Clara will turn 7 months old in just over two weeks. In some ways I can’t even believe she’s already starting to sit on her own, scooting / crawling, and beginning solid foods. Wasn’t she a baby like, yesterday? But in other ways, I’m having a hard time even remembering our family before she came. She’s so much a part of who we are now that it seems like she’s just always been here. Could she really have arrived just 6 months ago? Unbelievable.
She and Oliver are beginning to interact with each other a bit more now, which is SUPER cute…but a little dangerous – for both of them. She’ll grab at his face and try to pull him closer to her, in the process grabbing a fist full of his hair (maybe I really DO need to cut it!) or scratching his face. He’ll try to play a game with her that he sees me doing…taking a toy and making it dance and bounce from far away until it gets close to her face – but the problem is that he doesn’t stop just shy of her nose, making her laugh, he smacks her right in the face with it.
Lately he also wants me to prop her on the couch cushions next to him so that she can watch for the garbage truck with him on garbage day. He’ll put his arm around her and kiss her cheek and tell her all about it as they sit and look out the window.
“Garbage truck coming, beeba Tia. Coming pick up cans. Blue can, green can. Recycle garbage blue can. Oliver and daddy bring garbage cans to house [when] daddy home work. Beeba watch me.”
Super, super cute.
Also, speaking of cute, Oliver has started calling me honey. I think I must call him honey? I’ve never really paid much attention. But, hearing many, many things that I say come out of his mouth lately (talk about needing to be careful with your words!), I’m guessing this one came from me too.
There’s nothing quite like having a two year old little whirlwind-of-a-boy come running up to you saying: “Hi, honey!” followed by a great big kiss.
He’ll do this forever, right? I’m telling him here and now that he should still greet me the same when he’s oh…say, 14. Good plan.
That and “I love you.” which for him, sounds more like: “uvv-ooo.”
Siiigh. They’re the moments I have to focus on when the days seem to get longer and longer until they run together and I don’t know what day it is and the laundry is piled up to the ceiling and Clara is screaming while I make dinner, and Oliver has dumped what must be EVERY toy he owns on the 4 square foot kitchen floor and I feel like there’s a visible layer of grime on every surface of my house and I can’t see the kitchen sink through the dishes and Sam won’t be home from class for two more hours.
Never in a million years could I have been prepared for this season in my life. All of the baby-sitting, nanny-ing, and younger-sibling watching in the world doesn’t even come close. Parenting classes, books, hanging out with extended family with kids…you name it. It barely scratches the surface.
Being a mom is stretching and challenging me in ways that I don’t even think I could fully describe. One minute, my heart is full to bursting with the joy of raising our two little blessings, and the next I’m drying my cracked, bleeding hands on my snot-covered pants, popping a couple tylenol, trying to refrain from screaming or punching my fist through the wall and wondering why in the world I decided “stay at home mom” was a good idea. Oh the range of emotions I can feel on any given day. It’s astounding. Truly astounding.
One thing that I am learning as a young mom is that I really can’t do it alone. And, I really think that’s an intentional part of God’s design. He wants us to talk to other parents and grandparents, to glean from authors and leaders, to lean on others – for advice, for their knowledge, and just to know you’re not the only one who’s son has flopped on the floor screaming because he can’t have the flea medicine at Target even though it has a cute picture of a kitty on it.
Side note: That particular day, Oliver was STILL screaming when we got to the checkout…and there was a little old lady behind me in line who started cooing at him and telling him it was ok – turning to me to say: “Can’t you just give him what he wants? He’s just SO upset!” She looked like she was going to dissolve into tears FOR him. Sure lady, let me just hand my child a toxic substance wrapped up in a picture of a cute kitten. After all, he WANTS it, so….
Oh, there are some challenging days. Dealing with an insistent toddler while bouncing a 6 month old on my hip and trying to cook dinner requires a crazy amount of multitasking and patience. And arm strength.
In an attempt to understand some of what we’re seeing with Oliver, I picked up a copy of Dr. Dobson’s book about strong willed children at the library the other day. And, while I wouldn’t say that everything has been 100% spot-on for him, it’s helping me see how someone so sweet can also be so…well, strong-willed. But, one thing in particular has really been echoing in my mind lately.
“When parents bring one of these [strong-willed] tough youngsters into the world, they need to recognize that while raising that child may be difficult for a time, it is worth their effort to do the job right. Their attitude should be, “The Lord gave me this child for a purpose. He wants me to mold and shape this youngster and prepare him or her for a life of service to him. And, I’m up to the task. I’m going to make it with the Lord’s help.”
And lately, I’m comforted in that. And not just in relation to the strong-willed child part, but how it applies to my role as mom in general. I’m comforted in knowing that even though my personality is much more introverted and structured and I am easily overwhelmed by the emotional tug-of-war’s, the mess that quickly accumulates, the lack of personal space to think or sit or even go to the bathroom on my own, I AM up to the task.
I don’t have to do it alone, and I can (and should!) ask for help when I need it…but, I’m going to make it.
And not just “get by.” Make it. Do the job well. Even when it may seem impossible. Even when I am so emotionally drained that I can’t even think straight and all of our extended family live hours away. Even when Clara is up all night with teeth that are bothering her and I feel like I need caffeine in an IV to even lift my head from the pillow and I’m on the phone with the pediatrician trying to hear baby tylenol doses over the chaos of two screaming children. Even if my house stays messier than I’d like it to and Oliver rips the stuffing out of the couch cushions as Clara poops all over her exersaucer and dinner burns to a crisp on the stove…
God has given me the responsibility of raising these two precious, precious little ones. He didn’t give that responsibility to someone with more energy or an extroverted, intense personality to match Oliver’s, nor did he give them to someone with ridiculous multitasking skills and a love of spontaneity…he gave it to me. And if I rely on Him, He will make sure that I am up to the task.
So, in the moments when I am overwhelmed – that is what I am focusing on.
That and a sweet, shaggy-haired little boy who climbs up in my lap, wraps his arms around my neck, and whispers: