Our Job

If I could go back, I would. I would’ve followed you into the next room and kept my hand on your back.

Unfortunately, we can’t know what the future will bring, and we can’t always protect you. But our job isn’t to keep you from falling–it is to be your legs when you can’t get back up.

Our hearts will hurt when you hurt, when you get poked and prodded and don’t understand why. If we could take away your pain, we would. But our job isn’t to keep you from pain–it is to be your heart when yours is broken.

I would tell you that it gets easier. When you are older, you will understand more, so you won’t get as frightened when you need help. But that sentiment isn’t really true. If we could keep you from getting scared we would. But our job isn’t to keep you from fear–it is to be your courage when yours is lost.

We can’t keep you from pain. We can’t keep you from heartache. We can’t keep you from fear. In fact, we’ve never felt so helpless since becoming parents.

But we will always have arms to give–to wrap around you, to hold you up, to smooth your hair, to give you your milk.

And when you say, “Thank you, Mo-mmy,” or “Thank you, Da-ddy,” our hearts will melt. But we will come back, even if you say nothing.

Because you are our Baby Girl, and that’s our job–and there’s no job we’d rather have.

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This week’s journey:

“But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'” (Luke 18:16, New International Version, 2010).

This Friday, come link up with your thoughts on this verse, whether you speak to it directly in context or the spiritual implications in a broader sense. I look forward to reading your posts as you take this journey with me! For more information on Journeys, click the link above or Journeys in the tag cloud for examples.



Wax and Wean

When she was brand new, her little hand would hug my pinky as our tummies touched.  As she grew, she let go of my finger to slide her hand on my side, a hand that was always cold and would cause me to catch my breath and arch my back for a brief second.  I would then relax and watched as she was soothed to sleep.

In the early months of her life, we would drift to sleep together.  I’d catch myself, jerk awake at the pain in my neck from sleeping upright, to see she had unlatched and was sound asleep.  Now, she stays awake and yells, “No!” when I begin to sing, my indication that bedtime has commenced.

For months, I have threatened my husband with plans for my weekend alone:  “I’m leaving as soon as Chloe turns one!”  Once one, I could begin to wean her.

One happened a week ago, and I have found myself ambivalent.  How I want my freedom, yet, how I don’t want to stop breastfeeding my baby.

People say that breastfeeding produces a bond between mother and child unlike anything else.  I’m not going to make the experience out to be something more than it was.  There were definitely times when I felt an amazing warmth and closeness toward my baby; I can still remember the first time all of my babies successfully latched on to me.  The apprehensive moments before, wondering if we would succeed, and then–he did it! She did it! She did it!  We’re nursing!  I knew I was blessed.

However, I know a mom can feel an amazing bond when feeding her baby with a bottle, too.  To hold one’s baby and watch as she drinks, gulping down the milk that will produce those endearing dimples in her squishy thighs–how could one not fall in love?!

The magic of breastfeeding for me, though, was knowing that God had equipped me with everything my baby needed; she became chubby solely off of what my body produced, and she depended on me alone to nourish her in that way.

And so that magic day has passed, and I sit.

For five days I didn’t even make a game plan as I had with the other two babies–until two days ago.  I was watching a friend’s two-year-old, in addition to my two-year-old, and the mid-morning nursing session would have been a little complicated.  So we didn’t do it.  Chloe was fine; she was distracted by all the fun of a new friend, but my heart ached a little.

Then, yesterday, we skipped that meal again.  Caleb and Hannah Grace had their last-day-of-preschool picnic during the time I would normally nurse, so we didn’t.

And I look at the clock now and know that in a few minutes Chloe will wake up from her nap, and I don’t have any distractions for her today.  She will want to nurse, and I will want to give in.  Or maybe she won’t want to nurse, and that fact might bother me more.

Motherhood can be crazy–we long for our babies to crawl and walk and talk, loving the excitement each new age and stage brings, yet when they’re four, a small part of us wishes that they were still that chubby bundle of giggles that didn’t mind if we squeezed them and rocked them in our arms until they fell asleep on our chests.

I could postpone weaning–there’s no rule that says I must stop today–but how I look forward to no more days of children drinking ketchup and maple syrup out of the refrigerator while Chloe is drinking something a little more nutritious. I look forward to scheduling appointments based on the day that I’m available, not when a baby needs to eat.  I look forward to a small taste of freedom.

And I feel so selfish admitting that fact, but I know I shouldn’t.  For almost five years I have been pregnant or nursing; I only stopped nursing the other two when fitting them on my lap with a competing baby bump became uncomfortable.  My body is ready to rediscover normal.

But to my heart, what I’ve done for the last four years is normal, and my heart knows that I might not experience this normal again.

