Because Love

I’m sitting at my desk enjoying the sunshine after several days of snow and seemingly endless winter gray. My view out the window–icicles and snow mounded up in heaps on the roof.

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I live here because of Darren–that’s the truth. I love sunshine, and bare feet, and warm weather. I know you’re not supposed to hate stuff but you guys, I hate winter. So why do I live in a place that’s winter for six months out of the year? Because of a boy.

Darren is a New Englander inside and out and I’m pretty sure the one thing I will never persuade him to do is move away from the motherland. He’s fairly certain he’s already living in a foreign country having left the walls of Maine–so you see what I’m working with.

So if Darren’s in New England, I’m in New England. I love him and he’s worth it even for the cold–which is saying something significant and profound, trust me.

So you heard the Pats won the super bowl, right? Right. Darren wanted you to know. So let me you tell you this fine Valentines week just exactly what true love looks like, okay?

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This is at the Pats victory parade in Boston. It was sleeting and snowing AND raining because, hello, New England, remember? That is me with my eye makeup washing off in said weather. And you can see in the background how totally delighted Roman was to be there. Darren is smiling. Of course he’s smiling.

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When you need an umbrella because it’s raining but you also have to keep shaking the snow off your umbrella so it won’t collapse…just no. Also, I’m pregnant so I have rights, people 😉

After my legs were numb and I had sung my baby asleep under an umbrella in a backpack carrier surrounded by a mob of loud, intoxicated Pats fans–Darren says, “Wow, we were 15 feet from Tom Brady’s face–that was so worth it!” And herein is love–I did not punch him in the face, ya’ll, not even once.

I walked back to the train in the apocalypse of New England weather and rode the train…stop…this is the train —->

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Sooooo….many….drunk…Pats fans….in one place 8]

And I walked back to my car because the parking lot at the train station was overflowing and I didn’t get a divorce…I didn’t even start the proceedings. Happy Valentines day, you guys, this is what true love looks like in New England ❤ ❤ ❤

Reconnect

There are fun, easy seasons of marriage and there are times that frustrate and wear you down. I don’t talk about my marriage much here because my closest relationship isn’t something I want on display or up for discussion. I will say though that we’ve had some tiring years full of short nights and long days packed beyond every bit of margin. Don’t ever try to cram like ten years of life into one, okay? Okay.

But after all of that, I have to say how good and how sweet the last nine months have been getting to reconnect with the man I loved all along but didn’t get to see much there for a while.

He’s a total gem this one and I love him.

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The last couple of years taught me how to fight for and hold onto what I want. The last nine months taught us how to slow down and see each other again. And that has been such a gift.

I’m old enough now to see some of my friends’ marriages crumbling –and that stings. We were all in love once and excited about the people we married when we said “I do” five or ten or fifteen years ago. But a lot can change in ten years; a lot can change in one.

I used to think Darren and I would always feel the same way about each other as we did when we met and married–and I hope we do. But I’ve learned that loving someone once doesn’t mean it will always be easy to love each other faithfully for a lifetime. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. And when we’re thrown against the rocks in life our spouse is often the one who bears the brunt of it privately.

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How thankful I am for a good and loving man to walk through life with. He is my best friend and the one person I most want to be with. I no longer take that for granted or assume our relationship will always be this way. I know how hard we sometimes have to fight for the things we most want but fail to see.

If you’re in a relationship then make, take, and create the time you need for each other. It’s very difficult to build a life together when you’re always apart, physically or mentally. Marriage isn’t something we get to coast through or take in like a bystander. We either build up or tear down our marriages every single day. Make time for the people who mean the most and keep on building each other up every single day with your time, your actions, and your words ❤ ❤

The Bigger Picture

Today I woke with the morning light spreading across a canvas of crisp blue winter sky. The one advantage of waking early with a little one is watching the sun wake up bright and ready for a new day too. The world looks full of hope first thing in the morning, with new light and new possibilities spreading before us.

For months now Darren has been building the chimney on our house. Day after day, brick after brick he worked away until we were finally able to sit in front of a crackling fire and smell the house filled with that wonderful wood and smoke aroma I love so much in winter.

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I learned something watching him lay brick, watching that same repetitive task done over and over again until something lasting finally took shape:

Life and all we hope to build unfolds slowly, brick by brick, day by day.

When I think about marriage or motherhood or staying home to raise a family, I often get mucked up in a romantic idea of how this big plan of mine is supposed to look. I forget though, that in the moment, day to day, things aren’t likely to look romantic or ideal at all.

I have to remind myself often, more so now in motherhood than ever before, that there is a bigger picture at hand. What I see and often get lost in day to day–the chores and messes and repetitive instruction of a little one–these are but bricks, small pieces of a much grander whole.

