Words from a wise man

So, ever since we saw those two pink lines back in February, I have made it a point NOT to focus on counting down to my due date. First of all, the due date is only a suggestion and this baby will ignore any countdown I have. (She is her father’s daughter, after all.)

And secondly, as excited as we are to become a family of three, I am still a bit sad when I think about how this first phase of our marriage – the part where it’s just us and our quiet house – is coming to an end. I don’t know exactly what the next phase will hold, but I know life will never be the same, and I don’t really want to wish that away so fast.

But now… now we are in the final month… and I am definitely counting down. I am tired of being pregnant. I’m over it. I am ready to be a normal size again and not be wondering if every ache and pain is a contraction or just a little elbow pushing directly on a vital nerve of some type.

A year ago last week, the world lost one of the finest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I had the privilege (and also somewhat strange experience) of attending what was, essentially, his funeral before he died. We knew his body was failing, and we knew the treatments had ended, so his family hosted a party last Labor Day weekend where everyone who wanted to could come and say their goodbyes.

People came from everywhere! The crowd was incredible! I hope that someday I have touched that many lives deeply enough for that many people to come and bid me farewell before I leave this world.

When I got a chance to talk to him, it was mentioned in his presence that I needed to go ahead and start having babies. He smiled and turned to me and said, “You’ll know when it’s time, baby. Don’t let anybody talk you into it before you’re ready. You’ll know.”

And he was right. We did know, somehow, when it was time. I wish my daughter could know him and sit on his lap and be “his girl” like I was. All too often we expect people to be around forever and don’t understand the roles they’ve played in our lives until they are gone, and I miss him dearly.

I don’t wish him back, though. I can’t. We always talked about him “holding court” – surrounded by others of all ages who came to hear his views on some such thing. He was a wealth of knowledge on so many subjects, and it was rightfully said that a library died with him. I believe we will know and recognize other souls in Heaven, and I’m certain he is sitting around discussing deep questions with Abraham and Moses. (He probably fits right in. He did always have that biblical patriarch sort of look about him.)

I wasn’t able to say all the things I wanted to say to him before I left that last time. I was crying too hard to really get anything out. But one of the last things I told him was that I expected him to be waiting for the rest of us when we got to Heaven. He said he would be on the lookout.

So for now, I’m going to try and be patient for these last five weeks, because Baby Girl will know when it’s time. I won’t try to talk her into it before she’s ready. Life on the outside is a big responsibility, and somehow she’ll know when she’s ready to give it a try.

And we will be on the lookout, ready to greet her when she gets here.

 

 

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Stop chewing on your sister!

…is something I hope to not have to say to my new daughter.

Her four-legged sisters, on the other hand, hear this at least once a day. I’m constantly amazed by how many times those words come out of my mouth, especially considering that Meera makes her displeasure fully known and Lucy continues to chew on whatever body part she can reach at the time. Some dogs just never learn, I guess.

Meera has actually, physically sat on Lucy in an effort to make her leave her alone… and sometimes that doesn’t even work!

Little sisters. Ya gotta love ’em.

(Little brothers can be a pain-in-the-backside too – I have one of those – but I digress.)

We’re trying to get the girls used to spending longer amounts of time outside now that there are only two months until Baby Roo’s estimated arrival (two months??! only TWO MONTHS!!??), but it’s not working out exactly as planned.

After we finally got our fence put up a few weeks ago, we started letting them out to potty and then leaving them out for extended periods of time. They didn’t like that. In fact, they stopped asking to go outside at all, started having accidents in the house and, when forced outside, refused to leave the porch and would instead cry and whine and throw themselves at the back door for hours. (And yes, they do have dog houses and water and all the necessities out there for their use.)

So we changed tactics a bit. Now, we’re letting them out when they want to go out and back in when they want to come in in an effort to recreate trust in the yard and boost confidence that it is a good place to be.

