Friday, October 10, 2008


Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending a ladies' retreat (put on by the church I used to attend) with about 25 women (from 10 different churches!). This is the 6th annual retreat, and I've attended all six. Some years I've had a baby with me, some years I haven't. Last year, newly prego with my third, I was able to go (gleefully) with a dear friend and (just as gleefully) without a child. (FYI: last year was the first time since I've had children that I had an overnight without children. It was very much appreciated--thank you Mom!)

This year, Casey took care of the two older girls (this was also a first: the first time he's taken care of them both for 2 days and 2 nights!) while Haley and I went to the retreat. It was De. Lightful.

So, I have to confess something here: I was totally going for the RETREAT part of things. Especially since, in years past, they have always crammed all the teaching sessions into a one-night retreat, and this year, being two days, it was far more relaxed, with a break from Friday's morning session (ending around lunchtime) until 7 p.m!

This year, I was just looking forward to having only one child (and that one being the easiest!) and soaking in some much-needed fellowship time with other ladies and an all-around stress-free weekend. But I was pleasantly surprised to very much enjoy the speaker and the topic as well! (I must admit--I had never heard of her and the topic was a little too nebulous to know what it was she was going to speak on.) The first session spoke right to me: Trust God.

Application? Trust that He knows how overwhelmed I feel, and yet He is the one in control of my circumstances, (His word promises that He won't put His children into positions where we HAVE to sin--1 Cor 10:13). Trust Him to give me the strength and grace to not only live through this, but do so thankfully (Phil. 2:14)! Trust that He knows better and more than I do. Just TRUST Him, period.

Another thing I gained from the retreat was perspective. I had some much-needed time away from home and (most of) my children. As you might have gathered, I don't do that very often.

The day I left, I was running around the house like a crazy woman, getting things put away, dishes and laundry done, etc. Of course, this was totally stressful to me, and even more so, my babies. By the afternoon, I think all of us were ready for some time away! I half-joked to Casey as I left that I hope I didn't die in a car accident on the way to the retreat, since the last memories R & C would have of me would NOT be the way I would want them to remember me.

I wanted Casey to not feel overwhelmed like I often do, or to resent me while I was gone for leaving him with two children and a pig sty of a house. I also wanted my homecoming to not be dampened by gigantic loads of dishes, laundry or clutter (I apologize to those ladies who come home to this discouragement despite their fiercest efforts--my hubby is AMAZING in this department. He doesn't do all I would do if I were the one home with them, but he sure does pick up and return things to how I left them! Please don't hate me for having such a wonderful husband! That's just something he does well! I'm sure there are things other husbands do well that mine doesn't, right? . . . I guess? :)

Okay, so perspective: when I got back, I went from room to room, ecstatic at the state of affairs in my home. Not that it sparkled by any means, but it really struck me how orderly and clean(-ish) it was. I asked Casey what he did, and he told me that he hadn't really done anything, just some dishes and picking up. And when I had left, I had been discouraged that the house was "such a mess," yet after a few days away to gain perspective, those things in my house that screamed and ate at me really didn't stand out at all. Returning as an outsider, my eyes were much less critical than they had been as the housekeeper that couldn't take one step forward without taking at least two back! (I think there's something to be said here about being home TOO much.)

I also gained perspective while at the retreat; discovering that, in my attempt to catch up on some Bible study one afternoon, I was only able to do a fraction of what I needed to get done. Haley was extra-needy that day, and wouldn't go down for a nap without crying (normally I just put her in her crib, she might cry for 5-10 minutes, and then she's out, but she woke up after only 20 minutes that day, and I wasn't about to let her cry more than a minute in what was essentially a motel room. What if someone next door was also trying to take a nap? So glad we don't live in an apartment--I would not be okay with bothering neighbors like that!) Anyway, even though it was discouraging and tiring, I got the point: of course it's hard to get ANYTHING done with three little ones. It's hard even doing things with ONE little one. So I sat in the room and nursed and cuddled and looked at my baby, and enjoyed the special time that she and I had alone together. I decided to delight in this 14-pound distraction from Bible study, and to take the distraction as a blessing.

This is okay, right?

