October 30, 2013

random thoughts: the weightscalator

I went to yoga class after having missed the last 6 weeks. Nothing like that to make me feel 5 years older. Anyway, I suddenly realized that trying to stay in shape in my 40s is like climbing an escalator -- not only do I not get to the top, the pace gets faster and I either have to start running or stop and watch myself sink backwards.

!@%$ that's depressing. Oh well. Back to your regularly scheduled blog reading...

anxiety and the search for peace: part 3

In part 1, I admitted my battle with insomnia and identified how I would search for an exit route. In part 2, I talked about various Bible verses that I'm allowing to speak to me about experiencing God's peace. Today is an update on sleep and awareness of anxiety.

After a good couple of weeks reducing my normal 2-3 cups of coffee to just 1, I have to say that this is definitely helping. I love coffee but it's time to admit that the hormone changes brought on by pregnancy have probably made me more sensitive to caffeine. Some days we make half-caff at home so I can enjoy two cups, and occasionally I just have to have another half cup of regular. If I go over this limit I notice a difference at night.

Meanwhile, I am trying to get up before my husband and son to spend just a few minutes in prayer. Before the coffee is made, before the lights are on and the sun is up, I sit at the table or on the couch and pray. I am also trying to empty my thoughts and give God space to speak to me -- to listen for His voice and accept His grace. This is actually pretty hard, because like every mom my brain is multi-tasking on multiple levels and time zones and dimensions, and sitting quietly with God takes effort. But it's worth it. Because I come away with a renewed sense of God's peace in my bones, knowing that today is a new day.

Even on the days when I don't think I can last until bedtime because my son has been screaming about nothing I can identify for the last 10 minutes, I remember that I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13)

One other thing I'm becoming more aware of is the sources of anxiety in my life. It's not hard to name a lot of them, but I'm starting to notice little things too and trying to do things to make them not so. Like using better communication with my husband, leaving the laundry in the dryer, or letting go of who buys our condo and waiting to see God work in that. The expression Let go and let God seems trite sometimes but doing so truly brings peace.

Have I had times in the last couple weeks when I wake up and my brain starts churning anyway? Unfortunately yes. When that happens, I'm acknowledging that I'm awake and I tell myself it's no big deal, that I can go back to sleep. One night I woke up and didn't realize that I'd already been asleep so I took NyQuil. As soon as I went back to bed I realized what I'd done. Ha! Pretty silly. Oh well. I also still wake up about four times a night, but I'm trying not to worry about that either.

The truth is that I will never run out of things to worry about. I will never have every need settled, every desire met, everything I want, every problem solved. That's just reality. That is also why Jesus invites us to let him do the heavy lifting and learn from him instead. It take conscious effort but it's worth it.

October 23, 2013

the daily battle and the perfect mom

Did I mention that my 70% sweet, wonderful, love-of-my-life son is a toddler? Okay, make that 90% depending on the day. We are now full-throttle into the game of the daily battles. What does he disagree about?

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Sitting in the chair
  • Changing diapers
  • Getting shoes on
  • Getting out the door
  • Getting in the car seat
  • Getting to the front door from the car seat
  • Brushing teeth (I'm talking WW3, people)
  • Getting off our bed, into his room, and eventually after 2-3 stories into the crib


From what I read, this is about him asserting his independence. Okay, that's understandable. So, being the diplomatic professional I was before I got laid off, I change tactics. I offer alternatives. I let him have his way for a few minutes before I carry him off slung over my shoulder. In short, I do whatever it takes to get from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. before crawling into the shower and pouring a 72 oz. glass of wine. (slight exaggeration)

One thing I'm trying is something called Toddler-ease, from the book The Happiest Toddler on the Block. It's a primitive way of talking to the boy in the heat of a tantrum -- to get his attention and let him know that I know how he feels. I've tried this several times over the last few days, and... I dunno. I'm not seeing much progress yet but I'm not giving up either.

The rest is a mystery. I know, I know, this will pass. New challenges will come and today's struggles will morph into memories of beauty and strength.

