What Postpartum Feels Like

It’s April 1st, and my Christmas wreath is still hanging on our front door.

Let that be an indication of how things are “going” in our household.

My Facebook profile picture is still a maternity shot of me…and my baby boy who was born in December, is now 3 1/2 months old. So…

I’m a little (or a LOT) behind on laundry, vacuming, grocery shopping (since the ALDI incident), and pretty much every other area of life right now.

I haven’t been writing, because I feel empty inside. And have nothing to say.

I nurse my baby boy constantly, while my 4-year-old begs me to play Candy Land with her, and watch her magic tricks, and cries when I don’t look at her while she’s talking. (So, she cries a lot.) I fold laundry and cook dinner with one hand. Or not at all.

Sometimes, I forget to start dinner, and pull out the rock hard frozen chicken breast at 3:30 p.m. And it’s a frozen pizza for dinner, instead.

The Keurig light blinks, “Not Ready–Add Water…” And that’s pretty much how I feel right now. Like the canteen is dry, and blinking. And being constantly depleted.

And this is how postpartum feels, sometimes. And the jump from one to two kids is harder than I imagined it would be. It’s so good–it’s just that my weaknesses are showing through more than ever.

My Scripture reading is scant–unless an Instagram graphic counts. And I’m pretty sure just playing the “Bethel” station on my Spotify on my phone isn’t quite giving my soul the intimacy with God I need.

Our house is filled with chaos and noise–a beautiful sound in contrast with the years of quietness and crying out for children.

But now that they’re here, it’s strange how the barrenness can creep back into my soul.

And I’m reminded again–that it is God, and only God that truly satisfies the longing soul.

Sometimes my daughter leaves the caps off her markers. This week I picked up the orange marker to write down a phone number, but the cap had been off. It was bone dry. It made a mark, but just barely. I tried to press harder–and the color just barely came through.

I’ve felt a lot like that orange marker lately.

Like, the cap has been off for a while now.

I’m pressing hard–but just barely coming through.

And my soul is dry like that marker.

I’ve felt all kinds of different emotions lately. I know part of it is due to postpartum hormones, and nursing an infant, and clutter around my house, and driving my daughter to preschool while my son wails. And being so tired. All the time.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE being a mom. There are these beautiful moments that simply take my breath away.

But there are other moments, that simply take my sanity away.

Like when my baby is crying because he wants to be held or nursed, and I haven’t gotten to eat anything yet and it’s 10:30 a.m. And my stomach is growling. And my 4-year-old daughter is crying because I didn’t let her screw on the cap of the sippy cup, and my son poops through his outfit and needs a bath. And his poop leaked onto the shirt I’m wearing. And when I pass myself in the mirror, I look much like Miss Hanigan on Annie. (Not the new Cameron Diaz version, but the ugly one from the 80’s version.)

Sometimes, all three of us are crying at the same time.

 

Sometimes, it feels like we are at a nut house.

When my son fell asleep yesterday, I put a show on for my daughter and locked myself in my room–just so I could drink a hot cup of coffee and straighten my hair. Just to feel “normal.”

It didn’t really help. But my hair looked better than it has in a long time. 😉

And I finally realized something: my soul is parched.

I am in a season of drought. 

Even as I write this–I am in a season of drought.

But I found some hope yesterday, and I’m clinging to it, wrapping both my arms and legs around it, and not letting go.

During one of my nursing sessions on the couch–I made a very feeble attempt to read my Bible. I one-handedly flipped open my it open to Jeremiah 17.

I have always loved this Scripture–but God met me through it in a new way.

It says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.” Jeremiah 17:5-6

As I read, I was realizing:

Yes. That is me. Trying to make my own flesh my strength. My heart departing from the Lord. A shrub in the desert. Dwelling in the parched places of the wilderness. 

I might have walked away depressed if I stopped there. But I kept reading. And found this,

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in a year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

And here I find my hope.

Because even the man who trusts in the LORD—goes through times of drought.

And when he does, he does not grow anxious.

He does not fear–when heat comes. (Not if heat comes, but when it comes.)

So, right now, in my dry, chaotic state of mind, as I am parched and weary–I put my trust in the LORD.

