Thursday, September 27, 2007

Is Your Husband REALLY your Best Friend?

Everybody says that their husband is their best friend. I am sure that at some point, I've said it too...because that's what you say. However, I'm not sure what kind of best friend most women are used to, but I know that my best friends and Jeremiah have brought very different joys to my life.

When I was younger, and I used to spend the night with my best friend, we would lay in bed with every intention of going to sleep. After hours of playing "Miss America Lost in the Woods" (this is a game we made up so don't Google it or anything) or watching a movie and replaying our favorite parts 10 times (I hope you all remember how long it took to find your favorite part of a movie when we still were using VHS) we would be sincerely exhausted. Then, when we climbed in bed, pledging to REALLY go to sleep this time, one little voice would pipe in with something that could not wait until morning. Silence. Another voice with something hilarious that they didn't want to forget to relay. Hysterical laughter. Silence. A bit of gossip that we'd heard and couldn't believe we hadn't told the other yet. Silence....on and on it would go for hours. Even though we went to school together and/or talked every afternoon on the phone, somehow there was always more that needed to be said.

Now, if I could contrast that with my nights with Jeremiah... We both climb into bed dead tired, not from playing Miss America (sadly enough), but just from the realities of life these days. Sometimes I get chatty, but I'm constantly telling myself that I better get it out as fast as I can because I know he needs his sleep. Then, mid-sentence I say, "Jeremiah? Jeremiah?" only to find that he has been asleep for who knows how long and my story has been a waste of breath. Sometimes he says, "Do you want to cuddle?" and I know that I'll get about 3 seconds of actual cuddling...

There are a lot of more obvious differences between Jeremiah and Whitney (my best friend that I don't guess I actually named until now), like the fact that I have never done Whitney's laundry, cooked her meals, picked up her messes--at least not on a consistent basis :). However, to me these duties aren't as applicable, because I'm pretty sure I WOULD do those things for her if she needed me to, the way that Jeremiah does. It's really this chattiness that makes our relationships so different to me.

So, what do you do? For me there are two saving graces. One is that I still have Whitney, my Mom, my neighbors, and several other girls in my daily life that are(thankfully) still willing to let me pour my chattiness all over them. I, in return, happily soak up their chattiness that (I assume) their husbands aren't able to fully absorb. Second, I am thankful for nights like last night when I climbed into bed with Jeremiah and he said, "Wanna talk?" At this stage in pregnancy, I can't roll over very fast (it's actually something like a five-point turn), but I whipped over as fast as my body would allow and we just chatted. He wasn't in a hurry, we talked about nothing for almost an hour, and I was reminded that despite all evidence to the contrary, he really can "just cuddle." So, while he is not Whitney every night, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like it if he were.

Monday, September 24, 2007


So, I'm uncomfortable physically. I am 2.5 weeks from my October 10th due date, and at my last doctor's appointment he said there were no signs that Mary Aplin is going to be making her debut anytime soon. Also, I'd gained 2.5 pounds in the past WEEK--to add to the 2 pounds I'd gained in the 2 weeks before that. Honestly, I had been pretty happy with my weight gain during this pregnancy, but now here I am in the home stretch and the weight is multiplying exponentially. This same thing happened last time. Most people either stop gaining or LOSE weight in their last month, but not this girl. Most people say, "I'm just so uncomfortable I can't eat." Obviously, "not eating" is not something that happens to me when I'm uncomfortable :) All in all, this is a very trivial problem. I would honestly rather be gaining too rapidly than losing too rapidly...there is no question that this little girl is thriving. I could gripe and list out all the different things that are aching and throbbing, or I could tell you that I put on my outfit to go to the gym this morning and looked so hideous that I couldn't bear to go, but I am trying not to be as big a whiner as I want to be.

I am also uncomfortable emotionally. I just feel like my life is changing rapidly, and I hate change. Maybe that isn't quite fair...I think my life has been changing at a normal pace, I think now I am just starting to notice all that happened while I wasn't paying attention. I went to Dothan this past weekend, and I saw that Mom really is sick. I haven't given an update on here in a while (and I don't think I'm up to it today), but right now between her chemo and the cancer she just can't go like I'm used to her going. That's hard to see. However, we are all still claiming God's physical healing ON THIS EARTH, and trying to wait patiently for its fruition. What a fun blog that will be to write :)

In Dothan there were also changes like my little sister, Kendall (I still slip up sometimes and call Pace Kendall if that gives you any idea of how I see her in my mind), being on the senior homecoming court. She cheers with little girls that I used to babysit. This big strong football player went up to the microphone to announce something or other about the upcoming game, and it turns out it was scrawny little Brian whose diapers I used to change. It was just bizarre.

