Bits of Life in April

Well hello there, you old neglected blog! It seems I’m a very sporadic blogger. I love to blog about life and update my loved ones and friends but having two little ones underfoot is challenging enough in the world of smartphones and constant internet access. I find it difficult to make sure I’m not becoming addicted to the escape of mindless scrolling and watching others live their lives and perhaps I need to change that in the form of something healthy and thought provoking like blogging. I do try not to overshare now that the kids are getting bigger but having an outlet to muse about life has always been necessary for me to “exhale.” I’m afraid you’ll have to be content with very sporadic blogging! Know that I think of you and pray for you if we’ve ever “met” via blogging, and that just because you’re out of sight does not mean that you’re out of mind! I love my blogging buddies and friends who have read my scattered thoughts over the years.

It’s been almost two years since major anxiety became a part of my life, and about a year since I shared that struggle. Maybe we should start with that! I’ve had seasons of debilitating anxiety and depression, but those have come and gone, and popped up again every now and again. I’m not nearly as freaked out about my own mental state as I was when I began this journey. I’ve learned so much about myself, and I’ve had to advocate for myself TO myself throughout this thing, with God’s help. Right now, I’m in a season of what I would call, “moderate” anxiety. Nothing crippling, I can still function, but maybe there’s a little more than the average mom.

I have made friends over the last couple of years who have been there for me when I needed some prayer, and I’ve been honored to become friends with those who have asked me for prayer for the same cross! I can see some of the picture that God has been painting over my life, and some of the “whys” and how this struggle has helped me out of pits of apathy in my faith. In fact, I’ve learned why “faith, hope, and love” are all SO important and how much MORE I need to grow in each of those things.

I’ve learned that hope is the antidote to despair, and quite necessary for MY personality (hello, melancholic Hannah). I’ve also learned that faith is not an easy thing and that it requires the relinquishing of control. You can’t see ahead in the storm, but you know that God is pulling your boat along and staying with you throughout all of it! You have to stop trying to anchor yourself because you want guarantees and assurances and allow God to take you where He wants you to go. And over the entirety of my life, I’ve looked back and realized that I’ve been desperate to find love and acceptance because I have not accepted God’s love in its fullness. Maybe that’s another faith thing… having the faith to accept that I can do nothing to merit the love that He offers, but that He always offers it anyway. When I was recently listening to a Blessed is She podcast, I heard the phrase, “you cannot clean the fish before you catch it.” Meaning, we can’t fix ourselves and our sins entirely before we go to Jesus. He cleans us and purifies us. That’s been a helpful analogy for me to remember in my day to day, because I so often want to hide in my own shame and not pray until I feel that I am “worthy.” You don’t have to tell me how wrong that thought process is… I realize the many levels of vice connected to it!

I bet I could go on for scrolls and scrolls worth of thought on my journey through depression and anxiety, but I think it’s time to wrap that portion up. I’m doing a lot better with it, so if you’ve been praying for me, may I sincerely thank you for that? It means the world!

Life has been interesting. There are lot of changes, both big and small, in the works as well as the daily grind. We got a new car and that has been so nice! We dealt with about 5-6 weeks of illness in our home from stomach bugs to very bad colds and all of it went through every person. Parents have dealt with sobering health issues and all of it has taught me that you can neglect everything (like blogging) but NOT prayer. How are people ever okay without faith and prayer? Daniel’s jobs have been intense and fruitful. Lent has been very lenty.

I got to help put together a Women’s Retreat at our parish and learned a lot! My next read, by the way, is going to be Introduction to the Devout Life, whenever I manage to pick up a copy. The talks at our retreat were based off of the book. Daniel and I began praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart every Friday because of it!

Oh, I finally printed Joan’s baby pictures and managed to take a few photos to my kind OB/GYN who has waited patiently for almost two years. I’m sure he’s been very busy delivering babies and forgot all about it, but I warned him when Joan was born that I was terrible at getting photos printed… We had a really nice chat and he laughed about what he said to me in the delivery room. He had delivered 6 babies in a very short period of time when she was born and was quite sleep deprived. I still remember how crazy his hair was when he came to check on us the following day…

I still listen to Matt Maher almost everyday with the kids and try to throw a few podcasts in there during quiet time. The podcasts mostly don’t happen, because mom life is so busy and full. Eliot, for the most part, knows all his letters and the sounds that they make, so hopefully I’ll be diving into some research soon on homeschooling and teaching your kid to read. I can’t believe he’s going to be four this summer! His chatter knows no bounds and neither does his stubbornness. He has a BIG HEART for God and the newest phase includes “fixing donuts” like the Donut man and singing songs. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13” is my favorite thing to hear him sing. He’s added it to his repertoire of Fred Rogers songs and “We will, we will, we will rock you.” I think he’s going to become quite an amazing young man one day!

