August 05, 2018

Jesus was in my mom group.

One of the greatest joys of 2017 was the mom group I joined.

I was added to the Facebook group in the fall of 2016 while I was still pregnant with Molly by a casual friend from church. Molly was due in February and the group was for mothers in the city due in March or April. I was due in February, but the group was small and in its early stages then, so they pushed the date back to include February. 

The group wasn't super active in the early days, or maybe I just wasn't very attentive to it. This was my second pregnancy and I had a decent grasp on what was going on. The group tried to get together once or twice in late 2016, but I wasn't very interested. Some of the parents had other children, but most of them were a bit older than Parker and our weekends were kind of our family time anyway. I commented on the page once in a while, but most of the people were total strangers to me, and I had enough going on at home to not really feel the need to get involved.

By the time Molly was born in January, making her the old lady of the group, I was committed enough to the group to not feel the need to leave and find a local January group. The next baby was born  in February, then the momentum grew and, by the end of April, there were over 50 us in the group. 

Once the baby boom was well underway the play dates started. When you have a newborn, a playdate is an excuse for a mom to get together with other moms. Playing is optional, particularly because newborns are glorified paper weights, and it's more about the desperate need for social interaction. Moms with other kids would bring them and they'd play while the moms and babies sat around and visited. 

When Parker was a baby we went to a weekly group at the Y. It was lovely, a huge sanity saver, and how I met other moms. It wasn't something I could attend with toddler Parker and baby Molly, though. Enter the mom group.

My maternity leaves were so different from each other. With Parker, I loved the downtime we had, and how easy it was to stay home and do our own thing. I loved our weekly visit to the Y, but didn't feel the need to do much more. With Molly, I needed to do far more to fill the time because it wasn't just me and a sweet little newborn anymore. I had a toddler to entertain as well. Parker's not a high needs kid, but being home with toddler Parker all day was very different than being home with baby Parker.

I hosted my first play date in April. I've always enjoyed hosting, and I found it so much easier to stay home with the kids than take them to someone else's house, a community centre or a park. Parks in Regina in April weren't exactly the nicest places to go anyway. 

I took the plunge and invited the group of (mostly) strangers to my house to come hang out. Many of the moms had not met each other in person before, and only one of them actually knew me. My living room was covered in bucket seats, moms, and babies. I loved it.

I love hosting. It can be draining depending on the occasion, but hosting those moms and their kids in my home felt like my calling. Whereas I had spent my year with Parker selfishly hoarding my time to myself, I suddenly loved having my mornings with those women. 

It started off slow, because I didn't want to make it weird. I hated getting my kids out of the house, so I assumed other people would, too. I later learned I'm a bit of an anomaly. It was so much easier to make sure the Keurig was on and put muffins in the oven than to wrestle my kids in clothes and car seats. Eventually it picked up speed and, instead of waiting for someone to suggest a play date and waiting to offer to host if no one else did, I just started making invitations to the group and whoever showed up was welcome.

Our group was amazing. I sometimes had people over once or twice a week. Sometimes someone else would host. Regardless the location, I saw them almost every week. There were around 20 active members in the group that I met at various play dates around the city. 

I have always felt incredibly insecure about myself. Growing up, I never thought people liked me. I struggled with bitterness for years. So many years. It wasn't until Molly was a baby that that bitterness finally started to seep away and my tendency to be judgemental started to wane. I started actively loving people and accepting them for who they were. 

We were a mixed group, coming from all sorts of different backgrounds, but being around that group changed how I approached the world.

There is no room for judgement in a group like that. Everyone was so different but fighting for the same goal (keep the little children alive and well) that it was hard not to feel united. I'm not saying I haven't struggled to come to terms with some of my friends' choices, but I could love them through it. Instead of feeling the need to snark about them behind their backs I chose not to. I let it slide. I focused on loving them instead.

If this is making me sound holier than thou, bear with me. I didn't always succeed. Sometimes, but surprisingly infrequently with my judgy track record, I did think nasty things. But more often that not I tried to just love them where they were at and be honest. 

