Monday, January 02, 2012

2011 Lessons: Torrie Epperson

Surprise! The musing carnival doesn’t have a nepotism clause! Okay, fine print aside, while this might be my wife Torrie’s first official post on my blog, it doesn’t mean that her voice has not been heard here before. She proofreads nearly every single one of my posts. Regularly, she’ll pull the MacBook over onto her lap and hack away. Occasionally, Torrie will simply reply, “looks good” and push the laptop back to my side of the bed. Other times she will take her reading glasses off, shake her head and say, “you’re weird.” I don’t know why she does it but I do know this. Every time she touches the keys, she makes my 1,000 words a thousand times better.

Torrie breathes life into everything she touches and is my editor in writing and life. They say that you shouldn’t get married thinking you can change a man. If that is the norm then Torrie could make a killing teaching seminars to brides-to-be. Being married to Torrie has changed me, not that it was her goal, per se. But she has made everything about me better. I’m a harder worker and more compassionate person because of her. I have a deeper understanding of Jesus. I don’t have long hair anymore because of her. That alone makes her a saint! Do you remember me with long hair? I looked like Shaggy Doo had a baby with Rob Thomas.

Settle in. You are going to read some pretty incredible words below. Her reflections on the past year remind me that, while she is making me a better person, I still have a long way to go to catch up with her.

Oh, and one last thing. Do me a favor and follow her on twitter. I know she’d really like 99 followers. It has something to do with a Jay-Z reference. Don’t ask. – Eric

Everything they say is true.

Regarding pregnancy, that is. Palmer’s oil really does prevent stretch marks, exercise really does make for an easy delivery, and breastfeeding really does help you lose your baby weight. Everything they say about everything else is still questionable and should not be trusted.

I am woman, hear me roar.

In 2011, I carried a baby a week past her due date, labored intensely for 4 hours, and pushed her out in less than an hour. And she wasn’t a tiny baby either – a healthy 8 ½ pounds. In trying to prepare for this experience, Eric and I watched YouTube footage of childbirths (note to expectant mothers: this is a bad idea). Every time, I ended up dry-heaving in the bathroom, in tears, convinced I could not do it. In efforts to try to build up my confidence, Eric spent many hours telling me that I was strong enough, I was brave enough, and besides, it didn’t really matter, because she had to come out somehow. He told me that I should feel empowered, and that if I could deliver a baby, I could do anything. And I have to admit, once I was finished with the labor and delivery, I did feel like a rock star.

EF5 tornadoes are a big deal.

I recently read that an EF5 tornado is the most powerful storm on Earth, with winds more than 200 miles per hour, compared to 155 for a Category 5 hurricane. It is also incredibly rare. Out of 100,000 thunderstorm clouds, only about 1,000 will produce tornadoes. Of those, less than 1 percent will be rated EF4 or EF5. About one-tenth of 1 percent of all tornadoes will become an EF5. The tornado that took our home, tested my ability to make decisions quickly, threw me head-first into motherhood, and cemented my rock star status was the result of not one, but five supercell storm clouds that converged right on top of us.

People are good.

As a result of that tornado, I got to see just how effective the church is, and just how loved we are. For example, I have not had to purchase baby wipes, toilet paper, or toothpaste since May (not because we don’t use them, but because so many people donated things like that to us). Alice has more clothes now than she did before the storm. We had a place to stay when so many others had to live in hotels and FEMA trailers. We really got to see firsthand how the church takes care of people, and we were able to experience the kindness of people, both familiar and strangers. With the exception of the looters who showed up the next week to steal copper wiring from our basement (c’mon, really?!?), we experienced generosity, compassion, and sympathy from everyone we encountered.

Home is where my little family is.

Over several months of 2011, we really got to test this theory out. In Alice’s short life, she has lived in our original house in Joplin, the guest room of our friends in Webb City, a dorm room in Tennessee, a barn in Carthage, and finally, a tiny rent house back in Joplin. While I may miss our comfortable old house and its charming features, I know that our home is where we are – it’s where we get to make traditions together. Things like family snuggle time, nighttime dance party, and Alice’s bed and bath routine are ones that we can do anywhere, and the ones that we’ll enjoy regardless of where they happen.

Having a baby really does change you.

Without sounding too self-important, I have to admit that I never knew life could be this full before. Sure, I hear myself saying things like “please, just let me pick your nose” and “are you pooping right now?” but I also get a glimpse into our Father’s love for us – in that he gives and gives and we can offer so little in return. Also, rumor has it, Eric’s turned into a real softie since Alice came along.

Vacations are a good thing.

All that changing is exhausting. Parenthood is not for the faint of heart. It’s a big commitment. Between incubating the baby, nursing the baby, and just the general wear and tear associated with keeping a baby alive, it’s vital to take some time off. This is especially true for Eric and I, who had nearly 9 glorious years together before having a baby. I will stand by anyone who says that getting away from the baby every once in awhile makes you a better parent. If a vacation is out of the question, a good nap will cure almost anything. I promise, the dishes can wait.

Normal is a constantly evolving concept.

We’ve often referred to life in the last 8 months as the “new normal”, and even that has changed a few times. It’s important not to get too caught up in what we should be doing at our age, why we haven’t reached all our goals yet, or when we will finally settle down. Instead, we need to accept that our life will change when it’s time and we should just enjoy our normal right now.

Some things don’t matter as much as I thought they did, some matter more.

Things that don’t matter so much: college football, a clean house, and having DVR. Things that do: hearing my baby breathe when she sleeps, dependable friends, and a good home insurance policy.

God hears prayers.

Even the little ones. So keep praying.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Eric, your wife is awesome. As if you needed a reminder. :) Loved this.