So as I sit and tear up a little thinking about my baby growing up and how she might be my last to nurse, I also say a silent prayer to God, thanking Him for this experience.  I’ve been blessed with three children who easily nursed and shared in this beautiful bond with me, but more importantly, I’ve been blessed with three beautiful children.

The Heart of the Matter

In honor of Mother’s Day, I am linking up with Lisa-Jo, a.k.a. the Gypsy Mama, to explore why moms matter. If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to visit her website.  Not only is Lisa-Jo an incredible writer, but she has wonderful insight into pursuing a relationship with God.  You will be blessed by your encounter!

I know full and well the importance of Mom.  When I taught high school, I watched teenaged girls crumble under the weight of their grief after the loss of their mothers, unable to focus on schoolwork, maybe just not caring.  After all, how did Language Arts even compare to a day without their mothers?  I remember a friend from college who went to the doctor every time he had the slightest cold; his mother had died from cancer when he was 13.  And even after 16 years without my Nana, I see the longing in my own mom’s eyes when she talks of her mother.

Some friends share delightful stories of their mothers, while others are consumed with bitterness for the wounds their mothers created.  No matter the story, all have a place in their hearts that wants to hold fond memories and affection for the women who bore them.

My youngest just turned one.  Lately, I have spent a lot of time looking back over the past year, and I find many moments of ambivalence. In one moment I love deeply as my baby lay her head on my chest, the next I struggle to suppress the desire to yell at my children in frustration.  In one moment, I thank God for the gift of my new daughter, the next I question why we ever thought having three kids in three years was a good idea.  I look at my writings from the past year, many used as a method to unburden my soul and work through my own guilty feelings, equally as many filled with smiles as I laughed at the follies of myself and my children.

When I think about this past year, there is so much I want to do over. I don’t want my children to remember me losing control, not showing them tenderness and patience. I want the day I die to be filled with tears over losing the mother who created the delightful stories, not the mother who created the wounds that never healed.  Yet every time I find myself dwelling too long in guilt and despair, the kindness of God softly nudges me like a cool breeze, prompting me to move away from that place that He did not create for me.

This week, I searched my mind for why moms matter, and writing from the perspective of a daughter, I could fill pages and pages of why my mom matters to me. However, I had a much harder time writing from the perspective of the one who matters.  Why do I matter?  And because I couldn’t answer without falling into that place of guilt, God spent time with me so that I could answer this question.

When God chose to save humanity, He did so through His Son, Jesus.  Most of what we know about Jesus is from the start of His ministry when He was around the age of 30.  God’s plan could have started with this God-Man sent from heaven at age 30, dropped in the middle of the desert, suddenly appearing before John the Baptist to get baptized. Yet we know Mary carried Jesus in her womb, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, fulfilling numerous prophesies about the Messiah.

I don’t pretend to know the mind of God,why He chose to send Jesus as a baby, but this week I couldn’t stop thinking about Mary.  Whenever I think about Mary, I think about this woman God chose to carry His Son, calm and mild, the perfect mother.  But she wasn’t perfect; she was just chosen.

I wondered if she ever cried herself to sleep at night, overwhelmed by the task put before her.  Did she ever cry simply because she had a bad day with her children? Did she ever wish she spent a little more time hugging and kissing and less time allowing frustration to consume her?

I picture Mary going about her daily tasks while a young Jesus looked on. He saw a hard-working mother, a mother who loved her children and wanted to please God.  He was a recipient of her affection.

And as all children do, Jesus carried a special place in His heart for His mother, so much so that some of His last words on the cross were for Mary, ensuring she was cared for after His death and Resurrection: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home'” (John 19: 26-27).

I have found comfort in the fact that Jesus belonged to a family.  As God, He already knows everything, yet by coming to Earth and, in the great mystery of our faith, clothing Himself in humanity while not losing His divinity, He experienced the mother-son relationship. He witnessed and received the blessings of a good mother, all the while being the source from whom we receive blessings.

When I find myself discouraged and disheartened, I remember that He knows. I receive strength and comfort knowing that my Lord took on the role of a human, felt the emotions I feel, saw the struggle that mothers have, and tasted the joy–the joy that a mother brings to the heart of her child. That joy is where He wants me to focus.

I may not be perfect, but I, too, have been chosen.  God chose me to be the mother of Caleb, Hannah Grace, and Chloe, a calling I do not take lightly.  It is a calling I am worthy to take because I matter–I matter to God, and I matter to my children.  And when it comes down to it, nothing else really matters.

Happy Mother’s Day.  May God give you the strength to fulfill your calling with peace, joy, and laughter.

A Poem to My Daughter

I was nervous before your arrival.

The frustrations and fears I was carrying as I carried you–

could that tension pass onto you?

