew 9:18-26, Luke 8:40-56) of a savior who allows a woman who is thought of as “unclean,” completely cut off as a pariah by her fellow people because of her bleeding disorder… to touch him… she was accepted by Him. Then another example when He speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well, that crosses all lines within his Jewish culture. Women were very much the “lesser” citizen in Jesus’ day, but he made every effort to tear that down. My final thought on this would be Jesus’ words: they were often very feminine and used motherly symbolism. Men of that day just didn’t speak in such a tone. He spoke of being a mother hen who gathers her chicks about her, in Luke 13:34. I love that symbolism. Even a dude in present day would rarely speak like that, so tenderly. Anyhow, if you have any more questions about any of this, please ask. Here’s a link that may help explain these beliefs further: http://www.jesuscentral.com/ji/life-of-jesus-modern/jesus-feminist.php.
All my love,
This has been a really rough few weeks. Oh Lordy! I cannot begin to describe it. But as is usual, I would prefer to express myself in a different way anyhow. Even when the days are drag-down beat-up days, there is still so much I am thankful for.
Let me tell you, let me count the ways; My Boy is so unique and so particularly mine:
My boy is giggly, wiggly, snuggly and bright.
He has joy in his eyes, a spark of wonder–and light.
He can make me smile, even on the darkest day.
I couldn’t have imagined him, couldn’t have drawn him in a more perfect way.
He was designed, formed, planned.
He was created and molded. Gently, carefully by hand.
The days that get rough, days I can’t sleep…
The days I feel weak, like I’ll break down and weep…
On days when the house is a mess, the dog ran away…
Dinner was ruined and I’ve got nothing to say…
I remember the care that first brought him to life, I remember the joy as he first cried and cooed.
I recall how I gazed on his features and form.
His soft skin, his sweet face. How he smelled, looked–I was wooed!
I quickly realized my blessings and cards had been dealt– my new title of “Mom,” made me totally melt.
I would fall in love–such a love-laced heart attack!
Once you enter the world of a mother, you never once look back.
My Boy, you have changed me–because you are mine.
I am never going to be the same as I was, and that’s really just fine.
All my love,
I stumbled on the word “Lactivism” a few months ago, and I loved it instantly.
I am and always will be an activist at heart: the champion of my causes to the grave. I care about mothers and babies and breastfeeding, I care about unborn babies. I care about animals, everyone’s right to eat nutritious and wholesome food, and I also care about education and healthcare, as well as natural remedies and our bodies’ awesome abilities to heal themselves. I strongly believe in protecting God’s green Earth and it’s wonderful bounty! If we were being super thorough, I’d have to keep listing more and more topics because my interests and passions are extensive. But these are the main ones.
There are ways to be an activist, and there are many styles of it. Not all of them work extraordinarily well; not all of them are suited to every person–or will appeal in the least to them.
Since I care deeply about mamas and their young, I care deeply about how they are treated and the rights that they have. I want to be someone they can turn to, a voice in the silence when they think nobody else is thinking about what their mind’s eye is on. I want to be an arm outstretched and a comforting person. BUT I have to know when someone is interested in having me fit that role for them. This goes for breastfeeding. Come on, we all KNOW “Breast Is Best.” Every new mother knows that its what she should do–it’s constantly discussed and held up high, and we all realize that it provides a vast amount of benefits. Unless they are under a rock, they know that breastfeeding is strongly encouraged. But some mamas have a very hard time with it, and some ladies have experiences that make it excruciatingly difficult to breastfeed. As a lactivist, I must know this, own it, and see it for the truth that it is. Not every woman is going to be able to do it.
HOWEVER: I see this, and I have heard other women’s stories, grieved with them that they were unable to do what they had hoped for their little ones. Kind of like what happened to me with my would-be natural waterbirth. I know that their babies are still going to be vibrant and healthy thanks to God’s grace and provision. But I will always practice gentle lactivism. I try not to be in anyone’s face about it. I try to use my actions more than my words in order to practice what I believe in, but not step on other mothers’ sensitive and already possibly wounded spirits. I compare it to my belief in Christ, and my walk with Him. Untold numbers of people have been hurt by the church (myself included) and do not want to hear me preaching to them. They don’t want to hear about Christ or what I have been through and how He’s led and loved me. But they will see it as I live my life, and that speaks volumes more than I ever can with my voice.
