Small Mercies

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

–Anais Nin

Lately I find myself in the kitchen around 7:30 or 8 at night, foraging for something sweet. I’ll eat maple granola from the Pyrex dish we keep on the counter, chocolate chips from the bag I attempt to hide at the back of the cupboard, a caramel from my Valentine’s box, or the worst (but my favorite): a big marshmallow dipped in peanut butter.

I didn’t used to eat like this. In fact, about a year ago I had just finished a 21-day cleanse where I removed gluten, dairy, sugar, eggs, alcohol, and caffeine from my diet. The me from a year ago would be horrified by the me today eating marshmallows, chocolate chips, and caramels.

But here’s the truth of it: a lot has changed since last year. I found out I was pregnant. We decided to get married. We planned a wedding. We tore out nearly everything in our home and slowly put it all back together. I gave birth to our baby. I learned how to swaddle, breastfeed, cloth diaper, soothe, bathe, and care for a whole new tiny being. I’m still learning. Each and every day I’m learning.

Photo by Mara LeBlanc

Photo by Mara LeBlanc

A lot has changed.

In my first week home with Max, I grew to despise the late afternoon. I quickly learned that the evening hours brought screams and howls from my tiny baby, and a knot would form in my stomach each day as I watched the sun set. At that time, all I knew was frustration, confusion, exhaustion, and my own deep ache of postpartum sadness.

It turns out that my howling baby was simply hungry. I wasn’t producing enough milk to keep his little belly full. I worked with a lactation consultant to boost my supply, and after weeks of a regimented, ‘round the clock schedule of nursing, my little swaddled baby finally began to fall asleep in my arms after his meals.

photo

During those tough weeks my husband made me a big batch of cookies with oatmeal, flax, and brewers yeast. They were touted as a magic bullet for nursing moms, but honestly, I was just grateful for the soft comfort of butter and sugar. When the first batch was gone, he made another.

So began my bout with a ravenous sweet tooth.

And yet, I’m not worried about this like I would have been a year ago. I know this phase will pass. As the months bring warmer weather and longer days, I will soothe myself with walks along the riverfront. The spring breezes and summer bug sounds will gently lull me back to center. Soon enough, my tongue will crave sliced watermelon and cold green grapes. Finding my way up the steep learning curve of new motherhood during the brutally cold winter months left me craving ease and sweetness. In this season, I’ve indulged in the small mercies of a treat.

Indeed, a lot has changed.

And so, as the quote above describes, I am growing. But I am growing partially, unevenly, and not absolutely. I am harboring some unsustainable habits, but I am also learning to give myself grace during my periods of uncertainty and change.

As we endure these trailing weeks of winter, I encourage us all to extend ourselves some grace. For the perceived shortcomings, for the things we don’t yet know, for the moments we can’t muster strength. I wish us grace and peace through it all.

(I thank Kelsey from Happyolks for introducing me to this quote in her latest post. It was a perfectly timed salve to my heart.)

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