Thursday, May 29, 2014

Spring Books

I can't seem to keep up with posting the books I've read on a monthly basis, so perhaps I'll just do it quarterly or so and only include the ones I really liked.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
This was a book club pick. On the surface it sounded kind of boring to me: a young working-class woman befriends a rich guy and ends up enmeshed in the high society of 1930s New York. And, really, not too much happened in the book. But the writing was so good that it was absolutely mesmerizing. This is the author's first book, and I can't believe it's so good.  

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Another book club book. This novel alternates between modern times and the 1930s. A young girl who is about to age out of foster care befriends an elderly woman and learns the story of the woman's journey on the orphan train and her subsequent foster families. The story was surprisingly compelling - I kept wanting to read more even though it wasn't particularly suspenseful. The historical storyline was much better written than the modern one, but both main characters were very relatable. 

Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt
This must have been a free or cheap Kindle book at some point. It's another one that sounds very strange at first glance. It's historical fiction based on the life of a famous mystic nun, who was forced as a child to become a handmaiden to an Anchorite - a nun who is bricked in a tiny room underneath the church for her entire life. Because of her visions, she becomes famous and tries to creatively use her power to free herself. It was a very powerful story. I didn't even know it was based on the life of a real person until I got to the end - that makes it even more impressive.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
I had heard so many people praise this book. It is a very interesting look at how extroversion became idealized in our society and why introversion has its benefits, too. Every time I take a Myers-Briggs test, I am right on the line between E and I. So, I identified with some of the stuff in the book but not all of it. I love pop psychology books, so this one's right up my alley. 

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
Ruth Reichl was the food critic for the New York Times for many years. I had read her book about that job, Garlic and Sapphires, and really enjoyed it. This one was about her childhood and young adult life (in the 60s and 70s). And, wow, she lived a fascinating life. She's done so much traveling; it made me jealous. The scenes with her manic-depressive mother are darkly humorous. She does share some recipes with each little vignette, but I found the focus to be much less on the food and more on the people in her life.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

5 Months

"Firsts" from This Month

He didn't really hit any big milestones this month. Of course, we can see him getting more interactive and better able to manipulate things each day, but he didn't do anything "big" this month.
  • First Easter. We spent a lot of time in Waco around Easter because Darby's dad had a (successful - yay!) kidney transplant then. Jonas enjoyed wearing his bunny hat from Auntie Hannie and playing with his Easter toys from grandparents.

  • First Mother's Day. We were able to go to Waco again, so Jonas spent the day with his mom, his Mamaw, and his G-ma. He got me a waffle iron and helped Darby make me waffles. 
  • Love being this boy's mom.
  • First out-of-state trip. We drove to Illinois for Darby's graduation. Jonas did great in the car, and we had so much fun introducing him to our Illinois friends. 
  • We stayed with our friends Dick and Billie. We had so much fun catching up and playing cards. We spent so many evenings at their house over the 5 years we were in Illinois. They were our surrogate parents. Miss them so much!

  • Jonas did remarkably well at the looooong graduation ceremony. It was at the stadium and we got there too late to have a very good view, but we were able to see Darby walk across on the Jumbotron.
    My parents made the drive with us. It was great to have their help keeping Jonas entertained.
    Casey, Katy, and I all did a Bible study together, and we all had babies within 9 months of each other. It was fun (and crazy) getting all the babies together. After this, we loaded all of the babies in their carriers and went to Custard Cup. Yummy!
  • First time to meet great-uncle John and great-aunt Susan. On the way, we stopped at my aunt and uncle's house in Rogers. It had been several years since I had seen them, so I was happy it worked out. 

Things I Want to Remember
  • He started doing this thing where he shakes his head back and forth like he's saying "no." We can't tell if he does it to rub his head or if he does it to move his hand back and forth in his mouth. Either way, it's really cute. 
  • He is becoming a lot more cuddly. When he was a newborn, he really liked to be cuddled, but he soon outgrew that and was really squirmy when you tried to hold him against you. Now, he'll wrap his hands around our necks when we pick him up from his crib and lay his head on our shoulders. It's so sweet. 
  • Everyone, and I mean everyone, who sees him comments on one of three things: his big eyes, the fact that his hands are always in his mouth, and how calm he is.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My motherhood experience

I feel like there are a lot of aspects of motherhood that have surprised me. I had a lot of expectations based on what I had heard and read about motherhood, and my experience hasn't always aligned with those expectations (in good ways and bad ways). I'd like to share some of my thoughts to show that there's not just one way to experience motherhood. And just to be clear, I love Jonas and I love being his mom. But I want to be honest about the hard parts as well as the good parts.

