Breathe

Standing by the dryer, I listened to some rogue item clank around inside it’s metal barrel. It’s probably a dime or some chapstick that I’ve accidentally bathed for the millionth time.

For the moment, I felt like a worn out shell of a person.  The house is still in boxes so it never looks clean.  There is construction going on by the living room which right now is 2 ottomans in front of a TV on the fireplace with hodge podge furniture sitting all around it.   My whole life is chaos right now from the two kids right down to the pluming in the half renovated bathroom whose hot water faucet quite producing not just hot water, but water at all.

I feel like I can’t get anything done.  I feel like I can’t breathe.  I don’t feel at home much less do I have a place to relax in the home in which I currently dwell.

I sit on my old couch in the front room while I nurse Salem with my eyes half open.  Eden cries for me to read her a book and I can tell she needs my attention.  My lack of sleep from two kids waking up last night is catching up with the fact that I couldn’t get a nap today.  Then enters the most overwhelming part of parenting with a new baby:  knowing that as exhausted as you are, there is still a night of wakefulness ahead of you.

I put Salem down and Eden followed me into the room with a book in hand and throws a fit next to my newly sleeping baby.  I feel at the end of my rope.  Eden needs me and I feel the weight of that.  Salem is asleep which means I also feel the weight of the chaos that needs to be managed in this house.  I feel guilty.  I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of responsibilities.

Lance walks in and says, “Just go to Starbucks by yourself.  I’ll put Eden down.”

In true “I can handle it all” fashion, I say no and go in to the other room to be productive.  As I did, tears started welling up in my eyes and I said, “I’m just going leave” and within 2 minutes of turning down the offer, I was pulling out of the driveway.

I cried.  Cried for the first time since having two kids.  I sat at the stop sign at the front of my neighborhood and dug through my CD’s for something for me.  Not Yo Gabba Gabba or Kids Songs 2, but a CD I use to like.  A CD I use to get to listen to.

No one was behind me so I just sat there a minute before I pulled off.  I realized pulling out into the headlights in front of me that it was the first time I had been totally alone in 6 weeks.  Life becomes just one long day and before I know it, it’s been a month and a half before I’ve had the stillness of just being me.

I drove to Starbucks and rolled down the windows and played an old Matisyahu song that I still adore.  I hardly noticed that I was listening to an Amish rapper in my minivan with the windows down while I drove around crying.  It was an honest moment for anyone in my hometown that was blessed with the sight of me.  It was very Rebecca.  As funny as it looked, I was a serious, beaten down mommy.

Sometimes in the madness you forget who you were which is still who you are it’s just pushed to the side to some back corner somewhere where the spontaneity of who you were before marriage, kids, and reality pushed you aside.  I can’t even remember the last time I just sang in my house.  I did that every day for my entire life until it stopped.  Now it drives me crazy to hear Lance sing around the house because I just want silence.  I use to never understand why my mom just wanted peace and quiet.  There was a time that it seemed so boring to crave that.

I sipped on my caramel apple cider and felt the breeze of the almost fall-ish feeling night blow on my face that didn’t have time for make-up today.  Today I was busy changing diapers, mending bee stings, and beating blasted ants to death that the exterminators can’t seem to knock.

I drove around my old university and remembered how long ago 8 years seemed.  Then I was a newly engaged girl who loved to write who struggled between Journalism and Psychology majors until the latter won out.  I never could come to terms with the rules of writing that they forced on you.  Sometimes incomplete sentences pack more punch and lame introductions seldom ever held the feeling of what I wanted to say.

I passed by a university hang out where college kids enjoyed the new summer air and spent their parents money.  They are closer to their minivan years than they know.

I blasted more songs and cried some more as I went from one place to the next.  I can’t tell you specifically why the tears kept coming but it was nice to be alone with just me and my tears.  It’s nice to be reminded of what solitude, a good drink, and a good song in my throat feels like.

On the way home, I caught every red light…the ones that with children I usually try to avoid.  I lingered.  I sang.  I sipped on my Starbucks with double whip and listened to songs too loud, drove too slow, and thought just enough.  I took deep breathes and did just that…I breathed.

Hi, Rebecca.  It’s good to see you. It’s been too long.

