Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Joy to come

Not sleeping much is hard on the body. It's even harder on the mind.

Every night as I climb into bed, I have a moment of insanity where I allow myself to think, "What if tonight's the night? What if, by some crazy chance, he just miraculously starts sleeping through the night? I'll fall asleep now, la la la, and when I awaken, I'll stretch and yawn and say, My that felt good! And I'll look at the clock and - whatdya know?! - it will be 7am."

I think that same exact thought every single night. Sometimes I say it out loud to Adam and he'll laugh and say, "Yep. That'd be awesome."

And, every single night, I hear him cry within 30 minutes of that thought. I sigh, my wish dashed to pieces. And then I hear him cry again a few hours later. And again a few hours after that.
"Nope," I think. "Didn't happen tonight....oh well, what else can I do but just keep pushing forward?" So I groggily get out of bed and take care of my far-too-happy-for-morning baby, his gummy, open smile just daring me not to smile back at him. I always do, and, for the moment, my tiredness is forgotten. If I can, I'll take a morning nap with him. If not, I just zombie my way through the day, until night comes again.

Just like I thought my body would be completely healed by 6 weeks, I thought I'd be sleeping by 6 months. Neither of them happened, and the only solution I've found is time.

I was talking to someone else in a similar situation with their baby. She said something along the lines of: "It's like morning sickness all over again. I'm just waiting for it to pass. I wish I was enjoying this time more but it's hard."

She's right; it is really hard. Every age and stage comes with it's own joys and challenges, and it doesn't really get easier (well, it does get easier than the first 4 weeks with a newborn. Nothing is quite like that) but it just gets different.

Awhile ago, a friend shared this article with me. It's written by a mom of three (four?) kids, and she starts the article off by talking about the little old ladies at the store who always tell us Moms to enjoy every minute of this time, because it just goes by so fast! The author writes that thinking that way just gives her anxiety, it makes her feel like maybe she's doing something wrong if she's not enjoying every second of parenthood. Instead, she likes to cherish her Kairos moments.

She says there are two different types of time: Chronos, which is the time we live in, "the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in." Then there is Kairos time, the metaphysical time outside of this's God's time - "Those magical moments where time stands still." These are the moments she cherishes.

I loved this article because, it's true, people expect Moms to be happy 100% of the time, to live in each moment, to soak up every memory. Well, the truth is, I don't want to remember every second of Axton's life. I don't want to remember the hours he's screamed, the tears he's shed, the tears I've shed, the countless hours of sleep lost to the night. I don't think it's fair that I'm expected to enjoy the hard stuff. Sure, I'll get through the hard stuff, but don't expect me to like it.

An older gentlemen asked me how parenthood was treating me - he asked what everyone else expects to be true: "Are you just loving every minute?" I was honest with him, because I have that type of relationship with him.

"You know," I said, "I don't love every minute." He raised his eyebrows at me and I continued,  "I absolutely, one-hundred percent, with every fiber of my being, LOVE the many, many lovable things about parenting." I paused, letting that soak in. I shrugged my shoulders and looked right in his eyes, "And I don't the things that aren't." He pressed his lips together and nodded his head slowly. "I think that's fair," I said, and he agreed.

There is nothing in this universe that will ever compare to being a parent, and I cherish the opportunity I have to be one. I often reflect on Chronos and Kairos, and if I've been living in too much Chronos time, then I try to stop everything and really look at my son (this typically happens when he's sleeping). Kairos balances things out for me.

Today I had a Kairos moment - one that seemed a little more sacred than normal. In fact, it wasn't just that I was living in Kairos time, God's time, I was actually hearing God' voice. I was rocking Axton to sleep for his nap, and I had just started singing Silent Night. I ran my fingers over his nose and cheeks and stared into his eyes, and my mind drifted to a time in the future - a time when Axton would be singing Silent Night to me. Perhaps it was a school concert, and his dad and I were in the audience. We, of course, were so proud of him, the goofy blonde-haired boy singing up on stage. Thinking about Axton as an elementary-aged boy......Right then, I got so emotional I had to stop singing. And that's when I heard a voice in my mind telling me, "There is so much more joy to come from him. Be patient with him right now, you will see."