When I wash clothes and cook meals and sweep floors, I’m doing more than housework–I’m building a home and making this shell of a house feel like a home. When I kiss, and carry, discipline, and teach my little one–I’m more than babysitting; I’m raising a child who will become an adult who already carries with him an eternal soul. And so this daily work becomes a matter of eternal importance–forever, always, unending importance.

Darren bought a little plant for me at the store the other day. We were choosing paint for the cabinets when I saw a display of brand new succulents–I oohed and ahhd over them until we left with one :]

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I put the little plant on a window sill to sunbathe his way through winter. Today I noticed him sitting there in the morning light and thought what a pretty picture it would be–if it weren’t for the unfinished window trim messing everything up.

I took the picture anyway because it reminded me of this very thing I’m talking about–about the bigger picture and seeing beauty in the mess and unfinished work of life.

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So today I’m trying to stay focused on the long term and reminding myself over and over again that all these small things we do a million times over add up to a whole lifetime in the end.

The point is not so much what I’m doing today in and of itself but what today is helping me build for tomorrow. Bit by bit, brick by brick, I hope I can start to see the value and purpose in the tasks before me today so I may build something lasting and eternal for tomorrow.

Look Up

We just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, Darren and I. We sat trying to decide how to celebrate. All either of us wanted was to get away for a few days—away from work, and house remodeling, and life’s routine. We talked about Quebec City or Acadia or Niagara Falls. And we talked about fresh air, and crisp river water, and camp fires beneath the stars. And that’s when we decided camping would be the very best celebration this year. So we packed, and goodness, I’m amazed how much stuff it takes for us Americans to sleep on the ground properly. This was Roman’s first time camping in a tent and it takes as much stuff for one baby as it does for 8 adults I think. You should have seen our car, loaded down with tent, and pack n play, and bike rack, and a million other things to help nature out with our high maintenance ways. And then we were off, up to Vermont, to the woods and river and biking trails—up away from work and routine and all that wears us down these days. The sky was playing games and just starting to spit rain when we arrived. We moved fast, taunting nature back, and got our tent up just before the heavy rain came. We stay huddled together in our tent that evening watching Roman run from one end of the small space to the other. We made sandwiches for dinner and went to bed as soon as it was dark, listening to the sound of the rain beating against our little shelter all night long like a song. setup DSC_0468 We woke to a cool, foggy morning. We and everything else felt damp but how good it was to wake up with the sun and our baby boy snuggled between us on the floor. A crackling campfire was built and soon red potatoes and kale were cooking for breakfast. DSC_0330 I like the pace of nature and our pace in nature when we work with instead of against the morning light, and dew, and cool air wrapping around us before the heat of the day comes and pushes us back inside. So we took our time that morning, tasting our breakfast not just eating it. We took sauntering walks and breezy bike rides and looked at each other, not past to the next item of business. DSC_0763bikecarrierDSC_0815 DSC_0817 We filled our hearts, and lungs, and minds with all the good thing of nature and quiet time together. We held hands and held our son and snuggled close together around campfires at night. DSC_0436 One night, our last night, I walked back to our tent alone in the dark. I thought about the sweet days we had enjoyed and was sad to see them ending. I tried to soak up everything around me one last time–the smell of the woods, sound of the river, feel of the night air wrapping around me—and the stars, I thought—don’t forget to look up at the stars one last time for they look nothing like this back home with all the other lights hiding them. So I looked up at the night sky and all the millions and billions of tiny light freckles poking through from heaven to earth. How enchanting the night sky is and how mysterious. When I got back to the tent, Darren traded watching Roman with me and started to walk the dark path himself. I told him, “Don’t forget to look up” —and off he went with eyes to the sky. I watched him walk away and heard those words echo back to me in my head— “Don’t forget to look up.” momandrome DSC_0417 Don’t forget to look up. I have thought about that phrase many times over the last two weeks since camping. I’ve thought about it when the waves of life have washed our feet out from under us and brought us humbly to our knees. I’ve thought about those words when I’ve grown overwhelmed or discouraged and can’t find my way. Don’t forget to look up—not just to the stars, but to the God who made the stars. Look up to the God whose light shines through to us, not just in a million freckled bits of light but in our hearts and lives every day. Look up to the God who is present and in control and loves us even when we think perhaps he has forgotten. Don’t forget to look up—first, always, to the God who is there in every bit of light in the world, for he and he alone is The Light of the world. Look up.

