back in the saddle again

Life for the Mathis family has been turned upsidedown. A few weeks ago Chad got a phone call from a business person in residential construction. It was a Sunday evening and we had no idea the conversation would lead to Chad being employed again. Several phone calls and interviews later we are back in the saddle as a "normal" family. Chad goes to work everyday and I stay home with the girls.

Being thrown back into stay at home mom land has it's ups and downs. The ups include being able to spend more time with my other stay at home mom friends again. (Although this hasn't happened much yet.) Other ups include good health insurance and a steady income. The downside has a longer list. Time as a family has taken a huge hit. Chad is lucky if he's able to see the girls for more than two hours a day. He's in charge of a subdivsion that is a hour and fifteen minutes from our house. Long work days combined with drive time equal little time leftover for being at home.

Chad's return to the working world was an agonizing deicsion for us to make. The past five months have been a dream come true. We were able to spend everyday together. We enjoyed late breakfasts together. Somedays we'd wake up at 8:30 and say, "Let's go out to breakfast today." Most days he'd work outside on the land clearing brush or chopping firewood while I tended to the house. It was kinda like a Little House on the Prairie scenerio. When freelance came to me, he'd take over the house and the girls so I could work. I'd split my work time between home and coffee shops with wireless internet. I joined Curves because I had the freedom to leave the girls with him anytime to go exercise. I went to Walmart with one kid or no kids because he was available to watch them.

So, when this job opportunity came, we were unable to take it without feeling like someone had died. Our 'year of jubilee' was over. We felt gloomy and sad. We sat and stared at the walls as the new reality sunk in. Although we didn't talk to Melody about it directly, she knew what was going on. The morning of Chad's first day of work she woke up early, in time to see him before he left the house. Her first words that day were, "I don't want daddy to go to work."

Chad has just completed his first week of work. We are slowing getting back into the routine of 'normal' life. Toward the end of the day I start to feel like "What do I do with Leah?" I used to be able to hand her over to Chad so I could cook dinner or fold clothes. Now I have to figure out a way to do it all. I am using the sling again. She is big enough to sit on my hip now, which is comfortable for both of us.

The afternoons are the hardest part of the day for me. Starting around 2:00 I feel lost and sad. I wander around looking for motivation and purpose. I feel agitated and lonely and irritable. Sometimes a second dose of coffee helps me escape this funk, but I'm not satisfied with that for a solution. I want to enjoy my days at home with the girls. The mornings are great. If I could just carry that momentum though the rest of the day, I'd be doing great. I am trying view this challenging time of my life to an opportunity for spiritual growth. In the dire hours of the day I want to call out to Jesus for strength and help. For me to grow closer to God is one of the good things that could come out of this abrupt change in our lives.


5am wake up call

Once or twice a week Leah wakes up around 5:00am. She lays next to me in the bed with her eyes wide open. She smiles hugely and kicks the sheets with a jabbing motion. I try to cox her to go back to sleep by patting her bottom, jiggling her body, nursing her, etc. The list continues. Each attempt fails. Instead she becomes even more animated. She coos and laughs at the idea of any more sleep. It is torturous and silly to attempt sleep with such a wildly awake neighbor, so we get up.

This morning I stumbled into the kitchen with coffee on my mind. It's the next best thing to sleep at 5:00am. Before getting a new pot brewing, I spilled yesterday's damp grounds all over the floor. The paper towell roll was empty and the broom gone from it's pantry hook. (We're at my mom-in-law's right now. The house is devastated after last weekend's wedding. We've been to tired to clean things up. The wedding was at the house.) Who whould have thought making coffee could be such a chore? During it all, Leah sat wide-eyed in her Bumbo seat on the counter.

I started to perk up after eight ounces of coffee with cream and a runny fried egg on jellied toast. (I was tempted to eat leftover wedding cake for breakfast. Self control won the 5am battle but we'll see what happens the rest of the day.) I resituated Leah and myself at the laptop -- she still in her blessed bumbo seat. I did a little email and read a few blogs. After twenty minutes Leah let out a mild whine. I reached for her sweet six month old body and held her close. Within one minute she was out cold... sound asleep with her face directly in my shoulder. I don't know how she breathes like that. Her sleeping body slumped against me, exhausted from our early morning adventures. I held her for a few minutes thinking, "This early morning routine isn't so bad after all." I was able to spend some sweet time with my happy baby. I had my coffee. Now I'm the only one awake in a large quiet house. (It feels like I'm the only one up in the region. No matter house many times we visit, I cannot get used to the midwest. The vast crop fields make me feel isolated.)

Even though getting out of bed at 5:00am would never be my choice, it usually turns out to be a blessing in diguise, as do so many other things related to caring for a baby.


weekend with old friends

The girls are napping. (I love it when they nap at the same time!) Chad went to Tulsa to take our Oregon friends to the airport. The house is strangely quiet after a weekend of hustle and bustle. Friday night there were eleven people sleeping here. Every bed was full, plus some floor space (sorry Dan). To top it off, the two college students were on an air mattress on the screened-in back porch.

Chad are I are the happiest when we have a house full of friends. We anticipated the weekend with Walmart trips, meal prep, and lists of chores. The house looked it’s best when everyone arrived. I was tired from all the work, but completely happy to sit and visit and catch up.

We met Dan’s fiancĂ©, Erin for the first time. They will be married in a month. Seeing them together reminded me of my own engagement. I had forgotten about every moment together being consumed with touch. Holding hands, rubbing knees, leaning on each other. I had to smile every time I noticed it. Now my days are full of a different kind of touch. Bald baby head on my shoulder and sticky toddler hands tugging at my pant leg. It is fun to remember the days of engagement anticipation and it is equally rewarding to realize how far we’ve come from that place.

We did many old school days things with our friends. Memories multiplied as we gathered around a bonfire at Lincoln Lake, recalling cliff jumping, throwing boulders into the water, eating ant-covered donuts, and wondering who might hook up with who. (Now we know!) The next day 12 of us went to Twin Falls to grill burgers. I was insane with worry, trying to keep Melody away from the edge of the rocks. At one point I said panicky in a loud voice, “Where is Melody? Where is Melody?! Where is MELODY?!!” My friend Beck turned around to reveal that Melody was in her arms, out of my view. I took some deep breaths and tried to relax. We watched Dan and Matt jump off the falls and Melody discovered she could throw rocks in the water. She busied herself with this activity for the rest of the outing.

Sunday morning everyone gathered at our place for an informal baby dedication for Leah and Abbie Mae. Chad and I took turns holding Leah during the time. I felt proud and humbled and joyful to recognize the blessing God has given to us. We talked about the Old Testament story of how Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord. It is a story I happened to read a few days ago. I guess God is reminding me that Leah is His. This truth gives me chills and makes me want to take the best possible care of our little Leah. I’m so thankful for her.

I am also thankful for my college friends. Our relationships have passed the test of time despite the fact that we live all over the country. I thank God for each of them, including Dan’s bride. Welcome to the group Erin!