Adjusting to the Overwhelm

We can all agree this last year has been a complete doozy. But a different doozy then we have experienced before.

When I think about where I was at a year ago, it almost seems surreal. It was a new type of fear to live in. Adjusting to the unknown, trying to hold hope, but to also be realistic. The loneliness was hard to grapple with. The transition into motherhood was dark and isolated. It was hard to relate in a real way to people about things I couldn’t even understand. The tension of the world and the tension within me made me cynical and sad.

When I look back at my life before the pandemic, I am just in awe of the breakneck speed I was living at. I was busy all day, almost every evening and each weekend was usually booked. After living a year of things moving in slow motion, I can’t imagine going back to that. Especially now with a very active baby.

Now we are in this new phase of COVID world, where there’s a lot of hope juxtaposed by the hopelessness of the heartbreak in our country. We are all still very much in a grieving season. Grieving for lives, for connection, for peace. But in this season, we can still see the horizon. The illusive “normal”.

The Usual Overwhelm

Before COVID and since COVID, overwhelm has been a theme for my life. Even though there has been moments of thriving in the midst of it, I have been just moving from one overwhelming day to another for years now. As we move away from this craziness, I am learning we are moving to a new, different type of overwhelm.

I have often wondered what a “normal” transition into motherhood would’ve looked like for me. I have also wondered what this year would’ve looked like without pregnancy and being a new parent. I truly can’t imagine what those paths would have looked like, but I am thankful for the path God set me on.

Don’t Look to Far Ahead

As things slowly move back to a world without COVID, I am trying to adapt to the overwhelm that is coming again. I don’t know exactly what it will look like. I don’t know what I’ll be doing or what I will be overwhelmed with, but I know it’s coming.

I have taken comfort in Jesus’ words this past year to help get through the lonely, the hard, the good, the overwhelming days.

 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:33-34

My task is to just worry about today. Tomorrow’s overwhelm is it’s own problem.


Holding on to Guilt

Can I talk to you about Mom guilt? It might be a phrase you have heard before, but let me paint a picture of what it is looking like in my life.

My dear, sweet daughter takes the worst naps. I do everything I can to get her to sleep well. Dark room, white noise, sleep sack, lullabies, rocking her, nursing her to sleep. Just as much as I humanly can to get my girl to sleep. Sometimes this takes 45 minutes. Usually, I put her in the crib and if she doesn’t wake up immediately after her back touches the mattress, she only sleeps 30-40 minutes. It’s an exhausting ritual we go through and I just cry somedays with how demanding it is to be chained down by her nap schedule.

There is of course one magic bullet we have found that gives us freedom from the fight that is napping: her swing. It is a magical device that can help her nap for hours if we let her. It’s a hands-free way to get the space to do my work, to clean, to shower. I keep an eye on her in the monitor and I check in on her anytime I feel a bit wary about her position. But at the end of the day, it’s been a game-changer.

But here’s the catch, swings aren’t sleep approved anymore. There has been a recent shift against using swings for any amount of sleep. You can read more here if you want, but this dilemma has now plagued my mind for months. I know, for generations, baby swings have been used by loads of parents for lots of babies. But there is still a risk.

In moments of desperation, I have used the swing for the naps. She needs the sleep, I need the break, I don’t know what else to do. I know that being a parent is largely just being in survival mode.

I would tell any other mom in my position to do whatever she needs to get through this phase. I would not guilt her in her choices, and I would try and help her know she is doing a good job and is enough. I cannot extend the same grace to myself.

My experience of mom guilt has largely been self-imposed. I don’t have a group of moms I talk to. I don’t post anything on social media about my parenting habits. There isn’t anyone that would “tattle” on me about my baby sleeping in a swing. I bog myself down with the feeling that I am not doing enough. That I am failing my daughter.

I wish I could say that this feeling is something I’m moving beyond. That I have learned to give myself grace in, but to be honest I have struggled so much with this today. This swing issue has also highlighted for me all of the other times I don’t give myself grace. How many times I have put on guilt that didn’t belong to be there. How many times I shamed myself for not being good enough.