Indeed, my trust is the LORD. It has to be. And not my weary self.

Even in a year of drought, I am not to grow anxious.

(I really hope it’s not a full year of drought.) But, however long this drought lasts, I don’t have to be anxious and fearful.

I can’t “feel” God close right now. But He is. My mind is dull, and distracted, and I can’t engage how I would like to.

And I’m thirsty inside.

But in my thirst–I still have hope.

Because He promises to quench me. In His time.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

In my unrighteousness, I thirst for His righteousness. And He will fill me. He promises this.

I hope you know, I’m not writing from the other side of this. I am in a dry place right now.

But, I have to share this, because I think someone reading this might be in a dry season, too. Maybe it’s you.

Maybe you are in a postpartum state. And maybe not. But either way, maybe you too, feel like a dried up marker.

Trying to make a mark, and pressing hard…but just barely coming through.

Who feels depleted. Who wakes up each day like the blinking Keurig. “Not ready. Add Water.”

Who wants to have it together–but doesn’t.

If you are, you’re not alone. Because I am in this place, too.

And then, there’s Jesus… I have to believe He will come for us. That He will meet us in our drought. Because…

He  calls out to the thirsty.

And thirst is good. Because it makes us realize how desperate we are–for Him.

I don’t know when the rains will come. But they will come.

He will come. He has to. 

And though I feel like it has been a long time, in this drought season. I see a cloud. It’s only as small as a man’s hand. But I see a cloud…and rain is coming.

Jesus is coming. For us.

For the dry markers. And empty Keurig’s. And the barren lands. The souls thirsting for water.

I’m not afraid to admit: I’m thirsty. I’m dry. And I need Him. 

Because He will send the rain. He promises this.

“For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” Psalm 107:9

and

“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

So let it rain God. 

I am thirsty for You. 

And You alone. 

 


You may also enjoy listening to this song by Kari Jobe, “Let Your Glory Fall.”

The Beauty Of Right Now

One day there won’t be anymore smudges on my windows. I won’t trip over toys in the hallway. Or in the shower. Everything will be in perfect order.

I know this because when I go visit my parents house, it’s clean. Freshly vacuumed, and furniture polished. Everything is as it should be.

And I think, “Someday, my house will be clean.”

But you know what? In that day, I’m going to miss this. I’m going to miss them. Being little.

I will look out my unsmudged windows and cry for the fingerprints that once marked them. For the little girl who once stared out of them and dreamed.

For the baby boy who held me hostage to the couch, because he wanted to nurse 23 hours out of the day, and whose big blue eyes would lock with mine while he did, and nearly take my breath away.

And I will ache for a day…exactly like today. All messy and undone.

Someday I won’t wake to crying in the night. I will have eight hours of glorious, undisturbed sleep, every night. (If I want it.)

But, I won’t want it then. I’ll somehow want this.

I’ll want the nights back when the baby woke me up with his cries, and my daughter crawled in between the safety of our warm bodies to forget her nightmares. And remember her dreams.

Someday I will have time. Time to write. Time to shop. Time to do whatever I want. Too much time. I won’t have a baby boy nursing at my breast, or a toddler trying to hug (and kiss) that baby boy while he is nursing at my breast, because, “He’s so cute, Mom,” she says over and over again. And we won’t be piled on top of each other, into that one spot on the couch. (Because everyone knows when you love someone, you should sit on top of them.)

Someday I will cook dinner in peace. I won’t be tripping over my 4-year-old who steps exactly where I step, right before I step there. And I won’t have a baby boy strapped to my chest while I try to do the dishes and bounce him to sleep at the same time.

Someday…they won’t be strapped to my chest. They’ll just be strapped to my heart. I will wash the dishes and stare out the window, hating how quiet it is. Hating how easy it is. Hating how clean it is.

And all I will have are these memories.

Of us all piled together. Of me not having an inch of personal space. Of not getting a chance to shower, and instead getting showered in spit-up, and high-arcing pee during diaper changes.

And I will miss it. I will miss them–just like this.

I will miss them being little. 

And I don’t know why my daughter pretends she’s a mermaid named Elsa in the bathtub, or why she drenches the floor with her splash-kicks–except that, she’s little. And this is her world right now.

