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

Stop Telling Me to Enjoy This Stage

Sometimes, after it rains, the smell of the air transports me to a sweet, sticky summer night in the Midwest. I can almost taste the smoldering of a charcoal grill, and feel freshly cut grass under my bare feet. I close my eyes and still see fireflies dancing, and a deck full of faces that I miss. Every. Single. Day. It makes me happy to think about where I come from, but also to think about where I’m going. 

As a self-proclaimed nostalgic, nearly every season of my life holds some sort of sentimental value. I’ve got some really great rose colored glasses, too. Smells, flavors, sounds, songs… They all have the ability to take me back to a time when life was a little simpler, more fun & just a bit sweeter.

So, I know it’s inevitable that as my kids grow up, I’m going to cry a million gallons of tears over just how perfect life was when they were little. Perfect cherub faces and tiny fingers wrapped around mine; our problems no bigger than spilt Cheerios in the backseat.  I will completely overlook the things that make my friends recall these years as “the dark ages”, and my husband to lovingly refer to this season as “the suck” (sorry for outing you, Honey).

The crying, constant boogers, spit-up, potty accidents (we’re talking poop on the carpet), foot stomping fist pounding temper tantrums, middle of the night vomit clean-up, sleep schedules to keep, total lack of privacy, no showers, no dates and NO sleep will be a distant memory, and I’ll recall only the sweetness (of which there really is plenty).

Wherever we go, that sweetness garners a wealth of attention from older folks, and they always leave me with the same words: “Enjoy them”.

Those words hit me square in the gut – every time.

I’m trying. I’m trying so hard to enjoy them that I’m nearly driving myself mad. Heaven forbid I give up just one minute with them – a minute that in ten, fifteen, twenty years…. I would kill to have back.

I’d trade almost anything for a full night of sleep right now, but then I remember that my baby won’t always need me so completely. So I shuffle down the hall to cherish her at 4:00 am, when the rest of the world is sleeping. 

My back aches from holding, bending, rocking, lifting – but someday they’ll be too big for any of it – so I try never to turn down the opportunity. 

And convincing a toddler to go to sleep each night is like negotiating an international peace treaty, but then I realize she won’t always need to be tucked into bed, and I re-read the same fairy book for a third time in a row.

I spend my days so deep in the trenches that I often forget to come up for air. And although a clean house and peaceful evening alone sound luxurious, I’m painfully aware that those things are coming.

So please don’t remind me.

I know that people mean well – their wisdom is all to say “be present” – but raising toddlers is hard.  I’d rather be told about the great times still ahead of us, like birthday parties, family vacations, graduations & weddings – the moments in a mom’s life where her work pays some dividends; moments that I hope to enjoy through the clear lenses of well rested eyes.

“Enjoy them”, feels like some sort of sad ending – like the best days of my life are upon me and quickly fading.  My heart knows that God has so much more in store for us than I can imagine, but I still can’t help but hold on just a little too tight to what will inevitably slip away. 

So, next time you see me with a baby on my hip and a toddler pulling everything off the store shelves, and if you feel inclined to make a comment, just smile sympathetically and tell me that life only gets better, sweeter, and more beautiful with time.

xxx,

MamaFulch

Philippians 3:13-14:  13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.