If you would have told me 10 years ago that today I would have 4 kids, I would have laughed at you. What would have amused me, even more, would be to hear how we have struggled to sleep train every. single. one of them. I thought with number one I had it all figured out when I stumbled upon a way to get her to sleep on demand at 3 months. Nope. Thing 2 came around and blew that theory right out of the water. Then what worked on 2 didn't work on 3, and so on. I don't have schedules for you, a great revelation of how many months your baby should co-sleep, the best sleep sack (although I could recommend my favorite if you asked!), or how long is too long to 'cry it out'. They may still be sleeping in your bed by the time they're 4. BUT! I do have one little simple trick that may just get that baby to SLEEP, regardless of where they are. The answer? Music. Too easy? Maybe, but it might just change your life.
The first week of your baby's life is perhaps the most amazing and awe-inspiring as you watch them slowing begin to awaken to the world they have arrived in. But let's be real - those first 7 days are perhaps the most intimidating, terrifying and ultimately the hardest you've ever experienced to date! And instead of getting easier things tend to get harder, at least for a time. Although my husband and I both came from big families and had lots of experience with babies, when we brought our firstborn home from the hospital, many nights I would begin crying as the sun went down, so dreading the long night ahead. True story. And, no matter what you do or don't do, transitioning into life with a newborn is as painful as growing a limb. Or so I can imagine.
It's the lie we all believe: No one understands. No one really cares. Sure, we have friends... but at the end of the day, we are an island. I'm not entirely sure why we fall for this every time. Do we cower in fear to the idea that there is no one in our corner because we are afraid to let anyone in? Or is it that we secretly hope it's true because we feel so painfully isolated, our only comfort in the lonliness is believing that perhaps there is no one to comfort us. Regardless of why we believe it, the reality is that we do. It is a lie that the enemy has spun around mothers for centuries, and this Mother's Day I want to set the record straight.
It has taken me over two years to begin this post. I suppose for some reason, even though I've wanted to share our story for quite some time, not sharing seemed safer. I know many of you reading this right now know exactly what I mean: you can't change the reality of your circumstances, but sometimes it feels like it's easier to work through the pain alone. And while that might be true for a season, there comes a day when the only way you know how to resolve your grief is to share. Otherwise, we'd never know the comfort of hearing our hearts expressed through another's words. There is something powerful that happens when we put our inhibitions aside and share our experiences to those who are hurting. Not only do we provide hope to those walking a similar road, but we find peace and healing that can only take place in the safety of honest conversation. I am the one in four, a woman who miscarried, and for many of us that is far too terrifying of an admission to make. But it's time that we began sharing our stories with each other, if for no other reason to encourage them to share their stories as well. We need each other, to know we're not alone... to know there is hope beyond the loss. And so it is with a hesitant but brave heart that I share these things with you today, hoping - praying - that somehow it might be a balm for those walking through these sacred halls on their journey through motherhood. Not everyone must take this road, but those of us who travel it will forever be changed by our experiences. The sweet babies we never met have left their mark on us; the wounds may heal, but the scars will never fade... and we don't want them to. A mother's heart will never fully move on - they will forever be unforgotten.
I found myself holding back tears during our worship service at church this week. The music was wonderful, but that's not why I had to work to push down the lump in my throat. Looking around, I couldn't help but wonder what I was bringing to our fellowship to help bring growth. What do I do to contribute to the local outreach, our discipleship ministries, or the day in and day out functions of the church? For someone like me who has been involved in ministries for most of my life, the answer to those questions shook me to the core: Nothing. You're not needed.
The light downstairs got left on. I didn't notice it before, but now that I was snug in my bed with all the lights off, I could just barely see the soft glow of the kitchen lights peaking around the staircase. Ugh. Letting out a sigh, I swung my legs back over the side of the bed and made my way downstairs. Kitchen lights off, double-checked the locked doors, and headed back upstairs to give my little sleeping princess one last look before climbing back into bed. I was tired. Not lonely, hysterical or even sad tonight. Just tired. One of the many unexpected side-effects to a long deployment is an emotional numbness that creeps in toward the halfway mark. I missed my husband. I hated living alone. I couldn't wait for it to be over. But there was nothing I could do about that, so I climbed back into bed and went to sleep. Welcome to the second half of the deployment. The unexpected truth? It's harder than the first.
I attended a wedding this weekend. It was beautiful. The ceremony was short but so very sweet, colors were superb, and the coordination discreet but obviously working like a well-oiled machine. I love weddings. The Bride glowed in the way all brides should: the gleam of health and happiness, the beauty of a woman in love. She and her sweet bridesmaids around her shone with the vitality, excitement and beauty that is common to all of us in that time of life. As I watched with a smile I found within myself that quiet little tinge of something I didn't think I liked. It wasn't jealousy - no, nothing nearly that ugly. But it was a nagging, consistent, chiding voice that continued to question me right through the days following the celebration: Are you still enough?
When we started having children we discovered something that would have not surprised some, but came as quite a shock to us... parenting is hard! Like, making dinner blindfolded with your hands tied behind your back 'hard'. You have no idea what you're doing, are most likely too tired to care, and you're desperately trying to find a way to avoid messing your kids up for life. We lived there for years, acting and reacting, drowning in if then's, don't you dare's, do you want a time out's and other extremely ineffective parenting defaults. And then we stumbled upon the one truth that changed the way we raised our kids... and changed the way our kids responded to us.
"No use crying over spilled milk", the saying always goes. Which is true... unless you're the one who spilled it OR you're the one that has to clean it up. That was how my morning started today, and I'm beginning to wonder who ever thought that was a good thing to say in the first place. Whoever they were, they obviously didn't have kids! However, they might have known a thing or two about grace.
It's the day you've waited for all your life. It's exciting and scary, adrenaline and apprehension mixing like rich espresso and cream. The most important part is sharing the experience with the love of your life, with those most important to you there to witness the event. But somewhere between "She said yes!" and "You may kiss the bride", there's thousands of choices (not to mentioned thousands of dollars) to deliberate over. If I had to do it again, there are a few things I'd do differently - and before you ask, no, the groom would not be one of them!