Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year in Love

I cannot believe it has been a whole year since my precious baby boy was born! There are no words to express the great joy and true love this little person has brought into my life. Since I was a young girl, I have wanted to be a Mom and had great expectations of what it would be like, but the past year has far exceeded any and all expectations. Of course, there have been hard moments--sleepless nights, typical Mom worrying, stress over illness and sleep schedules--but I knew those things were part of the deal. What I didn't expect was the undeniable, unbreakable, stronger-than-steel bond that I would have with my little guy. After "loving" so many children throughout my life (nieces and nephews, children I nanny for), I was not prepared for the infinitely greater love that God grants to parents for their own children.

From the moment Augustine was born, at 5:03 pm one year ago, everything I knew about being a parent changed.

God granted me a new capacity to love.
He gave me opportunities to be selfless.

And He showed me, in a way not experienced before, the joy that one can feel in suffering for the those you Love.

Growing up, and still to this day, my Dad has often said to me, "I love you more than you will ever know!" I know my Dad loves me a lot, so I never really understood what he meant until I became a parent myself--but he is right, that type of love is just too deep and boundless to express.

Being a Mom may seem like a common and ordinary thing, but I feel ever humbled by, grateful for, and unworthy of such an incredible role. How can I ever cease to marvel over a tiny person who is half my husband, half myself, made in God's image and likeness, and willed into existence by God himself? I contend that I cannot, and I thank God each day for the blessing of my child.

And now, for you, my child:

Dearest Augustine,

I love you with every fiber of my being. You bring so much joy and wonder and love to my life and to our little family. You are so sweet and gentle. You have always been very cuddly, and breastfeeding you is so special to me. I love being able to hold you close and comfort you when you are hungry or tired or upset or hurt. You have a great smile that makes others smile, too. I love your laugh when I bite your elbows, knees, and ribs, I love the high pitched noise you make when we wrestle together, I love your fake cry when you want me to pick you up (you're so smart!), I love the way you gently play with my hair while you nurse, I love when you reach out for me no matter who is holding you, I love when you stand up while you are taking a bath and pee (it's just too cute), I love when your little hand finds mine and holds on, I love how you smile for the camera, I love your itty bitty legs and your perfect button nose, I love how you feed me and Dad (even Cheerios that have already been in your mouth), I love waking up each morning to say good morning to you, and, even if it's every few hours, I love rocking you and nursing you in the quiet and still of the night. I love hearing you say "Mama." I love how you wrap your arms around my neck and hold on tight for a hug and I love your wet kisses. You are precious.

I will try my hardeset to live a life worthy of my calling as your (blessed) Mom. I will remember that the best thing I can do for you is to LOVE you.

Happy First Birthday, my love! I love you more than you will ever know!


Your Mama

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

...or is he??

In the past (and certainly growing up), I loved the big man in the red suit. But now that I am a parent, I am really starting to see Santa Clause in a different light. You see, for the life of me, I can not figure out what he has to do with Christmas--with the birth of our Lord and Savior. It is not really Santa's gft giving that is the concern for me, as gift giving is an appropriate birthday gesture, and we are celebrating a birthday--the Lord's birthday, I know, but I can't think of a better reason than that to celebrate...and exchanging presents is an acceptable part of that (don't you think so?).

BUT, you will have to explain to me where the notion of a jolly, cherub looking, totally commercialized old man flying through the night sky led by a team of reindeer and miraculously slinking down the chimney of every little boy and girl's house to deliver mounds of gifts without ever mentioning the name of Jesus (or his birthday) came from...

Yeah, I couldn't do it either (...and the case for the Easter Bunny is even worse!).

Therein lies my dilemma: How do I welcome Santa Clause as a part of our family's Christmas tradition when I think he is a load of bull?? (A fun load of bull, albeit).

He's totally watching me...

(I realize there is a vague connection between Santa Clause and Saint Nicholas that has been severaly distorted over the years, but Saint Nicholas has his very own feast day on December 6th, which seems to be a more fitting day to honor him).

Thankfully, I have at least another before Augustine will know the difference either way, but for now I feel inclined to just do away with Santa all together...

. . . i s t h a t c r u e l ?

I admit, it seems completely counter-cultural (and almost mean) to squash the "magic" of Christmas right from the get go...but in this day and age, our culture's attitude toward Christmas could use a little countering, and I do hope Augustine will find the "magic" of Christmas in the story of Jesus' birth.

I can hear you laughing.

Ok, so maybe that is a lot to expect from a young child surrounded by images of Santa, reindeer, and elves every which way he looks...but I at least want to give him a half chance at focusing on Jesus, even if his favorite part of the day is







At least he will know the day is about Jesus' birthday...and not about a manipulative, three month bribing saga between him and a chubby, magical man in a red suit. Right?? (I am sure I will be eating my words about two years from now when all I want to do is threaten little Augustine that Santa won't come if he is not a good little boy...).

