Thoughts on: Having a Baby

I have to tell you something awesome:
There is a little human. In my belly.
I am a Mom.

I feel ten million things about this.
Mostly I feel: A Certain Type of Excited.

Not Disney World Excited. Not like sitting in the back of the mini van with zero reservations shouting YEAHHH THIS IS GOING TO BE SO FUN LET’S GOOOO!

More like the type of excited I felt before I became a missionary. Like I have so much hope and desire to do this but I am also SCARED because I want CHANGE THE WORLD and am I really READY or CAPABLE of such a MONUMENTAL venture?
…YES! What?! Noooooo! Wait, yes yes yes!

There is a word for this certain type of excitement:
awe |ô|
noun
1. a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

The source of this reverence, fear, and wonder:
I believe that every person is made of a spirit–you might call it a soul–and a body. While our bodies began existing sometime in the womb, our spirits existed long before that, and will continue to exist long after. In other words, I believe all of our spirits are infinite, that we have no definite beginning or end.

The idea that our spirits live on after we die isn’t new, but the idea that our spirits existed before we were born– sometimes that’s new. And that is what I’m getting at here.

That’s what the Lord was getting at when he said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” He’s saying, before you were born, I knew you personally. I gave you a purpose that you were to fulfill while you were here on earth. For Jeremiah it was to be a prophet, but I have specific work to do here to, and so do you, and so does my little baby. Before this baby was inside of me, his or her spirit lived with God, learned from Him, and was prepared to come here and learn more through the experiences of his or her life. So was I. So were you. And while God is our parent in Heaven, Ken and I get to be this little person’s parents on earth. We get to teach and prepare and help. And that, is something to feel awe about.

A time when the awe really got goin:
A little over a year ago, as I was thinking about having children, I felt something strange. I didn’t know how to describe it for a while except that it felt a little sad, but in a loving way. Why, when I thought about my future children, would I feel this strange hint of sadness? It puzzled me for a while, and then a thought came to me that felt very true. “It feels like I miss them,” I thought. Yep, that was it. It felt just like missing someone. But how could I miss my kids if I’d never met them? And then I remembered what I believe about our spirits, and that if my spirit existed with God before I was born, and my children’s spirits did too, then I probably have met them. In some part of me, I probably do know them, and miss them. Since then, there has just been no other way to describe it. My mind doesn’t know this little person — we haven’t met face to face yet. But our spirits know each other, and that little soul is growing in me. I am calmed to know that someday soon we will be face to face family.

Learn more about this idea: here.

Answers to the usual things people ask:
How far along are you? 10 weeks today.
When is your due date? September 15th.
Are you sick? YES. Yes yes yes.

brad

Aside

On how no one can explain America

I know there are far more influential and relevant things to talk about, but if America is going to spend all this time on Miley Cyrus and the VMA’s, we might as well open up our eyes to something else no one seems to have mentioned. Here it goes.

Everyone is saying that this girl’s performance was downright nasty. And yes, I agree. It was a big gross mess. Everyone is saying how sad/weird/disturbing it is that she went from Good-Girl-Hannah-Montana to this Public-Scene-of-Obscenity. But here’s the thing– no one is shooting any criticism toward Robin Thicke, who stood right up there on stage with her. In fact, the whole nation has been singing his song “Blurred Lines” for months and raving about how they hope it will be the Song of the Summer. People turn up the bass. Have dance parties. Tweet their enthusiastic fandom. But have people really listened to the lyrics they’re raving over? Because hello, it’s about a former good girl “getting nasty” and doing some pretty detailed, graphic things. In other words, it’s the story of Miley Cyrus. So Robin can put this song out there and make millions of dollars. He can be glorified by the music industry. He can even stand up there on stage with Miley Cyrus, complicit with her twerking all over him, as she embodies the very meaning his song we’ve been singing all summer… but now we hate her? Still love him? Weird.

mileypost

I am sitting in an airport

I would like to write a not-so-serious post.
And hey, I guess I’ll just do that since this is my blog and my life.
Doesn’t it feel so good to have ownership sometimes?
MY blog. MY life.
I think this is why so many little kids are yelling “MINE!” at each other.
It’s a human thing. We gotta have something that’s ours.
Sometimes we grow up and learn to share.
Even still, certain things are just yours, even if you share them.
Like your blog. Or your life.

