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.

 

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2013 sucked (Part 3)

Alright, folks.
Here it is.
Part 3 of this “2013 sucked” series and I am writing it a whole 1 1/2 months after Part 2. I would say I am sorry it has taken me so long since my last post, but I am not. haha. So much LIFE has happened since then. So much change settling in the air around me like a dense fog so that finding my way to actually sit and write in this blog was easier said than done.

Quick recap:
In Part 1 of this series, I explained that 2013 sucked because it was a year of so much unending struggle for me. Aside from struggles at work, struggles with coworkers, struggles with finances, and struggles with family – my primary struggle to get pregnant left me feeling like less of a woman, less of an adult, less of a contributing member of society, and less of a person overall.
Something in me is broken and 2013 was the year I felt every single ounce of that brokenness (and not the “good” kind of Christian-ese brokenness that is desired, but the genuine I-no-longer-know-what-to-do-with-myself-and-I-seem-to-have-forgotten-how-to-breathe kind of brokenness.) I truly felt by the end of 2013 that I was clinically depressed and I allowed very few people to see it. I pasted on a smile and cheerful demeanor each day and later would often break down crying when I was finally alone.

 

 

 

 

 

Then everything I discussed in my last post (Part 2) happened.

 

So where does that leave me now in Part 3 of this journey into the new year?

Well….

It is still a struggle every day to cope with the fickleness of my body, the unasked-for opinions of others on how I should be pursuing starting our family, and the relentless bombardment of people around me getting pregnant, talking about being pregnant, buying baby things, discussing baby names, PREGNANCY, PREGNANCY, PREGNANCY, PARENTING, PARENTING, BABIES, BABIES, BABIES, BABIES…!! (etc.)

My circumstances have not changed, but something inside me has.

I’ve struggled these past few months to put into words the difference in myself that I feel. It is a combination of still feeling broken, but at the same time more whole than before. It is a realization that with as much sadness as I have had in my life, I’ve also had so much joy. That realization has left me feeling incredibly thankful and it is hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re feeling thankful. (I credit this epiphany to Melody Morgan and Ann Voskamp.)

There are two very specific songs that came out recently that have been the best expression of how I feel now compared to last year. The lyrics of these songs can change your life; they contain the ability to move your heart into a new and deeper place with God.
When I listen to or sing these songs (in the car at the top of my lungs when no one else can hear me, but myself), I feel my heart settle into a beautiful place of peace, surrender, and trust.

I am at the place in this new season of my life where I truly desire to be led out deeper onto the waters.
The place where all I have left to look at is His face to keep from drowning.
There place where all I have left to offer is a broken hallelujah.
The place where I can raise empty hands up to Him and receive something beautiful from my ashes.
The place where my trust doesn’t come with boundaries that keep everything comfortable and within my control.
The place where I trust Him and nothing else to uphold me.

 

THIS SONG:

 

 

AND THIS SONG: