Little Things

Sometimes it’s the sun steadily, but lazily warming your skin. It’s the earthy pleasure of fresh ground coffee and the effects of that 2nd cup at just about 2 in the afternoon. It’s flip flops with toes a fresh shade of walnut. It’s the contentment of turning that last crisp page. It’s watching shadows crawl across your skin as the sun dances in and out of the clouds.

It’s the sensation of butterflies that you didn’t see coming, but despite their chronic unpredictability you can somehow look forward to them nonetheless. It’s a true and unbelievable story following by synchronous laughter and wink that feels close and familiar. It’s anticipation and hesitation and a sense of hope and foreboding.

It’s the hug that melts away anxiety and the treasured words that absolve tension. It’s thoughtful prep work and setting delayed brew while singing old Folger’s commercials. It’s late nights and shared looks and interlocked pinkies and contagious laughter.

It’s blades of grass peeking between toes and tickling fat feet. It’s nibbling on iced, pumpkin-shaped cookies in the shade on a warm September day. It’s little hands that won’t be pudgy forever and an infectious smile of merely two and a half teeth. It’s giggles and unruly curls and a sticky chin with crumbs everywhere.

It’s short-lived moments and small details that magnify connections and love and life. Sometimes it’s the little things that make everything else worth anything at all.

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My Heart on the Outside

Today I realized how very much my heart is now and forever outside of my body and how very little control I seem to have over protecting it.

We woke up early this morning to drive to Children’s Mercy Hospital to take Travis to Same Day Surgery for a routine outpatient procedure. Even though this surgery is very common, he still needed to be intubated and put under general anesthesia, so it felt like a big deal.download_20160817_112303

I remained relatively calm leading up to the moment when we reached the double doors where they would take him back for the procedure and I handed him to the nurse. I watched his little curly head disappear around the corner and my eyes filled with tears I didn’t even know were coming. I felt sick. Shaken. I felt helpless. I knew in my head they were going to take great care of him and come get me when it was over, but my heart twisted in my chest as every fiber of it screamed to be with him. He is my boy and I am his Mama and it is my job to watch over him and protect him. Today that meant leaving him in the care of professionals and trusting them implicitly with his literal life. It was uncomfortably vulnerable.

Whenever I’ve ever felt vulnerable in the past, I always had a choice in how to handle it. If a friend or family member hurt me, I could forgive and choose to remain vulnerable and open while I sought reconciliation. If that friend or family member continued to wrong me or I realized a relationship was not mutually healthy, I could begin to distance myself, set up boundaries, or cut ties altogether in an effort to protect my heart from further unnecessary damage.

Having a son has completely changed the game now.

The amount of love I have for Travis is greater than I ever dreamed possible. It never runs out and never fades, no matter IMG_20160817_090952how he behaves or what he does. With that love comes an extraordinary amount of vulnerability that leaves my heart walking around on the outside with him wherever he goes. When it comes to Travis, my heart remains unprotected. If things get difficult or circumstances like today leave me feeling dangerously exposed, I cannot distance myself from my love for him or allow it to fade away in order to protect it. There are no boundaries, no limits, and no control.

When they walked my son back to the operating room, they took my heart with him. I knew God was watching over him when I couldn’t, but it was still a powerless feeling knowing that so much was hanging in that hour when I was waiting to hear that everything went well. In perspective, I felt grateful that this minor procedure was the worst we’ve had to deal with considering the countless amount of people I know who have lost their babies or had to deal with major illnesses or chronic conditions. This was a cake walk compared to most of the people who would visit that same hospital today.

I am honestly not sure where I am going with this except to say that this is my life now. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to risk my heart for the joy of loving this sweet boy of ours. I don’t plan on every single blog post to now be about motherhood, but motherhood has certainly changed my life and I love every minute.


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Pace of Life

Last week I inched 1 year closer to my mid-thirties, in a few days Chad and I will celebrate 8 years of iron sharpening iron marriage, and in about 2 weeks my son will turn ONE.

Life has begun moving at the speed of light it seems. Some of the things contributing to this increase in pace are easier to accept than others, but I am learning to lean into this season.

I love the increased pace that naturally comes with motherhood and having to care for an entire other person’s every need and want because I still remember vividly the days when I wasn’t sure if I would ever have the privilege of washing baby bottles, changing dirty diapers, rocking a little one to sleep with a book and a bottle, and all the other little things that add up to consume most of my free time. It is so worth it and I love every minute.

I don’t so much care for the other things that consume my time. Though I am enjoying school and find my classes interesting, this degree is a means to an end and I already can’t wait to not have to do homework every night. I don’t love cleaning bathrooms or helping mow the yard unless it’s a particularly nice, crisp day – but this is life. Life is full of responsibilities and things that just have to be done and maintained, so that things don’t begin to quite literally fall apart.

