In the Trenches

Oh, girls.

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You’re giving me a run for my money today.

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Mae, you cried more than usual last night. Which is saying a lot because you are a newborn, after all. I think you knew today was your due date so you were partying-celebrating your would-be birthday. I got frustrated and felt angry. I just want rest. Then I felt guilty. You’re such a tiny thing. This is such a fleeting time. Shouldn’t I be staring lovingly at you, my rainbow baby, in the glow of the moonlight? You are such a dream.

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Regardless, I cried slow, hot tears when your daddy left for work. I felt like a cliche—hair a mess, sweatpants covered in milk, a dirty diaper on the nightstand. He looked so handsome and brought me coffee and kissed my forehead and I convinced myself I don’t deserve all of that. That he misses a version of me that no longer exists.

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Austen, you insisted on wearing too small sweatpants. Your favorite from last year. You also rocked frizzy hair—the by-product of some “no heat” curls we tried. We failed. But you loved them and so I let it go. I also worried we didn’t study enough for your math test. I worried the teachers and other moms would judge me because I am clearly failing you now that I am a mom of two. When I apologized for Mae’s crying, you said “Mom, why are you apologizing? It’s so cool that our house isn’t boring anymore!” More slow, hot tears.

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After drop off, I sat in the driveway and started typing this post, grateful for a sleeping baby lulled by the hum of the motor. I cried a little more for no reason in particular. Sometimes you just gotta get it out. I prayed so hard for this season of life. It’s remarkable how even when we wish for something, it can still wreck us. As it should. We are forging new bonds and strengthening existing ones by exercising new levels of patience and forgiveness. We are forming a family—no small task when done correctly. I’m grateful for all of the stellar examples around us. I have to remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The people I admire for their parenting likely sat and cried in their driveway from time to time. I am just trying to do them justice, one day at a time.

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I reminded myself we are all in this together. One of us dripping in hormones (and dry shampoo) . One of us learning about big feelings and common core math (have mercy). One of us just trying to learn about digestion (whew). And (God bless him), one of us learning to navigate the emotions of three different women. Then there’s the dog. Poor Pep.

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Girls, the world is gonna sell you a lot of reasons why you’re not good enough. Trust me, I’ve bought most of them. I have tapped into them this morning, unfortunately.  I have also wasted countless days and years feeding those reasons instead of forcing them out—making room for gratitude and joy. There will be the temptation to compare or to cut corners (see: no heat curls). It’s about learning when to give your all to something and when to let go. I’m working on hard on figuring that out. I’m trying to reset. To model what grace looks like—that the person who often needs it the most is yourself. I have two watchful reasons to remember that even in our hard seasons, even in the trenches, it’s important to be kind to ourselves and to one another. Sometimes that means lingering in the car for a good cry and the rest of your hot coffee.

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A few people warned me when I started driving after my surgery to be careful when braking. Sometimes, because of your weakened core, you think you’re pressing “stop” but the car just keeps rolling. That seems like solid advice for my morning commute but also for my day as a whole. I’m going to lean hard on the brakes today. I’m going to hold you, baby Mae. And I am going to rest. And I am going to wash my hair. And when everyone is home, I am going to soak you all in. After the homework and the witching hour, there will be the wind down. The moment when I smell your sweet heads and hold your daddy’s hand. We may be in the trenches, but there’s The Office and frozen meals left by your Mimi and the sweet redemption of the chance to try again. Thank God for that.

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