Thursday, February 16, 2012

So much harder than I thought

I have found myself saying that a lot to people recently when they ask me how we are doing.  Before Son #2 was born, I remember telling people how two children are really easier than one because they play together, or how next semester wasn't going to be so bad because I had arranged my classes and work in this or that way.  When the baby was born, I don't think it really hit me for the first month.  I just ran on adrenaline.  But little by little, the sleep deprivation started to take its toll.  I started getting more cranky with my husband, I couldn't think straight...

I had to start school and go back to work as a grad assistant when Son #2 was only 6 weeks, which was earlier than with Son #1.  I actually started at 10 hours a week instead of the normal 20, I still haven't started one of my classes, and the one I am taking is relatively easy.  And still I come home and complain, "This is so much harder than I thought it would be!" 

When the Son #2 first arrived, I remember someone asked how we were doing, and I responded, "There isn't enough time, energy, resources..."  or something like that.  I really felt convicted by God after I said that, because one thing He specifically spoke to me about the new year of 2012 is that "there is enough."  There is always enough.  Maybe not as much as as I thought there would be, or as much as I want, but there is always enough for what I need.  That is a hard concept for a rich, fat, white North American to grasp (meaning myself here, people).  I mean, it's Biblical... when Paul asked God to remove the "thorn in his flesh" whatever that was, God responded by saying, "My grace is sufficient for you."  Meaning, "No, I won't remove it, but I will give you my strength, my provision, my annointing to get you through." 

The children are not "thorns in our flesh" or our "cross to bear" in a sense.  We don't want God to remove them, anyway, although sometimes I feel a little bit on the edge at 3 a.m.  In another sense, they are the very thing (or people, rather) that is helping us to die to ourselves daily, if we will allow God to do that in us and we don't resist the process completely.  We said "yes" to God about marriage.  We said "yes" to God about children, even so close in age.  We knowingly chose to follow God and take what He has to offer us.  We went in with our eyes open, so to speak.  But even so, it's so much harder than I though it would be. 

I said to my husband the other night that I have never had a semester (because I measure my life in semesters, Christmas break and summer break) where I haven't had to cry out to God for help.  I don't just mean a little help.  I mean, "God, if you don't actually do it through me, it's not going to happen." And every semester He does it.  He works miracles, He works through me, He gives me strength, wisdom and strategies to finish.  Every time.  He always finishes what He starts.  And He has started a good thing in us.  We are so blessed, we have more than we need, and eventually it will get easier.  Or so I keep telling myself.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Black History Month!

I drive by a church every morning that has that greeting on their sign outside.  This morning, I realized I needed to honor this month, just like I would any other holiday or time of remembrance. I realize that one month is not enough, that black history, along with Hispanic history, Asian history, etc. should be incorporated into history lessons right along with the white history.  Right now, I want to list what I like about this month.

First, we must never forget.  "Never again, never forget" is actually the slogan used to commemorate the Holocaust of the Jewish people in the twentieth century.  I realize that the Holocaust, Nazis and Hitler are thrown around in examples of bad things or bad people until they start to lose their meaning, but in this case, there is truly a parallel when looking at the treatment of black people in the United States.

Secondly, I believe the children are our future... No, really, that wasn't just my tribute to Whitney.  The children are looking for heroes.  They want to know what they can be when they grow up.  Now there are more children of color than there are white children in this nation.  Children of color are also twice as likely to live in poverty and stay in poverty.  I believe this is as a result of the legacy of racism that I touched on before.  There are so many layers to this issue, but Black History Month touches on one--role models.  People the children can look at and say, "Hey, he/she looks like me and he/she did _________ or invented __________ or became ____________."  That is a powerful thing.

Let's remember people of color who did great things despite many odds. Let's recognize that while more people of color live in poverty than white people, more than half the people of color in the U.S. do not live in poverty.  And above all, let's honor them as people: mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. 

