A Little Nose and Little Fingers and Toes: Reflections on Becoming a Mother

It’s been a little over a month since our little one made her appearance. How does time pass by so quickly and so slowly at the same time? She’s growing and changing as little babies tend to do. She’s smiling more and trying to coo as we talk to her and make eye contact. How beautiful it is to have a baby.

Although the birth was much more challenging and difficult than George and I had anticipated even with all of our preparation, that moment of finally holding her and looking into her eyes for the first time was one of the most precious moments of my life. She was so alert and looking around like she was trying to take it all in. I felt so relieved to finally be holding her after 33 hours of labor. I had reached a point in labor after hearing a newborn cry down the hall that I began to wonder if my baby would ever come, if the pain would ever end. It was still a while until she finally came, but I’m thankful God gave me strength to endure. I’m also thankful for my wonderful husband who coached me through it all and helped me feel confident that I could do this. He’s continued to care for us both in the weeks which have followed. Our little girl sure does love her daddy and will often stop fussing as soon as he picks her up and starts talking to her.

For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a mom. I even dressed up as a mom in kindergarten when we had a “Dress As What You Want to Be When You Grow Up” day. When I did grow up, I struggled with being single as I saw others around me getting married and starting families. I wasn’t sure if it would be God’s will to be a wife and mother, and I had to learn to trust He knew best. All along He was writing a beautiful story and continues to do so while teaching me through it all.

It’s been two years of such big though wonderful changes that sometimes it feels overwhelming. I remember feeling especially overwhelmed at the thought of becoming a mother knowing how important a parent’s role is in shaping a little person’s life as they grow up. I’d just become a wife and now, I was a mother-to-be. How would we know how to raise a little one? The grad student in me wanted to do all the research and read all of the books, but I knew that though I’d find good tips, none of them would tell me what I wanted to know because I need to know who my child is and how best to raise her. God knows best, and He’s given us a sweet little girl to love and raise. If we seek Him, He will show us the way.

There have been some rough times when baby blues have crept in, and I’ve not been sure if I could do this. This especially happens when she’s fussing, and I don’t know what’s wrong. Then, she looks up at me and grins and coos showing her love in her little baby way, and I relax and realize I need to just take it one day at a time. She’s growing and changing and experiencing a lot of firsts, and I know she’ll grow up fast. It’s a sweet though challenging time, and I do cherish her littleness though I often yawn wishing I could also get more sleep.

I can’t say I know much yet about being a mom, but I’ve realized, at the moment, a lot of it just involves love as we care for our little newborn. I began life with George with a new last name to get used to, and now, we have the sweet blessing of getting used to our new names: “Mommy and Daddy”.


Apartment 135

There are few things that I miss about my previous one bedroom roach-ridden apartment back in Lubbock. The rent was cheap, and it was obvious why. But, I had some good times and some good memories from my days there. One of the bright spots of living there was the people I met. There was Mary who lived above me who was always so kind and concerned that she didn’t make too much noise. There was Mike, the drunk who lived a few doors down who always sat outside his door in a chair and nearly always asked me what my name was since he’d forgotten it again. He moved away later to go into rehab, so I hope he did get some help. There was the other Stacey and her little son who lived diagonally across from me. She always seemed to have cats who would sit in the window and stare at you as you walked by. Then, in apartment #135 there lived a very sweet gentleman in his eighties.

I first met him as I would go in and out of my apartment, and he’d wave from the park bench where he usually sat outside. This gentleman, Grandpa Dalton as I began calling him, became a very bright light in my life in the three years that I lived at that apartment complex.

Sometimes all he really wanted was for someone to sit next to him on the park bench and listen as he told stories about his life as a WWII and Korean War veteran and then later as a successful business man. He also talked about some of the not so great times in his life but never went into too much detail. He was so often ignored by the other people who lived there, that it made him so happy that my brother and I would sit and chat with him. What a treasure those people who ignored him missed out on!

He was of the older generation who knew how to make a girl feel special. He once told me that if he were 30 again, he’d try to marry me. He laughed as I blushed a deep red. Then, he leaned in close and told me not to settle for just anyone, “It’s not worth it.” he said as his face looked sad. I looked at him worried, and he just chuckled and said it was nothing for me to worry my head about and just to get my education. He then gave me a kiss on the cheek and chuckled some more.

A Rose from Grandpa Dalton

A Rose from Grandpa Dalton

One day, Grandpa Dalton waved for me to come over to his apartment. He had the biggest grin on his face as he gave me a beautiful red rose. “Here, a beautiful rose for a beautiful woman.” he said with a chuckle. I looked at him shocked and asked him if he sure that he wanted to give it to me. He said that it would hurt him more if I didn’t take it. I don’t think I stopped smiling for the rest of that day. This began a tradition that went on for the next two years. Just about every Friday, if the weather permitted, I’d hear a familiar knock on my door, and there would be a smiling, chuckling Grandpa Dalton standing there holding a flower or two. Grandpa Dalton told me someone else gave him the flowers but that he liked seeing the smile on my face, so he wanted me to have them.

