Well... I haven't quite figured it out, but I feel like I may be getting there. After 6 weeks of being Ellerbe's mama, I feel like I've earned a few nuggets of wisdom.
- Pursue community.
Being a stay at home mom can be very isolating. This realization came after a particularly pitiful day. I had literally done nothing all day except for feed my child and try to calm her sweet tummy down. She finally fell asleep and so I took a nap too. Tyler walked in from work around 4:30 and here's what he saw: his darling wife in his XL Gun Barrel City Tshirt, baggy pajama pants, hair in a greasy ponytail. You get the picture. All around pathetic. AND I hadn't brushed my teeth at all that day. Gross. In tears and frustration I welcomed him home by handing over Elle. I was lonely, felt ashamed and guilty because I had accomplished nothing of seeming significance and had been caught in the act. It was then that I realized that if I don't pursue people, I am going to be caught in the shame spiral of loneliness and despair of raising a child. If I don't invite people into my life, I'm going to be stuck believing the lie that I'm valuable because of what I accomplish. If I don't confess what's going on inside me I'm going to start resenting my sweet baby girl and I'm going to lose sight of the mission that God has put before me- to love her as Jesus loves me, giving myself completely for her that she might one day know how much God loves her because of how I take care of her.
-Take a dang shower.
In the first few weeksof mommyhood, I simply could not handle Elle crying. It sent me into a stressed out frenzy, even though I know that sometimes infants just cry even if nothing's wrong. So letting her cry for 5 minutes while I took a shower (or...ahem...brushed my teeth) was just out of the question. But, oh man... I've discovered just how cleansing, both inwardly and outwardly, those few minutes alone in the shower can be. It's been pretty consistent throughout the 6 weeks of her little life that showering provides the quiet and solitude that my soul needs to remember Jesus, remember the truth of His gospel, and more tangibly just feel like a human being again. So, new moms, take a shower, even if it means your little one has to cry for a short while.
-Get out of the house.
Yes, it's 10 times more difficult to do anything now. You've got a baby, an infant carrier that weighs 50 pounds (why are those things so stinking heavy?!), a diaper bag that you must remember to load with pacifiers, bottles for a potential melt down, diapers, wipes, extra clothes, extra extra clothes, etc. But, go to the grocery store. Go get coffee with a friend or for heaven's sake, go through the drive through at Chic-Fil-A just to get a sweet tea. Sitting in your house all day attached to your sweet one will drive you a little crazy if you don't get out.
-Get a full-sized swing.
It's my best friend. Little Bit can lay in the swing (normally) for an hour and if she falls asleep I usually get another hour or two. Oh my goodness. I tried to be financially and spacial-ly economical by getting the portable swing. She does NOT enjoy the little swing as much as the full sized, side-to-side, birdie twirling swing. She gurgles and smiles and LOVES her swing. And mama gets dishes, laundry, or down time :) It's awesome.
-Strive for contentment in your current situation.
When I was just dating Tyler, I thought my life would be better when I was engaged, when engaged-married, when unemployed- it was teaching, on the hard days of teaching- it was being a mama, now that I'm a mama- I tend to think life will be better when she's sleeping 12 hours or taking longer naps or starts walking, etc. Point being- as a "grass is greener on the other side-er" I've been struggling to just SO enjoy those quiet, snuggly baby moments at 2:30 in the morning after a feeding. But to not do that is to worship a circumstance or situation, not Jesus. Jesus has perfectly placed me in every situation and circumstance and each one of them serves to make me love and adore Him more. To not do this is idolatry. It's forsaking the truth that Jesus loves me, is on my side, and works all things FOR me. Not necessarily for my comfort, but for the good of my soul. It's a sweet truth that God has been working in me and reminding me of as I start to grow bitter during the sleepless nights and fussy days.
*However, I will proudly and HAPPILY say that Ellerbe Anne has slept for 6 consecutive hours 3 nights this week.
-Give that baby a bottle.
I am breastfeeding, but it has been SO NICE to pump in between feedings so that Tyler or whoever can help me feed her. (We also went through a bout of not being able to nurse at night due to frustration and exhaustion on both of our parts. It just wasn't working. So for about 2 and a half weeks I bottle fed for the late night/early morning feedings. For the record, we're back to nursing at night. We got it under control. :) )It's what allows me to go out alone, sleep in a little bit, finish laundry, go on a date with my man, etc. I read a lot of craziness about not giving your baby a bottle or pacifier in the first month because they might get confused and forget how to nurse. And I'm sure that can be an issue for some kids. But when we got home that first night and I nursed for 2 hours straight because when I wasn't nursing her she was screaming, we quickly threw that advice out the window and gave the little, sweet, screaming, angry love bug a pacifier out of sheer exhaustion. As it turns out, sucking is a way that babies calm themselves down. And Elle couldn't keep her little fist in her mouth so she needed something else to help her calm down. Fortunately, the girl can still eat like nobody's business. She also takes a bottle like a champ and I know that this is not the case with all babes, so we definitely consider ourselves lucky.
So, we're adjusting to a new normal and loving this sweet new little life as God shows us more of Himself through her.
Just for fun. :)