Monday, October 24, 2016

nothing new under the sun

32 years ago, my mom wandered into a little shop on a family trip and found this beautiful print. She was pregnant with her second child, my brother Michael, and wondering about how life would change with a new baby in the mix. She saw this picture and it spoke to her: when that sweet babe is in your arms, love multiplies.

She recently gave this print to me and I cried a lot (add to the list of things that make me cry: family keepsakes, the song "landslide", Target gift cards, when Rachel finds out she's pregnant on Friends). I look at this picture and I can feel William's warmth on my shoulder, hear his soft breathing, smell his sweet skin, feel the wisps of his blonde hair tickling my nose. I can practically transport myself back 32 years and see my mother experiencing these same wonders with her little boy. She was there, as I am here, and it was in the caramelly center of those early experiences when she decided that she was smitten, twitterpated, dedicated, all in for motherhood. And that, of course, is what brought me here. We are living this together, side by side, in different decades.

There is nothing new under the sun. Isn't that fascinating? The bible says in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that "what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." On the one hand, that's kind of a bummer. It kind of eliminates the validity of our desire to truly wallow in moments of self-pity. Those times when we're rundown or in pain or exhausted. When I was pregnant and fearful about childbirth I was constantly told, hey. Women have been doing this since the beginning of time. You're not alone. But in the throes of actually experiencing it, it was like, NO. NO ONE HAS EVER DONE THIS. THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE.

What if you actually were the first person in existence to experience something, though? That would be so legit. Talk about being vindicated in your moment of suffering. In biblical times, yeah. There was a first person for everything. There was a first childbirth, a first stoning, a first infidelity, a first death in the family. Those hurts and pains and life struggles were raw and real and they could actually say, God. This isn't fair. NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER HAD TO GO THROUGH THIS. We don't really get that satisfaction today.

But on the other hand, that's kind of okay. It's comforting. No matter what the circumstance is, you're not alone. After countless generations of lives have been lived on this earth, you can rest in our God who sees, and in the God-given camaraderie of mankind. When you post on Facebook that you just stepped on a LEGO, everyone will be like OH DANG GIRL. We've all been there.

That camaraderie and universal understanding is what makes being a mother so rich. I'm not at a table for one. I'm not experiencing these things on an island. I have generations to back me up, including my own mother and grandmother and siblings and friends. It's such a wonderful place to be. When I look at this print, tears fill my eyes because I see William and I in it. But I also see my mom and Michael in it. And so many other mothers I know and love with their baby boys and these glorious moments that are so unique but so beautifully shared throughout history.

There is nothing new under the sun...but it's certainly my first go around under its light, and I'm going to cherish the brilliance. I'm so thankful for the gift of this life (and the gift of this token of motherhood). If you've ever seen the movie About Time, you'll know what I mean when I say I'd like to spend each day as if I've deliberately come back to this one day to enjoy it. Also, if you haven't seen About Time, stop reading this and go buy it and watch it. Or come over to our house and experience it with Dusty sobbing beside you. That's my favorite.

(Thanks for this gift, momma. I will cherish it. Thanks for being my mother for life.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

to be known

As I'm journeying through my first year as a mother, I find that my thoughts as I go through my day, as I lay down to sleep, as I first begin to stir each morning are predominantly for the breath and well-being of my William. I sometimes forget to eat lunch or pay the bills or even shower, but never William. 

I know him. Possibly better than I've ever known anyone (although that doesn't mean he doesn't often surprise and confound me, which is kind of the best part of knowing someone... it's an ongoing education). I know what he smells like and the myriad of sounds he makes when he's happy, sleepy, grumpy and every other dwarf. I know his increasingly competent movements and the way he crawls at full speed after the cats, and how he clutches and grins and focuses on the funniest things. 

It's an odd job, really, being a mom. Knowing your child so intimately. To be known is such a beautiful thing. I've had deep, meaningful friendships and I have enjoyed the depth of a wonderful marriage, but this is something else entirely. It's a new brand of connection. As I watch and enjoy everything about William, I find myself wishing that he could know me, too. It sounds almost like a tragic plot device that these 9 months have been the best of my life, but William won't actually remember any of them. He will never know me in this young, new-mom phase of my life. A few years from now his first memories will begin to take residence in his mind, and he will know and remember me as his momma. His weird old mum. I will take up my sword and shield for him daily, protecting and loving and guiding while sacrificing a certain something; something that isn't truly revealed to him until much later in life. 

