Well, parenthood should keeps you busy, doesn't it?! I haven't written a thing since Miss Claire was born, and she just turned four months old! My bad, and I hope to be more faithful to this, so please bear with me! Parenthood - or rather I should say being a mother to Claire - has been quite different from what I expected. First, having a baby requires a lot more attention than I anticipated. I definitely had a Romanticized view of motherhood, mother and baby lovingly looking at each other during the night. Well, truth be told, I fell more deeply in love with Claire when I heard her little cry after the cesarean than I expected. I cried out of shear joy and after months of anticipation for this moment to come. But after 2 weeks of breastfeeding, it was not the beautiful scene I imagined, but rather incredibly painful and frustrating. So while I was recovering from the c-section and not getting much sleep, I made the decision to ENJOY this part of motherhood and start exclusively pumping breastmilk. This also gave me a chance to have other people feed Claire and give me free hands, and it was also a blessing because we were able to stop supplementing in the evenings with formula. So that took up a lot of energy the first few weeks.
Then came the different parenting styles :). Looking back, I was a real mother hen, and Scott did not take parenting very seriously. He would have Claire "climb Mount Montgomery" (his belly) and slide down, and other tricks like that. I think he was surprised how non-responsive a newborn is :) But then after 2 months I returned to work, and for 1 month Scott took care of Claire full-time, and he quickly became a fantastic father. It was heart-wrenching for me to leave Claire behind - I felt like a part of me stayed home every day, but now I am blessed to work part-time from home while Scott is in class.
It's amazing how Claire has grown since the day she was born. For one, she hated being put down, and would only sleep in my wrap during the day. Now, she hardly likes to be held! Now, she not only smiles and coos, but she laughs and screams and does such cute, funny noises it's irresistible waking up at 6am! She really is a riot, and I have to remember to have 'adult' conversations when I'm home with Scott because it's tempting to just coo and aaah with Claire :)
Last weekend, Scott took the Praxis II test to become a math teacher after studying for weeks. The night before, he was nervous so we prayed out of Father Manjackal's book of charismatic prayers, believing for the Holy Spirit to guide him. We will find out in 4 weeks how he did. He is also finishing up his coursework at Catholic University and doing some coursework toward his teaching credential.
As for me, I am taking 2 classes this semester - Word & Worship and Catholicism in the Global Context. My reviews so far are mixed, but I have a feeling I will get a lot out of both of these, and also have a lot to share with my classmates! I have decided to finish my coursework this year, which will leave one year of formation and my thesis. Then it's onto a Master's in School Counseling from John's Hopkins University. As it turns out, they have a campus in our very town - Rockville, MD! And they offer evening and weekend classes, so I can't turn it down. I have begun to have a stirring in my heart about this - a passion to make a difference in the lives of teenagers - to be able to encourage them and build them up in their dreams. I was not blessed with a good guidance counselor, so I want to make a difference that way. And I am blessed with a job that pays for my tuition, so hopefully this dream is just a few years away. That way, with Scott and I both in public education, we will have our summers to travel with Claire (and her siblings) to see her grandparents and cousins. I truly look forward to this. It's amazing how dreams keep us going. Right now we are stretched financially, but I get so excited when I think about our future and make plans that this is all worth it.
We are not able to visit either of our families over Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it hurts to know they are disappointed. But the way I see it, these are painful choices to not go deep in debt, while we will one day be able to easily afford these kinds of pleasures.
Speaking of family, my brother and his wife are having a baby! I'm so excited. The Lord announced this birth just a few days before conception. Just goes to show that the Word of God is true: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart" (Jeremiah 1:5). Claire will be almost 1 when her cousin is born, and we look forward to their meeting this summer. She will also get to meet my cousin Karine's baby, Lola, who was born just 4 days before Claire.
As I read about cross-cultural missions, one thing in particular strikes me - how evangelization at one point moved from community evangelizing to personal salvation, largely due to Martin Luther's influence. But what a blessing it is when a whole family is saved and worships together and honors God. That is my wish for my family - that we would all make Jesus Lord over our lives - Lord over our careers, our families, our emotions, our minds, our futures, our relationships, our finances, our health... over everything! There is such freedom in Jesus Christ, and I'm not ashamed to proclaim that.
God bless you!