I had a couple of really hard days with my three-year-old son Jacob last week. Like, really hard. Friends had warned me that the “terrible two’s” were mostly a myth and it was really three that was horrendous.
They were right.
I was entirely at the end of my rope by 1:30pm, when I put Jacob down for his nap and called one of my best friends, a seasoned mother of four. And the youngest two of her four are currently three.
“Oh Leah!” she said when she answered (I had already texted her the summary of our difficulties). And then she said two things that I haven’t stopped thinking about since.
“Know that you are just going to screw up,” she said. “No one is expecting you to be perfect, and no one is expecting you to parent perfectly.” Continue reading
I had an incredible run today. It was incredible not because of the dirt roads or the farmland, not because of the breathtaking views or scenic waterways, not because of the cool breeze blowing my hair or the cacophony of bird noises filling my ears. It was incredible because of the way I witnessed and relived my own story of coming into adulthood in New York City.
Today I started out at the home that my husband and I own in upper Manhattan (well, technically the bank still owns most of it), the home where we are raising our two kiddos and figuring out what it is to be a family of four, living in THE City. I headed north, passing the playground where we took Jacob the day Hannah Grace was born and the swings that I rocked gently on that morning, wondering if that day would be the day that our lives would be forever changed – again. I turned around at the lighthouse that was my first “big destination” when I started running again after Hannah Grace was born, and ran beneath “our bridge,” as our toddler calls the GW.
Heading south, I entered such familiar territory. The miles I ran during our early marriage, sometimes staring blindly out at the water, wondering what I had gotten myself into as I tried to figure out how to bend my life to meet and embrace someone else’s. The miles I ran the morning I found out we were expecting Jacob, plotting how to tell Harrison and practically sprinting the entire distance in elated joy. The miles I walked when eight months pregnant with Jacob and I could run no more, and the loops I ran with our stroller when I first started running again after he was born. Continue reading
My sweet baby girl —
It’s been a hard year, hasn’t it?
You experienced so much change and you had to learn so much. In fact, you learned more in this first year of your life than perhaps you will in any other single year moving forward (!). And the change you experienced – it was unimaginable, too. You went from having every single need met so perfectly that you had never even experienced need – to a world in which you experienced every basic need and more – hunger, exhaustion, frustration, anger, fear, sadness – sometimes all in one day or even one hour. I’m so sorry, sweet baby girl of mine, that it’s been so hard.
And yet – you amaze me. Despite all these hard things, you grew and thrived. You learned to roll over, sit, crawl, stand, start to walk. You learned to drink and eat (and boy do you love food!), to smile and laugh and start to talk. I am so proud of you, already, for your persistence, for your feisty spirit, for all the many things you have learned and accomplished in this short year. Today, you are ONE.
My sweet baby girl, it’s been a hard year for your Mama, too. Continue reading
Filed under blogging, children, contentment, depression, family, god & faith, identity, motherhood, parenting, prayer, sensory overload
Happy First Birthday to grace in the darkness! A year ago today, you made your way into cyberspace after many months of gestation (months which I spent researching and planning and writing and designing) and, like any birth, that day was filled with many hopes and dreams, much excitement, and certainly some nerves. It’s hard to believe it’s been this long already — and that some of you are still reading my words after 365 days.
Mostly, it’s hard to believe because it’s so easy to wish that I’d done more. Written more posts, taken more beautiful photos, facilitated more guest authors. Also, I’d hoped for more success. I wish I had acquired more followers, seen more readership growth, been offered more book deals (ha!). I’d hoped for more.
However, despite not being more, it’s been a good, full year. A hard year, certainly, but what year isn’t? As I was preparing to write this post, and thinking about the past year, I revisited many posts from the last twelve months (of course). I revisited the dark places and the questions, the favorite quotes, the letters to my son and daughter, the post about learning to love our family of four and the posts exploring Ed Welch’s book about faith and depression that I found so useful. I remembered my struggles with finding community in New York and applauded my efforts at starting to run again. And you know what? It’s not more, and it’s not the best, but it is good. Continue reading
Filed under blogging, career, children, community, depression, family, god & faith, identity, motherhood, prayer, Uncategorized, writing
So it’s finally spring in New York, and let me tell you, it almost makes up for how awful and long and hard and cold winter was. Almost.
But it is an interesting phenomenon. The temperature rises, the trees start to bloom, and everything feels better. I am happier and feel more capable of doing anything – traipsing about with my kids, making friends, attending events, brainstorming new ideas, reaching out. Life not only seems bearable, but wonderful and filled with possibility. I go on runs and smile at the people I pass and love waking up to the light-filled mornings as the sun creeps up earlier and earlier each day.