I needed to hear that, and God knew I did. He knows I am tired, He knows I am trying to do my best. Axton already brings us so much joy, and I needed the reminder that the joy I feel now will only continue to grow as he does. He will bring so much more light and love into my life than I could ever have thought possible - so I just need to be patient through these sacrifices I'm making now. They are small and insignificant compared to the happiness he does and will bring to me.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hawaii: My First Semester

I've seen many of these posts floating around the blogging world in the past.

You know the ones.

The ones that make you ache for careless days in the sun, laying on the beach and digging your toes to the cool, dark sand, the steady drum of the ocean beating to a magical rhythm of beauty and power and  mystery. The ones that bring you back to palm trees and waiting for The Bus and fresh pineapple juice dripping down your chin. The ones that remind you that once upon a time, all you had to worry about was your hair going flat, not getting caught by the Honor Code, and turning an assignment in on time (though that last one really was a big worry of mine).

I'm talking about the sickly sweet blog posts of Nostalgia. And I don't think anyone but BYU-Hawaii alumni reallllly know what I am talking about. But it's my turn to reminisce.

Here's my Hawaii story, beginning with my first semester:

The first week in Hawaii was spent with my mom and Grams, who had flown out with me. I did some silly freshmen orientation stuff and met a few friends along the way. It was hard to say goodbye to my mom, but we both knew it was time.

After my mom left, things went downhill for awhile. You see, I still had a boyfriend back home - one that would be going on a mission in a few months, one that my mother hated, and one that my dad thought was a joke....It wasn't until I moved a couple thousand miles away from him that I slowly began to realize what my mom had been trying to tell me for the past 6 months: This kid was manipulative and downright emotionally abusive. I spent the first two months of my college career - IN HAWAII - stranded in my jail-cell of a dorm room, my hands glued to the phone, talking to this boy who claimed he loved me. If I wanted to make friends, he accused me of not loving him anymore because he should be all I needed. If I wanted to go to the beach, he needed me right then or else he wouldn't believe I still wanted to be with him. Now, I don't put all the blame on him. I obviously was wrapped up enough in his roller-coaster emotions to care more about his well-being than my own life. But slowly, ever so slowly, I began to stick up for myself.

I wrote in my journal:
"It seems I can't have much happiness these days because once I start to smile, the guilt creeps back up again."  -- September 11, 2008
"I am not doing good today. I'm very depressed, lonely, sick. I called [name] looking for comfort and only found more sorrow." --- September 21
"I'm so tired everyday. and I don't even do anything on the weekends. I've spent so much time trying to help [name] that I don't have any time to help myself." ---- September 28
"[Name] was in a bad mood and I just....I want to be sensitive to his feelings, but I also want him to grow up a little." --- October 19
"This week has been hell with [Name]. So many hurtful events - I've been stretched to the limit, far too much stress for my poor heart to handle. He has pushed me to the point that I have bitter feelings towards him. I have put a wall up, I've reached that "I honestly don't care anymore" point. I think I got the point across tonight that he has some major problems. He sees how poorly he treated me, that he abused me. And I see that, too. I see I don't deserve that." ---- October 25

After two months of the darkest days of my life, my lowest lows - I finally conquered my scariest demons. And I had Hawaii to thank for it. Let me show you why:

My roommate (who I had harshly and falsely judged before meeting her) became one of my best friends and a great example of a strong, independent woman.

I made other friends, too. Like Katie B. We would take the bus to Waimea and spend all day in the sun, eating our squished Caf sandwiches and jumping off the rock.

And then there was Katie S. We met in Beginning French class, where we both got bumped up to the next class up. She had family in Idaho and we just instantly clicked. I liked her the second I saw her. I knew she was a special one.

My first (and only) bike in Hawaii. It got stolen a few times, and I'd randomly find it in various places.  