This doesn’t leave as much time for things I used to hold in very priority. There aren’t as many hours for unencumbered down time. I can’t as easily find time to journal or read something just for fun (reading time is strictly for homework when you’re in school!) and what I wouldn’t give for an easily arranged, spontaneous trip! Life has to be planned now, not spontaneous. I cannot just go about each day accomplishing things as they suit me. I have to manage my life and my time or the toppling Jenga tower will come crashing down.

This is very difficult for me. My personality loves down time and reflection time. I like having certain routines where I recharge and renew.

I used to wake up with a mug of coffee as I got ready for work. Now I wake up way earlier than I would prefer, jump into a quick  5 minute shower because, as you with curly hair will understand: a nighttime shower simply cannot happen if you want to look remotely decent the next day. I throw clothes on, get Travis breakfast, load the car, get Travis dressed, and run out the door. Most days Chad takes Travis to daycare and I pick him up, but some days I have to take him. I often don’t have my first cup of coffee until 3 hours after my morning has started once I am sitting at my desk at work.

After work, I used to be able to sit in my car checking the Facebook and Instagram notifications I missed during the day and trying to decide if I wanted to run to the store for groceries or maybe just grab an iced coffee and wander around Target under the ruse that I needed to buy paper towels, but instead would come home with a new candle, a cute picture frame, fancy soaps, some random little things, and – oh yeah, paper towels… and toothpaste… and a cute new eye purple shadow. Sometimes after work I would go for a walk or go swimming at the YMCA or something endorphin producing to revive from the long day at my desk.  NOW, I try my best to navigate rush hour and get to Travis’ daycare before it closes. I take him home because he’s always hungry and tired after being at ‘school’ all day and then jump into dishes, or throwing in a load of laundry, and figuring out what I can eat for dinner before I have to wash Travis up after he’s smeared dinner all over his face and high chair. Somewhere in this busyness, Chad has gotten home and skipped lunch and is wondering what is for dinner and I am wondering how I can possibly create time to teach him how to cook a decent, healthy meal in the midst of everything else. The only endorphin producing moments in my days now come throw sweet snuggles with my boy as his eyes get heavy while I read to him and hope that he grows up to love books OR if Chad rocks him to sleep, the moment my weary body lays on our AMAZING mattress (best thing we’ve ever purchased) and I close my eyes. I often tell Chad I want to sleep the sleeps of forever. It’s not as morbid as it sounds.

I say all this to highlight how different life is now verses 2 years ago… 5 years ago… 10 years ago. I don’t have as much time for myself, hobbies, friends, or even necessary tasks like chores and homework. I have to be much more vigilant with my time and what limited resources I have to offer the world. My priorities are obviously my family: Chad and Travis, as well as making sure I am taking care of myself as best as I can so that I don’t become the irritable, impatient monster that I know Chad and Travis really don’t like to live with.

But you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. This pace is not forever. I will eventually be done with my Masters. I will eventually have a boy entering Kindergarten or dare I say, moving away to go to college! *sobbing!* I will eventually miss the late night snuggles, packing peanut butter and jelly sandwich into the Toy Story lunch box, wiping the runny nose that can’t wipe itself, and folding laundry that is still so small it feels somewhat silly to even fold it at all. I will miss buying school supplies and the sense of accomplishment from having a paper I worked hard on receiving not only a high grade, but being accepted to present at a conference (oh yes, this is happening!).

I won’t always be a student. I won’t always be the mother of a baby/toddler. I used to think I wouldn’t ever get the chance to do either. I am embracing the fast pace of this season. There will always be time for reading novels for hours on end, getting back into oil painting, Netflix marathons, or spontaneous Happy Hour dates with friends.

For now, I am here. I am overwhelmed for sure, but my cups runs over with gratitude and joy.

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Expanding

I find it interesting that when people find out you’re about to become a mother for the very first time, they will often say things like, “Get ready to never sleep again!” or “Life as you know it is over! It’s all about the baby now!”

While it may be true that every mom sleeps less and that so much of their life revolves around the baby, I find these statements to be untrue and misleading. They always sounds so foreboding and ominous. It is a fact that I sleep MUCH LESS than I did before, and some friends of mine who are mothers sleep even less than I do since our little guy has always been an abnormally great sleeper. I also think about Travis and his well being every second of my day.

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For instance, the past couple of weeks Travis has had a cough that has kept the both of us awake off and on throughout the night. After such erratic sleep, I still have to wake up around 5am, nurse him, get myself ready for work, pack the gazillion bags I now tote everywhere, commute 45 minutes to work, work for 8 hours or so while taking 2 breaks at work to pump, commute back, pick up Travis from daycare, nurse him again, make a healthy dinner since Chad and I are trying to be healthier, do dishes/wash bottles, throw a load of laundry in, get Travis ready for bed, nurse him again, and lay him down to sleep while I read homework for my graduate class while trying to keep my eyes open. (Disclaimer: Chad helps SO much in all of this busyness with the exception of nursing!)

