We’ve Come So Far…

It’s been seven years. My, how far we’ve come!

 

This was the much-wanted child I feared I’d never have. This was the embryo that changed my whole body and my life. This was the fetus that sent my body into gestational hypertension and preeclampsia. This was the tiny new human who almost didn’t survive her entrance and had to be resuscitated twice within hours of being born.

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This was the newborn they questioned would be able to walk or talk or process information with ease, but whom they called a “two pacifier” NICU resident because she was their most vocal guest. This was the infant with latch issues and a proclivity for choking day and night. This was the baby with a ferocious wail and a voracious appetite who woke up six times each night until she was 2-years old.

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This was the pudgy ringlet-haired 1-year old who refused to walk — in favor of pilgrimage-style knee-walking — until she was 19-months old. This was the sparkle-loving, highly verbal 2-year old who was fiercely independent and vocally wilful but absolutely precious. This was the bright, tutu-wearing 3-year-old who loved being a big sister to her toddler brother almost as much as she enjoyed testing her mother’s patience.

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This was the out-going 4-year old who strived to please others and be kind to friends but threw head-spinning, pea-soup-spewing, shrieking tantrums at home yet adored her newest baby brother. This was the 5-year-old who loved kindergarten but struggled to master reading and painfully adjusted to the full-day school schedule.

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This was the 6-year-old who shrugged off dolls in favor of doctor kits and rockstar dress-ups, who dove into Tae Kwon Do and yoga, who finally figured out reading and excelled at math, who uncovered ways to harness her powerful emotions, who expressed kindness to those around her, who had more good moments than rough moments. This was the child who turned the corner from emotional whirlwind to strong, expressive, kind-hearted individual.

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This is the 7-year-old of whom I am endlessly proud, for whom I prayed when I didn’t know to whom or what I was praying. This is the child who changed every shred of me, who tore me (literally and figuratively) apart but inspired in me the strength to piece myself back together.

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I am who I am now because of her. I love her more than she will ever know until/if she has children of her own. For all of the struggles, our worries, our pains (of all kinds and intensities), our sleepless nights, our brutal days, our cherished hugs, our belly laughs, our tears, our proud moments, our cherished memories, I am profoundly grateful. She made me a better me; I can only hope I help her become her best her.

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Seven years behind us, there are no more nap times, no more pumping schedules, no more night terrors, no more sleeping baby on my chest, no more toddler arm rolls, no more kindergarten plays, no more fingerpaints, no more waiting room meltdowns. We’ve come so far.

We have so far to go.

 

Imperfectly Perfect

Yesterday evening was Hub’s escape: softball. After a #1’s inner demons made a venomous appearance upon our arrival home from an afternoon playdate, just in time for #3’s “hell hour”, which conveniently coincides with dinner prep, the kids and I ate dinner then headed off to run two quick errands.

I had forgotten what 6:30pm looked like outside of our cul-de-sac. At that hour, we’re usually trudging through the last gruesome hours of the day at home. All of these people shopping, driving, some even caffeinating at this time of day… how other-wordly! “I used to be sitting in traffic cursing my way home at this time,” I thought, as #2 swatted at #1 in the backseat of the minivan. My cubicle-dwelling, kid-free days are like a past life.

We park. I free the kids from their carseats. I see #2 has mystery stains all over his shirt and #1 found a costume headband that Betsey Johnson would consider gawdy. I shrug. Off we go.

#3 strapped to my chest, #2 holding my hand and #1’s hand, we enter the store. A middle-aged woman looks at me in that smiling seeing-but-not nostalgic way I know all too well. She’s seeing herself, not me, in front of her. I smile back.

We continue. There was a minor shoe incident and a near miss with a stack of glass marinara jars, but we make it to the pharmacy counter. Prescription purchased: success!

As we get our hand holding order settled, a woman in a business suit pauses mid-stride. “How beautiful!” She says. I look around to find what she’s noting. “Your little family,” she clarifies, “The hand holding, the beautiful children… you’re adorable!” She scrunched her nose in a smile. I thank her. I’m flattered yet stunned. Did she SEE us? I mean, really. Just before we left the house, #1 was pretending to poop on #2 as #3 laughed. THIS is “adorable??”

We get side-tracked by princess cakes on our way out. #1’s birthday isn’t for months, but — according to her — one’s fifth birthday is akin to a quinciniera. So we scope out the confections.

A diligent staffer immediately steps to the front of the bakery counter and asks if we need help. “Nope, we just saw princesses. Thanks though!” She says my kids are “beautiful” — #1 and #2 are squabbling over which cake is better: pink princess cake or the “Frozen” cake — I graciously thank her but ponder internally if these people know what these “adorable” creatures are capable of. I mean, a day when I don’t have to clean poop off of the floor is considered a gold-star experience (and, no, we don’t have pets.)

