Productivity redefined

One Tuesday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I was driving home from visiting my sister and her baby. It was quarter to five when I was coming off the Harbour Bridge and I glanced at the tinted glass buildings which surround the freeway. Beyond the glass, a myriad of desks, black-suited people and computers. The same scene on repeat in building after building, floor after floor all around me.

After having worked in an office for the last nine years, I was struck by the fact that I wasn’t sitting at any such desk. Eva, our baby girl, was quietly sleeping in her capsule on the back seat. Looking after her may be a full-time job, but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. It’s a privilege to be on maternity leave for 12 months. I’m very thankful for my daughter, very thankful that I get to be a mum and so happy to be in this current season of life.

But I don’t feel thankful all the time. Just that morning I’d been feeling overwhelmed. There seemed to be so many things on my to-do lists. Writing another post on here was one of the items.

I always expected that having a baby would challenge my task-driven tendencies. I love ticking things off my lists. I also knew that looking after a baby would keep me pretty busy, although I didn’t fathom just how much time caring for a baby actually takes. This is not a complaint. I suppose I thought that being home all day most days, that there would still be time in between to do other things. I was wrong. At the moment our little one has a maximum of three short naps a day, so in between having a shower, doing the washing, preparing dinner, there is only the tiniest bit of time on the side. If I’m feeling motivated I can be quite productive in half an hour. I made a muesli slice during one of her naps last week. That was my major accomplishment for the whole day!

I started writing this post four days ago. I’m learning that other things are possible but they just get done slowly. I still write a list each day, and I have an ongoing, long-term list called “Things to do in the little moments” – so that when I do have moments, I don’t get stuck wondering what to do next.

I am gradually trying to redefine ‘productive’. The value of my days can’t be measured by items ticked off a list. Loving Eva – from feeding, cleaning and clothing her to singing, reading books and playing with her is an incredibly worthwhile way to spend my days. I have a precious and unique opportunity to invest in her life. If I get some washing done and dinner on the table, great. But the dreams of sewing things, blog posts and various other creative projects whirling around in my head – well they are on my long-term to-do list – I will do them if I get a chance in the little moments.

And since I don’t have to meet deadlines or account for my days to my employer, some of the questions I probably should be asking at the end of each day are instead – What can I be thankful for today? Have I honoured God with my time? Have I loved and enjoyed my daughter? Served my husband? Invested in relationships with others? For those things will count in the end.

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the gift of community

“Who knows other people in their local area who can help out when the baby arrives?” said the midwife.

In a room of about 15 couples, all about to have their first babies, we were the only ones in our antenatal class to put our hands up.

I know in some cultures it’s common for the grandma to come and help out for a few weeks, months or even years. And so I know that a quick survey like this doesn’t paint a full picture of people’s lives and support networks. Nevertheless, the thought that some of the people in the room might have to go it alone as they adjusted to being parents made me feel sad.

Without our church community, our hands would have stayed down too. But it’s now two and a half weeks since our baby girl arrived and I haven’t had to cook dinner since before I went into labour. We’ve had delicious fresh homemade meals delivered by people from church several nights a week, as well as a small stockpile of frozen meals in our tiny freezer for other nights. As well as the meals, we’ve received thoughtful gifts and several of the local mums are contacting me regularly to check in on how I’m going.

Our friends and family from further afield have been a great support too. One friend brought over an amazing hamper of goodies, including some homemade cookies, muesli bites and camembert cheese. And many people here in Australia and in our wider community of friends reaching across the globe are praying for us It’s so great to know we’re not alone and that our little family is in God’s strong, loving hands – both now in these early weeks, and also into the future. We want to raise our little girl in community too.

As I sit here watching our little girl wriggle and gurgle, I wonder how all the other couples in our antenatal class are going, and I pray that there are people in their lives who are supporting them through this big, challenging and exciting time.

He is already there

There’s less than two months to go until our baby is due. According to the books, my Facebook feed and the weekly Baby Center updates, we should probably have the nursery fully set up and stocked with hundreds of nappies, singlets, wipes and baby toys by now. It’s not.

It’s tempting to get caught up in planning the physical aspects of bringing a baby into the world. Of course there are a few essentials to buy and borrow. I keep wondering what my life, our life, is going to be like with a baby? Life beyond May (when our little one is due) is a great unknown. It’s one thing to watch close friends with their new babies, but I’m pretty sure it’s rather a different thing to have your own. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very excited. I can’t wait to meet her. I’m just also rather nervous about bringing a new member into our family.

It was such an encouragement to be reminded on the first night of Colour Conference, (now a couple of weeks ago) that God goes before me – before us. He is already in our April, our May, our June and beyond. He knows what the birth will be like, he knows if she’s going to be a good sleeper or not. He knows her. We are all in his mighty hands.
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As I was first writing this post, sitting on my own in a food court in Market City (opposite the Conference), one of the volunteers from Hillsong sat down opposite me with her dinner. We shared a little of our stories (Hayley was fresh out of high school in the US and loving her first semester of Bible college) and how we were enjoying the conference. When I shared that I was expecting a baby, she immediately offered to pray for me and our bub. She got out of her seat walked around next to me and put her arm around me and prayed. This lovely young woman I had only just met prayed passionately for our little girl to grow to know and love Jesus as her Lord and Saviour and to calm any anxieties that I had about this new chapter. I was deeply encouraged by her bold faith and her loving prayer. An experience I won’t forget.

Another human

My belly is larger than it has ever been and I felt an affinity with a mother kangaroo with a joey in her pouch the other day. I’m six months pregnant.IMG_6163

Despite this fact, most days I have to remind myself that in a few months time I’m going to have to give birth to a baby. And from that point on I’m going to be a mum for the rest of my life. Sure, there are lots of reminders. People asking me how I’m feeling or how far along I am (to which the usual reply is “You’re tiny!”), the regular loo trips, the sometimes fluttery, sometimes forceful movements from within day and night (including as I write this) and an often unexpected level of exhaustion.

I feel like I’ve been dreaming of and looking forward to this season of life for many years. I loved looking after my little cousins when they were babies and in recent years have cherished getting to know our goddaughter and her little sister, my friends’ new bubs and the many delightful little ones who are or have been part of our church. Always such a joy, but never quite the same as having your own.

Even so, it’s a bit hard to believe that it’s our turn soon. I have sometimes wondered if it would ever happen. On the one hand, I assumed and hoped for it at times over the years, but then once I found myself in this season, I realised I couldn’t assume anything – it was totally in God’s hands. Now there are only about 90 days until our little lady will be with us on the outside – a reality that’s hard to get my head around. I find myself taking note of ‘Best Before’ dates on food and thinking, before due date or after due date. My brain may be weird, but this is just one of my little ways of getting accustomed to the changes ahead.  IMG_6187

Ultimately I’m humbled that, God willing, we will have the joy of bringing another life into this earth to raise and care for. Not everyone gets to do that. I can’t wait to meet our little one. And if I could have spoken kangaroo, I would have wanted to say to her, “Me too.”