What message wasn’t portrayed to me leading towards becoming a mother for the first time was how very joyous these things, among others, would be. When my boy wakes up from a coughing fit, he wants ME. He snuggles sweetly into my chest and immediately calms down. His breathing softens and deepens until we’re both back to sleep…at least until the next coughing fit. When I wake him up in the morning to nurse, he gives me the biggest sweetest smiles that remove all the exhaustion from my mind. I smile back with a soft, but enthusiastic, “Good morning, handsome!” When I pick him up from daycare, his eyes light up again. Someday soon he will reach his arms towards me and say, “Mama!” because we belong to each other. When I am giving Travis a bath, or reading him a book, or putting lotion on his dry winter skin before placing him in a clean pair of soft jammies, he wraps his chubby little fingers around my thumb and ‘talks’ to me about his day. He is my boy.

These things are incredibly exhausting, but – as everyone says – absolutely worth it. What has been the most unexpected thing is feeling as if who I am has expanded. I have not been replaced with a new version of myself; I have expanded to become something more than I once was. It is difficult to explain, but I still feel so much like myself and like someone else new on top of that. I am still a wife, a friend, a sister, a student, etc. I am just now also a mother on top of those things. I was tired before and I am tired now, but I am somehow now able to function better than I could have imagined on very little sleep. I am not just Travis’ mother; I am Tasha. Adding mother to the growing list of things that make up who I am has only expanded what I am capable of and it’s so much more than I thought was possible.

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It’s true that I hold more tightly onto my free time than before because I have less of it and that my priorities have understandably shifted, but that is mainly a dual combination of motherhood and graduate school – neither are for the weak! It used to bother me so much when people would say that being a mother is the greatest calling God could ever ask a woman to do. What an isolating and discouraging statement for those women who cannot have children of their own or who choose not to.

As many of you know, for the past 4 years I wasn’t sure if I would ever have my own children. The women in my life who haven’t or who have chosen not to are extraordinary women! They are passionate and ambitious and contributing so much to the world. Being a mother shouldn’t be this glorified status symbol that graduates someone to being a ‘real woman.’ Being a mother is just another role that some people get to add to the ever growing aspect of who they are. If I had never gotten pregnant, I would still be me and capable of doing extraordinary things for God and this world. I am still me; I am just also joyously responsible for loving and raising a chubby little 20lb version of myself (and Chad!) to be the best young man he can possibly be.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am surprised that I am still me. People made it seem like I would lose myself in motherhood, but I feel as if the opposite has happened and I feel more like myself than ever before. I still love to read. I still love to create and to write. I still love cats and to travel. I still struggle with all the same flaws I had before and I still value the same things I have always valued. I don’t just want to sit and talk about my baby all the time and nothing else – I’ve never wanted to be that person… But you can bet that the best part of my day now is getting off of work and picking up my sweet little boy and kissing his face.

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The journey to motherhood has made me stronger and becoming a mother has expanded who I am and what I am capable of….. It is certainly one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it is also one of the best things to have ever happened to me. It is a joyous gift, but not something I can place on a pedestal as some kind of ultimate achievement of identity or success. The only thing I can glorify is who I am in Christ. He is everything. I can’t be a mother without Him. I can’t be anything without Him. All that is mine – including Travis – belongs to Him and I don’t want to glorify what He has given me, but rather I want to glorify who He is through these things. He has expanded me to be and do more.

Travis is my gift, but Christ is my treasure.

 

The Other Side

So here I am on the other side.

The other side of a very long uphill climb looking back down on the path I’ve traveled and enjoying the view from the top. I haven’t had much to write about this year because I was internally processing the avalanche of emotions and thoughts I was feeling during my pregnancy, Travis’ birth, and my glorious 12 weeks of maternity leave. I was journaling, but not sure what I wanted to put out here on my blog.

Let me just say this:
It was so very worth the wait.

Despite the struggle.
Despite the heartache.
Despite the depression.
Despite it all.

I know that is cliché.
I know.

Cliché or not, it is undeniably true and I don’t know another way to say it.

It doesn’t mean the memory of the pain is faint or extinguished. I still remember how I felt at this moment last year wishing I could muster up a reason to feel gratitude at Thanksgiving and not feeling one ounce of it despite my best efforts. I remember dreading the oncoming Christmas holiday and that unspoken feeling of inadequacy that came only from my own, self-inflicted condemnation. In the midst of suffering, hope and joy were buried in a darkness so thick I could hardly to breathe.