I don’t want to remember this phase of my life as being overwhelmed by guilt. I want to let myself feel joy and gratitude towards God for the ups he gives and the downs he has brought me through. I want to know that I did my best with what I had and to know that God does and will fill in all of the gaps left by my humanity.

Where have you let guilt take control in your life? Where do you need to give yourself grace? Let’s let go of our guilt and let God fill in the gaps.

How Becoming a Parent Has Helped Me Appreciate My Flaws

I have a long list of insecurities, as most of us do.

I have always hated my brown eyes. In my life long pursuit of being unique, my brown eyes have always kept me solidly in the “common” category.

My mixture of Polynesian and European creates this lovely phenomenon of hair. I have an insanely thick head of hair, but it comes at the expense of lots of dark, thick body hair.

I’m emotional and deep, and that can be my downfall in many a relationship. Depression and anxiety have torn me apart and still keep me from being okay with myself.

I grew up so skinny. I would say scrawny. I used to long for the day that I could have curves, to not get so many comments on how I was so tiny. Then around 23, boom. I gained a lot of weight and I haven’t been able to keep it off since. I still wasn’t happy with how I looked.

I come on strong nine times out of ten. I present as a friendly person but tend to come off as sarcastic and mean after the first impression.

I have cried many tears over my body’s and soul’s “failures”. I regret wasting my time on it, but that is the reality. I feel such a weight of inadequacy. I’m sure you feel that too.

Change in Perspective

But since my daughter has entered this world, my view of myself is changing. It’s not an overnight deal, it’s a real process.

As she gets older and I look at her, I’m seeing more and more little reflections of myself in her. Her eyes, though not set in color, look at me with a dark brown warmth. She feels all of her little feelings with intensity. She was born tiny and skinny and covered with hair. She now is smooth and has rolls. She’s selective with her smiles and often looks at the world with a stern face. All of these things I have hated in myself I love in her.

It’s been humbling to deny myself the pity party of hating things in myself in order to love them in my daughter. It’s not worth my energy to obsess over myself and not give love to this sweet little person who is half me.

God’s Design

I never expected to learn to love myself more as I became a parent. I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of God’s design in it. And to learn how God looks on us as his daughters and sons. Even in our human brokenness, God’s goodness can be seen.

Many Days Like This

Today was not my best parenting day. It’s not because I snapped or got too emotional or really anything that bad. But I know that I want on my A-game.

I’m still so freshly new to this parenting thing. I’m surprised I haven’t gotten to this place sooner. I know that there will be many more days like this, but it’s sad to feel it creep in already.

Now I didn’t do anything wrong today per se. I didn’t drop my child or forget her somewhere. I didn’t lose my temper and yell at her. On paper, I did all that a parent is supposed to do.

I just let my selfishness win. I could feel my wants and desires coming before my baby’s. I could feel my frustrations coming from her not doing what I wanted, instead of her not having her needs met. It makes a big difference when you make the choice to die to yourself instead of letting your selfishness win. It makes more of a difference when your a parent.

Even though today wasn’t my greatest day, it was what today was. I’m thankful for getting a chance to vent and for fresh starts each day.

Day 5 as a Mother

I have really dreaded being a mother. To have a little being that I’m responsible for, that needs ME all day long. It made all of my selfishness shine. But here I am. Day 5 of it, and it’s not even like I made a choice. I just became what I am. My sweet baby makes this so easy. I feel comfortable, I feel empowered to be what I am. She’s let’s me be this new person I’ve been all along.

Sitting down now, rocking my daughter her laying peaceful on my chest, I am overwhelmed by how much I adore this. The lead up to this birth was so hard. I was a very un gracious pregnant person. I hope to be a more gracious mother.

I know I’m in the honeymoon phase with parenting, but oh man I’m basking in it. My body is sore, I’m sleepy, but I am SO full of joy.

God’s goodness is fully seen here. He knew me as a mother, he knit together this child, he enabled me to get to this place. He truly knows what we need so much better than we know.