Saturday, December 20, 2008

advent conspiracy

Advent is the season leading up to Christmas. It's a season of waiting, of pregnant pause, of calm before the storm of Incarnation.

In my house growing up, one of our consistent holiday traditions was arguing over when to put up the tree. It never went up earlier than a couple weeks before Christmas, usually much later--my father insisting that it was not only incorrect to put it up earlier but also crass. These days, I get what he was saying--decorations in the stores in October, commercials telling us to "buy, Buy, BUY", everything pointing us to money spent=happiness--it's horrible. And the "Jesus is the reason for the season" folks aren't any better. What does that even mean? My experience of the phenomenon is that it's just as empty as the consumerism it rejects--often it involves t-shirts and buttons you can buy to make your point.

There's a small movement happening out there called the Advent Conspiracy. The idea is that the point of Christmas, to Christians at least, is relationship and worship. How many sweaters or cheap candles have you bought for friends and family members simply to give them a thing? How do you show your love for those people in real terms? How much time do you spend with them? In the days after Loving Husband's last grandparent died, we're asking ourselves, "What's more valuable than time spent?"

Check out this video from the Advent Conspiracy folk. It's really pretty (well-designed, that is, for the design dorks out there) and quite powerful. How can we make a difference?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

happy note

I should note that I love my daughter Abby more than I thought possible. Her big grey eyes, her perfect ears, the way she curls her toes around my finger when I massage her feet--I am filled with awe that Loving Husband and I made her. She is proof to me of the existence of God.

learning to let go

For a new baby, one is supposed to:
  • feed her every three hours or so
  • give her several minutes of "tummy time" each day
  • read to her whenever possible
  • have as much "skin-to-skin" time as possible (I use a sling)
  • feed breast milk, which requires both actual feeding time and pumping
  • sleep when the baby sleeps
  • give her an hour or so of naked time (to help prevent diaper rash)
It seems there is not time in the day for everything you're supposed to do to help with baby's development. Each night, I look at her sleeping in the crib and think, "I didn't do enough tummy time today" or "There were several minutes today when you were awake and I wasn't reading to you". Each thought is followed inevitably by "I'm a terrible mother."

I am aware of the ridiculousness of this feeling, yet there it is. I'm sure I'm not the first to feel it either. I've got this driving need to do everything right. There's so much pressure--from baby books, from the pediatrician, from the lactation consultant, from my experience of my parents' childrearing--to succeed, not just manage. And, honestly, I am having a hard time managing at times. If I'm really honest, all that pressure is from my own big brain--I haven't figured out how to filter all the information and I'm trying to do everything. I've got to let go.

I love my new daughter, don't get me wrong, but there are moments when I wonder when and if it will be worth it. She herself is the grace of the moment, the free gift from God, and yet the trouble associated with taking care of an infant seems insurmountable.

I do what I can. We all do what we can. When we can do more, we do. When we can only do less, we do that.

It will all be ok in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.