And there’s something about making it through the winter that makes the spring so much sweeter. You’ve conquered yet another challenging season, one filled with darkness and snowdrifts and icy roads, freezing temps and even colder wind chills, days of being cooped up inside and mornings of slipping your way to the subway. And now you’re on the other side – stronger and braver for enduring the hardship.
But the thing about the spring – it always comes. We never have endless winter. Even when the cold seems to last forever, even on the shortest, darkest days – the spring always comes. Why is it to hard to trust the truth that we know? Continue reading
Motherhood is filled with hard choices. Lately, I’m constantly deciding which of my children comes first.
Maaaaamaaaaaa! Jacob hollers, banging his hands on the sides of his crib insistently with all the power and energy of a two-year-old.
Wake-up time!!!!!!! he calls, as though there was any chance I could have slept through his yelling. Nouk! Bum! Peatut burr!!!!” His way of demanding his daily breakfast: milk, banana, and peanut butter.
I glance at the clock, bleary-eyed. 6:34. At least it’s later than yesterday. I’m nursing his baby sister in my bedroom, hoping that she’ll get a halfway decent feed. The day before I’d gotten them out of bed together and she was distracted by his antics as he danced around with his milk while I tried to nurse her. I’d chosen to feed them together.
This morning, I’m choosing her. He has to wait. Continue reading
This winter, feeling tired and overwhelmed paved an easy road for hopelessness.
How’s it going? A friend would ask.
Oh, pretty well, I’d reply. It’s hard, but things are fine. You know, it’s just a different way of life now. A thin smile. We’re finding a way to make it work.
But the thing is, things were not fine, and things were definitely not working.
However, I’ve gotten really good at powering through. It’s easy for me to keep on doing and going and “yes, I’m fine”-ing (as I wrote last time). To keep showing up for meetings and attending church and getting myself and the kids dressed and out of the house.
So that’s exactly what I was doing, this fall. I just kept going and smiling and doing.
But I knew I wasn’t fine, inside. And my husband knew I wasn’t fine. And after a little more time, my kids knew I wasn’t fine. Continue reading
Last time I promised that I’d write about what depression is like for me in this season of life. It’s no cakewalk, but it’s not Hollywood either.
I don’t spend days in bed crying, forgetting to eat and unable to take care of myself. I also don’t have dramatic breakdowns resulting in hospitalization. (Although, admittedly, on my worst days I have wished that was the case.)
In fact, all outward appearances probably look pretty good most of the time – certainly this time around. (Helps to have cute kids, right?)
When depression rears its ugly head in my life, it’s not always the same – certainly there have been times in the past of poor self-care, insomnia, extreme hopelessness and bouts of crying – but I mostly left that permutation behind in college. And there have been many periods of gray, when I’ve fought, every single day, to go through the motions, to take care of whatever job or child or spouse or friend or piece of music or writing I needed to do, because everything felt futile.
This time hasn’t been any of those things, exactly. Continue reading
Remember how I wrote about figuring out what’s necessary in life?
Well, I’ll tell you how that’s going in a bit.
These days, I’m teaching my son to breathe. When he gets upset and I can’t talk any sense into him or get him to stop crying long enough to look me in the eyes or answer a question, I try to breathe with him.
In and out, in and out, in and out.
It often takes a long time until he can join me. But the minutes that I spend sitting with him, inhaling deeply and slowly and then exhaling fully –
those minutes are good practice for me, too.
Because I’ve been holding my breath for awhile now. Wondering what kinds of feelings each day will bring. Wondering if I’ll make it one, two, three hours before hopelessness starts to replace hopefulness. Wondering if I’ll start to know – and really feel, not just know in my head – that God is real. Wondering if it’s too early in the day to start drinking.
It’s been hard, the past few months. Continue reading
So, my son. He is just over two years old – you know, the beginning of the infamous “terrible twos,” so-named because this is the time when toddlers start to express feelings in all sorts of inappropriate ways (also known as, “tantrums”). Theoretically, this happens because the toddlers don’t yet know otherwise and haven’t learned how to manage their emotions.
My son has these outbursts – he actually becomes inconsolable and entirely hysterical, hyperventilating and such. So far these haven’t happened in the candy aisle at the grocery store (are NYC grocery stores big enough for a candy aisle?) or in the car seat as I try to buckle him in (what car?), but instead they happen in the stroller when we are walking home at night and he can’t see the moon (darn you, clouds), or at home because I took the corn out of the bowl and put it onto his plate.
(And we are talking MAJORLY upset, people. Out of control and sucking in air too fast and choking on saliva and tears everywhere upset. Hysterical upset.)
But the thing is, I’m not surprised. Continue reading
Filed under children, contentment, depression, family, identity, motherhood, parenting, prayer, running, Uncategorized, writing