Having been to retreats with babies aged 8 months, 2 months and 4 months, I have to say that if I had to go with a baby, my favorite "retreat" age has got to be in the 2 month range. Claire just nursed or lay on my lap (under the table while I took notes) or slept on a blanket next to me. Where as Ruby was crawling, eating more than just from me, didn't "do" naps half the time, etc. and Haley wanted more than to just sit or lay around, and--I didn't notice how much so until this retreat--she wants to nap in her bed. NOT being held. Poor girl. She hardly slept at all last weekend. The night we got home, she went 11 hours between feedings, and the next night, too! I even got a 9-hour-straight stretch of sleep in there, which was good, because I hadn't slept much either!

The ladies around me were really kind to take Haley now and then, when she got fussy. A few of them actually got her to sleep, too. I never considered being able to take notes a privilege until I had children. I felt spoiled!

Anyway, it was a much-needed and much-loved retreat, and I was glad to come back to my life, but it is still hard, and I still feel like I'm in over my head sometimes (like tonight while trying to bathe all three of them--I think I was impatient all but the first five minutes). I'd really love to regain perspective more often, in order to not get so stressed so easily.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gram's 87th

Ruby, Gram and my mom (on the phone)

Yesterday was my Gram's birthday. Ruby, Haley and I happened to be in ABQ to drop off my niece and decided to see if we could stop by for a bit. We chatted and had coffee and a yummy chocolate mousse cake I bought on the way there. Gram is 87 now. It's crazy to think about it. As long as I can remember, Gram has been the queen of diplomacy (even when it just chaps her hide to do so!) and she has taught me a few things. Lately, I've been contemplating the possibility of personality traits being inherited, as I seem to have a few tendencies the same as my ancestors (that of being totally chicken of conflict, among other things).

I was thinking about this in regard to something totally unrelated. While working on my last birth story (it's close to being finished, but I make no promises on when) I realized that at least to some extent, My emotional signposts are hard to read (mostly because it appears I do not have them). I often do not look as though I feel a certain way because of a probably-long list of ancestors who also hide true feelings behind a brave or "nice" face. So I have to share a story of my Gram that will help you see the diplomatic-till-it-kills-you attitude I think my mom and I (and probably at least a few siblings--care to share?) have inherited. [Disclaimer: I don't mean to imply that I've never offended anyone. A quick read of my last post will probably help squelch this idea.]

My mom and grandma are "feeling-hiders." My mom never was sick when I was growing up—not because she wasn’t sick, but because she couldn’t be: there was no option in her mind. Too many responsibilities. So she just toughed out colds or the flu: shuffling around, homeschooling, making dinner and the like. It wasn’t till I was older (and became a mom myself!) that I realized not all moms are like that. She labored like this: “Ow”. . . (breathe) “Ooowwww”. . . (breathe). . .(utter silence). . .(breathe). . .(looking like she’s asleep). . . (breathe). (Can you guess why I didn’t want my mom to be at my first labor? I knew she wouldn’t be comparing me to her, but I sure would be, and I was almost certain I would not be able to labor that way!)

I had a "HUH?!" moment in the emergency room once with my grandma (who was bleeding internally: throwing up blood, passing it, etc.—not doing well at all). It was the middle of the night and we had been there for a couple of hours, waiting for an ambulance to transfer us to the big hospital, all the while nurses were poking and prodding almost every orifice—and making new ones. I mean things like I.V.s, blood draws, pushing a tube down her throat in order to get stomach contents (“Swallow.” “Swallow.” “Swallow.” “Good, there we go.”) and rectal exams. Not fun stuff. I can’t imagine what a terrible experience that was for my grandma. How would I do in such a situation? Well, here’s my Gram: a nurse walks in to check on her vital signs and Gram (ever the gracious hostess) says, “Is there anything I can get for you?”. . . WHAT?!? I heard her say something similar to another nurse the next day. It cracks me up and blows me away at the same time. I guess it runs in the family to pretend like everything’s fine when you feel like you just might die. Wouldn’t want to let anyone know what’s really going on now, would we?

Haley kept laughing for Gram. It's a real treat, since not many people can get her to laugh.

Sorry about the naked cherub. That's been around almost as long as Gram.