I am sitting in an airport.
This gate keeps filling up with people and then they all fly away. And then it fills up with other people and then they all fly away too until it’s just me and the carpet cleaner guy. He’s doing a great job. I don’t fly away for another few hours so I’m here on my laptop hustlin Craig’s List like a BOSS. Because once I get on that plane, I’m flying to Texas. And once I’m in Texas, I’m going to LIVE there. With Ken. And we need pretty furniture for small amounts of money. And I am great at finding things for small amounts of money. I will unearth them from the dust by my sheer willpower. Or just find them on Craig’s List. Whichever happens first.

I am sitting in an airport.
I think it’s beautiful that as soon as I sit, no matter how or where I am sitting, my legs form a surface for a notebook… and my arms are the perfect length for writing on that surface. I’ve been referring to this spot as my lap for my whole life, but I never thought about how magic it is. Laps just happen when you sit down. It’s a great thing. It’s the reason why my lap never gets as tan at the beach. I can also use this spot for a book, a baby, a sandwich — whatever I’d like to sit with for a while. Fantastic. I bet people were made this way on purpose.

I am sitting in an airport.
Next to me is a book I read on the first plane. It’s called What Wildness Is This, and it’s full of essays and poems that I’ve loved for years. Recently, I discovered that it was published by the University of Texas, which I of course interpreted as an omen from the universe.

I am sitting in an airport.
Annnnnd something smells like fried chicken,
which of course triggers the involuntary urge to seek out the source.
Fried Chicken trumps blog.
See you in Texas.

Gallery

Nineteen years old.

Today I was riding shot gun next to Lacey on our way home from the beach. Lacey is my little sister. She is 19 years old and recently dyed her hair the color of Cheerwine. It was red and messy and free. She was singing to the radio.

Just then her phone beeped. I read her the text so she could drive. Mom had forwarded her something from a conversation with our neighbor, Mrs. Rhonda. Mrs. Rhonda used to watch our brother Bradley after school. Lacey knows her well from walking to her house each day and talking with her by the door while Brad got his shoes on and tried to find his glasses. Mrs. Rhonda also happens to be the mother of a boy Lacey loved loved loved in high school. She loved him after high school too, but she moved away and some sad things happened and after a million back-and-forths, she trained her soft-heart toward a strong-resolve to stay away from him from now on. She has succeeded in her distance for a long time. I would even say she is happy. She is drivin home from the beach with her red red hair, just singin along.

I read the text aloud. Simply put, Mrs. Rhonda said she loved little Brad and misses him. (Mrs. Rhonda is a tough love type of lady that hardly ever gets mushy about anything, so this is a big deal.) She also said she really misses Lacey. And then, just briefly at the end: “I know my son misses her too.” 

I could feel it hit her in the stomach and just like that I looked over to see a few tears behind her sunglasses. I cried too.

I just knew. I knew because a million times in my life I have driven along, singing to the radio, and been blind-sided just like this. I knew because I was her. Her with the dyed hair and the sun tan and the fresh resolve to keep her tired heart moving forward. Mostly, I knew because I love her so big that I felt it in my stomach too. I wished I could show her: it gets better.

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Rounding the Corner of Conviction

It was midnight.
Past time for bed.
We brushed our teeth together.
We prayed.
I said:
“I have a writing itch. Would it hurt your feelings if I didn’t come to bed right now?”
I meant:
You may not know this, but your wife is coming alive.
Something in me is waking up.
I think he knows. He usually knows these things.
But this time, so do I.
My words are coming to me just a little easier than they have in a long time.
And oh man it feels good to skip out on sleeping so I can type type type them out.
I am here.
I know what is happening in my heart, because I am paying attention.
And here on this couch with the glowing laptop light, I belong.