 

Beautiful Redemption

This blog is for Marissa, Jayna, Charlotte, & Suzanne for reminding me that this would be a beautifully redeemed experience in my life.  And to my family, friends, and husband that God had grace on me to have. 

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REDEEM
(rĭ-dēḿ)
 

To fulfill

To set free; rescue or ransom.

To restore the honor, worth, or reputation of

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I laid there in the wee early morning hours after her 5 am-ish feeding with her fist by her face and her teensy body laying sideways beside me on the bed.  She loves to lay on her side and always has that little fist by her face.  That’s something she must’ve done constantly in the womb which I couldn’t have known just 6 weeks ago.

The birds start chirping in the background.  Blasted birds.  They are a reminder that the day is starting whether you’ve been awake at 5 with a bottle in your hand or not.  The sun was just starting to rise and it casted a colorful light on my baby’s profile as the light peered through our orange-colored curtains.  I just stared at her and listened her to breathe and squeak on that pacifier she adores while she sucked it intermittently.  I thought about who I was that particular morning in contrast to who I had been just a week or so earlier.  The difference in how I see her and the world is a stark contrast, comparatively.  I looked at her perfection of a flawless shaped nose, pure head of dark hair, intricate little fingers by her face and my heart softened.  I could look at her for hours.  I thought intensely about the past month and a half of my life and thought about what was said to me in my struggle:

“God will redeem this into something beautiful.”

I wondered if I should write this now.  This was such an intense experience that maybe it needed more time to marinate.  Barely anytime has passed and I’ve started to write this blog and stopped again just thinking I should really give this experience time to show itself redeemed in my life.  Then I realized that this will be continually redeemed and perpetually useful in my life.  I can already see the ways that God has used this to work out a purpose.

Me, being the perfectionist that I am, had less important things in life literally beat out of me. I couldn’t hold on to them anymore as the sudden mother of a newborn. If I tried to hold on to the perfectly put together house, I would’ve been consumed by postpartum all for the sake of freshly vacuumed carpet with the vacuum lines perfectly pressed in. The priority of a straightened even, dare I say, sanitized home…gone.   If I would’ve cared about the flab on my belly, I would’ve been overtaken for the sake of vanity. The need to look together….gone.   It’s funny how, even in moments of hysteria, God immediately changes your worldview and gives you some perspective in your life.  It doesn’t come in a subtle way.  More of a screaming baby and instant life change but clarity of what matters comes even in the fog of it all.  I feel more of a depth of myself now.  A wisdom.  A glimpse inside of a journey where the only things in life that matter weren’t what seemed to matter 14 hours of labor earlier.  Someone told me when I was struggling and feeling like a hamster on a wheel where time passed into time and my routine felt like that of an empty robot that…. “I was doing exactly what God intended for me to do each day: feed and love that baby of mine.”  All of the sudden what seemed like a hopeless tunnel of monotony and sorrow felt purposeful.  And even though in that moment I couldn’t fully see it,  I knew it was better than the restful days, cute homes, and toned body I had before.  It seems so obvious when you type it out but when you go through a total loss of who you were before in a hospital overnight, you don’t see how infantile and meaningless some of your everyday ways were before.  I still like a newly cleaned look on my floors.  I just like being in ragged pj’s all day and looking at a child who just smiled at me for the first time a lot better than the things that felt good to me before.  I can rest easy at night knowing that I took care of a beautiful little girl just the way I was supposed to.  Not only that but she knows me.  She senses me in the room.  She turns her head to hear my voice and she’s comforted when she cries when I whisper into her ear.  She’s mine and I get to take care of her with my unbrushed teeth and bags under my eyes.  I’m her only mother.  There will be other cute houses in my life someday.

Redemtion continues….