And yes (before you think I am the most mean Mom of all), Augustine will receive gifts on Christmas either way. As I mentioned earlier, I think Jesus' birthday is a fine time to exercise generosity and charity, as we present those we love (and perhaps a few we don't even know) with some special gifts. Though some of my extended family members do wait until Epiphany on January 6th to exchange gifts, as that is when the Wise Men came bearing gifts for Jesus. Such a practice would not be practical for us at this time, given that we don't live close enough to family to see them on January 6th, but it's not such a shabby idea.

BUT I don't plan on making it a secret that none of his gifts--whether wrapped under the tree, left unwrapped near the mantle on Christmas Eve (like Santa did at my house growing up...and I LOVED it), or hidden in his stocking--are from Santa. Why can't they just be from Luke and myself? Please tell me I am not heartless.

If we really do decide to give Santa the boot, we will not raise a home wrecker who goes around the kindergarten class telling all the children that they are silly and illogical for believing in Santa, but neither will we spend the entire fall convincing Augustine that there is an elf around every corner watching him and reporting back to Santa about his behavior.

Ahhhhh, thank you for listening to my cathartic ramblings (really, this is getting a lot off my chest)...

So, now I need to know what you all think:

What are your Christmas gift-giving traditions? What meaning do they hold for you? For those who are raising Santa lovers, is it just the most awesome thing ever to see their faces on Christmas morning? Would they be totally let down if then knew the gifts were from you (be honest with me)? How do you keep the true meaning of Christmas alive? Am I worrying for nothing--is Santa harmless?? Help! I only have a few more years to get this all figured out :)

P.S. I am not a Scrooge. Christmas is my favorite holiday, I listen to Christmas music as soon as socially acceptable, and my all-time favorite movie is Elf. In all honesty, there is great chance that at this time next year, I will be blogging about taking Augustine to the mall to sit on Santa's lap...

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Hair this long...

is a thing of my past!
That's right--I chopped my hair off! I know, all you disbelievers out there want proof! After all, I always talk about getting my hair cut short and then chicken out. But, not this time! As of the big cut on December 14th, my hair is shorter than it has been since it grew in at this length when I was, oh, about three years old! (Except for maybe that one bad haircut when I was 14...I don't remember exactly how short it was, but I do know I cried).

Luke was really supportive and encouraging, which is probably why I finally went through with it. The stylist got out her ruler (no joke), measured off 10 inches, put my hair in two little ponytails, and SNIP, SNIP!

Then there was no turning back!

I wasn't exactly planning on getting ten inches cut off when I walked into the salon, but once I decided to go through with it, the stylist helped me donate my hair to Locks of Love.

So, what's the verdict?

I like it,

but I don't LOVE it yet will take a little getting used to.

But I do really like how healthy it feels! And I like that it is a big change for me.

And mostly, I love that it is still long enough for Augustine to play with while he nurses--he loves that.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Saint Nicholas Day

A few things...

1) Having a child has made me deeply ponder things I never gave second thought to in the past (e.g. What does Santa really have to do with Christmas?? More--a lot more--on that in a separate post).

2) Having a child has also changed my perspective on many things (e.g. Santa Clause is lame. Christmas is about Christ. ...Are you picking up on a trend??).

3) And having a child has reminded me to try to see things through the eyes of children--I am struggling with this one right now (e.g. Santa is magical and fun! Presents are awesome! Ok, so maybe Augustine isn't thinking those things yet, but give him a year or two...).

To be honest, it has been a little overwhelming. As we approach Augustine's first Christmas, I am torn about what I want to expose him to and what role I want various family and cultural traditions to play in our celebration of Christmas.

But one day I knew I didn't want Augustine to miss out on during his first Advent was Saint Nicholas Day. Celebrated on December 6th, the Feast of Saint Nicholas is a great day to acknowledge Saint Nicholas' generosity and charity without getting caught up in his commercialized derivative, better known as Santa Clause.

Augustine dressed up as Saint Nick (not to be confused with Santa--wink, wink) to celebrate his feast day.

Luke and I decided to start a Saint Nicholas tradition in which we would buy Augustine (and, God-willing, his brothers and sisters some day) a pair of wintry pajamas and a Christmas book each year on December 6th. We don't plan on suggesting to our kids that the gifts magically appeared, as though delivered from a saint who has been dead since the year 346 (though I have no doubt it could happen that way if God willed it :)), but our little ones can look forward to waking up to a few small gifts from us in remembrance of a man who is, fittingly, the patron of children.

Anyway, we had a fun time with it for our first year. Luke and I went to Barnes and Noble together and picked out an age-appropriate Christmas book for Augustine. We figure as he gets older, the books will become longer, more in-depth, etc, and by the time he is a teenager we should have quite the collection of Christmas stories to bring out every year at the beginning of Advent! We will also have a whole lot of winter pajamas!!

Augustine may not understand the concept of celebrating a feast day yet, but he does enjoy reading his book with us, and he looks cute as can be in his new jammies. More importantly, we are creating Advent traditions that will stay with our family--and may even be passed on to our Grandchildren--for years to come! That is pretty fun.

Happy Saint Nick Day!