You didn’t give me time to think–

sudden pain, a few pushes, and then

perfection.

Your sweet cry, little fingers and toes,

I loved you before I knew you.

With each month that passed, reassurance came.

While craziness circled around us,

you exuded peace and calmed my soul.

Each night we rock, each night I feel your little hand on my side.

You have grown, filling my lap and my heart.

As I count my blessings, I remember your smile,

a smile that has filled my chest with warmth and peace

when I have felt undeserving.

You, who I didn’t know,

completed the picture.

Each day I drink of the joy on your face,

and I find the desire to begin again,

the desire to face the day anew, washed clean of yesterday,

determined to hug a little more and frown a little less.

The lessons from a baby well-received

as you trust me, relax in my presence, giving

your Smile, God’s grace to His daughter,

a mother, humbled by His wonderful gift.

Happy Birthday to my sweet Chloe.  You are my treasure!

In a Funk

If you decide to read this post, beware.  I don’t really have a plan for where I am going with this entry, but I needed to write.  I’m feeling a little sad today, and writing always helps.  Since it’s only 11:15 A.M., I want to start while I still have time to fix my mood and salvage the rest of the day!

I don’t think there is one thing in particular that is making me sad but a lot of little things piling up.  For one, Caleb is sick with the flu, and in the process, I found out that I am not the compassionate person that I always thought I was.  I hate seeing my son sick, but apparently I don’t deal very well with incessant whining and dramatics, either.  Being stuck in the house since Thursday only leaving to take Hannah Grace to preschool and Caleb to the doctor has caused me to go a little batty.  Well, being stuck in the house probably wouldn’t make me go batty that quickly, but being stuck with the incessant whining  and dramatics has apparently done me in!

So…going batty has made me a little sad because I want to be sane, and not having compassion for a three-year-old who is sick makes me feel like someone should slap me (I have had compassion at times, just not the whole time).  Please don’t slap me, though.  I’m in a fragile state.

The battiness (and my freewill) also caused me to be mean to my husband last night, so I feel bad about that fact this morning.  Maybe I can make it up to him by putting on some lip gloss.  It’ll complete my outfit of a red sweatshirt, red pajama bottoms, multi-colored fuzzy socks, and crazy hair.

My sleep deprivation keeps getting worse, and I know that doesn’t help me with my mood control.  My children have been conspiring again, and each of them were up during the night, but of course, at different times.  Chloe woke up at 11:30 and 2 or 3 or 4–I really have no idea–screaming.  She didn’t need to eat but needed comfort, so I am fearful that she may have an illness brewing…or maybe some teeth.  Either way, I know my sleep will be limited over the next week.

Hannah Grace, true to form, had two full-out, kicking-her-door-in temper tantrums in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, and as I stated previously, not at the same time when I was already awake with Chloe.  She came after Chloe’s first spell but before the next.

And in one of my better moments of showing compassion, Caleb woke up requesting medicine, after bounding in our bed a few hours earlier.  Maybe the heat from his fever contributed to my sweating through my shirt, soaking my sheets beneath me, causing me to change shirts in the middle of the night but  not being able to change the sheets since my two boys were sound asleep in bed.  I was freezing all night.

On top of the illness and sleep deprivation, I’m a little depressed at the condition of my home, for which normally I would give myself a pass given the circumstances, but our realtor is coming on Wednesday (if Caleb is better) to assess our home before we put it on the market.  I can only weep inside.

Yes, these are the reasons I’m feeling a little blue, but alas, life goes on.  My baby is up from her nap, a little boy wants to watch more TV (Hey, he’s sick! I’ll give in), and my girl wants a snack.  A mommy has to deal and go on, right?  Writing is such good therapy!

Dear God, thank you for the grace and compassion you have for me every day.  I’m so thankful your supply doesn’t run out the way mine does.  Can you please send me some more to deal with my children and everything that will happen today? Thank you! Amen.

Quality of Life 1: Calling All Tree-Huggers!

I would love to say that my family takes care of the environment, that we are friendly to Mother Earth, but I know the mess I seem to clean in the bathroom every day has to be toxic.  When it comes to the dilemma of whether or not I allow my son to wash his hands on his own and risk him wasting water or doing it with him, I risk wasting water.  On pizza night, I use paper plates, and every day we use a billion paper towels cleaning up messes.  I know we have a long way to go in the quest to be a ‘green’ family, but we are making strides.

One such effort has been the conversion from disposable to cloth diapers.  I NEVER thought I would be the mom to use cloth diapers, but here I am.  A couple of years ago, I heard a radio personality say that any mother who says she cares about the environment but uses disposable diapers is a hyprocrite.  He wasn’t making a plug for being green but instead trying to point out that his assistant who cares for environmental causes has no credibility because she didn’t use cloth diapers.  I thought he was a jerk, came up with a thousand reasons for why every mother should use disposable diapers, and drove on my merry way.

