A Mother’s Love; I get it now

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It was 9:00 pm, and there I stood – in the doorway to my 16 month old’s bedroom, staring at her innocent, unknowing face.  Her tiny butt stuck straight in the air, knees tucked up under her chest, her pacifier (named “Gus”) hung from perfectly rosy, parted lips. Her chubby hands hugged tight to her favorite pink blanket, and mine longed to hold tight to her.  

With tears in my eyes, I scooped her into my arms and carried her to our rocking chair. Our chair; the one that we’d spent more than 500 nights in – rocking, singing, crying & hushing.  The chair that had seen us through 2am, 4am and 6am feedings while the rest of the world was sleeping.  The chair that had cradled a new mother’s aching back, and bore tears – so may tears – both hers and mine.  The chair that wouldn’t be just ours for much longer. 

While I’d never before (nor since) had a sane thought that involved waking my sleeping child, that night was different.

Less than an hour earlier, I’d sat in the bathroom with the shower running, shaky hands holding loosely to a white stick: “Pregnant”.  I remembered the feeling; that tiny screen revealing such huge, life altering news.  Just like the first time, there was elation, fear, disbelief & love, all wrapped up in adrenaline.  But this time, there was a new and unexpected feeling mixed into my emotional cocktail: guilt. 

I’d thought I was ready. After all, I’d been a mother for nearly a year and and half (which, with your first child, feels like an eternity).  I was practically an expert (you should see my eyes rolling now).  But my joy was stolen by the realization that in eight short months, the most love filled, challenging, anxiety inducing, rewarding chapter of my life thus far would end, and a new one would begin.  It would no longer be just us – figuring out how to do this new life together.  No, the new chapter would be so much more complex, with new challenges and personalities to navigate. Why was I doing this?  

Was I not fulfilled enough by my beautiful little girl?  Would she resent me for wanting more than just her?  Would she even remember the sacred time we spent as a family of 3 – letting her crash “date nights” and Saturday morning coffee runs?  Would she know how we whisked her away on vacation after vacation, and spent so much time focused on just her – her development, her joy, her perfect existence?

Everything would be different now.  This new baby would never know my husband and me the way our first one had – wide-eyed and attentive.  Soon, our only goal when taking our tiny family to a restaurant or on a plane would be to escape with our lives, and maybe a sliver of dignity still in tact. (In hindsight, the latter was overly ambitious). 

And at the risk of sounding like a cliche: I had no idea if I could love another child the way I loved my first born.

So we sat, just the two of us, rocking while tears poured down my face.  I choked out the words to “You are my Sunshine” between deep sobs.  Was she my sunshine?  Yes.  But would she even believe those words come October?  I wasn’t so sure.  


Our daughter was well prepped by the time her little sister debuted in October.  She knew what her name was going to be, but still lovingly referred to her as “Princess”.  The transition from one to two kids was – ehem, challenging – but simultaneously seamless. I could not have predicted the way that this new little girl would steal my heart all over again, or the beautiful layers of love and compassion that she would add to our firstborn’s personality. 


Now, I sit here writing, feeling our highly anticipated third baby rolling around in my belly.  The nostalgia builds as I realize that the couple of years I’ve spent with just my two girls will feel fleeting when, someday,  I look back at my life. Whatever “normalcy” we’ve established in the past two years is about to be yet another closed chapter in my book.  But, I know this time around that God is blessing us all with the greatest of gifts – more people to love.

For the first time in my life, I understand the vastness of God’s love for us – the human race – one race – we’re all his children.  I understand now that no matter how many of us there are, what we look like, what we believe – his heart is capable of growing infinitely to hold each one of us close.  I rejoice in the knowledge that no matter what we do, he’ll never give up on loving us; frustration, disappointment, anger even – I’m sure he feels it all as we do, but just as a mother and father are filled with unwavering hope and love for their children, God loves the world.  It all makes perfect sense to me now. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. – Zephaniah 3:17

(chosen as our daughter’s life verse for her baptism) 

Photo credit: Wild Bloom Studio

Your Body on a Cross-Country Flight – WITH KIDS

I get restless staying in the same place for too long.  I need to explore, eat great food, hear new languages & lounge on exotic beaches. I need to travel.

We made a conscience decision to have kids before pets because, well, when was the last time you saw a “no babies, please” sign in a shop window or a hotel brochure?

Never.

It’s generally acceptable to take tiny humans into civilized establishments. And so, I had big expectations for the trajectory of my travel career – even during mommyhood.

With that, each of my children completed their first round-trip flight before hitting the two-month mark.  And since then, they’ve flown (on average) once every 8 weeks – sometimes more. I should have flying with kids down to a science….

So, on the heels of our recent summer vacation, I feel inspired to discourage all the parents out there. This is: your body on a cross-country flight – WITH KIDS…  😉

Airport Bound: Optimistic. You’ve downloaded all of their favorite shows, packed crowd-pleasing snacks, books and ‘new toys they’ve never seen before’.  It’s only 6 hours…. Maybe they’ll sleep the whole time… You grab a second cup of coffee, just in case.