  • I did not immediately feel the "surge" of love. Most women talk about an overwhelming feeling of love immediately after their baby is delivered. I did not feel this. I don't know if that's due to my long, difficult labor or just to my personality. I felt happy, but I was not overwhelmed. I had heard women say they didn't know how much they could love until they had a child. I felt like I loved Jonas as much as I had expected to, which was a lot. I did not feel like I had entered some other realm of love. I do feel like my love for him has grown stronger over time. Now that he interacts more, I feel like I really know him. Around the 3-month mark, (which, probably not coincidentally, is when he started to sleep through the night consistently - I do not deal well with sleep deprivation), I started to experience some of those heart-swelling moments.
  • I am still basically the same person I was before (the positive). I had always feared losing myself in motherhood and thought I would have to actively fight against that. So, I was relieved to find that I still have other interests and enjoy pursuing my hobbies and career opportunities. This is one reason I didn't end up doing cloth diapers. When I envisioned myself as a stay-at-home mom, I figured I'd want to throw all my energy into mothering, so why not go all the way. But when I have some down time, I don't want to be washing diapers. I want to be reading or lesson planning or making cards or baking, just like before. (Not that moms who cloth diaper don't do those things - it's just there was really nothing else motivating me to do it beyond the belief that it was a stay-at-home mom type of thing to do.) And, despite the lack of any talk beyond mothering and Jonas on this blog, I feel like I've still done an ok job of having conversations with people about other parts of life.
  • I am still basically the same person I was before (the negative). Like any other major life change, motherhood has revealed more of who I truly am. And, while there are a lot of things I love about myself, I feel like motherhood throws my shortcomings into sharp relief. I am not a patient person. Sometimes this leads to frustration when Jonas doesn't nap like he should or requires multiple rockings to go to sleep. I never want to be frustrated at him - he's a baby. I also have a hard time going with the flow, and this is a major challenge with a baby. I do feel like I'm making some progress in this area. A few weeks ago, Jonas slept late, and I told Darby, "Well, I guess we'll just have to be late to church." He was like, "What?!? I can't believe you just said that." I'm slowly learning to adapt, but I still find myself mourning the loss of control over my schedule. I don't think parents are better people than non-parents. And I think most people try to be better people, whether they have kids or not. But parenting forces you to confront the negative things about yourself on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis, and it can be pretty painful.
  • Even with an easy baby, I can't seem to get things done. I always heard about not getting a shower, having to do everything one-handed, etc. And I haven't experienced that. I lucked out with an easy baby who is pretty content laying on a blanket or sitting in his bouncy seat. But, I've still found it very hard to get things done. I won't go into all the specifics, but all my plans for projects I would do as a stay-at-home mom have gone out the window. I'm having to redefine my idea of what a productive day is. I know this sounds silly, but I didn't really consider that taking care of a baby actually takes a lot of time. I feel like Pinterest/Facebook/blogs are a bit to blame for this. It seems like every other stay-at-home mom is cooking amazing meals, creating beautiful decorations for their house, making "sensory boards" for their babies, etc. So when I spend the day just keeping Jonas and myself fed, clothed, and happy, it seems like I've done nothing.
  • I don't feel incomplete without Jonas. I know a lot of moms don't ever want to leave their babies, and I think that's a very real feeling for them. But I just haven't felt that way. I started leaving Jonas with Darby almost immediately, and when Darby's mom was here shortly after the birth, we both left him with her. I'm always thrilled to come home to him, but I wouldn't say I miss him when I'm gone for a few hours. I still very much enjoy my alone time, time with friends, and time with Darby. I don't really worry about him when I'm away either. I definitely don't worry when he's with Darby. I feel like we're total equals in parenting skills.
So, there's some of the things that have taken me off guard in the first 5 months of parenting. In the midst of the cute Jonas pictures and anecdotes, I want to make sure I'm keeping it real as well. I'd love to hear from other parents about ways your experience differed from your expectations.