He’ll be 1 in a month. His first year of potentially so many. I had a birthday last month. A fairly significant one, I think. People who, a few weeks before seemed so much older are now suddenly “my age”. I like being 30 so far…more than I thought I would. I know technically it isn’t really that much different from 29, but somehow, it feels different. I’ve been telling the girls in the high school small group I lead that once you turn 18, you sort of feel 18 forever. I know I do, on the inside anyway. Sometimes I look at my 3 kids and my house and my husband and I sort of giggle to myself and think “Don’t people know? How could they let me bring these babies home from the hospital? I’m just a kid!” But I’m not just a kid. And sometimes that is sad to realize, but mostly lately, I’m thankful for these 30 years that I wear on my face and speak in my words. I feel a bit more real and more secure. One thing I’ve learned for sure is I sure have a lot to learn.
Mommy accidently mentions the word “potty” and two-year-olds’ eyes light up. “I wanna poo-poo in the potty seat!” She disappears around the corner.
Three and half seconds later, twin sister two-year-old delightfully says the exact same thing…and disappears around the corner.
Mommy balances nursing baby brother in one arm while he fights to finish his lunch and tries to help first two-year-old pull off shorts and very wet diaper. All the while, listening to accusing tone of two-year-old. “I do it! I do it mySELF!”
Mommy sighs, sits on bathroom floor, watches as two-year-old tries unsucessfully to do it herself.
Mommy stands up and helps two-year-old finish undressing and mount the potty seat.
Two-year-old smiles, grunts, smiles, grunts, laughs, sings “Twinkle, Twinkle, litte star” (complete with hand motions), proudly announces “I did it!”, high fives twin sister (who is still singing), pulls 3 feet of toilet paper off from the wall, wipes (if you can call it that) jumps down from the potty seat and looks inside.
Potty is empty.
Two-year-old smiles again, announces her victory and runs out of bathroom naked from the waist down.
Twin two-year-old looks up at Mommy with big brown eyes. “I wanna poo-poo in the potty seat!”
Mommy looks at twin two-year-old. “Just go in your diaper.”
10 Vanilla hazelnut creamer (sorry Kari) for my coffee in the morning. I am taking full advantage of the one cup of caffeine a day that they allow a nursing mommy.
9 The theme song to the show The Office…less because of the show, more because it means for the next 22-26 minutes, The Man and I are going to be together and laugh at random, stupid comedy.
8 My two year old, still in her crib, sweetly singing Happy Birthday to her baby bear…because that makes up for 10,000 times she will scream “NO!” at the top of her lungs today.
7 My select comfort back sleeper pillow…I think I’m in love. For the stop-and-go pattern of sleep that define these early days with a newborn, at least I know I have this perfect pillow to return to.
6 & 5 Netflix and (ok, I’m just gonna say it) People magazine. Yes, I not only read People, I have a subscription. In my defense, it was a gift from my mother-in-law.
4 The potted flowers on our porch…because I planted them and they are still alive (because The Man took pity on them and gives them water).
3 Target. It is my trip to Hawaii, my grand getaway.
2 The FlyLady…because a made bed, clean laundry and a shiny sink go a long way to helping me feel life is normal and organized on those days when I don’t leave the house.
And the number one little big thing that has helped me survive the past 4 weeks:
1 Knowing this may be the last time...waking up in the wee hours of the morning and getting the fussy baby from his bassinet, feeding him until he is once again content and cleaning up the spitup that dripped down my leg when I got up to change his diaper all with only one eye slightly open becomes more bearable when I realize that, with each day that passes, this little baby in my arms grows older. And with 3 under 3, we will probably never have another one. And suddenly the draining cycle of sleep deprivation becomes an opportunity to remember that this crazy life routine we are in right now is temporary and fleeting. And just like that, the mundane becomes holy and sweet.
So much for an uneventful pregnancy. Our little one has decided he would rather lounge in my tummy with his back down than be upside down for the next few weeks. So we have decided to have another c-section and it is scheduled for tomorrow. I have approximately 12 more hours to be pregnant.
It seems like such an important moment in time. I didn’t expect to know when I would have this baby, but with the recent turn of events (literally), I have come to accept and embrace this last minute change in my idea of a birth plan and we have enjoyed a big day of anticipation.
So what is one to do the day before she is to have a baby? I cleaned the toilet. And went to target. And gave my 2 year olds a french manicure. And ate shrimp and tiramisu. And I prayed a lot and cried at stupid things. And I have been thankful.
One thing I didn’t do is watch the news for fear of seeing this.
For the past 8 months I have been waiting for June. With 2 and 1/2 weeks to go til our son is due to arrive in the world, it is both strange and exciting to realize that his birth month is indeed here. We’re “sittin’ on ready” (as my mother-in-law from Mississippi likes to say) and I am happy to have had an extremely uneventful pregnancy this time around. After giving birth to twin girls a little over 2 years ago, I have come to appreciate no longer being such a novelty.
I am not what anyone would consider to be a green thumb. I love to look at flowers and pretty green plants and freshly cut grass in the springtime. But I haven’t a clue when it comes to actually planting them and keeping them alive. We received a large indoor floor plant (don’t know what it was) after we got married and I was pleased to see that it stayed alive for a good long time. My mother-in-law later confessed that she would water it when she came over to babysit.
It was about this time last year when The Man and I were looking for a house to buy. We pulled up to a sweet little cape cod and I was immediately intimidated, not necessarily by the house itself, but by the landscaping. The front yard was nice, but the backyard was especially pretty: a crepe myrtle here, day lilies standing nearly as tall as I was, some kind of blooming purple and pink flowers and bright, leafy green plants placed just so. I immediately decided I loved this house. We hadn’t seen the inside yet, but somehow, I just knew. If I was ever going to have a pretty yard, I would have to buy one ready-made. And this one was perfect. We ended up buying that house and now, one year later, are experiencing another spring with it in full bloom.
