Ever since Sweet Pea arrived, Babykins has become firmly attached to her baby doll. Throughout the day, Dolly does many activities with us–diaper changes, playtime, walks in the stroller around the house. Whatever I do with Sweet Pea, Babykins will eventually do with Dolly. Sometimes Babykins even insists that I take care of Dolly.
One day, Babykins asked that I put Dolly in the Moby wrap after I had put Sweet Pea down for a nap. I had the time to play along, so into the wrap went Dolly. Babykins wandered off to do toddler things and I used the momentary peace to brush my teeth.
And that is how my husband found me when he came home for lunch: Standing in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, carrying a doll in a wrap.
Sometimes it is extremely difficult to explain what goes down here while he’s gone.
A couple of years ago, one of my sister-in-laws taught me how to cut my husband’s hair. I was so excited to cut barber fees out of our budget (ha, I made a pun!). Then I got pregnant with Babykins and morning sickness and fatigue sapped my energy to do things like cut my husband’s hair. Back to the barber shop he went.
After we moved to Iowa, I had more time and energy again. So, I picked up the razor and continued to learn how to give my husband a haircut. It was a short-lived endeavor because then Babykins made her big appearance and once again my energy was limited. Back to the barber shop he went.
When Babykins was around 8 months old, I decided it was time to really push to get our lives back in order. We had a nice electric razor for haircuts and I wasn’t quite as exhausted as I was when Babykins was itty-bitty. However, Babykins was still a terrible napper and would often wake up and need to be soothed after 30 minutes. My plan was to try to cut my husband’s hair while Babykins was freshly awake and fed. She could sit in her activity saucer and watch me play barber.
I got everything set up in the bathroom–chair, razor, broom. Babykins watched from the doorway. I carefully started to trim my husband’s hair.
Everything went fine for the first couple of minutes, but then Babykins started to fuss. “It’s okay, we’ll be done soon!” my husband and I cooed at her. Then Babykins started to cry. “Shhhh, Babykins, you’re okay!” we continued to coo. Then Babykins started to scream.
Have you ever tried to concentrate while a baby screamed 5 feet from you? It’s difficult. Now imagine that you’re doing this with an electric razor.
Trying to hurry the haircut, my hand slipped and I cut off a big chunk of my husband’s hair. I was completely flustered by this point and Babykins was screaming louder and louder. I started to swear. “I’ve ruined it! I’ve ruined your *@#$% hair!” I cried.
My husband, ever patient and rational, calmly said, “It’s okay. We can stop now and finish later.”
“No!” I yelled, ever impatient and irrational, “I have the #$%* stuff out NOW, we’re doing this @#$*% haircut NOW!” I was crying, Babykins was crying, and my poor husband had to watch as his daughter sobbed and his wife went into hysterics with an electric razor in her hands.
I’m not really sure how I finished the haircut, other than it got done. Still crying, I grabbed the red-faced Babykins and locked myself in her nursery to feed her.
A few days later, my husband suggested that maybe he should just get his hair cut at the barber shop for now. I begrudgingly agreed. I still feel guilty from time to time that we’re spending money on his haircuts when we have a perfectly functioning electric razor sitting in a closet. After all, $12 a month makes a chunk of change at the end of the year. However, I’ve decided to look at it as part of our contribution to the local economy. Likewise, a friend recently pointed out that $12 a month is much cheaper than a divorce or counseling fees.
My husband told me the other day that I’m into competitive parenting. What he meant is that I’m determined to find the best way to mother Babykins, as well as become intensely focused on finding the perfect solution for any problem she displays.
While the desire to do what is best for my child certainly isn’t bad, the obsessive tendencies I display in this quest can quickly consume me. That doesn’t help either Babykins or me.
Unfortunately, people like me have all too easy access to information to fuel this parenting obsession. Browse a bookshop and you’ll find shelves devoted to keeping your child happy and healthy. Likewise, Google anything child related and you’ll easily have a hundred websites and blogs to peruse. Most of these books and websites have conflicting information, making the search for the perfect parenting plan even more maddening. But it’s also an addiction that I can’t seem to quit.
I’m finally starting to realize that obsessively researching all things baby doesn’t give me any perfect answers. Rather, it just slowly drives me insane (yes, Mom, I know you told me this months ago). So to help me take a proverbial chill pill, I’ve started to take up this mantra:
What is “WWMIS?” It stands for “What Would Ma Ingalls Say?” Because nothing can help you take a parenting chill pill more than thinking about a pioneer mother.*
For example, sleep is often an issue that tortures parents of infants and toddlers. Do you let them cry-it-out or do you cuddle them throughout the night? Is it okay to feed your 3-month-old during the night? What about your 9-month-old? What if your baby isn’t sleeping through the night by 6 months, have you failed at parenthood? What if your baby only naps on you? Will you emotionally scar your baby if you sleep train? Will you kill your baby if you co-sleep? WHAT IS THE RIGHT ANSWER?!