Hour 0: You get the jitters.  It could be the caffein, or it could be because you’ve taken your toddler to the airplane bathroom – twice – and the plane hasn’t even left the gate. As other passengers board, they look into your row, then down at their seat assignment. If they’re sitting far, far away, they give an encouraging smile. If they’re doomed to sit nearby, they go pale. So do you.

Hour 1: Calm comes over you. Wheels up. iPads on. The baby is nursing, and therefore, quiet. Yep, It’s going to be okay. Only 5 hours and 12 minutes until arrival (not that you’re counting), and you packed hours worth of toys, games, shows & snacks. You’ve got this!!

Hour 2: Panic. You don’t got this! Any other day you’d have to pry your toddler away from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but today, she wants nothing to do with TV – or civility.  She starts body luging off of her seat, whining as her tiny form crumples to the floor.  Nothing in her backpack is amusing. Meanwhile, the baby has awoken from her 20 minute milk-coma. Your arm is still asleep and you have to pee sooo bad – really regretting that second cup of coffee right now.  Four more hours…

Hour 3: Hot Flashes & Cold sweats.  You’ve hit survival mode. You managed to use the bathroom while holding the baby and trying not to let your toddler sit on the wet floor (you failed). And now, you’re looking for ways to keep your circus contained to a 6’x2’ cell (ahem, I mean row) for three more hours. Beads of sweat form. Your mind goes blank. Four people in three seats for six hours – you’re not sure how this is legal.

Hour 4: You’ve lost all sense of time. You check the time and are excited to see that touchdown is in an hour and a half – you’re feeling like a rockstar mom & your heart flutters. When you look again, you realize that your AppleWatch changed time zones over Nebraska, and you actually have upwards of 2 hours to go. All hope is lost. You return to pacing the aisle while one child sprints ahead of you (throwing elbows) and the baby screams & flails about in your arms. Is time moving backward?

Hour 5: Hope Returns. You’ve broken the 2 hour barrier (for real this time) – a glimmer of hope, immediately eradicated by claustrophobia.  This airplane is the hottest, stickiest place you’ve been since you spent a summer in Florida without AC.  Hair sticks to the back of your neck as little hands paw at your face and chest, vying for attention. The guy in front of you opens hours-old curry… you choke back vomit.

Hour 6: Disbelief.  You are in disbelief that you’ve survived until the final hour, and that neither kid has taken a measurable nap. Emotions run high, mayhem is looming.  You develop an anxious knee bounce (at least the baby seems to like it) and hold your breath, waiting for the captain to mumble “Ladies & Gentleman, we’ve begun our initial descent”.  Will the moment ever come?

Landing:  Euphoria. You imagine this is what it feels like to finish an Iron Man race – endorphins flood your body. You scramble to collect your things and your offspring, only to realize that your daughter’s eyes have just closed. A tear rolls down your cheek. Sadness? Elation? You’re not sure.

At Baggage Claim: Exhausted & Starving. Your AppleWatch says you burned more calories ‘sitting’ on a plane all day than you do by completing your 10,000 steps. All you’ve eaten is 80 calories worth of airplane pretzels – oh, and two cups of coffee. You vow to stay home for the rest of your life.

1 Month Post-Flight: You experience travel amnesia and decide that a family trip to the Bahamas is just what the doctor ordered.

Happy Travels!

xxx,

MamaFulch

Proverbs 14:29:   Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.

Dear Daughter…

Sweetheart,

From the moment I first set eyes on you, I’ve wanted to protect you.  Protect your tiny body from physical harm. Keep that precious heart from ever breaking. And prevent your vivacious soul from ever being stifled by the words of others. Having you has been like watching my own heart walk around outside of my body – I care so deeply, yet I have so little control. 

This world is beautiful. This world is messy. It’s cruel and unfair but that’s okay, because it’s also spectacular.

With each passing day my heart breaks a little bit, as I watch the baby slip away. Still, with every new milestone you reach, I beam with pride at the little girl you’re becoming. Bold, daring, brilliant, compassionate and full of empathy – you are more than I ever dreamed a little person could be.

Yes, I want to protect those qualities with every inch of my being, but I know that I can’t – that I shouldn’t. Every broken bone and heartache will heal, and you’ll be stronger for them. And so, I will be a spectator to your life, trying hard not to intervene, although I’ll want to.

As you travel your path, know that there will always be someone richer than you, but that true treasures are of the heart.

Know that there may always be someone more beautiful than you, but beauty is subjective.  Your daddy and I look at you and see the most lovely little girl in the whole world.

Know that there will always be someone out there who’s smarter than you, but so long as you follow your conscience, you will be unstoppable.

No matter where life takes you, you will be loved by your family and by God; to us, you are perfect – created in His image to be nothing short of amazing. But most importantly, I hope that you love yourself – unconditionally – despite any bumps along your road. You deserve nothing less.

When life gets hard, turn to the Lord. When it’s easy, stay humble & open your heart to others.

You, my darling, are going to do amazing things in this world.

You are my reason for being. My pride. My joy. My LOVE.

xxx,

Mama

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22–23