But I have to admit I am nervous. See, I remember how pretty it was last year when we first saw it and I fear that, since I haven’t a clue how to keep this yard pretty, it will eventually become…not pretty. The previous owners lived here for many years and were good at yard stuff. I know how nice this yard can be…but what if I can’t keep it that way?
Flashback to 2 months ago during the winter olympics: I didn’t realize I had fallen asleep until I woke up. Sasha Cohen was just “14 minutes away from taking the ice” (as evil NBC so strategically flashed on the screen to lure me in…it worked). I don’t remember who had just skated off the ice, but one of the commentators said something and the concept has stuck with me. He said something about the pressure associated with the burden of potential. And I’ve thought about how that can be such a trap.
I think that is where I am with this whole yard thing…I know its potential, but do I have what it takes to keep it there? How often in life am I kept from enjoying the fullness of what things are for fear of missing what they could be?
I gave away a bag of baby girl clothes to a friend last week and I was happy to do it. This morning, I found myself wondering Did she like them? Will she use them? Maybe she’ll just sell them at the next consignment. One thing I didn’t do, though, was drive to her house, knock on her door, and ask her if she had received them or not. After all, I was there when she stepped on her porch and took my bag in gratitude. Why would I wonder if she had received them or not? Sounds silly, but don’t I wonder this very thing when I release things to the Lord?
In her book The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, Hannah Whitall Smith emphasizes the fact that with God, the rule is fact first, faith second and feeling last of all. What a liberating thought! You mean I don’t have to wait to feel as though the Lord has received that thing that I have so desperately wanted to surrender to him?
Begin to believe, and hold on to it steadfastly, that He has taken that which you have surrendered to Him. You positively must not wait to feel either that you have given yourself, or that God has taken you. You must simply believe it, and reckon it to be the case.
And as I take Him at His word, the feelings will inevitably follow.
It was the night of June 23, 2001 and my husband (of 4 hours) and I had just pulled away from our wedding reception. We sat closely in the way back of the limo somewhat surprised by the silence that greeted us as we watched our familiar town pass by through the window, the smiles and waves of those closest to us still a fresh memory. I remember looking down at my gown all gathered in my lap and then over at this man sitting close beside me with a crooked smile, both satisfied and loving, on his face. And in that moment an overwhelming and unexpected feeling swept fast through me: as a couple in love, we were finally free. Free to love and be loved without boundaries or fear of rejection. The way it was meant to be.
Fast forward five years to last night…sitting with my husband on the floor of our twin toddler’s nursery, he holding one and I the other. It was nearly 1 am and he had just cleaned out a crib full of throw up and I, seven months pregnant, was trying to navigate through my cloudy thoughts to decide what to do with a sick little girl in the middle of the night who was sure to throw up again, if not multiple times. It doesn’t matter how much time or money you spend when picking out cute bumper pads and pretty cribs for your babies. They all smell the same covered in last nights dinner.
She and I ended up in the living room and daddy took twin number 2 to the guest room with him…but because I couldn’t sleep for worrying about my daughter (and for fear of getting sick myself, if I’m completely honest) I began to think about my husband and about the transition from wedding to life. This is real life, I thought to myself. But I also realized something sweet and comforting as I tossed and turned on the couch. There is no place I’d rather be than sharing life with this man and these children in this place.
What a funny choice love can be. Why would I choose throw up and sleeplessness? Because this is life, real life…far removed from the lacy dress gathered in my lap, but no less sweet. It is all wrapped up in perspective. I like the way Paul Colman puts it: Life is where you are. And I choose to love it.
She wanted the pencils, I could tell she did. Her daddy was sitting in the too-small chair in the children’s section of the bookstore and she was vacillating between a small, brightly colored and obviously educational activity book…or the set of pink princess pencils. She held them both, one in each hand and she quietly asked her daddy which one he thinks she should choose. He repeatedly told her it was her decision to make, she could choose either one. No sooner had the words come out of his mouth, than he was giving her a list of pros and cons about each potential choice: the pencils are pretty, but the activity book might last longer; the pencils have to be sharpened and then they get smaller and smaller, but the activity book has pages and pages of endless fun. “But the choice is yours to make,” he was sure to add.
I smiled to myself as I noticed the fathers’ inability to remain uninvolved in her decision. It was obvious to me which she would choose after his comments…what 5 year old would choose the pretty pencils after daddy clearly explained how impractical they were? I missed what happened next as my own daughter came up to me with several copies of the same board book and I realized she was rearranging the entire Sandra Boynton collection. I was somewhat glad for the distraction as it helped me maintain my cover.
When I looked up again at the daddy/daughter duo, I realized they were standing up to leave and she seemed very satisfied with herself. As they passed by me, I noticed in her hand she held the pretty princess pencils and in that moment, a strange realization came over me. I never would have chosen the pencils no matter how badly I had wanted them. And it made me think of all the other things that I do to please people or in attempts to make the “right” decision. Not only did the little girl make her own decision despite the implied frivolousness of that choice by her father, but her dad actually let her make that choice and seemed glad that she did so. And he was happy to buy the pencils for her.
I want to be more like that. Not making foolish decisions in haste or greed, but in those things where the outcome is neutral but the process is the point, I want to give myself permission to make the choice that is fun and exciting. I think as a kid I was always so worried about making the “wrong” choice in things that I had a hard time just being a kid. Sometimes you just have to choose the pencils. I think it is a liberating experience.