And then I imagine Ma Ingalls would say:
Food is another issue that causes great divides among parents. Is exclusively breastfeeding far superior to any other form of feeding? Is a little bit of formula okay? When should you offer a bottle? When should you start solids? Should you start with rice cereal? Purees? Finger foods? If you don’t give your baby organic produce and grass-fed meat, will they sprout a tail? WHAT IS THE RIGHT ANSWER?!
And then I imagine Ma Ingalls would say**:
Play is another hot topic issue among parents. How much time do you spend focusing solely on your infant? Are you hindering their budding genius if you skip over Kindermusik and don’t bother with the “Mommy and Me” classes? How much “free play” do you schedule into your day? If you let your baby watch a Baby Einstein DVD, will their brains ooze out their ears? WHAT IS THE RIGHT ANSWER?!
And then I imagine Ma Ingalls would say:
There are many more examples of things that parents get worked up about today that didn’t matter one whit on the frontier. Education decisions? You hoped there was a one-room school house within a couple of miles. How many children a your family should have? Well, contraceptive options were limited and you usually assumed a few of your children would die before adulthood. Parenting style? You went about your business during the day and hoped your children stayed close enough that they wouldn’t get eaten by a bear or a wolf.
So, if you’re a competitive parent like me and you find yourself becoming consumed by your quest to find the perfect solution for every problem, just ask yourself:
*Note: I realize pioneer life wasn’t perfect and that infant mortality was high. Likewise, I also realize that many pioneer families went back East because it was a hard life. I’m not saying I would do everything that pioneer family would do, I’m just trying to give myself some perspective on parenting options. Remember, I’m trying not to go insane here! 😉
**Another Note: I also realize that breastfeeding didn’t work 100% of the time even before the introduction of commercialized formula (even what is “natural” isn’t perfect because of a sinful world, blah, blah, blah) and sometimes babies were given something other than mother’s milk. Again, I’m not saying we should do everything a pioneer family would do, I’m just trying to give myself some perspective!
Much like Pregnancy Brain, Mommy Brain is a common occurrence among mothers. Symptoms include lack of focus, forgetfulness, and confusion. I am not exempt from this phenomena.
Case in point, the other day I wanted to shower before our family left for a morning appointment.
I returned about 5 minutes later fully dressed and groomed but still unshowered. My husband was befuddled.
Yes, I forgot I was going to take a shower in the 30 seconds it took to walk from the dining room to our bedroom. At least I remembered to put on deodorant.
I know this is a favorite topic of mommy blogs everywhere. Post after post have been written about young mothers’ abhorrence of being told to “treasure every moment”. Why is this?
Because it’s freakin’ annoying to be told that you should love every moment of motherhood. Because it’s a lot of pressure to feel like your heart should be overflowing with happiness during every tedious task. And mostly because the people telling you to “treasure every moment” are the ones who are least likely to know your parenting struggles.
Last Sunday morning provided a fine sample of moments to “treasure”. The 2 a.m. feeding for Babykins, which wouldn’t have been bothersome except that it was followed by a 3:30 a.m feeding and a 6:15 a.m. wake up.
The battle to get ready for church with an overtired Babykins. The half-mile walk to church over icy roads in a desperate (but ultimately futile) attempt to get Babykins to sleep before church.
The failed attempt to discreetly feed Babykins in the Sunday school area. The poop on my hands when I changed the blowout diaper. The wrestling match to get Babykins in a clean outfit because the poop on my hands got on her.
The mad dash to leave after service before Babykins had a meltdown. The half-mile trek back home over icy roads in which Babykins finally fell asleep.
Granted, last Sunday morning was a particularly difficult one for Babykins and me. But are those the moments I’m really meant to treasure? Am I a bad mother for not enjoying Sunday morning with my baby?
For once, I’m not racked with self-doubt by these questions. I realize the “treasure every moment” mantra is said with nostalgia and the expectation to love every second of motherhood is foolish.
There are many moments that I treasure with Babykins. I treasure the moment when my husband excitedly told me “Girl!” as he saw Babykins for the first time. I treasure her smile that she readily gives me but has to be coaxed to give strangers. I treasure having her by my bedside at night (when she’s peacefully sleeping, of course). I treasure the snuggles. I treasure her bright eyes and long fingers. I treasure many things.
But I don’t treasure everything. Like any vocation, there are crappy moments (figuratively and literally) and it’s a ridiculous sentiment to treasure every moment.
But those precious, treasure-worthy moments make the gut-wrenching, frustrating moments worth it.
There’s no denying it now–pregnancy brain has hit. I forget details easily, like how much money I withdrew from the bank last week (Surprise, I did have an extra $20 after all! It just took me 4 days to find it). Sometimes I’ll listen to a conversation like I’m in a cozy fog. And apparently I ask my husband to do things and then forget.
And don’t even get me started about my focus. There’s a reason why I haven’t written an “Introvert Monday” post the last few weeks.