Grandpa Dalton2

One of the last visits from Grandpa Dalton before I moved.

This dear Grandpa Dalton daily humbled me through his kindness and selflessness. One time he tried to sing “Be My Love” as I opened the door, and he told me that he used to sing and play the piano. “You know, there’s a lot of things I used to do that I can’t do anymore.” he said looking rather reflective. I wondered what memories must have been coming to mind because he looked sad for a moment, and then smiled really big and told me that he’d been practicing those French words I’d taught him. Another time when I opened the door, he told me that I had such beautiful lips he wondered if he could kiss them. My mouth dropped open, and I just stared at him with a look of shock, and he died laughing and said “Oh, haha, maybe I was a little too forward there, darling. Sorry.” I could tell so many stories of his many weekly stops to check on me and how much they meant to me. He could always tell if I was sad or overly tired. He told me over and over to slow down and enjoy life as he patted my cheek. I should be better about taking his advice.  100_1257

I hated to have to tell him back in April that I was going to be moving. He was hard of hearing, so I had to write that I was moving on the notepad he carried around. Oh, how he choked up. He looked so sad and told me how he hated to hear that but at least he’d have until July. The last day I saw him he hugged me and told me to take care of myself, and that he was sure going to miss me something awful. It brought tears to my eyes as I saw him walk off leaning on his cane as I got into my packed car to carry the last of my stuff to my parents’ house shortly before the big move northward.

100_1415After I moved, Fridays just have never been the same. He and I write letters now. It sounds old-fashioned maybe, but there’s just something special about writing letters that just isn’t the same with an email or text. Perhaps it’s because one actually sees someone’s handwriting and the personality in their unique way of writing. Oh, what a happy day it was when I got his first letter after I let him know that I was getting settled to my new life.His handwriting is a little shaky, but I can just nearly hear his voice as I read it.

I got behind on writing letters when school and life became so busy recently. Then, I got a letter yesterday that about made me cry. He was worried since he hadn’t received a response in a while and was holding a beautiful big rose that he’d gotten wishing he could give it to me. I sent him a reply this morning, but I couldn’t stop thinking about him all day, so I just wanted to devote a post to my very special friend in Apartment 135. How very, very thankful I am for a friendship that is still intact despite the miles that separate us.

Letters can’t exactly replace flowers, but at least you still get that same warm feeling deep down that you are loved just like when someone gives you flowers.

When Life Is

Have you ever had it where you are insanely busy, but there are thoughts in the back of your mind that seem to continue to ruminate and churn? This has been the case with me. I am usually so busy with never ending homework and obligations that I can hardly keep things together but there is always something brewing in the back of my mind and sometimes I have to find a way to let it out to think it through.

During this churning process, I’ve been thinking about love. Not so much in a romantic sense although that does come into play but just mainly on how wrong the vision I see of it is. Let me explain a little to give you a little bit of a background to my thoughts.

I keep having to read the French novels where the main characters usually end up in a “forbidden” relationship but claim to love each other and give everything because of this idea of love. The result usually is unhappiness and despair. I was working on stuff late this evening at school and heard a rather disappointing revelation about some ideas of love/infatuation or whatever one would define it as. My point is that I keep running into the fake manifestations of love in just about every place I look. It is all anything but what love is.

Love is not found in chivalry. Love is not found in desire for what is forbidden. Love is not merely what is on the exterior. Love is not what I can get from you or vice versa. No, my friend, love is so much deeper, so much more full than anything one can just grasp in a single moment, but at the same time one can grasp it  in an instant.

Why do I write this? Because it puts me nearly in tears to realize what others fall for as a figment of love that is not real. When I see, how fake and temporal what they grasp a hold of is, it makes me want to double check my footing and look inside to see if I grasp to something as frail. I want to yell a warning, but will they hear? Will I hear?

This summer I witnessed a scene that I am still struggling to put words to. I feel like an artist in front of a blank canvas trying ever so earnestly to figure out how to paint the picture in his mind. My paint is words, and the canvas is this blank page.

I saw a family shaken by grief but still standing. The small infant they had loved so dearly was born without the breath of life. They had found out just before he was born that it would be so. They had held him in their arms and the tears had fallen down their faces as they knew that they would never hear his cry or feel his warmth. He was gone. The mother walked down the aisle with her family at the funeral clutching the blanket they held him in. Yet, though they were shaken, they were not moved from their foundation. Love upheld them, yet not a love that passes away by each fading fancy. No, this was a love stronger than that. This was a love that upheld David in his times of trouble, that upheld Jeremiah as he preached to a deaf nation, that upheld Hannah as she prayed for a child, that upheld Ruth as she left all to go into a foreign land. This family had tears for their loss but they were not without hope and not without love.

Why the flower? Because there is love in this world that is beyond anything this world can imagine about love. His love found me when I was broken and bound and He only He raised me up to life. He gives me strength. He gives me life. He gives to me the joy of seeing this flower in the morning, but more importantly He taught me what love is.