That better be all, as this post has gotten monstrous. Lots of love from all of us here!


God Also Thought of Me

It’s been almost sixteen months of Joanie out of the womb. She has such a big personality. I’ve been reflecting on life with her as she nears that moment when you realize, she’s not really a baby anymore… What is it that makes you realize it? Discovering they have developed opinions on things? Seeing them work so hard to be just like you? Watching them look for approval in your face as they learn a new thing? The will emerging when they are told “no?” Maybe it’s all of those things. But it’s becoming apparent that soon, she will run and jump and no longer need assistance walking, and that is so beautiful and so sad at the same time!

I struggled to find my place as a mother again when she was born. She was so different from Eliot! I didn’t expect to struggle in that capacity. Sure, I knew how to do the diapers, the feedings, the kissing of all the ouchies. I knew how to rock her, soothe her, and play with her… I knew all the lullabies and so on some level, it was much easier with a second baby. But that spunky personality… whew, that was a real curve ball. I kept expecting her to want to be clingy, to LOVE nursing, to be shy. But of course she wasn’t going to be the same as my first! She’s NOT my first.

We did things differently with her. For starters, we did not Co-Sleep, and she became a champion sleeper! She was sleeping through the night by ten weeks! And then, for whatever reason, after being an amazing nurser from the start, nursing fell out around five months, and she became even more independent. And as far as rocking, she would much rather laugh it up and crack baby jokes than put her head on my shoulder for hours!

For a while, I was so frustrated by those things and I felt like a failure as a mother. It wasn’t until recently that the common sense that each baby is different REALLY began to sink in. By considering myself a failure, I was actually considering my baby as a failure too! How awful. Once I made that realization, other means of contentedness began to fall into place.

God didn’t give me a second melancholy, clingy, highly sensitive baby, even if I felt like I would be a pro at that the second time around. I had learned with my first the beauty of that kind of child. So many snuggles, so much empathy at such a young age, such a thirst for learning… God gave me the opposite and I was going to have to learn all about this new kind of child. He gave me an independent, bouncy, good-humored baby. I was focusing on the challenges, but He wanted me to see the beauty too!

And such beauty was there to be had by this second child. She is the jelly to Eliot’s peanut-butter. What a comedian this child is… She actually cackles ALL THE TIME. She has the most adorable grin. She is so spunky that she’s not afraid to express displeasure with something. She’s also such a sweet spirit! She shares easily and is such a fan of playing!

I realized that if I had been given another melancholy child this time, the struggle that I’ve had with my anxiety and mental health would have been so much worse. There have been so many times of anxiety over the last year and a half that have been soothed by my baby! I’ll be in a state of fretting and then Joan will do something hilarious or play peekaboo, or start growling and the laughter will bubble out of me. She’s not a fix for my problems, I don’t view her that way at all. But she is a balm from the Lord for my heavy spirit. God was ACTUALLY thinking of me when he designed Joanie.

I thought I needed another highly sensitive and clingy baby to snuggle through the hardships. But what I really needed was sparkling, twinkling, playful eyes, and easy grins, and lightheartedness. Joan is pure JOY, which is why I constantly use the hashtag, “joyful joanie” to tag her.

I see her bless her brother too. She loves to play and share with him. She looks for him first when she wakes up each day, and she mimics him in almost everything. She also paves the way for him to be brave with her bold, feisty spirit! In contrast, when she gets hurt, Eliot is better than even I am at consoling her. He sings to her in the car when she’s angry and she stops. He kisses her ouchies and makes her giggle. He tells her that it’s okay to be sad if she’s upset. He holds her hand whenever she lets him. He chases her around the house to wear her out.

Joan makes me laugh. She lightens my load. Her beautiful smile brings me such joy when I come home to her, and her laid back behavior when I have to go out without her never puts me in any distress. Her giggle can part the clouds. She is so much joy.

Eliot’s detailed care and high empathy shows me the love of God at all times. When I feel alone, he hugs my neck and says, “you’re the best girl in the world and I love you,” and I remember that I’m not alone. He forgives me so easily when I mess up, and he prays for me if I’m having a difficult day of any kind. He adores books and snuggling, and asks to just “be with me,” all day. His favorite part of any outing is always, “that our whole family was together.” Eliot is pure love.

I was given two very different kinds of blessings, and I’ve come to see God’s love for me in each of their designs. He didn’t just make Joan. He put her in this family, and she balances it beautifully. He gave her to us to raise and through raising her, we are rich beyond any treasure. God also thought of me when He formed her. The world is a fuller and better place with Joan in it. How amazing that I experience the love of God through my son and the joy of Christ through my daughter.