So what do I do to practice my gentle brand of lactivism? I make sure everyone knows that I breastfeed. I am not shy about it, and I am vocal when August needs a meal! I will say, “I’m going to give August a nursing!” to my husband within anyone’s earshot. I blog about it (like I’m doing now) and talk about it openly and let people know how well it’s going for me! I have had friends without kids ask me about it, ask if it hurts, etc. I am super honest and open with them, and no questions are off-limits when they are curious and want to know. Too few mothers and matriarchs are leading the young women they are surrounded by, and I won’t do that. I want to show other women what is working for me, so that they have something to go off of when they need to know what will work for them. What I do know about my experience is that I did a TON of reading and researching before I actually had to breastfeed my guy when he was born. I knew the possibilities of what could go wrong, and what I could do to try to counteract them. I read really positive stories about women and their great nursing experiences. I tried to beef myself up on facts and good experiences, because it seems our culture only talks loudly about the bad ones (in every area of life, not just bf-ing)and that can be SO hard for a new mom! I felt the sting of so many women who had wanted to tell me their sob stories and angry stories starting out, and that is NOT appropriate to do to a new or pregnant mom. Seriously, quit it folks–know when to share and when to keep it to yourself. I turned my ears off in many instances and asked the Lord to protect me from their negative effects.
Another way I try to be available to new and expectant ladies is this: I will nurse in public to a certain degree, and have even recently nursed with a man nearby (successfully & discreetly!) and without exposing myself. I was pretty proud–if my baby needs to eat, he’s not going to have to wait until a convenient time! I get grouchy if I can’t have a snack when I need one. Haha. But that’s half the solution. Our culture has so wounded women by sexualizing them on nearly every level, and boobs are included. The breast is a FASCINATING, AMAZING functional part of every woman’s anatomy, and the capable and useful feeling of feeding your child with your own body is even more amazing. Our country in particular has robbed women of this, and we need to take back what’s rightfully ours. We need to be free of the notion that we are hussies, sluts, or whatever other horrible term people will throw at you when you’re breastfeeding in a way that someone else might have an inkling of what you’re up to. The gentle, sweet, and so-perfect act of nursing your little one is so far from the sexualized mindset–I believe so many are not able to understand the place it even comes from. They only see a woman for that side of things, and so they will have a hard time with it.
So, gentle lactivism in my book is one part actions speaking louder than words, one part not being afraid to tell people about my experiences when they are curious, and one part counter-cultural confidence about my feeding my son, and how very right it is.
I thought I would share my view on this, because I think so many women can relate or understand or learn from it. I’m sure we’ve all been given “the talk” on numerous subjects dealing with childrearing and pregnancy–from some wise lady who wants to tell you what’s up. I had numerous women try to do that with me during my pregnancy and I just wasn’t up for it. They were people who I didn’t know very well, and they were quite invasive. So I wanted to share how I go about being passionate with this topic, but not insensitive to others.
All my love,
I love to post photo memories. They capture the emotions, moments, and thoughts so much better than my words–and better yet, they grab hold of a second in my baby’s life and keep it for me for all time. Lately we’ve been doing so much growing, but not so much physically as mentally, emotionally, those little nuances. Things he’s picking up on that we’re always surprised with. August’s got himself crawling, albeit somewhat awkwardly but still pretty effectively. Today he also sat up for the first time spontaneously and without help! What a miracle development is. Truly–one second I’m like, “This will take forever for him to learn! I can’t imagine it happening..” the next my jaw is on the floor & he’s mastered a new skill already. It’s just incredible. From me to you, some of the many faces my little one’s picked up on the way–and I have to say, I’m super proud of my little handsome sweetheart. Within these photos are his surprise, curiosity, concentration, sweetness, playfulness and the list goes on. And really…How kissable are those cheeks!!?
All my love,
So lets see, I wrote Pt. 1 to this story back in July. It has been a minute, has it not? I think I can look back and maybe see with clearer vision now. Now that I have a nearly seven-month-old baby boy, I can hardly believe any of this happened to us all. Yet I still feel and see a lot of it very vividly. I hope those memories wil never leave me, and will not evade me as my mind grows older and fills with other things.
When I left off writing last time, my already long birth journey had taken its course with five hours of Pitocin. I held out. I was a strong mama. I will not deny myself that–even if I didn’t make it to my goal. Then, after my strength went out, I finally gave in. The aching, the throbbing, the feeling of a huge massive grip seizing my body over and over again, relentlesslly–it was far too much. The pain in my sides, the splitting feeling I had in my ribs and my womb, it was not natural, as far as I could tell. I decided that I would finally have Nubain.
