Thursday, December 20, 2012

Things I wish people told us about babies

Our friends Ivan and Sherri just had a baby (so happy!). And Ivan was the one who suggested the title for this post.

Because I didn't think I would write a post like this.

Within the first year of motherhood, my sentiments about people's (kind and well-meaning) advice were more along the lines of "things I wish people would not tell us about babies." Some were helpful, some were not, and others sent me into bouts of worries, guilt, and despair.

This is not a list of advice. These are just some things Emeth and Hanan have been teaching me.

1. Every baby is different.
True, we've only taken care of two babies. Yet, they are so different.

Other people do not know your child. Writers of books and articles do not know your child. Doctors and nurses and lactation consultants do not know your child. They do not know how your body feels or how your family functions. You do.

So, glean with caution. Glean from their years of expertise and knowledge, be grateful that they are available to help, but do not allow their opinions to rule your lives.

2. Every baby comes broken
3. into the arms of broken parents.
Emeth was not a compliant baby and he was very high maintenance. The first few weeks of his life were dark and happy and confusing. Now that he is four, his "difficult traits" are blossoming into his love to be around people and his intense need to understand his surrounding. But we had no way of knowing at the time.

He was a difficult baby. And I was constantly overwhelmed with guilt. I remember crying to Hans, convinced that I broke Emeth. Hans wisely and lovingly told me that Emeth was already broken. He was broken the moment he was conceived. Only the Lord, in his goodness and mercy, can save him — as he first saved us.

4. I have nothing to prove.
Still learning this one. Should have lived by this before becoming a mom. Better late than never, right?

5. The concept of time will never be the same again. Ever.
Me-time, us-time, work-time, play-time, sleep-time, shower-time — all comes crashing into one overwhelming blob.

Time is no longer linear, no longer compartmentalized, no longer predictable. The rhythm of life changes all together. And that's normal. Learn the new song. And don't try to sing the old tune to the new beat.

Nowadays, my time management mantra goes something like this: Stop chasing after what I would like to do. Learn to love what must be done. Repeat.

6. Hold principles firmly, hold methods loosely.
Principles are things that we must do as parents. Love your children. Rejoice in the Lord. Be kind. Be patient. Be faithful. Be gentle. Train up your child in the way of wisdom. These are non-negotiable.

Methods are the many ways, the different tools, we use to carry out our principles. I was so caught up in finding all the best methods in the beginning (oh you know, epidural or not, breastfeeding or not, co-sleeping or not, scheduled or demand-feeding, and all those baby gears!). I am not saying all methods are created equal, but I am saying that we need to hold our methods loosely. Don't get too invested in them. Because, at the end of the day, God has given you to your child. No matter which method you use, you are there. You are the best method. God has chosen you for your baby, and your baby for you.

That said, there was one method I held on for dear life when the babies were little. Baby-wearing. It's awesome, if your baby enjoys that sort of thing. Women (and men, I suppose) of ages past knew what they were doing. When Hans wore our babies, other moms commented on how he secure he must have been of his manhood.
7. Hold your baby. A lot.
Because they tend to wiggle more as they get older.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In the unquiet darkness

The hay in the manger was still warm when war horses charged into Bethlehem. The cows and the donkeys knew the boy they came to destroy. His secret was safe with them.

Blood and tears covered the stony ground of Bethlehem. In the unquiet darkness, Herod commanded the slaughter of all the little boys ages two and under.

Fathers fought for their sons in the battle of their lives. Beaten to dust. For years to come, mothers still rose in the night to nurse their infants, only to find their cribs empty. A deafening silence.

Not too far away, Mary and Joseph fled with haste holding the newly born Messiah, wrapped in rags.

Behold your King,
to our weakness he is no stranger.


For years, I have enjoyed John Piper's narrative poems. The Innkeeper is among my favorites. Happy Advent, dear friends. May your waiting this week be full and joyous.

The Innkeeper from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My crooked belly, my crooked heart

I love Avis. She's like a big sister to me. She is also an awesome physical therapist. I had a severe backache when I was pregnant with Hanan. She made it go away. It was magical.

Recently, the pregnancy backache came back. Avis took one glance at me and knew right away that I was in pain. More importantly, she knew why I was in pain. "Of course your back is aching," she said, "you are carrying the baby on your right side." I have learned not to doubt her. But still, I asked: "How do you know that?!" She answered, "Because it is so obvious. Go home, look in the mirror, and you will see that your belly button is to the right side of your tummy."

Sure enough, she was right.

My belly is crooked, people!

How was it that I look at myself in the mirror everyday and not see that my entire torso was lopsided?! Like Avis said, it was so obvious.

I am that person in James 1 who looks at herself in the mirror and yet I do not understand what I see. And I forget what I look like the moment I walk away.

At our church, there are two bathrooms. The smaller bathroom has a mirror that made people look thinner. The bigger bathroom has a mirror that made people look fatter. Guess which bathroom I like to use?

We choose to see what we want to see.

We want to see ourselves in the best light. We want to look thinner or taller or more in shape. We want to look symmetrical. Belly buttons should be in the center (is this too much to ask?!). We want to see ourselves as good people, who commit very few wrongs. And when we are wrong, there must be good reasons (a.k.a. excuses) for our mistakes.

Hans preached on Psalm 33 two Sundays ago. He concluded with a point that went straight to my heart: the upright and the righteous are not those who do not sin. Rather, the upright and righteous are people who see themselves as they truly are — sinners who cannot save themselves. Therefore, they hope in the steadfast love of the Lord.

The object of their their hope defines them: What are you beholding?

Scripture is like a mirror. It reveals our true selves. It reflects our crooked hearts. We do not love God with our hearts, minds, and strength. We do not love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We cannot do or be better tomorrow, because we are crooked and twisted to the core. When I attempt to destroy my idols, I only make new ones.

So we pray as David prayed,
Lord, create in us clean hearts.

A bold request. We ask for nothing short of a miracle. To ask God to do in us what he did in the beginning — to create something out of nothing. We ask our Lord to do this, not because we deserve anything, but because of his steadfast love.

In your mercy,
oh Lord, remove the scales from our eyes.
Help us to see our crooked ways,
twisted and deformed.
Create in us clean hearts,
that we may trust in your steadfast love.