Missing Jay

I’ve been to many funerals in my life; too many to count.  I will be attending one today for a faculty member where I work.  It will be a celebration of her life, remembering her accomplishments and love, and trying to take away the power that cancer had over her.  Many of the funerals I’ve attended have been celebrations.  I’ve known some incredible people who have lived incredibly fulfilling lives.

But a few of my funeral experiences have been brutal.  I watched my best friend mourn the loss of her sister.  I experienced devastation as my mom lost her brother.  But the one that was most crippling for me was when we lost Jay.

Jay was Justin’s cousin, and was very close in age to me.  I loved him.  He went to the UMN while I did, and I would often run into him, and listen to him gripe about his studies.  He was so smart.  We were honored to have him as an usher in our wedding, and I made him dance with me during the reception.  His smile made me smile.  Three years ago today during my pregnancy with Lincoln, Jay took his own life.

I have faced depression in my life, but I will not pretend to understand how Jay felt to make that decision.  What I do know is that his death changed me.

I don’t think about Jay every day, but I think about him often.  Many, many people think about him daily.  I am so blessed to have known him, and I wish he had stayed with us longer.

If you are so deep in your sadness that you feel like the world would be better without you in it, know that it will not.  Jay made a mark on my life long before his ended, and today especially, I miss him.

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Jason and Diane

Today my kids will be hugged tighter and my husband kissed longer.  I will say hi to every student I walk by and smile at more people.  I will thank God for holding me up when I couldn’t do it myself. I will celebrate Jay’s life.

It is good to stray from the norm

My mom has referred to me as a hippie mom.  I’m not sure that I’ve gone that extreme, but I have chosen some parenting techniques that are not as common.

I breastfed Lincoln and took him to baby yoga. I made all of his solid foods, many of which were organic, and we taught him baby sign.  But he did wear lots of blue, started his solids right at 6 months, and had some formula in his first weeks of life.  It was a wonderful blend of the traditional methods and some newer trends.  We learned a lot about parenting an infant.  There were a few things that I’d wished I’d done with him, and I planned to do that with the next pregnancy and baby.

I found out I was pregnant again (with Eloise), and I considered the things we did with Link, and the things I wished I had.  I decided I would do more prenatal yoga to prepare for birth (I did it almost 5 times… but I was on restrictions a lot of her pregnancy, so I’ll blame that) and that I would get in a place where I wouldn’t need an epidural (I totally had one).  I prepared to breastfeed her without using any formula to supplement, but I knew, based on Link’s experience, that the needs of the baby outweighed my wants.  Eloise was born, perfectly.  We were able to breastfeed right away (thank you Jesus!) and I was able to store up enough extra milk that I was able to donate some, as I wished I could have done with Link.

I cloth diaper Eloise, which I am so happy about.  I love not buying diapers (we are almost not buying any for Link either).  My family was supportive of my decision, although I’m pretty sure they thought that I was nuts, and would give up.  But I was alright with that, and it did encourage me to give it the best go of it that I could, so that I knew if it was right for us.

The next thing that we are doing different with Eloise is baby-led weaning as a way of introducing her to solid food.  It’s going pretty well, although we are on a hiatus to figure out some issues she’s having otherwise.  You can read more about the benefits here if you’d like.  Before my mom read the benefits, she was certain I was nuts.

But here is the important part: It’s alright to do things different than how your mom (mother-in-law/sister/neighbor/friend) did them!  If you, as the trusted parent of this little one, feel that this way is right, do it that way.

I do feel that it is important for family members to be involved in raising your children.  If you, as a grandparent, don’t understand why a certain method is being used, ask!  I am grateful that Link’s and Ellie’s grandparents care enough about them to ask why I do things a certain way.  My children are so blessed!  And I am so incredibly blessed that my husband, parents and in-laws may seek better understanding of what I’m doing, but then they support it.  They know that I am choosing the best for my kids.

I feel that listening to people’s concerns and questions, and then making my own decision, is an important thing to demonstrate for my children.  They need to know that it’s alright to do things different than what is expected of them.  If Link wants a pink balloon instead of blue – great!  If Eloise is dressed head to toe in boy clothes (ok… not quite her own decision yet) – great!  Their mommy and daddy love them, they were designed by God.  That is what matters.

Now… some pictures of Eloise trying to eat food.

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This is an avocado?

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It’s mushy.

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Apples!

 

Kids these days

Yesterday we drove past the hospital, and I pointed out to Link that the hospital was where he and Eloise were born.  Then when we got home, he asked me, “Mommy, how did all those babies get in your tummy?”  My 2.5 year old basically just asked where babies came from.  Not sure I’m ready for this.  But they are growing up so fast!

Link loves to play out in the puddles, and thanks to the weather, we have gotten to this week.  I am so happy that we can get them out – the fresh air is so good for my children.  I mentioned the love of dinosaurs already, but we are also big into cars.  We have been using little Matchbox cars and dinosaurs for some potty-learning incentive.  I’m not one to broadcast the potty habits of my kids, but I will say that there has been very impressive advances in that area.  We are very proud.