A shot of narcotics in my arm, a brief sting, and then I felt elated. I could see the sun shining into my room, glistening. It was brighter and clearer than anything–looking so beautiful. I thought to myself that it must be the dawn. Hahaha. It was nowhere near dawn, since my baby was born at 9:38 p.m. However, it looked like a dawning sun shining into the room from my view. My mind was warped by drugs.
I greived for not having the birth that I wanted. I grieved, knowing that my baby’s best birth would be one that wasn’t voilent, one that wasn’t scary–without drugs and intervention. A waterbirth would’ve given him such a calm way to enter into the world with a smooth transition from amniotic fluid, into the warm birthing pool, and finally onto my warm, bare, comforting chest. But this was not to be, and so I left it behind. I am so thankful God provided an awesome nurse who helped me through this. Dee took my hands and told me, “You know, you don’t have to do this. You don’t have to put yourself through so much. You’ve already gone through a lot of pain, you’ve already been through a lot.” She convinced me that I would be okay with the drugs. She told me that the anesthetist was a great one. So after the nubain’s elation wore off, I decided it was time. Troy & I talked, and that was that.
He came in with ease–he was a friendly guy with a big needle. Of course, what every pregnant woman wants to hear is, “Man, you’re in great shape! Look at that back!” Which is what he said. So he made me laugh, and then gave me the first numbing shot. It wasn’t bad. Then Troy held my hands because the big needle was going to go into my spine. If I thought about it, I felt woozy. But after it was over, it wasn’t bad at all. This epidural, this thing that I hated and dreaded, was my relief. I was finally able to rest, finally able to recoup my body’s resources for the most difficult task–pushing my son out of the birth canal and into the world.
I slept. Who knows how long. The weirdest, most odd sensation was having Troy & the nurses flip me over as I dozed. I would awaken, someone would tell me something and I would nod my agreement, and then I would be flipped. Then off into oblivion I would slip again. It wasn’t terrible, especially because my body was just so tired and sore already. Then, finally, I had rested a long time and my body was preparing. They kept upping and upping my Pit. so that the contractions were coming close enough together. He was almost going to make his arrival. I looked at the clock. It was almost 8 p.m.
My midwife came and checked me. We squealed with delight together to know that I was fully dilated. After being so mad each time when I would have no progress, after all of the painful contractions, I was overjoyed that my womb was finally agreeable. These moments feel so surreal to me now–the feeling of anticipation almost overwhelming. One second she was telling everyone that I was fully dilated, the next I was feeling this strong urge to push. I was so glad I felt that urge, because I didn’t know if even that primal sensation, that instinct, would be taken from me with the complete haze of drugs. Pushing was completely exhausting. I pushed, I pushed, and pushed. There was some progress. I kept on pushing. My midwife told me, “Miranda, you’re close, but if you can’t push him out we might have to get the doctor to help assist with forceps.” THAT was IT. I pushed harder than I ever had. I would NOT allow my child to come into the world being plucked from the womb like a little specimen, with cold unloving forceps. That was too much for me. And that did it. After almost two hours of pushing, my sweet little baby came into the world crying. He was placed on my chest directly, just as I had hoped.
He looked as tired as I did. He was so small, yet so large to me as well. A new person on my chest there. He was directly on my chest, skin-to-skin, heart to heart with his mother. For better or for worse, we were one anothers. For all the pains and all the joys we would experience, they would be together. I couldn’t believe it.
5/25/12, 9:38 P.M. He came to be with us. After over 33 hours of crazy labor!
And then, after things had quieted down, the most miraculous thing happened. Something I’ll never forget. After all that had happened, all the drugs that had to be administered, everything that went wrong in my eyes… something so completely beautiful. I wanted to breastfeed so badly. I didn’t know if that would work out so well, now that my body and baby were medicated strongly. Instead of worrying about anything–I couldn’t worry, as I was too exhausted. So I just lay there with my baby, enjoying him. And he did it all by himself. He crept up to my breast, and started suckling like he knew exactly how to do it, and knew exactly what he needed. It was a true miracle to me. A gift. A beautiful thing that I didn’t think was possible.
And yet it was. A lot of other things went on after that, and we had to take a nasty trip to the NICU, but most of all this is our story. God provided for us incredibly through painful and difficult times. The people who surrounded us, who ministered to us, and who cared for us in that time were just incredible. Not to mention an amazingly developed, sweet, smart little boy is in our midst, and it is all unbeliveable to me still. This tiny human is ours.