On the first day of one of my classes, I overheard a woman talking about how she needed a babysitter. I don't know why I did it, but after class I walked right up to her and told her I would babysit for her. I had to completely change around my schedule to make it work, but I did it. That was one of the best things I did for myself that semester. These boys and that family were another contributing factor to my happiness. They were the quintessential Polynesian family: worked at the PCC, treated me like family even though I was a stranger, welcomed me into their home, and just showed me what the spirit of Aloha truly meant. I loved them so much. I spent so much time in their little apartment - it just felt good to be back in a family environment. 

I also worked as a dishwasher at the PCC for a few months. It was a dirty, hard job. I came home every night smelling like throw up - but I loved my co-workers (one of whom invited me to smoke pot with him. On campus. Silly kid).

Hawaii is where I took my first photography classes and bought my first camera --- and I honestly think that photography is what dragged me out of my cave of depression. I started taking pictures - of people, of the beautiful scenery around me, of everything. I saw that I was good at something, and realized I was worth more than what I had previously thought.

I started to really miss playing soccer, as I had played it all four years in high school. So I would occasionally take pictures at the girl's soccer games. 

That's when I decided to take a risk and apply for a job as a photographer for the school newspaper.  I got the job.

(I liked the "taking pictures" part a lot better than the "being in the office" part)

Once I even attempted to go sky-diving. We took the bus out, I signed the papers, I was waiting my turn, my nerve was built up: And then they had to cancel our dive due to weather. I never made it back.

In November I started dating a guy who failed to mention to me that he would be graduating the next month and therefore moving off-island. It turned out alright though, because I found out when he broke up with me on Facebook that he was a pretty big pansy. Not much of a loss there.

December came around and I had finished my first semester of college. My dad came to visit me for a week and we flew to Maui and Kauai. 

Unfortunately my dad left two days before Christmas. I spent Christmas Eve alone in a dorm room. I read my scriptures and called my family, but still ended up sobbing through the majority of the night. If Christmas alone doesn't teach you to appreciate your family, I'm not sure what will. The next day I moved in with the family I babysat for until school started back up in January. 

During the break is when I got really close to two awesome people: Allyson and Chas. Since we were pretty much the only ones left on the island for Christmas, we hung out all the time. We went on tons of hikes, watched New Year's Eve fireworks, watched movies, went to the beach, and cruised around. Ally is one of the wisest girls I've met - she is intelligent and deep and probably the least judgmental person there is. 

I will tell you a story about Ally to illustrate how dedicated she is. Right before Christmas break, Laie flooded. Big time. Like, electricity-out, school-cancelled, rivers-in-the-street flooded

That morning I had gone out to Hukilau beach where people were filling trash bags with sand to put in front of people's houses. I helped fill sand bags and then carried them around the neighborhood to whoever needed them. When I was about to head back to my house, there I found Ally, walking her bike (because, for some reason, she couldn't ride it through the feet of water) to campus. I caught up to her and asked her what in the world she was doing. She huffed and puffed, still heading in the direction of the school. "I've got to get to the library. I have to print this paper I just finished and turn it in."

I said, "Ally, are you kidding me? The library's not even open. School's cancelled."

It was like she was oblivious to the rain around her, so focused was she on turning in that paper. I loved that girl.

Borrowing Chas's shorts after drudging through the flooded streets

Lastly, what healed me the most was....

The ocean. Nothing heals like the ocean. I felt closer to God, closer to myself, closer to being the piece of this universe that I wanted to be - when I was near the ocean. When I chose my off-campus house to move into the next semester, I chose one closest to the beach. I was right across the street from it, and I spent many solo hours in the cool, clear water or lying on the sand, listening to the waves and just thinking and soaking up the beauty. It's what I ache for most when I think about Hawaii.

After those first rough months, Hawaii was a dream. An absolute crazy world of happiness and doing exactly what I wanted to be doing when I wanted to be doing it.  I started having adventures. I started seeing I was good at things - really good. I started dating again. I started excelling in my classes. I started to find out who I was and who I wanted to be in this life. 
I started to grow up.

Christmas break was coming to a close, and the second semester of college was about to begin. I was moving off campus and into a house, and I was starting to think that maybe, instead of transferring to BYU Provo, where my  major was, just maybe I would take a risk and just.....stay.