you're not doing enough

As I sunk into the driver's seat of our minivan, a feeling of relief mixed with guilt washed over me. We had made it out of the house on time for my 2 month old's checkup 35 minutes away, so that was one checkmark I could place in the win column. Unfortunately, for this new mama of two kids, leaving on time comes at the price of foregoing a morning devotion and Bible study, or really any personal care and development. Feeling inadequate, I plugged in my iPhone to listen to some praise music on the drive. I knew this would cause my 2 year old to mutiny. She's really into Mulan's "I'll Make a Man Out of You" right now, so hymns just wouldn't cut it for her. But I was feeling conscience-stricken for not touching base with God that morning, so I braced myself for the screams anyway.

As our minds are inclined to do, mine began to snowball the small sense of guilt over a missed Bible study into a full fledged blizzard of regret and failure. Why can't I get my toddler to behave during church? I'm not doing enough to grow my business, while other women with 10 kids who own a gym and run worldwide charities seem to grow their businesses by leaps and bounds come hell or high-water. Im not committing enough time to personal growth. I still have a stack of papers to grade. I should be doing more tummy time with the baby! I need to be kinder to my husband. The meals I am cooking are lack-luster and probably not healthy enough, since I used packaged ingredients instead of starting my own farm and growing everything from scratch. I chided myself over and over for not having it all together, for not being more like other women who were more Godly, more outgoing, more successful.

I'm not doing enough. And I'm not doing anything well.

At that moment, the song "Rock of Ages" began to play.

"Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die."

Hearing those words brought a profound moment of clarity. No, I was not doing enough. I would never be able to do enough. I would never be good enough. Because I'm human. Because I'm sinful.

I remembered the words from 2 Corinthians: "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."

The answer is not to work harder, do more, and beat myself up with guilt and shame. The answer is to turn to God. I may not measure up to the arbitrary standards I have set up for myself, and I'm definitely not measuring up to God's standards of perfection. But his grace is sufficient. His grace is enough. And when I have moments, or even entire seasons of life where my weaknesses are on full display, that only serves to bring me closer to him, to display his glory, and not the works of my own hands. 

In some ways, it was not the answer I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that I could pull myself up by my own bootstraps and if I just tried harder, organized my life a little more, used my planner more faithfully, then I could do it all, and do it all well!

But truly, the more helpless I feel, the more likely I am to turn to his Word for comfort and guidance. I fall asleep repeating favorite passages for rest. I pray little prayers continually throughout the day for help. I read my Bible because I thirst to hear more from God, not as an item to check off my to-do list. 

I guess what I'm saying is that I love working toward continual improvement. I always want to strive to be a better version of myself, and that is God pleasing! I can use the talents God has given me to the absolute fullest! But never at the expense of my relationship with God. Never at the cost of thinking I can do it alone without his help. I simply don't have all the answers, and I don't think I'll ever know the right balance of the tightrope walk that is trusting God vs. getting into action myself. But thanks be to God for the grace he gives us each day! Here's to another day of letting his power shine through our weaknesses. 


transition from one child to two: the first six weeks

Yesterday marks six weeks since Teddy was born. Can I get a "what what"?!?! I want to write a little bit about the first six weeks of juggling two children. How did we survive? How did we fill our days?

Let me start this off by saying that I am not really a "schedule" person. I understand the usefulness of schedules and writing out a plan for the day, but it's not something that comes naturally to me. When it was just Pippa, I had a vague idea of what her schedule was, but was always super flexible. There was never a set nap time, or a set play time. We just kind of went where the day took us. I would shoot for a certain number of naps and feedings during the day, but other than that, we enjoyed a certain amount of freedom and flexibility.

Now that there are two small children in our family, and I'll be starting to work part time in the afternoons, I feel a little more of an urge to map out what our days should look like. I didn't dare try to push a schedule in the first six weeks, though, because newborns are so unpredictable, and I wanted to nurse on demand.

So here goes:

What the First Six Weeks of Having Two Kids Looks Like

Did you have people around to help out?

Yes, and also no. My mom stayed with us for two weeks starting on Teddy's due date. I took full advantage of having an extra set of hands by taking a nice long afternoon nap every day. She also helped with the laundry, dishes, cooking, and toddler-entertainment, which was a life-saver. I was recovering from a C-section, so there really wasn't much I could do on my own those first few weeks. We also had both sets of parents and Teddy's uncle/godfather stay with us for the weekend of the baptism. It was super low key, and everyone was great about pitching in. No entertainment needed, extra help with everything!

For weeks 3 and 4 of recovery, it was Justin and me on our own. 2 on 2. Man-to-man defense. I would say that was harder, because one of us always had to be doing something instead of taking turns. Gone are the days when we could say, "I think it's your turn to change a diaper." Everyone is changing diapers all the time now. Still, it was doable, and the breakdown ended up being me taking care of Teddy, since I've got the goods ;) and Justin taking care of Pippa. Justin was able to get his work done for school at home, or go in during Pippa's nap time or after bedtime.

For weeks 5 and 6 of recovery, Justin had to be at school most of the time. I am now outnumbered by my offspring. Most of the time I feel like I can handle it. There are definitely moments of chaos, though, when I'm feeding Teddy and I hear or see Pippa getting into something she's not supposed to. Or when the dog is trying to eat Pippa's snacks while I'm feeding Teddy.

