Friday, September 1, 2017

What I Learned in August

 

Lots and lots of learning this month about myself and friendships and my folks and our church and watermelon and jogging and bacon and infant/toddler bicycle helmets!

Relationships

1. One thing that I appreciate in friendships is people who allow me to process something multiple times and "beat a dead horse" and just give the space to reflect on something and then come back to a conversation when I have a more clear understanding of my own feelings and can better articulate them. I know this is annoying to some people and I'm really fortunate to have a handful of friends (and Peyton) who don't seem to mind.

2. I love it when people are super chill and nonchalant when I tell them something huge (and negative, huge and positive I want the other reaction). This is tricky because, yeah, sometimes you need to be validated in the fact that some is really, REALLY hard. But sometimes it's also nice to hear "that's really not that big of a deal".

Seasons

3. Every summer, for one reason or another, I buckle down and cut up a watermelon.
 Hacking one of those things up is one of the things on a short list of things I know how to do but mostly refuse to do (shamefully, the list of things I don't know how to do- paperwork and yard stuff and that kind of thing- is much longer). Anyway, I haaaaate it. A few weeks agao, Graves picked out a cantaloupe at the grocery store. Little did I know that it and the watermelon were "great buddies" and he was set on eating them together. But that was when P was still quarantined in the sunroom with the flu. So thatwas my buckle down and do it for the year. and it was our last melon for the season!


Church

4. I know that, and am glad that, I sit in pews with folks who stand with the marginalized, people who challenge me.
There are things I struggle with at Northside (as there are everywhere!) but I'm grateful that people work hard not to be complicit in racism. It is an older congregation and it's beautiful to see white people my parents age and older recognize their privilege as they seek to better understand their Savior. I know I could- and do- learn a lot from them. 


 5. Worshiping in a place that is safe for our family is deeply important- I don't want the children to feel like questioning is wrong or like their papa needs to be their project and I love the perspective that seems to come with age for many in our church family.

Motherhood
6. There is surely no better self care that exists than spending a few minutes each day with my nose and mouth buried in Sallie's hair. She is starting starting to get little girl hair- it's still so soft and fine and smells so good after a bath. In this moment in time, it's probably the tangible thing I love most in all the earth.

Exercise

7. Running in the evenings is much more manageable for me. I just CANNOT do it in the morning. The "recovery" period I need before I can start my day is just too much. At night, I can pretty quickly take a shower and move along to the next thing. But, if I don't go really late, it's hot. Like surface of the sun hot.

8. If running is something I'm going to actually take on as a lifestyle I'm going to HAVE to get that bladder sling surgery because my pelvic floor is pretty much nonexistant at this point. [I shared that as delicately as I could and I totally hesitated to at first and I thought a bit about why that was and I realized it's obviously an embarrassing thing but I really like to talk openly about postpartum bodies and how they can be a little bit broken but the breaking was done by the biggest gifts imaginable. So I'm doing that.]

9. Running actually reminds me a lot of labor (something I've thought about literally every run but almost the whole duration on my hardest run).
 
It's different, though, because it feels like it will always be hard. I know that's not true but even if you have a long labor it's not going to be weeks or months. It's not some hard thing you do over and over again. At least it wasn't for me. Anyway, I barfed real barf at one point and I'm pretty sure I was making legit childbirth noises coming up the driveway and collapsed crying into Peyton's arms. I'm a little dramatic, friends. I'm so glad I'm doing this jazz in my neighborhood and not at a gym.

Traveling 
10. Packing minimally is not my strength but maybe being prepared is???

My Folks
11. I haaaaate it when P takes off his cap and his hair is so greasy he looks like the rapist from Fight for Justice: The Nancy Conn Story (Lifetime circa 1998). Incidentally nailed the creeper face, too

12. Hungry Little Sallie is a big fan of bacon.
 
 I mean, predictably.

13. She is not a big fan of her bicycle helmet. 

14. I need to hand over my phone to my big kids more often.
Annie and Graves (respectively) took these pictures of Sallie. I love what they captured so much.