But the seed was planted.

A few months after my first daughter was born, I thought to myself that I wanted to research this cloth diaper thing.  I felt convicted that as a Christian I wasn’t doing more for the environment. I made it on the internet one day and was surprised at the world of cloth diapers.  No pins, nothing too strange–even someone like me could do this!   But I didn’t.  Cloth-diapering requires an initial investment that we couldn’t make at the time, and life was too busy with a bouncing boy not quite two and a baby just a few months old to take on something new.  The thought never left me, though.

When I was pregnant with Chloe, I told my husband we were going to do it–no more excuses!  I don’t think Matt was too keen on the idea at first, but I went for it, anyway.  I did some research and decided to use bumGenius 3.0, a one-size diaper.  The product received a lot of great reviews, and they are so cute!  Look at these beautiful colors!

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My sister went in 50/50 with me as her baby shower gift to get me started with 12 diapers, and I am forever grateful to her for her contribution.  While the initial investment was tough up front, we are saving a ton of money.  Any parent knows how quickly a little one goes through diapers, and I am so thankful that diapers aren’t a part of our budget, anymore.

I have to admit, I was very nervous about the increase in laundry considering I never seem to have enough time as it is.  Yes, I was having a difficult time at first but because I did not have enough diapers.  The plan was to purchase the initial 12 with my sister and then get some more a few months later.  Well, we had some unforeseen circumstances arise, and we never made that additional purchase.  If you are considering using cloth diapers, I would recommend buying at least 16.

However, the actual washing of the diapers and keeping them clean is a piece of cake.  I keep my diaper basket right in the laundry room, so when it’s full, I dump the diapers in the washer.  I don’t have to sort or run upstairs, so washing the diapers is the easiest part of my laundry duty!

My husband and I decided I could get more diapers this month, and as luck would have it, my friend invited me to a diaper consultation at her home.  Mommy Secrets came to her home and gave fabulous tips on entering the world of cloth diapers and babywearing. I purchased four more medium-sized diapers that they carried  from the brand Happy Heiny’s.  The brand uses the word ‘heiny,’ so I was sold.

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I never would have thought that I could love cloth-diapering Chloe, but I do.  The diapers are so soft to her skin, she rarely gets diaper rash, and when she has a diaper explosion (the only way I know to describe it!), she never leaks up out of the diaper because of the snug elastic.  No more ruined baby outfits!!! And of course, I’m helping the environment.

I wrote this blog post not as a way of endorsing any product but to help other moms out there who might not know anything about cloth diapers.  When I was pregnant with my first two kids, I didn’t have the knowledge I needed and figured this was one area of my life where I didn’t care about being green. However, if I could do over my first three years of being a mom, I would have bought cloth diapers when I was pregnant with Caleb.  I would encourage any expectant mother, mom who currently has a kid in diapers and might have another baby, or even a mom who has at least another year of a kid in diapers to consider cloth.

What are you doing to help the environment that other women could do? Let’s all share our tips in the comment section and improve our quality of life!

About Quality of Life

A Little Drizzle

Note to myself:  You actually wrote a good deal of this post last week but were interrupted many times from the kids and life.  Tonight is the first chance you had to finish.  Therefore, the ‘two Sundays ago’ and ‘yesterday’ and all time references aren’t accurate, anymore.  Oh, well.  You weren’t about to do the math to figure out the correct time, and your writing would’ve sounded weird, anyway.  But for the sake of your memory, which isn’t very good, I thought I’d let you know about the inaccuracies.

Two Sundays ago, I remember lying in bed somewhat fearful.  I’m not normally one to get afraid of thunderstorms, but when I saw the lightning strike right below my window and heard the electricity crackle in our outlets, I tensed up.  Caleb had already joined Matt and me in bed and formed a ball beneath our comforter.  I couldn’t see any part of him but would feel him move closer and closer against Matt and me with each pound of thunder that rattled the house. Even the rain was loud, as the storm seemed to intensify with every minute.

At one point in the night, Matt had gotten up to unplug everything in our room, but he was too late.  The next morning, our upstairs air conditioner was broken, and our modem was fried, so I couldn’t use the internet or our house phone.  I felt very inconvenienced and disconnected from the world.  I typically don’t ever have the TV on during the day, and I normally put the radio on in the car when carting kids back and forth to preschool.  Monday is their off day, though, so for most of the day, I was in my own bubble.

I had no idea what the storm was really like–only my perception of the events.  It wasn’t until I spoke with my mom and learned of flooded roads that kept some of her co-workers from getting to work, heard from my husband that Gwinnett county had closed school, and saw pictures the next day of the Scream Machine roller coaster partially submerged in water that I began to understand the true intensity of this horrific thunderstorm.

