We’re gonna miss this

Roo is three and a half months old now, and I am amazed every day by how fast the time has already flown. She’s halfway to trying pureed foods, one fourth of the way to her first birthday, and I’ve already started to picture the day I take her to her kindergarten classroom.

We’ve had some really bad nights of zero sleep and lots of tears shed by everyone, but even in those moments, when I’m trying to doze off in the rocking chair because she refuses to be put in her own bed, I hear that song “You’re gonna miss this” playing in my head.

It goes like this:

She was staring out the window of that SUV
Complaining, saying “I can’t wait to turn eighteen”
She said “I’ll make my own money, and I’ll make my own rules”
Momma put the car in park out there in front of the school
She kissed her head and said “I was just like you”
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
Before she knows it she’s a brand new bride
In her one-bedroom apartment, and her daddy stops by
He tells her “It’s a nice place”
She says “It’ll do for now”
Starts talking about babies and buying a house
Daddy shakes his head and says “Baby, just slow down”
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
Five years later there’s a plumber workin’ on the water heater
Dog’s barkin’, phone’s ringin’
One kid’s cryin’, one kid’s screamin’
She keeps apologizin’
He says “They don’t bother me
I’ve got two babies of my own
One’s thirty six, one’s twenty three
Huh, it’s hard to believe, but
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
(Song by Trace Adkins)
I’ll be sitting there, in that rocking chair I originally, foolishly thought we wouldn’t need, approaching three hours of rocking a baby who refuses to sleep, and I tell myself how much I’m going to miss that warm weight on my shoulder as she snuggles in and clutches my shirt, my hair, my glasses and anything else she can reach. I may be exhausted, but she won’t always be this small.
When I start to think she’s too heavy and my back hurts so badly, I try to tell myself that someday too soon she’ll walk on her own and learn that big girls don’t get carried around by their mommies. I may be in pain, but she won’t always fit in my arms.
This week we got some major snow (for the south, anyway), and my office was closed for four unexpected days while the roads were cleared. I got five days (including the Martin Luther King holiday) with my baby girl that she would have otherwise spent in childcare, and I loved every minute of it. Even those minutes when I was too tired to walk in a straight line, and there were some of those too.
There were things I needed to do that I should have done and things that I wanted to do that I could have done, but I didn’t. Because that warm weight was asleep in my arms, clutching my shirt, and how do you put that down?
Even now, she’s too big to lay comfortably across my lap like she did as a newborn and her head doesn’t fit below my chin the way it used to. I don’t notice the day-to-day growth, but it dawns on me in leaps and bounds sometimes.
I decided the laundry will always need washing and the house will always be dirty, but she won’t always want to sleep on my chest, so we did that instead.
When we first came home from the hospital, I burst into tears because I didn’t feel that instant, overwhelming, all-consuming love at first sight that everyone tells you you should have when your baby is born. I thought that meant I might never love her properly. But you know what? That passes. And boy, does it pass.
(I promise all my posts from now on won’t be this sappy, and this is actually not the original path I intended to take, but it sort of had a mind of its own.)
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The Mommy Chronicles

So my last post was on September 18, and I was tired of being pregnant but was trying to accept whatever timetable the baby might have and let her come in her own time.

Well, it turns out that time was only 11 days after that post, which also explains my absence over the last month.

We’re parents!! Somehow, just like that. And let me tell you, it did not happen in any way described in any article about what labor will be like. If you are reading this as an expectant mother let me tell you, if you start having rhythmic nerve pain in your lower back that comes and goes like a contraction but may or may not be accompanied by abdominal contractions, that’s called back labor and it’s a real thing. Go get checked out. I was in intense pain for two days and even went to the hospital Thursday night, where they told me I wasn’t truly in labor, but I was. And Roo arrived Friday evening after a night of sleeping in the bathtub and a frantic morning trip to my doctor, who sent me back to the hospital to be admitted immediately. 

Roo (who does have a real name, but I’m not going to publish it here for her own privacy), arrived at 5:37 p.m., September 29, at 6 lbs 14 oz and 20.5 inches long. There have been so many things to tell since she made her grand debut, and I regret that I don’t have the time or the energy to write about them all, but anyone who has ever had children will understand the struggle, I’m sure. 

There was the moment when the nurse handed me Roo’s hospital discharge papers and the signature line said “parent signature” and it took me several moments to realize that meant ME! 

There was the invention of the phrase “fart bullet” the first time she shot baby poop across the room (unfortunately I do have to specify the “first time” because it has happened more than once). 

There was introducing her to the puppies, who have taken very different opinions of her, and not the ones we expected. Lucy, who we thought would love her instantly, isn’t really interested and doesn’t pay her much attention. Meera, who we worried about, is totally in love with her and wants to be right next to her at all times. On the rare occasions the dogs sleep inside (they are outdoor dogs now) Meera will come get me every time Roo makes any noise… which is well-intentioned but also very annoying, since Roo is a very noisey baby and it usually means nothing. She will definitely be the guard dog who makes sure nobody ever messes with her baby girl. 

I am forever grateful to the village of people who have helped us in these first weeks, whether by staying with us, bringing food, watching Roo so I can leave the house or just by talking me through the hard days and reassuring me that I am not a failure of a mother because I haven’t accomplished all the things the online articles say you should do with your infant each day.  

Post-partum struggles are real. Lean on your village. I’ll be back when I can. 

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.

 

 

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.