And I don’t know why my baby boy wants me all the time, or why he screams when I put him in his car seat, or why he wakes up the moment anything remotely romantic happens between me and his dad. But he does. And he’s little. And this is our world right now.

And I’m going to miss it.

The other day my husband popped in for lunch. I was not expecting him, and the house was a disaster. Clothes were in heaps in the living room, the kitchen wasn’t tidied. My hair was in a giant messy bun, and I had no make-up on. My son was asleep in my arms (in our usual spot on the couch), and my daughter was laying on the floor looking at her books.

“Hi,” I said, with a smile.

I knew what it probably looked like. I knew it looked like I accomplished nothing. I knew it looked like I didn’t care. And…I was about to apologize to him. I was about to say, “I’m sorry…” For the house. For my hair.

But before the words came out, I noticed something.

Smudges on the windows.

Smudges because she had been standing there hoping he would come. Watching for his car. And it hit me like a ton of bricks: someday we won’t have smudges on the windows.

And in that moment, there was just something about the way her blonde hair fell into her face as she lay on the floor and looked at her books. And there was something about the way my son was laying, so comfortably in my arms, like he had melted into me–and suddenly the words, “I’m sorry,” didn’t seem to make sense any more.

And instead I said, “I have a beautiful, beautiful life.”

And I meant it.

Tears formed in my eyes. Because just for a second, I saw it. It was just a glimpse, but I saw it. The beauty of right now.

Right now.

I have a beautiful, beautiful life. 

And I’m writing this, so I remember.

And I’m writing this, so you remember. And so you don’t forget. Wherever you’re at today. Whatever you accomplished. Or didn’t accomplish. However clean or messy your house is, don’t let Satan steal this one glorious truth from you:

I have a beautiful, beautiful life. 

Right now. 

Today. 

And these days often feel long.

But someday, they will feel short.

So very short, the time that our kids were little.

And we will all long for it back. This time. With them.

It’s like a breeze. Like the wind.

You can’t take a picture of the wind. You can’t keep it. You can’t capture it. And you can’t take it with you.

You can only feel it while it is blowing.

And it’s blowing now. 

So turn towards it, and let it blow. Turn towards it and just…feel it. Let your hair fly and get tangled in it. Because someday, there won’t be any more smudges on the windows. And you’ll long just to feel it again, this wind,

their breath on your skin.

It’s blowing now. 

 


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“Am I Enough?”

The Secret Beauty Of Being A Mom

mom

She doesn’t know it, but the note she sent me stays by my kitchen sink. She doesn’t know it, but I’m still thinking about what she said to me on the phone today. She doesn’t know it, but I still desperately need her.

I need her words.

Her warmth.

Her love.

She lives 93 miles from me. But today when we were on the phone, and I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store and talked to her, and told her what the doctor said, and all the worst-case-scenarios I could think of—I didn’t feel like she was 93 miles away. I felt like she was right there.

She listened, and I could feel her nodding, I could feel her smiling. I could feel her coming through the phone and wrapping her arms around me, the way she did when I was little. When I would sit on her lap and lay against her chest, and I would press my face into her hair, and breathe in her scent. And I’d play with her watch, and make the time stop, and she’d let me take off her rings and put them on my fingers. And I always asked her again what each one meant. The diamond was for when Dad proposed, and the plain silver one, was the one Dad gave her on their wedding day. And the blue one, the star sapphire, he gave her just because he was in love. With her. And that one was my favorite, because it had a hidden beauty. When you held it just right in pure sunlight, a sharp white star appeared. And not many people could see it, but when I sat on Mom’s lap and slid her rings loosely on my fingers, I could see it. And when I did, I was in awe of the beauty. The secret beauty.

I have heard so many people say they don’t want to be like their mother.

But I just want to say: I want to be like mine.

More than ever.

Not because she was perfect. But because she was there. Always.

Mom was smart, and talented, and beautiful, and could have easily had a full-blown, successful career. But she gave up everything to stay home with us five kids. Because my parents believed something: that moms should be with their babies. And babies should be with their moms. And so, we shared rooms, we pinched pennies, we shopped at Gabriel Brothers, and always ordered water with lemon when we went to restaurants, (which were only rare and cherished celebrations.)

