Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Circumstances Dictate

A few weeks after Isabella was born the company I had been working for called me and asked me to consider coming back to work as soon as possible. I went in and talked with them about their expectations; hours I would work, pay I would receive. I went home to consider and crunch the numbers and reality hit me pretty hard when I realized that it would cost more for me to work than to not.

But at the same time I needed to be bringing in some sort of income in order for us to stay afloat while Nick was in school since he, rather inconveniently, could not be in two places at the same time. Apparently the question: to work or not to work, had one answer: yes.

I was blessed to be able to do my previous job from home for about a year. It meant that we could keep a roof over our heads and food in the cupboards and take care of our needs. But man did I have wants, and insecurities.

I just didn't want to be judged. I didn't want people to look at our family and wonder what we were thinking when we decided to have a child, and as my belly began to swell with #2, I didn't want them to click their tongue and look down their nose at me. I wanted people to see through my stuff what a great parent I obviously was.

So I got a second job. A paper route that meant I woke at 4:00am to have the newspaper delivered by 6:00am everyday and then I looked after Isabella and our home and did my other job and cooked delicious dinners and spent fabulous evenings with my husband.

As if. The second I stopped relying on God things began to suck. True we had more money coming in than before. True we were able to buy things and do day trips, but we were so unhappy. I was overworked and tired and not taking care of what I should be taking care of. I hit a wall and burned right out. Something had to give and so the paper route went.

I found myself stuck in the middle ground: wearing a business suit attitude and my sweats to work, and man did they chafe.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ideally Speaking

While I am keenly aware that children come into existence on God's timing I have always pictured my children close in age. It's true that I desired to have my babies 18 months apart on purpose. My siblings and I aren't close in age and there's always been a gap between us simply because we've always been at different stages of life. I graduated from college the year my sister graduated from the eighth grade. Nick and his brother are also a few years apart and been in very different places throughout their lives.

We wanted close friendships for our children and hoped that having them close in age would set a good foundation for that. I mean high school is already a completely different world now than when I attended, I can only imagine what it will be like for my children and how great for them to have someone to experience it with. I will never truly 'get it', but at least their siblings will have the same frame of reference.

Being a mom of three children this small is hard work, but anything worth working for is worth working hard for. I didn't know how many people it would bother to witness a woman with three small children. On three separate occasions a random stranger has quipped: "Looks like you need to get a new hobby!" directly to my face. I didn't realize how many people would be baffled to find me out of the house! "alone"! with three small children! and still smiling!

But I didn't expect, or even desire, to be their primary caregiver. In today's society two income families seem to be the norm and I figured that I would continue in my line of office administratin while Nick became a youth pastor and we'd partner with a wonderful daycare to raise our babes. I'm one of those women who actually likes day cares and thinks Early Childhood Educators are unsung heroes.

It's not that I don't want to be responsible for my children, it's not that I don't believe myself capable, it's not even that I don't feel up to the challenge.

The thing for me is that although first steps and first words and first foods are exciting and momentus; the first step will be followed by a million more, and the first word by a billion more, and the first food by a trillion more. And anyone can help a baby learn to walk and talk and eat.

But the first piano recital could be the last, and the first basketball try out could crush a spirit, and first heartache may snuff a soul. And I don't want to be absent from those firsts, to be there for the first five years and absent for the next fifteen.

I would gladly choose to miss a first step in order to cheer from the sidelines for my daughter with two left feet as she trips down the soccer field, smiling, because she knows I chose to be there for those steps.

I would have gladly made that choice.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Up North

Last week I took the girls up north by myself. It was good, although they didn't fall asleep before 9:30 and woke up at 6:30 each day; even though I didn't let them have afternoon naps. I didn't get the physical relaxation I was hoping for, but it was a great time. Brooklyn and Isabella both love being out in the boat.
Everytime we stepped outside you could be sure to find Brooklyn eating dirt and rubbing it in her hair. She still isn't talking much but rather expresses herself through noises, grunts and shrieks.
Isabella was a total ham. Here she is mid dance wearing my sunglasses.
Kathryn had the busiest week of all. She learned to crawl for real, get herself up to sitting and back down again and began making her first 'da-da' type noises. I can't get over how quickly she's growing up.
All in all it was a wonderful week, it took a lot of effort, but I'm sure it was appreciated by all.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

More to Come

Well, there are a lot more posts to come in the vein of last week. I had a few too many things going on the last few days to keep going, but I'm heading off to the trailer to relax and write, so the story will flow forth once I return next Monday. Until then take care.

