Today, well, today is one of those hard days. 

Where it feels like everything needs to get done and nothing gets done. 

Where you wish you and all you friends lived together in an awesome small town so you can visit and encourage the friend who just had a baby, get some good advice about baking from a friend just a few houses down, and bump into that friend who just gets it and gives the best hugs. 

Where your tired of being sick, tired of your child being sick, and wish that somehow everything was just better. And included more sleep. 

Where you notice the bowl you just put cereal in is not as clean as the dishwasher told you it was.

*sigh* And breathe...

Instead, I know I need to let go of getting things done... they are just things after all.  

Instead, I will grieve that I'm not close enough for a physical visit because the ones I love are spread over towns, cities, countries, and continents. But I'll send that text or email or prayer for them and be grateful for the technology that allows me to do so and the God that led me to each one.

Instead, I'll let go of my expectations and focus on getting better and helping my child get better. 

And the sleep will come. And the sinuses will clear. 

Today is hard but not impossible. It just requires grace, patience, and a whole lot of music to make it through. 

The Wakeful Dreamer

... I ate the cereal anyways. 
"Isn't having a baby the best?!?!?"

I find this question (or some variant of it) really hard to answer. It requires a yes or no answer. It is or it isn't. It's black or it's white. 

But having a baby is hard. 

I love my son so much and can't imagine our lives without him... but it's hard. It's hard when there's not a lot of sleep going on (for any of us), when he cries and you don't know why but you use to, or when you just want to snuggle him but he's ready to be on the move already. It's hard when you feel like you're FINALLY understanding something when it changes all over again - then you realize that this is how it will be from now until forever. It's hard when that feeling of dread comes over you when something is wrong and you realize you will never stop worrying about him. Never. 

But having a baby is so good. 

There is the cuddles and the smiles. There is nothing like having him really look at you for the first time and light up because he knows you (and it never gets old every time after that). Seeing how much he learns and grows every day. Seriously. I'm a little bit in awe about how he couldn't grab something one day and the next he's grabbing that toy AND putting it in his mouth (Take that Mr. Crinkly-Squirrel!) 

So this is where I take issue with "The Best" question - there is no room for it to be extremely good and extremely hard all at once. It makes no room for, well, life. 

In college a professor once explained to me that the opposite of black and white isn't grey but (shocker) colour. Not choosing yes or no doesn't mean you are on the fence (or that you don't love your baby), it means you are recognizing that it's complicated, beautiful, and there's so much more going on. 

And frankly, I'd rather choose colour every time because my son deserves parents who see him as a growing, wonderful person not just a baby or a social standing or a fill-in-the-blank status. Seeing him in this way means we are there for him 100% of the time - when it's good and especially when it's hard. 

So to the person who has probably had more sleep in the last night then I have had in the last couple of months, I say to you: No, it's not the best. But it is good and hard.

And full of so much colour. 

The Wakeful Dreamer
There is a famous song that comes out around Christmas time: "Mary Did You Know?" by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene, and I have to say I don't think I've managed to sit through it without crying by the end. I've tried to tough it out but the lyrics get me every time. 

Since becoming a mother, I find myself thinking of Mary more and more. Being a mom is hard - there is lots I expected and lots that has frustrated me, surprised me, and made me laugh.  I'm pretty sure I experience every emotion I have every day (If you need confirmation of this just ask my husband) - and there is no pressure of my son being the Son of God! 

There's just so much the Bible doesn't cover like: was Jesus a good baby? Did she worry about whether he was an Angel, Textbook, Spirited, Touchy, or Grumpy baby (I'm referencing this book, and I'm pretty sure one could make the argument that he was any one of them)? Did her heart break when he cried? Did she cry when he didn't stop crying and it was witching hour? Did she worry if he was getting enough to eat?

And how did she survive any of it? Because in this day and age there are swings, bouncy chairs, wraps and carriers, cribs, bright toys, things that sing, vibrate, and that you can control with your phone. I often imagine her looking out over the desert with Jesus strapped to her with nothing but sand and a rock. Maybe a donkey. Maybe the donkey was the swing back then... 

Did Joseph help? Did he bring her water when she was stuck sitting at home cluster feeding? Did he hold Jesus so that she could go to the bathroom or have a shower to finally wash the spit up out of her hair? 

I don't know too much about the culture back then but I assume she had women who surrounded her and helped her. There is no mention of her mother or sisters except for Elizabeth, her cousin. Was there a midwife who came and checked up on her? Did she go to the well everyday to meet other moms, to swap baby stories and see how much sleep everyone was getting? Or what herbs would help with gas or teething?

Or was she alone? Like our modern-day North American culture thinks we should be? That we are all super, multi-tasking women who need to show that we can do it by ourselves without the help of the likes of our husbands, family, or community? - which by the way is NOT how I think it should be. 