It’s working… but only half way. Lucy seems to want to be outside. She sits at the back door and watches out the window. She wanders from the door to you and back again. She goes to the door when you stand up. But when you let her out… she comes right back in. She won’t stay outside by herself, even when that is obviously where she wants to be.

Meera, on the other hand, wants no part of the outside world and is perfectly happy pretending the yard does not exist. When I can get her to go out with Lucy, she sits on the porch sadly while Lucy plays by herself in the yard. (You see, Lucy doesn’t need Meera to go down and play with her. She just wants her to be outside at the same time.)

If I let Meera in, Lucy comes in too. Even when Lucy was obviously enjoying herself.

I don’t understand. Meera’s never been as much of a fan of the yard as Lucy, so that makes sense, but she’s never hated it quite as much as she does now. It’s the same yard, with the same space and same toys and same activities, watching the same neighbors go by, as before. It just has a fence around it now.

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. I really need them both to have those voice collars like Doug in the Pixar movie “Up!” so I can ask questions and they can answer me in human language and tell me what in the world is going on in their heads.

Maybe when Roo gets here and is keeping them awake with her screaming they’ll want to be outside. I don’t know. But they are going to have to start adjusting one way or the other, because the time is fast approaching when outside will be a normal thing – at least during the day.

Out of the mouths of babes

So my home congregation hosted our annual vacation bible school this week, and I taught the 2-4 year old class. My helpers and I had 7-8 preschoolers on each of the four nights, and it certainly made for some interesting post-class conversations.

The lessons themselves went pretty well, and I hope we were able to plug something into their heads that they might remember next week. But what will really stick with me are the shaking-my-head moments where I just had to think, “Out of the mouths of babes.”

Sunday night, we talked about how God created the world for mankind to live in. We read the creation account and matched up magnetic pieces of what was created with the day on which it was created.

No matter how many times I review this chart with them, the answer to “What did God make on the ## day?” was always “THE SUN!!” shouted by eight little voices. Even when it wasn’t the sun, it was always the sun. Except when it was fish. That we seemed to remember, too.

(bangs head against the wall)

Tuesday night, one little girl lifted the edge of my skirt and asked me why I wasn’t wearing shorts under my dress. She then had to prop her legs up on the table to show me that she was, in fact, wearing shorts under her dress because her mommy makes her. (Mental note on the importance of play shorts.) She then had to ask me if I was wearing panties and announce to the whole class that I didn’t wear my shorts but it was okay because I was wearing panties. Thank you, little girl. I was afraid no one would ask me about my underwear.

Tuesday is also the night we started “shaking out the wiggles” every 10-15 minutes just to keep our sanity. I’d have the whole group stand up and shake out their arms, legs and bodies until “all the wiggles were gone” and they could sit back down. On one such occasion, one little girl didn’t sit down with the others and instead looked like she was going to burst into tears.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

“I didn’t get to shake all my wiggles out!!!!” she cried.

“Well ok then, shake them out!”

*proceeds to flail about as if having a seizure*

“Ok. I’m done now.” *bounces happily back to her seat*

(shaking my head)

Wednesday night we talked about the church as the body of Christ and introduced Mr. Potato Head as a visual example. I passed out the various body parts and we talked about what they do. (“Does a nose taste things? No. A nose smells things. What tastes things? etc etc…)

We then assembled Mr. Potato Head to show that all the body parts (i.e. Christians) must work together to form one whole body, with Christ as the head.

One little girl clapped her hands over her mouth.

“Mr. Potato Head doesn’t have any hair!” she exclaimed frantically.

“What?”

“MR. POTATO HEAD DOESN’T HAVE ANY HAIR!!” she said again, on the verge of a meltdown because of this unfortunate situation.

“Ok, ok, let’s see what we have. … We don’t have any hair, but we do have a hat. Is that ok?” *puts hat on Mr. Potato Head*

*little girl tilts head right and left, considering*

“Okay. That’s good now.”

(whew.)

