My hometown is in southeast Texas. We never saw much ice or snow. Maybe an almost-dusting here and there (like, I remember when I was in kindergarten and there was sleet coming down. They let us play outside in it. It was just a tiny amount, but we were going crazy over it). Snow never stuck in our coastal area, so on the rare occasion that we get these nasty storms, I happen to be more excited than bummed.
Actually, in all of my scant 27 years I’ve seen it snow in my hometown only once. On a Christmas Eve when I was in high school. A whopping foot of snow. The only white Christmas I’ve ever seen.
It was magical.
Oh, I know. I’ve been locked inside my house for a week while the logistics of the thing have quickly broken down trees, power lines, and crashed more cars in Midland, Texas than anyone cares to deal with.
But isn’t nature beautiful?
Last night, between the ice and the snow, I was completely enthralled.
But this morning, when the blue sky showed for the first time all week and the ice glowed, I had to take more photos.
And of course, the dogs wanted to play. They’re way over being cooped up in the house.
Anyway, looks like a batch of homemade soup and some hot coffee in is our future. I hope you enjoy the images.
Anyone who’s hung out with a baby for more than a few minutes learns one very important thing: they know what they want and aren’t afraid to wail for it.
Not only are they willing to wail, they will continue to do so until their “needs” are met.
Here are fifteen of those needs that babies are 100% certain of.
1. When they’re hungry, they’re starving to death.
2. Cribs are obviously made of molten lava.
3. Moms are made of all that is right with the world.
4. Baths are only fun if you can get ALL THE THINGS WET.
5. Pooping is best done at a squat while mom holds you.
6. Slobber and spit up are the prettiest accessories to any outfit.
7. Dad is not mom.
8. Strangers are not mom.
9. Grandparents are not mom.
10. Nobody but mom is mom.
11. When mom tries sitting down stars collide and threaten planet earth. Mom must never sit.
12. Moms really only need one meal per day. Usually breakfast.
13. Grocery stores are really boring. Liven them up by screaming.
14. Peeing is most fun without a diaper.
15. Babies really love their mom.
I guess I have to start somewhere.
How about with this guy.
Almost four months old and he’s more handsome than I imagined.
Holt John Hickman was born on August 25 weighing a mere 7 pounds 2 ounces and measuring in at a whopping 19 1/2 inches long.
Then we went through this terrifying thing where he puked blood.
That was fun. Not.
It turned out he had a dairy and soy allergy. Since he breastfeeds, it meant I had to adjust to a dairy and soy free diet. That’s been fun too. Not.
You know, people warned me that parenting was hard. They warned me about the sleepless nights, difficult decisions, and never ending putting-of-the-baby-down.
I was prepared for that.
I was not prepared for the other stuff. The weight of it all. The mere fact that this child truly is dependent on me.
He depends on me for food.
He depends on me for shelter.
He depends on me for comfort.
He depends on me for sleep.
He depends on me for giggles.
He depends on me to find the source of tears.
I am depended on to a level that is deeply, truly exhausting.
But it’s as exhilarating as it is exhausting.
When he’s asleep for more than a couple of hours, I get ants in my pants and want him to wake up and interact with me.
When I let someone else hold him, exasperated because he needs so much of me, within seconds my arms feel itchy and I bite my lip to keep from grabbing him up.
Anyway, that’s the update (in a minute nutshell) of my last fourish months.
I’m hoping to share some of my recipes, thoughts, and life as a new mom with you.
I’ll admit that when I first saw the Facebook “Pay it Forward” chain status, I thought it was pretty great.
But let me walk you through my thoughts in the next thirty seconds.
“Oh! How cool that people all over Facebook are going to pay-it-forward! Wait, if I participate then I have to repost the status and then pay it forward to five people who comment on my status. I haven’t even sent out my thank-you cards for my baby shower yet. I’m so not responsible enough to play along. Oh well, I still like the concept.” *Presses like button* “Oh snap! I just liked that status. Can I like the status and still not participate? I don’t want to play along! Will she think I’m selfish for only liking the status and not playing too? Wait, I don’t like this.”That moment, ladies and gentlemen, is the moment I suddenly realized that I did not like nor did I agree with the chain pay it forward.
Don’t think I’m totally selfish, I’m not. I’ve paid it forward before, in a million ways. I pay it forward every time I take in a homeless animal, both for the animal and often the human it usually comes from.
I’m certain you’ve paid it forward many times, also. You did it when you loaned your buddy money because his card was stolen. Or how about that time you called in a pizza and listened to your bestie cry because she needed you? Or maybe when you sent flowers to your mom for no reason and she smiled all day long because of it.
That’s paying it forward.
Paying it forward isn’t doing something you feel pressured into. It’s certainly not being chatted about online as the one who “broke the Starbucks chain”. It’s not by participating on Facebook and saying, “I’ll do something for five people if you do something for me!”
When I think about paying it forward, this is the story I most vividly remember:
One time I paid a lady’s ticket at Chick-Fil-A. It isn’t something I usually do, since I’ve been poor since forever. But this stranger did something nice for me that she didn’t have to do, and I felt like paying her ticket was a wonderful way to say, “thank you.”
That day I pulled in to a different side of Chick-Fil-A than I usually do. The restaurant was so busy that I found myself stuck behind a revolving circle of cars that were entering from the other side, pulling up so fast that I couldn’t get in. Car after car zipped in front of me, not allowing me to go anywhere.
