Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Parenting and Screens

Have you ever noticed how many snapshots of kids these days have a parent in the background who is present in body but completely immersed in the world of their smart phone or iPad?  As I've looked at pictures on fb and blogs, especially in the past week, it has struck me just how common this has become.  And it has me thinking: how is this affecting the children??

I think back to my own childhood and the only thing I remember my parents being distracted by (like, mind totally in another world and not able to get their attention easily when I needed/wanted it) were books and conversation.  But more often than not, they were mentally available when I needed them, whether or not they were "busy" with something else.  How would my childhood have been different if one or both of my parents had spend every free moment with their eyes (and minds) glued to the tv, cell phone, computer, or tablet?  I think I may have gotten the impression that parents/adults:
- are hard to get attention from
- are distracted
- don't really want to be with me
- would rather sit and look at a screen than do anything else
- aren't really there for you
- don't think kids are important enough to pay attention to unless the attention is begged for

I'm as guilty as anyone.  I spend time online while Levi is awake, both on my phone and on my computer.  And it strikes me almost daily how I could be doing much more valuable things with my time.  How would my days with Levi (and our attitudes/patience levels with each other) be different if I was truly present in everything I did when we're together? It breaks my heart when I think about what my time online is teaching him. (not that ALL time online or being "distracted" is all bad, but when it becomes a daily part of life, maybe it needs to be examined?)

Does Levi ever feel like I don't really care about him?  Does he ever feel like what I see on my screen is more important than him?  Does he feel like he has to whine for things because asking nicely just simply fails to get my attention?  How would things be different if I moved my computer downstairs permanently and left my phone on the counter during the day, only checking things when he is napping or in bed for the night?

I intend to find out.  I've certainly cut back on internet use in the past (multiple times throughout Levi's life, though it invariably creeps up time and again) because I've always been aware of this danger.  But having seen pictures of it so often this past week, it has been brought to my mind yet again and I am feeling the need to renew my effort in being present with my child (soon to be children). 

How about you?  What are your thoughts on this?  Agree?  Disagree?  Anything to add?  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Number Two

Before Nathan and I decided to try to have more children, we seriously contemplated stopping at one. I am often tired and people who know me best would probably say that I often seem tired. It's true, mothering does take alot out of me and I do take whatever measures I can to try to conserve energy. But there is more to my story than that.

I've never been a super high energy person. Especially since second year Bible school, I have always been the one weighing the energy cost to potential commitments before I make them. If I get run down, it takes quite a bit of rest to recharge. Obviously, this had to be a consideration when we were talking about adding another child to our home. What would my days look like and could I handle another little person demanding my attention and energy?

While we understood that adding to our numbers would stretch me thin in the energy department, we decided to keep trying and low and behold, #2 is now on their way!  I would be lying if I said that I never worry about how I'm going to keep up. I sometimes lay in bed at night after being up with a crying toddler and imagine adding a sleepless baby to that and I get scared. But what it comes down to for me is that, despite the exhaustion and sleep deprivation and lack of energy, my days are still filled with joy. Being a mother is life-giving for me in a way that nothing else has been. It drains me of energy but fills me with something so pure and wonderful that I can't help but know that this is what I was created for.

When we were in the midst of infertility, I got all the sleep I wanted. I could sleep in on weekends and go to bed early if I was tired. If I got home from work early and needed to, I could nap before going out in the evening. I could spend hours on end alone, just recharging. And yet those years of my life were some of the most draining years of my life. I chalk it up to not having that piece that truly gave me life. I had nothing to pour myself into that replaced the energy spent with sheer joy.

Now, before you go saying that God should be that one life-giving thing in your life, I need to stop you. Yes, God fills his children with joy. Yes, when we pour our energy out for him, we are filled with an unexplainable zeal and drive that only comes from him. But I also believe that God creates each of us to find different things life-giving. How else can you explain the pastor's heart that feels as though it's being suffocated when it can't find a job?  Or a missionary's drive to reach people for Jesus, even putting the things most precious to them at risk?  Each of us has different passions/callings and when we pursue those things that give us life, that's when it becomes most about God and him using us to achieve his purpose.

