Confessions of a Perfectionist

So it’s not clinical, but I certainly have a history of perfectionism. I’ve improved a lot over the years and Joey’s presence in my life helps me relax. I’m learning to accept the things I’m not so good at and allow myself to fail. Failure is essential to growth. This is something I tell my aerobics classes: “If you’re not struggling, you’re not working hard enough.” I’ve forced down a large spoonful of my own medicine in the past several months. I tried to do a push up a couple weeks post-c section and fell on my face. I quickly learned where I had placed much of my identity.

I often set unattainable standards for myself. Though I think there’s something noble about doing things with excellence and striving for your best, it’s a slippery slope between integrity and self-righteous pride. Especially if I put these same expectations on those I love.

Like a newborn.

Shame on me if I ever hold Finn to my silly expectations. Shouldn’t he be sitting up by now, having a conversation with us? Why does he still have three chins and when are his legs going to fix themselves? Absurd.

When Joey and I get overwhelmed by our love for each other, we wiggle or tap our noses. Weird, I know. But our noses get all sting-y when we–just for a moment–feel the massive power of our love. My nose stings for Finn too. I love that child SO MUCH. John says in his first letter, “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear.” God’s idea of perfection and mine are very different. Our baby Finn is perfectly imperfect. I’m praying that my love for him purges the fear of his struggles, failures and disappointments.

Superheroes

Last night Joey and I went on a real date with friends and without Finn. Our sweet pastor’s wife and daughter, Gay and Morgan, babysat…and folded my laundry; those rascals!

Morgan

We finally saw The Avengers. Joey and I love superhero movies. Maybe it’s because we leave the theater feeling invincible and genuinely surprised that we can’t fly.

Joey’s favorite line of the movie was, “Hulk, smash.” Mine was a slightly more sophisticated interchange between Loki (Thor’s estranged, demented brother) and Nick Fury (the director of the Avengers). Loki asks, “How desperate are you that you would call upon such lost creatures to defend you?” The Avengers are a motley crew of mischievous, misunderstood beasts, spies, lab rats, and scientists; not heroes in the traditional sense. This made me consider how God chooses to use us ordinary people–you and me–to carry out his valiant purposes in this world. To defend the faith with honor and without fear. We particularly feel humbled to parent Finn, a noble calling we neither expected nor feel equipped for. God must think we’re superheroes after all.

Our very own Hulk

Quack

Dear Finn,

When you’re three months old and have two chins, you can wear ducks. And your parents think you’re adorable.

Love,

Mommy

Something New

The seven o’clock stink face. Finn gets fussy just about every night sometime between 6:30 and 7:30pm. It is short-lived, but it sure is frustrating. No apparent reason for the tears; he just puts on the pouty face and cries something fierce. Changing the environment often helps. We turn on or off the lights, get outside, take a walk, sing a silly song or go for a drive. He needs change; too much sameness.

Joey and I realized the same is true for us. The monotony of baby care gets exhausting, and soon our tempers shorten. For the health of our marriage, we have to intentionally take a different route, ask new questions, play cards, try new recipes, let each other hang out with friends…keep pursuing each other. It takes work. The last 5 1/2 years of our marriage, we’ve traveled (internationally and stateside) several times a year. The pregnancy and Finn have brought those travels to a halt, and we feel claustrophobic…like we need to get out.

Since Italy won’t be a reality for us anytime soon, we decided to head to the Norman farmer’s market Saturday morning instead. Bought some broccoli, spaghetti squash, local honey and new potatoes. Then we drove to OU and walked Jersey and Finn around campus instead of our usual neighborhood route to Starbucks. It was refreshing to do something different; to break routine. Maybe it’s possible to find beauty and wonder in familiar, everyday events. Maybe I just need to see life from a new perspective… “sing to the Lord a new song (Psalm 96:1).”

Rome, 2008

The Nanny

(I can’t help but hear Fran Drescher’s nauseating, nasal voice.)

Anyhow, Finn has a major crush on his nanny, Cassie. She and her husband, Chase, are dear friends of ours and we are blessed to steal her away to watch Finn during a time of transition in their lives. Cassie is also a freakishly talented cake baker and decorator. Sometimes she convinces Finn to help her roll out the fondant or pipe the frosting. I just request that he not operate the oven. Seriously though, I feel so confident leaving him in her hands. In fact, I’m worried his first word just may be “Cassie.” Oh, I’d be so mad. Another bonus is that she comes to our house so I get to go home for lunch and snuggle with my little man.

My mom will be here to help with Finn in June and then we’ll have to begin daycare in July. After a decent search, we think we found a good one. I’m sure daycare is just fine, and I know many families employ it, but I visualize the bully toddler in the crib next door drooling and vomiting on Finn’s head while he restlessly sleeps on germ-infested sheets. I sure wish I could strap him to my back while I train clients and teach classes…but that would be fun for no one.

Shocker

All I wanted for Mother’s Day was a shock collar. Yes, a shock collar.

Make no mistake, I absolutely adore my 98 lb., 2 year old black lab, Jersey. However, since Finn’s arrival, she has often been driving me to the brink of insanity. On our walks, she is so protective of Finn that she forbids anyone to pass us without jumping at them. While I’m feeding him, she is in the backyard barking at our poor neighbors for simply existing. Jersey’s also developed this miserable habit of yelping from her kennel in the garage in the middle of the night. She assumes we’re in the living room feeding Finn (like we were the first month and 1/2), but lately, we’re all asleep.

Jersey is a joy. I just don’t have time or energy these days to enforce her obedience, so I need a little assistance, i.e., a shock collar that emits “8 levels of harmless correction.” We’ll see how this goes.

Joey pampers me. He didn’t stop at the shock collar; he bought my favorite treat from Sweets and Spurs (love that place!): a dark chocolate almond dipped apple. Yum.

And I was wondering why the changing table had black ink on it…Joey imprinted Finn’s feet as a “signature” for my Mother’s Day card.

What a special day I had with this little guy and his daddy. I am so blessed.

The In-Laws

No horror stories here, though I could make some up if they would entertain you.

My in-laws are incredible people. Becky is a compassionate oncology nurse and Terry is a relational pastor and skilled carpenter. Becky makes us play this crazy game at Christmas where you try to open a series of wrapped boxes with oven mitts on your hands until you get to the last, tiniest box, which contains a twenty dollar bill. Terry and I love passing crossword puzzles back and forth, pretending we need each others’ help. They are the kind of people you want to be around. They ask good questions, love to play games and they laugh. A lot. You can’t help but feel like a comedian in their company.

Finn also loves them and enjoyed the day playing together. He’s come a long way from the NICU and we are grateful people.