I wonder all this and so much more. Luke 2:19 reveals the smallest insight into her life:

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Since becoming a mom I've thought about this verse and I know what it means. What it feels like to see your son and wonder who he might be. 

So, let us ask again the question again, did Mary know? 

Of course she did. She knew he was Emmanuel. God with us. She would never forget the encounter with the angel. Maybe she didn't know everything Jesus would do, but she knew.  

And she loved him even when he cried in the middle of night. When he peed on her. When he smiled at her for the first time. 

He was a baby.  

He was her son.

The Wakeful Dreamer

Last night at convocation, I saw a friend (her husband had graduated last year) hug another friend (her husband had just crossed the stage) and overheard her say, "You did it too. I know how hard it is."

And right now I can't stop thinking about those words. I can't stop thinking about how true it is. 

As we stood among friends last night who had crossed the stage - looking so great with in their black gowns, coloured hoods, and blue folders that held the piece of paper saying that they had done it - I was so happy and proud. We had made it. 

This morning, after a bit of a rough night with our son (whose night was thrown off by being out late last night), I was washing the dishes and started crying. We had made it. 

We had made it through the beginning when you wonder a little bit if this is what you should be doing. When your husband is off studying and you don't see him all day because you're both working. When you spend a night alone while he is off at an evening class. When he tries to explain what he's learning and you're trying to follow because you see how excited he is about it (even though you may not really care about the Desert Fathers). When you just want some undivided attention, but you know he has three more papers due and you just have to wait... wait until he hands in his last paper so he can receive a single piece of paper at the end of it all. 

I'm so proud of my husband because he has worked so hard and has accomplished so much. But this morning, as I've given up dishes to write this and hold our son, I can't help but think of all the Regent spouses who have supported their significant others through their degrees and I want to stop, raise my tea and say: 'You made it. I'm so proud of you. I know it wasn't always easy but you made it. Maybe there is no ceremony, hood and gown, or piece of paper at the end for you, but know you followed God's calling through this time and I know he sees everything you did... and I'm kinda hoping for some kind of big crown in heaven to go with my huge mansion!'

Here's to you, the Spouses of Regent College. You made it.

The Wakeful Dreamer
Okay, before you start thinking or saying anything, I know having a baby is going to change our lives. It would be crazy to think that it wouldn’t. In fact, I want our baby to change our lives.

The reality is that I’ve already begun changing. The most obvious way is that I’m pregnant. Pregnancy brings it’s own changes and challenges but if it didn’t that would mean I wasn’t going to be having a baby.

The biggest way it changes me is that after I give birth, I’ll be a mom. However, some of the ways people talk about becoming a mom gives the weird impression that this change includes a zombified/stepford-wives version of yourself and that the “real” you will just have to take back seat to this “mom version” of yourself until… well, most likely forever. Did you have dreams? Too bad. Did you have hobbies and interests? If they don’t include your baby say goodbye now.

I’m just not buying it. I think the problem is people’s idea of change. That change comes in and rips you away from all the things you love. Sometimes it does take things away but I have never gone through a change without still being myself... possibly a slightly altered version of myself but never one where anyone I knew could not recognize me. A lot of change happens inwardly and it seems like a big deal to the person it is happening to (add nine months of hormones and it seems like a bigger deal) but I’m still me and you are still you.

I also don’t want to separate myself like that, as if there are different “versions” of me and the “real” me is who I should really be. I just don’t feel like that is healthy on any level and it especially sounds mentally exhausting. I already am myself AND I’m going to be a mother. It’s hard to imagine right now but in a few weeks it’s going to happen. It’s not like a mother-alien-thing is going to attack me at the precise moment I give birth and then I will be a MOTHER! *insert lightning and maniacal laughter here*  

No thanks. Yes, I’ve had nine months to help prepare me for this moment but when I think back on the entirety of my life and all the changes that have already taken place - puberty, starting my first job, going off to college, getting married… all I have to say is that changes are part and parcel with life. That’s not going to change now (see what I did there? Ha!).

And because I love lists, I’ve decided to write down a few things that I’m fairly confident will not change when I have a baby:

  1. Wearing a bikini - I’ve never liked showing a lot of my skin. I know some are all about showing off their “battle scars” (stretch marks for those of you who don’t know) and I’m not ashamed of the ones I’ve been getting but that part of my body is a nice shade of white that I’ve been working on my entire life and I’m not about to give up on that now.

  2. Drinking Coffee - I have never had a true, full cup of coffee yet. If I can make it through early morning jobs and long nights writing papers in college without it, I’m pretty convinced that I won’t take it up now.

  3. Being a consistent blogger - … yeah, I’m just not very good at that.

  4. Naps - I love naps so much and I love it when people suggest that a new mom should nap when the baby naps. I will be doing that!   