Does working at camp exhaust you but you can't imagine life without it?  Do you feel the need to care for people, even when your heart absolutely breaks hearing their stories?  What gives you life?  What is it that fills you with an unspeakable joy and fulfillment, perhaps despite personal sacrifice?

For me, in this stage of life, it's being a mother. And whether it's being a mother to two or ten (not likely), if I keep relying on God for what I need every day, I will make it through and thrive. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I've been struggling with sleep lately.  Lately being the past two years.  I remember Levi being 5 weeks old and wondering what in the world I was doing wrong because he wouldn't sleep more than a few hours at a time.  I was reminded by someone that he was only 5 weeks old and that it would come.  At the time I consoled myself with the thought that surely by the time he was 6 months old, he would be sleeping through the night.  Here we are, 2 years later, and he has never slept through the night more than 50% of the time.  In October?  Levi slept through the night 6 times.  That means he was up in the night 25 times.  And when he was up, it was up to 3-4 times a night.  Pee.  Teething.  Wanting a cuddle. You name it, he was up for it. 

Some nights I get downright frustrated.  I climb back into bed with a huff after being up with a crying boy for 30-45 minutes (especially when he's crying for no apparent reason) and struggle to fall asleep again (often to be awakened again just as I'm drifting off to sleep 45 minutes later).  Some nights I feel like I will never sleep through the night again.

Then today I had a reminder about how precious and fragile life is.  A Bible college friend of Nathan's lost his 8 month old boy this morning.  He and his wife woke up to find that their baby boy was with Jesus.  I saw a picture of a healthy, smiling baby dressed up for Halloween and sitting on his daddy's lap taken just last night.  And this morning it was but a dream, a lifetime ago.

When Levi would cry out in the night in the first few weeks/months, my breath would sometimes catch in my throat because I was just so thankful that there was a cry.  That he was alive. That he was breathing and awake and needing me.  Somewhere in the past two years, I have lost that sense of relief when he calls out for me in the night.  I have instead been feeling frustrated, annoyed, like burying my head under my pillow and ignoring him.  And yet how very thankful I should be!  First, that I have a son at all!  I prayed for years for a baby who would wake me up at night. I longed for sleepless nights and my prayers have been answered!  Second, that he has breath in his lungs to be able to cry.  That he's healthy and alive.  That he's in his room at home, just across the hall, and not in the hospital somewhere.  That I CAN go to him and make it all better.

I've been holding my boy a whole lot tighter today and telling him over and over again just how much I love him.  Every day with him is such a gift.  And when he cries for me tonight, I'll go into his room with just a bit more patience and love and tenderness than I have been lately...

Picture Post

Levi's "cheese" smile.  Except he doesn't says cheese...it's just the smile we get when we ask him to smile.

"Levi, do you want a picture with Lennox?" "YEAH!" (Lennox will never sit any closer than this to Levi so I had to get creative with camera angle)

Levi was a little leery of my camera angle choice, not sure how I would get both him and Lennox in a picture at once.

There, both boys looking at the camera.  We'll save smiles for next time...

Levi LOVES to play guitar with Daddy.  And I don't think Daddy minds sharing...!

More "cheese."

Levi gets this facial expression from his Daddy.  I laugh every time I see it.  It's their "I know I'm being silly but I'm going to pretend that I'm serious and not smiling" face.

And last but not least, here's a picture of how the latest "project" is coming along.  I started this pregnancy being about 6-8 weeks ahead of last pregnancy in terms of how big I was.  I'm happy to report that growth seems to have slowed and I'm within 2-5 weeks of where I was last time with size.  And I'm weighing less than I did last time at this point!  Crazy, no?  I think it must be thanks to all the toddler activity that keeps me busy day and night cause I sure know it's not thanks to me resisting my sugar cravings...  Sleep is getting a bit more difficult these days (bring on the PILLOWS!) but mostly I'm still really comfortable and enjoying this pregnancy.  What an incredible blessing this little one is.  It's absolutely unbelievable to be expecting #2 when 3 years ago we were past the 3 year mark of infertility and wondering if we would ever even have one...THANK YOU, JESUS!  May I never forget the blessing that these little ones are!