31 May 2011

Introverted Parenting

Wondering why the thoughts on introverted parenting? Because I spent last week working, with my friend Shelley, on this guest post for the Introverted Church blog. Please come over and join the conversation, whether you're introvert, extrovert, or confused.

27 May 2011

Welcoming the Other

It's hard to welcome her, sometimes, and not just when she's fussing and demanding. Sometimes, it's even hard when she's spectacular, full of magic, learning to jump in the middle of the living room.

When I'm tired, when my heart hurts, when life weighs a lot, I want to hide behind my wall, close the door,  and sit by myself for a while until life stops hurting again. And she's there, always there, needing and asking. It's like her very existence demands that I come out, that I attend, that I reach out around that door and hold her little hands while she tries to show me her latest conquest.

I'm an introvert, and I need time behind those walls. They aren't bad, don't represent hurts or shame or pain, just my own need to get away and go somewhere to process the things going on around me, because that's the way I am. But she needs me, needs me to open my heart and my very self and be present.

It's easy to fall into a halfway sort of presence, to mindlessly look up from my book or stick my head out of my room when she calls, make sure she's ok, clap if that's what's called for, and never really come out from behind the walls. Much harder, especially with first-trimester exhausting haunting me, to put down the book (or never pick it up in the first place), get up from my chair, and join in games I don't entirely understand with dolls and balls and cars and a barn.

And that's just the truth of the situation. I remind myself of this a lot, when I'm struggling and I feel like I should be doing better. Real hospitality, hospitality of the soul, isn't easy or natural for most introverts, and the need for constant hospitality, even for one who is so precious and darling and loved, is a drain.

Sometimes there aren't easy answers, aren't solutions that work for everyone, and so I pray every day for patience and peace and energy, and that already I would be teaching her to balance her needs for time with me and time alone. And I ask for help, so I can get a little bit of time here and there to retreat and rejuvenate. An imperfect solution in an imperfect world, you might say, but one that works for me.

19 May 2011

Time

It's a quiet morning. I wish there were more like this, where it's just me and my computer and my view of green and clouds and I can set apart a little time to think and pray and write. There's something beautiful and whole-making about these moments, something my soul craves in the stillness and silence and entire lack of other people.

I know that being a wife and a mom means that moments like this are often few and far between, and I've tried to let go of my desire for them. I've tried to give up my self, these longings for just a few still moments every day where I can consult with my soul and my God and pull some of those loose ends together. And I've tried to embrace the constant company that having a husband and children mean. After all, I don't want to be all alone in life.

And yet I still feel myself called to moments like this. I still find myself taking time alone when I can't make it, trying to sacrifice other things even when they're not things I want to sacrifice. And I begin to wonder if at least some time like this, time to wander in my thoughts, time to muse and pray and read and write where there's not much separation between all of those things, I begin to wonder if it's a need and not just a desire, a necessity and not something extra.

But I'm such a good introvert that I'll take almost any time alone that I can get. Some people hoard money and I will hoard time, if give the chance. It's my treasure, the one thing I get all dragon-toothed and scaly-winged when people try to steal. I've thought lots of different things about this over the years: that having all the time alone that I want is good and valid, that it's bad and selfish, that I ought to be with my daughter or my husband, because our time together is limited.

There's truth on all sides, I think. Many things are good in moderation and somewhat less good in excess. But the same is true the other way, too. If too much is bad for the soul, too little usually is, as well. And I think that's where I've fallen off the cart in these months since motherhood found me: in trying to give up myself, I've tried to sacrifice something essential. At least for me, not having unstructured time alone is like trying not to eat, ever again. It might be okay for a couple of days, but it will destroy me if I keep it up.


16 May 2011

Covered

A couple of months ago, we took the baby to the ER. There wasn't much of a choice in the matter - she'd jammed a hard straw into her soft palate and it was still bleeding after several hours. When we could finally see it, the gaping hole she'd made was, all in all, rather spectacular.

Middle of the night, doctors alternately loving on her and hurting her, hours pass because the ENT is out or asleep or something. And then stitches, holding her down because the medicine (3x the usual dose for one drug and more than 1 dose of another) wasn't working and she wouldn't just sleep and so she arched against 5 of us as he stitched away.

