being present

how to embrace the season you’re in

Being a stay-at-home wife of a full-time student is hard. Being a mom of two under two is demanding. Living in Denver is expensive. Living far away from family is lonely. There are moments I feel frustrated, but I honestly love my life. Here are some ways I’ve found helpful to embrace my season, find my rhythm, and take advantage of today:

LET YOUR ATTITUDE DICTATE YOUR EXPERIENCE

When I’m busy being thankful for all the good in my life, I don’t have time to complain or feel critical, jealous, or defeated. What I focus on grows, and gratitude begets contentment. A wealth mindset that emphasizes abundance allows me to experience more freedom in and over my life because I’m not a victim of things I lack.

DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF WITH YOURSELF

Treat each new season as new. I don’t wear snow boots year round because each season requires different clothing, activities, and habits. The same goes for the seasons of my life. I used to have more relational energy, and now most of it goes to my family. I used to have an impeccable memory, and now I’m sleep-deprived and forget things. Each season presents new lifestyle changes and should also include different self-expectations.

HAVE VISION FOR THE BIGGER PICTURE

Sometimes my husband and I look at each other and ask: “Why don’t we have any money?” And then we remind ourselves of what we chose: to invest in his education, to start a family, to go without luxuries while the kids are young and won’t miss them. (We still play with kitchen utensils and trash.) The days are long, but the seasons are short and the years keep going faster and faster. The future will come before I know it.

INVEST IN TOMORROW WHILE LIVING TODAY

I don’t want to live for tomorrow because the only time I’m guaranteed is this very moment. I definitely want another baby, but the only baby I’m promised is the one I’m holding in my arms. When life gets tough, I don’t want to spend my days wishing them away, dreaming of 5 years from now when the kids are in school, of 20 years from now when I have more freedom with my time. I want to enjoy my life now.

DO WHAT YOU CAN ONLY DO NOW

I’m trying to make the most of having little kids: reading books with them on my lap, favoring snuggles over productivity, dressing up in matching outfits. In every season, I can chase after any number of pursuits, but there are some opportunities that won’t come around again. I’ve been tempted to go back to school, to go back to work, but I keep choosing to spend my days with my kids. They’re only small once.

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What are you doing to fully embrace your current season?

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differences between my first & second pregnancies

A lot of moms are more easygoing during their second pregnancies, but I was pretty laid-back the first time around. I didn’t follow any rules about what I shouldn’t eat, drink, or do. I listened to my body and practiced headstands well into my third trimester. I felt confident and strong and looked forward to an empowering birth experience.

This time, I feel more protective. This past winter, we lived in a basement without much privacy, without a real bedroom or a door to separate our space. I had a threatened miscarriage, which increased my feeling of vulnerability. I’ve gained more than the “recommended” weight and feel big and mama bear-like, ready to fight for my babies.

Every pregnancy is different because every relationship is different.

I’m not sure what is true about being pregnant with boys versus girls, but I know my relationship with Phoebe is different than my relationship with Atlas, and so her time in the womb is different as well. She sits lower, as most subsequent babies do, and stretches more than she kicks. Perhaps she’s already practicing yoga poses?

My relationship with myself is also different than it was in 2015. My first pregnancy taught me a lot about connecting with myself and being present, but this pregnancy shows me I still have a lot to learn. I’m not a fearful person, but the past few months I’ve felt frustrated with my body and anxious about the future.

It’s easier for me to be hopeful when lack of experience leaves room for any possibility.

With my first pregnancy, I had heard of pain-free and orgasmic births, and I believed anything was possible. Intellectually, I still believe anything could happen, but experientially, I know birth and postpartum can be hard and indeed very painful. Dealing with eczema again when I thought I was healed makes me wonder if I can trust my body.

I know my body is more prepared to birth a human this second time and it remembers what to do, but in many ways, my heart and mind are not as ready. I have to make a conscious effort to choose peace instead of stress, to choose to live in the “now” instead of jumping ahead to next week or next month.

In some ways, I am giving birth to myself.

In my last post, I wrote about becoming new. With Phoebe’s birth, I will become a new mom, again, but I feel like she is also a retelling of my own story. My birthday and her due date are just a few days apart. Thinking of her brings up thoughts of my relationship with my own mother, and all the emotions that come with it.

Though this won’t be as drastic a transformation from maidenhood to motherhood, it is still a big change from one child to two, from three family members to four, from just my boys to my boys and my girl. This pregnancy, I’m more cognizant of how nesting is not only preparing a place for a new baby, it is also preparing a place for a new me.

