Sunday, January 23, 2011

envy looks back

They were all lined up on her bookcase. Dozens and dozens of them, their pudgy little bodies forever solidifying Sarah's stance in my eyes as cool. Each one of them boasted of its own experience--a meal of coveted chicken nuggets, or a plastiky cheeseburger, with fries and maybe even a Coke.

Sarah's mom is so cool, my five-year-old mind thought.

She's got 34 McNugget Buddies to prove it.

Here began my relationship with Envy, a friend with something to say about everything. 

Fourth grade lunches were had under a pathetic sapling, striving to be something greater, where Kelly, Nicole, Dana and I circled and sat. As we unpacked our statements of status, my familiar friend Envy polarized my thoughts. I glanced at Dana's fruit snacks, those rubbery, sweet things that were supposed to taste like the flavors their fruit shapes held.

Poor you, Envy whispered, you just have real fruit. And my apple slices were browning.

Envy pointed out Nicole's white bread and then my oatmeal-dusted wheat bread. There were Juicy Juice boxes, compared to my water bottle, and Lunchables compared to my peanut butter and honey sandwich.

Envy continued her parade in my thoughts, usually unchecked.

In fifth grade, I noticed how Marisa's clothes were store-bought, and mine were sewn by Mom. Yes, we had fun going to JoAnn's, thumbing through giant books of patterns, choosing the fabrics and prints, and then watching the clothes come together, piece by piece, over days of cutting and pinning and sewing. But those tags on Marisa's clothes.  

Those tags were cool.

I'm a mom now. And I'm starting to prepare lunches and clothe my children and choose which experiences we'll share and those we won't.

And I'm just a little angry with my friend Envy because the things she whispered, the feelings she imparted, weren't based in truth. Envy did not have my best interest in mind.

But Mom did.

While Sarah was busy collecting her McNugget Buddies, my mom was at home, making home-made cheese sauce for her version of mac n' cheese, sparing us kids the TBHQ and dimethylpolysiloxane.

While Dana's mom was buying her Lunchables and fruit snacks, mine was preparing sandwiches with real protein and fiber, believing that fruit should taste like fruit and not reconstituted corn syrup. 

And while Marisa’s mom took her on shopping trips, trips that Mom and I would eventually have, my mom and I spent hours and hours creating those tagless clothes together, memories I wouldn’t trade even now for a pair of Seven jeans.

Envy tries to whisper to me now, even though I should be way past this childish covetousness and pettiness. She points out brands and status symbols and LeCruset cookingware. I’m trying to recognize her voice a little bit faster, and dismantle her influence a little more frequently. She’s never loved me, like my mom and my husband and my God. Why I’ve given her this power over my thoughts, I’m not sure; it’s probably just the way of human nature.

I’m happy to say, though, that she looks different. She’s no longer a welcomed presence in my life, holding my trust in hand because she lets me know what’s cool, sparing me rejection. Envy represents the ugly parts of me and I want nothing to do with her now.

I’d like to be the kind of mom that packs less-than-cool lunches, with snacks that don't have their own commercials, and that probably won't get traded, because I care for my kids. 

And I’d like to be the kind of daughter who can receive the goodness of life that her Father God gives, from whole wheat bread to off-brand sneakers, from authentic friendships to security in a husband's love, without leaning in to listen when Envy comes around and whispers.

Monday, January 17, 2011

the most important thing I can do

 I find myself impatient. Incredibly impatient and ready to be done with this season. It has to do with the sleeplessness, with the unsolved mysteries, the unanswered questions.

Why is my baby not sleeping through the night yet? 

Why is he still needing to eat every three hours? 

Is my milk supply enough? Is he making up for unmet caloric needs during the day?

Does his thrush affect his nursing? Why is the nystatin not working?

Should I let him cry it out this time? Is he over-stimulated? Is my presence keeping him up? Are his feelings hurt when I don't come right away? 

How did I do this with Carter? 

                      Why is this not working?

These questions weigh on me,

resting on already tired shoulders,

hovering like Eeyore's cloud,

unmoved by the fleeting distractions my happy life provides.

The dishes are calling, my dirty floor needs mopping, my sweet three year old wants to play, my marriage needs a date, a night away from parenthood, but I tell myself

this is the most important thing you can do right now. 

My blog needs updating, women's ministry needs events planned and coffees had and women contacted and loved and listened to, but I tell myself

this is the most important thing I can do right now.

My body needs more sleep, my legs need stretching, my heart needs the challenge of a three mile run, but I tell myself to be patient, that even my body can wait, because

this is the most important thing I can do right now.

My books are strewn across my floor, right next to the pump that's part of attempt number 17 to get this thing right. They speak to my questions, offering up seemingly simplistic solutions, but I take them anyway because it's something. Something to try. Something to tell the pediatrician. Something to tell myself.

I tell myself that these three months of discomfort are nothing when compared to the span of my life. There will be no significant event to mark the passing of these three months, or the next three, or even the next nine. I'll turn 29 and might gain a crease or two around the corners of my mouth and eyes, discernible to me alone. But for this little one, these three months are everything. And the next three, and the three after that are all definitively foundational to his life-long development and health. So, again I conclude that

this is the most important thing I can do right now.

My husband and my God are patient. They seem to understand that this is my life. They don't sulk, or throw pity-parties for lack of attention. There's no deep Bible study right now, no convicting challenge for me to work through. When my thoughts turn to God and scripture, they seem to tell me,

It's okay. Keep going. My love will sustain you. I gave all for you, so lean on my strength and give all for your baby.

When my attentions turn to my husband, he meets my weariness with praise and encouragement and trouble-shooting. We work through the questions and write new plans and try new things. Sometimes we're met with success, it seems these days mostly failure. So we start all over again.

Because this is the most important thing we can do right now.

This is the most important thing I can do.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

hello, old friend

It's been eleven months, two weeks and three days since my last.

Some would say the time lapse was too long; most would excuse me since I've "just" had a baby.

But it was time to break the fast. I finally laced up my last-year's-Christmas-present-but-hardly-used-Asics

and I went for a run.

Running has always given me much more than I've ever given it.

Running tells me I'm back.

Running tells me that my body is stronger than I give it credit.

Running tells me that I'm more than a milk-giving machine, more than a keeper of our home, more than a wiper of tears and a reader of books and a giver of much-needed hugs and love.

Running tells me that my husband is entirely capable of caring for the boys my world revolves around.

Running tells me that I am the same woman who discovered the escape of the sidewalk fifteen years ago. She may have gone to college, gotten married, become a teacher, entered ministry, and birthed two boys, but her need for fresh air and steady pavement will never die.

Running tells me that my hormones will stabilize, that quiet is possible and that I can move from surviving to thriving is this new normal.

I'm not promising myself much. There are no half-marathons or even 10K's on the horizon, but my shoes will remain by the door and my sanity will grow to anticipate the increasingly-regular, endorphin-inducing pleasure of a run.