Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Not-Shiny Life

I am, of course, the kind of tired that feels the ever-present pull of gravity deep in my belly. My legs ache to lay down, my eyes long to shut. Thus goes life with a newborn. I knew it would, as I vaguely remember this exhaustion from early days and nights with my other two babies. Yet, somehow, this kind of tired begs forgetting, and I am surprised anew by weariness. I carry Isaiah in my arms and try to recall how to do things one-handed: make toast, brew coffee, brush my teeth, type an email, vacuum the floor. I fumble through most of it, clumsy and anxiously avoiding thoughts of dropping the baby, images dancing never far from the edges of my mind.
The things I discover about God are deep in this place; or perhaps not deep but instinctual. Without the brain capacity for profound thought, I finally devote myself to single-minded purpose: caring for Isaiah, and doing my best to meet his needs without completely neglecting my own. I set aside my high hopes for writing, or figuring out what I want to do with my life. I try to journal one-handed while I nurse, and instead close my eyes and pray. But mostly my prayer consists of a quieting of my mind, a stillness found in matching my breath to his tiny gulps. I breathe in baby scent and rock gentle under soft evening light filtered through bamboo blinds.

Slowly, finally, I feel pressure lift from my shoulders one brick at a time. Released from obligations, I slip away from the crowd time and again to nurse and rock in a quiet nursery. I stop telling myself all the things I should do, and focus instead on what I can do.

I stay off Pinterest, and unfollow anyone on Instagram who makes me feel anxiety about myself. Life as a mom today, even compared to when Jayci was a baby seven years ago (sob), presents vast opportunities for comparison, for piling on weighty bricks of false expectations. Suddenly I recognize social media not just for the foolishness it can be, but for all the dangerous ways it can present a shiny perfect life that makes all us not-shiny feel the weight of shame.

Not enough the enemy whispers, as he always has. But now he has megaphones, and his whisper can feel a whole lot like a shout when I notice the pretty meal she made. Or the cute outfit she threw together with her perfectly curled hair #nofilter. How much weight she lost. How many miles she ran dear MyFitnessTracker, please stop notifying me of how much exercise everyone else does. How well her kids play together. How clean her house is. On and on and on my feed scrolls. This isn't my first rodeo, and still I doubt my methods, stacking myself up against everything I read and see. I can't help but wonder about how desperately crushing this weight would have felt my first time around. Through the thick velvet fog of hormones and sleeplessness, to discover that other moms were in fact changing out of their pajamas occasionally, at least long enough to post a picture.

So in solidarity I admit that yes, we got out of the house today (without showers or makeup). I wrapped Isaiah cozy in my SollyWrap, only to have him spit up all down my front. Determined to visit the new library down the street, I soldier on, ignoring the sweet smell of sour baby-barf, and wipe it off with a dirty t-shirt I found on the floor of my car.

Because these days don't have to be perfect to be beautiful. Gummy grins, spit up shirts, Caden whispering "I love you Isaiah" without crushing him in a hug. Dates to Barnes and Noble where Jayci and I read side by side, sipping chocolate milk and pumpkin spice lattes respectively. The tiny pieces that together make up the whole of a life. All the ways that small acts of beauty and kindness and justice are still acts of beauty and kindness and justice. And so we keep doing them, one small act at a time, until we have built something bigger (or smaller) than we imagined. A life that means something in the quiet of the night just as surely as it does when I post on Facebook.

(this is day 3 of 31 days of Finding the Pretty in the Gritty


  1. You're such a gifted writer, Becca. For reals. Reading this post made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside (and also a lot better about the fact that I can't remember the day of my last shower). I've gotten to where I can't really handle Pinterest anymore. It's great and useful for certain needs, but idly scrolling through it just doesn't do my heart any good these days.

    1. Somehow I never saw this! What a sweet comment my sweet friend! Also, I totally don't love Pinterest anymore!! lame.


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