  5. Reading - Yes, there may not be as much time for it, but this lifelong romance we have is not just going to end.  

In fact the last point reminds me of so many other things that I love that won’t change: listening to music (including anything from folk to punk and a soft spot for pop), vinyl records and old movies, going for walks, hanging out with friends, s'mores… the list could go on.

The best part about this list is that I get to share it all with our baby. This new little person hasn’t experienced any of these things yet and we get to be the ones to show them the world. It’s pretty exciting. I’m excited to get to know this baby that’s already been changing my life and I’m excited for them to get to know me... and s'mores. I love s'mores. 

The Wakeful Dreamer

Happy Easter! Well, I guess it's more like Happy Easter Monday. Either way I hope your happy. 

Maybe you're happy because you are finished Lent and are now able to eat dessert again and are currently enjoying your favorite right now. Or maybe you're happy because you gave up social media for Lent and during that time you found all these great things to share on your blog but you had to wait. Hypothetically speaking, of course. 

I know you know this already but... I love reading. I can read fairly fast and if I'm into a book I tend to just devour it. Do I want to be able to read faster? Well, wouldn't you know it but someone is ready to make that happen. Meet Spritz, a company that claims they can get me reading 500 words per minute (!) and I'll still be able to comprehend it. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself!

The Wakeful Dreamer 
There is just something about fairytales that I love. I know that the Disney fairytales I grew up with are just a version, and a fairly tame version, of the traditional ones but they still warm my heart and are a source of inspiration for many others. 

I read this fairytale because a student was doing a presentation on the illustrations that she had done for her final project based on The Light Princess and I had never heard of it before. I had heard of George MacDonald but was unaware of the beautiful fairytales that he wrote. 

It's a beautiful story about a princess who is literally light, as in she has no gravity. She has to be tied to something or the slightest puff of air could send her flying. 

I'm not sure I want to tell you more because fairytales have a lot to say and do a wonderful job of explaining themselves. 

If you read it you will not be disappointed. I wasn't.

The Wakeful Dreamer
A friend at work sent me the link to this article called 8 Subconscious Mistakes Our Brains Make Everyday--And How to Avoid Them and I thought, "I'm making mistakes without even trying?" So, I was curious and once I read the article I was hitting my forehead knowing that I had to change some thinking. 

Especially number 5: Rationalizing purchases we don't want. How crazy is that?!? But I do it. I buy something I think I want/need (more emphasis on want) and bring it home. Once it's sitting in my house I don't want it anymore, I didn't really like that much to begin with. 

For the record, I don't do this all the time and now that we're back on a student budget again, every purchase has to be thought about well. But I have done it and it's scary. It's also scary because it has a name, post-purchase rationalization or Buyer's Stockholm Syndrome. At least when it happens I can come home and explain to my husband that I bought it because I have a syndrome... he'll understand, right?

The Wakeful Dreamer

Confession time: I love TLC's What Not to Wear. I always have and I will admit that I felt sad when it ended just this past fall (mostly because I wanted to be on it and have $5000 spending spree). 

Second confession: I'm not a fashionista. Not in the slightest. I don't know designers or what's in or out. But I do love information and if I feel like there is a show that can help me dress my body better, then bring it on! 

So when I saw that Cliton Kelly, one of the show's hosts, had a book out about style, I went and got it. And it was really interesting to read about not just fashion but about manners and how to write thank-you notes properly. 

Now it may be because I'm one of the millions of people hooked on Downton Abbey, but when I watch the manners of the upper class British society part of me longs for it a little bit. The beautiful table settings and "dressing" for dinner and I still love my jeans a little too much to go all the way with it but I felt like tho book gave me a better idea about how to be better at some things in my life - not better than everyone else, grant you. That would be taking it a bit too far.

One thing that really suck with me is how to eat properly. How you should hold your utensils and how they should rest on your plate when you are finished. Practically, this has helped me to eat slower which in the long run I believe to be a good thing because I can make a plate food disappear just like magic. Now I try to be more thoughtful and take my time...

The Wakeful Dreamer
If there is one thing you should know about me, it's that I love weird books. Books that are slightly off-the-beaten-track and maybe even sarcastically talking about the beaten track. In fact the more ridiculous a book is the more I know I'll like it. For example, in May I read a book called Cake Wrecks about cakes that are wrecked by bad spelling, grammar, and the occasional terrible frosting picture. 

I loved it. I even laughed out loud. So when I discovered this book I knew I had to share it with the world. Weird Things Customers say in Bookshops is, well, I think it might be my favourite off-the-beaten-track book ever. Please visit this site to read some of the quotes from people who have really said these things in a bookshop. 

Now I know not everyone knows about authors or titles or sometimes anything about books at all but I think some people should have paid a little bit more attention to what they were learning in school - especially history class...

The Wakeful Dreamer