Eloise is sitting now!  She is also doing a lot of “crawling”, or at least her version.  She gets up into a perfect crawl stance, and lunges forward, repeat, repeat, until she reaches her destination (often something that will go in her mouth).  We are still trying to figure out her dietary needs.  I had been dairy free for awhile, and that relieved a lot of her acid reflux.  I introduced it again, and that hasn’t been going well.  A combination of that, the beginning stages of teething, and a cold that will not leave our house, has led to some unhappy moments for her.  Overall though, she is the happiest little girl.  We are so blessed by her smiles.  She is also a big fan of not sleeping at night, so that’s been fun.

I will leave you with a few photos of the rugrats.

Eloise after some outside time

Eloise after some outside time

Link loves to eat the snow!

Link loves to eat the snow!

3 generations of Gehring men

3 generations of Gehring men

Daddy and Eloise playing ball

Daddy and Eloise playing ball

When it’s not fair

There are many things in life that are not fair.  It’s not fair that one person is wealthy and another is not, when they are both hard workers.  It’s not fair that one person is healthy and another is not, when they have the same genetics.  It’s not fair that your sandwich tastes gross and mine is delicious when it was made by the same person.  Life isn’t fair.

It’s also not fair when one person is trying harder than the other at the same relationship.  But that’s often the way it is.  I’ve mentioned this before: the dance.  Relationships are a continual dance – one person leads, one follows.  Then it switches, and switches again.  But the key there is that one person is leading.  If no one is leading, the relationship will fail.

When working on my own relationships, I try to remember this concept.  If I feel like I am working hard on my marriage, I certainly hope my husband is also, but he often is not.  And when I can tell he is working hard at it, my actions may not be reciprocal.  This can lead to a few things.

First, lack of intimacy.  Not just physical, but emotional intimacy is necessary in a marriage.  I am not sure how my relationship with my husband would succeed long term if neither of us were focusing on creating intimate moments.  So even when the kids have been hanging on me all day, and the last thing I want to do is be touched, it’s important to give him a kiss goodnight.  When he looks at me and sees distress, it goes a long way if he asks how he can help.

Next, complacency.  Dictionary.com defines this perfectly: “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like.”  There are times when all of a sudden, J will say, “let’s just fight about this and get it over with!” or asks, “are we okay?”, and I have absolutely no idea that there has been a problem.  I bet this happens to moms and dads a lot.  The mom is busy focusing on keeping the kids healthy and on track, the house clean, the refrigerator stocked, and meals on the table while hopefully fitting in work and a shower.  All along the dad is feeling completely ignored and unnoticed.  Not good.

Last, distance.  When two people aren’t working on their relationship, or one is trying much harder than the other, a divide grows between them.  This divide, sucks.

But this is why you keep dancing.  You keep trying.  You keep telling your spouse that you love them, that you notice them, and that you want to be with them.  Aside from God, they should be number one.  Because after all, my person gave me the greatest gifts I’ve ever received, and I want to help him be as happy as he has made me.

 

The greatest gift

I mentioned last time that parenting was a second incredible challenge in my life.

Loving my children is not a challenge.  Even if I wanted to resist, I have no choice in this matter: I love them with my entire being.  They made me who I am; who I was meant to be.

It’s the parenting them part that is the challenge – and mostly worrying that I am not doing it right, or that they will remember each mistake I made.  Or worse yet – that each mistake I make will harm their development!

Lincoln is just over 2.5 years, and is a very happy little boy.  He is not a big boy – if you call him that, he will correct you.  He is very smart and speaks and understands well beyond his age.  He loves dinosaurs as much as anything, and in turn has become a little bit aggressive.  We have toned down letting him watch dinosaurs on television, and are working on helping him understand who he can rough-house with, and when it’s appropriate.  This weekend was wonderful.  He was so incredibly well behaved and loving.  If we aren’t good parents, he isn’t well behaved.  It’s a vicious cycle, and hard on sleep-deprived mommies and daddies of two.

We do our best, and we can always do better.  When we do better, he is better parented.  Like I said, a cycle.  A dance.  I absolutely love this dance.photo 1(1)

Not a walk in the park

There are two things in my life that are a huge challenge: marriage and parenting.  They are the greatest challenges I have ever faced.

Today I want to talk about marriage.  J and I have been married 5.5 years now and had dated 5 years prior to that.  We didn’t live together before marriage, which is something that was important to us.  He moved in the day of our wedding and the next day we headed out on our honeymoon.  When we returned, I realized that this boy, and all of his stupid boy stuff, were not leaving.  I went in my closet, cried and called my mommy.  I was basically told to buck up, and thus the marriage began.  Even though we have known each other longer than a decade, we are learning who we are each day.

Communication in marriage is key.  If we do not talk, we cannot grow.  We have learned that especially since having children.  We barely talk during the week, except for quick conversations during dinner and checking in each night about the plan for tomorrow.  There are many couples who realize, once the kids grow up and leave, that they have no interest any more in this person who has shared their bed for years.  They had focused on the kids, instead of each other.  I will not let that happen to us.  I love J with my entire self, and part of my goal for giving up during Lent, was to take up my marriage.

This morning was a typical morning that involved making breakfast, potty learning, and getting ready for work, school, and daycare.  J stayed up a bit too late last night, and was a bit of a grouch (sorry honey).  I wanted to yell at him, but I am trying not to do that, especially in front of the kids.  Instead I said, “how can I make your day better?”  He didn’t have an answer to that, but I hope that I was showing him I care.

I want to live a God-filled, loving marriage.  I want my son and daughter to learn how to be a husband and a wife, and to see what a healthy relationship looks like.  One day at a time.