I Wanted a Girl

One year ago today I found out I was having a little boy. I was disappointed. I had wanted a girl—deeply, almost desperately wanted a girl. It’s not that I don’t like boys just as much, but there’s just so many of them in my life. Five brothers. Loads of nephews. I love every man and boy in my life and wouldn’t trade any of them for a girl, but still…I wanted a daughter. I wanted some girl time. I wanted flowery dresses and mommy/daughter fun.

So when the ultrasound tech said with all kinds of enthusiasm, “It’s a boy!” I faked a smile and fought back tears. I pretended to be happy. I called my family and faked excitement as I gave them the news. And when all the calls and pretending were done, I sat in the car and cried. I felt horrible, selfish, and ungrateful. I had a perfectly healthy little boy growing away and all I could do was cry about not getting what I wanted. But it was more than that.

I felt like God had let me down.

This desire for a daughter was so deeply rooted in my heart that I honestly didn’t think God would deny me. And when he did, I felt like I was being taunted. Why had I wanted a girl so much if I was just going to be told no? Why couldn’t I will myself to want a son just as much as a daughter?

That night we went to dinner with Darren’s family to celebrate. We opened gifts of blue and cowboys and I felt a million miles away. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to celebrate. When we left the restaurant the whole sky was robed in pink with the sunset; and I thought again that God was making fun of me with the world dressed in pink. Darren and I went to the mall after that to buy the first outfit for our baby boy—blue jeans, blue shirt, blue, blue, blue.

When we finally got home, I lay in bed and cried. Was I spoiled and wallowing in my own disappointment at not getting what I wanted? Probably. I have friends who want children but have instead faced infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Though my heart hurts for them, I can’t pretend to understand what they’ve been through. And I’m sure I, with my perfectly healthy baby, must sound incredibly stupid and selfish complaining about something as simple as the specific gender of a child. I knew it then and I know it now and yet I couldn’t will myself to feel differently at the time.

But I have learned something since this day last year. I have learned from experience that sometimes what I want is not nearly as wonderful as what God wants to give me. Sometimes my plan isn’t best. Sometimes God withholds one thing to fill my heart and arms with something I didn’t even know I needed or wanted. God is, in fact, smarter than me.

The other night I sat on Roman’s nursery floor holding my sleeping boy in my arms. He was done eating, I could have put him to bed and gone to bed myself but I just couldn’t put him down. I wanted to hold and snuggle him because already he’s growing and changing so fast—it makes my heart hurt realizing I won’t always be able to snuggle him close in my arms. Once I had put him down and gone to bed, I lay there thinking about how I had once been disappointed over him, how I had thought I wanted something else. And I cried again, not out of disappointment, but out of disbelief that I had ever thought he wasn’t enough, wasn’t what I wanted. And I was thankful that God knew better and gave a gift I cannot deserve.

When I hold this child, this child who I once cried hot tears of disappointment over, I am thankful that God loves me enough to not always give me what I think I want. Somehow I think learned love is even better than love that comes naturally. When you have fought and worked for something, it means more to you than things simply given. I didn’t know if I would love my son as much as I would have loved a daughter, that’s the truth. But I can tell you, now that he’s here, I wouldn’t trade him for a dozen daughters and I can’t imagine loving any child more.

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Motherhood is Good

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There are two things you hear a lot when people find out you’re pregnant: “Kids are so much fun!” and “Your life is about to change” (dunn, dunn, dunnnnn). Both are true but the second probably doesn’t need to be said. I haven’t met anyone yet expecting a child who doesn’t already know–deeply, profoundly–that their life is about to change.

I remember standing in the bathroom early that Saturday morning waiting for the words “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant” to look back at me from that life altering little stick. I bought the fancy pants test just to be sure and it estimated how many weeks I had been pregnant too…3+ it said…so not only was I pregnant, I had been pregnant for nearly a month without realizing it at all. No one needed to knock on the bathroom door at that early weekend hour and tell me life was about to change, maybe remind me how to breathe, tell me it’s going to be ok, but the rest I already knew.

I snuck back in our bedroom all cool and casual-like, no big deal just a baby on board. Darren was still asleep so I sat the test on my nightstand and slipped back under the covers. When Darren got up I moved the test to his pillow and waited for him to come back. His face, his words, I’ll never forget. We were both happy. We wanted this. We spent the rest of the morning talking fast and excited about this amazing thing happening right before us.

Even with our joy and desire for this baby, there was still an almost suffocating sense of, “are we really doing this?” The feeling of no going back and the absolute permanence of change in our lives was undeniable. Even if we lost the baby, just having been pregnant and falling in love with a baby we wanted would leave us changed. There was simply no way to go back to who we were before that moment. And thankfully, no such loss happened. On a hot, sticky, middle of the summer day our long-anticipated baby boy was born. And certainly, after meeting him and holding him in our arms, a new level of change occurred and we knew again that no matter what happened from there, we would never be the people we were before that moment.