Then the following day I read an article of a woman’s frantic call to 911 as she was trapped in her car less than a mile from her home.  She was a mother.  I saw another article of a toddler swept by the rushing water from his father’s grasp, a story that would stay with me as I imagined myself trapped in my van with my three children.  Even if I were able to get my windows down in time and the door open, I can’t imagine a happy ending to this story…and my stomach is still in knots as I count my three blessings and think of that poor family grieving their loss, a family who didn’t have to imagine .

It’s amazing how one’s perspective can color an event.  The storm that I found so terrible and frightening and inconvenient paled in comparison to what those around me were experiencing.  Until I saw the damage elsewhere, I didn’t realize how blessed I was to be without air conditioning and a cable modem.  As I moved through that week, the lessons God was teaching me were very apparent.

When Caleb was frightened the night of the storm, he didn’t cry in his room, he didn’t go downstairs and find comfort in a doughnut, and he didn’t turn on the TV.  He came in his parents room and snuggled with his mom and dad.  Yes, he was obviously frightened, but with each strike of lightening and clap of thunder, he moved a little closer to Matt or me.  He found reassurance simply in our presence.

God wants me to do the same.  Whether I am frightened by a little thunder or I can see the flood waters rising, my response should be the same–draw closer to Him.  In doing so, He will give me peace and perspective.  In the midst of my storm, I will be able to find that for which I should be thankful because there is always someone going through something worse, and at the same time, find reassurance that the Lord cares about my struggles, too.  He just wants me to be honest about my struggles with Him.

And as with any lesson the Lord teaches me, He provided a pop-quiz to see what I actually retained….

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Yesterday morning, I managed to get my daughter’s tiny hair claw stuck on my tongue.  I was rushing to get Caleb and Hannah Grace ready for preschool while trying to take care of Chloe, and I actually had a green clip hanging out of my mouth.

“Ha-uh, HOL  SIL  PEAS!” is not what I heard in my head but was what came out of my mouth, as I was trying to keep her from running out of the bathroom.  I still needed to fix her hair (one side of her head already had a clip), so I was squeezing her with my thighs while trying to squeeze the little clip to release it from my tongue.  It was so small, though, and slippery because of my saliva.  I had never felt so ridiculous and knew my tongue would begin bleeding at any moment.  The more I tried to pry it open, the tighter that stupid clip clamped down on my tongue.

Briefly, very briefly, I contemplated asking Caleb to help me, but he would’ve just pulled on the clip with my tongue attached.  I hate to admit it, but I was a little scared.  I was afraid that if I actually succeeded in removing this *cute* hair accessory, I might have a permanent hole in my tongue.  Would pizza ever taste good again?

No sooner than I successfully transferred this demonic hair claw from my mouth to Hannah Grace’s hair, I noticed Chloe’s crying had risen to the next intensity level.  She was across the hall playing in Hannah Grace’s room.  I ran into the room to check on her and noticed she was on her stomach with her head under Hannah Grace’s dresser.  I figured she didn’t know how to roll back out from under the dresser, so I proceeded to help pull her out, except she wasn’t budging.  My baby had gotten her head stuck under her sister’s massive dresser.

I tried to lift the dresser, and it didn’t budge.  I think my heart stopped for a second at that moment.  What in the world was I going to do?  I didn’t even know how long Chloe’s head had been stuck under the dresser, and I was terrified that her skull would get crushed.  And then God gave me the Mom Adrenaline.  I lifted that dresser and was so proud–until I noticed that Chloe was crying too hard to notice and wasn’t rolling away as a cooperative baby should’ve.  Caleb and Hannah Grace were just looking on, probably paralyzed in fear as their mother was in a state of panic.

At this moment I was dumbfounded.  Caleb, my son who has rolled his sister across the floor like a log was just standing there.  “CALEB! ROLL CHLOE OUT!!” I screamed, to which he obliged.

And all was well again.

My heart proceeded to pound out of my chest for the rest of the day, and I was never so ready for bed that night.  Unfortunately, Hannah Grace stayed up until midnight, refusing to sleep in her bed, and Chloe woke up at 1:30 ready to eat.  And again every two hours until morning.

So, I have decided that today I am getting under the covers, curling up into a ball, and resting in my heavenly Father’s arms.  It’s starting to rain outside, and I need a nap.

Forget the Baby Book

I make a lot of good intentions.  One can witness this fact by the three baby books I bought for each child.  I don’t always follow through on these intentions.  One can also witness this fact when noticing Caleb’s baby book stops after one year, Hannah Grace’s is blank except for her birth announcement, and Chloe’s doesn’t even have a birth announcement.

