Friday, April 4, 2014

You are able. You are enough.

*I started this post a week and a half ago. Today, I sit back on my own couch, surrounded by 8 clingy kids again.**

I sit here on the couch in California, Evelyn napping beside me and Ashlee locked onto a movie, a whole country away from 6 of our kids and my amazing husband. Ash, Evelyn and I flew here to be with Amanda as she gives birth to her second child. She was due on Sunday should be having her baby any day now is eager to deliver her second daughter and is hoping baby girl will make her appearance very soon. They already have a beautiful baby girl who is 16 months old. So, in a few days, their house will be very, very busy. And exhausting.

A very pregnant Amanda with Harper and Nick, about a week before McKinley arrived
I keep flashing back to a conversation I had with another friend a few months ago. She was lamenting how dirty her house was, how she never had any time to complete anything and she feels so frustrated at accomplishing anything productive during her days home, aside from caring for her two boys aged 2 years and 10 months. And in that conversation, I remembered. I remembered the days of us having a 2 year old and 2 newborn babies. I remembered the days of having a 4 year old, two 2 year olds and a newborn. And I thought about it in comparison to my day to day life (when I'm not living up the relaxing life in California) now. Something leapt out at me and I knew, especially as we anticipate this sweet bundle that should come right this very second any day now, that it was worth sharing. These thoughts have been swirling in anticipation of the life Amanda and Nick are about to step into. So if you have young babies, all under 3 or 4 years old. This is for you, too, friend. I hope it encourages you.

Dear Momma (and Daddy) of many littles,

Your life is hard, most days. Diapers flow freely, your boobs see more fresh air than a topless mannequin in Abercrombie, your head rarely rests on your pillow for longer than hour and a half increments. Somewhere, deep inside you, you may wonder in the exhausting hours of the wee morning, when you've been on your feet longer than you've been horizontal, if you made a mistake with all these little people you longed for, prayed for and ached to hold. That's okay. I did that, too.

Lucas (as a newly turned 2 years old) holding Aaron (the itty, bitty newborn).
Lucas' shirt was SO CORRECT.
In so many ways, your life with your 2 or 3 kids all ages 4 years (or 2 years) and under is SO MUCH harder than mine, with 8 children ages 9 years and younger. I promise, it really is. The thought of 8 kids overwhelms you, most likely. But I can assure you, my day to day life is a lot easier today than it was 6 years ago when we had a 2 year old and two newborns. Do you want to know why?

Because you are responsible for it all. I have at least two tremendous helpers named Elizabeth and Ashlee. But, not you. You, mom and dad to your two little bitties, you are all there is to keep the peace. Every pat, every feeding, every reinserting of the pacci, every diaper, every butt wipe, every snack, every meal, every drink, every boo boo that needs kissed, every cuddle and burp, all of it. YOU ARE THE ONE who has to do that. You and your husband is all there is unless he's at work, or deployed or just at the store for another round of diapers, and then you're it. You alone.

And I don't say that to overwhelm you or to make it feel even more exhausting, but to give you hope. Because, I can promise you, that one day you will blink and those sweet babies that are 16 months apart will be 9 years old and 8 years old and the very best of friends. You'll hear them arguing over who gets to sleep on the top bunk tonight, or who wore the stonewashed jeans last or who took all the marshmallow cereal and you'll have to think really, really hard to remember how exhausting today was for you. You'll hear them tell each other secrets that they only reserve for each other and your heart will feel so overwhelmed with joy and love it just might explode.

Elizabeth - 3 years (almost 4), Lucas and Ashlee - 2 years, and newborn
Aaron in my arms, about to take his first "real" bath.
When you have a rockstar mom day, and both babies sleep like they've been sprinkled with sleeping dust from heaven, high five yourself and enjoy it. But when it's been a cry fest day, all you've accomplished all day long is holding babies and the smell of your own person makes you cringe, remember that this won't last forever. Also remember that this is the hardest part. Yes, there will be days when your first born begins to grow breasts and has her first period, her first crush and is sassier than a Kardashian with PMS and you'll wish so hard she was still 4 months old and you could baby wear her and smell her baby head. Those days will be hard, too. Trust me.

But today, the day that you are everything and everyone and the most important person on the face of the planet to everyone in your home, these days are hard. Emotionally, physically, spiritually all of it. You'll fall into the bed at the end of every day and, if you don't crash immediately, you'll replay the day in your head, highlighting all the ways you feel you failed. And you'll probably cry when you think about how you've probably bruised their fragile, little hearts with your harsh, exhausted tone of voice at nap time because OH MY GAH PLEASE GO TO SLEEP IN THE NEXT 5 MINUTES OR I WILL SNAP. Believe me when I tell you that you did not do permanent damage. It will be overridden by the hours you will spend rocking and holding and cuddling and kissing boo-boos and everything in between. Your babies will grow up, too quickly I can assure you, and you will long for the days when you had to hold your sweet newborn just so you could both nap while the toddler naps.

Luke and I with Luke's Dad and step-Mom.
Elizabeth is not quite two years old, the twins are newbies.
 The best advice I have for you right now, exhausted Momma, is to cut yourself some slack. And take lots and lots and lots of pictures. Journal if your arms are able to move at the end of a long day. Because you will forget. You'll forget the details you swore to yourself you'd remember. When I had my first 3 babies, facebook was relatively new and Instagram wasn't even a thought. Thankfully, with those two things, the picture part will be easier for you now. But journal, journal, journal. Even if you're a bad writer. Even if you can't write out complete sentences. Write it down. I wish, so much, I'd have blogged back then.

I *think* this is the morning of Elizabeth's 2nd birthday. If not, it's close to then.
Look at my tiny twins! Oh goodness I miss those baby cheeks.

Finally, my sweet friend, savor as many moments as you can. I know it's hard. I do. And sometimes it's all you can do to get through the day. But at least once a day, even if it's when everyone is screaming at fever pitch, stop, breathe, fake a smile and savor it. I heard someone say at a homeschool conference when Ella was just an itty, bitty baby (she's 4 now by the way) that, "The days are long but the years are short." It's so true. 

Savoring isn't the easiest thing in the world, either. So I don't say that flippantly. I love, love, love having newborns. But I know not all mothers are that way. And that is okay. It's okay if you don't love the newborn phase. Just like it's okay that 4 year olds aren't exactly my favorite age on the planet.

My point is, motherhood is hard. Mothering small armies of babies and toddlers without the help of an older sibling is exhausting. Cut yourself some slack. Take a long nap when you can and remember to date your husband as often as possible. You can do this. You were made to do this. I promise you were. God set those tiny people in your family with a specific purpose, at this specific time, for this specific season. When the days feel like you're drowning, remember that this time was ordained by The One who walked on drowning waters.

I promise you, you are able. You are enough. Now, sniff that newborn head for me and kiss those pudgy toddler hands (but check for boogers and mystery smells first). And if you forget that you are enough, just ask me. I'll be sure to remind you every, single time.



Almost 4 month old Evelyn with less than 24 hour old McKinley

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, and so true. I didn't know you were a writer, too!


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