In a 6 year marriage and an 8 year relationship, a lot of damage can be done.  Somewhere in between “I do” and laying next to a tiny person that’s half of us both, somethings get lost along the way.  Namely, my vulnerability to Lance has been pretty well shot.  After time.  After hurts.  After daily life.  After failures.  After seasons of anger or pain.  2,012 days at a time parked me at a place with a man I loved, with a wall I despised but felt safe behind.  As I started to crumble in front of my family and Lance, I saw a man who I knew was there at an altar in Kentucky 6 years ago this August.  If I ever had doubts of the extraordinary man I married, they ended one anxious, sleepless, postpartum day at a time.  He took care of my every need.  When I would sit in an emotional void state with only hours of sleep in days and raging hunger and anxiety in my belly, he would sit up with me.  He would take our baby girl when I was crying and frustrated at 2 am and bounce her and sing her songs he had written about her being the best girl.  One night I got up to feed her and as I was pulling Eden out of her pack and play he woke up and said, “Do you want me to get behind you?”  He crawled over to my side of the bed and I sat in between his legs and laid on his chest while he held me and I nursed our baby in my arms.  In that moment, it was everything I needed. He was everything I needed. I needed him to hold me up both in his arms and emotionally and he was.  Without being asked.

Every night I would collaspse onto the bed desperate for sleep and he would come curl up behind me and spoon me for a minute.  I was like a child that needed their mother in the middle of the night to comfort them when they were sick and I craved that few minutes every night.  When you get married, you are passing the responsibility of care that your parents once assumed for you on to your spouse and he was fulfilling that role.  He would pray out loud while he held my hand each night and then we would tackle and battle through it all…together.  I haven’t been that totally dependent on another person since I was a newborn myself.  As I fell down hard and he rose to the occasion, I felt years of hurt and un-vunerability be chipped away until I found myself the blushing bride he married, ready to give her heart fully and trusting again.  I felt renewed.  I was his.  Again.

If I had to give a praise to this experience or a word to it that sums it all up, it would be rescued.  It was such a deep dark experience for me that really no one saw it but my family and husband.  I kept myself hidden.  To most people they talked to me before it hit and then when I was normal again a month later.  To most of the world, it was like it never happened.  But it was real and because of the reality of it I HAD to be rescued because I was in total dependence.  I couldn’t do anything for myself or pull from anything inside of me because I was 100 percent shot by it all.  There was no other choice but for me to be recused because I couldn’t save myself.  With every meal, prayer, my sweet doctor, and the Lord who gave me his mercy and grace to have all of those things, little by little I was being pulled from the waters I was being swallowed by. What was once drowning became floating to the surface being pulled from my circumstance.

Thank you, Jesus.

All of this to me is redemption.  Saved from my mess to wake up to a pint-sized, fuzzy-headed baby girl and find a clearer headed version of myself with a better perspective on life.  Redeemed to find a more well-rounded woman who is learning daily to be less selfish.  Redeemed to find a new pair of eyes for the man who I knew wouldn’t be a mistake to choose for forever.  Redeemed to praise God for his daily mercies and his sovereignty in my life with each family member, friend, and spouse He gave to me for such a time as this. Redeemed to praise Him for being Him.

The most wonderful thing about it all is that it will continue to show itself purposeful in my life.  Every time I can take a crying new mother’s baby so she can rest and talk to her and encourage her about the light and redemption that is hard to see.  Every time I get an email from a mom who has read my journey and says thank you and asks me how she can cope with this time in her life.  And redeeming still when I go to the hospital to see Eden’s first child and answer the phone a few days later to an exhausted and depleted new mommy on the other end.  I can tell her, “I remember when I was so weak and defeated that I couldn’t even pick you up.  I couldn’t stop crying and crying.  I felt like I could never be a mother on my own and then almost as quickly as I went under, I found myself cuddled next to you in bed as the sunlight traced your face and I loved every inch of you and being your mom.  Then I realized I was doing it.  And being your mom was the best thing I’ve ever done.”

I hear my sweet baby crying softly for me in the next room fighting the nap we both probably need.  I feel overwhelmed while I write this but for once, in a good way.  I’m so happy that after all the pills, prayers, shame, joy, rising, and stumbling that on the other side of it all was motherhood.  I suppose it was motherhood all along. 

I find myself where I prayed I’d be: a young stay at home mother to a child that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to have.  I feel rescued. I feel hopeful.  I feel an abundance of love and the richness of the blessing of a child.  And as my eyes well up with tears, more than anything I feel myself and this miraculous disaster being redeemed. 

 And just as it was promised….

it’s beautiful.

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