Over Caleb’s three-and-a-half years, he has said some of the most amazing sentences to leave a baby’s mouth, and he gets funnier and funnier. Unfortunately, I’ve probably forgotten half of these anecdotes, but no more! Starting today, I WILL record the precious gems that leave all of my kids’ mouths!

Now, yes, I could record them in their cute baby books so they wouldn’t look so pathetic, but I’d probably become overwhelmed with guilt that I didn’t fill out the page asking for the price of bread on their birth dates.  I’d spend the whole afternoon Google searching for this bit of trivia that I wouldn’t record the more interesting parts of the baby books–the parts about them.

So. While I don’t write in my blog as often as I’d like, I do write at least once a week, if not more.  And while I don’t have much of a memory at this point, I have just enough brain cells left to remember one or two cute ramblings from the mouths of my babes, so below is where I will keep record.  This blog will be on-going, and I will add their newest to the top of list.  Enjoy!

Hannah Grace: (After I told her that her hair is beautiful) “No, it’s not; no, it’s not.  My hair is AWESOME!” 5/10/2010

Hannah Grace: (from completely out of the blue) “Mom, we don’t say ‘tootie-butt.’ (Thank you for the reminder!)–1/6/2010

Caleb: “Mom, batteries don’t die!  People die.  Batteries stop working!” (I stand corrected)–Jan 2010

Hannah: (Caleb was antagonizing Hannah Grace, and he apologized by saying ‘I’m sorry, Hannah Potato’ and later ‘I’m sorry, Hannah Banana.’) “No, Caleb.  That’s not right.  You say, ‘I’m sorry, Hannah.”‘–1/5/2010

Caleb: “Hannah, I’ve sung the song for you three times, and every time I sing it makes me tired.  I’m not going to sing it anymore!” (Hannah Grace loves “Single Ladies” by Beyonce, but we couldn’t get it to play on my phone.  She would start to whine, so Caleb would sing the song for her with amazing accuracy)–1/2/2010

Hannah Grace: “Caleb, patience. Not now!” (In response to Caleb’s repeated request to watch his movie in the car even though he was told Hannah Grace got to listen to her song first.)–1/2/2010

Caleb: (We were walking outside of Barnes and Noble at the mall.  Music was playing.) “Where is that music coming from?  Me: “I’m not sure.  I think there are some speakers outside the store somewhere.”  Matt: “Why?  Is the music bothering you?”  Caleb: “Yes, it’s bothering me!  It makes me want to die!”–12/19/09

Hannah Grace: “And God said, ‘Don’t eat the vegetables!” (referring to the Bible story of Adam and Eve where God says not to eat the fruit of the tree)–11/11/09

Caleb: “And then Jesus rubbed blood on the blind man’s eyes, and he could see again!” (the Scripture states that Jesus made mud and rubbed it on the blind man’s eyes)–11/11/09

Hannah Grace: “Where’d you put the gummies?” (she pointed her finger and asked Matt this question immediately as he walked into the house from work.  I told her earlier in the day that I didn’t know where the gummies were; perhaps, her dad did)–11/11/09

Hannah Grace: “Daddy, you’re my boy.” –11/9/09 ( I think)

Caleb: (after I was explaining to Hannah Grace and him that they cannot play with my china–it’s Mommy’s special plates from when she got married) “I’m going to marry Hannah, and I’m going to give her special dishes.  And on her birthday, I’m going to give her very, very, nice clothes.”–11/1/09

Hannah Grace: “Daddy’s my favorite friend”–9/29/09

Caleb: “Mommy, we can find a nice family and give them our dog.”  Mommy: “What?! Why do you want to give away Scout?”  Caleb: “I want a cat.”– 9/29/09

(Hannah Grace brought home from preschool blue-colored water in a bottle as part of the classes’ study of the color blue) Caleb: “Hannah, how did you get that blue in there?  Did you squeeze a lemon?” –9/29/09

(in a bathroom stall at church, loudly so that the woman in the stall next to us could hear) Hannah Grace: “Can I see your penis?”  Mommy: “No, because I’m a girl.”– 9/27/09

(in the bathroom at home) Hannah Grace: “Are you going to wipe my penis?”  Mommy: “No, you don’t have a penis.”  Caleb: “You don’t have a penis, Hannah!  You have a hole.”–  9/26/09

Hannah Grace: (talking to Chloe) “Hello, sweetheart.” (To me)  “Hers my darling. Hers my baby”–9/22/09

Hannah Grace : (referring to Chloe) “Hers not your baby.  She’s Daddy’s” –9/18/09

Caleb: (Ready to go downstairs one morning, he yelled these sentences waiting for Matt to open the baby gate) “Come on, Dad! Let’s go!  You’ve got work to do!  You need to make money!”–  9/18/09

Mommy: “Eat your chicken, Caleb.”  Caleb: “Chi-ken? Bock-bock?”–somewhere around a year old, a memory we don’t want to forget!