…….

Did you notice I skipped Monday night?

That’s because Monday night was the best.

In the midst of discussing the Bible as God’s book of instructions, one little girl suddenly looks at me and stands up in her chair.

Pointing, she shouts, “YOU’VE GOT A BABY IN YOUR BELLY!!!”

*crickets chirp for a split second before eight voices all burst into a hundred simultaneous questions/observations*

“Why do you have a baby in your belly?” “How did the baby get there?” “Did you want to have a baby?” “Is it a boy baby or a girl baby?””My mommy had a baby in her belly.” “What is the baby’s name?” “Can I see the baby?” “Can I touch the baby?”

I stood like a deer in the headlights for a few moments and then desperately tried to turn any remaining attention span back to the topic at hand.

“Yes, I have a baby in my belly. But that’s not what we’re talking about right now. Right now, we’re talking about the Bible.”

After a few long minutes, the teacher for the evening and myself finally got them all back in their chairs and quieted down somewhat and returned to the lesson. That lasted about five minutes until the girl closest to me reached over and patted my stomach.

“There’s a baby in your belly, isn’t there?”

“Yes honey, but let’s listen to Miss Alli talk about the Bible right now.”

A few more minutes of attention. Then…

“So, did you eat the baby?”

That really did it.

It took every ounce of self-control I had not to burst out laughing. But even if I had, I don’t think anyone would have heard me because the kids all launched back into the questions that had obviously been circling their brains since the first outburst.

“Are you sure there’s a baby in there?” “How did it get there?” “Will it come out?”

And the ones who know me personally trying to explain the situation to the visitors:

“Mommy says Mrs. Erin has a baby in her belly. It will come out soon. I don’t know how it got there though.”

(sigh)

It was a long night.

Apparently the topic never quite faded away either, because at the end of the last night another little girl approached one of my class helpers (several years younger than me) and asked if she has a baby in her belly too.

I’m sure there are parents out there somewhere thanking me for the practical life lesson I unintentionally gave their four year old.

(Shaking my head.)

Sad cactus

Both my great-grandmothers can make things grow just by looking at the ground hard enough, and my grandmother always had bursting flower gardens while I was growing up.

…Let’s just say that talent hasn’t trickled down through the generations.

Green things do not grow in my presence. Our landscaping is sad because, while I know what I would like to grow there, I don’t have the slightest starting idea of how to make it happen. We have mulch. Do I have to remove the mulch? Can I just plant things through the mulch? Do I have to dig holes or can I just put the plants on top and pile on more dirt until they are buried?

Can I just buy whatever flowers I like and stick them in the ground? Or do I have to put certain flowers in certain places? Can I even plant things in June or is there a special window when things can be planted and I’ve already missed it for the year?

See? It’s sad. There is very little hope for me.

I reminded my mother of this last Christmas when she presented me and the Mister with a small potted cactus. I told her I would kill it, because that’s just what mysteriously happens to plants when they are left in my care. But she was insistent. “It’s a cactus. You can’t kill it.”

(Well we’ll see about that…)

Fast-forward about six months. The Mister and I have attached the small magnetic pot to our refrigerator, in a room that gets a decent amount of light during the day. We have followed the instructions on the tiny hanging card meticulously. The Mister set a recurring reminder on his phone to water “Bob” the cactus every two weeks. I wrote it on the calendar so I could remind him to check his reminders.

We measure exactly two ounces of water into a little scoop and pour it in carefully, making sure nothing spills and the water is evenly distributed throughout the tiny pot.

We’ve probably put more concentrated effort into this minuscule cactus than we have into keeping our dogs alive! (Of course, our dogs clearly let us know when they are hungry. Bob has been strangely silent on the topic.)

All of this, and guess what we discovered yesterday?

One of Bob’s leaf shoots fell out of the pot. Then we touched another and it was completely disconnected too. Then we nudged poor Bob and, lo and behold, he doesn’t have any roots at all! Not even shallow roots in his tiny pot.

