Babies, Brain Freeze, and January Thaws

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. One of the reasons for that is that we’ve had a houseful of babies. Actually, only one real baby. We had the great delight of having Gabriella (and her parents) here for almost two glorious weeks. We loved every minute. What a gift this Nana has had—first, nearly three weeks in Dublin with Erika, Richie, and Gabriella and then nearly two weeks with them here.

And we had other “babies” as well. Of course Bengt at age three and Soren at age two are definitely not—as they would be sure to tell you—babies. Bengt is even sleeping in a “big boy bed,” and Soren is clearly a “big boy” compared to his baby cousin “Gabby-umbrella.” But still, they are (don’t tell them) our grandbabies.

And they brought their parents along—you know, the ones who used to be our babies but somehow, when we weren’t looking, grew up and learned to fly airplanes and lead groups and direct ministries. And move far away—too far, as a matter of fact.

But we had them all here for a few short days over New Year’s. It was a house-full—wonderful, glorious chaos. But then they left. And now the house is quiet and neat and organized (well, sort of) again. And I’m not liking it much at all.

It’s also led to a fairly serious problem—brain freeze. For the past week or so, my brain has been frozen. I have things to do, blogs to write, teaching and speaking to plan. But my brain seems to be frozen. No motivation. No new ideas. No creative bursts of energy. All I want to do is go back and relive the chaos days, when everyone was home and the house was messy and noisy and full of life.

Any of you experiencing brain freeze? In talking to a few other people, I’m learning that it does seem to afflict others, especially in January. Now here in Wisconsin you could say it is weather-related. We’ve had many below-zero days and wind chills as low as 30-40 below. But it is actually quite warm and toasty in my house. I really don’t think I can blame it on the weather.
I think it’s kind of a January thing. It comes for different reasons for all of us. For some of you, there actually may be some relief in January in having the kids go back to school. You’re still scratching your head about how I could wish to go back to a chaotic, noisy house. But then there’s the stuff you left to do until after the holidays. The return to the routine. The weather. I know—those of you in the south think it’s cold even down there in January. Just don’t tell us Northerners too much about it!

Which leads me to the last part of my blog title: January thaw. OK, this part is wishful thinking. Though we are experiencing some temperatures in the 20’s, there’s no January thaw in the Milwaukee area. But I’m thinking it would be nice. And it may come someday—by, say, April.
But I do think my brain may be beginning to thaw out just a bit. After all, I’m writing to you . . . Now if only I could get some great creative bursts of energy in my writing and planning of talks.
Which is where you come in. I’m curious: Do any of you have January brain freeze? Any ideas on how to thaw out?

Also, I could use your help. Mom to Mom is planning a fun new event in Austin, Texas, this February 20-21. (Read about it here.) The event theme is “Motherhood: Simplified,” and we’re very excited about it. In fact, even despite my brain freeze, I’m at work right now on three keynote talks.

Of course, all you moms know we don’t mean “Motherhood Made Easy.” There’s certainly no such thing! But we can make it less complicated than our culture seems to say. So I’d love to hear from any of you who have some insights or hot tips on ways you’ve found to simplify your life.

Who knows? Maybe the warmth of hearing from you will even help my brain thaw…

Babies, Mamas . . . and their Mamas

I’m back! After 18 wonderful days (and nights—well, maybe they weren’t always so wonderful!) with Gabriella and her parents, I’m back home. And I’m up way too early. Amazing what jet lag does to you—it is, after all, nearly halfway through the day in Dublin.

In these dark and cold (here on the frozen tundra, our backyard thermometer reads below zero—I’m not sure I want to know how much below) early morning hours, I’m thinking thoughts of babies and mothers—and, of course, also the mothers of those mothers.

I’ve come home from my immersion in new-baby-land with two big impressions.

First, I am newly amazed and awed at the love God gives to a mother for her child. To both parents, really—but I am writing primarily to mothers here. It’s amazing what a mother will go through. Not only to give birth—that’s medal-of-honor material in itself. But how about the absolute and complete re-arrangement of your life when you bring that baby home? Topsy-turvy days and nights—if you can even tell the difference! Painful tenderness in all kinds of body parts you rarely thought about before. The need for a caravan (and household staff) just to get you out the door. I really don’t need to go on—you all remember this!

It was a great privilege to watch my daughter become, seemingly almost instantly, such a wonderful mother. And to see the way both Richie and Erika love this beautiful child beyond words even amidst their sleep-deprived fog of new parenting. I have new admiration for all of you reading this who are doing (and have done) the same thing.

My second big impression is a bit more personal. I just have to say that it is hard—very hard—to leave a daughter and granddaughter and get on a plane and fly 8 or 9 hours in the other direction. I envy any of you nanas who don’t have to do this. But this morning I’ve actually moved beyond my personal little pity party. I find myself thinking differently about the Christmas story.

For the first time ever, I find myself thinking of Mary’s mother. I’ve often thought of what that journey to Bethlehem on a donkey must have been like for just-about-to-deliver Mary. In fact, Erika and I talked often of this as we rocked Gabriella in the middle of the night.

But for some reason, I had never thought about Mary’s mother. The Bible tells us nothing about her, so of course this is all speculation. But what must it have been like to see your daughter set off on such a journey at such a time? And then probably not to see (or possibly even hear from) your child—and grandchild—for most likely several years? This was, after all, way before frequent flyer miles and email and Skype and cheap international phone rates!

I just read, for seemingly the thousandth time, Mary’s words to the angel upon learning of the Child she was to bear. The angel Gabriel has just answered Mary’s very human questions with the reminder that “nothing is impossible with God.” And Mary responds (in Luke 1:38), “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Those words have always astounded me. Stopped me right in my tracks. Made me almost speechless. And this morning I’m wondering whether Mary’s own mother had a similar heart response. And maybe that’s what made it possible for her to let Mary go.

Where did they (both Mary and, maybe—just maybe—her mom, too) get the strength to do this? The answer may just lie in my new granddaughter’s name. Gabriella means, I’ve just learned, “God gives strength.” And He does, doesn’t He? To mamas and their mamas all over the world. Then and now. Thank you Jesus! And may each of your reading this feel His strength this Advent season.

A closing personal note: I can’t resist including a few extra pictures this time—thanks for indulging this “Nana.” And . . . one more bit of exciting news from our family: we’re going to have another granddaughter in May! Lars and Kelly just learned from her ultrasound that Bengt is going to get the baby sister he’s been wanting. Lots to celebrate in our family this year. We give thanks.