All my love,
I’ve been away, but now I’m back! Time is but a breeze that blows past me these days. Did I really just do another Friday Photo Shoot with my baby?! It feels like I just wrapped one up yesterday– these weeks just go in the blink of an eye! Since he was very small, I’ve tried to make it a habit to do these mini sessions with him, to capture his minute changes, or his huge changes, as they come. It’s been great to have that reminder in my brain, “Oh, it’s Friday! Time for photos with my baby!” And oh, do I ever love taking photos of him. He’s so photogenic, and he seems to know that the camera is there to capture little pieces of his life. Love it. Here he is, my handsome little charmer at 15 weeks!
Oh dear, what a long time it has been. We feel like time moves so much more quickly now that we have a little one among us. Months feel like weeks. Weeks feel like days. And so it goes. Today was a good day. It started off fairly beautifully, with our little man smiling and laughing and cooing. He is amazing us around every corner, making us smile and laugh with joy at each turn. He has these mornings now where he wakes up, eats a good breakfast, and then just contentedly looks around his world and enjoys being with his Mommy & Daddy. He lies between us and smiles, and we just soak it up. At the difficult moments of my days, it’s a special blessing to think back to the morning (however long ago and far away it may seem) and smile at our moments with one another.
So this morning was one of those sweet, sweet mornings, and then it took a turn for the unexpected. Troy was leaving for work, and he was going out the door when he said to me, “Honey, come here… look.” I was a little scared to see what it would be–he had a tone that I don’t often hear. A bit of hesitation, a bit of worry. He grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the door, and what I saw amazed me: A little bunny. Tiny. Just a hint of a rabbit, really. It was lying on our doormat, still as could be, with its eyes closed and ears flattened. We’d never seen a baby rabbit so small, and so very vulnerable. I’m sure a chord was struck within me, having just birthed my own little tiny one. I wanted to help it, wanted to do something for it. So my hubs had to go to work, and he said, “Will you take care of it?!” With the hope I saw in his eyes, how could I not?
I checked around, and eventually after speaking to a few people (via the web, and phone) I finally was advised to take the baby inside because of the ridiculous heat. I did that, and was glad I did because he was looking even more small and tired than the last time I had checked on him. I put our dogs and cat away (who knows… you just can’t be too safe with something like this!) and brought Jack into the house and placed him gently in the bottom of a big rubbermaid with a warm tee-shirt.
I wondered and thought about what would happen to sweet Jack, took a few photos and a video, and then imagined myself nursing him with a tiny little syringe full of “kitten milk,” the pet formula the vet had suggested I purchase. I was terrified, thinking of how I know so little about baby bunnies, and worried to have such a small life on my hands without any knowledge of his needs. Thankfully, I did not have to go through that scenario because I was given the number of a wildlife rehab person in the area. I drove Jack out to her, and handed him over carefully. Whew. What a relief to give him to a professional–someone who knew what he needed! Someone who wouldn’t screw him up with their well-intentioned mistakes (like perhaps, I could have). In those moments, I am reminded of motherhood and mothering: I try and try to know everything I can about my baby, but in the end I have to give him over to the One who is so much bigger, who knows him inside and out. Something I never can do, no matter what. I will never know him as much as his Creator does. Something no mother can do all the way for their baby, no matter how good a mother they are. Whether you’re great at mothering or you’re the most uncertain mother on the planet, God will be a better mother than you are. Comforting thoughts to me, at least. I’d rather know that He is in control of all of that, anyway. Amazing how a tiny bunny can change my life and remind me of God’s goodness. And God knows more than Karp, or Brazelton, or Spock. Especially Spock. Ha!
So, after all of that excitement and life-saving, I was pretty pooped by around 1 o’clock. I was so thankful that my mom had asked me what my plans were for the day, because I really needed some babying. Do you have those days when you need to be taken care of? Most of us would hate to admit it, but you know–it’s so freeing when you finally do. When you sink into the arms of a friend or loved one who understands and cares for you, there is nothing better than hanging up your pride and your big girl pants, and deciding to be vulnerable and allowing them to comfort you.
