Our little man is now 13 months old and is a whirlwind of energy, joy and craziness! Up until this past week, he’s found his way around our house by crawling at lightning-fast speed, or cruising along the sofa or playpen gates. But when he was at daycare this week, I got a text from my friend saying “He just took 3 steps!!” Now of course, I wish I could have been there to witness his first real steps, but he’s repeated his new talent quite a few times at home now – the current record is 5 steps. I haven’t been able to catch any of it on video just yet (he plops straight down onto his bottom whenever the phone comes out to record him), but I know I’ll never forget it. He’s not taking very long strides yet, just wobbly-kneed, tentative little baby steps, but the grin on his face when we cheer for him is priceless.
I can’t help but think that this is how our Christian walk must look to God. He doesn’t demand that we go out there and run a marathon or a 5k, or even make it around the block. He does, however, ask that we let go of whatever it is holding us back – fear maybe? – and take those tiny baby steps in His direction. For me that means packing up the diaper bag every Sunday morning and saying a few quick prayers that little man behaves himself in Mass. There are two of us to wrangle him in when he starts getting fussy, but let’s be honest – it’s distracting and a little embarrassing when your toddler decides to practice blowing raspberries in the middle of the Consecration. Jesus called the little ones to Him, so it’s our goal to keep our entire family together as much as possible during the Holy Mass. This may not seem like a big deal to more veteran parents (how do you do it with 4 kids??), or to my friends without children, but it’s one of those things that really requires patience and prayer on my part. It is my hope that by modeling proper behavior week after week, our toddler will turn into a child whose heart is full of love for the Mass, and even more importantly, for Jesus in the Eucharist.
I think it’s so important to remember that when we step out in faith, God is cheering us on with such pride and enthusiasm, just like we cheer on our little ones when they reach new milestones. What baby steps is He calling you toward today?
So it’s been rough, y’all. My miscarriage last December not only left me heartbroken, but it threw me back in the deep-end. You know, the one they like to call post-partum depression. Couple that with a temporary move into a teeny tiny one-bathroom apartment while our new house is being built, and I’m a lonely mess.
I went back to my doc, got some new meds and instructions to see a therapist, like yesterday. So I did. I told her how I felt like a bad mom, a bad wife, just a big hot mess. We discussed some baby steps that will help get me out of this pit. The biggest one – the one my insides rebelled against immediately – was The Break. Wait, what? You want me to leave my child when I’m already feeling guilty enough about my lack of energy to fully engage him throughout the day? But I told this nice lady that I’d talk it over with my hubby.
So we talked, although I admit I felt even more guilt asking for this. We didn’t really have room in the budget for child care outside our monthly date nights. But she had made it very clear that those didn’t count. I needed a weekly break, during regular hours – preferably at the time that I feel my worst. So we decided we’d follow her recommendation and find a sitter for our son for a few hours a week.
I’m sitting here at the bookstore writing this on my first Break. I spent the first hour at adoration – because Jesus really does need to come first in all of this. All my efforts are in vain if I’m not chasing after Him and glorifying Him with my time and devotion. And so here I sit, honestly missing my little guy, but trying hard to embrace this alone time. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Well mine’s about bursting with thankfulness for my chance at motherhood and that the Lord blessed us with such an amazing boy.
So perhaps there is some validity to this concept. This concept that flies in the face of all the attachment parenting books whose words I’ve treated as gospel for too long. I’m starting to learn that nobody knows what’s best for our family except those of us who are in the trenches day in, day out. And maybe my new therapist is onto something here. Taking care of oneself shouldn’t be put so far on the back-burner that the house ends up in flames. I’m learning to embrace a more balanced approach to parenting and to life itself. And it sure does taste sweet (or maybe that’s just my Java Chip frappuccino? *shrugs*)