What did your daily routine look like?

I guess because each week was so different as far as who was here visiting, who was around to help, and where we had to be, I can't say we had a definitive routine. But I can give you a run-down of what the past 2 weeks have generally looked like:
6 a.m. - Justin gets up with Pippa and gets her breakfast while getting ready for work. Puts on Curious George or Daniel Tiger for her.
7 a.m. - Momma and Teddy wake up, nurse, get breakfast, make Pippa turn off the t.v.
8 a.m. - Get out Pippa's toys, awake time with Teddy, then swaddle and bounce him for a short nap. Try to drink a cup of coffee. Reheat 5+ times.
9 a.m. - Nurse Teddy again. Try to get out of the house for a walk. Getting out of house takes longer than the actual walk.
10 a.m. - Awake time with Teddy, swaddle and put him down for short nap. Get Mommy and Pippa morning snack. Reheat coffee again. Mommy and Pippa activity like coloring, reading books, etc until Ted wakes up.
11 a.m. - Feed Teddy. After that, try to set him in swing while I get Pippa lunch. Set up a barrier around high chair so Pablo won't jump up and eat her lunch when I'm not looking. Pray Teddy will be content for 5 minutes so I can get myself lunch, too! No? Just a protein bar and apple again? Ok. Reheat coffee, again.
12 p.m. - Put Pippa down for nap around 12:30 (some days closer to noon, some days closer to 1). Try to work my mama magic and get both kids down for a nap at the same time. Top Teddy off so he'll actually sleep? Please? Receive 30 minutes of golden silence as my reward. Reheat coffee.
Afternoon - sheer chaos because until Dad gets home from work, there is a spell over all children. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

And if Teddy is cluster feeding and mama is recovering from an infection? Ignore EVERYTHING above, and create a nursing nest next to couch. Pippa watches way too much TV, and mama wears out her Nook and cell phone battery. We don't step outside for days on end.

How was the transition mentally + emotionally?

Ha - that depends when you ask me! On days like today when we got everyone out for a walk, to the library, and we're all resting/napping at the same time, I'd say, "Great! I feel positive and upbeat. I have enough energy to do this! I feel competent - and sometimes even like I'm rocking it!"

If you had asked me yesterday, when I was running on two nights in a row of little sleep, and my incision was feeling sore, and I had a nasty headache, I would say, "This is impossible! How does anyone have more than two kids? I can't do this, and I'm a terrible mother and wife for losing it all the time."

Whenever it feels really hard, I remind myself that in a very short amount of time, Teddy will be out of this newborn stage of eating all the time and needing to be held all the time. That makes me simultaneously nostalgic and relieved.

How is Pippa handling it?

Really well. I didn't worry at all about it before the baby came for several reasons. First of all, both Justin and I come from big families, so I saw the benefit of siblings for her. Second, I didn't want to project any of my anxiety onto her. I wanted her to know that having a little brother was going to be so much fun!

Once the baby actually arrived, my mom was staying with her to make that week seem fun and exciting. The "baby" gave her a gift - although I'm not sure she was even old enough to understand what that meant. She seemed nothing but excited to have a baby brother - even when he came home and took up all my time! Because those first few weeks are so focused on baby, I made sure to take at least one special moment each day with my big girl. Even if it was just reading her one book, a short cuddle while watching Curious George, or painting her nails.

Pippa is really good about entertaining herself, and has a wonderful imagination. She never truly gets bored. That has made the whole transition much easier! Especially when I'm nursing and can't really entertain her besides reading her a book. Go Pippa!

Anything you wish you had known ahead of time?

  • To rest and nap anytime I could take it.
  • To not feel pressured to get back to "work" and "normal." Those things will happen all on their own.
  • To let my husband know when I need help right away, and not wait until I'm feeling frantic.
  • To keep burp cloths stashed all over the house. We have a very spitty babe.
  • That Pippa will naturally want to start potty training during this time. Don't ask how it's going. It's not.
  • To try not to feel guilty about the toddler watching lots of tv. I will be a much better parent to her when we emerge from this newborn fog. I promise. 
  • To keep a water bottle stashed in every room of the house.
  • To set up a nursing nest with the essentials: water, burp cloths, Bible, book, cell phone + charger, laptop, snacks, and occasionally coffee. The days of cluster feeding seem l o n g. Especially when your husband is at work. Set yourself up for success. Don't be like me asking the 26 month old toddler to fetch things. Sometimes she gets it...and sometimes she doesn't. 
  • To buy a baby swing. Just do it. Don't wait until you go crazy, break down crying because you can never set the baby down without listening to screams so you can get the toddler lunch, and text your husband frantically while he's at work. Just buy the dang swing. 
  • To enjoy every single newborn nap on your chest. (As is the popular parenting advice of the day). We all know that before long, he will be way too busy for those snuggles, so soak it in! (Then hand baby off so you can get some real sleep).

Probably so much more. You think because you've had a baby before you know how this goes...but you kind of have to relearn a lot of things.

Ugh, this was actually a novella. If you are reading these words at the end of the post, you are either a nursing mom yourself who has run out of reading material, or you are just really supportive of me. Either way, thanks!

Now here's to the next six weeks...by that time Theodore will be 3 months old...and I just can't handle that thought.