Mom would pack our school lunches, and dump the money out of her birthday cards just to take us shopping, and make us homemade pizza and birthday cakes. She’d fill the whole house with the sweetest aroma. And some mornings, we’d wake up to it, and run down the steps to find her in the kitchen. Baking away. With flour in her hair. And on her hands. And on her jeans.
And in those moments, she never looked more beautiful.

We’d come into the kitchen and she’d hug us so close that our cheeks touched, and the flour would spread from her cheeks, to ours. And sometimes we’d come down the steps in clusters and she’d just hug us all at once, and say, “I may not be rich in the world’s eyes—but I’m rich in my kids.”

And we always laughed when she said this, because, it was just a funny statement. But deep down, I knew she meant it. Because I saw it all over her face. I saw it in the flour on her jeans. The smile behind the glow of the candles on our birthday cakes. The scribbled notes in our lunches. The glorious Christmas mornings she and Dad stayed up all night to make special for us.

I saw it in her life. In the way she refused to let anything separate us from her. To let anything steal her motherhood. To steal her greatest treasure and joy. Her kids.

Mom sold homemade pies from her car when we were little—just to keep us together.

Because she believed in being a mom. No matter what the cost. And it did cost. I don’t know how women looked at her. I don’t know what comments the cashiers might have said. I don’t know what the bank tellers might have thought as they looked at our statements. But Mom never told us what we cost her.

She only ever told us—that we were her greatest treasure. Her riches. And her wealth. And in her eyes, this couldn’t compare to anything else.

We may not have had the latest tennis shoes, or the best clothing, or the most extravagant family vacations—but we had her.

And she had us.

And in the end, that’s all that really matters.

All the money in the world. All the riches, all the jewels. All the grand houses, and clothes, and cars—cannot compare with the treasure of having a mom who is there.

And if my mom taught me anything, it was something she taught me with her own life: Be there. Be a mom. Don’t let anyone steal this great joy from you. Because the world wages war against motherhood. And you have to fight back. You have to fight for it.

There will always be more money to be made. There will always be a better identity to be achieved. There will always be a better name to be made for yourself. There will always be more ministries to invest in. But your kids are with you for such a very short season. And then, they are gone. And they are precious treasure. To be discovered, and enjoyed.

I always used to laugh when Mom said she was “rich” in us kids. But now, as a mom myself. I am beginning to unfold this mystery. There is a different kind of wealth, that this world cannot know, nor can it offer. It is the hidden wealth of being a mom. Of discovering the treasure. Of obtaining the richness of love in your children. And letting them find it in you.

There is something so secret here. So sacred. A hidden beauty—just like the star in Mom’s star sapphire ring. It only shone in the purest light. Very few ever saw it, and yet it was there all the same. This secret beauty. That could only be witnessed by a little girl, who was allowed to sit on her lap, and play with her watch, and make the time stop. Who took off her rings, and and searched and waited for the bright star to appear–in her ring. And in her eyes. And in her love.

And I found it, Mom. I found the treasure. She is two-years-old, and wakes up with wild blonde bedhead each morning. And she is more full of life than anyone I know. And when I look into her blue eyes, gazing into mine, sometimes I swear that star appears. And the beauty catches in my throat. And it’s unlike anything I ever dreamed.

I found the treasure, Mom. And you were right. The world doesn’t see it, the world doesn’t know it. But I’m finding it, Mom. I’m finding it right here in the secret places. This hidden beauty, where no one sees. When my daughter now sits on my lap, and breathes in my scent. And makes time stop. And searches for the star in my ring. And in my eyes.

You have shown us, Mom, the secret beauty of being a mom. And what real treasure is made of.

Thank you for giving us yourself.

All of you.

Maybe you weren’t rich in the world’s eyes, but you were rich in us kids. And because you were rich in us, you made us rich, so very rich, 

in you. 

And we rise up, and call you blessed. (Proverbs 31:26)

 

Mom, Interrupted

mom interrupted photo

Sometimes I try to find some privacy in the bathroom. But then the door bursts open like a saloon and my daughter stands there like the Texas Outlaw about to put the rectal thermometer in her mouth. “Noooooo!!!” I leap off the commode.