But oh the joy of the other side!
And the memory of the journey to get to this point is still so vivid and has flooded my heart with compassion, grace, and prayers for those still climbing.

Last December, right before I saw those long-coveted two pink lines indicating my life was about to change forever, I remember writing a post about the meaning behind my new tattoo. (A tattoo I got while pregnant without realizing it! Haha)  You can read that post here, if you’d like

I am referencing that post because it was so timely and spot on with where I was and where I was about to be. Coming out of the darkness I was in to a light so bright and so beautiful that I now truly feel like laughing because of how different everything feels. The darkness did not cling to me, but was washed away by this new light. When I thought I would never see light again, it came suddenly and was brighter than I could have ever imagined.

This is how Jesus saves.
Not by rules and religious regimentation.
Not by condemnation and shame.

Jesus loves by entering your darkest time, reassuring your heart of His presence, and bringing you gently and joyfully into the light.

Hard times are inevitable, but Jesus is our hope.
I will go through dark times again I am sure, but this experience has changed me entirely. I cannot forget how close and how secure I felt in Jesus’ arms in the midst of my pain. I cannot forget how in His grace and mercy he didn’t answer my prayers for a baby right away, but instead gave me Himself. He is the answer to my pain. He is prized possession. He is my hope and my reward. When the next hard season comes, I will know where to turn and Who to lean on.

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Some of my favorite pictures of the past 3 months of my baby boy!
He is such a delight!🙂

Tick Tock

I am finding it very difficult lately over the past few weeks to not feel overcome with anxiety over everything that still needs to get done. I feel like I can only do 1/2 of what I’m typically capable because I become so exhausted so much more quickly. I also feel that every time we accomplish something on our massive to-do list, 3 more things get added.

Is this normal?

I am 26 weeks as of today and the nursery has not even been touched because we have so many other things to finish before we can be ready to start putting the nursery together. Between working full time at a job that has its own daily, never-ending demands and all the projects we have going on, I feel overwhelmed that we’re falling dangerously behind and running out of time.

Is 26 weeks really that late to still not have anything done with the nursery?? Because people keep asking me if I have the nursery “all set up” and every time they ask me that I feel a growing sense of anxiety that lately reduces me to tears without warning…

I need Jesus to be my peace and my help…. I try to center myself in Him and find my strength in Him…  But I’m still getting stressed and still crying at a moment’s notice when something else is either added to my to-do list or delays checking something off my list….

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Joy Comes in the Morning

We just bought a crib and dresser for our son.

It has been a long time since I have written and so much has changed. My last post ironically was about my new tattoo and the meaning behind it to remind my heart to have courage in fearful times because once I am out of the darkness I will realize that with God holding me there was never anything be afraid of at all. What a beautiful thought, right?

Excerpt from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which was in my last post:

“In a few moments the darkness turned into a greyness ahead, and then, almost before they dared to begin hoping, they had shot out into the sunlight and were in the warm, blue world again. And all at once everybody realized that there was nothing to be afraid of and never had been. They blinked their eyes and looked about them. The brightness of the ship herself astonished them: they had half expected to find that the darkness would cling to the white and the green and the gold in the form of some grime or scum. And then first one, and then another, began laughing.”

And that is exactly how I feel right now…. as I feel this sweet baby boy doing flips in my belly.

We cannot see in the darkness. We cannot know for sure where we are going or what is going to happen. We fear the worst and try to hold onto hope with weak and shaking hands. It is only once we have left the darkness and step into a new season of life and hope that we’re able to look back on the dark times and see every single breathtaking second that God was with us. Eventually the darkness dissipates and we can see more clearly.

Joy comes in the morning indeed.

There are a lot of songs on Christian radio right now that make me change the station because they don’t have a ton of depth or they’re just plain annoying. To be honest, most of the annoying songs are by Mandisa (which I know a lot of people like??), but there was a song on the radio a few days ago by her that captured my heart…..  it said:

“When the waves are taking you under, hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger… stronger.
The pain ain’t gonna last forever and things can only get better
Believe me, this is gonna make you stronger”

I have heard this song before, but it really hit me this time. I have been held in the arms of my Savior while going through one of the hardest times in my life thus far and I can look back now and see how it made me stronger. I am a stronger person and I will be a stronger mom for having experienced the grief of infertility.

Hard times are inevitable and I will probably experience hard times again in my lifetime. Suffering does not discriminate and pain continually finds everyone…but hope and peace and deep, unshakable joy can only come from Christ. Everything else used to pacify pain and suffering is temporary and shallow.

The only way to get through suffering and find purpose in it, is to experience your pain while leaning into the arms of the One who can wipe away every single tear…. a mere glimpse into the life to come.

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“…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ….”
Romans 5:3-6
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