Last time I posted, it wasn’t quite Christmas, and I was six months pregnant.
Now, it’s May. It’s nearing the end of spring, and I have an almost-three-month old. His name is Jesse.
Oh, and we bought a house. One week after he was born. And moved in when he was six weeks old. What a beautiful, chaotic whirlwind of three months it has been.
Life with an infant leaves little room for processing changes like these, and there is always something else I “should” be doing instead of the things that give me life. Don’t get me wrong — hanging out with my son and seeing him smile is one of the most life-giving experiences I’ve had to date. But that does not erase what I loved to do before he entered the picture.
So, here I am. J is napping a few feet away, and I’m sitting at this desk, attempting to patchwork a few comprehensible paragraphs together. I already feel a bit lighter.
The motivation for this post comes from a few different places, but mostly from one of my favorite authors — Emily P. Freeman — who writes a seasonal “What I Learned” post. At the end of each season, she puts together a list of a few of the things she learned over the course of three months; some silly things, some serious things.
I figured this time around would be a good chance to join in, now that life feels a little less hazy. Newborns, guys. Newborns. (Read more thoughts below.)
On that note — here are a few things I learned/am learning:
1. Difficult phases are just that: phases.
For me, the first three weeks of Jesse’s life were the most difficult. His birth was no walk in the park, but coming home with a newborn? Hormones all over the place, trying to figure out the whole nursing thing, all the sudden experiencing the strangest sleep patterns ever (yep, stranger than college), living in a one-bedroom apartment, my parents living miles and miles away — the list goes on.
But those three weeks ended. And week four made all the difference. With some encouragement from Nate and other friends, I finally mustered up the confidence to leave the apartment by myself with baby in tow. It felt like I was standing at the foot of a giant mountain with a car seat on one arm, diaper bag on the other, but once I took a few steps, I realized the mountain was actually just a speed bump.
I entered a new phase that day. There were new challenges, of course, but I had come out of a dense fog. The cloud cover was much lighter, and the sun peeked through every now and then. And there were far less tears shed, too!
So, I learned — and I am still learning — that phases are phases. Seasons are seasons. God’s mercies are new each and every morning (even if and especially if those mornings start at 1, 3, or 5 a.m.).
2. Living slow requires intention.
This month, I read (i.e. devoured) Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner. I highly recommend this book for anyone — particularly any woman — who is struggling with the fast-paced life, the unattainable mess-free life/image of the self, and/or the constant bombardment from this world to “do more, be more.”
I know. That topic is kind of overdone these days, right? But, GUYS. This book. It’s so relevant, so relatable, and plus, it’s creative non-fiction, so it reads like a novel. I loved Erin’s voice and honest perspective on many of the things I battle daily (anxiety, feeling inadequate as a new mom/person in general, how I use social media, how I view time, etc.).
One thing I’ve been realizing lately is that having a baby almost forces me to live a little slower. Everything takes longer. Getting ready in the morning, getting ready for bed, getting out the door to go anywhere — those things now require more thought than I ever considered possible. Not to mention, moving into this new house has taken significantly longer than it would sans infant. I am learning to lean into these things, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking I’m not getting enough done or I’m missing out on whatever because of a nap or a feeding or a bout of crying.
So, I have to slow down. I have to breathe. I have to pray — even if that prayer is simply, “Dear God, please let this baby sleep a little longer tonight.” All of these things require intention — even just an intentional moment. And this blog post? I had to set aside this time, forget about my “chores,” and slow down to think and process.
In her book, Erin says,
“There is only today, with holes in our pockets, with time spilling out. We cannot keep it for tomorrow. We cannot mend our seams to hoard, save, and carry.”
There’s a lot more I could say on this topic, and I’m still working on what this looks like in my own life — I’m sure I will for the rest it. But the learning process is an important one, so maybe I’ll write more eventually.
(Also, if you don’t follow Erin on Instagram, you totally should. She has changed my perspective on social media with the way she uses her platform. Simple, yet full of gratitude.)
3. The Great British Baking Show is lovely and brings me so much joy.
Perhaps I’m a bit late on this one, but better late than never, right? This show is the best reality/competition show I’ve ever EVER watched. With all of the lame drama-ridden American reality TV, this show is a breath of fresh air. I don’t feel super gross after binge-watching three seasons. Netflix nailed it by adding this one. Also, the season three finale had me in happy tears, so there’s that.
4. What we consume matters.
This one might sound a little obvious, but let me explain. There are a handful of things in my life that needed a bit of an overhaul, and I’m recognizing more and more the importance of what we consume. And to be honest, this isn’t something I cared much (or enough) about until very recently. When it comes to my attitude about my circumstances, I am FAR from perfect and often don’t want to change things for fear of, well, change, so thank God for His grace and mercy because Lord knows I need it. Here are four examples of things I’ve taken a closer look at lately:
- Skin: I downloaded this terrifying, but very informative app called “Think Dirty” (scan your beauty products, read about their ingredients) and learned that many of the products I’ve been using on my skin have some pretty nasty stuff in them. Thus began my slow journey toward finding cleaner products. I’m basically using up all the stuff I currently use, and as it runs out, I’ll attempt to find something to replace it. Definitely not an easy task for someone with sensitive skin like me, but we’ll see how it goes!
- Ears: This one isn’t necessarily an “overhaul,” but these days, if I’m going to listen to something, I tend to go for things more uplifting and encouraging. My good friend, Emily, recommended a podcast to me called “Risen Motherhood,” which basically addresses all sorts of topics about having kids/being a parent and connects them to the Gospel. Each one is 15-20 minutes long, which is super doable, and they all include Gospel application and practical ways to approach the chosen topic. I’m always encouraged after listening.
- Eyes: There is so much to say about social media, and I know the issues I have with it go deeper than I could explain in a few sentences and don’t come with a quick fix. In short, I don’t hate it (Instagram <3), but I do sometimes dislike the way it’s used, and my attitude about the world and myself tends to spiral negatively out of control after too much time scrolling. But at the end of the day, I am responsible for what I’m consuming. So I edited my news feeds — unfollowed a bunch of people I don’t know personally on Instagram, told Facebook what I didn’t want to see, etc. They’re not perfect, but they’re better, and I think I’m possibly spending less time scrolling. Possibly.
- Mouth: I’m doing a bit of a trial run due to a recommendation from our pediatrician. Jesse has had some symptoms of a milk intolerance, so I’m cutting dairy to see if things improve. I’m really grateful for food labels that let me know which products are dairy-free and for Pinterest where I can find recipes and grocery lists. It’s been a bit of a wake-up call to the complexities and wonders of the body and how what I eat can affect my son, for better or worse. It’s a small price to pay for a happier baby! As my friend, Rachel, said, “Happy baby = happy mom.”
As you can see, I’m learning a lot these days in small ways and big ways. I’m so thankful for friends and family who encourage me and pray for our family as we navigate this new season. As life moves forward, new challenges arise, and we squint our eyes through the fog while we figure it out. By God’s grace, the fog clears up, and we find He was walking with us the whole time.
I hope some of what I wrote encourages you or at least helps you know you’re not alone in the daily struggle! I’m so glad I made time to process a few things. Thanks for reading, friends.