15. It's incredible when your children start to appreciate you. I don't know when it happens at other people's houses and I don't know when it'll happen with my other children, I didn't expect it this soon and I don't necessarily expect it to last, but...eight has been the age where I've really seen Annie start to actually recognize how much I do for her and her siblings. Tonight when I tucked her in and gave her a hug, she patted me and said "Nice little momma" in the sweetest voice. I love her so much.





16. Sundays are easiest by myself. Very, very few things are easier without P, but I think this is.

17. Something that is easier with Peyton are Monday mornings.
 
Homeschooling

18. I may be learning more at the Schoolhouse In the Suburbs than the children are. Annie had to remind me the other day to set realistic expectations for her brother. Bless his heart. Graves is such a sweet child and sometimes I forget how sensitive and perceptive he is. Sometimes I lose it and hurt his feelings really badly. He responds so much better to positive feedback. I mean, this is most people, but he more than Annie really responds to a more gentle touch. Yesterday, she said "Momma, he did really good on that. I think you should compliment him." Awhile back, he got out a TON of Lego things to build using the package directions. Apparently, he overheard Peyton expressing how surprised and impressed he was that Graves could do it all with so little help and he planned to "impress" Peyton by building a bunch more. When I told him we needed to do some school work he said "Well, I really need to work on this. I'm going to build all of these and Papa will be SO proud of me". Just this week, Peyton taught him how to buckle his Saltwaters and how to organize the Tupperware correctly when he unloads the dishes and both times he's been so pleased with himself and so excited to show me his "hard work". At the same time, there is some behavior that's completely unacceptable (yelling we your momma) and he's had some strong consequences. One thing that is so tough with him is that VERY little matters enough to motivate him (the flip side of having an easy, laid back nature). I used to HATE to punish Annie because she'd have such a come part about the consequences but he just don't care. And if he does, sometimes it doesn't even matter because it's a self control issue and external consequences and rewards are meaningless. It had gotten better but I tell people all the time that until he was about five, any disciplining I did was for myself, so I could feel like I was doing what I needed to and the results were irrelevant. Every single thing Graves does, he does in his own time. He teaches me a lot about patience and kindness and doing something because it's the right thing to do, not because it will get me the results I want. 

Joy
19. Summer is for...finding joy again.
 
Two years ago we moved back from NYC and I worked very hard at noticing small things that brought me joy and I really think it saved my life. But, it was also one of the hardest periods of my life. I was so frightened and overwhelmed by Peyton's changes in faith. I also struggled immensely as I tried to find a loving and gracious faith community where the children and I would be welcomed and P would he accepted if he chose to attend. That was predictable. I anticipated the hardship of those things. What was not was the incredible difficulty I had with the move. My heart broke over missing New York- the places, the culture, the stories, and our dear friends. And specifically our churches. The transition from Brooklyn was so much harder than the transition to Brooklyn had been (so surprisingly to me). Last Summer held some of the best days of my life, but also some of the darkest. I finally got the baby I had been longing for along with the additional gift of a certain amount of perspective I didn't have with my first two. But with the intense post partum hormones, getting through some days felt very much like drowning. That pregnancy was so difficult physically and I was looking forward to finally being able to come up for air after nearly a year under water. And that didn't happen. The move, Peyton's faith changes, the pregnancy, and the depression I felt were all so hard. This Summer has been different. I'm much more healthy emotionally. Peyton's unbelief is still a deep grief, but I've really gained a peace about it and most days I have a strong sense that in the realm of eternity, I can trust the Lord with his life and in the day to day we can still be a very happy, functional couple and family. I have cried many tears over the deep love and understanding I've felt at Northside, even as I grieve often for our old faith communities in the city. And the city itself- I miss it terribly and I miss it unceasingly. But I keep realizing more and more why we are here and I keep finding more and more things here that I'm extremely grateful for, many I would've perpetually taken for granted if we had never left them.



Wow, nineteen things. My mind is kind of blown. Lots of learning and reflecting this month!



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