During your first round of nap protests, I had several mothers recommend the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. “It’s so helpful,” they said. “It really encouraged me understand my baby’s sleep needs,” they told me. Consequently, I bought the book and plowed through it. Then I attempted to apply the advice given in the book to you.
You didn’t go for it, leaving me a hysterical mess because the book also assured me that if you didn’t get the “right” sleep, you would grow up to be a delinquent idiot.
Your own sleep cycle soon emerged: For several days you would take extremely long naps and go to bed well, then several days you would only nap for 30 minutes at a time and refuse to fall asleep at night. Each time you entered the anti-sleep phase there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth because I was sure that your refusal to nap was a reflection of my terrible mothering.
At any rate, last week I thought we turned a corner with this whole sleep thing. For three days you went to bed at 7:00 p.m. and you took a good morning nap and a good afternoon nap–just like the book said you should. Then, without warning, you started waking up at 5:30 a.m. and taking 30 minute naps–just like the book said you shouldn’t. Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth.
After the second day of this, I talked to your grandmother. I bemoaned the fact that you just wouldn’t take a decent nap and despite you continuing your 7 p.m. bedtime, you were insistent on waking up before 6 a.m. “That sounds reasonable to me,” your grandmother said.
“But that isn’t what the book said she should be doing,” I explained.
“Oh, throw that stupid book away. I’ve always told you that you gave up your morning nap when you were only a few months older than Babykins!” exclaimed your grandmother.
It was true, one of your grandmother’s favorite stories of my infancy is that I was a terrible napper and refused to take a morning nap well before I was a year old. Originally I thought this story was amusing, now that you’re here, Babykins, I realize the horrible reality of a baby who won’t take a nap. Oh, why did I put your grandmother through that?
Oh, right, because I was a baby.
However, it is a comfort to know I was a terrible napper and I didn’t grow up to be a delinquent moron. So there’s hope for you.
At any rate, perhaps 26 years from now you’ll have a baby of your own who won’t sleep. And I’ll tell you when you lament about bad naps that you would often only take 30 minute naps that made me wail and gnash my teeth. But I’ll do so with fondness and laughter.
P.S.–After I had this conversation with your grandmother, you took a 3 hour nap that afternoon. Go figure.
I have been told many lies about raising Babykins.
Okay, “lies” might be a bit harsh–they are more like untruths. Untruths stated with such certainty that it’s hard not to be crushed when they don’t happen. Things like:
“Just wear her in a carrier! She’ll be content and you’ll be able to get things done.”
“It’ll get easier at 6 weeks.”
“Nursing is great because you can sooth your baby.”
“Let sleeping babies lie” and “She can’t be hurt by crying.”*
Then there’s the biggest untruth of all:
“Trust you instincts. You’re her mother, you’ll know what’s best for her.”
Because I don’t know what’s best for her.
I don’t know if I have an especially fussy baby or if I’m simply not coping. I don’t know if she has acid reflux, gas issues, or typical baby tummy troubles. I don’t know when she’s tired and hungry, tired and gassy, or tired and just won’t sleep.
The not knowing is almost paralyzing. And that’s why yesterday–despite my nearly dry prayer life–I found myself crying while bouncing with a fussy Babykins on the exercise ball and begging God to have mercy on both of us.
*These may be true if Babykins wasn’t so small and gained weight faster.
My Husband’s First Sunday as Pastor
This past Sunday was the first time my husband led a service as Pastor. He was naturally a bit nervous when leaving for church Sunday morning but was also excited. However, the start of the service set off a dazzling sound system failure.
First, he couldn’t get his microphone to turn on. He had to awkwardly stand in front of the congregation as he fiddled with the pack. When he finally got it on, the sound wasn’t balanced correctly. Have you ever listened to an old speech in front of a large crowd? It echos across the masses, almost repeating the words of the speech. Now think about how that would sound in a small sanctuary. That’s how my husband sounded.
I’m fairly certain that there were some members frantically trying to fix the problem throughout the first half of the service. However, the strange auditorium echo remained when my husband started preaching. About 5 minutes into the sermon, the sound system gave up and created an eardrum splitting round of feedback. My husband asked to have the sound turned off at the point. On the bright side, everyone was quite awake for at least part of the sermon.
The worst part of all this was that several of the same problems occurred at the ordination service, so some members of the congregation worked on fixing the problem this past week. They thought they had everything sorted out, so to have the same issues occur again was frustrating for everybody.
Naturally, the glitches on Sunday didn’t fall completely on the sound system. There were the usual hiccups that occur when a new pastor does a service with a congregation for the first time. My husband forgot to tell the organist about using a seasonal antiphon. The congregation (myself included) got confused about what we were supposed to respond with during the prayer of the church. Overall, it wasn’t the smoothest service. When he got home, my husband shook his head and said, “I was just waiting for a dog to walk in.”
The good news is that Bible study seemed to go much better. Despite my husband using a Power Point presentation, there wasn’t any technological snafus. Nobody stormed out of the study deeply offended. That’s not saying much seeing how we’re Midwestern Lutherans and such a public display of emotion would be unsightly.
My First Sunday as Pastor’s Wife
I had been dreading this first Sunday in a new congregation ever since we returned from vicarage. Since attending services the first few months of vicarage was a horrible, anxiety-inducing struggle, I was concerned that I would wind up in the bathroom stall with a panic attack at our new church.