I am writing.

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I think tonight I will try to work through this thing I’m feeling…
I have named it: My Career Identity Crisis.
Welcome to graduating from college.
Here it comes.

I think I have been re-visiting my ten-year-old self so often lately because:
That is when I started writing.
That is when I began to find a place for all this love and desire in my heart.
In my emotional, I’m-moving-back-as-soon-as-I’m-eighteen stage,
My poor Mom just didn’t know how to handle me.
Anyone could see that I needed an outlet.
She suggested I get a journal. Way to go Mom.
It was the summer after fourth grade. I found it at TJ Maxx for $3 and it was my refuge.
My safe place to figure out what the heck was going on with me.
There was no career crisis then, just little me saying:
“When I grow up, I’m going to be a writer.”
Fast forward to 2013. The world says: time to grow up.
This is the part where I actually get a real person job but…

I do not know how to become a professional writer.
Still, I fear that if I do not pursue this future,
I will ignore a huge part of myself, and eventually,
lose that part of me entirely.

At the same time, I fear that if I do figure out this whole game of
networking/promotional branding/social media…
I will end up writing for the wrong reasons.
I will lose the truth in the pursuit of validation, popularity…
in the pursuit of “likes” and “followers.”
And here’s the deal: I could never live with that.
Though that is what the social networking world often uses writing for,
that is not writing for me.

For me, writing is about telling the truth.
Finding it. Questioning it. Admitting it.
Whatever it takes.
Through writing, I’ve faced immense monsters: depression, self-doubt, scary memories.
Through writing, I’ve found out who I am over and over again.
I have found the liberation of knowing HOW TO SAY what’s IN MY HEART.
So what’s the problem?

Let me try to explain how this has become so complicated…

When I think about professional blog writing,
I do not think of these revelations I was just expressing.
I think about product reviews.
 i.e. photos of a new shirt you bought and all your rave opinions about it.
I think about recipes w/ polished food photos, complete with witty back-story.
   i.e. the kind of thing that has so many women striving for a false perfection of “womanhood.”
I think about neatly ordered lists that promise to solve your life.
   i.e. Ten ways to be a better you. Five DIY crafts to ring in the season.
     i.e. Gross–I want to barf.

There are bloggers out there that rock that kind of stuff, and people love it!
I do not look down on these writers or these people.
(I admit I’ve got a whole pinterest board full of them recipes.)
But I will never stay up at night, itching to type out recipes and reviews.
I just don’t wanna write that stuff. I can’t. I won’t.
For me, as far as a career goes, as far as a lifelong-goal goes, that would be a deception and a waste of words.

But then again, in not writing that stuff, I have landed myself 13 followers.
Woo hoo me!
Therein lies the big question:
How can I engage the world in a conversation that tells the truth?
This is hard when it seems the world is more interested in sparkly promo posts.
But I just know it’s got to be possible.

People need real life more than they need another show-off, flashy deception.
For example, when you face doubt and instead proclaim surety, no one feels anything.
No one moves forward through those words.
Though admitting your doubts is terrifying, there is truth in the expression of doubt.
Transparency. Honesty. Clarity.
That kind of communication is real enough to be strong.
People need that.
And further, if you can then express belief regardless,
you can offer evidence of real, human faith.
People respond to that because they know it.
They know that that is what it’s like to live here in the world.
There, in those words, is a refuge for anyone that’s listening.
It’s just better that way.
There is nothing inspiring about pretending, even if you’re pretending to be inspiring.
In doing so, you forfeit your capacity to connect with others and therefore influence/be influenced by them.
You forfeit your capacity to experience with them, what it’s like to be alive.

