Monday, April 25, 2016

Having a Son Strengthened my Marriage

"A baby changes everything."

I can't tell you the number of people who said this to Brandon and me while I was pregnant. Since his due date was right before Christmas, we even had someone send us a song that includes this phrase! Friends who had recently become parents warned us about the sleepless nights, frustration, and stress that were to come, and admonished us to enjoy our last few weeks of "just us."

While it's true that welcoming Beckett has changed our world - Brandon and I would say that becoming parents has only enriched our lives - including our marriage. Yes, going out for a date night doesn't happen as often and requires a little more planning, but we would both agree that becoming parents has only strengthened our relationship with one another.

First, becoming parents has made our marriage more intentional. Our time and resources are more limited these days. Beckett's needs frequently have to come first as he currently depends on us for everything. Consequently, we've quickly realized that we have to be intentional about our time together. Making time for date nights, giving each other our full attention when we are together (putting screens down/away!), spending time with each other each night after Beckett is in bed, etc. Although we may physically have a little less time to focus on each other, we've found that being intentional about how we spend that time makes all the difference.

Additionally, becoming parents has strengthened the spiritual aspect of our marriage. Every day we spend time just staring at Beckett and reflecting in awe that God blended our genes to create our little man. Furthermore, we both recognize the incredible responsibility we have been gifted with, to raise up a child to love and serve the Lord. Consequently, we've both seen changes in the intensity and depth of our personal and family devotions and prayer life. From the beginning of our marriage we've recognized that the more active we our in our faith walk, the better our marriage is - this continues to be true today.

Finally, becoming parents has brought more grace into our marriage. During the first few weeks of Beckett's life, especially when I was hit with my crazy case of hives, we quickly realized that we needed to start showing each other a little more grace (I think I had to learn this lesson a little more than Brandon did!!). So what if Brandon didn't put on a diaper or hold the baby the way I did? I had to recognize that he was wanting and willing to help and was desiring to spend time with our son. Likewise, Brandon practiced showing me some extra grace when we ate eggs multiple times in a row for dinner when I was struggling with sleep training Beckett or adjusting to working outside the home with a newborn. Choosing to extend grace rather than bickering or brewing in anger has made all the difference!

And although each family must make their own decision, Brandon and I firmly believe that having me stay-at-home full time makes all the difference in how smoothly our home runs and relieving stress in our marriage. During the weeks that I was working outside of the home I was physically and emotionally spent by the time Beckett went to bed. There were numerous times that I said to Brandon, "I feel like I have nothing left to give you!" I hated that. While my days are still exhausting, it is refreshing to know that I'm being drained by putting energy into our family, rather than an outside source...

So my concluding recommendation = have a baby. Sure it changes everything, but our experience has been that you can choose to allow those changes to have a positive effect on your life and marriage - and the sweet smiles and coos are all worth it :)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Unnecessary Things my Baby Loves

Lets face it, there is a lot of junk out there that baby marketers try and convince new (or old) parents they NEED to successfully raise a happy, healthy baby. When Brandon and I first started out on our parenting journey, one of the things we discussed was that we didn't want our lives overwhelmed by "baby stuff." We got some excellent recommendations from some seasoned parents we know and love, and attempted to move forward with a minimalistic approach.

That said, were surrounded by by loving family and friends who have generously showered Beckett with gifts. And while I still think we have a lot more stuff than necessary, it turns out (much to my chagrined) that Beckett loves some of the extras...

So I thought I'd share a few baby items that while not "necessary," are certainly a hit around our house!

1. Activity Mat

I purposefully did not register for one of these, thinking my baby would be just as content to lay on a blanket. Turns out Beckett has been enamored with this thing since he was a bout 3 weeks old. First he simply loved to lay and just look at the dangling toys, now, at almost 4 months, the activity mat still provides extensive entertainment since he can grab at and shake the toys. Plus, I think the one we were given (linked) is pretty cute!

Just doing some tummy time on the activity gym!

2. WubaNub

It turns out that Beckett is a huge sucker - if he doesn't have a toy to suck on he will go for whatever is closest - his hands, a bib, blanket, etc. He has one of these pacifiers with a giraffe attached (who, we lovingly refer to as "Gerald" after the giraffe in Giraffe's Can't Dance - one of my favorite children's books) and loves to snuggle up with it. Honestly he seems to enjoy sucking on the giraffe's limbs as much as he does the pacifier itself. as an added bonus, he can grasp the little animal Pretty well, which helps him keep the paci in better.

While attempting to suck on 2 toys, his bib, and his hands all at once....

3. Boon Grass Drying Rack

Okay, this is an unnecessary thing I love :) I didn't expect to be using bottles nearly as much as we did, but with my great hive adventure and then going back to work for a few weeks i spent quite a bit of time washing bottles and pump parts. I love how this drying rack works and contains all those air drying parts!

4. Rattle/Sensory Teether

We were given a ton of toys for Beck, but this is really the only one that has interested him so far. He loves it because he can chew on it (go figure) and really grab and hold onto it. Other rattle just seem to be too heavy/thick for him at this point.

While we still may be a little more overrun with baby paraphanalka than I would ideally like, I still think we've done a pretty good job at keeping the stuff monster out (I mean do you really need 5 things for your newborn to sit/lay on?). And like everything else that comes with new parenthood, I'm learning to relax more and go with the flow.....and putting my need to control in God's hands!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Coming Home

I truly don’t know how full-time working moms do it. In fact, after the last 3 weeks I’m convinced that my boss – who has 2 young daughters, is incredibly active in her church and community, and still finds time to teach zumba and seems to sit on half a dozen volunteer committees, has some superpower store of energy that she is able to call into play. And if she doesn’t, she can certainly fake it a whole lot better than I can!

Because lets face it, since I went back to work after my maternity leave, there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Sure I can get to work by 7 am so I can leave by 4 and be home by 4:30 so that I can pick up the house, make dinner, and do the laundry before Brandon comes home at 6:30 so we can sit down for dinner together before we put Beckett to bed at 8. But after a full day at work where I’ve run errands on my lunch break and haven’t seen my baby since I nursed him the night before, all I want to do is cuddle my sweet little man and soak up his smiles!

I know that to be a politically correct female I’m supposed to say you can do it all, but at this point in my life I really don’t believe that to be the case. Something has to give.

Brandon and I agreed a long time ago that family was a priority. And so, last week I turned in my resignation letter for a job I really love. As excited as I am to be a full-time stay-at-home mom, resigning was harder than I anticipated. As much as I miss Beckett, I can understand the argument many working moms make! There are days where I’ve been perfectly happy to leave my screaming baby at home and head out into the world of adult conversation and intellectual stimulation.

But when God blessed Brandon and I with Beckett, he blessed us with an incredible responsibility – to raise a child. And for our family, the key word in that equation is us. He didn’t bless a day care worker, or a nanny, or my mother-in-law (who has been an incredible help in watching Beck these last few weeks) with that responsibility – he blessed Brandon and me. And we take that responsibility incredibly seriously. We want to be the people Beckett spends the most time with and who have the greatest effect on his life.

The one question that really boggles me is, “how are you going to do it?  You’re so lucky, we could never afford that.” But how do people afford big houses, luxury vacations, or new cars? They make it a priority. For us, me staying home is a priority, so we have made a budget and chosen to sacrifice in other areas.

And so next week I begin a new adventure! And while I know my days will be busy and exhausting in a different sense, I’m looking forward to being able to put my full focus and energy towards serving my family (and soaking up all of Beckett’s sweet coos and smiles)!