I get interrupted. A lot. It’s the reason my hair is never quite straightened in the back. And why the laundry sits around the house in baskets. And why I have far more drafted posts than published ones. (I can’t finish a post, let alone a TEXT message without getting interrupted!)

No one told me about this before I became a mom. That your life will be full of interruptions from now to forever. I had this crazy notion that “staying home” meant my house could look like the pages of an Ikea catalogue and I’d be structured and disciplined and have these great routines for cleaning, and cooking, and writing and working out. But as it turns out: I’m a mess.

This sweet and fiesty almost-2-year-old is able to completely disarm me. Disarm my agenda. With whining, and crying, and throwing her food on the floor, and taking all the Kleenexes out of the box…and coloring on the leather couch with a permanent Sharpie. (Seriously?!)

I try to wake up early…but then she gets up earlier that day. I try to make dinner…but she wants to “help.” I try to write…but there she is…on my lap again, pushing buttons, touching the screen, and making me: the slowest blogger in history. She needs playtime and stories, and kisses, and cuddles, and me. All of me. So dinner is late again, the grocery trip gets postponed, the workout gets shortened or nixed, the post goes unpublished another day. And I get frustrated because: I want to do more. I want to be more.

Sometimes I marvel as I scroll through Pinterest and click on the pretty ideals that could only ever happen in a galaxy, far, far away. Who has time to make this? I read blogs so much better than mine, and cringe that it’s been..16?..Really? 16 days since I last posted? There go all my followers.

I feel the crumbs under my feet on the kitchen floor, and see the diaper pail overflowing, and that there are still dishes in the sink, and there will probably always be.

I look around and see that my life…is not a high-resolution photo. It is a blur. Because nothing holds still enough. Or comes into focus. Everything just seems to be slipping, falling through my hands. And spilling onto the already sticky floor.

And just when that voice starts to tell me that I need to, “Do more. Be more,” and I’m determined to really buckle down and start being more militant about my time and schedule and accomplishments—I stop and remember:

Jesus was interrupted.

Constantly.

He could not walk through a town without beggars calling out to him, women tugging on his coat, crowds pressing in on Him, and even…little kids climbing onto his lap.

But what did He do? Did He brush off their hands? Give them something to go occupy themselves with? Lock Himself in the bathroom saying, “I just need a break!”

No. Because Jesus never saw interruptions as “interruptions.” He just saw moments. He just saw God-directed opportunities. And He just saw people. In need of love.

And it seems, the moments of “interruption,” were Jesus’ deepest moments of ministry, the moment God came through. “Let the little children come,” He said. And when he looked at them, and pulled them close, I wonder if He might have whispered in their ears, so quiet that no one else could hear, “You. You are the reason I’m here.”

They were not keeping Jesus (the King of the World) from accomplishing some superior goal: they were the goal. They were the mission.

He gave himself—freely. Not begrudgingly. Consider the interruption of the woman who wept at His feet and dried them with her hair, and the father that plead that his daughter was going to die, and the centurion whose servant was sick, and the blind man who so desperately wanted to see. They all “interrupted.” And they all found grace.

Do I respond to interruptions with…grace?

Real hearts were healed. Real tears were dried. Real skin was touched. The moment of interruption…became the moment for ministry.

Is it any different as a mom?

What if I saw the biggest accomplishment as my time interacting with her while she is awake? And not as the psycho cleaning lady, while she is asleep? What if I lived embracing the “interruptions?” Instead of despising them? What if I saw the interruptions as an opportunity to show love? To show God? A God who is not too busy to be interrupted.

Because that’s what Jesus did.

Is this not the reason I was sent? Is this not the mission? My ambition?

This morning, there’s a little girl in pink monkey pajamas, with wild blonde bed head, and oatmeal on her cheeks just waiting to burst onto the scene with all her interruptions.

And maybe, just maybe, the “interruptions,” aren’t really interruptions.

Maybe the interruptions are the most important moments of all.

The moments God comes through.

The moment I pull her onto my lap and whisper in her ear, “You. You are the reason I’m home. The reason I’m here.”

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