The Morning I Knew My Husband Really Loves Me

I previously had the idea that my children conspire to make certain nights hellish for my husband and me.  I don’t think that they have a hushed meeting behind a closed closet door huddled around a flashlight while articulating their plan–that’s silly–our flashlight needs new batteries, and the baby can’t sit up.  I am leaning toward the idea that their brains telepathically communicate  that they should get up in the middle of the night.  And often.  And staggered.

It’s 12 A.M., and I decide that, perhaps, Chloe isn’t going to wake up soon to eat, so I should go ahead and get in a couple hours of sleep.  At 12:15, I hear her little cry.  I grab my glasses off my nightstand, amazed at how quickly I went from awake to asleep and now very groggy.  I take my time swinging my feet over the side of the bed and listen as Matt gets up to change the baby.  I go to meet him in her room; I’ll nurse her in the rocking chair.  Instead, I meet Matt in the doorway.

“She just wanted her binky.  She’s back asleep.”

I climb back in our bed that’s much too tall for me (although, I love it) and begin to snuggle under my sheet and next to Matt.  The little cry returns.

“Uggh,” or some other kind of grunt leaves my mouth.  I look over at Matt who decided he had already completed his duty and continue getting back down from our bed.  I go into Chloe’s room and smile at this sweet baby who is looking up at me with the sleepiest little face.  I pick her up and change her and then move us into the rocking chair.  As she nurses, I relax into the chair, allowing my head to fall to the side and my body to melt into the cushions as much as possible while nursing in an upright position.  When I don’t notice any more sucking, I gently pick up Chloe and lay her back down in her crib, positioning her binky back in her tiny mouth.

As I walk into my room, I look forward to the ascent into my bed, as Chloe should now have her long stretch of sleep.  Maybe, tonight she’ll sleep eight hours straight as she did a few weeks ago.  I take off my glasses and lay them on the nightstand and begin to drop next to Matt on my pillow when I hear footsteps scurrying down the hallway.  Footsteps carry emotions with them, and these footsteps are carrying a scared little boy.

Caleb frantically bounds into our bed, and I try to suppress another “uggh” knowing that my little boy is scared.

“Come on, Caleb. I’ll lie down with you in your bed.  Come on, buddy.  Let’s go.”

I finally convince him that I’ll really follow if he gets out of my bed, and we jump down.  We make a quick pit-stop to the potty, and then crawl into his little twin bed.  I will myself not to fall asleep so as to be able to move my neck in the morning.  When I am assured that Caleb is calm and sleeping, I trek back down the hallway and into my room.

I glance at the clock on Matt’s nightstand which now reads a little past 1 A.M. and muster up the strength to climb what now looks like Mt. Everest.  It’s less than six hours before the alarm is supposed to wake me, but I welcome any sleep and snuggle next to Matt.

Chloe must read my thought and takes it literally because she awakes at 3:30 to which I announce, “I am not feeding her.”  Matt quiets her but eventually brings her in our bed at 4:30 when she yells that she’s not kidding.  I try to nurse her while lying down, even though I’m fairly certain that she’s not hungry.  I don’t care; I just want to sleep, and if nursing Chloe will achieve that goal, so be it.

Unfortunately, Chloe doesn’t want to eat and squirms and cries.

“Maybe she’s uncomfortable.  Let me get a diaper; you watch her,” I order Matt as I hop off the bed.  I zig-zag down the hallway as a drunken woman looking for a drink, except I don’t need any help passing out.  I have to descend our stairs to get  a cloth diaper out of the dryer ( I really need to buy more of those things) and back up again.  I change Chloe only to produce the same result–a squirmy, crying baby.

Back off the tallest bed in the world with Chloe in tow and onto her rocking chair.  As I hold her close and softly sing, I feel her break wind against my hand and know the cause of her discomfort.  We gently rock until she is finally soothed, and I lay her down in her crib.

It’s almost 5 A.M., and I wonder if it’s even worth climbing into bed but try once again.  This time  I don’t attempt any closeness with Matt, nor him with me.  We are both curled into our own little cocoons of quiet, and I let sleep envelop me.

When Matt’s alarm goes off at 5:30 A.M, I am amazed that he actually gets out of bed.  Guessing our talk about guarding our family time has hit home with him, I roll back over knowing Matt will be off to the gym soon.  I hear the shower but am too tired to process what that sound means.

About 15 minutes later, I hear footsteps running down the hallway.  This time, they carry the emotion of happiness with them, and a little boy bounds into my bed.