As I sift through all of the blogs and articles out there, I am so much more interested in WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE, than what they’re buying.
Or what they’re selling.
Or what they’re advising me to do with my kitchen.
AHHH— how do I say what I’m saying here?
It’s not that I think I have something particularly inspiring and ethereal and wise to say.
It’s that I’m trying to have the guts to actually SAY SOMETHING that matters.
I just want to be out there, encouraging that type of communication.
That type of thought and connection.
The type of relief that comes with telling the truth.
That’s what words are for.

So when I look at the wide world of successful writers out there,
and see what so many of them are doing,
it terrifies me.
I want to reach the people they are reaching,
and yet I cannot reach them by the means they are using.
If I do, I will divorce myself from the original intent of reaching anyone at all.

Now, I realize that if I want to do this I have to get up off the grass and play the game.
I have to network and learn the system. I think I can do that.
But I just can’t give up my conviction.
I can’t betray my experience with words that got me here in the first place,
And I can’t ignore my late night itches that keep me up trying to say something about it.

Aside

It still is.

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This weekend I went to a barbecue. (Where I’m from we call it a cook-out– just try it. It’s fun to say. Hey, we’re havin a cook-out…) At this cook-out I played volleyball in my bare feet on the grass. I climbed a tree and sat in it’s big, thick elbows. While I was up there I found a little friend named Colter. He was way better at climbing trees than me. He scaled way up to the top while I and some other friends sat in the leaves and talked about boys. I love doing that. I just have one boy– but I sure love talkin about him.

Today I rode my bike to McDonalds to get a refill on my Dr. Pepper. I wanted it so bad. Right wrist rests on right handle-bar. Right hand grips cup. Feet push pedals. Watch out for bumps. I was out on my bike anyway to deliver some cough drops to a sick friend that lives by a whole bunch of trees. I sure loved the ride. And that Dr. Pepper. The sun was setting all the way home. Orange and gold.

There is a man on my roof. His name is Nelson. I know because he came to the door before he climbed up there. He wanted me to know that it wasn’t him who broke the window on Saturday. It was the supplier. He also wanted me to open the basement door so he could plug some huge thing in. Nelson does lots of roofs. I asked him if he ever gets scared. He said yes, and I appreciate that. Right now he is also working on a hotel that is six stories tall. The roof is very steep and if he drops anything, it will land on a car going super fast below him on busy State Street. Our house isn’t bad, he says. That’s good. We need a new roof real bad. He drops stuff on our car too. Ken is mad. He wrote a mad e-mail to our land-lord which is why Nelson came to tell us it wasn’t him that broke the window. I had to walk right under him to get my bike, but he didn’t drop anything on me. Had to risk it anyway, for my Dr. Pepper of course.

I am really into berries these days. Strawberries dipped in SO much sugar. Blackberries and blueberries and raspberries. They take turns being on sale. I take turns buying them. Having them in the fridge feels like a luxury, an indulgence. It makes me feel very blessed and lucky and vivid.

People keep asking, how do you feel about moving soon?
They keep saying Wow, DC, and Ooooh, Texas.
I’m saying: not much.
Why haven’t I thought about it yet?
Soon I will be there and it will be my new home.
I will feel that Utah happened long long ago, and wonder how I got there so fast.
I just know it.
That always happens to me.

Quote

Interaction

|ˌintərˈakSHən|:
noun
1. reciprocal action or influence
2. the process by which different things affect each other or change each other.

This morning I woke up to Ken tapping my ankle.
“Can you take me to work?” he asks.
It is NEGATIVE 30 degrees in our room. I am freezing and delusional.
“Can you take the car to work?” I say in a mumbly morning voice.
“Then how will you get to work this afternoon?”
“You could come home for lunch. We’ll eat lunch together,” I say.
“…they’ll let you do that right? A lunch break?”