Finally, I am emotionally uncomfortable with changes that are happening in my friendships. Maybe it's because I got married before I was finished with college, or maybe I just have the ability to stay blissfully blinded, but when I think about my best friends from college they, like Brian in his diapers, are still just the same in my mind...and heart. I don't talk to most of them very much, but somehow I assumed that we all felt the same towards each other as we did when I knew the details of every date they went on or what they liked to eat for lunch on Wednesdays. I think I have created a world where if I turn around and squint just so at the right time of day, I can still see everybody just as I left them when things were at their prime. I can see myself about 20 pounds lighter. I can see Mom, with a full head of hair, running Caroline to piano practice, Taylor to soccer, and Kendall to Kindermusik. I can see my friends from college scattered around our den in North Face jackets talking about how Whitney can get a medical excuse for the test she doesn't want to take that afternoon. But that's not where we all are anymore, is it? And that makes me uncomfortable.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Book Update

The book update is back. So, that was the warning for any of you who aren't interested in this stuff. The books of the past few months have been much more varied than what I was reading before.

Atonement by Ian McEwan: This was a book club selection by my friend and blogger Melissa. It (like Memoirs of a Geisha) was very shocking to me to find a male author who could so poignantly express the ideas inside of a girl/woman's head. I like to believe that men can't possibly understand our complexities-heck, I can't understand them-but then a book like this comes along that makes me think twice. It was set during one of the World Wars (II I think, but don't quote me on that), and tells the story of Briony, a young, wealthy little girl who aspires to be a writer. Her great sense of imagination creates a tragic situation in her family, and ultimately alters the course of everyone's life in the story. It was a novel concept! The ending will also throw you for a loop (or as one member of the book club said, "made me want to throw that book out of my house as fast as I could"). Mainly, it will effect you. However, in all honesty I just didn't love it. The last half of the book takes you into the midst of the war, and I just don't like reading about war...there you go...shallow as it seems. BTW, there's a movie coming out about this book with Keira Knightley as Briony's sister. It looks really good, and you can see a preview on YouTube.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas: Oh my goodness, I loved this book! I read The Three Musketeers way back in 8th grade and loved Dumas even then. Revisiting his work as a grown person was even more satisfying. I will warn you that it is LONG, and if you are as dumb as I am, then you'll need to stop at some point in your reading and create a character list with connection arrows all over the page. However, it reads like a soap opera. You will get so caught up in the detailed overlapping of these character's lives and fates that you won't be able to put it down. At its heart, it's the story of the ultimate revenge. At its soul, it's the story of love overcoming hate (at least I, in my idealistic view, interpreted it that way). It's awesome.

Ladies in Waiting by Kate Douglas Wiggin: My friend Lauren gave me this book as a birthday present, mainly because it is a beautiful copy of an antique book, and also because the author is the same as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. It was a sweet collection of unrelated stories, all about different "ladies in waiting." It was a pleasant read, but not breathtaking.

Portrait of a Lady by Henry James: This was another book club selection, and I was very excited about it. I had never read anything by James and was eager to add him to my repertoire. The book commenced with these two sentences--

Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. There are circumstances in which, whether you partake of the tea or not--some people of course never do--the situation is in itself delightful.

Then, James gives us a sweeping view of tea, set up on the lawn of an English manor, on a breezy summer afternoon, with lush carpets, books and chairs arranged under the open arms of ancient trees. I thought it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between woman and book...I was wrong. After 624 long pages of following Isabel Archer on her journeys through Europe, love, and friendships Henry James had the audacity to leave me with no definite ending. Maybe you are artistic, maybe this is the type of thing some of you find interesting, or maybe Henry James-the master of character formation-thinks that the plot is not nearly as important as helping you to know a character and thus infer your own ending. If any of that crap sounds good to you then, by all means, read away. I, however, like reading partly because it is a finite world. A world that has a beginning and a definite end. That's something we can't ever truly obtain in the "real world," because (unless you're dead) the story just keeps on developing. I consider it the responsibility of the author to take me through until the finish, and I think it's cowardly to do otherwise--I don't care if you call yourself an artist.

There were good parts of this book. The character description and development is truly brilliant. There is one character, who James never does anything but give positive qualities to, that you still find yourself uneasy about. You can't put your finger on it, but you just don't trust her. In the end, you discover that your feelings were justified, but I was fascinated by wondering how he managed to so subtlety create that ominous feeling.

There are some heart pounding declarations of love:

"I don't go off easily, but when I'm touched, it's for life. It's for life, Mrs. Archer, it's for life," Lord Warburton repeated in the kindest, tenderest, pleasantest voice Isabel had ever heard, and looking at her with eyes that shone with the light of a passion that had sifted itself clear of the baser parts of emotion--the heat, violence, the unreason--and which burned as steadily as a lamp in a windless place.

SO, I have written way too much on this one. In the beginning, it is great. Then, you will sink into despair and despondency as you wonder why anyone would ever get married when they could travel and have all sorts of men lying down to worship at their feet if they stay single. Your despair will only be deepened by the questionable ending unless you, like me, decide to believe beyond all other signs that Isabel Archer divorces her nasty husband and runs away with a man who has loved her from the start. Then, you can feel bad that you are one of those people who cheers for divorce. Enough.

