A Puppy, Work, and Daily Joy

I shared a few months ago about my struggles with depression, and how motherhood has magnified those struggles. I want to share a little more now about what I’m doing to find joy and contentment in my daily life.

I think, at least for me, a big part of healing from depression is first understanding it better. It has helped me to identify my depression triggers, so that I can know how to handle it when I’m feeling low. My main depression triggers are boredom/monotony, stress, and loneliness/rejection. First, I start to feel depressed when my days feel pointless, long, and unchanging. My second trigger involves the stress that comes from feeling trapped or helpless, such as when I’m dealing with my difficult toddler who I can’t keep happy, facing a financial situation that seems insurmountable, or feeling unable to catch up or stay on top of my responsibilities. The last trigger I have is related to the times in which I feel that I have no close friends, or that my friends don’t care about me. All of these things lead to depression for me, and usually I start to feel better when I make a change, find a solution, adjust my thinking, or refill my social tank.  

There are also ways in which I can avoid my triggers, or at least avoid the negative thinking that they lead to, which would then lead to depression. For the first trigger, boredom, I have found that adding positive responsibilities to my life can help. I’ve accepted a volunteer position at my church as the nursery coordinator, a job which takes a few hours a week to handle. I also have a paid job at my church doing childcare in the nursery once per week, and I volunteer in the nursery with Cory almost every Sunday. We’ve added several pets to our family lately as well. In early March, we got our guinea pigs Charlotte and Penelope, who are doing great and are lots of fun. At the beginning of this month, we decided to adopt a puppy, bringing our dog pack up to three. Her name is Lila, she’s 12 weeks old now, and she’s a Jack Russel Terrier mix. We wanted to have one dog of each size, and Lila is definitely going to make the perfect small dog, since she’s probably going to weigh under 8 pounds full grown. My life is beautifully full right now, in the best way, and staying busy (without being too busy) is very helpful for me.

For the second trigger, stress, I have learned that an attitude adjustment can be extremely helpful. I’m learning to see God more in my work and my daily life. I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I believe I was created to be a mother. I believe God creates each one of us with unique gifts, abilities, and passions that we are intended to use in a particular way for his glory. We were made to do a specific job, or perhaps several, on this earth, and he has equipped us for those jobs. There was a message at church recently that really spoke to me on this topic, and some of the things I learned have helped me to change my perspective in a very positive way.  It was entitled “Work as Worship,” and it was about how we can feel God’s joy, glorify God, and reach others for Jesus all through our work. We can do that by seeing our work as our God-given purpose; by putting our heart into our work and offering our very best to God; by working with integrity; by letting our light shine on others who we encounter through our work; and by remembering to show love and kindness to all of those around us. These attitudes can apply to each of us, no matter what job we have.

Right now my main job is as a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. My job responsibilities include caring for Cody’s needs, teaching him, introducing him to the world, and loving him; they also include caring for our pets, doing laundry, and keeping the house clean and in order. My job involves interaction with other parents and children and employees at stores and other places we go. Of course, most of my interactions are with Cody and Cory. In this job, I feel God’s joy through doing my tasks and doing them well, knowing that they matter to God. I feel purposeful knowing that my interactions with others are opportunities for God to answer prayers and bring hope into people’s lives. Remembering that my job is holy, from folding laundry to managing tantrums to being a friend to other moms, makes the stresses of my job feel less negative and more like opportunities to worship the Lord.

My last trigger, loneliness, is relatively easy to keep under control by keeping my social tank full. I make it a priority to go to a park play group with other moms from my church. I plan playdates with my mom friends. I do my best to be a friend to the people in my life, even when I don’t feel like my efforts are reciprocated, because I know that to have a friend you need to first be a friend. I try to spend time with my family on a regular basis—and for me, there is really no better way to feel loved and wanted than by spending time with the people who I know accept me and care for me no matter what. As for my struggles with rejection, which is tied to my trigger of loneliness, I find healing through Jesus, prayer, and attitude adjustment. I think carefully about when to take a step back and when to not take things personally. I forgive freely. I remind myself that my best friend forever is Jesus, and that any other friends I have, for a season or for life, are added blessings to enjoy without holding on so tight that it hurts me.

Overcoming depression isn’t an overnight or an easy process. My depression ebbs and flows, and in the low points it can feel like I will never escape. Yet during the good times, I remember the truth that I will be completely free one day, whether that’s today or when I get to Heaven. Until then, I am thankful for God’s work in my life to help me understand and manage my triggers. He has shown me ways to find joy in my daily life. Truthfully right now, I feel that I’m in the most joyful place I can ever remember being in. I have a good life that challenges me and gives me purpose, and is full of blessings and opportunities to bless others. Cory and I have thrilling dreams for our future that motivate us forward, and our lives are full of joy for today as well. All of that goodness can only come from God, and I’m so thankful to him for that. He is so good.

P.S. Here are some pictures of Lila. Isn’t she so cute?

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Happy 18 Months Birthday, Cody!

This week, Cody turned 1 ½! It’s hard to believe he’s already halfway through his second year. He’s becoming more and more of a “big boy” and less of a baby every day. It’s sad, but also exciting!

Here are some of his impressive accomplishments for the past three months:

He can point out almost 20 different body parts on himself and others when asked.

