Month: August 2016

Babies are not my full-time job.

IMG_2097The other day, someone congratulated me on how much stuff I manage to do with the twins.

As if going anywhere with them requires the kind of motivation and perseverance that only marathon-runners or those with a penchant for self-punishment possess.

Have we really set our expectations of life so low that we think it’s all over once we reproduce?

Though it’s very well-intentioned and flattering, this attitude surprises me every time I encounter it. I’m not some kind of superhero for going places with my kids–for traveling with them, for taking them on hikes or long walks on rail trails, for going shopping with them strapped to my body.

Doing things with my babies doesn’t make me a remarkable parent. It makes me a human with a life to live. It has never made sense to stop going to the fun, unnecessary places because I have two small humans who keep getting clingier by the day. On the contrary, those small humans probably need to experience those new, unnecessary places more than I do.

Babies are NOT my full-time job. They are part of the life rich, varied God gave me.

I don’t do things despite babies. I do things because life needs to be lived. Because staring at the same four walls drives all of us crazy. Because sometimes you need fresh air, and not from your own backyard.

When I was pregnant, I swore I wouldn’t let babies stop me from having a life. Obviously they’ve changed the life. And I won’t lie and say that it’s always easy (as if anyone would believe me if I did). Some days, I revel in being able to stay home, wear pajamas all day, and do nothing–except feed hungry mouths and change diapers and cuddle and bounce and dance in the living room, of course.

Other days, I do go on an adventure despite the exhaustion and spend the entire adventure putting out fires (world-class poopy diaper in the middle of a hike. angry crying for no apparent reason in the middle of a shopping mall. forgetting the pacifier/toy/extra bottle). But even on those Murphy’s Law days, it’s still worth the effort.

In general, I choose to let kids continue the adventure rather than replacing it. And that’s one of the best choices I will continue to make.

Which is why the slightly cooler weather is making it more inviting than ever to go take babies to the farmer’s market even if I don’t really need anything. Or to pack everything up and walk six miles on a tree-lined rail trail. Or to book flights to South America with my mom so the babies get to spend their first birthday traveling the world. Or to splash in the little kiddie pool on the back deck.

For me, having kids means having adventures with kids.

How I Met My Sister-In-Law

Jacoby Cousins

Photo credit: Beth Nyhart (bethyherself.wordpress.com)

Last week, we packed up the dog, the babies, and a metric ton of accoutrements and road-tripped it down to Gettysburg to visit the in-laws. This might be stressful if you have any in-laws other than mine. When it comes to in-laws, though, I pretty much won the lottery.

The first time I met Beth, Manny’s sister, I was sleeping on Manny’s sofa in Guam. She had no idea where her brother had picked me up, and I had no idea that she didn’t know I was coming.

It had been a couple of weeks since I met Manny for the first time on the neighboring island of Saipan. He invited me to spend a few days with him and his sister, who was visiting for a few months, on my way back to the states. I switched the first leg of my plane ticket to a few days earlier than planned so I’d have three days in Guam on the way back home. On the day I flew in, he had to go to work. So he picked me up at the airport, dropped me off at his house, disappeared to change into his uniform, and left.

I hadn’t slept the night before. Literally at all. Because the powers that be at the school in Saipan had ruled that no one should have to get up at 4 a.m. to take me to the airport, they had dropped me off at 11 p.m. the night before. I arrived in Guam a cranky mess and passed out on Manny’s sofa before he made it out of the driveway.

When I woke up, Beth (who blogs at Righteous Tree) was sitting on the chair opposite sofa Indian-style with her Macbook in her lap. She peeked over the top of the screen at me a little quizzically. At first glance, I noted that Manny had lots of books–two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves full, which endeared him to me at once. I also noticed that Beth was the kind of person who had a Giving Tree decal on the back of her Macbook pro, which rendered her definite Friend Material.

We introduced ourselves and talked about Guam, about Saipan, about Christian colleges, about life. It wasn’t until around noon, when Manny came back for lunch, that I realized he hadn’t said a word to Beth about my visit.

She was just cool enough to act like it was completely normal to wake up to strangers on the living room couch and to make them feel at home (in a home that wasn’t even hers).

A few months after Manny and I married, we crashed Beth’s wedding on a whim–flew in to see her with no prior notice, surprising her a couple of days before the ceremony–and I had the honor of being a very last-minute bridesmaid as she exchanged vows with the love of her life.

Fast-forward four years, and we’re all on the lawn outside Manny’s parents’ Gettysburg home, wrangling our twins and Beth’s toddler with the parents’ help in an attempt to get a good photo of all three. And it occurs to me that, of all the bizarre family dramas I’ve experienced, I’m very, very thankful that my in-laws aren’t one of them. I’m also thankful for the very cool sister I never saw coming.

I’m backing the blue (and camo) because I’m not willing to do what they do.

I’m not willing to die for my country.

I’m not willing to take the oath. I’m not willing to go to war for the constitution, for the political freedom of others, or for patriotic sentiment. I’m not willing to consign my life to the federal government–and that’s not just a statement about the current political situation.

Maybe it’s a statement about my own ungratefulness, selfishness, apathy, or fear. I should be braver, stronger, more of a patriot, etc. But that’s just how it is.

I do solemnly swear that…I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me.

On my honor… I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions.

-Excerpts from the Armed Forces’ Oath of Enlistment and the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor

I’m not willing to die for my country, but I’m married to someone who is. I’m not willing to die for the safety of my town or county, but I’m so grateful for the law enforcement officers who put on blue every day and go hold others accountable for their actions.

Whether they see it as a personal challenge, a legacy, an obligation, or just a job with decent benefits, our military and our law enforcement officers–every single one–have jumped through countless hoops to earn the right to work and fight for us.

Every single one has sworn to protect their badge or their country at incredible personal sacrifice.

They have trained, they have studied, they have left their homes, they have been poked and prodded, they’ve waded through the bog of beaurocratic stupidity along the way, they’ve been insulted, they’ve been treated like children, they’ve tested themselves and been tested–repeatedly–all the time, in every way.

All for a less-than-stellar paycheck and for people who aren’t willing to do the same. That doesn’t make them all superstars. It doesn’t even make them all heroes. There are selfish, power-hungry, immature, irresponsible, bigoted jerks in the military and on police forces all over the country, and pretending there aren’t does a disservice to those who do bring integrity to the job every day.

Not every police officer or soldier is a shining star in the community. But the fact is, they were willing to take the oath. They were willing to do what it took to earn the right to sacrifice themselves. And every day, they’re willing to get out of bed and do it again.

They deserve all our support until they’ve demonstrated otherwise. We can and should back the men and women in uniform until those individuals have proven that they don’t deserve to put it on.

It’s time for us to pause at both the gross injustice that has been inflicted on Black people and the sacrifice of those willing to die for people (like me) who wouldn’t do the same.

And now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’m going back to my knitting, copywriting, and momming, because thanks to my husband and people like him, I have the freedom to do so.