I felt more and more frustrated at the rude selfishness of each passing person. After about ten cars purposefully slipping into the line, one lady saw me and stopped. She mentioned me to go ahead in front of her. I waved and pulled into the line, relieved that I wasn’t stuck anymore.
Somewhere in the next few minutes of waiting, I decided that I would pay for her ticket. I didn’t have anyone in my car to show off for, nor has anyone ever paid for my ticket, and she certainly didn’t ask for money while sitting in the car behind me. I had never paid for anyone’s meal before, and I imagined myself feeding a car full of needy kids and an overwhelmed mom crying her thanks.
So I paid for her ticket, imagining the whole time what her face would look like, how she would feel, and how much of a hero I might be. How’s that for all the wrong reasons?
Do you want to know what I most remember about that moment? I remember what she bought. She only bought a chicken sandwich. Her ticket was less than a measly $4.
I told the lady at the counter to tell her “thanks” for letting me in. The lady smiled broadly at me and nodded, and I smiled back with a fat Coke in one hand and a full meal in the passenger seat next to me, swallowing hard at the realization that I probably wasn’t her hero.
I was a little disappointed that she bought so little. It poked a hole in my over-sized giving balloon at a ridiculous speed.
But y’all, I don’t know what the meant for her. I don’t know if she only had a $5 bill and was hungry. Or if she forgot her wallet and only had enough change for a sandwich. Maybe she just wanted a snack and didn’t miss that $4 at all.
After I thought about it, I didn’t really care, either.
Because the truth is, I wasn’t the one who paid it forward. She was.
When you pay-it-forward, you do it without expectations or requirements. She didn’t expect me to pay for her meal simply for letting me in the line. She didn’t say, “I’ll let you in line if you give to five more people.” In fact, I bet she didn’t even expect me to let people in line like she did for me.
But I remember her act of kindness and my feelings when she did, and now I let others in line, too. Isn’t that what “paying it forward” means? That you continue an act of kindness because someone did it for you?
Not because you feel guilty. Not because you participated in a chain. But because you remember the quiet feeling of thanks and relief toward another human being and have a desire to show that same kindness for someone else.
If you’re participating on the Facebook chain and enjoying it, please carry on. I certainly won’t tell you how to give to others.
But when I choose not to participate, don’t judge me.
Because y’all, I would much rather pay-it-forward in the free, spontaneous ways that I find hold the most meaning. I want to tell people they’re loved without them having to ask me for it. Without the expectation that they have to continue the chain. And without feeling apprehensive or guilty for not following the crowd.
Sleeping doesn’t come easy these days, so it wasn’t surprising that I found myself sitting in the recliner of your room in the middle of the night. I was electronic free and I just sat, looking around at a perfectly clean, tidy room.
Your little night-light and sound machine had the room gently illuminated in soft blue light. And a small, stuffed bear sat in my lap. I could just barely see the outlines of all that important baby gear. Your little bouncer. Your little rocker. Your little car seat.I’ve been extremely whiny and uncomfortable lately. The small complications at the end of this pregnancy have me both exhausted and occasionally in pain all day. They’ve also found me emotionally worn down. I’m afraid of you coming too early. Like your daddy, you’re apparently completely impatient and refuse to show up late for anything. Especially your own birth.
But the truth is this: as soon as you get here, I know that I’ll completely forget how bad your kicks and stretches hurt while I’m having a contraction. Or how exhausting my irritable uterus is when I can’t tell the difference between contractions or just constant aches. Or how when your head rolls across my poor bladder I almost die–or pee on myself. I do that a lot lately; pee on myself.
And you’ll arrive so, so soon. Faster than I even think we’re prepared for. As it is they take me off medication on Friday. Of course they want you to stay in there for another week. You’ll only have been growing for 36 weeks tomorrow. But my body may not physically pull that off and the doctor says you’ll be okay if you come after Friday.
Friday. Tomorrow Friday. That’s not even 24 full hours.
I thought about that and thought, “Oh man. Next week. My son will probably be here next week.”
And then I prayed. For you. For me. For your father.
I thought about how exhausting this entire process has been, from our first, heartbreaking loss, through the second loss, to the miracle that I’m carrying now. You. And I thought about the sweet years it’s just been me and your dad. I thought about how special those years are, and how I wouldn’t give them up for anything.
He is an awesome husband and has wonderful parents, I know he’s going to be an amazing dad. I can’t wait to see him fill those shoes because I can’t imagine a better father for you.
When I picture you, you are just like him. Just so you know. Strong, with the deepest sense of loyalty and love I’ve ever met in a man.
For a moment, I reveled in the calm before the storm. This quiet room.
A roll, kick, and punch later, I realized that calm isn’t calm even now. I’m already sitting absolutely still when you fall asleep, afraid to move or talk in case I wake you up.
Then I thought about the future, and how joyful I am for you to join us.
I want to come back to this moment one day and show you. Show you how I felt, what I was thinking, how happy and excited we were for you to join our family. Tell you it was 5:30 am when I was typing this letter because sleep was elusive and I was so full of joy and peace.
You’ll be in my arms so soon.
I don’t want you to forget that I’m willing to this, all over again, just for you. Because you’re worth it. And I want you to know that I felt that way before I even saw your face, kissed your nose, held your hand, or fixed your boo-boos.
The fact is, I love you even now. With every part of my heart and soul. I can’t help it.