So there you have it, folks! Bob is dead. After all this time and all that work, Bob is dead. Bob has probably been dead for a while and we just didn’t know it.

(Although he is still green… a fact we can’t seem to reconcile with his seemingly obvious demise.)

The lesson from this story: If it doesn’t bark, paw, scratch, scream, cry, dance or moan when it’s hungry, I will probably kill it. This extends from plants to include fish, hermit crabs, hamsters and really any other form of silent dependent.

The really sad thing is that we’ve gotten used to having to take care of Bob. We’ve become more attached to him than we have to any other planted thing in our lives. And now that he’s dead, I really don’t know how to process that. So we’ll probably just leave him on the refrigerator and continue to water him faithfully until he finally shrivels up and starts to smell and there is no longer any pretending that he is alive and well.

So I’ll just live in denial until that happens. Happy watering day!

Oh, what’s in a name?

I’ve never been very good about permanent decisions. I had a full-blown panic attack shortly after I got engaged, and my mother had to make me breathe into a paper bag.* I was nauseous the entire night and morning before the Mister and I got married.* I cried after finding out I was pregnant.* I’ve had buyer’s remorse for basically everything I’ve ever purchased over $15, even when I compared prices and styles and tried it on or tested it out and thought about it for days beforehand. Even getting my hair cut is an agonizing decision. I’m just not good with things that can’t be changed immediately (or ever).

One of the things that falls into this category: naming our child.

Since my last post, the Mister and I have found out we’re having a little girl! It was a bit of a shock at first, since we’d thoroughly convinced ourselves we were going to have a boy, but now we are fully on board and excited about welcoming our daughter.

We’ve actually had a girl’s name picked out and agreed upon for years, but since finding out that we are, in fact, actually having a girl, so many other possibilities have presented themselves that now we’re knee-deep in baby names with no foreseeable way out.

What if we pick a name and it doesn’t seem to suit her? What if we love a name and the nurse fills out the paperwork and we introduce her to her new family… and then the next day we wake up and decide it’s not very good at all and we want to go with something else?

I can’t just change my child’s name at age 7 because I suddenly found something I wish I had used instead.

I really shouldn’t be trusted with this decision.

Although, that being said, the decision is completely up to us, and we like it that way. People always gasp in surprise when I tell them we won’t be announcing the baby’s name until she arrives. There are lots of people who don’t share the name or even the gender beforehand, so it’s really not that unusual, but we have four reasons for this:

  1. We’re going to change our minds. A lot. And we might not even know her name when she gets here.
  2. I don’t like monogrammed things.
  3. I want to introduce her to her grandparents and extended family when she arrives, so her name will be a surprise for them too.
  4. The Mister and I want to decide on a name that we love together for reasons of our own and not be talked into or out of a particular name based on the (often unsolicited) opinions of other people.

So tell me, how did you and your significant other come up with your baby’s name(s)? Did you use a baby name book? Your favorite movie? Did you pull scrabble titles out of a bag and use whatever you could make from them? Let me know your strategies!

*Important footnote: This doesn’t imply I thought these things were bad ideas or that I wasn’t sure about the decision. I’m just not good with things I won’t be able to spontaneously change later.

The importance of the right words

Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day! ūüėÄ The Mister got me a sweet card and let me pick out some patio furniture for the back deck, so I would say it was worth it. ūüėČ

At church services yesterday, many people included me in their Mother’s Day wishes, although some made a¬†distinction between those celebrating “Mother’s Day” and those celebrating “Mother-to-be Day.” While I know that none of these people meant anything by it and were in no way diminishing my celebration, I did have a few thoughts on the subject occur to me. I am not upset about this at all, but I want to share a few things I thought of that might make us all think twice about the phrase “mother-to-be” in the future.