He can identify himself and others by pointing. (Where’s Cody? Where’s grandma? Etc.)

He can sign “all done,” “again,” “more,” “eat,” and “down,” along with his old signs “dada,” “milk,” and “ball.”

He finally signed “dada” while saying “dada” instead of saying “mama.”

He can follow simple instructions such as “close/open that,” “put that back/down,” “go around,” “don’t touch,” and “go get that.”

He cooperates and helps us with things like getting him dressed, getting him in his carseat, and putting his shoes on.

He sometimes helps clean up his toys.

He tries to play peek-a-boo with his hands and behind curtains or doors.

He is starting to try to use a spoon.

He takes our hand to lead us places.

He gives high-fives, low-fives, and waves bye-bye.

He makes “mmm” noises when he eats a food he likes.

He tries to tickle himself and others.

He imitates “gentle touch” when we use his hand to show him (especially when petting the dogs).

He imitates a lot of the things we do, such as vacuuming, brushing Sky, and cleaning.

He is good at sharing usually. *I hope to explain more about what sharing means for us later.

He tells us sometimes when he goes potty, and likes to practice sitting on his potty chair.

He has peed once and pooped once in his potty chair!


Some of Cody’s silly antics lately:

He likes to act goofy and try to make us laugh.

He loves to snuggle and “wrestle” on the couch and bed.

He loves running around the house, playing with the dogs, and exploring outside.

He enjoys bike rides. (He rides in a seat on dad’s bike.)

He prances, basically runs, walks backward, and spins in circles.

He loves to be chased.

He absolutely loves when he has both mine and Cory’s full attention and when we give him kisses and snuggles.

He loves piggy back rides and shoulder rides, and will try to climb on when he wants one.

He sometimes giggles and makes sounds in his sleep.


Some of Cody’s challenging behaviors:

He still has clingy days, where he wants to be held A LOT.

He sometimes tests limits and ignores our commands – he’s a toddler after all. 😉

He whines a lot. WORST NOISE EVER.

He can be very aggressive with me and Cory and the dogs.

He can be very demanding about nursing at times.

Physically, Cody’s growth has slowed down a lot, which is fairly normal for this age. I suspect that he’s growing into his body type, which will likely be slender since Cory and I are both slender. His weight at his 18 month checkup was 21 pounds and 10 ounces, and his height was 2’8”. That means he gained only four ounces in the past three months, and he grew just over an inch. He is now in the 16th percentile for weight, 31st percentile for height, and his head is slightly more proportional in the 91st percentile now. Cody has almost all of his teeth, but he’s still working on those second molars. He had a hard week of teething last week, but they haven’t quite come through yet.

Cody is eating a little bit more, but nowhere near a complete diet of food. We offer him bits of whatever we’re eating, but he mostly only eats breads, pastas, cereals, yogurt, cheese, and sweets. He did willingly eat his first vegetable recently, and he fed himself a piece of fruit, too. Generally though, we have to feed him or he will play with and throw his food and not eat any at all. He’s still nursing of course, and the majority of his nutrition comes from my milk.

He’s been sleeping perhaps slightly better during naps and bedtime. He goes down fairly easily for both. Occasionally, he’ll mix things up by skipping his nap altogether or taking it several hours off schedule. Typically, though, he takes his 1 ½ to 3 hour nap around noon. We are pretty consistent about his bedtime being 8:30, which is the time he should be in bed and sleeping. For his naps, I nurse him to sleep most days, or he falls asleep in the car on the way home from our morning activity. For bedtime, I nurse him and then dad rocks him to sleep. At night, he tends to wake up 3-4 times total which at this point is no big deal for me. Being that he sleeps in our bed and nurses back to sleep, the wakings aren’t too disruptive and I feel like I get a good nights’ sleep usually.

Cody is wearing 18 month size clothes, and isn’t ready to move up quite yet, except for his 24 month size plain white onesies which we use as pajamas. He wears “big boy” shoes now with solid bottoms, rather than the flexible shoes he used to wear, and he’s wearing a size 6. We’ve been using cloth diapers less and disposable diapers more now that he needs much less frequent changes and we’re out and about so much more. He wears a size 4 diaper, and I don’t see him going up a size for a very long time, if ever. We will probably potty train him before that.

On the topic of potty training, some people are surprised when they see his potty chair or hear me talking about him using the potty at this age. Typically, potty training doesn’t start until 2 years old or sometimes later. However, what we’re doing isn’t really “potty training” so much as it is simply getting him used to the idea of using the potty and recognizing his bodily processes. We actually call it “potty learning,” and we’ve been very casual about it thus far. Sometimes, between diaper changes or when we’re just hanging out around the house, we let him go diaper-free and encourage him to sit on the potty if he wants to. We’re going to continue doing this for a while and see where it takes us. We’re not in any hurry to potty train Cody before he’s ready—we’re just encouraging him and introducing him to the idea, since he’s shown interest in learning.

That’s about it! He’s adorable as ever, and dare I say things are getting somewhat easier. Or, maybe I’ve just become acclimated to the challenge—sort of like a callus develops over time as a result of agitation. Cody’s certainly given me plenty of agitation, so I must be a callus by now. 😉 As in most cases, I think this “callus” is definitely worth it.

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