As a mom, I want to wear my big girl pants often–of course! But there is still a time and place for them to take a rest. I digress. Anyhow, boy am I thankful for my family. There are always ups and downs with family, but you love them just the same. And may I say that they love me just the same, and I am so glad. Mom & I got to have quality time, and she got to have some baby time, too. She loved on him, read to him, and talked to him so much. It brought tears to my eyes to see her enjoying her grandson. My dad was completely enchanted by his grandson, too, and I got to glimpse a bit of what his own fatherhood of myself and my brother must have been like. He kept saying, “What a beautiful baby you are! Did you know? You’re so very handsome.” What a great father. I have been blessed and gifted with two wonderful parents. Mom & I looked at some baby photos of my brother, and I reached into the past with my imagination. How time changes everything. Furthermore, Mom got out my baby diary that she’d lovingly kept, and made us both laugh until we had tears in our eyes because of the hilarity of it all. Would you believe that I was a biter?! And a baby-hitter?! How could I do such things??!!! But I suppose that’s another story for another book.
So I will end this here, and call it a night. Though I know you want to know so badly why I hit a baby when I was two years old.
Doesn’t that sound like a fabulous title to a book, “The 6th Week of August: When I finally let it go.” ?? Or something like that? Well, I thought so anyway. However, this post is not about a novella, or a clever memoir, but about our little not-so-little guy and how he’s a whopping six weeks old this Friday, and an update on the season our family is going through. We are in the sixth week of his life. The sixth week outside of the womb. So strange, yet so wonderful.
Our weeks are filled with up and down days. In-between and also on-the-verge days. Days that are miraculous and inspire every ounce of awe and fascination that our very first hours with August held, and then days that feel like they were ripped from the pages of a horror story. That’s parenthood, I guess. A startling mix of terror and joy at some points–(Are we doing this right?! Okay… it’s not that big of a deal… or is it?! Is he okay? What is going on!? Oh, no biggie…We can do this.) A mysterious learning experience for all involved. Sometimes we have wonderful family moments that I can’t believe are real and then some days end with my brain feeling like it’s at full capacity and turning to Jell-o, my body feeling so weak and exhausted from certain hours where I can hardly even think about eating, and with a nervous breakdown just around the corner. Didn’t I tell you a long time ago that you’d never find “fake” on this blog? : ) It’s still true: I want to be as authentic as I can be. So that includes sharing the crappy, horrible times with you, along with those blissful, beautiful picture perfect times.
Anyhow, the above photo is a great example of my son’s preferences beginning to bloom! Doesn’t he look a lot like his daddy?! These past few weeks, August has wanted to sleep solely in his carseat. We don’t start him out there, but before the end of our rope is reached, he ends there. We begin in the basinette after a long time spent snoozing in my arms or on my chest, then the vibrating and swinging baby swing, then we make sure he’s swaddled tightly enough to allow his startle reflex to be thwarted.. but in the end, he almost always decides to sleep in his carseat. I am beyond caring about what everyone says of the safety of it, because it’s all we can do to get a little rest and help him to be content. He isn’t an incessant cryer, but he always lets us know what he wants. I think there has only been one or two really loud crying, non-stop wailing sorts of hours this far in his baby career. SO hey, that’s a huge whopping yahoo! Adding to that positive note, he isn’t a HUGE cryer, and he IS a SMILER! Smiley, smiley, baby! Around the 3rd week, he began this little tiny smile that soon grew. This week he spontaneously smiles really often, and I think he may have been smiling back at me today. Ahhh a baby smile. Nothing like it. Nothing so beautiful that I’ve ever seen.
This sixth week has shown me that in everything, my joy will waver and my heart will feel faint if I’m not relying on the One who is bigger than me. The compelling prayer of St. Patrick comes to mind, which someone told me about a long time ago, a portion of it goes something like this: “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.” I don’t usually enjoy a repetitive prayer style, but this one really makes sense and comforts me. Christ has gone before me, He’s in front of me, He’s got my back, and He’s behind me. Pretty awesome. Moreover, hubs & I watched a sermon yesterday by Francis Chan. Our family is in a time of life when things could go many different ways, and we want to be wise and ask God what he thinks before we ask ourselves what we want. We have choices to make. What do we want out of this life? Ultimately, if it isn’t what He wants too, we’re doomed. Nothing from a human heart, aside from God’s guidance and direction, will move toward good things. We are selfish, and I believe that if our hearts are left to themselves we will only try to meet our own ends. Nothing for others, nothing eternally satisfying, but always trying to get the next thing. The next thing to meet the needs that we have–deep needs that earthly stuff can never meet. So… this Francis Chan sermon was really good. Really gripping, made me question things, made me ask myself what I think I need in this life. What do I really need? What do you really need?