Today in my MOPS group (which is fast becoming a beacon of shared sanity in my ocean of mystery), a woman came to talk to us. I was an hour late, what with furiously cleaning the condo for a showing, but what I remembered from her wasn't in her talk. It was at our table later, where she wisely reminded us:

"There is no perfect mom. There is a perfect God working through you."

Amen to that. And what a huge relief to know that it actually doesn't all depend on me. I can point to Him as the ultimate authority and say that He has given me authority as a parent. That's a far more comfortable place to be.

October 14, 2013

random thoughts: toddler wisdom

No matter what you're doing, even if you've been hanging around the same person aaaaall daaaay looong, turn around, give your biggest and brightest smile, and say "HI!!!" What the heck -- say it three or four times in rapid succession.

Chances are, that person needs it -- like chocolate for the soul.

October 11, 2013

anxiety and the search for peace: part 2

I'm looking for "peace" and "rest" in the Bible and am finding things I've seen plenty of times before, but am giving them a chance to sink in. I need rest for my soul.

Matthew 11: 28-30 NIV says 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I really like The Message version too though.

Matthew 11: 28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Shortly after 6:00 this morning I got up, showered and dressed for the day, and started the coffee pot. Before turning on any other lights, I sat in the dark living room and prayed. Then remembered to be quiet and invite the Lord to speak to me. I wasn't sure how long I should wait, and I knew that was a sign of impatience so I waited a bit longer. The only thing I felt the Holy Spirit say to me was "Don't work."

Today? Next week? For a few years? I have no idea, but today is all I need. One day at a time.

one way to reduce temper tantrums

I recently discovered one way to bypass or reduce temper tantrums in our home: have various security objects placed in random areas. It could be a blanket or stuffed toy or whatever the child latches onto. I've seen it happen and it's kind of amazing.

Just thought I'd pass it on.

October 10, 2013

random thoughts: the numbers game

On days when it's just me taking care of my one child, I often feel outnumbered. That must be why it takes a village.

Know any villages for hire? ;)

October 9, 2013

anxiety and the search for peace: part 1

I am one anxious woman. From the time I get up until I go to sleep... well, assuming I get to sleep, I have a little rock of tension in my gut. It's the never-ending list of shit that has to be done, walking away from temper tantrums (literally), weighing a new top against a shrinking budget, cleaning the dickens out of the condo to sell it, blah blah blah. Not only that, but there is constant tension in my home from various sources.

Meanwhile, my sleep issues continue to escalate. If I fall asleep fast, I wake up about 5 times a night. Sometimes I am awake for an hour. Sometimes it takes over an hour to get to sleep. I try to do all the right things to get a good night's sleep: restrict alcohol and caffeine, exercise earlier in the day, have a bedtime routine, cut off nighttime electronics, and a few other things that have become my way of living. It feels like a lot of things I do during the day are to try to ensure a decent night's sleep, and I'm getting tired of being preoccupied with that stuff.

I usually drink half a cup of hot milk before bed. Depending on my anxiety level I mix it with a strong small cup of nighttime tea. On rare occasions I take NyQuil or ZQuil or whatever. Sometimes I take melatonin, but I hate it because it disrupts my REM sleep so I feel like a zombie the next day.

Once, I went to a general practitioner. His immediate response was a prescription. I tried it. It failed. I stopped. I thought -- is that his only answer for me? I know at least two women for whom a prescription is the answer. That's cool. I just have a feeling that God wants me to do something else. To dig deeper and search for Him in this.

So far, all I know is that I want to sleep well and I believe this begins with peace.

So that's what I'm doing (while I'm brewing tea and heating milk and whatnot): searching for peace and rest. I know that anxiety among women -- especially moms -- is pretty common if not assumed. So I'm documenting my journey in hopes that someone else might benefit from it and shorten their own.

My first baby step: cut back to one cup of coffee per day. This, my friends, is no easy thing. Exhaustion is usually beating down my door and threatening to take over. Caffeine is my morning crutch and it's hard to imagine having fewer than 2-3 cups a day. But I have done it before -- granted I was pregnant and didn't have much choice for the health of my baby, but still.

Here's to a good night's sleep. Stay tuned.