I didn't have the great time with that group of moms because of myself. That was Jesus. 100%. 

There is no way that I, as an anxious train wreck of a person with two kids that weren't the picnic I'd been hoping for, could have hosted such a successful run of play dates without Jesus. He was 100% there for it all. I have no doubt in my mind.

He ran the Keurig. He baked the muffins. He sat on the floor and wiped the collective spit up of half a dozen babies off the carpet. He made sure there was no room for judgement and shame and insecurity and He wrapped those play dates up in so much love.

People seemed to genuinely enjoy coming to my house. They'd not so subtly suggest that I should host again. I couldn't believe it.

I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that those play dates were my job while I was home with my kids. It didn't feel like work. It was so easy it almost felt selfish. No one cared that my floors weren't clean or that I'd just wiped the bathroom counter off with a baby wipe right before they came over. They were there for the friends and community and muffins.

Our house wasn't huge, but it was the perfect size for those play dates. Some days there were 23 people including moms and kids in my living room or basement. It was cozy.

All my insecurities were thrown against the wall when we announced that we were moving back to Victoria. I couldn't believe the love that flowed out from people that had been total strangers nine months earlier. When we moved from Victoria to Regina, leaving lifelong friends, I didn't feel the amount of love I did leaving that mom group. I hadn't realized how much people valued those play dates, either.

Something happens when Jesus gets involved and takes the reins. I didn't used to feel likeable, but suddenly I was. I had helped cultivate something special without even meaning to. I took that awkward step out there of inviting strangers into my home, and in the process met some very dear friends, grew up (finally), and Jesus took over the rest. And it was surprising and it was good.

June 30, 2018

More party, less business.

- I promise to no longer use a certain Bon Jovi song no matter how relevant it feels in my post titles. I'm sorry. I overdid it. I will try better to be better. Thank you for your forgiveness and understanding as I work through this character flaw.

- I hate walking down hallways at work. When you're walking down a hallway and someone is coming towards you, where are you supposed to look? At your feet? At the wall? The ceiling? Directly into the person's eyes and, by extension, their soul? If it's a colleague you know, what is the reasonable distance to acknowledge them? When you first see them at the end of the hall? When they're close enough to touch? As you're passing them do you go for the high five?

I think, for the sake of lessening the mental load, all work spaces should be rejigged to no longer include hallways and simply have more corners and walls instead.

- Molly is getting a mouthful of teeth and woke up shortly after 5 a.m. twice this week. Never, ever has one of my children been up for the day at 5 a.m. before and she did it twice in a row. Because she loves me.

- I wore my hair in a half bun half down the other day and got a bunch of compliments on it at work. I'm not even sure I like that hairstyle because it's basically the millennial's version of a mullet. Even though I'm on the fence about it, I'm trying to let go of the full mom bun (too much business, not enough party) but am too scattered to do my hair every day when it's down, so I'll just get my validation from others and the style grow on me.

- I started watching The Let Down on Netflix. It's an Australian comedy about a new mom and her life with a baby. I was really excited about it but had to stop watching halfway through the second episode. It was too painfully accurate about some of the hard things of motherhood.

- I started watching season two of Santa Clarita Diet instead. I remember enjoying the first season of it but I watched it when Molly was in the hospital at a couple weeks old so it's all a bit of a blur.

I am loving season two. I don't remember season one being this good. Nathan Fillion only adds to the brilliance.

- We looked at a house yesterday that had vinyl plank flooring and it blew my mind how nice it looked. I'm curious if it actually lives up to the hype. Anyone know?

- The house hunt is still slowly going along, but we've officially looked at two houses with our realtor, been to one open house, and driven by two others. That's like a 500% increase in the last eight days. I'll take it.

- Skinny jeans have their place, but I bought a pair of Gap "sexy boyfriend jeans" from Value Village the other day. For $10 they're like the sweatpants of jeans that I can wear to work on Fridays. The only thing I don't like about them is that I think"sexy" in this case means that they don't go to my belly button, so I think I might need to get a belt or something.

