I named him Jude so I would remember, so I would fight for joy and choose to say, "This time, I will praise the LORD." But the days are still long and mothering small children still exposes all my rough edges, all the dark and ugly parts of my selfish heart that resist this never-ending call to lay down and die. I say it a hundred times a day--"Jude!" [Praise!]--but still I forget.
So I make lists. I read books and blogs and articles, and I write my own so I'll hear the words I so easily forget. I do this to remind myself that I have countless reasons to praise the LORD, from the Incarnation and the Cross to the Resurrection and my own adoption and redemption. And for the last
Jude came into our lives in a way that was an answer to many prayers and an occasion for much praise. Over the months that followed, I have felt overwhelmed by many struggles, but I have also experienced much grace.
Nursing, despite all my expectations and hopes that it had to be better the second time around (surely experience had to count for something), was a total nightmare for about eight weeks. But by grace, I persevered--my boy grew chubby thighs on my milk alone--and at thirteen months, he signs "milk" while he's nursing and flashes me a gap-toothed grin that melts my heart.
Sleep? Overrated, Jude says. I'm not my big brother; I don't need twelve hours a night plus naps (yes, I was ridiculously spoiled by Elijah). But I have a husband who helps with the middle-of-the-night parenting. I get a lot more sleep now than I did a year ago. And in the early morning hours, when my quiet time has been interrupted and I've had to go rescue a pajama-footed towhead from his crib earlier than I would prefer, he sits in the middle of the floor and tosses every (unfolded--I'm not usually stupid enough to leave the folded loads within his reach) piece of laundry across the floor, and giggles.
Mealtimes? A chore, I'm not gonna lie. I delay solids as long as possible because exclusive breastfeeding is easier, faster, more convenient, less messy, and free. I dread this stage, when pickiness abounds and he's not old enough to be reasoned with. But, hello First World problem! I have food to feed my child! Lots of it! A wide variety, and it's got plenty of calories and nutrients, and he can, in fact, consume it and digest it! Also he looks hilarious with black beans smeared all over his face.
When I stop and slow down and think, I have to "who gets the last word" myself. The newborn stage still isn't my favorite. The years may be short, but the days are long. BUT the years are short! I have a healthy, happy little boy (two actually!). God has chosen an incredibly kind way of refining me. I am forgetful, but He remembers me and He reminds me. He has set before me a monumental task, for which I am weak and inadequate, but He walks with me, He fills me, and He demonstrates His power and sufficiency through me.
A year ago, among my many fears, I wondered whether I would slog through the darkness of postpartum depression again. I am overcome with gratitude when I sit here and realize how my Father has protected and preserved me. There have been dark days. I have felt discouraged and full of despair. But I have been *present* this year. I have been more able to enjoy Jude's babyhood. And however haltingly, however infrequently, however weakly--I have been able to praise.
Happy (belated) birthday, sweet baby Jude.
Today, I am praising God that you're ours.