Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Beginning of the End; Glimpsing the Beginning

What a journey this has been. Six months of watching my stomach grow larger. Of feeling the first tiny flutters grow into strong kicks. Learning to get by on five hours of sleep. Hungry, hungry, hungry all the time. 

There is so much bewildering information available. Give birth like this! Raise your child this way! Educate your child that way! THIS is the right way, and if you don't follow these directions then your child will be RUINED FOR LIFE! At least that's the way it seems. Yet no baby, toddler, kid, or teenager ever came with an instruction manual. 

Today marks the beginning of the third trimester. The end goal is in sight. It feels like rounding the final bend in the 400 yard dash; you're already running out of breath, but the sight of the finish line just a hundred yards away is enough to give an extra burst of "YES! almost there!" so you can keep going. 

In some cases, it may seem like I'm unprepared. We don't know the baby's gender. This is completely by choice, though some people think we're a bit crazy for not mentally preparing ourselves for either a son or a daughter. Will gender make that much of a difference in the way we raise our child? We don't have a nursery, because the only room available for the tiny newcomer also serves as a storage room, music room, and spare bedroom. That's what happens when you live in a small apartment. A crib and a few bins of baby items will have to suffice. Also, I'm deathly afraid of bathing a newborn. They're so slippery!

I have serious doubts as to whether the baby will take naps or not. With so much movement going on right now before he/she is even born, there's a good chance of having an extremely awake, interactive child who has boundless amounts of energy. A baby strong enough to kick the heart monitor away from my stomach as the midwife attempts to hear its heartbeat is probably going to be a handful to raise. 

Yet in many ways I feel hopefully, cautiously confident that everything will work out for the best. Preparing myself to receive the newborn has been the most exciting part. Feeling like my world is prepared for him/her is more difficult, but still on the right track. Friends and family are so supportive! Even my music students and their families are gracious and ready to help in any way they can, with quite a few giving up their children's old car seats, furniture, and toys to bless our family. Many of our major expenses have already been provided for in this way, and due to the generosity of both my family and Chris's family, who are anticipating the arrival of the first grandchild.

The natural decrease in energy over the last few months has allowed me less time to give to others. Late night movies and dinners are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. After I finish teaching, there is rarely anything left in the reserve tank for hanging out with friends. Weekends are used for catching up on chores and errands that didn't make the cut earlier in the week. Even making dinner or doing laundry can be exhausting. It feels like a sort of cocoon is forming around me; I spend so much more time at home, often by myself when Chris is at work, because being out and about is tiring. It's like a safe haven is being formed for me and the little one. I still love seeing my friends, but the shift in focus from outward activity to inward preparation is clearly evident. 

A safe haven. That's what I want for the baby, in every way possible. So I am working on making myself feel safe, physically, mentally, emotionally. Enjoying our wonderful community. Focusing on the love and care of those close to me. Working to improve the areas where I need to grow. Hoping to change for the better in many ways so that I will be a strong, peaceful, nurturing mother. 

Praying for wisdom. 

Treasuring these final weeks before the baby arrives.

Friday, March 23, 2012

You Tell Me I'm Stubborn

You tell me I'm stubborn. I can almost imagine that I hear frustration in your voice. Yet it is loving frustration, and I have no doubt that you do still love me in spite of my faults (which are many). Stubbornness just happens to be the one that rears its head most often to those who know me best. You say, "Maybe if you weren't so stubborn..."

So I think about it. What if I wasn't so stubborn? I wouldn't be so prideful. I wouldn't always think that I knew what to do in every situation. I wouldn't have an explanation for everything. I wouldn't see the world from the confines of my little box. I would be much more humble.

The worst part of my stubbornness is when it refuses to let go of fear. 

This shows lack of trust. 

Trust in God that He knows what is best for me. Trust in myself that I need to follow my conscience to do what is right even when it's hard or it might hurt. 

No matter how logical or wise you are as you bring different ideas to the table, to help me dispel my fears, the stubborn part of me still can't let go. "Get out there and DO something about it!" you say. "But... but... but...." whispers my stubbornness, and then a thousand explanations and reasons follow. 

I am afraid. 

Yet I am not alone.

This is where trust comes in. If anything can dispel fear, it is love, and with love comes trust, and humility, and peace.

Trust in God that He knows what is best for me. 

And I am so very loved by so many dear friends. 

If I wasn't stubborn, I would have floundered at age fifteen, age seventeen, eighteen, twenty, twenty-three... when my life's course seemed to falter, when I didn't know if I was on the right path. If I wasn't stubborn, I would have fallen prey to doubt when my beliefs were questioned over and over. If I wasn't stubborn, I would have been taken advantage of in many ways. If I wasn't stubborn, I wouldn't have the determination to be different: to not go to school, to become a musician, to become a teacher, to take good advice against the wishes of my heart because I knew it WAS good advice, to love without the assurance of being loved back. I've followed my dreams despite the odds. I am a stronger person for the obstacles I've overcome. So stubbornness can be a blessing, too, when it is used in the right way. 

How about I strive for stubborn love? For stubborn trust? For stubborn strength in living according to what is right, not according to what I want? For stubborn humbleness in seeing others as more important than myself? For stubborn compassion even when I'm pushed away?

It's time for peace as I enter this new stage of life. If I do not have peace in myself, then how can I bring peace to my new child?

Thanks for being a friend enough to tell me, lovingly, that I need to change, and that change is possible.

And thanks for not giving up on me, even when I'm stubborn.