When I was in high school I used to cut the waistbands off my VV pants and move the belt loops down to make my own low rise jeans. Now I'm wishing I could do the opposite. They call them mom jeans for a reason. My hips were not only made for birthing children, they were made to hold my pants up. Motherhood humbles you.

- It's Canada Day tomorrow. I haven't gone to the fireworks in years, but Karl and I are going to go with a friend and I feel like I'm 17 again. Ask me how I feel at 6 o'clock Monday morning when Molly wakes up. That's a problem 17 year old Anna certainly never had to deal with. Does anyone else remember when waking up at 9 felt early on a day off?

June 24, 2018

Living on a prayer.

Hi.

I am not crying over boiled potatoes anymore. Today. As much. The potatoes were edible, for the record, but I'm not sure I would go through the process again.

I am feeling so much more grounded and in routine than I was a month and a half ago. We can throw lunches together in less than half an hour now. We all have clothes that are fit and are seasonally appropriate. I took two naps this weekend. Things have improved greatly.

This season of life still ranks fairly high on the crappy scale, but we're getting there. My job is okay, Karl's job is okay, the kids do well at daycare, and we found a church to call home.

We also got approved for a mortgage earlier than expected, so house hunting has officially begun. It is the slowest, least eventful hunt in existence, but it's a thing. If it were a TV show, no one would watch it. Not even our moms.

Part of the reason that the hunt is so slow is that, while we are looking at houses that cost at least double what our last house cost (this is not an exaggeration), they are not as nice and there aren't a lot of them out there that fit our needs. Everything up until this point fell into place so quickly that I can only keep relying on God and trust that the right house in the right neighbourhood for the right price will come up at the right time.

On that note, I don't think I ever explained on here how quickly and easily everything came together for us these last few months.

We sold our house for a price we were happy with in 6 days in a buyer's market where the average house sells in 64.

Where I was struggling to find appropriate work in Regina, Karl and I both had jobs lines up when we moved to Victoria. He had three offers, and I had multiple interviews and was still receiving interview requests a few weeks after I started my job.

We found childcare. In a centre. For both kids. In an area that isn't too far out of the way. It's painfully expensive but they had room for our kids to start right away. Childcare here is next to impossible to get, particularly in a centre, for siblings, and especially infants. All of those things on their own are huge challenges and, somehow, we got in. People are on waitlists before their kids are even born. It took us less than 45 days. I contacted over 60 places and have the colour coded spreadsheet to prove it.

We got approved for a mortgage a few weeks ago. I've been at my job for two months. I have a six month probation period and, due to the nature of Karl's work, one mortgage broker told us it could be two years before we got approved.

God provided.

I have an opportunity coming up this week that I have been waiting on for over two years. Had it come four months ago, I would have said yes in a heartbeat. Now, though, it looks like I'll likely have to turn it down. This is really hard.

We're going through some things with Molly that we didn't with Parker and, while I've been mostly okay with it in the past, it's starting to get to me. It's hard.

Parker and I have been struggling lately, too. I'm not his favourite person (he's obsessed with my mom) and I'm okay with that. He's little, he's allowed to go through phazes and have preferences. Today Parker and I had a big fight (don't judge me, I parented and he pushed back) and it was really really difficult. In the end, though, it had the sweetest resolution. Parenting can be awful and hard and so unrewarding, but today it paid off.

I know sporadic, kind of downer updates like this aren't why people like reading blogs. Believe it or not, I started out with the intention of talking about a show on Netflix that destroyed me. Then I realized that I needed to give a proper update.

I'm doing okay. We're doing okay. It feels like we have a lot going on and pretty much nothing at the same time. I know that's weird. My mom's out of town tonight and Karl and I joked about having a party with all our friends over. Then we laughed and laughed and did housework instead.

I'll be back. I promise. I've got one more serious post rolling around in my head, but I also have a burning desire to share with you the inane and interesting thoughts going on in my head.

You guys, we're halfway to Christmas. We're halfway there. This year of chaos is halfway there.