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!