The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling: I thought this was the best book of the series (except for maybe Book 3). So good. Couldn't put it down. Thank you J.K. for giving me a nice ending--even an epilogue to satisfy my extra need for closure. I'm going to miss you Harry...

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis: I call myself a great lover of C.S. Lewis, but recently I realized that I was saying that without even having read one of his most famous works. Oh my goodness, I could do an entire blog on this book alone. It must be read slowly--no more than a chapter or two at a time--because you have to give yourself time to absorb all the deep truth he throws at you. He has a way of taking the most complex issues and simplifying them down until you wonder how you ever could have missed it before. It has already changed the way I hear sermons. If you are like me, then there are phrases you use, as a Christian, which have some nebulous meaning to you, but you've probably never taken the time to really understand what you are saying: "sons of God", "becoming like Christ", "humility", "the Trinity", "one in the body of Christ", "begotten Son"... These phrases are filled with power and meaning, but I think most of us gloss right over them. Bottom line is you need to read this book. Not to mention that C.S. Lewis has such of fun, funny, and very British way of entertaining you while you learn.

God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it. :)

He himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

If You Could See Me Now

Guess what I'm doing. Sitting quietly in the library, after a morning of pumpkin spice latte and a good book at Starbucks, a little browsing at an antique linen and lace shop in Mountain Brook Village, and when I leave here...I'm meeting my parents for lunch. Thank you Jesus for "Mother's Morning Out!" I went back and forth about whether or not to send Pace to MMO: the money, she needs interaction with other kids, this is my JOB, it sure would be nice to have a little break, the MONEY, does this mean that I am lazy, she will learn things that I don't even know to teach her, THE MONEY, how will I even go to the grocery store once Mary Apline is born...on and on it went. I couldn't decide. Then, finally, a week after all the other kids had already started, I decided to sign her up.

Since this is the only morning before Mary Apline's arrival that I won't have a doctor's appointment (yes, it is already time to start going once a week--SCARY), I decided to soak it up. No guilt, I was going to do whatever I wanted to do, be out of the house, and not chide myself for all the things I could be getting done. Today was my fun day. The crazy thing was, that I couldn't decide what I wanted to do. Lauren kept asking me what my plans were, and I told her I just didn't know. I laid in bed last night (since I can't sleep anyway) just thinking of all the possibilities. Think about it, what would you do with 4 guilt-free hours to spend however you like? But keep in mind that they are the only solid 4 guilt free hours that you'll have for a long time. It was tough! You already know what I chose, and I feel like it has been pretty marvelous.

I have been telling Pace that she is going to school, and she's been excited. We went and met her teacher and part of the class last week, and I could hardly get her to leave with me because she was so enamored with all of the new toys. I was a little sad as I packed her lunch and snack, and I was even more sad after tentatively leading her to the table with all the other little girls. However, I fought back the quick crying surge that swept over me by reminding myself of the quiet corner of Starbucks that was waiting for me :)

Sorry about the delay in the picture of the new room. The transition went really well and she has been happily sleeping and napping in her big girl room. It is fun to be able to lay beside her in bed to read a story, and she has learned to ask, "Lay with you a minute, Mommy?", which I can rarely resist. Face to face on her pillow, we both close our eyes, and she has started this sweet gesture where she rubs my face absently with her little hand. It's almost like she is trying to reassure herself that I am still there.

The first night in her room we made a big deal out of our new ritual. I videoed her bouncing around in the bed and telling the camera about her room. Then, Jeremiah read her a story (I've still got the camera rolling) and said her prayers. She then starts telling us to, "Close the door!" So we both kissed her (several times) and then did as she asked. As soon as it closed, however, she began to cry.

"Jeremiah, I think I should go back in and get her. We don't want her to have a bad first experience in her new room," I pleaded. Then, Jeremiah graciously reminded me that it had only been 30 seconds and we should probably give it a minute or two. I conceded and suddenly the crying stopped...I burst into tears.

"Are we really doing this?" Jeremiah asked sarcastically.

"You only get one first baby, and she's not a baby anymore!" I wailed.

"Abby, she's the same age she was last night when she went to sleep, she's just in a different bed," he calmly reminded me. (But I will add here that I could tell he was reassuring himself as much as me.) I, however, continued to press my lips tightly together and could do no more than nod my head. I was fine as long as she was crying. Then, I could tell myself that she really wasn't old enough for this, and I could go tuck her back in her crib any second. The crying ending was something I was not prepared for.

"At least you know you've been there for every second," Jeremiah quietly added. "At least you're not crying because she is growing up and you feel like you've missed it. In fact, you've been here TOO much." Now I have given him a hard time in the past for being the world's worst comforter, but I must say that there was nothing he could have said to me that could have been more perfect.

"You're right," I sniffed as I bravely chucked myself into bed beside him. And I was so glad to be making a memory, that would seem silly and unnecessary to anyone else, with the only other person in the world who could love her as much as I do.