I've never appreciated my parents more than right now. I feel like as an adult I have the honor of getting to know them as individuals and friends as well as parents. I can better understand who they were to me then, and who they are to me now. Now that I'm a mom myself, I can better imagine my mom caring for us four crazies at home for all those years. I'm taking a few steps in her shoes, and replaying so many days in my youth and wondering how they must have affected her. I'm imagining William going off to college and wondering how my leaving may have been harder on my parents than I ever knew. It's a funny cycle of life that these realizations are so belated. 

I wonder at my role in William's life and in the lives of my future children. How will I possibly balance the discipline, comfort, love, pride, fear, adoration? I think often mothers feel lonely, misunderstood, underappreciated. I think it's because normally when you invest in an important relationship, and spend 90% of your time with another human, there's a significant exchange there. But as a mom, it's one-sided. Raising a baby means pouring your heart and soul into this wonderful creature who will not know your favorite color or your greatest fears. They will not know they've ruined your favorite shirt or care when they spit up all over your hair. A good friend would never do that. 

Raising kids into childhood means you may stay up all night worrying or spend weeks planning a party or contemplating the details of their hair color, freckles, lopsided grins and personality and they may look at you bewildered one day, like, "hi food lady, what's your name again?" They may give all the credit to daddy for things you did, or completely forget your birthday, or much rather spend time with their friends than with you. As their mother I will daily do the work, make the choices, kiss their sleepy foreheads, (sometimes) hold my tongue, run the errands, say my prayers, and give them my heart to squeeze or crumple or bounce around. It's not an exchange; it's a glorious generous heart-filling character-building life-changing servant leadership. It's hard and it's weird, but it's the best of life. Even now, as I lay him down to sleep each night, I hold him close and pray and cry over him because I've never loved anyone so darn much. I have had moments of uncertainty, overwhelming love, spikes of panic and swarms of gratitude and faith. Such tender moments of self-discovery and bonding that he will never know nor remember.

I have made the comparison before that becoming a mother has been like taking my old self - my thoughts, my humor, my dreams, my heart - and dipping them in chocolate. I'm still me, but my life is sweeter and richer with William in it. Being his mother is and will always be a layered, nuanced thing that I love and am baffled by. It's a little bit scary. It's a lotta bit magnificent. I know that my sweet boy will love me, in different wondrous ways at every stage of his life. Right now he thinks I'm pretty much the greatest thing he's ever laid eyes on, so I'm gonna hold onto that when the going gets rough. When I feel lost or buried, I will lean evermore on those who know me best: my husband, my family, my dearest friends. To be known is crucial to life, my friends. It's the sharing that makes beauty what it is.

I look forward to knowing my perfect, darling son in all of his intricacies forever and ever, even when he claims, as I often did as a teenager, that I have somehow "scarred him for life." I have the great job and joy of knowing him from atom. That's right, William Boyer, I know you. I have the greatest vantage point there is. So here's looking at you, kid - every day for as long as you'll have me. You are the greatest thing I've ever laid eyes on. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

fall is here: frocktober recap

Autumn is...

birthday month pumpkin spice cutesie baby pajamas decorating hay rides kettle corn weekend trips sweater weather burnt orange scarves plaid changing leaves crisp mornings harvest festivals the state fair thanksgiving fireside evenings pumpkin patches pumpkin everything s'mores camping apple cider harry potter butterbeer baby's first halloween movie nights scented candles couch cuddles 
tights & boots spices hot drinks cozy socks caramel golden days

And... it's Frocktober. 

Oh, how I love this season. I am so excited to introduce William to all of the wonderful things about Fall. I know he won't remember his first Fall in the world, but I sure will. We're planning his first Halloween costume, we've decorated the house in Fall leaves and pumpkins, and we've had Autumnal candles burning for weeks now. I took him to his first pumpkin patch and I bought as many Octoberesque things I could find during Old Navy's baby sale. I just love this month. 

