Birds on a Progress Bar

Sometimes when I'm waiting for my inbox to appear or waiting for a Netflix movie to load, I wax poetic in my head about the progress bar. It comes up. You moan a little. You don't want to wait for it to move across. But since fast internet connections, usually it zooms right on by, getting to the end much faster than you expected. And I think about how fast life goes by.

Recently we had the pleasure of watching two wrens nest, lay eggs, and hatch babies in our garage. We were able to see them brand new, blind and silent, and then feathered and making their tiny chirps. In the morning the parents would squawk at me to let them out. If they had been outside all night, they would come flying in seconds after I opened the garage door.

The whole thing was amazing.

And then, it was over. I watched for them one morning and worried when the birds did not come into the garage and to the nest. So I got on the ladder (which we had placed near the nest so we could all spy on them) and they were gone. The entire process was a month tops.

Of course I cannot help but make the parallels between our life and the birds. You make your little nest, have your babies, feed them, and then they're gone.

Mine aren't gone yet. I'm somewhere in the middle of the progress bar. But it's going by super fast and I'd like to go back to dial-up and have it take just a little longer. I'm afraid. I'm afraid I'm going to forget things. I'm afraid I'm going to miss things because there's so much going on. I'm afraid I'm going to try to feed them one day and they will have left the nest!!

Okay, I'm getting a little dramatic.

But life is going fast. My life is a progress bar on a fiber optic internet connection. My birds are perched right there on it, looking super cute and changing on a daily basis. Sometimes they can get a little loud when they want their food. Sometimes they fight with each other. Often over the food. Then I clean them up and we start the whole process over again. I love birds.



Disclaimer #1: If you're a man, you probably won't be interested in this. But you should read it if your wife has breastfed. She is doing a good thing.

Disclaimer #2: I do not stand in judgement against anyone who chooses not to breastfeed. It is not for everyone.

Weaning is gradual. It tapers off for a long time. I am currently in the process and just wanted to write a little bit about breastfeeding before it is a part of my past.

These cloth diapers have served as my burp cloths for every baby. I love them. They are perfect. I don't think you can buy them anymore, so I protect them as a precious treasure. Juliet has not needed a burp cloth for many months, but I pulled these out and refolded them one by one, not forgetting the method I use to make them all stack up nice and straight. I do not think I will be able to get rid of these.

I have nursed all my babies from birth until one year old or longer. I cannot remember giving any of them formula. I did not even pump my milk very often. I am not saying this in a prideful way. It is the opposite. I realize how fortunate and blessed I have been that me or my babies have had no major difficulties that would prevent me from breastfeeding.

Someone once asked me why I breastfeed. The only thing I could think of to say was, "Why wouldn't you breastfeed?" There are too many reasons. Convenience, little to no cost, helps with baby's brain development, antibodies in mom's milk, burns calories for post partem weight loss, connection with your baby, perfect recipe of what baby needs... the list goes on and on.

There is much to be said. But mostly, it is just a miracle, the way God designed it.

When I prop myself up in the hospital bed and help my baby nurse for the first times, it causes my uterus to contract and also the baby's body lying right there on my abdomen...all of it works together in an amazing design.

When you breastfeed, the hormone released makes you feel sleepy. I think this is so you take your time, letting the baby linger and get as much as they need.

When you are breastfeeding a new baby, you find yourself doing just that many times throughout your day. I think this provides the rest required while your body is recovering from childbirth.

When you breastfeed, you need your baby just as much as they need you. As a friend once put it, you have some information you need to download. And your baby is a hungry little hard drive. This need to work together creates a bond with your baby only made between a mother and her child.

When you breastfeed, you are providing a safe and secure place for your baby. It is a sacrifice of your time and energy to nurse. It does come with a certain amount of pain and difficulty. But your baby could never doubt your attention, your devotion, or their place in your heart while at your breast. You are setting yourself aside. You have to miss things sometimes. It is a great practice in unselfishness, which prepares you for parenthood in general.

It has been extremely rewarding and I will always have fond memories. The noises they make, the way they reach up and touch your face, the drunken sleepy face of a newbie with milk in the corner of their mouth...it is a blessing to say the least.

I am grateful to have had the experience. I tried to do the math...how many hours of my life I've spent breastfeeding. I couldn't do it. I have lost too many brain cells in the breastmilk. But it's a lot. Thousands. Enough ounces to fill five gallon buckets. It's pretty cool.


The Bobbin

Tonight I finally got a chance to listen (with some concentration) to a new album by Eric Peters, a singer/songwriter Jimmy and I befriended when we were first married. He and his wife Danielle came to Tallahassee and played a show and hung out for the first time with us way back in the year 2000.

I was able to make some artwork for one of his former albums. It was a privilege. It had birds. I love birds. His new album is really great (sorry for the boring adjective...it deserves something more cerebral than that but it is after 9 p.m.) and he did his own artwork and his Danielle photographed him for the liner. It is called Birds of Relocation and has a painting with birds for the album cover. I felt proud somehow even though they are much cooler, more creative, and I think a couple years older than me.

In the spring of 2010 Jimmy brought Eric back for another Tallahassee concert. Then, he came back in the fall and on that visit asked me to make some artwork for his wife for a Christmas present. I of course said yes because I need a kick in the pants to do anything artistic. Unfortunately I am not in a place in life where I make it for the sake of making it. I use up all my creativity doing something called home school. But I do lie in bed on a regular basis and dream about carving out a corner of my bedroom into a tiny studio.

I never blogged about this art because it was the holidays and I had a baby (Juliet) just a couple weeks later and once a certain amount of time passes I just don't blog about things. But tonight my memory was jogged and I wanted to write about this.

I really only had one thing to go off of, a quote from a Traveling Onion poem that Eric sent me, "For the sake of other, disappear." But I knew Danielle likes to sew so I was also inspired by that. The scissors, well, I love scissors. I drew 86 pairs of them for my BFA grad show. Scissors can be open. They can get rid of stuff you don't want. They are a tool. They change the shape of things. They cut paper, the best stuff ever. They are utilitarian yet they create.

The Peters have two small children, so they are a family of four. Instead of four spools of thread, I made one a bobbin to represent the mother.

On a sewing machine, the bobbin holds the thread that you don't see. It is on the underside of your fabric. If your tension is set right, you don't see it on the top side. If not, it can peek out and make an ugly stitch. If you run out of bobbin thread, your top stitch will not hold together. It is not meant to be seen though, it disappears if you will.

We mothers are kind of like the bobbin. We do lots of unseen work to make our family look good. We disappear most of the time. We are behind the camera, in the kitchen away from the party, and chauffeuring the dreams of our kids around town. Yet without a mother, the fabric of the family isn't holding together so well.

This was sort of an encouragement to persevere through runny noses, dirty diapers, and soiled laundry. We are the bobbin. We hold it together. Unseen, but essential and important. For the sake of others, disappear. Be encouraged. Put yourself out there for your family and rejoice in the role God has given you...to help it all hold together. (With God's unending grace lavished over you every day holding you together of course!)

Be strong. Be the bobbin. Use your scissors if necessary.