Sometimes I get frustrated with my mental capabilities. It’s hard enough talking to people around town without feeling like a space cadet and I never know what thought is going to slip down my mental drain.
On the bright side, it’s really exciting getting packages from Amazon because I can’t remember what I ordered. It’s like giving myself a present!
It’s moving week for my husband and me. That means we are now in the throes of the 4 Stages of Moving.
Stage 1: Denial
This stage usual begins about 3-4 weeks before our move. It’s generally when we haven’t actually starting packing but we’re seriously thinking about starting packing. We try to convince ourselves that this move will be better then the last move and that we actually don’t have as much to pack as we think we do.
Whether or not this is true, this keeps the panic at bay so we at least start filling boxes.
Stage 2: Panic
This stage usually begins somewhere around 1-2 weeks before our move. As boxes begin to pile up around us and more and more things get added to our moving list, nerves and panic start to set in.
Things to panic about include having enough space in the moving truck, having enough boxes or packing material, and having enough help to load up the moving truck. There is also the option to panic about the fact that we’re moving to a new town where we don’t know anyone.
Stage 3: Celebration
This stage occurs after we get everything into the truck/trailer. We can breath a sigh of relief because everything is packed and we can check off one of the biggest things on our moving list. This stage lasts about 10 minutes before reverting back to Stage 2 because, well, we still have to finish cleaning the house, make a long drive, unload the truck, meet new people. . .
Stage 4: Acceptance
No matter what we do, how much we plan, and what we tell ourselves, moving is an exhausting ordeal. At the end of the move, we just have to accept the physical and emotional exhaustion that always follows.
*Note: We are loading up the trailer tomorrow and moving to Iowa on Friday. The bad news is that we’ll be sans internet for a bit. I know, I know, you’ll cry yourself to sleep knowing that there will not be new post coming the next few days (not that I’ve been posting consistently anyway). The good news is that I have some ideas percolating for blog posts and even a new blog title! After all, I can’t be the Seminarian’s Wife when my husband isn’t a seminarian. 🙂
The last few weeks have been busy for my husband and me–hence the lack of posts. There have been 4th-year banquets, lots of scurrying to prepare for our new lives in Iowa, and a seemingly futile attempt to continue our normal duties of our present lives. All of this makes it a bit hard to focus.
At any rate, there are several countdowns running for us:
3 days until graduation
5ish weeks until we move
6ish weeks until my husband is ordained/installed
19ish weeks until Baby arrives
Of course, all these countdowns lead to many checklists:
Checklists for the graduation party
Checklists for packing and moving
Checklists for what we need to discuss with the congregation
Checklists for baby preparations
Then all those checklists lead to concerns and worries, like:
Oh crap, we’re having a party on Saturday! How will we get everything ready?!
How do you move with cats?
How do you move when you’re 26 weeks pregnant?
What will this new church be like?
What if the people don’t like my husband? What if the people don’t like me? What if I don’t like them?
How do you find a new doctor when your current insurance expires at the end of June and you’re not sure what your new insurance covers?
How are we supposed to take care of a baby when we can’t even put up a Pack ‘n Play?
On the bright side, my nausea has fully subsided, so I can eat chocolate and drink coffee to make myself feel better. And if you tell me I shouldn’t eat and drink those things because I’m pregnant, I’ll come and eat you. So there.
This past Wednesday was the first orientation meeting for the call process. Since I had the day off, I tagged along with my husband to hear firsthand what is going to happen during these next 8 months. For me, I don’t have to do much. I’ll fill out the call application with my husband and eventually join my husband at an interview with the Call-Organizer-Professor-Dude (I’m not sure what his official title is). My husband has to deal with the brunt of the work–lots of paperwork, making sure all of his course work is completed, and passing his Theological Interview. Since I’m a control freak, it’s a bit nerve-wracking that I have to quietly sit by as my husband does most of the work for the call process. I’m putting my future into his hands (no pressure, Honey!).
As for how I’m feeling, I haven’t had a major freak out like I did during the start of the vicarage process. Perhaps it’s the drugs doing their job, perhaps it’s that we’ve been through this state of unknown before and I know we’ll live through it. Most likely it’s that I’m living in a state of denial and refusing to think about the stress of the upcoming months. Part of me knows that if I really take the time to think about how scary the unknowns are (Where will we be living? What kind of church will call my husband? Will there be a call for my husband?!), I’ll do this:
Pressure: it’s everywhere. Be loyal to your family. Be committed to your job. Be supportive of your husband. Take care of yourself, take care of others. Be active at church. Be happy at church. Be outgoing at church. Make your life here, make your life there. Put husband first, put work first, put family first (that is, first after God). Stay calm. Don’t be anxious. Don’t worry. Enjoy the here and now. Look forward to the future. Give 100%. . . to everything.
The pressure is frustrating.
Oh yeah, I forget, don’t lose your head.