Happy Black History Month everybody!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

True Confessions

I was thinking today about how, if you read most of my posts, you might get a better impression of me than you should.  So here go my true confessions (just a few, but to help you get a more realistic view of my life):

1. I feed my toddler packaged, processed, and frozen food.  And sometimes candy.  Yes, this is the same child who was fed homemade super baby porridge, an avocado a day, and every other kind of vegetable and grain you can think of... Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  But it was the perfect storm.  You have, on the one hand, the on-set of the picky two's (a sub-set of the terrible two's), and on the other, the birth of son #2.  Something had to give.  We will hopefully get healthier as time goes on, but that is where we are.  And as an addendum to true confession #1, I probably will not make baby food for son #2 since we will get jars and jars from WIC.  Bam.

2.  My toddler wears disposable diapers at night.  Because I got tired of changing his sheets every morning. Yes, I have read the long lists of cloth diaper possibilities for the night.  No, I haven't tried them all.  Why? Because I got tired of changing his sheets only after about two mornings, so there wasn't time. 

3. My husband does most, if not all, of the work on the garden, the chickens... and he cooks most of the meals (although I do the meal planning and grocery shopping) and the laundry (including diapers, although I also do some).  But I can say I am the only one who breastfeeds the baby.  So I've got that going for me.

4.  On any given day, my toddler has more than 1 hour of screen time (TV, computer, etc.).  It just got a little crazy with the new baby, and it all came at about the same time son #1 started actually liking TV, especially Elmo.  So we use TV strategically when we need to get things done... things like dinner.  Or laundry.  Mostly the essentials.  I'm not setting up a model to emulate, I'm just being honest. 

5.  I don't remember the last time I exercised for more than 30 minutes.  See above excuses. 

Well, that's enough for now.  You get the idea.  I could go on, but that would border on a beat-myself-up fest, and that is not what this (or any) momma needs.  Suffice to say, we are all our own unique bundle of strengths and weaknesses.  And my lesson of the day is that, while we love to swap ideas and life stories, we must never compare ourselves to others.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cloth Diapers

We use cloth diapers. Not the old-fashioned kind, but the post-disposable diaper kind.  Some of the new kinds are designed specifically so people (i.e. daycare workers, etc.) who are hesitant to do the dirty work of cloth diapers might not be so... hesitant.  Anyway, we are not afraid to get our hands dirty.  We really wanted to save money and felt it was also better stewardship of the environment.  But I should say, when the going gets tough, it is the money that is the stronger argument.  I hate to say it, but that's the truth. 

People ask me what kind I prefer, and after a year and a half I have a pretty standard answer:

We use Flip or Econobum covers with Flip stay-dry (microfiber) inserts. For more absorbency, we add a microfiber double or a hemp double (smaller inserts). We do have a few BumGenius 4.0s with snaps. We don't like the velcro (hook and loop) because it wears out faster, although it is easier to get on a squirmy baby.  I have newborn cloth diapers, but I almost don't think they are worth it considering the baby wears them for such a short period of time.  That would be where the environmental argument comes in...

In previous decades... okay, 30-40 years ago, people used cloth diapers, babies were potty-trained at 18 months, and the landfills looked a lot smaller than they do now.  When disposable diapers came along, they became a status symbol.  Now, we choose cloth diapers because we can't afford disposable diapers, and yet families with less resources buy brand-name diapers when they can't afford food. I recently read a blog about issues of justice related to diapers.  I never thought about diapers in this light, having never had to choose between food and diapers.  It made me realize that cloth diapers have now become a status symbol, though, because it implies that you own a washer and dryer. 

This is another issue that is upside down, so to speak.  Cloth diapering should be the accessible for people who don't have many resources.  We fall into that category, but we are still privileged.  We have friends and family who bought us diapers and we own a good washer and dryer.  We don't have to work 4 jobs to make ends meet, so we have time to wash diapers on top of that. 

I don't know the solution to this issue, but I think it falls in the category of urban restoration, or societal restoration, which is probably a better way to look at it, since these issues are not restricted to people who live in cities.  However, since my brain is busy with changing poopy diapers, washing them, and feeding the baby who makes the poopy diapers, I can't get any more analytical than that at the moment.