Of course, over the past few years this blog has been all about Frocktober. The collage above is a little recap of last year's Frocktober dresses. It was by far my favorite year to date. I had so much fun going through my closet to find things that could work as maternity wear, and being pregnant in the Fall and Winter is the best. Sweaters and leggings galore! 

I haven't officially posted anything about it here on the blog (I've obviously been a bit lax on here since Will was born), but I've decided not to do Frocktober this year. I still love it. But as it came closer, I realized that the thought of it was causing more stress than excitement. I am enjoying being a mom so very much, and my daily uniform is random and messy and wonderful. I want to focus this October on the many Fall firsts of my little boy. I know I will eventually get back to my creative style, but for now my heart is elsewhere.

For those of you who don't know about my Frocktober, you can read more about it here. As I said, the collage above is my Frocktober 2015 challenge. You can also check out 2014, 2013 and 2012. My main motivation for participating in Frocktober has always been to challenge myself to find new purpose and appreciation for what I already have - avoiding shopping for the month and bringing new creative life to my dresses and other accessories. It has been so much fun having other ladies join me in the challenge - the Frocktober Sisterhood is my favorite. If you'd ever like to join (it's not too late!) my challenge to you for the rest of October is to not only be creative and innovative with your existing closet, but to also try to avoid purchasing new clothes. Think outside the box. Have a clothes swap with friends, or go thrifting, or consider using your clothes budget to purchase from a company that gives back - like Krochet Kids intl. or another cause that really speaks to you. Take the month to be intentional with what you wear and how you wear it. It's such a great challenge and I have always had a blast doing it. 

I am hoping to still do a few special style posts this month in honor of Frocktober, perhaps on some great nursing mom dress options. I hope you all have a superb October, and enjoy all of the best things about this season!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

on your first father's day

I knew you when.

When you were a boy with shaggy hair, singing songs and playing soccer and butting heads with your mom. When you were making jokes in between classes (and in classes) and creating nicknames for everyone you knew. I knew you at the pinnacle of your youth and silliness. When you teased the girls you liked. When pooka shells were still occasionally worn. It's true.

When you sang "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias and when you asked to hold my hand by writing it out in a text message. When you were red-cheeked from our first kiss and promising me forever and writing love notes. Making plans and choosing colleges and deciding, right then and there, that all our dreams would come true. I knew you when you talked animatedly about having kids, and the fact that we were still kids ourselves didn't seem to phase you at all.

You have been a dad-in-the-making for as long as I've known you. Waking up next to you this morning and seeing you as that boy / my husband / a father is such a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious feeling. Growing old with you will be all the sweeter for having known you as that boy, and watching you grow to raise our own. There are moments when none of this seems real, and the love and blessedness of our home together threatens to fill and burst me like a giant heart balloon.

I have seen you grow from the boy I knew and rolled my eyes at to the man who now guides our own boy to know and love what is Good. I have seen your sweet and fun-loving heart tenderized by fatherhood. I look at our son and suddenly I can see, in my mind's eye, the many precious years of your life that I missed. The missing links to who you are. I can see your furrowed brow as you made your first childish discoveries and feel your mother's love for you. I can see the pinpricks of personality blossoming in your eyes. It's all here, in the face of our son.

I marvel and delight in you both. You and I have a brilliant history; a wonderful collection of years together. Travels and weird traditions and Coldplay dance parties. We made everything fun. While they were golden years, they were far from our greatest hits. We are now able to choose our favorite things and do them all over again with our son. Let's travel the world, make up silly songs, read Harry Potter, spend time with kindred spirits, eat our favorite foods and listen to the Beatles (ok, and One Direction too).

Today, I want you to know that you have kept your silliest (and best) promises to me from way back then. This is a dreamy life and I adore you. Happy first Father's Day, my love. Today is special for us both, because darling...

I knew you when.

