"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

27 February 2015

Mama Ain't No Svelte 20-Something

I just have to start off this post by begging you to please not EVER use "ain't" in real conversation with me. It would hurt my grammar-loving heart.

Okay, that said, earlier today, I posted on my FB:
By dinnertime tonight, I had numerous comments on there, most of which expressed indignation.

The thing is, I thought the entire situation was just so awkward that it was really funny. I mean, I'm fairly certain that her intentions were good and that she meant nothing malicious by what she said. Nonetheless, it was all rather weird and surreal. The friend I had been talking to said that in the moment, she was thinking, "I can't believe this is happening!" The day it happened, I told my husband about it, and we both genuinely laughed. I'm still chuckling about it. And that's why I shared it.

Maybe I just have a weird sense of humor?

But I found it fascinating that so many friends (mostly women) responded, and it got me thinking about social mores and culturally accepted norms.

The thing is, as much as it is commonly expected that you don't talk about people's weight, it is just as commonly expected that losing the weight you gain during pregnancy is a goal for all women.

But why is that?

Today, when I was chatting with our pediatrician about the kids, and B's rambunctious little boy-ness in particular, he pointed out that we live in such an artificial society, where we ride in cars everywhere, stay indoors much of the time, and don't really do much physical labor. We try to make up for that by going to gyms to "work out," but he said that really, if we lived in a more natural environment, a four-year-old little boy would be outside chasing rabbits and running through fields much of the day.

Relating to my awkward situation: I initially wondered if we all lived in a world where physical labor was just a part of our daily lives, if "losing the baby weight" wouldn't even be on our radar because it would just naturally come off. But then I wondered, would losing the baby weight even be a consideration in a world where manual labor is the norm and you don't have expectations to keep looking like you're in your early 20s for the rest of your life?

My body HAS changed in the past decade. Things are ... squishier. Parts aren't where they used to be.

But I'm really okay with that, for the most part. Because the thing is, this body has given birth to two beautiful babies, and that's exactly what it looks like. No, I can't run an easy five miles on a daily basis anymore. No, I cannot do push ups to save my life. And crunches? I don't think I could find my abs.

This body is the body of a 30-something mother.

I said "for the most part" because I hear that voice sometimes, too. The voice that says, "When are you going to lose that baby weight?" But you know what? My life right now is busy and rich, and honestly, spending hours at the gym to "lose that baby weight" really isn't high on my list of priorities.

See, I think we too often fall into the mindset that unless we're all slim and svelte, we're "obese," but that's just not true. The opposite of "thin" might be "fat," just like we all learned as preschoolers, but the fact is, there is quite a bit of middle ground there, into which most of us fall. Yes, I could benefit from dropping a few pounds, but my desire for that is because I know my body would be healthier that way, NOT because I want to "lose the baby weight." I want my body to be stronger, not necessarily skinnier. Because a stronger body is one that can serve God, my family, and this world better. A skinny body is just that. Skinny.

I know this may seem like "potay-toes" and "potah-toes" to some, but honestly, I feel like our culture sends such contradictory messages to women. Healthy does not mean thin, and while I think we all know that cerebrally, I don't think we embrace that fully. Because if we did, there wouldn't be expectations that post-baby bodies will someday return to pre-baby bodies, would there?

03 February 2015

Growth Simulation

My goofy boy brings so much laughter to our home.
FYI: I posted the first portion of this story to FB earlier today, for those to whom this sounds familiar.

Every Sunday, when we pick up our little man from KidZone at church, he has a large white sticker on his back with two questions that we can ask him regarding that day's lesson.

This past weekend, I asked, "How are some ways you can grow in God, B?"

He gave the generic answers you'd expect.

"Obey Daddy and Mommy."


"Don't be rude."

"Be kind to everybody."

When I prompted him for more answers, he thought for a moment and then replied, "A simulator. A growing simulator."

This past weekend, we learned that a family from our life group would be putting down their beloved dog of almost 16 years on Monday. As we prayed for them, B said he wanted Jesus to help their hearts not be so owie anymore.
Just like Daddy

Together with our other friends from our life group, we decided that we wanted our friends to return home from the vet to lots of comfort. A plan was set into motion, with everyone contributing some love.

B did a wonderful job helping me make cookies for our friends, being oh-so-careful with the cookie cutter, but especially with the icing, because he didn't want the cookies to be "messed up" (you think he inherited any of my Type A personality?).

"I'm a big, strong boy, Mama. I can do the rolling."
Carefully drawing the long line for each letter "F" for Finnegan

He sat at the dining room table, observing me putting together a framed memento of Finnegan as he worked on a sympathy card for our friends.

"Why did he get old, Mommy?"
"Those balloons will help them feel better."
"How come the vet can't give him more shots to help him feel better?"
"How do you draw a doggie, Mama? I drew the people, but I don't know how to draw a doggie very well."
"Why is he dying?"
"Did Miss Melanie have Finney for a long time, Mommy? Was I born yet?"
"I think the cookies will help them feel better. Cookies are yummy."
And through all the questions, even the tough ones, I was so grateful for this small glimpse into his still-compassionate heart, the reminder that he is still my sweet little boy, even in this stage when that sweetness is too often buried under preschool-aged angst and emotion. My mama heart needs these reminders, these moments of grace and beauty. It is so easy to get bogged down in the day to day challenges of mothering, of remembering that the struggles are small compared to the ultimate hope of the brave, strong, confident, secure, passionate, and godly man that I want my son to be.
Christopher Robin is full of wisdom beyond his years.
(I wish I had taken a photo of his card, you guys, because his "doggie" ended up having a few extra "legs" and it was just plain cuteness.)

One of our friends was going to collect everything from all the families and make a drop off late yesterday afternoon, but B insisted that he wanted to deliver the cookies himself, even though I explained to him that we wouldn't be going inside. So after their naps, we loaded everything up into the car, including the balloons and doggie treats (for our friends' other dog) that another friend had dropped off.
It was sweet to see him carrying the gifts of love up to our friends' doorstep and placing them carefully in front of the door. We prayed that the gifts would bring comfort to their "owie hearts" as we drove out of their neighborhood.
And then he requested that we stop by the fire station on the way home so he could check out the trucks.

I love the resilience of children, the way they take things in stride, how they are able to be fully in the moment.

When I picked him up from school today, he kissed his baby sister's head ever so gently and announced, "I had a great day today! School is so much fun!"

And I remembered that saying about mothers, that when we have babies, pieces of our hearts are forever walking around outside of our bodies.
And I was also reminded that he is so much more than his goofiness, uncontainable energy, his challenging moments, his uninhibited emotions. That the beautiful soul that we saw in him as a baby is still very much there. That, just like the rest of us, he is a work in progress, destined to be one of God's masterpieces.

No need for a simulator, my boy. You are growing up just fine (mostly by God's abundant grace)!