Friday, 26 July 2013

On reading, writing and church (with a baby)

After my last post, I realised I'd forgotten a few key things about life with Button, things which could fall under the umbrella 'stuff that keeps me sane', as opposed to things we do together, namely: reading, writing, church.

These are things I've done consistently throughout my life so far, more consistently than any other thing (since I could read, I've always had at least one book on the go; I've kept journals since I was ten or eleven; I've been going to church since, umm, birth), and things that give me refuge.

It's tricky, with a baby, doing anything consistently.  And in the first month or so, all of these pretty much ceased as I got to know my new son, and got to grips with being a mother.  Which was a shock, particularly the lack of reading.  But now things have settled a little and aren't quite so overwhelming, I'm finding ways to do these three things, because I've realised how much they mean to my peace of mind.

I've had to mourn the long hours I could spend with my nose in a book, and accept that in choosing to have Button, that's a very fair trade off.  But I'm learning that if we go out I should always bring a book, as there's likely to be some point where he'll sleep and I'll find myself on my own, even if just for five or ten minutes.  And now that Button is sleeping better, I have a little time to myself when I go to bed, instead of collapsing and passing out, and this is perfect for reading a chapter and winding down from the day.

Books I've enjoyed since Button was born are all non-fiction, which is really unusual for me, although mostly memoirs or memoir-style books, which is less surprising since I'm nosy and like hearing stories.  So far I've read: Love Does, by Bob Goff; A Year of Biblical Womanhood, by Rachel Held Evans; Carry on, Warrior by Glennon Melton.  And I'm currently working my way through Moranthology, by Caitlin Moran; Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, by Lois Tverberg; and Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott.

I'm pleased that I've managed to keep writing, as I was determined to keep a journal of Button's first year, and it's going pretty well so far.  I also vent in my regular journal, the journal I spill my guts into, the journal I hope no-one ever reads.  Blog-writing comes low down on this writing pecking order, as it requires more thought and time, so if Button naps at home, it's either one of my handwritten notebooks I'm likely to reach for.

And church.  We took a break from church when Button was first born, partly to give me a chance to recover and rest, and partly to give Button a chance to develop a bit of an immune system.  I was relieved to have a break, but I also missed my little church family like crazy.  Attending a service is something that helps keep me sane - no matter how I'm feeling about God or life, whether I'm hopeful or scared or happy or apathetic, committing to be in a space where we're called to focus on worship is such a valuable discipline for me.  It's good for me to be reminded to put myself aside and focus on Someone a whole lot bigger.

Church with a baby is different, especially when your baby is the only baby in a church of 15 people.  I'm more distracted with Button, even when he's asleep, always keeping one eye on what he's doing, checking he's okay.  But, I love being there with him, holding him as I sing (trying not to sing right into his ear), jiggling him about on my lap, walking him around as people speak.  And this family love him so much!  If ever I do need to rest my arms (he's getting big now), there's always someone who'd love to take him and have a little cuddle, someone who'd like to try to make him smile, someone to keep an eye on him.

I suppose the thing I'm learning with these three things is that they all take a little more thought and discipline than they ever did before Button.  It's easy to waste time faffing about online when Button sleeps and there are Sundays when I really can't be bothered with the rigmarole of getting us ready to go out.  But I'm learning that they are all worth doing as they all help me recharge, so I fight to make sure they're part of my week.