Monday, October 31, 2011

In another life... or the post with a lot of "quotation marks".

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
- Mary Oliver

This post is not as much about mothering or parenting but more so about us as women with dreams. I really hope you comment- I think the responses could range from inspiring to hilarious, from humbling to ridiculous (see my long commentary below!)

Ahem... I've been thinking a lot lately about my life and how it is different now than I thought it would be. When I was in high school, I had a dreamy, naive idea of what my grown up life would look like. I imagined I'd be hustling from one audition to another, or I'd be doing a show night after night in New York. I thought that it was a far-fetched idea at the time, yes, but I also could imagine it. I could see my "name in lights". I know- so silly, right?

Well, not really... I was given this insane imagination and the gift of this imagination is the opportunity and necessity to dream "Big". I thought that life would fall in line for me along a path that I perceived was right. I think in the back of my mind, I was nervous that I might not make it... and looking back at the talent I possessed compared with the talent out there... I know I would NOT have made it! :) This is not a sob-story or a poor-me "I'm just a teacher" whine, because I love what I do. I feel like I get to "perform" every day and have adoring fans all around me! (Ha! Little kids are so good for the ego!) So, in a way- I am living my high school dream- in just a very different way.

When college choices loomed, I told my dad that I was going to graduate High School and head to New York to start auditioning. He said... "No way." He required that I do at least two years of college and then I could go do whatever my dramatic little heart desired. Looking back, I could have left- I was 18- legally able to be on my own. But that thought never crossed my mind. Maybe I was relieved to not have to venture out on my own just yet. I applied to a school whose drama department I loved but then didn't get accepted. Then, my fall back school became my only option. I enrolled, joined the drama department, and got involved in student ministries. I realized that in order to be successful in theatre, you don't need a drama degree so I started pursuing other Major options. Enter: wild imagination... Pre-med for a day (I envisioned myself a part of Doctor's Without Borders- saving lives all over the world- Oh! the drama!); communications for a day- (Of course, newscaster, interviewing important people in the middle of life changing events- dodging bullets to get the good story); Youth Ministry for a day- (Saving souls, y'all! What more important work is there? I would be the best at it... but also incredibly humble, of course...); Psychology for a day- (new treatments, saving people from the dark recesses of mental illness, seeing break through after breakthrough); oh, yeah and education... (the person who is every child's most influential voice- who inspires, challenges, and changes lives.) From this list, you can see I have a bit of a savior complex... how many of these are about saving the world, changing the world, saving lives?

I think that's where a lot of teens are when they envision their futures. And that's all fine... we should dream... we should envision ourselves adding positivity to this planet, changing lives, helping people, challenging each other, and adding goodness not hostility to our daily lives. But, somewhere in the middle of all of that, I followed a nudge and ended up in Art Education. Now, for someone who also wants to be respected for their intelligence and wisdom in their career, art education is not exactly the most respected field. In many schools the arts are the first thing cut, the first thing to go by the wayside in honor of testing, math, etc. But with that savior complex, comes intense passion. I am intensely passionate about the value of art education... I know that I'm doing more than just teaching kids about color mixing, tone, value, composition and art history. I'm teaching them to express themselves in a healthy way (hello, psychology), to connect with their inner creator thus tying themselves tighter to the Great Creator (hello, youth ministry), to communicate with each other about important social and global issues affecting our visual world (hello, communications) and of course, keeping an eye out for the physical, social, and emotional health and well-being of 1000 kids a week (hello, Doctors Without Borders).

So, in essence, I am LIVING THE DREAM, baby! But, in another life- a life that could have gone in a different direction- fulfilling my childhood fantasies, I would have been on Broadway. Yep, my name in lights...


and I think that is more than fine...

So, in another life, where would you be? Not at the expense or loss of your current life. We all know and understand how wonderful our kids are, our jobs are, our lives are... but, if you were to dream big, baby.... where would you be? What big, wild, irrational things would you be doing?

Dream big, ladies... I'd love to hear that I'm not alone in my teenaged (and sometime adult) wild hopes for my life!

Love to you, ladies.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The moment she stole my heart...

I remember that morning so clearly... so dreamily. If I were to paint a picture of it, the edges would be blurred, the lighting would be soft, the colors muted and quiet. The house was sleeping- but we were not.

It was early, early Sunday morning, over 24 hours after I brought my sweet baby girl home from the hospital. She was tiny and wriggly. He legs always bunched up like a frog. She wasn't eating well, was choking a lot, I didn't know why at the time. I was tired and clueless- oh so clueless.