Monday, April 25, 2016

when all is softness

I've been away from this writing space long enough that I have started to narrate blog posts in my mind as I drink my coffee in the morning or when I'm driving to the grocery store. Strings of sentences pull together when I least expect them to; things I want to say and write down, but never do. I think my somewhat subconscious avoidance of this space has to do with the strange limbo I find myself in... the adjustment of being a stay at home mom, which is both brilliant and baffling. Perhaps I'm in a creative rut. Even so, the words have been pounding a strong beat against my mind lately and so here I sit, letting them play their rhythm onto my keyboard for a change.

I've been thinking a lot about what my life looks like now - how it's defined, how I'll look back on it 10 years from now, what it feels like. Perhaps every mini era of our lives could be whittled down to a meaningful word or two that captures its thematic significance, and the one that keeps coming to my mind now is softness. 

All is softness, here. That's the way I feel. Being a mom is the softest thing I've ever been. My baby boy is soft, his cheeks his lips his fingers and toes. He has no hard edges, no broken pieces, no callouses or toughened skin. His heart has not been broken and he has made no mistakes. He holds the softness of innocence in every breath. He is a fresh start, everything ahead.

My body is also soft. Oh, yes. It is the hero of this story, I think. My body is now tender and taking its time, because time is softer now, too. The clock whispers its minutes in a much different tone. We no longer choose time in exact numbers because we're still figuring out the language. There's a learning curve and a cushion for every plan we make. Just when we think we have something figured out and set in stone, we look again, and it's silly putty. Soft, soft silly putty.

My ideas and my choices are all softer, easier, simpler. One thing at a time. No rushing, complicating, over-analyzing. Staying in is the new going out. My memories are filled with baby soft blurs of the last few months, all cotton and bleary-eyed sunrises. And let me tell you, my clothes are softer now, too. Comfort is a craving, really. A necessity.

The daylight is soft now, as it opens its first moments on my baby's cheeks while he wakes. His breath is the softest. His hair is softer still! I'll bet his dreams are soft, too. All milk and cuddles and fluffy blankets. I'm going to stay here for a while. Whether it lasts a month or a year. The mornings, the conversations, the naps, the learning, the newness, the feelings, the hugs and the kisses. It's the time when all is softness, and I'm going to fall back into it with a sigh.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

william boyer

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Facebook Friends Day - have I missed anything else?

After months of not blogging, I find myself revisiting this little space to say I have a baby! My little boy is already 1 month old (as of yesterday), and it has been the most wonderful month of my entire life. I imagine it has been pretty grand for him as well - he has so much more room to wiggle and sing and squirm!

William Boyer came into the world at 8:08pm on January 6th, 2016. He was 9 lb, 5 oz and 21 inches long. He is also absolutely perfect, but that's basically the New Mom National Anthem so I'd like to go into a little more detail... partly for you, but mostly for me. This month has gone by in a blur of midnight conversations, earnest baby tears, bleary parent eyes, late morning naps, Friends marathons, couch cuddles, hummed lullabies, fresh baby clothes, and worn-out pajamas. I already feel like so many of the details have slipped out of my tired mind, and it's a true fear of mine that I won't be able to fully document and recall these priceless days of our newly baked parenthood. So here are a few things that I want to remember...

We call him bubba gump, gruntosaurus, sweet boy, will boy, and terry (short for pterodactyl) when he's particularly shrill. I love how strong he is. As soon as they laid him on my chest in the hospital, he lifted his head and looked around. No one has informed him that he's a newborn and is supposed to be fragile.

I adore the way he breathes. It's often stuttered and loud and deep (with his mouth hanging open), and it's always warm and sweet and friendly. I listen for it in the dark of night, and treasure the warmth of it against my neck. Remember when you were young, and you used to wonder what clouds taste like? (Was that just me?) That's what his breath smells like. It's cloud fluff a la mode. One of my more awkward hobbies now is resting my face against his and smelling his breath until he gets mad at me. I now understand why parents are so embarrassing.

I love the way he shakily head butts me when he tries to look me in the eyes. I love how his eyes then go cross as he works so hard to focus on mine, and the endless expressions he manages to create. They never, ever get old. He pushes his tongue against his bottom lip, he purses his lips, he scrunches his face and raises his eyebrows and stretches his arms and poses like superman and tries his best to look like the grumpiest old man in the land.