We get back in the van. Load up, buckle up, gas up, then head home. Windows down, sunroof open, music bumpin’, Spring breezing through our hair… it’s a minivan dance party. In that moment, I realize this is adorable. This is beautiful. This is perfect.

 

 

 

 

Birthdays and Birth Days

When I was little, birthdays were filled with cake, gifts, and excitement. Days crossed off of calendars, years broken into quarters in anticipation of getting older; experiencing a birthday was magical. Each added year opened new doors, new possibilities. Birthdays were brimming with novelty.

Then, somewhere in the awkward gap between 18 and 21, when you’re not quite an adult but not quite a child, the luster began to fade from birthdays. They weren’t as exciting or so feverishly anticipated. They were nice days but nothing like the celebratory events of childhood.

When I became a mother, when I birthed my own children, I saw birthdays from an entirely new vantage point. Sure, there was the drama of labor and delivery, and — yes — there were the pains of healing, but it was the gravity of the day, the reverberating impact of each child’s birth day that was finally clear to me. The changes each child brought to my life and to me were astounding.

The love one feels as a mother is unparalleled. One simply cannot fathom such a level of devotion and awe until one is a mother. Each child’s birth day allowed me to experience that tidal wave of terrifyingly powerful love over again. My heart had developed a seemingly superhuman power of filling beyond capacity with love, time and time again.

As the anniversary of these birth days circled around, I processed my children’s growth with a mixture of gratitude, anxiety, and mourning. I was blessed to have healthy, happy, thriving children. I was anxious about the future, as uncertainty is unsettling even when the path is beautiful. I was mournful because with each added year, with each developmental milestone, my children stepped further from me and deeper into the outside world.

Now, as a mother, I experience my own birthday differently. Instead of feeling the childhood excitement of self-celebration, I feel a sense of gracious reflection and thankfulness. It is only now that I understand that what is my birthday to me is the anniversary of my own mother’s first birth day… the day that changed her life and self, just as #1’s birth day forever changed me.

Happy birth day, Mom!

Happy Birthday #2!

Three years ago a calm, cuddly baby entered this world. He was round, healthy, happy, and wanted nothing more than to be close to my heart.

That boy grew… fast. He taught me how to divide my attention between multiple children, he taught me that I can parent boys, he taught me the beauty of cuddling, he taught me to slow down and appreciate a warm hug, he taught me the wonder of bubbles, he taught me to be fearlessly true to myself, he taught me how to listen and watch constantly for kid calamity, he taught me how to laugh at life’s ups and down, he taught me the art of doll hair styling, he taught me how healing an unplanned snuggle can be, but mostly he taught me that my heart can fill beyond capacity with love.

Happy birthday, #2! You were the best early birthday present I could ever have.

“That” Mom

I was just “that” mom. I am accustomed to the looks of bewilderment and shock I get when I walk in public with #1 (4.5yrs) and #2 (nearly 3yrs) holding my hands as #3 (9mnth) is strapped to my chest. Today, though, I didn’t even bother noting the surrounding glances, gawks, and glares as we painfully selected balloons for #2’s upcoming family birthday gathering.

Three “Bubble Guppies” balloons… the errand should’ve been uneventful and swift. Hahaha!

#1 had to touch every single pink ballon in sight, got a nasty case of the “I wants,” and then came the back-talk. Mean mommy verdict: “No treats tonight!” Cue the 4.5yo elbow to my thigh which she regretted about 3/4 of the way through the swing. Mean mommy point and glare.

We head to the register… My Little Pony toys, Frozen t-shirts, candy… the party store gods loathe me. I decide to ignore the rapid-fire “I wants” for sanity’s sake.

We make it to the register — I’m still ignoring — then, as I swipe my credit card, #2 decides he wants a Rapunzel party. He selected the “Bubble Guppies” theme a month ago. We have the plates. We have the cups  He came with me to order the dairy-free ocean-themed cake. We just got our three freakin’ “Bubble Guppies” balloons. Get me out of here! Sorry, bud, you’re getting “Bubble Guppies.” #2 flails. Meltdown. On the ground. Complete loss of leg control. So I drag him toward the door in the manner least likely to cue a CPS call. Now, he’s demanding his birthday is today: “My burpday is April 7th!” “Yes, but today is April 1st and your family party isn’t until the 3rd.” “Noooooooo!!!!!” I contemplated the carry-of-shame but figured he might kick #3 who was strapped to my chest. So I tried reasoning with him. It worked enough to get to the car before he melted, body half in and half out of the minivan. #1 stepped over him muttering about My Little Ponies as I slid #2 on his belly inside the van.

Buy birthday ballons: check.