(And a special 'hi' to Amanda and Susan for all the comments. :))

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

And on the Sixth Day....

Genesis says that 'on the sixth day God created man'. And he created woman to be man's helpmate.

I, myself, have always been independant and although I had a few highschool crushes I never dated anyone. That was fine with me, (on most days, I mean eveyone has their moments of weakness). It would have been nice to have taken some test drives, but I wasn't looking to purchase, finance or lease a heap of metal that would drain my bank account, cause me grief and leave me stuck on the shoulder when I really needed to rely on it.

I knew lots of nice guys but I was afraid the only guy in highschool who wasn't looking to simply get some would be the guy to ask me out, and I'd be stuck staring at the same face every morning for the next 70 years. I didn't want to be a heart breaker, and I didn't want to carry around much heart ache. Granted that was most likely some defensive tactic I brainwashed myself with to deny that fact that; as one guy friend put it, 'I'm just looking to have fun now, but when I'm looking to settle down-I'll find you.' I'd like to believe I wasn't a geek in highschool, but, well, let's say the jury's still out on that one.

But in my second year of college I was very content with who I was becoming, surrounded by great friends and contentedly living vicariously through everyone else who was sampling the meat at the CBC market. One day I sat in the same place for almost an entire day and in the afternoon Nick sat down next to me and would. not. leave.

I've shared the rest of that story before, (along with longer versions of my previous two entries, but in order to understand the present you sometimes have to reflect on the past), and the end result is that I've felt what it's like to be loved and chosen every day for the last six years and I am indescribably blessed by that. So much so that even if something tragic where to happen to Nick I would look for love again, (Please don't misread this sentence, I'm just trying to emphasize that having felt love I can now see how I mislead my self in my youth).

I have been completely converted from independant to part of a team, not just through the act of marriage but by the softening of my heart to be let myself be loved.

Then God Stepped In.

I needed a change of scenery and so I travelled. I travelled the insane distance of down three blocks and across the street. I took up residence at the Bible College. In a few short months it became clear that these seeming unfortunate events were by divine design and I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Being submerged in the Bible College Bubble is hard to explain, but so awesome. There are cliques, the hot girls, the jocks, the musicians, the intellectuals- but it's totally not highschool. There are all these people who are Christians but while in love with God are also crazy about NKOTB and there are wedding magazines everywhere. Even though we each believe John 3:16 with our whole hearts there is still heartache, struggle, confusion.

Yet the walls literally ooze with encouragement and the fine line between friend and family is blurred. As a girl who has often felt 'on the outside looking in' I felt completely accepted and it was totally addictive.

While there Ephesians 2:10 became my truth: "for we are God's masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.". I clung to that as I looked inside to discover who I am and to revel and glory in my self. I even have it tattooed on my body, (in the form of a butterfly). It was my greatest comfort and has become my greatest challenge.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Simply Pieces

When I was in the twelfth grade I had a vision of my ideal future. I had been taking an Interior Decorating elective which I loved and, according to my teacher, was pretty good at. I wanted to be an Interior Designer, but not just any Interior Designer, I planned on becoming the female version of Nate Berkus. By day I would hunt for furniture, demolish the interiors of homes, search through paint samples and carpet swatches- turning the homes of the rich and famous into exquisite havens. By night I would be at black tie fundraisers and parties planned by Colin Cowie. I would have dresses by Versace and shoes by Choo and I would have places to wear them.

(I must confess that this 'plan' was all fantasy. Though I was completely sold out to it, I hadn't thought it through).

I envisioned going to school in New York City and assumed I'd start off all Coyote Ugly: rank apartment on the Lower East Side; um...dancing... to pay my tuition, working hard all day and all night to pull it together. But at the end I'd have my credentials, no student loans, a padded bank account and I'd be at the center of the artistic universe.

Getting established in the field of design would not be problematic as I would obviously be amazing and in no time I'd be living in a swanky loft on the Upper East Side attending weekly soirees and jet setting all over the world to decorate for the who's-who on every continent.

I've always wanted to be a mom, but not a wife, and so once life was humming happily at warp speed I planned on hopping over to the neighborhood sperm bank and ordering my brunette, blue eyed triplets from a donor named Don Juan whom I would raise with the aid of my chef, maid, nanny and personal assistant and my life would be one hundred percent perfect and complete.