However, Sunday turned out to be surprisingly peaceful. Well, at least it was only uncomfortably awkward and not panic-inducing. I believe part of this relates to how sound carries inside the church. Our vicarage church’s fellowship hall was loud and often had 60-80 people milling around between service and Bible study. The noise overstimulated me, leaving me confused and anxious. Our new church’s fellowship hall isn’t nearly as loud; it is also a smaller congregation than our vicarage church.
Leave it to me to feel relieved that there are less people attending church.
Another helpful factor was that two members from our vicarage congregation surprised us by attending service (they were vacationing in the area). It was a comfort to see a pair of familiar faces.
Overall, I left Bible study feeling like maybe, just maybe, I could swing this pastor’s wife thing after all.
Last year, October, November, and December were terrible months for me. I struggled to adjust to our move. I felt lonely. I was diagnosed with anxiety and went on an anti-depressant. It wasn’t a great time in my life, especially since I quit going to church during those months.
Thankfully, things eventually did get better. I returned to church, a painful but necessary ordeal. My panic attacks began to decline and finally stopped for the first time in three years. I’m still on medication but it seems to help keep me in balance. Most of all, I feel whole. I didn’t realize it while it was happening, but a year ago I lived in a painful fog. Most of the time I only felt apathy, sadness, or hopelessness. Now I might have a stressful day at work or a chaotic weekend, but my base mood is contentment. I can go to church again without trying to fight off uncontrollable panic. Best of all, I feel like I can laugh again: Laugh with my family and friends, laugh at what goes on around me, and laugh at myself.
However, while I am better, I am not healed. The anxiety and depression is under control but it still lurks in my mind. The past can haunt me. Sometimes I’m unable to find a good answer to the question, “How was vicarage?” It also scares me that things were so dark without me realizing it. Likewise, the future frightens me. I try not to think about the unknowns, but sometimes the old feeling of panic resurfaces when I think about having to face a new congregation this summer. Then I know that while I’ve momentarily won the battle with anxiety, it still waits to resurface when I’m at my most vulnerable.
Yet I still have hope despite my worries. I know now that even if my worst fears happen, I will survive. I’m starting to formulate a preemptive strike against anxiety by preparing to find a counselor as soon as we know where we are moving. And because now I know that I am not indestructible, my prayer to God is no longer “Lord, You must keep this from happening” but rather, “Lord, keep me faithful in my weakness, because I cannot. Have mercy on me.”
On Wednesday we will be loading up yet another moving truck to make what is now becoming our annual move. There’s a lot to be done before load up time: Boxes to be packed, floors to be scrubbed, a location to recycle light bulbs to be found. It’s a stressful time. In the past, the stress of moving often reduced me to a crying pile of anxiety, but not so much with this move. Don’t get me wrong, there have been nights when I tell my husband that I feel overwhelmed by everything, but this move hasn’t triggered any panic attacks and meltdowns. It could be the drugs at work, it could be the fact that we’re returning to a familiar town, or it could be the fact that after three moves in three summers I’m finally getting adept at coping with these transitions. Whatever the reasons, I’m happy to report that I feel somewhat emotionally stable for Moving 2013.
Well, emotionally stable as long as I’m conscious. Sleeping has been a different story.
I’ve never been one to ponder the meaning of my dreams because they have always been fairly straightforward–I dream about whatever stressors are in my life. In college I would dream about missing tests and forgetting papers. While I worked at the daycare I would dream about loosing children. The last couple of years I have dreamed about my nanny children when weeks have been particularly chaotic. Since the beginning of July I have dreamed about moving. And as irrational as my imagination can be during my waking hours, my unconscious mind can create some of the most unlikely scenarios:
The Not Packed Dream: The moving truck had arrived and nothing in the house was boxed up. I was frantically trying to shove things into boxes. For some reason, one of my nanny children was with me so I was trying to teach him how to fold clothes to pack into boxes. Since he was only 5 in my dream, it wasn’t going well.
The Search for Permanent Markers Dream, Part A: I was searching Walmart (which looked oddly like Target) for permanent markers so I could label our moving boxes. I searched and searched the aisles but couldn’t find them. Oh, and I was on rollerblades and kept falling down.
The Search for Permanent Markers Dream, Part B: I was again searching Walmart (which looked like Walmart this time) for permanent markers and still couldn’t find any. This time I had a cranky child in tow, so I was literally dragging him through the store because he was on a harness. I’m not sure whose child he was.
The Dual Parish Dream: Somehow we had skipped fourth year completely and were trying to settle in at my husband’s first call, which was for a dual parish. However, it wasn’t just that he had two churches, we also had two parsonages. I was frantically trying to figure out how to split our belongings between two homes, frustrated because church members kept calling on my husband while we where trying to unpack, and devastated because we forgot our utensils at our farmhouse (and our utensils aren’t even that nice!). Oh, and my sister was living with us for some reason.
So there you have it, proof that the worry always comes out in some form or another. The most stressful dream by far was the dual parish dream–I think my concern about the first call started showing in that one. The dream that just makes me laugh is the thought of rollerblading through Walmart–I mean, really? That’s just crazy. At any rate, here’s hoping that a week from today the moving dreams will be gone. . . at least until next summer!
Do you have dreams about the stressors in your life? How do you handle those dreams? What has been your most amusing dream?