Two weeks later, baby healed but the bills arrived. Not so much, but more than we could factor into our meager budget right now. Cue panic, mama searching all of the accounts to find a way to pay for the care she had to have, daddy lamenting, again, the lost job and wishing he could provide.

Help asked, applications submitted and . . . bills covered. If we owe after this, we will be able to pay. But it doesn't look like we will owe anything. Nothing.

Truly, God holds the little ones, wraps them up in his big, strong arms and carries them when there's nothing else to be done. If only we could all live as little ones . . .

Thanks, today, for:
-baby hale and healthy
-doctors who know what they're doing
-the relief of knowing all is paid
-time to write this week
-husband has one class (one very important class) down
-baby curls
-little one finally growing out of clothes

12 May 2011

Water Falls Like Diamonds

The sky is wet and, therefore, so are we. The sandbox and the swimming pool are not longer distinguishable from one another, and the baby is slowly going (and driving the rest of us) stir-crazy.

Still, the rain is blessed. The tomatoes may die and the rest of the population might moan, but this is what it means to have seasons. These unexpected blessings, two days of rain after a week of 70+, and I choose to take the bad with the good because I've lived without seasons. It's not always a ton of fun, either.

Life. Sometimes I think I'd chose a life without seasons over the type of season we've had recently. 18 months of . . . not quite winter, but of days like today. Life feels thick with clouds, pressing in and keeping most of the light away. And it has carried the hassle of rain, of either getting wet or juggling umbrella along with diaper bag, purse, water bottle, and baby every time I leave the house.

And yet . . . and yet. There's always that "and yet," it seems. Something that wiggles its way forward, that waves hands in air and asks me if maybe, just maybe, things aren't as black and white as they seem.

And yet. Without the rain things don't grow. I keep telling myself that, and I have said it over and over these months. It's hard, not knowing what's been planted, not knowing what sort of crop all this rain is tending, not knowing if, really, there's anything growing that would make all this rain worthwhile. But maybe. Maybe. MAYBE. Maybe there is.

I find myself left with another question, yet again not quite sure if I can answer. IF there's something growing that needs all of this rain to sprout and blossom and seed, would I sacrifice it for days of easy sunshine and stagnant soul?


09 May 2011

Earth is A'Flutter

Aspen leaves really do flutter in the wind, like a million green butterflies with wings all a'twitter. It rolls today, down from the mountains, across the plains, and eventually through my suburban backyard. Even here, there's no hiding, no avoiding the moving air and the things it brings.

For my part, I mostly stay inside. The wind and I don't get along. I don't think I've carried this animosity from childhood, though I remember days when I leaned so far into it walking to school that I wondered what would happen if it ever stopped.

The girl, though, she loves the wind. Or, rather, she doesn't seem to notice it much. I have a theory about this: she's so low to the ground that she doesn't really feel it. But I think that's only part of it. I think her world is so interesting, so colorful and new and fun to explore, that it doesn't matter what's going on around her.

And watching her, I begin to wonder: how often do I let one unpleasant aspect of an otherwise-beautiful life get in the way of my appreciation? How often do I forget how rarely things are perfect, even for a moment, and let my frustration with the imperfect rule rather than the deep and abiding joy that good things bring? And how long will I wait for my life to be perfect, rather than embracing the cracked and tottering now, bright colors and chipping paint together?


1. Fluttering aspen
2. Watching my girl learn to make friends
3. Long naps
4. Chubby white legs after a long winter
5. One morning of sleeping in this week
6. The celebration of another year, in a world where life itself is victory
7. Dark blue eyes in her pale, pale face
8. How he's almost done, at least with this part of his new education
9. The places where Jesus meets me
10. How adding ice makes everything better

04 May 2011

Mother's Days Past

Two years ago on Mother's Day, we both called our moms and said, "Hi Grandma!" which, all in all, was rather a shock for them (though rather a hoot for us).

Last year, we muddled through, because we were still muddling even though the girl was 4 months old. I was going back to work in a week or so and didn't feel like celebrating. Our lives felt tenuous, like we were holding on by a hair and too much happiness might cause us to lose our balance.

This year, BabyCenter.com informs me that 8 weeks of baby is about the size of a kidney bean and we will be parents all over again before the end of the year. I imagine a boy this time, blonde (of course) and brawny, even as a tyke. Or maybe another girl, and my daughter will know the sweetness of having a sister (a sweetness her mother has never known).