He is so active, so playful, so alive. He wiggles and kicks and grunts like a pro grunter, which isn't a thing. Until now. He grunts when he's happy, when he's angry, when he's (supposed to be) sleeping. Whenever I wake up in a pure and quite irrational panic, which is more often than I'd like to admit, there's no greater sound than his little drowsy grunts.

I love his lips and how he moves his mouth. I love his little spit bubbles and the way his clean, fluffy blonde hair smells after a bath. I love how he'll go perfectly still and just stare silently in one direction as if he's just discovered something that requires a lot of focused thought. The best thing in the world is the thoughtful way he clutches at my shoulder or my arm or my clothes when he's sleepy or nursing. His little fingers opening and closing in a gentle repetition, just to remind me he's still there. His fingers and toes are constantly in motion. The little dimples on his hands make me want to cry.

His eyes are so deep and beautiful, that stunning blue-grey slate. (Will they darken to brown like mine, or lighten to blue like his dad's?). Sometimes I almost feel like he is listening to me. He seems to think such deep thoughts... and then he'll squirm and fart and squeal and I'll realize he's only 4 weeks old, and his world is such a mystery to me. I constantly wonder what his view must be like. Is everything blurry? Does he see me when I hold him close and kiss his cheeks, his forehead, his nose, his lips? When he smiles those sneaky smirks in the middle of nothing in particular, does he know he's smiling at me?

I find myself being washed from head to toe in those surprising moments of OH HEAVENS I love him so much, I may drown in the great sticky mess of it. I can hardly stand it. I cry when I think too much about his tiny footprints or the smell of his first shampoo. I never want to graduate from this land of new motherhood, with its many graces and firsts and cuddles and homemade lattes. I cry when I think about this time of life going too quickly and ending before I'm ready for it to. He won't remember these days, but I... well, I will long for them and dream of them and never, ever forget them. I will carry them with me for the rest of my days in the happiest pocket of my heart.

41 weeks

I wrote the blog post below on the very day that my water broke and we rushed to the hospital to have our sweet William! I had no idea what was about to happen, and that's kind of the best part of it all, isn't it?

I thought I'd share it now, because I distinctly remember typing these words almost exactly a month ago and the rush of feelings and fears. Little did I know that William actually was interested in coming into our rainy world, and that our induction appointment would not be needed. And we did, indeed, all survive! Praise the Lord.


Without even realizing it, 2 months have gone by and I haven't blogged a bit.

In November we visited our dear friends in North Carolina, and I had two fantastic baby showers (the first was Le Petit Prince themed, the second was Oh, the Places He'll Go! and both were just the best). In December, we hit weeks 36-40 in what felt like record time. I had some time off of work which was so incredibly needed, and we were able to finish up so many things in our house - including painting the nursery! We had a lot of family time and us time. I haven't taken hardly any photos of anything, which feels very unlike me. But I'd like to eventually recap the past two months, especially our trip and my baby showers, but that'll most likely happen while I'm on maternity leave.

Which brings us to right now. William's due date was December 30th, and he's still snuggled up in my tummy. His tiny (but strong) feet are pushing against my ribs. Tomorrow marks 41 weeks with this little nomad. I don't think he's interested in coming into this rainy world just yet. We're scheduled for an induction tomorrow night, January 6th, at 10pm. I am quite terrified.

I have no idea what giving birth is like. There are so many mysteries. Even the things I've been told are hard to actually imagine. I have a lot of fears, and I think every single one is totally rational. Because this stuff can get crazy. He's so snug in here that I'm worried being induced will just end in an emergency c-section - what if he doesn't want to drop? What if his heart rate drops? What if I don't get to see him right away, because I'm incapacitated or because he's in some kind of danger?

I've never experienced something like this. Certain pain is on the horizon. A kind which I have no ability to comprehend. It's already mentally taxing, just knowing it's coming. It's physical, mental, emotional.

Every birth story is different and I'm standing right on the edge of mine. I can neither prepare for nor truly anticipate any of the details, and I have to just trust that the pain will be bearable, my baby will be healthy, and we will all survive.