I’m sure he knows I’m half asleep, making up nice notions of lunch so I don’t have to get up for breakfast. I will turn to ice out there– I just know it.

“Remember how I’m leaving early today so we can go Christmas shopping? So… I can’t take a full lunch break.”
“Oh. …k,” I say as I go from curled-up ball to straight-leg position. This is, of course, signals that I’m on my way to getting out from under the covers. It takes me a few minutes to move again. And then a few more. And eventually my teeth are brushed and I have another layer of pajamas over my first layer and tacky pocahontas moccasin boots with gigantic sweatpants and my hood is up and I look close to death. Out the door we go. I shiver in there until the engine warms up. We’re off.

On the way, we see her!
It’s the Tamale Lady.
The road to Ken’s work occasionally includes a little lady with a wagon, a cooler full of homemade tamales, and homemade sign. The interaction with this lady is half the experience, though the tamales are real good too.
“She brings in a lot of business in the wintertime,” Ken says.
I bet she does. I am already planning a visit on my way back.

I’ve only met her once, maybe twice, but she talks as if she remembers me instantly.
“Ooooh! Como Esta? Bien?” she says.
I cant show you on a keyboard how she says this. I’m sure she doesn’t remember me but she smiles with all her wrinkles and her little eyes seem to recognize me as a friend. It feels great. I love interacting with latin people because there is something faintly familiar there– the insta-friend hospitality and the food=love thing– it’s like the south. There is home in those little eyes. I don’t know how to express this in English, much less spanish, so I just beam out a:
“Bien! Bien!”
I then proceed to use every spanish word I know,which totals to about 9, and try to use them in this tone like by the way, I appreciate you. I am happy to see you today. I am still in my ridiculous pajamas but she doesn’t seem to notice so I forget too.
“Ooooh mucho frio!” she says to me.
I look at her hands trembling as she reaches for her tamale list. A pair of pink gloves lays in her wagon next to the cooler. I guess she sees me notice them because she starts using those beautiful rolling words to explain that she would wear those gloves except that they don’t fit under the plastic glove she uses to pull the tamales out of the cooler. I understand what she is saying though I don’t know any of the words she is using. Does she think I speak spanish? No, she can’t possibly be fooled– my accent is horrendous. I wish she would just wear her pink gloves. They would only touch the corn husks and nobody eats those anyway. She doesn’t really need a plastic glove.
“Si. Mucho mucho frio,” I say, looking at all the snow and ice around her knowing I can’t understand how cold her hands must be all morning, maybe all day out here.
She shows me the list but I already know what it says.
“Dos,” I say as I point to cheese.
“Uno,” to pork
“Uno,” to chicken.
I’m glad she uses this list because I never learned the word for pork.
“Oooh quatros!” she says. Man I love this lady.
She slips the flimsy plastic glove onto her aged hands. They are beautiful like my Mamaw’s. She reaches around for those tamales, knowing which flavor is where though they all look the same, and bags them up in a brown paper bag– like the kind I used to take my lunch in. She folds down the top of the bag and then reaches for a second one to put them in. This is new, must be a winter thing to help the tamales stay warm.
They are $1.25 each so I know I owe her $5. She doesn’t tell me that though, just smiles her genuine wrinkly smile and hands me the bag.
“Gracias Hermana,” I say.
Hermana is one of my 9 words. It means sister and it’s normal to call people sister in spanish, which is kind of like being Mormon and kind of like just being real, genuine people who are trying to care about each other. I hand her $5 with one hand and then a little extra in the other hand– so she knows I’m giving her this second part on purpose. She doesn’t pretend she doesn’t want it. She doesn’t get embarrassed and shove it off like oh no you don’t have to do that. Is it an American thing to react that way? I’m glad she doesn’t react that way. She just beams again and says thank you and some other beautiful words in Spanish.
“Feliz Navidad!” I say.

And I walk away just loving that woman and anticipating some masa goodness for second breakfast.