Succeed on Purpose

Part of just wants to start this post with another typical “It’s been a while,” but I think we all can see that clearly. In some sense, I kind of started out that way anyway. Oh well ūüôā

I just needed to write tonight.

This season is all consuming and I won’t really catch any long-term reprieve for a while. I work a job where I support others, so all day long I am meeting other’s needs whether big or small. Honestly, even though I can daydream about a job where I can read my homework all day long, I actually find it incredibly energizing to help people in my office who truly need the help. Not the mundane, boring stuff that anyone can do, but the stuff that I am particularly suited to help with. Those busy days when I am strategically solving problems, putting out small fires, using my writing skills, or lightening the load of one of my bosses are my favorite kinds of days… I wouldn’t want my days to be any other way…

I also come home to a little boy who looks to me to meet all of his needs. He brings me his shoes. He comes to me for snuggles and asks for his milk cup when he is getting tired. He now says “thank you” to me whenever I do anything for him and it’s incredible to me how much he looks to me for his physical, mental, social, and emotional needs. He is in that typical toddler stage where he LOVES his Mama and wants ME and I would not want it any other way…

Chad has learned how best to support me in this time and I could not do this season right now without him, but even he is his own person with his own needs and it’s a hard balance to find the time to be his wife, be his friend, be his support, and give him the time he needs to be himself when I rely on him¬†so much¬†right now. We’re being forced to communicate better, be more selfless towards one another, and look for the small ways to show we love each other in this season of very, very limited down time. We’re growing together and I wouldn’t want it any other way…

And then I am a student and my professors want so much from me right now because dammit I am in grad school and grad school is supposed to be demanding, so I just buckle up and do what I need to do. I am being challenged. I am learning things. I am navigating difficult waters, but “nothing worth having comes easy” and¬†I wouldn’t want it any other way…

And so here I am drowning in the chaos of my own life… by choice.

I fondly remember when I used to be able to take a great novel to the Starbucks patio on Barry road and read for hours on end with not nearly enough sun screen. I remember when Chad and I could just go catch a movie because we wanted to and that that didn’t require any planning other than showtimes and ticket pick up. I remember when weekends were spent with friends and long conversations with those friends about everything and nothing.

I know that this is a season. I won’t always be an admin. I won’t always have a toddler. I won’t always rely on Chad so much as I do now. I will one day have friends again and quality time and deep conversations.

Until then, I am just managing more stress than I let on and trying to remain positive even though that is difficult for me.

I am tired.
I am drained.
I am sleep deprived.
I am lonely.
I am angry.
I feel guilty.

I have so many needs that are not being met, but I am taking things one day at a time right now. This is a season of growth, and perseverance, and strength. I have never been so busy in my life, but I have gone through hard times and I know now just how much I am capable of.

I am not lucky to be where I am or have what I have. I am thankful to have been given what I have and I have worked hard to get here…

I was inspired recently by a story of a young girl who with dedication, commitment, and hard work achieved so much at a very young age and was recently named “the most accomplished performer of UNO’s Division I era.”The thing is, she came from a long line of accomplished siblings because their parents taught them that with hard work and commitment, you can achieve anything.

I want to teach that to Travis. I want to model that for him.
It might be hard, but it will be worth it…

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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.

 

Putting Away Childish Things… (a rant)

For most of my twenties I had the sneakiest, underlying suspicion that all adults felt like children trying to play the role of an adult. I never felt as grown up as some of my responsibilities seemed to imply I should feel. I always felt like I was getting older….but not necessarily grown up….

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However, the past year I have felt a difference – a shift – and it has got me thinking a lot about how exactly we define maturity. Is maturity having a stable job and income? Is it graduating with a college degree? Is maturity living on your own? Owning a home? Paying for things like sewer and trash pick up? Is maturity getting married? Having kids? Is maturity leaving childish things behind and, if so, what exactly constitutes “childish things” and who gets to make that determination?

The whole not having kids thing has certainly made me feel like I am “behind” in this thing called adulthood. Not that we’re racing, but that I have somehow not crossed a threshold of mature womanhood as have 99% of my friends. It also gives people the assumption that they can butt into your life with a host of very personal questions and still feel like they had every right to do so. Every time someone ask me if I have “any news” yet, it just reinforces the pain and overwhelming feeling that I am not measuring up as an adult – as a woman. To those people I say: READ THIS. Do it. For my sake and the sake of others, stop what you’re doing and READ THIS.