Noah says, “There’s always room for more love.” And so, in our hearts, and in our home, we make room.

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I would love to hear how your pregnancies and birth stories differed! As well as any tips on how to parent two under two :)

 

the only time we have

Noah is in Colombia this week. I’ve been so excited for him ever since he was invited to go.

I consider myself a strong, powerful, capable woman. But I got married to spend the rest of my life with my husband, so when he’s gone, I feel like part of me is missing. When he’s away, I eat a lot of snacks and watch a lot of TV and have a lot of emotions. Before he left, I asked him to download several movies for me and I signed up for a free month of Hulu. But I’m not watching any movies and I canceled my subscription early.

I don’t want to waste my time.

I’m not a “busy mom.” Some people need to leave the house every day or they’ll go stir crazy, but I really like my home (and I really don’t like wearing pants, which are often necessary when going out in public). There have been times in the past when my days are over-scheduled and there will be times in the future when I’ll have more commitments. Right now, I don’t need to create more things to do.

When my days aren’t filled with plans, there is time and space to be in the moment.

Atlas and I are on a babymoon of sorts. Traditionally, a babymoon is a romantic vacation you take with your partner before you become parents. Atlas and I are on an intimate staycation before he becomes a big brother. We get dressed together, we eat together, we bathe together. We read more books (or the same book, many times), take longer walks, and play for hours just because we can.

This is the last time that it will be just us.

Atlas has my complete and undivided attention. No one else to care for, no one else to consider. We’re celebrating our last hurrah by doing special things we don’t normally do. Like going on dates. Wearing matching headbands. Swimming at the neighborhood pool. Visiting the botanical gardens. I also cut Atlas’ hair (and had no idea what I was doing, poor kid). But mostly I’m just savoring the one-on-one time with my little boy.

Parenting a toddler is tiring, especially being 8 months pregnant. If I let myself, I can easily get caught up with the weariness of daily mundane tasks. I can feel lonely without many friends and frustrated with my direct sales business. When I’m single parenting, I can feel withdrawn and overwhelmed. But I can also look at it another way.

This is the only time I have.

The only time I’m a graduate wife with a young family. The only summer Atlas is 1 year old. The only month left before Phoebe is born. Motherhood helps me stay present and appreciate the twinkling moments of time that promise to pass as quickly as the rest. Next month, Noah and I will celebrate our 5 year anniversary. I will turn 29. I will have a baby. And then there will be a new adjustment, a new rhythm, a new normal.

“The days are long, but the seasons are short.” Oh, but the days! These precious days are the only days we have, never to be seen again. And I treasure them.

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What is special about your current season? How can you savor the time you have?

 

six months: what my baby tells me

I have not heard my baby’s heartbeat, I have not had any ultrasounds, nor have I received any prenatal care whatsoever. This is not completely by choice, but a consequence of moving across the country and changing jobs and insurance companies. I no longer need an expert to confirm my pregnancy because I feel my baby move within me all the time, sometimes rhythmic, like a pulse, especially mid-morning and at night, but those just might be the times when I am paying most attention. Though many of my peers rely on a doctor to find out what is happening inside of them, the only information I have from my baby are the clear, insistent kicks, but it is a message of being fully alive and fully present, and it is enough.

Contrary to my usual tell-all tendencies, I didn’t post a pregnancy announcement until my fifth month, and I have felt no desire to share constant updates about what I am craving, what size fruit my baby is, and how my body is increasing in size. Perhaps it is an inclination to keep sacred the limited knowledge I have, or perhaps it is simply the most intimate public experience I have ever had: the presence of this vulnerable, mystifying being I have yet to see, and in the meantime, on display for all to see; this transformative season of womanhood, ubiquitously shared by countless before me, yet so exclusively my own. It is one of the most simultaneously natural and magical transitions I have undergone, and I feel as if I am coming of age all over again, an adolescent with my whole world about to explode into the unknown.

Ten years ago, I was a high school senior, obsessed with purpose and fearful of missing opportunities, excited for adventure and every possibility. It is almost overwhelming to think about how much happens in a decade. I wonder about myself in ten years, if I have a career I am proud of, if I have finally learned another language, if I have gained the courage to call myself a writer. There are still remnants of the 17-year-old in me that sits on the edge of decision unable to choose, that convinces myself it is too late. I wonder what is next, if I am on track with creating the life I want to lead, whether I am taking the wisest steps, but as I feel the sudden jab within me, I am reminded of the wisdom my body holds: that if I am paying attention, fully alive and fully present, it is enough.