06 August 2015

putting on my big girl pants

Today is my twenty-eighth birthday. I don't know if that merits excitement anywhere else in the world. It doesn't around here. But even on pedestrian birthdays I like to take a little bit of time to muse on has what happened in the last year: what life brought to me, what I did and became.

This past year was the first that I didn't teach English, after eight years of doing it. I sorely missed teaching last fall and early winter, before Zoe was born. Once she came, I didn't have time to miss it anymore. :) My mind is still hungry for academics, though, so I'm continuing my education mom-style-- which is to say, in an eclectic and haphazard fashion. I take advantage of lots of podcasts and blogs, and am challenging myself to read more non-fiction, in addition to the fiction I more easily gravitate towards. A couple non-fic volumes I have especially liked are Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, 1492: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, and Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism.

I have a thing for long titles, perhaps?

I've been part of a book club with more than a dozen other women for several years now. That is always a basket of fun, and our reading picks have ranged from Very Serious to Quite Silly. This summer I also started a monthly club for high school girls, to read and discuss some great lit (classic and otherwise). In the fall that will have to come to a close, since they are all busy with schoolwork. However, I will be teaching my younger sister British Victorian literature, and that should be a nice mental workout!

Young Mother and Two Children, Mary Cassatt

I was stretched in my mothering this year. Ellie turned into a little girl (currently she insists that she is not a girl, she is "a guy" like daddy . . . or a fish or a tiger or a racecar, usually all in one day). She has always been my buddy, and still is. But she does her own stuff now. She invents narratives to act out and songs to sing. She is starting to piece together her own interpretation of the world.

That all means more brain-work for me. I still have to do plenty of physical tasks for her, like pouring her juice and buttoning her dress, but I also need to explain things. Why we need to buckle up in the car, and why we don't pull basil plants out of the garden, and why thunder isn't scary after all, and why there are consequences for disobeying, and why Jesus loves her so much.

Meanwhile, as one mini-me grew up, I got a new one. I'm much better at being a mommy this time around. Poor Ellie has to take the test run on everything; Zoe basks in the benefits of my experience. She has been a happy, snuggly bearcub from day one. Sleep? Eh, it's acceptable. Her bouncing good health and outrageously cute toes make up for her not-so-consistent napping.

Babies always change you. Having this baby changed my vision of God. During the ultra-vulnerable weeks after Zoe's birth, when I was tired, lonely, second-guessing myself, and apt to break down in tears at any moment, God baptized me in a new blazing awareness of His unconditional love. That is something I have always struggled to accept. Not only that I'm redeemed, but that God delighted to redeem me. I am not just one justified saint in a faceless crowd, but a beloved little child, with an affectionate Father who's interested in me specifically.

That sunrise moment (which, talk about breaking down in tears) has firmed the ground beneath my feet. I tend to walk in fear wherever something's unknown. Life currently holds a lot of unknowns, and I suppose it always will. But I keep coming back to the fact that God loves me so decidedly, so generously. And then I sleep in peace.

The other truth I realized this year-- and it has given me the courage to go my own way-- is that, hey, I'm an adult now. I have my own house, and marriage, and children. Other people are free to express opinions and I often benefit from that, but just as often I shrug and make a different decision.

I will potty train my toddler when I feel like it. I will let the baby sleep in our bed. I will prioritize husband time over girl time. I will eat ice cream, and I will not eat bread. I will be quiet in large groups instead of wearing myself out trying to be "sociable." I will buy the clothes I actually like instead of the ones fawned over by every fashion blogger (who wears Ace & Jig anyway? sad bohemian schoolmarms?).

In other situations, awareness of adulthood provides the kick I need to get moving. I must admit that I tend not to try something if it a) looks difficult or unpleasant and b) I don't really have to. But lately I've been telling myself that it's time to put on my big girl pants and Address the Situation [call the insurance company, take out the trash, learn how to can tomatoes]. Jared says I'm capable of far more than I ever give myself credit for, and when I actually try, instead of assuming "this is impossible" from the start, I find out he's right.

It should be fun to find out what I'm capable of this year.

2 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday! It's both weird and fun to be an adult, eh?

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  2. Ahh, happy birthday!! I've also experienced the feeling of "oh look, I'm an adult" with age 28...it is indeed freeing. May your 28th year be a good one!

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