When I gave birth to Gemma, I was exhausted. Not, "hey, I just gave birth exhausted" but "I haven't slept in two days, just worked out hardcore for 11 hours, and why the heck did I let them give me a sleeping med" exhausted. I remember thinking as they put her on my chest that this was supposed to be some breathtaking supernatural moment. I remember feeling like something was wrong with me because this little wrinkly, screaming, smushed-nose, purple thing felt more like a stranger to me than the resident who helped deliver her.

I know I said all the right things, I even tried to muster a tear- I felt like I should- but none came. I know I kissed Abe; I know I said hello to Gemma and told her I was her mama; I know I thanked God. I know that I wanted to nurse her right away but I didn't- I held her right away but let them weigh her and clean her up pretty quickly. I always thought the earth would slow and it would be just me and her in this dreamy moment and I would fight anyone tooth and nail if they tried to take her from me. I kept waiting for that cosmic, earth shattering moment when you see that baby and know your heart will burst a million times over if it could. And, it didn't come. Sure, I thought she was precious and I knew on a logical level that I loved her but no supernatural moment.

We took her home and I sat in the backseat with her, because that's what moms do. Not because I couldn't leave her side but because I thought I wasn't supposed to. She was tiny and helpless and not eating well, crying a lot, not sleeping, and unhappy. I thought she was just fussy- that I was doing something wrong... that I'd feel that magic soon.

I left her the next morning to go to Target. My mom came over- she was Gemma's first babysitter. Abe and I went to Target, bought a video monitor and some more diapers and then came home. It wasn't hard for me to leave her. Is that horrifying? I don't mean to imply that I didn't love her but it wasn't that fierce mama bear love that I expected. I read that some moms don't bond with their baby right away. Was I one of those?

I took her home feeling completely responsible and utterly incapable.

That Sunday morning, October 10th, 2010, I fell in love. I laid her down on the changing table for the first diaper change of the day and then it hit me. Like a cement wall, like a tidal wave, like a ton of bricks, like a semi-truck going a thousand miles an hour... like that cartoon anvil on my chest. It hit me.

Like a gentle warming in my soul, like an ache that was ecstasy and agony all in one, like a shattering and simultaneous rebuilding of my heart. That supernatural mama love hit me. I said out loud over my wriggly little newborn, "There it is."

That moment, I looked down into the face of my daughter and she broke my heart. I never thought I could love anyone or anything as much as I love her. At that moment, that cosmic, life altering, mind-bending, heart breaking, beautiful, reckless, relentlessly tender love of a mama for her baby, hit me. It was supernatural, cosmic and unexplainable. In all reality, I'd known her 3 days. If she were an adult, she'd still be at the acquaintance stage but no, not here.... on this changing table, on this day, she became my flesh. She became my soul. She became my song. She became mine. I had snuggled her and told her I loved her. I had held her and cuddled her but oh, as my tears fell over her little half-naked body, I pledged my love to her anew. I breathed over her, "Oh, I love you, sweet Gemma. Do you know how much I love you? Do you know?"

I felt like my heart had shattered into a trillion pieces and I felt like it had swollen with more love than I knew it could hold. I saw her fingertips in a new way- the tiny fingernails... I saw her little pouty mouth and felt her sweet breath on my forehead as I kissed her little chest. I wept over her, pledged my life and love to her, and tenderly changed her. Then, I cradled her tiny body in my arms a changed woman. She was weightier then... she had stolen my heart.

If we are made in the image of God, if we are indeed His children, if He indeed feels this way about us (all of which I believe) what WONDROUS love is this!? What amazing, earth shattering love we are the recipients of. And, what a gift that He gives mamas a special taste of this supernatural, unbelievable, indescribable, heart breaking, life giving, perfectly possessive love for their children.

Before that morning, I was a mom... a mother. At that moment in the hazy morning light, surrounded by blurred and softened colors, in the eyes of my daughter, in the tiny grasp of her finger, in the innocent trust of her heart, I, Sarah, became a mama. And I haven't been the same since. She broke my heart, rebuilt it and now continues to shatter it with love on a daily basis.

So, when did you become a mama? Not, when did you give birth but when did you BECOME a mama? Were you one of those lucky ladies who was blown away the moment she met her baby? Were you a mama the moment you found out you were pregnant? The moment you found out you would not raise your child here on earth? Was it the moment your baby nursed for the first time, the moment you held his/her hand? Or were you like me, and it hit you later?

There's no wrong answer with this obviously, but I long to know your hearts. I really want to hear that special story- that moment that changed you forever; that moment a tiny little soul made you a mama.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

we made it...

Just a few pics of Gemma's party this weekend. She won't be officially one until the sixth. We had family over (about 35 family members) to our little house and celebrated the first year of our girl's life. I have a great question for later... well, I think it's a great question so keep checkin'.

Love to you all!