Last night Chad and I read through a Facebook rant between my Aunt, my cousin, my Uncle, and this random lady I don’t know. I don’t want to make light of the argument that occurred, but considering the topic how can I not? The whole conversation was so over-the-top ridiculous and a primary reason why I’ve gotten off Facebook. Not that my cousin could avoid being attacked for petty things, but that someone would attack her at all. People feel that the internet empowers them to say exactly what they’re thinking without any consequences or repercussions and that simply isn’t so. I will even go as far to say that it is an immature mind that not only causes strife over petty things, but also hides behind the internet to be condescending and rude.

The argument was over whether or not a mature adult should like things that are considered by some to be childish toys/icons for children. In this case, it was Hello Kitty, which has remained popular for a very long time with both children and adults, but seems to have especially risen in popularity in America in the past 10 years or so. (Always popular mind you – just even more so nowadays).

What are your thoughts? Can a mature adult collect Hello Kitty items/clothing? Can a grown up adult consider themselves actually grown up if they still enjoy youthful iconic cartoon characters?

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My personal opinion?

Yes.
Absolutely.

Here’s why:
There are so many other factors of far greater value evident in a person’s life that can determine maturity or the lack thereof. Whether a woman wears a Hello Kitty shirt is hardly the standard. In my own life and in the lives of those around me, I evaluate someone’s maturity (or immaturity) on one very important, often over-looked factor: someone’s capacity for awareness.

Awareness: noun. – Having knowledge or cognizance. To be watchful and vigilant.

How many adults do you know who have jobs and homes and careers and yet trample the people around them in their pursuits? How many married couples do you know (with or without children) who take others for granted or ignore the most obvious signs that their self-absorbed world is actually hurting others?
On the same note, how many children, teens, or young adults do you know who seem mature despite the fact that they lack the “evidence” of adulthood (career, home, spouse, etc) because they treat others with respect; they don’t steal other’s dignity over petty things; they overlook offenses; they forgive and forget and strive for peace; they aren’t quick to defend themselves, but quick to listen, etc??

So if you like Barbies or Hello Kitty or Garfield and your entire house and wardrobe resembles this – who cares?? Seriously. Why is this even a point worth arguing? Why should anyone even have the audacity to look at someone else and judge their maturity-level by outward appearances? If anything, the person judging has become the person being immature and petty.

Aside from rants and egregious arguments altogether, the question we should be asking when evaluating our own maturity is this: Do I think the world revolves around me or am I aware of the living, breathing, hurting, over-worked, stressed, tired human beings around me?? Does each thing in my day annoy me because it inconveniences me or can I remain patient in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic because I am aware that up ahead is a car accident that is costing someone dearly? Can I remain selfless and loving when a mother is dong her best to console/tolerate her screaming child in the store because I am aware that this might be her only chance to purchase diapers for the week despite it being way past her son’s bedtime?? Can I overlook someone’s bad attitude at work because I am aware that today might just be a bad day for them and we’re all human? And that is the point: we. are. all. human.

Being an adult is not about the clothes you wear (unless you’re in a 9-5 job interview haha) and it makes no difference whether or not you like Hello Kitty or the NFL or gourmet cooking. Being an adult is being able to go through life fully aware that the people around you are people with the same capacity for love and pain as you. They do not want you judging them. They do not want you bullying them. They do not want you prying into whether or not they’re going to get married, have children, or “what they’re doing next with their lives.” They certainly don’t need you overlooking them and trampling them into the grounds while you selfishly pursue your life.

They need love. They need patience. They need compassion. They need you to be aware of them, see them, hear the things their eyes are saying, and acknowledge them.

So let’s put away these childish things and choose instead to live life fully aware. Let’s be watchful and vigilant for those around us and focus less on ourselves and our own personal grievances…

I’d love to know your thoughts on this!! Please feel free to comment below…. ūüôā

THIS VIDEO IS AN EXCELLENT ADDITION TO THIS POST!