“Put Curious George on!” Caleb exclaims excitedly.

“Caleb, lay down and go to sleep.  It’s not even 6:00!” I grunt, but Caleb is wide awake.  When I beg him again in a tone that is much harsher than I intend, he plops off the bed and in a pile on the floor.  I quickly apologize and plead with him to lie down next to me in bed.  We can snuggle.

Caleb complies, but all of these dramatics have roused me.  I know I will not sleep any more this morning.

When Matt finally comes out of the bathroom dressed, I ask him, “What are you doing?  I mean, why are you up so early if you’re not going to the gym.”

“I wanted to get in early in case I have to leave to help you out.”

As I push through the fog of thoughts in my mind–Does he think I might fall asleep and need someone to watch the kids? Is he afraid I’m going to hurt the kids?!–I understand his statement.

“My doctor’s appointment is tomorrow, Matt.”

I very well may have told Matt that I was looking for someone to watch the kids today, Thursday, instead of Friday.  I don’t know.  What I do know is the look of utter dejection on my husband’s face when he realized he had woken up at 5:30 A.M. on no sleep for nothing.  And in that moment, I knew he must love me more than anything.

For weeks, months, years, Matt has tried to wake up early in order to get to the gym before work instead of after.  His pattern of hitting the snooze button for two hours straight has become a sore spot in our marriage.  He cannot seem to wake up early for anything, yet he did it, on maybe two hours of solid sleep, for me.

As tired as I am, I stare at him from amidst the covers and pillows and feel a warmth inside I hadn’t quite felt in such a  way before. We kiss, say our “I love you’s,” and Matt heads down the hallway only to return a moment later with another child.

“She’s awake, too?” I question incredulously as Matt puts Hannah Grace in bed with me.

“Yes. She was just standing at the baby gate staring.”

I can only smile and officially get up to get the kids ready for preschool. I have the fleeting thought that they will nap well today, but I know better than to believe such an idea.

I’ve never been a coffee-drinker, but I think today might be a good day to start.

I Didn’t Know…

Even after having three children within three years, I am finding out that there is a lot about my children and myself that I didn’t know. Leading up to the birth of Chloe a few days ago, I tried to prepare myself mentally for how the addition of a third child would affect Caleb and Hannah Grace. I prayed for them at night, for God to help them through this transition–that there would be little jealousy, and that love would abound. I had my own suspicions of how each child would react, but apparently I just didn’t know…

…that the potty training regression I knew Hannah Grace would experience would occur instantaneously, that she would give up potty training the exact moment we left for the hospital! My sister and brother-in-law came to our home to watch the kids, and from that moment on, Hannah Grace decided all she needed was a diaper. Sure, I knew that she would regress when she saw Mommy changing the new baby’s diaper, but my goodness! She hadn’t even met the baby, yet, and she had decided that she was done, finished, never to sit on a little potty again! Now some may question how well she was doing before the baby was born, especially considering her young age. Let’s just say that the three days prior to her having a new sister, she may have had a total of one accident. She told the ladies in the toddler room at church that past Sunday that she needed to go pee pee; now when I ask her if she needs to go, she replies, “Nope. Hannah no pee pee in potty. Hannah pee pee in diaper!”

Okay, so I didn’t get it quite right with regards to Hannah Grace, but I was even further off with Caleb. I just didn’t know…

…that he would give up sleeping after the baby was born. Why would the birth of a baby cause a three-year old to think it is okay to stay up until one a.m.! I knew I would lack sleep for having to feed my new baby in the middle of the night; I did not know that I would not get to go to sleep at all because Caleb thought Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was a show not to be missed! I had not prepared mentally for this possibility, so on Chloe’s third day at her new home, Caleb had his first official day with “rest time” instead of “nap time.” We’ll see how tonight goes.

Apparently, I didn’t know my kids as well as I thought I did, but I still have a lot to learn about myself, too. I just didn’t know…

…the capacity for love that I have. If I am honest with myself, I was a little nervous about having a third baby, even though Matt and I wanted another child. ”We have a nice family now; will she upset the happy balance that we have?” ”How will I love her as much as I love Caleb and Hannah Grace? I don’t know if I’ll have enough love to give everyone.” I should have know better because these same thoughts invaded my mind when I was pregnant with Hannah Grace, and after holding her in my arms, the thoughts left. When I first saw Chloe and touched her as the midwife placed her on top of my belly, I fell in love again. Each time she snuggles in against my body or makes one of her little baby sounds while stretching, I know she was meant to be a part of this family, and my heart overflows with emotion. I can only thank God for the grace and love He has given me that I can then share with my children. He has blessed me with a beautiful family, and while there will always be much that I don’t know, there are no other people in this world from which I would rather learn.