Friday, September 25, 2015

the best kind of surprise.

On Wednesday at work, right as we were getting ready for our department staff meeting, one of the therapists came into the meeting room and mentioned that we had a walk in client that needed to get scheduled for a counseling appointment. This is a regular and completely ordinary function of my job, so I left the staff meeting, grabbed the necessary paperwork, and followed her to the library, where she said the client was waiting and talking to another program director. 

When I walked into the library, expecting to see a waiting client, this happened.

That's right. There was no client. My sweet friend and coworker, Logan, had been weaving a web of lies and deception and planning me a surprise baby shower with all my coworkers. (And if you don't already know this about me, it's important to know that surprises are a special kind of love language for me. I am basically the real life version of Surprise Sue, so I rarely get the chance to pull off a good surprise. Being surprised, though? It sends me to the moon!) 

She decorated the library in chic black and gold and had all my favorite treats, like cupcakes and doughnuts from my favorite shop in Jacksonville. She had even written emails instructing the rest of the staff to park on the other side of the building if they were bringing a gift in because my office window looks over the other parking lot and I would have seen everyone coming in with gifts. She thought of everything and pulled it off seamlessly and I don't think I stopped smiling for a solid day!

But that's not the only surprise I've been treated to this week! On Saturday, Natalie, one of R and I's oldest college friends, asked if I wanted to get brunch and then maybe sit by her friend's pool for a couple of hours to soak up the last of the summer sun. She asked if R would be willing to watch her 11 month old while we were out, and much to my surprise, he said sure. So I planned on low key morning of catching up with her poolside and thought nothing more of it. 

Instead of driving to the brunch place though, she drove us out to the Spa at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club and informed me that we would be getting manicures and pedicures and then enjoying lunch at the spa cafe and lounging next to the pool here instead. We spent the entire day in spa robes, getting pampered and catching up with out even the hint of a schedule or an agenda. It was so relaxing and indulgent and such a wonderful afternoon of girl time!

You see, I'll be really honest. These surprises would have been so special all on their own, but last week I was feeling especially low. I was supposed to have a baby shower here in Jax, hosted by Natalie actually, and we ended up canceling it because only three people RSVP'd. There's no hit to your self esteem quite like only three people saying they'd like to come out and celebrate you and your baby. Now, I know we are loved by more than three people and there were some legitimate reasons that some people couldn't make it, but try explaining that to yourself when you're nine months pregnant and hormonal and feeling all the feels. 

And it wasn't so much about the shower or the turnout. It had a lot more to do with feeling alone in a pretty new and scary chapter of our lives. We're far from home and family and that means we are far from the people who you can usually count on to be real with. You know, the people who can come to your house and not judge it when it's messy or care if you've showered or not. The people who don't bat an eye when you get snippy with your husband in front of them because they've seen the good and the bad in you. The people who know how to help without asking and the people you go to when you need help that you feel nervous asking for. Those people, those friends and family that we all have that reside deep in the inner circles of our lives, are our tribe. 

And R and I are far from our tribe. 

So last week, when only three people RSVP'd to my shower, I felt really far from my tribe. I worried that when the going gets tough after our daughter is born, on the days when I really need to be able to ask for help or to be raw about how I am feeling, that I will be alone. 

A spa day and a sneaky surprise shower (and an upcoming brunch with some sweet girls from church) have shown me something important, though. It's not about showers and RSVP's and gifts. It's about who shows up when you need them. And I realized that though we are far from our long standing tribe, we've created a new tribe, too. It's made up of people who may not have known us in every season, but people who have gotten to know us in this season. It's made up of friendships we've taken with us on our travels, our friends from college and from Virginia and now Jax, who we've had the blessing of crossing paths with for a short time yet who have stuck with us for the long haul. 

And most importantly, this week, I realized it's made up of quality over quantity. 

Our new tribe might not be big. We might not have a huge turnout when we plan a shower, but I have a feeling that the ones who are here are here for better or for worse. After being surprised twice this week, I'm feeling the opposite of alone in this new mama season. I'm feeling deeply loved and cared for and blessed that there are friends who go out of their way to make sure I know I'm loved and cared for. 

And if you are reading this and you are responsible for planning a sneaky spa day or a clandestine work know who you are... then I hope you know that your effort and your planning spoke deeply to my heart. Thank you for being in my tribe. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

dear workout clothes: a love letter.

Dear Workout Clothes, 

Thank you. 

Thanks for being there for me during this pregnancy. You understand me. You understand my plight. And it's time to publicly acknowledge how how awesome you've been. 

I mean, my maxi dresses and leggings have been great, too. They don't care about the weight I'm gaining and they just keep on stretchin' to accommodate this little beach ball I'm toting around. And my palazzo pants are hanging in there like champs, playing along when I pretend that the Mediums are suitable when really I need to move it on up to a Large. I have a wonderful wardrobe of clothes, nay, friends. Is it wrong to call my clothes friends? Well if it is, then I don't want to be right. You guys are working overtime to help me look like Kim K Pregnancy #2 and less like Kim K Pregnancy #1. (Google it. Go ahead, I'll wait.) And for that, I thank you. 

But you go above and beyond, Workout Clothes. You don't stop at just accommodating my slowly accumulating pounds, you do so much more. 

When the heat index here in hell's sauna Florida creeps up into the hundreds, my maxi dresses fail me miserably. Thanks Maxi Dress, you might be cute, but the heat I'm generating and trapping from the waist down is enough to power a small vehicle and that's not really a claim to fame I'm comfortable with. And maternity shorts? You should be ashamed of yourselves. I don't care that as far as anyone can see, I'm just wearing simple denim shorts. You and I both know the truth about your full panel elastic that is pulled up to my rib cage and holding me in like a sausage casing, only much tighter and hotter. 

But you, Workout clothes, with your dry-fit material and your normal waistbands, are there for me on the especially hot days, just letting me sweat it out without so much as a pit stain. I don't have to worry about passing out in the Target parking lot because I tried to look cute in something less practical because you have my six and you're not gonna let that happen on your watch. You are the real heroes, Workout Clothes. 

And you don't stop there. 

You really bring it home by making it look like I'm actually going to work out! When I go to the grocery store with you, people look at me and think, "Wow, look at that pregnant lady in her workout clothes. Did she just run a 5K? Maybe she does yoga early in the morning and then just runs around town, doing her errands without sweating! She is truly an admirable woman and I would like to be more like her!" But we know better, don't we Workout Clothes? We know that I only look like I just came from spin class and really I'm only sporting this getup because my little pig hooves are too swollen for normal shoes and I can't afford to sweat through my third maxi dress today. So I throw you on and loosen the laces on my running shoes and we keep each others secrets as we drive through the McD's drive through for that Oreo McFlurry that I've been craving. You are the Bonnie to my Clyde, Workout Clothes. 

And I know you'll still be there postpartum when I'm sleep deprived and un-showered and covered in spit up. You won't judge when I decide to actually get back in shape, then think better of it and eat more McFlurries. And I know I'm not the only pregnant woman you're holding  it down for. You're out there, selflessly serving the mama's of the world, doing the thankless work that all wardrobe pieces should aspire to. 

Keep up the hard work, Workout Clothes. And thank you, from the bottom of my pregnant heart.