The phrase “mother-to-be” indicates a woman who is not yet a mother but will be at some future point in time. This is often, as was the case yesterday, used to indicate a woman who does not yet have a baby independent of her own body, which would include currently pregnant women.

But, to figure out what that phrase actually means, we need to define exactly what a “mother” is.

I think we would all agree that a mother is a woman who has some number of children (whether one or multiples). So the number of children does not matter. Is a woman raising adopted children a mother? Yes, of course. So the biological or adopted status of the child does not matter. Is a woman who has lost a child still a mother, even though her child is no longer living? Yes, of course! So the alive/not-alive state of the child does not matter.

So we’ve determined that a mother is a woman who has any number of children, living or not.

I’m going to take a moment to assume all my readers believe life begins at conception. (If you don’t, I’m not using this particular article to try and convince you otherwise. Just go with it for a moment.)

If life begins at conception, then it does not begin on the day of a child’s birth. A birthday simply marks the anniversary of the day a child came into the world – or was “born” – but not the day that child became alive, since that begins at conception. (For example, my birthday is May 29, and this year I will celebrate 27 years since I came into the world. However, I’ve been alive approximately nine months longer than that.)

If this is true, then a pregnant woman (like myself) has a living child. I do not yet have a laughing, smiling, crying baby that is physically independent of my body, but I do have a living child that is approximately 17 weeks old.

So, going back to our previously-agreed-upon definition of a mother: I am a woman who has a living child. So I am already a mother. A mother today. Not a mother someday-to-be.

A mother-to-be would actually, using that phrase correctly, be a woman who does not have a child, in any form, but hopes to have one someday. A woman who is pregnant already has a living child and is therefore already a mother, not a mother someday-to-be. If something happened to that unborn child, whether at three months or five months or eight months of development, we would still consider that woman¬†to be that child’s mother. So why do we make the distinction before its birth?

So, yesterday I celebrated Mother’s Day, not Mother-to-be Day, because I am already a mother.

I am a great lover of words, and I believe words should be used correctly and in a precise way to convey their individual meanings. So maybe using the phrase “mother-to-be” to refer to a pregnant woman isn’t really the best thing. Maybe that indicates through our words – whether it is what we truly believe or not – that the child growing inside said woman does not yet make her a mother outright, which would mean it is not yet alive.

Because¬†if life begins at conception, we need to be consciously speaking of it as a real life from that point on, not a someday-to-be, theoretical sort of life. Because when you start¬†talking about it as a theoretical life, then you fall down the rabbit hole of “well, if it’s not a real life, then does it matter how we treat it?” And that, my friends, is where the madness is.

Just something to consider. Like I said, I know what those people meant and am not offended by it, I just think we should take a moment to consider popularly accepted phrases and what they actually mean before we accept that they are appropriate.

Happy Monday!

-The Missus

 

It’s his baby too!

So we’re at week 15 on the baby journey, and I’ve been noticing something that bothers me.

Ever since we made the news public, people come up to me everywhere and congratulate me on the baby. People I know, people I don’t really know, people that know me somehow through someone that we both knew at one point… all kinds of people.

The thing is, sometimes the Mister is standing right next to me when they do this, and most of the time, the congratulator makes no comment to him. They hug me and say how happy they are for me and ask how I’m feeling… but few ever turn to him – the baby’s father – and congratulate him as well.

Maybe it’s implied, but this bothers me just the same. I didn’t do this all on my own, you know. And truth be told, he may actually be more excited than I am about all of this.

(Granted, this baby hasn’t been making him climb into bed and curl into a ball to avoid vomiting on a regular basis. So that may play a contributing factor.)

He’s going to be a fantastic daddy, not just a father. (And yes, there is a difference.) His life is going to change drastically as well. He made a huge decision too, and he deserves some recognition for it.

So next time you see us – or any couple that you know is expecting – by all means, hug the new mother and ask how she’s feeling, but don’t forget the new dad who’s probably just as terrified on the inside as she is. Daddy’s need some encouragement too.