I used to be scared of this change; sometimes I still am. I am finding with each step into motherhood that the ominous warnings remain. Just wait, they say…

Until he teeths

Crawls

Walks

And a million other stepping-stones along the way.

And though I’m sure they don’t really mean it this way, I sometimes hear in each warning…

It gets harder

It gets worse

You’ll never be good enough

But though I am only a little over six months into this parenting journey and certainly realize how very much I have yet to learn, I want to say something:

Motherhood is good.

Yes, it’s hard.

Yes, it’s exhausting.

Yes, sometimes I lose my temper, get frustrated, overwhelmed, sometimes I cry, feel lonely.

But there are so many other times when my heart is full to overflowing. Truly, I have never been so happy or at peace in my whole life. I love being a mom. And I love being a mom even when it’s hard. A week ago I was up all night with a crying baby. I held him, paced his nursery floor, cried, prayed…nothing changed. I took him to the doctor the next morning and found out he had an ear infection. That was a hard night followed by a hard day but somehow it was also incredibly fulfilling. Do I like staying up all night with a crying baby? No. But I do love being a mother who can hold and comfort her child when he’s hurting.

I didn’t realize before I become a mother that somehow all those hard times would actually be some of the most beautiful opportunities to enter in to loving another person and growing as a person myself. I didn’t know how satisfying it would be. I was afraid of the warnings and the change because I didn’t have the knowledge of just how oddly good those hard times can be. I’m learning not to be afraid of the “just wait” and the “it gets harder.” I’m learning that even though motherhood is hard, the hard parts are also some of the best parts and there’s nothing to dread. I wouldn’t exchange that night of pacing his nursery floor for anything; not because I’m a martyr but because I got hold to him and love him and be his mother.

Sometimes I think people (probably unintentionally) make motherhood sound too hard, almost daunting. Yes, of course it’s hard, but I wish we heard more about how wonderful it is. I mean, truly wonderful. Satisfying. Fulfilling. Beautiful. Joyful. Magical. Heart so full of love its going to explode.

You might be surprised by just how easy motherhood is in so many ways :]

Through His Eyes

I sort of hate winter. Like, I fall apart and have a really bad attitude about it not unlike a toddler throwing a temper tantrum–it’s bad. So it makes sense that I would live in New England, hating winter and all. Fortunately this post isn’t actually a downer about things I hate, it’s a shameless excuse to share cute pictures of my baby. And to say that even though I still hate winter, this one has actually been kind of fun because I get to watch it through eyes that have never seen snow before. I mean look at his face…I really can’t hate something that leaves him filled with so much wonder.

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And then there’s this one which has nothing to do with winter, but isn’t he cute? I love him so much. That’s all. Carry on.

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Love From the Start

All last week it rained and snowed while Roman and I were holed up in the house waiting for the weather to clear. Roman was such a crank; he screamed every time I tried to put him down and get anything done so I finally gave up and held him while he napped. I didn’t feel good, I was frustrated and exhausted, and if I’m being perfectly honest—I wanted to take a nap myself or get stuff done around the house instead of hold him. But then, right in the middle of us both being cranky, he tucked his soft, warm head up under my chin and fell asleep in my arms.

It was magic.

In spite of me.

I realized while I lay there holding him how it felt just like holding him for that very first time. After 20 something hours of labor and the three longest hours of my life pushing—this bruised, screaming, pink little baby was put on my chest. And though we had both been through so much, he tucked up under my chin, stopped crying, and fell asleep listening to my heart beat against his. We were never strangers; we knew each other from the start.

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I thought I loved him then. I know I love him now.

And I love every moment he lets me hold him in my arms…before he starts arching his back, pummeling me with those legs that never stop moving, or trying to rip my glasses off and fling them across the room.

He keeps me busy. He wears me out. And then he falls asleep in my arms and reminds me why I would do every hour of labor all over again to hold him once more for the very first time.

Today the sky is blue and the roads clear of snow and slush. Roman and took a really long walk around the neighborhood and I think after breathing some fresh air and stretching our legs, we’re starting to like each other again :]

Besides, who couldn’t love this face?

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The Wild Blue Sea

Baby Boy, you saw the ocean for the first time this week, heard the music of the tide pulling on and off the shore. You felt the briny air on your soft baby skin and watched the evening sun melt into the waves. I hope Darling, that your heart and soul and mind are as deep and wide and wild as the deep blue sea.

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“All good things are wild and free.” –Henry David Thoreau