Back in my reality a few unfortunate events occurred which left me broke and believing I would spend my life, um....dancing....on the Lower East Side becuase all I was worth were the singles I would be shamelessly begging for on a pole instead of a street corner.....

Monday, July 07, 2008

Setting the Stage

For as long as Nick and I have thought about having children we've always been a family of six and from the day I found out I was pregnant for the first time, all four of my children were already born in my heart. Before we decided to open the window of possibility in the arena of babies we got our lives together on paper: mom with a college degree to fall back on- check; manageable debt load with plan to eradicate-check; three months worth of living expenses in savings-check; dad standing on doorstep of career-check; solid foundation of marriage and faith-check. A wise person once told me that you can never be fully prepared for three things: marriage, kids and death. With the first two you come to a point where you just leap. Do your best to set the stage and let the performance begin. Life is not a dress rehearsal and the show must go on.

When Nick and I began our journey of conceiving we both felt it would be a winding road. Neither of us expected to get pregnant and stay pregnant easily and thought false alarms, miscarriages and complications would be our reality. It wasn't something we feared, but something we were prepared to accept. We have a healthy respect for the holiness of life and that we are not in control. Shortly after we decided to start our family we were privy to the pain and anquish of a tragic miscarriage in the lives of dear friends. As we cried for them and interceeded for them we began to truly ask if it was worth it. Was it worth it to open ourselves up to the potential for such pain in the hope of receiving uncontainable joy.

To completely blow us out of the water I found out I was pregnant just weeks later. I took the HPT while Nick was in Mexico on a missions trip and could hardly contain myself. I tried to calm myself down by planning the perfect way of telling Nick. We were house sitting a beautiful house at the time which provided the perfect setting for a candle lit supper under the guise of welcoming him home, at which point I could share the wonderful news and we would both spend the next nine months smitten and glowing like only expectant parents can.

Nick came home from Mexico completely fired up from his first short term missions trip and began tossing about ideas such as putting all our possessions in storage and squatting in Tijuana so we could build homes for poverty stricken Mexican people and help out local missionaries. His face was so full of excitement and all I wanted to do was grant his every wish no matter how crazy. But instead I blurted; "um, how about we stay here and have a baby instead?".

It only took a few hours, (and modern conveniences like running water), for Nick's source of joy to change from missions work to fatherhood. We ended our time in St. Albert, AB on a very high note. Everything was falling into place so smoothly for us to start living the Canadian style American dream. Nick's internship had been just the right mix of challenges and successes to solidify our faith in God's calling to full time ministry and we stood with one foot in a college dorm and the other in a nursery just waiting to take that last step into the domain of Grown-Up.

We moved to Calgary on the wings of well wishes with the beautiful 'come back chorus' ringing in our ears. Completely invigorated by the previous 12 months we stepped sure footed into the final lap. We felt secure in our plans and our preparations; the future was full of bright, bright, bright sunshiney days.

Merely days later we began the swift descent that usually accompanies a lesson from the Almighty and one by one all our wordly securities were stripped away. Un-employed mom-check; drained savings account-check; increasing debt with no end in sight-check; seeming insurmountable academic challenges-check; foundation's limits being tested-check.....

Friday, July 04, 2008

Time to Leap

Recently I finished reading "Eat, Pray, Love". I started reading it the day Elizabeth Gilbert was on Oprah for the first time, which I'm sure was ages ago. I only managed to squeeze in a chapter or two each night before falling asleep, and now that I've finished it, I forget how it began.

I liked the book because it made me think. Every time she made a point I really got to thinking about how it translates into my life, my faith, my worldview. I like it when books, movies, even shows channel my thought patterns. I think a lot and I'm a verbal processor, so there is pretty much a constant, (and constantly interrupted), conversation in my head.

One thing this book challenged me with was the process of her journey. That parts of it were done solo; parts with other people; parts for other people; and parts under the influence of other people and their opinions.

I have been on an incredible journey for the past two months or so. It has been truly life changing for me and mostly internal. Yet I long to share it- just to simply share it. I have struggled with what to say and how to say it afraid of the opinions of others, and that has kept me from blogging as much as I would like and from being true to myself.

Today is an interrupted day; plenty of chores, a constipated baby, new worries and challenges. I know that right now is not the time to do it justice, but I look forward to sharing my journey that has brought be from being a stay at home mom via circumstance to a stay at home mom via choice; from isolation to contented aloneness; from insecurity to confidence and from anxiousness to hope.

All I ask is that you be gentle, I'm still vulnerable.